COVID-19 related announcements, cancellations

Groups and organizations can post their own announcements related to COVID-19 postponements and cancellations on the pineandlakes Echo Journal website at .

Announcements are also welcome to be emailed to

Following are updates not yet reported in the Echo Journal print edition:

Scholarship pageants postponed

The Miss Pequot Lakes and Miss Pine River scholarship pageant, originally scheduled Friday and Saturday, April 17 and 18, respectively, are postponed. The Miss Pine River Scholarship Pageant is tentatively rescheduled for Saturday, May 2, though that date could be adjusted if warranted.

Pequot Lakes Library closed

The Pequot Lakes Library will be closed until further notice. If you have library materials at home, keep them until the library opens again. You will not be charged any fines. If you are scheduled for AARP tax help on one of the last two Thursdays, it will not be available, for which we apologize. Thank you for your understanding.


Kitchigami Regional Library branches close

All branch libraries of the Kitchigami Regional Library System, including in Pequot Lakes, Pine River and Crosslake, are closed. Bookmobile services will operate as a pick-up service only at stops. Fees associated with overdue materials will be waived during this period. Patrons are encouraged to view the library system's collections for 24/7 access to materials.

PR-B Family Center office closes to public

The Pine River-Backus Family Center announced Friday, March 20, that it made the tough decision to close its office in Pine River to the public.

"We will continue to assist families with resources and programs, just in a different way," Leslie Bouchonville, family center executive director, said in an email.

The food shelf will be open the same hours: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, and 3:30-6 p.m. the second Tuesday of the month. Boxes will be delivered to cars.

Families who are not able to make it to the food shelf should call 218-587-4292 to receive a box.

To keep staff and volunteers safe, the family center will not do faxing or copying.

For updates, visit .

Faith in Action is open

Faith in Action of Cass County is open.


If anyone hears of people in need of food, medication or meal delivery or rides to essential medical appointments, have them call Faith in Action at 218-675-5435.

There is a select group of volunteers working to continue necessary services.

Foothills Christian Academy

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, gathering restrictions and mandated closures, Foothills Christian Academy in Backus suspended its fundraising events until further notice.

All donations and items already received for the silent auction will be saved for a later date.

Power of Aging Expo postponed

The Power of Aging Expo scheduled April 25 at the Crosslake Evangelical Free Church is postponed until further notice.

Good Samaritan Bowl events postponed

For the health and well-being of the Brainerd lakes area community, the Good Samaritan Society has postponed the Good Samaritan Bowl events in Brainerd and Pine River.

This annual fundraiser was originally scheduled for May 3-4. The organization stated it continues to monitor the situation and will announce the new date at a later time.

For questions about the Brainerd event, contact Sheena Ziegler at or 218-825-2505.


For questions about the Pine River event, contact Tonya Vanvickle at or 218-587-4423.

For those who want updates about these events, visit

CWC Genealogy Society suspends meetings

The Crow Wing County Genealogy Society has suspended all of its meetings until further notice due to the COVID-19 situation and lack of suitable meeting locations.

For more information, call 218-828-9178 or 218-851-4819.

Legacy Chorale cancels spring concert series

The Legacy Chorale of Greater Minnesota canceled its spring 2020 concert series, which included concerts April 18 in Pequot Lakes, April 21 in Brainerd and April 26 in Willmar.

Crossing Arts closed through April 30

Crossing Arts is committed to the health and safety of its guests, artists and staff. The organization is closely monitoring COVID-19 updates from health organizations, local and state government, and colleagues in the arts community.

The organization decided to remain closed to the public through April 30, and will continue to assess the situation. The closure may be extended depending on the status of COVID-19 in this region.

The scheduled exhibit “Young at Art,” Second Saturday events, Studio Wednesday classes, Featured Artist events, workshops and all other events at Crossing Arts are canceled until further notice.


Crossing Arts will work closely with artists to make arrangements to pick up their artwork that is in the gift shop, if they would like. Artists are encouraged to wait until staff develops a schedule and notifies them.

Extension in-person events canceled through May 15

University of Minnesota Extension has extended the cancellation of all face-to-face events, meetings and courses through May 15.

The decision was made to help safeguard public health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Previously, Extension canceled events through March 31.

The extended cancellation period applies to all in-person Extension-sponsored events, including:

  • All local 4-H club meetings and events, in addition to county, regional and state gatherings.

  • All Extension Master Natural Gardener and Master Naturalist events and meetings.

