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Archive | November, 2017

Plating Inc slider

Federal EPA hopes to wrap up Plating Inc. site in early December

Posted on 07 November 2017 by Calvin

Lots of work still to be done as hazardous cleanup tasks and the future of the site passes to state, county, city

By JANE MCCLURE
All photos courtesy of the US EPA
Weeks of hazardous materials cleanup at an abandoned Hamline-Midway metal plating plant reached a turning point as November began. The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is completing its work at Plating Inc. and is handing off ongoing site monitoring and next steps to city, county, and state officials. While neighbors are glad to hear of progress, they have a message for elected officials.

Photo right: Overview of the Plating Inc. exterior at 888 N. Prior Ave.; facing south.

“I hope our state and city and county officials don’t forget us and leave us behind,” said Plating Inc. neighbor Dee Schleifer. “You guys don’t live here. Please don’t forget us.”

Keeping the community informed is a priority moving ahead, said Ward Four City Council Member Russ Stark. His office will take over community outreach centered on the cleanup. He suggested that officials meet again with neighbors in January.

More than 30 people attended an Oct. 26 community meeting at Newell Park to hear from federal, state and local officials about Plating Inc., 888 N. Prior Ave. The property housed plating operations since 1938, but the most recent owners apparently walked away in 2016 for financial reasons. Not only were chemicals left in open vats and trenches, the building was the subject of break-ins and copper theft.

Photo left: At the Plating Inc. site, crew members spray water on insulation bricks that contain friable asbestos to reduce the dispersion of the particles during removal.

Neighbors are concerned about past waste disposal practices, and whether yards, gardens and a pond along Pierce Butler Route are polluted. They asked for help to pay for soil testing in their yards and gardens. Local and state officials will check into those issues.

The EPA went in in late August with a “time critical” removal and cleanup plan. EPA On-Site Coordinator David Morrison described the complex cleanup over the past several weeks. Crews had to deal with more than 80 open vats of chemicals. The building had a blue haze in the air from leaks and chemical interaction with moisture. The building’s plumbing system had frozen. The lack of maintenance meant asbestos pieces had fallen inside. That mess had to be cleaned up before chemical cleanup and removal could begin.

Then the most caustic and dangerous chemicals had to be contained. Strong acids were found in vats. Chemicals had to be tested to see what they were, with samples from every vat and drum.

Photo right: Pooled, liquid waste was removed from under the waste treatment lines.

The EPA secured more than 20,000 gallons of hazardous acids and caustic materials from open vats. About 80 drums of caustic and acidic solids and other industrial sludge were contained from vats and containers. About 9,700 gallons of waste liquids were pumped from open vats into tanker trucks. Lab packs containing 849 pounds of hazardous waste stored in small-volume containers were also shipped off for disposal, along with another 1,400 pounds of non-hazardous waste used metal plating. Overhead lines and processing equipment had to be dismantled and drained.

Efforts were made to recycle some of the chemicals. But some were congealed and couldn’t be pumped out. Those materials were removed manually. The building has had 24-hour security. Air monitors were placed in and around the property.

By early November the EPA and its contractors were shifting from cleanup to disposal. That means taking bids on items and getting them taken away. Once disposal is set, the remaining hazardous materials will be gone. Metal vats can be cleaned and scrapped out. An underground tank containing about 1,100 gallons of diesel fuel will be pumped out.

Photo left: Caustic solution release in floor trench at Plating Inc.

The EPA trailer will be gone. The goal is for the work to wrap up by early December. Congresswoman Betty McCollum said that it’s fortunate that the mess was found before the U.S. was hit by hurricanes in late summer and fall. Natural disasters would have meant a slower EPA response.

“There’s still a big job ahead,” Morrison said. But part of that job will be shouldered by the state, county, and city.

“Once the EPA is done the city, county and state all have roles to play,” Stark said.

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and Department of Health, and St. Paul-Ramsey County Public Health and St. Paul Department of Safety and Inspections (DSI) workers then step in.
The MPCA’s role is remediation, with the property likely going into a state cleanup program. State and county officials’ future work will also include monitoring a 500-foot industrial well in the building basement and determining what to do with a smaller well that is clogged and cannot be checked. Water samples were taken from the deeper well.

Photo right: Crew members pumping fluid from a vat into a sealed tote for proper storage and transportation.

Stark said the city also has jurisdiction over the property as a vacant structure. DSI Deputy Director Travis Bistodeau said the building is a Category Two—meaning it has property code problems that need correction before it could be sold and reoccupied.

Another concern is the fate of the property itself. The current owners are in arrears on property taxes, and over time the site could go into tax forfeiture and eventually be sold to a new owner. Stark and County Commissioner Toni Carter are seeing if that process could be expedited. City officials have heard there is a party interested in buying the property.

Officials haven’t said yet what penalties the current property owners face as an investigation is still ongoing.

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David Wilmes slider

Truly helping troubled kids starts with educating adults

Posted on 07 November 2017 by Calvin

Professional says that the public doesn’t understand that libraries have become part of the current safety net

By JAN WILLMS
Working with adults who work with kids sums up in a few words the career of David Wilmes (photo right by Jaan Willms), a professional trainer, program developer and author. He has over 40 years of experience in the field of early intervention with youth whose behavior puts them at risk for being, in his words, criminalized, pathologized or ostracized from the critical community-based resources that promote healthy youth development.

Wilmes began his career in a unique fashion.

“I grew up in rural Iowa during the time of the Vietnam conflict,” he recalled. He was Number 47 in the lottery and drafted out of college in Dubuque. “I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do that, so I started working on my conscientious objector status. I got it, but had to find alternative service for two years,” he said.

