Plethora of choice for your Pine City weekend!

Friday, Oct. 4

  • Farmers’ Market in the Park
    • 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., Robinson Park, town square – Enjoy it homegrown and handmade!
    • Peaceful Pines Pumpkin Patch
      • 3 p.m. – Dusk, 13650 Government Road – Acres of pick your own pumpkins.   Pick your own $4 each; pre-picked and priced pumpkins too.  Apples, gourds, Indian corn, broom corn, corn stalks, displays and decorations for photos opportunities.
      • Old Highway 61 – An Evening to Remember
        • 4 – 6 p.m., Pine Technical College, 900 4th Street SE – Tour virtual Old Highway 61, and see what it has to offer, and hear from MPR’s Cathy Wurzer, author of “Tales from the Road Highway 61”.
        • Highway 61 Film Festival
          • 6 p.m., various show times, Pine Technical College Auditorium, 900 4th Street SE – The Highway 61 Film Festival is a three-day celebration of the magic of movies that was established in 2011 as a means of supporting and promoting independent films and filmmakers from all along Highway 61, and beyond.  
          • Photos on Buildings
            • Dusk, back of Pine Plaza, along 4th Street SE.    Collections of photographs from area photographers will be shown in a unique way:  “Photos on Buildings” exhibits the talent of photographers by projecting photos onto the backside of Pine Plaza.
            • Pine City Dragons Football Homecoming
              • Tailgate 5 p.m. – 6:45 p.m., east of 7th Grade Commons Area, Pine City High School, 1400 Main Street S. –From 5 p.m. to 6:45 p.m., enjoy an outdoor BBQ, door prizes, music, and an appearance by the PCHS pep band.  Rain site:  7th Grade Commons.
              • Kick-off at 7 p.m., Saunder’s Field, Pine City High School, 1400 Main Street S. – Wear your Kelly Green and White and cheer on your Dragons (1-4) under the Friday night lights as they take on Crosby-Ironton (2-3). 
              • Late-Night Film Session
                • 10:30 p.m., Danny C’s BeachRocks Supper Club, 10762 Lakeview Shore Dr – A fun-filled evening of an eclectic mix of movies not for the weak of heart!

Saturday, Oct. 5

  • Farmers’ Market in the Park
    • 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., Robinson Park, town square – Enjoy it homegrown and handmade!
    • PTO Fall Carnival
      • 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., Pine City Elementary School, 700 6th Avenue SW – The Pine Dragons Parent-Teacher Organization will host their annual Fall Carnival, featuring food, prizes, games, crazy hair, a bounce house and more!
      • Peaceful Pines Pumpkin Patch
        • 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., 13650 Government Road – Acres of pick your own pumpkins.   Pick your own $4 each; pre-picked and priced pumpkins too.  Apples, gourds, Indian corn, broom corn, corn stalks, displays and decorations for photos opportunities.
        • Highway 61 Film Festival
          • 1 p.m., various show times, Pine Technical College Auditorium, 900 4th Street SE – Day two of the festival brings a great variety of films to the community.  The Film Festival Board is made up of a group of passionate film enthusiasts and artists that have worked to create an outlet for emerging new voices and ideas.  
          • Photos on Buildings
            • Dusk, back of Pine Plaza, along 4th Street SE.   Yet another reason people will find Pine City to be an exceptional arts destination.
            • Late-Night Film Session
              • 10:30 p.m., Danny C’s BeachRocks Supper Club, 10762 Lakeview Shore Dr – Another fun-filled evening of an eclectic mix of movies not for the weak of heart!

Sunday, Oct. 6

  • Lions Spaghetti Dinner
    • 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., American Legion Post No. 51, 525 Main Street N. – The community is invited to a spaghetti dinner sponsored by the Pine City Lions.  A freewill offering will be taken at the door and proceeds will benefit the Pine Community Food Shelf among other local projects.
    • Peaceful Pines Pumpkin Patch
      • 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., 13650 Government Road – Acres of pick your own pumpkins.   Pick your own $4 each; pre-picked and priced pumpkins too.  Apples, gourds, Indian corn, broom corn, corn stalks, displays and decorations for photos opportunities.
      • Highway 61 Film Festival
        • Noon, Pine Technical College Auditorium, 900 4th Street SE – For the final day of the festival, there will be a special presentation with films selected by Pine City native and Twin Cities film legend Al Milgrom. 
        • A Place for You Benefit Concert
          • 2 p.m., The Light House, 1045 Main Street S. – A benefit concert for “A Place for You” transitional shelter.   Music and fellowship featuring local church musicians.  Cost is $10.00.
          • Photos on Buildings
            • Dusk, back of Pine Plaza, along 4th Street SE.    The final night of Photos on Buildings 2013, exhibiting the talent of area photographers.
            • Citizen of the Year Reception
              • 4 – 5:30 p.m., North West Company Fur Post, 12551 Voyageur Lane – The 2013 Citizen of the Year is Harvey Lindstrom, a longtime city employee and an avid community volunteer.  

