News

Sat
06
Jan

Applicants sought for council position

One seat was empty when the Ely City Council convened for the first time in 2007 - and it may be a few weeks before someone occupies that chair.<BR><BR>The council position formerly held by Chuck Novak, who was sworn in Tuesday as mayor, was declared vacant and the remaining six members took their first steps toward filling it.<BR><BR>They put the call out to any Ely resident interested in completing a term that - barring a special city election - would run nearly two years.<BR><BR>The city will accept applications for a 10-day period starting today and running through Jan.

Fri
05
Jan

New mayor assigns committee jobs

One elected official was in a new position, only two were in their familiar roles, and three new faces joined the Ely City Council Tuesday night.<BR><BR>Organizational tasks and committee assignments were part of the first session, when Chuck Novak was sworn in as mayor and Heidi Omerza, Warren Nikkola and Gordon Sheddy took their council positions.<BR><BR>Novak doled out committee assignments at the end of the session, with the caveat that a soon-to-be-appointed council member (see related story) would later grab some of those appointments and spread the workload.<BR><BR>The new mayor will be the most active of any of the elected leaders, taking spots or serving as city representative on 12 different committees or boards.<BR><BR>The remaining council members all got between four and six assignments, with Nikkola named acting mayor.<BR><BR>The appointments include:<BR><BR>&#149; Planning and Zoning Commissio

Sat
30
Dec

Fun Run ready to go on January 27

More snow would be nice, but regardless of weather conditions organizers of the sixth annual Fun Run snowmobile event are predicting a good time and promising many valuable prizes.<BR><BR>The Fun Run, a fundraiser to benefit snowmobile trails in Ely, Babbitt and Tower, is set for Saturday, Jan.

Sat
30
Dec

Candle lit tree, lightly reminds us ...

Ever since she was a little girl in Switzerland, Mary Jane Caspers continues the tradition of her Christmas tree having 'real lights' twinkling. This year the tree shone with candle light once again. <BR><BR>Friends are invited over for a wonderful dinner on Christmas evening, the tree is lit carefully and guests enjoy dinner by candle light. <BR><BR>Switzerland doesn't have Thanksgiving like we have here which sort of begins the Christmas season. <BR><BR>Over there, Christmas is Christmas and the tree is cut down just before Christmas day so it is as fresh as possible and not as flammable. The tree chosen needs to have plenty of air space between the branches so the candles have plenty of 'breather room' for the flickering light. Spruce or balsam or a 'Charlie Brown' tree work well.

Sat
23
Dec

School district levy passed at maximum by unanimous vote

The Ely School board, at a special meeting last Monday, set the property tax levy at the maximum amount for 2007. <BR><BR>Despite conflicting numbers including a spreadsheet showing the incorrect levy amounts, the board voted unanimously to approve the total 2007 tax levy of $1,243,261, compared to $542,094 in 2006. Included in the levy amount is a previously approved 30 percent increase plus the full $900 per student levy cleared by voters last month and a $202 levy already in place. <BR><BR>The levy monies will come to the district for the 2007-2008 school year, but even with the new money, spreadsheets distributed to the board Monday show the district reserves into negative balance and prompt statutory operating debt by 2010. <BR><BR>The board had discussed the levy two weeks ago but delayed a decision in order to get more information.

Sat
23
Dec

Last rites for a local landmark

For some people, a stop at the Chainsaw Sisters Saloon marked the start or the end of their trip into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.<BR><BR>For snowmobilers, the Chainsaw Sisters was a popular destination during a day on the trails.<BR><BR>But that era has suddenly come to an end.<BR><BR>The popular bar - known for the collection of $1 bills stapled to the walls and ceilings - closed this fall and a sale of the property was announced earlier this week.<BR><BR>The Trust for Public Land and Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness acquired the area landmark, located off of the Echo Trail and adjacent to the BWCAW.<BR><BR>The sale will ensure continued access to the popular Mudro Lake BWCAW entry point located off the Echo, located 18 miles north of Ely.<BR><BR>"This is a transaction where TPL, working in close partnership with Friends of the Boundary Waters, was able to buy the U.S.

Sat
16
Dec

West end development eyed

How will Ely's west entrance look in the future?<BR><BR>On one side of Highway 169, where the current county garage sits now, how about a retail operation or two?<BR><BR>On the other, a large chunk of land that now sits in Morse Township, perhaps a three-story hotel, a few more retail outlets, a trailhead and visitors center and maybe even the future home of the Ely Chamber of Commerce.<BR><BR>Those were the possibilities outlined Tuesday in a sketch presented by representatives of Hibbing firm RLK Kuusisto.<BR><BR>For the second time in as many months, Ely City Council members - while acting as the Ely Economic Development Authority - reviewed RLK documents aimed at starting discussions and providing concepts for the long-discussed development of the community's west end.<BR><BR>The project hinges largely on annexation.<BR><BR>Dubbed the "West Ely Concept," the initial document presented in

Sat
16
Dec

Audit: School reserves down 250K

After a series of conflicting and sometimes contradictory reports, an audit has shown that Ely School District reserves shrunk by about $250,000 during the fiscal year that ended June, 2006.<BR><BR>That loss was soothed somewhat, school officials heard Monday night, because the district actually had about $250,000 more in reserve heading into the fiscal year than they had originally anticipated.<BR><BR>Those were the key findings in an audit completed by Duluth firm Eikill and Schilling.

Sat
09
Dec

Taking to the skies in a Cirrus

Stan Skelton called last Friday afternoon and asked what I was doing in 30 minutes.<BR><BR>"I'm taking off from Duluth, can you meet me at the Ely Airport?" he asked. "I've got a brand new Cirrus with just six hours on it."<BR><BR>This was a no-brainer of a decision. Getting to see the area from the air is a treat in itself. Seeing it in a $450,000 first class airplane in a free demo flight with a Cirrus employee from Ely is an opportunity you don't pass up.<BR><BR>Hopping up into the single engine plane was easy and slipping into the leather seat was like being in the Barcalounger at home. <BR><BR>Stan handed me a set of Bose headphones with a microphone so we could talk to each other. The headphones, by the way, were the first clue that Cirrus spares no expense. <BR><BR>The SR22-GTS four seater fired right up and an array of electronics and computer screens came to life.

Sat
09
Dec

Referendum drives up school levy

The Ely School District's Truth in Taxation session served as a forum not only for a district property tax levy that's set to jump by 129 percent, but student performance and district spending as well.<BR><BR>Only six district residents attended Wednesday's session - which is required by law because of the size of the proposed levy increase - convened by the Ely School Board.<BR><BR>Board members were peppered with questions from district resident Jack Willis, who pressed for the release of further financial data, wondered whether the board would levy the full amount approved in last month's referendum election and distributed a multi-page handout that showed declines in student achievement and vast increases in district spending.<BR><BR>Others who spoke lamented increases in property tax bills, attributed both to the school levy increase as well as rising market valuations.<BR><BR>Board members said they were sympa

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