Students invited to join Pine City band

-Beginner Band Registration scheduled for September 13

The Pine City Schools Music Department is currently registering new fifth and sixth grade students for their award-winning band program.  Lessons are available free to all students at Pine City Elementary and St. Mary’s School, and area home school families.

Registration is Tuesday, September 13 from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Pine City Elementary School.  At this time, parents can schedule lessons and learn more about renting an instrument.  If families are unable to attend registration, contact director Brad Mariska by emailing or calling 320-629-4129.  Parents should not purchase an instrument before the registration date.  

Rental programs are available for families of all income levels.  

Says Mariska, “I am very proud of the contributions the school administration and local residents have made to supplement our instrument inventory.  Families who might not be able to otherwise afford buying an instrument have several affordable options for acquiring an instrument, which they can learn more about by attending registration on September 13.”

Over 350 students in grades 5-12 played in the band program last year, when Pine City was named one of the “Best Communities for Music Education in America” by the NAMM Foundation for the second year in a row.

Public invited to 9/11 Memorial Ceremony

A ceremony will be held at Brennan Field in Hinckley on Sunday, September 11, 2011 at 1 p.m. to honor victims and heros of the 9/11 attacks.

The following article is reprinted with permission from the author.  Originally published in the Hinckley News:

Written By Ailene Croup

The best place to see Manhattan is from Staten Island, according to Paul Marten. That’s where he works and lives.

On Sept. 11, 2001, Marten stood on the ferry and stared in disbelief as it glided across the Hudson River toward Manhattan. The skyline was partially obscured by a cloud of smoke and dust.

Then, the second tower fell.

It was a scheduled day off for Marten, a firefighter with Staten Island Engine Company 153. Usually, he kept his radio turned down low at his bedside. It was off.

A plane had hit the World Trade Center (WTC), his wife said as she woke him.

“I thought, probably a small plane. I heard there was a good fire going in Manhattan.”

He got dressed, kissed his wife goodbye and went to work. On his way there, the South Tower collapsed.

Those hours of that day would mark the first of 400 Marten would spend at Ground Zero, the site of the WTC, until the recovery effort finally ended in May 2002.

His fire company tried to stay together. First a ferry, then a bus to city hall, people covered with dust walked past toward the river.

“Anyone who had a boat did some ferrying that day.”

Marten walked by abandoned fire trucks, police cars and delivery trucks.

“It was like walking in snow. Quiet.”

An attempt was made to organize the volunteers which took Marten’s company to the Marriott and the Deutsche Bank adjacent to the WTC. The bank had been badly damaged by the blast from the attacks and was burning.

A truck was needed and Marten volunteered to get one they passed.

Debris and dust filled the streets which were impassable in most places.

“The windows had been blown out of the fire truck. Dust blew up in my eyes when I started the engine.”

He drove the truck toward the Deutsche Bank, half on the street, half on the sidewalk.

He was treated, given a pain killer for his eyes and went back to work.

About 11 p.m. that night, the medication wore off and his eyes began to hurt.

“Not many people had cell phones back then. I had to find a pay phone to make a collect call to my wife.”

He found a boat to transport him back to Staten Island where his wife was waiting to take him home.

In the days that followed, he spent time aiding the recovery effort. He would also spend his days off volunteering, looking for remains, one little piece of DNA that would give a family piece of mind. Friends and relatives of those lost would ask for something, anything that would give them closure.

He stood by as machines he called grapplers would scoop out rubble, carefully watching for any link to human remains.


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In Greater Minnesota, Census Bureau finds Pine City area to be the most gay

Census:  Pokegama is the township with the highest proportion of same-sex partners in the state; also Rock Creek and Pine City are among gayest cities Statewide

In the last 10 years, Minnesota saw quite the surge in the number of same-sex households and the brunt of the growth, 80% of it, took place beyond Minneapolis and St. Paul—in the suburbs, exurbs and the least likely of small towns—places like Pine City. 

Or is Pine City the least likely of places?

According to the U.S. Census, which recently released its second-ever count of same-sex partners in Minnesota, the Greater Pine City area is home to some of the most concentrated same-sex coupled households among any of the areas of the State, outside of metropolitan areas.

There are 1,786 townships in Minnesota and the “gayest” of them all is Pokegama Township (pop. 2,743), which surrounds the city of Pine City on three sides.  White Bear Township (pop. 10,949) is the only township that has more by sheer numbers—just eight more households—but Pokegama by far has the highest percentage, 2.1% of all of the households, more than twice that of the average across the State.  In Minnesota, there were 13,718 same-sex couples in 2010, accounting for about one percent of couples statewide.

