Returning Ely to its mining roots

Ely’s mining history would awaken from a 47-year slumber under Twin Metals Minnesota’s $2.7 billion copper-nickel mining project that would create 850 jobs in the region.
There is no argument the minerals that lie below the Spruce Road will one day be mined and used for everything from cell phones to medical instruments to windmills. The only question is when this will happen.
Determining the when is like trying to win the lottery - there are many factors involved. Here are some of them:
1. Financial. Duluth Metals is now running the show at Twin Metals with a 60 percent ownership. Antofagasta, the big dog, has dropped down to a 40 percent stake and payment obligation. Can Duluth Metals pull together a financing plan to survive short term, and then a giant plan to build a $2.7 billion mining operation? Or is there another major player waiting to step in?


Foreign journalists visit make Ely unique

An event Monday is a perfect example of what makes Ely a unique place to live.
Nine journalists from around the world will gather here to talk about a host of issues during a public forum that starts at 9 a.m.
Part of the World Press Institute Fellows Program, Ely’s stop is right at the beginning of a two-month tour of the United States.
Other stops include Minneapolis, MN; Washington, D.C.; New York City, NY; Miami, FL; Atlanta, GA; Austin, TX; San Francisco Bay, CA, Seattle, WA and Chicago, IL.
As you can plainly see, Ely fits right in.
This year’s journalists come from Australia, Bulgaria, Denmark, India, The Netherlands, Pakistan, Russia, South Africa and Venezuela.
The Ely Echo is proud to sponsor Monday’s event. Our editor, Tom Coombe, will moderate the discussion which can range from U.S. culture to war in the Middle East to how cell phones have changed the way people see the world around them.


A story seldom told indeed

The thousands of people who visit the BWCA and Quetico are largely oblivious to the history that made those areas what they are today. A program at VCC Wednesday night shone some light on that history that continues to grow dimmer and dimmer.
Larry Thomforde along with his sons Eric and Steve did a fine job of telling the story of the creation of the Quetico-Superior. They used Newell Searle’s book as a basis but added plenty of additional info along the way.
To simplify, the area from Ely to International Falls could have taken a much different path. There was a plan put together by a man named Edward Backus who saw the flow of water from Basswood to Lake of the Woods as golden electricity.


Ely’s elected officials deserve a raise

It’s never easy to talk about raising your own pay, especially when you’re an elected official.
But delicate as it can be, especially in an election year, the discussion at Tuesday’s Ely City Council study session was long overdue.
Council salaries haven’t been raised since 1986 and it’s high time for an increase. School board members in Ely should have the same conversation as well.
Let’s start at City Hall, where the council salary of $400 per month and the mayoral monthly stipend of $425 have remained the same for three decades.
If adjustments had been made for inflation, the current stipends would be about $870 for council and $925 for mayor.
Outgoing mayor Ross Petersen suggested this week that salaries be set at $500 and $600, but we don’t think the mayor is going far enough.
Nobody, not city employees or anyone else, is working under a 1986 pay scale and council members in Ely shouldn’t be expected to make such a sacrifice.


Life without a bathroom, part II

The saga of life without a bathroom at the Ely Echo office had hopefully reached a conclusion following a full day of repairs.
Heavy equipment in the form of a mini-excavator rolled into the alley behind the Echo building last Friday morning. Figuring the line was less than five feet down, this should’ve done the job.
The crews from the city and the EUC had already been hard at work in places no one wants to go. They had found the city main to be open and functioning, it passed the smell test.
At six feet below ground there was still no sign of a sewer line or a water line for that matter. Our equipment was then upgraded to a backhoe that could dig much deeper.
At nine feet below the ground the water line was located and right next to it the non-functioning sewer line. I noted our water line froze this past winter - at nine feet below ground. That’s when the plumber noted the last water line he thawed out this year was on June 3rd.


Life without a bathroom

This is part one of a two part opinion piece. Part two appears in the July 26 editon of the Ely Echo, on newsstands Saturday.


When the flag comes marching by, the 4th of July crowd in Ely roars

There was a moment on the 4th of July in Ely, Minnesota when it felt very special to be a United States citizen.
Independence Day is marked by many things in our country, from parades to picnics and from parties to fireworks. There’s more red, white and blue than you can shake a stick at.
This year we celebrated our 238th year since we declared our independence from Great Britain in 1776.
The thirteen American colonies had already been at war with King George III and the British for over a year. And when ink was put to paper, these famous words would fill history books from then on:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
In order to obtain and retain those rights, blood was shed in the Revolutionary War and shed again in too many wars over the next 238 years.


Do the math, administration costs at ISD 696 are too high

With the loss of yet another member of the administrative staff at the Ely school district, the board has an opportunity to right a ship that has too many at the top.
Principal Dan Bettin, who by all accounts did an admirable job as the high school principal  this past year, has resigned. That means once a new principal is chosen, it will be the sixth at EHS since 2008.
To make matters worse, beyond having a revolving door for administrative positions, the bottom line is there are just too many of them. The icing on the cake: legal costs have skyrocketed as well.
The school board will meet Monday night and look at options for an administrative configuration for the upcoming school year.
After operating with as few as 1.5 full-time administrators with similar enrollment levels several years ago, that number has since grown back to three with the hire of a full-time superintendent and two principals.


LETTER TO THE EDITOR: ... it’s time Minnesota starts charging the parties being rescued

Dear Editor,
Nothing has now become more apparent here in the surrounding areas of the BWCA, than the need to charge those who use emergency rescue operations. The taxpayers are footing the bill for rescues that are becoming a way of life for people that are ill prepared and believe their cell phone will save them.  In the case of the Boy Scouts, a satellite phone.
This year alone off the Fernberg area of the Superior National Forest and BWCA, the taxpayers rescued a family lost on the Secret Blackstone Trail. Their foot gear going over ice and snow amounted to tennis shoes in freezing temps, and the fact they decided to hike the trail with two school age kids as the sun was going down. Wet feet are now an emergency?  I call it stupidity.


Rescuers are to be thanked, but there’s a cost for every response

Headlines were made when eight canoeists had to be rescued from the BWCA. With our thanks to all of those involved in this being a happy ending, there needs to be a word of caution.
This is a slippery slope when we send helicopters, airplanes and boats when somebody calls in to say their canoe tipped over. There must be a degree of responsibility for each and every person who makes it their choice to go on a canoe trip.
If you end up in the water, get yourself out and dry off. Make a fire, pitch a tent, do what’s needed. Locate the rest of your group and believe that they have done the same thing. Basically, don’t panic.
Hindsight in this case is 20/20 or better. But what can we learn from it?
We know there is a cost for each rescue. Taxpayers often are left to foot the bill, an unfair disadvantage to living next to federal wilderness area. And don’t forget that every pilot, boat operator and their passengers are being put at risk as well.


Subscribe to RSS - Opinions/Editorials