Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Articles written by Ralph Ansami


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  • Whitecap main lodge burns Friday

    Ralph Ansami|Jan 19, 2019

    UPSON, Wis. - Employees at the Whitecap Mountain ski resort watched hopelessly late Friday afternoon as the main lodge area burned out of control. Iron County fire departments attempted to save the check-in area on the south end of the main lodge, as the building to the north burned to the ground by 6:30 p.m. On Martin Luther King weekend, which is usually the busiest time of the downhill ski season, many skiers also watched the building burn. David Dziuban, who is managing an effort to revitali...

  • Two reported dead from Lake Gogebic snowmobile crash

    Ralph Ansami|Jan 19, 2019

    LAKE GOGEBIC — A Friday Facebook post from the Official Wisconsin Snowmobile Enthusiasts Club indicated two snowmobilers were killed in a head-on crash of two machines around 9 p.m. Both machines burst into flames and efforts were made to revive the drivers without success, the report said. A fireball was visible from a distance away. The Gogebic County Sheriff’s Department confirmed there was an accident and said Michigan State Police were investigating. Jill Swarts, 46, of Nebraska, was killed earlier this winter while snowmobiling on...

  • With groomers out on trails, snowmobiling caution advised

    Ralph Ansami|Dec 29, 2018

    HURLEY - The 6 to 8 inches of heavy snow that fell on Friday on the Gogebic Range improved conditions for all outdoor activities. Area motels and gas stations benefitted from the snow that also blanketed Minnesota and the Upper Peninsula. The Hurley Area Chamber of Commerce said the White Thunder Riders had three snowmobile trail groomers running on Friday and two would operate overnight. Trail conditions were fair to good in northern Iron County. Trails 3 and 13 south, from the Hogsback east/so...

  • Alcohol ordinance, Xcel Energy easements on Ironwood agenda

    Ralph Ansami|Dec 24, 2018

    IRONWOOD — In a rare Wednesday session, the Ironwood City Commission will consider an alcohol ordinance and selling easements to Xcel Energy. The proposed alcohol ordinance will be introduced and then scheduled for a public hearing on Jan. 21 at 5:20 p.m. An issue surfaced last summer under former Ironwood Public Safety Department director Greg Klecker when a beer was being consumed and was dumped out in Depot Park during a volleyball game. Under the ordinance, no one may possess an open container of an alcoholic beverage on a public...

  • County board supports land deal to extend Iron Belle Trail

    Ralph Ansami|Nov 17, 2018

    BESSEMER — The Gogebic County Board of Commissioners this week went on record as supporting the purchase of land from Pat Steiger for the next phase of the Iron Belle Trail. The non-motorized trail will extend from Bessemer to Ramsay. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources sought the letter of support from the county. The land will be purchased from Steiger Timber Operations. More than $1.1 million has been raised for the $1.4 million trail project and the remaining $300,000 is expected to come through in December from a MDNR Trust Fun...

  • Rainfall sets Sept. 21 record

    Ralph Ansami|Sep 22, 2018

    IRONWOOD - Sometimes weather forecasters hit the nail right on the head. The National Weather Service predicted 1.7 inches of rain for Ironwood for Thursday and Friday morning and 1.73 inches fell for the 24-hour period to 7 a.m. Friday at the wastewater treatment plant on the Montreal River, off Cloverland Drive. That set a 117-year record for Ironwood for Sept. 21. The monthly rainfall total stands at 3.23 inches, compared to the long-average of 2.7 inches through Sept. 21. The highest total...

  • Midget debate begins in advance of committee

    Ralph Ansami|Sep 22, 2018

    HURLEY - The Hurley School Board's decision Monday to evaluate the school district's Midget mascot has created a social media firestorm. The initial reaction seems to be mostly opposed to changing the name. The school board voted to form a committee and "engage in a transparent process to evaluate the mascot," a statement released Thursday by district administrator Chris Patritto noted. Although school board president Joe Simonich, of Kimball, said the district had been threatened in the past...

  • Commission hears of Ironwood tire collection effort set for next week

    Ralph Ansami|Sep 12, 2018

    IRONWOOD - Plans for a special tire collection for city of Ironwood residents were discussed by the city commission on Monday. Code enforcement officer Jason Alonen said the collections will be held next week behind the Ironwood Public Safety Department building on McLeod Avenue. From Monday through Thursday of next week, tires may be deposited from 8 a.m. through 3 p.m. No more than 10 tires can be discarded per residence. The collection times for Friday, Sept. 21, will be from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m...

