Archive | September, 2016

Transforming Central slider

Central High School transformed for its 150th anniversary year

Posted on 05 September 2016 by Calvin

Improved landscaping, stormwater management, outdoor classroom and paved pathway to Lexington part of project

When students arrived at Central High School for the start of the sesquicentennial school year, the “prison” looked a little more inviting.

IMG_3791SeatingAreaSmPhoto right: Members of the Transforming Central Committee and Principal Mary Mackbee survey the work being done to create the outdoor classroom in August 2016. “I’m super excited for the outdoor classroom and learning opportunities that the project is installing,” said senior Olive Murdoch Meyer, who is the co-president of Roots and Shoots. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

The transformation of the state’s oldest, continuously-operating, and only five-story high school campus began on June 13. It included improved landscaping and stormwater management, an outdoor classroom, and a paved pathway across campus to Lexington Pkwy.

Before these updates, longtime Principal Mary Mackbee described the front entryway as “bland.” As work progressed over the summer, she was looking forward to returning students passing through the project area and seeing all the new things in front. “It’s wonderful,” Mackbee stated.

“We always joked that Central resembled a prison—and maybe took some pride in that—but these updates will make it have a sense of place, make it feel like the great academic school it is,” stated St. Paul Council Member and Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Chris Tolbert, who graduated in 2001.

Tolbert praised the group of parents who have worked on this update for years. “This project would not have happened but for their persistence, dedication, and resourcefulness,” said Tolbert. “I hope that we can keep that level of dedication from parents for generations.”

IMG_3791SeatingAreaSmPhoto left: Members of the Transforming Central Committee are excited to see five years of work coming to fruition. The changes to the stormwater system and front plaza were sparked by students, staff, and parents. The project completion kicks off the sesquicentennial celebration of the school. Left to right: Ann Hobbie, Lisa Heyman, Maggie O’Reilly, Principal Mary Mackbee, Julie Marckel, Olive Murdoch Meyer and Nina Tuttle. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

Committee members included Deb Ahlquist, Beth Black, Amber Buckner, Patricia Eaves, Craig Davies, Sally Gagne, Kris Hageman, Lisa Heyman, Ann Hobbie, Margaret Jones, Julie Marckel, Dana Murdoch, Maggie O’Reilly, Jeff Risberg, and Nina Tuttle.

“We thought that Central’s drab and uninviting exterior did not reflect the diverse, welcoming and vibrant community inside,” observed committee member Heyman. “With the addition of the outdoor classroom and seated planters there will be so many more places to sit. The paved pathway to Lexington will bring dignity to all students. No longer will they trudge through the mud to get to their buses.”

Someone cared enough
“Appearance plays a big role in the way people feel,” remarked Adrian Perryman, a 2003 Central High School graduate and current Concordia University employee. “Knowing that someone cared enough to invest their time into this project will make students feel special. I don’t recall any improvements when I was a student, but the appearance of the school and the grounds was definitely a topic of discussion.”

According to Maggie O’Reilly, the effort to upgrade and renovate the outdoor campus started five years ago when parents on the committee noted the compacted soil on the grounds, excessive water runoff, worn trees and landscaping, and unattractive entrance. They also noted a need for outdoor seating and a paved walking path from the plaza to Lexington Ave.

The Transforming Central project officially got underway by a dedicated group of parents, students and community members in the fall of 2011 when the committee partnered with the Root and Shoots environmental awareness team and the National Honor Society to plant over 500 bulbs on the school grounds.

Next, they surveyed students, faculty, administrators, parents and community members to gather input on desirable exterior improvements, which was put together into a document that guided planning for the next few years.

Things really got moving in the summer of 2012 when students and parent volunteers planted the three large tiers that frame the front exterior stairway with native perennials and grasses thanks to private donations and school support. Committee member Julie Marckel recalled how two environmental classes spread out wood chips in the tiers to mulch the plants. Those classes, along with the National Honor Society and the Roots and Shoots, have continued to care for the grounds. “It’s a nice way to get the kids involved,” said Marckel.

Cleaning up water runoff
In November 2012, Central received a grant from the Capitol Region Watershed District (CRWD) to analyze storm water run-off at the site, and in September 2013, they got another CRWD grant for the stormwater retrofit project. More money came in later to make changes at the site, which included the removal of the berm areas in front of the school along Marshall Ave. and extensive excavation for the underground storm water treatment system that will also manage water draining from the roof. A large rain garden at the corner of Marshall and Lexington will beautify while collecting and filtering water.

Dead and diseased trees were removed and new ones planted. Memorial trees and shrubs planted over the years are being grouped in a Memorial Garden area. All of the new plantings will be native and hardy perennials, trees and shrubs, and will include many pollinator-friendly plants.

Impermeable surfaces are replaced with well-planned permeable ones.

“When the project is finished, 1,434,000 gallons of runoff each year will filter through the ground instead of flowing untreated to the Mississippi River, and 1,367 pounds of sediment will no longer erode,” pointed out Heyman. “Additionally, 4.23 pounds of phosphorous will no longer enter the Mississippi River watershed.”

Environmental science teacher Lisa Houdek and biology teacher Stacey Skinner received an educator’s grant from Capitol Region Watershed District to pay for curriculum and measurement tools. The system has been built so that students can access it to track how much water is in the system, the water quality, and more.

Several grants and donations have been raised over the years to make this project happen, with money coming from state organizations, civic and community groups, as well as private individuals.

The 2013 graduating class commissioned local artist Peter Morales to create a bench to be included in the new landscaping. Each graduating class since has donated money for the project, and Roots and Shoots raised money for the new red hanging bike racks that are located in the front alcoves.

