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

  • September 11, 2013 - 8:28 PM


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.

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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.


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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:

• Collect the largest paycheck of any employee.

• Expand with a market value that will one day enrich the owner and his family far beyond any regular employee.

• Have numerous personal pleasures disguised as business costs, like company vehicles used for non-business reasons and travel and meals that become “business-related.” People become business owners not just because they like what they do. They also reap the rewards of their hard work with financial success far beyond the average employee. And they should. But please stop whining about success. If it was easy you’d have more competition.


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Yes, rates are rising, but consider recent history

I was amused to read the Sept. 11 article about the mortgage industry (“Mortgage executive sees rough road for 2014”). Wow, 4.7 percent interest rates are scaring off potential buyers? Remember when interest rates were double-digit figures?

Rather than comparing regulations and sales to our “irrational exuberance” era, I’d love to see articles about how sales and regulations now compare to the early 2000s, or before people without any income or down payments could buy homes. Making comparisons to a time when anyone could buy a home is not helpful. Nor is the idea that everyone should own a home. Let’s get real.

PAM POMMER, Bloomington

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Threat of U.S. strike prompted Russia to act

Obama administration officials are clearly right in maintaining that the credible use of military force gave birth to the Russian proposal for eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons. Or, as Frederick the Great of Prussia said centuries ago, “Diplomacy without arms is like music without instruments.”


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