Ancillary events planned to coincide with quiltmaker performance at State Theater

by Muffin Nelson
Just 30 days before Opening Night, cast, crew and company of The Quiltmaker’s Gift are delighted with the support unfolding for their production from The Ely Folk School (EFS) and The Ely Heart of the Woods Quilters.
Gail deMarcken, Ely resident and illustrator of the book that inspired this musical, can’t imagine this play without quilts everywhere. And they will be! The Ely Folk School, just across the street from our State Theater, will host a free quilt show featuring The Ely Heart of the Woods Quilt Guild. It will be open from Thursday, Jan. 23 through Sunday Jan. 26 from noon to 4 p.m. each day during the show’s run.
Also on display will be the national prize winning quilt of Cook resident Linda Bergerson fashioned from a line of Benartex fabrics based on illustrations in The Quiltmaker’s Gift.


New school plan: $19.8 million

by Tom Coombe
After going back to the drawing board, Ely school officials now have a new-look, nearly $20 million dollar facilities project to consider, as well as a timeline to gain outside funding assistance and take the initiative to local voters by the summer of 2020.
A school board study session Monday night revealed new drawings for a $19.8 million initiative that encompasses many of the renovations addressed by district officials during the last year, including the construction of a structure that connects the Washington and Memorial buildings and creates new classroom, commons, cafeteria and gymnasium space as well as new secure entry.
It also calls for the demolition of part of the Industrial Arts Building, as first suggested earlier this month by consultants as well as superintendent Erik Erie.


Twin Metals submits mine plan

by Nick Wognum
And so it begins, but this time the spotlight is squarely on the Ely area.
Trying to become the second permitted copper-nickel mine in Minnesota, Twin Metals Minnesota announced it has formally submitted its mine project proposal to state and federal agencies.
“Really it’s a kickoff to our environmental review process,” said TMM’s Dean DeBeltz. “These are the best plans we have for a 21st century sustainable mine.”
TMM’s proposed project would involve construction of an underground mining operation, processing facility, and dry stack tailings facility.
The Twin Metals project will be Minnesota’s first underground mining operation since the closure of Ely’s Pioneer Mine in 1967.
“I truly believe the Twin Metals project will be a model for modern, sustainable and environmentally responsible underground mining,” said Kelly Osborne, TMM chief executive officer.


Christmas money stolen from Ely nursing home

The Grinch made a stop in Ely today when money was stolen from the Boundary Waters Care Center.
During a Christmas luncheon on Friday donations were put into a jar to be used for craft supplies or bingo prizes for the residents, according to BWCC Activities Director Bonnie Forsman.
“All we know is that the jar was full and when my staff went and looked there was like $10 left in the jar,” said Forsman.
Craft items were being sold at a table with monies raised put into a jar.
One employee posted a message to the thief.
“You are not taking that money from me. You have taken it from my residents!!!!! Veterans who have served our country, mothers and fathers who have taken care of us . All that they have done for our country to make it great and now to be in a nursing home and have so little,” said Kyle Stella, BWCC Recreational Therapy Assistant.


Broadband, roads and taxes at Morse

The Morse town board discussed broadband at its regular meeting Tuesday night.
Morse approved a potential project that would involve the Town of Fall Lake in approaching Zito Media to expand services in the two townships.
Morse supervisor Terry Soderberg reached out to Zito Media in Pennsylvania after the partnership with Frontier was unable to get IRRRB funding.
Morse had put up $100,000, along with $200,000 from Frontier and an application was put in to IRRRB for $300,000 in funding.
But due to problems Frontier has with the state PUC the request was denied.
Soderberg said the only other partner is Zito Media that has fiber and conduit in the ground in the Ely area.
The board will have clerk Nick Wognum put together a project proposal in coordination with Fall Lake and Zito.
The board discussed the property tax statements sent out recently by St. Louis County that included the wrong phone number.


Recycling center move now complete

by Tom Coombe
Ely’s recycling center is now open at a new location, and around the clock.
A move announced earlier this year was completed this week, with the dropoff point for recyclables now located adjacent to the softball complex on Ely’s east end.
And in new twist, the city of Ely announced Thursday that the recycling area would be open 24 hours per day, seven days per week.
That’s in contrast to the last several years, when the recycling area was open only during posted hours.
Several recycling bins have been moved east, following the closure of the old recycling area on the west entrance to town.
The move was prompted by the development of Ely’s trailhead project and a move that will extend Fifth Avenue West from Highway 169 to the Ely hospital campus.


Motor permits fuel passion

by Tom Coombe
The Ely council chambers was filled Tuesday by those who say disabled veterans deserve special access to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
An aide to U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber and Kawishiwi District Ranger Gus Smith heard those appeals during a town hall meeting called by those taking up the cause.
They cited existing federal law and the difficulties associated with obtaining permits to make the case that the government should set aside day use motor permits - through the Moose Lake Chain and Basswood Lake - for disabled veterans.
Gerald Tyler, commander of Ely American Legion Post 248 and one of the organizers of the session, suggested legislation to set aside 10 percent of the day use permits for disabled veterans, while others - including Ely area veteran Bill Erzar - said the government should increase day use permits by 10 percent to accommodate veterans.


EBCH expansion project could lead to 25 new jobs

by Tom Coombe
With 95 employees and payroll and benefits exceeding $8 million, Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital is one of the region’s largest employers.
Those numbers could jump significantly if an expansion project currently in the works comes to fruition.
As many as 25 new jobs and an additional $1.7 million in annual payroll could result from the expansion, state lawmakers heard Monday from hospital CEO Michael Coyle, who spoke at the annual legislative meeting hosted by the Community Economic Development Joint Powers Board.
Both there and later in the day, when Coyle briefed hospital shareholders at their annual meeting, there was significant buzz about a project that has been in the talking stages for about a year yet remains a work in progress.


Legislators back Twin Metals

by Tom Coombe
Lunch was served just before noon Monday at the Grand Ely Lodge, but it took almost another two hours to get to the main course.
That’s how long it took before the annual legislative meeting in Ely veered to the area’s most contentious issue - the copper-nickel mining project proposed by Twin Metals Minnesota.
DFL legislators Tom Bakk and Rob Ecklund, who both support the project, acknowledged the opposition they face within their own party on the issue.
“We’re fighting the anti-mining folks every day down there, and you know who they are,” said Ecklund, an International Falls Democrat who represents the Ely area in the State House.
Bakk, the Senate Minority Leader, pushed back against suggestions that Range Democrats aren’t doing enough to support the Twin Metals initiative.


New tax, new benefits?

by Tom Coombe
As Lake County moves ahead with a new four percent lodging tax, the opposition that had formed in Fall Lake Township over the proposal seems to have waned.
Tourism officials who voiced angst several months ago now appear on board with the plan, which could be implemented sometime in 2020.
Kerry Davis, a longtime local resort owner and tourism industry leader, endorsed the proposal when Lake County commissioners came to the Fall Lake Town Hall for a Nov. 21 public meeting.
“I think overall there will be advantages to doing this,” said Davis.
Davis, other resort owners and Fall Lake leaders all voiced opposition when the plan first surfaced during the spring, but Lake County offiicals said they heard the concerns and worked to soothe them.


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