Phase 2 will include art pieces that reflect the vibrancy/energy of Central students and the surrounding community, as well as additional lighting, benches and landscaping. “We are considering sculptures and banner-like art commissioned by local St. Paul artists,” said O’Reilly. Discussions about the art and fundraising for the $100,000 shortfall continue.
Outdoor classroom

A highlight for many is the new outdoor classroom, fashioned out of limestone blocks that form a Fibonacci spiral—a mathematical sequence.

“I’m super excited for the outdoor classroom and learning opportunities that the project is installing,” said senior Olive Murdoch Meyer, who is the co-president of Roots and Shoots. “The beautification of Central’s facade is wonderful, but I think the most important part is giving students a chance to appreciate and utilize the outdoors in a way that wouldn’t have been as accessible before.”

Murdoch Meyer added, “Central is such a strong, vibrant place that can and will get through anything, but this project will be a special refresher to remind us what we can do together as a community, and will bring extra energy to this upcoming school year, as well as years to come. I think that this transformation is a big milestone for Central.”

Comments Off on Central High School transformed for its 150th anniversary year

Tool Library 15 slider

St. Paul Tool Library soon to open in Midway

Posted on 05 September 2016 by Calvin

Story and photo by MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
A different kind of library is opening this fall in the former American Can building, 755 Prior Ave. N. The St. Paul Tool Library will be the first of its kind in the city. The North East Minneapolis Tool Library (NEMTL) opened 15 months ago, and the two will share a common board, tool inventory, and membership base.

The new home for the St. Paul Tool Library was announced at a launch party/fundraiser Aug. 16. The event was held to further the St. Paul Tool Library’s crowd funding campaign that runs until Sept. 17. The goal is to raise at least $12910 including a $5,000 community support match grant from the Knight Foundation.

What exactly is a tool library?
A tool library is a space filled with tools that can be checked out and taken home by members for a set period. Like a book library, a tool library gives members the freedom to use the tools they need without having to buy them. A tool library also offers skill-building classes to help members learn to use new tools, and the chance to meet other members working on projects in the shared workshop space.

Power tools, hand tools, automotive tools, and yard tools will all be available when the Tool Library opens. Skill-building classes will include basic electrical wiring, and introductory woodworking projects such as how to build a bee-box, a raised garden bed, or picture frames.

Tool Library 10Photo left: Zach Wefel, of the North East Minneapolis Tool Library, greeted a prospective St. Paul Tool Library member at the launch party at Monster Lake Brewing. The Minneapolis and St. Paul tool libraries will be two branches of the same organization, sharing a common board to advise their growth and development.

If the success of the NEMTL is any indication, a lot of people believe in access over ownership when it comes to tools.

Zach Wefel, founder and president of the NEMTL, said, “The response in our neighborhood has been fantastic. We exceeded our membership goal of 250 in the first year, and are on track to exceed our goal of 400 in the second year.”

Wefel is an enthusiastic promoter of tool libraries. “My wife and I bought a 115-year-old house when we moved to Minneapolis. There were so many repairs that needed doing, and I would have had to buy a bunch of tools that were only needed for one or two special projects. The idea for a tool library just made sense.”

John Bailey has been instrumental in getting the St. Paul Tool Library up and running. A independent consultant by day, he claims to be, “neither a ‘tool -head’ nor a maker/builder.” Bailey said, “Mostly I like to find ways to organize things better. I helped to start the City Car Share in San Francisco in the 1990’s.

When creating a shared economy, like car sharing or tool lending, it’s a question of using resources efficiently. I see it as a way to practice good environmental stewardship, and I’m also kind of cheap.”

The new location for the St. Paul Tool Library is in the heart of the city’s Creative Enterprise Zone. The zone stretches from Prior Ave. to Highway 280, and from University Ave. to Energy Park Dr. The Creative Enterprise Zone is successfully attracting and fostering small, artist-owned businesses, capitalizing on a long history of small manufacturing and hard work. The zone’s motto is, “We make it here.” That motto hits the nail right on the head for the St. Paul Tool Library.

For more information about membership, when the doors will open, or to contribute to the St. Paul Tool Library crowd funding campaign, email StPToolLib@gmail.com, or visit facebook.com/SaintPaulToolLibrary. The crowed funding page can be found at www.ioby.org/project/saint-paul-tool-library.

Comments Off on St. Paul Tool Library soon to open in Midway

Carnage the Executioner slider

Staying true to your past and culture; staying true to yourself

Posted on 05 September 2016 by Calvin

From his early years growing up in the Midway, to a student at Hamline U., to the rapper Carnage the Executioner

An imposing strength and a fierce look on the face of Carnage the Executioner reflect the image of his name as the rapper performs onstage. But when a smile breaks out, the gentle soul of Terrell Woods, the man, comes shining through.

Carnage the Executioner 2Photo left: Carnage the Executioner (Photo by Mike Madison)

Born in Chicago, Woods moved with his mom to St. Paul when he was around 5. “We lived in the Midway area, on Sherburne Ave. I first went to school at Maxfield,” he recalled.

But life was not easy, and as his mother struggled with alcoholism and addiction, Woods was placed in foster care at age 12. This was the beginning of moves throughout the Metro, from St. Paul to North Minneapolis to South Minneapolis and back and forth, as Woods lived in foster homes and group homes.

“I learned how to survive in the system,” Woods said. “I did some things to fit in, but never robbed or killed anybody or went to prison. Most of the kids were quite a bit more unruly than me, and I was good at staying afloat and making friends.”

One of the survival tactics Woods relied on was his love of music. “As early as I can remember I would hear certain songs. My mom wasn’t a musician, but she played a lot of the music that was popular and that I liked.”

“The first thing I wanted to do was play drums. I was 5 or 6, and I would set up pillows on the couch when my mom wasn’t home, and I would turn on the TV and get wooden spoons and hit the pillows, playing fake drums to every song on TV.”

