News

Sat
07
Jan

Teachers chalk up questions, not outcry on new health care plan

The “s” word came into play during negotiations at ISD 696 last week and it didn’t stand for strike. The district and the teachers’ union may be very close to a settlement.<BR><BR>Barring some last minute meltdown, once the questions raised at last Wednesday’s negotiation session are answered, the toner is ready to hit the paper.<BR><BR>The two sides are scheduled to meet Sunday at 6 p.m., prior to Monday’s 7 p.m. school board meeting. <BR><BR>Teacher Jim Lah told board members that the faculty met to discuss the district’s new health care proposal. <BR><BR>The new voluntary employee benefit association (VEBA) health insurance plan would limit the district’s health care cost increases versus the current plan where the district pays 85 percent of family plan premiums, no matter what the cost is.

Sat
07
Jan

Bursting with arts, winter season kicks off with color

Ely will have its best artistic side on display soon. <BR><BR>Sixth graders in Washington Elementary this Monday will start a two week Stained Glass Art Class in a residency with artist Claire Taylor and assistants, sponsored by Ely Greenstone Public Art. The student projects will be featured at an Artists Reception on Friday, Jan. 27 from 3-4 p.m. at Northern Grounds Cafe at 117 N. Central which is open to the public. Projects will remain on display there until Feb. 19.<BR><BR>The annual Ely ArtWalk begins February 3 and lasts until Feb. 19 with over 100 artists displaying their works in downtown businesses. For more information call Dayna Mase at 218-349-7765.<BR><BR>If you’re interested in learning the tricks of the snow carving trade, you should attend the free Learn the Tricks to Snow Carve workshop to be held on Sunday, Jan. 29 from 1-2 p.m. at the Whiteside Park Pavillion.

Fri
06
Jan

Got OCF? Come to Ely

By this summer, those in Ely's tourism industry are hoping anyone and everyone in the upper Midwest will be aware of a newly-termed 'disorder.'<BR><BR>And they're out to show that the Ely area can serve as a haven to those who suffer from what's been termed as OCF - obsessive compulsive fishing.<BR><BR>In a bid to attract more people who fish to the area and draw more tourism traffic in the months of May and June, the Ely Chamber of Commerce has teamed up with a Twin Cities marketing and public relations firm to launch a unique $170,000 advertising campaign that was unveiled earlier this week.<BR><BR>Through radio and internet advertisements, billboards and e-mail blasts and street teams armed with catchy brochures detailing the 'disorder,' Ely's bid to attract those who just can't catch enough fish is set to begin.<BR><BR>Olson and Company, a Twin Cities firm whose client list includes the

Sat
31
Dec

Some progress, no deal in school talks

Negotiators for the Ely School Board and the local faculty union inched closer to a deal during a pre-Christmas session, but several obstacles held up any further progress.<BR><BR>Union leaders said they’d accept proposed changes to the district’s health insurance plan, but they rejected provisions tying single teachers to insurance spending caps.<BR><BR>Also unsettled is how the union and district will divide payment for future increases in health insurance coverage, as well as salary scale proposals.<BR><BR>The union is seeking consecutive salary hikes of two percent, down from its most recent request of three percent and one percent.

Sat
31
Dec

Jim Boal tallies 30 years with United Parcel Service

Jim Boal of Ely has had a variety of experiences in his 30 years as a driver for United Parcel Service, but none as unusual as the one that happened in the 1980s.<BR><BR>On a delivery to the Kawishiwi Wilderness Station, south of Ely on Highway 1, Boal returned to his truck to find it occupied by a young visitor.<BR><BR>The Wilderness Station at the time was the work site of bear researcher Lynn Rogers. Boal’s visitor was a yearling bear with a sense of curiosity about the contents of the truck.<BR><BR>Boal tried shouting and coaxing but the bear wouldn’t depart.

