News

Fri
08
May

Surgeries resuming at hospital

by Tom Coombe
After a nearly two-month hiatus, elective surgeries will resume at Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital.
Hospital officials have announced plans to resume procedures that had been curtailed amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Jodi Martin, marketing and communications team leader at EBCH, said the hospital will start the process over the next several days.
“As coordinating schedules with providers and patients can take some time, we can expect to start slowly, and be working back to full capacity within two-to-three weeks,” said Martin.
Surgeries deemed “time-sensitive” will be given top priority, and those who had a surgery scheduled prior to the shutdown, and have not yet been contacted by EBCH, should call the hospital’s surgery department at 365-8724.
Over the last three years EBCH has worked to bolster surgical procedures in an effort to build revenue at the hospital, an independent, locally-operated facility.

Mon
04
May

BWCA open to day use only through May 17

The coronavirus has struck again, this time it’s the U.S. Forest Service that will only allow day use in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area through May 17.
For people with overnight BWCA permits, they are out of luck including those who planned to camp on Basswood for this weekend’s Minnesota fishing opener.
“All overnight reservations (motor, paddle, hiking) through May 17 are no longer valid and are cancelled. Permit holders will receive a full refund including reservation fee. If a visitor wants to go into the BWCAW with a motorboat for the day, they will need to reserve a day use motor permit. Self-issue day paddle permits are also available to fish for the day,” wrote Suzanne Hirsch, acting public affairs specialist for the Superior National Forest.
The Park Service has followed suit and will not allow tent camping and overnight houseboat mooring permits at Voyageurs National Park.

Fri
01
May

Houde named Ely's next police chief

by Tom Coombe

After six rounds of balloting, the Ely City Council finally reached a majority and picked Chad Houde to be the city's next police chief.

A 15-year-veteran of Ely's police force, Houde was selected over Ely officer Adam Borchert on a 4-3 vote in the sixth and final round. Ely police sergeant George Burger, who led after the first round of balloting with three votes but did not gain a majority, was eliminated after the fifth round while Virginia police lieutenant John Swenson fell from contention earlier in the public balloting process held late Friday afternoon, after interviews at City Hall with all four finalists.

Council members Paul Kess, Heidi Omerza, Al Forsman and Angela Campbell picked Houde in the last round, while Borchert was supported by council members Ryan Callen, Jerome Debeltz and mayor Chuck Novak.

Fri
01
May

ELY AREA BUSINESSES SALUTE THE CLASS OF 2020

Ely Memorial Class of 2020 has lost numerous events and opportunities due to the coronavirus pandemic. This week Ely area businesses salute the Class of 2020!

Fri
01
May

Graduation at the ballpark?

by Tom Coombe
Ely’s historic baseball stadium has hosted countless tournaments and even a wedding. If all goes as planned, a high school graduation ceremony could soon be added to that list.
Amid a pandemic that has closed schools since mid-March, officials in the Ely district are exploring options that would allow the high school graduating class of 2020 to return to campus for an unconventional commencement.
“My hope is we’ll still have a May 30 graduation,” principal Megan Anderson told school board members Monday night.
The next day, Anderson confirmed that plans are in the works for a ceremony that would take place at Veterans Memorial Field - the baseball stadium located on the school campus.

Fri
24
Apr

Plans for CC hit roadblock

by Tom Coombe
Ely city officials want to see some progress at the Community Center building before they’ll grant the new owners more time to develop their vision for the local landmark.
The K America Foundation, which bought the building in late-2018, wants a three-year extension to its current agreement, which would give the organization until the end of 2028 to meet various milestones and turn the building into a venue for Korean language and culture camps.
But council members, meeting remotely Tuesday amid the coronavirus pandemic, opted instead to heed the recommendation of the city’s historic preservation commission, which is looking for “more progress on year one milestones.”
City Attorney Kelly Klun told the council that K America currently has six years to complete various milestones in order to keep the building, which it purchased for $30,000.

Fri
24
Apr

School doors staying closed

by Tom Coombe
Gov. Tim Walz has made it official: Minnesota children won’t go back to their classrooms and campuses this spring.
Walz announced Thursday that schools will remain closed and that distance learning, which started in late-March amid the coronavirus pandemic, will continue through the end of the 2019-20 school year.
Classrooms in Ely and across the state have been empty for more than a month and while schools were scheduled to reopen May 5, Walz had sent strong signals the last two weeks it would not occur.
In Ely, superintendent Erik Erie got official word on a conference call just prior to Walz’s formal announcement and it came as little surprise.
“We kind of expected it the day before,” said Erie. “We had a noon call from the Department of Education on Wednesday, which is out of the ordinary so most of us were expecting the announcement then but we didn’t get it. We did have the meeting (Thursday) to give us a little forewarning.”

Fri
17
Apr

VCC sets “virtual” graduation

by Tom Coombe
Unprecedented times will make for an unprecedented commencement at Vermilion Community College.
Graduates were notified this week that a commencement ceremony will move forward as planned on Tuesday, May 12 at 7 p.m., but in a virtual format.
Members of the class of 2020, parents and relatives, school staff and faculty and others will all be able to take part - from the comfort of their homes or wherever else they can log in via phone or computer.
At Vermilion, classes have been online for several weeks and the campus is closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
School officials nonetheless pledged to find a way to recognize the achievements of this year’s graduating class, even though the traditional ceremony in a packed gymnasium won’t take place.

Fri
17
Apr

Blueberry Fest cancelled

by Tom Coombe
Ely’s biggest summer event - the Blueberry/Art Festival - won’t take place this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Ely Chamber of Commerce pulled the plug on Good Friday and notified members with a late-afternoon email message that sent shockwaves through town and served as a devastating economic blow to a business community already reeling from a month-long, pandemic-related shutdown and statewide stay-at-home orders.
As many as 40,000 people usually pass through Whiteside Park during the three-day festival and the Ely area swells with visitors from around the state and beyond.
“I believe a lot of us could say it was the hardest business decision we’ve ever made,” said Brian Forsberg, who chairs the Chamber’s board of directors. “I think I can speak for the board on that. We all take the economic impact very seriously.”

Wed
15
Apr

BWCA closed to day and overnight use April 15 through May 4

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced on April 9, that he will extend the state's Stay at Home order to May 4. In order to help lessen impacts to local communities while the state’s Stay at Home order is in place, and to help slow the spread of COVID-19, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) will be closed for both day and overnight use from April 15 through May 4. Reservations made through May 4 will receive a full refund including reservations fees.

In alignment with current federal, state and local guidance for social distancing and to ensure health safety of its employees, partners and members of the public, the Superior National Forest will temporarily change permit pick-up requirements beginning May 5, for all BWCAW quota permits.

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