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Okerman is new executive director of PBSBA

The Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway Association’s (PBSBA) annual fundraising dinner was touted by PBSBA Group of 54 member Steve Stricker as “… the most fun yet!”

Hosted Nov. 6 at Marina II Restaurant in Breezy Point, the evening’s festivities were lightly attended at 40 guests. Yet everyone enjoyed the presentations and stories related throughout the evening.

Outgoing director Mary Plein extended “Bunyan-sized” recognition and appreciation to members, supporters, silent auction donators, partners, guests and this year’s winner of the Linda Ulland Memorial Scholarship — Elise M. Runberg, Pequot Lakes.

The membership meeting was carried through successfully with the addition of a new board member, Roger Hoplin, Pine River, and a new executive director, Krista Okerman, Pequot Lakes.

Highlights of the evening were:

• A presentation by Renee Hanson, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), detailing community events the byway and USACE partnered in this year and garnering applause when she handed over a $7,000 check for the byway from cash donations for campground firewood.

• Keynote presentations by Dennis Olson and Clem Maust, Northern Minnesota Railroad Heritage Association.

• A unique twist on this year’s silent auctions. As in the past, gift baskets were stuffed with an array of goodies destined for the highest bidder; but this year some were bid for volunteer time rather than dollars.

Several folks competed for prizes by bidding their pledges of time to help with specific byway tasks (monitor interpretive panel kiosks for maintenance; walk byway trails monitoring for trail and signage condition; serve on the board; take minutes at meetings, be a Paul Bunyan costume-wearer at events.)

Those pledging the most time won. Several new volunteers came away with fun new goodies that night as well as a good “inside” feeling, looking forward to participating in their community.

Winding down the event, winners were announced for silent auctions, door prizes and the Traveling Trophy. Lumberjack Lingo Game was played like the old “telephone” parlor game.

To learn what some of those lumberjack terms mean, visit To read more about the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway and how you can donate your time or money to help in the community, go to

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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