Tiny home sought in Ely

by Tom Coombe
Might the tiny house trend make it all the way to Ely?
That may well be the case, following city council action earlier in the week.
After receiving a request from a local resident who wants to place a 200-to-300 square foot home on a city lot, the council voted unanimously to direct the city’s planning and zoning commission to study the issue.
Council member Paul Kess went a step further, saying he hopes that the city look at measures that now prohibit “tiny houses,” and “reexamine the issue and hopefully come to some support.”
Kess seemed to find some support at the council table, with member Al Forsman adding “I currently have no reason to be against it.”
Ely resident Amanda Block generated Tuesday’s discussion, by way of a written request to purchase a city lot at 1041 East Washington Street.


Morse, Treehouse will upload new broadband grant

The Town of Morse will again try to help improve internet service in the rural areas around Ely.
After the state wouldn’t fund a project involving Frontier, this time the board is looking locally for a possible solution.
The board passed a motion to pursue a grant with Treehouse Broadband, owned by Ely resident Isaac Olson.
“My customers have been very happy with the high quality of service being provided,” Olson told the board on Jan. 11.
Treehouse uses a high-speed line of sight connection to provide 100 megabit service. So far the Ely water tower has been the only location to push the signal from.
Olson said he would like to put together a grant package to put up six towers, up to 100 feet high, in the area to expand where service can be provided.
Supervisor Bob Berrini said there may be county or other public land in areas where towers could be put up.


Beardfest coming back

by Tom Coombe
Grow those beards and get those mustaches just right.
After a one-year hiatus, a popular winter event is set to return to Ely next month.
The Great Nordic Beardfest will take place Friday, Feb. 7 at the Boathouse Brewpub.
“We are back,” said Shaun Chosa, who started the event several years ago.
Chosa hosted four Beardfests, attracting dozens of participants and hundreds of spectators to an event that’s a takeoff of sorts on the popular “whisker wars” of television fame.
After a self-imposed “break” in 2019, Chosa said “I’ve recommitted to it, in light of the solid event it was, can be and will be gain.”
“I got a little burned out,”said Chosa. “That’s it in a nutshell. But I had fielded a ton of calls, and had people come back who were interested in being sponsors. If it’s good for the community in a tough time of year for us, I’m all about it. I’d like to see it grow.”


Snowmobile vs. car accident near Tower

A snowmobile and a vehicle collided near Tower Saturday night. Larry Robert Krmpotich, 58, of Mankato, was taken by Tower ambulance to Essentia in Virginia after the snowmobile he was driving collided with a Chevy Equinox driven by Michael Philip Schultz, 32, of Tower. The accident happened on the Angus Road near the Iron Ore Snowmobile Trail at around 7:37 p.m.
Krmpotich suffered serious injuries and was later transported to a Duluth hospital. Schultz was not injured in the accident, according to the St. Louis County Sheriff’s department.


Early voting begins in Ely for state’s Mar. 3 presidential primary

by Tom Coombe
While neighboring Iowa will formally kick off the race for president next month with its first-in-the-nation caucuses, Ely area voters also already have a chance to vote for president.
Early voting has already begun for the Mar. 3 Minnesota presidential primary.
Minnesota’s primary is part of “Super Tuesday,” when numerous states will hold primary elections that could help decide who Democrats choose to put up against President Trump in November.
Friday was the first day of early voting at Ely City Hall and will continue, during business hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
City Hall will also be open for early voting on Saturday, Feb. 29 from 10 a.m, to 3 p.m. and on Monday, Mar. 2 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., before regular balloting begins Mar. 3, at the Ely Senior Center, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.


Reedy’s advice: Get your REAL ID today

by Nick Wognum
While more Minnesotans are REAL ID ready, most still need to decide if they need a REAL ID or other acceptable form of identification before the federal deadline of Oct. 1, 2020.
After the deadline of Oct. 1, 2020 Minnesotans will not be able to use their standard driver’s license or ID card to board domestic flights or enter federal facilities.
“If you don’t have a REAL ID you won’t be able to board a plane unless you have a passport,” said Penny Reedy of the Ely License Bureau.
People will need a REAL ID, enhanced driver’s license or ID card, passport or passport card or another acceptable form of identification for federal purposes.
But to get the new cards, you’ll need to make sure you have your paperwork in order. Reedy said plenty of people do not have the right paperwork when they come into her office on Chapman Street.
Her advice? Start by going to the state website


BWCA permits online January 29

Boundary Waters Canoe Area quota permit reservations for the 2020 season will be available beginning at 9 a.m. CST on Jan. 29.
Reservations for May 1 through Sept. 30 can be booked using, the online reservation and trip planning service for all federal recreation opportunities, or by calling 1-877-444-6777.
The BWCAW contains over 1,200 miles of canoe routes, 12 hiking trails and over 2,000 designated campsites.
Visitors taking an overnight paddle, motor or hiking trip, or a motorized day trip into the BWCAW between May 1 and September 30 are required to obtain a quota permit.
Group sizes are limited to nine people and these smaller group sizes enhance the wilderness experience, chances of seeing wildlife and decrease resource impacts.
Here are a few tips to assist those interested in reserving these popular permits:


Settlement reached in county strike

Teamsters Local 320 posted online Monday morning that a settlement had been reached in a strike that had St. Louis County plow workers walking picket lines last week.

"After 15 hrs of mediation, #Teamsters reached an agreement that both parties can be proud of! Union members will vote on the new settlement today," the Facebook post said.

Union members are expected to vote at 4 p.m. Monday on the agreement, no word on if they would be back to work Tuesday morning or not.

St. Louis County employees who are members of Teamsters Local 320 picketed at the Michael Forsman Joint Public Works Facility in Ely on Wednesday morning. The group was set up just off the entrance to the public works facility on the Hidden Valley Road. The sticking point in negotiations has been an increase in maximum sick leave accrual cap for payout from the current 1,250 hours. The county offered 1,350 hours and the union’s request is for 1,500 hour payout.


Deal reached in teachers’ suit

by Tom Coombe
A settlement agreement has been reached in the lawsuit brought by 16 Ely teachers against the Ely School District.
Monday, school board members are set to go into closed session to consider terms of the deal reached between representatives of both sides.
Terms would become public if the board takes action after reopening Monday’s meeting, set for 6 p.m. at the high school.
The case stems from payroll deductions made by the district.
Court documents show the district first mistakenly overpaid the teachers during the 2017-18 school year, then reclaimed the money over a series of pay periods.
Those deductions were unauthorized and in violation of the law, according to a lawsuit filed by teacher Krista Moyer.
Most of the remaining teachers affected by the deduction later signed on to the suit.


Much ado about nothing

by Tom Coombe
Pronouncements that the Shopko building in Ely was sold appear to be off the mark.
The real estate agent who is marketing the building contradicted Saturday’s claim by Ely Mayor Chuck Novak that the vacant building has a new owner.
“It’s not sold,” said Jeff Houge, an agent for Twin Cities-based Wakota Commercial Advisors. “It’s still available.”
House didn’t directly respond to a published report that the building was “under contract,” and on path to be sold, adding that he “can’t get into details as far as the other project we’re working on.”
“In commercial real estate, something is available until it’s not,” said Houge. “Sometimes deals fall apart.”
Novak, meanwhile, said Monday that two reliable “subsources” provided confirmation of a sale but added he had no other information.


Subscribe to RSS - News