Lake County an example why government should not operate broadband networks

by Annette Meeks, CEO of the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota -


Forest Service must avoid creating a system of haves and have nots

This week’s colossal failure engineered by the U.S. Forest Service brought up some important lessons to be learned.
By killing the lottery and having people all apply at the same time for day use and overnight motor permits, the Forest Service is creating a system of have and have-nots.
Here’s what we’ve know to be true:
1. Listen and respond. The Forest Service held a public meeting in November where this very scenario was described. What changed? Nothing. The plan was in place and the officials in Duluth, Milwaukee and D.C. ignored the warnings. Not too surprising, this is the government we are talking about. Either the Forest Service failed to listen or they failed to respond to the concerns raised months ago.


This is not a newspaper office

On Tuesday the Ely city council has a chance to right a wrong and award the city legals to the only legal newspaper in the city of Ely.
The picture displayed here is what the Timberjay claims to be an office in Ely. It’s not. We know it, you know it.
We believe the council was acting on incomplete information presented to members right before the meeting started.
They didn’t know about the house on Boundary Street purporting to be an office. They didn’t know it wasn’t zoned commercial and didn’t even have a home occupation permit.
What’s true at the time of the bids being submitted was that there’s only one newspaper that meets all of the qualifications to be a legal newspaper in Ely, Minnesota and that’s the Ely Echo.
The city charter says printing contracts shall be awarded to the lowest responsible bidder. We believe the key word is responsible. We believe the law is on our side in this matter.


Working together works at the Fun Run

Year in and year out the Fun Run event has been successful at raising money for snowmobile trails in Ely, Babbitt and Tower.
But perhaps more importantly, the event is a blueprint of how the three communities can work together for the betterment of the area.
The event had 983 registrants this year, just behind last year’s record of just over 1,000. Temps were -35 Saturday morning, not exactly what someone would order up for an event that asks people to travel between the three communities.
Yet travel they did, some by snowmobile, many by car to Ely, Babbitt and Tower. At each community there were volunteers at the ready to assist with prize tickets and answer questions. Volunteers from three different communities working together.
By some accounts, close to 800 prizes were given away at the wrap-up party Saturday night at Fortune Bay Resort Casino. The Ely Echo’s Tom Coombe announced over 450 names without a break at the start of the night.


City needs to right a wrong

City of Ely Mayor, Council, City Clerk, City Attorney:

It has come to our attention that perhaps an error occurred in the decision for your choice in legal printing.

We believe the Timberjay does not qualify as a legal newspaper in the City of Ely because it does not have a “Known office of issue” as required by the law. This is likely why they did not bid for the last three years. Listing a house (see photo) as a “Known office of issue” does not meet the legal requirements. The specific language for this is as follows:


Tommy served us well

The Ely area lost one of its best supporters when the good Lord called Tommy Rukavina home. He battled throughout his life but couldn’t beat leukemia. He was 68.
We grew to admire the short but powerful politician who was bombastic in his approach and not afraid to drop the gloves if need be to fight for his constituency. The Ely area was fortunate and privileged to have Tom Rukavina as one of its advocates and representatives.
When rallies were held to promote copper-nickel mining, the man who spoke last and spoke the best was Tommy Rukavina. He brought history, common sense, logic and humor to his speeches which were warmly received.
There were those who tried to go toe-to-toe with Rukavina, but few could match up to his wit and ability to pull up facts to back up his argument.


Hospital project worth a look

Over the course of the next several weeks NFL teams, not including the Vikings, will play down to a Super Bowl champion. The playoffs figure to be a long winding road to Atlanta and we’re intrigued by another winding road that could lead to significant investment in our community.
A $24 million project that could reshape how health care is provided in the future has been unveiled in last week’s Ely Echo. The project includes a major expansion for the hospital as well as the additional of another project that has been looking for a home.
The Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital’s Super Bowl is years away and it’s clear this project is not yet at the opening kick off. But hospital officials are being proactive and community minded in their drive to improve both the hospital and Ely.
It remains to be seen what will come of this project but it seems Ely-Bloomenson is on the right track by promoting itself and striving to enhance existing services and add new ones.


Tragedy on White Iron Lake

A couple riding on a snowmobile ended up in the waters of White Iron Lake. They didn’t make it out. But the story doesn’t end there. Our local first responders spent many hours searching over the Christmas holiday when they should have been home. The tragedy was felt by many.
If you’ve never broken through the ice and had to get yourself out of the water, consider yourself lucky. If you ever do find yourself in that position and are able to get out, consider yourself blessed.
We will likely never know exactly what happened that day. Some accidents are like that. Was it avoidable? Did the weather play a factor? Were there mechanical issues? We can play the what if game forever and in the end two people lost their lives. A tragedy.


Heikki Lunta is alive and well in 2018

Some very old Old Timers have declared that once upon a time, maybe in the ’40s, there was a winter in which thick ice and heavy snow did not appear until close to Christmas; but as Old Timers know, Old Timers’ memories are woefully inadequate.
We had an early start with snow on the ground through deer season but a couple warm days knocked that back and now we have just enough snow for a White Christmas.
Which is probably why there’s been some consternation among members of the Ely Nordic Association, the local organization dedicated to cross country skiing, not to mention the snowmobilers and ice anglers, and those persons engaged in the winter recreation industry - resorts, motels, dog mushers, guides, clothing stores, sport shops, live bait dealers, restaurants, gas stations - who have all been looking at the lack of snow with growing apprehension.


Broadband needs to move forward

There has been an extensive study. There are numerous examples of below par service. The Lake Connections debacle has compounded the problems. What is needed is a clear plan to move forward with improving internet access in the Ely area.
We’ve sat in numerous meetings, listened to experts and put enough information on enough flip charts to start several dozen campfires. But smoke signals won’t solve the problem.
People who live in the Ely area shouldn’t be treated as second class citizens because they don’t live in a metropolitan area. We have the same needs to be able to access the internet without waiting 10 minutes to download a small PDF file.
There needs to be an equality in Minnesota for broadband access. But there isn’t today. We’re not the only area that is struggling but we certainly can make a case for needed improvements.


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