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GUEST OPINION: TCGIS

Posted on 13 January 2019 by Calvin

Twin Cities German Immersion School – a public school, committed to its students, teachers, and the Como neighborhood

By Julie Alkatout and Dianne Bell, Board Members,  Twin Cities German Immersion School
It is an exciting time for the Twin Cities German Immersion School (TCGIS), as we enter our 14th year as a public charter school in St. Paul, and make plans for a significant campus improvement project. After renting our first two locations in St. Paul, we were thrilled to invest in the future of TCGIS with the purchase of our current Como site in 2013. At that time, the vacant 1950s era school building and decommissioned church were vastly underutilized and undermaintained.

We breathed new life into the property by remodeling the classroom building, bringing it up to code for modern school use, and physically connecting it to the former church. We adaptively reused the former sanctuary as our gymnasium and the former basement fellowship hall as our school cafeteria. Now we have the opportunity to provide our students and staff with a purpose-built educational facility to meet programming needs with more classrooms, small group learning spaces, dividable regulation-sized gymnasium, and above-ground light-filled cafeteria.

With the success of our public school, we have a waitlist for enrollment and less than typical attrition for a language immersion school, with full class ranks maintaining through 8th grade. Along with the demand for our K-8 school comes the demand for homes in the surrounding neighborhood. When relocating, our families and staff often choose to live closer to TCGIS. Two families have purchased, remodeled, and increased the value of once foreclosed properties within one block of our campus.

Teachers and families have elected to relocate to St. Paul from other states and even other countries specifically to be part of TCGIS. We also have families that already lived in the neighborhood and were incentivized to stay when their children enrolled at TCGIS through the standard lottery process of a public school. Currently, over 50 District 10 children attend TCGIS, and approximately half of our students live in the city of St. Paul.

Our school strives to be an integrated and active member of the Como community and the city of St. Paul. Since 2016, we have been collaborating with St. Paul Central High School, to feed TCGIS graduates from any city directly into St. Paul’s Central High School, where the students can continue developing their hard-earned German language fluency through an advanced German program available only at Central. In 2018, half of our graduates elected to take this route.

In addition, we improved the TCGIS school grounds by converting expansive pavement to greener playground. We installed beautiful rain gardens as pollinator habitats and underground water collection systems to manage stormwater and prevent polluted runoff from entering Lake Como, an effort that earned TCGIS a nomination for the Capitol Region Watershed District’s Watershed Partner of the Year Award last month​.

Our parent-teacher organization put on an Oktoberfest 5K Fun Run around Lake Como and invited everyone to participate. Our teachers schedule volunteer days for the students to make an impact by picking up trash around Lake Como and the neighborhood. The school playground serves as a community meeting place for neighborhood families and kids. National Night Out for the neighborhood has been hosted at the TCGIS playground. Our energetic school becomes very quiet throughout summer, weekends, and anytime school is not in session, which cumulatively equates to over half the year. We think the neighborhood benefits from a vibrant and stable public school that is committed to the neighborhood.

We truly strive to be a good neighbor and have taken action to improve our impact on the neighborhood during the busy traffic times of a school day. When TCGIS first moved into the neighborhood in 2013, the school didn’t have a busing program. TCGIS now collaborates with nearby Great River School to provide busing to both schools. The inaugural bus program offered two routes, which has grown to the five school bus routes currently available. These five buses transport one-third of our students to and from school and many students walk, bike or carpool, greatly reducing the number of TCGIS vehicles driving into the neighborhood. Our supportive parent-teacher organization hosts regional picnics at the start of each school year to help TCGIS families make connections and arrange carpools.

Setting us up for safety during school release time, we often see our school’s principal and director of curriculum outside wearing safety vests and directing cars in the pickup line. With the goal of improving operational efficiency, the administration implemented the PikMyKid app to allow parents to announce their arrival to staff pick-up coordinators. In October, TCGIS hosted a meeting to discuss traffic safety with a City of St. Paul civil engineer and brainstorm ideas for improving operations.

For the building project permit process, we prioritized and commissioned an independent traffic impact study at a cost of over $12,000 to the school. The preliminary results from this study were shared with the City’s civil engineer and the study’s recommendation to modify the signal light timing at Lexington/Como during school peak times has already been implemented.

Our proposed site plan with the replacement of the small east parking lot with a larger playground will also have a positive impact on traffic safety. Removing this parking lot and driveway takes away the hazard of one interaction zone between vehicles and pedestrians.

