Available position with the City of Pine City

The AmeriCorps VISTA position in Pine City will remain open until June 9th. This position is a great opportunity for anyone wanting to build their resume, provide service to their country or work with our issue areas of housing, jobs and anti-poverty campaigns through Horizons.

Successful candidates receive a living allowance, child care assistance, travel allowance, awesome training and can select an end of service cash bonus or education award to fund previous education or help pay for college. Upon completion, VISTA members also have non-competitive eligibility for government jobs.

More information, including a position description and more details can be found in the City Jobs section at the Pine City website. That address is: http://pinecity.govoffice.com/

Northern Lights Express, Rush Line Updates

When Chair Steve Raukar of St. Louis and Lake County’s Regional Railroad Authority, opened the Northern Lights Express (NLX) meeting Weds., May 25, he laughed and said, “How’d everyone like having a month off?”

The April meeting was canceled and during that time, locally, there was some discussion brought forth by the District 2 Commissioner, Mitch Pangerl, at the Pine County Board about whether to continue to participate in the NLX project. 

“It’s an easy project to be against,” said Doug Carlson, the Pine County representative of to the NLX Board, who supports NLX.  He was one of the three to vote (3-2) in favor of keeping a part of the future high-speed passenger rail discussions in Pine County, and having a seat at the table.

“This project isn’t right for cancelation,” said Bob Manzonline in his administrative report.  “It is very much alive right now and moving forward.”

While a specific route is still being determined for the express train connecting Minneapolis and Duluth, NLX but it was recently awarded $5 million to complete engineering and environmental work by the federal government.

According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Transportation, NLX was one of 22 high-speed intercity passenger rail projects receiving a total of $2.02 billion in federal funds.  24 states, the District of Columbia and Amtrak submitted nearly 100 applications for the funds.

What about commuters?

As for the Rush Line, bus route changes began Feb. 14 of this year for faster weekday commuting into downtown St. Paul and the task force opted to tweak arrival times on the route from Forest Lake. 

According to Mike Rogers, senior transporation planner for the Ramsey County Regional Rail Authority, many of the changes, intended to build ridership, were suggested by people already riding the route.

Also discussed at the Rush Line Corridor Task Force’s most recent meeting, May 19, was the Chisago-Isanti County Heartland Express bus services.  Craig Rempp of Heartland Express noted, “People from Pine City are asking about use of the service.” 

Need a ride from Pine City to the Twin Cities? 

Presently, Pine City and Pine County are served by Arrowhead Transit‘s but services, which has a stop in Rush City, but doesn’t go any farther south.  However, once in Chisago County, one can hook a ride from the Heartland Express to Rush Line’s Route 285, which starts at the Forest Lake Transit Center and also has a stop in Columbus in Anoka County, before proceeding farther into the Twin Cities. 

Job Seeker? A Weekly Networking Group For You

Michele Kirby is an employment specialist with Central MN Jobs & Training Services (CMJTS) who works with those who are unemployed and seeking career changes or job assistance.   Kirby is starting a job seekers networking group that will meet at the Pine City Library every Thursday from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. beginning June 2. 

“I work with the dislocated worker programs serving both Pine and Chisago County,” she explained.  “Anyone is invited to attend the networking meetings.”

According to Kirby, the group will focus on area resources for job seekers, assist with job seeking skills and provide emotional support.  

Anyone with questions or who would like to present can contact Kirby at mkirby@cmjts.org or by calling (320) 629-4555. 

Kirby specifically works as a counselor for the dislocated worker program which serves people who are laid off and receiving un-employment with possible enrollment for training and/or job seeking assistance. 

CMJTS is a non-profit agency that serves 11 counties throughout Central MN (including Pine County) with dislocated worker program, youth programs and a senior services program.  CMJTS is a partner of the Workforce Center system for the state of Minnesota.

How gay friendly is Pine City?

Big cities and small towns are asking the question, “How gay friendly are we as a community?”  Perhaps it is a timely question for Pine City given it is one of the few communities in the world to host an annual gay pride outside of a metropolitan area.

