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.


Study will help find out how many County jobs absconded to Duluth

How many St. Louis County jobs have been relocated to Duluth? How are our tax dollars being appropriated regionally? If a renewed push to answer these two questions comes to fruition, then it will be worth all the fighting to find out the truth.
Now joined by elected officials across the Iron Range, St. Louis County commissioner Tom Rukavina is no longer standing alone. He’s joined by fellow commissioner Mike Jugovich, and a unanimous vote by the 18-member elected officials on the Range Association of Municipalities and Schools.
We’re surprised St. Louis County commissioner Keith Nelson of Virginia has continued to throw up road blocks on this study and that he continues to side with the Duluth commissioners. Maybe he’s afraid of what the truth will reveal.
Ely and Virginia are perfect examples of how the county has been consolidating jobs in Duluth, taking families and school kids out of communities in the north half of the county.


Public best served by full menu of news

by Jim Pumarlo
Strike up a conversation about press rights, and many individuals likely conjure a picture of editors and reporters demanding access to top-secret data from government officials. No doubt, that occurs more often than most people would like to believe.
The reality, however, is that your newspaper’s push for access to government meetings and public data at local, state and federal levels is simple. We want to deliver information that affects our readers’ everyday lives, and do so in a timely fashion.
Reminding citizens and public officials about the public’s right of access to government information is the focus of “Sunshine Week: It’s Your Right to Know,” March 11-17. At its foundation, Sunshine Week underscores preserving the free flow of information for an open, effective and accountable government.
Consider these examples:


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