News

Fri
14
Feb

School seeks IRRRB funds

by Tom Coombe
A resolution approved by Ely School Board members Monday clears the way for the district to seek about $7.2 million in outside assistance for a proposed school improvement project.
That assistance would come from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board, if state lawmakers who govern the agency give their approval, perhaps as soon as next month.
After discussing it two weeks earlier, school board members gave their unanimous approval to a resolution that seeks just over $7 million from the IRRRB, which has assisted several other area schools with similar projects.
Ely officials are eyeing nearly $20 million in improvements and are moving toward a potential $10 million bond referendum later in the year, but they’ve made it clear they will also seek help from the IRRRB.
IRRRB funding, if allocated, would be accessed only if voters approve the referendum.

Fri
14
Feb

Scenes for polar history film will be re-enacted here in Ely

Ely, renowned as the base of many polar expeditions, is about to host another - or least re-enactments.
On Tuesday Feb. 18, Voyage Digital Media will be recreating scenes at Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge on White Iron Lake circa 1909 of Robert Peary’s dogsled expedition to the North Pole.
Actors, including Wintergreen guides, will be dressed in period costumes includes fur parkas as team members.
Wintergreen’s Canadian Inuit sled dogs - the same breed used on Peary’s expedition - will pull an exact replica of his 12-foot komatik dogsled laden with furs & supplies.
The documentary film is being co-produced with the non-profit National Maritime History Society (NMHS) of Peekskill, New York, and made possible by grant funding from Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest and the H. F. Lenfest Fund from The Philadelphia Foundation.
The film tells the story of the Ernestina Morrissey, an historic Arctic sailing ship associated with numerous early expeditions.

Fri
07
Feb

Echo named official paper

by Tom Coombe
After a one-year hiatus, the Ely Echo will once again serve as Ely’s official newspaper.
Earlier this week, council members decided the Ely-based publication will be where the city prints meeting minutes, public notices and other official announcements.
Tuesday’s 6-0 council vote, with Al Forsman absent, came after city officials determined the Echo was the “lowest responsible bidder” for the city publishing contract as required in the city charter.
A comparison of sample public notices and meeting minutes showed that the Echo was less expensive than the other bidder - the Tower-based Timberjay.
It was just over a year ago that the Ely council ignited controversy and weeks of debate by naming the Tower publication as Ely’s official newspaper.

Fri
07
Feb

Ely area to host state ATV convention

The Ely area will host a major ATV event in September. The local club is going all out to make sure the new Prospector Loop trail system in completed in time.
“We are very excited to host the ATV Association of Minnesota Ride and Rally event which serves as the state organization’s annual convention,” said Nick Wognum, president of the Prospector Alliance and the secretary of the state ATV board.
The Ride and Rally kicks off on Friday, Sept. 18 with a VIP ride leaving from Embarrass after a pancake breakfast at the Timber Hall.
“We would like to show some of our elected officials and others what kind of trail system the Prospector is for northeast Minnesota,” said ATVAM President Ron Potter. “The section from Embarrass to Tower has some very scenic locations and we’re looking to have lunch on the shores of Lake Vermilion.”

Fri
07
Feb

Elyite offers alternative to current political system

Scott Magie believes there’s a better option to the current two-party system in the country.
An Elyite and graduate of Ely Memorial High School, Magie has worked to re-establish after 195 years the Democratic-Republican Party “for the purpose of saving the Republic of the United States of America from the imminent danger by those currently at the helm, before it is too late.”
In a news release sent out across the country, the stated platform for the Dem-Rep Party is to create the opportunity for a strong third party with seats in the U.S. Congress to ensure that either of the two parties ruling American never gets a 50.1% majority in either the Senate or House of Representatives again.
“America needs a party to help quench partisan activities and get the focus of the US Congress directed towards what is best for all Americans,” the release states.

