Archive | December, 2013


Check out the Reindeer Cam

Posted on 11 December 2013 by robwas66

Dec2013IOC_ReindeerHow do reindeer spend their time leading up to their big day with the man in the red suit? Now you can see the daily details of their lives through Animal Planet LIVE’s  newest 24/7 cam. Viewers are invited to get to know Como Zoo’s three resident reindeer on Reindeer Cam. Reindeer Cam brings viewers a glimpse of the behaviors of Como’s hooved animals as they feed, navigate their habitat, and manage social relationships. In addition to being able to see them 24/7, Santa will personally check in and help feed his best friends (the ones with hooves, not pointy shoes) at noon on Dec. 18 and 23. Reindeer Cam is at http://www.apl.tv/reindeer.htm.

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Sign up now for winter baseball camp

Posted on 11 December 2013 by robwas66

Dec2013IOC_BaseballHamline University is hosting a six week baseball camp starting Jan. 11. 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. 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.comor call toll-free 866-622-4487.

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Saint Paul Hockey Club season is underway at North Dale Rec Center

Posted on 11 December 2013 by robwas66

Dec2013IOC_HockeyBoys and girls born in 2001 or later who are interested in learning and playing hockey with little cost and time commitment are invited to join the  Saint Paul Hockey Club. The club is now in its fourth year providing a program for girls and boys in St. Paul to learn hockey skills and safety. Kids learn skills with qualified coaches and divide into small teams to play games. There is a $50 USA Hockey registration fee and players will need skates, a stick, and a helmet with mask.  The USA Hockey registration is free for kids born in 2007 or later, and some equipment available for borrowing. Players can join anytime throughout the season. The club skates two evenings per week and Saturday mornings during the outdoor ice season. Special events are planned for Jan. 11 at the downtown WinterSkate rink; Jan. 18 at St. Paul Hockey Day; and to end the season in March.Details, schedule, and registration information are available at www.stpaulhockey.com.

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Senior book club to meet monthly

Posted on 11 December 2013 by robwas66

Dec2013IOC_bookclubBeginning Tues., Jan 7, the Keystone Senior Book Club will meet the first Tuesday of every month (through 6-3-14) at the Merriam Park Community Center, 2000 St. Anthony Ave. The event is sponsored by the Keystone Community Services Senior Program, 651-645-7424.

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Parks and Rec opens Spring registrations

Parks and Rec opens Spring registrations

Posted on 11 December 2013 by robwas66

BigNews11_13_IOCThe St. Paul Parks and Recreation Department is moving to a standardized schedule for youth sports registration. Register online (www.stpaul.gov/parks) starting Jan. 1 for spring sports volleyball, futsal soccer and floor hockey.

Discounts will be given to “early bird” registrants: 25% if you register on Jan.1; 20% if you register on Jan. 2; and 10% discount if you register Jan 3-5. Registration will now be held over the course of the full month (used to be a two weeks) of January.

Most programs are held for ages 3-18 (some programs are only held for 10, 12 and 14 and under age groups – but all the info is found online at www.stpaul.gov/parks and in the brochure on the website). The programs typically range in cost from $25 – $75 depending on the equipment needs. There is a scholarship program for any resident that can’t afford the fees.

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Fantastic holiday light show at Phalen

Posted on 11 December 2013 by robwas66

Dec2013IOC_PhalenLightsA spectacular drive-through holiday light experience runs through Jan. 1, 2014, nightly (including holidays) from 5:30-10pm at Phalen Park (1615 Phalen Drive E). 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. Holiday greetings from Noah’s Wild Ark, featuring a cast of colorful animals showing their holiday spirit. All of the money raised goes to Second Harvest Heartland, Union Gospel Mission, St. Paul Parks Conservancy, the Saint Paul Police Foundation, and UnderConstruction. Cost is $10 per vehicle ($8 value nights, Sun – Thurs excluding holidays); $15 per limo/passenger van/mini bus; $30 per coach bus.

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Central Lutheran Pageant set Dec. 19

Posted on 11 December 2013 by robwas66

Dec2013IOC_CentralConcertCentral Lutheran School will present its annual Christmas Pageant at Jehovah Lutheran Church at 6:30pm on Thurs., Dec. 19. The presentation will involve more than 100 students from the school’s choir, band and orchestra and younger children enacting familiar Christmas roles including angels, shepherds, Joseph and Mary. A free-will offering will be taken. The church is at 1566 Thomas. The school, at 775 Lexington Pkwy. N., enrolls about 120 students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight. More information is available from Central Lutheran School at 651-645-8649 or school@clssp.org.