Being a math major, he said he was not equipped to do a lot of traditional kinds of service. But he got to know some nuns and Christian brothers who were going to St. Paul to set up a halfway house. He joined them.

“I was a live-in counselor, mostly a handyman,” he said. “I became fascinated with the challenge of working with kids. Being a math major, I probably approached it a lot differently than other staff. I was more interested in how and why things worked, the program structure and design.”

Wilmes became very involved with the program he was working in, moving quickly to a leadership position. He finished his degree at Metro State and completed his master’s in human development at St. Mary’s in Winona, focusing mostly on parent education and family systems.

At the program he was working with, New Connections, Wilmes said he became fascinated with the kinds of staff he was hiring, and how different staff could get such different responses from kids. “I discovered that many families are not so dysfunctional, but that parents are not prepared to parent the kind of kid they got,” he said.

“I started developing a lot of parent education programs.” He said few parent classes were being offered at that time, and he started teaching them in the classroom. “ABC did a special on New Connections, and I started doing a lot of consulting, helping other communities set up programs.”

“In the mid-1980s, we started daytime programs. We had found residential programs were successful while the youths were with us, but not after. There was no transfer of learning. So we coupled parent education with the day treatment. I started doing a little bit of in-home family counseling and providing training for other institutions. My theory was that if we could get ahead of this thing, we wouldn’t have to go through all the misery of treatment. “

Wilmes published his first book with Johnson Institute. He became director of training at Johnson Institute in 1988, wrote a few more books and worked more on the national scene, but based out of the Twin Cities. He eventually started his own training organization but spent much of his time on the road.

A friend offered him an opportunity with a mobile crisis team, and he took it. “She caught me at the right time,” Wilmes said.

Although he had no experience with mobile crisis work, the idea fascinated him. After that work and a three-year stint at Hazelden as director of training and education in the publishing division, Wilmes spent 14 years with St. Paul Youth Services as director of services.

“I’ve been retiring for the past three years,” he said. “Retiring is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.” His “retirement” includes working with libraries in St. Paul, as well as Seattle, assisting their staffs in working with challenging kids. He also works with Youth Intervention Programs Association (YIPA), special education programs, schools, police departments, community activists, tutors, youth organizations and arts media—almost any entity that works with young people.

Wilmes said the St. Paul Public Libraries had called him because several libraries were having to call the police on a regular basis to deal with problems they were having with their youthful patrons. “Libraries have become the new safety net in our culture, and no one even really knows about it,” Wilmes said. He has worked extensively with Rondo, Rice Street, and Sun Ray libraries, as well as many others.

“I hadn’t worked with libraries before, but I create things as I go—I innovate,” he said. “The first library I worked with had called the police 3-5 times a week. That first summer we worked together they didn’t call the police at all.”

Wilmes said he reviewed with the libraries what had helped in de-escalating the problems, which were with kids as young as 9-12, not just teenagers.

“We started understanding who the kids were, and we realized we were supposed to be the adults,” he was told. Working with the staff at the libraries, Wilmes said his basic theory is that it is all about the adults who are supposed to be in charge. “That’s where you get change,” he explained. “Kids need relationships with those adults they see every single day.”

He said a family bond might be strong, but parents cannot always give kids everything they need. “A lot of parents are dealing with a culture that is foreign to them and not very accepting,” he said. “Personal and historical trauma come together. A lot of families have come from places that were laced with racism, genocide, and all kinds of historical issues that have been passed on and transmitted to kids, on top of personal trauma.”

Wilmes said he started developing concepts related to survival orientation. “In the Midwest, we have developed a culture that is extremely stable and singular regarding how it thinks about norms and expectations. We allow hardly any deviation to any of those things,” he said. Wilmes recalled a workshop he had given in a Minnesota community with a large Latino population. The school superintendent had told him that it had taken three generations for the Norwegians and Swedes to communicate. “How long will this take?” he asked. “It has to be a lot quicker,” responded Wilmes.

He said that in the past this country had allowed its immigrants incredible amounts of time to resettle. When he was in college in Iowa and went home for a holiday with his roommate, they were still speaking Czech on the streets of the town.

“I don’t think our social struc­tures have become adaptive to challenges. We have kids dealing with the aftermath of civil war in Liberia, and parents dealing with genocide and ethnic cleansing. Our fabric of culture in the Midwest is extremely conservative in how we think about what is right and wrong, and very moral­is­tic. We put lots of judgments on folks who don’t think the way we do.”

Wilmes has taken a cognitive approach in his work with his professional training for groups and organizations working with youth. “Relationships is where everything starts,” he said. He sees a society where many parents are really struggling, not getting the kind of support they need in their community. He described many who work two to three jobs, and their kids end up looking for places to connect.

“I don’t think the kids are that much different from when I was young,” he said. “But adults have a lot more stressors today.” And that fact affects their children.

Wilmes emphasized that libraries and Parks and Recreation are places where kids go to connect. “We don’t support rec centers enough, and we either end up criminalizing or medicating kids to get what they need.”

“My mission in life has become helping adults to be more effective with kids who aren’t making those connections anywhere else,” Wilmes said.

“I am optimistic about our young people,” he said. “They are just asking for a relationship. We have all needed adults in our lives.”

Wilmes said he is often asked if he has not gotten burned out or cynical after all these years in his field. “The hardest thing for me is not to do this work….it gives me the chance to be upbeat, spiritual and optimistic in ways that nothing else ever has been for me.”

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Food Shelf Michaela Lauer

Neighbors encouraged to remember food shelf in holiday traditions

Posted on 07 November 2017 by Calvin

Consider donating favorite holiday foods or cost spent on gifts to Midway Food Shelf

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN
This holiday season, consider donating the food you look forward to feasting upon yourself.

