Archive | March, 2015


After tough patch, things looking up at Hampden Park Co-op

Posted on 16 March 2015 by robwas66


Caitlin Chandra is in the midst of her three-month externship at Hampden Park Co-op. The externship is the last step of her education from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, and she is devoting her time to creating new salads and sandwiches for the deli. (Photo by Jan Willms)


As spring beckons around the corner, the Hampden Park Co-op at 928 Raymond Ave. is looking forward to its busy season. Greg Junge, who took over as general manager last August, said he has been working under a fast learning curve.

“There have been a lot of immediate things that had to happen, and I have stayed very focused,” he noted. “The store needed to be more profitable.”

Faced with the recession, light rail construction on University Ave. and additional road construction on Raymond Ave., the co-op has struggled the past year. But with the support of its members, customers and the community, the Hampden Park Co-op is reviving.

Members had been asked to voluntarily return some of their discounts, and Junge said that to date the co-op has received $4,000 in returned discount money.

“This just shows the strength of the cooperative,” he said.

A new floor has been installed in the kitchen, an upgrade that was a necessity.
“We’ve become more efficient, using tools that are available to us in the co-op world,” Junge said.

The general manager of the River Market Co-op in Stillwater, along with some of his staff, conducted a mini-audit. “They showed us what is working for them,” Junge said. “That has helped us in staying true to who we are.”

In adding some fresh paint to the walls and ceiling, the Hampden Park Co-op operators queried the members for input. “We received 108 comments with ideas about colors for the walls,” Junge said. The colors chosen were Navajo White, Rendezvous Blue and a burn orange. “These are colors we can use that will work with the building,” Junge added.

He said the history of the building is important and can’t be replaced.

But with his background in retail and the culinary arts, Junge is promoting new ideas for the co-op as well. The store has partnered with Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Mendota Heights and has brought in a student to serve an externship with the store.

“It’s the first time one of their externships has been with a deli,” Junge said. Caitlin Chanda is starting her third week of the three-month externship. She has completed all the classes of her 21-month program, and she is now devoting her full time to creating new salads and sandwiches for the Hampden Park Co-op.

Her instructor, Auggie Austreng, has suggested a few trends that are gaining headway in the culinary arts. He said that pig fat or lard is making a comeback, with people tending to use that instead of Crisco. Oysters are being spotlighted, and seaweed is gaining popular use in soups, sauces and vegetable dishes. He sees flavored honey, yogurt and hummus being used more frequently in recipes.

Chanda said she has been creating dishes at the Co-op using ingredients that people don’t generally cook with, such as pasta with dried seaweed in the pasta dough to add color and a subtle flavor.

“I’ve thought of an apple and celeriac slaw with maple or honey,” Chanda said. She is also considering stuffed mushrooms with either tofu or sausage, mixed with mozzarella, green onion and spices and topped with wonton strips for some crunch.

While Chanda will bring new creations to the deli, another new factor in the co-op is renting the space above the store to the Twin Cities Aikido Center, a well known martial arts school.

“It’s a good fit,” said Junge.  While martial arts strengthen the body and mind, the co-op can provide a lot of nutrients. “The parents can shop while the students are attending classes,” he said. “This can also bring exposure to the co-op.”

While working on innovations at the co-op, Junge has also been participating in the community, joining a St. Paul advisory committee for development.  The group has been discussing renovations to Hampden Park, as well as preparing for some further road construction on Raymond Ave. in the fall. Junge said he would like the co-op to have a voice in the community.

Junge said the cold weather has been rough on business, but he has scheduled a lot of the work on the co-op to be done during these frigid days.

“We have taken ideas from our membership base and have tried to listen carefully to what they and the community want,” Junge said. “There’s been a lot to get done, but everyone has participated. And I think we’re going to have a strong spring season.”

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Midway Chamber names annual award winners

Posted on 16 March 2015 by robwas66

IOC3_15MidwayChamberLogoThe Midway Chamber of Commerce has named the 2015 recipients of its annual leadership awards. The awards were given out at its annual celebration event and recognized different businesses, non-profits, and individuals, who go above and beyond in their support of the chamber and the Midway community through the volunteering of their time, staff, and other resources.

