News

Fri
15
Apr

Property valuations skyrocketing

by Nick Wognum
Call it sticker shock. Area property owners who have received their annual Estimated Market Value notification were likely in for a big surprise.
The real estate market has skyrocketed causing sales prices to greatly exceed the value the county had on the property.
But a higher valuation doesn’t always equal higher tax payments.
“Everybody thinks because their valuation went up 25% that their taxes will go up the same,” said St. Louis County Commissioner Paul McDonald. “It all comes down to what the city or township, school and county levy is set at. That’s what will drive that number.”
Lake County assessor Greg Swartwoudt has been in the business the last 30 years. He said he’s never seen anything like this.
“By the third day after notifications were mailed out we exceeded any previous record for phone calls,” said Swartwoudt. “We had areas up over 50% in Lake County.”

Fri
15
Apr

School project takes next steps

by Tom Coombe
A $21.5 million project on the Ely school campus is progressing “internally,” superintendent John Klarich told board members on Monday.
A building that will link the Washington and Memorial structures is up and plans call for it to be open when the 2022-23 school year begins in September.
Yet unforeseen expenses and inflation have created project budget woes for the district, and Ely school officials are working on several fronts in hopes of lining up additional funding to complete the project as originally intended.
At Monday’s regular meeting, school board members were briefed about an infrastructure component that was added to the project budget, including plans to place a fire hydrant on the south side of the new building.
That work will begin shortly after the current school year ends in early-June.
“That will not take place until school is out and students are gone,” Klarich said.

Fri
08
Apr

McDonald will seek re-election

by Tom Coombe
Paul McDonald says his time as county commissioner “has been one of the great honors of my life.”
He’s hoping that area voters will allow him to continue to serve, announcing this week that he’ll seek a second term on the St. Louis County Board.
“Over my three plus years in office, we have made great progress and I want to do my part to see it continue,” McDonald said Tuesday. “The board has put ideas in place to help reconnect students in the schools, established mental health initiatives and continue to promote economic development in the region. The pandemic has been stressful, but we have continued to work to make St. Louis County a better place.”
A longtime coach, teacher and athletic director at Vermilion Community College, McDonald was elected to the board in 2018 and now serves as its chairman.

Fri
08
Apr

Covid numbers plummet

by Tom Coombe
Both in Ely and across the state, Covid-19 case numbers are at their lowest totals since last summer.
Only one area resident tested positive for the virus in the last week, according to data released Thursday by the Minnesota Department of Health.
Across St. Louis County, only 680 cases were recorded in March - the first time the total fell under 1,000 since last July and a fraction of the nearly 10,000 cases noted in January of this year.
Similar numbers have been reported statewide, with the MDH reporting about 3,500 active cases on Thursday after reaching a mid-January peak of more than 65,000.
Covid’s retreat has been dramatic since early-2021 and a spike in cases that health officials say was fueled by the highly contagious - but more mild - Omicron variant.
In Ely, weekly cases have fallen into the single digits since late-February.

Fri
08
Apr

Ely Police Report for March 15-31, 2022

Arrests/Citations:
• Domestic Assault- Individual arrested for Domestic Assault.
Complaints:
• • Medical- Officers assisted the Ely Ambulance with a medical.
• Public Assist- Individual applied for a permit to purchase.
• Found Property- Officers located several missing items. The items were returned.
• Public Assist- Officers assisted an individual get fingerprints for employment.
• Fraud- Officers were informed about a scam.
• Assist Other Agency- Officers assisted a neighboring agency with a suicidal person.
• Extra Patrol- Officers were requested for extra patrol.
• Public Assist- Officers assisted an individual get fingerprints for employment.
• Information- CPS report received.
• Public Assist- Officers assisted an individual get fingerprints for employment.
• Information- CPS report received.

