PTCC offers $3500 scholarships to area high school students

PINE CITY, Minn. – Thanks to the State Legislature and generous community donations, area high school seniors have a shot at $3500 Workforce Development scholarships at Pine Technical & Community College.

 To respond to a shortage of skilled workers in manufacturing, healthcare, information technology and agriculture, legislation was passed to provide $2500 scholarships to students entering those educational fields within the Minnesota State system. Pine Technical & Community College was allotted 14 of those scholarships.

 Knowing that it will have a huge impact on solving the worker shortage locally, PTCC President Joe Mulford decided to seek help to increase the scholarships from the communities and industries that would benefit. Mulford also saw the scholarship as a means to reduce “brain drain.”

“We have the second lowest tuition in the state, and $2500 makes a big difference to a high school student looking to go to college,” Mulford said. “But just think what $3500 would mean. For our students, that can be a life-changing scholarship.”

 “When our local communities and business invest in our young people, it encourages those students to stay in the community,” Mulford said. “It helps to retain our young talent in area.”

The 14 scholarships will be awarded to high school seniors from the East Central Minnesota Educational Cable Cooperative (ECMECC). This includes Braham, Cambridge-Isanti, Chisago Lakes, East Central, Elk River, Hinckley-Finlayson, Milaca, Mora, North Branch, Ogilvie, Pine City, Princeton, Rush City and St. Francis.

The Foundation is seeking support from the communities and industries targeted by these scholarships.

The scholarship deadline is January 19, 2018. High school seniors from the 14 ECMECC schools who are interested in a career in manufacturing, healthcare, information technology and agriculture are encouraged to apply. The application consists of three essay questions and a letter of reference.

For more information, or to apply for the scholarship, please go to Or email or

Those interested in supporting the scholarship fund and the Foundation should contact Sandi Carlisle at 320.629.5140.

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.

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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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 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

Come lend a hand with Operation Community Connect (OCC)

Operation Community Connect (OCC) is a service day to those in our community who are in-need.  This event provides food, clothes, personal items and assistance information from local and regional service providers.  Last year, the Pine County OCC served 192 individuals.

Pine City Horizons is coordinating OCC again this year and we are putting out the call for anyone to join our efforts for this years event.

We will be meeting on Monday, August 8th at 5pm in the Pine City Area Chamber of Commerce meeting room, which is located at the old courthouse at 315 Main St. South in Pine City.

If you or your group cannot attend this meeting but would like to learn more, please contact Pine City Horizons at (320) 629-2575 ext 115 or email us at

Homelessness “Point in Time” Count: Wed July 27th

The Central Minnesota Housing Partnership, in coordination with assistance organizations in 4 other states, are conducting Minnesota’s first summertime “Point-In-Time” count of unsheltered Minnesotans.  The completed surveys will help the Central Minnesota Housing Partnership and Central Minnesota Continuum of Care accurately report the extent of homelessness in Central Minnesota, apply for funding from HUD and provide direct assistance.

The Point-In-Time count is a simple 9 question survey and includes no contact information from the unsheltered individual.  In the event that an individual doesn’t elect to complete the survey, but indicates to a friend, family member, clergy, medical provider or anyone else that they will be without shelter on the day of the count, their numbers can still be counted.

Point-In-Time Survey

Wednesday, July 27th

A copy of the survey can be downloaded here, for individuals facing homelessness to self-report or for providers to submit on behalf of someone whom they know is going to be without shelter on July 27th.  

MN's summertime Point in Time Survey


Opportunities Galore

Minnesota Community Pride Showcase

We told them about four ways in which our work is helping to improve Pine City.  Now, will the Minnesota Community Pride Showcase select one or more of the works to display in-person, and receive a plaque and $500 cash award on Community Pride Day September 3 at the Minnesota State Fair?  Be sure to sign-in with your Facebook to “like” or comment on the Iniatives, from the Horizons’ blog to pride, from the library renovation project to the City’s rainwater gardens.

Open Idea Challenge

Also, the Woodpecker Ridge rainwater gardens initiative was nominated for the Open Idea Challenge.  If Pine City is selected, $15,000 will be awarded to our community to further help raise awareness of and address water issues locally.  Again, your Facebook log-in will allow you to “like” and comment on this.

Miscellaneous Grant Opportunities

Rural Housing Preservation Grants are now available.  They provide qualified public agencies, private nonprofit organizations, which may include but not be limited to Faith-Based and Community Organizations, and other eligible entities grant funds to assist very low- and low-income homeowners in repairing and rehabilitating their homes in rural areas. In addition, the HPG program assists rental property owners and cooperative housing complexes in repairing and rehabilitating their units if they agree to make such units available to low- and very low-income persons.

Also, the Rural Business Opportunity Grants Program offers support for activities designed to promote sustainable economic development in rural communities with exceptional needs through the provision of training and technical assistance for business development, entrepreneurs, and economic development officials and support to assist with economic development planning.