News

Tue
09
Mar

Former Fortune Bay Casino supervisor pleads guilty to embezzling more than $300,000

Acting United States Attorney W. Anders Folk announced March 9 the guilty plea of Jennifer Lynn Boutto, 32, to one count of embezzlement and theft of Tribal funds. Boutto, who was charged by felony information on December 14, 2020, pleaded guilty before Judge Eric C. Tostrud in U.S. District Court. A sentencing date will be scheduled at a later time.

Fri
05
Mar

Fire now could save buildings later

by Nick Wognum
The U.S. Forest Service was applying some of its own device to remove fire dangers from around the Kawishiwi Ranger District office in Ely.
With signs on the highway warning of smoke ahead, fires were burned this past week to get rid of balsam trees and other vegetation.
“We’re working on hazardous fuels reduction around our compound. We’re taking out all the balsam, trying to get rid of that fire hazard,” said Backe. “We also have spruce budworm in this area causing problems.”
Backe said there are 25 acres being treated around the complex and some federal land will be treated by the International Wolf Center.
By reducing the balsam and trimming up branches, Backe said landowners can make their properties more resistant to fire.

Fri
05
Mar

Electric rates due to spike

by Tom Coombe
Customers of the Ely Utilities Commission could soon be in for a case of sticker shock.
Later this spring, utility rate payers in the city may be paying seven percent more for electric service, as part of an increase proposed by the EUC in the wake of wholesale rate hikes implemented by the city’s electric provider- Minnesota Power.
City council members took the first step towards authorizing the consumer rate hike, scheduling a public hearing for March 15 at 5 p.m., prior to the next regular meeting.
Approval by the council is needed before the increase will take place, but members generally approve increases forwarded by the EUC and there were no sign of resistance on Tuesday.
“Seven percent is what we’re getting from Minnesota Power and we can’t absorb it,” said mayor Chuck Novak.
The impact on Ely residents and business owners will depend on their consumption of electricity and current bills.

Fri
26
Feb

A “little bit of normalcy”

by Tom Coombe
Thursday was a milestone day, of sorts, at Ely Memorial High School.
For the first time in more than a year, the entire high school student body gathered together.
The occasion was the school’s first pep rally since February, 2020, held as part of Winter Frolic Week.
Julia Schwinghamer was crowned queen and Riley Bishop reigned as king over the festivities, which also included a performance by the school’s dance team and a game of “Big Ball Soccer.”
The pep rally marked another step in a return back to normal at the school, where the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a series of event cancellations, sport shutdowns, schedule adjustments and even long periods of time where school was not in session for in-person learning.
Students in Ely have been back in-person since early-February and the pep rally was put together at the request of the student council.

Fri
26
Feb

New building on campus

by Tom Coombe
Ely School Board members got a glimpse of the future on Monday.
Both with a brief video presentation and formal drawings (see in this edition), architects presented a look at the anticipated finished product, once a nearly $20 million school improvement project comes to fruition next year.
At the monthly board study session, the board got both an update and the most detailed look yet at drawings for the centerpiece of the project - a new building that will link the Washington and Memorial buildings.
The new structure will do much more than connect the existing schools, it will serve as the sparkling new entrance to the campus and house a new gymnasium, cafeteria, media center, common spaces, offices and classrooms.
The presentation included drawings (see page 11) that showed the interior of the building from multiple angles, with the gyymnasium at the right of the structure, on the side closest to the Washington building.

Tue
23
Feb

Tips offered after wolf attacks dog on Burntside Lake

On Thursday, Feb. 18, a dog out for a run with its owner had an encounter with a wolf after the dog ran into the woods. The dog sustained injuries that required surgery. A report was made to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources by the dog’s owner, detailing her encounter with the wolf near Burntside Lake. A second encounter occurred on Friday, Feb. 19, around noon on Little Long Lake with what was believed to be the same pack of wolves. Russ and Cathy Vanderboom own the dog that had the second encounter on Little Long Lake.

Fri
19
Feb

Eagles Nest holds “push in” for new fire truck

by Nick Wognum
Eagles Nest Fire Department chief Larry McCray is marking 50 years of being a firefighter.
McCray started his career in Michigan when he was 18 years old.
“I started with my local volunteer fire department right out of high school,” said McCray. “It’s kind of funny, I joined the fire department a month before I got married so I remind my wife of that sometimes, I’m still with the fire service.”
McCray served 30 years in the same department in a Brownstown Township 10 miles south of Detroit, achieving the rank of captain. The township served 32,000 people in a 32-square mile area. The department had 3,800 calls a year.
In 2000 the department went from volunteer to career. McCray left his job as a operations manager for a trucking company to realize his lifelong dream.
“I told my wife this is always what I wanted to do,” said McCray. “And she said do what you want to do.”

Sat
13
Feb

New state record for Ely area at -50

Kurt Kruse knew it was cold Saturday morning after seeing 40 below zero at 11 p.m. He didn’t know his 50 degrees below zero reading on the shores of Snowbank Lake would set a state record.
Kruse is a volunteer for the National Weather Service and his reading was featured in a tweet from the Duluth office.
“We may have set a new daily state record low temp for Feb. 13 of -50 degrees F this morning at BNDM5, 25E Ely. We have several other stations in northern MN with low temps colder than -40!
There has been a weather station on Snowbank Lake since 1988 and Kruse said he took over two years ago.
“The thermometer is right outside my window, about 60 to 70 feet from the lake with a cable that goes to a display inside,” said Kruse. “I was kind of shocked when I woke up and took a look this morning.”
The electronic thermometer is calibrated to within .3 degrees. A reading is taken every 24 hours and today the official reading was at 7:02 a.m.

Fri
12
Feb

Burntside boat landing to get an upgrade, will likely close for two months

The Town of Morse board reviewed drawings from the DNR on proposed improvements to the public access to Burntside Lake off Van Vac Road.
Town clerk Nick Wognum said the project is expected to cost around $250,000 and will include a new parking lot near the road for overnight parking.
There is also a new canoe ramp next to the dock that is meant to reduce congestion.
During fishing openers and holiday weekends, the Van Vac landing is often packed with vehicles, forcing people to park along Van Vac Road.
Joe Majerus, area supervisor for DNR Parks and Trails, said the construction will likely take two months to complete. The landing will be closed during that time. He asked for input on the timing.
“Obviously, this will cause some issues for people getting on and off the lake using the other small accesses,” said Majerus.

Fri
12
Feb

Construction coming soon

by Tom Coombe
A formal groundbreaking ceremony is in the works and construction in Ely’s nearly $20 million school campus project could begin before the end of the school year.
Superintendent Erik Erie briefed board members about the latest details Monday, when the board gathered together in-person for the first time in nearly a year.
The meeting was held at City Hall, instead of at the high school, to take advantage of the city facility’s better technology capabilities and accommodate those who attended virtually.
Erie said plans are coming together for an April groundbreaking event that will include state legislators and other dignitaries, in the wake of a $10 million bond referendum approved by district voters and a subsequent $7 million Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board grant that was triggered as a result.

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