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Newspapers across the state of Minnesota having been going all out during National Newspaper Week to remind people of the importance of newspapers in their lives. Right here in Ely we decided not to give up our front page to make that point, it’s far too valuable for us to do that.
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What we would love to see is more people like you, people who read their hometown newspaper. We know if we do our job well, you will make sure to get a copy delivered to your home 52 weeks a year.


Supporting a Free Press

by Senator Amy Klobuchar -


Editorial: Now what?

The final hearing ended with a thud Tuesday night in Virginia. The Forest Service struggled to find speakers at the 150-minute public hearing in Goodman Auditorium. A number had left due to the heat, others likely because they had heard the same testimony in previous hearings.
So now what? The comment period on whether Twin Metals Minnesota should be allowed to continue exploring for copper and nickel on federal leased land ends on August 11. With over 50,000 comments to sort through, it will likely take the agency up to two years to come out with its decision.
Setting aside the ridiculousness of not allowing exploration that’s similar to well drilling, the politics at play here are overwhelming. In the last days of the Obama administration, the Friends of the Boundary Waters and others were able to get through this withdrawal of federal leases. Suspicious at best, perhaps as one mayor termed it, illegal.


Things we can learn from 1957

Members of Ely’s Class of 1957 will be in town this weekend to celebrate their 60 year reunion. The Echo was chosen to print their reunion booklet and thanks to a dedicated group of volunteers, a very nice publication was put together.
There were 135 members of the class, a far cry from the 37 seniors who walked the stage this year at Ely Memorial. But the class of 1957 grew up in a much different time.
When they graduated the Pioneer Mine was still in operation with trains hauling loads of iron ore out of Ely. Float planes brought tourists into multiple resorts on Basswood Lake. Mining and tourism existed simultaneously and without the controversy that exists today.
For the class of 1957, their graduation speaker was Franklin Stevens of Oliver Iron Mining Company. Stevens spoke to an audience made up of Kluns, Seligas, Smrekars, Zupancichs, Chelesniks, Hautalas, Olsons, Porthans, Pucels, Skalas, Bubashs and many more familiar names.


In the age of fake news, making up facts is now part of the anti-mining rhetoric

The anti-mining crowd must be getting nervous. Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN) has put together legislation to help get the PolyMet land exchange with the Forest Service completed soon. And, he’s still pushing for the feds to renew the leases for Twin Metals Minnesota.
In Ely on a barnstorming tour, Nolan accompanied Republican Representatives Gosar, Emmer and Westerman to get a first-hand look at what Twin Metals is proposing for a copper-nickel mine south of Ely.
Back in DC, the four congressmen sent a letter signed by a total of 26 members of Congress to urge the secretaries of the Department of Interior and the Department of Agriculture to rescind the federal land withdrawal proposal and renew Twin Metals’ federal leases.
In response, one of the copycat groups sent a letter urging members not to sign the letter and providing their own so-called “facts” about the mining issue in Ely.


Ely’s Bataan Death March survivors recognized

PRESENTER Dave Merhar called it “one of the best presentations I have ever done.” Five of the seven Bataan families from Ely were present at the Patriotic Choir concert on July 2. “Most had never met so we had kind of a cry/love fest after. Amazing that 75 years later emotions can be so raw.” Pictured above are members of five of the seven Bataan Death March survivor families including Gary and Jeanie Nappa, Art and Jean Tome, Joe and Sandy Folio, Cindy Tuomala Dieter, Tera Myers with Zander Ellis and Lita Ellis, Arliss Taylor. Photo by Pam Roberts.


Saving for a rainy day with $5 million donation for community recreation center

The plan to build a community recreation center in Ely has made a significant leap forward.
The announcement of a $5 million anonymous donation with no strings attached stunned the volunteer board when it was announced June 15. The excitement level in the room jumped 10 levels and the realization that the project could happen was felt throughout.
This donation will not pay for the construction of a 50,000 square foot facility. It may not even pay for half. Of course, we hope there are other generous contributors out there looking to help out as well.
With an estimated price tag of $10 to $12 million, there will likely be a match to be made from the state of Minnesota’s bonding bill process. A similar project in Hermantown received $8 million in the most recently approved bill.
This project will prove to be a worthy recipient of bonding money with its regional draw. What it lacks are several key components at this point in time.


Rescues in BWCA have a cost

A trip into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area brings with it a sense of adventure as well as the possibility that things could go wrong. But when things do go wrong and an emergency is declared there’s a cost that is more than likely going to be borne by local taxpayers.
We’ve had several incidents this year that have involved multiple agencies responding. Some, like the St. Louis County Rescue Squad, are made up of volunteers. Others are paid employees at either the local, state or federal level.
These rescues don’t usually happen right near Ely, they’ve been located at the end of the Fernberg or up the Echo Trail. Add in the travel time and the fuel to the cost. Bring in an airplane or helicopter and the dollar signs start multiplying.


Letter to the Editor: ... it was a scary situation

Dear Editor:
RE: St. Louis County Sheriff’s Volunteer Rescue Squad
Chuck and I recently had the unexpected experience of getting lost in the Boundary Waters.
Despite our experience and preparation, after six days out, we missed a portage and headed into the river, thinking weld be able to push on through to Nina Moose River.
We ended up camped for an additional six days, rationing the last of our food, fuel, and toilet paper.
I am a Wilderness certified RN and Chuck is an outdoorsman and Alaska army vet, but it was a scary situation with the cold and rain and wind. We had no idea how to get out of there.
Thank goodness for the wonderful St. Louis County Sheriff’s Volunteer Rescue Squad headed by Kurt Erickson!


DO YOU KNOW: School Trust Lands - The heart of the matter

by Garry Gamble
When it comes to Superior National Forest, as well as School Trust Lands, the focus of recent columns, the blunt, unambiguous, question to be asked is: “For whom are these lands managed?”
The answer to this question gets to the heart of the matter. As repeated, ad nauseam, in the recent three-part series on school trust lands, the trust manager’s obligation is to make the trust productive and to act with undivided loyalty to the beneficiary; in this case public schools.
Not so “common sense,” would conclude this means roll up your sleeves and make some real money. Don’t sell out; i.e. sell your birthright for a mess of potage. And while we’re in The Book, remember the parable about the talents?


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