Breaking News at PiCK News


MDH notifies Pine County Health Department of county's first confirmed case of COVID-19

by Ailene Croup for PiCK News
Pine County was one of the 27 out of 87 counties in Minnesota which had no confirmed cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), until this morning.
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) notified Pine County officials, April 8, 2020, that a male in his 20s tested positive and is recovering in isolation at home.
Minnesota is under a “stay at home” order until April 10, 2020, with 1,069 confirmed cases reported as of April 7, 2020 and 34 deaths.
Pine County’s website offers local resources related to the coronavirus and Pine County Health Department has a local hotline to answer questions about COVID-19. Local resources, to help people who are quarantined, are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., by calling 320-591-1690.
There is also a Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 Hotline set up to answer questions.
651-291-3920 or
Additional information about COVID-19 can be obtained at and

'Social distancing at its best'

photo by A. Croup for PiCK News

These riders stopped at Victory Station, Just off I-36 at Sandstone, MN, about 7 p.m., Monday March 30, 2020. Snow is still visible in the background after a 6-inch accumulation in the area Sunday evening. Undeterred by the 48 degree temperature, they went to see property they were interested in Askov, MN.. The riders came all the way from Maple Grove, Brooklyn Park and Eden Prairie.

All essential workers and completing required business, they could only say, though chilly, "It's social distancing at its best."

Lack of internet service will affect some Pine County taxpayers' assessment appeals

by Ailene Croup for PiCK News
Pine County Board, working to conduct its business within the “social distancing guidelines, held a special meeting March 24, 2020 using video- and tele-conferencing tools.
The quality of the video conference portion was mostly unacceptable and at one point the audio was absent from both video and phone for several minutes...

photo by A. Croup for PiCK News

Pine County Board's first attempt at a video conference meeting. Future meetings will take some perfecting.

No business as usual for Pine County Board, courthouse still remains open

by Ailene Croup for PiCK News
The Tuesday, March 17, Pine County Board meeting, held at North Pine Government Center, in Sandstone, was not business as usual.
COVID-19 made it necessary for the county to follow Gov. Tim Walz’ direction and limit the number of people people in attendance to 50 people or less.
There’s always the potential for larger gatherings at board meetings and several agenda items, including two public hearings and a presentation/discussion on the Second Amendment which would have made it impossible to guarantee “social distancing.”
Late into Monday, prior to the Tuesday, March 17, 2020 regular meeting, the agenda was pared down to continue doing necessary county business but to eliminate unnecessary public contact and the possibility of transmission of COVID-19.

Pine County uses teleconferencing ot conduct meeting in response to COVID-19

Present at the meeting were Chairman Steve Hallan, Commissioners Matt Ludwig and John Mikrot, Jr., County Administrator David Minke, County Attorney Reese Fredrickson, Sheriff Jeff Nelson, Health and Human Services Director Becky Foss, Administrative Secretary Deb Gray and Denise Baran (emergency management).
Attending remotely by phone were Commissioners Steve Chaffee and Josh Mohr, Land and Soil Manager Caleb Anderson, Auditor/Treasurer Kelly Schroeder and PiCK News’ Ailene Croup.

Resolution 2020-22 was unanimously approved. It authorized temporary closure of county facilities to walk-in traffic, until further notice, except at the Pine County Courthouse, in Pine City.

To accommodate those attending the meeting through teleconferencing (by phone), all motions were done by roll call. Each commissioner was called on by district to cast their vote.
One item that remained on the agenda was a resolution supporting giving taxing authority, as a pilot project, to the SWCD...


Pine County cancels meetings in response to COVID-19 outbreak


- April 28, 2020 Special Committee of the Whole, 10 a.m., Windemere Township

- April 28, 2020, Special Committee of the Whole/Local Government Meeting, 6 p.m. Pine County Courthouse

New COVID-19 Updates on PiCK News

PiCK News will publish changes as they come in. Please click this link or bookmark COVID-19 UPDATES

News Shorts

Nov.1, 1849

Minnesota's First Session of the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Minnesota adjourned

It has been 150 years since the Territory of Minnesota conducted its First Legislative Session. It would be another 10 years before the first State Legislature would convene.

In that first territorial session, on Nov. 1, 1849, Chapter 3 , Section 2 outlined  the establishment of each county's government in the territory.

"At the general election in November of this year there shall be elected in each county organized for county purposes, three county commissioners, one sheriff, one register of deeds, three county assessors, and one coroner, for the county, and such other territorial, district, county or precinct officers as may be prescribed by law, and two justices of the peace and two constables for each election precinct."