He listened to Herbie Hancock and Run-D.M.C., one of the most well-known hip-hop acts of the 1980s. “I was at a friend’s house, and his dad was playing that group. I remember the beat. That was my first introduction to hip-hop, and I asked his dad to play it again and again and again.”

When Woods was as young as 8, he started working on the art he has perfected today, beatboxing, making drum sounds with his mouth. “I started teaching myself,” he said.

Carnage the Executioner 3Photo right: Photo by Sarah Dope

As well as wanting to be a drummer, he wanted to be a DJ, one of the other elements of hip-hop culture. “I was also getting into breakdancing, and the DJs were the ones spinning the records for the break-dancers,” Woods noted. “But drums and turntables were expensive, and I couldn’t afford them. So beat box came around right when it was supposed to because I could do that without buying an instrument.”

He was not yet in his teens, but as he entered high school in Bloomington, he became more involved with hip-hop, and he started writing his own songs. He was a senior when he recorded his first song.

And, although music was such a big part of his life, Woods was still thinking of it as a hobby. He started Hamline University, studying psychology.

“I didn’t see how studying music in college would really help me,” he reflected. “I needed a backup if something happened with the music, and having education as a foundation was important to me. I thought I would get a good job, and music would just be fun. But I never gave it up.”

He completed his first album while attending Hamline, and when he graduated in 1997, he began a career in social services. He returned to the foster care and group home system in which he had grown up, but this time as a social worker. “I thought it would be cool to work at all the places I had lived as a kid,” Woods said.

However, performing as a rapper was in his blood, and he could not let it go. He said he thought of how the hip-hop culture had helped him survive his childhood, and he wanted to give back to that culture. Finally, in February 2007, he took the step to make his living as a musician.

He has performed with Desdamona, providing backup sound to her spoken word. And he was close to Micheal “Eyedea” Larsen, the multi-talented Minneapolis rapper who died tragically in 2010. As he gained experience from working with other performers, he was honing his skills for his own songs, albums, and solo work.

Carnage the Executioner 5Photo left: Photo by Patrick Pegg

Woods is a strong believer in the basis of respect that is so much a part of hip-hop, and his music has drawn the respect of fellow artists. “I’m your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper,” he claims. “I don’t know any of my peers who don’t respect what I do.”

For many of his songs, Woods has drawn on his own past to create his volume of work. And he has drawn on his past in choosing his performing name, Carnage the Executioner.

“When I first came up with the name, I wanted something flashy and abrasive and memorable,” he said. “It didn’t take me too long to start figuring out how to justify the name, and it turned from just sounding cool to having some meaning.”

Woods describes it as being about a journey from where he came from and to where he is going. “Where I came from, there has been a lot of carnage in my life,” he explained. “As I have gotten older, I realize that if you don’t grow from your past, you are just a puppet to it. You become a victim of your circumstance.”

“I made it through every possible peril that was presented to me. So the name started having the symbolic message of a journey. I have learned to deal with carnage. Carnage is the artist; Terrell Woods is the person,” he said.

In listening to Woods perform as Carnage, the sounds he creates with his mouth can provide a full musical background for his words. He could be called the Bobby McFerrin of hip-hop. In forming his sound, he likes loop, allowing him to make a sound and play if over and over like a backdrop. He has added an effects pedal that he hits with his foot. “It’s kind of like a keyboard but has a pedal that I operate with my feet.

With it, if I wanted something to sound like a crazy spaceship, I can do it,” Woods said. “It adds texture to the performance.”

“I think I can stay true to the culture by staying true to myself and do music for a wider base of people,” he commented. “I’m about trying to connect with people. It’s important. If someone spends four minutes listening to a song, that’s four minutes they can’t get back. If they’re going to put their money on you, you have to make it worth their while.”

Besides writing songs and performing, Woods teaches youth how to beat box and still draws on his social work skills and experience. He has worked with McPhail and the Stepping Stone Theater Company, and he has a record deal in France, where he is a staple in French hip-hop. He said he loves to perform, enjoys being in the studio and writing. The hardest part is marketing himself, trying to be seen and be known.
“I can only speak for how hard I work to be this good and how many years I have put in,” he noted. “I do this for other people’s enjoyment.”

Having done much of his performing in Minneapolis, Woods is now living in a St. Paul suburb and focusing many of his concerts on this side of the river. “St. Paul should be ready to give me a chance—they’re going to see a lot more of me,” he quipped with a smile.

Comments Off on Staying true to your past and culture; staying true to yourself

Approvals and votes start falling into place for soccer stadium

Posted on 05 September 2016 by Calvin

Approvals are falling into place for a Major League Soccer stadium near Snelling and University avenues and redevelopment of Midway Center, with an eye toward stadium completion and soccer games here in mid-2018.

Soccer fans cheered the Aug. 19 announcement that Minnesota United FC will start play in the league in March 2017. The team will play at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium until the St. Paul facility is complete.

St. Paul City Council approvals Aug. 17 of several measures helped the stadium project along and also set the stage for longer-term Midway Center redevelopment. The stadium site plan, Midway Center master plan, a technical zoning amendment and property plan changes all passed 5-1. The council unanimously approved a community benefits agreement tied to redevelopment.

But Gov. Mark Dayton’s Aug. 18 announcement that there won’t be a 2016 legislative special session does hold up the stadium’s sought-after tax exemptions. Minnesota United sought a property tax exemption for the site and a sales tax exemption on construction materials for the $150 million facility. Dayton and legislative leaders were unable to agree on details of a special session, including funding for Southwest light rail.

