Check out our new library, and say thanks to those responsible

The doors opened Wednesday at the new library and it was fitting that librarian Rachel Heinrich unlocked the doors. For it was her vision, perseverance and dedication that helped make the dream of a new library a reality.
Rachel will be the first one to tell you there are many people to thank. We had a city council with the fortitude to look past memories and make the right decision for the future. We had a library board and the members of the Friends of the Library who provided support both politically and financially. And there was a crew of volunteers that stepped up to make the move happen.
But all of those tangibles and intangibles came together to make this project happen thanks to Rachel. She’s not one to look for attention but we think she deserves our thanks for her efforts.


Veterans Day 2014: Renewing our commitment to those who served

by U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar


Teaching our young people about voting by pairing them with veterans

Veteran Nick Jordan between students Annie Lindgren and Alison Zaverl.



First flu shot ever: Not so bad

by Nick Wognum
There was a bit of peer pressure when I sat in a room with Ely Bloomenson Community Hospital health care professionals last week to do a story on the hospital giving free flu shots.
“Have you had your flu shot yet?” I was asked.
“Nope, never,” I replied.
Wrong answer.
After failing to come up with a good reason, I could tell the time had come after 47 years to give in and get a flu shot.
The giver was nurse Heidi Artisensi. That made things easier right there. I’ve always found health care to be a lot easier when the person who’s providing it is kind and caring.
First I had to fill out a form listing my name, address, date of birth and answer four questions.
1. Are you sick today? No. But even if I was I could still get the shot. Lose-lose or win-win depending on how you look at it.


MN Design Team’s visit to Ely: Big picture ideas but some missing

The visit of the Minnesota Design Team generated a good amount of interest in the community. Congratulations to those who put the event together. And while the ideas that came out of this charrette may be a bit pie in the sky, there were clearly some things missing.
At first glance it may very well be that those who participated throughout the two-day event were more of a non-motorized, anti-mining crowd. If that’s the case, then the recommendations should stand.
But we’ve heard there were a number of people who felt the process and outcome did not reflect the input provided.
The Design Team took input through several different channels, including presentations by community members Friday morning, lunch sessions that afternoon and community input that evening.


Sertich is right, tourism and mining can co-exist and Ely is living proof

At a forum on mining last week there was a question asked on how some people can think  tourism and mining are on equal economic footing.
Fielding the question was IRRRB commissioner Tony Sertich, a former legislator who knows how to answer questions with a politically correct answer.
The question came from a pro-mining group and was directed at those who say tourism and mining cannot co-exist.
Sertich pointed out that in northeast Minnesota, the two industries have co-existed for the past 130 years. He admitted there has been tension but there is an opportunity to strike balance.
Sertich used Ely as an example where mining and tourism have existed. “It’s not always the most pleasant conversations to have,” Sertich admitted and then wondered if waiters are instructed not to talk about mining, logging, BWCA and now wolves and bears.
“They can talk politics and religion, those are the easy topics,” said Sertich.


Forest Service could save money, continue to educate BWCA users

The U.S. Forest Service is looking for ways to save money and we would endorse a solution that would have area outfitters and resorts issue all BWCA permits.
Currently the 20,000 or so permits issued in the Ely area are nearly divided equally between the Kawishiwi District office and the cooperators (a term for outfitters and resorts who issue BWCA permits).
If you’ve ever reserved a permit through the online system, you know that picking it up at the Kawishiwi District office may or may not be convenient.
The hours there have been reduced over the years in an effort to reduce the district’s budget. So how about eliminating writing out permits there altogether? We think it makes sense.


If you’re looking for a barometer on Ely’s prosperity, look in the stands

The opinion pages in the Ely Echo have been lively with plenty of back and forth on how Ely is doing and in what direction it should go. With that in mind, there was a grounding of sorts during the Ely High School pep rally on the football field Tuesday morning.
This is a traditional event at EHS with the dance line performing, various relay races between the top four grades, the tug of war competition and the crowning of the king and queen.
As the festivities were getting underway, a picture was tweeted out by the Echo showing the stands which looked fairly empty.
“In my day these stands were full,” was the instant Twitter reply from an EHS graduate.
It was about to get worse. The photo was taken with the dance line and the 10 members of the royal court on the field.
Once the games started and more kids came down onto the field, the stands could have been reduced to one section with room to spare, including the parents who had come to watch.


With 30,000 Minnesota jobs at risk…

by Wayne E. Brandt, Executive Vice President of Minnesota Forest Industries and Minnesota Timber Producers Association
If you contracted a disease that had a 99 percent mortality rate every winter, what would you rather have experts do: immediately find a treatment for it, or remodel where you might reside next summer, even though it’s unlikely you’d still be alive?
If you think there’s just one logical choice, be glad you’re not a Northern Long-Eared Bat.
These bats now die in great numbers every winter, and there’s no disagreement about how and where: from a disease discovered in caves only as recently as 2006. But rather than focusing on disease prevention and treatment, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeks to make ill-conceived changes to the bats’ summertime habitat as part of a proposal to list the Northern Long-Eared Bat as an endangered species.


Connecting communities

Plans for the Prospectors Loop ATV trail continue to advance. A trail connecting Babbitt, Ely, Embarrass, Soudan, Tower, and state parks in the area will bring riders from outside the area and will provide another activity opportunity for visitors and seasonal residents already here.
But the trail may do more than that. It may trigger those who wish to optimize the East Range’s tourism industry. We’re for that -- a diverse job base here certainly should include tourism.
Tourism does best in areas where many offerings attract and retain visitors. Our area has many, but are they marketed as a package? Instead of thinking of four communities, what would an area tourism marketing campaign look like?
Imagine a cooperative, coordinated tourism marketing thrust that attracted visitors (and don’t forget seasonal residents -- the longer they’re here and the more they do, the more dollars get spent here) to the East Range’s offerings.


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