The resulting longer stretch of continuous curb will create a safer line of buses or cars during drop-off and pick-up. In November, the administration began assigning additional staff to assist as crossing guards, to encourage pedestrians to use a dedicated crossing zone at Como and Oxford safely by stopping oncoming traffic for the pedestrians.

To address historical parking complaints from residents on Van Slyke, the administration asked staff not to park along Van Slyke to leave spots open for residents. Staff honor that request and there is always ample parking available. In response to the traffic study’s recommendation to minimize parking along Como Ave., the administration now has requested staff and parents refrain from parking on Como Ave. as well. In addition to all these efforts, we are continuing the conversation with the city regarding the Safe Routes to School Program. TCGIS administration is eager to collaborate, make improvements, and get results.

We look forward to our new school facility and the continued vibrancy and success of TCGIS—one of Como’s public schools. We value our place in the Como neighborhood and ask for your understanding and support throughout this campus improvement process.

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Zoning Commission holds off vote on TCGIS expansion plans

Posted on 13 January 2019 by Calvin

Delay gives school and community time to reach agreements on parking, traffic, pedestrian safety, and sound issues

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN
Given the unresolved issues regarding parking, traffic and playground noise at the Twin Cities German Immersion School, the District 10 Board asked the St. Paul Zoning Commission to hold off on decisions that would facilitate the school’s expansion project.
While the District 10 Board approved three variance requests on Tues., Dec. 18, it delayed action on the school’s site plan believing it to be incomplete.

During a Dec. 20, 2018, Zoning Commission meeting, District 10 Executive Director Michael Kuchta asked the commission to table action to give the school, city staff, and community time to “fully review, deliberate and reach agreements” on various issues.

“The plan, as it currently exists, is incomplete,” wrote Kuchta in a letter to the commission. “It should not be approved until numerous areas of uncertainty are settled. Parking, traffic, pedestrian safety, and sound and sight buffering of the school’s play areas all are specific issues that remain unresolved.”

Kuchta cited uncertainty about how many on-site parking spaces the school needs and how that might be addressed.

He pointed out that city staff and the community have not had adequate time to review a 200-page traffic study submitted by the school. “It is unclear what actions city staff will require in areas such as traffic flow, student drop-off and pick-up, bus parking, crosswalk treatments, a Safe Routes to School plan, and related issues,” Kuchta wrote. “Especially because of the high percentage of private vehicles that transport students, these decisions have intense impacts on quality of life in the immediate residential neighborhood.”

He also pointed out that the school’s playground is unusually close to nearby residences.

“These are issues that exist today—and will continue to exist—regardless of what form the school’s expansion takes,” stated Kuchta.

The Zoning Commission agreed to table the issue following a four-hour hearing, and the school agreed to extend the legal deadline for review by 14 days to accommodate this.

The Zoning Commission will next review the issue on Jan. 17, and send a final recommendation to the Planning Commission on Jan. 25. The city council could review this on March 6.

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NAACP opposes TCGIS expansion

Posted on 13 January 2019 by Calvin

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN
The NAACP opposes the proposed expansion of the Twin Cities German Immersion School.

In a statement issued in December, the St. Paul NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) explained its reason for opposition: “We believe that it will exacerbate the racial and socioeconomic segregation in the St. Paul schools.”
The NAACP sees this as a larger problem involving charter schools in general.

At the 107th National Convention in July 2017, the NAACP passed a resolution calling for a moratorium on charter school expansion. The resolution stated, “charter schools have contributed to the increased segregation rather than diverse integration of our public school system.”

According to the Minnesota Department of Education, TCGIS’ student population is 87% white, 13% students of color, and 7% low-income (qualifying for free-or-reduced-price lunch). In contrast, the surrounding school district, St. Paul Public Schools, is 21% white, 79% students of color, and 68% low-income.

“Expansion of such a predominantly white and relatively wealthy charter school in the heart of the city would frustrate efforts to desegregate St. Paul schools and contribute to further racial and socioeconomic segregation,” the NAACP stated.

“The concerns of local educational policy are highly germane to the decision-making of any city governmental body. Racial and socioeconomic segregation in our schools is the responsibility of all government officials to eradicate, and it is certainly their obligation to avoid any decision to make things worse. Education has a special place in our society. The Minnesota State Constitution singles out education to receive special protection and requires unique obligations by the state to provide an adequate education to all students. Courts since Brown v. Board of Education have found that segregated education is both unconstitutional and immoral.”

