A look back at 2010

A look at stories that transcended beyond Pine City…


1. Pine City mom works to release son detained in Iraq

Hearts went out to a Pine City mom, Cindy Hickey, after her son, Shane Bauer, along with Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal, were taken into custody and accused of espionage in Iran.  Bauer’s future mother-in-law, Nora Shourd, lived with Hickey until her daughter Sara was released on bail.  The hikers await trial.


2. Isaackson drafted by Sabres

In June, Pine City’s Christian Isackson was selected by the Buffalo Sabres in the NHL draft in Los Angeles. Isackson spent the past season playing at St. Thomas Academy where he finished second on the team in scoring with 57 points (25g, 32a) in 26 games with the Cadets. He led the team in powerplay goals with nine. Isackson has already committed to attend the University of Minnesota.


3. True ambassadors, “Jerry’s kids” Nick and Aubrey Olson, laid to rest

Within two months of each other, Nick Olson, 21, and Aubrey Olson, 23, died of complications from Friedreich’s ataxia. In 1998 and 1999, Nick and his older sister, Aubrey, were named MDA National Goodwill Ambassadors. They were the first siblings to be named MDA Ambassadors since 1964. The brother-sister team traveled extensively across America, representing MDA and the families it serves. Following his high school graduation in 2007, Nick attended Pine Technical College with his service dog, Henry. Aubrey was completing her bachelor’s degree in child psychology at the University of Minnesota with plans to attend law school.

4. Fallen soldier, MSGT Daniel Fedder, honored Statewide

A well-loved Pine Citian and decorated Marine, Master Sgt. Daniel Fedder, 34, died in Afghanistan in a bombing attack. Fedder, a Pine City High School graduate and wrestler, was an explosives ordnance disposal technician who enlisted in the Marines in December 1994. He was deployed to Iraq in 2004 and in 2006 and then deployed with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit in 2007. In that time, Fedder was awarded more than a dozen personal service awards, including the Purple Heart.

5. Man rescued by a deputy’s hunting dog dies

94-year-old William Lepsch died despite his rescue by off-duty sheriff deputy Brett Grinde’s intuitive hunting dog, Effie, who insisted on leading the deputy to where the elderly man was frozen to his driveway.


6. Pine City hangs on in recession

Homebuilding is still down in Pine City but the community continues to grow at a faster pace than neighboring towns; six (6) homes were built in Pine City this year. In comparison, North Branch—last decade’s fastest-growing community in Minnesota—built just one.


7. Following national trend, local Blockbuster Video closes

Following the trend, the Blockbuster in Pine City closed earlier this year. The company reports that by the end of 2011, the video rental chain will try to reverse its losses by closing as many as 20 percent of its stores, in hopes to fend off rapidly growing rivals, Netflix Inc. and Redbox. In the near future, Blockbuster will begin to have video rental kiosks within other retail locations, similar to the Redbox concept. The closure left some prime commercial space at 880 Main Street S., with some of Pine City’s highest traffic counts along the fronting Main Street.

8. East Central Minnesota Pride trend setting

East Central Minnesota GLBT people, their family and friends met in Pine City to celebrate rural pride for the seventh consecutive year. Now, other Outstate Minnesota communities, including Grand Rapids and Brainerd, have followed suit and are hosting pride events of their own.

9. Horizons program pays off

The community received a BIG check from Northwest Area Foundation in the amount of $10,000 for meeting all thresholds of the Horizons program to date. The programs relates to eradicating poverty and building community locally.


10. A trail on the way

Pine City was successful in receiving a $600,000 appropriations request, on top of a $225,000 DNR trails grant, to begin to establish a trail that will eventually tie the Willard Munger Trail (in Hinckley) with the Sunrise Prairie Trail (in North Branch), completing the link from the Twin Cities to the Twin Ports (Duluth-Superior, Wis.).

  • For a look back at ’08, click here.
  • For a look back at ’09, click here.

