News

Mon
09
Mar

1854 Authority retracts letter over taconite mining

The 1854 Authority has reversed course on a letter opposing Minntac's planned expansion.
In a later to the Minnesota DNR, Darren Vogt, Resource Management Division Director, said, "On February 10, 2020, the 1854 Treaty Authority submitted a comment letter in which it recommended that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources deny approval U.S. Steel's request to amend its Minntac Permit to Mine. Specifically, U.S. Steel is requesting authorization to expand its current Minntac mining operations to include 45 additional acres north of Kinney, Minnesota.
"After further discussion and consideration, the 1854 Treaty Authority has decided to formally retract its February 10, 2020 comment letter. The Authority will continue to monitor developments related to the Minntac Permit and will participate in permit-related proceedings as it deems appropriate."

Fri
06
Mar

Coyle out as CEO at Ely hospital

by Nick Wognum
There has been a change in the chief executive officer position at Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital.
The hospital board announced Thursday that CEO Michael Coyle and the board finalized a “formal separation” on March 4.
A statement from the board released Thursday said “We were faced with very difficult decisions; rest assured that we take this employment matter very seriously and have given thoughtful consideration to each decision made. The board is dedicated to the long-term health and well-being of our patients, employees, and members. We are honored and dedicated to serving in the best interests of our community.”

Fri
06
Mar

Pro-mining group fills council chambers, council postpones decision on resolution

by Nick Wognum
The fuse was lit with a full house at Wednesday’s Ely city council meeting but the main event took place after nearly everyone left.
Pro-mining supporters filled nearly every chair in the council chambers and many stood along the walls.
That left some wooden chairs outside the room for those opposed. But when the sign carrying pro-mining group left midway through the meeting, Becky Rom and her group moved in and did the majority of speaking at the end of the meeting.
If Rom and her group were looking for the Ely city council to suddenly have a change of heart on supporting Twin Metals Minnesota and PolyMet mining projects, that didn’t happen.
Council member Al Forsman wore a blue “We Support Mining” shirt and the council unanimously passed a resolution supporting the two copper-nickel ventures.
Ely Mayor Chuck Novak said the resolution supporting Twin Metals and Polymet would normally be on the consent agenda and not read.

Fri
28
Feb

Ambulance will add extra staffing in attempt to cover additional transports

by Nick Wognum
The Ely Area Ambulance Service will put an additional two people on duty 12 hours a day in order to help cover missed transports.
The announcement came at an ambulance joint powers board meeting in Winton on Wednesday.
The second crew would work from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day and take people from Ely to Duluth or other medical facilities.
The ambulance service has been criticized for not being able to provide transports which has led to patients waiting up to 10 hours for a transport to Duluth.
The joint powers board helps to fund the ambulance through annual contributions based on population.
The towns of Morse and Fall Lake and the cities of Ely and Winton make up the ambulance joint powers board.
Board chair Kathy Brandau said the board could put a levy on property tax statements to help fund ambulance operations.

Fri
28
Feb

City eyes $9.3 million sewer plant project

by Tom Coombe
Ely city officials are moving ahead with a better than $9 million project at the wastewater treatment plant.
A public hearing held Wednesday offered more details about a project that has been in the works for years.
And despite the hefty price tag, current estimates show the project would not significantly impact utility rates.
Harold Langowski, the city’s operations director and clerk/treasurer, said that a combination of grant funds and retiring debt will minimize the hit to Ely residents and business owners.
Langowski told city council members that the project could result in a rate increase of as little as $1 a month over 20 years.
That’s because the city is in line to receive as much as $7 million in state grant funding for the project, with about $2.2 million in low-interest loans also part of the equation.
But Langowski said current debt payments of over $165,000 per year will be retired next year.

Fri
21
Feb

Mayor in a “Tweetstorm”

by Tom Coombe
Ely Mayor Chuck Novak faced the wrath of several area residents Tuesday, in the wake of public comments in which he supported a boycott of Fortune Bay Resort Casino.
Several prominent opponents of copper-nickel mining projects used the public forum opportunity at the end of the regular city council meeting to blast Novak - both for a social media post and comments in an article that appeared in the Hibbing Daily Tribune.
Novak praised State Sen. Tom Bakk’s decision to move an annual political fundraiser from Fortune Bay and urged organizers of the Fun Run snowmobile event to do the same, after the Bois Forte Band joined tribal partners in supporting legislation that could doom the Twin Metals Minnesota project near Ely.
But Novak’s comments struck a nerve with several who spoke at City Hall.

Fri
21
Feb

Caucuses on for Tuesday

by Tom Coombe
Democrats and Republicans in the Ely area will gather Tuesday at Vermilion Community College for grassroots gatherings that kick off a busy election year.
Precinct caucuses begin at 7 p.m. and give area residents a voice in shaping the platforms of their respective party.
The caucuses come in advance of a Mar. 3 presidential primary, but party leaders are emphasizing that caucuses will still go on as scheduled.
Those who turn out this week will address issues, consider resolutions and elect delegates to their respective party conventions.
While Ely had record-setting turnout in 2016, when caucuses featured straw polls for the presidential race, participation diminished in 2018.
Those with only an interest in the presidential race might wait until next week’s primary, but the caucuses offer a chance for residents to get in on the ground floor with their respective party - and get their voice heard.

Fri
14
Feb

School seeks IRRRB funds

by Tom Coombe
A resolution approved by Ely School Board members Monday clears the way for the district to seek about $7.2 million in outside assistance for a proposed school improvement project.
That assistance would come from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board, if state lawmakers who govern the agency give their approval, perhaps as soon as next month.
After discussing it two weeks earlier, school board members gave their unanimous approval to a resolution that seeks just over $7 million from the IRRRB, which has assisted several other area schools with similar projects.
Ely officials are eyeing nearly $20 million in improvements and are moving toward a potential $10 million bond referendum later in the year, but they’ve made it clear they will also seek help from the IRRRB.
IRRRB funding, if allocated, would be accessed only if voters approve the referendum.

Fri
14
Feb

Scenes for polar history film will be re-enacted here in Ely

Ely, renowned as the base of many polar expeditions, is about to host another - or least re-enactments.
On Tuesday Feb. 18, Voyage Digital Media will be recreating scenes at Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge on White Iron Lake circa 1909 of Robert Peary’s dogsled expedition to the North Pole.
Actors, including Wintergreen guides, will be dressed in period costumes includes fur parkas as team members.
Wintergreen’s Canadian Inuit sled dogs - the same breed used on Peary’s expedition - will pull an exact replica of his 12-foot komatik dogsled laden with furs & supplies.
The documentary film is being co-produced with the non-profit National Maritime History Society (NMHS) of Peekskill, New York, and made possible by grant funding from Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest and the H. F. Lenfest Fund from The Philadelphia Foundation.
The film tells the story of the Ernestina Morrissey, an historic Arctic sailing ship associated with numerous early expeditions.

Fri
07
Feb

Echo named official paper

by Tom Coombe
After a one-year hiatus, the Ely Echo will once again serve as Ely’s official newspaper.
Earlier this week, council members decided the Ely-based publication will be where the city prints meeting minutes, public notices and other official announcements.
Tuesday’s 6-0 council vote, with Al Forsman absent, came after city officials determined the Echo was the “lowest responsible bidder” for the city publishing contract as required in the city charter.
A comparison of sample public notices and meeting minutes showed that the Echo was less expensive than the other bidder - the Tower-based Timberjay.
It was just over a year ago that the Ely council ignited controversy and weeks of debate by naming the Tower publication as Ely’s official newspaper.

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