The winners of this years awards are:
— American Engineering Testing (AET)
received the award for large business of the year, sponsored by the Midway Lions Club. AET is an employee-owned corporation providing geotechnical, environmental, materials and forensics consulting and laboratory services to public and private sector clients in a broad spectrum of industries. AET has been a member of the Midway Chamber of Commerce for the past 14 years. AET was instrumental in taking the lead on implementing the now annual Economic Development Summit. They are members of the Sponsorship Circle at the Director’s level.
— Fenske Law Office received the award for the small business of the year, sponsored by the Roseville Visitors Association. Founded by Attorney Jeff Fenske, Fenske Law Office assists businesses with all of their legal needs, and individuals in the areas of estate planning and probate, real estate, and family law. Most recently, Fenske volunteered his time to assist and establish a Midway Chamber Foundation making it possible for the Chamber to expand its programming and offer additional benefits to membership.
— Episcopal Homes received the award for organization/non-profit of the year, sponsored by Mahoney Ulbrich Christiansen & Russ P.A. Episcopal Homes offers a continuum of senior living options and affordability. They have been welcoming people from all walks of life for 121 years. Episcopal Homes has been a Midway Chamber of Commerce member for the past 16 years and they participate in Economic Development meetings as an attendee, presenter and host. Throughout the years they have made amazing financial investments in the Midway area bringing growth and future possibilities.
— The Turf Club received the rookie of the year award, sponsored by the St. Paul Saints Baseball Club. The Turf Club is a bar, restaurant and music venue in St. Paul. It was originally a dance hall in the 1940s. Since the 1990s, the Turf Club has been a popular venue for national and international touring acts. In 2013, the owners of First Avenue purchased The Turf Club and gave it a substantial remodel.
The Turf Club has shown its commitment to the Midway area by investing in its building and business model. They have recently renovated the interior and are expanding their services by offering a full lunch menu. The Turf Club has openly embraced participating in the Midway Chamber of Commerce by joining and immediately coming on board as the presenting sponsor for the Midway Chamber Business Afterhours.
— Jamison Randall of Latuff Brothers Auto Body received the volunteer of the year award, sponsored by Davis Communications and Zipko Strategy. Randall is the consummate volunteer for the Midway Chamber of Commerce and is actively involved with Chamber activities. He is engaged as a Board member, Co-Chair of the Ambassador Committee and has been a major contributor to the success of our Lunch on the Line program.

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Local doctor elected treasurer of state association

Posted on 16 March 2015 by robwas66

IOC3_15DoctorDr. Matt Bauer was elected to Treasurer of the Minnesota Optometric Association (MOA) at its recent annual meeting.  Dr. Bauer practices at Open Cities, 409 N. Dunlap St., where he started the full time non-profit eye clinic. Dr. Bauer has been a committed member of the MOA since he joined the statewide association in 2011. He has served on the MOA Board of Trustees as well as the association’s Education Committee and the Third Party Committee. He has been a strong advocate for accessibility of eye healthcare in his practice, and has worked with the MOA to secure grants in the areas of diabetic eye health and children’s vision. He has both hosted and participated in public events to promote awareness and prevent vision loss.

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Chelsea to host a PBS KIDS

Posted on 16 March 2015 by robwas66

IOC3_15PBSKidsChelsea Heights Elementary, 1557 Huron St.,  will be hosting a PBS KIDS on tpt Family Night on Mar. 24 from 6-8 pm. The event will focus on literacy, math and STEM, with educational activities featuring tpt shows such as SUPER WHY!, WordGirl, Curious George, Cat in the Hat, Sid the Science Kid, and SciGirls!

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Dinosaurs visit Avalon School

Posted on 16 March 2015 by robwas66

IOC3_15DinosaursDiscover the Dinosaurs, a hands on national touring exhibit featuring animatronic and museum quality dinosaur replicas, visited Avalon School (700 Glendale St.) on Feb. 18. Based locally in Shoreview, MN Discover the Dinosaurs has delighted children across the country in over 200 cities the past several years. The Discover the Dinosaurs outreach program is designed to give students the opportunity to see a dinosaur and even get close enough to touch one!



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Como Men’s Golf announces low fee

Posted on 16 March 2015 by robwas66

IOC3_15GolfBallMembership in the Como Men’s Golf Club for 2015 will be $100 for the season.  This is one of the lowest membership fees in the metropolitan area.

New members will be eligible to receive a free $25 gift card after completing 5 qualifying rounds to establish a club handicap.  The gift card may be redeemed at the Como pro shop towards greens fees, merchandise or in the restaurant.

The club is committed to expanding its membership in 2015 at one of the oldest clubs in Minnesota.

Membership includes events every weekend from mid April to October 15.  These events and tournaments are available to all members for small or no fees, including team and individual events.   Members may select which contests to play in and also qualify for preferred tee-times.

The $100 fee includes handicaps through GHIN (Golf Handicap Information Network), as well as computer access in posting scores and retrieving handicap cards every two weeks.

For more information contact Larry Jagoe at 651-271-1131 or access the website www.mensclubcomo.org for a listing of all events or to print out an application.

