LETTER: ... Will other environmental groups come to the table and be a partner in such an agreement?

Dear Editor,
My husband and I attended the Save the Boundary Waters presentation on sulfide mining at Vermilion Community College. It was a nice slide presentation of the layout of the area, depicting the Boundary Waters, what makes it special, the watershed, the mineral deposits, the aquatic and forest ecology, etc. Many of us who support the proposed copper/nickel mining projects have heard similar presentation several times before by Becky Rom and her friends.
What was different this time, before a group of about 100 people, was that the question period was literally shut down by Rom at 7:30 after two questions. Was she intimidated by the dozen or so supporters of mining projects and what questions they would ask? I talked to Dave Marshall who schedules events at Vermilion and he said the theater was booked until 9:30.


Welcome to the Blueberry/Art Festival

Two of the busiest days of the year in Ely occur in July. The Fourth is a great American celebration of our country’s freedom. This weekend we celebrate people coming to town for the Blueberry/Art Festival.
Even in this newspaper you’ll find the name of the event misused as the Blueberry Arts Festival. That’s understandable even if it’s incorrect. There are plenty of blueberry related products to be found here this weekend.
Each of us may have our own favorite, from blueberry pancakes to blueberry pie to blueberry bratwurst (seriously, Zup’s makes blueberry bratwurst).
All of those blueberry products for sale this weekend fit in nicely with the artists who may or may not include a blueberry theme to their work.
Take a stroll through the park and you’ll be amazed by the variety of items being handcrafted and/or available for sale in the booths that seem to magically pop up the Thursday before the event.


Thoughts from the Echo newsroom

Working at a newspaper in Ely, Minnesota is always interesting. For one, Ely is never short of news. There’s always something going on, although not every issue becomes a story.
In the past couple of weeks, we’ve had some interesting issues. Here’s our thoughts on how those issues have played out.
1. Superintendent at the Ely School District has been a revolving door since the unfortunate day when Terry Merfeld passed away. Many have held the position, few as well as Merfeld did.
Now the district appears ready to sweep the remnants of the Alexis Leitgeb era under the rug. Weeks after voting to suspend her, the district finally released the letter that led to that suspension.
There are accusations of Leitgeb defrauding the district, specifically in her travel budget. But we have heard nothing from the district on whether there has been or will be an investigation.


LETTER: ...cell towers, logging and yes, even mining

Dear Editor:
I read with interest your editorial about the accident on the Basswood River last week and also the article about the rescue of the 15 year old boy who was trapped under the canoe.
From what I read the estimated cost for the rescue was about $40,000.
My understanding of the accident is that the group involved obviously used extremely bad judgment in trying to run the rapids rather than make the portage. I think it is time for the U.S. Forest Service to stop footing the bill when people get into trouble and present the party leaders and/or their organization with a bill for the rescue.
Why should taxpayers have to pay for someone’s stupidity? Also, if you are in your home and call 911 for an ambulance to take you to the hospital, you can be sure that you will receive a bill for the ride. Why should an emergency ride in a U.S. Forest Service plane be any different?


Better communication needed

Emergency responders have a tough enough job when called upon to rescue somebody in the BWCA. We believe every effort should be made to fix the lack of communication available for rescues within the wilderness boundaries.
The rescue on Tuesday is a perfect example of how volunteers were hamstrung by a system that doesn’t work up north. There was one radio hanging from a tree and another duct taped to a canoe paddle, both efforts to try to get a radio signal.
We believe part of the problem lies in the fear of those in control of the statewide radio system to stand up to the environmental bullies who believe a red light on a tower will ruin their wilderness experience.
Taller towers mean a farther reach and a better communication system. There is also a need for more towers surrounding the BWCA, even if the cost is higher than other parts of the state due to the remoteness of the area.


LETTER: ... major world problems on the horizon

Dear Editor:
We are witnessing the most significant attempted shift in American foreign policy in more than a half-century. Our current administration is seeking to achieve a diplomatic resolution to Iran’s potential threat of creating nuclear weapons.
In the past decades, we have met our perceived threats to America by military actions. The results have often ended without satisfactory resolution coupled with huge loss of life and monetary costs along with collateral damage and death to millions of bystanders.
Will we be successful in an effort to achieve a diplomatic solution to anticipated nuclear confrontation? Maybe, and most likely neither side will be totally happy with the results of the negotiations. But it may avoid a costly war that has no assurance that war would be successful.


LETTER: ... a wonderful example of standing-the-truth-on-its-head

Dear Editor:
Reading the article in the June 27 Echo about the House Mining Committee is like a trip into a strange land where down is up, black is white, fiction is fact, and, maybe, the water in Birch Lake flows uphill. Northeastern Minnesota is an interesting place.


LETTER: ... dusty man camps and busy prostitutes

To the Editor:
The economic illiterates promoting mining for economic development should check out some of the Wikipedia pages on copper mining. The page “Copper mining in the United States” lists Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, and Montana as the top copper producing states. A little research reveals that each one of those states has a lower per capita personal income than Minnesota. We can debate the reasons for the failure of copper mining to produce prosperity but the numbers are what they are.
The June 27 Ely Echo article about Representative Hackbarth’s Mining and Outdoor Recreation committee presented another public relations talking point from mining promoters that is getting a little tiresome. Once again, we read an objection to use of the term, sulfide mining.


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.


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