Ely businesses ready for you to shop locally so check them out first

Why should we, our friends, our neighbors, and our fellow employees shop locally?
Good question!
Businesses in the Ely area have the products you need at competitive prices and you are supporting your community by shopping locally.
We’re very fortunate to have a wide variety of shops offering merchandise that ranges from your everyday needs to items you just can’t find anywhere else.
So if you’ve got your shopping list and you’ve checked it twice, be sure to take a look around here in town first.
If you’re shopping for the younger crowd, we’ve got stores that have unique games, toys and clothing that will fit any size and age.
Got someone on your list that needs good winter clothing and footwear? Ely has several stores that can provide you with the warmth you want your gift to carry with it.


Remembering our Veterans

by U.S. Senator Al Franken, November 2015

Each year, my Senate office holds a poetry contest for Minnesota students so that they can write about the “veteran in their lives.” Often they write about a parent or another close friend or relative who has left home for extended periods to serve our nation in the armed forces.

As I read the winning entries, I’m always struck by the descriptions of the great sacrifice our service members and their families must make so that our freedoms are protected. One winner expressed her appreciation this way: The ones who had loved/The ones who had laughed/The one who died/Helping you to survive/They will never be forgotten. In so many of these poems, you can see the admiration the students have for the people they write about, leaving little doubt about the deep impression the experience has had on their lives.


Ely rallies around three high school teams playing in state tournaments

On the front page of last week’s Ely Echo there were two stories that appeared to be at opposite ends of the spectrum. One was on how proposed copper-nickel mining has created division in the community. The other was on Ely High School sending three teams (football, boys cross country and girls cross country) to the state tournament level.
From the excitement around town this week, it appears the community has come together to support a group of student athletes who have defied the odds and launched Ely into the state spotlight.
Ely Memorial is far from the largest school in the state, in fact we’re on the small side. Our football team competes in the 9-man division. The reason for the 9-man division? To help schools who don’t have a large enough student body to field competitive 11-man teams.


... let the process continue based on facts and science rather than opinion, sensationalism, and misrepresentations

Dear Editor:

A group of copper mining opponents spent over an hour Tuesday night presenting at the Ely City Council study session. The fourteen speakers went over the amount of time they had expected, and a planned Power Point presentation was eliminated and then the podium was vacated.

Mayor Novak asked if there were any questions and I chose not to ask the number of questions I had. Not sure if it was a desire to make it home in time to watch game one of the World Series or fear that my questions would turn the evening into a long drawn-out debate involving everybody in the council chambers.

I still would like to hear the answers to these questions. Maybe this is not the right forum to ask them, but at least the group gets a whole week to respond.


DeLorean needed to decipher the Governor’s decision on PolyMet

After over 10 years of permitting battles, it appears the final decision from the state of Minnesota is near. Following thousands of public comments, reams of data and projections and public meetings attended by the busload, it all seemingly comes down to one man’s decision.
Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has announced he will make two mine visits before he issues his decision on whether the PolyMet project is approved by the state.
Dayton will go to a mine site in South Dakota on Oct. 27 that was recommended by project opponents. The Gilt Edge Mine near Lead, SD is a former open pit operation that, according to the EPA, has about 150 million gallons of acidic heavy-metal-laden water in three open pits and millions of cubic yards of acid-generating waste rock.


Ciscoes may be few and far between without Prairie Portage

Bait shops in northeast Minnesota may no longer be selling ciscoes in the very near future.
We’re coming into the prime time to harvest ciscoes and there’s a honey hole at Prairie Portage in the BWCA that has provided the popular bait for over 50 years.
Cold water temps and moving water along with access via motorboat made Prairie the perfect spot to harvest ciscoes. Mother Nature hasn’t changed anything but Big Brother has found a way to pull the nets.
Between the Forest Service and the Minnesota DNR, there are more rules than you can shake a fishing pole at when it comes to harvesting ciscoes.
Complicating the whole matter is Basswood Lake being listed as infested with spiny water fleas. But the Moose chain of lakes is not, so there’s another set of regulations to take water from infested waters and transport over non-infested.


Latest BWCA lawsuit fails to recognize past failures

Any means possible is the first thought that comes to mind while reading the latest lawsuit involving the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Getting motors out of the BWCA has been a goal for groups like the Friends of the Boundary Waters and now Wilderness Watch.
Yet this latest salvo makes no sense when you look at the big picture. Going after towboats will have a direct impact on canoeists who are trying to get further into the park during their trip.
Eliminate the towboats and areas like Moose Lake will look like I-35 going north out of the Twin Cities on a Friday afternoon. Towboats help to disburse people throughout the BWCA and the Quetico.
So if you don’t want towboats, there must be two things you do want: a paddling traffic jam at several entry points and/or the elimination of all motors, which is not what the 1978 Wilderness Act called for.
So where did this come from? And who is Wilderness Watch?


And now the voters decide

Set an alarm on your cell phone, circle the date on your calendar, just don’t forget to cast your ballot in Tuesday’s special primary election. It’s time for the voters to have their say.
We’ve been watching the race to fill the seat last held by David Dill with great interest. But we don’t know who will have their name on top when the keys are turn on the ballot counters Tuesday night.
Here’s the field of DFL candidates in case you’ve been out in the BWCA for the past year:
• Koochiching County Commissioner Rob Ecklund
• Tofte canoe outfitter Bill Hansen
• International Falls’ businessman Eric Johnson
• Ely council member Heidi Omerza
Also on the ballot will be former Ely mayor and current Republican Roger Skraba. This is a primary election so each of the two major political parties are represented. It’s no secret Skraba’s name is there in case Hansen wins the primary.


Remembering Mike Weinzierl

The Ely area lost a special person this past week when Mike Weinzierl drowned in a boating accident on Fall Lake. He was coming back from a day of fishing on Basswood, a trip he had made hundreds of times. Something went wrong and Mike didn’t make it home.
More than a successful business owner, Mike was an accomplished pilot, a great musician and a wonderful family man. His passing was a shot to the heart for the people who were fortunate enough to have known him.
We sat down with one of his former employees, Bob Artisensi, who was willing to share some of his memories with Echo readers.
Bob was the salesman and the face of Mike Motors for 19 years. That was okay with Mike and Jim Weinzierl, the owners of the company. They had a unique ability to allow employees to succeed.
“Mike was the kind of guy who believed in everybody. He gave everyone a fair chance, but you had to prove yourself. If you didn’t prove yourself, you weren’t there,” said Bob.


Name on garage a fitting tribute to Forsman; his impact was immense

St. Louis County commissioners did the right thing this week by renaming the joint public works garage on Ely’s east end in honor of their former colleague - now-retired commissioner Mike Forsman.
It’s truly fitting that the massive building will now be known as the Michael F. Forsman Public Works Facility.
After all, if it wasn’t for Forsman the garage wouldn’t be there today.
The project faced several obstacles, but Forsman was persistent and almost always out front flinging one barrier or the other to the side and keeping it on track.
It was Forsman who lobbied the late Jim Oberstar and helped secure funding that offset some of the construction costs and made the overall price tag more palatable to the major players - St. Louis County and the city of Ely.


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