Pine City one-act play advances to Sections for fourth year in a row

  • Local Production places 2nd behind Rush City

Pine City High School is advancing to its fourth consecutive Section Finals in the MSHSL One-Act Play competition with the children’s play, “The Arkansaw Bear.” 

Saturday’s Sub-Section contest, hosted by Pine City, featured plays from six area schools.  Taking first place and also advancing to sections was Rush City with a cutting of the absurdist play “Waiting for Godot.”   Other schools participating in the festival were Milaca (3rd place), Mora (4th), Zimmerman (5th), and Braham (6th). 

The Pine City students have been rehearsing for about seven weeks and also participated in festivals in Sauk Rapids and Cambridge to help prepare them for Sub-Sections. The play is a touching story written as a means to help kids cope with the death of loved ones. The judges at Saturday’s competition praised the local students’ skills. 

One judge commented that there was “lots of energy exhibited by all on stage” and that the character of Tish (played by senior Emma Briski) was “delightful.”  Another judge praised the production’s use of live music over a recorded soundtrack and said that the show was “well rounded,” with the actors working well together. 

Jazz Dyskman, who plays the role of Star Bright is really enjoy the camaraderie of the cast, saying the show has been extremely rewarding, with cast members coming together “like a family.”  

Director Brad Mariska echoes these sentiments, noting, “I’m very proud of the kids’ hard work and willingness to stretch themselves as actors and work together towards a common goal.” 

That goal, says senior Josh Palmer, is making it to the State Festival.  Palmer has been a part of all four of Pine City’s section-qualifying one-acts in 2008, 2009, 2010, and now, 2011. 

“I’ve learned more from my role as a mime than I have ever done with any other single role.  So I think if things keep going as they are, we could make it to state.” 

Pine City has never qualified for the State One-Act Festival. Briski perhaps said it best, saying, “I’m really excited to have another opportunity to perform the show.  This has been a great experience and I don’t want it to be over yet.” 

On Saturday, Pine City performs at 10:55 a.m. at Harding High School in St. Paul.  Rush City will perform at 2:40 p.m.

Public Performance added this Friday at 7 p.m. at RCHS 

Mariska has teamed with Rush City director Maria Capecchi to schedule one more local performance of the One-Act on Friday night at 7 p.m. at Rush City High School.  At this special performance, audiences will be able to see both “The Arkansaw Bear” and “Waiting For Godot.”

Join Horizons and Demos to build skills that will help you facilitate conversations about difficult issues.

Tired of knee-jerk reactions to tough public issues like poverty? Join Horizons and Demos to build skills that will help you facilitate conversations about difficult issues.

The Demos Center for the Public Sector is a nationally recognized leader in non-partisan public policy research and advocacy. On February 3, Horizons will host a Demos training targeted at public policy professionals and experienced, engaged community members working in the area of poverty reduction.

Demos will discuss the impact that knee-jerk responses have in our public dialogues and offer strategies and techniques that can help foster more productive conversations about the role of government and community in our public life, with particular attention to rural communities.

With a bit of cognitive science (the study of perceptions, emotions, language, and reasoning), a bit of framing, and a lot of research-based analysis of Americans’ perceptions about government and taxes, this session will teach participants new ways of talking about public issues and the vital role that government can and should play in our communities.

Thursday, February 3, 2011
12pm, Lunch
1pm-4:30pm, Program

Continuing Education and Conference Center
1890 Buford Ave, Room 62
St. Paul, MN 55108
Driving and parking directions:

RSVP at Each Horizons community may send a maximum of three participants–please note that this session focuses on more advanced public policy topics. Mileage stipends will be available to drivers from Horizons communities; please carpool when possible.

Call Horizons Program Director Monica Herrera at 866-407-4906 or 612-624-7649 with questions. Parties interested in attending can call Sean Stevens if they want to carpool from Pine City. You may reach him at 320.629.2575 ext 115.

Back-to-back Great River Conference champs kick-off their season at home!

Monday, Jan. 31, high school speech teams from all around the region will converge on Pine City High School for its third-annual Early Bird Meet.

