Sauter appointed to Planning Commission, replaces Doran

LezlieMayor Paul Janssen appointed one new member to the Pine City Planning Commission to replace Jane Doran, who resigned partway through her term.  Lezlie Sauter replaces Doran as the only remaining female on the Commission.

Doran’s term was set to expire December 31, 2015, but Sauter will serve until that time.  Sauter, who was born and raised in Pine City, is the daughter of Tim and Cenia Ballis.  She is a 2001 graduate of Pine City High School.  At age 30, she is the second-youngest to presently serve on the Planning Commission.

Sauter holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin—River Falls.  Her past employment history includes time as a certified nursing assistant at Lakeside Medical Center, bartender at Village Inn, server at Minnesota Machine Shed (in Lake Elmo, Minn.), and an EMT at Pine Medical Center (now Essentia in Sandstone).

Since 2006, she has worked in nearby Mora at Lakes and Pines Community Action Council, Inc., a private, non-profit with the mission to build prosperous communities by serving local families and individuals in their pursuit of self-reliance.  She first worked as the Project Manager assisting local communities and property owners in rehabilitating housing and commercial properties and now currently is the Community Services Director and Agency Planner overseeing homelessness programming and self-sufficiency programming, in addition to grant writing and planning.

She married Jonah Sauter in 2009 and the couple makes their in the city limits on the 700-block of 8th Avenue SW with their beagle Manny, and what Sauter describes as, “2.5 children”:  Amelia is 3.5 years; Crosby, two, and a third baby is due in July, 2014.

In her spare time, Sauter has been involved in the Dala of Mora Business & Professional Women’s group, since 2006, serving as the Secretary in 2009 and serving on the scholarship committee 2007-’09.  She was also involved in the Pine City Horizon’s program from 2008-’10; GPS:45:93 since 2010; and enjoys fishing, golfing, playing softball with the Pink Ladies and going to Art in the Park with her family.  She loves shoes, purses, make-up artistry and the Great Pine County Get-Together, the Pine County Fair.

The mayor re-upped the terms of other Commissioners set to expire:  Chair Frank Christopherson, Brent Jahnz, Dan Rydberg, and Loren Skluzacek.  Any interested, Pine City High School senior high student is welcome to express his or her interest in being appointed as a student representative for a one-year term, now held by Amie Yerke.  Call (320) 629-2575, ext. 105 with any questions or to be considered.


A look back at 2013

A look at stories that transcended beyond Pine City…


  • White powder envelope scare.  A 45-year-old Pine City area man, Johnnie Long (not to be confused with blues singer “Jonny Lang”), faces 24 terrorism-related charges after allegedly sending white powder-laced letters to the local courthouse, forcing its evacuation in the midst of a high-profile court case.  The strange motive:  to get back at his ex-wife and her new man.  Long was no stranger to authorities in Pine County: According to the sheriff, he allegedly faked his own kidnapping prior, and, according to the charges, he also placed fake explosive devices around town.  His odd-duck behavior seemed to be headed toward something even more serious.  Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt.
  • Horses, other animals seized from area farmer, twice.  A Pine City-area woman, Kathy Doenz, was discovered to have a long history of animal neglect, and within a month of each other, there two confiscations of animals in her care this past year.  Previously, in 2006, she was charged with 35 counts of animal neglect.   The Pine County Sheriff’s Dept. had to take many animals into their custody and find placement for them.
  • Pine City High School lock-down.  Just three days after a high-profile high school shooting in Arapahoe High School in Colorado, students in Pine City High School were locked in their building after a report of a student leaving home with a rifle, shotgun and ammunition.   Authorities caught the two students who were involved, off campus, and charged both with two counts of a theft of a firearm, and one of them with two counts of firearms on school property.   The firearms were located and confiscated from a locked vehicle on campus.  Although the investigation remains ongoing, it is possible the precautionary lockdown, where classes continued but students couldn’t leave the building without a parent or guardian, may have saved lives.  
  • Sheriff outspoken on nation’s gun laws.  Pine County Sheriff Robin Cole sent an open letter stating his position on the Second Amendment.  In the letter, Cole stated that the right to bear arms is “fundamental” and “part of life in country”.   Some viewed it as a rogue move and the sheriff who didn’t want to enforce President Obama’s gun proposals, but Sheriff Cole said he did so after receiving numerous phone calls from residents afraid they would lose their right to bear arms.  Sheriff Cole estimated 80 percent of residents in Pine County own a firearm, and stated that guns were not the problem, but suggested a deeper look at mental illness and violent video games takes place.


