Brent Norman never really expected to serve on the Pine River City Council, especially seeing what it was like through the eyes of his uncle, former Mayor Jim Sabas.

"It was kind of a deterrent," Norman said. "I saw how much time, sweat and tears he put into it. But he still loved this community and I think it needs people that care about it to be on these types of committees."


" I'd really love to see something beautiful for the community like new playgrounds and a nice swimming area for families and just a place for families and people to hang out somewhere safe, bright and welcoming. I think being on the parks and rec committee it's just exciting to see those dreams happen."

— Brent Norman.


Norman admits it wasn't necessarily his idea to join the council when former member Tammy Erickson (formerly Hansen) resigned her council seat in June.

"There were three people repeatedly bugging me to get on the council," Norman said, referring to his now fellow council members.

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He's excited to be a part of the city's growth now that he was appointed to the seat, in spite of all that.

"The city is a good place to serve," Norman said. "It puts me on a lot of different committees. Right now our focus is on parks. Once the new bridge is built and we'll create that rock riffle dam and we're going to really work around the river creating parks.

"I'd really love to see something beautiful for the community like new playgrounds and a nice swimming area for families and just a place for families and people to hang out somewhere safe, bright and welcoming. I think being on the parks and rec committee it's just exciting to see those dreams happen."

Norman is a local, born and raised with three siblings - half boys, half girls. His father owns Pine River Carpet, a long-standing business in the city where he worked starting at age 12.

A love of the outdoors and the water was instilled in him at a young age. His family spent as much time on the water as they could, tubing, fishing and swimming. During the winter they snowmobiled. Perhaps that is just one reason he has taken a liking to the city's efforts to expand its park space.

After high school, Norman attended Vennard College in Iowa where he received a degree in business management and youth ministries.

In Iowa, he met his wife, Sarah.

"She lived in the same town as my college," Norman said. "We met through mutual friends."

They moved to Backus together in 2003 to raise a family, but have since moved back to Pine River where they are restoring a 1917 model Craftsman style house. They have three children together, all of them teenagers. They all enjoy spending time playing games like pool, table tennis and darts.

When they came back, Norman went to work for another family member - his uncle, the mayor - who owned Northland Steam Cleaners. In January, he and Sarah bought the company from Sabas and have since been running it as a family.

"My dad started it in the late '70s and my uncle bought it from him in the early '80s," Norman said. "To have it back in the immediate family is really neat. Jim did a great job building that business up."

Norman is excited to be a Pine River business owner, just as he was excited to join the council, both of which apparently run in his veins.

Travis Grimler is a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper in Pequot Lakes/Pine River. He may be reached at 218-855-5853 or travis.grimler@pineandlakes.com.