News

Sun
13
Mar

Forest Service eyes new complex

The U.S. Forest Service is moving forward with a proposal to consolidate its Ely area efforts at one site and develop a large office and operations center outside of town.<BR><BR>Plans call for an approximately $7 million complex - located on Highway 169 across from the International Wolf Center - that will include a 22,000 square foot office facility and several adjacent buildings.<BR><BR>In the works for several years, the project got a recent boost from Congress, which appropriated the funding to get the initial phase of the development underway this spring.<BR><BR>“What are plans are for this year are to do some initial site work, some grading, putting in some of the roads,” said Forest Service District Ranger Mark Van Every.

Sun
13
Mar

$23.4 million set aside for ‘169’

For Rudy Semeja, a long wait may be over.<BR><BR>Semeja heads a regional task force that has spent much of the last decade lobbying for improvements to Highway 169, and that persistence seems to have paid off.<BR><BR>Federal highway legislation passed in Congress last week includes a $23.4 million earmark for safety improvements on the roadway between Ely and Virginia.<BR><BR>That figures to jumpstart the project and initiate a series of upgrades that Semeja and other local officials say are badly needed.<BR><BR>Task force members were happy about the announcement, delivered Friday by way of a news release from U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar (D).<BR><BR>“That’s pretty darn good,” said Semeja.

Sat
12
Mar

Shagawa Lake Ice Out Contest entries flowing in

Man, woman and child were eager to get their contest entries in. <BR><BR>The Ely Echo’s Shagawa Lake Ice Out Contest has been a popular one ever since its beginning. That one featured a package of Zup’s Homemade Polish Sausage.<BR><BR>In 2005, the grand (and only) prize is $100 in Grand Ely Lodge bucks for the person whose guess is the closest to ice out on Shagawa.

Fri
11
Mar

Preservation, renovation for CC

An Ely landmark is showing its age, and city officials say it’s time to take action.<BR><BR>In a holding pattern for well over a decade, the plan to renovate the Ely Community Center is gaining momentum.<BR><BR>The city’s budget committee is reviewing funding options, engineers and architects are updating a renovation plan completed in 1994, and last week city representatives toured the facility to get a hands-on look at what’s needed.<BR><BR>What they saw wasn’t pretty.<BR><BR>Peeling paint, missing ceiling tiles and broken light fixtures were just a few of the cosmetic issues identified during an hour-long tour of the 67-year-old building.<BR><BR>The facility is beginning to deteriorate and has pressing issues including a leaking roof, bricks that are pushing out from the facade and a mechanical system in need of attention.<BR><BR>The city has also identified improvements needed to bring the building in line w

Mon
07
Mar

School may seek excess levy

Needing more than $880,000 to close budget gaps and return reserve accounts to desired levels, Ely school officials are turning to the public - namely local taxpayers - for help.<BR><BR>As soon as this fall, voters may be asked to approve an excess levy referendum that would pump additional operating funds into the district.<BR><BR>Hit by declining student enrollment, stagnant state aid and rising costs - particularly in the area of employee benefits - the Ely district has spent more than it has taken in during the last two years.<BR><BR>That trend is expected to continue, and while school administrators are expected to recommend reductions in spending for 2005-2006 they also remain hopeful that state aid for education will increase.

Sun
06
Mar

Clerk-treasurer-administrator?

As the search for a new city clerk-treasurer continues, a city committee is working on a parallel track to streamline Ely’s administrative structure.<BR><BR>A task force has already been successful on one front: convincing the city council to give the clerk-treasurer supervisory authority over city department heads.<BR><BR>And discussion at last Monday’s meeting centered on further changes that would add the title of city administrator to the clerk-treasurer position.<BR><BR>Task force members said they were looking for the new clerk-treasurer to serve as the city’s chief operating officer and serve as a buffer of sorts between the department heads and the council.<BR><BR>“The big thing is the chain of command,” said council and task force member Jerome Debeltz. “Now, everybody is running in different directions.

Sat
05
Mar

Ely vet takes second in Beargrease

An Ely veterinarian took second place in her first John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon.<BR><BR>Jennifer Deye finished the 400 mile course just 40 minutes behind winner Mark Black.<BR><BR>Deye, 24, works at the Ely Vet Clinic, starting their in May of 2004 after graduating from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine.<BR><BR>Deye is engaged to Blake Freking who won the 2004 Beargrease. <BR><BR>“I’ve been racing since I was eight years old,” said Deye. “I’ve been racing springs and mid-distance races for 16 years.” <BR><BR>Deye had competed in the 150 mile Beargrease short race twice, finiching fourth in 2003 and 12th last year. <BR><BR>This year she took a young team of dogs since Freking was racing the older team in Alaska.

Fri
04
Mar

Echo’s annual Ice Out Contest begins now

In what had to be the oddest occurrence since the Ely Echo’s Ice Out Contest began, Grand Ely Lodge’s dock was socked in with ice until Tuesday, April 27 at 4:41 p.m.<BR><BR>The prior weekend brought winds from the north which cleared Shagawa Lake fairly well in the east to west direction. What happened, though, was a fluke. The ice piled up on the south shore of the lake, pushed by northern winds. The result was that Grand Ely Lodge’s dock was wedged with ice and a boat could not leave to go to the opposite shore.<BR><BR>Finally on Tuesday the wind shifted to come from the west and the official judges at Grand Ely Lodge watched the shoreline expectantly until late afternoon’s ice opening.<BR><BR>Almost hitting the time on the nose was winner 4:30 p.m., Karson Otness, Bemidji, MN. Karson received $100 in Grand Ely Lodge dollars. Next closest was 4:18 p.m. from Helen Tjaden, Babbitt. She was followed by the 4 p.m.

Sun
27
Feb

EUC moves toward late fee

After months of debate, city officials appear to have settled on a method to penalize those who don’t pay their utility bills on time.<BR><BR>Those owing the Ely Utilities Commission at least $100 and at least 30 days in arrears would be subject to a $20 monthly late fee, under terms of an ordinance being considered by the council.<BR><BR>Discussion Tuesday, when the council and EUC held their quarterly study session, revealed overall support for the plan, which would replace the EUC’s current policy of charging six percent annual interest on overdue bills.<BR><BR>“For 2,000 of our customers, it’s never a problem,” said EUC General Manager Terry Jackson.<BR><BR>The proposal, Jackson said, is instead targeted at the estimated 60-100 customers who are habitually late with their utility payments.<BR><BR>The EUC estimates that it costs about $1,200 and 35 hours of employee work time each month to collect late payments.<BR>

Sun
27
Feb

Garage project pushed back

The proposed joint public works garage won’t be built this year, but the project remains very much alive.<BR><BR>A plan to seek bids this spring and start construction this summer has been shelved by St. Louis County in order to allow the other major participant - the city of Ely - more time to secure funding.<BR><BR>City and county officials are optimistic that Ely could receive as much as $1 million in federal transportation funding to offset part of the city’s $2.6 million share.<BR><BR>“We have a real good feel from Washington, from Congressman (Jim) Oberstar’s office that Ely will be able to get $1 million for the project,” county commissioner Mike Forsman said last week. “That’s not a loan, but flat out grant money.

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