News

Fri
15
Oct

New building now has a new purpose

by Nick Wognum
The new building on Sheridan Street just west of Central Avenue has a new use. Instead of being a book store it will be a boat store for Piragis Northwoods Company.
Elli Piragis and Tom Roller were checking out the progress on the project Wednesday.
“We went back to plan B which was to make it a canoe show room and a retail space also for our canoe accessories,” said Piragis.
“There will be a few boats that will be displayed here but we will have the barn in the back where we store boats,” said Roller. “We’ll have new canoes, kayaks and paddle boards.”
“This will free up space in our outfitting department,” said Piragis.
Roller said canoe sales have skyrocketed since the Covid pandemic started.

Fri
15
Oct

Spectators may take off masks

by Nick Wognum
Spectators at Ely’s high school gymnasium are no longer required to wear masks.
Part of the school district’s mask mandate ended Monday night, when school board members removed the requirement for those attending after-school athletic events and made masks “recommended” rather than “required.”
Board members voted unanimously to make the change, which was recommended by district administrators and emerged from discussion a week earlier by the district’s safe learning advisory council.

Fri
08
Oct

Burnout overcomes rain

by Tom Coombe
One of Ely’s most unique events made its return last weekend and Mother Nature wasn’t about to intervene.
The Jake Forsman Memorial Car Show and Burnout Competition went on as planned Saturday next to City Hall, despite a few raindrops.
Cancelled in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the event resumed this year and attracted big crowds.
“I can tell you there were a lot of people,” said Ely council member Al Forsman, who started and coordinates the event held in his late son’s memory. “Between the morning session and afternoon session I’m sure there were 1,000 people watching between the two events.”
Rainy conditions made for a challenge and may have had an impact in limiting the car show to 74 entrants.
Yet the burnout competition went on, much to the delight of a cheering audience.

Fri
08
Oct

Fall Lake taxpayers react to $54.1 million school referendum

by Nick Wognum
A proposed $54.1 million school referendum was pitched to Fall Lake residents Tuesday night.
Lake Superior School District superintendent Jay Belcastro and school board chair Tracy Tiboni, faced an uphill battle since there aren’t any Fall Lake students who attend school at LSSD.
The district has three campuses, an elementary school in downtown Two Harbors, a high school just north of Two Harbors off Hwy. 2 and a pre-K to 12 school in Silver Bay. All three would get upgrades, including the Two Harbors high school building that was completed in 2005.
Belcastro said it is “just an exceptional building” and that with the debt paid off in two years, the district can levy for an additional $45 million and keep taxes the same. If the referendum fails, Lake County taxpayers would see a reduction in their property taxes.
“This is not an increase in taxes, it’s a continuation,” said Belcastro.

Fri
01
Oct

Board seeks mask clarity

by Tom Coombe
Amid public backlash over an indoor mask mandate, school board members in Ely are wrestling with their role in the decision-making process and measures that would define when the mandate will end.
A board study session on Monday honed in on the recent controversy with member Tom Omerza pressing for the district to better define metrics that would be used to determine if masks will be required on campus.
Member Tony Colarich went further, asking that the board vote to reclaim its authority over changes to the district’s safe learning plan as soon as Oct. 11, when members hold their next regular session.
Board chairman Ray Marsnik also said he wanted to clear the air over rumors on social media that the district would require students to receive the Covid-19 vaccine.
“There’s a rumor going around that we plan on mandating vaccinations,” said Marsnik. “That has never been in any discussions.”

Fri
01
Oct

Ely Liquor set to be in new location and open Friday

by Nick Wognum
A major move, both in location and in size, is in store for Ely Liquor on Oct. 8.
Owner Eric St. Martin gave a tour of the new location in the former dollar store across from Ely DQ Grill & Chill.
Local contractors have been busy building a massive beer cave, putting in new lighting, building shelves and preparing the business.
“This building is seven times larger than what we have now,” said St. Martin. “I’ll have very little in storage here, it will be out on the shelves.”
The 30 foot by 24 foot beer cave is located to the right of the front door and can hold 36 pallets of beer.
“In the middle we’ll have the full pallets of beer like Busch Light, Hamm’s, Miller Lite and Pabst. The rest will be filled out around the edge,” said St. Martin. “It will hold way more than the old one.”
He had two cooling units installed in the beer cave, but only one is needed but wanted to add redundancy.

Sat
25
Sep

Retail development planned for former grocery store buildings

A business from Chapman Street will make the move to Sheridan Street and add a second business next year.
Eagle Wolf Development, owned by Jay and Jacki Bregier-Poshak, are purchasing the Zup’s Food Market and Ely Northland Market buildings on Sheridan Street. J&L Hardware will be relocated to the Zup’s building.
“We’re investing in the town,” said Poshak. “We are looking out for the community’s needs, it’s why we’re doing this, so we can provide what people need right here in our local community.”
The project has a two-phase approach with getting the current Zup’s building ready first. Zup’s and Northland Market are moving to the former Shopko building in October.
“Moving to the Zup’s building will give us more space to expand our retail selections so we can continue to offer what we do now and expand areas like clothing and sporting goods,” said Poshak.

Fri
24
Sep

Park says masks don’t work, urges healthy eating

by Nick Wognum
A retired Ely doctor had some different words of advice when he spoke to a full house at the Ely Senior Center Wednesday night.
Dr. Steve Park retired four years ago and told the crowd he’s been following the coronavirus issue very closely.
“With the coronavirus stuff, it’s been a fascinating 20 months since it all started. Over that time I’ve read a ton, I read every day on it. And it’s just been fun for me because I’m not in the office and the lack of science I’ve just found really, really interesting,” said Park.
He said a trip to the southern part of the U.S. last fall found night and day differences to northern Minnesota.
“Every place in the northern part of country was locked down, and in Tennessee, Alabama and Florida it was like nothing had happened other than a restaurant where you walk in with a mask on, sit down and take the mask off. Where the heck did that come from? Is the germ that smart?”

Thu
16
Sep

School threatened with suit

by Nick Wognum
An organization with conservative political leanings is threatening legal action against the Ely School District, alleging a civil rights violation and accusing the district of engaging in “unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination.”
Earlier this week, an attorney for the Young America’s Foundation served notice in a letter to superintendent Erik Erie.
Steven Mairella, deputy general counsel for the organization wrote that the school district’s cancellation of a 9-11 memorial event linked with his group “violated the civil rights of not only YAF but the students at your school.”
Mairella said the organization would take legal action unless the district “makes a public apology to YAF and the students who intended to participate in the 9-11 Never Forget Project” in both printed and social media, and “create clear guidelines that are consistent with the Constitution to prevent future abuses by school officials.”

Thu
09
Sep

Masks at school, but for how long?

by Nick Wognum
A controversial K-12 mask mandate was the dominat topic at a school safety advisory council session Thursday, with administrators defending its implmentation while also promising to explore how to bring it to an end.
Superintendent Erik Erie told council members that administrators would recommend that the mandate, which started when school began Tuesday, continue at least another week.
He also acknowledged growing public criticism over the requirement, including a petition signed by nearly 300 area residents, and said school leaders would consult with health officials to come up with a plan for easing the restrictions.
“Nobody wants to be wearing a mask,” said Erie. “The big question is what is it going to take to change from mask on to mask off. We don’t have all the answers yet.”
Erie added “we’re hearing from the community, certainly with the petition.”

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