Upgrade of University Ave. Fire Station 20 delayed yet again

Posted on 08 October 2018 by Calvin

The long-awaited replacement of the West Midway’s Fire Station 20 (2179 University Ave.) will wait for a few more years. A proposed $1 million allocation to start the station relocation and replacement process has been zeroed out of the city’s 2019 Long-Range Capital Improvement Budget (CIB). The change, proposed by Mayor Melvin Carter’s administration, was reviewed by the CIB Committee in September. It will be adopted at year’s end as part of the city’s overall 2019 budget.

The budget calls for moving $500,000 to the East Side’s Fire Station 7. Another $500,000 was moved to Rice Recreation Center in the North End. Funds for both projects will be used to plan new facilities.

A check with Midway Chamber of Commerce and area district councils indicated that people weren’t aware of the proposed budget change.

East Side’s Station 7 was a flash­point in last year’s city budget process because adding a medic rig there took away a fire engine. The new, larger station would allow a fire engine to return to Station 7, said Ward Seven Council Member Jane Prince.

Fire Chief Butch Inks presented plans showing Station 7 being completed in 2020-21. The planning and construction process For Station 20 would then start in 2020-21.

Inks said replacement of Station 20 is also an infrastructure need. Station 7 was built in 1930. Station 20 was built in 1921.

Station 20 serves parts of the West Midway, Merriam Park and St. Anthony Park. Earlier this year an ambulance was added there to meet a growing demand for medical services, under a plan announced by Carter. The closest ambulances were at Station 23 (1926 Como Ave.) or Station 14 (111 Snelling Ave. N.) Moving the ambulance was hailed as an improvement for public safety.

A fire engine was moved from Station 7 to Station 20, tripling the number of rigs there from one to three. But that sparked the battle to get the engine back to the East Side.

Replacement of Station 20 has been discussed for more than two decades. Studies over the years, including the 2017 TriData consultants’ study, indicates the city has gaps in fire service coverage, including West Midway. The need becomes more pronounced with redevelopment along the Green Line light rail, where many new housing units have been added.

Another need that has been raised is fire safety at the Westrock, formerly RockTenn, paper recycling plant one block south of Station 20. It is the only one of WestRock’s facilities that doesn’t have an on-site fire station. Company officials have long contended that the lack of fire protection has stymied efforts to expand and upgrade facilities.

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Como Homecoming

AP Scholars, Election Season, and Como Homecoming History

Posted on 08 October 2018 by Calvin

Compiled by ERIC ERICKSON, Social Studies Teacher

• The national Advanced Placement (AP) Exam results administered by the College Board were released to school coordinators in September. The information revealed that Como students earned hundreds of college credits. AP scores are categorized on a five-point scale for each test taken in a specific subject, with colleges and universities generally awarding credit for scores of 3, 4 or 5.

The rigor of AP courses and the effort put forth by students to succeed in them is optimal preparation for future college studies, regardless of test scores. Experience in AP is also favorable to students in college admission decisions, demonstrating a commitment to challenging study in courses of a student’s interests, according to the College Board.

The College Board also revealed its individual student awards which are based on multiple exams across a variety of disciplines being passed at high levels. “AP Scholar” status is granted to students who receive scores of 3 or higher on three or more AP exams.

Como AP Scholars include Najma Ali, Kajsa Andersson, Ruby Beckman, Sunniva Burg, Amira Boler, Mark Brenner, Carter Brown, Roan Buck, Bridger Carlson, John Conway, Jared Czech, Nora Ellingsen, William Farley, Thomas Freberg, William Gray, Alexandra Harris, Asha Hassan, Olivia Helmin, Willow Hollister-Lapointe, Nicholas Jacobsen, Naddi Jillo, Zach Konkol, Georgia Langer, Song Lee, Abby Levin, Khyri Lueben, Olivia Mancia Chavez, Toe Meh, Jordan Moritz, Asia Nor, Alistair Pattison, Anthony Phelps, Serena Raths, Mason Salverda, Shyann Salverda, Mario Sanchez-Lopez, Chris Schanks, Lila Seeba, Sawyer Wall, and Emma Wallisch.

The AP Scholar with Honor award is granted to students who earn an average score of at least 3.25 on all AP exams taken, and scores of 3 or higher on four or more of these exams. Como AP Scholars with Honor include Lucas Carmichael-Tanaka, Elijah Frese, Eva Hanson, Jacob Kingson, Joseph Newman, Bridget Proper, Gabriel Reynolds, and Isak Stillwell-Jardine.

The AP Scholar with Distinction is granted to students who receive an average score of at least 3.5 on all AP exams taken, and scores of 3 or higher on five or more of these exams. Como AP Scholars with Distinction include Aiyana Aeikens, Arlo Beckman, Stephen Boler, Arturo di Girolamo, Henrie Friesen, Isaac Haker, Chloe Hollister-Lapointe, Jackson Lee, Celia Olson, Thomas Quinn, Peter Schik, Antero Sivula, and Dina Thoresen.

