Archive | August, 2016

Monitor In A Minute

Monitor In A Minute

Posted on 08 August 2016 by Calvin


Polar bears see needed repairs
The Como Zoo polar bears, like many of us, like to swim. But a substantial leak in the bears’ large pool has forced emergency repairs recently. The St. Paul City Council July 20 unanimously approved the allocation of $79,607 of available Long-Range Capital Improvement Budget (CIB) Contingency funds to the Parks and Recreation Department’s Capital Maintenance Program to repair the leak.

The leak was discovered in February 2016, forcing the pool to be shut down. The pool had to be enclosed with scaffolding, planks, cable, and poly to install new PVC piping and jets during cold season conditions. The work is done, but it required the reimbursement from the contingency fund.

The project was recommended for approval informally by the Long-Range Capital Improvement Budget (CIB) Committee. The committee lacked a quorum at its July meeting, but the members present did express support to cover the repair costs.

May Park planning continues
Planning for a redesigned May Park continues this summer. The small city park at Clayland and Chelton avenues has been the focus of planning sessions with neighbors and the St. Paul Department of Parks and Recreation.

May ParkCity parks staff has developed plans to make the park more user-friendly for families and children. Neighborhood residents have expressed support for the ideas and are lobbying to retain the park’s small merry-go-round.

New swings, a new slide and play structure, new fence and other features have been discussed.

A public open house is set for 5:30-7pm, Thur., Aug. 25 at the park. In the case of rain, the meeting will move to the Newell Park building. Newell Park is at Fairview Ave. and Pierce Butler Rte.,.

The public open house will include a presentation of final plans and a project timeline.

Liquor store hours change eyed
A proposal to extend St. Paul’s off-sale liquor store hours from 8pm to 10pm weekdays is under consideration by Ward Three Council Member Chris Tolbert and city staff. The proposal is being studied by area district councils and is expected to be viewed by all 17 of the councils in the future.

Tolbert said he has no set timeline for gathering input, or any kind of study by the city. Liquor stores in St. Paul must currently close at 8pm Monday through Thursday and 10 pm Friday and Saturday. State law requires all liquor stores to be closed Sundays.
The St. Paul closing times are among the earliest in the state.

“We have heard concerns voiced over the years, and lately, the breweries have sought a change,” said Tolbert. “On its face it seems reasonable, as St. Paul seems to be an outlier in closing time. We thought we’d seek neighborhood feedback and see what people thought.”

The most complaints come from liquor stores near the city’s boundaries with Minneapolis and suburban communities, which are sometimes just blocks from competitors whose stores stay open later.

The change would require changing a city ordinance.

Breweries are interested in a change because they can only sell growlers during liquor store hours.

The proposal was sent to the city’s district councils for discussion.

Organized collection talks start
St. Paul is moving a step closer to organized garbage collection, as the City Council July 27 approved a 60-day negotiation period with its 14 licensed residential trash haulers. The negotiation period is to start Aug. 15. Kris Hageman, an environmental coordinator for the city’ Department of Public Works, said the goal is to have organized collection in place by mid-2018.

Organized collection of residential trash could take different forms, including a system of zones served by many haulers or dividing the city into larger areas.

Hageman said the council resolution starts discussions and will   also lays out city priorities for establishing the system. She said the process would bring all 14 haulers together for a series of meetings to discuss issues including customer services, scheduling, collection of bulky items and routing. The group will meet twice a month.

“Most likely this will take longer than the 60 day period that is set in state statute,” said Hageman.

If the haulers cannot work with city staff to develop a proposal that addresses the City Council’s priorities in an organized trash collection system, the city would then set up an organized collections options committee to proceed with the establishment of the system.
Council President Russ Stark thanked city staff for their work on the proposal. “This is another milestone along the way. There’s obviously a lot of work to be done.”

A few garbage haulers were present for the council’s vote. All said they would participate in the upcoming negotiations, but expressed concerns about the outcome.

Metro Environmental Inc. owner Matt Pflugi, who is working with other haulers to form a cooperative, said he is disappointed that alternatives his group wanted to discuss were set aside. The group of smaller trash haulers had hoped to maintain existing routes as much as possible and retain each company’s market share. He said this could be done at no cost to the city.

