Greater Pine Area Endowment Announces Fall Grant Opportunity

GPAE                The Greater Pine Area Endowment has announced that a Fall Granting Cycle will be available in 2014.  The deadline for submission of grant applications is Midnight on Tuesday, September 30th.  All application submissions must be completed through the online system operated by the Initiative Foundation and can be found at .

The Greater Pine Area Endowment Fund was created in 1992 as a component fund of the Initiative Foundation to develop community resources and to enhance the quality of life of individuals and families in the Pine City area.  The GPAE funds have been established to provide financial resources for the needs of the greater Pine area within the physical boundaries of the Pine City School District 578.

The grant funds can be used for economic or community development projects.  For economic development projects, funding will be considered for projects that lead to quality job creation or high tech employment.  Projects that promote community pride and quality of life through environmental stewardship and community beautification would be considered under the community development category.  The GPAE will also consider proposals that positively impact the housing, safety, employment and other needs of the more vulnerable members of the community including youth, the elderly and those who are low-income.

Since its inception, the GPAE has granted to organizations such as Pine City Schools for the Basketball Shooting Machine, Pine County Sheriff’s Department for the purchase of infant keys to AED’s; the Pine EMS First Responders for trauma bags and vehicle; and the Pine City Library for purchase of new computers.

Grant submissions can be made through the GPAE website at .  Organizations seeking assistance in using the online system should contact Becky Schueller at 320-322-4040 or  A copy of the Grant Guidelines is available online or can be picked up from the Chamber of Commerce office at 315 Main Street South.   Online submissions are due by Midnight on Tuesday, September 30th.


Tom Gahler, Chair
Greater Pine Area Endowment
315 Main Street South, Suite 160
Pine City MN 55063
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You might be surprised who has the highest concentration of places to eat among Minnesota cities

What’s the most restaurant-crazy city in Minnesota? 

Maybe… MinneapolisSt. Paul?  Both are great cities for dining, with some of the most acclaimed and beloved restaurants in the U.S., but neither of those communities have the hunger for eating out that, say, Brainerd does—or Virginia, or Pine City for that matter.  Among all urban places in Minnesota (with populations of over 2,500 people), those are the top-three cities ranked by restaurants per capita.

The Pine Poker took a look at Urbanspoon’s count of restaurants per city in Minnesota and ranked them by the number of restaurants per capita.

Click here to see the results of our number crunching. 

Brainerd (pop. 13,590) has 153 eateries, or one for every 89 residents, while Virginia (pop. 8,712) has 96 eateries, or one for every 91 residents.  And, Pine City (pop. 3,127) has 30 places to eat, or one for every 104 residents.  Compare that to Minneapolis’ one restaurant per 287 people, and St. Paul’s one restaurant to every 437 people.

In fact, Pine City opened two new restaurants just this summer.  It now is home to Bamboo Kitchen, a Chinese and Thai restaurant, as well as Scotty’s Parkside Café, downtown, overlooking Robinson Park in the town square.  Who knew Pine Citians liked to eat out so much?

A photo of Scotty's Parkside Cafe in Pine City as it was preparing for its soft opening in May.

A photo of Scotty’s Parkside Cafe in Pine City as it was preparing for its soft opening in May.

To put the numbers in perspective, there are about 616,000 restaurants operating in America. That means that the average density in the country was about one restaurant per 500 people.  There are 9,985 restaurants statewide—or one restaurant for every 531 Minnesotans, which is just a tad less than the national average.

Rounding out the list of top-10 most restaurant dense cities in Minnesota were Park Rapids (pop. 3,709, 35 restaurants), Detroit Lakes (pop. 8,569, 79 restaurants), Alexandria (pop. 11,070, 86 restaurants), Perham (pop. 2,985, 22 restaurants), Ely (pop. 3,460, 25 restaurants), Wabasha (pop. 2,521, 17 restaurants) and Bemidji (pop. 13,431, 86 restaurants).   Ham Lake (pop. 15,296) with its mere seven restaurants was the least restaurant-dense city in Minnesota; it only has one restaurant per 2,185 residents.

You’ll notice the Minnesota list leans a little heavily toward touristy areas, which tend to attract many more restaurant customers than full-time residents.  And, there are far more restaurants per capita in Mnnesota’s small towns versus its bigger cities and suburbs.  Still, it’s a fascinating, unusual list.

Just outside of Pine City, one can enjoy Rock Creek Motor Stop's World Famous Chicken Dumpling Soup, comfort food.

Just outside of Pine City along I-35, one can enjoy Rock Creek Motor Stop’s World Famous Chicken Dumpling Soup, comfort food.

As for smaller cities (with populations below 2,500), Dovray, Minn. (pop. 57) was the most restaurant dense, with its four restaurants, or one for every 14 people.  Rounding out the top-ten small cities list were Leonard (pop. 41, three restaurants), McGregor (pop. 391, 20 restaurants), Beaver Bay (pop. 181, nine restaurants), Longville (pop. 156, seven restaurants), Kerrick (pop. 65, three restaurants), Bena (pop. 116, five restaurants), Garrison (pop. 210, eight restaurants), Odessa (pop. 135, four restaurants) and Mentor (pop. 153, four restaurants).

