Politics finds Ely, thankfully without presidential candidates

The Nov. 8 election is still weeks away but a candidate from one of the higher profile races made a campaign stop in Ely.
Republican Stewart Mills is again trying to beat Democrat Rick Nolan for the Eighth District House seat.
Mills was in Ely briefly on Wednesday and stopped in the Ely Echo office on Chapman Street. We expect to see Nolan soon, as he’s been a more frequent visitor to Ely.
This race is attracting plenty of “outside” money with 99.9 percent not going to newspapers. Yet newspapers are exactly where politicians turn to get their message out.
Now into a second election campaign,we’re still waiting to see a political ad from Stewart Mills. At this point we’ve probably got a better chance to get one from Mills Fleet Farm.
Nolan did advertise with the Ely Echo and other Range newspapers in 2014. That could very well have been the difference in his win over Mills.


Fall colors light up Ely area

A floatplane ride Monday morning was a great way to take in the totality of the fall colors in the Ely area.
Stan Skelton taxied away from the dock on Shagawa Lake and banked to the right as he cranked up the engine. Moments later the floats lifted off the water and we were with the birds.
The morning sun lit up the fall colors with bright yellows and oranges leading the way. Our plentiful evergreens provided the perfect contrast to the view from above.
Just being in Ely this time of year is a blessing. The bugs are gone, the temperatures are just right and Mother Nature is putting on her annual autumn show. Plus, the fishing has been red hot as of late, an added bonus to be sure.
Sure enough by the end of the week, snow was in the forecast but not enough to worry about it. More of a reminder that fall will fly by fast so we better get out and enjoy it.


Help may be on the way if your internet is turtle slow

If watching Netflix isn’t an option and downloading a one megabyte file takes forever, there may be some good news crawling your way.
Last week the city of Ely announced a joint effort to bring broadband to our neck of the woods. We’ve waited long enough for a private company to step up and provide high speed internet. It’s time to move forward.
In Ely your choices are basically cable or phone for internet. Cable is only available within the city limits and does not offer broadband. The phone options extend farther but the speed drops off dramatically. If you live more than two miles from town, your internet speed is on pace with a turtle.
The city along with the Town of Morse, the school district and VCC have already provided letters of support. The area joint powers board has signed on as well.


July 21 windstorm has had lasting impact on the area

When a wicked windstorm hit the Ely area like a freight train on July 21 the impacts were devastating in some areas and minor in others. For the families of two people killed when a tree fell on their tent on Basswood Lake, the impact was the greatest.
This week we have an update on one of the boys in that Scout group who was injured and has had to undergo multiple surgeries. He may be over a thousand miles away but 16 year-old Alex Muller lives with the storm’s impact every day.
Apart from the tragedy on Basswood, miraculously there were no other major injuries sustained. Automobiles were crushed, holes were punctured in houses but no other loss of life was sustained despite the strength of the storm.


...wondering if the USFS did authorize

(Note: This letter was sent to U.S. Forest Service Kawishiwi District Ranger Gus Smith)
It was nice to meet you at our August township meeting.
At that meeting I asked if the Freemans had a permit to advertise with props from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and you said you did not know, but would find out.
As you know, Dave and Amy Freeman have been living in the BWCAW wilderness for the past year in order to garner support for opposition to the proposed Twin Metals mine, which is located outside of the BWCAW.
Over the past year that the Freemans have been blogging from the BWCAW, I have noticed that they have referenced, with links, the companies that have sponsored this year long trip. These links have been accompanied with pictures that were obviously set up to show the products of the companies that have sponsored this trip.


Fall is in the air and that suits us just fine in Ely, Minnesota

Twice this past week there were frost advisories issued by the National Weather Service. For those of us who live in Ely 12 months of the year, those advisories told us what we already knew: the best time of the year is here.
Here’s some of the things we enjoy when there’s frost on the pumpkin:
• Sleeping with the window open. Cooler nights might mean an extra blanket on the bed but not having to worry about mosquitoes sneaking in is another fall advantage.
• Enjoying the vegetables of our labor. Gardens are being harvested and freezers are being filled with canned deliciousness to enjoy over the winter months. Nothing like getting your hands dirty and bringing home grown food into the kitchen.
• Today is the first day of the small game hunting season as well as the opening of the archery deer season. Hunters will don orange clothing, or at least a hat, and head out in search of grouse, hoping to run into a covey and end up with enough birds for a meal.


S&P has it right, Ely’s economy is still struggling

A report on Ely’s economy shows what those of us who work and live here already know. Things are pretty tough right now.
Standard and Poors Global Ratings stated: “we consider Ely’s economy weak.” That pretty much sums it up. No sugar coating, just the truth.
Ely mayor Chuck Novak pointed out a report that showed population declines in Ely, Winton and the surrounding townships. Another report showed the number of customers in the city’s utility service area is declining.
We like optimism as much as the next person but there needs to be a basis of understanding that where we are now is not where we want to be. Looking at Ely through rose colored glasses might make people feel better but it ignores our current situation.
The struggle for this area has been to attract young families with good paying jobs. We have too many situations where mom and/or dad are working multiple jobs and still ending up collecting government assistance just to survive.


Forest Service to stimulate economy with another fire

The Forest Service will apparently attempt to stimulate the local economy by starting more fires in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area this fall.
After disastrous decisions in 2011 and earlier this year, the Forest Service is using the 1999 blowdown as justification for four more “prescribed fires.”
These used to be called controlled burns but when the agency continued to lose control, the name was changed to prescribed.
We still don’t know what has changed since the decision was made to pour 1,700 gallons of jellied gasoline on a 135 acre fire up the Fernberg. This monumental SNAFU cost taxpayers $22 million, caused people to be evacuated from their homes and burned over 92,000 acres.
The people responsible for this mess are no longer working here. Screw up at the federal level and you get promoted to somewhere similar to Siberia we hope. Now we have new folks who will hopefully learn from their predecessors’ mistakes.


Why are you working on my brand new road?

It’s a scene playing out throughout the county. Roads that were resurfaced last year, now have work crews on them again. Why is that? It may not be the reason you think.
Based on the comments we’re hearing, some people assume we’re fixing a problem from the original project. That is incorrect. We’re chip sealing, which is the finishing touch that preserves and protects the pavement. It’s a technique we’ve been using for several years, following extensive research about its cost effectiveness and ability to extend the life of the road, and provide a smooth and safer ride.
In recent weeks, we’ve received numerous questions and some concerns about chip sealing. Here are the facts about this process.


Easy to find culture in Ely

We may be living at the end of the road but the opportunities here are not typical of a small town.
One week ago one of the top selling mystery authors in this country made a trip to Ely. William Kent Krueger spoke at the Ely Public Library on a Thursday night.
The room was overflowing with fans and Krueger didn’t disappoint. His fervent presentation was filled with funny stories and connections to his fans living in 55731.
Krueger’s known for his Cork O’Connor novels, based in the fictional town of Aurora, Minnesota. It must be fictional because there’s a Native American owned casino that O’Connor had to investigate in one novel. He was just the man for the job, being part Ojibwe and part Irish.
The rich history of northern Minnesota is mined by Krueger who uses the duality of O’Connor to help tell his stories from multiple viewpoints.


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