At the Aug. 19 announcement of the start of MLS play, Dayton said he’d do everything he can to get the exemption passed during the 2017 legislative session. Bill McGuire, a primary owner of the soccer team, has repeatedly said that the team is confident that the exemptions will be approved. The property tax exemption was in the tax bill passed by the House and Senate, but Dayton wouldn’t sign it because of a technical error related to another part of the legislation.

The City Council’s actions cap a planning process that began late last year. The stadium and Midway Center plans went through review by a community task force and were recommended for approval by the St. Paul Planning Commission. Work will continue with further studies on transportation, traffic and transit use, issues which emerged as red flags during studies of the project’s transportation impacts.

Ward Seven Council Member Jane Prince cast the lone votes against the project pieces; her main objection is that the actions “are both rushed and premature.” She cited similar concerns raised by members of the Snelling Midway Community Advisory Committee, who had to make recommendations before environmental impact studies were even completed.

Prince also quoted a project staff report on the Midway Center site plan which cited a “critical lack of detail” on the project. “Uncertainty abounds,” said Prince. She raised questions about potential developer and business interest in a redeveloped Midway Center, as well as the uncertainty about the requested tax exemptions, as other reasons to not support the actions.

Other council members said that while they may also have questions, they are confident that the stadium and shopping center redevelopment will be a success. Council President Russ Stark described the community review process as “extensive.”

Stark said that while some issues are unresolved, he is excited about the master plan for the redevelopment of the 34.4-acre Midway Center site and the soccer stadium site plan. He lives just two blocks from the shopping center and the superblock bounded by Pascal St. and St. Anthony, Snelling and University avenues. “It’s exciting to see the opportunity to redevelop this site and to see investment.”

Midway Center owner Rick Birdoff has said that the stadium project is the catalyst for shopping center redevelopment.

“This is really a game change for that neighborhood and the whole city,” said Ward Three Council Member Chris Tolbert.

Other council members said they are torn by the uncertainties about the projects, but voted for it despite that. Ward One Council Member Dai Thao said the benefits outweigh the uncertainties, adding that visitors to the city will no longer drive up Snelling Ave. past a “graveyard for buses.”

Thao got unanimous support for a community benefits agreement tied to the projects, drawing on input from the community advisory committee and other public meetings. The resolution spells out some community benefits any developers must commit to. One idea Thao included is that the developers have a community liaison to work with neighbors during and after development. One oft-heard complaint during the community advisory committee process was Midway Center management’s lack of attention to issues ranging from trash to shopping carts abandoned throughout the community.

The resolution suggests, but doesn’t require, that a fund be created to pay for neighborhood issues related to redevelopment. It also urges that developers avoid displacing businesses, provide affordable housing at the site and bring in a diverse workforce. Thao said his intent is to bring forward something that works for everybody. He also has an eye toward tying some community benefits to tax increment financing, if that is used in the future to redevelop the shopping center.

Ward Six Council Member Dan Bostrom was absent for the votes.

After the council votes, Mayor Chris Coleman issued a statement saying that the day had marked “a huge milestone for St. Paul and the entire region.” The mayor also said the votes bring St. Paul “one step closer to seeing incredible redevelopment in the heart of the Twin Cities—made possible by the catalyst of this proposed stadium—and one step closer to bringing Major League Soccer to Minnesota.”

The stadium site plan covers the 16-acre stadium site, indicating where streets, parking, rain garden, sidewalks, bicycle accommodations, a transit drop-off plaza and green space will be. It also lays out some details on the development of the 20,000-seat stadium. The Midway Center master plan is more visionary, with an ambitious scenario of mixed-use redevelopment.

The council approvals also set plat boundary lines and made a technical zoning change to allow a stadium in a traditional neighborhood-zoned property. Those and recent Planning Commission approval of two technical amendments to the stadium site plan complete city approvals, for now.

Comments Off on Approvals and votes start falling into place for soccer stadium

Hamline Station Open-House 70 slider

Hamline Station open house celebrates project completion

Posted on 05 September 2016 by Calvin

Story and photos by MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
While Hamline Station is currently full, interested persons can call property managers Ifrah or Brian at 651-846-9810 to add their names to the waiting list.

Hamline Station Open-House 70Photo right: The Hamline Station housing and retail complex at the corner of Hamline and University avenues is up and running. Funders, supporters, and residents celebrated with an open house in August. All 108 apartments have been filled, and the ground level retail spaces are ready to lease. Hamline Station is a mixed-income housing complex, with rents aimed at 50-60% of the area median income. Fourteen units are set aside for families and individuals earning 30% of the area median income. Section 8 vouchers are accepted. Hamline Station sits on the former site of Midway Chevrolet, a property which had been abandoned for years.

Hamline Station Open-House 35Photo left: Hamline Station, 1333 University Ave., is a project of Project for Pride in Living (PPL). Speaking from the podium, executive director Paul Williams noted, “With its $25,000,000 budget and multiple funders, this is one of the most complicated projects PPL has ever done. We are thrilled to be part of the over-all development of ‘life beyond the rail.’”

Hamline Station Open-House 18Photo right: PPL’s vice president of development and external affairs, Joanne Kosciolek, said, “We received more than 600 inquiries for the available units. That really speaks to the need for affordable housing in this location, where we have great access to jobs all along the Green Line. We’ve had zero turn over since residents started moving in last December when Phase 1 was completed.”

Hamline Station Open-House 42Photo left: St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman referred to Hamline Station as, “the ultimate in transit-oriented development.” The main floor of the West Building, pictured behind Mayor Coleman, has 14,000 square feet of commercial space now ready for build-out.

Hamline Station Open-House 54Photo right: Featured speakers (left to right), Mayor Chris Coleman, Mary Tingerthal, commissioner of the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, Hamline Station resident Rejeanna Hill, and PPL executive director Paul Williams.