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Visiting bears to relocate to Wisconsin

Posted on 16 March 2015 by robwas66

IOC3_15BearsSuka (pronounced SOO-kah) and Sakari (pronounced Suh-KAR-ee), the visiting polar bears who came to Como Zoo from the Toledo Zoo in Sept., 2014, are getting ready to move on to their brand new home.  Dane County’s Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, Wisconsin announced at the end of February that they will welcome the two and a half year-old twin polar bears to their new Arctic Passage exhibit in time for its grand opening this Memorial Day.

The two bears made Minnesota their home for the last five months sharing Como’s Polar Bear Odyssey habitat with Como’s older, and much larger resident polar bears Buzz and Neil. While the two pair of polar bears are only a few yards away from each other, they do not share the same space. A unique feature of the Polar Bear Odyssey structure is the two separate habitat areas that are joined together by a corridor. This allows the two pair of polar bears to each have their own exhibit, and to also transfer from one exhibit to the other. Because of this feature, along with Como’s experience caring for multiple groups of bears and Como’s reputation as a top provider of animal care and welfare, the Polar Bear Species Survival Plan (SSP) committee, with the backing of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), chose Como Zoo as the facility to hold Suka and Sakari while the Henry Vilas Zoo put the final touches on their state-of-the-art exhibit Arctic Passage.

The bears can still be seen in Como’s world class exhibit, “Polar Bear Odyssey” for at least through March as plans for the move are evolving.

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New sculpture installed on University

Posted on 16 March 2015 by robwas66


Sculptor Emmett Culligan and The Driessen Group President Vince Driessen shake hands alongside the new landscaping outside the Goodwill Easter Seals store.

When people visit the new Goodwill Easter Seals store at 1239  University Ave., they will experience more than just a new place to shop and donate goods and clothing.  They will be greeted by new public art, a gift to the community that reflects the positive energy of the project and the neighborhood.

The Driessen Group, the project developer, commissioned artist Emmett J. Culligan III to design and build a sculpture that was installed amidst the new landscaping outside the store that will enhance the pedestrian friendly atmosphere along the Green Line.
The sculpture, titled “Goodwill,” sits atop a concrete plinth achieving a total height of 8 feet within the trellis pavilion outside the Goodwill Easter Seals store, which is opened slightly to maximize visibility of the sculpture. “Goodwill” has been strategically constructed from polished stainless steel and white marble; materials that display beautifully outdoors and are enhanced by sunshine, water and snow. Also, both are naturally durable materials that ensure the sculpture will withstand the harsh Minnesota elements.

Culligan, an artist who proudly traces his family roots to St. Paul, creates contemporary gallery works and large outdoor public art sculptural works. His art ranges in scale from large monumental public art to small wall hung works.


Sculptor Emmett Culligan putting the finishing touches on his “Goodwill” piece after installation.

“I am excited to have the chance to create a sculpture for a project that brings so many important things together,” said Culligan.  “I was inspired by what Goodwill Easter Seals does by bringing new life to things in a way that benefits the community.  This piece reflects what happens in the store as well as what is happening in the community.”

Culligan discovered his artistic creativity early in life, which lead him to study painting at the Art Students League in New York City and later received his BFA in sculpture from  the University of Colorado at Denver, where he currently resides.

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Local lawyer publishes first novel

Posted on 16 March 2015 by robwas66


Mark W. Wolf, 936 Nebraska Ave. W., is a lawyer-turned-novelist who is writing a book series he calls “The Modern Rendition.”

Unless you are a devout Catholic who has spent a lifetime studying the religion, you probably don’t know much about Ambrose, Dymphna or the other Saints; but Mark W. Wolf, 936 Nebraska Ave. W., is a lawyer-turned-novelist who is bringing them back to life through a book series he calls “The Modern Rendition.”

“Maybe they were from way back in time, but their stories have to be heard again. Their lives didn’t just take place in their time. They are, in a sense, timeless. You can take what happened in the past and apply it to the modern age,” said Wolf, whose first novel has just been released.

“Ambrose: A Modern Rendition” (Saints on Bicycles, 2015, $17.49) is the story of Saint Ambrose, a fourth century bishop who lived in Milan, Italy during the waning moments of the Roman Empire. However, this story takes place in the modern, perhaps futuristic United States at a time when guns have been outlawed, and people once again settle their differences with swords and knives and hand-to-hand combat. Some major changes have been made to America’s beloved sport of football as well.

“I wanted Ambrose’s environment to be as close as possible to the Roman environment and so that’s why there’s a part in there about lions during the half time game. As far as the elimination of guns, they have been such an issue in our society, it’s a modern issue I thought I needed to bring in,” said Wolf.

“Ambrose: A Modern Rendition” is also a love story. Ambrose is deeply in love with Mary Peterson and wants nothing more than to spend his life making her happy; but when God calls, he is thrust into a situation where he must choose between love and the greater good. He becomes a bishop and to be true to his religion must remain celibate.

