Mining presentation to the choir

Listening to a presentation on mining at the Twin Metals Minnesota headquarters in Ely Thursday afternoon were four members of the Minnesota House of Representatives. From what we could tell, this was just preaching to the choir.
The four are Republicans from a variety of locations throughout the state - from a farmer near Crookston to a businessman near Wayzata.
They were in the heart of DFL country to find out more about mining projects. Their comments were all positive in regard to the Twin Metals project and mining in general.
This is a new committee, the House Committee on Mining and Outdoor Recreation Policy. We have committee members from our neck of the woods including David Dill, Carly Melin and Jason Metsa, all DFLers and all very supportive of mining projects.


City Hall new and improved

The ribbon cutting held June 12 was a historic day for the City of Ely. For the first time, the Ely City Hall now has handicap accessibility in the form of a new elevator.
But that’s not the only improvement that was made as part of a better than $3 million project.
First up was the new library that was opened last fall and continues to get rave reviews from those who visit or even drive by.
Next up were long overdue renovations to City Hall. At the core of that project was the new elevator and an addition to the east side of the building.
Gone are the jail cells, no longer needed here due to changes in how law enforcement operates. Instead the police department now has more spacious quarters including a locker room, separate interview room and a larger office space.


EDITORIAL: Five days of drama at ISD 696

In five days the Ely school district went from business as usual to the threat of losing a principal to the resignation of a board member to the resignation of the superintendent to the superintendent rescinding her resignation. In a word, drama.
Now there appears to be a lawsuit on the horizon and a very uncertain future for the top administrative seat at 696.
A week ago Friday the agenda for Monday’s school board meeting was released. Included on it was a listing under new business: administrative configuration.
Soon the word was out, there was a proposal to change from two principals to one with Mary McGrane being either reduced to a dean of students or possibly eliminated.
Phones rang, Facebook lit up and there was a full house at Monday’s board meeting - so much so it had to be held in the Media Center.
But where did this come from? How did it get on the agenda? Who created this firestorm?


Survey allows proposed Ely Area Rec Complex to take another step forward

We’re encouraged by the results of a survey on the proposed Ely Area Recreation Complex. This is an important step toward our community gaining a very important asset that will improve the quality of life here.
A total of 494 surveys were returned last winter, showing how much people are interested in this project.
That’s really what this is, a project. And like any major project there are numerous hurdles to get over along the way. What we like is the method being used.
Step one should always be need. Is there a need for the project? If yes, continue to step two. If no, stop. There is no need looking at funding mechanisms and ongoing costs if there isn’t a need in the first place.


When the governor catches fish, the opener is deemed a success

Our neighbors to the west did a nice job of hosting the opener for the governor and other dignitaries. Tower isn’t the biggest community but with the help of Fortune Bay and some good fishing on Vermilion, the event was a success.
The Governor’s Fishing Opener puts a bright media spotlight on the kickoff to the summer tourism season. Friday morning at Fortune Bay there were 19 live radio broadcasts taking place in the ballroom. The number of media folks was impressive.
That afternoon the governor and others travelled out to the new state park on Lake Vermilion to hold a groundbreaking also known as a media event.
On hand were Governor Mark Dayton, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt, former Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty, Congressman Rick Nolan, Bois Forte Tribal Council Chair Kevin Leecy and a multitude of DNR employees.


Deal made in 1978 now ignored by those who made it

by Joe Baltich Jr., Ely resort owner
Sometime around 1978 when they put the BWCA law in place, the State of Minnesota, the Sierra Club and the mining industry got together to draft a new set of mining rules regulating the installation of mines to further protect the BWCA.
They drafted a law that was so restrictive toward building any new mine, with a long list of criteria that said what a new mine would have to meet in order to get the final permit of approval from the state.
The mining industry, knowing that fighting the Sierra Club and their usual lying propaganda was expensive and pointless, acquiesced to the long list of requirements for new mine development, resolving to live with the present day operations and do the best they could with that.


Raise building permit fees in Ely? Please, council, tell us you’re joking

Ely’s city council is on the verge of taking a bad situation and making it worse. Much, much worse.
Sometime soon, perhaps Tuesday, council members could take the almost incomprehensible step of increasing building permit fees in Ely.
Even in the wake of calls at the council table that fees should be lowered, a proposal to increase most fees has come forward.
Even after revelations that the city paid a $128,000 tab for building official services last year, for a position that averaged 32 hours per week, council members are considering a plan that could increase those costs.
Late in the week, just as the Echo was going to press, some common sense emerged when mayor Chuck Novak said publicly he’d oppose increasing permit fees.
He joins Paul Kess and Al Forsman, two council members who have championed the issue, taken a leadership role and have clearly looked out for Ely residents.


Get good voting habits started early

by Steve Simon
Spring is now upon us, and that means it’s time for some spring cleaning. It’s a good habit that many of us practice.
Spring is also the time Minnesota legislators make decisions about our future, so it’s a good time to talk about good habits.
We have a great opportunity this year in Minnesota to increase civic participation among young people and instill in the next generation of Minnesotans the values that have made our state a role model for the nation.
The Minnesota legislature is currently considering a bill that would allow 16 and 17-year-olds the ability to pre-register to vote, so when they turn 18 they are automatically registered.
It’s about getting good habits started early, and encouraging young people to think of themselves as both civically engaged and as voters before they turn 18.
Seems promising, right? It is, and I strongly urge the Minnesota legislature to pass pre-registration for 16 and 17-year-olds.


Here we go again, this time it’s another SNA on Burntside Lake

Three visitors to the Town of Morse monthly meeting likely didn’t get the reception they were looking for Tuesday night.
While the discussions were cordial the end result was a resolution opposing what had been brought before the board.
The DNR’s Lori Dowling-Hanson, Shaun Hamilton of the Trust for Public Land and David Kess pitched making yet another island on Burntside Lake a Scientific & Natural Area (SNA).
The Morse board was bypassed two years ago when Gaul Island left the tax roles and become an SNA. That was the pretext of the meeting Tuesday, to discuss what went wrong on the communication between the DNR and the township.
Instead, the trio brought another plan to remove some of the highest value real estate in northern Minnesota from the tax roles. While there would be some reimbursement through the PILT (payment of lieu of taxes), it won’t be equal to what would’ve been received and never as much if there had been improvements made.


LETTER: ... contributing to pollution that is more immediately devastating to the BWCA waters than a mine

Dear Editor:
I took the opportunity to drop in to the Tuesday Group that is held in Ely by what appears to be an informal group of people getting together for an “info-tainment” luncheon to listen to a guest speaker present on various topics.
This past Tuesday’s topic was “Saving the Boundary Waters” which was presented by Becky Rom, who is a Burntside Lake resident and environmental activist.
Curiosity got the best of me and I had to go see what was up since it is a well-known fact that the Boundary Waters usage is declining. That means that it is running the risk of heading into obscurity on a national front as one of the greatest places to visit. We all know the kids aren’t coming anymore.


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