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Jay Cline receives Distinguished Service Award

Jay Cline, perhaps one of the most familiar faces on the Pine River Chamber of Commerce thanks to his many contributions, was honored Monday, May 14, with the 39th annual Distinguished Service Award at the Pine River American Legion.

Distinguished Service award winner Jay Cline greets and embrasses his fellow chamber members as they congratulate him on his award.
Distinguished Service award winner Jay Cline greets and embrasses his fellow chamber members as they congratulate him on his award.

Jay Cline, perhaps one of the most familiar faces on the Pine River Chamber of Commerce thanks to his many contributions, was honored Monday, May 14, with the 39th annual Distinguished Service Award at the Pine River American Legion.

Ray Schrupp, 2017 honoree, presented the award after reading an extensive list of Cline's contributions and accomplishments, including:

• President of the Pine River Chamber of Commerce board.

• Vice president of Pine River Area Economic Development Corporation.

• Treasurer of Cass County Economic Development Corporation.

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• Past president of the Ten Mile Lake Association.

• Helping create a comprehensive plan for the city of Hackensack.

• Spearheading the committee that built the Hackensack Chamber of Commerce Information Center.

• Guiding the effort to construct a new digital sign for the Pine River Chamber of Commerce.

• Serving as a board member on the Paws and Claws Animal Rescue Center and Resort.

Cline has also been in the public eye for years as emcee of the Miss Pine River Scholarship Pageant and is a master of disguise. He dresses as a penguin to emcee the annual PAMDA Penguin Plunge during Back to Hack Days. He has also been seen dressed as Frank Sinatra during Hackensack Sweetheart Days and Ed Sullivan at the Leech lake Watershed meeting. On occasion, he has represented Paul Bunyan, like during the opening of the Pine River Dam swimming beach.

Cline was surprised when Schrupp began introducing him as the new award winner. Cline's status as an out-of-towner made it obvious that he was this year's recipient just as soon as Schrupp began to read his biography.

"When he said, 'this guy was born in Iowa,' I figured it had to say something," Cline said. "Then everything else pointed at me."

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Cline didn't come to Minnesota until the age of 2. Once in the state he moved around a bit, from Ten Mile Lake in Hackensack to Pine River for 20 years and back to Hackensack. He and his wife, Julie, raised six children in the Pine River-Backus School District.

Cline works in the banking industry, where some will recognize him as the current vice president of First National Bank North, managing the Backus branch. Before working with First National, Cline worked with Pine River State Bank for many years.

Schrupp's introduction said: "The Pine River Chamber of Commerce is proud to honor Jay with this honor. Chamber Executive Director John Wetrosky stated that Jay has always been a member who can be called on for any positive activity and has proven to be a very reliable, energetic and responsible member of both the business and the community at-large. He further stated he appreciates his leadership ability."

After winning the honor, Cline seemed to find and thank every person at the award banquet, giving most of them a very warm embrace. Cline later shared his appreciation for the honor.

"We are all distinguished people here tonight," Cline said. "Pine River has a lot of distinguished people. I feel humbled. It's a very nice thing to get, and I really appreciate it. I think we have a great community and we are doing great things. It's fun to do good things with good people. It's all part of a team."

Cline is excited to continue to work with and for his local communities.

The Distinguished Service Award has been a tradition with the Pine River Chamber of Commerce since 1979. The award is presented to a Pine River Chamber member or person who has worked in the business and area community to enhance the overall economic and social health of Pine River.

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Distinguished Service Award winner Jay Cline thanks those present for honoring him.
Distinguished Service Award winner Jay Cline thanks those present for honoring him.

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