Organized by third-year Pine City Speech Coach, Beth Steinleitner, this round-robin event will have a unique structure in which students will compete in mixed-category rounds. A great speech will be followed by a dramatic duo, for example, or poetry will be followed by an informative presentation.

The judging of Pine City’s Early Bird Meet will also be novel.  Students will receive grades of A, B or C, with the best speaker in each round receiving a “starred” rating.  Adding C to the ranking will add to the competition and prestige to the awards.  According to Steinleitner, this approach is highly motivational to students early in the season and also provides speakers a chance to see their peers in other categories.

“Unfortunately, a student who is in the category of storytelling only ever sees other storytellers,” explained Steinleitner. “But the mixed-format of this early bird tournament will allow students to see a variety of speech categories and gives kids a chance to showcase their talents in a unique way.”

The meet also provides an opportunity to bridge junior high competitions with senior high meets, which are generally highly competitive.  According to the coach, ninth-grade students will find more success at the senior high level by first participating in a less competitive early-season meet such as the one Pine City is hosting.

The local meet is also meant to provide an opportunity for the community to come out and see what speech is all about.  Generally, public attendance at speech meets is very low.  In fact, many parents and other community members often assume that speech meets aren’t spectator sports.  And while audience members are asked to be quiet while a student is performing, having familiar faces in the crowd can certainly be motivating to a student.

“You don’t have to worry about having five dollars in your pocket,” joked Steinletiner. “Just walk right in.”

The first round of the Pine City meet begins at 4 p.m. and as many as six schools are expected to attend.

Following the Pine City events, the speech team will compete in a series of invitational tournaments as they prepare for the subsection contest this April.  This year’s team is 35 members strong, with students competing in the 13 categories of competitive speech: creative expression, dramatic duo, drama, discussion, extemporaneous speaking, extemporaneous reading, humorous interpretation, great speeches, informative, original oratory, serious prose, serious poetry, and storytelling.

The team will continue with meets on Feb. 12 in Ogilvie, Feb. 19 in Braham, Feb. 26 in Princeton, March 12 in South St. Paul, March 19 in Milaca, March 26 in Cambridge and the Great River Conference Meet on March 21 in Onamia.

Steinleitner is assisted by Amanda Thompson and junior high coach Jenny Hunt. Keep an eye on the Pioneer for results from the 2009 and 2010 Great River Conference Champ’s upcoming meets and results.

Also, (Thursday February 3rd), Pine City Jr. High Speech Team will host the Two Rivers Conference Meet. This prestigious meet is an exciting, yet, nerve-racking event for these junior high students. This is their first competition where they are not judged individually with an A, B rating, but are against others in their category. Eight schools within the Two River Conference will start competing at 4:30 p.m.

Horizons Year in Review, 2010

As 2010 comes to a close, the Pine City Horizons’ volunteers look back at their activities in the previous year and goals for 2011.

In 2007, the University of Minnesota Extension announced the creation of a program, in partnership with the North West Area Foundation; to assist rural communities in Minnesota fight poverty. Communities that met certain criteria were identified and invited to participate. Upon learning of this program, Lezlie Sauter of Lakes and Pines, brought the concept to other Pine City residents and to the attention of Nathan Johnson, the City Planner of Pine City. “Right away, we understood the potential of this program to help us understand, and then fight, the ways that poverty affects us in Pine City,” said Johnson. From there the Pine City Horizons Team was born and set about the business of recruiting volunteers and surveying the community about what they felt were the top symptoms and causes of poverty here. “We were surprised with the results and motivated by all the different manifestations of poverty that residents contributed to the survey…but most of all we were impressed with all of the people in Pine City that said they wanted to volunteer to help our efforts, “ said Sauter. The Horizons volunteers then developed a work plan and divided into teams to begin working on solutions. Over the next two years, Horizons volunteers completed training and organizational goals to complete their participation with Horizons.