“We needed more time and didn’t get it,” Pflugi said. He and other haulers will participate in the negotiations, but they are concerned that the city could ultimately be divided among the larger companies.

The process is only open to the current licensed residential haulers, which is a mix of family-owned as well as national companies. Companies not licensed in the city cannot enter the negotiations.

St. Paul currently has open trash collection. Property owners hire their own haulers. Organized collection would be for residential properties only. It could take many forms, with city service, private haulers or a hauler consortium providing service. St. Paul hasn’t had municipal collection for more than 30 years, and it’s not likely the city would start such a service again, in large part due to costs.

Colleges seek ESST exemption
As St. Paul’s proposed ordinance on earned sick and safe time (ESST)  is readied for St. Paul City Council action, a group of St. Paul’s private colleges is seeking an exemption for part-time student workers.

A public hearing on an earned sick and safe leave requirement for St. Paul employers and employees is set for 5:30pm, Wed., Aug. 17 at City Hall. The council  introduced the ordinance on Aug. 3 for a series of readings. The public hearing and adoption could happen as soon as Aug. 24.

The University of St. Thomas (UST), Macalester College, Hamline University, Concordia University and St. Catherine University are asking for the exemption for part-time student workers or work-study workers.

UST Vice President for Intergovernmental Relations Doug Hennes said the colleges and universities aren’t taking a position on the ordinance itself. Several business groups, including the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, are objecting to the ordinance.

The proposed regulations, if adopted, would go into effect Jan. 1, 2017 for business with 24 or more workers. All St. Paul employers would have to follow the ESST  regulations as of Jan. 1, 2018. The St. Paul proposal would be more restrictive than those adopted this spring in Minneapolis. Minneapolis’ policy exempts employers with six or fewer workers.
Minneapolis’ ordinance doesn’t exempt student workers.

Under the St. Paul proposal, employees begin accruing earned sick and safe time after 80 hours worked. After that, an employee would acquire the time at a rate of one hour earned for every 30 hours worked. Employees could begin using ESST 90 calendar days after employment starts. The maximum number of hours an employee can earn in each year (calendar, fiscal or whatever period the employer uses) is capped at 48 hours. The maximum number of hours an employee can bank is 80 hours.  The sick time could be used by the employee or to care for an ill family member. Safe time is used to describe the need for time off in domestic violence situations.

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St. Paul Ballet consolidates operations to Midway location

St. Paul Ballet consolidates operations to Midway location

Posted on 08 August 2016 by Calvin

St. Paul Ballet (SPB) has begun the process of consolidating its operations at a single studio at 655 Fairview Ave. N.

“In late May we learned that the owners of the building in which our Grand Ave. studio is located had plans to sell the building and close the dance studio,” said Lori Gleason, SPB executive director. “St. Paul Ballet has a long history in the Grand Ave. studio and we are very grateful for the time we spent there. Now we’re looking to the future of St. Paul Ballet.”

Gleason said the news was unexpected, but she sees it as an opportunity.

“St. Paul Ballet expanded rapidly over the last few years. We needed more space, so we opened a second, larger studio on Fairview Ave. two years ago,” Gleason said. “While it provided the space we needed and ADA accessibility, we lost some of the camaraderie of having a single studio where students of all ages mixed.”

ClassStretch-sliderPhoto right: SPB utilizes an artist-led organizational model for ballet companies. Now in its ninth year, this artist-led model gives Company dancers opportunities within the infrastructure of SPB to broaden their voice and build their careers in the arts. (Photo submitted)

Though the Fairview space was originally intended as a temporary solution while the organization expanded, a close relationship with Element Boxing and Fitness evolved that vision.

“Our landlord at Fairview, Element Boxing and Fitness, is happy to partner with us over the next couple of years as we grow,” said Gleason.

To prepare for growth, SPB had already leased additional space at the Fairview location and is remodeling. More than twice the size of the Grand Ave. location, the completed space will have three dance studios, plus an expanded lobby area and a separate office.

