Cast and crew trick-or-treat for food shelf

-6th Annual Community Service Project

The cast and crew of “Guys and Dolls,” the fall musical being presented by Pine City High School, may be knocking on your door this Halloween evening (Sunday, Oct. 31).  But the students won’t be asking for candy, they will be looking for donations of non-perishable food items to be donated to the Pine Community Food Shelf.   This is the sixth year of the community service project, with last year’s effort bringing in over 2,000 items.  The students will identify themselves as members of the production and will not be wearing traditional Halloween costumes.

According to director Brad Mariska, the event serves several purposes.  “First and foremost, this is a chance for students to connect with the community and think about the fact that many families are struggling financially and our Food Shelf serves a vital community purpose.  It’s also a great opportunity for the community to see students engaged in service projects and to spread the word about our upcoming performances.  We hope that the community will donate if they are able, and see these students not just as talented actors, singers, and dancers, but also as young people who care about others in their community.”  The tradition began back in 2005, when Mariska directed his first musical in Pine City, “Godspell”.

Performances of Guys and Dolls are November 11, 12, 13, 14, 19, and 20.  Tickets are now on sale at several businesses or by calling  (320) 629-4013.  Group reservations can be secured by calling (320) 629-4129.

Tickets now on sale for ‘Guys and Dolls’

-Reserve your seats now for upcoming fall musical

Tickets are now on sale for Pine City High School’s much anticipated fall musical, the classic Broadway musical comedy, “Guys and Dolls.”  The show is scheduled for performances on November 11, 12, 13, 19, and 20 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 14 at 2:30 p.m. in the Pine City Elementary Auditorium.   Featuring a cast of 40, an orchestra of 15 and a crew of 30, the show promises to pack the theater for each of their six performances.

For the first time, reserved seating will be available for all performances.  To reserve seats, call (320) 629-4013.  There are a limited number of reserved seats for each performance so area residents are encouraged to reserve their seats early.  Reserved seats are only $8 each.

General admission tickets will also be sold at several area businesses for a discounted price.  In Pine City, tickets can be purchased at Cabin Coffees, Nelson’s Market, Sauser’s Hardware, and The Flower Box.  In Rush City, you can purchase tickets at The Firefly Bistro.  Advanced general admission tickets are only $4 for students and $6 for adults.   

For more information or to make group reservations, please contact director Brad Mariska by calling  (320) 629-4129 or emailing

Local college transforms itself


  • Come see for yourself at open house Wednesday!

It’s not your parent’s vo-tech.   Take a look at the recent bumper stickers which say “Harvard… The Pine Tech of the East.”

Pine Technical College is a world-class educational institution right in our own backyard.  With its transferability and affordability so enticing, it is of the fastest growing colleges in the State of Minnesota, diverse, with over 1,000 students (over 10 percent of which are students of color). 

The college is experiencing increasing prestige with dynamic, relevant programs and facilities equipped for the 21st Century.  Look around campus.  See the 3-D copier, the Smart Boards, as well as all of the examples of virtual reality and simulation. 

Get your socks knocked off at an open house Weds., Oct. 27 from 5-7 p.m. (with a sneak preview at 4 p.m.).  Despite being small in comparison to many colleges, Pine Tech offers technology programs unique to Minnesota and the nation.   It’s more ‘wired’ than most universities. 

Annie Ryman, a Minneapolis resident with an Ed. M. from Harvard University, said, “It’s amazing how much Pine Tech offers for a small town college.  From hearing about their programs and seeing their facilities, …for the price and in several ways, it offers more than my Ivy League education did.”

Where does LGA come from?


When it comes to local government aid, the State isn’t getting all its money from, say, Winona…  Or ‘da Range…  Or,        Or…tonville.

It’s predominantly coming from–you guessed it–the populous twins, Minneapolis and St. Paul.  There wouldn’t be miles of suburbs without the ‘urbs.  One doesn’t have to like them or live in them, but they are the engine that makes this LGA thing tick.

