Echo’s annual Progress Edition a bellwether on economic times

For 22 years the Ely Echo has put out an annual Progress Edition. This year there are 22 pages filled with stories, photos and advertisements. Plenty of reading and plenty of information on our business climate.
There’s plenty of hope and promise in those 22 pages. Entrepreneurs putting it all on the line with the hope their dreams will come true. New owners and new locations of area businesses. These are a snapshot in time of our business community.
When we look back in previous issues there are businesses that were profiled that are no longer here. Or never made it through the first year. Being a business owner in a small town is no easy task. You better be able to put in your blood, sweat and tears to make it work, not to mention opening your personal checkbook.
Each of the 22 Progress Editions have been unique to the time they were published. Some were filled with millions of dollars in public projects - that’s something you won’t see this year.


RAMS becoming the vehicle to steer NE MN back to prosperity

We’ve been impressed with how the Range Association of Municipalities and Schools has gone from teetering on the edge of existence to becoming a strong voice for northeast Minnesota.
Just over one year ago the Ely city council was putting on the brakes of joining RAMS. The organization had made some questionable moves which led to people asking just what benefits RAMS provided in the first place.
Since then there has been a change in the make up of the board that governs the organization and a key move to hire an ambitious executive director.
Steve Giorgi has stepped up to the challenge and helped lead RAMS back to the forefront as a force to be reckoned with. He works with state and federal officials to inform them of the issues affecting the Range and he keeps local elected officials informed and involved in the political process.


Ely’s April Fools joke contains more than a hint of legitimacy

The annual April Fools joke from the Ely Chamber of Commerce is an electric canoe paddle. Designed to generate free publicity for Ely, the Chamber hires an ad agency to come up with an idea each year that could be true but of course is not.
Past April Fools pranks from the Chamber included Canada attempted to annex Ely, a fictitious bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics and that Dairy Queen had acquired naming rights to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.


Governor attacks Ely’s economic future

Governor Mark Dayton has decided by executive order that he should decide Ely’s economic future and, God forbid, that includes mining. It’s been 38 years since Ely received such an economic shot to the gut.

We believe there is strong support for mining from our local and state elected officials. In fact we know there is. Dayton stands alone politically. He doesn’t have the support of the local city officials, county officials or the Range delegation.

His statements show he believes he is above the people...

Read the complete editorial in this week's Ely Echo.

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School board right to point out how changes happened in administration

The Ely school board has taken plenty of heat over the years. Some of it deservedly but there are times when the blame has been misdirected.
A week ago Thursday high school principal Mary McGrane announced she would be resigning on March 31. We asked her for a reason to resign but only received the same message she gave to parents.
“I’ve appreciated the opportunity to work with Ely students, parents, staff, board and community members. In order for me to be true to myself and core values, the right thing for me to do is step away from serving as Ely Memorial Principal at this time. My last day will be March 31st. We have talented, smart, community oriented, wonderful students at Ely Memorial. It has been a pleasure serving as their principal. I will greatly miss the staff and students.”
Social media posts placed blame on the board and cited the turnover of the district’s administrative positions. But that blame is misdirected.


Dayton’s actions against Twin Metals lack common sense and may be illegal

Three weeks ago we pointed out Governor Mark Dayton’s bizarre behavior in regard to Twin Metals.
On March 3, Dayton has said he wouldn’t interfere with the DNR in regard to the agency’s approval of the PolyMet EIS.
“I am not going to interfere with the work of the agencies.”
On March 6 Dayton ignored his previous comments in a letter to Twin Metals.
“I have directed the DNR not to authorize or enter into any new state access agreements or lease agreements for mining operations on those state lands.”
In February Dayton said he wouldn’t approve any Twin Metals issues until the PolyMet project finishes going through the regulatory process.
There isn’t a hint of common sense in that declaration and there certainly isn’t any in his latest effort to kill (in the words of the Ely city council) “the largest economic development project in Ely in the past 50 years.”


DNR wrong putting moose over deer

The DNR has repeatedly used words like “could” and “may” and “possibly” to describe the impact of deer on the moose population. These are not scientific certainties. We rely on state agencies to use science, not guesswork to make decisions.
The DNR’s proposal to reduce deer populations in northeast Minnesota because this may possibly help the moose population is unacceptable. We want to see the state’s moose population rebound but we don’t want to see the DNR resort to unproven methods that have no scientific basis.
We’ve heard from numerous hunters since the DNR proposed lowering deer densities in this area in order to help the moose. The response has been overwhelmingly opposed. The deer population is already at a very low level and deer hunters can testify to this after countless hours in the woods this past November.


A glimmer of hope from our nation’s capital on steel crisis

If the first step toward resolving a problem is opening lines of communication, maybe there’s a glimmer of hope coming from Washington D.C. on our country’s steel crisis.
We’re directly impacted here in northeast Minnesota with more than 2,000 miners out of work due to the dumping of foreign steel in the United States.
But would the White House take action? If only a handful of states were impacted and the rest of the country benefitted from low cost steel, would President Obama see the big picture and act accordingly?
The president did send his Chief of Staff Denis McDonough to the Iron Range for a first hand look at the problem. But was this just a sympathetic gesture? We really didn’t know at the time.


Governor Dayton is just plain wrong to link Twin Metals request to PolyMet

We’re trying to find a thread of common sense on a recent decision by Governor Mark Dayton. Even the Range delegation is shaking its head.
Dayton has pronounced he won’t approve any Twin Metals issues until the PolyMet project finishes going through the regulatory process.
Key word: any. Twin Metals, with headquarters here in Ely, has been looking to do some drilling this winter. Much of the north country is inaccessible to drill rigs until the ground is frozen. This is the time of year to get drilling work done.
The company has asked the state for permission to conduct environmental, minor assessment and geotechnical due-diligence activities. The Minnesota DNR has green lighted the request but the governor has put up a road block.
Does the governor have concerns the DNR did not address? Not that we know of. Does the governor extend blocking any and all requests from all mining companies? Doesn’t appear so. Just Twin Metals.


TPP loopholes take aim at iron ore, steel

Guest editorial by Congressman Rick Nolan


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