Fri
01
Apr

City buying fire equipment

by Tom Coombe
The city of Ely is getting more bang for its buck as it replaces aging fire equipment.
Rather than spending as much as $600,000 for a ladder truck, as was speculated last fall, the city will put out just over $467,000 for two vehicles following council action on Tuesday night.
At a special meeting, the council voted unanimously to spend $467,485 for both a ladder truck and a fire engine.
The city will not only replace a 1979 American La France with a new aerial unit from a fire department in Pennsylvania, but it will also purchase a fire engine from the same community.
The deal was the result of a field trip of sorts, taken by fire chief Dave Marshall and assistant John Zobitz earlier in the year.
“We had a chance to spend a snowy day north of the Poconos,” Marshall told council members.
Plans to replace the department’s 1983 ladder truck changed when the LaFrance failed to pass a pump test.

Fri
01
Apr

Essentia Health opens new pharmacy in Ely

Ely is back to having two pharmacies in town. A ribbon cutting was held March 24 for Essentia Health’s new pharmacy, located in the Ely Zup’s building.
During the ceremony, pharmacist Mike Reuter notes he lives in Eagles Nest. “I was really happy to be able to switch and get to work for Essentia and get to work in the community I live in,” said Reuter. He noted several other pharmacy employees already live in the Ely area.
Reuter said he has been a pharmacist for 20 years. “Time went by a little quick and I want to do anything I can to help people here and take care of them the best we can,” said Reuter.
Kenzie Hohman, Essentia’s ambulatory care senior director, said, “At Essentia Pharmacy we really strive to have all Essentia patients have access to our comprehensive services. We provided mail order support and telehealth but opening this pharmacy will enable us to serve your community at a higher level and reach more patients.”

Fri
25
Mar

School looks to St. Paul for help

by Tom Coombe
Legislation in the works in St. Paul could provide a financial boost for Ely’s beleaguered school renovation project.
Earlier this week, the State Senate Tax Committee - after hearing from supporters including elementary principal Anne Oelke - endorsed a bill that would extend a key funding mechanism for Iron Range school projects through 2034.
Thursday, a House committee was set to consider a bill that could provide specific relief to Ely, which has been hamstrung by cost overruns on its $20 million project.
Those overruns have put a hold on part of a project approved nearly two years ago by Ely district voters, who approved a $10 million referendum, and have sent Ely officials scrambling both to cut costs and seek new sources of revenue.
One potential source of aid might be the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board, which has already put $7 million into the Ely project.

Mon
21
Mar

Skraba, Zupancich file for MN House, Senate

The mayors of Ely and Babbitt have each announced their intent to run for higher office this fall.
Ely mayor Roger J. Skraba announced his candidacy to represent District 3A as a Republican in the Minnesota House.
Skraba born and raised in Ely said, “It’s time that an elected conservative voice is heard from northeastern Minnesota at the State Capitol. The DFL of my parents and grandparents generations has left us and has been replaced by far left extremists. I want to bring representation to those they left.”
“I am running to support the growth of our diverse economies in northeastern Minnesota. Currently the Metro controlled DFL controls what economies we have, which in turn affects our way of life. I want to represent our way of life to grow our economies so our school children can stay in the Northland to raise families and prosper as strong communities. We all owe it to them to fight for our way of life.”

Fri
18
Mar

School project on dual tracks

by Tom Coombe
Ely’s school renovation project is moving forward on several fronts, with construction of a new addition on track and school officials scouring for additional funding to meet a budget shortfall.
Superintendent John Klarich told board members Monday that project contractors and architects will meet with them later this month to provide an update, and the district continues to pursue aid in St. Paul and elsewhere in a quest for more money.
The goal, Klarich said. is “to get the entire project done within a couple of years. That means the remodeling of the Washington and Memorial building now on hold due to cost overruns.”
Elementary principal Anne Oelke was scheduled to testify before state lawmakers this week on one bill that would provide financial relief to the district, and Klarich said that “we have our fingers on several bills in the legislature that are starting to be heard.”

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