Early voting begins in Ely for state’s Mar. 3 presidential primary

by Tom Coombe
While neighboring Iowa will formally kick off the race for president next month with its first-in-the-nation caucuses, Ely area voters also already have a chance to vote for president.
Early voting has already begun for the Mar. 3 Minnesota presidential primary.
Minnesota’s primary is part of “Super Tuesday,” when numerous states will hold primary elections that could help decide who Democrats choose to put up against President Trump in November.
Friday was the first day of early voting at Ely City Hall and will continue, during business hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
City Hall will also be open for early voting on Saturday, Feb. 29 from 10 a.m, to 3 p.m. and on Monday, Mar. 2 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., before regular balloting begins Mar. 3, at the Ely Senior Center, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.


Reedy’s advice: Get your REAL ID today

by Nick Wognum
While more Minnesotans are REAL ID ready, most still need to decide if they need a REAL ID or other acceptable form of identification before the federal deadline of Oct. 1, 2020.
After the deadline of Oct. 1, 2020 Minnesotans will not be able to use their standard driver’s license or ID card to board domestic flights or enter federal facilities.
“If you don’t have a REAL ID you won’t be able to board a plane unless you have a passport,” said Penny Reedy of the Ely License Bureau.
People will need a REAL ID, enhanced driver’s license or ID card, passport or passport card or another acceptable form of identification for federal purposes.
But to get the new cards, you’ll need to make sure you have your paperwork in order. Reedy said plenty of people do not have the right paperwork when they come into her office on Chapman Street.
Her advice? Start by going to the state website


BWCA permits online January 29

Boundary Waters Canoe Area quota permit reservations for the 2020 season will be available beginning at 9 a.m. CST on Jan. 29.
Reservations for May 1 through Sept. 30 can be booked using, the online reservation and trip planning service for all federal recreation opportunities, or by calling 1-877-444-6777.
The BWCAW contains over 1,200 miles of canoe routes, 12 hiking trails and over 2,000 designated campsites.
Visitors taking an overnight paddle, motor or hiking trip, or a motorized day trip into the BWCAW between May 1 and September 30 are required to obtain a quota permit.
Group sizes are limited to nine people and these smaller group sizes enhance the wilderness experience, chances of seeing wildlife and decrease resource impacts.
Here are a few tips to assist those interested in reserving these popular permits:


Settlement reached in county strike

Teamsters Local 320 posted online Monday morning that a settlement had been reached in a strike that had St. Louis County plow workers walking picket lines last week.

"After 15 hrs of mediation, #Teamsters reached an agreement that both parties can be proud of! Union members will vote on the new settlement today," the Facebook post said.

Union members are expected to vote at 4 p.m. Monday on the agreement, no word on if they would be back to work Tuesday morning or not.

St. Louis County employees who are members of Teamsters Local 320 picketed at the Michael Forsman Joint Public Works Facility in Ely on Wednesday morning. The group was set up just off the entrance to the public works facility on the Hidden Valley Road. The sticking point in negotiations has been an increase in maximum sick leave accrual cap for payout from the current 1,250 hours. The county offered 1,350 hours and the union’s request is for 1,500 hour payout.


Deal reached in teachers’ suit

by Tom Coombe
A settlement agreement has been reached in the lawsuit brought by 16 Ely teachers against the Ely School District.
Monday, school board members are set to go into closed session to consider terms of the deal reached between representatives of both sides.
Terms would become public if the board takes action after reopening Monday’s meeting, set for 6 p.m. at the high school.
The case stems from payroll deductions made by the district.
Court documents show the district first mistakenly overpaid the teachers during the 2017-18 school year, then reclaimed the money over a series of pay periods.
Those deductions were unauthorized and in violation of the law, according to a lawsuit filed by teacher Krista Moyer.
Most of the remaining teachers affected by the deduction later signed on to the suit.


Much ado about nothing

by Tom Coombe
Pronouncements that the Shopko building in Ely was sold appear to be off the mark.
The real estate agent who is marketing the building contradicted Saturday’s claim by Ely Mayor Chuck Novak that the vacant building has a new owner.
“It’s not sold,” said Jeff Houge, an agent for Twin Cities-based Wakota Commercial Advisors. “It’s still available.”
House didn’t directly respond to a published report that the building was “under contract,” and on path to be sold, adding that he “can’t get into details as far as the other project we’re working on.”
“In commercial real estate, something is available until it’s not,” said Houge. “Sometimes deals fall apart.”
Novak, meanwhile, said Monday that two reliable “subsources” provided confirmation of a sale but added he had no other information.


20th Fun Run set for Jan. 25

by Tom Coombe
The area’s biggest snowmobile event of the year does not require that participants be avid snowmobilers.
In fact, one doesn’t need to own a snowmobile at all.
While proceeds from the 20th Annual Fun Run support area snowmobile trails, the event has evolved in its two decades and now serves as one of the top family-fun events of the winter for the Ely, Babbitt and Tower communities.
This year’s event is set for Jan. 25, culminating with giant wrap-up party that evening at Fortune Bay Resort Casino, where more than 650 prizes will be given away.
And getting to the ’Bay by snowmobile is purely optional.
“I’d say the majority of people right now are going by car,” said Jimmy Zupancich, Fun Run chairman and longtime organizers. “And they’re bringing their children. It’s a great event and anyone can come.”


State goes after Frontier again

The Minnesota Department of Commerce has launched another investigation into Frontier Communications, focusing on the company’s billing and customer service practices. The Department’s previous investigation into the company in 2018 found that Frontier Communications failed to provide adequate, reliable phone service to Minnesota customers.
The primary issues currently under investigation include whether Frontier failed to inform customers of their service options and whether Frontier enrolled customers in long distance service plans that customers did not want or use.
“We are concerned about Frontier’s practices when customers are signing up for service and the prospect that Minnesotans are being overcharged for their phone service,” said Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelley.


Ely’s Johnson wins gold

by Tom Coombe
Ben Johnson had what could best be described as a golden trip to Italy.
For the second time in 12 years, the Elyite came home from the Deaflympics with a gold medal, this time as an assistant coach with the U.S. Deaflympic team.
Johnson, who is in his fifth season as head hockey coach at Ely High School, was in Italy from Dec . 7-21, and the U.S. team clinched the gold medal with a 4-1 win over Canada.
In the process, Johnson made a bit of history as the first person to win a gold medal both as a player and a coach in Deaflympic hockey.
Johnson, who is hearing impaired and legally deaf, won a gold medal as a player as part of the U.S. team in 2007, at the Deaflympics in Salt Lake City.
“To win a gold medal a lot has to take place,” said Johnson. “It’s not handed to you and it was definitely earned. Our team worked hard that entire time. For me, it was a very special gold medal.”


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.


Subscribe to RSS - News