A look back at 2011

A look at stories that transcended beyond Pine City…

NEWS

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.

SPORTS

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).

FAREWELLS AND SEE YOU LATERS

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.

ECONOMY

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.

CULTURE

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.

WILD CARD

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.