Where did the famous cafe sign go?

A number of people in the community are wondering, what happend to the infamous Nicoll’s Cafe sign?  It went missing in recent weeks and rumors had circulated speculating everything from the “wind” took it down to the City ordered it to come down.  Actually, neither was the case.  The Pine Poker confirmed with an employee of Nicoll’s that the cafe has a new sign being made and it will be re-installed by mid-April.


New VISTA opportunities in Pine City!

Over the next couple of months, VISTA host sites around the state will begin their recuitment process for the 2012-2013 VISTA year. All of the VISTA host-sites located in Pine City and the general East Central MN area are organized by the Initiative Foundation. They recuit and coordinate about 20 sites by providing training for the individual VISTA members and monitoring the overall succes of the site.  For the 2012-2013 year, there will be two new VISTA sites within Pine City. Unfortunately, the Pine City Economic Development Authority/Pine City Horizons will not be renewed for a third year. However, the VISTA sites listed below present a great opportunity for local capicity building for their organizations.

The first new host site is the Pine City Preschool Mobile Learning Bus.  The purpose of this VISTA site is to develop a mobile preschool that will travel around the Pine City School District and deliver  preschool education to at-risk children. These pre-school services will be available at a free or minimal cost to families.

The second host site will be  A Place for You. The VISTA member at A Place for You will be responsible for volunteer recuitment and development. Many of A Place for You’s day-to-day operations will rely on volunteer work and there will also be some volunteer work that supports the individual clients.

For more information or to apply, click on the link above or visit the AmeriCorps website at www.americorps.gov.

Apply for Small Business Consulting!

The Pine City Economic Development Authority has a new opportunity assist local business owners and entrepreneurs. Through a partnership with the MN Small Business Development Center at Central Lakes College, the EDA is pleased to present small business consulting as a new resource.

 Having begun in January 2012, two-hundred hours of consulting are available at no-cost to local entrepreneurs. Skills such as business plan development, access to financing, cash flow management, and marketing are available to assist entrepreneurs. Consulting is not just limited to new businesses; existing businesses can take advantage of this service.

The consultants for the Pine City area will be Jill Bolejack. Jill received her MBA in International Business from the Monterey Institute of International Studies in Monterey, CA. Her experience includes an extensive background in consulting and real estate, and she has been a small business owner herself. She currently teaches business classes at Pine Tech. The EDA is pleased to be partnering with her and the SBDC to offer this opportunity.

For more information, please contact Nathan Johnson, njohnson@pinecitygov.com, 320-629-2575. Or, you can apply online, the application can be found here.

Foreclosure Prevention Counceling

As part of last Thursday’s Housing Forum, one of the panel members spoke about the benefits of Financial Counseling for homeowners.

Ed Nelson, representing MN Home Ownership Center discussed the value of counseling for families.  The Home Ownership Center’s mission is to “promote and advance successful homeownership in Minnesota, with a focus on serving the needs of low- and moderate-income families and emerging markets. At the core of this mission is the belief that lower income households can achieve and recognize the benefits of long-term homeownership if they enter homeownership through the right door—prepared to make wise, informed decisions for their families.”

Together, they work with LSS Counseling to  provide FREE services to families. At the forum, Ed emphasized that a family should never have to pay for financial counseling. He also emphasized that they provide counseling to homeowners at all stages in the ownership process.  Whether individuals are just looking into purchasing a home and aren’t sure how much they can afford, are worried about going into forecloslosure, or have already entered the forclosure process.  He also explained that the earlier a family starts counseling, the better.

More information is located on their website, or by calling (866) 462-6466.

Business Resource Directory

The Central MN Workforce Investment Board has recently released a directory of services and resources for small businesses. The directory which was just released this past January, it covers an 11 county region including Pine County. The resource is described as “A guide to economic development, finance, education, workforce development and government resources in Central Minnesota.”

To access the directory click here or visit their website at www.cmjts.org

Solidifying Communities through Sustainability

Mn Green Step Cities is a program dedicating to creating sustainable communities across the state. The program was designed as a collaborative effort of six state agencies.  There will be an informational meeting on Tuesday, March 20th 5-6pm at the Pine City Public Library Community Room for interested individuals.