“The biggest challenge we face during the holiday season is getting the food people want for the holidays,” observed Keystone’s Midway Food Shelf site manager Deb Amacher. “It’s really tough to get.”

Just as the general population does, those coming to the food shelf crave ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole, cranberries, bread and rolls, vegetables and pies.

Those who use the food shelf are grateful for what is there, but Amacher can see the disappointment in their eyes when the cherished food items aren’t available.

As the clients thank her and say, “God Bless you,” Amacher responds with a thank you of her own. “I’ll take all the blessings I can get,” she explained.

Some people have found creative ways to incorporate the Midway Food Shelf into their holiday traditions.

“We have a few families who donate the cost of their holiday meals or celebrations to the food shelf, to provide the same for other families,” pointed out Keystone Director of Basic Needs Christine Pulver. “A few other donors give the amount that would have been spent on holiday gifts.”

One of the largest food shelves in Minnesota
The Midway Food Shelf, 1916 University Ave., is one of three brick and mortar sites in Keystone’s Basic Needs Program, and has been operating for over a decade. The other two are in the North End and Roseville. The program originated at the Merriam Park community center in the 1980s.

Photo right: The most popular items include rice, milk, juice, cereal, bread, peanut butter, and produce, according to Midway Food Shelf Site Manager Deb Amacher. “Most people are looking for meat,” she added. “Meat is so expensive.” Keystone aims to give families access to healthy choices and supplemental food sources to keep families on the right track – empowering them to build self-sufficiency and healthy eating habits. (Photo submitted)

In all, Keystone reaches more than 30,000 individuals in Ramsey County through a variety of programming and human services. Its name comes from a central wedge-shaped stone of an arch (a keystone) that locks the parts together and supports the whole, a fitting description for the organization as it serves and strengthens the community.

In 2015, Keystone also launched the Foodmobile, a mobile food shelf that brings food directly to people with transportation barriers. The Foodmobile offers 23 distributions every month, stocking fresh, frozen, and refrigerated food items.

Through its four food shelves, Keystone provides emergency food services to an average of 8,000 individuals each month. Keystone expects to distribute 2.4 million pounds of food in 2017.

“This program is one of the largest food shelf programs in the state of Minnesota,” pointed out Pulver. “This program provides critical support to our neighbors in need.”

Pulver has served in her role for nearly 11 years and has seen the impact of practical services to stabilize individuals and families and help them move in positive directions.

Photo left: Keystone expects to distribute 2.4 million pounds of food in 2017 to an average of 8,000 individuals each month, including folks like Dennis Jacobson. The people who use the Midway Food Shelf most include retirees with limited incomes, disabled veterans, veterans in general, and homeless individuals, according to site manager Deb Amacher. The largest group is single men. Many don’t have access to stoves and instead rely on microwaves at convenience stores to heat up their food. (Photo submitted)

At its basic, the Midway Food Shelf serves as a place where people can get food. “It helps people get through the month,” remarked Amacher. “It helps so many people.”

To be eligible for food shelf services, one must establish a need; have an income within 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines; and live in the Keystone service area, which includes downtown St. Paul to Roseville, Little Canada to the Midway and the North End areas of St. Paul.

The people who use the Midway Food Shelf most include retirees with limited incomes, disabled veterans, veterans in general, and homeless individuals. The largest group is single men. Many don’t have access to stoves and instead rely on microwaves at convenience stores to heat up their food, observed Amacher.

When they arrive, “I think they’re expected to be treated poorly, but they’re not,” said Amacher.

The most popular items include rice, milk, juice, cereal, bread, peanut butter, and produce, according to Amacher. “Most people are looking for meat,” she added. “Meat is so expensive.”

Keystone aims to give families access to healthy choices and supplemental food sources to keep families on the right track—empowering them to build self-sufficiency and healthy eating habits.

Photo left: Volunteers such as Michaela Lauer keep the doors open at the Midway Food Shelf, and welcome clients with a smile on their faces. Neighbors interested in volunteering at Keystone may contact the volunteer coordinator at 651-797-7725. (Photo submitted)

The highest need season for food shelf programs is during the summer when children are not receiving free breakfast and lunch programs—which is usually the lowest donation season. The highest donation season is in November and December.

Keystone receives much of what it offers through the Second Harvest food bank, but sometimes items available are limited.

Recently, the food shelf experienced a few weeks during which some basic items were not available for purchase through the food bank system, including canned vegetables.

Food shelf depends on donations
“Our program is dependent upon community support through donations of money, food, and volunteer time,” remarked Pulver. “Cash donations allow our program to purchase food at prices far below retail and multiply the impact of donors’ gifts. Gifts of cash and non-perishable food can be brought to any of our food shelf sites.”

Donation drop off hours are 9am to 4pm, Monday to Friday. The food shelf is open to clients from 10–11:30am and 1–3:30pm, Monday to Friday.

Neighbors interested in volunteering at Keystone may contact the volunteer coordinator at 651-797-7725.

“We have a great group of volunteers,” said Amacher. “People leave here smiling.”

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PPL at Hamline Station 05 slider

PPL to host employment services Open House Nov. 28

Posted on 07 November 2017 by Calvin

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
Project for Pride in Living (PPL) will be hosting a community Open House promoting its new Employment Services at Hamline Station on Tues., Nov. 28 from 3–6pm. Located on the ground floor of PPL’s Hamline Station, 1305 University Ave. W., their services are available to the greater community. All of the services provided there are confidential, free of charge, and tailored to fit individual needs. Participants must be 18 years of age or older.

