News

Sun
26
Sep

Council tables license suspensions

by Tom Coombe<BR><BR>Eight Ely liquor establishments gained at least a temporary reprieve last week, when city council members agreed to delay three-day license suspensions that were to take place over the weekend.<BR><BR>The council tabled the suspensions, which stem from failed compliance checks earlier this year, and directed the city’s liquor committee to hold a public hearing.<BR><BR>Ely’s liquor ordinance - as well as a plea agreement reached between the license holders and city prosecutor Rae Bentz - call for three-day license suspensions.<BR><BR>But a city-imposed shutdown slated to begin Sept. 24 could be harmful for business, some license holders complained.<BR><BR>“They do not want to be closed this weekend,” Ely bar owner Gary Zaverl said at Tuesday’s council meeting.

Sun
26
Sep

Ely High celebrates Homecoming week

The evolution of Fall Homecoming continues this week at Ely Memorial High School.<BR><BR>This year’s celebration starts today, and a full week of events are in the works, culminating Friday with the Homecoming football game against Chisholm and the postgame dance at the JFK gymnasium.<BR><BR>And while some of the traditional activities remain, some of the staples of previous Ely Homecomings are gone.<BR><BR>The parade through downtown has been off the docket for nearly a decade and both class floats and the Friday afternoon public pep rally are more recent eliminations.<BR><BR>In their place are events that harken back to days gone by - such as Wednesday night’s bonfire at Semer’s Park - and items that are new to the celebration - namely a raffle that will allow the winner to watch Friday’s game from a couch at the back of the end zone.<BR><BR>The annual fall ritual, planned by the high school student council, includes dres

Sun
26
Sep

Body recovered from Birch Lake in BWCAW by using sonar technology

Authorities were still trying to determine the cause of a death of a man who died while canoeing on Birch Lake in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. <BR><BR>According to Nick Milkovich of the Lake County Sheriff’s Department, James Schofield, 46, of Hagerstown, MD was paddling in a canoe when he groaned and fell overboard.<BR><BR>His body was found a day later using an underwater sonar device.<BR><BR>“They just got to the lake,” said Milkovich. “They had been towed to the portage by Canoe Country Outfitters so they were only on the lake for less than half an hour.”<BR><BR>Schofield was travelling with four other friends in a total of three canoes. None of the men were wearing life jackets while paddling. <BR><BR>Milkovich said Schofield was on medication for seizures.<BR><BR>The incident happened around 1 p.m. on Monday. The sheriff’s department got the call around 2:30 p.m.

Mon
20
Sep

Incumbents out front in city council race

In a race for three city council seats, incumbents were the top three vote-getters in Tuesday’s primary election.<BR><BR>Mark Zupec (673 votes), Jerome Debeltz (662) and Paul Kess (524) all moved on to the Nov. 2 general election, where they will be joined by challengers Chuck Novak (483), Robin Mathews (434) and Patrick Osaben (368).<BR><BR>Louis Kotzian (279) and David Schmidt (182) lagged behind and were eliminated from contention.<BR><BR>That makes for a six-way battle in November and while the incumbents - particularly Zupec and Debeltz - appear to have a leg up on the field, Novak finished a strong fourth while both Mathews and Osaben appear to be in striking distance.<BR><BR>“It looks like a good field,” said Kess. “I’m glad for the opportunity to serve and I’ll try to distinguish myself as a good choice.

Mon
20
Sep

Enrollment tumbles again

The good news for Ely school officials is that student enrollment didn’t drop as much as expected.<BR><BR>That’s the silver lining in an otherwise stormy cloud that continues to hang over the local district.<BR><BR>First day enrollment totals, reviewed last week by Ely School Board members, show the district with 645 students in grades K-12.<BR><BR>That’s a 37-student drop from last fall (see chart), and a whopping 30 percent decline since 1995, when enrollment was 921.<BR><BR>And projections show that enrollment will sink even further - perhaps by as many as 100 students - over the next four years..<BR><BR>Continued declines are expected as high school classes ranging from 52-74 students are replaced by incoming kindergarten groups with as few as 33 students.<BR><BR>And with each student generating $5,000 or more in state aid, the declines are almost certain to cause further budget strain in the Ely district.&l

