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.


Picking blueberries comes with some potential downfalls

If you like to pick blueberries, the woods are now full of them. But we’d advise you to take some precautions before you grab an ice cream pail and head out.
The St. Louis County Rescue Squad was dispatched to the Echo Trail just north of the Portage River on July 9 to find a lost berry picker.
Her husband waited two hours past the planned pick up time and then called for help. The 68 year-old woman had a few things going for her which helped get her out of the woods much quicker. What was the key item Devvie Cersine brought? A gun.
Now some may argue this is good protection from bears as well but in this case the sound of the shots was music to the ears of the rescue squad.
Sirens were being used intermittently to give anyone a sound bearing to walk out. After one squad sounded its siren, three gun shots were heard from the woods.
In addition to the gun, Cersine carried flagging tape, whistle and matches. Now that’s being prepared!


Many politicians conspicuously absent from Ely’s 4th of July parade

Election year or not, politicians have traditionally seemed to find Ely on their calendar when it comes to Fourth of July parades.
It hasn’t been uncommon to see candidates for any of an assortment of offices, from county board to state legislative seats, or even those running for statewide office or positions in Congress, in the Ely parade.
Parade-goers in recent years have seen the likes of U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan and former U.S. Sen. Al Franken shaking hands along the route.
So this, in the mother of all election years, figured to be a politics-lover’s delight.
After all, in Gilbert, at its July 3 parade, there were no less than 16 candidates for state office in the parade, including two of the three DFL candidates for governor, with the third (Lori Swanson) represented by Nolan, her lieutenant governor running mate.


United: If you have time to spare, travel by air

Ely Echo Editorial Un“ited: If you have time
to spare, travel by air

by Nick Wognum
Flying to Raleigh, North Carolina for an Army educational tour was an adventure in itself.
Staff Sgt. Cody Williams picked me up in Ely Tuesday morning. We had time to talk about recruiting and life on our trip to the Duluth airport. Me thinks was the most uneventful part of the whole trip.


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.


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