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Dance Theater finds new home in Midway

Posted on 11 December 2013 by robwas66

Dec2013IOC_CAAMCAAM Chinese Dance Theater (CDT) has moved to a new studio located at 800 Transfer Road, Suite 8. CAAM reports that the new studio is the size of the stage at the O’Shaughnessy Auditorium, and that dancers can now dance all year long in a studio the size of our production stage. The larger space means that even final rehearsals can now be held in the new space.

In addition, the studio boasts new dance floors with the latest in sprung floor technology to protect both young and old joints.

Another reason for the move was its proximity to the Arts Corridor on University Ave.; as the LRT comes to St. Paul, CDT will be part of a growing community looking for new artistic opportunities, and CDT wants to be a part of that.

The move to this new studio was only possible with the help of their volunteers.  Fundraising conducted years ago provided the capital to build out the new space.   Hundreds of volunteer hours by at least 60 people were contributed during July and August to move out of the old space and construct the new studios, saving CDT thousands of dollars and allowing CDT to complete the project in time for our opening day of classes in September.

CDT’s mission is to preserve and celebrate the Chinese cultural heritage through the universal language of dance.  CAAM CDT’s Annual Production is schedule Jan. 25 and 26, 2014 at the O’Shaughnessy and will feature a dance drama about Chinese New Year.

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German Immersion’s new home ‘unearths’ some parking challenges

Posted on 11 December 2013 by robwas66


When the Twin Cities German Immersion School (TCGIS) moved to its new location at 1031 Como Ave. and started excavating the soil under its planned parking lot, it ran into problems. The construction project had to be put on hold after elevated levels of metals were detected.


When the Twin Cities German Immersion School (TCGIS) moved to its new location at 1031 Como Ave. and started excavating the soil under its planned parking lot, it ran into problems.

Some soil was discovered with elevated levels of metals that were above levels determined as safe by the state.

“The original construction project for the entire school and parking lot were scheduled to be completed by this time,” said Assistant Director Jeff Horton, “but the issues with the soil composition in the area have further delayed the parking lot.”

The school has had to halt its efforts to create the new parking lot while creating a plan to deal with the unexpected environmental issues.

“Our school is very committed to following environmental best practices,” continued Horton. “This can be seen in everything from the green cleaning products we use to our recycling program and now to our parking lot.”

Horton said the school is working with the proper authorities to correct the soil problem.

“We do not have a final solution at this time but many parties are working hard on the issue,” he said.

TCGIS has applied to Ramsey County for a grant to help with the cleanup costs, which are estimated at more than $90,000.

“We don’t have a definitive answer for when the grant funds will be approved, and we are not allowed to do any parking lot work before the grants have been approved,” added Ann Jurewicz, the school’s director.

“Once the funds are approved, since it is December, we are now in the difficult position of having to hold off on the work due to cold weather and frozen ground,” she said. “The school is terribly sorry for any inconvenience.”

Horton said TCGIS has been seeking feedback from the Como community members, the school staff, parents of students, the city, the county and the construction project managers.

He said that in the short-term, staff will be leaving more open parking places on Van Slyke Ave. Teachers have been instructed to use parking spaces in the Presbyterian Church across the street, the streetcar Station and to spread out a bit more in the neighborhood so as not to negatively impact neighbors and allow them parking in front of their homes.

“We understand that home owners need some of those spaces, and we want to respect that need,” Horton said. “Our goal is to spread out the parking of our staff, which will not put too much pressure on any one area of home owners.”

On its website, the school administration claims it is also exploring putting in a temporary gravel parking lot where the future lot will be. This temporary measure would involve hauling away and properly disposing of any contaminate soil that has been excavated to date, removing existing storm water management equipment from under the future parking lot and installing a new storm water management system.

The school would fill in the existing excavation and put gravel on the site so it can be used temporarily for parking.

Ted Blank, district administrator for District 10 Como Community Council, said the district encourages the school to work with the neighbors to resolve the problem as quickly as possible.

Horton said that the school’s administration team will continue to monitor and evaluate this issue as well as seek Como Community feedback.