Heritage Players Announces Cast for “Faith County”

In Mineola, a small town located “somewhere in the middle of nowhere in the South,” a colorful collection of good ol’ country folk gather at the Faith County Fairgrounds for this year’s county fair. In a place where beehive hairdos are still the rage and Saturday nights are reserved for the tractor pulls, there’s still competition in the arts and crafts category and plenty of gossip to be found at the lemonade stand run by the ladies of the church. Sound like any place you know?

The Pine City Heritage Players are excited to present Faith County, a comedy written by Mark Landon Smith, as their winter production this year. On December 1st, the 7th grade commons room at Pine City High School was filled with eighteen people seeking their opportunity to play one of the roles in this hilarious comedy. Angie Gregerson will be directing the production and was excited about the turnout for auditions. “As a director it’s always rewarding to have a good turnout for auditions. Even when you can’t cast every person that shows up, it gives you an idea of who’s interested in being on stage and may help choose future productions.”

The cast of characters in the show include the bossy gossip, the flirtatious poetess, the uptight preacher’s wife, the mayor’s wife who drinks too much, the hairstylist still crowing about winning the elementary spelling bee, the smitten pig farmer, the local mechanic, the gas jockey and the sweet, young and eternally pregnant country girl.

Cast members include: Kristen Waxberg, Jodi Hodgson, Melanie Eglund, Sandi Sparling, Karen Miller Saunders, Katherine Jones, Theran Hedtke, Thad Hedtke, Dennis Howard, and Steve Farquharson.

Faith County opens on February 25 and will delight audiences at five performances. Friday and Saturday evening performances at 7:30pm on February 25 & 26 and March 4 & 5 as well as a Sunday matinee at 2:00pm on February 27th.

For more information on the production, visit the Pine City Heritage Players on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pcheritageplayers.

Merry Christmas

Pine City Horizons wishes you and yours the best this Holiday season. Thank you to all who have given of themselves to support Pine City.


An Evening with Sara Groves

World Vision and Our Response present: An Evening with Sara Groves to celebrate their first year of partnership in bringing the people of East Central Minnesota together to transform the community of Kivuruga, Rwanda in eastern Africa. All are invited to join us to celebrate a great year of impact on Saturday, January 29th at 7:00pm at the high school in Cambridge. Joining them for the evening is special guest, Sara Groves, who is an inspiring singer & songwriter who has been active in Rwanda and throughout the world in helping those in need. This is a FREE event and everyone is welcome, although seating is first-come, first-served. More information can be found at www.our-response.org or by calling Steve at 651.587.5435.

Horizons has resources available to the Public


Pine City Horizons has resources available for check out of their office. If you would like to make use of any of these resources, simply visit the Horizons office at 315 Main Street South in the Old Courthouse building. The Horizons office is located on the main floor next to the Chamber of Commerce.

The following materials are available for check out for 1 week periods. Borrowers can use these materials for free although a $20 cash deposit will be taken and then refunded upon return of the item(s).

Homeless Youth: Finding Home
Homeless to Harvard: the Liz Murray Story

Helping America’s Homeless: Emergency Shelter or Affordable Housing
Square Foot Gardening: A New Way to Garden in Less Space with Less Work
Complete Gardener: A Comprehensive, Up to Date, Fully Illustrated Reference
Putting Food By, 4th Addition
Preserving the Harvest: 150 Recipes for Freezing, Canning, Drying & Pickling Fruits & Vegetables
The Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Natural Pest & Disease Control
The Complete Compost Gardening Guide
Seed to Seed
WordPress for Dummies, 2nd Addition

Horizons Passport to Peer Learning
Dollar Works 2, A Personal Financial Education Program
Pine City Community Profile, April 2010
Communications Toolkit: A Guide to navigating communications for the nonprofit world
Strategies to Build Economic Security & Reduce Poverty
Northwest Area Foundation: Struggling to Make Ends Meet
Northwest Area Foundation: When Investors Buy Up the Neighborhood
Northwest Area Foundation: American Dream Under Fire
Northwest Area Foundation: Changing Lives-Innovative Solutions for Poverty in Portland
Policy Matters Vol 1: Issues 1-4