Upward mobility opportunities possible for Pine Citians

horizons logoA recent study by Harvard University and University of California Berkeley economic researchers proves that where you are born and raised still matters if your idea of the “American Dream” is to rise out of poverty.

Turns out, despite Pine City’s poverty rates that are higher than the Minnesota average, the small-town is a good place to come from to be able to rise out of poverty.

Pine City area children raised in households where parents have less than $25,000 in annual income, or the bottom 20 percent of U.S. household income, have an 11.9-percent chance of moving above $107,000 in annual income as they mature, joining the ranks of the nation’s top 20 percent, according to the data base assembled by Harvard’s Raj Chetty and Nathaniel Hendren and Berkeley’s Patrick Kline and Emmanuel Saez, and their colleagues.

“Those figures not only fare well for a small town, but they are better than any major city in the United States,” said Nathan Johnson, City Planner for the City of Pine City.  “Salt Lake City, Utah, offers the highest upward mobility, at 11.5-percent.”

Among the nation’s 30 most populous areas, the Twin Cities metro came in at a nine-percent chance of moving above $107,000.  But the industrial centers of Marshall, Thief River Falls, Roseau, Hutchinson, Fairmont, Willmar, Fergus Falls, Little Falls and St. Cloud all topped 15-percent odds.  Redwood Falls has the highest upward mobility odds in Minnesota, at 17.3-percent.

Other Minnesota cities, besides Pine City, that fare well are Rochester, Mankato, International Falls, Brainerd, Austin, Bemidji and Duluth.

In national comparisons, Atlanta has the most locked-in poverty.  Just four percent of children move from the bottom to the top 20 percent cohorts for incomes, with Detroit, Cleveland and Cincinnati only slightly better with 5 percent odds for such upwards mobility.

“The Harvard-Berkeley economists showed what our mobility rate was,” said Johnson, adding, “I believe we fare well because our community leaders, parents and public policy makers jumped in, and explored the conditions that trap people in poverty through Horizons.”

From 2008 to 2010, Pine City participated in the Northwest Area Foundation’s Horizons Program to reduce poverty and build social capital in the community.

Johnson said, “Horizons helped people identify logical goals to help our community achieve some measurement of “the American Dream”, not only by household income but by other achievements.”

“It also helps that we have access to high-quality education in Pine City, with stellar, award-winning schools and Pine Technical College with low tuition rates right here in our backyard,” explained Johnson.

“In addition, people here roll up their sleeves and are involved with volunteer work, church activities and social causes.  We help one another succeed,” he said.

“We must build on what has been documented by these economists,” said Johnson.  “Our mobility numbers are only good in comparative rankings, not in real, human terms.  We still have a ways to go.”

Other findings of the study, which can be viewed at, were the absolute upward mobility for Pine City:  46.6-percent; and the relative upward mobility was 29.1-percent.

The “Pine City” identified in the study is one of 741 “commuting zones” around the U.S.  It had a population of 41, 526.

Ground breaking takes place for Pine City’s performing arts center

Groundbreaking took place Thursday, July 18, 2013 for the performing arts center and auditorium at Pine City Jr./Sr. High School.

New Auditorium in Pine City

A conceptual design of the new auditorium.

New Auditorium Groundbreaking

A large crowd gathered for the ceremonial ground breaking.

The auditorium, once completed, is expected to seat nearly 800 people.  New Independent School District 578 offices will be constructed in coincidence with the project.  Excavation work is expected to begin by July 26.  Occupancy is expected in the 2014-’15 school year.

The city has been gaining a reputation as an arts community.  In 2010, 2011, and 2012, it was named one of the “best communities in America for music education” by the NAMM Foundation.

Pine Center for the Arts opened its doors downtown nearly five years ago, and the community has had a long history of promoting the arts with Friday-night concerts in the park (Arts Council), theater productions (Heritage Players), and the annual Art Fest each July.  This year’s Art Fest is the 36th Annual and it happens to take place this Saturday, July 20, in Robinson Park.

