News

Sat
27
Nov

Fire burns home off Highway 21

An early morning fire Saturday caused extensive damage to a house in the Town of Morse south of Ely. The fire was reported around 3:30 a.m. just north of the Blueberry Road off Hwy. 21 at 1138 N. Highway 21.
Morse-Fall Lake Fire Department Chief Ted Krueger said the house was fully involved with heavy smoke when the department arrived on the scene. He said firefighters from Ely, Babbitt and Eagles Nest also responded and a defensive tactic was taken to do ventilation on the home.
“The occupant and his girlfriend got out of the house and grabbed whatever they could but the building was a total loss,” said Krueger.
He said the three story, four bedroom house will likely have some reignitions.
“We will keep going back and make sure it doesn’t get out of hand,” said Krueger. “We’re just going to monitor it this afternoon.”

Sat
20
Nov

Busy year at Wolf Center

by Tom Coombe
Combine a more normal summer with the arrival of a new attraction and what do you get?
At the International Wolf Center, you get one hectic summer.
Officials from the popular wolf museum told Ely council members this week that attendance spiked this summer, a development that coincided with the arrival of Rieka, a brand-new wolf pup.
The Ely council also took action Tuesday, formally endorsing the IWC’s pitch for more than $1.2 million in state bonding funds to complete long-sought renovations at the facility just outside of town.
IWC Executive Director Grant Spickelmier and Interpretive Center Director Krista Harrington both addressed the council, on issues ranging from the renovation project and ramped-up education efforts to a summer that starred Rieka, who arrived in Ely June 10, less than a month after she was born.

Sat
20
Nov

Thanksgiving events dialed back

by Tom Coombe
The holiday shopping season begins later this week, but it won’t be a typical year in Ely.
While some businesses may be open, the annual Thanksgiving night shopping promotion is not taking place.
Another recent staple of Ely’s Thanksgiving weekend calendar - a Saturday evening parade and tree lighting - will also not occur in 2021.
Nonetheless, the Ely Chamber of Commerce is promoting holiday shopping in Ely and will promote its “Small Town Christmas and Shop Local” weekend.
For three decades, Thanksgiving night in Ely meant the busiest night of the year downtown, with hundreds of people filling the sidewalks and stores and making for a festive atmosphere.
But interest has waned more recently, with fewer businesses opening their doors on Thanksgiving night, and the Covid-19 pandemic created another hurdle in 2020.

Mon
15
Nov

Fall Lake board hears concerns on proposed additional 49 campsites at Silver Rapids Lodge

by Nancy McReady
There was a little delay in the start of the regular Fall Lake Township meeting with Deputy Clerk Sheila Gruba filling in for Marlene Skube after her surgery. Skube recently broke her ankle so her return to township duties will take a while longer.
Fall Lake resident Ed Seliskar had received a notice of a public hearing from Lake County Planning & Zoning for the land use for Silver Rapids Lodge. The township hadn’t received a copy of this hearing notice.
Under consideration is a plan for 49 additional RV campsites and support buildings to the existing resort which is in negotiations with a new owner.
Seliskar’s concern was that with increased traffic, the speed limit should be reduced on Kawishiwi Trail in the resort area.

Mon
15
Nov

A school tribute to Ely’s veterans

by Tom Coombe
Patriotism was on full display Thursday during a Veterans’ Day program at the Ely schools.
Veterans, including 98-year-old Elyite Calvin Herala, the only World War II vet in attendance, were saluted with words, music and applause by an audience of Ely’s student body, staff and community members.
About 600 people were inside the school’s gymnasium for the event, which returned to the school calendar this year after a Covid-19 prompted hiatus last fall.
From the gymnasium balcony, Washington Elementary students sung “I Love America,” while the audience listened as seventh-grader Mason Spate-Kurnava read his winning essay from the VFW’s “Patriot’s Pen” Contest.
“There are so many different ways you can be a good American,“ said Spate-Kurnava. “To be a good American, I need to help others, focus on benefiting my community, and learn from others around me.”