The Green Steps program creates a framework that  organizes sistainable action steps into five ‘best practices’. These best practices are grouped into major categories such a commuunity development, transportation, land use, building and lighting, and environmental management.  The program,  while samiliar to other environmental efforts, really focuses on community based initiatives by strengthening Cities from the inside out. It uses the strengths that Pine City already has and puts them into a workable framework.

Anyone interested in learning about this program is encouraged to attend the meeting next tuesday. For more information or questions, contact Lauren Ellmers, (lellmers@pinecitygov.com, 320-629-25785) or check out Green Steps Website!

Greater Pine Area Endowment Announces Spring Granting Cycle

The Greater Pine Area Endowment has announced that a Spring Granting Cycle will be available in 2012.  The postmark deadline for submission of grant applications is Monday, April 30, 2012.

The Greater Pine Area Endowment Fund was created in 1992 as a component fund of the Initiative Foundation to develop community resources and to enhance the quality of life of individuals and families in the Pine City area.  The GPAE funds have been established to provide financial resources for the needs of the greater Pine area within the physical boundaries of the Pine City School District 578.

The grant funds can be used for economic or community development projects.  For economic development projects, funding will be considered for projects that lead to quality job creation or high tech employment.  Projects that promote community pride and quality of life through environmental stewardship and community beautification would be considered under the community development category.  The GPAE will also consider proposals that positively impact the housing, safety, employment and other needs of the more vulnerable members of the community including youth, the elderly and those who are low-income.

Since its inception, the GPAE has granted to organizations such as Pine City Schools for the Community Electronic Message Display Board, Pine County Sheriff’s Department for the purchase of infant keys to AED’s; the Pine City Arts Council for the Robinson Park Gazebo Addition; and the Pine City Library for purchase of new computers.

Recently updated applications for the Spring Granting Cycle for 2012 can be obtained by contacting Becky Schueller at 320-322-4040 or info@pinecitychamber.com or Tom Gahler at 320-629-7713.  A new website has also been created where more information on granting guidelines and application forms can be obtained.  Visit the website at www.greaterpineareaendowment.com for more details. Complete grant applications can be submitted in person, by mail or by electronic communication, on or before the deadline date of  April 30, 2012.


Housing Forum Participants

The Housing Forum which is scheduled for this Thursday, March 15th at 6:30 pm will bring a variety of speakers each offering their own perspecitve on the hosuing market and foreclosures.  The speakers range from local real estate agents up to State agencies and non-profits. For more information, a list of participants is below:

  1. Mary Kay Brautigan
    Coldwell Banker Results, Broker/Owner
    Mary Kay will provide an overview of the market, stats in the immediate Pine City school district area.  She will discuss in a broad sense the bifurcated market of the “traditional seller” and the “foreclosure seller”, describe a short sale – and the differences between that and a foreclosure.  Also, why “white papers” on the door of a foreclosed home might mean another 6 months before home is on the market.
  2.  Jan Carl
    Coldwell Banker Results, Sales Associate specializing in Lender Owned, Foreclosure and REO properties
    Jan will provide overview of “who is the invisible lender” in foreclosed properties.  What are the series of events that lead to a property getting on the market – and ultimately getting trashed out and marketed. What are the differences between “Asset Manager” and “Lender”.
  3.  Teri Heggernes
    Stearns Bank N.A., Mortgage Lender
    As a Mortgage Lender for Stearns Bank N.A. in Pine City, Terri works with current and new customers on their consumer real estate loans-whether it be purchases, refinances, or renewals. She will provide overview of the local foreclosure scene , what happens to a local bank when it is taken over by the FDIC, how do those properties reach the market, and what involvement does FDIC have in the actual decision making of sale prices
  4.  Pastor Vicki VanderVegt
    Pine County Service Extension of Salvation Army, Treasurer Voucher Writer and Board Member
  5.  Wayne Eller
    East Central MN Habitat for Humanity, Executive Director
    East Central Minnesota Habitat For Humanity is a self help home-ownership ministry.  Habitat’s mission is to end poverty housing by building modest, decent, safe, energy efficient and affordable homes with and for people who are currently living in substandard housing.   As a Christian organization, Habitat brings communities of caring people with resources and skills together with families in need regardless of their faith, race, creed, age or sex, to create home ownership opportunities.
  6.  Ed Nelson
    MN Home Ownership Center, Marketing and Communications Manager
    Ed will present information on the Minnesota Homeownership Center, a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and advancing successful homeownership in Minnesota.   Ed will speak about the tools, resources and materials for real estate, lending professionals and home buyers the Center has created, and will share about the current foreclosure situation in Minnesota and where to refer struggling homeowners to trustworthy sources of information on preventing foreclosure.
  7. Tal Anderson
    MN Housing Finance Agency, Community Development manager, Single-Family Division
    Minnesota Housing is proud of its record of addressing Minnesota’s basic housing needs and helping build stronger communities. Minnesota Housing has invested more than $8.7 billion and assisted more than 750,000 households since its establishment in 1971. The Agency is a leader in an alliance of government, private sector, non-profit and faith-based community interests working with affordable housing in Minnesotans. As the state’s affordable housing financial institution, Minnesota Housing is a state agency that will invest more than $658 million in 2012 to address a continuum of affordable housing needs.
  8. Nathan Johnson
    City of Pine City, City Planner
    Nathan will offer an overview of the comprehensive plan and what work has been done by the City thus far to address our housing needs.