Janesville (pop. 2,256) may not be a restaurant destination for you as it has just two eating establishments in the whole town, Tropics Bar  (with a “limited menu“) and a Subway, and the lowest restaurant density among Minnesota’s smaller cities.

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Filing period for Pine City mayor, city council closes Aug. 12

For those interested in running for mayor or city council, the time is now. The filing period for city races in Pine City opened Tuesday, July 29, and will close at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 12.

In Pine City, the mayor seat and two city council seats—now held by Mary Kay Sloan and Paul Miller—are up for grabs.  Incumbent Mayor Paul Janssen has not announced whether he will be seeking re-election.

To be eligible for city office, one must be an eligible voter, must be at least 21 years old and have maintained residence in the City for 30 days before the general election, Tues., Nov. 4.

Candidates can file at City Hall, in the Pine Government Center, at 315 Main St. S.  There is a $2 filing fee.  For more information, contact City Administrator Holly Wilson at 320.629.2575.

For information on polling places, visit the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State website at and click on “Vote: Elections and Voting.”

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Art Center Hosts Anniversary Bash!

5th Anniversary Bash

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Yellow Ribbon BBQ for Soldiers

Yellow Ribbon BBQ

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Where to celebrate Independence Day

The day before the holiday weekend and the calls start rolling in… “Will Pine City have fireworks this weekend?”  My response each year is the same… “Pine City’s fireworks display was held last Saturday as part of the Freedom Fest celebration… but I can share a list of places that you can view them in surrounding areas.”

So… if you are a resident or visitor to Pine City this weekend, here are just a few of the nearby options to enjoy fireworks.

July 3rd – Onamia, fireworks at dusk

July 4th – Finlayson, fireworks at dusk in Downtown Finlayson

July 4th – Cambridge, fireworks at dusk at the Isanti County Fairgrounds

July 4th – Braham, fireworks at dusk, north of high school

If you are looking for just a few other ways to celebrate this weekend, here are some additional opportunities:

Friday, July 4th at 6:30 PM – the Whitesidewalls will perform for Art in the Park, hosted by the Pine City Arts Council.

Saturday, July 5th beginning at 1:00 PM you can enjoy the Cross Lake Association’s annual Boat Parade.  The route begins on the east side of the lake at Yorston’s dock.

Saturday & Sunday, July 5th & 6th is the Birchbark Bonanza at the North West Company Fur Post.  Costumed interpreters will demonstrate the many uses of the tree bark of the paper birch.  Want more information, call 629-6356 for details.


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Pine City Recognized for Environmental Sustainability Efforts

  • GreenStep City receives award for work to cut energy and other costs
GreenStep Zach Borich May 2014

Last month, intern Zach Borich gave a presentation to the community about what the GreenStep initiative is. Borich is a PCHS grad and now a UMD student.

The City of Pine City has the honor of being recognized as a Minnesota GreenStep City and will receive an award at the upcoming League of Minnesota Cities Conference on June 20th for advancing to become a Step 1 City.

“This award shows community members and other cities across Minnesota that the City of Pine City is taking great steps in the direction of energy and resource conservation and innovation,” shared Nathan Johnson, the Minnesota GreenStep Cities Coordinator for the City of Pine City.

Minnesota GreenStep Cities is a challenge, assistance, and recognition program.  As one of 67 participating cities, the City of Pine City is helping to lead the way in sustainability across the state of Minnesota.  The City of Pine City has worked hard to implement best practices in order to fulfill their sustainability goals.  Actions that are taken within the program focus on cost savings, energy use reduction, and the encouragement of civic innovation.  Details on the best practices the city has completed can be seen by visiting, clicking on “See all cities” next to the map, and then clicking on the city’s name.

“This award is a great achievement for the City of Pine City,” Council Member Brian Scholin said.  “And by being a part of the program, the City of Pine City and our 66 peer cities are helping to secure Minnesota’s natural beauty for the future while also helping our cities thrive economically and socially.”

About GreenStep Cities:  Minnesota GreenStep Cities is a voluntary challenge, assistance, and recognition program to help cities achieve their sustainability and quality-of-life goals.  This free continuous program is based upon 28 best practices that are tailored to Minnesota cities, focus on cost energy savings and energy use reduction, and encourage civic innovation.

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GPS 45:93 region points to more signs of economic opportunity

While the Twin Cities and Duluth have historically been the bosses when it comes to Minnesota economic activity, five counties nestled in between are now getting a second look by developers and site selectors for a whole host of reasons.

Over the last two decades, the GPS 45:93 region of Minnesota—Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs and Pine counties—has enjoyed tremendous population growth.  From 1990 to 2010 the 5-county region welcomed more than 54,600 new people.  The region’s population increased over twice as fast as the state average, jumping nearly 50 percent GPS4593 Logocompared with 21.2 percent statewide.

