BWCA online reservation system is doomed to fail

The U.S. Forest Service may end up being responsible for damaging several Ely area businesses and upsetting a large section of BWCA motorboat permit users.
A letter sent out last week from the Duluth office reaffirms the decision to do away with the permit lottery for motor entry points.
This includes:
Day Use Motor Entry Points:
• D Fall Lake, Newton, Pipestone & Beyond
• F Moose Lake to Newfound & Sucker Lakes
• G Moose Lake to Prairie Portage to Basswood
Overnight Paddle & Overnight Motor Entry Points:
• 24 Fall Lake
• 25 Moose Lake
The Forest Service believes an online permit reservation system will work better. But for individual users and businesses who rely on the scarce motor permits, this is a recipe for disaster.


Fewer students magnifies need for jobs, and an attractive campus

It’s not time to push the panic button or set off any alarms, but news from the Ely School District this week should give all community leaders cause for concern.
For the first time in a few years, enrollment has declined in the local schools and there are fewer students sitting at the desks or walking the hallways in the school buildings.
How many less? The district took a roughly five percent hit, with K-12 enrollment of 565 a noticeable drop from the 596 reported this time last year.
A tiny kindergarten class, with fewer than 30 students, is the source of much of the decline.
But the bottom line is that nearly all of the impressive gains the district has made since 2015 were wiped out in one year.
That’s concerning on several fronts.
First of all, the loss of 30 students creates a hole in the district budget, probably to the tune of about $300,000.


Trump delivers on promise to cancel mineral withdrawal

President Donald Trump came through on a promise to cancel a mineral withdrawal for northeast Minnesota instituted by his predecessor.
With 234,000 acres returned to mining exploration and development, Trump may have added to his support in the Eighth Congressional District.
Trump won the Eighth in 2016 and has followed through on requests from local groups and politicians to undo a wrong. Remember, the Eighth went to Democrat Rick Nolan, a shocking win considering the circumstances.
Yet, not surprisingly, Nolan agreed with Trump on this issue:


Hunting’s new problems: West Nile virus and CWD

Hunters in Minnesota have already got enough problems. Now there are two more to worry about, West Nile and CWD.
For hunters wondering what happened to the grouse population, West Nile may be the culprit. Scientists have already documented how crows and blue jays can be devastated by West Nile, they don’t know if grouse suffer the same ending.
The DNR released information on a study Thursday that asks grouse hunters to collect information to determine the impact West Nile Disease is having on the grouse population.
“West Nile virus is carried by infected mosquitoes. Not all people or animals bitten by an infected mosquito will contract West Nile virus. There have been no documented cases of people contracting West Nile virus from consuming properly cooked meat. Although the virus has been present in Minnesota for quite some time, a study in Pennsylvania indicated the virus could impact ruffed grouse populations when combined with habitat stresses.”


Election by the parties gets overruled by the people

The rules governing a primary election are written by and for the two major political parties. It’s their way of picking who will represent each party in the general election. At least, in theory.
For the DFL, that doesn’t always work out so well. While the DFL held a state endorsing convention to give voters an “endorsed” candidate, that endorsement can be of little or no use.
Case in point. The governor’s race. The party loyalists decided they wanted someone more liberal than who was presented to them as the front runner, Tim Walz. So they picked Erin Murphy.
Walz even teamed up with Rebecca Otto to try to persuade the convention to go with no endorsement. That didn’t work. Party operatives pushed for an endorsement and got the liberal candidate they wanted, Murphy, endorsed.
This was a disaster. Voters flatly rejected Murphy and Walz became the DFL candidate on the ballot in November for governor.


Fighting fires, fighting cancer

by Senator Amy Klobuchar -


Let’s take the politics and special interest groups out of the classroom

We’re concerned about another effort to push political agendas in Minnesota classrooms.
The Friends of the Boundary Waters are now in the running for $450,000 from the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources.
These monies would be used to “connect over 11,000 students to the Boundary Waters through classroom education and wilderness canoe experiences, targeting diverse and underserved populations across Minnesota.”
If that sounds politically correct, apparently it is. Now let’s see if the politicians will approve funding for the project.
The $450,000 would be used to hire two employees who would “give presentations at schools across Minnesota to educate students (grades 6-12) about the Boundary Waters.” Monies would also go toward “scholarships to 750 diverse and underserved high-school students from across Minnesota so that they can experience a multi-day, wilderness canoe trip in the Boundary Waters.”


Take the suggestion and hire a pro to steer school building project

We’ve watched for several months as the Ely School Board has wrestled with, and really struggled with, plans for a major facilities project on campus.
There’s no doubt the board needs to take action to connect the district’s buildings and create more gymnasium space, and many other ideas floated during an already arduous process have merit.
We also believe that Ely area voters should and will support a project that’s overdue and needed.
Yet for whatever reason, moving forward has been painstakingly slow, and the board has essentially been stuck in the mud, spinning its wheels as key questions remain unanswered and key details are not yet in place.
That’s why we wholeheartedly support board member Tom Omerza’s suggestion this week to take action and get out of the mud.
Omerza, at Monday’s school board study session, suggested that the board go beyond the walls of ISD 696 and hire professional help to take the facilities project forward.


Fixing a mistake with a concrete saw will return much needed parking spots

We fully support a move to return parking spaces on Sheridan Street that shouldn’t have been removed in the first place.
Several city council members have pointed to a mistake made by the city to eliminate numerous parking spaces in order to protect the marquee on the State Theater building.
The issue now isn’t the marquee, it’s using common sense to protect it. And certainly the owners of half the block shouldn’t be opposed to returning some of the lost parking spaces.
The city had the sidewalk extended from the west side of the marquee all the way down to Third Avenue East. This was done to protect the marquee from snowplows and other taller vehicles. But there is a better answer.
Putting up three cast iron ballards will protect the marquee. Cutting the sidewalk and returning the curb and gutter to where they were before makes perfect sense.


Commentary: Two problems, one result

by Anne Swenson
On June 28, 2018 at 3:34 p.m. internet connection stopped at a home in the Ely area, one of many, following a storm.
In a phone call made to Frontier (800-921-8101) the next day, the homeowner was first told to identify herself and had to dispute an incorrect birth date and name. Finally home ownership was verified and a repair ticket was issued for July 25, 2018.
Yes - JULY - 30 days in the future.
This is typical of what others in remote Ely, MN were being told. And if earlier dates were given by Frontier following the storm, those dates were not met, nor was an explanation offered.


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