Blog celebrates milestone


The Pine City Community Blog, est. 2008, celebrated its 20,000th hit June 23, 2010.  The success of the blog is evident and more and more people are coming here for a variety of reasons.  It’s a great time to reflect on the blog and offer feedback as to how to improve it going forward.  Please comment and let us know:

  • Are blog posts relevant to your every day life?
  • Is this site informative?
  • Does it offer current enough news?
  • Is it updated often enough?  Is there a good enough frequency of posts?
  • Is it clear and easy to read?
  • Is it keyword-rich?  Can you easily search out what you’re looking for?
  • Do you like the links and RSS feeds on the site?

Thanks in advance for your comments.

Mayor Robbins wins Second State Award!


The finalists for the Minnesota Women in City Government (MWCG) 2010 Leadership Awards for an elected woman were recently announced, Mary Hamann-Roland, Mayor, City of Apple Valley and Pine City’s very own Mayor Jane Robbins.

Last evening, Mayor Jane Robbins was selected to receive the award, just two years after receiving the C.C. Ludwig Award, the League of Minnesota Cities’ highest honor for an elected official.  MWCG award recipients were announced and honored, along with finalists, during the annual MWCG membership meeting at the Kelly Inn in St. Cloud as part of the LMC Annual Conference and Marketplace.

Mayor Robbins was recognized for her individual achievement in Pine City, as well as leadership and mentoring roles both inside and outside of the community.

  • High-Profile Women Mayors of Minnesota

In 1953, Thief River Falls elected the first woman mayor in Minnesota when the city voted in Agnes Israelson.  It wasn’t commonplace for women to serve in that capacity for several decades after.  Notably, tiny Kinny, Minn. followed suit in 1973 with the election of Mary “Polly” Anderson; as did Red Wing in 1985 with the election of Joanell Dyrstad.  Jane Robbins became mayor of Pine City in 1992, when just a handful of Minnesota cities had “broken the glass ceiling” allowing women to find new voice as their mayors.  Minneapolis hadn’t even had its first female mayor yet; that came in 1994 when Sharon Sayles Belton took the office.

Since Pine City elected Robbins, there has been a jump in the number of women reaching for and achieving representation in ways they had not in the past, especially in Greater Minnesota, where several communities have chosen women to lead them.  Across Minnesota, some of the more notable female mayors elected since Jane Robbins was elected include Burnsville’s Elizabeth Kautz (in 1994), Eagan’s Patricia Anderson (1999), Cass Lake’s Elaine Fleming (2003) and Northfield’s Mary Rossing (2008).  Closer to Pine City, several communities have since elected their first woman mayor too, including Cambridge (Marlys Palmer) and North Branch (Amy Oehlers).

Growing in popularity, in 2008 14.9% (127 out of 853) of Minnesota cities had women mayors.  It appears a lot of municipalities exist where women may not have a voice but Pine City is doing its part to provide opportunities for women to gain expertise and run for higher office.

  • Robbins:  An exceptional leader meriting the MWCG Leadership Award

The City of Pine City has had to make several difficult decisions during Robbins’ time as mayor—thus far—including what to do with the municipally-run retail liquor stores, whether or not to close the airport, how to best manage the growth in the usage of municipal infrastructure, and creating workable annexation plans with the nearby townships.

Robbins has shown considerable leadership on these issues as a diplomat, civil servant and uniter.  She does things with integrity and a clear vision.  She has great communication skills and has built strong relationships among community members.  She has the art of persuasion and adaptability.  She believes in team work, coaching and development, which serves her in her career and in public service.  She is great at decision-making and does so with a strong commitment to planning for the future.  She has paved the way for a new generation of women mayors and has groomed them at the local level through appointments and by serving as a role model.

  • Robbins’ unique municipal accomplishments

Jane Robbins moved from Glendive, Montana, where she and her husband Jerry operated a television and radio station, to Pine City, Minnesota in 1967.  The opportunity presented itself at a local radio station (now WCMP/WXCX).

In her first years in Pine City, she became well-acquainted with the people and various community organizations.  She was and still is active in her church and very exposed in the community due to the nature of her work at the radio station.  A background in communications and marketing would later benefit Pine Tech and the community greatly.