“It is very fortunate that our strategic plan for growth included adding space, which afforded us the opportunity to absorb the consolidation,” said Gleason.

Gleason realizes that closing the studio on Grand Ave. will be a loss to many who remember it fondly. It has been a classical ballet studio for over 67 years, since shortly after World War II when Lorand and Anna Andaházy, former dancers with the famed Col. de Basil Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, settled in the Twin Cities and created a school and company.

A day of celebrating SPB’s past and future is planned for Aug. 27.

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The next month offers storytimes, movies and more!

The next month offers storytimes, movies and more!

Posted on 08 August 2016 by Calvin

IOC_LibraryWalk into the Hamline Midway Library, 1558 W. Minnehaha Ave., to stock up on books, CDs, and DVDs, hop on the Internet, and connect with your neighbors. August and September features many great programs, including storytimes, movies, and more!

The library offers two great storytimes every week in August. Evening/Pajama Storytimes in English happen on Tuesday evenings, 6:30-7pm, with upcoming storytimes on Aug. 16 and 23. PJs, blankets, and stuffed animals are welcome. Preschool Storytimes in English are on Friday mornings at 10:30am, with upcoming storytimes on Aug. 12, 19, and 26 and continuing on Sept. 9. Storytimes feature songs, stories, puppets, fingerplays, and more. They’re a great way for parents and caregivers to bond with children while building wonderful skills for school and life. Children of all activity levels are welcome.

Every Thursday morning in August, the Hamline Midway Library Association presents Summer Power, a series featuring four renowned Minnesota picture book authors sharing their work and leading family-friendly activities. Each presentation starts at 10:30am, and though these events are best for children ages 3 and up, all are welcome. On Aug. 18, the series hosts Mike Wohnoutka, author of “Dad’s First Day and Moo!” The series ends with Stephanie Watson on Aug. 25 presenting from her books “The Wee Hours” and “Behold! A Baby!” Books will be available to be purchased and signed by the authors.

The library hosts Teen Movie Night on Wed., Aug. 17, 5:30-7:30pm. Join other teens for popcorn and “The Lego Movie.”

The Teens Reading Bravely book group meets on Sat., Aug. 20, 3-4pm in the library’s new teen area. This group for teens grades 9 and up meets to read and discuss books that fall into the “Read Brave” category.

On Aug. 24, 5:30-7:30pm, Neighborhood House, the Ramsey County Public Health Department, and the Minnesota Department of Health are presenting a pilot session for “It’s That Easy.” This is an ongoing program that helps parents learn how to talk comfortably with their children about sex, sexuality, and healthy relationships. It uses tools that respect family and cultural values and engages parents on a host of up-to-date topics. The pilot session is being offered in preparation for a longer series of monthly meetings for parents. For more information or to sign up, contact Kristen at kperron@neighb.org or Aria at aweatherspoon@neighb.org.

Jody’s Documentary Film Series is a popular series that features PBS’s POV documentaries, co-sponsored by the Hamline Midway Elders. This month’s showing is on Wed., Aug. 31, 1-3pm, and the film featured is “From This Day Forward” directed by Sharon Shattuck. Shattuck was in middle school when her father came out as transgender. Now, she’s planning for her wedding and exploring how her family has chosen to stay together. Come for the movie, stay for the discussion afterward facilitated by Jody.

All St. Paul public libraries will be closed for Labor Day weekend, Sat., Sept. 3 through Sept. 5.

Families with school-age children, mark your calendars for Science Saturday on Sat., Sept. 17, 1:30-3pm. This month, join the fun for Cardboard Construction in the auditorium!

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Ready and Resilient -bpi label

Compost those food scraps!

Posted on 08 August 2016 by Calvin


Corn on the cob. Watermelon. Zucchini. Eggplant. Summer’s bounty makes for great eating.

But what do you do with the remains? The corn cobs and husks, melon rinds and seeds, all the stems, leaves and peels from your veggies? Compost! That should be your go-to strategy. Tossing them into the trash is your last resort. And composting is easier than ever.
But does it really matter? Yes! It is all about greenhouse gas emissions, and keeping them as low as possible.

