Our pledge to you for 2017

by Anne Swenson, Publisher
The Ely Echo is moving ahead into 2017, welcoming new equipment and new innovation. And we also welcome Cam Weisert into expanded roles as a staff member at the Echo. He joins General manager Nick Wognum, Echo Editor Tom Coombe, Graphic Designer Lisa Vidal-Sainio, and Sales Rep Terri Reinesch.
Together we have over 112 years with the Ely Echo, receiving pay checks every two weeks, paying property taxes just like each of you do.
We sure have had a challenging winter thus far and we’ve rolled with the punches - bringing a new bathroom on line, a new phone system and new printing equipment as well as a whole new photo printing setup to serve our customers.


Looking at 2016 from Ely’s rear view mirror

If nothing else, 2016 was a wild ride.
It sure seemed like a newsworthy year in our news room and compiling the annual “year in review” spread for this week’s edition, which can be found elsewhere in this section, only provided confirmation.
We find it hard to believe that a community our size anywhere in the state, or perhaps the nation for that matter, generates as much attention and coverage as Ely.
Copper-nickel mining. The Twin Metals debate, from the listening sessions to the unprecedented meeting between the city council and Gov. Mark Dayton to the 11th hour edict issued by the Obama Administration. Wind storms. Fires. Pillow Rock. Aerial spraying. A raid on one of our bait shots. The transformation of our downtown. The Facebook firestorm over an election-related post by one of our city council members.
You name it and it seemed to happen in Ely this year.
And people noticed. Locally, regionally and in some cases nationally.


Political decision on leases for Twin Metals doesn’t hold water

A political decision made in Washington D.C. last week involving leases for Twin Metals Minnesota doesn’t hold water. There is no science, there are no hard facts, just emotions and rhetoric. We can only hope President-Elect Trump’s appointees will undo this travesty.
Newspapers get news releases daily, many of them from various levels of government. They provide information on what bureaucrats are up to or want people to know. The one from the Interior Department could’ve easily been written by anti-mining activist Becky Rom.
Here’s some of the wording used:
• Agencies deny sulfide-ore copper lease
• Mining impacts near pristine watershed
• Acid mine drainage is a significant environmental risk
• Decision echoes the concerns of former Vice President Walter Mondale and Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton


...decision resides in the conclusion of this known, used and accepted scientific process

Dear Editor:
The decision last Thursday to deny the renewal of mineral leases to Twin Metals Minnesota and to remove thousands of acres of Superior National Forest from mineral leasing for two years is widely regarded as a great victory for environmentalists.
This ruling by the Secretary of the Interior is certainly a win for those of us who want to keep the Kawishiwi watershed clean. It’s a win for those of us who run businesses in the Boundary Waters region that depend on the reality of clean water in the Boundary Waters and even the perception by our customers of the purity of the wilderness.
Our jobs are sustainable. Our payroll has been growing steadily for 37 years. How can anyone deny us the right to defend what we have worked so hard to build. To others this decision is a great disappointment. I believe I can empathize.


... defeated the resolution

Dear Editor:
I wish everyone on the Range could have seen and heard Congressman Rick Nolan take on the radical anti-mining crowd from the Twin Cities at the DFL State Central Committee meeting last Saturday in Lakeville. Nolan was totally “on fire,” delivering a stem-winder of a speech denouncing the anti-mining Resolution 54 that threatened to put the DFL Party on record in opposition to mining.
Nolan reminded everyone that the “L” in “DFL” stands for Labor. He passionately defended the good paying mining and construction jobs we need to pay our bills, put food on the table and retire with security and dignity.
DFL leaders got the message and defeated the resolution overwhelmingly.
Good work Rick Nolan! You’ve got our backs, and I was proud to stand with you that day.
Jason George, Int’l Union of Operating Engineers Local 49


Rising above the fray: time to put Forsman flap to bed

It was the irony of ironies that on Tuesday night, at the tail end of a meeting that attracted an overflow crowd that spilled out into the hallways, television crews from Duluth and even three police officers to maintain order at City Hall, the Ely City Council awarded the bid for next year’s July 4 fireworks celebration.
Those proved to be the only real fireworks of the night, much to the surprise of many who filled the room or followed along on social media.
The climax of the firestorm that erupted when council member Dan Forsman posted a political meme - on an internet site made up of Hillary Clinton supporters - was rather anti-climactic.
Forsman apologized, those demanding he resign or be thrown off the council kept their pitchforks at home, and civility reigned.
It was the best possible outcome to a situation that had turned ugly, with social media providing the fuel.
With this chapter of 2016 now hopefully closed, here are a few takeaways:


First Amendment applies to everyone including elected officials

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
We take the First Amendment pretty seriously in the newspaper business in Ely, Minnesota. When a city council member was harshly criticized for posting a meme on a Facebook closed group for some reason it stoked a fire storm.
Let’s back up. What’s a meme? Here’s Google’s interpretation: “A humorous image, video, piece of text, etc. that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users.”
The meme so upsetting to some was a picture of Dr. Kevorkian that read, “Do you suffer from Trump acceptance rejection disorder (tard)? Ask you doctor if suicide is right for you.”


LETTER: ... remember that facts need to be correct and applied accurately to stories

Dear Editor:
Accuracy is not a factor my classmate, Becky Rom, retains when forming positions that have grave consequences for a town she calls home....ELY, MN.
It is extremely important to remember that facts need to be correct and applied accurately to stories, which are intended to be perused by the reader.
If you do not state facts that support your intended perspective, you are falsifying your outcomes to suit your needs.
As your classmate I feel the need to bring out some inconsistencies in her recent article from the Minneapolis newspaper. First at age 12/13 she stated that in seventh grade she was selected by our English teacher, Mr Doug Drechsler, who was a first year teacher in 1962, to take the lead in a debate over the BWCA. At that age it was not a big concern of us since, we were still able to travel in the Basswood Lake area by motorboat and snowmobile.


On mining, rhetoric says one thing but votes and surveys say another

The holiday season is upon us and we hope all of our readers had a happy Thanksgiving - and we wish all of you a season of warmth and good tidings.
Conversations at family holiday gatherings often turn to the news of the day, but it’s easy to understand if families try and steer clear of politics over their turkey and pumpkin pie. In Ely, it’s understandable to add copper-nickel mining to the do not discuss list, for fear of a food fight. Nobody wants to see grandma or a visiting aunt or uncle hit with an errant drumstick, after all.
But conventional wisdom and a lot of rhetoric from the anti-mining crowd, aided sometimes by gullible or left-leaning media outlets, looks to be misguided or just plain wrong when it comes to sentiment about mining in our neck of the woods.


In the end, council made the right and reasonable call on Pillow Rock

For a community of 3,500 people, Ely sure knows how to make news.
We seriously doubt there’s another community our size anywhere in Minnesota that attracts as much state or even nationwide attention as we do.
Some of the reasons are obvious. Ely’s proximity to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, nationally-known attractions such as the International Wolf Center and North American Bear Center, the vast recognition and acclaim as a tourism destination and outdoor hub, and certainly the ongoing and never-ending debate over copper-nickel mining are among the bevy of reasons Ely makes it into The New York Times, on the TODAY Show, or any of numerous other major media outlets.
Small towns across the state, from Eveleth to East Grand Forks, Barnum to Breckenridge, don’t get this type of publicity.


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