News

Fri
06
Dec

EBCH expansion project could lead to 25 new jobs

by Tom Coombe
With 95 employees and payroll and benefits exceeding $8 million, Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital is one of the region’s largest employers.
Those numbers could jump significantly if an expansion project currently in the works comes to fruition.
As many as 25 new jobs and an additional $1.7 million in annual payroll could result from the expansion, state lawmakers heard Monday from hospital CEO Michael Coyle, who spoke at the annual legislative meeting hosted by the Community Economic Development Joint Powers Board.
Both there and later in the day, when Coyle briefed hospital shareholders at their annual meeting, there was significant buzz about a project that has been in the talking stages for about a year yet remains a work in progress.

Fri
06
Dec

Legislators back Twin Metals

by Tom Coombe
Lunch was served just before noon Monday at the Grand Ely Lodge, but it took almost another two hours to get to the main course.
That’s how long it took before the annual legislative meeting in Ely veered to the area’s most contentious issue - the copper-nickel mining project proposed by Twin Metals Minnesota.
DFL legislators Tom Bakk and Rob Ecklund, who both support the project, acknowledged the opposition they face within their own party on the issue.
“We’re fighting the anti-mining folks every day down there, and you know who they are,” said Ecklund, an International Falls Democrat who represents the Ely area in the State House.
Bakk, the Senate Minority Leader, pushed back against suggestions that Range Democrats aren’t doing enough to support the Twin Metals initiative.

Mon
02
Dec

New tax, new benefits?

by Tom Coombe
As Lake County moves ahead with a new four percent lodging tax, the opposition that had formed in Fall Lake Township over the proposal seems to have waned.
Tourism officials who voiced angst several months ago now appear on board with the plan, which could be implemented sometime in 2020.
Kerry Davis, a longtime local resort owner and tourism industry leader, endorsed the proposal when Lake County commissioners came to the Fall Lake Town Hall for a Nov. 21 public meeting.
“I think overall there will be advantages to doing this,” said Davis.
Davis, other resort owners and Fall Lake leaders all voiced opposition when the plan first surfaced during the spring, but Lake County offiicals said they heard the concerns and worked to soothe them.

Mon
02
Dec

School project: Time to tap the brakes, think big

by Tom Coombe
Ely school officials were urged to step back and think big about a potential facilities project on campus.
That was the message Monday night from lobbyist Gary Cerkvenik, who is working on behalf of the district to gain as much as $10 million in additional revenue - from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board -for a major initiative.
“I would encourage you to think bigger and when you’re thinking bigger someone else will help you achieve that bigger plan, with not a lot of extra community support,” said Cerkvenik, a longtime, well-connected political operative who has worked with numerous Range entities and units of government.
“Instead of doing an $8 million (referendum) maybe you have a $10 million and somebody matches it, and now you have a $20 million plan. Now you have a good plan as $20 million accomplishes a lot.”

Fri
22
Nov

Theater set for grand debut

by Tom Coombe
The curtain goes up, the lights will be on and the smell of popcorn will fill the air Thursday night at Ely’s Historic State Theater.
That’s when the public can get its first look at the remarkable restoration of an iconic facility.
Dark since 2007 and in disrepair when it was purchased several years ago by Alley A Realty, the building and adjacent structures have been refurbished and are about to begin a new era - under the management of a newly-created nonprofit group.
The nonprofit is opening the doors to the theater on Thanksgiving night, for an open house that’s slated from 5 to 8 p.m.
People are invited to come out for tours, guided by nonprofit board members, and to get a sneak peak at what’s been done and what’s in store at the theater.

Fri
22
Nov

City hunt felled by arrows

by Tom Coombe
Nuisance deer will apparently remain safe from bows and arrows within Ely’s city limits.
A citizens’ request that the city conduct a special season archery deer season failed to gain traction Tuesday.
Council members took no formal action on the request brought forward by Sarah Malick-Wahls and backed by numerous petitioners, but those who spoke lined up in opposition.
“There’s no real place (to safely hold a city hunt),” said council member Paul Kess.
While Malick-Wahls pointed to municipal hunting seasons in more than 20 cities, including nearby Tower, Cook and Hoyt Lakes, council members weren’t convinced a hunt could be safely done in town.
“They are geographically much bigger,” Kess said of other cities. “Ely is fairly compact and doesn’t have a lot of bigger tracts. It becomes problematic about where the hunt would happen.”

Mon
18
Nov

A school tribute to area veterans

by Tom Coombe
Messages were sent and received during the annual Veterans’ Day program at the Ely schools.
As students gave thanks and saluted the dozens of veterans who took part in Monday morning’s event, two speakers challenged students to consider an assortment of ways to give back to their country - including military service.
Navy veteran Jessica Kellogg gave the keynote address, while Ely’s nearly 600 students and an audience of at least another 150 people heard also from Anne Koskinen, an Ely veteran and current commander of the American Legion in Minnesota’s Eighth District.
“Joining the military is a good career path for any citizen,” said Koskinen.
Kellogg offered similar advice, noting that “just about anything you can do as a civilian, you can do in the military,” pointing to careers as diverse as medicine and education.

Fri
15
Nov

Recycling area closes temporarily

The City of Ely announced that the Ely area recycling center will be temporarily closed starting Thursday, Nov 14 through Nov. 22.
The city is completing phase one work on the entrance to the proposed trailhead which will be located where the current recycling center is located.
“During this time the recycle center will be completely closed and recycling and brush or mulch will not be accepted,” a city notice stated. “During this time you are encouraged to utilize the transfer site on Highway 21 if you need to recycle. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Fri
15
Nov

Hospital welcomes new leaders

by Tom Coombe
Three new faces have joined the management staff at Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital, including one in a newly-created position.
Becky Holmstrom is on board as chief nursing officer at EBCH, while Tommy Teigen is the new team leader of the hospital’s cardiopulmonary rehabilitation department. Both joined the staff in September.
Nancy McKenzie has worked at EBCH since April in a new financial counselor position and has since been promoted to team leader.
The three new leaders bring varied backgrounds to the Ely hospital but some common bonds as well, including an affinity for EBCH and the Ely area.
“I really like the people,” said Holmstrom, a Duluth native. “It’s a great place to work with really a family feel.”
Teigen, who came to Ely from the Twin Cities, added “I never really cared for living in the Cities and always wanted to move somewhere more rural.”

Thu
07
Nov

School saluting vets at Monday program

The Ely School District will celebrate Veterans Day once again this year with a special program and tribute.
Following recent tradition, which has included several Veterans Day programs over the course of the last decade, the school will host an event at 10 a.m., Monday, at the high school gymnasium.
All veterans are invited to come and be recognized in a program that will include musical performances by both the school band and choirs.
“We’re inviting all veterans to come and join us,” said high school principal Megan Anderson. “The public is invited to attend.”
Anderson will speak Monday, and the keynote address will be delivered by Jessica Kellogg, an Ely area resident and veteran.
The Ely Area Honor Guard will also take part, presenting and retiring the colors in a solemn tribute that will also include the playing of taps.
A musical medley from Ely’s elementary school students is also part of the patriotic-themed day.

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