In October 1977, Council member Robert Hawley opted not to fill out his term in office, and Robbins was appointed.  She was elected to the Council in November of that year and served there until 1986, when Karen Knox was elected.  With Knox’s passing June 12, 1987, Robbins was once again elected to serve on the Council.

While on the Council, the City achieved the standards to become a Minnesota “Star City”.  Her diligent work in the community earned her “Citizen of the Year” honors in 1983.

She loves to see the community grow and prosper.  It has happened in a variety of ways:  In her terms as mayor, the city has grown by a third, from 2,489 residents to over 3,500 residents.  The city went from having just one I-35 freeway interchange to two.  That led to growth on the north side of the city, especially in the Technology Park, where four JOBZ deals have been landed—one from out of state.

Examples of national businesses that have opened in that time span include McDonald’s, Speedway Super America, two Subways and a Wal-Mart Super Center, to name a few.

A senior citizen’s center was built, allowing elderly residents a place to gather (prior, they had to travel to Hinckley).  As for tourism and roadside attractions, in that time a 35-foot Voyageur statue was carved and erected and now greets visitors to Pine City alongside Main Street.  And, the Northwest Company Fur Post historic site capitalized on its amenities to offer an interpretive center and exhibit area to exploit its rare historical context.

When the Robbins’ sold the radio station, she went to work in customized training at Pine Technical College (PTC) even before it was a department.  She played a pivotal part in getting it off the ground.

In 1994, when PTC was still part of the Pine City school district, Robbins and former PTC president, Gene Biever, worked with the district to hire three additional positions and start up the customized training department.

Internally, she is on many committees including the PTC Foundation and Staff Development.  Externally, she has an excellent rapport with the business community and has offered training at many companies including East Central Energy, Atscott Manufacturing and Horizon Bank to name a few.Robbins became the first woman to hold the mayor’s office in Pine City, as a write-in candidate no less.  She defeated incumbent Council Member John Lindquist and John Schumacher.  She began her term in 1992 and is the longest-standing mayor the city has seen.

Her high profile within the community has helped her network and nurture relationships.  By day, she does a variety of activities:  She develops and provides training solutions specific to client needs; meets with developers; and builds successful relationships throughout the community.  There are many companies that invite PTC back for additional training because of the customer service she provides, there are developers who admit their appreciation of her and the City, and it’s extremely difficult to find someone in the community who doesn’t “love” her.

Robbins loves to see the community be pulled together.  She has seen that happen in a number of ways over the years.  The City’s involvement with the “Healthy Communities Partnership” program and two separate visits by the Governor’s Design Team (now the Minnesota Design Team) were two of the ways she saw the community rally behind a unified vision.

For all of these reasons, in 2008 Robbins was selected to receive the League of Minnesota Cities’ CC Ludwig Award, the League’s highest honor for an elected official.  In addition, Pine City—where she has graciously served for over 30 years—was recognized by the Initiative Foundation as the 2009 Outstanding Community.

  • Robbins:  A mentor and a friend

Robbins has her own special way of being a mentor and role model to the community.  One of her trademarks is that she frequently makes her “famous” sticky buns and delivers them to bake sale fundraisers, church events, pot lucks, meetings with potential developers and area families who have lost a loved one or in need.  She makes hundreds of pans a year—50 around the holidays alone—and has a constant supply of the necessary ingredients.

Robbins is a very hard worker and it shows in everything she does. She is down to earth, has learned from past experiences, and looks forward to the possibilities of future endeavors.   Over the years, Mayor Robbins has demonstrated the truest vision, statesmanship and unwavering commitment to the public good.

It is for these aforementioned reasons that Mayor Jane Robbins is uniquely qualified to receive the 2010 Minnesota Women in City Government Leadership Award.

  • Robbins’ Outstanding Contributions

Robbins has done her part to groom the next generation of women leadership within Pine City.  Today in Pine City, not only is there a woman mayor but there are women firefighters, CEOs, sheriff’s deputies, a postmistress… the list goes on and on.  Robbins has appointed women to leadership positions when she sees that a woman is the best candidate for the job.  Today, three women serve as Planning Commissioners (which is a mayoral appointment) – the most in the City’s history.

