Rukavina is right on bridge issue, St. Louis County creating a nightmare

Tom Rukavina was never the tallest legislator and he might be the shortest county commissioner in Minnesota but he’s always stood up for what is right. This time Tommy knows St. Louis County is in the wrong and he’s tried his best to fix it.
We were the first to announce the county will close Highway 21 from July 5 to October 10 to install a new bridge. A 10 mile detour will be in place during that 14 week time period. The impact is tremendous.
Rukavina has done his homework. The daily impact includes 50 people in Babbitt going to Ely for employment (many of them work at the hospital or clinic), 65 workers going from Ely to Babbitt to work at Northshore Mining plus over 40 children during the school year.


Lack of common sense leads to another black eye for Forest Service

For 38 years people in Ely have had to swallow a bitter pill. Finally feeling their stomachs settle down, the Forest Service dumps fuel on the fire again. Nope, not an intentionally set fire that got away, this time it was giving a group of disabled veterans a BWCA ticket.
Each year groups of disabled veterans come to Ely and stay at Veterans on the Lake. Located on Fall Lake, it’s a two portage haul to get to Basswood. With some help, there are disabled veterans who can make the arduous trip.
These disabled veterans have a tough enough time just getting in and out of the boat. They served our country and came out worse than when they went in.
The decision to go to a group size of nine with four boats wasn’t popular in the first place. Heck, the BWCA act in 1978 wasn’t a highlight for many people. But we have always hoped there would be a modicum of common sense along the way.


Honoring our fallen heroes, respecting our veterans

by Senator Amy Klobuchar


Thinking ahead to Memorial Day? How about supporting the Ely Area Veterans Memorial?

In nine days we’ll make our way up to the Ely Cemetery and note the passing of our veterans during the Memorial Day service. It’s a time honored tradition and certainly more patriotic than just having a barbecue. But what if you wanted to do more?
We would suggest you consider making a donation to the Ely Area Veterans Memorial Project.
Slated to be built next to the Trezona Trail at the entrance to the Ely Business Park, the memorial has quickly become a source of pride in the community. Groups and organizations, along with a number of individuals, have made donations to the project.
With a total budget of around $80,000, the project has blossomed from a more basic beginning. We think it could be even more.
We’ve heard from veterans who want to see the project go at an even grander scale. The only thing that limits the possibility is funding.


Smith aiming for governor’s seat

The race for the next governor of the state of Minnesota hasn’t officially started with the election two years away, but we may have a new governor before we go to the polls in 2018.
Lt. Gov. Tina Smith has been everywhere this past year and has the news releases to prove it. She has taken an office that was vying for a Ms. Irrelevant award and got her name out into the public eye.
Reporter Doug Grow noted this in a recent story in MinnPost.
“Minnesota’s never had a lieutenant governor like Tina Smith. She’s been televised going underground to check a sewage system in Dennison; catching a walleye on Lake Vermilion; touring factories and farmyards from one end of the state to the other; and — perhaps most importantly — constantly meeting with (and in photographs with) her boss, Gov. Mark Dayton.”


Good news for Ely area: Prospector Loop ATV project moves ahead in St. Paul

Just before he threw a shovel of dirt at the VCC housing project groundbreaking, Senator Tom Bakk brought some good news from St. Paul: the Prospector Loop ATV trail project made it into the Senate bonding bill.
With the support of area communities, the Prospector Loop would create an ATV trail system that would connect Ely, Babbitt, Embarrass and Tower with the Lake Vermilion/Soudan Underground Mine and the Bear Head state parks. In addition, the trail system will connect to the Lake County trail system for over 250 miles of riding opportunities.
Bakk worked with Senator Leroy Stumpf who has Polaris and Arctic Cat in his district, helping to build the ATVs that now outnumber snowmobiles in Minnesota.


Jump starting the STOP Act with hopes of ending dialing for dollars

by Congressman Rick Nolan


DNR delay looks very suspicious

Well maybe, just maybe, the DNR has had second thoughts on managing our area for moose over deer. Or maybe it’s a delay tactic.
A news release came out Thursday saying the agency has decided to wait until 2017 to implement northeast deer permit area changes.
We’ve been very strong in our position editorially that the DNR is failing to utilize science in this issue.
The idea of drastically reducing deer numbers will make the moose population magically rebound is right up there with Jack and the bean stalk.
But that is exactly what the DNR has been pushing to do. The changes in the permit areas up here was just a tool to wipe out deer in where there are still moose. Period.
Pushing back the plan a year may just be a delay to avoid the public opposition that has been growing like wildfire not just up here but around the state as well.


Echo’s annual Progress Edition a bellwether on economic times

For 22 years the Ely Echo has put out an annual Progress Edition. This year there are 22 pages filled with stories, photos and advertisements. Plenty of reading and plenty of information on our business climate.
There’s plenty of hope and promise in those 22 pages. Entrepreneurs putting it all on the line with the hope their dreams will come true. New owners and new locations of area businesses. These are a snapshot in time of our business community.
When we look back in previous issues there are businesses that were profiled that are no longer here. Or never made it through the first year. Being a business owner in a small town is no easy task. You better be able to put in your blood, sweat and tears to make it work, not to mention opening your personal checkbook.
Each of the 22 Progress Editions have been unique to the time they were published. Some were filled with millions of dollars in public projects - that’s something you won’t see this year.


RAMS becoming the vehicle to steer NE MN back to prosperity

We’ve been impressed with how the Range Association of Municipalities and Schools has gone from teetering on the edge of existence to becoming a strong voice for northeast Minnesota.
Just over one year ago the Ely city council was putting on the brakes of joining RAMS. The organization had made some questionable moves which led to people asking just what benefits RAMS provided in the first place.
Since then there has been a change in the make up of the board that governs the organization and a key move to hire an ambitious executive director.
Steve Giorgi has stepped up to the challenge and helped lead RAMS back to the forefront as a force to be reckoned with. He works with state and federal officials to inform them of the issues affecting the Range and he keeps local elected officials informed and involved in the political process.


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