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Archive | January, 2019

694 Snelling Ave N

Monitor In A Minute Jan. 2019

Posted on 13 January 2019 by Calvin

Compiled by JANE MCCLURE

City losing patience over 694 N. Snelling building
A lack of information about building plans, timelines, and finances has had city officials going back and forth with the owners of 694 N. Snelling Ave. The property owners Dec. 6 reached the end of a 180-day period to get needed building rehabilitation work done. But the owners and contractor didn’t attend a Dec. 27 legislative hearing and had until Jan. 8 to submit more detailed information. Otherwise, the city’s legislative hearing officer was poised to recommend rescinding $1,000 of a $5,000 performance bond.

The St. Paul City Council Jan. 9 voted to lay over the recommendation until Jan. 16. Renovations can still move ahead.

Photo right: Monitor archive file from fall 2018)

The building has been vacant since 2012 and is considered a nuisance property by some neighbors. Its owners have had 17 summary abatement calls over the past six years, for snow and ice-covered sidewalks, the need to board the building, graffiti and other issues.

Last year city officials issued a remove or repair order for the building. In July 2018 the City Council gave the owners 180 days to get building renovations done. Such a period is allowed if a property owner can show the financial ability to repair a building and submit detailed timeline and construction documents.

A former restaurant, the building has an estimated market value of $254,800 on the land and $317,900 on the building. The building has been undergoing renovations over the past several months and has been renamed Pho Pasteur.

Owners Nam M. Ho and Le M. Ho didn’t attend the legislative hearing last month. They did submit additional documents to city officials. But more documentation is needed, according to city staff. The city is seeking a specific timeline for when work will be completed, and also wants to see proof that the developers can pay for the work.

City officials estimate it would cost more than $125,000 to repair the building and about $40,000 to knock it down.

Minnetronix Medical can seek loan for Energy Park expansion
Minnetronix Medical Inc. is getting city assistance to seek a Minnesota Investment Fund loan. The St. Paul City Council approved the funding application Dec. 19, 2018.

The medical technology company is planning an approximately 34,000 square-foot expansion of its facility at 1645 Energy Park Dr. The project has an estimated cost of $19 million to support the creation of at least 120 new full-time jobs in three years.

The Minnesota Investment Fund provides loans to businesses that create or retain high-paying, full-time permanent jobs, and invest in machinery or real property improvements. The city will act as the sponsor for the loan application. It was submitted last month and if received, will be administered by the city’s Department of Planning and Economic Development.

City Council members praised the company, formerly known simply a Minnetronix, for its work to provide good-quality, well-paying tech jobs in St. Paul. The funds are allocated by the state.

Pet shop restrictions passed
Sale of dogs and cats at pet shops will be prohibited in St. Paul, as a result of an ordinance adopted unanimously Dec. 12, 2018, by the St. Paul City Council. The intent is to discourage the sale of animals from large-scale commercial pet breeding operations, known as “puppy mills” and “kitten mills.” The operators are often accused of breeding animals in poor conditions. Many pets from these breeders have health and behavioral problems that come at a high cost to the animals and their new owners.

The “humane pet store ordinance” was authored by Ward Two Council Member Rebecca Noecker. It is similar to almost 300 other city ordinances around the nation.

The ordinance doesn’t affect pet supply stores that work with rescue groups to host adoption days and spotlight animals who need new homes. This kind of collaboration with animal shelters, animal rescues, and animal control authorities will still be allowed. The animals in these circumstances need to be more than eight weeks old.

A Dec. 5 public hearing drew dozens of calls and emails to council members, with some attaching pictures of rescued puppy mill dogs to their emails. Several dozen ordinance supporters, including representatives of the Animal Humane Society and animal rescue groups including area group Feline Rescue, attended the hearing. They were joined by pet owners who have adopted animals from disreputable breeders.

Kathy Mock, who leads government affairs for the Animal Humane Society, said the conditions animals are bred and raised in can be “heartbreaking.” The society has four locations, including one in St. Paul, and three full-time agents who work on mistreatment and cruelty cases.

