Nolan represents the 8th District well, McCollum fails in trying to rule from afar

Intra-party fighting for the DFL pitted Eighth District Congressman Rick Nolan against Twin Cities-based Betty McCollum this past week. In the end, Nolan shows how he did the near impossible, win as a Democrat in the Eighth where Republican Donald Trump came out victorious as well.
How did Nolan do it? By listening to the people who live here. Nolan knows the support for mining is strong in northeast Minnesota. That’s why people like McCollum have to resort to back-door political moves instead of decisions based in science and determined by laws.
This past week McCollum attacked Nolan for his attempts to right a wrong created in the waning days of the Obama administration.


Welcome to Iron County, Minnesota

An idea proposed 20 years ago may make more sense today: To break off the northern half of St. Louis County to create Iron County.
The division on the St. Louis County board was clearly visible this past week when the Duluth commissioners helped shoot down Tom Rukavina’s resolution opposing the federal government’s attempt to stop mining here.
Setting aside the politics and focusing on the financial impact, the potential of the county (not to mention Duluth as well) losing millions of dollars in mining royalties should have EVERY county commissioner beyond concerned.
Let’s take a look at the resolution without all the whereas parts:


Winter events kick into high gear with the Fun Run on January 28

Twenty years ago there was a snowmobile parade right down Sheridan Street. The machines were lined up off Third Avenue and headed west, turning on Central Avenue. The Weather Channel even filmed what turned out to be the largest snowmobile parade at the time.
That parade was in celebration of the second year of the Arctic Blast, an event started by area leaders that continues today as the Fun Run.
Still snowmobile based but open to anyone who would like to participate, the Fun Run is the start of the winter event season. The Ely Winter Festival follows on its heels with events like the Snow Sculpture Symposium and Beard Fest. There’s also the WolfTrack Classic dog sled race.


…will have devastating impacts to the economic future of Northeast Minnesota

Dear Secretary Vilsack and Secretary Jewell:
As elected leaders of the Minnesota Legislature, we are writing to express our outrage at the recent politically-driven decisions issued by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) related to mineral development in Northeast Minnesota.
Initiating actions to withdraw nearly 240,000 acres of federal lands and minerals from future exploration and potential development and denying the renewal of 50-year federal mineral leases held by Twin Metals Minnesota are onerous decisions that will cause devastating and irreversible damage to the citizens, communities and economy of the region.
We seek your immediate reconsideration and reversal of these actions, and urge you to refocus your agencies on the proper tasks of accepting and assessing mining project proposals under the regulatory procedures established by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other related federal statutes.


Our pledge to you for 2017

by Anne Swenson, Publisher
The Ely Echo is moving ahead into 2017, welcoming new equipment and new innovation. And we also welcome Cam Weisert into expanded roles as a staff member at the Echo. He joins General manager Nick Wognum, Echo Editor Tom Coombe, Graphic Designer Lisa Vidal-Sainio, and Sales Rep Terri Reinesch.
Together we have over 112 years with the Ely Echo, receiving pay checks every two weeks, paying property taxes just like each of you do.
We sure have had a challenging winter thus far and we’ve rolled with the punches - bringing a new bathroom on line, a new phone system and new printing equipment as well as a whole new photo printing setup to serve our customers.


Looking at 2016 from Ely’s rear view mirror

If nothing else, 2016 was a wild ride.
It sure seemed like a newsworthy year in our news room and compiling the annual “year in review” spread for this week’s edition, which can be found elsewhere in this section, only provided confirmation.
We find it hard to believe that a community our size anywhere in the state, or perhaps the nation for that matter, generates as much attention and coverage as Ely.
Copper-nickel mining. The Twin Metals debate, from the listening sessions to the unprecedented meeting between the city council and Gov. Mark Dayton to the 11th hour edict issued by the Obama Administration. Wind storms. Fires. Pillow Rock. Aerial spraying. A raid on one of our bait shots. The transformation of our downtown. The Facebook firestorm over an election-related post by one of our city council members.
You name it and it seemed to happen in Ely this year.
And people noticed. Locally, regionally and in some cases nationally.


Political decision on leases for Twin Metals doesn’t hold water

A political decision made in Washington D.C. last week involving leases for Twin Metals Minnesota doesn’t hold water. There is no science, there are no hard facts, just emotions and rhetoric. We can only hope President-Elect Trump’s appointees will undo this travesty.
Newspapers get news releases daily, many of them from various levels of government. They provide information on what bureaucrats are up to or want people to know. The one from the Interior Department could’ve easily been written by anti-mining activist Becky Rom.
Here’s some of the wording used:
• Agencies deny sulfide-ore copper lease
• Mining impacts near pristine watershed
• Acid mine drainage is a significant environmental risk
• Decision echoes the concerns of former Vice President Walter Mondale and Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton


...decision resides in the conclusion of this known, used and accepted scientific process

Dear Editor:
The decision last Thursday to deny the renewal of mineral leases to Twin Metals Minnesota and to remove thousands of acres of Superior National Forest from mineral leasing for two years is widely regarded as a great victory for environmentalists.
This ruling by the Secretary of the Interior is certainly a win for those of us who want to keep the Kawishiwi watershed clean. It’s a win for those of us who run businesses in the Boundary Waters region that depend on the reality of clean water in the Boundary Waters and even the perception by our customers of the purity of the wilderness.
Our jobs are sustainable. Our payroll has been growing steadily for 37 years. How can anyone deny us the right to defend what we have worked so hard to build. To others this decision is a great disappointment. I believe I can empathize.


... defeated the resolution

Dear Editor:
I wish everyone on the Range could have seen and heard Congressman Rick Nolan take on the radical anti-mining crowd from the Twin Cities at the DFL State Central Committee meeting last Saturday in Lakeville. Nolan was totally “on fire,” delivering a stem-winder of a speech denouncing the anti-mining Resolution 54 that threatened to put the DFL Party on record in opposition to mining.
Nolan reminded everyone that the “L” in “DFL” stands for Labor. He passionately defended the good paying mining and construction jobs we need to pay our bills, put food on the table and retire with security and dignity.
DFL leaders got the message and defeated the resolution overwhelmingly.
Good work Rick Nolan! You’ve got our backs, and I was proud to stand with you that day.
Jason George, Int’l Union of Operating Engineers Local 49


Rising above the fray: time to put Forsman flap to bed

It was the irony of ironies that on Tuesday night, at the tail end of a meeting that attracted an overflow crowd that spilled out into the hallways, television crews from Duluth and even three police officers to maintain order at City Hall, the Ely City Council awarded the bid for next year’s July 4 fireworks celebration.
Those proved to be the only real fireworks of the night, much to the surprise of many who filled the room or followed along on social media.
The climax of the firestorm that erupted when council member Dan Forsman posted a political meme - on an internet site made up of Hillary Clinton supporters - was rather anti-climactic.
Forsman apologized, those demanding he resign or be thrown off the council kept their pitchforks at home, and civility reigned.
It was the best possible outcome to a situation that had turned ugly, with social media providing the fuel.
With this chapter of 2016 now hopefully closed, here are a few takeaways:


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