EDITORIAL: Ely area would have a double whammy without Bakk, Tomassoni

Ely has been very fortunate to have not one, but two senators in St. Paul who keep a watchful eye out for us. We know Sen. Dave Tomassoni won’t be running, but we do hope that Sen. Tom Bakk throws his hat in the ring one more time.
Tomassoni, who has been stricken with amyotrphic lateral sclerosis (ALS), has announced he won’t seek another term.
In a discussion with him recently, Bakk noted the one thing he can’t change, his age. At 67 he’s turned into a senior statesman after roaming the halls at the Capitol for nearly 30 years.
During that time he’s been a strong supporter for everything from outdoor recreation to mining and logging.
He comes from a union background but the Labor part of the Democrat Farm Labor party does not include him anymore. Bakk and Tomassoni switched from DFL to Independent and their influence in the Senate grew. Now it appears Bakk will switch to the Republican party.


Letters to the editor important part of a newspaper’s fabric

The Ely Echo has printed thousands of letters to the editor over the years. For that we have all become better informed in how the community is thinking and reacting to the world around them.
We’ve had some letter writers question why we allow people to give their opinion when it is written in a way that offends them. Setting aside the First Amendment for a moment, we have to wonder if it is the way the letter is written or what it is about that some find offensive.
Every letter that comes in to us is read by our staff. We look for statements that could get us in legal hot water to start with. There is one rule we follow very closely. If there are disparaging remarks about a public figure, those are fair game. If it is an elected official the letter writer is upset about, their comments and opinions are pretty much fair game.


Letter: … frozen ciscoes that have been kept for over five years at taxpayer expense

Letter to the Editor:
Recently I wrote to Rep. Stauber re a raid on The Great Outdoors shop in Ely and the confiscation of ciscoes from the proprietor, Jim Maki. The 2016 raid by armed federal agents was part of an investigation into reports that allege that the bait fish were illegally harvested on the Canadian side of a border river by a supplier to The Great Outdoors.
In a prompt reply from Stauber’s office, I learned that the case was charged in September of 2020 and will go to trial in April of this year, 2022.
A couple of questions about the handling of this case so far:
1. Why did it take about four years to bring charges in a case that seemed to the feds to be so exigent that it required a handful of armed agents to raid a small bait shop and seize several thousand dollars worth of the proprietor’s goods?.


EDITORIAL: Beardfest leads off winter events

The event known as the Great Nordic Beardfest has grown so big that it now takes place over two nights in two locations and includes three musical acts.
We’ve watched this event grow and much of the credit needs to go to Shaun Chosa, who founded the event and has organized and promoted it since its inception.
Chosa has found an event that fits Ely well and can bring in folks from all over. He’s proven this event can be done here and that the only thing that may hold it back in the future is lodging.
The Great Nordic Beardfest started last night at the Boathouse Brewpub and wraps up tonight at Ely’s Historic State Theater on Feb. 5, all part of the two-day End of the Road Beard and Mustache Championships.
Some of the highlights of the first night include a pair of belt competitions that will be decided bracket-style, with contestants squaring off one-on-one in a tournament format until there’s a winner, with crowd noise deciding each winner.


Letter: …quite the local news; where to begin?

Letter to Editor:
..what a roller coaster of events in the Ely Echo!
Well, from political letters to the editor, and sadly, obits...it’s quite the local news; where to begin? Start with the dreaded politics...sure!
I have to say I really enjoyed the editors take on the recent withdrawal of federal mining leases; whether in favor or not, companies have a right to do business with appropriate watchdogs in a safe way to better all of us, not special interests.


LETTER: … I would like my child to be able to enjoy her time at school while being able to breathe freely with no mask on

Dear Editor:
Here is a copy of an email I sent to the Ely school board:
With the emerging science stating that cloth masks are wholly ineffective against Covid-19, and to quote Dr. Leana Wen, CNN medical analyst: “Little more than facial decorations.” I am wondering if we are going to reevaluate our masking policy for our children and teachers.
As the cloth masks are what most children and staff are wearing, ignoring these emerging discoveries that are accepted and reviews in the scientific communities seems like a huge oversight.
As a concerned parent I would like my child to be able to enjoy her time at school while being able to breathe freely with no mask on.
While complying with this mandate seemed reasonable when we believed that cloth masks were helping protect our children, having actual proof that it is not makes the masks irrelevant and a huge overreach of power.


Letter: …it would not be possible to destroy the entire area

Dear Editor,
I sat in on the 1st Zoom meeting over the withdrawal of leases for 225,378 acres in the Superior National Forest.
These mineral leases are very important in many ways. It was because of these leases that this valuable ore deposit was discovered. Because of exploratory drilling, the properties of this ore deposit were also discovered.
With this information, plans can be made on how to extract and process the ore without adversely affecting the environment. Twin Metals has proposed such a mining process and should be allowed to proceed with the permitting process.
While listening to the statements made during the three hour Zoom meeting, I was disappointed to hear so many people who were ill informed and fearful that the BWCA would be destroyed if mining were allowed.


Mining debate brings out emotion, familiar claims from both sides

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area and the proposed copper mining projects were both being discussed last week.
On Wednesday the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management held the first of three public Zoom meetings on removing over 200,000 acres from mining development for the next 20 years.
The withdrawal is, at the core, a move by special interest groups to stop the Twin Metals Minnesota project while the Democrats hold the White House.
On Thursday U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber was part of a forum titled “Minnesota Mining and American Potential: An Opportunity for a Brighter and More Secure Future” in conjunction with the House Natural Resources Committee.
The familiar arguments that have been made for decades by those for and against were brought up again, with plenty of emotion and hand-wringing on each side.


Editorial: First of three meetings on land withdrawal Wednesday

A 20-year ban on mineral leasing will be the topic Wednesday in the first of three online public meetings held by the Bureau of Land Management and United States Forest Service.
If approved the feds would withdraw 225,378 acres on the Superior National Forest from mineral exploration and mining development – proposals that could cripple the future economies and communities of northeast Minnesota.
Make no doubt about it, this is to kill projects like Twin Metals Minnesota is proposing and make sure there are no other projects or even exploration activities. It’s a harsh, draconian move that is only being considered because of who sits in the Oval Office.
A 90-day public comment period will end on Jan. 19. Those comments will be used as part of the the USFS environmental assessment.
Virtual public meetings will be held via Zoom on:
• Wednesday, January 12, 1-4 p.m.
• Saturday, January 15, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.


Letter: …caused me to wake up my dogs, snoring in the living room

Dear Editor:
I didn’t receive my Dec 18 Ely Echo in the mail until Wednesday the 23rd, courtesy of USPS. I couldn’t get half-way through section 1 without a couple of non-shockers:
1.) Superintendent Erie has resigned from ISD 696, citing “health reasons,” six months into a two-year contract.
2.) The Fun Run is on hold because of Covid, but per the front page of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune at the checkout inside Casey’s Convenience Store - “Omicron rages throughout the world”.
I’m sure The ol’ Arctic Blast will live on and do well. I hate it for the organizers that had to make that decision.
3.) Page nine caused me to wake up my dogs, snoring in the living room. One, full-page ad desperately claiming Pete Stauber has “failed” us.
I scanned the 70+ signatories after a loud “WTF ARE YOU PEOPLE?!?”
I don’t know a single one of you. Especially the 19 who wished to remain anonymous.


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