According to MPR, there exists a growing consensus among city officials across the state that local government aid will be slashed again next session, as a new governor and the legislature cope with a projected $5.8 billion budget shortfall.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer has said local government aid has turned into a municipal pork program.  Emmer, who has said the state money should only be used for public safety and critical services, would phase out the program and replace it with some other kind of unspecified help.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton promises to maintain state LGA spending.  The Independence Party candidate for governor, Tom Horner, also has said he would keep the program intact.

Minnesota created local government aid, or LGA, 38 years ago to address the revenue disparity between cities rich with property taxes from a diversified base of business and residential properties and other communities, many of them rural.  Some cities were so property tax poor and short of cash they had trouble providing even basic services such as fire and police.

Local government aid became a kind of redistribution of wealth to help out the less well off cities.  Today, more than four out of five Minnesota cities receive LGA and in many cases, it’s become a significant share of their operating budget.

Given Minnesota’s budget crisis, city officials around the state are making contingency plans to cope with potential local government aid reductions.

In all of this, Minneapolis will be a net propper-upper of the rest of the state, and what economic recovery comes will neither be quick nor robust.  This is the new normal, so the saying goes, “We’d better look at what we have around us to make do.”

Letter from Sarah Shourd

Sarah Shourd, with her mother Nora, who moved to Pine City, Minn. for a time
to work on the release of the three hikers with Cindy Hickey, mother of Shane Bauer.

The following was sent by Sarah to supporters on Oct. 20, 2010:

I came out of prison feeling frozen. I put up walls inside walls because if I stayed tender for 13 months in prison I would have exposed myself to too much pain; because there wasn’t enough beauty in a day to ward off the long, spiritual winter; because I needed them to stay sane.

More than anything I’m grateful to finally be sitting here writing about prison in the past tense. Yet, for Shane and Josh, prison is still locked in the eternal present. I am one of the only people in the world that has their voices still fresh in mind. They were truly joyful to see me go free. Tightly grasping my hands in theirs they said “we believe in you, Sarah, no one is more ready and capable of jumping into the free world and fighting for us than you are.”

Free-life offers new challenges and very different obstacles than I faced in prison. I have reentered a world of fear and uncertainty…and also of great hope. Now I know first-hand what our families and all of you have been experiencing all along. I learned patience and perseverance those long months and it’s those lessons more than anything that are serving me now.

The most important thing that I can offer you are the words of Shane and Josh. What they want to say to you, more than anything else, is “thank you.” Not even a message as basic as that has been able to fly from their lips, suspended by tender air currents and carried into your ears, for all these months.

“Thank you.”

Since the day I stepped off that plane into Muscat, Oman I’ve met with three presidents, numerous foreign ministers and ambassadors. Not one of them means any more or less to me than one of you. I fervently believe that everyone’s efforts led to my freedom, everyone’s belief that the world contains as much goodness, and as much justice, as we create and put into motion. Not an ounce more or an ounce less.

I want this freedom, this justice for Shane and Josh, with every morsel of my being. Every breath I take, every time I open my eyes in the morning and every time I close them at night, I see them. I know them and I love them. I want to ask you to please, look to the positive, feel the power and the strength of what you’ve done. Help us give one, last, huge push!!!

I’ve asked the world to redouble its efforts. But what does that mean? It means do what you do best, whatever it may be. Do what you do best for Shane and Josh. We need fundraising for legal expenses, translation and travel. We need t-shirts and jewelry sold. We need prayers and we need action. We need more people to visit the website and sign the new petition. Make a “Free All Three” banner and hang it up in the most visible spot you can find.

We need you to mobilize and be ready for the next step when it comes. We have all been changed and continue to be changed by this experience. Thanks to all the love and support I’ve felt in the last month I’m slowing thawing out, but sometimes it feels like a glacier in there, waiting for thousands of years for just enough sun. When Josh and Shane get out they will help me figure it out.

No one knows me as well as they do. When the three of us are together and free, I know we will heal. Prison is not heaven or hell. Nothing in life made us ready for this experience, but Shane and Josh are coping. They are as strong as they need to be. They will walk out unbroken. One of my students once said to me, “A part of me is yours forever” because I was there to help him get through a difficult time in his life. I want to say the same to all of you on behalf of myself, Shane and Josh, “A part of us is yours, forever.”