Pine City itself, within the relatively-small municipal limits, has eight such couples, a 14.3% increase from the previous Census, which even then was higher than the State average.   The city had the equivalent or more same-sex coupled households than a handful of cities over twice its size, including St. Joseph (pop. 6,534), Victoria (pop. 7,345), Big Lake (pop. 7,386), Baxter (pop. 7,610), Mahtomedi (pop. 7,676), Crookston (pop. 7,891), Cambridge (pop. 8,111) and Waconia (pop. 10,697) – even Hennepin County’s Minnetrista (6,384).

And, Rock Creek, just 1.5 miles down the road, has twice as many same-sex coupled households as Pine City.  Yet just 20 miles to the west, in Mora, a community of similar size and distance from the Twin Cities, there weren’t any same sex couples reported to be living there. 

As far as counties are concerned, only Hennepin and Ramsey have more same-sex couple households per thousand households; Pine County comes in third out of all 87 counties.

Some may ask, “Why does this rural part of the state have a higher concentration of same-sex couples?”

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A Place for You Information Session to be held Septermber 6th

Coming up on September 6 at 7:00pm, A Place for you will be hosting an information session at the Pine City Library Community Center.   This meeting will be an opportunity for Pine City residents to come learn about the new homeless shelter that will be opening. As well as an time to share any concerns, questions and comments they may have.


Some FAQ’s and Information about the Shelter

Who are the board members? The co-chair and vice-chair are Mary Kay Sloan and Deacon Eugene W. Biever. Other board members include; Lynette Forbes-Carday (secretary), Mary Jo Mettler (Treasurer), Pam Greden, Nancy Mach, Pastor Vicki, Linda Cassman, Dave Mettler, Steve Hallan & Lisa Dunbar.

What is their mission? A Place for Your is a safe place for people in distress that provides for basic needs and offers resources to provide life-changing alternatives while respecting the inherent goodness and dignity of each individual. Services will be provided in a respectful, non-discriminatory setting.

Where will the shelter be?The former Allina Building at 220 3rd Avenue SE Pine City Mn. east of the old railroad depot?

Purpose?Is a transitional place for those who have no place to go for a night, day, week, a month, or three months until they can find a home or a safe place to go to.

  1.  Everyday those that are housed at A Place For You would have to be working on a transitional plan that would help them to better their life. Continue reading

Habitat for Humanity Home opens in Pine City!

This weekend marks the successful completion of a Habitat for Humanity home for a local Pine City family. The home, which was was built for Kelly O’Brien and her son, was possible because of a collaboration between the East Central Minnesota Habitat for Humanity, her family, as well as many volunteers located right here in the community. To celebrate the completion of the home, a combined open house and blessing will be held this Saturday, August 27th at 1pm.  The event will be held in the home which is located at 610 Second Street SE.

 Some background about Habitat for Humanity and their selection process:

Each family that receives a home from Habitat for Humanity must meet several criteria. For this particular home, Habitat received 12 applications. Those applicants were narrowed down based on several guidelines or questions. These include, is the family currently homeless or living in substandard housing? This could includ anything from living in a home that is in a state of disrepair to living with other family members because they cannot afford their own housing. Secondly, is the family willing to help partner with Habitat for Humanity? The partnership requires 256 hours of volunteer time to be put forth by the family. And lastly, does the family have the ability to repay the home loan?  One benefit of receiving a home from Habitat is that the home loan is greatly reduced and interest free. More info is also available here, on the East Central Minnesota Habitat for Humanity Website.

Meet your legislators at the Minnesota State Fair; Rep. Crawford responds to recent media reports

Many of the State’s legislators are expected to be at the Minnesota House and Minnesota Senate state fair booths this year, including both of those who represent the Pine City area.  Head out to the Great Minnesota Get Together and visit with them during these timeframes:

  • Monday, Aug. 29 – 10 a.m. to noon: Rep. Roger Crawford (8B)
  • Tuesday, Aug. 30 – 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.: Senator Tony Lourey (8)

Rep. Crawford’s recent E-mail newsletter

Rep. Roger Crawford recently responded to swirling media reports he believes fail to provide full and accurate details pertaining to legislative salaries during the state shutdown which occurred earlier this summer.

He said, “Previous to the shutdown, we were asked how we wanted to handle our pay during a possible shutdown. Our choices were to defer the pay or continue to be paid. I opted to defer my pay.”

Rep. Crawford claimed he did not volunteer this information to anyone or try to use it politically in any way.

“After I said I wanted to defer my pay, I was asked, once the possible shutdown was over, if I wanted the pay for the time of the shutdown,” he wrote, adding, “I did not know how long a possible shutdown would last.”

“I said I wanted to receive the salary I was due,” he continued.  “My reasoning was that I continued to fulfill my obligations as a legislator by meeting with constituents, responding to inquiries, going to the Capitol, etc.”

