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 http://pine.edu/departments/continuing-education-and-customized-training/ed2go.

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“Transforming Hearts and Minds” theme for this year’s Pride

pride2015-flyer-2Pine City, Minn., May 26, 2015– East Central Minnesota Pride organizers have announced another LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) pride event for the predominantly rural portion of Minnesota tucked just between the Twin Cities and the Twin Ports of Duluth-Superior.

The event will take place Sunday, June 7, from Noon to 5 p.m. at Pine City’s Voyageur Park and VFW, at 600 1st Street NW.   The theme of this year’s event is “Transforming Hearts and Minds” something that organizers say this rural LGBT pride festival has done since its inception.   The event includes live music, an alpaca petting zoo, a barbeque, vendors, politicians, and more.

“The recent changes in federal, state, and local laws to eliminate sexual orientation and gender identification inequality sometimes can lull me into feeling that events like Pride are no longer needed,” said Julie Redpath of Lindström, but countered, “I think of the LGBT people who are just coming out because hearts and minds and laws are changing, and I know they still need safe places to find community and celebrate who they are, especially in rural areas and small towns.”

Bigger cities across the U.S. have held prides for decades; New York, Chicago and San Francisco have had pride events—either marches or parades—since 1970. The gay pride in Pine City began when it was just one of two rural prides in the nation.   And, it is the first pride in the State of Minnesota to be held each year during what President Obama has declared as “Pride Month”, June.

Other notable Minnesota gay prides are held in Fargo-Moorhead, Duluth-Superior, Mankato, Rochester and the Twin Cities, each of which are in metropolitan areas.

“When I was younger, it was great to see an event in my hometown,” said Ashley Ackley, a 2006 Pine City High School graduate, then named John. “It showed that the general atmosphere about LGBT acceptance changing and evolving publicly. Knowing that perceptions were changing helped me feel safer in my own town.”

What’s on Tap?

The music lineup this year includes Calliope Women’s Chorus, Neighberz Band, and a special performance by Hedwig of the musical “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”, as well as tracks played by Deejay Geo Montecillo.

Calliope Women’s Chorus is a feminist chorus dedicated to promoting social change through song. Since 1976, they have been producing concerts and performing for public events to bring quality social justice-themed music to the broader community.

The Neighberz Band is based in North Branch, Minn., and is a country and gospel band. The band has been in the studio recently working on its new CD, “Neighberz and Friends”, featuring the band and several of the members’ musician and singing friends they have come to know over the years.

Excerpts from “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” will also be a featured component of entertainment schedule as the costars of the recent Duluth Playhouse production will present a live soundtrack from the triple award-winning play written by John Cameran Mitchell.   Duluth’s version of “Hedwig” was named “Best Local Play” by the Northland Reader’s “Best of The Northland 2014”. Ogilvie-native Alec Schroeder, as Hedwig, won “Best Local Actor of 2014”.

Television news and radio personality Val Mondor will be the event’s emcee this year.   Mondor, who resides with her wife in Chisago City, has been with Twin Cities Public Television (tpt) since 1979, editing both long- and short-format programs, including news, science reporting, music and arts performance, and documentaries of all sorts; she worked on such series such as Newton’s Apple and Almanac, among others. Mondor also provided voiceover talent for programs and commercials for tpt, and outside of work has been a board member of “Out in the Valley” (LGBT organization in the St. Croix River Valley) since its inception in 1999.

Invited to come are several public officials, including past-attendee Gov. Mark Dayton. For the second time, area mayors—this year Pine City Mayor Carl Pederson and North Branch Mayor Kirsten Hagen-Kennedy—will give official welcomes to attendees.

Admission is FREE. Suggested donation for food line: $10

Why a Pride in Pine City?

According to organizers of the event, East Central Minnesota Pride was started in 2005 as a way to bring about a sense of LGBT community, build awareness, and promote tolerance in Pine, Isanti, Chisago, Kanabec and Mille Lacs counties. It is known as one of the few rural LGBT pride events in the World.

