Jenkins: Council volunteers join forces to make city sign

Two Jenkins City Council members donate their time and skills to build new city sign on Highway 371 at the south end of town

Jenkins council member Gary Hart makes some finishing touches on the symbolic gates on the new Jenkins sign. Hart and council member Charles Hoffman have clocked many hours on the sign over the past year. Travis Grimler / Echo Journal

In small cities like Jenkins, budget limitations are common. Also common is a tendency for city council members to fall back on their own professional skills to donate valuable work to the city whether that be electrical work, welding, landscaping or tree removal.

That was the case for a new sign on the south end of Jenkins on the east side of Highway 371.

The city has wanted a new sign for some time.

"We've always thought the current sign under the pine trees was kind of outdated," said council member Gary Hart. "We've been kicking around the idea of a new sign for quite a number of years."

About two years ago, Hart decided to mock up a drawing of a sign for the city, complete with stone arches and a wrought iron gate to go with the city's motto, "The Gateway to the Whitefish Chain."


As for construction, Hart and fellow council member Charles Hoffman had just the right skills to bring the sign to life.

"I had 20 years in the steel industry before I got into the wood floor gig," Hart said. "So I had knowledge of welding and working with steel and fabrication. Charlie was in contracting. He does cement work and blocks. We tag-teamed the stone work and kind of formulated a blueprint to build the structure."

Hoffman provided much of the necessary equipment, including a cement mixer and welder.

They weren't able to do all of the work in-house. They hired Dallman Signs & Graphics in Jenkins for the pictorial sign.

Of course, having the skills and having the time are two different things. The two council members worked during their free time to finish the sign for approximately a year. For quite some time, two stone posts were visible from Highway 371. Now the sign is complete after many, many hours of work.

There are additions the council would like to make.

"In the future we want to incorporate some solar powered lights of different colors," Hart said. "We also want to incorporate the words, 'The Gateway to the Whitefish Chain.' I just have to figure out where that will look best."

Council members in Jenkins have a tradition of volunteering their time to complete important projects. It seems the biggest shared goal is to make Jenkins stick out and grow. To that end council members, including Hart, have donated time to build Veterans Park, the ballfields and other important projects. Their first goals may be to benefit the city, but in the long run, council members like Hoffman and Hart will leave a lasting impact on their community.


The city's overall cost for materials was $7,663, but all labor was free.

Travis Grimler may be reached at 218-855-5853 or Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at

The new sign, south of Jenkins, is meant to remind people that Jenkins is its own community and the "Gateway to the Whitefish Chain". Travis Grimler / Echo Journal

Travis Grimler began work at the Echo Journal Jan. 2 of 2013 while the publication was still split in two as the Pine River Journal and Lake Country Echo. He is a full time reporter/photographer/videographer for the paper and operates primarily out of the northern stretch of the coverage area (Hackensack to Jenkins).
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