Photo right: Employment specialist Addriana Her (left) and employment technology manager Angie Willardson (right) outside the office of PPL’s Hamline Station Employment Services. Their organization provides one-on-one, confidential, coaching-based employment and financial services at no charge. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Regular hours of operation for the Employment Services Center are Mondays from 9am-4pm and Tuesdays from 1-8pm. During those times, employment specialist Addriana Her is available to help clients write or update their resume, learn to conduct a job search, and develop better interviewing skills.

Her explained, “We aren’t just about helping you get a job here, we’re about helping you keep a job. We provide retention services for 12 months. That means that at three, six and twelve months, one of us will call or email you to see how your new job is going. We’re able to provide a $10 bus or gas card at the time of hire, and at each of these retention check-ins.”

“People have a lot of questions once they’ve been in a job for a while,” Her said. “Questions like, ‘I want more hours, but my employer isn’t giving them to me. What should I do? Or, I’ve gotten enough experience in this line of work. How do I move on?’ We can help with skills assessments and interest inventories whether you’re choosing or changing a career path. We can also assist in finding resources like child care, transportation, work clothing or needed tools through some of our many community connections.” Her can be reached at 612-455-5291 for more information, or to schedule an appointment.

Employment specialist Rachel Moran manages the WOIA Adult Program. This program provides funding for short-term training leading to certifications in healthcare, manufacturing, construction, information technology, and administrative jobs. These five areas currently have a high demand for employees. Acceptance into the WOIA Adult Program requires income eligibility and circumstances of being either unemployed or underemployed. Moran can be reached at 612-455-.5314 for more information, or to schedule an appointment.

In addition to employment coaching, the Hamline Station Employment Services has a financial coach on-site on Tuesdays from 4-8pm. Dar Sengkhammee can help clients create a personal budget, work on reducing debt, review credit scores, and clarify financial goals. He can be reached at 612-455-5292 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Angie Willardson is the employment technology manager for Hamline Station Employment Services. “There is a docking station here with 12 computers for client use,” she explained. “We have the technology to support a first-class job search, using our ‘Talent Neuron’ database. It can pull from all job-search engines at the same time. We can customize a client’s job-search very specifically and efficiently, but most importantly, we can personalize the process for you. We’re a small staff, and we strive to build rapport with our clients. We want to serve as many people as possible, providing the very best practices of employment and financial coaching.”

There are always two people working during the hours that Employment Services is open at PPL’s Hamline Station. Appointments are encouraged, but drop-ins are also welcome. On-street parking is available just east of Hamline and north of University avenues, and the office is easily accessed by bus and train.

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Bryan Duffey MN soccer coach

Minnehaha soccer coach injured in explosion focuses on recovery

Posted on 07 November 2017 by Calvin

Midway residents grateful for community support as they move, seek larger vehicle, and await birth of first baby

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN
After losing his right leg following the Minnehaha Academy gas explosion on Aug. 2, Midway resident Bryan Duffey is focused on walking again and becoming a father in January.

Photo right: Jamie (left) and Bryan Duffey. (Photo provided)

“Bryan has continued to be forgiving and gracious in all of this, and has been so strong through it all,” observed his wife, Jamie. “There are, of course, frustrations and a great sense of loss, but we work through them together. Right now we are just focused on getting him walking again, and for us to keep moving forward with the changes so that we can focus on the baby when he gets here.”

Rescued from under a column and a wall
After graduating from high school in Nebraska, Bryan earned his degree from Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa, where he met his future wife, Jamie, who was originally from Perham, MN. The two got to know each other while working for the non-profit Hope for Opelousas in Louisiana, providing after-school programs for grades 4-12. After a stint in Wisconsin, Bryan took a job as an assistant soccer coach and custodian at Minnehaha Academy a year ago. Jamie works full-time for Midwest Special Services providing day training for adults with disabilities.

On Aug. 2, Bryan was working at Minnehaha Academy when the building exploded.

He was fortunate to be found by two responding officers and a third off-duty deputy who lives near Minnehaha. They removed a column that landed on top of him first. Then they took apart a wall brick by brick to uncover Bryan’s entire lower body before they could get him to safety.

Bryan was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center and was released 27 days later on his two-year wedding anniversary.

“I am overwhelmed thinking about how blessed we are to have had these men there and to have Bryan still with us today,” said his wife, Jamie on their CaringBridge page.

Bryan underwent several surgeries that left him with his right leg amputated just above the knee and his left leg stabilized by screws and a nail through his tibia.

Big purchases needed to help Bryan achieve independence
The injury pushed the Duffeys into buying a house earlier than planned. They were renting a home in Minneapolis before the explosion but weren’t able to modify it to suit Bryan’s needs, so they purchased a home in the Midway neighborhood. They were able to move in a week after his release from the hospital, but they are still waiting for workers compensation to approve funding for a bathroom remodel so that Bryan can transfer without pain, and they can have a bathroom door back on.

By the beginning of October, Bryan’s neck brace was off, which was a relief for his wife to know that his neck is good and he could sleep a little more comfortably. Bryan was beginning to bear some weight on his left leg, which means he is getting closer to starting the prosthesis process.
He also graduated from speech therapy, which mostly worked with his brain injury. “This is exciting because mentally he is able to drive again,” said Jamie via CaringBridge. “Unfortunately, physically he is not able to drive until we get a new vehicle that is higher off the ground and will have hand controls put in. We hope to get him driving soon so that he can gain some of his independence back.”

The couple owns two small cars, a Honda Civic and Bryan’s tiny Ford Fiesta. They can’t fit Bryan’s wheelchair and a baby in the Fiesta. And so, they’re on a hunt for a bigger vehicle that is higher off the ground. With his prosthesis, he needs a vehicle that will enable him to keep his knee joint at a 90-degree angle and not have to jump out of, explained Jamie. They also plan to outfit it through worker’s compensation with hand controls so that Bryan can drive independently.