Kodak and Canon digital cameras
Canon Photo Printer & Photo Paper

American Community Survey results for Pine County released

The 2009 results have been released by the US Census Bureau of the American Community Survey (ACS). This report shows the results of the lengthy survey sent to some residents one year ago which surveyed a wide range of topic areas including households, families, school enrollment, educational attainment, housing, economic, citizenship, ancestory and more.

The following are some highlight results from this report. A link to the full report can be found at the end of this story.

NOTE. Although the American Community Survey (ACS) produces population, demographic and housing unit estimates, it is the Census Bureau’s Population Estimates Program that produces and disseminates the official estimates of the population for the nation, states, counties, cities and towns and estimates of housing units for states and counties.

For more information on confidentiality protection, sampling error, nonsampling error, and definitions, see Survey Methodology.

HOUSEHOLDS AND FAMILIES: In 2005-2009 there were 11,000 households in Pine County. The average household size was 2.5 people.
Families made up 67 percent of the households in Pine County. This figure includes both married-couple families (52 percent) and other families (15 percent). Nonfamily households made up 33 percent of all households in Pine County. Most of the nonfamily households were people living alone, but some were composed of people living in households in which no one was related to the householder.

The Types of Households in Pine County, Minnesota in 2005-2009
Married-couple families 52%
Other families 15%
People living alone 26%
Other nonfamily households 7%

NATIVITY AND LANGUAGE: One percent of the people living in Pine County in 2005-2009 were foreign born. Ninety-nine percent was native, including 78 percent who were born in Minnesota.

Among people at least five years old living in Pine County in 2005-2009, 4 percent spoke a language other than English at home. Of those speaking a language other than English at home, 34 percent spoke Spanish and 66 percent spoke some other language; 27 percent reported that they did not speak English “very well.”

GEOGRAPHIC MOBILITY: In 2005-2009, 87 percent of the people at least one year old living in Pine County were living in the same residence one year earlier; 7 percent had moved during the past year from another residence in the same county, 4 percent from another county in the same state, 2 percent from another state, and less than 0.5 percent from abroad.

Geographic Mobility of Residents of Pine County, Minnesota in 2005-2009
Same residence 87%
Different residence, same county 7%
Different county, same state 4%
Different state 2%
Abroad 0%

EDUCATION: In 2005-2009, 85 percent of people 25 years and over had at least graduated from high school and 13 percent had a bachelor’s degree or higher. Fifteen percent were dropouts; they were not enrolled in school and had not graduated from high school.

The total school enrollment in Pine County was 6,100 in 2005-2009. Nursery school and kindergarten enrollment was 610 and elementary or high school enrollment was 4,600 children. College or graduate school enrollment was 820.

The Educational Attainment of People in Pine County, Minnesota in 2005-2009
Graduate or professional degree 4%
Bachelor’s degree 9%
Associate’s degree 8%
Some college, no degree 24%
High school diploma or equivalency 41%
Less than high school diploma 15%

DISABILITY: In Pine County, among people at least five years old in 2005-2009, percent reported a disability. The likelihood of having a disability varied by age – from percent of people 5 to 15 years old, to percent of people 16 to 64 years old, and to percent of those 65 and older.

INDUSTRIES: In 2005-2009, for the employed population 16 years and older, the leading industries in Pine County were Educational services, and health care, and social assistance, 19 percent, and Arts, entertainment, and recreation, and accommodation and food services, 17 percent.