Hamline Station Open-House 68Photo left: Hamline Station resident Rejeanna Hill, said, “When we moved in, the Green Line was our limo. My husband Matt lost his vision four years ago, and living here has given him back a sense of freedom. The staff is wonderful; we feel respected here, and we feel safe.”

Hamline Station Open-House 09



Photo right: Amenities for residents include the use of the community room (pictured here), a community plaza between the East and West Buildings, 96 underground and 42 surface parking spaces, a playground for children, and a soon-to-be-completed fitness room. The buildings’ state-of-the-art security system provides 24-hour surveillance.


Hamline Station Open-House 62Photo left: US Bank was the project investment banker. Elness Swenson Graham Architects created the design. Anderson Companies built Hamline Station. PPL will continue to provide on-site property management. As PPL executive director Paul Williams said, “It takes a village to raise a building!” Williams pointed out that Hamline Station is a great place to live–and more. As one example, he thanked the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative for a recent $190, 000 grant to finance an employment and training module for residents of Hamline Station. This and many other supportive services are being put in place for those who wish to use them.


Comments Off on Hamline Station open house celebrates project completion

150 years of Central

Year-long events mark Central High School 150th anniversary

Posted on 05 September 2016 by Calvin

150 years of CentralThe Central High School transformation project (see story on page 1) coincides with the school’s 150th-anniversary celebration.

The kick-off for the 150th year began with the Rondo parade in July. The grand marshal was Mary Mackbee, who has been the Central High School Principal since 1993. The event coincided with the birthday of alumni Philando Castile, who was killed by a Falcon Heights policeman just ten days before.

The final event will be the Grand Old Day parade on June 4, 2017.

A grand opening/ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sept. 6 marked the start of the new school year and celebrated the new plaza and walkway.

Lieutenant Governor  Tina Smith and Mayor Christ Coleman attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony and declared that day “Saint Paul Central High School Day.” Also present were notable guest speaker alums, Central’s pep band, and the senior class.

Other upcoming events:
• Sept. 30—1,000th football game (vs. North at North) and Alumni Reception at O’Gara’s from 6-9pm.
• Oct. 7—Homecoming game vs. Washburn at Griffin and Alumni Halftime show. Pre-game activities start at 7pm.
• Music series (winter/spring)—Central alumni performers (dates TBA)
• Central Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony—spring 2017 (date TBA)
• June 4, 2017—Grand Old Day Parade (Central contingent will be marching.)

“Together, we look forward to celebrating Central’s 150 anniversary, its legacy, and what’s to come,” said Maggie O’Reilly, who has two children at Central and serves on the Transforming Central Committee. “It’s a wonderful, uplifting tribute and a positive, exciting time for Central. Personally, I couldn’t be more proud to have my kids at Central. It’s truly a dynamic, diverse and community-oriented school that is loved by many.”

Banners and books
Five new light pole banners have been installed in front of the school along Marshall Ave. celebrating the school’s last 150 years with photos. Central parent Katie Parke-Reimer designed the banners.

Sharing the historic nature of the school is one of the ways the Transforming Central project hoped to build connections and pride in the community, but a complete historic narrative was needed.

A History Project subcommittee was formed and includes members include Deb Ahlquist, Beth Black, Amber Buckner, Lisa Heyman, Paul Hillmer, Ann Hobbie, Ann Malm, Dawn Lampros and Ayesha Shar.

With the help of a Legacy Grant from the Minnesota Historical Society, Bluestem Heritage Group was hired to write a 20-40 page narrative of the school.
Finding an abundance of historical documents and sources, the work has grown to much more—a full and rich document with surprises and insight. No other high school in the state of Minnesota has the comprehensive, documented and successful 150-year history of St. Paul Central High School.

The book will be sold throughout the year.

The committee is also making plans and seeking funds for a historical exhibit, installation, or other interpretive piece. Parents, staff, and alumni are invited to get involved in the history project by contacting Deb at transformingcentral@gmail.com.

Notable alum who have graduated from Central including Amelia Earhart, Charles Schulz, Richard Schulze (founder of Best Buy), Stacy Robinson, Dave Winfield, Jawed Karim (co-founder of YouTube), and local politicians Chris Tolbert and Melvin Carter.

“I have too many fond memories to list, but the school was always fun and diverse,” remarked 2003 alumni Adrian Perryman. “I enjoyed my time in class and in the various extra-curricular activities that I was able to take part in. I was able to get a great education in class and outside of it.”

“Central is a microcosm of America—the world,” said St. Paul Council Member and Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Chris Tolbert, who graduated in 2001. “Without opening a book, Central is the best preparation for living and succeeding in a diverse world, because Central is that diverse world.”

A short history of Central
Central High School was founded in 1866 in response to student requests. Prior to 1866, there were no educational opportunities in St. Paul beyond elementary school. About a dozen students wished to continue their schooling, so two rooms were set aside for the “High School” on the 3rd floor of the Franklin School, located at Broadway and Tenth streets in downtown St. Paul, and the “St. Paul High School” was formed.

The school hosted a dozen students and one lone teacher.

The first graduating class was in 1870 and consisted of two students: one boy and one girl. The girl’s name was Fannie Haynes (the daughter of the teacher), and the boy’s name was A.P. Warren. The first two diplomas were hand printed on sheepskin.

Gradually, the classes enrolled in the Franklin building became too large for the school to accommodate them, so in 1872, the high school moved to the Lindeke Building at 7th and Jackson St. where it occupied the entire 2nd floor.

By 1879, the teaching staff had increased to 8 teachers and principal. The hours were from 9 to 12 in the morning and 1 to 4 in the afternoon. A 15-minute recess was offered in the morning or afternoon.

