News

Fri
07
Aug

Joint powers board votes to increase ambulance funding

Members of a joint powers board agreed to seek additional funding for this year and next to help the Ely Area Ambulance Service.
Morse and Fall Lake townships along with the cities of Ely and Winton make up the board. The group has been looking to find ways to make sure the ambulance service is financially stable.
A separate non-profit board manages the day to day operation of the service.
The group met July 31 in Winton and had two represenatives from St. Louis County, commissioner Paul McDonald and Brandon Larson from the Auditor’s office.
The current funding formula is based on population. Each entity is invoiced in the fall for the annual contribution.
The board had previously discussed assessing a fee to each parcel in the four government units.
Two things were apparent at the meeting, it was too late to do that for 2021 and Morse was not interested in paying per parcel since it would then pay more than the city of Ely.

Fri
07
Aug

Two in, one out of school board election

by Tom Coombe
The Ely School Board election is taking shape, but with several unknowns leading up to a Tuesday filing deadline.
Incumbent Heidi Mann announced last week that she won’t file for another term on the six-member board, while former Ely teacher and coach Darren Visser was the only candidate to officially file as of Tuesday.
Two other incumbents whose terms are up - James Pointer and Tom Omerza - had not yet entered the race.
Pointer declined comment when asked about his intentions, while Omerza said just prior to the Echo’s deadline that he plans to file.

Sat
01
Aug

Back to school?

by Tom Coombe
In advance of a Thursday announcement from Gov. Tim Walz that will determine the direction of the 2020-21 school year, officials in Ely waited with the rest of the state and prepared for students to return to the campus.
Unclear if September will begin with distance learning, in-person classes or a combination of the two, Ely administrators and staff moved closer this week to developing plans for all three contingencies.
Superintendent Erik Erie, meanwhile, told board members at Monday’s monthly study session that initial surveys showed parents are comfortable sending their students back to buildings that have been closed since mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Sat
01
Aug

Harvest Moon cancelled

by Tom Coombe
After holding out in hopes for a change in circumstances, the Ely Chamber of Commerce decided Monday to cancel its second major festival of 2020.
The Harvest Moon Festival, which had been set for Sept. 10-12, was scrapped because of the coronavirus-pandemic and associated state regulations.
“Based on current restrictions in place for event gatherings, the event cannot be held,” Chamber director Eva Sebesta said.
The Chamber had earlier cancelled its signature summer event - the late-July Blueberry/Art Festival - but officials said then they were hopeful the smaller Harvest Moon event would go on as scheduled.
Yet a series of executive orders by Gov. Tim Walz, including one that limits outdoor gatherings to 250 people or less, made it all but impossible to hold the Harvest Moon event.

Fri
24
Jul

“Shop” space integral part of school building project

by Tom Coombe
Anyone who’s listened to school superintendent Erik Erie’s presentations about the upcoming $10 million bond referendum has probably heard him proclaim “Industrial arts are alive and well in Ely.”
Newly-released details fortify that position, including some alterations from original plans that create additional space for industrial arts or often-called “shop classes.”
Current drawings show about 10,500 square feet for industrial arts in the new structure that would link the Memorial and Washington buildings, should the Aug. 11 referendum be approved.
That’s a roughly 4,000 square foot increase from initial designs, and come on the heels of a comprehensive look at industrial arts classrooms at numerous area schools - led by longtime Ely industrial arts instructor Rob Simonich.
The result was a reconfiguration that, according to Simonich, not only meets Ely’s needs but puts the school in a leading position with the region.

Fri
24
Jul

In Ely, “More” COVID cases

by Tom Coombe
The Ely area has seen an increase in the number of people testing positive for COVID-19, but further details are murky.
While Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital reported Monday that there have been no increase in cases locally for two months, physician Joe Bianco of Essentia Health - which operates Ely’s clinic - reports some growth.
“We have seen more cases,” said Bianco. “It’s difficult to give a quantity because some people get tested and other entities which we don’t have records to and there’s no central place for Morse Township or Ely so I can’t give you can exact number. But there are more cases.”
Bianco, however cautioned that the current hike was anticipated, and not cause for alarm.
“It’s not like we’ve seen an exponential rise,” said Bianco. “We’re not a hot spot. We completely all expected to see cases. ”

Fri
17
Jul

Treehouse Broadband dialing up project

A $450,000 wireless broadband project in the Town of Morse is moving forward.
Isaac Olson of Treehouse Broadband updated the Morse board on Tuesday night. Olson said over the last four weeks he’s talked to over 100 people in the area the project will cover.
He’s also met with island owners on Burntside Lake.
One lease is signed and five or six others have been given to the owners for the repeaters on the island.
He said an antenna has been installed on the Winton water tower with testing ongoing.
The two taller towers are planned for Wolf Lake and Little Long Lake with a spot planned that is within sight of the Ely water tower will be built using a 30-foot tower instead of 100 footer.
He is putting together updated costs on those two locations which would be able to redistribute the township funding to the two towers and/or to help fund expansion elsewhere.

Fri
17
Jul

You can learn about the story of Ely by visiting the cemetery

by Bill Erzar, Chairman
Ely Cemetery Committee
Tonight, as I sit here at home, I have spent basically the last week checking gravestones and monuments at the Ely Cemetery, that have fallen over, are leaning, have bases that are deteriorating, headstones that are loose from bases, have broken components, those that need cleaning, and those that are missing panels from the old Cast Metal type of monuments.
I have walked, knelt at, and laid down at some markers to rub off the moss or lichens, or cleared away some overgrown grass and dirt to read the names on those weather worn stones. Many of our early Elyites, were of Slovenian and Finnish ancestry.

Fri
10
Jul

Tourism on the rebound

by Tom Coombe
Despite an anemic spring local officials expect that when all is said and done, lodging tax receipts will rebound from current levels.
A recent influx of summer tourism traffic, and reports that some area resorts are expecting steady business through September, is helping to drive that optimism.
That’s despite a report presented at Tuesday’s city council meeting showed that collections from the area’s three percent “bed tax” are down by about 15 percent.
April and May totals also figure to be significantly down, due largely to coronavirus-related stay at home orders that shuttered some local lodging establishments.
Nevertheless, Ely Mayor Chuck Novak voiced some optimism and backed it up with both data and anecdotal evidence.
“My comment is that this is not as bad as I thought it would be,” said Novak.

Fri
10
Jul

Ely Patriotic March was a success

BIG TURNOUT for the Ely Patriotic March as people gathered to celebrate our country’s Independence Day with a parade along Sheridan Street Saturday.

See this week's Ely Echo for three full pages of photos from the event PLUS a full page from the motorcade event at Carefree Living!

Subscribe by emailing us at elyecho@aol.com or call 218-365-3141. Thank you!

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