Frosty first day of school in Northland

Those warm summer days felt far, far away Tuesday morning as many Northland students headed back to school.

Low temperatures reported by the Weather Service and its spotters included 31 at Brimson, 32 at Togo, 33 at Embarrass and 34 at Hibbing and Crane Lake.

Ely, Moose Lake and Hayward each dropped to 36; Floodwood fell to 37, International Falls 38 and Cloquet 39. The Duluth airport reported a low of 46.

It’s all a sign of things to come, of course. The Weather Service reports Duluth’s average highs in September tumble from the low 70s at the start to the upper 50s by month’s end. Overnight lows drop from the low 50s to about 40. And, on average, Duluth sees a tenth of an inch of snow in September.

Do a donut at Dorothy’s

Fans of the late Dorothy Molter are invited to gather from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Sunday for “Donuts at Dorothy’s,” a free community event celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Dorothy Molter Museum in Ely.

Molter lived for many years in a cabin on Knife Lake in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. After her death, her cabins were moved to Ely, where they serve as a museum. Sunday’s events will include tours of Dorothy’s cabins, donuts and coffee, and a new exhibit called “Dorothy Molter: Living in the Boundary Waters.”

Visitors will also get a rare viewing of Molter’s original spiral-bound guest books, which chronicle 30 years of visitors to her home.
The museum is at the east end of Ely on Minnesota Highway 169 (Sheridan Street). For information, call (218) 365-4451.

Art coming to Ely

Two exhibits from the St. Louis County Historical Society are coming to the Vermilion Community College in Ely on Friday.

“Old Country Memories: The Art of Albin Zaverl” and “Father Baraga: Shared Horizons” will be featured as part of the college’s cultural heritage event celebrating Slovenian culture.

“Father Baraga” contains a short biography of the missionary Father Frederic Baraga, who lived in Northeastern Minnesota during the late Lake Superior fur-trade era in the mid-1800s. He immersed himself in the Ojibwe culture.

The event is free and open to the public. Call (715) 292-1960 for more information.

Let’s talk about bears

It seems like the bear-human relationship has been getting some bad press lately, so now might be a good time to hear from someone who says he sometimes baby-sits for grizzly bears.

Charlie Russell, a Canadian naturalist who has appeared in the BBC films “Bear Man of Kamchatka” and “Edge of Eden,” will speak at 7:30 p.m. June 28 at the Vermilion Community College Theater in Ely.

Russell has been studying and living with grizzly bears for decades. It’s reported that female grizzly bears would sometimes leave their cubs for him to watch while they foraged.

The event will include a Q&A session. Tickets are $25 and available at

What’s new at Ely wolf center?

The International Wolf Center in Ely has announced a new exhibit that will highlight American author and environmentalist Sigurd F. Olson. “The Sigurd Olson Legacy: Wilderness, Writing and Wolves Exhibit” is open now through Oct. 31 and features a re-creation of Olson’s famous writing shack outside his former Ely home.

Olson was one of America’s most beloved nature writers and most influential conservationists of the 20th century. Best known as the author of “The Singing Wilderness” and eight other books, Olson also played an important role in the preservation of a number of wilderness areas, including the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Through the exhibit, visitors will learn that Olson first agreed with the public’s disapproval of wolves and supported their extermination until he began work toward his master’s thesis in 1930. His thesis, “The Life History of the Timber Wolf and the Coyote: A Study in Predatory Animal Control,” is on display at the exhibit. Olson concluded in the thesis the proposal that Minnesota’s Superior National Forest be designated as a sanctuary for carnivores.

Checking in on Lily, her cubs and the rest of the Ely bears

Lily the black bear — wearing a GPS tracking collar — eyes a photographer near Ely earlier this month. (Photo courtesy of the North American Bear Center)

It’s been awhile since we checked on the Web-famous bears of Ely. Lynn Rogers of the North American Bear Center reported over the weekend that Lily, her new cubs Eli and Ellie, and the rest of the ursine gang are doing well this spring.

They’re out foraging on large-leafed aster, peavine, clover and other plants rapidly sprouting up in the north woods after being delayed by late-season snow.

Researchers with the Bear Center and the Wildlife Research Institute are keeping tabs on the movements of a number of radio-collared bears, and they post daily updates of their observations. The same site also has information on the continuing progress of the Bear Center’s $1.25 million expansion.

Big, bad media wolf

Less than a week after the Academy Awards, the International Wolf Center weighed in and Facebook fans voted: the 2013 Scat Award goes to “The Grey.” Also nominated was Jodi Picoult’s book, “Lone Wolf.”

The award calls attention to the worst portrayal of wolves in the media, according to the organization’s executive director Rob Schultz.

“The Grey,” for instance, demonizes wolves, and Picoult’s book romanticizes and anthropomorphizes wolves to an absurd level.

The award will be on display in the trophy case at the International Wolf Center in Ely.

Text your choice

Going to a website isn’t the only way to vote in the Power a Bright Future contest, and — based on what we’re hearing — that’s a good thing. The contest’s winner will get a $50,000 grant from Clorox. But slowdowns on the voting website have frustrated some voters.

Quick-fingered users can text in their votes for the Northland schools in the running for the prize.

Text the following “keywords” to 95248:

    • For Lakeview Christian Academy in Duluth, text 1837pbf
    • For St. James Catholic School in Duluth, text 1504pbf
    • For St. John’s School in Duluth, text 1438pbf
    • For Washington Elementary School in Ely, text 764pbf
    • For Wrenshall School, text 1393pbf

One vote each via text and website per person is allowed through Dec. 19, so don’t get greedy.

Don’t let fraud embarrass you

The only thing spookier than a kid in a costume at your door is a crooked paving contractor. Don’t be embarrassed if you think you were scammed by one of these clowns — report it to the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office.

The Sheriff’s Office is investigating reports of an unlicensed paving contractor working in the Ely and Babbitt areas who offers driveway paving and repair at low prices. The contractor performs work with substandard materials and later presents the homeowner with a bill many times the original estimate.

The contractor’s practice has been to operate by verbal agreement and to offer a receipt after payment with little detail and a false name and phone number.

In some cases, the investigation has been hampered by delayed reporting because victims are embarrassed to admit that the contractor had taken advantage of them, the Sheriff’s Office said. The contractor may be targeting elderly people.

The Sheriff’s Office reminds people to require written estimates of contractors, licensing information and references, especially of contractors they are not familiar with.

Anyone who has been victimized by such practices or knows of someone who has been involved in the fraudulent practice is asked to call 911.