“I enjoy ancient history a lot and whether it’s science, religion or some other avenue, I enjoy learning how things developed over the years or centuries,” said Wolf, who read a lot of books as research for his novel.

“Before law school, I always considered myself an average writer. But having gone to law school, I now consider myself fairly good,” said Wolf, who credits William Mitchell College of Law with doing a great job not only teaching him how to write, but giving him the confidence to write.

“The kind of writing I was doing was plain, but very precise. You’re trying to convey a very accurate meaning in as few words as possible. Writing novels gives you more of a release with your writing, a creative arch rather than an argumentative one.”

Around the same time Wolf decided to try his hand at writing fiction, he had made the decision to return to the Catholic Church, so it was no accident that he decided to tackle a religious topic in his first novel.

“Writing Ambrose not only helped me get back into the church, it helped me gain a better understanding of what God is all about,” said Wolf, who is now hard at work on his second novel, “Dymphna: A Modern Rendition.” Dymphna is the Saint of Mental Illness.

In addition to his work as a novelist and lawyer, Wolf also works as a physical therapist, helping those who have been injured heal. Prior to entering law school, he studied physical therapy. He earned both his doctorate and masters in physical therapy at the University of Minnesota.

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It’s CSA Share season!

Posted on 16 March 2015 by robwas66

IOC3_15BigNewsHave you ever wished that you had access to the freshest produce available? Thought about how you would go to the Farmers’ Market more if you just had the time? Or, wish you would get that garden that you have had planned for years, actually off the ground–but you never seem to get around to it?

Well then CSA Shares might just be for you. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Community Supported Agriculture is an arrangement where consumers “choose their farmer” by buying shares in a farming operation on an annual basis. In return, the farmer provides a weekly supply of fresh, natural produce throughout the growing season (approximately June to October).

Participating farms choose locations within the metro area  where they bring their shares every week and the consumer goes to a specific place, at a designated time, to pick it up.

Most of the farms focus exclusively on fresh produce, although a growing number also offer shares for other food items such as meat or eggs. Different farms also grow different produce, and the selections change each week as the various options come into their season.

One farm that has a drop off in the Hamline Midway area is the Brown Family Farm.

The Brown Family Farm was started in 2012 by Ben Brown. They participate in a couple of farmers markets and they also have a couple roadside stands, in addition to their share program, which is their main focus.

They deliver a box of produce every week for 17 weeks from the end of June through the middle of October. An additional service is to provide recipes and storage tips in weekly CSA newsletters, to aid in using produce and herbs that may not be as well known.

A “share” refers to a box full of produce, with two box sizes available: a half or a full share. Each week different produce comes into harvest, and whatever is harvested is what you can expect in your box. So, throughout the season the selection will transition from the early cold weather crops like sugar snap peas, lettuces and kale to warmer season crops like cucumbers, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers, back to cold weather crops like squash, cabbage and pie pumpkins. Every week the variety and quantity of produce will vary; this is one of the perks of a CSA share.

To extend the season, they have second plantings of zucchini, beans, and pickles so that our produce continues longer in the season.

In the case of the Brown Family Farm, for example, a Full Share (a box holding approx. 2 grocery bags full of produce) is $575 for the entire season…in other words the equivalent of about 34 bags of produce. You can purchase a half share for $375. The drop off spot is a location in Midway, on Hubbard Ave. near Hamline University. There are a limited number of shares, so if you are interested, sign up soon. Shares are often all gone by the end of April or before.

The Brown Family Farm is actually located in Big Lake, in Sherburne County. The soil in Big Lake is more like sand, so they plant rye in the fall and the spring to till under and provide essential nutrients to the soil. Horse and cow manure is also used to amend the soil. A no-herbicide farm, they weed by hand or with a hoe.

CSA shareholders get first priority in the distribution of the produce. Once all of the CSA boxes are filled, they use the remainder for roadside stands and farmer’s markets. They donate squash for thanksgiving suppers and if there is a surplus of produce, it is brought to their local food shelf (CAER Community Aid Elk River).

If you are interested in learning more about the Brown Family Farm, or are interested in their share program, you can get more information through their web site at www.brownfamilyproduce.com. You can fill out a Share application on the web site, or you can call Jodi at 952-836-5263 or Ben 612-666-2181 for more information.

There are more than 50 family farms that have CSA Shares and distribute in the Twin Cities metro area. However, it is sometimes difficult to find out how close their delivery is to your home. Some farms do cooperate closely with co-ops, so that is one location to check if you want to find a CSA distribution point near your home. Another option is to check out www.landstewardshipproject.org for more information about CSA, and a listing of some of the farms that serve the state with CSA shares.

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