Archive | November, 2012

Holiday lights in the park

Posted on 25 November 2012 by robwas66

See the NEW holiday light sculptures and animated displays!!! St. Paul’s Phalen Park is transformed into a fantasy of lights and color. More than 50 larger-than-life holiday sculptures and animated displays bring the season to life. 5:30pm –10pm. Nightly (including holidays) from Nov-20 through Jan 1 at Phalen Park (1615 Phalen Drive ), St. Paul. All of the net proceeds will be distributed to Second Harvest Heartland, Union Gospel Mission, Saint Paul Parks Conservancy and UnderConstruction. Cost is $10 per vehicle, $8 on value nights (Sun-Thur excluding holidays); $15 per limo/passenger van/mini bus or $30 per coach bus. It is quite a display – don’t miss it in 2012!

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Popular Bear at Como making recovery

Posted on 25 November 2012 by robwas66

Berlin, the female polar bear whose Lake Superior Zoo exhibit was flooded this summer, is back with Buzz & Neil, Como Zoo’s twin polar bears, recuperating after major surgery at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center. Como’s zookeeping staff reports that Berlin has resumed eating her normal diet which is a positive sign that she is recovering from surgery that removed a necrotic mass that caused internal bleeding.

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Hamline University Baseball Camp

Posted on 25 November 2012 by robwas66

Hamline University is hosting a six week baseball camp starting January 12. Hamline head coach Jim Weyandt will direct the program in conjunction with U.S. Baseball Academy. Classes are available for players in grades 1-12 and are limited to six players per coach. Sessions are offered in advanced hitting, pitching, catching, fielding and base-running at a cost as low as $99 for six weeks. Proceeds from the program will benefit amateur baseball in the St. Paul area. Space is limited. Registration is now under way. For more information, visit www.USBaseballAcademy.com, or call toll-free 866-622-4487.

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Culver’s Restaurant

Culver’s Restaurant

Posted on 13 November 2012 by robwas66

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New Como Credit Union makes a ‘contribution’ to students’ financial education

Posted on 07 November 2012 by robwas66


Like many young people in high school, Kyle Kottke, who is a senior at Como Park Senior High School, wasn’t learning anything about finance until just last month.

On Oct. 16, 2012, St. Paul Public Schools, along with Como Park Senior High School and St. Paul Federal Credit Union, celebrated the grand opening of its “Cougar Branch” Credit Union. Kottke is one of three students who work as tellers when the Credit Union is open from 10 a.m.- 12:30 p.m. each school day.

The partnership provides a hands-on financial literacy education, along with real work experience for students. This is the second high school branch of a credit union in Minnesota. Just to be clear, however, the Credit Union is open only for students, faculty and staff at Como Park Senior High School.

Kottke, 17, is being trained to be a teller just like at a regular credit union or bank.

“I’m learning how to cash checks, use computer software, and count cash in large amounts,” he said. “I work about five hours a week. Each teller has a one-hour shift during the day. One person opens, one person works mid-shift, and one person closes.”

Because Kottke was in his school’s Academy of Finance, a group at school for students interested in getting into the business world, he started working at the credit union.

“I found out about it from my teacher there, Gail Rosenow, who is in charge of the Academy of Finance,” he said. “That’s how I got interested in the Credit Union.”

Kottke believes it’s good experience to be working in a professional environment.

“I’m learning more about the financial industry,” he said. “I’m seeing what goes on behind the scenes at a bank. I’m learning how to manage my own money through a checking or savings account. I’m putting my own money into the Credit Union.”

Before the “Cougar Branch” opened, Kottke didn’t know much about finance.

“I would go to a bank and drop off money,” he said. “I didn’t know about interest rates and what the different accounts mean. I didn’t know what checking account is better when you try to save money.”

Kottke hopes by working at the Credit Union he will learn more about money in general.