Who was eligible to vote?

Chapter 4 states that all free, white, male inhabitants over the age of 21 and having lived in the territory for six months were eligible.

Chapter 30 gives Elam Greely the authority to build a dam on the Snake River near the outlet of Cross Lake and use it for 12 years.

Chapter 30

For more information about these events:

- County Board meeting April 7, 2020, ine County Courthouse, Sandstone, at 10 a.m.


What's wrong with Socialism?

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders patted Castro on the back. Maggie Ickes tells the real story with her first-hand review of Castro's socialism

by Ailene Croup for PiCK News

Reporter’s note: I met Magaly “Maggy” Ickes in 2003 when I interviewed her while working for the Bedford Gazette in south central Pennsylvania. She was a Cuban refugee. Her story began with Fidel Castro’s six-year revolution culminating in 1959 with the overthrow of Cuban Prime Minister Fulgencia Batista. Under Castro, Cuba became a socialist state.


Maggie’s story

Thanks to a woman Magaly (Falcon) Ickes calls her guardian angel, she is able to tell her story and express her gratitude for the gift of freedom.

Her guardian angel made it possible for her to survive three brutal years in Fidel Castro’s labor camp where she worked cutting sugar cane and picking vegetables, awaiting her turn at America and freedom.

Maggie, who is now a resident of Dutch Corner, in south central Pennsylvania, was only 6-years-old when Fidel Castro became dictator of Cuba. The date was July 26, 1959.

“It was a day I won’t forget. He called it our independence day,” she mocked.

“Everything was rationed. You were given a passport-type book and you could get a pound of coffee, one of meat, sugar, rice and other staples per person, plus a liter of milk for a family to last a month.”

She and her father, Jesus Falcon, supplemented those rations by using slingshots to hunt for frogs and small birds, “Like the ones you see on cows backs,” she explained...more

MN Board of Animal Health releases notice of CWD on Pine County hobbyist deer farm

by Ailene Croup for PiCK News
A Pine County deer hobbyist farm will be required to depopulate and test all the deer remaining on its farm since the discovery Chronic Wasting Disease in its deer.
Michael Crusan told PiCK News they cannot, by law, reveal the Pine County farm where the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) was detected. Crusan is the Communications Director for the Minnesota Board of Animal Health.
He said the farm is classified as “hobbyist” which means they have one species on the property and do not sell products obtained from the deer such as antlers or animal urine. The hobbyist must pay a fee to the state of $250.
On commercial deer farms, they pay a $500 fee and can have a combined herd of more than one species such as elk and deer and they can sell products derived from the animals, Crusan said.
There is always mandatory testing when an animal dies on a deer farm whether commercial or hobbyist. They are required to send biological samples to the state for testing if the deer dies of natural causes or is killed.
PiCK News asked Crusan if there will be restrictions on deer hunting or hunters testing for CWD during the 2020 deer season.
Crusan said that is a question for the Department of Natural Resources.
Crusan did say it is common for the DNR to set up surveillance around an area where there have been positive tests for CWD and it likely already in the planning.
= Here is the Minnesota Board of Animal Health press release from Jan. 10, 2020:

MN Board of Animal Health
The ongoing chronic wasting disease investigation of farms tied to the Douglas County detection first reported in December 2019 has led to a CWD-confirmed doe on a Pine County farm. The herd in Pine County was being investigated because it provided animals to the Douglas County herd in the past, including the CWD positive doe that initiated the disease investigation.
“We identified the Pine County herd as high priority early in our investigation because our records showed it provided deer to the Douglas County herd,” said Board Assistant Director, Dr. Linda Glaser. “At this point in the investigation CWD has not been detected in any of the other herds connected to Douglas County.”
The Douglas County herd is completely depopulated, and the site is not allowed to have any deer or elk for five years. The owner must also maintain fencing to prevent wild deer from accessing the empty pen and post biohazard signs on the fencing for the entire five-year period.
The Pine County herd owner must also depopulate and test all remaining deer on the farm and maintain fencing with biohazard signage for five years. The investigation is continuing beyond this herd to discover additional movements of deer between it and other locations in the past. Any additional farms identified will be quarantined and their movement records will be reviewed.
CWD is a disease of the deer and elk family caused by prions, which can damage brain and nerve tissue. The disease is most likely transmitted when infected deer and elk shed prions in saliva, feces, urine, and other fluids or tissues. CWD is not known to naturally occur in other animals. The disease is fatal in deer and elk, and there are no known treatments or vaccines. Consuming infected meat is not advised.



of the week

Lori's Loomed Rugs

Styles and sizes to fit any decor. These loomed creations can be purchased at craft fairs and festivals or contact Lori at 320-245-2718.

