Columnists

Fri
14
Aug

The rich legacy of the White Iron Chain of Lakes

History notes collected by
Paul Schurke, Aug 2020
The 75-mile long Kawishiwi River (Ojibwe name meaning “place of many beaver homes”) tumbles out of the BWCAW & widens to create the five lake chain: Birch-White Iron-Farm-South Farm-Garden. It heads back into the wilderness at Fall Lake to merge with other rivers and reach the Arctic Ocean at Hudson Bay 1,200 miles later.
• The chain of lakes are among 2,000 lakes within 50 miles of Ely. White Iron ranks among Minnesota’s 25 select “Sentinel Lakes” monitored for aquatic health by the DNR and the White Iron Chain of Lakes Association (WICOLA).
• The 35-mile-long lake chain flowage was a rich hunting, fishing and gathering grounds for early residents and today supports over resorts, outfitters, camps, campgrounds, including White Iron Beach, the area’s first resort in 1916.
• At Birch Lake’s River Point Resort & Outfitting, archaeologists in 1982 found a 2,000 year-old Laurel Culture village.

Fri
07
Aug

Don’t Play Tennis with the Garden Vegetables…

Next to suffering through Advanced Algebra, being a parent is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I know so much more AFTER my kids have grown up and have families of their own. Life doesn’t let you have any do overs.

The number one job as a parent is to shower these little wonders with love. It started the first time they were placed in my arms. The physical pain to get them here diminished once I looked at their little faces for the first time.

I heard years ago how the human mind has a tendency to forget pain and remember more good memories. I didn’t quite understand that statement then, but as I look back, I get it. I have a good “remembery” (memory) as my oldest said and I choose to focus more on good memories and the funny things my kids said and did.

Fri
17
Jul

On Stukel Way, summer nights and legacies

by Tom Coombe
Echo editor
Baseball, Ely and summer evenings have been intertwined for generations.
That may now seem matter-of-fact, given the beauty of Veterans Memorial Field and the community’s penchant for hosting baseball tournaments year after year, even in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic.
But it wasn’t always that way, and the ballpark today bears little resemblance to its beginnings in the mid-1950s.
Then Matty Stukel came along.
While Matty had a lot of help along the way, nobody can deny that he was the driving force in putting Ely’s summer baseball program on the map.

Fri
10
Jul

Take that, COVID: Ely has its parade

by Tom Coombe
Echo editor
Like the entire United States of America, the losses in Ely have piled up for the better part of four months.
Thanks to an invisible virus, we’ve lost businesses and jobs, the last 10 weeks of a school year, and a laundry list of community events, gatherings and festivals.
Our kids also lost their activities and sports and high school seniors had once-in-a-lifetime moments snatched away.
We couldn’t properly salute those who departed and those confined to nursing homes, assisted living or the hospital couldn’t even see their loved ones.
For several weeks, Ely was a virtual ghost town as many worked from home and evening drives and stops for takeout food served as highlights of drab days.
If Ely were a pro sports team, one could say it was in the midst of quite a losing streak.

Fri
26
Jun

Update from Ely Public Schools Superintendent Erik Erie

Early voting by absentee ballot for the $10 million bond referendum being proposed by the Ely School District starts June 26, with August 11 as Election Day for the bond referendum. In order for our citizens to have the opportunity to be informed voters the District has complied information about the bond referendum, on our District website: https://www.ely.k12.mn.us/ or visit our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ely.k12.mn.us/
We are also holding public forums that at the present time are scheduled to be in a virtual format, using Facebook Live where the public can ask questions through a chat feature. You can go directly to our Ely Facebook Page (see link above) or our District website (see link above) to connect.
The public forums are scheduled for the following dates and times:
Monday, June 29 at 6:00 p.m.
Tuesday, July 13 at 6:00 p.m.

Fri
19
Jun

Hook and Bullet Club

Searching for a sense of normal my wife and I found it twice this past weekend.
The first time was Friday night on Burtside Lake with Doug and Karen Luthanen. The four of us plus their lovable dog Rigby (remember the name) hopped on the pontoon boat and cruised the west end of the lake.
Doug grew up on Burntside and shared stories of his youth as we tooled along. He had a playlist of 200 songs for us to listen to and there wasn’t a clinker.
For those who don’t know, Doug is a bit of a Beatles fan. He taught a music class at the Folk School awhile back and the Beatles were the main chorus that night.
The pontoon replaces a runabout and it didn’t have a name yet. We agreed “Yellow Submarine” would be an apropos moniker.
There was a bit of nip in the air when we bucked the wind and then a heat wave that caused an outer layer to be removed when we headed into the sun.

Fri
12
Jun

When one of its own is in need, Ely rises up

by Tom Coombe
Echo editor
For the majority of my half-century on this earth, and continuously since mid-1993, Ely has been home.
Both work and pleasure-related travel take me away often and there have been years with better than 35,000 miles spent on the road.
Few of the amenities that draw people here have any pull on me, and nights at a ballpark, arena, gymnasium and trips to Las Vegas or a vibrant, urban downtown trump anything resembling a trip to the lake or the woods.
Yet there’s something reassuring every time the Ely water tower comes into view on Highway 169. It’s home.
An event last week proved once again why that’s so.
It was around noon on the Echo’s deadline day last Thursday when Nick raced by my office and said something about a fire on West Chapman, which for 13 years was my neighborhood.
Curiosity called and the view once aside was both fascinating and horrific.

Fri
05
Jun

Two hours away, a different business reality

by Tom Coombe
Echo editor
“I’ll need a table for four.”
For the first time since mid-March, those words came out of my mouth on a quiet yet sunny Memorial Day weekend afternoon in Superior, Wisc.
A milestone birthday, a shopping trip and the coronavirus made for an odd yet satisfying journey a couple weeks back.
If one would have asked me in February where I might celebrate a 50th birthday dinner, Grizzly’s in Superior wouldn’t have made the top-10.
Scratch that, it wouldn’t have made the top-100.
No disrespect to the franchise or the friendly staff at the business across the bridge from Duluth, but only the circumstances brought us there for dinner.
In a typical year, Hollee may have whisked me off to Minneapolis for a night at J.D. Hoyt’s or one of our other Twin Cities favorites.

Fri
29
May

Hot Rod was one of a kind

by Tom Coombe
Echo editor
My friend Rod Skube never minced words.
“Hot Rod,” as he was known for years by many, was both quick-witted and acerbic, and never one to waste time in our conversations.
Often our phone dialogue would end abruptly, when another person on his nightly call list would dial in or he would simply decide it was time to contact the next friend or family member on his list.
“I gotta go,” he would often say. If he was less in a hurry than usual, he might add “tell Hollee I love her.”
The evening phone calls, which usually came twice or three times a week and started long before Hot Rod moved to Cloquet, were the evolution of a friendship that dated back more than 45 years.

Fri
22
May

Update from Ely Public Schools Superintendent Erik Erie

This has certainly been a school year unlike no other for our Ely School faculty, staff, students, their families and our community. The Distance Learning model of delivering education has been a significant change for all of us, presenting many challenges. I would like to thank students and their families for all they have done to make Distance Learning work in their homes.
While we have been navigating Distance Learning, our Ely School District has also been looking into the future on how to provide a 21st Century Learning environment for our students and community. On May 11, our Ely School Board decided to move forward with a $10 million bond referendum to raise funds that can help address the needs of our aging buildings, connect our buildings for safety and security, and provide new flexible learning spaces for 21st Century Learning. Election day for the referendum is August 11, and absentee balloting starts as early as June 26.

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