Fri
05
Nov

Split vote on Lake County schools

by Tom Coombe
Despite heavy opposition in Fall Lake Township, voters in the Lake Superior School District approved one levy referendum on Tuesday while rejecting another.
The first question, which calls for just over $44 million in improvements to school buildings in Two Harbors and Silver Bay, was approved with 61 percent of the vote.
A second referendum question, which would have generated another $7 million in property tax funds to renovate school athletic facilities in both communities, failed on a 55-45 percentage split.
Both questions were met with near unanimous opposition in Fall Lake, which because of a geographic quirk sits in the Lake Superior district although children who reside there go to school in Ely.
Fall Lake voters rejected the first question in an overwhelming 210-8 tally, while the second question had 210 “no” votes, six “yes” votes and two ballots unmarked.

Fri
05
Nov

Mask marker: 1 in 2000?

by Nick Wognum
Four positive cases of Covid-19 in the Ely zip code during a one-week period would be enough to require masks in the Ely School District, according to a plan set to be considered by school board members.
As they address when and how to roll back a controversial indoor mask mandate, school officials have discussed an array of potential metrics and thresholds, and appear to be zeroing in on a plan offered in late-October by local physician Joe Bianco.
The key provision in the plan is to use federal Center for Disease Control guidelines related to what the agency terms as “moderate” transmission of Covid-19.
If the school were to adopt the plan, the mask requirement would ease only when Covid case rates drop below one in 2000 per week, for three consecutive weeks.
The plan, which was endorsed by school administrators, was met with mixed reaction at the Oct. 28 meeting of the school district’s safe learning plan advisory council.

Fri
29
Oct

Twin Metals plans appeal

by Tom Coombe
Twin Metals Minnesota is fighting back against a Biden Administration decision that could derail plans for the company’s proposed copper-nickel mine near Ely.
The company announced Wednesday that it would appeal the administration’s decision to reject preference right lease applications and prospecting permit applications for the project.
The decision came on the heels of an announcement that the government would seek a 20-year moratorium on mining on national forest land near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
“We remain steadfast in our commitment to the communities of northeast Minnesota,” said Kelly Osborne, Twin Metals Chief Executive Officer. “We have a viable mining project that we will move forward under existing law.”

Fri
22
Oct

New Ely Zup’s store set to open this Wednesday

by Nick Wognum
An army of workers were stocking shelves, putting up displays and even installing a music system at the new Ely Zup’s store Thursday morning.
At 7 a.m. this Wednesday the doors will open to the public. That the building was once a Shopko will soon be a distant memory.
“I think when you walk in here you’re going to say this isn’t Shopko. We have beautiful floors in here, the wall decor is absolutely phenomenal and I think people are really going to like the clean, full, fresh look,” said Jim Zupancich.
“The store actually looks bigger than when it was a Shopko,” said Zupancich. “It’s just a nice store. I’ve had people say this is something you would find in a big city. We’re all proud of what we have here. Our employees have stepped it up and the people working with us have been fantastic.”
There’s still a lot to get done before Wednesday and there are some items that haven’t arrived yet.

Fri
22
Oct

Buyer emerges for Ely’s Community Center

by Tom Coombe
The city of Ely will give a potential buyer up to six months to come up with a plan for the Community Center building.
An agreement approved by city council members on Tuesday could clear the way for the landmark to be purchased by Matt Stupnik of Dellwood, Minn.
A sale price is subject to future negotiations between Stupnik and city officials, and the deal currently in place essentially creates a six-month window for plans to be developed.
“This option before you really allows him six months time and the council six months time to come to a fair market value,” said city attorney Kelly Klun. “At this point, we’re locking in to one potential buyer for the next six months.”
During the six-month period, the city must complete a hazardous material assessment, while Stupnik must show city officials architectural plans for the long-vacant building as well as cost assessments for potential improvements.

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