Sat
01
Feb

School project takes shape

by Tom Coombe
The framework of a nearly $20 million school improvement project - and how it might be funded - came more into focus this week.
School board members in Ely reviewed but took no action Monday on proposals forwarded by an architect as well as the district’s lobbyists, but the project seems on a path toward a potential $10 million bond referendum yet this year.
Architect Scott Sosalla of Hibbing-based Architectural Resources Incorporated provided the latest draft of a proposal that calls for both renovations and new construction, with revisions that include a larger gymnasium than was shown in an earlier draft.
Lobbyists Gary Cerkvenik and Jeff Anderson, meanwhile, laid out a scenario in which the district would ask local taxpayers to come up with $10 million via a referendum while dipping into reserves, a state grant and long-term facilities funding to come up with another $2 million-plus.

Tue
28
Jan

Winter Festival fun fires off Feb. 6

by Tom Coombe
The countdown is on to Ely’s grand winter celebration.
In less than a week, the Ely Winter Festival begins and it once again promises a jam-packed schedule full of a broad assortment of events. The festival, which dates back to the mid-1990s, runs from Feb. 6-16.
Two of the signature events of the festival - the International Snow Sculpting Symposium and the Ely ArtWalk - are both back for another year.
Giant snow blocks are up at Ely’s Whiteside Park and elsewhere in town as 13 teams - from Minnesota, elsewhere in the upper Midwest as well as Canada will turn the snow into various works of art.
The snow sculptures serve as a major attraction and the park generally becomes a hub of activity, particularly on the opening weekend when the sculptors are present and interact with visitors - talking about their designs.

Fri
24
Jan

Tiny home sought in Ely

by Tom Coombe
Might the tiny house trend make it all the way to Ely?
That may well be the case, following city council action earlier in the week.
After receiving a request from a local resident who wants to place a 200-to-300 square foot home on a city lot, the council voted unanimously to direct the city’s planning and zoning commission to study the issue.
Council member Paul Kess went a step further, saying he hopes that the city look at measures that now prohibit “tiny houses,” and “reexamine the issue and hopefully come to some support.”
Kess seemed to find some support at the council table, with member Al Forsman adding “I currently have no reason to be against it.”
Ely resident Amanda Block generated Tuesday’s discussion, by way of a written request to purchase a city lot at 1041 East Washington Street.

Fri
24
Jan

Morse, Treehouse will upload new broadband grant

The Town of Morse will again try to help improve internet service in the rural areas around Ely.
After the state wouldn’t fund a project involving Frontier, this time the board is looking locally for a possible solution.
The board passed a motion to pursue a grant with Treehouse Broadband, owned by Ely resident Isaac Olson.
“My customers have been very happy with the high quality of service being provided,” Olson told the board on Jan. 11.
Treehouse uses a high-speed line of sight connection to provide 100 megabit service. So far the Ely water tower has been the only location to push the signal from.
Olson said he would like to put together a grant package to put up six towers, up to 100 feet high, in the area to expand where service can be provided.
Supervisor Bob Berrini said there may be county or other public land in areas where towers could be put up.

Wed
22
Jan

Beardfest coming back

by Tom Coombe
Grow those beards and get those mustaches just right.
After a one-year hiatus, a popular winter event is set to return to Ely next month.
The Great Nordic Beardfest will take place Friday, Feb. 7 at the Boathouse Brewpub.
“We are back,” said Shaun Chosa, who started the event several years ago.
Chosa hosted four Beardfests, attracting dozens of participants and hundreds of spectators to an event that’s a takeoff of sorts on the popular “whisker wars” of television fame.
After a self-imposed “break” in 2019, Chosa said “I’ve recommitted to it, in light of the solid event it was, can be and will be gain.”
“I got a little burned out,”said Chosa. “That’s it in a nutshell. But I had fielded a ton of calls, and had people come back who were interested in being sponsors. If it’s good for the community in a tough time of year for us, I’m all about it. I’d like to see it grow.”

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