  • Whitecap manager outlines renovation progress, plans

    Ralph Ansami|Sep 8, 2018

    UPSON, Wis. — An ongoing renovation project at Whitecap Mountains is preparing the facility for year-’round tourists. David Dziuban is managing the effort that currently includes 30 employees. “These are all local people. We wanted to make an effort to hire locally,” Dziuban said. The main lodge is being renovated into a new cafeteria, kitchen, restaurant and bar, and snowmaking will return for the winter. Dziuban said one thing that can’t be improved is the terrain and the beauty the ski and golf experiences offer. He began working...

  • $250,000 bond set in fatal Saxon crash

    Ralph Ansami|Jul 21, 2018

    HURLEY — A $250,000 cash bond was set Thursday in Iron County Court for a Superior man who is charged in a fatal March 27 accident on U.S. 2 in Saxon. Jesse Gasper, 34, faces five charges in the early morning logging truck-car accident on U.S. 2 that claimed the life of former Ironwood resident Amanda Schiiller, 31. She was a passenger in the car driven by Gasper, who was injured in the crash. Iron County District Attorney Matthew Tingstad requested the high bond, which was approved by Iron County Judge Patrick Madden. Gasper was arrested in...

  • Arrangements finalized for funeral of Pearl Harbor victim

    Ralph Ansami|Jul 6, 2018

    ONTONAGON — Arrangements have been finalized for the funeral of Navy Fireman Second Class Lowell Earl Valley, from Ontonagon, killed during an attack on the USS Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. The funeral is scheduled for Saturday, July 14, at Holy Family Catholic Church in Ontonagon. Full military honors will be performed by the U.S. Navy. The revised schedule includes, at Eastern Time: —10:30-11 a.m.: Private family visitation, Holy Family Catholic Church. —11 a.m.-1 p.m.: Public visitation, at the church. —1-1:45 p.m.:...

  • Missing Hurley man walks out of woods

    Ralph Ansami|Jul 5, 2018

    HURLEY — Gogebic Range residents had an additional reason to celebrate the Fourth of July when the search for a missing Hurley man ended successfully around 10:12 a.m. Tuesday. Rich Tilton was found alive and relatively well near the Oma Town Hall on U.S. 51 after spending three nights in the woods. Relatives posted on Facebook that Tilton, 63, who had been missing since around 8 p.m. Saturday, had been found. Iron County Sheriff Tony Furyk said Tilton was able to make his way out of the woods and was walking along a rail grade north of...

  • Eyesore on Ironwood City Commission agenda

    Ralph Ansami|Jun 23, 2018

    IRONWOOD — The Ironwood City Commission on Monday will consider advertising for bids for demolition of a house at 150 Southland Ave. There have been many complaints about the structure in recent years. A neighbor, Gene Henning, told commissioners at a recent meeting that the house should be checked out closely because he suspects past drug involvement there, including possible methamphetamine cooking. City manager Scott Erickson said an environmental assessment of the structure would be necessary before it could be torn down. In the past,...

  • Charity motorcycle ride visits Iron Belt Saturday

    Ralph Ansami|Jun 4, 2018

    IRON BELT, Wis. — Bikers besieged Belt City for a good cause Saturday around noon. The normally quiet Iron County town came alive for a few hours when about 130 motorcycles and many cars from the Cable area stopped at Joany’s Sidekicks during a charity ride for the St. Jude Hospital’s fight against childhood cancer and other causes. On a cool morning, the caravan aimed to ride 160 miles for the day. So far, there had been only one mishap, with a motorcycle hitting the ditch. Dan Hinman, of Cable, leader of the pack, said it’s the sixth...

  • Firefighters, first responders honored with Ironwood ceremony

    Ralph Ansami|Jun 2, 2018

    IRONWOOD - Presentation of a lifesaving award to Ironwood Public Safety Department Fire Marshal Brandon Snyder concluded a Friday ceremony honoring first responders of the Feb. 21 fatal fire at 102-104 Aurora St. Snyder was honored for personally pulling two people to safety out of second and third story windows in apartments of the burning building. Killed in the fire were Mark Arnold Verrette, 57; Patrick James Somerville, 51, and Levi Dean Watkins, 27. In addition to firefighters and IPSD...

  • Hurley carnival ride breaks down, injuring 4

    Ralph Ansami|May 19, 2018

    HURLEY - A carnival being held to raise money for the Hurley Fire Department had to be shut down Friday evening after a ride malfunctioned, injuring four people. Law enforcement officers at the scene around 7:30 p.m. at the Big Snow Country Inn parking lots said one person had been transported from the scene for treatment of unspecified injuries, which did not appear to be life-threatening. The other three people were apparently treated at the scene. The carnival was shut down around 6:30 p.m....