For more information, contact

NLX discussion at this month’s City Planning Commission meeting

Imagine having the option to travel the busy Interstate 35 between Pine County and the Twin Cities or the Twin Ports, or alternatively being able to use a 110 miles per hour passenger train service.

The Northern Lights Express (NLX) is proposed to do just that for the 155-mile corridor between Minneapolis and Duluth.   Plans are to upgrade an existing BNSF Railway freight line to allow trains to travel at high speeds connecting the State’s two largest metropolitan areas.

The NLX will be the first passenger rail service connecting the two major metros since 1986, when Amtrak discontinued the 50-mile-per-hour North Star.

“[It] is an active project,” said Kenneth Buehler, Chair of the NLX Technical Advisory Committee.  “We recently were granted five million dollars in Federal Railroad Administration Funds to match four million dollars in State Funds to begin our engineering.”

Buehler will outline the progress that NLX has made at this month’s City Planning Commission meeting, Tuesday, April 24, at 6:30 p.m.  He said, “The NLX is just completing a two and half year Environmental Review and we are starting aerial mapping of the right-of-way.”

The presentation will bring people up-to-date on the progress of the Joint Powers Alliance and, according to Buehler, “revisit the reasons this train is going to run!”

“Discussion about this line dates back at least a decade,” said Nathan Johnson, city planner for the City of Pine City.  “All indications say the project is still moving forward, as planned.  Now, we must best position the communities along the route, and nearby, to take full advantage of the line and all it has to offer us.”

Every $1 that communities invest in public transportation generates approximately $6 in economic returns, according to the American Public Transportation Association.

“This project will be an amenity to the residents of Pine County,” said Johnson, adding, “Not only will it be a convenience for us, and those trying to get here, there is the added benefit of jobs, and long-term economic development opportunities lie ahead for our area.”

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.

A look back at 2011

A look at stories that transcended beyond Pine City…


1. All three hikers, including Shane Bauer, return home; Pine City mom relieved

Hearts went out to a Pine City mom, Cindy Hickey, after her son, Shane Bauer, along with Josh Fattal, was finally released from custody.  Bauer’s fiancée Sarah Shourd was released earlier; all three had been detained after being accused of espionage in Iran.  Bauer’s documentary film “Songs to Enemies and Deserts”, about the rebels of Darfur, was featured in the first-annual Highway 61 Film Festival in Pine City.

2. Fallen soldier, MSGT Daniel Fedder, may be honored in post office renaming

Eighth District Congressman Chip Cravaack carried a bill to rename the post office in Pine City to the “Master Sergeant Daniel L. Fedder Post Office”, after a well-loved Pine Citian and decorated Marine who died at the age of 34 in an Afghanistan bombing attack.  The bill is under consideration to honor Fedder, who was awarded more than a dozen personal service awards during his service, including the Purple Heart.


3. Sabre-draft Isaackson plays for Gophers; Bischoff commits to Minnesota too

Pine City’s Christian Isackson, who was selected by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2010 NHL draft, began playing for the prestigious University of Minnesota Golden Gophers.   Though Isackson was from Pine City, he was a St. Thomas Academy graduate, second on the Cadet team in scoring (first on the power play).  Another Pine City Youth Hockey ex-student, Jake Bischoff, son of former Gopher standout Grant Bischoff, was recently recruited to play for the Gophers by Coach Don Lucia from his present high school team, Grand Rapids (where Lucia is alum).


4. ‘Santa Bob’ moves to Red Wing; Governor’s tree scout retires

Pine City’s most illustrious Santa Claus, Bob Haedt (better known as ‘Santa Bob’), and his wife Mary (Mrs. Claus), announced they were moving to Red Wing, Minn.  Longtime Pine City residents, Haedt’s woodworking fingerprints were left all over town, most notably in the train depot restoration and in the new library renovations.  DNR Forester Art Widerstrom cut down his last Governor’s Christmas tree near Pine City.  He was the unofficial ‘caretaker’ of the Chengwatana and, over the years, found several trees from the Pine City area to grace the Governor’s Residence in St. Paul, including a 50-foot balsam fir this year.

5. Longtime Marshall, Minn. mayor, Bob Schlagel, laid to rest

Marshall, a regional hub in southwest Minnesota, the headquarters of Schwan’s, owes its wonderful park system to Robert J. Schlagel, who died at his Pine City retirement home August 1, 2011. Schlagel was mayor of Marshall for 15 years, from 1973 to 1988, and was instrumental in putting together the town’s park system.  Perhaps there is a correlation between the Marshall’s great public spaces and the fact that the town is home to Minnesota’s oldest living person?!

