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Barbara Lassila, 84

Barbara Lois (Nelson) Lassila, passed away peacefully on Thursday, December 17, 2020 at CareFree Living in Babbitt, MN. Per Barbara’s wishes there will be no funeral services held. A private Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.
Barbara was born August 12, 1936 in Roseau, Mn, the daughter of Lloyd Harry and Marguerite Freda (Bell) Nelson.
Barbara attended school in Roseau, Ely and graduated from Embarrass High School in 1955.
She was a Hair Stylist for many years, sidelining Belly Dance classes, Bookkeeper and a Secretary for HUD. Her real passion was Antiquing. She owned and managed two stores, The Mountain High Antiques in Prescott Valley, AZ, and the Red Door Antiques in Junction City KS.
Barb was known as the Linen Lady in Kansas for her creativity and love of embroidery. She was a member of Daughters of the American Revolution and past member of the Red Hat Ladies.


Dorothy Gaither, 96

Dorothy Gaither, 96, of Jacksonville, went home to her Savior on Thursday, December 10, 2020 while surrounded by loved ones. Born in Embarrass, Minnesota, she was swept away at 17 by a handsome young Arkansan, Roy Gaither of Newport, who was in Northern Minnesota with the CCC. He became her loving husband for 45 years until his passing. She would laugh when relating the culture shock when first arriving in Arkansas. They shared a military life together, frequently relocating with their five children.


Zup’s plans to purchase Ely Northland Market

Ely’s two major grocers have come together on a deal that will eventually result in one grocery store in town - in the now vacant Shopko building.
Zup’s Food Market and Ely Northland Market announced the partnership Wednesday night.
Zup’s will purchase Ely Northland Market in early-2021 and both stores will continue to operate as they currently have been until later in the year, when the 32,000 square foot Shopko building becomes the new home to Zup’s and Ely Northland Market.
Once the purchase is final, employees from both stores will work together as one big group.
“It makes perfect sense,” said Donna Richards, who along with her husband Jim will sell ENM after purchasing it in 2003. “The best of both stores are moving into one.”
“We’re very excited about it,” added Jim Zupancich Jr. “As a family, we’re excited and our employees are excited as well.”


Ely Area Food Shelf gets a truck

The Ely Area Food Shelf is very grateful to have received a Minnesota Department of Human Services COVID-19 Transportation Grant that has enabled them to purchase this truck. Historically the people in need of food have come, once a month to the building at 15 W. Conan Street in Ely to select food items. With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, it became clear that they had to move to a more decentralized, mobile food shelf model, in order to best address food insecurity for people in need throughout the greater Ely area. The new truck will enable the Ely Area Food Shelf to continue to make healthy and nutritious food accessible to people who need it the most - older adults, people who are homebound and they will be able to further expand into rural communities. Currently they are looking for a “winter home” for the truck to keep it out of the elements. Call 218-235-6128 if able to help. Photo by Cam Weisert.


Mrs. Claus Party has new look

Santa and Mrs. Claus will be in Ely as scheduled on Saturday, but the COVID-19 pandemic has forced a change in their plans.
Instead of gathering indoors, they’ll be outside as part of the new-look Santa and Mrs. Claus Party put on by the Ely Chamber of Commerce.
The event will take place from 1 to 2:30 p.m. in the parking lot at the Chamber headquarters, located on the east end of town.
Due to health concerns and efforts to minimize the spread of COVID-19, organizers have put together a new format for the annual event.
Santa and Mrs. Claus will be positioned outside the Chamber building to wave and share holiday greetings, but event participants are asked to remain in their vehicles.
Event planners are asking youth and adults to drive in on the 16th Avenue (Subway side) of the Chamber lot, and they will be able to view Santa and Mrs. Clause extending their greetings.


From the miscellaneous drawer

I’m a collector of old telephone books and I recently set out to see what secrets the 1979 phone book held. Since it was just a few years prior to that I had purchased the Echo and things (businesses) were already changing.
There were 16 canoe outfitters listed in the ’79 Ely area at the time and four bait suppliers.(21 outfitters in 1980) .
And since it was the height of the tourism boom there were 35 resorts in the 1979 Ely area and 16 in Tower. Perhaps as a prelude to the new retirement people arriving there were 14 Realtors that served the area (11 in 2018).
Ten restaurants served ’79 hungry diners.
Four bars or night clubs provided thirst quenchers. And six liquor stores provided take-home brews. Also in 1979 seven car dealers serviced the area. Five grocery stores and four hardware stores held forth.


LETTER: … with some of the greatest achievements man has accomplished

Dear Editor,
This undoubtedly will go down in history to be one of the most unusual years in history.
We have experienced hero’s play their parts with selflessness and kindness for their fellow man.
We have joined in unity and prevailed to feed our hungry.
We have rallied with full and open hearts for our beloved workers who take care of our human needs and who keep this great country running smooth.
We have experienced all the emotions that have been all so defined and yet stand steadfast and share relief with our family and friends.
Like sports, tests and jobs there will always be an end goal to achieve, with the great feeling that we’ve done our best and those accomplishments will take us forward to a New Year with some of the greatest achievements man has accomplished.
These people of the United States will always be the front runners for caring, kindness and giving to our small little world - earth that we live on.


POSITION OPENING Ely Public Schools Indian Education Home/School Liaison

Ely Public Schools
Indian Education Home/School Liaison

Ely Public Schools is looking for an Indian Education Home/School Liaison. A background check is required.

Qualifications include:
• AA Degree or 2 years of college preferred
• Indian preference
• Preferred experience working with school age children
• Evidence of ability to work cooperatively and communicate effectively in a collaborative setting

Application available at:

A complete application must include the following:
• Non-Licensed District Application
• Resume
• 2 letters of recommendation

Return materials to: Ely Public Schools, Attn: Superintendent, 600 E. Harvey St., Ely, MN 55731 or email


Trail work continues until snowmobile season gets rolling

Reports from area trail administrators show work will continue on developing ATV trails until the snow is deep enough to groom for snowmobiling.
“Contractors are working on the Taconite State Trail from the Raven Lane crossing (2.5 miles west of Ely) going west on the trail for approximately four miles. Work will continue and this portion of trail will be closed until enough snow is received to pack and groom the trail,” said Brad Dekkers, Assistant DNR Area Supervisor.
The Taconite Spur from Babbitt is also under construction by Mesabi Bituminous as part of the Prospector Loop ATV trail system.
“We’re going to get as much done as we can as long as the weather holds,” said Prospector Alliance President Nick Wognum.


VCC basketball seasons cancelled

by Tom Coombe
The gymnasium at Vermilion Community College will stay dark this winter, at least when it comes to the basketball season.
Vermilion, along with the rest of the teams in the north half of the Minnesota Community Athletic Conference, will not conduct men’s or women’s basketball seasons this winter.
The 2020-21 campaigns, which were to begin in November, were originally put on hold until January, but a rise in COVID-19 cases and associated issues related to the pandemic halted those plans.
The decision impacts about 15 students at the school, as well as additional students who were likely to enroll for second semester if the season was going to proceed.


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