Happy Thanksgiving

Drive safe and enjoy the holiday weekend!

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Reaching Our Vision and Reducing Poverty

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(photo of Cross Lake taken by Michelle Luckoff)

What’s on Pine City’s Horizon?  The last study circle meetings were devoted to taking about the causes of poverty.  Some of this week’s groups are rescheduling due to Thanksgiving.  Others will meet and discuss what we as a community can do to reduce poverty.

Some broad-scope action ideas include:  Focus on early childhood, youth and schools; create more and better jobs; help people meet their urgent needs; join with others to create change; build assets and hold onto them; promote acceptance; and invest in basic community resources.

The study circles will discuss which specific ideas seem most real and useful for Pine City.  And, then, who would work with those involved in Horizons on these ideas?  Are they things we can really get done?  Have they worked before?  What other communities are trying them? 

Word about Horizons starting to spread

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Recently, at a meeting of the Downtown Leadership Group, there was somewhat of buzz about a new program beginning in Pine City.  Today, at the Farmers’ Market meeting, ideas were generated about how some of the people involved in Horizons could maybe help with their efforts.  From cafes to supermarkets, hair salons to waiting rooms, people are beginning to take notice of what over 70 locals are involved in.  A column in the Pine City Pioneer Thursday was even devoted to this Web log.  What do you feel about Horizons so far?  What is it about the program that is causing somewhat of a community stir?  Have you tried to encourage anyone you know to get involved in it? 

Pine City, in all its quirkiness

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Yes, it’s obvious that people take notice of the giant redwood voyageur statue overlooking downtown.  Motorists passing through stop and take photos by it on a regular basis.  But, did you know that Pine City is also home to the World’s largest Berenstain Bear collection?  Or how about, that our annual demolition derby is Minnesota’s largest? 

The fact is, there are many things about our community that make it a special place.  Perhaps you know of something that makes it unique or separates it from “Anytown USA”.  Let’s hear from you.

Many churches, none to call home

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A quick search revealed that zip code 55063 is home to an astonishing 22 churches.  They range from Mormon to Catholic, Protestant to Jehovah’s Witness, and even Non-denominational.  Yet a recent ABC News study shows that while 83% of adults consider themselves Christian, only 32% of men and 44% of women have a church home.

Break that down:  That means in the Pine City area (zip code 55063), where there are 8,294 people, 6,684 consider themselves Christian.  There are 4,150 males, 1,328 of which attend church; and there are 4,144 females, 1,823 of which are church-goers.  That means that 2,822 local men and boys and 2,321 local women and girls don’t have a church home.

5,143 people in Greater Pine City don’t attend church for one reason or another.  Maybe you have an idea as to what makes a church good enough to call home?  Is it the music?  Does there have to be a lot for young adults or children to do?  Is there no reason to attend or belong to a church?  Do churches have to be more respective of diversity and be more tolerant?  Do they have to be scripturally-based?  Does it have to accept outsiders?  Do they have to reach out and assist the community?  What are your thoughts?

Ho. Ho. Holiday Madness Almost Here!

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Another annual event that brings the community together is Holiday Madness. This year, it will be held on Friday, Dec. 5th. Children will be able to get their photos taken with Santa. In Robinson Park, there will be a variety of activities, including a Christmas Carol sign-along, tree lighting ceremony and mayoral greetings. A lighted parade down Main Street will take place at 6:00 P.M. and an outdoor film will be shown at 7:00 P.M. downtown around a bonfire.

Two ways you can get involved and give back this holiday season:

1) Decorate a float and register your unit for the parade by Nov. 21st by contacting Becky Schueller at the Pine City Area Chamber of Commerce at (320) 629-4565.

2) Donate a non-perishable food item to the Pine Area Food Shelf, 220 7th Street SW prior to Dec. 5th or make a Toys for Tots donation at City Hall, 300 5th Street SE, between 4:00 P.M. and 7:00 P.M on Dec. 5th to be registered for prize drawings.

What will we do at the Action Forum?

Planning is underway for the Action Forum to be held Dec. 16th.  The forum will last just a few hours and dinner will be served.   

First half hour Welcome and Introductions 
Next half hour Study Circle Group Presentations 
Next half hour Idea Sorting Process 
Next half hour Solicit Volunteers for the Short Term Ideas 
Next half hour Solicit Volunteers for LeadershipPlenty 
Final half hour Closing

Check back for more details.

Chain Stores in Pine City

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Chain stores underwent an explosive period of growth in recent decades.  A majority of new retail construction in the U.S. during this period has been in the form of “big boxes” known from their large, square, featureless buildings.  These stores range in size from 20,000 to 300,000-plus square feet (a football field is 45 000 sq. ft.), where a typical downtown store might be 3000 sq. ft.  These superstores encompass general merchandise (for example, Wal-Mart and ShopKo), which offer goods at wholesale or near-wholesale prices.  Smaller chains including parts and home-improvement stores (such as O’Reilly or Ace), and restaurants (Subway, McDonalds, Pizza Hut or Domino’s for example), have also expanded rapidly.

Although popular with many shoppers, chain stores have faced growing opposition to their expansion plans in recent years. In some cities and towns, citizens have organized grassroots protests, boycotts, and petitions to block the arrival of new chain stores.

Chain retailers argue that they have created an efficient and innovative method of retailing.  By buying in large quantities, dealing directly with manufacturers instead of going through wholesalers, operating their own warehouses and distribution systems, adopting sophisticated information technology, and centralizing management and accounting functions, large retail chains have reduced costs. Supporters also point out longer hours and “one-stop” shopping convenience.  These features have made chain stores extremely popular.

Critics argue that chain stores harm local economies.  When a chain store comes to town, they typically force locally-owned businesses to close, thereby eliminating as many jobs and tax revenue as they create.  Considering what happens to a dollar spent at a locally owned business, not only do the profits stay in the community, but local retailers support a variety of local businesses.  They bank with local banks, advertises with the local media, hire local accountants and printers – each of which in turn spends that revenue with other local businesses.  The Multiplier Effect sustains a wide variety of jobs in the local community and generates, through every transaction, new tax revenue to support schools, libraries, parks, and other public services.

Sound off.  Should people break the chain and shop locally-owned or is there enough savings in patronizing the chains?

Local gas prices fall, but do you notice?

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Over last summer, gas prices in Pine City toppled $4.00 per gallon for regular unleaded.  The price of gas in Pine City today is $1.97 per gallon.  Have the falling fuel costs had an impact on you?  Do you feel it?  Respond by leaving a blog comment below.

Date set for Action Forum

Mark your calendars!  The community Action Forum is set for the evenining of Tuesday, Dec. 16th.  More details will be shared at an upcoming study circle meeting.