The couple wasn’t planning on buying a house, and they weren’t planning to also replace a vehicle right now just before having a new baby. “Financially, it’s going to be really tight,” remarked Jamie. While they considered moving to a place where the cost of living isn’t as high, they decided to stay in the Twin Cities because of the increased opportunity for employment and access to doctors.

Fundraiser for larger vehicle
Bryan’s in-laws, Wes and Teresa Jeltema have attended Richville United Methodist Church in northern Minnesota where they live for the past ten years. On Oct. 7, the church held spaghetti feed, serving 100 people and raising over $3,500 to date. Fifteen volunteers served, sang, and cleaned up.

If you want to participate, but could not get to Richville, consider mailing a check to Richville United Methodist Church, 130 SW 1st Ave., P.O. Box 67, Richville, MN 56576, or wiring a gift of stock, bonds or mutual funds to TY9146536. “This will help Bryan and his wife, Jamie, who is six months pregnant, maintain appropriate housing and secure transportation for the trying months ahead,” remarked Richville United Methodist pastor Rod Turnquist.

“Bryan and Jamie have inspired all of us by their honesty, their courage, and their resilience,” added Turnquist.

What keeps them going
Their faith and the support of family, friends and the Minnehaha community is helping pull the Duffeys through this difficult time. Plus, there’s the excitement of expecting their first child.
“I think that having a baby on the way helps to motivate,” observed Jamie.

They are grateful for the support they’ve received since the explosion.

“We have been supported by so many families, friends, church community, and work communities,” remarked Jamie. “Minnehaha Academy has surrounded us with love and prayers, and families have been bringing us meals.” Their church, Calvary Baptist, has also brought them meals regularly.

The Duffeys appreciate all prayers and positive vibes sent their way.

Life has become busy once again.

“Bryan coached every regular season soccer game, and we are now moving into playoffs,” wrote Jamie on the CaringBridge site Oct. 7. “This has been such a blessing for him as this created some normalcy, and allowed him to continue to do something that he loves.”

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Como High Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

News from Como Park High School

Posted on 06 November 2017 by Calvin

Above: Students and staff gathered on the turf to observe school leaders and representatives from the Minnesota Vikings officially cut the ribbon at the conclusion of the ceremony. (Photo provided)

Compiled by ERIC ERICKSON, Social Studies Teacher

• After years of hope, anticipation over the summer, and a couple months of frustration, the state-of-the-art synthetic turf field at Como Park High School finally opened up for business. Gym classes, soccer teams, and football all started using the new green space on Oct. 7. The girls’ and boys’ varsity soccer teams earned home playoff games, which gave each team the chance to play one game this season on the new turf. Both teams came through with convincing shut-out victories in the inaugural games on Oct. 10 and 12.

The official ribbon cutting ceremony and dedication of the field occurred on Oct. 18 at the end of the school day as the MEA weekend commenced. On a bright, sunshiny day, students, staff, local government officials, and representatives from the Minnesota Vikings gathered outside and watched the processional (photo right provided) of Como student-athletes, marching band and MJROTC cadets around the track. Speakers then shared remarks, and former Viking E.J. Henderson, who currently serves as the team’s Youth Football Manager presented the big ceremonial check to Como for its NFL grant that helped secure the funding for the field.

• On Oct. 27, the first varsity football game ever to be held on the campus of Como Park High School was a Cougars playoff game that the team earned with its strong regular-season record of 6-2. The senior leadership that brought the team so much success was able to have one game on the turf and make a memorable connection with the field forever. The result was a hard-fought loss to highly-regarded De La Salle, but the experience will not be forgotten, especially with the added element of a snow-covered field from the previous day’s storm.

• All 330 Academy of Finance (AOF) students in grades 9-12 will be participating in the Wells Fargo corporate visit to Como on Nov. 16. Volunteers and mentors from Wells Fargo will lead the AOF students in small group discussions, conduct mock interviews, provide instruction on resume building, cover letters, and job applications. There will also be a guest speaker to present a financial literacy lesson and take student-generated questions about Wells Fargo’s business lines and programs.

• The annual Close Up trip to Washington D.C. is scheduled for the first week of March, but fundraising is already in full swing. Students from AP Government classes will be bagging groceries for customers at the Roseville Cub Foods on Larpenteur from 4-8pm on Tues., Nov. 21 before Thanksgiving. Cub customers generously support the effort of the students with donations that help defray the expense of the educational adventure. Three other full days of grocery bagging for the Close Up students are also scheduled for December during winter break. Community members interested in financially supporting the students can also contact the trip coordinator at eric.erickson@spps.org.

• Como Park High School’s Advanced Placement (AP) Night is Mon., Nov. 27 from 6-7:30pm. AP Night is an opportunity for prospective students and their families to learn more about Como’s AP program from staff, parents, and a student panel. Middle school students and families interested in learning more about Como’s award-winning AP college prep curriculum will be able to visit with current AP students and teachers and ask questions about the AP experience. The event will take place in the school library, and refreshments will be provided. No reservation is required, but any questions can be directed to Como’s AP Coordinator Molly McCurdy Yates at 651-744-5354.

• Level 2 and 3 ELL students at Como collected $500 in relief money for victimized families of the bombings in Mogadishu. Hussein Mohamed, a former Como ELL student, who now provides educational support at Como through the Sanneh Foundation, will be wiring the collection directly to an aid agency in Somalia. Many Como students had family members directly impacted by the bombing. The outpouring of support from all students, regardless of religion or race, was inspirational. “No matter how bleak the world looks some days, we teachers are so fortunate to be surrounded by such great examples of what it really means to be human,” said ELL teacher Suzanne Susens.