  • Commission criticized for goal priorities

    Ralph Ansami|Mar 17, 2018

    IRONWOOD — Goals for 2018 approved by the Ironwood City Commission on Monday drew heat from a city resident. Paul Grbavcich, of Leonard Street, said he couldn’t believe the commission would list a commercial blight fight as No. 1, when tackling the opioid problem in the city was only rated No. 5. Commissioners assigned the goals with point totals following a recent workshop, with eliminating commercial building blight through possible demolitions scoring 10 points, while increasing drug enforcement efforts only received seven points....

  • Fire cause undetermined; director praises cooperation

    Ralph Ansami|Feb 27, 2018

    IRONWOOD — Ironwood Public Safety Department Director Greg Klecker told the city commission Monday last Wednesday’s fatal downtown fire shows the need for mutual aid agreements. Ironwood firefighters were assisted by the Hurley Fire Depar-tment and so many first responding agencies that Klecker said he is in the process of trying to compile a list of all that helped out. “I’m proud of the way the fire was handled very proficiently and professionally, and proud of the other agencies, too,” Klecker said. “Lives were saved.” He...

  • Reward offered for Iron murder suspect

    Ralph Ansami|Feb 17, 2018

    EAGLE RIVER, Wis. — A day after news broke that an Iron County murder suspect unsuccessfully tried to turn himself in to the Vilas County Jail a week ago, a reward for his arrest was announced. James B. Lussier, 19, of Arbor Vitae, showed up at the Vilas County Justice Center in Eagle River on Feb. 9, but was told he needed to turn himself in to the Iron County Sheriff’s Department in Hurley instead. He and two female companions then left the building without him being detained. On Friday, Vilas County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Pa...

  • Ironwood plan outlines $650,000 facade program

    Ralph Ansami|Feb 3, 2018

    IRONWOOD — The six-year Capital Improvement Plan recently adopted by the Ironwood City Commission includes a $600,000 two-year downtown facade improvement proposal and a separate $50,000 local effort. The plan represents a wish list of projects in the city, many of which are dependent on receiving necessary grants. The federally-assisted facade improvement program would be for fiscal years 2018-’19 and 2019-’20, estimated at $300,000 for each year. The grants would be sought from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to “incenti...

  • Snow advisory issued for today

    Ralph Ansami|Feb 3, 2018

    A winter weather advisory was in effect for five northern Wisconsin counties until 9 p.m. today, including Iron County. The National Weather Service said 3 to 6 inches of snow might create slippery driving conditions. Gogebic County was also included in the snow watch, although the snow might be slightly less. Bayfield, Ashland, Sawyer and Price counties were also in the weather advisory area, with the cities of Washburn, Bayfield, Ashland, Hurley, Hayward and Phillips likely to be affected....

  • Nasty weather forecast through New Year's Day

    Ralph Ansami|Dec 30, 2017

    By RALPH ANSAMI [email protected] Now comes the real nasty stuff. After a week of sub-zero temperatures across the Gogebic Range, a winter weather advisory was in effect for Iron County, Wis., and the Ironwood area through Sunday. The National Weather Service also said a wind-chill advisory was in effect through Monday morning. Lake-effect snow was expected, perhaps as much as a foot in the Ironwood area. While the winds this week have been mostly out of the south, they could blow from the north and that will create even colder...

  • Vintage Snowmobiles

    Ralph Ansami|Dec 30, 2017

    BOB HAWKINSON, of Mellen, Wis., attempts to start his vintage red Rupp snowmobile at the Ironwood Depot Park Friday night. Snowmobilers kicked off today's vintage races at the Gogebic County Fairgrounds in Ironwood with the traditional Friday night parade of machines to Hurley, followed by fireworks. At 2 degrees, the Rupp eventually started in time to get in line for the parade....

  • Caution advised for snowmobile trail riding in Iron, Vilas counties

    Ralph Ansami|Dec 16, 2017

    By RALPH ANSAMI [email protected] Extra caution is advised for snowmobilers who are taking advantage of trail openings in Iron and Vilas Counties in Wisconsin this weekend. In Iron County, the White Thunder Riders had two groomers out on Friday. Trails were in fair to good condition throughout the system, but there are still some trails closed, according to the Hurley Area Chamber of Commerce. “Use caution and stay on marked trails,” advised Hurley Chamber Marketing Director Rita Franzoi. There may be water under ice on some... Full story

  • Gas plant 'tolling agreement' to be considered by commission

    Ralph Ansami|Dec 9, 2017

    IRONWOOD — The Ironwood City Commission on Monday may learn how much the city owes for the gasification plant cleanup of four years ago. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and city have been involved in what is called a “tolling agreement” with the EPA. The agreement will come before the commission on Monday. City clerk Karen Gullan said Friday she did not know if two two sides have reached an agreement on sharing project costs. City manager Scott Erickson previously told the city commission he did not think the city’s share of...

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