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.


Trails like Mesabi and Prospectors Loop expand Ely’s economic reach

There are two major trail projects which will reach Ely in the near future, the Mesabi Trail for biking and the Prospectors Loop for ATVs. Each will provide these benefits: people who live here will ride them and people will come here just to ride them.
We see these projects as a desperately needed addition to our current recreational opportunities. If we were going to nominate failures from changes in the BWCA over the years, the lack of new opportunities outside the Boundary Waters would be high on the list.
The rules and regulations in place in the BWCA do more to restrict people from coming to Ely than any of us cares to admit.    Some may not like that statement but our current economic decline has causes, whether we agree with them or not.
So what can we do about it? We can make improvements outside the BWCA to make Ely a better place to live and visit. These trail projects are great examples.


Pioneer Mine video: Crossing over from black and white to digital

LEARNING about the geology of the Ely area from Twin Metals Minnesota geologist Aaron Magnuson were Ely third grade students Ronan Littler, Sydney Durkin, Jacob Cochran, Taylor Gibney and Erron Anderson during a field trip on May 29. In addition to learning about the different minerals found here, students were able to handle core samples and take a tour of the company’s core shed building.
Photo by Nick Wognum.


Looking back through Ernie Pyle’s eyes 70 years ago to D-Day, June 6, 1944: A long thin line of personal anguish

by Ernie Pyle, Courtesy of the Ernie Pyle World War II Museum and the Scripps Howard Foundation
NORMANDY BEACHHEAD, June 17, 1944 – In a preceding column we told about the D-day wreckage among our machines of war that were expended in taking one of the Normandy beaches.
But there is another and more human litter. It extends in a thin little line, just like a high-water mark, for miles along the beach. This is the strewn personal gear, gear that will never be needed again, of those who fought and died to give us our entrance into Europe.
Here in a jumbled row for mile on mile are soldiers’ packs. Here are socks and shoe polish, sewing kits, diaries, Bibles and hand grenades. Here are the latest letters from home, with the address on each one neatly razored out – one of the security precautions enforced before the boys embarked.


Somebody asked for a PEIS, nobody will admit it, yet we know the truth

This past week city councils in Ely, Babbitt and Aurora passed resolutions in opposition to a proposed PEIS in the Superior National Forest. We’re sure this was done with the best of intentions, but the further we dig into this the stranger it gets.
To start with, a PEIS is a programmatic environmental impact statement. From what we can gather, instead of looking at one proposed mining project, the USFS would look at all projects and see what the impact would be.
The PEIS has been called a “stealth attack” on the future of mining in northeastern Minnesota. Those looking to support mining see this as a delay in getting projects underway and a duplication of other EIS already completed or in the works.
Understandably, this has a lot of folks very upset including Rep. Rick Nolan, the Iron Range delegation, industry groups and mining businesses.


No thanks to MnDOT, accidents continue to wreak havoc on 169



Who ever is causing the delays ought to come up with the dollars

 Dear Editor:
 I just got back from another bad accident on Highway 169 in our 5-mile project area. Three injuries, severity I’m not positive...All had been taken to Ely Bloomenson Hospital when I got there.
At least three ambulances (Ely and two Tower), 3 wrecker trucks (Bob’s Amoco & 2 Armory Shell), at least 3 St Louis County Sheriffs, 2 MHP, and 1 Breitung sheriff on scene, as well as several other First Responders.
Accident occurred between Mud Creek Road and Armstrong corner, approx. MP 273.2 Involved vehicles: Ford F-150 towing about 20 ft Travel Trailer southbound toward Tower, Ford Focus northbound to Ely. (1 injured here) Not positive on what happened. Focus gone to Bob’s when I arrived. F-150 and Trailer down 40 foot steep ravine on Armstrong Lake side. (2 injured in this vehicle)


Sending the wrong message is costly

There are two cases of economic development gone wrong in Ely. The first you likely are aware of, the second was disheartening to hear and unfortunately sad but true.
Steger Mukluks would like to expand in the Ely Business Park. But the company and the Ely city council have not been able to come to an agreement on the price of the lot.
One of the last remaining manufacturers in the area, Steger has carved out a successful niche in the outdoor footwear business. A month ago the company ran quarter-page ads looking for help. Sales are up and there’s not enough room at the inn.
So a local company goes back to the city council looking to acquire the land it thought it was on the road to purchasing. But instead of welcoming the opportunity to proceed with open arms, the council refuses to sell the land.
Hanging in the balance are jobs, additional tax revenues and the chance to have an expanding business retain its Ely presence.


Another delay for a safer 169

Last week MnDOT silently announced another delay in the reconstruction of Highway 169 in the Eagles Nest area. After this move, we’re wondering if we will ever see this project become reality.
We’ve gone 20 years so far with local leaders pushing for a safer highway. With their pleas falling on deaf ears, representatives from Ely went to Washington D.C. and found a sympathetic ear in then-Congressman Jim Oberstar.
He was able to procure $20 million for the project with hopes the project could see the light of day by the end of the decade. We’re now looking at the third decade coming to a close as this project MAY finally see the light of day.
What was supposed to be built in 2016 has now been pushed back to 2017. That means we’ve got another 1,000+ days of driving an unsafe highway in poor condition that is extremely susceptible to black ice during certain times of the year.


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