  • Dennis Roghair – One of the world’s most renowned chainsaw carvers passed on April 20, 2013, at the age 60.  He started chainsaw carving in 1974 and sold handmade carvings to pay for part of his college tuition.  After deciding that his career choice of wildlife management meant too much paperwork and not enough forest, he turned to woodcarving.  He would dazzle crowds with his roaring hobby.  He carved everything from miniature and life-sized birds and animals, to replicas Dan Patch and Smokey the Bear.  Whereas most carvers of the day were producing eagles and bears, Roghair challenged that stereotype.  Consider his 31-foot, 23-ton redwood carving of a voyageur holding a canoe paddle commissioned by the City of Pine City; or his giant mosquito ordered by a woman whose father moved to Arizona from Minnesota to escape the insects.  His works were showcased and for sale in his own store, Kettle River Carvings & Gift Shop in Hinckley.  He was featured in the book “Art of Chainsaw Carving” and his works are also on display elsewhere in Minnesota:  After Dutch elm disease started to claim many trees at the Minnesota Stat e Fair Grounds in the 1980s, the fair commissioned him to carve nearly 30 tree sculptures there.   Also, in St. Paul, there’s one of his carvings outside a bookstore, and another in the backyard of the Governor’s residence.  There’re several for the City of Plymouth, and some at the U of M.  He has traveled many places to do commissioned work or shows and his work has been purchased by individuals from around the world including countries such as Japan, Germany, France, and Denmark to name a few.  Roghair had earned honors as a 10-time world championship chainsaw carver. 


  • Homeless shelter turns away 200 in first year.  Granted, the shelter covers a multi-county area in East Central Minnesota, but did you read that headline?  The shelter turned away 200 homeless people, this according to co-founder Deacon Gene Biever.  Yikes!  It did serve 43 people in its first year of operations and there were a good number of success stories of those folks transitioning out of homelessness.
  • Pine City adds jobs, lots of them.  Since 2007, over 500 new jobs have been created in Pine City and there are now over 2,000 jobs in town.   Unemployment is down; spirits are up, considering the economy is making somewhat of a rebound.


  • Shane Bauer writes memoir of detainment.  Want to know more about the “Free the Hikers” movement, and about the son (of the Pine City mom) who was captured and imprisoned in Iran, simply for hiking?  This book, due out in March, is sure to be a good read, and a good seller.


  • 13 people file for school board.  In possibly one of the most contested school board races in the State, and for sure in Pine City School District No. 578’s history, 13 candidates sought four offices.  Three incumbents were re-elected and one new member, Dr. Candice Ames, came aboard. The hot-button topic of this election was not test scores, equipment or facility needs.  No, it was an electronic, programmable-message sign of all things.
  • For a look back at ’08, click here.
  • For a look back at ’09, click here.
  • For a look back at ’10, click here.
  • For a look back at ’11, click here.
  • For a look back at ’12, click here.

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.  

Pine City recording artist now has local studio access

Michael Mooney (a.k.a. Kronic) and American Hustle Records owner, Michael Hale, look on as Dream Child finds a suitable beat.

Access to recording arts opportunities were, until recently, found mainly outside of town typically in the metro, and are now available in Pine City.

In his sophomore year of high school, Michael Mooney a.k.a. Kronic, was hopping a weekday bus to St. Paul to get alternative educational programming at High School for the Recording Arts, attempting to build on his rapping abilities.  Now 17, Kronic is spending a bit more time in Pine City these days thanks in part to a new studio, American Hustle Records, that set-up shop in town.

Owner Michael Hale has more than a dozen years of experience in the music business and says, “Kronic is prolific, creative and has mad skills.”

Despite Pine City High School repeatedly being named one of the “Best Schools for Music Education in America” by the NAMM Foundation, individualized, project-based learning for aspiring recording artists seemed limited to Kronic, who said, “It means a lot that I can do studio right here.”

Is Kronic up-and-coming?  Time will tell, but Hale defends Kronic, saying, “He is young, gifted and has great talent. I think he can go far.”

Show opening this weekend


“Lil’ Shop of Horrors” cast treats food shelf


 In this picture, junior Josh Palmer (who stars as Seymour in the musical) is seen with some of the food items collected by the students. 