However,  he said, he believed it wasn’t right to receive a paycheck if others were not able to work through no fault of their own.  Approximately a week or two after the shutdown ended, he received pay for July.

“The recent reports are misleading,” he summarized.  “I haven’t now changed my mind and chosen to take the pay.  I have always said I was deferring pay during the shutdown but thought I should receive the pay after it ended.”

He closed the correspondence by writing, “I hope this clears up any misunderstanding about this,” and signed it, “Roger”.

“GOOD GRIEF!” PCHS Plans “Charlie Brown” as Fall Musical

-Great show for the family this November

Pine City High School will continue its string of hit fall musicals with “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown,” based on the beloved Peanuts comic strip by Charles Schulz.  “Charlie Brown” is one of the most popular musicals performed by high schools nationwide, and was last produced in Pine City in 1983.

The musical features more than a dozen great songs and several creative dances, all featuring your favorite Peanuts characters: Lucy, Linus, Sally, Snoopy, Schroeder, and, of course, Charlie Brown.   The musical is described as a “typical day in the life of Charlie Brown” and features a wide range of Chuck’s emotions, from wild optimism to utter despair.

The production will be directed by Bradley Mariska, following a long line of recent musical successes, including “Guys and Dolls,” “Little Shop of Horrors,” and “Anything Goes.”  Mariska also directed this summer’s community theatre musical, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” which attracted 2,700 audience members.

Performances of “Charlie Brown” will be November 10, 11, 12, 18, and 19 at 7pm in the Elementary Auditorium.  There will also be a matinee on Sunday, November 14 at 2pm.  The musical is great entertainment for the young and the young at heart, so save the dates and make plans to attend.

Advanced tickets (including Reserved Seating) will be available in October through several area businesses.  To make group reservations or to learn more about the show, please contact Mariska by calling (320) 629-4129 or email  

Rodeo soon rides into town

PRCA Championship Rodeo

Where: Heidelberger’s Arena, west of Rock Creek

When: 6 p.m. Sept. 3-4.

What: See professional rodeo cowboys beat the clock in events including team roping, bull riding, barrel racing, steer wrestling and bronc riding.

Want to get in on the action? Audience participation events include wild cow milking and cowboy poker. There’s a calf scramble for kids, and the first 250 kids younger than 10 through the gates receive free cowboy hats. Too much for you? Settle for the dance after the rodeo.

How far: About five miles.

Details: $12 adults, $7 for kids 4-12. Advance discounts available.

Kids, seniors team up in new TPT film

See some familiar faces and places on TV

Two area residents from different generations team-up participate in Rush City's "Snapshot in Time".

A film project that spans the generations… What happens when our young people and senior citizens pair up to share with one another and record local history?

Find out in “Stories Next Door,” an inspiring, unique documentary premiering statewide on Twin Cities Public Television Aug. 21-22.

The Minnesota Historical Society brought the generations together through a series of history projects in communities around the state, including Pine City and nearby Rush City.  Details on the Society’s “Sharing Community Stories” program can be found at

“Stories Next Door” features several of those projects while celebrating the connections made between the generations and the lasting historical resources they created together.

For example, in Pine City, seniors and teens studied historic photography and photography techniques while creating a photo exhibit about their community in a project called “Snapshot in Time”.  In Virginia, Minn., fifth graders worked with a food historian and seniors to create a local cookbook.

“Snapshot in Time”, the photography camp exhibit, will be shown to the general public at the NW Co. Fur Post in Pine City on Aug. 26, 2011, from 6 to 8 p.m.  See the work and hear about the experiences had during the span of the project.  Questions can be directed to Eileen Mack at (320) 629-6356.

“Stories Next Door” can be seen statewide via all six Minnesota public television stations.  Viewers in the Greater Pine City area have six chances to see the film.  They can tune into tpt MN at 8 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 21; or ot airs at 2 a.m., 8 a.m., Noon, and 2 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 22.

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Horizons and several local churches will be holding a back to school supply give-away this upcoming week. The give-away, which is in its sixth consecutive year, will help to prepare local students for the year ahead by making sure that they have the materials they need.

This year, an assortment of backpacks, notebooks, folders, rulers, highlighters, crayons, markers, colored pencils, among other items will be available at no charge to students in kindergarten through twelfth grade.

The give-away is being held on Wednesday August 24th, from 6:00-7:30pm and welcomes any student that is in need of the necessary supplies. Locations include:

  • First Presbyterian Church, 405 Main St, Pine City
  • Evangelical Free Church, 518 Barry Avenue, Hinckley
  • Memorial Drive Bible Fellowship, 67331 St. Highway 23, Askov

For any questions, please contact Donna Wichner at (320)245-2607 or by e-mail at