Ely Police Report for July 15-30, 2021

• Criminal Sexual Conduct- Individual arrested for 3rd Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct.
• Domestic Assault- Individual arrested for 3rd Degree Assault, 4th Degree Assault, Obstruct legal process, and Domestic Assault.
• Assault- Individual arrested for 2nd Degree Assault, 3rd Degree damage to property, and Domestic Assault.
• Traffic Stop- Individual arrested for 4th Degree DUI and driving without headlights.
• Disturbance- Individual issued a citation for Public Nuisance.
• Damage to Property- Individual issued a citation for 3rd Degree damage to property and possession of drug paraphernalia.
• Traffic Stop- Individual issued a citation for Underage Drinking and Driving.


Shop, band areas shift for fall

by Tom Coombe
As work continues on Ely’s school facilities project, contractors and architects have made it easier to track the progress.
An internet link, which can be found on the Ely School District’s Facebook page, includes photos and a progress report on numerous components of the project - all tied to construction bids approved in April.
School board members got a look at the photos Monday, during their monthly board study session, and got an update on changes that have occurred since they met earlier in the month.
Primary among them are adjustments being made to make sure displaced courses and functions have a home once the school year begins this fall, or shortly after.
In a change from what was planned earlier, band classes will not take place in the Washington Auditorium this year and will instead go into the choir room in the Memorial Building.


Storm wipes out Blueberry/Art Festival; Vendors relocate around town

Ellen Cashman stood in the middle of Whiteside Park Friday night after a storm ripped through with winds up to 70 miles per hour. Surrounded by carnage, Cashman delivered the news that the event would not go on.
The storm hit Ely shortly after the festival ended for the day at 6 p.m. Miraculously no injuries were reported.
Saturday morning a number of vendors relocated to other areas around town. According to Mayor Chuck Novak, "Permit fees for Blueberry Arts vendors relocating within Ely are waived."
In addition to the park, there were trees across roads, laying on top of houses and taking our power lines across the Ely area. Minnesota Power reported over 300 people without electricity while Lake Country Power had over 3,000.


Ely Rotary marks 100 years

by Tom Coombe
Ely’s Rotary Club has turned 100, and members are planning a giant celebration.
In conjunction with the club’s annual fundraising auction, the Ely Rotary is holding an outdoor event on Saturday, Aug. 14, at Whiteside Park.
Live music both before and after the auction, a beer tent, food booths and more are part of the celebration, which will be topped off by a drawing for $10,000 in cash prizes.
Todd Heiman, current club president, laid out the plans earlier this week during the Tuesday Group luncheon at Grand Ely Lodge.
“It’s amazing to realize we’ve been doing service work in the community for 100 years, and we’re still very active and very involved.”
The club has put together a full day of festivities, combining the celebration with an auction that’s now in its 31st year and serves as the group’s major fundraiser of the year.


Forest Service ignites fire near Fourtown Lake

The U.S. Forest Service used aerial ignition to limit the growth of a fire between Fourtown and Boot Lakes. The fire started from a lightning strike on July 25. It grew from a quarter acre to 20 acres overnight. On July 27, ping pong balls filled with glycerin were dropped from a helicopter to burn the fire to natural barriers. The balls ignite 25-30 seconds after being released from the helicopter. Once they hit the ground, they quickly ignite the vegetation on the ground. The fire ended up being 225 acres. “I do think it went pretty well in the short window we had to work with,” said Kawishiwi Ranger Aaron Kania.
The U.S. Forest Service has been busy with a number of fires including the Delta Fire at the end of the Fernberg.
As of Thursday afternoon, Delta was 92 percent contained with no smoke detected. There were already reports of plants starting to grow where the fire burned.
A fire on Fourtown Lake was fought with fire (see page one).


BWCA closures expanding to west; USFS, DNR install fire bans

A new closure in the BWCA west of Basswood to Crane Lake is in place as of July 17. There are currently seven wildfires burning in Quetico Provincial Park with the potential to spread into the Crooked Lake travel corridor and beyond Crooked and Iron Lakes, into more heavily visited areas of the Wilderness. Fire managers have identified two fires with a serious potential to spread across the border. Recent reconnaissance flights have indicated an increase in fire behavior with Canada’s fires, despite the lighter winds; fuels in this area are pre-heating and becoming more volatile. Closures will remain in place until fires in this region no longer pose a risk to the public. Visitor and firefighter safety is the number one priority during a closure due to wildfire.


Ely Winter Festival unveils pin for 2022

In the middle of summer, The Ely Winter Festival board is looking toward winter and planning to create another festival Feb. 4-12, 2022. The festival draws thousands of people from the upper Midwest and beyond.
Board chair Chris Kloppenberg said, “After a smaller but successful 2021 festival, we are excited to be creating a traditional festival with a park full of snow sculptors and many outdoor events.”
The 2022 pin depicting a carver working on a moose snow sculpture was designed by local artist Nancy Ensley.
This will be the fifth festival where the festival will have donated $1 of the $6 price of a pin to an Ely Public Schools arts program.
Programs supported so far have been the art department, the instrumental and choral departments, and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math). Proceeds from the 2022 pin sales will go to another arts endeavor for students. The other $5 is a vital part of being able to put on the festival.


Council fills city positions, declares “Twin Metals Appreciation Days”

by Tom Coombe
Two city positions were filled Tuesday as council members breezed through a packed agenda.
Upon recommendation of the city’s employee relations committee, the council voted unanimously to hire David Huberty for the part-time planning and zoning administrator position, and promoted Troy Oelke to the post of Equipment Operator III.
Both moves came at a council session that lasted less than an hour.
Huberty, whose hire is subject to a background check, was one of two candidates interviewed for the planning and zoning job, last held by Tim Riley.
“It was a competitive process, said council member Heidi Omerza, a member of the employee relations committee. “We’re grateful to have so many interested candidates.”
Oelke was one of four internal candidates to be interviewed for the equipment operator job.
Both the Huberty and Oelke hires were recommended unanimously by the employee relations committee on June 30.


Prospector ATV project picks up $1 million

The Prospector ATV Club will be able to move forward with phase two of trail construction following action by the state legislature in special session.
The bill, signed by the governor, will allow the club to access $955,000 in ATV dedicated account monies for five projects including a bridge over the Beaver River.
The Beaver River bridge will provide a permanent connection from Babbitt to the Taconite Trail. The project is expected to cost $1.3 million.
In addition, there are four other projects where planning and environmental review can begin.
“We’re just completing Phase One with miles of new trail being built between Babbitt and Tower,” said Prospector trail administrator Ron Potter. “This is the next step for us. The Beaver River crossing is an important connection between the Taconite Trail and Prospector.”


A full, fun Fourth in Ely

by Tom Coombe
If it’s possible to cram two years’ worth of fun into one day, Ely just might do it on Sunday.
After a 2020 Independence Day that included a scaled-back parade, the usual fireworks but not much else, the community’s Fourth of July festivities are back in full force this year.
With COVID-19 pandemic restrictions over and the city of Ely resuming sponsorship of Fourth events, the celebration has returned to a more typical affair - including a few new twists.
As usual, the parade and fireworks remain the signature events, but early risers have a pair of events to choose from - including the newly-added flag raising ceremony and the annual “Four on the Fourth” race around the Trezona Trail - but festivities continue throughout the day.
Community organizers kept Ely’s parade tradition alive in 2020 with an event that got rave reviews and in many ways mirrored previous parades.


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