That year the Lindeke building at 7th and Jackson was finally determined to be ill-suited for a high school. The first floor of the building was occupied by a dry goods store and a fresh fish market. In the warm weather, the aroma from the fish market rising to the second floor was nearly unbearable. To make matters worse, the building was infested with rats. A sign over one door reminded the pupils this was their “last chance for an education.”

In the School Board’s annual report of 1879, it declared that although the school was a pleasing view on the outside, the atmosphere inside was “morally, socially and physically unhealthy.” The rooms were noisy, ill-ventilated and sunless. This report aroused the city council to take action, and a bond-raising proposition for a new high school was made. This proposition was rejected by the voters, but it was re-made in 1881 and was passed by 3,000 votes. Work on a new high school was begun immediately. The chosen site was at 10th and Minnesota St. In 1883, this 27-room building was completed. The first enrollment of the new school was 233 students.

Soon, this building was bursting at the seams.

The school district agreed to build a new school and selected the corner of Lexington Pkwy. and Marshall Ave. as the site. The city purchased the land in 1909 and secured renowned architect Clarence H. Johnston, a Minnesota native, and Central High alumni, to design the new building

Construction of the new high school commenced on May 31, 1910, and the cornerstone was laid on Sept. 16 of that year. St. Paul school board members initially proposed naming the new school “Lexington” in recognition of its new location, but one week before the cornerstone was laid, alumni prevailed on the board to retain the name “Central.” In recognition of the Lexington location, the school chose as its mascot the “Minutemen”—the soldiers who fought at the Battle of Lexington and Concord in the American Revolution.

From 1977-1981, Central underwent a dramatic $16 million remodeling project. To save money, Ellerbe Architects recommended gutting the Clarence Johnston building and adding on. It was originally planned to have the students leave the building for a year so that the construction could take place without disturbances.

However, the vocal members of the community would not permit “the St. Paul School” to be vacant for even one year, so other plans needed to be made. The schedule was changed so that school started at 7am and ended at noon when the workers arrived.

By Sept. 1, 1980, the new sections of the school were ready for occupancy, most of the remodeling project was complete, and the castle-like, “school on the hill” was no longer recognizable, looking more like a common parking ramp with no remaining character. The interior of the school was also greatly changed, except that the auditorium offers a glimmer of familiarity with the former school.

The current building at Marshall and Lexington celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2012.

(Information compiled from the school’s web site and the new “History of Central High School” book.)

Comments Off on Year-long events mark Central High School 150th anniversary

To build a water feature… or not to build… that is the question

Posted on 05 September 2016 by Calvin

Traffic congestion, transit use, spillover parking, and noise are familiar sticking points in the debate over Major League Soccer and Midway Center redevelopment talks. A less prominent issue is how storm water runoff will be managed. The storm water management issues weren’t finalized when the stadium site plan, Midway Center master plan, and other issues were passed Aug. 17.

While the approved stadium site plan meets basic stormwater management standards, city officials said Aug. 17 that they’d continue to push for more improvements to that plan and to the larger Midway Center redevelopment plan. St. Paul Director of Planning and Economic Development (PED) Jonathan Sage-Martinson and Wes Saunders-Pearce, the city’s water resources coordinator, said that conversations between Minnesota United FC, Midway Center owner RK Midway and city and watershed district officials continue to be productive.

“Time lines are very fluid,” Saunders-Pearce said. While no one is in a position to make guarantees yet, everyone involved will continue to explore opportunities for conservation and other measures.

City staff has worked with the property owners, watershed district officials and consultants on how to manage water runoff. “Stormwater management is a major consideration,” said Saunders-Pearce. The city wants the property owners to promote using stormwater as a resource.

City Council members want to see more attention paid to stormwater management. While the plan meets basic requirements for stormwater underground storage and managing the flow of water into storm sewers, City Council President Russ Stark said he “strongly encourages” Minnesota United FC and RK Midway to look at a more comprehensive approach.

When it rains or snows now, water runs off of the 34.4–acre redevelopment site and into the city’s storm sewers. That carries pollution from the property.
Watershed district and city officials want to see more done to capture water runoff, treat and recycle water, and add some type of water feature like a fountain or reflecting pool to the plans.

Although saying the project team is willing to look at different ways to manage stormwater, Minnesota United FC lead partner Bill McGuire has for several months resisted the notion of a water feature such as a fountain, stream or pool.

McGuire cites the “significant” ongoing capital maintenance costs of a water feature. The use of space also has to be considered. In June he told the Planning Commission that green space (as opposed to a water feature) allows more options for organized and casual recreation use.

The site plan and superblock master plan include two green spaces, two leading from University Ave. to the stadium, a plaza at the northeast corner of Snelling and St. Anthony avenues, and other public gathering areas near the stadium. None of these areas include a water feature.

Anna Eleria, a projects and grants manager for the watershed district, said the district wants to see plan conditions on stormwater management made stronger.She said the city is looking at similar comprehensive water management measures at other large redevelopment sites, including the former Ford Motor Company site in Highland neighborhood, and the West Side Flats. At Ford, a man-made stream to capture and recycle storm water is being discussed as part of the redevelopment.

Eleria said a water feature would be a plus in the neighborhood, which is more than mile from the Mississippi River and even farther away from water features such as Como Lake.

“We want to emphasize that we want to see rainwater treated as a resource,” Eleria said. The watershed district is willing to help with grant funding.

Eleria cited CHS Field in Lowertown as an example for how a sports facility can incorporate cutting-edge stormwater management practice. CHS Field was planned and built to harvest stormwater and reduce dependence on potable water. CHS Field uses stormwater to keep the grass green, water trees and plantings, and even flush the toilets. A 237,000-galoon cistern holds the water. The roof system there can capture rain from 33,370 square feet or three-quarters of an acre. It saves about 450,000 gallons of water per year. The cost for the system was less than $500,000, out of a $63 million project.