“We do see a number of medical and behavioral issues” with animals bred in poor conditions by commercial breeders, said Dr. Graham Brayshaw, a veterinarian and director of animal services at the Animal Humane Society. Another health issue speakers raised is that ill animals can pass along diseases to humans.

Only one person testified against the ordinance. Kristin Smith owns Four Paws and a Tail, a Blaine pet shop she describes as the last of its kind in the Twin Cities. “A lot of these ordinances are passed on feelings, rather than facts.” Her store works with reputable breeders, and while it isn’t directly affected by the St. Paul regulations, Smith is concerned about the impacts such an ordinance will have on anyone wishing to operate a pet store in St. Paul.

The council also received a letter of opposition from the American Kennel Club, which doesn’t want to see reputable dog breeders penalized.

Although a handful of St. Paul stores specialize in reptiles, fish or birds, St. Paul currently has no traditional pet shops where an array of creatures and pet supplies are sold. The last remaining shop, Petland in SunRay Center on the East Side, closed in February. That store had drawn numerous complaints about ill animals and concerns about the conditions in which dogs and cats sold there were bred.

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Como High School JROTC Toys for Tots

News from Como Park High School Jan. 2019

Posted on 13 January 2019 by Calvin

Compiled by ERIC ERICKSON, Social Studies Teacher

• The Como Choirs presented an upbeat Pops Concert on Dec. 17 to an entertained audience in the Como Auditorium. The choirs also performed for young audiences on December 20 at Chelsea Heights, Hamline, and Como elementary schools. Many of the high school choir kids enjoy the experience of singing at their former schools as part of the choir’s annual “tour” on the last day of school before winter break.

Como has five choirs conducted by Carole Whitney including the Chamber Singers, Concert Choir, Donna di Cantare, Soprano-Alto Choir, and Tenor-Bass Choir. (Photo right by Laura Erickson) 

• The Como Bands had two concerts scheduled for January in the Como Auditorium. The Jazz Band performed on Jan. 7. The Band and Orchestra Concert is scheduled for Tues., Jan. 22. The instrumental groups are conducted by Dr. Philip Fried.

• The Como Park Booster Club recently announced the recipients of its grant awards. The following programs and clubs will receive financial support based on their competitive applications: The Technovation Apps Club, Marine Corps JROTC, ELL classes, ELL—Easy English News, Spanish classes, Close Up Washington D.C., Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys’ Volleyball Club Team, the upcoming Como Culture Show and Community Potluck, and the Cougar Journal—Como’s literary magazine.

The Booster Club grants will help Como students expand access to a variety of programs, enhance and expand learning opportunities, gain leadership skills, attend events beyond the Como campus, and share their artistic expressions with Como Park High School and the community.

• Forty-eight cadets in the Marine Corps JROTC spent Sat., Dec. 15 volunteering in the Toys for Tots holiday drive. The community service project was organized and led by 11th-grade cadets Arely Sandoval Soto and Rosmery Moran-Osorio. (Photo left submitted)

• Sophomores in the Academy of Finance (AOF) spent a day at the Federal Reserve Bank on Jan. 8. AOF 10th graders all take the “Business in a Global Economy” course. A class project involves developing a business plan for selling an American candy to a foreign country. Students presented their projects to Federal Reserve staff, toured “The Fed,” networked, and had lunch.

• The National Honor Society (NHS) at Como is organizing a book drive to support students at Como Park Elementary School. Como’s NHS is coordinating with the Children’s Book Express, which is an organization that collects picture and chapter books and donates them to young, beginning readers.

Students and staff have begun bringing in books. The community is invited to support as well, so if you have any old children’s books that you are no longer using, please consider donating them to the cause! There is a big box in the main office where donations are being collected. NHS students will organize all deposits, and deliver what they hope will be their stated goal of 500 books.

• Progress in the remodeling and construction project within Como continues as the calendar has turned to 2019. Seven refurbished, upgraded classrooms in the west wing of the building along with two sets of new restroom areas were completed in the first half of January. Chemistry rooms are scheduled to be completed by the end of the month as well.