As such, it has drawn opposition by some over the years and event promotions have, at times, been controversial. Early on, some people were offended by advertisements circulated locally, including one that said, “It’s okay to be GAY in Pine City.” The ad featured a pink boa around the neck of a voyageur monument in the park where the event is held.   Later, the words “Happy Pride!” advertised on a community sign on school grounds offended others.

This year, Pride organizers have displayed a banner over Pine City’s Main Street to highlight the community event and the reaction has been quite positive, they say.

“People are becoming so much more accepting of their lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender neighbors who have always been in their communities,” asserted Redpath.

Everyone is welcome at Pride, a rendezvous of friends, family and the larger community.   And, while it is just a picnic of sorts, it is also a statement heard far beyond Pine City, and the region.

More than ever in the event’s history, there is a collaboration to bring about East Central Minnesota Pride, one that involves East Central Minnesota Men’s Circle, East Central Minnesota Purple Circle, the Mora-based East Central Minnesota chapter of PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), Rural Aids Action Network, Rainbow Health Initiative and Out-Front Minnesota.

Several businesses throughout the region support and help sponsor the event as well such as Cambridge State Bank, Affinity Credit Union, Walmart and Home Town Liquor of Braham.

The event was recognized at the Minnesota State Fair in 2011 as an award-winner in the “Community Pride Showcase”.   It was highlighted as a way the Greater Pine City area is moving beyond economic challenges with creative and proactive community and economic development innovations.

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Changes to Pine City Planning Commission

Lezlie Sauter

Lezlie Sauter

Dan D'Aigle

Dan D’Aigle

Kent Bombard

Kent Bombard

Lezlie Sauter is back on the Pine City Planning Commission filling out a term left vacant due to a retirement.  Sauter had recently moved to rural Pine City, whereby disqualifying her from another term on the Commission since it may only be comprised of up to three of its nine members who live outside of the corporate limits of Pine City.

Sauter took the place of Dennis Odegard, of Pine City Township, who announced his resignation late-last year.  She was reappointed by Mayor Carl Pederson to the Commission at its Feb. 24 meeting, as was Brent Jahnz, of Pine City.

Kent Bombard, of Pine City, who ran for City Council in 2014, was appointed as a new Commissioner, as was Dan D’Aigle, of Pokegama Township; both were sworn in Jan. 27.  A Pine City High School student, Gracie LeBrun, also joined the Planning Commission but as a non-voting member.

Pine City High School Principal Troy Anderson said, “Gracie is a leader in the junior class that comes highly recommended by the social studies department.  She will be a great representative of P.C.H.S. and a nice connection between the school and local government.”

A look back at 2014!

A look at stories that transcended beyond 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.
  • For a look back at ‘11, click here.
  • For a look back at ‘12, click here.
  • For a look back at ’13, click here.

 

Holiday Madness Hits Pine City

Pine City will celebrate the holiday season this Friday with the 13th Annual Holiday Madness event.  The community is invited to participate this week in the variety of activities that will be held.

Join us in supporting the Pine Community Food Shelf and the Pine County Toys for Tots with our annual “Pine City Gives” promotion.  Donate an item to either of these organizations now through December 5th to receive your entry to win over $500 in Chamber Bucks.  Donations are accepted at these locations:  Voyageur Bottle Shop, Stearns Bank, Cabin Coffees, Northwoods Bank, Frandsen Bank & Trust and Anytime Fitness.

The Christmas Carol Parade begins at 6:00 PM on Friday evening.  The route begins at the corner of 8th Avenue & Main Street next to Waxberg Clinic and will travel north on Hwy 61 to 3rd Ave SE, then go to Robinson Park in downtown Pine City. The parade features a variety of lighted floats with Christmas Carol themes and many new units will be joining the parade this year.  We are excited to welcome the Senior High Choirs, led by Jennifer Krinke, as a unit in the parade.  The student group will lead the 2014 parade and share traditional songs with the parade viewers.  The Pine City Pioneer will award prizes for the bests float entries this year.

