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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Mayor notes threats to staff cars at library

Catie Clark
Posted 10/18/23

ELY- Tuesday’s city council meeting here got off to an unusual start as Mayor Heidi Omerza updated the council on the threats being levied across the street from city hall in the Ely Library …

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Mayor notes threats to staff cars at library


ELY- Tuesday’s city council meeting here got off to an unusual start as Mayor Heidi Omerza updated the council on the threats being levied across the street from city hall in the Ely Library parking lot.
A self-appointed vigilante has been leaving threatening notes on cars belonging to the library staff. The notes started off as merely nasty but recently have escalated, promising to “key” the paint job on vehicles owned by library staff if they don’t move out of the electric vehicle (EV) recharging spots in the library’s parking lot. When librarian Tricia Flake received a note on Oct. 3 threatening to damage her car, Flake turned the note into the Ely Police.
“People who work at the library park in those spots, so if someone has a car that needs to be plugged in, you just need to walk into the library to say, ‘I need to charge my car,’ and the people who work in the library will move their cars,” Omerza explained. “There’s no reason to be nasty about it. There’s no reason to put any sort of threatening note on anybody’s windshield.”
A sign on the EV chargers reads, “Please ask inside (the) library if cars need to be moved to use charger.”
According to library staff member Jessie Dunn, the library received a grant from Minnesota Power for the EV chargers and the solar panels on the library roof to power them. The use of the chargers is free. The library staff has been parking in the charger spots to reserve them for EV drivers, as the signs on the Siemans-brand EV chargers state.
Omerza was hopeful that her comments would halt the threatening notes and any potential damage to library workers’ vehicles. “If the issue continues,” said Omerza, “more extreme measures will be taken.”
Calendar parking
The council heard a report from Ely Police Chief Chad Houde which included the bad news that calendar parking goes into effect on Nov. 1. For the first few weeks, he noted that the PD would be putting friendly reminders on vehicles while posting notifications on the city Facebook page and website as well.
For those in Ely who may have forgotten the dreaded winter scourge of calendar parking, cars need to park on the correct side of the road so snowplows can clear the other side during snow season. Personal vehicles must alternate which side of the street to park on depending on the date.
In general, on even days of the month, park on the even-numbered side of the street or avenue. On odd days of the month, park on the side of the street or avenue with the odd-numbered houses. Some streets in Ely have their own calendar parking instructions instead, which the public should follow.
Other business
In other action on Tuesday, the council:
• Approved the recommendation from the Projects Committee for the city attorney to assist with drafting the easements for the Prospectors Loop Trail connection for the Bear Run and the Y-Store to Pfeiffer Lake sections.
• Approved the recommendation from the Projects Committee for the City of Ely to submit an application for Ely water system Improvements for Community Development Block Grant funding.
• Heard from Ely Clerk-Treasurer Harold Langowski that the city’s facilities at its parks were now winterized and ready for cold weather.
• Approved the resignation of Officer Wimmer from the Ely Police Department and voted to send Wimmer a thank you letter for his service to the city.
• Approved Houde’s request to post for an open police officer position. Because Wimmer’s resignation is the second in two months, the ad for the position will stay open until the department’s vacant positions are filled.
• Approved the conditional job offer for an open patrol officer position to Courtney Schurhammer, pending passing a background investigation and a psychological and medical examination. Schurhammer has worked for the Ely PD in the past as a traffic control officer.
• Approved the second readings of Ordinance 372, second series, “An Ordinance of the City of Ely, Minn., amending the Ely City Code, Chapter 10,” and Ordinance 373, second series, “An Ordinance of the City of Ely, Minn., deleting from the Ely City Code, Chapter 6, Section 6.32, entitled ‘Kennels.’” The council also voted to adopt Resolution 2023-025, “to establish license fees for dogs.” With the approval of these three items, the council finished the three-month-long updating of the city’s ordinances on pets.
• Approved a note and mortgage for a residential rehab loan for Joseph and Nicole Shusta at 539 E. Chapman St. for $6,000 for a new furnace.
• Approved the following claims for payment for Oct. 17: City of Ely and Ely Utilities Commission claims for for $580,158; pay estimate No. 3 for the East End Development Project for $189,919.97 to Low Impact Excavators Inc.; invoice No. 90086 to AE2S for the Waste Water Treatment Facility (WWTF) Project for $14,167; invoice No. 454833 to SEH for $6417 for the Prospector Loop Trail.
• Received and approved a timeline from the owner of 1545 E. Harvey St. for the removal of the trailer home and the sale of the property. As mentioned in the Oct. 6 edition of the Timberjay, the owner of the property indicated a willingness to work with the city at the Oct. 3 city council meeting to amend the property’s condition and to avoid a blight action.
• Approved Resolution 2023-026, authorizing the Ely Igloo Snowmobile Club to sell pull tabs at the Kwazy Wabbitt bar as a fundraiser.
• Accepted the resignation of Scott Kochendorfer from the Police Commission and advertise for an open seat on the commission.
• Approved the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning, Nov. 23, from 8-10 a.m., for both a 5k or 10k walk-or-run event put on by End of the Road Yoga.
• Approved the “Trunk-or-Treat” event on Oct. 31 in Whiteside Park. This event will close 7thAve. (Linda Fryer Way) from Sheridan St. to Harvey St.
• Scheduled the continued combined city council study session meeting with the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) on Nov. 28, to continue the discussion on the updated permissible and conditional uses list. The council and P&Z began their shared study session on Sept. 26. The action is independent of the conditional use permit (CUP) by Dean Peterson, to reopen and expand the RV Park property on Pioneer Rd. bordering Miners Lake. The Ely Board of Adjustment voted to table the CUP Application on Sept. 20, as summarized in the Sept. 29 issue of the Timberjay. Peterson withdrew the CUP application on Oct. 11, which was the only item of business on the 37-second-long Board of Adjustment meeting last week.