Plants are full of carbon. Photosynthesis allows plants to convert carbon dioxide in the atmosphere into food and sequester that carbon. When we harvest our fruits and vegetables, we remove carbon that otherwise would go back into the soil when the plant dies and decomposes.

In composting, the plant and food scraps decompose somewhat naturally. (The composting process mixes food scraps with leaves or straw, shredded newspaper, soil and water, and one must periodically turn the pile, so it isn’t completely natural.) While small amounts of gasses may be given off in the composting process, these gasses are natural and don’t add to greenhouse gas emissions.

When ready, the compost is spread on or mixed into the soil. It returns organic matter to the soil. The nitrogen in compost naturally increases soil productivity, reducing the need to add fertilizers. The compost makes the soil more stable, better able to hold water and inhibit erosion. The composting process sequesters the carbon, keeping it in the soil for long periods of time until it is again taken up by plants as food in the carbon cycle. All positive benefits for our climate and your garden and lawn!

Ready and Resilient -Organic CompostAlternatively, if we throw our food waste into the trash, it adds to greenhouse gas emissions. Trash either undergoes a waste to energy process, or it is landfilled. Your trash hauler is required to tell you what they do with your trash. Most Ramsey County trash goes to the Ramsey/Washington Recycling and Energy Board1ashington Recycling and Energy Board in Newport where it goes through a waste to energy process, but some trash is taken to a landfill.

Waste to energy processing is a good option for trash that cannot be composted or recycled, but the end product of the incineration or gasification process is still gas, which creates greenhouse gas emissions. There is no good reason to add to our emission levels when composting is so easy.

Burying trash in a landfill should be avoided whenever possible. Food scraps rotting in a landfill emit methane and nitrous oxide, greenhouse gasses which are even more damaging than carbon dioxide.

So how can you compost your food scraps? As you clean up after eating, just put the fruit and veggie scraps in a lidded container. When it gets full or before it begins to smell, empty it in your backyard compost bin or at a Ramsey County organics drop. Line your container with a compostable bag if you are using the county Organics drop.

The Midway Recycling Center, 1943 W. Pierce Butler, is an organics drop site. Ramsey County provides a free starter kit (3-gallon lockable bin, bags, and instructions) that makes hauling mess-free. For complete information, see their website: www.ramseycounty.us/residents/recycling-waste/organic-waste.

Or, you can set up a home compost site. The University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardeners provide instructions to help you establish and manage your compost site: www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/soils/backyard-composting-guide.

In addition to fruits and veggie food scraps, you can compost egg shells, coffee grounds and filters, and tea bags. If you are using the County organics drop, you can compost meat, bones, and dairy food scraps. Composting meat and dairy is not recommended for backyard compost sites because these foods attract rodents. The cardboard rolls from paper towels and egg cartons can also be dropped at the organics section of the Midway Recycling site. See the websites for a complete list.

Ready and Resilient -bpi labelWhile you can pick up a free bag or two at the Midway Recycling site, you may want to purchase a supply from a store, so you have plenty on hand for events. Just be sure that the bags and any other products you want to compost have the BPI certified logo (see illustration) on them, indicating that the microbes in compost can break them down.

The Ramsey/Washington Recycling and Energy Board is currently engaged in planning to reduce waste, increase resource recovery and recycling, and eliminate landfill use. For more information: morevaluelesstrash.com/designation-and-master-plans.

Enjoy summer’s bounty, and compost those scraps so we limit greenhouse gas emissions and enhance the soil!

The Ready & Resilient Hamline Midway project is an initiative of the Hamline Midway Environmental Group (HMEG) to build climate change resiliency in our community.