Work in the main office is on the horizon, which will lead to the temporary relocation of administration and clerks into various spaces, including the Athletics Office, starting in February. For more information on the construction project, readers can visit the Facilities Master Plan website at www.spps.org/comofmp.

• After 25 years of teaching social studies at Como Park High School, and nearly 40 years of coaching the Cougars in football, wrestling, and track, Roy Magnuson has retired from his full-time position in education. Magnuson began a new endeavor on Jan. 7 as the Public Information Officer for the Ramsey Country Sheriff’s Office.

Magnuson’s presence in the halls of Como will be missed in countless ways by staff and students alike. He has impacted the lives of thousands of students who are proud Como Alumni. However, Magnuson is excited about the opportunity to serve St. Paul and the county in a new capacity, and glad the Sheriff is agreeable to Magnuson still helping Como wrestling a couple of times a week.

• Como teacher and coach Jonah Fields was selected as a recipient of the District 10 Community Council’s Neighborhood Honor Roll. The annual, citywide recognition pays tribute to individuals who improve the quality of life in their community and make a sustained impact through service.

Fields is not only an educator at Como, but also a youth coach at Northwest Como Rec Center, and the organizer of the highly successful “Soccer Stars” program which connects youngsters in the neighborhood to Como Park High School players who lead fun and joyful soccer sessions. Fields will be recognized at the Honor Roll Ceremony on Jan. 25 at St. Thomas University.

• The Cougar girls’ basketball team has continued its winning ways into the new year. The team had a record of 10-1 as the Monitor went to press. The Cougars are ranked #6 in the state’s Class AAA rankings and have a team grade point average of 3.6.

Coach Alexis Gray-Lawson was presented the Emerging Leaders Humanitarian Award in a special ceremony at halftime of her team’s victory over Minneapolis North.

• Como’s Nordic Ski team trained in the Upper Peninsula of Northern Michigan for a couple of days during winter break. Coach Sasha Van Voorhis brought 15 members of the boys and girls teams to the ABR Ski Resort in Ironwood, MI. There was plenty of snow and many miles of groomed trails for skiers of all abilities to improve their technique, improve speed and have a unique team bonding experience.

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Hamline Midway Coalition Jan. 2019

Posted on 13 January 2019 by Calvin

By MELISSA CORTES, Community Organizer

Hamline Midway Coalition meets monthly on topics of development, transportation, and the environment.
• The Transportation Committee meets the first Tuesday of each month.
• The Development Committee meets the second Thursday of each month.
• The Board of Directors meets the third Tuesday of each month.
• The Environment Committee meets the fourth Monday of each month.

There are openings on all committees so please contact us if you have interest in attending or joining a committee. Great things can happen here!

Visit our website www.hamlinemidway.org/committees for more information about where they meet and what topics are being discussed.

Meetings are open to the public.

Neighborhood Honor Roll 2019
Each year, Saint Paul District Councils join together to celebrate and recognize the outstanding neighbors and volunteers that go above and beyond in our communities to make Saint Paul a better place to live, work, learn, and play. This event will be held at the University of St. Thomas Anderson Center: Woulfe Hall on Jan. 25, at 5:30pm. Tickets are available now for anyone to attend and can be found at www.hamlinemidway.org.

Please contact us if you have questions. Hamline Midway Honorees will be announced in the coming days. Find out more information on our website and social media.

Project of the Year
Pierce Butler Meadows Planting in Hamline Midway is nominated for Capitol Region Watershed District’s (CRWD) Project of the Year.
With over 90 volunteers in a week, 30 shrubs, 4 trees, and 1,560 native species were planted at the site. We want to thank Steve Mitrione, Professor Valentine Cadieux, Hamline University and Elementary students, Hmong College Prep Academy, Hamline Midway Coalition Board and Committee members, and the Hamline Midway residents for supporting this planting. Winner for CRWD’s Project of the Year will be announced this month.

This hard work and dedication to protecting and improving our lakes and the Mississippi River make this a project to celebrate with pride. Thank you!

