News

Fri
28
Aug

VA Clinic set to expand

by Tom Coombe
A $2.8 million project in Ely’s business park will help secure the future of the Veterans Affairs Community Clinic.
Ely city officials have approved over $140,000 in design work for the project, which will double the space utilized by the VA in the city-owned “Sato Building” on Miners Drive.
Work on the project is expected to begin in September and take about a year, according to Harold Langowski, the city’s clerk-treasurer and operations director.
Langowski represented the city in discussions earlier in the month and updated council members, who also serve as the city’s economic development authority on Tuesday.
“I did spend two days in Duluth with our design team and the general contractor and the VA folks,” Langowski said Tuesday. “They called it a design intent drawing meeting... That’s moving forward pretty quickly.”

Fri
28
Aug

- Ely Public Schools - Questions and Answers for the Start of the 2020-2021 School Year

Q: Will Ely Public Schools open after Labor Day as usual?

A: Yes, School will open for In-Person Learning on Tuesday, September 8.

Q: How can Ely Public Schools be opening for In-Person Learning when other schools in St. Louis County are starting in
Hybrid Learning?
A: The Ely District can open with In-Person Learning because we are following the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) data driven approach of using county case rate data for Greater St. Louis County, which has lower incidence numbers than the Duluth area. We are also able to start In-Person because of the precautionary measures being taken to help protect students and staff.

Q: What precautionary measures are being
employed?

Fri
21
Aug

Plane crashes in White Iron Lake

The Lake County Sheriff's Department confirms a plane crashed into White Iron Lake last night around 11 p.m.
"At approximately 2308 hours on 08/20/2020, Lake County Dispatch received a call reporting a possible plane crash on White Iron Lake.
Dr. Kyle Edlund, of Woodbury Dental Care, left the Ely Airport some time after 10:15 p.m. and ended up crashing into White Iron Lake. The plane was heading toward the Grand Marais/Cook County Airport from the Ely Airport.
Edlund was flying a Lance Air 4-seater, single engine N997S.
Edlund was last at his hotel in Ely at 10:15 pm and flew out soon after.
The Minnesota Wild hockey team released a statement this afternoon on the loss of Edlund, their team dentist.

Fri
21
Aug

COVID data out by zip code

by Tom Coombe
Nearly six months into the coronavirus pandemic, the impact to Ely area residents remains minimal, according to statistics released by the Minnesota Department of Health.
Statistics broken down by zip code show that five or fewer residents from the 55731 zip code have tested positive for COVID-19.
But last month, health officials indicated “some growth” in cases in the area, which would presumably be linked to visitors or others who do not reside here full-time.
Those cases, however, have not resulted in any local spike, according to a local physician.
“We were lucky in that individuals from out of town with COVID did not result in any significant community spread,” said James Montana, a physician with Essential Health.

Fri
14
Aug

Ely mayoral race upended

by Tom Coombe
Ely no longer has a contested race for mayor.
Eric Urbas, a first-time candidate who hoped to unseat incumbent Chuck Novak, said Thursday that he’s withdrawing from consideration.
He cited health reasons in ending a candidacy he launched a little more than two months ago.
“I don’t want to take something on that I don’t know that I will be able to do,” said Urbas.
The decision leaves Novak as the only candidate in the race for mayor, which is elected every two years.
Novak is seeking a fourth term in his second stint as mayor. He also won the mayoral seat in 2006 but lost a re-election bid two-years later.
The race had already attracted considerable attention in town, with Urbas attracting prominent support and many backers wearing T-shirts touting his candidacy at the community’s July 4 patriotic march/parade.

Tue
11
Aug

Ely votes “yes” on school bond

by Tom Coombe
The Ely school campus is set for a nearly $20 million facelift that will include a brand-new building, following voter approval Tuesday of a $10 million bond referendum.
With strong support in the cities of Ely and Winton and a narrower margin in Morse Township, voters said “yes” to a project that evolved from several years of discussions.
The referendum was supported by over 64 percent of the voters as of late Tuesday, with only absentee ballots in Morse Township and two small unorganized townships remaining to be counted.
The raw vote total was 927-512.
Approval clears the way for a project that combines renovation with new construction, including the creation of a structure that would link the Washington and Memorial buildings and include new classrooms, cafeteria and commons space, a secure entry and additional gymnasium space.

Fri
07
Aug

Joint powers board votes to increase ambulance funding

Members of a joint powers board agreed to seek additional funding for this year and next to help the Ely Area Ambulance Service.
Morse and Fall Lake townships along with the cities of Ely and Winton make up the board. The group has been looking to find ways to make sure the ambulance service is financially stable.
A separate non-profit board manages the day to day operation of the service.
The group met July 31 in Winton and had two represenatives from St. Louis County, commissioner Paul McDonald and Brandon Larson from the Auditor’s office.
The current funding formula is based on population. Each entity is invoiced in the fall for the annual contribution.
The board had previously discussed assessing a fee to each parcel in the four government units.
Two things were apparent at the meeting, it was too late to do that for 2021 and Morse was not interested in paying per parcel since it would then pay more than the city of Ely.

Fri
07
Aug

Two in, one out of school board election

by Tom Coombe
The Ely School Board election is taking shape, but with several unknowns leading up to a Tuesday filing deadline.
Incumbent Heidi Mann announced last week that she won’t file for another term on the six-member board, while former Ely teacher and coach Darren Visser was the only candidate to officially file as of Tuesday.
Two other incumbents whose terms are up - James Pointer and Tom Omerza - had not yet entered the race.
Pointer declined comment when asked about his intentions, while Omerza said just prior to the Echo’s deadline that he plans to file.

Sat
01
Aug

Back to school?

by Tom Coombe
In advance of a Thursday announcement from Gov. Tim Walz that will determine the direction of the 2020-21 school year, officials in Ely waited with the rest of the state and prepared for students to return to the campus.
Unclear if September will begin with distance learning, in-person classes or a combination of the two, Ely administrators and staff moved closer this week to developing plans for all three contingencies.
Superintendent Erik Erie, meanwhile, told board members at Monday’s monthly study session that initial surveys showed parents are comfortable sending their students back to buildings that have been closed since mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Sat
01
Aug

Harvest Moon cancelled

by Tom Coombe
After holding out in hopes for a change in circumstances, the Ely Chamber of Commerce decided Monday to cancel its second major festival of 2020.
The Harvest Moon Festival, which had been set for Sept. 10-12, was scrapped because of the coronavirus-pandemic and associated state regulations.
“Based on current restrictions in place for event gatherings, the event cannot be held,” Chamber director Eva Sebesta said.
The Chamber had earlier cancelled its signature summer event - the late-July Blueberry/Art Festival - but officials said then they were hopeful the smaller Harvest Moon event would go on as scheduled.
Yet a series of executive orders by Gov. Tim Walz, including one that limits outdoor gatherings to 250 people or less, made it all but impossible to hold the Harvest Moon event.

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