Robbins serving the community…

In 1984, Robbins became a Pine City Lioness, a club whose good deeds she became familiar with while working at the radio station.  She later went on to serve as president of the club.

Robbins has been involved in a variety of capacities over the years with the Pine Area Chamber of Commerce.  She serves as an “Ambassador”, a member of a welcoming committee that greets new businesses.  She has welcomed over 100 new businesses to town.

Mayor Robbins has also served on the following committees:  Freedom Fest, Pine Area Star Forum, Star Cities, Firefighters’ Relief Association, Economic Development Authority, Pine Technical College Board and the Library Foundation.

Freedom Fest Medallion Found

Jeff Adams, a science teacher at Pine City High School, and his son were the duo to find this year’s Pine City Freedom Fest medallion.  More info here.

Freedom Fest Medallion Hunt Begins

For your chance to win $500, click here.

ECAC grant deadlines approaching

The East Central Arts Council’s next round of grant deadlines are approaching.

  • Grant programs for organizations with August 1 and October 1 deadlines:
    • Art in Our Schools
    • Small Grants
    • Arts & Culture Heritage Fund
  • Grant programs for organizations with a July 15 deadline:
    • Arts Organization Project Grants
  • Grant programs for individual artists with August 1 and October 1 deadlines:
    • Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund
  • Grant programs for individual artists with an October 1 deadline:
    • ECAC/McKnight Individual Artist Grant

Grant guidelines and applications are available here or get in contact with the ECAC via E-mail at or by phone at (320) 679-4065, ext. 30.

The mission of the East Central Arts Council is to improve the quantity and quality of arts experiences in Region 7E by facilitating the production, presentation, and dissemination of art development for arts organizations and by promoting the growth of individual artists.

Elementary School Marching Band Debuts

  • Pine City 5th and 6th graders march at Pine County Parade Aug 7

Spectators at the Pine County Fair Parade this summer will be witnessing a first for Pine City – and for any community in the area – when the Pine City Elementary Marching Band makes its premiere.

The idea originated when directors were looking for a fun way to get elementary band students to practice and play over the summer while also continuing to foster community support for a music program that was recently named one of the Best Communities for Music Education in America.

According to band director Brad Mariska, “We work very hard to ensure that our students receive the highest quality instruction and also provide them with unique and motivating events that foster their love of music and performing.  I can think of nothing better than forming this band of amazingly talented elementary musicians.”

The students have spent time memorizing their feature song, “The Minnesota Rouser,” and have already been instructed in the basic marching techniques.  Fifth grade teacher Joel Lorsung called the marching band “one of the most remarkable things” he’s ever seen after recently watching the students march outside the elementary school.  No doubt parents and community members will think the same.

The band also received a generous financial contribution from the Chamber of Commerce to help bring this project to fruition, as well as several parents who will be assisting with rehearsals and the parade.  According to Mariska, “This is what makes Pine City so great – people working together to give educational and artistic opportunities to people both young and old.”

Any fifth or sixth grade students who have not yet officially registered for the parade may still do so by emailing Brad Mariska ( or Kevin Cahill
(   All students must be signed up by the end of June.

Take survey to help brand Pine City

Everybody who lives and works in Greater Pine City knows what a special place it is.  Most of us wouldn’t even consider moving anyplace else.  And just about everybody who’s visited here over the years remembers us warmly and positively.


A team of committed individuals working to update Pine City’s comprehensive plan knows the city has to uniquely define itself and then successfully and continuously deliver its brand.  And with future planning taking place, the time’s right to start telling the rest of the world the authentic Greater Pine City story.

Location branding isn’t a new concept:  cities, states, regions, and countries around the globe are embracing branding strategies to achieve competitive advantages and to increase tourism, to recruit and retain talent, and to attract new businesses.

But whether it’s because we’ve changed so dramatically over the years, or because we’ve never really sat down to figure out what makes us unique, or simply because locations everywhere recognize the need to differentiate themselves in order to succeed competitively, we understand that it’s now critical for us to identify and proclaim our individuality if we’re to continue to flourish as a place for people to live, work, and play.