Some of the first projects that were identified were the need to supplement the assistance that residents had when it came to feeding their families. Horizons members talked with the Pine County Food Shelf and Rubys Pantry about what needs they saw and what solutions could be implemented. The result was the creation of the Pine City Community Garden and Angel Food Ministries. The Community Garden allows participants to start and maintain a garden plot and utilize assistance from University of Minnesota Master Gardeners. Throughout the growing season, Master Gardeners work with local youth to teach them about gardening and at harvest time, donations from the Community Garden go to the local Food Shelf. In 2010, the Community Garden donated over 300 pounds of fresh, locally grown produce. The second program, Angel Food Ministries, allows participants to order grocery store quality food at highly discounted prices so that families can really stretch their food dollars. Angel Food Ministries typically serves between 30-50 individuals a month and is coordinated between Horizons, the Pregnancy Resource Center and Evergreen Church. “The success of Angel Food Ministries and the Community Garden made real for us the power of partnerships in helping to eliminate poverty,” said Jan Nettleton, a Horizons volunteer and former Director of the Pregnancy Resource Center.

The Horizons members also coordinated a partnership with Rural American Bank to provide a financial education course called “More $, More Sense” in January 2010. This course helped participants gain insight into their finances and better plan to meet their financial goals. While Horizons volunteers were helping their community gain financial strengths, the Pine City Horizons group was also addressing their need for a financial host or “fiscal agent” to help them meet their organizational financial goals. Volunteer members of Horizons learned how non-profit organizations work, how they are funded and how to operate successfully through trainings from the University of Minnesota, the Initiative Foundation and others. In February of 2010, Cyndy Cohen from the University of Minnesota Horizons program provided information to the Pine City Horizons volunteers about further benefiting from partnerships by applying for an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer position to help with their local programs. AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers could be used locally by Horizons through partnerships from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the Initiative Foundation and the City of Pine City.

In March, as the group continued to try to find a fiscal agent and to pursue AmeriCorps, Lezlie Sauter brought additional poverty education training to the Horizons group through their “Learning About” section of monthly Board meetings. Discussions included the potential “triggers” of poverty including accidents, deaths, divorces and loss of employment. The volunteers also learned about recovering from poverty with positive choices by emphasizing the ownership of choices. During this month, Pine City Horizons also hosted a “Homelessness Task Force” meeting that gathered community members together to discuss how this severe symptom of poverty looks in our community and how they can work toward solutions.

April 2010 saw the arrival of a fiscal agent for Pine City Horizons. The Pregnancy Resource Center graciously provided these services to Horizons and allowed them to complete their goals with the University of Minnesota’s Horizons program. On April 24th, members of Pine City Horizons received honors from Beverly Durgan, the Dean of the University of Minnesota Extension, at an award dinner with other Horizons communities for successfully completing this comprehensive, 18-month program. The Pine City members also participated in LeadershipPlenty and updated the Pine City Community Profile to reflect up to date information.

During Horizons trainings, volunteers learned that one of the steps to eliminating poverty is to increase communication. Toward this end, Horizons members began blogging about their activities as well as other community information on their blog, which can be found at In June of 2010, they received their 20,000th hit. Throughout the summer, Horizons volunteers continued to pursue an AmeriCorps VISTA position, planning the efforts of their work teams and planning a school supply drive. The school supply drive was then hosted and served 53 families and 122 children. In June, their efforts with AmeriCorps were rewarded and, in partnership with the City of Pine City, were awarded an AmeriCorps VISTA position to serve as a full time staff member to the Pine City Horizons board. This partnership created a revolutionary approach to eliminating poverty by incorporating anti-poverty initiatives into the City’s comprehensive planning process. In August, Pine City Horizons and the City of Pine City were proud to announce the hiring of Sean Stevens to fill this role. Sean brings with him experience in small business, community and economic development, as well as 6 years of experience as a planning commissioner for the City of Isanti and also for Isanti County where he has helped both entities craft their comprehensive plans. “I am honored to join with such great partners to help them accomplish their goals. The collection of dedication and commitment toward this project is impressive and I am really looking forward to meeting and collaborating with all the members of Horizons and city staff as well as other partners we form along the way,” said Sean Stevens.

