This is how we Fourth

by Tom Coombe
Homes and cabins, campgrounds and resorts all seemed to empty at the same time Thursday, filling Ely’s streets and sidewalks for the annual Independence Day parade.
For nearly 90 minutes, and under a baking sun, thousands watched bands and dance troupes, politicians and local organizations and even a karaoke-singing octogenarian pass them by.
The parade served as the focal point of Ely’s July 4 festivities, with Whiteside Park filling before and after the event for games, a community picnic and a performance by the city band.
Earlier in the day, an annual four-kilometer run around the Trezona Trail took place while the evening activities, held after the Echo’s deadline, were to include both a concert at Semer’s Park and the annual fireworks display over Miners Lake.


Gardner Humanities Trust created 30 years ago

The Donald G. Gardner Humanities Trust was created by the City of Ely in 1989. ”And to-date, the Trust has disbursed grant awards totaling nearly $779,000 to individuals, organizations and events in Ely,” stated Trust executive director, Keiko Williams. “This is super exciting to be celebrating 30 years of giving arts funding to our community and to see all the wonderful impact for individuals and youth, as well as, all the super programming that has occurred due to our grant awards.”

This all started, first, with Donald G. Gardner in the 1940’s. Gardner, a businessman from Ohio, purchased a cabin and became a summer resident on Ojibway Lake, then called Twin Lakes, in 1941. Gardner was an art collector and also a philanthropist who donated a painting to the City of Ely in 1944 titled ‘Breakfast in the Garden,’ painted by Frederick C. Frieseke. The painting was hung in the Ely Public Library in 1945.


A bear problem you can’t put a lid on

A bear that has been spotted around the Ely area with a garbage can lid has been able to evade live traps set by the Minnesota DNR.
The problem however, may lie with the bear being fed either on purpose or inadvertently through bird feeders.
DNR wildlife manager Tom Rusch of Tower said, “Bear feeding is the root cause of all of this. And this is Ely’s future. This scenario of human tolerant habituated, nuisance bears, bears without fear of people not acting normal in some people’s point of view and perfectly normal in someone else’s.”
He gave a scenario of two neighbors having opposite reactions to a bear in the yard.
“There’s nothing illegal but it sets us up for one neighbor against another and creates a huge drain when the DNR has to get in the middle of it somehow. You don’t want it but your neighbor loves it,” said Rusch.


PILT changes would raise property taxes in Lake County

by Nancy McReady
When the Lake County commissioners make their periodic trips to Fall Lake, there’s often a variety of topics. This past week was no different.
Fall Lake supervisors and residents were informed there will be a change in how state payment in lieu of taxes (PILT) distributions will be received and distributed.
Lake County and Fall Lake receive PILT to assist with the large amount of public land in the county. The amount is determined by the Department of Natural Resources.
The DNR has recommended the most fair and equitable way to distribute the payment would be the same as the way the payment is calculated.
This includes a per acre and a value-based amount.
Kerry Davis asked, “Will we be happy or sad about this change?”
The answer was, sad.
Seeing that budgets have already been set for 2020, this change will not be implemented until 2021.


IRRRB grants awarded to several Ely projects

The Ely area will benefit from mining dollars through several grants approved by the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board.
The IRRRB approved a $120,000 grant to the city of Ely to extend fiber on both alleys on the north and south side of Sheridan Street from Third Avenue West to Eighth Avenue East.
The fiber will be installed on existing utility poles owned both by the city of Ely and Frontier Communications. The city will construct and own the fiber and CTC will lease the line to provide service to the customers.
The total project cost is $240,000 with the city putting in $28,500 and CTC providing $91,500.
Eighteen projects were recently awarded Culture & Tourism grants including these from the Ely area:
Dorothy Molter Museum: $5,000 to restore two exhibit cabins.
Ely Community Resources: $20,000 to develop a skateboard wheel park.


Ely chapter celebrates 150 years of P.E.O.

On January 21 this year, P.E.O. (Philanthropic Educational Organization) celebrated the 150th birthday of International Chapter of the P.E.O. Sisterhood.
Chapter FD in Ely joined the other 230,000 current members of P.E.O. from nearly 6,000 chapters across the United States and Canada in celebrating this historic milestone.
Chapter FD has been a part of the Ely community since it was organized in 1995.
Among its yearly events is a booth at the Harvest Moon Festival with proceeds going directly to support women’s education. In 2018, their year of sponsorship totaled $16,250. This was for one PCE (Project for Continuing Education) grant, one ELF (Educational Loan Foundation) award, one local $750 Ely Memorial High School Scholarship and one National Star Scholar Award for $2500.


‘Super’ finalists in town Tuesday

by Tom Coombe
As soon as this week, the Ely School District could have a new chief executive.
School board members are set to interview two finalists for superintendent, in public, on Tuesday.
Erik Erie will interview for the part-time job at 5 p.m. while John Klarich will follow at 6:45 p.m. in the board room at Memorial High School.
The board has scheduled a special meeting following the interviews where action could be taken.
It will be the second time in two months that the board has interviewed finalists for the job.
Four others were interviewed in early-May, but the board opted not to advance discussions with any of them and decided to repost the job.
Both of the current finalists have extensive ties to the Iron Range.
Klarich has held superintendent positions at Nashwauk-Keewatin and Mt. Iron-Buhl, while Erie recently retired after working as high school principal at Mesabi East, located in Aurora.


Fortune Bay to host Wild Rice Hotdish Eating Championship

Fortune Bay has already hosted two MLE (Major League Eating) Indian Taco Eating Contests, but now things will even more interesting later this month as the first annual MLE Wild Rice Hotdish Eating Championship takes place.
The No. 5-ranked competitive eater in the world, Darron Breeden, from Orange, VA and other top-ranked eaters will gather Saturday, June 22 to seek the title and $2,500 cash prize.
The competition will take place at 3 p.m. at Fortune Bay’s Lakeside Tent. There is no charge to attend this event.
“We are excited to welcome the top competitive eaters in the nation for this historic eating contest for this distinct rice dish,” said Fortune Bay’s Sammy Richter. “This event continues a series of exciting events for guests of the Fortune Bay Resort Casino.”
This inaugural event will take place over eight minutes of sanctioned competition time.


School issues come into focus

by Tom Coombe -


$100K for Vets on the Lake

by Tom Coombe -


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