Mon
20
Sep

Winton to address blight and mobile homes

Big issues for the City of Winton appear to be blight and mobile home regulation.<BR><BR>The city’s comprehensive land use plan will attempt to address those and other issues identified in resident surveys, steering committee recommendations and at an open house held Wednesday.<BR><BR>The City of Winton has been working with the Arrowhead Regional Development Commission to put forth a comprehensive land use plan. The goal of this plan is to provide Winton guidelines and enforcement clout in guiding future development or redevelopment within the city limits.<BR><BR>A community survey was distributed in March, 2003 to 90 residents of which 39 responded.

Mon
20
Sep

Skraba first in close mayoral primary

The race for Ely's top elected position is shaping up to be a close one.<BR><BR>Again.<BR><BR>Two years ago, Frank Salerno was elected mayor over council member Jerome Debeltz in a contest that was decided by just 22 votes, and voters in this year's mayoral primary were evenly divided between the incumbent and challenger Roger Skraba.<BR><BR>Skraba, a former council member and state legislative candidate, eked out a narrow victory over Salerno in Tuesday's balloting, finishing first in a three-way primary with 618 votes.

Mon
20
Sep

Ely area key to Dill rout

Overwhelming support in the Ely area helped State Rep. David Dill turn back the challenge of Bill Hansen in Tuesday’s Minnesota House 6A DFL primary.<BR><BR>Dill scored a convincing victory - winning nearly 60 percent of the vote and outpolling Hansen 6,214 to 4,261 - thanks in large part to big margins in Ely and surrounding communities.<BR><BR>Ely voters backed Dill with more than 75 percent of the vote (934-307), while both Morse (318-149) and Fall Lake (166-78) went for the incumbent by better than two-to-one margins.<BR><BR>It was even more lopsided in Winton (48-9) and Babbitt (365-69).<BR><BR>Dill’s substantial victory in the Ely area - considered a battleground by both campaigns - ended Hansen’s hopes for an upset.<BR><BR>“It was disappointing because I thought we’d do better in Ely,” said Hansen. “I was hoping for closer to 50-50, or at least 40-60.

Mon
20
Sep

New specialty cheese shop opens on Chapman

The new Chapman Street Market, specialty cheese shop with bread, crackers and meats, has opened and will add more specialty items as time, tastes and needs develop. <BR><BR>Co-owners Cathy Mindel and Grant Young want to keep the market interesting. They are planning a daily lunch special with a menu that will change every day or every other day. Since they opened August 27, they are still getting a feel of what customers want, starting with cheese and meats, breads, teas, and olive oils and they’ll see where it goes from here. The cheeses they sell are not sold elsewhere in Ely, and the closest other specialty cheese shop is the Northern Waters Smoke House in Duluth. <BR><BR>Cathy and Grant bought Northern Aire Lodge in 1996 and operated it for seven years. Cathy used to ask her friends to bring up some cheese and crusty bread when they’d come to visit.

Wed
15
Sep

Skraba first in close mayoral primary

The race for Ely’s top elected position is shaping up to be a close one. Again. <BR><BR>Two years ago, Frank Salerno was elected mayor over council member Jerome Debeltz in a contest that was decided by just 22 votes, and voters in this year’s mayoral primary were evenly divided between the incumbent and challenger Roger Skraba. <BR><BR>Skraba, a former council member and state legislative candidate, eked out a narrow victory over Salerno in Tuesday’s balloting, finishing first in a three-way primary with 618 votes. Salerno was right behind at 605. <BR><BR>Mark Haarman, who did not actively campaign and withdrew from the race two days before the election, lagged behind with 71 votes. <BR><BR>The primary sets up a general election battle between Salerno, who has served three separate stints as mayor and has 15 years of city council experience, and Skraba, who served on the council from 1996-2003.

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