“Thank you.” When Josh and Shane are free we will all be able to exhale collectively, pause and then ask, “Who’s next?” There are millions more lined up, waiting to get free. “What’s next?” There are countless changes that devoted, committed people like ourselves can band together and fight for. I’m looking forward to the day.

I’m hoping that Shane and Josh will soon be standing with us, asking these questions and finding answers.

– Sarah Shourd

Operation Community Connect Needs: YOU!


Pine City Horizons is seeking volunteers for Operation Community Connect (OCC). OCC is a one day, service day to those in-need in our community and will provide a meal, winter clothing and resource information from over 30 assistance providers. The event is on Tuesday, October 26th from 10am to 6pm.

Volunteers are needed for the following times and responsibilities:

Monday, Oct 25th Set Up Event 12 noon–5pm Meet at Lighthouse Church

Tuesday, OCt 26th General Assistance/Intake Coordination 10am–6pm Lighthouse Church

Tuesday, Oct 26th Meal & Event Prep 8am–10am LIghthouse Church

Tuesday, Oct 26th Clean Up 6pm-8pm Lighthouse Church

Last year, OCC served over 280 families whose basic needs were not being met. In anticipation of increased needs this year, we are looking for 8 volunteers per hour of the event. If you could lend a hand for an hour or two (or more!) please call Sean Stevens with Pine City Horizons at (320) 629-2575 ext 115. To download the flyer for posting, click here. slide1.jpg

Candidate forums set for Oct. 18 and 26

Pine Technical College will open its doors to invite the public for the 7th year of the Candidate Forum.  With a larger number of candidates, organizers have decided to offer the Forum in a two night series.

Monday, October 18, is the first forum, featuring Pine County Commissioner and Pine County Sheriff candidates at 6PM, followed by candidates for MN Senate and MN House of Representatives at 7:30PM. 

The following week, on Tuesday, October 26, the candidates for local offices of City Council and Mayor have been invited to participate.  Both events will be held in the Auditorium at Pine Technical College.

Pine Technical College, Pine City Area Chamber of Commerce, and WINDOW are co-sponsoring this year’s event and encourage members of the community to attend.  Candidates will be provided with questions regarding current issues of concern, but audience members will also be asked to submit questions to the candidates as well.   

Below is the agenda for each evening of the Candidate Forum as well as the candidates who have been invited to participate.

Monday, October 18, 2010

6:00 p.m.         Pine County Commissioner Candidates

                               District 1:  Commissioner Steve Hallan (Incumbent) and Bob Neubauer
                               District 2:  Commissioner Ed Montbriand (Incumbent) and Mitchell Pangerl

                        Pine County Sheriff Candidates

                                Sheriff Mark Mansavage (Incumbent) and Robin Cole

7:30 p.m.         District 8 Minnesota Senate Candidates

                                Sen.Tony Lourey (Incumbent, DFL) and Michael Cummins (Republican)

                        District 8B Minnesota House of Representatives Candidates

                                Rep. Tim Faust (Incumbent, DFL) and Roger Crawford (Republican)                    

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

7:00 p.m.         Pine City Mayor Candidates

                               Mayor Jane Robbins (Incumbent) , Paul Janssen and Terry Neitzel

                        Pine City City Council Candidates

                                Paul Miller (Incumbent), Paul Dunbar, Robyn Miché,  Loren Skluzacek and Mary Kay Sloan

Commuters: buses ready to roll

  •  Rush Line route No. 285 connects to St. Paul’s Union Depot

Oct. 18, buses begin running to serve area commuters wishing to get to St. Paul and avoid gridlock.  Departing from Forest Lake/Columbus, the route (called “Rush Line”) has been in the planning stages for some time and will serve an estimated 100 riders each way.

Monday through Friday, commuters now have the option to drive half way in, and hop a bus for their downtown St. Paul jobs.  Four buses leave at staggered times in the early morning and return to the north metro in the afternoon.