  • Community responds big to cast’s community service project

The cast and crew of Pine City High School‘s fall musical took time out of their busy rehearsal schedule to give something back to the community by collecting food for the Pine Area Food Shelf Halloween night.   Hundreds of items (388 pounds) were generously contributed on Oct. 31, as kids went door-to-door asking for non-perishable food items rather than candy.

Performances of the hilarious musical are fast approaching, with opening night coming on Friday the 13th at 7:30 P.M.  There are also 7:30 P.M. shows on Nov. 15, 20, and 21, plus a 2:30 P.M. matinee on November 15.  Discounted tickets are now on sale at Nelson’s Market, Sauser’s Hardware, Cabin Coffees and The Flower Box.

“Little Shop…” tickets on sale

  • Tickets for “Little Shop of Horrors”, the PCHS fall musical, are on sale.  The show opens Friday the 13th, and runs two weekends.


The cast has been learning lyrics and lines over the past five weeks, as well as lots of dance moves from choreographer Beth Dempsey, of Maplewood, Minn. 

The musical comedy “Little Shop of Horrors” has been a staple of high school and college theatre programs for the better part of three decades and Greater Pine City area residents will get their chance to see this gem of a show starting on Fri., Nov. 13.  Tickets for “Little Shop” are on sale at several area businesses.

The students and staff are especially excited for this musical, which features infectious songs, great jokes, and unique special effects that will entertain the whole family. In fact, many may have seen the movie starring John Candy and Steve Martin or remember a Pine City High School production of the show in the 1990s.

Advanced tickets are highly recommended.  Last year, more than 1,600 people packed the Pine City Elementary Auditorium for performances of the fall show, “A Christmas Carol.”  Businesses that will be selling advance tickets include Nelson’s Market-Pine City, Cabin Coffees, Sauser’s Hardware and the Flower Box.  Advance tickets cost just $4 for students and $6 for adults.  Tickets to all performances will also be sold at the door on a first-come, first-served basis.  Tickets at the door are $7 for adults and $5 for students.

Performances of “Little Shop of Horrors” are Nov.13-14, and 20-21 at 7:30 P.M.  There will also be a matinee performance on Sun., Nov. 15 at 2:30 P.M. with a special backstage tour starting at 1:30 P.M.  The backstage tour will allow audience members and families to see the “Audrey II” puppets close up.  The professionally-designed and built puppet pods were acquired through a grant received from the East Central Regional Arts Council.

For more information about “Little Shop…” or to make a group reservation, contact director Brad Mariska at (320) 629-4129 or 

PCHS announces fall musical


Pine City High School is proud to announce its fall musical, the Broadway classic “Little Shop of Horrors.”  The show focuses on a down-and-out skid row floral assistant who becomes an overnight sensation when he discovers an exotic, mysterious plant he names “Audrey II.”  Soon Audrey grows into an ill-tempered, R&B-singing carnivore.

One of the longest-running Off-Broadway shows of all time, this affectionate spoof of 1950s sci-fi movies has become a house-hold name, thanks to film version and a score by the songwriting team of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, who redefined the animated musical film with Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty And The Beast.”  Charming, tuneful, and hilarious, “Little Shop Of Horrors” promises to be the event of the year.

Performances of the musical will take place on November 13, 14, 20, and 21 at 7:30pm.  A special matinee will take place on Sunday, November 15 at 2:30pm, including a backstage tour for families before the performance.

For more information about the high school theatre program, or to learn more about group sales, contact director Bradley Mariska at (320) 629-4129 or E-mail

Enjoy the season of Arts downtown


The Pine City Arts Council brings to downtown Pine City each season a colorful blend of musical art beginning this Friday, May 29, and running through the summer.  May 29 features the Pine City High School Jazz Band.  Next Friday, Jun. 5, is Allpensterne.  Dinner begins at 6:00 P.M. and is hosted as a fundraiser for different groups each week.  Music begins at 6:30 P.M.  Bring a lawn chair and enjoy!

Heritage Players announce tryouts


The Pine City Heritage Players will be holding auditions on Mon., May 18 from 6:30 – 8:00 P.M. at the Pine City High School.   Auditions will be for the Freedom Fest One Acts that will be performed on Sat., Jun. 27.   Anyone interested in participating in this production MUST attend auditions.   For more information, please contact Becky Schueller at (320) 298-0014.