“I want to learn a lot about building credit that will be with you for college,” he said. “I’m saving for college in different accounts so when I’m out of college, I will not have to take out as many loans. Kids nowadays have to pay back thousands and thousands of dollars. I have a savings account with the Credit Union and one at TCF, too. The one at TCF I spend on gas and that kind of stuff. The one with the “Cougar” Credit Union I try not to take any money out.”

Learning about finance is important to Kottke.

“It will be with you your whole life,” he said. “People with bad credit opening 18 Visa accounts don’t realize it can hurt you later in life. You should have one credit card and pay on it. This can help you get a car, house, or cabin, if you want.”

For Kottke, the Credit Union has changed his views on what he wants to get into for a career.

“I want to get into something more business-oriented,” he said. “I’m getting more real world experience at a much younger age.”

Como Park Senior High School Principal Dan Mesick says having the Credit Union at Como benefits all students, especially the ones working as tellers.

“They get paid some money,” he said. “It’s a much better paying job than most teen-agers get. They get more information about financial literacy. The Credit Union helps change the mindset of students about graduating from high school. They see something right in the building where they can work at a credit union. This changes the way kids think about school and the future.”

Changes in the last 10 years have made teaching high school students about financial literacy necessary.

“The whole economic turndown of five years ago is making people think twice about savings,” he said. “Adults understand about making money safe. Kids need a way to learn about this.”

It’s important for students to learn about financial matters.

“When they become adults, they have a lot of opportunities to get credit cards and take out student loans—anything you do as an adult involving money,” said Mesick. “Finance is not part of a math class. A financial literacy person helps young people prepare for what’s out there. It’s not necessarily intuitive about how interest and late fees work. Credit card companies want to get them hooked on using credit cards. Students get stuck with all this debt and don’t know how to get out from under it. They get in debt because they do not know how to manage money.”

Trevor Malone, youth education coordinator of the “Cougar Branch,” says the St. Paul Federal Credit Union has wanted to spread financial literacy among students for awhile.

“We want to explain why it’s important to save money at a young age,” he said. “We wanted them to know about building credit and keeping credit high. Credit is important for getting credit cards, loans, mortgages, and getting a job. It’s important for you your whole life.”

Malone hopes students will learn from other students.

“We have three students working here who are spreading good habits,” he said. “Learning from another student’s perspective, a student who is their own age, makes them interpret the information more clearly. It makes a great impression on them when it comes from another student.”

In today’s world, it’s important to learn about financial literacy, especially at a young age.

“One in seven students has financial debt at the U of M,” said Malone. “A lot of kids don’t know how to manage money. Affording college is difficult for them. Coming out of college, they’re too far in debt to catch up.”

Malone recommends students put half of their paycheck in savings.

“It’s always good to put some money away,” he said. “Put half of your paycheck in savings and spend half.”

Mesick looks forward to having more students participate in the Credit Union throughout the year.

“I hope that they remain a good partner with us and a resource for students to learn about financial literacy,” he said.

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University Avenue: A street of dreams for many

Posted on 07 November 2012 by robwas66

Lifelong St. Paul resident and documentary maker Peter B. Myers brought those dreams to life in a new documentary, “University Avenue: One Street, A Thousand Dreams.” (Photos courtesy of the Ramsey County Historical Society.)


For countless people, University Avenue has been their street of dreams. It was a place where small shops owned by immigrants thrived. It was a place where people found jobs and supported their families, at any one of a number of factories turning out everything from tractors to paper projects to groceries. It was where people bought their horses and later, their cars and clothes and everything else they needed.

University Avenue was a place where people could do everything  from attend a baseball game at the old Lexington Ball Park to dance at the original Prom Center. The street was home to one of the Twin Cities busiest streetcar lines and a large streetcar yard and barn. In the pre-freeway days, it was a major connection to Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul.

University was also home to notorious X-rated theaters and bookstores, as well as vacant and boarded-up buildings.  But as University Avenue is once against transformed by the Central Corridor light rail line, new businesses and houses keep the latest set of dreams alive.