The lighting of the Christmas tree in Robinson Park will take place immediately following the end of the Christmas Carol Parade, so hurry on down!  A special presentation by the Elementary School choir, led by Jennifer Hansmann, has been added to this year’s line-up.  The Pine Area Lions have donated Holiday Treat Bags for the kids.  The Pine City Ambassadors will be distributing them following the end of the parade in Robinson Park.

Holiday Madness is made possible thanks to these generous sponsors:  Anytime Fitness, Central MN Coins & Antiques, Chris’ Food Center, Coldwell Banker Results, Currie, Pangerl & Associates, PHASE Furnishings, Todd’s Tax Service and Voyageur Bottle Shop.

The Pine City Area Chamber of Commerce, sponsor of the events, invites everyone in East Central Minnesota to enjoy this day of Christmas cheer by taking advantage of the many events.  Throughout the evening we encourage members of the community to use this evening as an opportunity to shop or dine at one of our local businesses.

Pine City EDA airs ad to support businesses during construction

Road construction has had quite an impact on Pine City over the past several months.  Businesses along Old Highway 61 South, as well as County Road 8 (3rd Avenue SE) and Historic 5th Street have surely felt the effects.

“We all know good roads and sidewalks are important for business activity,” said Nathan Johnson, Pine City’s community development director.  “But during the projects, we oftentimes hear that a negative affect is felt.”

That is why, at its recent meeting, the Pine City Economic Development Authority approved the purchase of advertising a on local radio station to encourage local support of the businesses most affected.   The ad will play on Red Rock Radio (WCMP/WXCX) beginning this week.

 

Pine City found to have some of the most expensive insurance

When it comes to the cost of car insurance, Pine City ranks near the top among Minnesota cities, according to a recent report.

The study by Value Penguin of 109 cities and 18 insurers in the state placed Pine City in the 6th spot.

Minnesotans can see, on average, premiums of about $1,152 per year.  The city with the cheapest car insurance was Mankato, which averaged $1,009 per year in premiums.

In fact, the top five cities with the least expensive premiums were located in the southeast region.  Rounding out that top five were Austin, Albert Lea, Winona and Rochester. Faribault came in at 52nd.

The most expensive cities were St. Paul at $1,303 annual average followed by Minneapolis, Forest Lake, Cambridge and North Branch.

Pine City drivers pay, on average $1,250 per year.

Costs of the Value Penguin study are based on basic liability protection for a 2010 Toyota Camry.  The rates are based off of two sample drivers, a single 30-year-old male and 65-year-old male with a clean driving record.

For a complete list, see http://www.valuepenguin.com/best-cheap-car-insurance-minnesota.

Snowmobile Club Plans Fall Event

The Hinckley – Pine City Flames Snowmobile Club is planning a Fall Meet & Greet event for the community.  All are welcome to join the fun on Saturday, September 27th from Noon – 4:00 PM.  Club members and grooming volunteers will be available to answer questions about Club Membership and Snowmobile Safety Training.

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JUDY SCHOLIN NAMED 2014 CITIZEN OF THE YEAR

Judy Scholin

Judy Scholin

The Pine City Area Chamber of Commerce would like to extend our congratulations to Judy Scholin the 2014 Outstanding Citizen of the Year.

In one of the nomination letters, Scholin was described as a “talented, creative, dedicated, energetic and helpful person.  She is passionate about all that she does – spending a great deal of her time and energy toward making Pine City a better place to live.”  In reading through the nomination letters, one can learn about the variety of places and organizations that Scholin has given of her time.  She is an active board member of the Pine City Library and the Pine City Area History Association; a faithful volunteer for organizations like the North West Company Fur Post and the Pine Center for the Arts; and uses her special talents for quilting, sewing and photography to give back to others in the community.

One of the many contributions that Scholin has made in the community was the renovation project for the Pine City Library.

“She was instrumental in our fundraising efforts for the renovation and went above and beyond her expected duties to make the project successful,” said retired Librarian, Christy Koch.  “When the work was done, she used her gifts to create a photographic and informational book to give the community a record of the efforts put forth by so many to make our dream of a modern library a reality.”