In September, Pine City Horizons again partnered with the University of MN Extension Horizons to host a Regional Training Workshop at the Fur Post in Pine City. The topic of this workshop was twofold. The first half of the workshop was devoted to leadership and civic engagement with a curriculum called “Preserve, Change & Create” and the second half included a detailed look at the Pine City Market Area Profile, which highlighted economic data from the Pine City area. Both of these training topics provided insights into our community and served as valuable discussions. Information gathered at this workshop was then used by the Horizons volunteers to make contributions to Pine City’s comprehensive planning open house, which allowed a variety of community groups the opportunity to discuss a vision for the Pine City of the next 30 years. Late September activities also included coordinating a video shoot for Pine City Horizons which highlighted our efforts and impact as well as planning for Operation Community Connect which Horizons hosted in October.

Despite the nasty weather on October 26, Pine City Horizons hosted the Pine County Operation Community Connect in partnership with the Lighthouse Evangelical Free church. This event provided food, clothing and resource information to families in need. 24 different local and regional support agencies were on hand to give advice to attendees. Operation Community Connect served 193 individuals with food, clothing and information and also provided Horizons with much needed information about the needs in our community through exit surveys performed there. Horizons members also contributed to the comprehensive plan open house in October and began conversations with other local groups that supported our communities youth to see what help Horizons could be in there efforts. Horizons also began a partnership with Pine Technical College’s Entrepreneurs Club and agreed to help these student entrepreneurs plan their own small business dreams by participating together with these students to build a business plan for a local Trade, Barter & Buy coop.

Into November the Horizons volunteers continue to work on some of their long-term goals. The Everything Pine City work group partnered with the Pine City Pioneer newspaper to add valuable social service information to their 2011 Information Guide. This guide provides great information to residents and visitors about businesses, organizations, churches and events in Pine City. We look forward to contributing even more information to next years Information Guide and also using this information to create a completely comprehensive resource guide for and by the service agencies that service the Pine City area. November activity also included planning for new partnerships with Kettle Kinship and the Early Childhood Coalition.

As 2010 was coming to a close, Horizons members were excited about some of the upcoming events on their calendars. The Homelessness Forum, which Horizons hosted in March was revisited with new energy and leadership from Mary Kay Sloan and Deacon Gene Biever. This group expanded its conversations about the homelessness problem in and around Pine City and is currently assessing the best paths to proceed with help from County Commissioners, churches, non-profits, homelessness experts and many other active residents. Additionally, Horizons members worked on initiatives to support youth mentorship in our community and to provide after school activities in our community.

In January of 2011, Horizons is proud to announce our “Strike A Match” campaign in partnership with Kettle Kinship. Kettle Kinship provides matches with qualified adult mentors to children aged 5-19 who desire to have another positive adult role model in their lives. Horizons and Kettle Kinship will host a dinner on January 10th to share information and stories about the value of mentoring for the community, the mentored youth and the adult mentor. At this event, Horizons will announce its “Strike A March” donation to Kettle Kinship for every new adult mentor that is identified during National Mentoring Month, which is in January. Additionally, Horizons is equally proud to announce a contribution to the Read and Run program which has provided after school activities for kids and parents for the past 2 years. This program gives kids the time and space to do physical activities indoors during the peak of winter as well as having reading time. While the kids are having fun, parents congregate next door at Cabin Coffee’s for facilitated discussions of parenting topics like Activities for Kids, Dads Do Make a Difference, Grandparents Raising Kids and more. This valuable program was in danger of being cut due to funding and Horizons is proud to partner with them to allow for its continuation this year.

As 2011 continues we at Horizons continue to work on our goal of eliminating poverty in Pine City. We look forward to being able to continue our mission well into the future by seeking our own 501c3 status as well as by partnering with existing community organizations. In 2011, our goal is to continue the programming detailed here as well as providing asset building tools like resume workshops, car repair assistance, financial education, emergency micro loans, yard clean up programs, energy assistance and efficiency advice and much more. In order to do these things we do need your help. Please support our endeavors with your time, dollars and enthusiasm. We are actively looking for new volunteers in 2011 to give our efforts even more reach. Those interested in volunteering with Horizons can call (320) 629-2575 ext 115 or visit our office at 315 Main St South (Old Courthouse Bldg), Pine City, MN.

