Opinions/Editorials

Fri
09
Sep

S&P has it right, Ely’s economy is still struggling

A report on Ely’s economy shows what those of us who work and live here already know. Things are pretty tough right now.
Standard and Poors Global Ratings stated: “we consider Ely’s economy weak.” That pretty much sums it up. No sugar coating, just the truth.
Ely mayor Chuck Novak pointed out a report that showed population declines in Ely, Winton and the surrounding townships. Another report showed the number of customers in the city’s utility service area is declining.
We like optimism as much as the next person but there needs to be a basis of understanding that where we are now is not where we want to be. Looking at Ely through rose colored glasses might make people feel better but it ignores our current situation.
The struggle for this area has been to attract young families with good paying jobs. We have too many situations where mom and/or dad are working multiple jobs and still ending up collecting government assistance just to survive.

Mon
05
Sep

Forest Service to stimulate economy with another fire

The Forest Service will apparently attempt to stimulate the local economy by starting more fires in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area this fall.
After disastrous decisions in 2011 and earlier this year, the Forest Service is using the 1999 blowdown as justification for four more “prescribed fires.”
These used to be called controlled burns but when the agency continued to lose control, the name was changed to prescribed.
We still don’t know what has changed since the decision was made to pour 1,700 gallons of jellied gasoline on a 135 acre fire up the Fernberg. This monumental SNAFU cost taxpayers $22 million, caused people to be evacuated from their homes and burned over 92,000 acres.
The people responsible for this mess are no longer working here. Screw up at the federal level and you get promoted to somewhere similar to Siberia we hope. Now we have new folks who will hopefully learn from their predecessors’ mistakes.

Sat
27
Aug

Why are you working on my brand new road?

It’s a scene playing out throughout the county. Roads that were resurfaced last year, now have work crews on them again. Why is that? It may not be the reason you think.
Based on the comments we’re hearing, some people assume we’re fixing a problem from the original project. That is incorrect. We’re chip sealing, which is the finishing touch that preserves and protects the pavement. It’s a technique we’ve been using for several years, following extensive research about its cost effectiveness and ability to extend the life of the road, and provide a smooth and safer ride.
In recent weeks, we’ve received numerous questions and some concerns about chip sealing. Here are the facts about this process.

Mon
22
Aug

Easy to find culture in Ely

We may be living at the end of the road but the opportunities here are not typical of a small town.
One week ago one of the top selling mystery authors in this country made a trip to Ely. William Kent Krueger spoke at the Ely Public Library on a Thursday night.
The room was overflowing with fans and Krueger didn’t disappoint. His fervent presentation was filled with funny stories and connections to his fans living in 55731.
Krueger’s known for his Cork O’Connor novels, based in the fictional town of Aurora, Minnesota. It must be fictional because there’s a Native American owned casino that O’Connor had to investigate in one novel. He was just the man for the job, being part Ojibwe and part Irish.
The rich history of northern Minnesota is mined by Krueger who uses the duality of O’Connor to help tell his stories from multiple viewpoints.

Mon
08
Aug

If your cause is just…

The mining debate in Ely is far from over. Despite a bizarre headline declaring a truce in Ely, there are strong feelings on both sides. We saw this at the Twin Metals listening session at Washington Auditorium, we read about it on our letters to the editor pages.
To have a spirited debate is what this country is all about, the freedom to disagree is one of our greatest freedoms.
Having a long-running discussion over an issue can often lead to one side resorting to unreasonable tactics. That’s when it’s time to stop and reassess.
This past weekend at the Blueberry Art Festival, a booth from the Save the Boundary Waters group appears to have crossed the line. A petition against mining was apparently not bringing in enough people. In order to get more names, prizes were being given away. Sign the petition and you were entered into the drawing for the prizes.

Sat
06
Aug

...they are interfering with the national security of this country

Editor:
This mining controversy has been going on for about three years now. This is just like the environmentalists of the state of Oregon, trying to shut down the lumber industry of this state. From pounding nails and metal object in the trees to be logged, causing injury to the loggers, but the loggers persisted, finally the protestors started climbing trees, daring the loggers to cut the tree.
Some protestors got injured, some got killed, soon the protesting stopped and Oregon’s lumber industry goes humming along, supplying America with lumber.
I’ve been living in Ely for 88 years. I’ve seen the good times and also the bad. When the Pioneer “B” shaft quit mining, the economy slowed down. This mine provided Ely’s workers with good wages and a good living for 69 years.

Sat
30
Jul

Storm tested our mettle and taught us a few things as well

The damage from the July 21 straight line winds ranged all across the Ely area. Two lives were lost and countless homes, vehicles and properties were damaged. Some places have been changed for generations.
The National Weather Service tells us this was a massive bow echo thunderstorm with wind speeds in the Ely area clocked from 53 to 62 miles per hour. Those speeds could be higher than what was recorded but power was lost to some recording stations, including the Ely airport.
If you were awake around 3 a.m. you heard what sounded like a freight train and what looked like steady lightning. Throw in downpours of rain and plenty of thunder and many people were in their basements or at least away from windows.

Sun
24
Jul

Ely shows up to support Twin Metals mining leases

Wow! Last week we asked people to show up for the Twin Metals listening session at Washington Auditorium. Over 800 people did just that and the vast majority were in favor of the U.S. Forest Service renewing the leases.
There were some great speeches, some lousy speeches, some jeering, some laughing and some heartfelt moments. It was a chance for the people to have their say and boy did they.
Prior to the event there was a pre-event gathering at Whiteside Park; a mining supporter rally at the park; a unified walk to the school and the listening session at Washington Auditorium.
More than one old timer remarked how the event in the park felt like the Labor Day picnics of years gone by, although they were often held at Semers Park. Yet here was a community bonding together, from young to old, from everyday worker to elected official.

Sun
17
Jul

Hoping for a big turnout as the circus comes to town

Thanks to local, state and federal legislators, the U.S. Forest Service will hold a listening session in Ely on Tuesday over the Twin Metals Minnesota leases.
We’re hoping for a big turnout at Washington Auditorium. Here’s some reasons why you should attend.
We’ve had historic meetings like this in Ely in the past, filled with emotion and focused on federal rules and regulations. This time the attack comes from Ely and is centered on a company that has put jobs and dollars into our local economy.
Becky Rom and her followers have focused on stopping mining projects including PolyMet which is now moving ahead with permits to mine copper and nickel just west of Babbitt. Rom’s pleas fell on deaf ears in St. Paul and she has not been able to sway elected officials at the local, state and federal level who represent this area.

Sun
10
Jul

Land exchange twists and turns now includes taking private land off tax rolls

The long-running debate on how to compensate the state of Minnesota for lands locked inside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area has taken another bizzare twist. This time thousands of acres of private property would be removed from the tax rolls.
At a meeting of county commissioners from Lake, Cook and St. Louis counties on Wednesday, were briefed on a proposal from the DNR, Forest Service and the Conservation Fund to buy private lands owned by Potlatch outside the BWCA and exchange them for Minnesota School Trust lands inside the BWCA.
In the end there would be MORE land outside the BWCA under public ownership. There would be FEWER dollars coming to Lake, Cook and St. Louis counties.
This proposal was met with disgust from Cook County commissioner Garry Gamble, St. Louis County Commissioner Tom Rukavina and Lake County commissioners Rich Sve and Rick Goutermont.

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