Lifelong St. Paul resident and documentary maker Peter B. Myers brought those dreams to life in a new documentary, “University Avenue: One Street, A Thousand Dreams.” The documentary tells the story of the many interesting people and places in University Avenue’s history.

The documentary was shown Oct. 25 during the Midway Chamber of Commerce annual meeting at Hamline University. It will have free screenings later this month. Gordon Parks High School, 1212 W. University Ave., will host a screening at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 8. The school is on a former industrial site and is near the former “circus hill” where circuses set up tents years ago.

The Wilder Foundation, 451 N. Lexington Parkway, will host the film at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 17 and 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 19. Wilder’s building stands where Lexington Ball Park stood.

Admission is free but reservations are required. Call 651-744-1204.

The documentary will be broadcast on Twin Cities Public Broadcasting in December, on the channel TPT2. The showings will be at 8 p.m. Tuesday, December 18 and Friday, December 28.

The creator of the documentary is a former Twin Cities Public Television executive. Myers produces documentaries as part of his communications business, which is based in Landmark Center. He works in public relations for clients ranging from the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts to the  International District Energy Association.

His video production work has been used by many Twin Cities nonprofit groups. One of Myers’ documentaries, Never Stop Singing, is about Minnesota’s choral music legacy. This video won a Midwest Regional Emmy Award, in the arts and entertainment program category.

Myers has served on boards ranging from the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra to Westminster Town Hall Forum. He has also served on the Minnesota Zoo Board.

Myers got the idea to make the film while driving down University Avenue with his wife, in 2009. They admired old cars parked near Porky’s Drive-In and got to talking about the history of University Avenue. The project included interviews and extensive photo research.

Myers grew up in St. Paul and remembers going to University Avenue businesses with his father.

“My dad and I would go to Montgomery Ward, which was a great treat,” he said. “And we always enjoyed going to the car dealerships and looking at cars. Those were things we loved to do.”

The documentary, which is about an hour long, shows how University Avenue has changed over the decades. Myers said he got the idea to make the documentary while driving along University and observing its activity and history. Once he delved into the street’s past, Myers found a history he thought others would enjoy learning about.

While he was able to draw on some of his own memories, Myers enjoyed learning about earlier history. He was especially interested to learn more about University’s manufacturing history. “That was something I didn’t know as much about. I found it fascinating, all of the things that were manufactured here.”

The history may be a revelation to those who don’t know much about University Avenue and its past. Once-famous items were manufactured here, ranging from Model T Ford autos to International Harvester farm equipment. The street had many movie theaters, dance halls and a wide array of restaurants.

University was also a major shopping district, led by the large Montgomery Ward store and Ward’s Upper Midwestern warehouse. Midway Marketplace stands on that site today. Many smaller shops also were part of the neighborhood. In the 1950s Midway Center became one of the city’s first “modern” shopping centers.

The documentary does depict the light rail construction of today, but doesn’t speculate as to how that will transform University in the future. Myers said he’d like to document that in the future, possibly a few years after light rail is up and running.

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Como Park Cougars savor a dream season for soccer

Posted on 07 November 2012 by robwas66

The Como Cougars displaying their plaque: Front Row L to R: Abdurazak Omar, Lah Htoo, Simer Sho, Seik Seik, Su Aye, William Xiong. Middle Row L to R: Assistant Coach Jonah Fields, Hsa D Moo, Aaron Heng, Jacob Cohen, Sahal Hassen, Ebrahim Hashim, Will Kidd, Yeng Yang, Thor Will. Back Row L to R: Henok Debesay, Joe Krivit, Zach Lee, Doug McCune-Zeirath, Keiron Sauer, Max Inskeep, Head Coach Eric Erickson. (Photo by Mike Krivit)


With a 19-2 record season, its first-ever trip to the state tournament and its coach, Eric Erickson, named as Minnesota Class A State Coach of the Year, it has been a dream season for the Como Park Cougars soccer team.

Although the varsity team lost its first match with St. Cloud Cathedral the opening night of the state tourney, it did not dampen the spirits of the players, their parents and fans.

