If you’re looking for a barometer on Ely’s prosperity, look in the stands

The opinion pages in the Ely Echo have been lively with plenty of back and forth on how Ely is doing and in what direction it should go. With that in mind, there was a grounding of sorts during the Ely High School pep rally on the football field Tuesday morning.
This is a traditional event at EHS with the dance line performing, various relay races between the top four grades, the tug of war competition and the crowning of the king and queen.
As the festivities were getting underway, a picture was tweeted out by the Echo showing the stands which looked fairly empty.
“In my day these stands were full,” was the instant Twitter reply from an EHS graduate.
It was about to get worse. The photo was taken with the dance line and the 10 members of the royal court on the field.
Once the games started and more kids came down onto the field, the stands could have been reduced to one section with room to spare, including the parents who had come to watch.


With 30,000 Minnesota jobs at risk…

by Wayne E. Brandt, Executive Vice President of Minnesota Forest Industries and Minnesota Timber Producers Association
If you contracted a disease that had a 99 percent mortality rate every winter, what would you rather have experts do: immediately find a treatment for it, or remodel where you might reside next summer, even though it’s unlikely you’d still be alive?
If you think there’s just one logical choice, be glad you’re not a Northern Long-Eared Bat.
These bats now die in great numbers every winter, and there’s no disagreement about how and where: from a disease discovered in caves only as recently as 2006. But rather than focusing on disease prevention and treatment, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeks to make ill-conceived changes to the bats’ summertime habitat as part of a proposal to list the Northern Long-Eared Bat as an endangered species.


Connecting communities

Plans for the Prospectors Loop ATV trail continue to advance. A trail connecting Babbitt, Ely, Embarrass, Soudan, Tower, and state parks in the area will bring riders from outside the area and will provide another activity opportunity for visitors and seasonal residents already here.
But the trail may do more than that. It may trigger those who wish to optimize the East Range’s tourism industry. We’re for that -- a diverse job base here certainly should include tourism.
Tourism does best in areas where many offerings attract and retain visitors. Our area has many, but are they marketed as a package? Instead of thinking of four communities, what would an area tourism marketing campaign look like?
Imagine a cooperative, coordinated tourism marketing thrust that attracted visitors (and don’t forget seasonal residents -- the longer they’re here and the more they do, the more dollars get spent here) to the East Range’s offerings.


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.


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