• Construction on the building’s new addition continues to progress. Steel beams are now two-stories high in the space south of the building toward the railroad tracks. Work crews are busy all day and manage the project so that the loudest, most intensive structural assembly adjacent to the existing walls is completed after the official school day ends at 2pm. Staff with classrooms near the construction have been making accommodations to provide their after-school help to students, and do their grading and preparation in alternative locations away from the noise.

• “Give to the Max” is back again in 2017 and is running through Nov. 16! The Como Park Booster Club is encouraging the community to “boost” the wide array of extracurricular activities, athletics, and clubs that expand student opportunities and experiences at Como. Please give generously to help support our Como students at givemn.org/organization/comoparkboosterclub.

Thanks to previous donations, the Booster Club has supported activities in the past year including 19 grants for Como activities including Band, Technovation Apps Club, ELL, Boys Soccer, Soccer Stars, Dare2BeReal Advisors, Student Council, AVID, Choir, Big Brother Big Sister, Cougar Journal, Girls Soccer, Culinary Arts, Health Office, Counseling, Prom, and the Senior Class Barbeque.

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HMC 294A4559

Hamline Midway Coalition

Posted on 06 November 2017 by Calvin

By MELISSA CORTES, Community Organizer

Midway Holiday Pop-Up Shop
Sat., Nov. 25, 10am-4pm
Pop Up Shop is no longer looking for vendors, all spaces have been filled. To be on a vendor wait list, contact popupshop@hamlinemidway.org.

Owning a small business can come with its challenges of retail space, visibility for your business, and spaces to sell your products. Midway Holiday Pop Up Shop provides a welcoming space for shoppers, families, and small businesses to support one another during the Holidays. The Pop Up Shop host over 35 vendors, has hot drinks, hot foods for purchase, and a lovely visit by Santa himself. Mark your calendars for Small Business Saturday on Nov. 25 and come to the Celtic Junction at 836 Prior Ave., to support these businesses!
Vendor List:
Christine Anderson
Pine Needles
Zen Forest Photography
Furious Fun Jewelry
Jowemo Wood
Scentsy by Sabrina
Colbalt Crafts
Julie Gebhart
Tinker Tot Gift Shop
Embellish by Sandra
Simple Soaps
Uncle Fester’s Pens
Reindeer Goddess
Free Citizen Co +
Spoonful of Daith
Thomas Art Bros
Rolling Vibe Tribe
Zilla Pottery
Karen Morris Millinery
Rougue Chicken Handmade
James Powell Art
Andina Honey
Curative Clay
Quiro Clay and Rose Havener
Bella Luna Botanicals
Crow Shade Co.
Threadamancer Embroidery
McKenna Anderson

Santa Claus Visit, 10:30am to 12:30pm

Live Music:
10-11am – Terri Mattila
11:30am-1:30pm – An Luan
2-3pm- St. Joseph’s School of Music

Hamline Elementary is providing concessions. Proceeds from concession sales will be used to support “whole child” programming at Hamline Elementary School (a St. Paul Public School).

Pierce Butler Meadows
Pierce Butler Meadows has been restored! At the intersection of Pierce Butler Rte. (west) and Snelling, there is a prairie restoration site for ALL community members to enjoy. After a week of planting and a public art celebration with neighbors, students, and Artist Lucia Monge, the site is ready to germinate over the winter and bloom in the Spring.

Signage will go up on the site early spring with a map of the designated path to walk along to educate and enjoy the site.

We encourage to visit the site and enjoy its beauty with respect.

Any questions about the site or for future volunteer opportunities contact info@hamlinemidway.org.

A dog park in Hamline Midway?
Join HMC and the Department of Parks and Recreation for a public meeting regarding the possibility of creating an off-leash dog park at Newell Park, 5:30–7pm on Thur., Nov. 9 in the Newell Park Building (900 Fairview Ave. N.). Parks and Recreation staff will outline the history and context of the current discussion and answer questions. There will then be an opportunity to provide feedback about the idea of an off-leash dog park at Newell. If you have any questions about the meeting, please contact Michael Jon Olson at michaeljon@hamlinemidway.org. If you are unable to attend the meeting but would like to provide feedback, please send your comments to info@hamlinemidway.org. Comments will be forwarded to Parks and Recreation staff and the City Council Ward 4 office.

Taiko Drumming
Nov. 11 and 28, 10am-12pm
Wilder Community Center For Aging, 650 Marshall Ave.
Great News! The Wilder Center for Aging received funding from the Minnesota State Arts Board, to provide arts learning activities to older adults and their family/friend caregivers who want to stay active. Community Art for Healthy Aging presents Taiko Drumming. There is no cost to participate in the Saturday events, and they are all kid-friendly.

HMC Board of Directors deadline is Nov. 20
Run for the HMC Board of Directors by declaring your candidacy by Mon., Nov. 20. Hamline Midway Coalition is seeking candidates for its Board of Directors. Anyone age 16 or older that resides within, owns property within, or owns a business that is headquartered and principally operates within, the Hamline Midway is eligible to run AND vote in the board elections. If you are interested in working with an informed and engaged group of neighbors to focus on local issues around transportation, development, sustainability and more, consider running for the board.

Anyone interested in running for a seat on the Board of Directors must return a completed application to the Executive Director no later than 5pm on Mon., Nov. 20. To request an application or for more information about serving on the HMC Board of Directors, please contact Michael Jon Olson at 651-494-7682 or michaeljon@hamlinemidway.org.

Photos below: Hamline University students participate in the Pierce Butler Meadows planting and Planton Movil on Oct. 21. (Photos by Pavlica Photography and courtesy of HMC)

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Business in Como could be better, studies say

Posted on 06 November 2017 by Calvin

Como Community Council Courner
By MICHAEL KUCHTA, Executive Director
Dale St. needs a destination or anchor business to improve its retail environment, according to a market analysis performed for the District 10 Como Community Council and the District 6 Planning Council.