Miss Pine City Ambassador Applications Available

Applications for the 2012-2013 candidates for the Miss Pine City Ambassador Program will be made available on Thursday, March 15th.  Application forms will be available from Mrs. Sauser at the High School, the Pine City Area Chamber of Commerce office or can be downloaded from the website at www.pinecitychamber.com.

The candidate program includes securing sponsorships for the program activities as well as a number of community involvement criteria during the candidate period from May through July.  Additionally, the candidates participate in a week of activities from July 17 – 22 as well as the ambassador judging and coronation on Monday, July 23.  The activities scheduled include both daytime and evening activities.  A schedule will be provided to candidates at the end of June in order to plan accordingly for their participation.

Application materials must be submitted by Tuesday, April 3rd to the Chamber office or Mary Ellen Sauser at the High School.  For more information on the Miss Pine City Ambassador application, please contact Mary Ellen Sauser at (320) 629-2948 or msauser77@gmail.com.

The Miss Pine City Ambassador Program includes a Little Miss Pine City program as well.  Information on the Little Miss application period will be released in May.  Both programs are led by volunteer committees that work under the Pine City Chamber Foundation.  For more information on either program or becoming a volunteer, please contact the Chamber office at (320) 322-4040 or by email at info@pinecitychamber.com.

Happy AmeriCorps Week!

VISTA was formed in 1964 as Volunteers In Service To America as part of the War on Poverty. In this program, national service members serve full time for one year in local non-profits and government agencies to bolster their antipoverty efforts. VISTAs work with programs that strengthen education, improve economic opportunity, provide disaster services, and support healthy futures, environmental stewardship and veterans and military families.

 Within Pine City, there are two AmeriCorps VISTA’s serving. Valerie Raiter is a VISTA at the Employment and Training Center at Pine Technical College. The second VISTA, Lauren Ellmers serves with the Pine City Economic Development Authority & Pine City Horizons.

Local AmeriCorps VISTAs are sponsored and supported by the Initiative Foundation, based in Little Falls, in partnership with the Corporation for National and Community Service which coordinates AmeriCorps VISTA, AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps), AmeriCorps State and National and Senior Corps.

Over the last 12 years the Initiative Foundation has coordinated over 150 VISTAs serving in 66 nonprofit and government host sites. These VISTAs have helped their host sites develop over $2,000,000 in cash resources and over 1.2 million dollars in donated goods and services. They’ve also recruited 7,000 new volunteers assisting 130,000 households in central Minnesota.

Since 1994, more than 19,000 Minnesota residents have served more than 27 million hours through AmeriCorps and have qualified for Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards totaling more than $64,100,000.  This year there are 2,100 AmeriCorps members serving across the state, including 20 VISTA members with the Initiative Foundation.

For more information please visit  www.ifound.org or AmeriCorps.gov.