News

Mon
23
Aug

City holds key to joint garage project

Plans for a joint public works garage outside of Ely have reached a pivotal stage.<BR><BR>St. Louis County has committed to the $7 million project and is waiting for Ely to do the same.<BR><BR>City officials heard another sales pitch from county commissioner Mike Forsman last week, agreed to discuss the project in detail at an Aug. 31 study session and moved toward a Sept. 7, in-or-out vote.<BR><BR>Ely would have nearly 30,000 square feet of space in the 69,000 square foot facility and be on the hook for over $2.8 million in costs, and city participation is all-but-essential if the project is to go forward, Forsman told council members Tuesday.<BR><BR>“It is extremely important and possibly a deal breaker,” said Forsman.

Mon
23
Aug

Mayranen fills in for Morse

A familiar face is coming back to the Morse Town Hall.<BR><BR>Former town clerk Charlotte Mayranen is returning to her old job, at least temporarily.<BR><BR>Mayranen, who served six years as town clerk during the 1990s and also had stints as deputy clerk, has agreed to replace Keiko Aylsworth, whose resignation takes effect this week.<BR><BR>“It’s only interim,” said Mayranen. “I’ll do it until they can find someone else.”<BR><BR>With Aylsworth’s final day of work set for Tuesday and a primary election less than a month away, supervisors needed to act quickly to fill the part-time position.<BR><BR>They turned to Mayranen, who will be paid $11 an hour, the same wage that Aylsworth received.<BR><BR>Aylsworth submitted her resignation at the Aug.

Mon
23
Aug

City, owner of theater building set to negotiate

The city of Ely will make another attempt to buy the Ely Theater building.<BR><BR>City council members voted Tuesday to form a three-person committee - comprised of city attorney Larry Klun, city clerk-treasurer John Tourville and council member Mike Hillman - to negotiate with building owner Gary Quigley.<BR><BR>Just three weeks ago, Quigley told the city’s land committee the building was not for sale.

Mon
23
Aug

The blues fest is back in town

It started in 2001 with a one-night free concert, scheduled to coincide with Ely’s Harvest Moon Festival.<BR><BR>Three years later, the Boundary Waters Blues Festival is an extravaganza all on its own.<BR><BR>The 2004 edition is set for this weekend at Winton’s Longbranch, featuring several big name acts and including nearly 20 hours of music over two days.<BR><BR>In its brief history, the festival has become one of the best small-town blues events in the country, according to organizer Mike Jankovec.<BR><BR>Jankovec, co-host of WELY Radio’s morning show as well as the host of a weekly blues show, said the festival has evolved quickly since its inception.<BR><BR>The first two events were one-night shows at Whiteside Park, held on the Saturday night of Ely’s September Harvest Moon weekend.<BR><BR>The festival grew in 2003, expanding to a second night and moving outside the city limits to Winton.<BR><BR&g

Sun
22
Aug

WPI journalists share views of world, their countries and US

When nine world-wise journalists arrived in Ely they were in for a new experience.<BR><BR>In their profession they are generally doing interviews and taking notes. On Sunday, Aug. 8 they were on the receiving end of attention and questions. <BR><BR>Housed with local families and individuals, the group of Fellows from the World Press Institute were the focus of the Ely Echo Forum. There they were welcomed that day by Ely mayor Frank Salerno and Echo publisher Anne Swenson.<BR><BR> WPI program director Kris Mortensen explained to the audience assembled for the program at the Grand Ely Lodge that the Fellows face “a barrage of experiences” while they are in the United States. They visit CNN, the New York Times and a number of other media outlets during their four-month stay.<BR><BR>Mid-career journalists, they hail from Bhutan, Bulgaria, China, Ecuador, India, Nigeria, Panama, Sweden and Zambia. Their first week in St.