The good news for Como residents is that the kinds of businesses that the studies say could work line up with the kinds of businesses Como residents say they want on Dale or elsewhere in the neighborhood. These include a moderately sized, full-service grocery; small restaurants and coffee shops with a local focus; and a taproom.

The two studies examined the “retail trade area” for Dale between Maryland Ave. and Topping St., and did additional examination of demographic, income, traffic, employment, and population trends for all of Como. These include challenges such as the “leakage” of retail dollars out of St. Paul into the shopping areas near Lexington and Larpenteur and elsewhere in Roseville.

The two studies were performed by the consulting firm of Perkins + Will. The firm’s Jay Demma will talk about the studies during the monthly District 10 Como Community Council meeting on Tues., Nov. 21. The meeting begins at 7pm at the Como Park Streetcar Station, which is at the northeast corner of Lexington and Horton.

The studies are part of an ongoing effort by the Como Community Council to build a foundation for additional business investment and amenities in the neighborhood.

Crime is up in Como (and down)
In the end, it all depends on how you look at it: Crime in Como through September of 2017 is up slightly from a year ago. But overall crime is down from where it was two years ago – comparing the first nine months from 2015.

In 2017, drug busts are up. Confirmed cases of gunshots are up. Commercial burglaries are up.

But statistics also show auto thefts are way down, “crimes against persons” are flat, “crimes against property” are down, and “quality of life” calls are down. Of course, where you live in the neighborhood also makes a difference.

That’s some of the analysis District 10 presented at a community crime meeting Oct. 10. More than 40 residents attended. You can get more charts and details of crime patterns on District 10’s website: www.district10comopark.org—click on “Crime is Up (or Down).” Plus, you can download highlights of crime prevention tips shared by Patty Lammers, crime prevention coordinator for the Western District of the St. Paul Police.

Tired of saying ‘nobody told me’?
If you haven’t heard the latest about German Immersion School expansion plans, renovation of the Schiffman Fountain in Como Park, or replacement trees on neighborhood boulevards, it probably means you haven’t been reading District 10’s weekly newsletter. If you sign up, we’ll send it to your email inbox every Friday morning. Get on our mailing list: Go to www.district10comopark.org and click the “sign up” link on the right side of our homepage.

Welcome new board members
Congratulations to Joseph Mueller and Dunette Combs, who were elected to fill vacancies on the Como Community Council board. Both of them represent Sub-District 4, which covers South Como and Energy Park. Mueller’s term expires in April 2018; Combs serves until April 2019.

…and committee members
The Como Community Council board on Oct. 17 appointed 13 residents to a new Como Park “pathways work group.” They are Tim Post (chair), Teri Alberico, Tom Beach, Andrew Gustin, Jess Landgraf, Don Magnuson, Jenne Nelson, Suzanne Rhees, Cody Zwiefelhofer, plus ex-officio members Richard Herriges, Jenny Larson, Michael Kuchta, and Dan Marckel.

The board also appointed Dana Hagemann to represent District 10 on the city’s Como Dockside evaluation committee. Hagemann joins current D10 board member Maggie Zimmerman on the committee.

Upcoming District 10 meetings
• Como Community Council Monthly Meeting: Tues., Nov. 21
• Environment Committee: Wed., Nov. 29
• Neighborhood Relations and Safety Committee: Tues., Dec. 5
• Land Use Committee: Wed., Dec. 6

All meetings begin at 7pm at the Como Park Streetcar Station, which is at the northeast corner of Lexington and Horton.

Community members are always welcome to attend and participate. Whenever possible, agendas are posted in advance in the “Board News” section of District 10’s website.

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Events at Hamline Midway Library

Posted on 06 November 2017 by Calvin

The Hamline Midway Library, 1558 W. Minnehaha Ave., is the place to be as fall makes way for winter. Come to the library to check out books, magazines, CDs, and movies, enjoy free Internet access and expand your world with programs and classes.

Preschool Storytimes in English happen Fridays, 10:30-11am, with upcoming events on November 10 and 17 and December 1, 8, and 15. Storytimes feature stories, songs, puppets, and more. They’re a great way for caregivers to bond with children and build social skills, listening comprehension, and letter and number recognition while creating a solid foundation for lifelong learning. Children of all activity levels are welcome!

The library also offers Evening Storytimes on Tuesdays in November from 6-6:30pm. These storytimes feature the same kinds of stories, songs, puppets, and games you’ll find at the daytime storytimes. Upcoming Evening Storytimes will take place November 14, 21, and 28.

The library welcomes author Louis Porter II on Wed., Nov. 15, 5:30-7:30pm as he presents The Art of the Memoir. Write with guidance to share your unique story and discover the wonderful way that writing helps people sort through their experiences. This program is part of the St. Paul Public Library’s Tell Your Story: 100 Years/100 Stories series.

Sat., Nov. 18, 1:30-3pm, the library presents the popular Science Saturdays program. This month’s theme is Music Makers. School-aged participants and their families can enjoy making fun sounds with rubber bands, string, boxes, bells, combs, and tongue depressors. No preregistration necessary—just come by when you can. The December theme is BOUNCE!, with activities centered on bouncing different objects, playing with a parachute, and making bouncing toys. That event will happen on Sat., Dec. 9, 1:30-3pm.

On Tuesday afternoons in November from 4:30-6pm, poet Becca Barniskis, and musician Nick Jaffe will present Word and Sound Lab, a series of open studio workshops for youth grades 5-8 that explores the intersection of poetry, sound, and video. iPads and other tech will be available to use on-site or participants may bring their own devices. This activity is open and free to grades 5-8. No registration necessary; just show up! Come to one session or attend all as you’re able. Word and Sound Labs take place Tuesdays, Nov. 14, 21, and 28.