Census Releases New Ways to Measure Poverty

Click here to learn more.

Pine Citians invited to People’s Ball


Governor Dayton on a recent trip to Pine City

Governor Mark Dayton invites you to join him for the

“People’s Inaugural Ball”

Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011

6 p.m. to Midnight

All are welcome. 

Reception and dance.

Minneapolis Convention Center

1301 Second Avenue S., Minneapolis, Minnesota

$30 per person | $15 for students and low-income

“Blue jeans to black tie!” 


Skluzacek appointed to Planning Commission

Under Mayor Jane Robbins recommendation, the Pine City Council appointed Loren Skluzacek to serve on the nine-member Pine City Planning Commission.   Skluzacek works for Westerman Bus Co. and also owns his own seasonal business in deer processing.   

Pine City Planner Nathan Johnson said, “Loren brings a nice perspective to the Commission from his background as a small business owner and a long-time resident of Pine City.  I look forward to working with him on the issues the City will face.” 

Skluzacek replaces Bill McQuillan who had served on the Planning Commission since January, 1997.  Both Frank Christopherson’s and Dan Rydberg’s appointments were re-affirmed for another term.  All three, Skluzacek, Christopherson and Rydberg, have terms that expire at the end of 2013.

By the numbers, city building and planning


The above summary details the building and planning activity in Pine City during 2010.  It compares the numbers of houses and commercial structures built with other nearby cities, Cambridge, North Branch and Mora.  Despite posting lower numbers than in a typical year, Pine City showed as much activity last year as the other neighboring communities combined.  City Planner Nathan Johnson anticipates even higher numbers in 2011.

Relay for Life returns to Pine County


The Relay For Life is coming back to Pine County!  After several years’ absence, Pine County is planning another Relay For Life event.  The Relay For Life is an American Cancer Society sanctioned walk to raise money in the fight against cancer.  Beginning with a single walker in 1985, the Relay has grown to 3.5 million walkers in 5,000 communities in the United States alone.  It gives people in these communities an opportunity to take ownership in the fight against cancer, to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, and to remember those who have lost loved ones to the disease.

In the past, Pine County has raised thousands of dollars to fight cancer by doing  the Relay For Life, which is an overnight walk.  The last few years of its existence, Pine County’s walks raised significant amounts of money in the fight against cancer by doing shorter walks.  This year, the plan is to expand the shorter walk back into the full-fledged, 12-hour event scheduled for May 14, 2011 from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. at the Pine City High School track.  

Before the thought of walking 12 hours frightens readers away, relax.  Walkers are made up of teams of 10-15 people.  One person from the team is expected to walk at all times, but no one is expected to walk the entire time.  During breaks in the walk, there will be entertainment and games to keep people excited and awake throughout the night.  Teams can also come up with creative names and themes to make it more fun for everyone.

There have been some loyal teams that have walked repeatedly over the years and, hopefully, will walk again this year.  People who have never participated can easily form a new team.  Those who are interested in forming a team are  invited to an informational meeting and kickoff registration at Cabin Coffees on Tuesday, Jan. 18 at 6 p.m.  Only team captains need attend this meeting, and  interested participants do not have to have a full team at that time, just the desire to participate.  

Each team member must pay a $10 entry fee and then fund raise for their team.  Teams members can pay their own fee or be sponsored by an individual or a business (Team captains do not need to have the money at the Jan. 14 meeting).  For those who cannot attend the meeting but are interesting in starting a team or for those who have questions, please contact Lisa Westeren at (320) 629-3652; Sheila Hughes at (320) 629-2699; or Diane Engelstad at (320) 629-5025.  Let’s see what Pine County can accomplish!

Video: Intro to Horizons in Pine City

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