Photo taken at the 2009 East Central Minnesota Pride.

This analysis is often looked at in the bigger cities, as is discussed in a recent Time magazine article about Dallas, Texas: The Lavender Heart of Texas.

Northfield, Minn., has wrangled through the tough question from an economic development standpoint in a recent discussion on Locally Grown Northfield, their community blog, where it mentioned the NDDC and others who have been pitching the importance of attracting Richard Florida’s Creative Class, especially artists, to assist in the overall economic future of the community.

The argument is that, in metro areas at least, gays are part of the equation, as seen here on Wikipedia:

[Richard] Florida, and others, have found a strong correlation between those cities and states which provide a more tolerant atmosphere toward gays, artists and musicians for example (exemplified by Florida’s “Gay Index” and “Bohemian Index” developed in The Rise of the Creative Class), and the numbers of creative class workers that live and move there.

The post says there exist some criticism of Florida’s work (See: 1) MPR: Is the Twin Cities metro really a haven for the creative class? and 2) City Journal: The Curse of the Creative Class).

Some considerations in determining whether Pine City is gay friendly:

  • What churches in Pine City are the most ‘open and affirming’ of gays and lesbians? Which are the least?
  • What businesses have openly supported gay causes?
  • Are there bars, restaurants or coffee shops where Pine City’s gays hang out?
  • Which public, private or parochial schools have programs that reach out to LGBT students?
  • What programs do the colleges have that reach out to LGBT students?
  • Are there many gay and lesbian couples in town with children?
  • What other questions should be asked? 

Sen. Klobuchar back in Pine City Saturday to speak at deployment ceremony

Last week, U.S. Senator Amy Kloubuchar (DFL) was in Pine City to visit with Cindy Hickey, the mother of Shane Bauer (one of the American hikers who was detained nearly two years ago while hiking near the Iraq-Iran border).  This Memorial Day weekend, Klobuchar will return to Pine City (Saturday, May 28) to speak at a National Guard deployment ceremony for members of the First Brigade Combat Team, 34th Red Bull Infantry Division.  The ceremony begins at noon at the Pine County Fairgrounds in the grandstand.

The Red Bulls are mobilizing for a one–year deployment in support of “Operation New Dawn”, the drawdown phase of U.S. forces from Iraq. The Brigade, responsible for security and base management, will have its headquarters at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait working under the overall control of Army Central Command.  It will also serve as security for the ground convoy transport of troops, equipment and supplies throughout Iraq.

133 soldiers are being deployed from the Pine City guard unit.  With 2,400 soldiers being mobilized, in total, this is the second largest deployment of the Minnesota National Guard since World War II. 

Last Saturday, Governor Mark Dayton and Sen. Klobuchar spoke at a similar ceremony, at the Brigade headquarters at Historic Fort Snelling.  Other dignitaries scheduled to appear at the Pine City deployment include Congressional District 8 Congressman Chip Cravaak (R), Minnesota Senate District 8 Senator Tony Lourey (DFL), and Minesota House District 8B Representative Roger Crawford (R).

Jazz Band performs at Art in the Park

Friday, May 27, “Art in the Park” summer concert series kicks off with the nostalgic sounds of the award-winning Pine City Jazz Bands.  The band has been a mainstay of the concert series since it first started more than two decades ago, serving up high quality music from a school program that was recently recognized as one of the “Best in the Nation” for music education.

In addition to the swinging sounds of jazz, the Pine City Music Boosters will be serving up their famously delicious sloppy joes starting at 6:00 for the low price of only $5 per plate.  The band will start swinging at about 6:30 p.m. with Jazz Too! directed by Kevin Cahill.  They will be followed by Jazz One, directed by Brad Mariska.  The groups will play a wide variety of musical styles, from traditional big band swing to latin jazz, jazz rock, and movie and film favorites.  The bands will entertain with classic Glenn Miller charts like “American Patrol” and “Moonlight Serenade,” but also play rock tunes including “Moondance” and “Free Bird.”

