EDITORIAL: Alarming enrollment drop at Ely schools

School officials, whether they are administrators or board members, haven’t had it easy the last year-and-a-half.
The Covid-19 pandemic has turned public education upside down, with not one, not two, but now three school years disrupted.
For far too long, the jobs of principals, superintendents and board members and the issues they normally work with have taken a backseat to all things Covid.
Distance and hybrid learning. Quarantines and contact tracing. Mask mandates and vaccination clinics. This isn’t what they signed up for when entering the realm of public education.
While this week’s school board meeting in Ely shows that the district still has much to do when it comes to Covid-19 and finding a path toward easing a district mask mandate and regaining public confidence and trust, there was another giant sized elephant in the room.


Censored speech isn’t free

A free, uninhibited exchange of ideas is vital in any democracy.
Indeed, it’s been a staple of our country throughout its long, nearly 250-year history.
And it hasn’t just worked at the national level, nor purely in government.
Surely the halls of Congress or the Minnesota State Legislature, the council chambers at Ely’s City Hall, and grassroots meetings held by local townships have all been better off because of rigorous debate.
Issues rise up, people discuss them, and governing bodies come to decisions that any of us are free to support or oppose.
It works that way in newspapers as well.
Readers often tell us, and we wholeheartedly agree, that letters to the editor and a lively exchange on our editorial page not only make for interesting reading, but get us to think.
And even challenge conventional wisdom or the decrees of government.


Ely Echo Guest Editorial: Why we need a community forum

by Brian J. Allfrey,
Executive Director, Utah Press Association
I am not sure what I expected our country to look like in 2021, but I certainly did not expect it to be so fractured and so bogged down in hate. My oldest son was a year old on September 11, 2001. The wave of patriotism following that day gave me hope for the America that my kids would inherit.


Editorial: School must live up to promises, establish plan to end mask mandate

Amid an uprising if not a revolt - one that led to the most contentious and crowded school board meeting in recent history - Ely school officials have pledged repeatedly that a controversial mask mandate is only temporary.
Consider these words: first, a letter to parents a day after the forced masking rule was announced and with public backlash already growing.
Ely school administrators wrote “ We are hopeful this is a speed bump along the path towards a more normal 2021-2022 school year.”
Five days later, at the first meeting of the fall of Ely’s Safe Learning Plan Advisory Council, superintendent Erik Erie said ‘Nobody wants to be wearing a mask. The big question is what is it going to take to change?” He went on to suggest possible “incremental” changes in the mandate.


EDITORAL: District doesn’t live in a bubble

School districts have a habit of living in a bubble and that just doesn’t work once decisions are questioned and the public starts looking for answers.
The Ely school district has discovered this by getting a failing grade in public relations in multiple areas.
The first problem was a communications disaster when the district dropped a bombshell decision on the Friday before the new school year began. With an open house the night before and people seemingly happy with wearing masks if they so chose to, suddenly that was no longer acceptable. A must wear a mask policy was instituted without discussion, debate or school board participation.
The reaction was swift and severe. A petition was started to protest the required mask decision and quickly grew to over 300 names. This was PR SNAFU number one.


LETTER:…what happened that was so drastic it had to be changed so quickly?

Dear Ely Public School Superintendent, Administration and Board members:
I am writing to express my thoughts and concerns regarding your recent decision to mandate masks in our schools. I’ve also attached a letter from the Ely Community Voice, requesting that our petition be placed on the September 13, 2021 school board meeting agenda. (See below)


Letter: …These foundations should start funding where they could benefit humanity

Will they finally make a difference?
Scientists have found that although forest fires do not release a significant amount of Acid Rain, they do create a significant amount of mercury into the environment. California, Oregon, and Washington wildfires contribute greater amounts due to the trade winds and climate.
These non-profit anti-mining so-called environmentalists from Northern Minnesota should invest time and funds to the National Science Foundation, to help educate and to come up with solid solutions instead of playing politics for only upholding an agenda for selfishness of their own private needs. Along with one-sided big box newspapers who will not inform its readers about these non-profits who are in violation of their non-profit status.
It would be for the greater collaboration of these anti-mining non-profits to promote education and work with the great mining industry of Northern Minnesota.


LETTER: …the woods are the home of Bigfoot

Now that we have the insane wolf hunting stopped, what about adopting a sane policy regarding the unnecessary bear hunting season?
And while we’re at it we might take notice of the beauty of our woods and lakes and rivers while they’re still here, because don’t look now, but Mr. Peabody’s big trucks are hauling it away, every day. Logging should be limited at the very least. It is not right for some to become rich by destroying a natural resource that rightly belongs to all of us.
Speaking of the woods ... the woods are the home of Bigfoot, Sasquatch, all around us. I know it’s true and so do many of our friends and neighbors. They are not apes, animals. They are some sort of human, and their home is the woods, the woods we are destroying every day.


EDITORIAL: Facts over fear: Amid new hysteria, Covid data offers reassurance

With the rise of the Delta variant and news that cases of Covid-19 are climbing back up after an early-summer swoon, it’s easy to feel a bit unsettled or even be thinking “here we go again.”
That’s especially true for those glued to TV news or their social media feeds.
For the better part of three weeks, news of Delta has dominated and one doesn’t need to look far to find reports of new or reinstated recommendations, restrictions and mandates.
Yet despite the doom-and-gloom in some circles and panic in others, the sky clearly isn’t falling, particularly in Minnesota and in our neck of the woods.
We’d all be best served by taking a deep breath, stepping back and taking a look not only at the data, but what’s changed in the last year, or even the last few months.
First and foremost the latest “surge” in cases of Covid-19 needs more context.


Letter: Congratulations Ely Rotary Club

Congratulations Ely Rotary Club for 100 years of outstanding service to the community.
I was fortunate to join the club in 1986 during a brief stint as editor of the Ely Miner. For the next fourteen years I enjoyed many friendships and interesting community and international projects. A major highlight was working on the first Ely Radio Auction (plus many more). Our first female Rotarian was Jeane Larson, Executive Director of the Ely Chamber of Commerce and owner of WELY. The club was in need of a major fund raiser and thanks to Jeane, the Rotary Radio Auction was born. Many wonderful years were spent with fellow Rotarian’s; Woods Davis, Bill and John Mills (good luck in your retirement, John), Jack Garske and many more Rotarian’s working on the auction.
It is so good to know the auction continues to thrive.
I am happy to report I’m still active in Rotary and wish the Ely Rotary many more years of fun, fellowship and community service.


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