But Saunders-Pearce said one challenge in harvesting rainwater off of the soccer stadium roof is that it would have much less roof area than CHS Field.

Comments Off on To build a water feature… or not to build… that is the question

George Seiler

New program seeks to help former caregivers restart their lives

Posted on 05 September 2016 by Calvin

A community group working for three years to help make the area a “dementia-friendly” community is starting a new effort, this time to help former caregivers adjust after their care journey has ended.

George Seiler“When I was taking care of my wife, Annie, it was something that I wanted to do and knew I had to do,” said George Seiler (photo right) of White Bear Lake. “But sometimes it gets so intense that you can sort of lose yourself in the process.”

“Then the caregiving ends—the spouse or parent you’ve been caring for passes on,” he said. “Then what do you do? You need to grieve and try to pick up the pieces and move on. But sometimes that’s not so easy. Move on to do what?”

Hearing stories of former caregivers who felt stuck after years of intense and isolating care for a loved one, members of the Roseville Alzheimer’s and Dementia Community Action Team (Roseville A/D), began exploring how to help.

The result is the Dementia Caregiver Re-Entry Initiative, which will be unveiled at a kickoff event on Thur., Sept. 29, at Roseville City Hall from 1-3pm. The keynote speaker will be Connie Goldman, herself a former caregiver and former National Public Radio reporter and producer who has written several books about caregiving.

At the Caregiver Re-Entry kickoff event Sept. 29, former caregivers of parents and spouses will talk about their experiences. In addition, a master’s research student from the University of St. Thomas will describe her interviews with Twin Cities’ professionals about the need to help people after the caregiving ends.

“We do have programs to help caregivers, but almost nothing to help people adjust after the caregiving ends,” said Goldman, formerly from California and now living in Hudson, Wis. “There’s a real need, and we’re just beginning to realize that.”

As part of the initiative, two smaller groups will start meeting in October. They will provide a place where former caregivers can help each other explore how to shift from intense caring for someone else, instead focusing more on their often-neglected needs such as reconnecting with friends and exploring old and new interests.

One group will be for former caregivers only, while the will be open to current and former caregivers.

“We have some ideas about the topics we might address—changed family dynamics, loneliness, health issues, finances, being good to yourself, volunteerism, lots of things,” said Sue Van Zanden. Van Zanden leads a caregiver support group at the Roseville Area Senior Program and will help organize one of the new groups.

“But in the end, it’s the former caregivers who will determine how this initiative can best help them.”

Warren Wolfe is a retired writer for the Star Tribune, where he covered aging issues. He is a member of the Roseville Alzheimer’s and Dementia Community Action Team.

Comments Off on New program seeks to help former caregivers restart their lives

Friends who are family—the story of a 50 (or 60) year friendship

Posted on 05 September 2016 by Calvin

Lorraine Quinn and Irene McGuire have been friends for over 50 years.

“We met in the 50’s,” said Lorraine.

“No, it was the 60’s,” replied Irene.

“We don’t know… It has been a long time,” they chimed in together, “been there, done that!”

I was met at the elevator door of Falcon Heights Apartments with the sprightly smile and the welcoming voice of Lorraine. As soon as we opened her apartment door, I was welcomed by a wall of pictures that included the happy faces of friends and family.

“IRENE! Meghan’s here,” yelled Lorraine.

We sat down at the kitchen table to a large spread of food.

“Who all did you think was coming?” asked Irene of Lorraine.

Their comfort with each other was evident in how they communicated. They’re sassy, spunky and willing to share their wisdom with me. This is the story of Lorraine and Irene, the women who wear many hats—daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers and best friends.

Lorraine hails from St. Paul, where she got her first job working at the neighborhood theater. She still remembers how much she hated making caramel corn every Tuesday. Those theater days came back later in life after she married the love of her life, Don who was a projectionist in the theater.

While Lorraine was in the big city, Irene grew up in a farm town in Wisconsin. She was on the first ever school bus her town had. She’s thankful she went to the town hall dance her senior year of high school because that is where she met her husband, Tom.

Both Irene and Lorraine come from strong family backgrounds. Their love for their husbands and children is evident in the way their eyes light up when they talk about them.

“My kids are my greatest accomplishment,” stated Irene, “They’re pretty nice.”

They love spending time with their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

When they aren’t with family, they are with each other.

Their story starts with their husbands. Don Quinn lived in New Richmond, WI where his Dad owned a pool hall. Tom McGuire was a regular at the pool hall and often called Don, “Rack Boy”! They lost touch but reconnected when they were both looking for jobs in St. Paul. They both got the job—Don worked there for the summer, and Tom worked there for his whole life. At this point, Lorraine and Irene have still not met.

A while down the road Irene and Tom were going out to dinner with another couple. The other couple asked if they could bring some friends along and of course, Irene and Tom said yes. In walk Lorraine and Don.

“Rack boy!” yelled Tom.

Irene and Lorraine have been friends ever since.

Lorraine and Irene do everything together. So much so that people interchange their names regularly. They stay active by playing cards, going out to eat, going to building events, attending the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and regular visits to the Ordway where Lorraine’s son works.
When asked what the secret was to a happy and long-lasting friendship, the answer was simple.

“We’ve never had a fight,” stated Lorraine.

“Well, we’re easy to get along with,” replied Irene.

Just because they haven’t had a fight, doesn’t mean they haven’t had disagreements. A little while back Lorraine decided to sign Irene up for an event in their building, and Irene was not happy about it. When the next event came up, Lorraine didn’t sign Irene up and asked why she didn’t. Because of this, Irene gets signed up for everything.