Employment by Industry in Pine County, Minnesota in 2005-2009
Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and mining 4%
Construction 10%
Manufacturing 10%
Wholesale trade 3%
Retail trade 11%
Transportation and warehousing, and utilities 4%
Information 1%
Finance and insurance, and real estate and rental and leasing 5%
Professional, scientific, and management, and administrative and waste management services 5%
Educational services, and health care and social assistance 19%
Arts, entertainment, and recreation, and accommodation and food services 17%
Other Services, except public administration 4%
Public administration 6%

OCCUPATIONS AND TYPE OF EMPLOYER: Among the most common occupations were: Management, professional, and related occupations, 25 percent; Service occupations, 23 percent; Sales and office occupations, 22 percent; Production, transportation, and material moving occupations, 16 percent; and Construction, extraction, maintenance, and repair occupations, 12 percent. Seventy-five percent of the people employed were Private wage and salary workers; 16 percent was Federal, state, or local government workers; and 9 percent was Self-employed in own not incorporated business workers.

TRAVEL TO WORK: Seventy-seven percent of Pine County workers drove to work alone in 2005-2009, 12 percent carpooled, less than 0.5 percent took public transportation, and 5 percent used other means. The remaining 6 percent worked at home. Among those who commuted to work, it took them on average 27.1 minutes to get to work.

INCOME: The median income of households in Pine County was $43,618. Seventy-five percent of the households received earnings and 22 percent received retirement income other than Social Security. Thirty-four percent of the households received Social Security. The average income from Social Security was $14,407. These income sources are not mutually exclusive; that is, some households received income from more than one source.

POVERTY AND PARTICIPATION IN GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS: In 2005-2009, 14 percent of people were in poverty. Eighteen percent of related children under 18 were below the poverty level, compared with 10 percent of people 65 years old and over. Ten percent of all families and 31 percent of families with a female householder and no husband present had incomes below the poverty level.

Poverty Rates in Pine County, Minnesota in 2005-2009
People age 65 and over 10%
Related children under 18 years 18%
All families 10%
Female householder families 31%

POPULATION OF Pine County: In 2005-2009, Pine County had a total population of 28,000 – 13,000 (48 percent) females and 15,000 (52 percent) males. The median age was 41.4 years. Twenty-three percent of the population was under 18 years and 16 percent was 65 years and older.

The Age Distribution of People in Pine County, Minnesota in 2005-2009
65 and over 16%
45 to 64 28%
25 to 44 25%
18 to 24 8%
Under 18 23%

RACIAL MAKEUP: For people reporting one race alone, 93 percent was White; 1 percent was Black or African American; 3 percent was American Indian and Alaska Native; less than 0.5 percent was Asian; less than 0.5 percent was Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, and 1 percent was Some other race. Two percent reported Two or more races. Two percent of the people in Pine County was Hispanic. Ninety-two percent of the people in Pine County was White non-Hispanic. People of Hispanic origin may be of any race.

HOUSING CHARACTERISTICS: In 2005-2009, Pine County had a total of 17,000 housing units, 34 percent of which were vacant. Of the total housing units, 77 percent was in single-unit structures, 7 percent was in multi-unit structures, and 16 percent was mobile homes. Twenty-seven percent of the housing units were built since 1990.

The Types of Housing Units in Pine County, Minnesota in 2005-2009
Single-unit structures 77%
In multi-unit structures 7%
Mobile homes 16%

OCCUPIED HOUSING UNIT CHARACTERISTICS: In 2005-2009, Pine County had 11,000 occupied housing units – 9,000 (82 percent) owner occupied and 1,900 (18 percent) renter occupied. Three percent of the households did not have telephone service and 4 percent of the households did not have access to a car, truck, or van for private use. Multi Vehicle households were not rare. Forty-one percent had two vehicles and another 28 percent had three or more.

HOUSING COSTS: The median monthly housing costs for mortgaged owners was $1,266, nonmortgaged owners $381, and renters $573. Thirty-nine percent of owners with mortgages, 18 percent of owners without mortgages, and 41 percent of renters in Pine County spent 30 percent or more of household income on housing.

