Elections are the final poll

We’re heading into prime time for the political season with a highly contested primary August 14 and a mid-term general election Nov. 14 where Minnesota will be in the national spotlight.
Wednesday, election officials from cities, school districts and townships in St. Louis County gathered in Clinton Township for training on this year’s primary and general elections.
Present were representatives from the Town of Morse, City of Ely and the Ely School District. And by the next day, the rules had changed.
The Supreme Court ruled Minnesota’s law liberally banning the wearing of political apparel and buttons in polling places was unconstitutional.
Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon will now be left with trying to interpret the ruling. He’ll pass that on to the 87 county auditors who will in turn pass it on to the same people gathered in a town hall off Highway 37 Wednesday afternoon.


...there are no shortcuts to opening a mine

Building on our commitment to sharing information about the Twin Metals Project with the public as details become more certain, we recently released new project information. As a part of this effort, I had the opportunity to meet with a number of people in our community who are interested and engaged in the future of our project. The conversations were productive and were based on maintaining open lines of communication to provide accurate information about our project as it becomes available. In the spirit of these meetings, I wanted to take the opportunity to provide some facts about our project.
Many in the area have likely heard that our federal mineral leases were recently reinstated. That isn’t to be confused with an approval to start mining or even lease renewal. It is, however, an important step in the lease renewal process for leases we’ve held in good standing since 1966.


Political season in full swing

A series of surprising events last weekend led to a crazy week for statewide offices in the state of Minnesota. Not so much in Ely, but the St. Louis County Commissioner seat sure did attract a crowd.
Two events of note happened at the DFL convention in Rochester.
Gubernatorial front runner Tim Walz realized he wasn’t going to get the endorsement and made a hallway deal with fellow candidate Rebecca Otto to stop Erin Murphy from getting the DFL stamp of approval.
Walz and Otto walked in to the convention hall together and called for a vote of “No endorsement.” This was stunning to some and alerted a group from northeast Minnesota to proclaim, “We have to let Becky Rom know about this.”
It’s no secret Otto was the preferred candidate for the anti-mining crowd. But her candidacy fell flat statewide and that showed through in Rochester. Figuring she had nothing to lose, Otto dropped in with Walz, a stunning development to some of her supporters.


Governor’s veto puts stamp on a failure to communicate

What we have at the end of the 2018 legislative session is a major failure to communicate. Instead of keeping our income taxes from becoming a tangled mess and solving numerous state problems, Governor Mark Dayton hastily vetoed the two major bills.
An omnibus spending and a major tax bill were passed by the Republican controlled House and Senate. The DFL governor didn’t like what he read and killed both bills. Dayton also ruled out a special session, leaving taxpayers across the state of Minnesota hanging.
In Ely that meant a major hit to the 250-mile Prospector Loop ATV trail project. Provisions in the omnibus bill would have extended a use-it-or-lose-it funding deadline for another year and transferred $400,000 of dedicated funds into the project.


Sunny day, perfect scene show importance of recreation assets

The sun was shining late Wednesday afternoon and temperatures were more summer-like than spring.
It was a perfect day to be outdoors and it seemed like a healthy chunk of the community decided to congregate on the area from Whiteside Park over to Veterans Memorial Field.
Had someone been looking down from a helicopter or a low-flying plane, it would have made for a wonderful picture - and served as a heck of a marketing tool for Ely.
Here’s what the camera operator would have seen:
• Whiteside Park filled with young families, including a couple dozen or more kids enjoying the playground equipment and roaming free on the grass, while a few adults relaxed on the benches;
• Ely’s LIttle League field occupied by one of the community’s 10 or so Little League teams, with coaches and players tuning up for a season that will make the area a hub of activity for the next two months;


Ely Echo Guest Editorial: Supporting a free and open internet

by Senator Amy Klobuchar
Minnesotans in rural communities across our state are at risk of losing their access to a free and open internet. People like Lane from Avon, who at 21-years-old is worried about getting his graphic design business off the ground. The internet has helped him get the word out about his designs and he plans to use that momentum to set up his own company, but he’s worried that recent changes to net neutrality rules could make it harder for his small business to succeed. Minnesotans and Americans across the country share this young entrepreneur’s concerns.


Alumni and more give $91,000 to Ely’s graduating class of 2018

The number is staggering. A total of $91,000 in scholarships was given away at Wednesday’s Awards Assembly to seniors at Ely Memorial High School. Of that, just over $82,000 came from local sources. Over 50 different scholarships, many from alumni, will help the 40 Ely seniors as they head off next year to get their university or college educations.
Now the math doesn’t work out perfectly of course. Each graduate didn’t receive $2,000 and, just as in previous years, there were deserving seniors who didn’t receive an award.
We wouldn’t advocate for simply divvying up the total amount but we do believe there’s always room to make the system work better. This would mean those awarding the scholarships would have to be more flexible. It’s great to give your scholarship to the top of the class, but that doesn’t always make sense. There’s plenty of kids just as or more deserving who get overlooked.
With that in mind, there was one award that caught our attention.


Thanks to Tommy Rukavina, the Fourth District was well served

We’ve had a very good county commissioner manning the post for our area for the past three and a half years. We were very disappointed to hear Tommy Rukavina will not be able to run in this fall’s election.
Health must come first for all of us, even elected officials. All kidding aside, our best wishes, thoughts and prayers are with Tommy, one of the toughest politicians we know. He’s never backed down to a fight before and he won’t now.
On the front page of this week’s paper, Rukavina is pictured with the first winners of the St. Louis County mineral royalties scholarships at Vermilion Community College. It’s only fitting he’s in the photo, if it weren’t for Tommy, this would have never happened.
We sat down with Rukavina a week ago, to talk about his health, his past accomplishments and what kind of legacy he will leave on the Iron Range.


Progress in Ely is often two steps forward and three steps back

The Ely Echo’s annual Progress Edition is a great example of people believing in our area’s future and stepping up to the plate to make this a better place to work and live.
Yet, even with 21 pages of stories, photos and advertising there are some disturbing trends happening here.
This year all indications point to three restaurants not re-opening. Three. Plus Ely’s oldest outfitting business closed its doors and had its assets auctioned off. How many jobs were lost for the summer? If our tourism economy is doing so well, how can this be?
For one, we don’t know how our tourism economy is doing because there isn’t an accurate way to measure it. Even those who point to the Ely area lodging tax know this is a flawed report.
The lodging tax income is derived as a percentage of what was charged. This isn’t a reflection of the number of rooms rented or the number of heads in beds.


Letter to Editor: ... not doing something is not an option when it comes to forging ahead

Dear Editor:
A large number of mining supporters recently attended a presentation at the Senior Center by Steve Saari, sponsored by Up North Jobs, who presented information and data regarding copper-nickel mining and why copper-nickel mining would be in the best interest of the United States. First, the environmental controls would be far more strict than in any other country currently mining copper-nickel.
China’s mining standards, the current leader in the mining of copper in the world, does not have the strict standards that have been established within the state of Minnesota and the U.S. This should concern all citizens within Northern Minnesota because it is more detrimental to the earth’s environmental condition and “global warming.” It also would put the United States in a compromised position due to the reliance of imports from communist China.


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