The Start a Series Book Club will meet on Sat., Nov. 25, 3-4pm to discuss “The Ruins of Gorlan,” the first book in John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice series. This book club is recommended for grades 6-8, and each month will focus on a discussion of the first book in a series.

Jody’s Documentary Film Series will be holding two showings of the PBS POV series documentary Joe’s Violin on Wed., Nov. 29. The first showing will be from 1-3pm and the second will be from 7-8pm that same day. This Academy Award-nominated film tells the true story of Joe, a 91-year-old Holocaust survivor, and Brianna, a 12-year-old girl, and the ways their lives were brought together when Joe donated a violin.

The Novels at Night Book Club meets on Thur., Nov. 30, 6:30-7:30pm to discuss “The Care and Management of Lies” by Jacqueline Winspear. In this poignant novel of love and friendship tested by separation and war, Kezia struggles to keep her ordered life from unraveling after her husband enlists to fight for his country, while Thea, her best friend, sister-in-law, and suffragette, is drawn reluctantly to the battlefield.

On Sat., Dec. 2, 1-2pm, the Saints and Sinners Book Club meets to discuss good mysteries. Contact volunteer G. Balter for book lists and more information at gerribalter@gmail.com or 651-224-5570.

The Show and Tell Book Club for grades 1-3 meets on Sat., Dec. 2, 1:30-2:15pm. Come share books and do fun literacy activities at the library!

The library and the Hamline Midway Elders present Chair Yoga on Thursdays from 10:30-11:30am on Nov. 9, 16, and 30 and Dec. 7 and 14. All movement is done while seated or standing using the chair for balance. This class for adults is taught by Nancy Giguere.

All St. Paul Libraries will be closed on Nov. 10 and 11 in observance of Veterans Day and on Nov. 23 for Thanksgiving.

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Monitor In A Minute

Posted on 06 November 2017 by Calvin

By JANE MCCLURE

Menthol ban is approved
Menthol, mint and wintergreen tobacco products would disappear from St. Paul grocery and convenience store and gas station shelves by Nov. 1, 2018. On Oct. 25, the St. Paul City Council made amendments to a much-debated tobacco product sales ordinance.

The ordinance was the topic of two well-attended public hearings this fall, with supporters and opponents packing the council chambers. The council heard emotional testimony from retailers saying that a ban would cut deeply into their profits. Some set their keys on the council chambers, saying they could be forced to close.

Advocates of the ban also gave heartfelt testimony, with some holding pictures of loved ones who’d died due to cancer and other diseases linked to tobacco use.

The vote was laid over to allow discussions between retailers and those who wish to limit tobacco access to underage users and people of color. Those talks will continue. One focus is to see how the lost sales could be replaced with other products.

The council agreed to allow the products to be sold for one more year. That allows businesses to use up inventory and to fulfill existing contracts with suppliers. The ban would take effect Nov. 1, 2018.

While there was unanimous council support for that measure, council members split on the idea of allowing sales of the products in liquor stores. The vote was 4-3.

Ward five Council Member Amy Brendmoen has led the charge for changes to the ordinance. She agrees with the goal of reducing youth tobacco access but has concerns about business impacts and access. She’s also concerned that affected stores didn’t get the same level of discussion and process other businesses did.

One of her concerns is that more tobacco stores will open in response to the ban. Allowing sales in liquor stores is one way to mitigate that.

“Kids do hang out at corner stores,” she said. That doesn’t happen at liquor stores.

Ward One Council Member Dai Thao was one of the votes against the ban. “I have nine liquor stores in my ward.” He questioned how that would restrict access.

The tobacco store issue is a concern for several council members. They may look at restricting licenses citywide at a later date. That could be done through a distance separation requirement, as is done with liquor stores.

Hall faces more restrictions
The Eritrean Community Center of Minnesota, 1935 University Ave. W., faces more restrictions on its dance/rental hall license. The St. Paul City Council voted Oct. 18 to impose the conditions.

The need for additional regulation stemmed from incidents on two dates in July when police went to the hall. Police saw alcohol being sold, and sales taking place after 2am during dance events. The sale of alcohol without a temporary on-sale liquor license and the fact that dances were going on after midnight are violations of the hall license.

The council fined the Eritrean Community Center $500 and placed additional conditions on its license. One condition stipulates that there shall be no liquor sales or service unless a legally registered nonprofit conducting a bona fide fundraiser has obtained a temporary liquor license. Under this condition, any event entry fee or donation collected when alcohol is being served or consumed is considered a sale of alcohol, and a sale will be deemed a violation of this new license condition.

The rental and dance hall also cannot operate between the hours of midnight and 6am. No alcohol shall be sold or served to underage persons.

Parks project funded
Several area parks and a planned downtown river balcony project are the beneficiaries of federal, state and regional grants accepted Oct. 18 by the St. Paul City Council. Most of the projects will take place over the 2018-2019 time frame. Council President Russ Stark said it is unusual for the city to be getting so many grants at once for its Department of Parks and Recreation. More than $6 million was received for parks and trails projects all over the city.

Among the funding allocations, a $1.713 million allocation from state, federal and regional sources was also accepted. These funds will be used for various environmental services and arts and gardening projects, as well as the Como Shuttle bus and Como Zoo and Conservatory.

Funding was also accepted to develop sepak takraw or kato courts at two parks, including Marydale Park near Dale and Maryland. A $100,000 grant from Ramsey County will assist with this project. Sepak takraw is a sport popular in the Hmong community.

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Discovery Club