Occupants with a Housing Cost Burden in Pine County, Minnesota in 2005-2009
Owners with mortgage 39%
Owners without mortgage 18%
Renters 41%

Source: American Community Survey, 2005-2009


Minnesota Buzz, reiterated

The top-10 most common topics Minnesotans are blogging about right now:


Followed by these common blog topics:

Advertising, Baseball, Books, Cooking, Design, Education, Faith, Health, Minnesota Twins, Nature, Parenting, Reviews, Social Media, Technology, Travel, Twin Cities & Writing.

 And, these are the other common blog topics as well:

Adoption, Animals, Architecture, Arts, Baby, Baking, Basketball, Beauty, Bible, Bicycling, Birds, Blog, Business, Children, Christian, Church, College, Comedy, Community, Conservative, Coupons, Crafts, Culture, Dining, Dogs, Drawing, Economics, Economy, Entertainment, Environment, Evemts, Fashion, Feminism, Fiction, Film, Fishing, Fitness, Football, Friends, Frugal, Fun, Funny, Garden, GLBT, God, Gophers, Government, Graphic Design, Green, Handmade, Hockey, Home, Illustration, Internet, Internet Marketing, Jewelry, Kids, Knitting, Life, Lifestyle, Literature, Local, Media,  Minnesota Vikings, MLB, MN Daily, Mom, Money, Movies, MPR, NBA, NFL, NHL, Online Marketing, Opinion, Outdoors, Painting, Personal, Pets, Philosophy, Photographer, Pictures, Poetry, Progressive, Publishing, Reading, Real Estate, Realtor, Religion, Restaurants, Saint Paul, Science, Scrapbooking, Sewing, Shopping, Small Business, Software, Spirituality, Training, Vegan, Video, Vikings, Vintage, Weather, Web Design, Wedding, Wine, Writer. 

I’m most surprised in Minnesota, “weather” didn’t make the top-10 list.  But, with so much to blog about, perhaps you have an interest in getting started.  Pine City Community Blogs is in need of more contributers to keep the information on this site fresh, current and interesting to those who see it and comment on it.  If you are interested in becoming a featured blogger, please contact njohnson@pinecitygov.com or sstevens@pinecitygov.com today!

Farmers Market Symposium to be held Jan 25th

An event designed to showcase services and assistance available to Farmers Market organizations and producers to promote locally grown foods and the creation of jobs and small business.
All are invited. This event is free and open to the public. For information contact the ECRDC office of Community/Economic Development at 320-679-4065 #29.
Presented by Central MN Jobs & Training—Workforce Center, Pine Technical College, MN Department of Employment & Economic Development and the East Central Regional Development Commission.

MMA cage-fighting card to feature Pine City fighters


  • Grabowski, Selvig and Skadsheim to appear Dec. 18 at Grand Casino 

Pine Citians Jake Grabowski, 30, Andrew “The Pheonix” Selvig, 20, and Kevin Skadsheim, 24, obviously know how to make an entrance into caged fighting.

These three Pine City fighters will continue their mixed martial arts careers in front of family and friends on Saturday, December 18 at nearby Grand Casino Hinckley. They are part of a Mixed Martial Arts Cage Fight card, which also includes Hinckley hometown sensation Tony Norlander, being presented by Little Bear Fight Promotions and Cage Fighting Xtreme. 

“The popularity of the sport and its competitive nature are what got me into it,” said Grabowski, a 1999 Mora High School graduate now living in rural Pine City. 

He and three other fighters on the all-pro fight card—Jason Benson of Rush City, Skadsheim of Pine City and Norlander of Hinckley—are a part of an area fight team called Barrage MMA, which trains at Grabowski’s home and at the Warriors Fitness Club in Hinckley.  Whereas, Selvig has been preparing for his fight with Team Amos in Rice Lake, Wis., and has bulked up his five-feet, 11-inch frame to be able to tango with Benson in a 155-pound bout.   

