Ely’s Bataan Death March survivors recognized

PRESENTER Dave Merhar called it “one of the best presentations I have ever done.” Five of the seven Bataan families from Ely were present at the Patriotic Choir concert on July 2. “Most had never met so we had kind of a cry/love fest after. Amazing that 75 years later emotions can be so raw.” Pictured above are members of five of the seven Bataan Death March survivor families including Gary and Jeanie Nappa, Art and Jean Tome, Joe and Sandy Folio, Cindy Tuomala Dieter, Tera Myers with Zander Ellis and Lita Ellis, Arliss Taylor. Photo by Pam Roberts.


Saving for a rainy day with $5 million donation for community recreation center

The plan to build a community recreation center in Ely has made a significant leap forward.
The announcement of a $5 million anonymous donation with no strings attached stunned the volunteer board when it was announced June 15. The excitement level in the room jumped 10 levels and the realization that the project could happen was felt throughout.
This donation will not pay for the construction of a 50,000 square foot facility. It may not even pay for half. Of course, we hope there are other generous contributors out there looking to help out as well.
With an estimated price tag of $10 to $12 million, there will likely be a match to be made from the state of Minnesota’s bonding bill process. A similar project in Hermantown received $8 million in the most recently approved bill.
This project will prove to be a worthy recipient of bonding money with its regional draw. What it lacks are several key components at this point in time.


Rescues in BWCA have a cost

A trip into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area brings with it a sense of adventure as well as the possibility that things could go wrong. But when things do go wrong and an emergency is declared there’s a cost that is more than likely going to be borne by local taxpayers.
We’ve had several incidents this year that have involved multiple agencies responding. Some, like the St. Louis County Rescue Squad, are made up of volunteers. Others are paid employees at either the local, state or federal level.
These rescues don’t usually happen right near Ely, they’ve been located at the end of the Fernberg or up the Echo Trail. Add in the travel time and the fuel to the cost. Bring in an airplane or helicopter and the dollar signs start multiplying.


Letter to the Editor: ... it was a scary situation

Dear Editor:
RE: St. Louis County Sheriff’s Volunteer Rescue Squad
Chuck and I recently had the unexpected experience of getting lost in the Boundary Waters.
Despite our experience and preparation, after six days out, we missed a portage and headed into the river, thinking weld be able to push on through to Nina Moose River.
We ended up camped for an additional six days, rationing the last of our food, fuel, and toilet paper.
I am a Wilderness certified RN and Chuck is an outdoorsman and Alaska army vet, but it was a scary situation with the cold and rain and wind. We had no idea how to get out of there.
Thank goodness for the wonderful St. Louis County Sheriff’s Volunteer Rescue Squad headed by Kurt Erickson!


DO YOU KNOW: School Trust Lands - The heart of the matter

by Garry Gamble
When it comes to Superior National Forest, as well as School Trust Lands, the focus of recent columns, the blunt, unambiguous, question to be asked is: “For whom are these lands managed?”
The answer to this question gets to the heart of the matter. As repeated, ad nauseam, in the recent three-part series on school trust lands, the trust manager’s obligation is to make the trust productive and to act with undivided loyalty to the beneficiary; in this case public schools.
Not so “common sense,” would conclude this means roll up your sleeves and make some real money. Don’t sell out; i.e. sell your birthright for a mess of potage. And while we’re in The Book, remember the parable about the talents?


Forest Service now takes aim at all commercial activity in BWCA

The U.S. Forest Service will use a lawsuit settlement to take aim at any and all commercial activity in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Big Brother is not only watching, it’s on the hunt.
Forest supervisor Connie Cummins struggled in an interview with the Echo this past week to explain why a lawsuit over how many towboats use the BWCA has been turned into a global rock-turned mission.
“Will professional photographers be included in this study?”
“Will dog sled operations be included in this study?”
Exceeding the limits of authority has been taken to a new level. And anyone who makes a buck in any way off the BWCA should be very, very concerned.


Taking property off the tax roles will have consequences for taxpayers

by the Minnesota Association of Townships


Car show and burnout competition gets approval from city commission

A new event scheduled for this fall in Ely has received approval from the city’s Planning Commission.
The Jake Forsman Memorial Car Show and Burnout Competition can now proceed on Saturday, Oct. 21 in front of the Ely City Hall on Chapman Street.
There was a good turnout for the hearing Wednesday night. The four members of the Planning Commission, along with city clerk Harold Langowski and attorney Kelly Klun took testimony, asked questions and approved the request with conditions.
There were several opposed to the idea. Not too surprising since these are the same people opposed to mining. Maybe they don’t like motors.
There were a number of people present in favor of the event which is modeled after a burnout competition held every year in Libby, Montana.
A major difference will be the large concrete barriers in place in Ely. Libby’s event has no barriers, just cars burning rubber on the main drag.


Annual Echo Progress Edition not as robust as previous years

There were stories and photos to fill up the 17 pages in this year’s Ely Echo Progress Edition but there certainly weren’t as many as previous years. In fact, there’s just one more page than what we had the first four years, down 11 pages from a high of 28 pages when the business community was thriving.
This year’s edition is a reflection of Ely’s economic downturn that continues despite the cheerleaders who refuse to see the reality of our current situation.
We could’ve written a story about the number of businesses for sale. We could’ve written about the businesses that closed up shop, giving in to declining sales and a lack of customers.
But that’s not what the Ely Echo Progress Edition has been about over the past 23 years. We’ve focused on the businesses who have persevered and made investments in the community. New owners, improvements, additions and a few new businesses are what we wrote about for the 2017 edition.


Rec Center project at key juncture

It’s safe to say that plans for a community recreation center in Ely have reached a crossroads.
Within days, Ely School Board members and the general public will get their first look at architectural renderings for a complex that has been both dreamed about, and talked about, for years.
Now it’s time for government officials, recreation center supporters and yes, Ely area residents, to determine if the project is going to be more than just a dream.
At first blush, some of the numbers talked about have been staggering: $10 to $12 million, 50,000 square feet, an enormous complex that could anchor the west side of the Ely school campus.
Project supporters have laid out a vision and a survey of local residents has shown impressive support for the concept.
But as concept moves toward possible reality, more than one elephant remains in the room.
Let’s break it down like this:
Where will it go?


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