News

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.

Fri
05
Feb

Echo named city’s official publication

by Tom Coombe
The Ely Echo will once again serve as Ely’s official newspaper.
The only locally-owned and operated newspaper and the only one to maintain an office in Ely has been designated, for the second straight year, to be the publication in which the city prints meeting minutes, public notices and other announcements.
Tuesday’s council meeting was brief and the Echo was picked without discussion and with a unanimous vote.
The Echo was the only publication eligible to bid for the legal publishing contract, given a recent move by the Tower-based Timberjay to no longer print a separate Ely edition.
Two years ago, the council picked the Timberjay to serve as legal publication, in a move that generated controversy and several weeks of debate.
The Echo increased its publishing rates this year, in bids that were due in late-January.

Fri
05
Feb

COVID case rate in 55731 zip code down to 0.0

by Tom Coombe
The Ely School District is poised to return to full in-person learning for the first time since the start of the school year.
That change could come as soon as this week, following a Wednesday announcement by superintendent Erik Erie.
Erie said the district is planning for middle and high school students to return to in-person learning the week of Feb. 8, pending discussion after deadline with the district’s Ely Safe Learning Plan Advisory Committee.
District officials also had a consultation this week with state and county public health officials to discuss bringing students back full time.
While elementary students have had in-person learning since Jan. 12, the middle and high school have operated under a hybrid model since then, with students in school two days per week.
The development comes amid a bottoming out of COVID-19 case numbers in Ely, and dramatic declines regionally and across the state.

Fri
29
Jan

Dropping case rates meet criteria for return to full in-person learning

by Tom Coombe
For a second consecutive week, COVID-19 case numbers in the Ely area are below the threshold that would allow for full in-person learning in school.
No new cases were reported in the last week and just two positive tests were recorded in the last two weeks, according to data released Thursday morning.
That brings the local case rate per 10,000 to 3.22, far below the 10 per 10,000 that allows for in-person learning under state health department regulations and a “restart blueprint” authorized by the Ely School Board.
For now, schools in Ely are operating with daily in-person learning in the elementary and a hybrid model in the middle and high schools.
In a Jan. 22 letter to parents, high school principal Megan Anderson noted the drop in case rate, which was at 9.66 on that date, and said “if we can maintain these numbers for a few weeks, we’ll be looking to shift back to in-person learning.”

Fri
29
Jan

Mayoral field keeps growing

by Tom Coombe
And now there are six.
The list of would-be Ely mayors keeps expanding in advance of an April primary, with Micca Leider the latest entrant in an ever-growing race.
Leider, a first-time candidate in Ely, joins former mayor Roger Skraba and four current council members - Angela Campbell, Jerome Debeltz, Paul Kess and Heidi Omerza - in the special election.
Candidate filings close at 5 p.m. Tuesday, but the number of entrants ensure that a primary will be held April, with the top two vote-getters moving on to an August general election.
Asked Wednesday why she’s seeking Ely’s top political post, Leider responded “the bottom line is I can and why not? I moved my family up here and absolutely adore this town.”

Fri
22
Jan

More people qualify for vaccine

by Tom Coombe
Phone lines were swamped across the state Tuesday, as thousands of Minnesotans angled for a place in line to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Mt. Iron is home this weekend to one of nine pilot vaccination sites around Minnesota, after the state opened up vaccinations to anyone age 65 or older.
Just 6,000 slots were available statewide this week for the expanded initiative, after health officials reported that roughly 250,000 Minnesotans - health care workers and nursing home residents - had received at least one dose in what’s been dubbed Phase 1a.
Meanwhile, the state is also offering vaccinations to school teachers and staff, including five doses offered this week for employees of Ely School District 696.
The developments come amid shrinking COVID growth after a precipitous November spike.
Statewide, there were just over 11,000 active cases of COVID-19 as of Thursday, down nearly 80 percent from a Nov. 20 peak of 51,118.

Fri
22
Jan

After silence, schools abuzz with activity

by Tom Coombe
“It’s a lonely place without kids in the building.”
High school principal Megan Anderson’s sentiments on Thursday came nearly two weeks into the Ely district’s return to in-person learning, which has included a hybrid model in the high school and full in-person attendance in the elementary school.
“It has been wonderful to have students back,” Anderson said. “Just the sound of their voices in the hallways, basketballs dribbling on the gym floor. It’s an immensely welcome sound.”
The mood was similar across the campus at Washington Elementary, where students returned Jan. 12 after a several-week hiatus with distance learning.
“The return to school has been great,” said elementary principal Anne Oelke. “It is amazing to have our students back, that is what our school is made for to teach kids in person.”

Fri
22
Jan

The 3 o’clock hour, Monday, January 11, 2021

Alex Bleth was stretched out in a snow bank talking on cell phone while his dad was making a call on his phone seated on snowmobile trailer... Time out for phone calls....Alex: “We’re from Atlanta, Georgia. It’s a father son weekend. We drove up here from the cities the other night and decided to hit the trails. Drove from Shagawa all the way to down to Vermillion and back. Beautiful trails. Absolutely beautiful up here. We went from pretty warm weather, the 40s-50s to this but we absolutely love it up here. It’s God’s country. I’ve been to Ely over the summer for fishing but mostly we’re in Cohasset, Minnesota. I gotta say the nature is just stunning up here. We stopped multiple times on the trails just to take pictures. It was beautiful. And again, this is a great lodge to stay at. (The Grand Ely Lodge) It’s a great place to stay, great food. We absolutely love it up here. We already talked about it. We’re coming back next year. We’ve been here for two days.

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