News

Fri
02
Jul

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.

Fri
25
Jun

Domino’s coming to Ely

by Tom Coombe
Domino’s Pizza may soon be delivering in Ely, perhaps yet this summer.
The popular national pizza chain is angling to open a location in Ely - presumably in the building that once housed Pizza Hut and most recently was home to Two Gringos.
Domino’s franchisee Duane Carlson confirmed his intentions via email on Thursday.
If all goes as planned, Domino’s pizza and other food items will be available for delivery, takeout and even dine-in during August.
“I have looked at putting a store in Ely for the majority of my career and the right location and opportunity has finally emerged,” said Carlson. “We are excited to begin the process which started with securing a location and informing (Domino’s) of my intent.”
Carlson lives in International Falls and said he’s been making trips to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness for more than 40 years.

Thu
17
Jun

Public access at Burntside will stay open until July 8

The Fourth of July on Burntside Lake just became a little easier to enjoy.
The Tower office of DNR Parks and Waterways announced Wednesday the Van Vac public access will now remain open until July 8.
A pre-construction meeting for the project was held last week and contractor Low Impact gave notice that work won’t start until July 8.
That’s a welcome relief for people trying to launch boats on Burntside Lake, which has limited public accesses.
The landing on Van Vac is the easiest to access and offers the most parking.
Other landings are at Burntside Lodge (parking on Hwy. 88), Wolf Lake Road (two small parking lots), Passi Road (very limited parking) and North Arm Road (limited parking).

Thu
17
Jun

School reworks project

by Tom Coombe
In some ways, it’s back to the drawing board for a $20 million renovation project on the Ely school campus.
While demolition of the Industrial Arts Building began last week and nearly $12 million in construction bids have already been awarded, bids for a second phase are roughly $4.5 million over budget and will prompt some “dialing back” of the project, school bard members heard Monday night.
The board took no action this week and will meet with administrators at a Tuesday study session to gather more input, but barring an unanticipated source of new revenue, it appears that many of the renovations planned for the Washington and Memorial buildings will have to be reduced or revamped in order to meet the project budget.
The board has formally rejected bids that came in last month at approximately $8.8 million, well over the engineers’ estimates of $4.3 million.
Now, they’ll wait as architects and contractors come up with a new plan.

Fri
11
Jun

Ely’s ballpark graduation

by Tom Coombe
Ely Memorial High School’s graduating class of 2021 mixed old traditions with new as they bid a fond farewell.
Commencement ceremonies were held outdoors, at Veterans Memorial Field, rather than inside at Washington Auditorium.
The graduates also took part in a parade through town after the event, continuing a tradition started only last year.
Yet the ceremonies themselves, minus the change of venue, resembled those of recent years and even decades ago.
The class was small in number, with 37 earning diplomas and 34 taking part in the commencement amid unseasonably warm temperatures.
Several hundred people watched from the stadium grandstand and the paved pavilion area at the historic ballpark, with the graduates, in full regalia, sitting in chairs on either side of home plate.
They gathered together at the end of an at-times bizarre school years, disrupted and altered because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fri
11
Jun

Ely a “small town to visit”

by Tom Coombe
In the eyes of a national publication, Ely is a must-see destination for those looking to vacation in a smaller community.
Smithsonian Magazine named Ely one of the “15 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2021,” in an article published earlier this week.
As the nation emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic and travel ramps up even further, the magazine highlighted small communities and said “perhaps more than ever now is a time to appreciate small towns.”
The magazine assembled a list and added “the best small towns to visit in 2021 are prime examples of perseverance and preservation, and reminders of all that we love about small towns in the first place.”
Ely joins a list of iconic and lesser-known communities including Dyersville, Iowa, home of the baseball field from the movie “Field of Dreams.”

Fri
04
Jun

Dergantz gives back to his hometown

by Nick Wognum
When an Ely area veteran passes away, his or her spouse receives a folded flag in a handmade wooden box.
Those boxes are made by Elyite Donald Dergantz who now lives in Illinois. For the past 10 years he has supplied flag boxes for Ely.
“I made one for Donna Niskala,” said Dergantz, 87, who was at the Ely Cemetery Monday for Memorial Day Services. “I make regular boxes and custom boxes.”
He also makes boxes for the American Legion Post in Crete, Illinois.
He and his daughter Stephanie Johnson drove 13 hours to be at the ceremony. It’s a trip he knows well.
“I’ve been coming up here for the last 20-some years for Memorial Day,” said Dergantz, who is a 1952 graduate of Ely Memorial High School.
He was drafted in 1954 and served two years in the Military Police. His first assignment was at West Point.

Fri
04
Jun

Class of ’21 goes out on a high note

by Tom Coombe
Their final 15 months as high school students were like no other graduating class in the storied century-plus existence of Ely Memorial High School.
Yet their last act will be strikingly, if not refreshingly, “normal.”
That’s the backstory as the graduating class of 2021 gathers Saturday night for their commencement ceremonies.
They won’t walk across the stage at Washington Auditorium, which is unavailable because of the ongoing school construction and renovation project, but the group will instead gather at the baseball stadium - Veterans Memorial Field - for a ceremony slated to begin at 7 p.m.
Graduation is outdoors for a second consecutive year in Ely, but while the class of 2020 had to take part in a drive-in graduation in the arena parking lot, this year’s event is much more traditional in nature - save for a new venue.

Fri
28
May

Fire burns iconic Burntside boathouse

by Nick Wognum
An iconic boathouse on Burntside Lake along with two cabins burned early Sunday morning. The large four stall boathouse had a deck on top and was located on what is known as Waters Island.
The fire started at a ground level transformer from a power line that runs under the lake. The property owners attempted to douse the flames with fire extinguishers but to no avail.
Two of the island residents were treated and released by Ely Area Ambulance which was at the staging area at Burntside Lodge.
With a strong wind from the east, the fire rapidly progressed to the boathouse and cabins.
Morse-Fall Lake fire chief Ted Krueger said the initial page was for a transformer fire but once they could see the flames additional pages went out to the Ely and Babbitt fire departments.
“We responded with our fire boat and we paged Ely for manpower and Babbitt for their fire boat and manpower,” said Krueger.

Fri
28
May

Prom held at Ely Memorial

Grand March 2021

1. Brynn Vollom (Senior Class President) ------------------------- Brock LaTourell (Senior Class Secretary)

2. Grace Erickson (Senior Class Treasurer) -------------------- Maggie Renner (Senior Class Vice President)

3. Lauren Olson (Junior Class President) ----------------------------------------------------------------Rollie Seppala

4. Madison Rohr --------------------------------------------------------Harry Simons (Junior Class Vice President)

5. Annikka Mattson (Junior Class Treasurer) ----------------------------------------------------- Zachary Robbins

6. Abbie Rehbein (Junior Class Secretary)------------------------------------------------------------Cameron Kienitz

7. Raven Sainio --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Jakson Hegman

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