Both are involved in the Falcon Heights Nurse Block program. The program helps them keep up with their exercise. They both stress how important it is to stay active.

Their energy and charisma even got them a spot as ‘Flower Ladies’ in their exercise instructors wedding this past year. They received national attention and even had Lorraine’s son calling her from Texas saying he saw her on the news.

Lorraine had a more intimate relationship with the nurse block program when her husband was sick. They looked through the house to make Don’s life easier and arranged for someone to visit with Don so she could run errands.

“When I needed them, they were wonderful,” started Lorraine, “You have no idea.”

At the end of our time together I asked if there was any advice they could give for the younger generations. They stressed the importance of keeping friends because families are busy, and they have every right to be. They also say keeping busy is vital—if they don’t have anything to do, Lorraine usually manufacturers something for them.

Lastly, I asked if there is anything they know now that they didn’t when they were twenty.

“When we were twenty,” laughed both of them, “We didn’t know anything!”

They know how fortunate they are to have each other and never take advantage of their friendship. It is indisputable that Lorraine and Irene are best friends who’ve become family.


Comments Off on Friends who are family—the story of a 50 (or 60) year friendship

Como High soccer

Upperclassmen comprise ‘link crew’ welcoming freshmen

Posted on 05 September 2016 by Calvin

News from Como Park High School compiled by ERIC ERICKSON, Social Studies Teacher

• Como Park High School’s “Link Crew” is composed of 90 juniors and seniors that volunteer to be positive leaders and mentors for freshmen. The Link Crew welcomed and hosted Como’s incoming class of 2020 on Sept. 1 for an orientation session. The Link Crew Leaders prepared for the event with two intensive days of training that focused on community and fellowship, leading up to the implementation of inclusive activities that provided the new students with a sense of belonging. The faculty advisors for Como’s Link Crew are Maria Cocchiarella and Alisson Hartzell.

• Como’s Academy of Finance (AOF) is pleased to be connected with several companies this year to provide group mentoring to AOF students. Group mentors are committed to working in the classroom once a month, assisting with a variety of student projects. Every AOF Business class has a semester project. Freshmen will conduct a financial literacy fair, sophomores present a product for consumption in a foreign country, juniors execute an accounting simulation, and seniors work on a business communications project.

AOF mentoring partners that will host student presentations of projects at their company or institution include Xcel Energy, the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, and the St. Paul City Government. Additional new partners include The Travelers and Grant Thornton LLP.

• Urban Boatbuilders hosted the launch of their canoes and kayaks at Lake Como on Aug. 18. Como Park student Anthony Williams emceed the event as one of the fifteen summer apprentices in the program and was joined by fellow Como Park students Zaj Lee, Shyanna Carpenter and DeShawn Sparkman. Students shared the impact of their experience designing and constructing the boats, describing personal growth in patience, confidence, and teamwork.

Urban Boatbuilders is a local non-profit organization that empowers youth to develop skills they need to succeed in school, work and life through the building and use of wooden boats. The launch at Lake Como was a huge success for the students, and was followed by a week-long culminating voyage into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area with their mentors and boats!

• WE Day is an inspirational and star-studded festival scheduled for Sept. 20 at the Xcel Energy Center. 27 Como Park student leaders will be privileged to attend. Como’s participants were selected based on service and volunteerism in school and community events, meshing with the WE mission to bring youth together and provide tools to positively impact the world.

• The Como Park volleyball team will begin defense of their St. Paul City title with a conference match against Harding on Sept. 13 at 7pm in the Como Gymnasium. The community is invited to attend and support the Cougars!

Como High soccer• Mayor Chris Coleman will visit the Como Soccer Field on Fri., Sept. 16 to present the “Mayor’s Cup” to the winners of the Humboldt vs. Como soccer games.

Photo right: High school athletic teams began fall practices on Aug. 15. The Como Park Girls’ Soccer team opened their season with a convincing 4-0 victory over Mounds Park Academy on Aug. 27.

The girls’ game begins at 3:15pm. The boys’ game begins at 5pm. At the conclusion of the boys’ game, the Mayor will present a “Mayor’s Cup” traveling trophy to the winner of each game. The community is invited to support the teams and celebrate the success of soccer in St. Paul with Mayor Coleman.

The Cougars will also host a Community Day for the boys’ and girls’ double-header versus Washington on Tues., Sept. 20. The boys play at 3:15pm followed by the girls at 5pm. The teams are hosting the “Soccer Stars” youth players and inviting all youth families and community supporters to cheer on the Cougars! The Como Soccer Field is located east of the school building past the tennis courts.

• Como Park’s all school open house and parent night will be held at the school from 5-7pm on Thur., Sept. 27. All families and students from grades 9-12 are invited to visit with teachers and staff members, tour classrooms, and explore programs, clubs, and activities that Como students can access. Light refreshments will be provided.

• Homecoming Spirit Week is scheduled for Oct. 3-7 with dress-up days, the coronation of the royal court, and a pep fest to recognize Cougar athletic teams. Sat., Oct. 8 will be full of activity beginning with the Homecoming Parade at 11am. The route proceeds on Grotto, Wheelock and Victoria concluding back at school with a picnic. The Homecoming Football Game is scheduled for 2pm at Central’s Griffin Stadium and the Homecoming Dance will be Saturday night.

• Save the date! On Thur., Nov. 10 and Fri., Nov. 11, the Como Theatre and Music Department will present the annual fall musical in the Como Auditorium.
The show is entitled “Yearbook Reflections,” an upbeat musical about the willpower, compassion, and humor found in every high school.

Comments Off on Upperclassmen comprise ‘link crew’ welcoming freshmen

2019 Midway Chamber Directory