Planning underway for city’s pandemic  summer

Dihanna Fedder and Elisa Mill show off the “Dragon Strong” shirts on sale to benefit the Pine City High School Food shelf.

Many Minnesota businesses are preparing to re-open as COVID-19 restrictions loosen in coming days, while at the same time local leaders are trying to balance community needs with safety concerns as they plan for the summer ahead.

Memorial Day parade canceled

Pine City’s annual Memorial Day Parade, which had been set for Monday, May 25, has been canceled.

At press time, local officials were waiting on word from the state to see what sort of ceremonies might be permitted to honor the veterans on May 25.

The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs reported that it will hold a virtual Memorial Day program this year in place of live events.

“The COVID-19 pandemic requires a new approach to our traditional Memorial Day events,” explained MDVA Commissioner Larry Herke. “ This year we will mark this special day in a new and different way, but with the same goal: to honor and pay our respects to Minnesota Veterans who have passed.”

Graduation scheduled for May 29

Pine City High School officials have been busy organizing a graduation ceremony that honors the Class of 2020 while keeping them and their families safe.

The ceremony will be held on May 29 at the Pine City High School parking lot. Students and their families will report to the lot at 6:30 p.m., drive to pre-arranged spots in the lot  with one enclosed vehicle per person.  The ceremony will be followed by a parade through Pine City down Main Street decorated with banners honoring each graduate.

For more information contact Dihanna Fedder at 320-629-4154 or dfedder@isd578.org.

Look for more Graduation 2020 details in next week’s Pine City Pioneer.

Farmers’ Market opens June 1

With farmers’ markets approved statewide, the Pine City Farmers’ Market will go forward in 2020 with new safety procedures in place.

The market will be held on Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. at the Pine County Fairgrounds starting on June 12 and running through the end of October, and will provide fresh seasonal produce and other goods.

Barb Videen of the Pine City Farmers’ Market said that customers will be asked to observe social distancing, and safety measures will include distance between booths and an empty table – or a line on the ground – placed in front of tables with products to keep customers at a safe distance.

“Only the vendor should handle goods,” Videen said. “ The vendor should wear a mask. We ask customers to wear masks also.”

The market will provide each booth with hand sanitizer and tissues. Customers are invited to bring their own shopping bags. If vendors wish to take preorders they may provide customers with their contact information.

For safety reasons there will be no tastings, cookbooks for sale, or market money. Managers will be provided masks and gloves. They will welcome guests, answer questions and make sure safety rules are observed. They will distribute and collect sanitizer and wipe items with sanitizing wipes at the end of the day.

“Customers from other markets, which have already opened, said they actually felt safer than at a grocery store,” Videen said.

ECM Pride canceled

East Central Minnesota Pride, the nonprofit that has been holding regional LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning) pride events for 15 years, has canceled festival was set to take place June 6, 2020. 

This decision comes after a wave of large event cancellations and postponements due to the developing COVID-19 situation.  This is the first time the Pine City event has been canceled in its history.

“The safety and wellbeing of our community is the number one consideration in this difficult decision,” explained Pride organizer Julie Redpath of Chisago City.

“It’s unfortunate that we needed to cancel this year, considering the significant work our team has already put forth, as well as the incredible and diverse lineup we had planned for our stage,” said Pride organizer Phil Schroeder of Mora.  “I’m confident that next year we’ll be able to pick things up where we left off.”

Area businesses or homes that would still like to show their support can contact a member of the Pride Committee or the Pine City Area Chamber of Commerce for an “All Are Welcome Here” sticker or rainbow flag to display on their storefronts or homes.

More information can be found at www.EastCentralMinnesotaPride.org.

Liquor store sales up

With bars and restaurants shut down to dine-in customers, the city-owned Voyageur Bottle Shop liquor store reported a huge increase in customers and sales in April.

Voyageur Bottle Shop Manager Lara Smetana reported that 978 more customers came to the shop in April 2020 as compared to April 2019. April 2020 sales totaled $196,789, which was an increase of $58,263 over April 2019.

City road work underway

Road construction season in Pine City has begun, with reconstruction of 13th Street SW now underway.  According to Pine City Administrator  Matthew Van Steenwyk, this work will extend up 6th Avenue SW and will include a connecting sidewalk.  Also part of this project is the southern end of 10th Street SW to deal with  historic drainage issues in that area.  

Beach and swimming lessons

Pine City officials are not sure what sorts of beach activities might be allowed this summer, but they are trying to determine ways to hold swimming lessons while maintaining social distancing. For instance, swimming lessons my have to include an adult relative of the child learner, with swimming instructors providing guidance rather than hands-on instruction.

Pine County cases

In Pine County at press time, 73 cases of COVID-19 have been reported. Of those confirmed positive cases, 58 were from the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Willow River, with another seven cases from the Willow River facility presumed positive.

There have still been no COVID-19-related deaths in Pine County.

Pine County COVID-19 hotline

Pine County’s COVID-19 hotline at 320-591-1690 is open Monday-Friday 8 .m. to 5 p.m. to help with questions about COVID-19, connecting with local resources and accessing essential services. After 5 p.m., leave a message and they will call you back within one business day.

Those with questions can also email public.health@co.pine.mn.us.

STATE HOTLINE NUMBERS

• For health questions call 800-657-3903 or 651-201-3920 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week.

• Housing questions: For single-family residences call 651-296-8215; for multi-family residences call 651-297-4455 from Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

• For school and childcare questions call 651-297-1304 or 800-657-3504 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week

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