DNR wrong putting moose over deer

The DNR has repeatedly used words like “could” and “may” and “possibly” to describe the impact of deer on the moose population. These are not scientific certainties. We rely on state agencies to use science, not guesswork to make decisions.
The DNR’s proposal to reduce deer populations in northeast Minnesota because this may possibly help the moose population is unacceptable. We want to see the state’s moose population rebound but we don’t want to see the DNR resort to unproven methods that have no scientific basis.
We’ve heard from numerous hunters since the DNR proposed lowering deer densities in this area in order to help the moose. The response has been overwhelmingly opposed. The deer population is already at a very low level and deer hunters can testify to this after countless hours in the woods this past November.


A glimmer of hope from our nation’s capital on steel crisis

If the first step toward resolving a problem is opening lines of communication, maybe there’s a glimmer of hope coming from Washington D.C. on our country’s steel crisis.
We’re directly impacted here in northeast Minnesota with more than 2,000 miners out of work due to the dumping of foreign steel in the United States.
But would the White House take action? If only a handful of states were impacted and the rest of the country benefitted from low cost steel, would President Obama see the big picture and act accordingly?
The president did send his Chief of Staff Denis McDonough to the Iron Range for a first hand look at the problem. But was this just a sympathetic gesture? We really didn’t know at the time.


Governor Dayton is just plain wrong to link Twin Metals request to PolyMet

We’re trying to find a thread of common sense on a recent decision by Governor Mark Dayton. Even the Range delegation is shaking its head.
Dayton has pronounced he won’t approve any Twin Metals issues until the PolyMet project finishes going through the regulatory process.
Key word: any. Twin Metals, with headquarters here in Ely, has been looking to do some drilling this winter. Much of the north country is inaccessible to drill rigs until the ground is frozen. This is the time of year to get drilling work done.
The company has asked the state for permission to conduct environmental, minor assessment and geotechnical due-diligence activities. The Minnesota DNR has green lighted the request but the governor has put up a road block.
Does the governor have concerns the DNR did not address? Not that we know of. Does the governor extend blocking any and all requests from all mining companies? Doesn’t appear so. Just Twin Metals.


TPP loopholes take aim at iron ore, steel

Guest editorial by Congressman Rick Nolan


City Hall not the best location for voters

A push to move the city polling place form the Senior Center to City Hall is receiving considerable push back.
Local elections worker Pat Koski addressed the city council this past week on the issue. Her view: “Many Ely citizens and all of the poll workers are against the change in polling place,” according to Koski.
She pointed out that drop-off curbside parking directly in front of city hall is not permitted, unlike the situation at the Senior Center. Chapman is a busy street, and crossing it can be dangerous. Once across, the walkway to the elevator entrance is downward sloping, with no hand rails. Since elections are usually in November, crossing the street and walking to the entrance are likely to be on slippery surfaces.


New trapshooting program a welcome addition to outdoor education options

We’re very supportive of a new extra-curricular opportunity being offered to students in Ely, Babbitt and Tower. Trapshooting, the newest sport in Minnesota, has made its way to our neck of the woods.
On December 6, 2012 the Minnesota State High School League board of directors approved a presenting partnership with the clay target league for the 2014 State Tournament that was held on June 13, 2014. Trapshooting individuals and teams were recognized as high school sport champions like all other high school sports in Minnesota.
Graduates of Ely high school from years back fondly remember learning gun safety right in the classroom. Volunteers taught the classes in the evening and students would learn to shoot at the range in the basement of the Washington Building.
Those classes are still offered today but taught outside the school district with the field training done at the Rod & Gun Club in Winton.


In tough times, IRRRB shouldn’t lose focus

These indeed are difficult times on the Iron Range.
The headlines from the last several months are hard to ignore and regional leaders are rightly worried that the latest downturn in the taconite mining industry is different, if not long-lasting.
That was the backdrop Friday at Fortune Bay when Mary Finnegan, a deputy commissioner of the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board, met with a handful of leaders from the Ely, Babbitt and Tower areas.
Billed as one of several “listening sessions” conducted by IRRRB staff around the region, the meeting was scheduled in part to gather input on “area priorities and business, community and workforce development needs.”
Without question, the IRRRB is a unique asset and one that has boosted and benefited Ely in many ways through the decades.


Keep a close eye on school enrollment numbers at 696

Here's just an excerpt from this week's Ely Echo Editorial...

The strength of our economy, no matter what naysayers proclaim, is based on how many tons of taconite ship from the Iron Range. These are the jobs that pay the best wages. The mines create numerous jobs in businesses that provide services to the mines as well.

All of those jobs are in peril at the moment and the state of Minnesota is not helping by bickering over whether to extend unemployed benefits.

Where this could hit home is in the enrollment numbers in the Ely school system. In this week’s Ely Echo we are reporting there could be a slight enrollment enrollment increase for the 2016-2017 school year. Normally we would be jumping up and down with this news. Now we know we should look at it with guarded optimism.


Klobuchar and Franken right to push for funding for LIHEAP

This winter has been easy on the heating bills with the mild weather we have had so far. That’s about to change and with a dip in the mining and tourism economy, some people up here are going to have some tough choices to make.
Figuring out how to pay a heating bill can put a family at risk in a hurry. There’s a federal program to help those in need and our federal senators have been pushing for Washington to continue to provide funding into the future.
U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken urged the administration to take into account the high demand for heating assistance and restore funding to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to a level no less than $4.7 billion.
In a bipartisan letter to President Obama that was sent with 38 other senators, Klobuchar and Franken requested that LIHEAP funding be included in the President’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 budget proposal.


Here’s what we’d like to see happen in Ely in the year 2016

The clock struck midnight and a new year dawned Friday morning.
There’s little doubt that 2015 was a year of both ups-and-downs in the Ely area and across the Iron Range. The year ended with layoffs at regional mines, genuine concerns about the future of the local economy and even an unprecedented summit meeting that brought President Obama’s chief of staff to the Iron Range for a meeting with elected officials and some who have lost their jobs with the latest mining downturn.
But the turn of the calendar is symbolic of sorts, and a new year brings new hopes and even some optimism about the future.
We’re not into New Year’s resolutions. Instead we’ve come up with a wish list for 2016. Santa, if you’re reading, the Ely area and the whole Iron Range are in need of some gifts that last beyond Christmas.
Here’s a start for the new year:
• Permitting, construction at PolyMet


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