The angle on Selvig, a 2008 graduate of Cambridge-Isanti high school now residing in Pine City, isn’t hard to find.  Selvig is the grandson who when 18-years old, along with an accomplice, then-19-year old Sam Durkot, allegedly stole approximately a quarter of a million dollars from his grandfather on Christmas Day two years back.   

He then went on a shopping spree that included at least six cars, trucks, clothes, flat-screen TV’s and a computer, among other items.  He began handing out $100 bills to friends and told them they had won the money at a casino.  Selvig had stayed at his grandparents for approximately nine months prior to the incident and, luckily, authorities were able to recover over half of the money for them. 

Since Christmas 2008, fighting for a second-chance has taken on new meaning for Selvig. He readily admits the incident inspired him to pursue a dream of becoming an MMA fighter, an aspiration he’d previously left on the backburner.  That dream came full circle 16 pro MMA fights ago and he’s since fought all over Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa.

Selvig says he respectfully acknowledges the impact of the tragedy the incident caused for his family and pays tribute through his fights.  

“I don’t have the prettiest history but every day is another day in progress,” said Selvig.  “[The fights] help me relax and cope with stress and anger built up inside.” 

“Ever since my first fight, I fell in love with it,” said Selvig, who uses the moniker “The Pheonix”, a symbol tatted on his left rib to signify rebirth and a new way of life.  He hopes his newfound passion, along with his strengths in mauy thai, jiu jitsu and kickboxing, will help him move into the next chapter of his life. 

Besides the local rota, the fight sequence includes the main event—Dan Keiser versus Nate Schut—and also features Norlander, RT Hicks, Issac Herzog, Shane Jones Guy, Lucas Goulet, Jeremy Anderson, Wes Ronchi, Craig Early, Rocco Magorie, Will Kausulker, Fernando Violante and Dan Washburn.  It is subject to change based on final weigh-ins.

Tickets for the MMA – Minnesota Beatdown are not available through Ticketmaster.  To order tickets, which are $20-$50, call (320) 279-0831, or Barrage MMA (contact 763-447-8224) or contact Nathan Johnson at (612) 669-5945 or E-mail him at dragon.sports@hotmail.com.

Doors open at 6 p.m. at the Hinckley Events & Convention Center, and the first bout is at about 7 p.m. 

Renewed Hope

I have to admit. I get frustrated pretty easily. I realize this is something I should work on, as I have newly became a mother and reflecting on my own upbringing, parenting requires patience.

What frustrates me most is when people talk talk talk but nothing ever gets done or no one ever steps up to the plate to DO anything about the problems they see. Basically, if you are not willing to attempt to think of a solution, don’t bitch about the problem.

So when the Horizons Program first became known to me as a option for the Pine City community in August 2008, I was excited to help bring a program into Pine City that could help area residents free themselves from the grasp that poverty or just plain old struggling, has on their daily lives.

The first training that the Horizons Program sponsored for Pine City was to teach ten of us how to facilitate community discussions on what poverty looks like in our community. The training & the following discussions sparked a lot hope within me. People of our community had great ideas and I couldn’t wait to get started.

The Horizons Program continued further (and was quite a bit of work) and reached its completion this past spring when we were awarded a $10,000 grant to put our ideas into action. This was all fine and lovely, but those of us that had been with the program at the start were tired and have so many things going on in our lives that we were having a hard time finding the fire to keep our dreams alive.

That’s when I had the opportunity to talk with someone who knew of another community member that had the same ideas Horizons had about creating an emergency housing shelter… these two people then facilitated a meeting last night that brought TWENTY people to the table to talk about this touching issue and difficult task. When I would sit at our Horizon board meetings and wonder how our little group was going to take this task on, I would feel so downhearted. It would take forever with just us… but now I have renewed hope.

Our next meeting will be Monday December 13th, 5 p.m. at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in the addition between the school & the church. We are inviting some homelessness prevention specialists to teach us about the different models of emergency housing shelters, funding sources, etc. and will be touring a site that could potentially house our dream. If you are interested in being part of this solution, please join us!