News

Mon
02
Dec

School project: Time to tap the brakes, think big

by Tom Coombe
Ely school officials were urged to step back and think big about a potential facilities project on campus.
That was the message Monday night from lobbyist Gary Cerkvenik, who is working on behalf of the district to gain as much as $10 million in additional revenue - from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board -for a major initiative.
“I would encourage you to think bigger and when you’re thinking bigger someone else will help you achieve that bigger plan, with not a lot of extra community support,” said Cerkvenik, a longtime, well-connected political operative who has worked with numerous Range entities and units of government.
“Instead of doing an $8 million (referendum) maybe you have a $10 million and somebody matches it, and now you have a $20 million plan. Now you have a good plan as $20 million accomplishes a lot.”

Fri
22
Nov

Theater set for grand debut

by Tom Coombe
The curtain goes up, the lights will be on and the smell of popcorn will fill the air Thursday night at Ely’s Historic State Theater.
That’s when the public can get its first look at the remarkable restoration of an iconic facility.
Dark since 2007 and in disrepair when it was purchased several years ago by Alley A Realty, the building and adjacent structures have been refurbished and are about to begin a new era - under the management of a newly-created nonprofit group.
The nonprofit is opening the doors to the theater on Thanksgiving night, for an open house that’s slated from 5 to 8 p.m.
People are invited to come out for tours, guided by nonprofit board members, and to get a sneak peak at what’s been done and what’s in store at the theater.

Fri
22
Nov

City hunt felled by arrows

by Tom Coombe
Nuisance deer will apparently remain safe from bows and arrows within Ely’s city limits.
A citizens’ request that the city conduct a special season archery deer season failed to gain traction Tuesday.
Council members took no formal action on the request brought forward by Sarah Malick-Wahls and backed by numerous petitioners, but those who spoke lined up in opposition.
“There’s no real place (to safely hold a city hunt),” said council member Paul Kess.
While Malick-Wahls pointed to municipal hunting seasons in more than 20 cities, including nearby Tower, Cook and Hoyt Lakes, council members weren’t convinced a hunt could be safely done in town.
“They are geographically much bigger,” Kess said of other cities. “Ely is fairly compact and doesn’t have a lot of bigger tracts. It becomes problematic about where the hunt would happen.”

Mon
18
Nov

A school tribute to area veterans

by Tom Coombe
Messages were sent and received during the annual Veterans’ Day program at the Ely schools.
As students gave thanks and saluted the dozens of veterans who took part in Monday morning’s event, two speakers challenged students to consider an assortment of ways to give back to their country - including military service.
Navy veteran Jessica Kellogg gave the keynote address, while Ely’s nearly 600 students and an audience of at least another 150 people heard also from Anne Koskinen, an Ely veteran and current commander of the American Legion in Minnesota’s Eighth District.
“Joining the military is a good career path for any citizen,” said Koskinen.
Kellogg offered similar advice, noting that “just about anything you can do as a civilian, you can do in the military,” pointing to careers as diverse as medicine and education.

Fri
15
Nov

Recycling area closes temporarily

The City of Ely announced that the Ely area recycling center will be temporarily closed starting Thursday, Nov 14 through Nov. 22.
The city is completing phase one work on the entrance to the proposed trailhead which will be located where the current recycling center is located.
“During this time the recycle center will be completely closed and recycling and brush or mulch will not be accepted,” a city notice stated. “During this time you are encouraged to utilize the transfer site on Highway 21 if you need to recycle. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Fri
15
Nov

Hospital welcomes new leaders

by Tom Coombe
Three new faces have joined the management staff at Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital, including one in a newly-created position.
Becky Holmstrom is on board as chief nursing officer at EBCH, while Tommy Teigen is the new team leader of the hospital’s cardiopulmonary rehabilitation department. Both joined the staff in September.
Nancy McKenzie has worked at EBCH since April in a new financial counselor position and has since been promoted to team leader.
The three new leaders bring varied backgrounds to the Ely hospital but some common bonds as well, including an affinity for EBCH and the Ely area.
“I really like the people,” said Holmstrom, a Duluth native. “It’s a great place to work with really a family feel.”
Teigen, who came to Ely from the Twin Cities, added “I never really cared for living in the Cities and always wanted to move somewhere more rural.”

Thu
07
Nov

School saluting vets at Monday program

The Ely School District will celebrate Veterans Day once again this year with a special program and tribute.
Following recent tradition, which has included several Veterans Day programs over the course of the last decade, the school will host an event at 10 a.m., Monday, at the high school gymnasium.
All veterans are invited to come and be recognized in a program that will include musical performances by both the school band and choirs.
“We’re inviting all veterans to come and join us,” said high school principal Megan Anderson. “The public is invited to attend.”
Anderson will speak Monday, and the keynote address will be delivered by Jessica Kellogg, an Ely area resident and veteran.
The Ely Area Honor Guard will also take part, presenting and retiring the colors in a solemn tribute that will also include the playing of taps.
A musical medley from Ely’s elementary school students is also part of the patriotic-themed day.

Thu
07
Nov

Library celebrates five years at new home

by Librarian Rachel Heinrich
Five years ago, the Ely Public Library was in the middle of big changes.
The new library building was almost complete; books and items were moving out of the old Community Center and up the alley to their new home.
Plans for a grand opening were being finalized, and library patrons had thousands of circulating items checked out to help with the move.
The library plans to have some fun activities plus refreshments on the afternoon of Nov. 12 from 2-4 p.m. to celebrate the five year anniversary of opening the doors to the public at the new building.
So, after five years, what changes has a different location brought to the library?
One big thing is the jump in library use. In 2013 (the year before the move), 63,338 items were checked out from the library; in 2018, that number had increased to 73,932 - an increase of 14% in just 5 years.

Fri
01
Nov

WolfTrack sets new path

by Tom Coombe
An Ely winter event will continue this season with new management.
The Ely Chamber of Commerce has taken over sponsorship and coordination of the WolfTrack Classic, a sled dog racing event that has become a staple on the local winter calendar and hearkens back to the days when the community hosted the All-American Sled Dog Races.
Set for its 12th year, the WTC’s future was in jeopardy as volunteer board members looked to pass the baton to new leadership.
“No one wanted to see the race end,” said Eva Sebesta, executive director of the Ely Chamber and a one-time WTC board member. “They were having some challenges finding additional board members want what ultimately ended up happening was that the board decided they would like to follow in the footsteps of the Apostle Islands race, which the Bayfield Chamber operates. So there was some precedence.”

Fri
25
Oct

An Ely theater revival

by Tom Coombe
Area residents and visitors will soon be able to check out the restoration of Ely’s Historic State Theater.
But the success of a massive fundraising campaign, launched earlier this week, will determine when the venue will be open for movies.
The non-profit group set up to operate the classic Sheridan Street theater will hold an open house on Thansksgiving night, offering tours and showing off the results of a five-year effort to renovate the facility.
At the same time, the group is hoping to raise nearly $200,000 to purchase a projector, screen, audio and lighting systems for the main theater as well as a screen for a second screening room.
“We wanted to list a few of the major things we are looking to acquire,” said David Wigdahl, chairperson of the Ely Historic State Theater non-profit. “We’re just hopeful we’ll find a couple of major donors to step forward.”

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