Sat
31
Dec

Developers sought for HRA project

The city of Ely is putting a call out to developers, contractors or anyone else with the resources to complete a long-discussed housing project.<BR><BR>Last week, the city’s housing and redevelopment authority formally requested proposals from those interested in constructing 26 single-story townhomes on East Washington Street.<BR><BR>And if all goes as hoped by HRA director Marty Hendrickson and city leaders, construction could begin as soon as this spring.<BR><BR>“I’m thinking that it’s a doable project,” Hendrickson said Thursday.

Sat
31
Dec

Lodging tax revenues rising

There were undoubtedly fewer beds but seemingly more bed tax money in the Ely area in 2005.<BR><BR>When the final totals come in next month, Ely Chamber of Commerce officials expect that lodging tax revenues will increase.<BR><BR>Through October, just over $224,000 had been collected through the three percent tax assessed at area motels, hotels and resorts, compared to about $229,000 for the entire year in 2004.<BR><BR>Once November and December totals, as well as quarterly reports from some area lodging establishments are factored in, it should be enough to result in a slight increase, according to Chamber director Linda Fryer.<BR><BR>And while some used to larger revenue jumps may be surprised by a more modest increase, the fact that Chamber officials are talking at all about a hike is welcome news, according to Fryer.<BR><BR>The closing of North Country Lodge and Jackpine Lodge took nearly 40 rental cabins and more than

Sat
24
Dec

City, AFSCME come to settlement

The city of Ely and its largest single bargaining unit have reached agreement on a new contract, which calls for slight pay raises and a health insurance plan in which the city covers 100 percent of the premium expense.<BR><BR>A two-year deal was accepted unanimously and without debate Tuesday night by city council members.<BR><BR>Members of AFSCME Local 1490 have also endorsed a pact that covers both 2005 and 2006.<BR><BR>Major provisions include across the board 50-cent hourly pay hikes for city workers.<BR><BR>That raises the pay scale to $16.25 to $20.43 per hour this year, and $16.75 to $20.93 in 2006.<BR><BR>And as part of the deal, the city continues to pay the entire cost of the health insurance premium on both single and family plans.<BR><BR>The family coverage, which includes a $250 deductible, cost the city $13,788 per employee, or $1,149 per month this year.<BR><BR>Single plans carry a pr

Sat
24
Dec

New insurance plan on the table

Proposed changes to the health insurance plan - including a cap on school district spending - have become the focus in Ely’s school contract talks.<BR><BR>School board negotiators advanced a Voluntary Employee Benefit Association (VEBA) plan Tuesday that would reduce expected district increases in health insurance costs, and while teachers’ union leaders agreed to look further at the proposal, they balked both at the spending cap and a district offer of one percent salary scale increases in both 2005-2006 and 2006-2007.<BR><BR>“One and one (percent) doesn’t buy it,” said Jim Poole, field representative for Education Minn–esota.“You’re asking us to abandon (the current health insurance plan) for pretty much nothing.”<BR><BR>But board negotiator Peggy York-Jesme said the district can’t afford a package that increases pay and maintains the current benefit package.

Fri
23
Dec

Happy paddling, Joe

Sunday, Dec. 18, 94-year-old Ely canoe paddler and canoe builder, Joseph T. Seliga, made the last long portage into the sunset.<BR><BR>Famed in his later years as one of the nation’s great wood-and-canvas canoe craftsmen, he was subject of a definitive book, “The Art of the Canoe with Joe Seliga.” <BR><BR>But long before that, he was known in the Ely area as a skilled, meticulous craftsman who created superb hunting and fishing craft. <BR><BR>His garage “factory” at 244 E. Pattison St., was a maelstrom of sawdust, wood chips, seaming canoe ribs, stretching canvas, pungent glue pots and paint buckets… and the everlasting tap-tap-tap of brass tacks being driven into cedar wood by Joe and his beloved wife Nora. <BR><BR>Side by side, the pair built dozens of canoes up until Nora’s death.

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