Horton affirmed that the school is committed to being a positive contributor to the Como community.

“We value their past, current and future input,” he said.

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Light rail opening and celebration planned for mid-2014

Posted on 11 December 2013 by robwas66


With an opening in mid-2014 coming down the tracks, planning is underway for community celebrations to mark the start of Green Line (Central Corridor) light rail service.


With an opening in mid-2014 coming down the tracks, planning is underway for community celebrations to mark the start of Green Line (Central Corridor) light rail service. The Metropolitan Council and the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative are urging area businesses, community groups and citizens to get involved.

Although testing of the line is underway, the opening weekend celebration date won’t be determined until early 2014. Metropolitan Council Chairperson Susan Haigh and Funders Collaborative Chair Polly Talen recently sent out letters asking for community involvement.

“The Metropolitan Council and Funders Collaborative are working with the community and businesses to plan a number of celebrations the weekend of the grand opening,” the letter stated. “These celebrations will be held at select locations along the line that meet operational, safety, and logistical requirements.”

Celebration sites eyed thus far will be near light rail stations LRT stations at Union Depot, Central Station, Western Ave.,

Victoria St., Hamline Ave., Raymond Ave., Stadium Village, West Bank, and Target Field. The focus will not only be on fun and safety for light rail users, there is also focus on promotions and special events to welcome the thousands of visitors who will come to ride light rail for the first time. They also hope that there will be activities after opening day to encourage long-term growth and development of the line.

Anyone interested in the events can email greenlinecelebration@gmail.com or call 612-353-4889.

Work on the rail line is almost complete. Along the line the focus has shifted from surviving construction to eyeing what the future will bring. The final light rail contractor advisory

committee meeting in October only drew two area residents, down from the crowds that flocked to meetings during heavy construction.

“It’s very different than it was,” said Shoua Lee, community outreach coordinator.

The city of St. Paul, which spent the past several years urging businesses to prepare for light rail, is refocusing its efforts. Nancy Homans, senior policy director for Mayor Chris Coleman, said the focus is shifting to ways to promote business districts and spur redevelopment.

Business owners and community leaders said they’re looking toward the future. “I think a lot of work toward establishing unique area business and cultural districts is still taking shape and happening at the ground level,” said Terri Thao, board chair of the Asian Economic Development Association (AEDA). Businesses that weathered construction are reaping the benefits of rebuilt street and streetscape improvements now, she added, and hoping for more benefit when light rail is up and running next year.

“I think we’re just glad it’s largely done,” said Ryan Wilson, owner of the UPS store at Midway Marketplace. His store is in an area that saw two years of heavy Dec2013LightRail2construction. Other business owners note they continue to deal with loss of on-street parking and access challenges due to changes in traffic patterns.

Homans said one city goal is to promote redevelopment of land along the light rail line. “We have a huge resource with underutilized industrial land and need to find ways to support redevelopment,” she said. A pending West Midway industrial study, which is under review by the St. Paul Planning Commission, could help with that effort.

Business assistance programs are winding down. Businesses got a variety of forms of help from the city, including façade improvements, new websites and forgivable loans. Instrumental in proving assistance was U7, a consortium of community development corporations along the rail line.

Homans said more than 400 businesses were helped over the past few years. The $4 million Ready for Rail forgivable business loan program provided 266 loans totaling $3,673,197 to 206 businesses. (Businesses could apply for up to $20,000 and some businesses applied more than once for smaller loans.) Three businesses the city assisted have closed. The city won’t pursue collection of their loans.

Eighteen percent of the businesses are very small, with less than $5,000 per month in sales. “We did, I think, reach the smallest and the most vulnerable of the businesses,” Homans said. When looking at the businesses with the most significant loss, Homans said that had less to do with geography and more to do with the strength of the business itself.

Because there is some loan money left, it has been offered to businesses that slogged through two years of heavy construction, including businesses in the areas around Snelling, Pascal and Hamline avenues. Businesses can apply for up to $10,000 in additional assistance.

Other businesses only wanted marketing assistance, said Homans. The firm Mod & Co. helped with marketing, including coupon books and a billboard campaign. The avenue was split up into commercial districts and given new logos, including Midway, Historic Frogtown, Historic Rondo, Little Mekong and Rice Street. “Part of that is creating a brand and a stronger identity for an area,” Homans said.

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