News

Fri
30
Sep

School set to get $1.5 million

by Tom Coombe
The Ely School District stands to gain $1.5 million to offset some of the rising costs associated with its major renovation project.
Earlier this week, the St. Louis County Board took a key step toward allocating federal Covid relief funds to the Ely district with a unanimous vote of commissioners during their committee of the whole meeting.
The funding could be finalized as soon as Tuesday, when commissioners gather for their regular session.
“I don’t see anything that would stop it,” said superintendent John Klarich, after attending the committee of the whole session and speaking with several county officials, including Ely commissioner Paul McDonald.
McDonald agreed and said the board’s action, which will also set aside funding from the American Rescue Plan for school projects in Hibbing and Chisholm, is the result of difficulties those districts have had with facilities initiatives stemming from the pandemic.

Fri
30
Sep

Free clinic moves downtown

by Tom Coombe
Ely’s free clinic has a new home.
After several years in the old American Fraternal Union building, the Ely Community Health Center has taken its operations downtown, to the Chapman Street facility that was the longtime office for retired dentist Scott Anderson.
The ECHC has been in its new digs and treating customers for roughly three weeks.
“We’ve moved the entire operation,” said ECHC Executive Director Helen Tome. “We needed more space and we were working on expanding our dental service, so this is pretty perfect as it used to be a dental office.”
Dental services have been a new addition to the ECHC, thanks in part to grant support from Blue Cross-Blue Shield and a collaborative agreement with local dentist Crystal Chopp, who has helped supply the free clinic with hygienist services.

Fri
23
Sep

Stauber targets mine permitting

by Tom Coombe
U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber (R) has introduced legislation that would streamline permitting for mining projects, including those in northeastern Minnesota.
Earlier this week, Stauber introduced his Permitting for Mining Needs (PERMIT-MN) Act. According to a news release from Stauber’s office, the bill “creates certainty for the mining community, limits frivolous litigation, and requires agency coordination across the federal government.”
“We are blessed with vast mineral wealth in northern Minnesota and across America,” said Congressman Stauber. “Our current permitting process fails to deliver our domestic resources and is abused by keep-it-in-the-ground activists who oppose mining solely on ideological grounds.”
In his district, both the PolyMet copper-nickel mining project near Hoyt Lakes and the Twin Metals Minnesota project planned closed to Ely have been bogged down, both by permitting and legal hurdles.

Fri
23
Sep

Marathon creates traffic issues

by Tom Coombe
It’s marathon weekend in Ely - and even those who aren’t running 13 or 26 miles are likely to notice.
That’s because of a series of traffic detours and parking restrictions that are in place, beginning early Saturday morning and continuing through much of the day.
Police Chief Chad Houde briefed council members about the traffic situation earlier this week.
“There will be some traffic and parking impacted not only in our community but outside the city limits,” said Houde.
The event is expected to attract hundreds of participants, who will run either the full 26.2-mile marathon of the Boundary Waters Bank Half Marathon. Some participants will even carry canoes during the event while taking part in the Ely Marathon’s unique canoe portage divisions.
Road closures for the event, both inside and outside of Ely, are as follows:
• Echo Trail - North Arm Road to Grant McMahan, 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.;

Thu
15
Sep

School enrollment inches up

by Tom Coombe
Despite perhaps the smallest incoming kindergarten class in its history, overall enrollment in Ely’s public school system has rebounded after hitting a new low last year.
Student population that hovered around 500 at one point during the 2021-22 school year has bounced back to a K-12 total of 545 as of Monday, according to reports at the regular school board meeting.
That’s 33 more students than were enrolled in June, at the conclusion of the last school year.
It’s an even larger jump, one of more than eight percent, since totals reported last winter.
The totals show the district has recovered and seemingly regained many of the students it lost after a controversial indoor mask mandate was adopted just prior to the start of the 2021-22 school year.
Enrollment then had tumbled from 559 in September, 2020 to 531 last year.

Thu
15
Sep

Ely school district picked for “Frozen”

The Ely school district has been chosen as the only school in Minnesota to earn the rights to produce Frozen.
“I am so surprised and excited!” said Mike Rouse of the Ely school district. “We entered this contest because Musical Theater is such a big part of our lives…and after all, Ely is literally “Frozen” about half of every year!”
Winners of the United States of Frozen contest, which will see 51 U.S. high schools—one from each state and a single school in Germany for children of military families—earn the exclusive rights to produce the Disney musical were revealed.
The contest is a collaboration between the Educational Theatre Association, Disney Theatrical Group, and Music Theatre International.

Thu
08
Sep

Ely’s Beardfest is going dark

by Tom Coombe
The eighth Great Nordic Beardfest was arguably the best in its relatively brief history.
It may also be the last.
Organizer Shaun Chosa announced last weekend, via social media, that he was pulling the plug on an event he nurtured, grew and developed over the last decade.
“The Great Nordic Beardfest is no more,” Chosa wrote Saturday on the event’s Facebook page. “For numerous reasons, I have decided to move on.”
Chosa elaborated further Tuesday, citing health reasons and a desire to pursue other interests and projects in ending what, in a short amount of time, became one of the community’s major winter events.
What started as a one-night beard and mustache contest at Ely’s Boathouse Brewpub grew dramatically.

Thu
08
Sep

New year, new building at ISD 696

A few days behind schedule, the school year in Ely is on track to begin.
Contractors were both plentiful and hard at work this week - inside and outside the school facilities - as they scrambled to get both the buildings and grounds ready for the opening day of the 2022-23 school year.
Parents and students walked past fresh pavement and worked their way around inside buildings that were still in construction mode Thursday, as the district hosted an open house and showed off a $20 million-plus renovation project that is winding down toward completion.
On Monday, more than 500 students, as well as faculty and staff are expected for the first day of classes.
The start of the school year was delayed by nearly a week to allow contractors more time to move the project toward completion, and several athletic events on campus set for this week were moved to other venues.

Fri
02
Sep

School events moved

Construction delays have forced the Ely School District to move three home athletic events set for this week, but the first day of classes remains set for Sept. 12.
Delays related to work on the exterior of the campus, including the paving of parking lots, prompted the change in venue for high school volleyball games slated for Tuesday and Thursday, as well as Friday’s football home opener with Cromwell.
Plans are to move the volleyball games to Vermilion Community College and the football game to Babbitt, but those details were not finalized prior to the Echo’s printing deadline.
Meanwhile, a back to school open house event set for Thursday is on as scheduled, although paving work may not be complete at that time.
The developments came as contractors were putting the finishing touches on a $20 million-plus school renovation project.

Thu
01
Sep

No dead air yet, WELY still open

The Bois Forte Tribal Council voted Wednesday to continue operating and programming WELY radio station for an additional three months while the business is moving through the sale process.
Bois Forte, which has owned the station since 2005, had announced in the spring that it would close WELY June 1 and cited financial losses of roughly $1.7 million.
But the announcement triggered reaction within Ely and beyond from those hoping to save the station, as well as interest from potential buyers
Bois Forte decided to put off the June 1 closing date to give interested parties more time, and the latest announcement extends that timeframe for another three months.
The tribe said there has been interest shown in someone stepping in to buy the station.

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