July 21 windstorm has had lasting impact on the area

When a wicked windstorm hit the Ely area like a freight train on July 21 the impacts were devastating in some areas and minor in others. For the families of two people killed when a tree fell on their tent on Basswood Lake, the impact was the greatest.
This week we have an update on one of the boys in that Scout group who was injured and has had to undergo multiple surgeries. He may be over a thousand miles away but 16 year-old Alex Muller lives with the storm’s impact every day.
Apart from the tragedy on Basswood, miraculously there were no other major injuries sustained. Automobiles were crushed, holes were punctured in houses but no other loss of life was sustained despite the strength of the storm.


...wondering if the USFS did authorize

(Note: This letter was sent to U.S. Forest Service Kawishiwi District Ranger Gus Smith)
It was nice to meet you at our August township meeting.
At that meeting I asked if the Freemans had a permit to advertise with props from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and you said you did not know, but would find out.
As you know, Dave and Amy Freeman have been living in the BWCAW wilderness for the past year in order to garner support for opposition to the proposed Twin Metals mine, which is located outside of the BWCAW.
Over the past year that the Freemans have been blogging from the BWCAW, I have noticed that they have referenced, with links, the companies that have sponsored this year long trip. These links have been accompanied with pictures that were obviously set up to show the products of the companies that have sponsored this trip.


Fall is in the air and that suits us just fine in Ely, Minnesota

Twice this past week there were frost advisories issued by the National Weather Service. For those of us who live in Ely 12 months of the year, those advisories told us what we already knew: the best time of the year is here.
Here’s some of the things we enjoy when there’s frost on the pumpkin:
• Sleeping with the window open. Cooler nights might mean an extra blanket on the bed but not having to worry about mosquitoes sneaking in is another fall advantage.
• Enjoying the vegetables of our labor. Gardens are being harvested and freezers are being filled with canned deliciousness to enjoy over the winter months. Nothing like getting your hands dirty and bringing home grown food into the kitchen.
• Today is the first day of the small game hunting season as well as the opening of the archery deer season. Hunters will don orange clothing, or at least a hat, and head out in search of grouse, hoping to run into a covey and end up with enough birds for a meal.


S&P has it right, Ely’s economy is still struggling

A report on Ely’s economy shows what those of us who work and live here already know. Things are pretty tough right now.
Standard and Poors Global Ratings stated: “we consider Ely’s economy weak.” That pretty much sums it up. No sugar coating, just the truth.
Ely mayor Chuck Novak pointed out a report that showed population declines in Ely, Winton and the surrounding townships. Another report showed the number of customers in the city’s utility service area is declining.
We like optimism as much as the next person but there needs to be a basis of understanding that where we are now is not where we want to be. Looking at Ely through rose colored glasses might make people feel better but it ignores our current situation.
The struggle for this area has been to attract young families with good paying jobs. We have too many situations where mom and/or dad are working multiple jobs and still ending up collecting government assistance just to survive.


Forest Service to stimulate economy with another fire

The Forest Service will apparently attempt to stimulate the local economy by starting more fires in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area this fall.
After disastrous decisions in 2011 and earlier this year, the Forest Service is using the 1999 blowdown as justification for four more “prescribed fires.”
These used to be called controlled burns but when the agency continued to lose control, the name was changed to prescribed.
We still don’t know what has changed since the decision was made to pour 1,700 gallons of jellied gasoline on a 135 acre fire up the Fernberg. This monumental SNAFU cost taxpayers $22 million, caused people to be evacuated from their homes and burned over 92,000 acres.
The people responsible for this mess are no longer working here. Screw up at the federal level and you get promoted to somewhere similar to Siberia we hope. Now we have new folks who will hopefully learn from their predecessors’ mistakes.


Why are you working on my brand new road?

It’s a scene playing out throughout the county. Roads that were resurfaced last year, now have work crews on them again. Why is that? It may not be the reason you think.
Based on the comments we’re hearing, some people assume we’re fixing a problem from the original project. That is incorrect. We’re chip sealing, which is the finishing touch that preserves and protects the pavement. It’s a technique we’ve been using for several years, following extensive research about its cost effectiveness and ability to extend the life of the road, and provide a smooth and safer ride.
In recent weeks, we’ve received numerous questions and some concerns about chip sealing. Here are the facts about this process.


Easy to find culture in Ely

We may be living at the end of the road but the opportunities here are not typical of a small town.
One week ago one of the top selling mystery authors in this country made a trip to Ely. William Kent Krueger spoke at the Ely Public Library on a Thursday night.
The room was overflowing with fans and Krueger didn’t disappoint. His fervent presentation was filled with funny stories and connections to his fans living in 55731.
Krueger’s known for his Cork O’Connor novels, based in the fictional town of Aurora, Minnesota. It must be fictional because there’s a Native American owned casino that O’Connor had to investigate in one novel. He was just the man for the job, being part Ojibwe and part Irish.
The rich history of northern Minnesota is mined by Krueger who uses the duality of O’Connor to help tell his stories from multiple viewpoints.


If your cause is just…

The mining debate in Ely is far from over. Despite a bizarre headline declaring a truce in Ely, there are strong feelings on both sides. We saw this at the Twin Metals listening session at Washington Auditorium, we read about it on our letters to the editor pages.
To have a spirited debate is what this country is all about, the freedom to disagree is one of our greatest freedoms.
Having a long-running discussion over an issue can often lead to one side resorting to unreasonable tactics. That’s when it’s time to stop and reassess.
This past weekend at the Blueberry Art Festival, a booth from the Save the Boundary Waters group appears to have crossed the line. A petition against mining was apparently not bringing in enough people. In order to get more names, prizes were being given away. Sign the petition and you were entered into the drawing for the prizes.


...they are interfering with the national security of this country

This mining controversy has been going on for about three years now. This is just like the environmentalists of the state of Oregon, trying to shut down the lumber industry of this state. From pounding nails and metal object in the trees to be logged, causing injury to the loggers, but the loggers persisted, finally the protestors started climbing trees, daring the loggers to cut the tree.
Some protestors got injured, some got killed, soon the protesting stopped and Oregon’s lumber industry goes humming along, supplying America with lumber.
I’ve been living in Ely for 88 years. I’ve seen the good times and also the bad. When the Pioneer “B” shaft quit mining, the economy slowed down. This mine provided Ely’s workers with good wages and a good living for 69 years.


Storm tested our mettle and taught us a few things as well

The damage from the July 21 straight line winds ranged all across the Ely area. Two lives were lost and countless homes, vehicles and properties were damaged. Some places have been changed for generations.
The National Weather Service tells us this was a massive bow echo thunderstorm with wind speeds in the Ely area clocked from 53 to 62 miles per hour. Those speeds could be higher than what was recorded but power was lost to some recording stations, including the Ely airport.
If you were awake around 3 a.m. you heard what sounded like a freight train and what looked like steady lightning. Throw in downpours of rain and plenty of thunder and many people were in their basements or at least away from windows.


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