All but one county in the region were among the 11 fastest-growing counties in the state (out of 87), Chisago County (up 76.6 percent), Isanti (up 45.9 percent), Pine (up 39.9 percent), and Mille Lacs (up 39.8 percent).

With that growth, the Twin Cities pushed a little further into the countryside and Mille Lacs County was added to what is now a 16-county Twin Cities metropolitan statistical area (MSA) because now more than a quarter of its workforce commutes to the core counties of the MSA.   Chisago County was added to the metro in 1973 and Isanti County in 1983.

“Yes, urban Minnesota is reaching ever more toward us but it is because of what is offered here,” explained Nathan Johnson, president of GPS 45:93.  “Places like Mille Lacs County, and much of our region, are gateways to Minnesota’s natural amenities.”

As an example, Johnson pointed to the north end of Mille Lacs County which borders Lake Mille Lacs, a statewide destination for those who love nature, fishing or other forms of outdoor recreation.

In 2013, Polaris Industries completed a $20 million expansion that doubled the size of its research and development facility in the GPS 45:93 region.

In 2013, Polaris Industries completed a $20 million expansion that doubled the size of its research and development facility in the GPS 45:93 region.

Johnson is also the community development director for the City of Pine City, in Pine County, which borders the Twin Cities MSA to the south.  Both Pine and Mille Lacs counties are home to a Grand Casino, the largest employer in the region.   Other major employers include Hazelden, and the more recent additions of Polaris Industries and Andersen Windows.

“With growth comes more opportunity,” described Johnson.  “We now have more workers for jobs, and a more qualified workforce.”

And while much of rural Minnesota is losing jobs, the GPS 45:93 region—a mix of suburban, exurban and rural—is bucking the trend.   Even the two most rural counties in the region, Pine and Kanabec, gained jobs between November 2012 and November of last year, according to the latest employment figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Besides natural amenities, the region has ample transportation amenities.  It is on Interstate Highway 35 and BNSF Railway’s mainlines between Minneapolis and Duluth, and there is high-speed passenger rail as well as commuter rail in the planning stages.

“The GPS 45:93 region is a place of promise for companies ready to relocate or expand just north of the Minneapolis-Saint Paul urban core,” said Johnson.  “There is a reason this part of the state keeps growing, due to our highly-regarded small towns, award-winning schools, reasonably-priced houses and ready-access to employment opportunities here and in the Greater MSP region.”

“We also have some of the closest state-certified, shovel ready land to Minneapolis and St. Paul,” Johnson said.  “We have hundreds of acres available in our industrial parks.”

Also, Pine Technical College and Anoka-Ramsey Community College’s Cambridge Campus are offering training for the benefit of the region’s employers.  And this spring, Pine Technical College opened the doors to the Pine Innovation Center, an entrepreneurial center and technology business incubator to serve start-up companies.

At its most recent executive committee meeting in Cambridge, May 30, members of GPS 45:93 debated the merits of adding more incentives and tools to recruit business, including the possibility of a regional equity fund.

The concern is that while the region may be a good fit for all other reasons, it has the potential to lose businesses because it cannot put in an equity injection into a new business prospect.  No decisions were made at that meeting to establish such a fund but one of GPS 45:93’s partners, the Initiative Foundation, claimed to offer a suitable alternative in the interim.

“The Initiative Foundation’s financing programs offer a range of options based on the needs of potential businesses,” said Sandy Voigt, Initiative Foundation development officer. “Whether you are working with an aspiring entrepreneur, a nonprofit with a great idea, an existing business owner or referral from a commercial lender, we have an array of programs to meet financing needs.”

GPS 45:93 is a multi-county regional economic development consortium whose mission is to better position the region to attract high-wage, technology based jobs; collaborate on business retention and expansion; recruit new businesses; and encourage entrepreneurial activity.

For more information, visit

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Join a discussion to end youth homelessness

End Youth Homelessness

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New Artist Opening on June 13

PCA logo largeThe Art Center welcomes Donna Jean Carver this month as the featured artist in the Gallery.  Carver is a resident of Willmar, MN where she works from her studio “Topaz Tiger”.  Her work can be found on a variety of online stores with canvas paintings, greeting cards and more.

“For as long as I can remember I have had a passion for creating,” says Carver.  “My most enduring love has been painting, mostly acrylics, I like to experiment so I have done everything from abstracts to zebras.”  The variety of styles in Carver’s work makes her artwork appeal to people of all ages.

“My paintings have been displayed in many art galleries. In the last few years I have gone back to my “farmer’s daughter” roots and have created many rustic paintings, some on recycled denim or vintage feed/seed sacks either from memory or photos. It seems like these paintings strike something in the heart of many people who have memories, real or imagined, of life on the farm during what seemed like a simpler time.”


The Art Center will host an Opening Night Gala on Friday, June 13th from 5:00 – 7:00 PM in the Gallery space at 265 5th Street SE.  The public is invited for this free event to drop by for light appetizers and an opportunity to meet the artist.

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