The benefits of shopping local, from city hall to local residents

Another Ely business is slated to close, one of the two dollar stores, to go along with the Ely Bowling Alley. Jobs are lost and the area suffers financially.
At city hall this past week the council was smart enough to shop local when buying a vehicle for the police department. Those dollars will help keep Mike Motors in Ely.
We only wish the council had that in mind when they decided to send money to Tower to have the city legals published. Those dollars are gone and this local newspaper suffers. With the loss of Shopko, it’s been a double whammy for a small business trying to make payroll and as an added bonus, the first half of property taxes this week.
Business owners know every time someone goes out of town for a product or even a medical procedure, those dollars go away and don’t come back. We’d like to see the law changed where cities and school districts have to hire local employees, but that’s another issue.


School needs to tap the brakes on superintendent search, building project

There was a special Ely school board meeting on Monday that brought a reason to tap the brakes on two major initiatives, hiring a new superintendent and pursuing a major building project. The reason? Millions of dollars for collaborating with neighboring school districts such as 2142, the sprawling St. Louis County district that includes schools in Babbitt and Tower.
A law pushed by Sen. Tom Bakk makes millions of dollars available to districts who work to share services, personnel and even facilities.
Ely hasn’t been able to get a seat at the table, until now. On Monday it was made clear that the taxpayers of Ely could get the IRRRB to foot a good portion of the bill for a major building project.


David Wigdahl named winner of Chamber’s Jackpine Bob Cary Community Spirit Award

WINNER of the Ely Chamber of Commerce’s Jackpine Bob Cary Community Spirit Award was David Wigdahl. He received the award at the annual Smile, You’re In Ely dinner Tuesday at Grand Ely Lodge. Photos by Nick Wognum

Positivity at Smile, You’re in Ely


Flood help no matter where

We are fortunate to live where major rivers don’t threaten our community. We may not have a Sandbag Central but we do have people impacted by an overabundance of water.
When the city storm sewer system froze and backed up a couple weeks ago, two places were hit hard. A resident near the freeze up on Third Avenue East had 6,000 gallons of water fill her basement.
A Go Fund Me site was quickly set up to help her with expenses. The community responded with financial contributions and the goal was quickly met and exceeded.
On the other end of the freeze-up the water went into Sir G’s Restaurant and sand bags were used to keep more water from coming in.
Now volunteers are working with the restaurant’s owners to help with repairs to the floor. This is another example of community members stepping forward to help a friend in need.


Shopko announcement hurts Ely

Ely suffered another blow to the local economy when Shopko announced all stores would close in June. While this is an example of corporate mismanagement and the impact of Amazon, losing a major business hurts Ely.
First and foremost we will have employees who will be out of a job. Efforts are underway by Up North Jobs to help these people find employment when the paychecks stop. There are jobs that will be available at the time of year, but not many that are year-round.
Our tourism economy provides jobs for people during the summer months but when restaurants, resorts and stores close in the fall, those jobs disappear.
The impact even hits us at the Ely Echo. We have been inserting Shopko flyers in our paper for years and had inserts scheduled out into May. Not only will we lose that business going forward, we’re likely going to be out $3,000 in bills the company now claims it will not pay.


Letter to Editor: ...Landwehr’s credibility as a nonpartisan regulator spilled into the Boundary Waters along with his principles

Letter to the Editor:
Stories have recently appeared in the print media regarding the hiring of former Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr by Ely based Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness to serve as its Executive Director. Landwehr was hired to lead their organization to fight copper-nickel mining within the BWCAW watershed, focusing on Twin Metals Minnesota’s proposed copper-nickel underground mine, which would be located near Ely, Minnesota.
Up North Jobs Inc. is an Ely based nonprofit membership organization chartered in 2013 to promote economic development and job growth in Northeastern Minnesota. Permit us to offer additional facts to bring context to the print media stories.


The sad state of ethnic diversity

No one growing up in the last generation in Ely would have ever dreamed it could happen. The vanishing of St. Urho’s Day as one of the area’s most honored celebrations.
In Ely, Mill’s Clothing Store, under the proprietorship of the late Bill Mills (a Finn with an anglicized name) featured the day. Restaurants were decorated green and purple and featured Finnish foods such as kola mojakka.
In dozens of homes, Finns gathered for more or less solemn observances. For years, the arbiters of Finnish culture and Urho lore were Lorene and Ben Mauser. Lorene by birth, Ben by marriage. Why green and purple? Because St. Urho became known as the cleric who drove the grasshoppers out of Finland and saved the grape crops for wine. Aha, one might say, but is this not a takeoff on St. Patrick, the Irish saint who reportedly drove the snakes out of the Ireland? In a sense, yes; but that is not the only connection.


Keep the light shining on government

By Doug Hanneman
It’s truly a paradox that the light shining on the Jefferson Memorial contradicts an American principle that this Founding Father is known for defending.
Here’s the storyline: A couple decades ago, national park maintenance workers solved the problem of the deterioration of the memorial’s stone exterior. Excessive washing of bird droppings was to blame.
But what brought the birds to the famed monument in the first place? In short, it was learned the birds came to feed on spiders, which fed on midges. The bugs were attracted by spotlights that shined on the memorial at night.
The solution? Reduce the amount of time that the monument is in the spotlight. The change resulted in immediate results: 90 percent of the insects disappeared, the excessive cleaning was no longer needed, and the memorial’s electric bill plummeted.
The irony, of course, is that Jefferson’s name is synonymous with light. Lots of light.


Guest Editorial: Destroying Credibility 101

From the Mesabi Daily News
If you thought Mark Dayton’s administration and his Department of Natural Resources had credibility issues with the Twin Metals project before, things just got worse. And they’re going to land in the lap of Gov. Tim Walz and his version of the agency.
On Tuesday, the Campaign to Save Boundary Waters named former DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr its new executive director, and in accepting the position, Dayton’s former natural resources chief undercut the agency’s work in permitting projects in Minnesota.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Landwehr stressed that PolyMet and Twin Metals were two distinct mining projects, and the approval of PolyMet under his watch happened after the company passed a rigorous decade-plus long environmental review process.
That is factual.


One year without reserved permits

The debacle that is the U.S. Forest Service trying to finesse the BWCA permit system and turning it into a major SNAFU has one option that hasn’t been considered. Let’s go one year without having to reserve permits.
That’s right, everybody gets a permit to explore our national treasure. We’ve got one million acres out there but fewer and fewer people. This one year trial run could revitalize our local economy and is super simple to implement.
When you get to a BWCA entry point you fill out a permit, tuck it in the box and go and enjoy a trip in the Boundary Waters.
We can hear the outcry from the Twin Cities already. “This can’t be done! The place will be ruined!” Poppycock. The permit system didn’t even exist until 1966.


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