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Como Community Council Corner Jan. 2019

Posted on 13 January 2019 by Calvin

By MICHAEL KUCHTA, Executive Director
The Como Community Council has selected Jonah Fields, Laura Flockencier, and Maggie Zimmerman as District 10’s 2019 additions to the Saint Paul Neighborhood Honor Roll. District 10’s honorees were among those nominated by neighborhood residents. A little bit about them, according to those who nominated them:
• Jonah Fields is a boys soccer coach at Como High School, where members of his team speak eight languages, many are refugees from Thailand, and some have never played before. Yet Jonah gets them to play together—well. Jonah also runs a children’s soccer clinic at Northwest Como Rec Center and coaches a summer team of U12 girls. Plus, those who know him say, he’s an “all-around good guy.”
• Laura Flockencier started Girl Scout Troop 55229 when her first daughter was in Daisies. She continues to lead the troop even though her own girls have aged out. She offers as many as 14 hours of activities per month, gives even more time than that to families, and has the girls involved in everything from camping to service projects, including the annual Como Park clean-up, leaf-raking for neighbors, and food and winter clothing drives.
• Maggie Zimmerman, who as District 10 Land Use chair navigates the head-on conflict between the Twin Cities German Immersion School’s expansion plans and the campaign to gain historic designation for the former St. Andrew’s church building. She maneuvers through this potential landmine with grace and humor and incredible mediation skills. Speaking of landmines: Zimmerman also helps moderate the Como Park Neighbors Facebook group. Plus, she delivers Meals on Wheels in the neighborhood.
The annual, citywide award recognizes individuals, groups, or organizations who make a sustained and lasting impact on the quality of life in their neighborhood and the city. Nominees from District 10 and the city’s 16 other planning districts will be celebrated at a ceremony on Jan. 25 at the University of St. Thomas. Ultimately, they will be immortalized with their names on a plaque at City Hall.

Upcoming District 10 meetings
• Environment Committee: Wed., Jan. 30.
• Neighborhood Relations and Safety Committee: Tues., Feb. 5.
• Land Use Committee: Tues., Feb. 12 (this meeting is rescheduled from its usual day).
• Como Community Council Monthly Meeting: Tues., Feb. 19.
All meetings typically begin at 7pm at the Como Park Streetcar Station, which is at the northeast corner of Lexington and Horton. Renters, homeowners, and other 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.

Streetcar Station hours
With the change of seasons, the Como Park Streetcar Station is now open only on the first Sunday of each month. But it is still a great chance to pick up organics recycling bags or kitchen starter kits or chat with a District 10 board member who is staffing the day. Hours remain the same: 12-4pm. Upcoming dates are Feb. 3 and Mar. 3. The Historic Streetcar Station is at the northeast corner of Lexington and Horton.

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Hamline Elementary cbe 1

Hamline Elementary News Jan. 2019

Posted on 13 January 2019 by Calvin

By Jessica Kopp

Student journalists
Snelling Connection, a newspaper written by Hamline Elementary students with the support of Hamline University student mentors (photo right submitted), recently published its fall issue. With articles ranging from new staff profiles to Hamline’s new Animal Care Program, to the Fall Festival, it’s a kids-eye view of what’s happening and important at Hamline. The twelve 4th and 5th-grade student journalists meet twice a week with their university mentors to learn both interview and writing skills and are currently working on the spring issue.

Book Express great success
Children’s Book Express, a book-sharing program at Hamline Elementary, just wrapped up its first year and the numbers are spectacular: over 1,000 books collected from the community and nearly 800 chosen by Hamline students and their families to take home. (Photo left provided.) New additions to the sharing shelf and collection box are always greeted by eager and curious students, happily hunting for their next reading adventure. These books ignite a love of reading and help families build their home libraries; big thanks to all the families and neighbors whose ongoing donations make this possible.

Winter Warm Up
Families exploring their PreK-5 options in St. Paul are invited to meet and chat with Hamline staff, families, and community partners to learn more about the people, programming, and partnerships that make us one-of-a-kind in St. Paul at our Open House on Thur., Jan. 24, from 4:30-6:30pm. And while you’re visiting, be sure to join our school community for our annual Winter Warm Up with games and activities throughout the building and snacks in the cafeteria. All are welcome—we hope to see you there!

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