Readers Write (Sept. 12): Ely mining, creating jobs, mortgage woes, Syria

  • Updated: September 11, 2013 - 8:28 PM

Illustration: Mailbox.

Photo: ., Tribune Media Services

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger


The town is doing fine, but mining is a threat

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Sept. 1 commentary by Joe Baltich (“You think you know Ely’s needs?”). I disagree with almost all of what was professed, and the difference seems to come from perspective.

My wife, Nancy, and I have worked for 34 years to build a cornerstone business on Ely’s main street based on wilderness experience and values. We’ve seen steady growth over the years. We’ve been blessed to find 17 great full-time staff and dozens more over the summer months. The people whom we’ve befriended give us far more than we give them.

Many have built homes here for retirement or for summer living. Others come every year for a slice of wilderness therapy. They help make Ely a whirlwind of activity and culture at the end of the road. Like me, they all want the town to prosper. Like me, many don’t agree that sulfide ore mining will make Ely better and more prosperous.

Unlike Baltich, I welcome the opinions and experience of talented people from the Twin Cities and across the nation who come to Ely. They are not one-shot wonders, as he would imply, using our wilderness and our welcome and leaving empty-handed. They love our little town and support it financially and spiritually.

Perhaps Joe and others who seem to disdain tourism and yearn for sulfide mining could redirect their energy to welcoming all who arrive here and encourage new ideas for steady, sustainable growth.


The writer owns Piragis Northwoods Co. in Ely.

• • •

The Ely I see is a busy community where, among other things, a new Shopko store opened within the last few years; a new Family Dollar store is under construction; the City Council has voted to remodel City Hall and build a new library; Norah Jones and other internationally known musicians played to a full house last month; outfitting businesses and resorts thrive; city workers are completing sidewalk work throughout town; a professor teaches online courses from her Ely home; and a World Bank economist telecommutes from her home here to Washington, D.C.

The Ely that exists in the real world is stable and vibrant because the Superior National Forest, including the BWCA, attracts retirees, tourists, vacation homeowners, and people with portable jobs. Mining will put on the brakes in a big way. The water pollution, landscape destruction and social disruption that would accompany such mining would bring long-term poverty and decline. Anyone who denies that denies irrefutable U.S. history.


• • •


Owner forgot to give small-business upside

In his commentary listing of his onerous duties as a business owner, both real and exaggerated, John Kalan has forgotten just a few.

In most cases, business owners:

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


  • about opinion

  • The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.

  • Submit a letter or commentary
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters