Rukavina’s still battling for school kids

The smallest guy left at the table hasn’t given up on doing what’s right for the school kids in Minnesota, but it appears St. Louis County Commissioner is the last man standing.
Former State Rep. Tom Rukavina isn’t one to back down from a fight. He’s known for his combative nature and knowledge of the issues that affect northeast Minnesota.
The potential land swap of state lands within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area actually impacts the entire state. But the crickets are sounding from St. Paul and other elected officials.
Rukavina is concerned the county board may have given too much when a resolution was passed to approve a hybrid proposal that includes a land swap and purchase procedure.


Freedom to think looms large; It’s National Newspaper Week

With National Newspaper Week approaching - October 1-7, these are my relevant thoughts to note:
When you grow up with newspapers at home, you become aware of policies and attitudes.
When you grow up with a father who was a Republican and a mother who was a Democrat, you grow up with two newspapers coming into the house: Chicago Tribune for Dad, Chicago Daily News for Mom.
To do so in the ’40s and ’50s ensured that I could read and hear two sides and gain some insight into why, no matter what, one or the other side was not always right or wrong.

Nowadays television news channels can be used in much the same way. Some excel in local and national news better than others to keep one aware of events. Switching channels helps to gain varying perspectives and understanding.
Current issues, both national and local are much the same. If one thinks through any issue and allows reason to seep in beyond the rhetoric, the results can be surprising.


If you had a million dollars, would you spend it on faster internet?

Faster internet can be just a pipe dream for people who live outside the Ely city limits. Speeds as slow as dial-up are all too common meaning services like Netflix and Hulu are not even a possibility.
Pointing fingers at Frontier and Midcontinent for not better servicing Ely’s rural areas has not led to any solutions. There were high hopes for Lake Connections to fill the gap, but that system is in turmoil right now.
So, we’re back to local governments stepping in to provide the infrastructure needed. If you’re a local taxpayer, be it in a city or township, should your elected officials spend tax dollars on bringing faster internet to your house?
Increasingly that answer is becoming: yes.
Even a township supervisor said he was tired of snail’s pace internet that he was making a leap of faith in hopes that Lake Connections could hook him up.


Local taxpayers shouldn’t always have to pick up the tab

Sitting on the edge of a national wilderness, local taxpayers are all too well aware of having to pick up the tab. Two issues are currently in play, the push to exchange state land inside the BWCA for federal land, and, the loss of tax base when islands and other areas outside the BWCA are removed from the tax roles.
Our position on the BWCA land exchange is straightforward. An apple for an apple. Just as the federal law says, the state lands can be exchanged, not sold, for federal lands. Seems simple but the same people who are against seemingly everything are opposing this as well.
They want the feds to buy out the state land. Several problems with this scenario, number one being there is no pot of gold to make that happen. And, the state of Minnesota has been losing money for over 50 years by those lands not generating income. A sale will not create an ongoing revenue stream, it’s a once and done, and a fleecing of the taxpayers.




Do you wish you had a place where your thoughts could appear in a column on a regular basis? If not every week, then every other week?

Are you a high school student, young mother, father or wizened old grandmother or grandfather?

I’d like to hear from you! I’m not looking for political commentary, just personal insight into how you view the world around you. This isn’t a paying job - the reward is in seeing your thoughts in print, perhaps having people recognize you. That’s how I got started at the Ely Echo - writing a column about women and adding insight on how people cook and sharing their recipes.

If you like to write, you’ll have ideas of your own. Give me a call and send me some samples to: thepub@elyecho.com

Let’s talk. Anne Swenson, publisher


Life skills still needed

When students first enter the Independent School District 696 as a kindergarten student, they are taught skills they will use for the rest of their lives.
Simple things like keeping your hands to yourself, learning how to stand in line and being sure to flush are all skills that will stay with you throughout life.
We’d like to think every child is taught these skills at home but we’re not naive. More and more parenting skills are being transferred from the home to the classroom.
Unless we want to shoulder the problem of having graduates not ready to be productive members of society, maybe it’s time to take another look at what we expect from school districts.
At the grocery store this week, a young woman was purchasing a ready made sandwich with food stamps. The elderly woman running the till could only think, “Why doesn’t she buy a loaf of bread and some lunch meat? It would be much cheaper!”


New school year breeds optimism at ISD 696

Tuesday marks a new beginning in Ely - a ceremonial turning of the page.
Summer vacation comes to an end and a new school year begins as for the first time since 2006, more than 600 kids are expected to walk through the doors at either Washington Elementary or Memorial HIgh School.
While enrollment remains a far cry of what it was even 20 years ago, student population totals are going in the right direction and that alone is a reason to celebrate.
Much more needs to be done to grow the local economy, bring more well-paying job and make the community a more viable place to support a family, but the uptick in enrollment is a good sign.
The campus has a new look this year with the installation of a brand-new playground for the elementary school.
The playground was badly needed, and the community support in construction earlier this week was fitting, as it was a true community effort to get this project to the finish line.


Rediscovered 2012 EIS shows FS changing rules

If an EIS study showed in 2012 that mining exploration should be allowed in the Superior National Forest, why is the U.S. Forest Service going through another similar EIS five years later?
That’s the question raised this past week by Up North Jobs as the final comment period ends on withdrawing 234,328 acres of federal land from mineral exploration.
According to documents filed by Up North Jobs, a meeting was held in Duluth in November of 2006 with mining company representatives and the Superior National Forest supervisor.
On the table were requests by mining companies to be issued prospecting permits for copper, nickel, platinum and related minerals in the Superior National Forest.


Ads + Subscribers = News

Your Ely Echo newspaper is a business just like any other. Revenue generated from advertising and subscriptions pays for all the news we generate week in and week out.
In short, we need your help!
Newspapers across the state of Minnesota having been going all out during National Newspaper Week to remind people of the importance of newspapers in their lives. Right here in Ely we decided not to give up our front page to make that point, it’s far too valuable for us to do that.
You may be a subscriber already, either digitally or through the Post Office. You may be reading this after purchasing the Echo from one of our retail locations. Or you could be visiting a friend or relative and be reading their copy of this week’s Ely Echo.
What we would love to see is more people like you, people who read their hometown newspaper. We know if we do our job well, you will make sure to get a copy delivered to your home 52 weeks a year.


Supporting a Free Press

by Senator Amy Klobuchar -


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