Columnists

Sun
05
Mar

In the front row - A tribute

About 10 years ago, Ely’s high school hockey team made its annual trek to the North Shore for the holiday tournament then hosted by both Silver Bay and Two Harbors.<BR><BR>Tournament organizers organized a spaghetti dinner for the teams to kick off the event and Ken Hupila - then an assistant coach with the Timberwolves - had just sat down to eat when he overhead a conversation between two players from Minneapolis Southwest, which was also entered in the tournament.<BR><BR>The conversation piqued Hupila’s interest because it pertained to Jim Baxter, who had just joined Ely’s coaching staff as a volunteeer after more than 30 years in Minneapolis, the bulk at Southwest.<BR><BR>“Jim had just walked by and the kid behind me turns to the other and said ‘There goes the smartest hockey man I ever saw,’” Hupila recalled Monday night. “He didn’t know who I was and Jim (was out of earshot). This was truly one kid to another.

Sat
25
Feb

In the front row

There’s no doubt that Jerry Chiabotti built the boys basketball program at Bigfork.<BR><BR>The Huskies hadn’t won much of anything before the Soudan native arrived there in the early-1970s, and by the time Chiabotti hung up his whistle and gave up his coaching duties in 1996, the Bigfork program was one of the Northland’s best.<BR><BR>Chiabotti’s legacy includes 408 wins, two state meet appearances and an amazing run of 13 straight Northern Lakes Conference championships.<BR><BR>Fittingly - but much to Chiabotti’s surprise - the gymnasium at Bigfork is now named in his honor.<BR><BR>During an emotional ceremony last Saturday night, the Jerry Chiabotti Gymnasium at Bigfork was officially christened.<BR><BR>Nearly 40 of Chiabotti’s former players returned home for the festivities, which also included an alumni game.<BR><BR>Chiabotti was lured to the gymnasium for the alumni game and an invitation to attend an even

Sun
19
Feb

Letters from Ely - Saturday errands

Owning an older home (or any home in the Ely area) means frequent trips to the hardware store. Not to mention trips to Voyageur Lumber, Pamida, Ben Franklin, Serena's and so on down the list. That "list" is important for reasons we don't think about until it's too late. <BR><BR>As on most Saturday mornings, I parked my car near a favorite coffee shop. This morning I said hello to Kristen and Samantha and enjoyed brief chats with patrons before starting my rounds. It was around 15 degrees outside, the sun was out and a skiff of new snow had fallen last night. Beautiful! Jacked up by a double-skinny in a short cup, I set off with vigor, purpose and a slight twitch.<BR><BR>The Surplus Store is next to the coffee shop, and I asked young Sarah there to help me choose some new snowshoes.

Sat
11
Feb

Baby Boomer echoes

Most Boomers remember the ’60s well. It had to be the decade of things gone awry, one foreign to our folks, but really one that proclaimed a message. <BR><BR>I don’t believe there’s been one generation alive seeing so much turmoil and unrest. Were you supposed to believe war was the way to go? Should you be a dove or a hawk? Should you burn your bra or flee to Canada? <BR><BR>They say lasting impressions of many life altering experiences happen in the very early years of life, and many of us were pre-teens witnessing a decade filled with unexplainable concepts, even ones our parents never witnessed, nor could they come up with logical explanations as of what was going on. <BR><BR>The whole country was on tilt, and luckily we lived up here, signing off to ice fishing, skiing or skating - living in the tundra part of the year. But we still received newspapers and had TV news. We knew the country wasn’t quite right.

Fri
03
Feb

Words from a burning heart

On the roads south this past week the snow disappeared quickly the farther and farther we got into Wisconsin. The barren trees stood sentinel over lines of traveling vehicles. Driving this way was an exercise of patience that gets easier with repetition, easier with practice. It never seems to come second nature to me, though.<BR><BR>A nine or 10 hour drive interrupted by short breaks and a meal is a whole day of doing exactly the same thing while being on full alert for all that is around you. It was interesting to see the fields and grass when I was used to a blanket of white, but after a while the muted earthy tones gave way to boredom. I watched the road fly by underneath. I watched the road. I watched the lines on the road. The other cars.<BR><BR>The thing that tore me away from the mundane, that sharpened my focus was a tall, dark shape perched within the top branches of an old oak we passed.

Sun
22
Jan

From the Ely Echo publisher’s desk

From Glendora, California:<BR><BR>“Today I received my Dec 17th copy of the Ely Echo.This is really bad service. It is always late. I don’t think I have ever gotten it in less than a week late. Is this the best you can do? By the time I get the Echo, it is history! Why can’t I at least expect it in maybe a week or 10 days? Is that so hard? What class of service do you mail this for it to be such lousy service? Hope to hear from you, Frank.”<BR><BR>Dear Frank, <BR><BR>There’s nobody more unhappy with the US Postal Service than me. Every week without fail the Echoes are delivered to the Ely Post Office on Friday. They are bar coded with each address and pre-sorted by state and cities. What the Postal Service does to the newspaper when it leaves here Friday afternoon is anybody’s guess.<BR><BR>Have we put your newspaper on a Postal Watch yet? Sometimes that kick starts some action by the USPS.

Mon
16
Jan

In the front row

Every once in awhile, you’ll hear broadcasters talking about athletes being “in a zone.”<BR><BR>The phrase is usually described to talk about top-flight performances when the athlete has a near-perfect performance.<BR><BR>The most recent such outing that comes to mind was Texas quarterback Vince Young’s unreal effort against USC in college football’s national title game.<BR><BR>That was on Jan.

Sun
08
Jan

Snow Ball back for second year

After some questions about where it would take place, plans for the annual winter community dance event are taking place and it will remain at its original site.<BR><BR>Organizers of the Snow Ball - formerly known as the Mukluk Ball - say the dance is now set for Saturday, Feb. 5, from 7 p.m.

Sat
31
Dec

Little bit of local Finn history is on the road

The Ely area has a number of people and businesses that sell items on eBay. Most transactions are successful, a rare few leave a bad taste and then there are the unusual encounters...<BR><BR>When I offered some wooden fishing gear on eBay this fall, I received a request to withdraw one item and donate it to a soon-to-be museum.<BR><BR>The item was a homemade wood fishing reel. It was found in the Winton house which my family owned in the 1970s. The house had earlier been owned by Nick Kuitunen who had worked in the grocery department of the St. Croix (lumber company) Store in Winton earlier that century. <BR><BR>His family had used the home as a boarding house, complete with a sauna over the Shagawa River, a building which is still there. Near the back alley was a tiny garage with a small loft. It was there that the homemade reel and other fish-related items were found.

Sat
31
Dec

Little bit of local Finn history is on the road

The Ely area has a number of people and businesses that sell items on eBay. Most transactions are successful, a rare few leave a bad taste and then there are the unusual encounters...<BR><BR>When I offered some wooden fishing gear on eBay this fall, I received a request to withdraw one item and donate it to a soon-to-be museum.<BR><BR>The item was a homemade wood fishing reel. It was found in the Winton house which my family owned in the 1970s. The house had earlier been owned by Nick Kuitunen who had worked in the grocery department of the St. Croix (lumber company) Store in Winton earlier that century. <BR><BR>His family had used the home as a boarding house, complete with a sauna over the Shagawa River, a building which is still there. Near the back alley was a tiny garage with a small loft. It was there that the homemade reel and other fish-related items were found.

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