Wanted: July 4 parade help

Ely council puts out call for organizers, will form committee

by Tom Coombe -

Ely city officials are looking for a few patriotic, community minded citizens.
Those who answer the call will be asked to help organize one of the community’s signature events: the Fourth of July parade.
Council members agreed Tuesday to advertise for membership in a newly-formed Fourth of July parade committee.
The parade’s longtime organizer - Jodi Martin - announced last year that she’d step aside after more than 20 years of parade organizing.
The city, which serves as the sponsor for July 4 festivities in Ely, responded with plans for a committee to take the daunting task on.
“For anybody interested, we’ll be scheduling a meeting within the next month or two,” said clerk-treasurer and operations manager Harold Langowski. “We want to make sure everything is covered.”
Ely’s Fourth of July parade anchors the Independence Day celebration in town, attracting thousands to the city’s main street and business district, with Whiteside Park filling up following the event for games, races, entertainment and a community picnic.
Although the city is taking a lead role at the moment, Langowski was quick to add Tuesday that others must come forward to take on the work.
“We do really rely on volunteers to put together the parade,” he said.
Library post filled
Council members moved quickly to fill a vacancy on the city staff, hiring Jessica Dunn for the open library clerk position.
Dunn emerged from a field of 37 applicants for the job, including five finalists who interviewed before a committee that included Langowski, librarian Rachel Heinrich and three council members.
Council member Heidi Omerza said that the group chose from an excellent pool of finalists.
Dunn takes the place of Elisabeth McCrea, who retired.
The library clerk position has a starting wage of $21.55 per hour, plus benefits including health insurance
AFSCME pact finalized
With no objection, council members ratified a new three-year deal with the AFSCME bargaining unit that represents most city employees.
Key provisions include pay scale raises of 2.75 percent in both 2017 and 2018 and a 2.5 percent hike in the final year of the deal.
City Attorney Kelly Klun told the council that the pact also includes some language changes related to vacation.
Pay scale for jobs covered under the contract range from approximately $20 to $29 an hour.
In other business, the council:
• Heard a Mar. 29 arbitration date has been set in the dispute with fired zoning administrator Gregg Cramer.
Cramer, through his union, is seeking the half-time job back through arbitration after backing out of a voluntary settlement agreement that would have ended his employment with the city of Ely in exchange for about $11,000 in severance payments.
• Appointed Rebecca Reiss to the library board, Andrea Strom to the Gardner Humanities Trust Board, and Gordon Sheddy to the telecommunications advisory board. Vacancies remain on the planning commission and Ely Utilities Commission.
• Accepted a $34,000 grant award from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board for downtown beautification.
• Reaffirmed its application for state funds for both the proposed infrastructure improvements on 17th Avenue East, as well as the trailhead project at Ely’s west entrance.
• Agreed to allow the council chambers to be used for the Friends of the Library’s annual book sale in June.
• Hired Josh Ojala, Alex Povhe, Kael Richards, Ernie Horvat and Scott Polyner to the fire department.
• Received an annual report from fire chief Tom Erchull indicating that there were 34 fire calls in the city limits last year, as well as 139 first responder calls.