“Ridership from those commuters in Pine City may be modest at first, considering half of the commute will still have to be done via car” said city planner Nathan Johnson.  “But, the idea is to develop public interest in riding a bus or train.”

Johnson, who is a staff liaison to the Rush Line Corridor Task Force, said that the longterm plan for Rush Line envisions a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lane, or even light rail and/or commuter rail, that would help relieve traffic congestion along I-35/35E.

The entire Rush Line corridor extends 80 miles from Hinckley to St. Paul, although any bus or train service from cities north of Forest Lake remains under study.

The new route, No. 285, is a one-year demonstration project whereby ridership will be evaluated every three months.  The Rush Line Task Force and Metropolitan Council will decide if the service should continue afterward.

The first inbound bus leaves Columbus (Running Aces casino) at 5:47 a.m. The last outbound bus leaves St. Paul Union Depot at 5:26 p.m.   One-way fare is $3, which is transferable to other metro buses for those who need to make connections.

The No. 285 route takes about an hour to complete its 12 stops–Forest Lake, White Bear Township, and 10 stops in downtown St. Paul, most of which are along Cedar and Minnesota streets, depending on whether it is inbound or outbound.

Route No. 288, which runs from Forest Lake to Minneapolis, has seen success and is in its third year.

Writing Workshop in the Woods

Authors’ Reception and Book Signing on Friday, Oct. 15
The public is invited to meet authors Angela Foster, David Bengston, and Candace Simar at a reception on Friday, October 15. The authors will be reading selections from their works and will sign their books. The reception starts at 7:00 pm. at Pine Center for the Arts, located at 265 5th St. SE, Pine City. Please join us.

About the Authors:
Angela Foster
Memoirist and poet Angela Foster teamed with David Bengston to edit County Lines: 87 Minnesota Counties, 130 Minnesota Poets, nominated for a Midwest Book Award. She teaches memoir writing classes at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, and at other Minnesota communities.

Candace Simar
Candace Simar’s historical novels are Abercrombie Trail (North Star Press – 2009), nominated for the 2009 Minnesota Book Award, and Pomme de Terre (North Star Press – 2010). She is a frequent contributor to Lake Country Journal Magazine and has been published in several anthologies.

David Bengtson
David Bengtson’s poems and short prose have appeared in a number of journals and anthologies. Six of his poems have been set to music. He teaches in multiple forums and collaborates with students and other artists to produce video poems.

The authors above and novelist and short story writer Brian Malloy will also be the speakers the following day at a separate event:

Writing Workshop in the Woods on Sat., Oct. 16 – Register Now!

Join us for a day of creativity at the NW Company Fur Post on Saturday, Oct. 16th, from 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM. The keynote speaker will be poet and author, David Bengston, who will incorporate music, poems and visual art into his presentation, “Another Way of Seeing: Writing Inspired by Art.” The workshop will also feature presentations by three other prominent authors, Angela Foster, Candace Simar, and Brian Malloy.

Admission is $35.00 (value of $100+), which includes lunch and a tour of the fur post. It is open to all interested individuals age 16+. Registration forms are available in the Pine Center for the Arts and on our website:

The workshop is sponsored by the Pine Center for the Arts. This activity is made possible, in part, by a grant from the East Central Regional Development Commission and the East Central Arts Council with funds provided by the Minnesota State Legislature.

If you have any questions, you can call 320-629-492 or email Shelley Odendahl at the Pine Center of Arts email address: I hope you can join us!

Disc golf makes local debut


Debuting in Pine City is disc golf, brought to you by the City of Pine City‘s Parks and Recreation department.

“The outdoor activity is growing in popularity, and I am sure our residents and Pine Tech’s students will enjoy playing,” said city planner Nathan Johnson.

Discs are available at Lee’s Pro Shop, and soon SuperAmerica will make them available as well.  Disc golf is played much like traditional golf; the object is to throw the disc from the tee area to the target “basket” in the fewest number of throws.

Located on the Snake River at Voyageur Park, the new Pine City disc golf course is challenging and scenic, and best of all — free!  For an enlarged map of the course, click on the thumbnail of the above image.  For more information, call the City of Pine City at (320) 629-2575.