BY JOHN WETROSKY
The members of the Pine River Chamber of Commerce and the board of directors look forward to an exciting and prosperous 2013 for its members, associates and the community as a whole.
There are many positive things happening in the Pine River area that bode well for those who live and work in the area and for the many visitors to our area.
The past year saw the improvement of our major highway — Highway 371 — through our community. The vastly improved traffic pattern, new lights, curb and gutter, new sidewalks and new traffic signals allow for a smoother flow of traffic as well as provide a safe way for pedestrians to cross the highway and travel along the roadway.
The chamber looks forward to increased traffic as a result of the historic Pine River Railroad Depot receiving its acceptance to the National Register of Historic Places. This listing will be publicized throughout Minnesota and the nation and will no doubt draw travelers to this site. More plans are in the works by the local history group, Heritage Group North, to restore the vintage Mesabi-Duluth caboose to its original state to further add interest to the site.
The chamber is busy creating the new 2013 Pine River brochure, which will be sent to all Minnesota Travel & Information Centers as well as numerous Chambers of Commerce throughout the state. The brochure is expected to be available after Jan. 1.
Another popular publication that will be renewed is the Pine River area map. The map covers areas in both Cass and Crow Wing counties and has proven to be very popular with both residents and the traveling public. The maps will be available at the Pine River Information Center as well as in Longville and Hackensack.
The chamber has just updated its popular website, www.pinerivermn.com. The website receives nearly a million “hits” each year as well as 8,000 to 10,000 “unique visits” per month. The new format will make it easier for users to access information on the chamber member businesses as well as area services.
The chamber also looks forward to working with the committee of the Lakes Bluegrass Festival, which will host its eighth annual festival Aug. 21-25 this summer. Last year the event drew nearly 4,000 to hear nationally recognized bluegrass bands and this year promises to bring even more bluegrass music lovers to Pine River.
There will be a host of other events, including Summerfest, weekly flea markets, farmer’s markets, duck races, community garage sales, Heritage Days, Frost Free Friday and more!
A new initiative is also taking place. A group of business persons and citizens is exploring how to make the downtown area of Pine River more attractive and inviting. The chamber looks forward to working with this group as it moves forward as well as working with the Pine River Dam Improvement Project Committee as it works to improve the dam and park area above the Pine River Dam.
The Pine River Information Center continues to draw thousands each year through its doors in search of area information, clean restrooms, access to the Paul Bunyan Trail and a little flavor of the history of Pine River.
Heritage Group North has expanded its historic walking tours throughout Pine River and it continues to promote celebrating the history of this unique place.
There will be new businesses established, new positive programs begun and positive past programs continued throughout 2013. The Pine River Chamber of Commerce is excited to get the year started!
(John Wetrosky is executive director of the Pine River Chamber of Commerce.)