New options for online learning available with PTCC

PINE CITY, Minn. – Pine Technical & Community College has a new program that makes it easy for businesses to provide high-quality training for their employees—no matter how many employees they have or where they’re located. Pine Technical & Community College has partnered with ed2go to offer hundreds of online, instructor-facilitated employee training courses.

Through well-crafted lessons, expert online instruction and interaction with fellow students, employees gain valuable knowledge they can immediately apply on the job. They’ll have the flexibility to study at their own pace combined with enough structure and support to complete the course. And they’ll be able to access the classroom 24/7 from anywhere with an Internet connection.

New sessions of each course run every month. They last six weeks, with two new lessons being released weekly, for a total of 12 lessons. The courses are entirely web-based with comprehensive lessons, quizzes and assignments. A dedicated professional instructor facilitates every course; pacing learners, answering questions, giving feedback and facilitating discussions.

Pine Technical & Community College and ed2go host the entire operation. That means participating businesses don’t have to hassle with purchasing, integrating, administering or supporting the technology. They can reap the rewards of this unique online training tool without any behind-the-scenes headaches.

These courses are thoroughly market tested with more than a million learners having taken one. Pine Technical & Community College is pleased to offer this catalog of courses, which provides the most convenient, affordable and accessible employee training available anywhere.

Interested businesses can begin offering these exceptional courses right away. To learn more, call Pine Technical & Community College at 320-629-5176 or visit them online at

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.  

This Weekend in Pine City

As the school year is ending and the first day of June is almost upon us, the start of a busy summer season in Pine City is upon us.  With so many great activities happening, it seemed important to share a few of the upcoming highlights:

Friday, May 31 — Art in the Park  — The second evening of this great annual tradition will feature music from Cafe Accordian that begins at 6:30 PM.  A Place for You will be serving dinner from 5:30 – 7:30 in the Robinson Park Gazebo – hotdogs and brats are on the menu!

Saturday, June 1 — Pine City Bull Ride – The Heidelberger Arena in Rock Creek will be the location for the Pine City Bullride on Saturday at 6:00 PM.  There will be live music and special guest, Viking Jared Allen will attend.  For more information, call (320) 629-1122

Saturday, June 1 — Pine County Relay for Life Walk — This annual event is hoping for some nice weather on Saturday.  A change from previous years, the walk will begin at 2PM and go until 2AM on Sunday.  There are many opportunities for the community to join in this event without being a member of a team.  There will be a silent auction, dunk tank, quilt raffle and concessions — all benefiting the Relay for Life fundraising efforts.

Sunday, June 2 — East Central MN Pride — Voyageur Park in Pine City will be the setting for the annual East Central MN LGBT Pride event and picnic.  From Noon to 5:00 PM enjoy music, food and rendezvous with friends, family and the community.  For more information, contact Don Quaintance at

Wednesday, June 5 — Outdoor Family Class — Visit Crex Meadows in Grantsburg, WI from 5 – 6:30PM for a free session on camping, the first class in the Becoming an Outdoor Family series for those who want to learn outdoor skills with their spouses, children or families.  Offered free of charge, no advance registration needed.  Call 715-463-2739 for more information.

Wednesday, June 5 — Okee Dokee Brothers — The Pine City Library will kick off their summer reading program with this free music event for children preschool – 6th grade.  This free concert begins at 1PM on Wednesday and will be held in the Pine City Elementary Auditorium.  Visit for more information.

Wednesday, June 5 — Health Fair Event — Pine County Public Health is organizing this free event for the community.  Open from 10am – 6pm in the Pine City Armory, this event will include 20+ vendors, free blood pressure checks, free body mass index (BMI) checks, giveaways, health & wellness information and much, much more!  For more information, contact Pine Co Public Health at 320-591-1597.

Stay up-to-date on community happenings by visiting the Community Calendar on the Chamber of Commerce website or connecting with us on Facebook.

PTC’s Ever Green Club to show short film, Precious Waters: Minnesota’s Sulfide Mining Controversy

Pine Technical College’s Ever Green Club will be hosting a showing of Precious Waters: Minnesota’s Sulfide Mining Controversy on April 26 at 7:30 p.m. in room 20, the college auditorium. The short film, a project of the Friends of the Boundary Waters, is just 26 minutes long, but Eric Jensen, PTC biology instructor and Ever Green Club advisor says it is both powerful and inspiring.