6. National Guard soldiers leave for Kuwait; the Pioneer shadows them

A ceremony was held at the Pine County Fairgrounds over the summer that sent off members of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division on a yearlong deployment supporting the drawdown of U.S. troops from Iraq, the second-largest in Minnesota since World War II.  Sen. Amy Klobuchar and other dignitaries spoke.   The Pioneer’s editor, Mike Gainor, went to Kuwait late in the year to journalize the troops’ experience away from home this holiday season.


7. Pine City hangs on in recession, shows resiliency

Homebuilding is still down in Pine City but the community continues to grow at a faster pace than neighboring towns.  Seven (7) homes were added to Pine City this year.  In comparison, North Branch—last decade’s fastest-growing community in Minnesota—built just four (4), and Mora and Moose Lake didn’t build any.  Cross Lake Preserve, a virtual ghost development that promised to become a thriving new neighborhood in the housing boom, finally sold and two new homes are already underway.

Additionally, a longtime Pine City supermarket, Nelson’s Market, closed its doors in Pine City, North Branch and Mora.  However, a Sandstone-based grocer, Chris’ Food Center, re-opened the Pine City location.

8. Ruby’s Pantry opens its 30th location; industries show growth; Pine Tech advances

 “Everyone who eats qualifies” is Ruby’s Pantry’s motto.   Now the Pine City-based non-profit has over 30 distribution centers throughout the northern portion of Minnesota and Wisconsin.  Also, a new medical clinic, FirstLight, opened its doors in Pine City and Advance Design and Systems added on in Pine City’s Technology Park.

Pine Technical College unveils the design of its new Innovation Center, an entrepreneurial center and technology business incubator.  The college also now offers a 3-D, virtual reality training program.  Role-playing exercises can teach nurses how to respond on the job to common situations involving older patients.


9. East Central Minnesota Pride in Pine City wins State award

East Central Minnesota GLBT people, their family and friends met in Pine City to celebrate rural pride for the seventh consecutive year.  It was named a “Community Pride” showcase award-winner, as a unique way to cultivate economic development in Greater Minnesota and was recognized at the Minnesota State Fair.

10. ‘A Place for You’ establishes itself; Pine City homeless man killing unsolved

Homelessness knows no urban boundaries and Pine City is one Greater Minnesota community that is rolling up its sleeves to do something about it.  ‘A Place for You’, a non-profit aiming to provide a regional homeless shelter, secured a building and grant money to establish itself.  Related, police upped the reward to $4,000 for information in the death of a Pine City homeless person, Danny Wright (age 54).  He was believed to be killed intentionally by a driver who shouted at him and struck him down in the parking lot of the Union Gospel Mission.


11. Former notable resident, Bob Mould, publishes autobiography

Bob Mould, best known as the lead singer of Hüsker Dü, lived on a farm by Pine City in the late 80s, where he wrote the songs for his best-known solo album, “Workbook”.  See a Little Light came out this year and Chapter 7 focuses on his time spent in Pine City.

  • For a look back at ’08, click here.
  • For a look back at ’09, click here.
  • For a look back at ’10, click here.

What’s the 2-1-1?

A very simple resource for human services is something that is the most easily forgotten.  The 2-1-1 is a free telephone service across the country that is organized by United Way.  Modeled after 9-1-1 for emergencies, 2-1-1 is a way to connect people with a variety of resources. This includes a variety of non-profit, county and state wide services. Currently 2-1-1 reaches 260 million Americans, which is 86.6% of the population. Their mission is to “ensure that2-1-1 is excellent, everywhere and always”.

 Services that are included in 2-1-1’s database cover a variety of topics. They include;

  • Basic human needs services such as food banks, clothing drives, shelters, rent assistance, and utility assistance.
  • Physical and mental health services
  • Employment support.
  • Services for older Americans and persons with disabilities, such as home health care, adult care and congregate meals.
  • Services for children, youth and families including a variety of after-school programs, head start, family resource centers and recreational programs.

 Lastly, 2-1-1’s services aren’t just for individuals who are looking for help. It also can assist charitable activities such are individuals looking to donate or volunteer.  According to their website, dialing 2-1-1 in Pine City will connect you to a United Way office in Duluth. The services that they have available vary by location, but have also been expanding in recent years.