You can hear these top-notch student musicians live in Pine City’s Robinson Park this Friday starting at 6:30pm.  The concert is totally free, so bring a lawn chair or blanket and come out to kick off summer with the Pine City Arts Council and Pine City Jazz Bands.

Klobuchar visits Pine City, mom of detained US hiker

KSTP reports that Sen. Amy Klobuchar visited Pine City May 20 to meet with Cindy Hickey, mother of Shane Bauer, one of the American hikers who was detained nearly two years ago while hiking near the Iraq-Iran border.

Since that time, hiker Sarah Shourd (Bauer’s fiancée) was allowed to return to the U.S. last year on bail but not the two men, Bauer and Fattal.  Their families have made countless TV appearances, enlisted celebrities for help and even traveled to Tehran to keep the spotlight on the situation.   The latest tactic taken by the families: a hunger strike to show solidarity with their sons whom they beileve are also on one.

Nothing the moms have done yet has swayed the Iranian government, not after 21 months of separation.

The associated press reported that Cindy Hickey, of Pine City, said, “As family members, we’re taking a big hit and we’re getting to the bottom, financially, emotionally, physically.  We’re all suffering from this.  It’s very desperate.”

Fattal and Bauer have been held on espionage charges since July, 2009.  Both men deny the charges.    Since Shourd’s release, Iranian officials ordered her back to Tehran for the trial, but she has declined.

Reportedly, while in Pine City, Klobuchar also attended Field Day at the Pine City Elementary School.

Horizons Video

Although this has been posted here in the past, we wanted to re-issue this to get feedback from you, the viewers.  Please feel free to leave your comment and also discuss what you would like to see done in Pine City to help eliminate poverty.

Pine City Horizons’ Spring Spruce Up

Spring Spruce Up Volunteers

Volunteers for Horizons' Spring Spruce Up included (from left to right): Sean Stevens, Kris Engh, Jenny Erdmann, Delphin Cruz, Rhianna Cruz, Heather Cruz, Nathan Johnson & Tyrel Bergmann

On Saturday, May 14th, Pine City Horizons hosted a Pine City Spring Spruce Up Day.  The goal of this effort was to build relationships, have fun and build pride in our community.  “When the Spring Spruce Up was conceived, we wanted to identify someone who could benefit from not only the spruce up, but would also see this effort as a way to form new relationships.  Having relationships with those that can help when you need it is a very important part of being happy and healthy,” said Kris Engh with Pine City Horizons.

“When Mark Madison of the Pine Terrace manufactured home park contacted Horizons about cleaning up some of the vacant lots, we saw this as a good opportunity for a win-win,” continued Engh.

Pine Terrace also provided a donation to help buy trash bags, lunch for the volunteers and a dumpster to remove the garbage.

Garbage collected from the volunteers at Horizons Spring Spruce Up

Trash collected from Spring Spruce Up

“This was a great event”, said Sean Stevens also with Pine City Horizons, “we collected lots of garbage, met new people, helped beautify Pine City and created some new partnerships that will continue to build social capital for all those involved.”

The best part of this event is what has happened as a result.  Heather Cruz, one of the volunteers for this event, has already mobilized a youth group from her church to continue this clean up effort.  As a result, she and her family and members of her church will return to the area next weekend to continue the goal of this program which was clean up, build camaraderie and connections.

“The first Spring Spruce Up felt so good that I just wanted it to continue,” said Cruz.  “Anyone is welcome to join us for the second Spring Spruce Up and I guarantee you will have fun, meet new friends and feel great about Pine City.”

Spring Spruce Up 2 will take place this Sunday, May 22nd at 4-8pm.  Anyone interested in participating can call Heather Cruz at (612) 423-3469 or just meet at Pine Terrace (near the mailboxes) on Sunday at 2pm.

Third Graders Visit City Hall

144 third graders visited City Hall May 18. Mayor Jane Robbins spoke of some of the goings on of the city and shed some light on how city government operates.