We need to reveal what it is that makes our region so attractive and special, and then communicate it to the rest of the world.

Branding: The Nuts and Bolts

What’s Branding?

  • A brand is the relationship between the user and the product or service, or in the case of location branding, the place.
  • A brand describes the emotions and experiences users have when they interact with a place.
  • A brand defines the central, timeless essence or soul of this place and its intangible, emotional core.
    A brand exists in the mind of the user and connects the user’s own personal identity with that experience.
  • A brand consists of a powerful set of promises that deliver a relevant and distinctive experience, promising the same feelings and experiences every time the product or service is used, or the place is experienced.
  • A brand is not a slogan or a logo or an ad campaign. These are the marketing elements that help convey the brand, but are not the brand itself.
  • A brand must be relevant, differentiated from the competition, highly regarded, believable, and have emotional value.

What Are the Benefits to Our Community?

  • Increased tourism, which encourages outside dollars to our community, and, as a result, creates and sustains additional jobs.
  • Recruitment and retention of talent, making our community an even better place to live for the next generation.
  • Attractiveness to new businesses, which spurs economic development.
  • Fostering a sense of pride and satisfaction for current residents.

What Are the Challenges of Location Branding?

  • Location branding faces unique challenges in that it must cover multiple target groups.
  • Because the brand is for a place and not a specific product, service, or entity, there is no single guardian or owner of the brand.
  • Location branding is part of many other initiatives and does not stand on its own.

Wristband Sales will help with annual Fireworks Display

Representatives for a wide variety of local service organizations have been meeting since February to plan the upcoming Freedom Fest events for June 25 – 27th. In recent years, this event has become one that is truly a “Community” Celebration that brings a large number of organizations together to plan a weekend filled with events that will appeal to just about anyone. The list of events includes a classic car show, tractor show, childrens activities, triathlon, kayak/canoe race, food booths, pancake breakfast, street dance, fireworks….and the list goes on!

For a number of year’s the question by local citizens has been, “How can I help support the fireworks display?” Well, in 2010, we’ve got the answer for you…purchase a 2010 Freedom Fest Wristband. The wristbands are just $5 and are currently available to be purchased at the following locations: Pizza Pub, Voyageur Bottle Shop, Mitchell’s Landing, Beroun Marathon Station, Chubby’s Bar & Grill, Pine Insurance Agency, and the Chamber Office.

For those that plan on attending the Street Dance on Saturday, June 26th – pick up your wristband today and use it as your entry into the Street Dance.

For more information on the Freedom Fest Event Schedule, contact the Chamber office my email at and a schedule can be emailed to you.

Mayor Robbins a Finalist for Women in City Government Leadership Award


 Mayor Robbins

The finalists for the Minnesota Women in City Government (MWCG) 2010 Leadership Awards have been announced.  From among these finalists, one award will be presented to an elected woman and another to an appointed woman in city government.

The finalists are:

  • Mary Hamann-Roland, Mayor, City of Apple Valley
  • Jane Robbins, Mayor, City of Pine City
  • Lisa Jetvig, Clerk Treasurer, City of Hawley
  • Lisa Vatnsdal, Neighborhood Services Manager, City of Moorhead

The award recipients will be announced and honored, along with all of the finalists, during the annual MWCG membership meeting on June 23 at 6 p.m. at the Kelly Inn in St. Cloud as part of the LMC Annual Conference and Marketplace.  Registration will begin at 5 p.m. and hors d’oeuvres will be served at 5:30 p.m.

The MWCG Leadership Award ceremony and membership meeting are open to all women elected and appointed Minnesota city officials.  The cost is $10 and can be paid at the door. The award recipients will be recognized for individual achievement in their cities, as well as leadership and mentoring roles both inside and outside of their communities.

RSVP by June 14 to Ann Higgins (see contact information below) for the MWCG award ceremony and membership meeting by June 14.

Contact Ann Higgins
IGR Representative
(651) 281-1257 or (800) 925-1122

For more information:

Contact Mary McComber
(651) 351-7879