The public is invited to attend a reception honoring Judy Scholin as our 2014 Citizen of the Year.  The reception will be held on Sunday, September 28th at the North West Company Fur Post from 4:00 – 5:30 PM.  A short program will begin at 4:30 PM.  RSVP’s are appreciated, please call 320-322-4040 or email the Chamber at info@pinecitychamber.com.

You might be surprised who has the highest concentration of places to eat among Minnesota cities

What’s the most restaurant-crazy city in Minnesota? 

Maybe… MinneapolisSt. Paul?  Both are great cities for dining, with some of the most acclaimed and beloved restaurants in the U.S., but neither of those communities have the hunger for eating out that, say, Brainerd does—or Virginia, or Pine City for that matter.  Among all urban places in Minnesota (with populations of over 2,500 people), those are the top-three cities ranked by restaurants per capita.

The Pine Poker took a look at Urbanspoon’s count of restaurants per city in Minnesota and ranked them by the number of restaurants per capita.

Click here to see the results of our number crunching. 

Brainerd (pop. 13,590) has 153 eateries, or one for every 89 residents, while Virginia (pop. 8,712) has 96 eateries, or one for every 91 residents.  And, Pine City (pop. 3,127) has 30 places to eat, or one for every 104 residents.  Compare that to Minneapolis’ one restaurant per 287 people, and St. Paul’s one restaurant to every 437 people.

In fact, Pine City opened two new restaurants just this summer.  It now is home to Bamboo Kitchen, a Chinese and Thai restaurant, as well as Scotty’s Parkside Café, downtown, overlooking Robinson Park in the town square.  Who knew Pine Citians liked to eat out so much?

A photo of Scotty's Parkside Cafe in Pine City as it was preparing for its soft opening in May.

A photo of Scotty’s Parkside Cafe in Pine City as it was preparing for its soft opening in May.

To put the numbers in perspective, there are about 616,000 restaurants operating in America. That means that the average density in the country was about one restaurant per 500 people.  There are 9,985 restaurants statewide—or one restaurant for every 531 Minnesotans, which is just a tad less than the national average.

Rounding out the list of top-10 most restaurant dense cities in Minnesota were Park Rapids (pop. 3,709, 35 restaurants), Detroit Lakes (pop. 8,569, 79 restaurants), Alexandria (pop. 11,070, 86 restaurants), Perham (pop. 2,985, 22 restaurants), Ely (pop. 3,460, 25 restaurants), Wabasha (pop. 2,521, 17 restaurants) and Bemidji (pop. 13,431, 86 restaurants).   Ham Lake (pop. 15,296) with its mere seven restaurants was the least restaurant-dense city in Minnesota; it only has one restaurant per 2,185 residents.

You’ll notice the Minnesota list leans a little heavily toward touristy areas, which tend to attract many more restaurant customers than full-time residents.  And, there are far more restaurants per capita in Mnnesota’s small towns versus its bigger cities and suburbs.  Still, it’s a fascinating, unusual list.

Just outside of Pine City, one can enjoy Rock Creek Motor Stop's World Famous Chicken Dumpling Soup, comfort food.

Just outside of Pine City along I-35, one can enjoy Rock Creek Motor Stop’s World Famous Chicken Dumpling Soup, comfort food.

As for smaller cities (with populations below 2,500), Dovray, Minn. (pop. 57) was the most restaurant dense, with its four restaurants, or one for every 14 people.  Rounding out the top-ten small cities list were Leonard (pop. 41, three restaurants), McGregor (pop. 391, 20 restaurants), Beaver Bay (pop. 181, nine restaurants), Longville (pop. 156, seven restaurants), Kerrick (pop. 65, three restaurants), Bena (pop. 116, five restaurants), Garrison (pop. 210, eight restaurants), Odessa (pop. 135, four restaurants) and Mentor (pop. 153, four restaurants).

Janesville (pop. 2,256) may not be a restaurant destination for you as it has just two eating establishments in the whole town, Tropics Bar  (with a “limited menu“) and a Subway, and the lowest restaurant density among Minnesota’s smaller cities.