“This film is really eye-opening, and I am very excited to show this to our students and the larger PTC community,” Jensen says. “It’s a powerful film, and it’s inspiring. I hope it will encourage people to carefully consider how human behavior can affect our natural environment,” Jensen adds.

The film scrutinizes the sulfide mining industry, its polluting effects, and its history of failed predictions as well as its impact on northeastern Minnesota. Pine City planner and PTC alum Nathan Johnson will facilitate discussion following the film. Johnson has worked with the Ever Green Club over the years to incorporate environmental sensitivity into the proposed update of the City’s comprehensive plan.

“Water is our most precious resource; it plays a vital role in our development and sustenance,” says Johnson. “Pine City can learn valuable lessons by taking a look at how water is managed and handled by other communities,” Johnson adds.

The Ever Green Club, established in 2006, is a student organization focused on encouraging environmental responsibility and healthy living.

Pine Technical College, established in 1965 and accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, serves more than 1,200 students and awards certificates, diplomas and associate degrees. PTC’s notable programs include accounting, American Sign Language, automotive technology, business administration, business technology, computer programming, computer science, early childhood development, gunsmithing technology, medical assistant, network administration, practical nursing, precision manufacturing/machining (CNC), public welfare financial worker, and many more.

PTC is a proud member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, which is comprised of 32 state universities and community and technical colleges serving the higher education needs of Minnesota. The system serves about 277,000 students per year in credit-based courses and an additional 157,000 students in noncredit courses. PTC is accepting applications for new students in all programs; summer courses will start June 4. For more information about the showing of Precious Waters: Minnesota’s Sulfide Mining Controversy or for general information about the college overall, call 320-629-5100.

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City begins to review 2010 Census data to mount challenge

Volunteer Jules Atangana, a Master's student at the Humphrey School for Public Affairs, is helping with Pine City's Census challenge.

Earlier this year, the City of Pine City decided it wanted to challenge its population number that the Census Bureau came back with, 3,123.   The Census Bureau’s Count Question Resolution (CQR) program allows State, local and Tribal area elected officials to challenge their jurisdiction’s Census counts.

They began accepting 2010 Census challenge submissions on June 1, 2011 and will accept them through June 1, 2013.  Jules Atangana, in his Master of Urban and Regional Planning at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs (University of Minnesota) is offering his help to City Planner Nathan Johnson, to look over the data and verify any possible inaccuracies.  Atangana is originally from Cameroon and lives in Northfield, Minn.

Prior to the 2010 Census count being taken, the Pine City Council passed a resolution partnering with state, local and tribal governments across the nation to help ensure a complete and accurate count.  According to the Census Bureau’s Web site, the Bureau’s goal was to count everyone once, only once, and in the right place.

“There are historically a small percentage of cases where a wrong geographic boundary or coding of a housing unit was used to produce the official census population and housing counts for a local area,” the site says.  “There may also be processing errors.”

If a challenge results in a change, the Census Bureau will issue official revised counts to City officials.  These changes can be used  for future programs that require official 2010 Census data.  They would then also be used to calculate subsequent population estimates for Pine City.  The current list of jurisdictions that have submitted a 2010 CQR Challenge stands at over 100, with the majority listed in “pending status”, four that have changed, and seven with no change.

A Place for You Develops its Strategy

After several busy weeks of public meetings, hearings, and working to overcome zoning regulations, A Place for You(APFY)  has settled into the back of the conscious for many local Pine Citians. While there hasn’t been any monumental announcements as of late, that doesn’t mean all is quiet for the board of APFY.  Here are some recent accomplishments and updates describing what the group has been working on:

  • The opening date has been pushed back to the beginning of April/May. Due to cold weather restrictions, the shelter will not be able install an additional water line needed to sprinkler the building. This means the group will have to wait until March/April to get the added water line necessary for the building. While this is a setback for the group, it does give them an additional two months to prepare for the opening.
  • What about food?  Board and co-chairs have been busy looking into partnerships with local groups in order to develop a meal delivery system.
  • Churches are getting involved. Local churches are being contacted as the first step in the group’s fundraising plan. They have the opportunity to provide the shelter with support coming from the immediate area.
  • What is strategic Planning? Strategic Planning is a process that most Non-Profit groups go through to create a roadmap for the upcoming year(s). The process includes outlining the group’s mission, vision, values and goals. This process is essential because it is this plan that the group will compare all future decisions to. APFY has recently completed a multi-day strategic planning session, a very crucial part to the success of the group in order to them to move forward.