  • Nutrition programs offered via SNAP-Ed, the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program and Cooking Matters, including those offered in conjunction with local partners.

  • Educational workshops and programs in agriculture, natural resources, food safety, and community vitality and development.

  • Programs conducted through the Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships.

While all state and regional Extension offices are closed, faculty and staff are working remotely and reachable via email and phone. When possible, Extension staff will transition programs to an online setting and offer other alternative instruction.
This is a fluid situation and Minnesotans are asked to check for frequent updates. Extension staff also are working to update program participants.

“This has been a difficult but necessary decision in light of the unprecedented need to protect public health. Our staff is working hard to develop alternatives when possible and we ask that our stakeholders be patient as the coming weeks bring new developments and opportunities,” said Extension Dean Bev Durgan, in a news release.

Brainerd License Office temporarily suspends face-to-face services

For the welfare of the staff, Brainerd License Office face-to-face services are temporarily suspended.

The office will do its best to continue processing motor vehicle and Department of Natural Resources transactions via phone at 218-855-5169, by email to, by mail to 623 NW Fourth St., Brainerd, MN 56401, or by dropbox from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the entryway.


Dealers and banks will be allowed to drop off or request pickup for their transactions.

All driver’s license services are postponed.

For more information, visit .

MMFCU closes lobbies

Mid-Minnesota Federal Credit Union reported in the interest of safety for members and the community, the credit union closed its lobbies, except for scheduled appointments.

Staff will be available to assist with regular transactions, emerging needs and if people are facing financial difficulties.

Customers can make deposits, cash withdrawals, transfer documents and other in-person transactions through drive-up at all credit union locations.

For all personal and business needs, call the credit union Member Resource Center from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and open until 6 p.m. Thursdays. For more information, call 218-829-0371. Mobile banking has 24-hour access.

Services available with online and mobile banking include monitoring balances, transferring of funds from one account to another, viewing transactions, stopping payments of checks, monitoring your credit score, paying bills online, and remotely depositing checks via your cellphone.


“We also encourage you to remain diligent in protecting your personal and financial information,” a news release from Miranda Anderson, vice president of marketing and communications, reported. “Unfortunately, there have been fraudulent websites and emails in regard to this pandemic. MMFCU will not ask for any personal information via telephone or email that you have not initiated. If you are unsure if a phone call, email or text is legitimate, call your local MMFCU Office.

“We are committed to working together with you and our communities to come through these times of uncertainty and social distancing and find stability through the relationships we have now and for the future.”

Pine River State Bank closes lobbies

For the health and safety of customers, employees and communities, Pine River State Bank lobbies are temporarily closed until further notice. The drive-up and walk-up will remain open with normal business hours at all locations.

If your banking needs are better served through an in-person meeting or you need to access your safe deposit box, contact your local branch to make an appointment.

All other banking services will continue as normal and staff will be on hand to assist with phone and email inquiries.

Customers are encouraged to use online banking, mobile banking and phone banking services. The bank also wants to make customers aware of CODIV-19 scams, phishing emails and fake internet sites. Always stop and think before you click.

Social Security Offices closed to public

The Baxter location of the Social Security Office is closed to the public. For limited service, contact the office directly at 866-331-9087.

“This decision protects the population we serve - older Americans and people with underlying medical conditions - and our employees during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. However, we are still able to provide critical services,” according to a statement on the federal website.

Patrons can still contact the Baxter office by telephone for the following critical conditions:

  • Dire need benefit payments, which include if a person did not receive a benefit payment, presumptive payments, or if a person needs his or her benefit payments reinstated.

  • Severe disability, blindness and terminal illness cases.

  • Dire need SSI and 1619B eligibility decisions required for urgent Medicaid approval.

Nancy Vogt is editor of the Pineandlakes Echo Journal, a weekly newspaper that covers eight communities in the Pequot Lakes-Pine River areas - from Nisswa to Hackensack and Pequot Lakes to Crosslake.

She started as editor of the Lake Country Echo in July 2006, and continued in that role when the Lake Country Echo and the Pine River Journal combined in September 2013 to become the Pineandlakes Echo Journal. She worked for the Brainerd Dispatch from 1992-2006 in various roles.

She covers Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Lake Shore and Crosslake city councils, as well as writes feature stories, news stories and personal columns (Vogt's Notes). She also takes photos at community events.

Contact her at or 218-855-5877 with story ideas or questions. Be sure to leave a voicemail message!
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