News

Fri
21
May

Crews continue to fight Bezhik Fire

Crews continued to battle a wildfire in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Thursday which they estimate to be up to 950 acres in size.
So far four structures have been lost, three outbuildings and one cabin.
The lightning caused fire was believed to be 30 percent contained and had been tracking northward toward the Moose Loop off the Echo Trail.
Rain moderated the Bezhik Lake Fire area earlier in the day and were trying to redirect the edge as it neared cabins and lake homes. Residents and nearby campers had left the area.
U.S. Forest Service officials said the fire reached the southwest edge of the Moose Loop Forest Road (Forest Road 464).
The fire did exit the BWCAW near the south end of Forest 464 (Moose Loop) on May 18 and impacted private property in the area.
The Forest Service did not specify how many structures were lost in the fire.

Fri
21
May

An end of an era in Ely

by Tom Coombe
Ely’s oldest business will soon no longer be in business.
The J.D. Mills Company, a clothing store that has outfitted generations of Elyites and has been in the Mills family for three generations, will close its doors July 31 and after a 120-year run.
A changing retail landscape, an opportunity to retire and an offer for the Sheridan Street building the store calls home, made for a perfect storm - and current owner John Mills made the decision to close.
The store will liquidate its inventory and be open for just over two more months.
Standing next to a vintage cash register that has been a mainstay at the store, Mills said Wednesday that the timing was right.

Fri
14
May

Fire torches garage in Ely

by Nick Wognum
The Ely fire department was called in Tuesday after a car caught fire in a garage off of West Chapman Street.
Fire chief Dave Marshall said the fire started when a person attempted to start the MG car and it caught on fire.
“The car had engine trouble and maybe a fuel leak so when he started it there was a fire under the hood. He tried to put it out and then he made the correct decision to call 911,” said Marshall.
The garage at 223 West Chapman had a tornado of flames coming from it when firefighters arrived around 3:30 p.m.
“We hit the fire hard from the alley starting with the Hummer and then switched to Engine One. Later we brought in the city Public Works Department excavator to demolish the garage because it was a safety hazard,” said Marshall.
Also on scene were the Ely Police Department, Babbitt Fire Department, St. Louis County Sheriff’s officers and the U.S. Border Patrol.

Fri
14
May

Summer Art Camp returns in 2021

Doors open at Ely’s Historic Miners Dry on Monday, June 7 at 8:45 a.m. for the Ely Arts & Heritage Center’s annual three-day Summer Children’s Art Camp. Begun by volunteers at Whiteside Park in 1998, Art Camp moved to Semer’s Park and found a permanent home at the Miners Dry in 2008. The Dry is located just below the Pioneer Mine Headframe on N. Pioneer Road, at 105 Miners Lake Landing Road.
Camp will be Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, June 7, 8, and 9 from 9:00 AM un-til Noon at a cost of $50. Summer visitors are welcome to register and attend.
Applications were sent home with Washington Elementary students this week and are also available at the Ely Echo.

Fri
07
May

Door open for Twin Metals?

by Tom Coombe
The Biden Administration has not yet decided if it will take action related to the Twin Metals Minnesota copper-nickel mining project near Ely, according to a report filed late Wednesday by an international news service.
Reuters reported on a White House briefing and comments made by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, suggesting that the administration is looking to strike a balance between job growth and vehement, persistent opposition from project opponents.
“There are no final decisions being made on this,” Vilsack said.
Supporters of the Twin Metals project, which promises hundreds of new, high-paying mining jobs should it come to fruition, have feared the new administration would reverse action taken by the Trump Administration and stop Twin Metals in its tracks.

Fri
07
May

Ely’s Historic State Theater comes back to life, Greenstone Cinema added

Rebuild. Restore. Renovate. Renew. Refresh. Re-open.
In recent months, all of these terms have been true for Ely’s Historic State Theater.
After a 12-year hiatus, the State Theater opened its doors for movies last June, but that was only the beginning.
A new pop-up cafe has opened in the theater’s concessions area, and soon to follow was the Greenstone Cinema, a second movie screening room being built in the adjacent building that once housed Salerno Land Sales.
Over Memorial Day weekend, from May 28-31, the second screening room will open with a variety of activities, tours and events still to be determined
New seats went in last week, with the screen, new projector and sound system to follow.
“It is truly a beautiful theater and all thanks to the community stepping up and saying with their dollars and their support that they want an open theater in town,” said David Wigdahl, who chairs the EHST Board of Directors.

Fri
30
Apr

County board comes to Ely

by Tom Coombe
Before getting down to their regular business, St. Louis County commissioners heard from the public and acknowledged their hosts on Tuesday morning.
The Morse Town Hall was the venue as the county board held its first in-person meeting in over a year.
All but one of the seven commissioners attended as only Duluth’s Frank Jewell was absent.
Commissioner Paul McDonald of Ely made note of the township’s rich history and its contribution to the county’s bottom line.
“Morse Township is a very significant contributor to our tax base here in St. Louis County,” said McDonald.
Board members also heard from two local residents.
Jim Woods of Ely asked that the county seek bids from area funeral homes for the transport of dead bodies to Midwest Medical Center, when people pass away at home.
According to Woods, residents are more comfortable with local funeral homes providing this service.

Fri
30
Apr

Elementary exit is two days early

by Tom Coombe
Summer vacation is set to start a couple of days early for students at Ely’s Washington Elementary School.
Tight timelines related to a nearly $20 million facilities project prompted the move, which must be officially approved by the school board on May 11.
But in part to give parents more time to prepare, board members unofficially endorsed the plan Monday, during their monthly study session.
“You guys know what needs to be done,” board member Tom Omerza told school administrators.
It means that for elementary students, the last day of school will be Wednesday, June 2 rather than Friday, June 4, in order for the district to fully vacate the building by June 8.

Fri
30
Apr

Diesslins gift $100,000 of stock to VCC Foundation

Local educators and long-time community service members, Blaine “Butch” Diesslin and Lucille “Lucy” Barnes Diesslin recently made a $100,000 gift of stock to endow a scholarship with the Vermilion Community College Foundation.
When asked why they made the decision to give a large gift to establish an endowment Diesslin said, “A major reason for my endowing a scholarship at VCC is my receiving scholarships when I was in college. I am the second oldest child in a family with eight children.
“I received a ‘Tuition and Fees’ scholarship when I was earning my Bachelor’s Degree at Mankato State College (now Minnesota State-Mankato).
“Over the years, I was able to save and invest a portion of earnings while I was employed. Now that I am comfortably retired, I’ve reached a point where I want to ‘give back’ to others that want a college education by endowing two scholarships; one at VCC and one at UW-Superior.

Thu
22
Apr

Odd tasting water explained

by Tom Coombe
In some parts of Ely, the city’s drinking water has a slight cucumber taste or smell.
But city officials say there’s no cause for alarm.
“There are no health concerns,” said Harold Langowski, the city’s clerk-treasurer and operations director, during a report at Tuesday’s city council meeting. “It is safe to drink. It’s just an aesthetic issue.”
Langowski said the Minnesota Department of Health is also aware of the issue and has been consulted about a problem that has affected drinking water for several weeks.
The issues, according to Langowski, stem from an extended cold snap in February, when there were 12 consecutive days of below-zero temperates, and subsequent water main breaks.
“It resulted in at least quarter million gallons of water flushed through our system,” Langowski said of a major early-March break. “Following that we started to get some concerns and complaints about discolored water.”

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