Sun
15
Aug

Morse board deals with cartways, resignation of clerk

The Morse Town Board dealt with a number of issues include a contentious petition for a cartway and the resignation of the town clerk.<BR><BR>Supervisor chairmanMorse board deals with cartways, resignation of clerk<BR><BR> Terry Soderberg asked for review and approval of June and July minutes after all present stood and said the pledge of allegiance to the flag. Other township business was addressed until the arrival of Kurt Peters.<BR><BR>The township acknowledged the receipt of $3,000 from Fall Lake Township for the year’s entire payment for First Responders. <BR><BR>Supervisor Jack Willis said the quarterly billing to Fall Lake required a payment of $3,300.<BR><BR>“Fall Lake will pay more when there is a 50/50 contract signed,” said supervisor Len Cersine.<BR><BR>Some line item billings, such as the $4,500 for township road brushing costs, were discussed by the board.

Sun
15
Aug

Winton power dam discussed at WICOLA meeting

It’s been seven long years, but the collaborative team working on the Winton Hydro Project re-licensing has finally come to a settlement agreement. <BR><BR>The project area includes waters from Birch Lake and running on through White Iron Lake, Farm Lake, South Farm Lake, Friday Lake and Garden Lake to Fall Lake. <BR><BR>The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved the settlement agreement on April 15, 2004. The renewed license is for 40 years.<BR><BR>The collaborative team included Minnesota Power (ALLETE), the U.S. Forest Service, the Department of Natural Resources, White Iron Chain of Lakes Association (WICOLA), and Conservationists with Common Sense (CWCS). <BR><BR>Additional agencies and non-government organizations were invited to partake in the process but declined. The team met monthly, sometimes bi-monthly in the early years of the process.

Sun
15
Aug

Silent auction kicks off with art to benefit kids

During one of Kim McCluskey’s kayak guiding trips to Vietnam for Piragis Northwoods Company in April, 2003 Kim learned about three girls who had been living on a raft for about 10 months after their mother died and father left them. <BR><BR>Kim and local guide Huy stay on a double deck boat in Vietnam with clients and take off from this boat in kayaks to go on adventures. They took up a collection on their boat for the girls to help them out. <BR><BR>When Kim returned to Vietnam in September, 2003 the girls were still living on the raft. When he came back to Ely, Kim decided the girls needed a house and he told his friend Huy that he would raise the money. <BR><BR>An article appeared in the Echo, other papers picked up on it and Reader’s Digest also did a story this summer. Money started coming in and the girls now have their house and another project, a school in the remote village of Halong Bay, is almost finished.

Sun
15
Aug

School lunch prices may go up

Higher prices and more selections are probably in store for Ely students when they enter the school lunchroom this year.<BR><BR>After losing nearly $30,000 on its food service operation in 2003-2004 school officials are looking for ways to close the gap.<BR><BR>An increase in lunch prices is likely, food service director Robyn Bertelsen said at Monday’s school board meeting.<BR><BR>Also in the works are proposals to add both an after-school snack service as well as reinstating the breakfast program.<BR><BR>All of the plans will get further scrutiny over the next several weeks, and board action is likely this fall.<BR><BR>A hike in lunch prices, which would be the first in three or four years, would wipe out the deficit, according to figures provided by Bertelsen.<BR><BR>She proposed a 25 percent increase, which would set the elementary lunch price at $1.90 and establish high school rates at $2.<BR><BR&g

Sun
15
Aug

For once, a happy ending

Lost in the woods for nearly two days, 83-year-old Thor Nordwall feared the worst.<BR><BR>“I said ‘God, I didn’t think I was going to go this way,” Nordwall recalled early last week.<BR><BR>Just a few miles away, in a cabin on the North Arm of Burntside Lake that she shared with her husband, Audry Nordwall had similar fears.<BR><BR>“I knew he was strong, but you can’t go on forever out there,” Audry said.<BR><BR>A search and rescue team about 100 people strong - from authorities to community volunteers - were on the lookout Monday morning for Thor who left his cabin Saturday afternoon in search of berries but never returned.<BR><BR>The search for Thor had gone on Saturday night, all of Sunday and again on Monday, and optimism was starting to wear thin.<BR><BR>But against the odds, this story would have a happy ending.<BR><BR>Thor emerged on a trail near his cabin shortly before 11 a.m.

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