The NAACP urged the Planning Commission and all other city officials involved to reject the proposed expansion and prevent further segregation of local schools.”

The St. Paul NAACP is part of a national network of more than 2,400 branches of the NAACP in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The NAACP has more than 500,000 members and is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. The mission of the NAACP is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of all persons, and to protect constitutional rights.

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Street changes near Allianz Field please some, rile others

Posted on 13 January 2019 by Calvin

By JANE MCCLURE
As Allianz Field is prepared for an April opening, neighborhood streets continue to change. A proposal to convert one block of Roy between Spruce Tree Dr. to Shields Ave. from one-way northbound to two-way status won a vote of support Jan. 2 from the Union Park District Council (UPDC), following a December recommendation from its Transportation Committee.

Although the Roy St. section eyed for change is one small block, it could mean big changes for the adjacent neighborhood. It is part of a larger residential permit parking district. The block has three houses and an apartment building on one side, and a church on the other side. The street is used for parking by the adjacent Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 436 N. Roy St., and the nearby Central Baptist Church, 420 N. Roy St.

Committee support is with conditions. One request is that parking on both sides of the Roy block is retained. The second is to improve signage to reduce motorists’ confusion. Signage on nearby University Ave. that directs motorists to turn south on Fry St. to reach Spruce Tree Dr. and avoid the busy University and Snelling avenues intersection should be looked at and possibly removed. Another request is for the city to continue to seek neighborhood input as the change moves forward.

UPDC would also like a one-year follow-up on the change so that the St. Paul Department of Public Works could determine what, if any, impacts the changes have.

A final decision on the street configuration goes to the St. Paul City Council for a public hearing and final vote. That process is expected to take about 60 days and would wrap up by the time the stadium opens. Property owners along the street will be notified before the council hearing. If the change is approved, changed street signs will go up in the spring.

Street issues tied to soccer stadium construction have been a bone of contention between city officials and UPDC. One year ago, the district council passed a resolution outlining its values for pedestrian safety at access with the stadium project. “New development in the area, and at Spruce Tree Dr. and Snelling specifically, will increase pedestrian demand at that intersection,” the resolution stated.

UPDC expressed opposition to a median fence on Snelling between University and Shields avenues, stating it is inconsistent with the high-density, pedestrian-oriented streetscape envisioned by the Snelling Station Area Plan and the Snelling Midway Redevelopment Site Master Plan. The district council called for retaining a pedestrian crossing at Source Tree Dr. and asked the city and Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) to consider a well-marked, unsignalized pedestrian crossing with a refuge median on Snelling at Spruce Tree Dr.

Instead, the city and MnDOT erected the long median and fence, with a small gate at Spruce Tree Dr. that will only be open on game days. The Spruce Tree Dr. signals came down several weeks ago. The signals at Shields were installed last week. Shields is extending east of Snelling into the Midway Center superblock bounded by Pascal St. and St. Anthony, Snelling and University avenues. Shields will extend west to Pascal and will be in front of the new stadium.

The change to Roy is part of the larger traffic plan for Allianz Field. One reason for the change is access to the Spruce Tree Centre parking ramp. Spruce Tree is at 1600 University Ave., the southwest corner of Snelling and University. Since the retail-office building opened in 1988, vehicles could access its parking ramp by turning from Snelling onto Spruce Tree Dr. But, the median and removal of signals prevents that.

The two-way change is part of the greater stadium traffic plan, said Elizabeth Stiffler, project manager for Public Works.

The two-way street proposal generated some debate on social media. But only a few neighbors attend the Transportation Committee meeting. Joel Lawrence, senior pastor at Central Baptist Church, said that while he understands why the change was proposed, he does have concerns. One issue is retention of on-street parking, which both churches use on Sundays. Stiffler said parking would remain. Roy in that block is about 32 feet wide.

Lawrence also said better signage is needed, as well as attention to traffic speeds. Committee members agreed and asked Public Works to monitor those issues after the change is approved.

The change on Roy from two-way to one-way was made in 1967 by City Council ordinance. Stiffler said records don’t show why the change was made. Committee member and lifelong St. Paul resident Pete Clasen said the change was made in response to the construction of Interstate 94 so that Roy wouldn’t become a cut-through street for motorists seeking a faster route to the interstate. Roy’s current south end configuration wouldn’t allow for easy freeway access.

