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Diving in to a new season

by Tom Coombe
Cheers may have been muffled by masks and parents could only watch via live webstreaming, but high school sports returned to Babbitt on Tuesday in the form of the first girls swimming meet of the season.
Visiting International Falls dominated much of the fall opener, winning all but two events en route to a 60-34 victory over Northeast Range/Ely.
But the result may have taken a backseat yesterday to the circumstances, as the meet marked a formal return to high school competition in the area, after a nearly six-month hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The coronavirus wiped out the spring seasons while two fall sports - football and volleyball - are on hold until the spring.
Swimming is one of a handful of activities allowed by the Minnesota State High School League and NRE, under first-year head coach Cheri DeBeltz, has been practicing since mid-August.


Prospector ATV Club offers 12 guided rides at fall “Ride & Rally”

On Sept. 19, hundreds of ATV riders from across Minnesota will be squeezing the throttle on their ATVs as they venture out on area trails.
The rides, with starting points in Ely, Babbitt, Embarrass and Tower, are part of the annual convention of the ATV Association of Minnesota (ATVAM), hosted this year by the Prospector Loop ATV Club.
This is the second year in a row that the 3-day event, also known as the ATV Minnesota ‘Ride & Rally’, has been held in the area.
Last year the gathering was in Crane Lake, hosted by the Voyageur Country ATV club and featured the dedication of a $1.26 million bridge over the Vermilion River.
COVID-19 forced the Prospector Club to scale back on some event activities, cancelling the annual banquet and moving the group’s fund-raising auction from a live, standing-room-only event to an online auction on eBay.


Ely facility announced three COVID cases

Ely Carefree Living announced it has two residents and a staff member who have tested positive for COVID-19.
Last Monday a staff presented with symptoms and was tested positive for COVID and is on self quarantine .
Subsequently, Carefree tested all 45 residents. One resident tested positive for COVID, she remains at CFL and staff continue to monitor. A second resident tested positive on Sept. 1.
Carefree stated the company has informed the Minnesota Department of Health of these cases and have implemented a strict protocol of how they are staffing and managing resident cares to keep everyone safe.
Since March 2, when Minnesota had only two cases statewide, that number has grown to almost 75,000. St. Louis County has 885.
Spectrum Health Companies owns and operates 13 assisted living facilities in as many communities in Minnesota. This diagnosis is the first for the company.


Clay Pollock, 63, of Ely

Clay Pollock, 63, of Ely, passed away on Friday, August 28, 2020 at Ely Bloomenson Community Hospital. Family arrangements have been entrusted to Kerntz Funeral Home of Ely.


Jerry Gorecki, age 64

Jerry Gorecki, age 64 of Babbitt, passed away on Monday, August 31, 2020 at Essential Health-St. Mary’s in Duluth.
Jerry was born on Nov. 20, 1955 in St. Cloud, MN. He moved to Babbitt in 1960 with family. Jerry loved to fish and hunt and went to Alaska three times fishing. He loved to garden. Jerry worked many jobs; Reserve Mining, Longyear Drilling and the City of Babbitt.
He is survived by sister in law, Alice Gorecki; brother, Harlan (Melanie) Gorecki; brother, Loren (Bev) Gorecki; and brother in law, Bobbie Pinckney and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his father, John and his mother, Laverne; Brother, John Jr; and sisters, Sharon and Loreen Pinckney.
Special thanks to all the neighborhood friends.
Graveside services will be held on Friday, September 11, 2020 at Argo Cemetery at 1:00 p.m.
Family arrangements have been entrusted to Kerntz Funeral Home of Ely.


VA Clinic set to expand

by Tom Coombe
A $2.8 million project in Ely’s business park will help secure the future of the Veterans Affairs Community Clinic.
Ely city officials have approved over $140,000 in design work for the project, which will double the space utilized by the VA in the city-owned “Sato Building” on Miners Drive.
Work on the project is expected to begin in September and take about a year, according to Harold Langowski, the city’s clerk-treasurer and operations director.
Langowski represented the city in discussions earlier in the month and updated council members, who also serve as the city’s economic development authority on Tuesday.
“I did spend two days in Duluth with our design team and the general contractor and the VA folks,” Langowski said Tuesday. “They called it a design intent drawing meeting... That’s moving forward pretty quickly.”


- Ely Public Schools - Questions and Answers for the Start of the 2020-2021 School Year

Q: Will Ely Public Schools open after Labor Day as usual?

A: Yes, School will open for In-Person Learning on Tuesday, September 8.

Q: How can Ely Public Schools be opening for In-Person Learning when other schools in St. Louis County are starting in
Hybrid Learning?
A: The Ely District can open with In-Person Learning because we are following the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) data driven approach of using county case rate data for Greater St. Louis County, which has lower incidence numbers than the Duluth area. We are also able to start In-Person because of the precautionary measures being taken to help protect students and staff.

Q: What precautionary measures are being


POSITION OPENING Ely Public Schools 3rd Grade Long Term Substitute Teacher

Ely Public Schools
3rd Grade Long Term Substitute Teacher
1.0 Full Time Equivalent (FTE)

Ely Public Schools is looking for a 3rd Grade
long term substitute teacher starting approximately November 30, 2020 through December 22, 2020. Salary and fringes as per the Master Agreement between ISD #696 and the Ely Education Association and School Board policy. A background check is required.

Qualifications include:
• Current Minnesota teaching license in K-6 Elementary Education
• Previous teaching experience preferred
• Excellent communication skills including verbal and written

Application available at:

A complete application must include the following:
• District Licensed Application
• Resume
• Copy of official transcripts
• Current Minnesota teaching license
• 3 letters of recommendation


DNR sets two confiscated hunting, fishing equipment auctions this fall

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has scheduled two public auctions of confiscated fishing, hunting and trapping equipment.
The auctions, which will be held online at, include 501 firearms, 71 bows and a variety of other equipment. All of the equipment was confiscated following serious game and fish violations. A tentative list of the equipment included in the first auction is available.
Key dates are:
• Sept. 15 and Oct. 20 – this is when the bidding catalog for each auction will be available. The catalog includes a written description and photo(s) of each item.
• Sept. 18 and Oct. 23 – this is when onsite inspection is available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Hiller Auction Service in Zimmerman.
• Sept. 19 and Oct. 24 – these are the auction dates.


Justin Fernlund, 34

Justin Fernlund, 34, of Virginia, Minn., passed away Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020, at his home.
Justin was born Aug. 28, 1985, to Ed and Terri (Matschiner) in Ely, Minn. He grew up in Babbitt, Minn., attending school there. He played hockey, baseball, football and of course, video games growing up. His dream as a youth was to play professional hockey. As an adult, Justin enjoyed fishing and recently, flying drones. Working on anything mechanical from engines to computers was something he enjoyed.
Justin is survived by his children, Olivia and Zachary of Eveleth, and Chloe and Elias of Embarrass; parents, Ed (Robin) and Terri (James) of Ely; sister, Amy (Mike) Peffley; and nephews, Michael III and Gabriel of Sebring, Fla.; many many aunts, uncles and cousins; also special friends, Barry, Sandy and Mike.
He was preceded in death by grandparents, Richard and Carol Fernlund and Clemens and Marion Matschiner; cousin, Zachary Matschiner; and good friend, JJ Bieljeski.


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