 Overall, the work of the group has been very successful. As they push forward they certainly will be met with some challenges, however the group is in an exceptional place and  they have a strong group of individuals to lead them!

Facts about the Pine Innovation Center

The Pine Entrepreneurship Center and Technology Business Incubator, now shortened to the “Pine Innovation Center” is set to open some time in 2012.  Some may ask, what is an incubator?  Do they work?  Here is a run-down of info so you’ll be in the know…

What is an incubator?

Business incubators nurture the development of entrepreneurial companies, helping them survive and grow during the start-up and expansion periods, when they are most vulnerable. These programs provide their client companies with business support services and resources tailored to young and growing firms.

The most common goals of incubation programs are creating jobs in a community, enhancing a community’s entrepreneurial climate, retaining businesses in a community, building or accelerating growth in a local industry, and diversifying local economies.  Incubators are a combination of a physical facility and the services provided.  Often, the rent is reduced for the first 1-3 years of occupancy for a business locating in an incubator, and the services initially are either free or at a reduced price.  There are over 1,400 incubators in North America, and the strategy originated in the late 1970’s.

Do they work?

  • The National Business Incubation Association (NBIA) estimates that, in 2005 alone, North American incubators assisted more than 27,000 start-up companies that provided full-time employment for more than 100,000 workers and generated annual revenue of more than $17 billion.
  • Business incubators reduce the risk of small business failures. Historically, NBIA member incubators have reported that 87 percent of all firms that have graduated from their incubators are still in business.
  • NBIA members have reported that 84 percent of incubator graduates stay in their communities.
  • A study by the U.S. Department of Commerce shows that incubators provide up to 20 times more jobs than community infrastructure projects such as industrial parks.  The U.S. Economic Development Administration rates incubators as their most effective investment in terms of job creation.

What is the Pine incubator?

  • 7,800 square feet of new, open,  and adaptable space designed to house advanced technology manufacturing companies.
  • Designed to house up to three companies at a time, with two interior office spaces for incubator occupants along with the open light industrial advanced technology floor.
  • Connected to Pine Technical College Customized Training and Continuing Education (CE/CT) offices (in the former East Central Energy building to be remodeled).
  • Located at the corner of Hillside and Main Street to create a compelling entrance experience.
  • Targeted at advanced technology companies providing high wage jobs.
  • Integrated with Pine Technical College to provide students with internships and to provide incubator occupants with access to faculty expertise in a number of disciplines.
  • Connected to PTC CE/CT for management and for access to customized training for employees.
  • Connected to the Pine City fiber optic backbone for high-speed internet.
  • To be served by a network of local professionals for advice and guidance in accounting, legal services, financial expertise, marketing assistance, and other services at free or reduced costs.

What are the benefits for the region?

  • Creating high-wage jobs for area citizens.
  • Attracting technology-based companies to locate in area industrial parks after incubation.
  • Strengthening the commercial/industrial tax base.

“Give to the Max” and support your favorite charitable organization today!

If you’ve been considering making a donation to a nonprofit organization, today would be a great day to do it.  Hundreds of nonprofits throughout Minnesota are participating in the third annual “Give to the Max Day“, a 24-hour online fundraising blitz sponsored by Give MN that will match your donation and award grants to the organizations that receive the most donations.

Last year’s fundraiser collected more than $10 million for over 3,500 Minnesota nonprofits, and helped the Pine City Library with its challenge match to expand and enhance its facility.  It can be tough to choose who to give to, so here’s a snapshot of just a handful of the dozens of worthy organizations in the Greater Pine City area.