“It’s been a dream season for everyone in the program,” said Erickson. The varsity team was St. Paul City Conference champions for the second time, achieving that honor also in 2009. The junior varsity team also won city conference with scores of 13-0-3. The C team scored 10-3-2 and took second place in the city conference.

”The future looks bright with our younger teams doing so well, too,” Erickson said. “It’s the best season we have had, and everybody at all levels has done a fantastic job.”

Erickson, who is also a social studies teacher, has been coaching varsity soccer at Como Park High School since 2004. He has played soccer his whole life, at Minnehaha Academy and as a college student at North Park University in Chicago.

The Cougars became Section 4-A champions by winning four games in the district tournament with scores of 10-0, 5-0, 5-0 and 3-0.

Erickson said the championship game played against Simley from Inver Grove Heights was a crowning achievement for the team.

“It was a great day for Como to go to state by winning on our home field in front of the fans,” he said.

There are 60 boys in the soccer program at Como, with 29 players on the Varsity team.

“We have a very diverse group of players that reflect our school’s population,” Erickson explained. “Many have played in their country as well. Some learned in refugee camps in Burma, some in Ethiopia and some at St. Paul Parks and Recreation. It’s a very fun cultural exchange to play together at Como.”

Joe Krivit, senior captain of the varsity team, agreed.

“At the beginning of every year, we ask the team members where they were born, and how many languages they speak,” he said. “I think half of our team was not born in the United States, and that’s really cool.”

Krivit, who has played soccer since he was about 6, said the most exciting game he can remember took place in mid-October when the Cougars faced Simley in the district championship game. “That win sent us to state!” he said.

He said the state experience was great, with so many fans in attendance. He said he didn’t think the final score of 2-1 necessarily reflected which team was better, but he just enjoyed being at state and feeling the excitement.

“Being captain this year, I learned a lot about leadership skills,” he said. “We didn’t really have a superstar on our team; it has just been a good team that played well together. It’s one of the best teams of any sport I have ever played on.”

Erickson also reflected on the skills the students learn from playing soccer.

“All sports teach kids the greatest life lessons they can learn, as far as maximizing their skills and talents,” he said. “They’re taught how to handle adversity, achieve success and see growth through their hard work.”

Erickson emphasized that the goal of all high school sports teams in a competitive setting is to get to the state tournament. “That’s the ultimate goal,” he said. “Como Park has been close to that goal in many previous years. We have had wonderful teams with excellent records.”

He said qualifying for the state tournament is an especially challenging task that Como Park finally achieved this year. “That accomplishment has brought the school and community great pride,” he added.

He said the Cougars have been bolstered by the support of fans and parents. Although because of work schedules and other responsibilities, some of the parents had not been able to see the games, Erickson said there is a core group of parents that have offered spaghetti dinners and team barbecues.

Erickson said that coaching requires a lot more effort than just running practices.

“You have to run a program, be an administrator, fill out bureaucratic forms, manage the players and issues and equipment, stress academics and provide support,” he said.

“I don’t enjoy all the administrative details,” Erickson said, “but they have to be taken care of to run a successful program.”

Meanwhile, he realized that in a few years, he will also be the parent of soccer players.

“My two daughters will be playing soon,” he said, cracking a proud smile.

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Public screenings of new University Ave. documentary

Posted on 07 November 2012 by robwas66

A new public television documentary about the history of University Avenue will be presented at free community screenings in November. “University Avenue: One street, a thousand dreams” explores the colorful history of this major thoroughfare from the 1880s to the present day. Lou Bellamy narrates the one-hour film in which stories are told through historic photographs, maps, films and interviews with community members who share their memories and insights about the street.

The Wilder Foundation, 451 Lexington Parkway N., will host two screenings on the following dates and times: Saturday, Nov. 17 at 10 am; and Monday, Nov. 19 at 7 pm. No reservations are required but seating is limited. Doors open one half-hour before each screening. Refreshments will be provided, and guests are invited to stay for discussion after the film presentation.

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