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.

Minnesota’s Small-town Pride Recognized in Community Showcase at State Fair

Pictured left to right are Wendy Johnson, Nathan Johnson, Emma Schroeder, Barb Schroeder, Don Quaintance and Phil Schroeder.

Don Quaintance and Nathan Johnson accept the award and check on behalf of East Central Minnesota Pride at the State Fair’s annual Community Showcase Saturday, Sept. 3.  Johnson was interviewed on a panel afterward by The UPTAKE.

East Central Pride selected as 2011 Minnesota Community Pride Showcase winner

East Central Minnesota Pride, Minnesota’s small-town gay pride, was selected as one of 30 showcase winners from among 67 inspiring entries to the 2011 Community Pride Showcase.  It was shared–along with three other local initiatives–as one way the community of Pine City is moving beyond the current economic challenges with creative and proactive community and economic development innovations.

A photo taken from the 2006 regional pride in Pine City's Voyageur Park.

As a winner, the regional pride event will receive $500 from the Minnesota State Fair Foundation, exhibit space to share about the event and it will be formally recognized at Community Pride Day at the Minnesota State Fair on September 3rd.

The other Pine City initiatives that were nominated were the rainwater gardens of Woodpecker Ridge, the Horizons’ Pine Poker community blog site and the Pine City Library renovation project–certainly all worthy of showcasing at the “Great Minnesota Get Together”. 

“I’m more than proud of the GLBT community in East Central Minnesota,” said Dennis Burns, owner of DB Signs in rural Pine City.  “They all work very hard every year to put together the Pine City Pride Picnic.  The event is growing in attendance and fun each year.”

“This event is one of the ways that the small town GLBT community can help to bring harmony to us all no matter where we live in this great state of ours,” he said.  “I urge everyone to attend the picnic next summer.”

East Central Minnesota Pride is held the first Sunday in June each year.  2012 will mark the eighth year of the highly unique event.

For more information, please contact the Minnesota Community Pride Showcase Coordinators at 612.520.1756 or by email:  info@InCommons.org

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.

Your weekend of fun awaits

Saturday, June 4

North West Company & the War of 1812. It’s 1812 and Mr. Madison has declared war.  The N.W. Company is preparing to protect its interests in the West.  The post will be raising a corps of voyageurs to rally for cause.  Come prepared to march, make your own militia hat, experience camp life and talk with soldiers about military life.  320.629.6356

Tommy & His Mommy” ShowTommy Ryman, who’s opened for the likes of Nick Swardson and Louis Anderson, opens his comedy act in Pine City Saturday night at Java Joe’s.  His mom, Barb Ryman, a renowned folk singer, and St. Cloud Drag Troupe’s Dolly Meridian, joins him in the shenanigans beginning at 8 p.m.  (Sold Out). 320.629.7770.

Sunday, June 5

East Central Minnesota Pride.  The 7th Annual East Central Minnesota LGBT Pride will take place Sunday from Noon to 6 p.m. at Voyageur Park.  Food, music, silent auction and homespun fun and entertainment.  Free admission.  Food/vendors vary.  218.831.6352