  • GPS 45:93, formerly Northern Technology Initiative (N.T.I.), is a regional consortium for economic development.  It works to attract business and high-paying jobs in the region.
  • PHASE provides employment-based services to adults with a diagnosis of a developmental disability, traumatic brain injury, or severe and persistent mental illness.
  • East Central PFLAG promotes the health and well-being of the area’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, their families and friends through support, education, and advocacy, to end discrimination and to secure equal civil rights.
  • East Central Habitat for Humanity is a housing ministry dedicated to eliminating substandard housing and homelessness and to making adequate, affordable shelter a matter of conscience and action.  The organization’s goal is to build safe, decent, affordable, energy efficient houses for low-income families.
  • Pine Center for the Arts or the Pine City Heritage Players.  The arts center provides a place downtown Pine City to stir up the arts in everyone; whereas, the Heritage Players produce quality community theatre.
  • Pine Technical College Foundation stands for expanded opportunities for students at the college and for those who wish to become students.  Your support of the Foundation helps students achieve dreams.
  • Pine Community Food Shelf offers many services to the community including volunteer and donation opportunities, information and referral and food shelf services for those in need.  The organization’s director, Julie Werner, also serves on many committees in the community such as Pine County Salvation Army, Toys for Tots, and Community Health Services.

“Give to the Max Day” begins at midnight on Nov. 16 and continues through midnight the following day.  Perhaps you have a favorite organization you wish to share about.  Please comment and share about it with us and our readers.

GPS 45:93 looks back, plans its future

With the belief that strategic planning for regional economic development is critical, members of GPS 45:93 set out to do just that on Sept. 23 around a large table in the Isanti County Courthouse in Cambridge, Minn. 

GPS 45:93 is a regional coalition working to promote dialogue and collaboration among the region’s public and private agencies in an effort to foster economic development.  Its location, four counties in east central Minnesota (Pine, Isanti, Chisago and Kanabec) places it within two hours of over 80-percent of the state’s population.

The organization’s need to plan was fueled by some regional factors that have come to be, including a higher-than-the-state-average unemployment and poverty rates, and lower-than-the-state-average diversity and educational attainment rates, as well as regional dependence on state aid, decreasing property values, and lack of venture and other sources of capital, among others.

The strategic planning process outlined those perceived weaknesses as well as the regions’ strengths and competitive advantages:  growth, quality of life, available—and affordable—land and workforce, natural amenities, existing regional collaboration, a history of successes, and a strong manufacturing base, among others.

The Initiative Foundation’s Dan Frank and Sandy Voigt were on-hand to facilitate the meeting.  Frank is the program manager for community development and Voigt is the business development specialist at the foundation.

They suggested that the group look beyond the region’s characteristics and look internally, into the organization of GPS 45:39, now in existence in its twelfth year, though first as Northern Technology Initiative.  The organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats became apparent and were discussed.

“Though we have a credible history, what does GPS 45:93 mean outside of the organization?” asked Sam Griffith, city administrator of Sandstone, Minn.  “There exists a lack of awareness.  What does our name say about us?”

Some of the goals that came out of the session included focusing more on economic development and marketing, and less on workforce development and organizational development. 

“Workforce development is being done elsewhere, in other agencies,” said Sara Trieber, current president of GPS 45:93 and a staffer for the Corporate Commission of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.  “And, we’ve already established our organization.  It’s no longer in development stage,” she added.

Now, GPS 45:93 can turn its energies to economic gardening, economic strategy and the like.  It has already completed business retention and expansion visits in its respective communities, as well as a network of ‘go-to’ people in each community.

Now that the group has a new name and identity, and all that goes along with that—a logo, tagline, Web site, etc.—it can create and implement a marketing plan. 

“We’ve come a long ways in a relatively short time,” said member Dr. Robert Musgrove, president of Pine Technical College, adding, “And, we realize we have a bright future if we are all working together.  We are of the philosophy that if one wins, all win.”

The tagline for GPS 45:93 is, “Your point of opportunity”.  Its precise coordinates, 45-degrees North (latitude) and 93-degrees West (longitude), when extended to their full six digits, lead to a point on the map near where four partner counties—Pine, Isanti, Chisago and Kanabec—touch.  Abbreviated, it leads to a simpler URL for its website,  There, one can find useful links, testimonials, and information on the members of the consortium.

This Weekend in Pine City: Autumn “Stay-Cation” Ideas

Economic hardship is still forcing many to cancel travel or vacation plans and instead make the most of “Stay-Cations.”  

Anderson's Rock Creek Relics 2011 Corn Maze

Definition of Staycation:  A vacation spent at home or near home, doing enjoyable activities or visiting local attractions.  –


Here are some ideas to offer the perfect solution: Activities that not only will please everyone and are close to home, but are either free to the public or nominally priced…

Stay up-to-date with other goings on in Pine City at the Area Chamber of Commerce Web site.