Another issue the committee discussed was Spruce Tree Dr. use. Since 1988 Spruce Tree Dr. has functioned as a bypass for motorists. Those traveling east on University or north on Snelling used Spruce Tree Dr. to avoid the Snelling-University intersection, which has long ranked as one of the busiest and most polluted in the state. The turning movement from northbound Snelling is now cut off with the median. The southbound turn to Snelling is made more challenging with the removal of the traffic light.

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Emerald ash borer continues to ravish St. Paul budget

Emerald ash borer continues to ravish St. Paul budget

Posted on 13 January 2019 by Calvin

By JANE MCCLURE
The battle with emerald ash borer continues in 2019 in St. Paul and around the region. The city’s structured removal program starts this month, with a map and schedules to be released soon. But the pesky insects are moving through St. Paul neighborhoods faster than city forestry crews and dollars can keep up. The goal of the Department of Parks and Recreation is to eradicate the pests by 2024. But that will mean more city and outside funding is needed.

Removal of trees is to get underway this month, in the neighborhoods north and east of Lake Como. Dozens of trees are affected in an area roughly bounded by Milton St., California Ave., Dale St. and Ivy Ave.

Cottage Ave. and Avon and Alameda streets will be among those hard-hit by tree removal.

Several East Side neighborhoods and parts of Highland, Frogtown, and Summit-University will also lose trees. Property owners should have received postcards by now.

Not only is emerald ash borer a focus in the city’s 2019 budget, but it is also called out in the legislative agenda adopted Dec. 19 by the St. Paul City Council. ThaoMee Xiong, intergovernmental relations director for St. Paul, said the city is asking state lawmakers to provide funding to help St. Paul and other cities deal with the pests. That would help cities identify, remove, replace and treat infested trees, through an ongoing grant program with annual funding. A specific dollar amount wasn’t given.

City officials have had mixed success in obtaining state assistance since 2009 when emerald ash borer was found in South St. Anthony Park. That gave St. Paul the dubious distinction of being the first city in Minnesota where the pests were found. Almost the entire city is now directly affected by the insects.

The rising costs of tree removal and replacement are a worry for parks administration and City Council members. But as emerald ash borers spread throughout the state, competition for state grant funding is going to increase. Minneapolis has a special property tax levy for its tree removal and replanting budget.

With emerald ash borer, the insects’ spread and tree loss accelerate a decade after the first insects are found. St. Paul is hitting the 10-year mark in 2019.

Department of Parks and Recreation Director Mike Hahm outlined how the pests have bored holes into the city’s budget. The 2018 city budget included more than $1 million in general fund money and $1.5 million in state funding, for a total of $2.593 million to remove and replant trees. The state’s 2017 bonding bill provided the $1.5 million grant to support tree removal and replanting in St. Paul. That grant doesn’t continue into 2019.

The 2019 budget has $1.343 million in ongoing funding, and $1.196 million in one-time funding to continue last year’s level of service into this year. The budget totaled $2.593 million in 2018 and is at $2.539 million in 2019, for a reduction of more than $53,000.
Having more resources in place will allow the parks forestry staff to address emerald ash borer in a more equitable fashion, rather than simply responding to complaints, said Hahm.

Parks had hoped to remove as many as 5,456 trees in 2019, in its budget proposal to Mayor Melvin Carter. But the approved budget for this year allows for removal of about 2,153 trees.

Trees infested with emerald ash borer die over time and their branches become very brittle and fall. Emerald ash borer larvae kill ash trees by tunneling under tree bark and feeding on the trees’ circulatory systems, which move nutrients up and down the trunks.
According to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, the insects are now found in 17 Minnesota counties and in 35 states around the country.

Minnesota is highly susceptible to the destruction caused by the pests, according to state officials. That’s because Minnesota has approximately one billion ash trees, the most of any state in the nation.

The spread of emerald ash borer has meant that St. Paul has lost many of its ash trees already. Chemical treatments and even stingless wasps have been tried to at least slow the insects’ spread.

Between 2009 and 2017, city crew removed 9,360 of an estimated 26,540 boulevard ash trees and 1,020 of the roughly 10,000 ash trees in its parks.

The 2019 budget calls for removing 1,565 ash trees from boulevards in 2019 and that same number of trees each year after that through 2024. That would leave more than 6,200 ash trees still standing.

In parks, 588 ash trees are targeted for removal in 2019. Removal that same number of trees each year through 2024 would leave more than 4,000 trees still standing.

But that could take a big bite out of the budget, with estimates for boulevard trees rising from almost $3.8 million in 2020 to almost $7.5 million in 2024. For parks, the estimates rise from $1.8 million in 2020 to $4.3 million in 2024.

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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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