A Place for You overcomes another obstacle at Planning Commission Meeting

Over the recent months there has a very lively discussion regarding ‘A Place for You’ transitional shelter. The discussion begun in the end of August when the group applied for a conditional use permit required to operate in the Allina Clinic building. At the time, there had been no previous public meetings regarding the shelter and minimal information was known by the community. During the August planning commission meeting, citizens expressed their concern with a shelter opening downtown.  Shortly following, ‘A Place for You’ to held three information sessions. The group also met with the Lions Club, ministers from around Pine County, and will be meeting with the Chamber of Commerce next week. Additionally, A Place for You released extra information specifically outlining their intake procedures.  Releasing this information was done in order to ease community concerns that individuals will be drawn from the surrounding five-county area, gather in Pine City, and become a safety concern for local residents. The info sheet can be found by clicking here.

 At last night’s planning commission meeting, the group faced two obstacles in order to allow the shelter to move forward with its plans. First, the approval of an ordinance amendment was required.  The amendment would allow for a community living arrangement within the designated area. Some commission members held strongly to the idea that the ordinances be upheld, arguing that a lot of time and effort had gone into creating the ordinances. Despite this, the majority of the members voted in favor of amending the ordinance, thus allowing for the discussion to continue and directly address the topic of the transitional shelter.

 During the discussion surrounding the conditional use permit, several issues were addressed. In order to receive the permit, guidelines must be set in place to ensure that the shelter is respectful to its neighboring residents as well as the overall health of the city.  The commission discussed multiple items, such as staffing and loitering, and then made the necessary recommendations to minimize any potential negative effects. However, the main point that the commission discussed was regularly reviewing the permit and making alterations.  By requiring a frequent review, the commission could add additional conditions that would need be met by A Place For You. This review process would ensure that A Place for You maintains its position as a respectful and positive organization in Pine City-just as its founders intended.

Operation Community Connect Returns to Pine County

How do you prepare for the winter?  For many people, the process is fairly simple.  Pull out the sweaters, scarves and hats from storage. Make sure that the snow-blower and shovels are ready to go.  However, for those individuals who are homeless, low-income or “living on little” the process is very different.  Often times for these individuals, preparing for winter involves spending beyond their budget or going without the necessary items. 

To assist Pine County residents prepare for the approaching cold weather, Pine City Horizons has organized Operation Community Connect (OCC). This is the second year in a row that the event will be held in Pine City. The goal of OCC is to connect low-income, homeless, and at-risk households to local resources and services. OCC provides an opportunity for a “one-stop shop” by helping individuals access all the resources and services that they need in one location.

The theme of this year’s OCC is to provide warmth. The services provided at the event reflect this goal at a variety of levels.  A free soup and sandwich lunch will be offered to each individual who attends.  Sweaters, jacket, blankets, mittens and other warm clothing will be given away. Lastly, a wide variety of county organizations will be on hand.  Public, private and non-profit agencies will be present covering topics such as housing, nutrition assistance, financial assistance, medical, mental health info, veteran services, and education and employment opportunities.

The effects of OCC can be felt well beyond this single day event. Previous OCCs have been used by researchers to strengthen their homelessness data for Pine County and Greater Minnesota. For example, the Wilder Foundation has used OCC and other drop-in service events as an opportunity to improve their homeless counts. Their findings have been used to increase funding and further address the issue of homelessness in Greater Minnesota.

This year, Pine County OCC will take place on October 13th from 12pm-6pm at the Lighthouse PCEFC in Pine City. Additionally, Arrowhead transport will be operating county-wide the day of the event. For further questions, to donate, or get involved please contact Lauren Ellmers at (320)629-2575ext 115 or by e-mail at

The A-list: Sept. 17-18

Sporting Events

  • Prep Football, Pine City Dragons (2-0) at Rush City Tigers (0-2), Jacobs Field, Fri. 7 p.m.


  • Farmers’ Market in the Park, Robinson Park, Fri & Sat., 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Special Events


  • A Moment Without (hard-rock, heavy metal), Froggy’s, Sat. 9 p.m.  Free admission.  21+
  • Tim Mahoney (acoustic jam), Running Aces, Sat. 7 p.m.  $15 (Benefit concert to help fight hunger in Minnesota; bring canned food item or cash donation)  18+
  • Terry G. Hall (southern gospel)  Evangelical Free Church Lighthouse, Sat. 7 p.m.  Free-will offering.  All ages.


  • Elizabeth (Eli) Maukstad, Danny C’s BeachRocks Pub & Supper Club, Sat. 2 p.m. (casual attire)