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rec center clip art

Fall registration begins at rec centers

Posted on 08 August 2016 by Calvin

rec center clip artRegistration for Fall Classes/Activities begins Sept. 15 at stpaul.gov/activityregistration. For questions or help with registration call the individual Recreation Center. (The numbers in parenthesis after the event is the activity number to sign up for. Special Events will have *** in front of them.)
Northwest Como Recreation Center, 1550 Hamline Ave. N., 651-298-5813
—Knitting for Youth or Parent & Child, Wed., Sept. 21-Oct. 26, 6:15-7:15pm. Ages: 7 and up (#18399)
—Intro to Yoga and Mindfulness with Katie Gillard, Tues., 3:15-4pm, Sept. 27-Nov. 1. Ages: 6-10 (#18440)
—Martial Arts: Tae Kwon Do Youth, monthly. Ages: 6-17. (Master Minefee)
—Teen Dance, Fri., Sept., 16, 6:30-8:30pm. Ages: 10-13 ( #11077) ***
—Welcome Bonfire, Fri., Sept. 30, 6:30-8pm. Free. Ages: 1 and up (#5523)***
—Archery with Tim Lang, Mon., Sept. 26-Thur., Nov 3. 3-4:30pm. Ages: 9-14 (#5521)
—Sports: Urban Tennis (Orchard Recreation Center). Tue., Sept. 13-Tue, Oct. 18. Ages 7-15 (Register for these classes go to www.urbantennis.org)

North Dale Recreation Center, 1414 St. Albans St. N., 651-558-2329
—Artist Workshop for Adults (Barb McIntosh), Tues., 9-11am, Sept. 20-Oct. 4.  Ages: 19+ (#18371)
—Cribbage Night, Thur., 6:30-8:30pm, Sept. 22-Dec. 29.  Ages: 19+ (#18366)
—Getting to Know NAMI, Sat, Sept. 17, 10-11am. Ages: 16+ (#18370)
—Martial Arts: Taekwondo Jr., monthly Mon./Wed., 5:30-6pm, Sept.-Dec. Ages: 4-5 (Master Minefee)
—Martial Arts: Taekwondo Youth/Teen, monthly, Mon./Wed./Fri., 4:30-5:30pm, Sept.-Dec. Ages 6-17 (Master Minefee)
—Music Together (Ensemble Music), Mon., 6:15-7pm, Sept. 26-Dec. 5, Ages: 1–6 (#18558)
—Dance: Challenge Square Dancing, Mon., 6:30-9pm, Sept. 12-Dec. 19. Ages 18+. Fee is $7/weekly.
—Tumbling for Ages 3-5 (Meghan Hoover), Tues., 6-6:45pm, Sept. 27-Nov. 15. Ages: 3-5 (#17231)
—Mini Shredder Skate Board Camp (Sports Unlimited), Wed., 6-7pm, Sept. 14-Oct. 5. Ages: 5-8 (#18376)
—Fitness: Senior Fitness, Thur., 9:30-10:30am, Sept. 1-Dec. 29. Ages: 18+. $1/daily with Jody Kipples.
—Yoga: Laughter Yoga (Diane Hanson), first Thur. of each month, noon-12:45pm, through Dec. Ages: 18+.
—Fitness: Earth Moon Yoga for Adults (Teresa Davenport), Sat. (11am) and Tue. (7:40pm), Sept. 3-Dec 24. Ages: 18+. $5/class.
—Fitness: Pilates/Mind/Body/Strength (Cliff Swyningan), Mon. and Wed., 7:15-8:15pm, Sept. 7-Dec. 21. Ages: 18+. $5/class.

Langford Recreation Center, 30 Langford Pk., 651-298-5765
—Pilates Beginner (Fran Oullette), Thur., 12:15-1:15pm, Sept. 8-Nov. 10. Ages: 18+ (#5506)
—Pilates Intermediate (Fran Oullette), Thur., 11am-noon, Sept. 8-Nov 10. Ages: 18+ (#5507)
—Sports: Urban Tennis, Tues., Sept. 13-Oct. 18. Ages 7-15. Register at www.urbantennis.org.
—Horseshoes, Wed., 5:30-6:30pm, Sept. 7-Oct. 19. Ages: 18+ (#18433)
—Sports: Badminton, Fri., 6-7:45pm, Sept. 9-Dec. 16, Ages: 18+. $4/weekly.
—Sports: Bowling/Darts, Fri., 9:30-11:30pm, Sept. 2-Dec. 16. Ages: 5. Free.

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