Pine County Townships push back over county controlled assessing

by Ailene Croup for PiCK News
The threat of the largest one-day November snowfall in nearly two decades did not stop 40 Pine County Township officers, supervisors and assessors from filling the North Pine Government Center, two days before Thanksgiving,
They had received a notice, on Nov. 6, 2019, the Pine County Board of Commissioners would be holding a special meeting on

Nov. 26, 2019, for the purpose of “exploring the implementation of a true county assessing system.”
Pine County Assessor-Recorder Lorri Houtsma said, true county assessing would have to be implemented by Dec. 31, 2019, for the county to begin assessing in October 2020 or they would have to wait another year.
PiCK News reporter asked why townships were not notified earlier of this move since Houtsma and Commissioner Steve Hallan had both spoken October 26, 2019 at the Pine County Township Association meeting, where they gave updates on county news...

Wolves pose threat to economic health of East Central Minnesota

photo by A. Croup for PiCK News

USDA Wildlife Biologist and District Supervisor John Hart.

photo by A. Croup for PiCK News

Isaac Schultz, District Director for Congressman Pete Stauber.

by Ailene Croup for PiCK News
Grey wolves are protected by federal law.
They are responsible for 30 verified attacks on cattle in Pine County in 2019, according to United States Department of Agriculture Wildlife Biologist and District Supervisor John Hart.
Hart spoke, Tuesday, at the regular meeting of the Tri-County Cattlemens Association (Pine, Carlton and Chisago County).
Hart said the reason for the attacks, which run in a swath from Kittson County in northwest Minnesota to Pine County, is the overlapping of the habitat of cattle and the habitat of wolves.
The proximity of wolves’ habitats such as state parks and memorial forests, to farms, paves the way for wolf attacks.
It is a blueprint for financial loss for livestock owners in Minnesota.
The grey wolf is protected under the 1973 Endangered Species Act (ESA). Over the years since ESA legislation was adopted, the wolf has been listed and delisted, in Minnesota.
Minnesota has the “strongest and strictest” environmental rules, Hart said.
Currently, the grey wolf is listed as a ESA threatened species, in Minnesota, which means it has the potential to become endangered.

The current political administration is poised to have the grey wolf taken off the endangered species list. The last time this happened in Minnesota was 2012. At that time, licensed hunters harvested 413 wolves. It is back on the ESA list...more

Minnesota's over 65 residents want to know why they are being profiled

by Jean Priest for PiCK News

Licensed Minnesota drivers over the age of 65 may be surprised to find the state’s license bureau has taken the liberty of adding the word “senior” to their renewed license. Some may not even realize it until they have carefully inspected their card. Some seniors are saying they are being profiled.

The state of Minnesota is requiring all drivers to have an enhanced drivers’ license by 2020. The enhanced drivers’ license is needed for air travel within the U.S. only.

However, a passportwill cover all travel requirements and there would be no need for an enhanced license.

The author of the enhanced drivers’ license bill was Dennis Smith, a Republican from Maple Grove, Minn. Minnesota was the last state to comply with the federal security standard for the Real I.D. Act of 2005 which was mandated legislation in response to the 9/11 attacks.

When applying for the enhanced license, the government is asking for a significant amount of additional information  drivers did not have to provide before. The State apparently wants to establish the driver’s identity. The enhanced drivers’ license has its own look with different lamination and more holograms...more

Pine County Board puts kibosh on property tax default/repurchase abuse

by Ailene Croup for PiCK News

Commissioners reinforced a decision they made in March 2019 about abuse of repurchase on tax forfeited land, at Tuesday’s regular Pine County Board meeting, held at the North Pine Government Center.

If a property goes into tax forfeiture, the owner can request a repurchase contract and pay 10 percent of the taxes due and the remainder over 10 years at 10 percent interest. 

Some property owners have entered repurchase contracts and then defaulted on the contract. The county has typically allowed them to get another repurchase contract. 

In March 2019, Pine County Deputy Auditor Terry Lovgren explained the repeated abuse by several property owners whose forfeiture was due to non-payment of real estate taxes...more

What PiCK News doesn't cover, this website does. Featuring great writers with tons of information about this great state. This isn't spoon-fed news. It's real n e w s.

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