National AP Scholar is a classification granted to students in the U.S. who earn an average score of at least 4 on all AP exams taken, and scores of 4 or higher on eight or more of these exams. Como’s National AP Scholars include Christian Berger, Dylan Brady, Grace Commers, Noah Frese, Jackson Kerr, Eli Pattison, Vincent Portuese, and Dominic Wolters.

Como’s long-established AP program continues to challenge and support students opting to study rigorous courses of their choosing at the college level in over 20 subjects taught by College Board certified Como teachers.

• The National Merit Scholarship Program has recognized (photo l to r) Antero Sivula, Jackson Lee, and Peter Schik  from Como’s class of 2019 for their academic excellence. They each received a Letter of Commendation for their exceptional academic promise and outstanding potential, demonstrated through their coursework and performance on the PSAT and National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

• Over 20 Como seniors enrolled in AP Government and Politics classes will be serving as Ramsey County Election Judges in the upcoming Nov. 6 election. The non-partisan service to the community is a wonderful opportunity to promote the democratic process and ensure fairness in the administration of elections. Students will receive training and then work at their local precincts along with a team of judges.

Como students will also be participating in the “Students Vote” state-wide election sponsored by the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office. Before election day, AP Government and Politics students will monitor and facilitate an election in which all Como students will have the chance to practice voting procedure in our democracy. Students will use the official Minnesota ballot, and Como’s results will be reported to the state where they’ll be tabulated along with other participating schools, creating interesting data for classroom analysis.

• Como’s Debate team has been busy practicing since the second week of school and has already had its first competition. For several of the new team members, the Minnesota Debate Teachers Association (MDTA) Jamboree held at Wayzata High School was their first competitive experience. The event turned out to be a confidence-building opportunity for those in the “novice” division, as well as the varsity returners.

Last year, two Como debaters qualified for the state tournament while all participants improved their research skills and oral presentations. Coach Deb Hansmeier and the team are excited about the possibilities for growth again this year.

• Homecoming week events at Como (photo right submitted) were festive and fun with spirit days in school, a pep fest, coronation, and “Battle of the Classes” on Sept. 28. On Friday night, it was a soccer doubleheader under the lights as the varsity boys’ and girls’ teams celebrated senior night with convincing victories over Johnson.

Saturday included a parade and for the first time—the homecoming football game was played on the Como campus. The new turf field made that possible, even though some basic amenities are still lacking. Local food trucks stepped in to provide concession options, and a portable, low-volume sound system was allowed to be utilized.

The Cougars lost the football game, but it was a joyful community gathering. Overall, homecoming week was well-orchestrated and full of positive activity thanks to the hard work of the Como Park Booster Club and Como staff.

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Little Grocery

Little Grocery on University turns tobacco shop, seeks variance

Posted on 08 October 2018 by Calvin

The Little Grocery, 1724 University Ave., has applied for a variance of 40’ to become a “tobacco product shop” this fall. Tobacco products shops in St. Paul need to be at least one-half mile, or 2,640 feet apart. The Little Grocery is 40’ short of the half-mile limit and have asked for a variance. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)

St. Paul’s upcoming restrictions on menthol products sales have business owners scrambling to retain the ability to sell such products. The Little Grocery, 1724 University Ave., wishes to get out of the grocery business and become a tobacco product shop this fall, with a separation distance variance approved Sept. 10 by the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA). But that decision has been appealed to the St. Paul City council, which will hear the request in late October or November.

The BZA vote was 4-2 for approval with Robert Clarksen, Luis Rangel Morales, Danielle Swift and Diane Trout-Oertel voting for the variance and Gloria Bogen and Thomas Sailor against.

Little Grocery owner Mussie Embaye is converting the grocery store into a tobacco shop because many of his sales are of menthol-flavored tobacco products. About 75 percent of the store’s sales as a convenience store are of tobacco products.

In 2017 the St. Paul City Council voted to restrict the sale of menthol-flavored tobacco products to tobacco shops. At the time of the City Council vote, anti-tobacco advocates contended that menthol-flavored products are more heavily used by young people and people of color, putting them at risk for negative health impacts.

The ban was delayed to give stores time to sell out existing inventory. Convenience stores, grocery stores, and other retailers must stop selling the menthol-flavored products by Nov. 1. A few small grocery and convenience stores have already renovated their buildings to separate tobacco sales from other products. For Embaye, who rents his space, it is just easier to drop milk, bread, and eggs, and just sell tobacco.

Tobacco products shops in St. Paul need to be at least one-half mile or 2,640 feet apart. 1724 University Ave. is 2,600 feet from Vape Pros, 681 N. Snelling Ave. Vape Pros sells e-cigarettes and accessories. E-cigarettes in St. Paul are regulated in the same way that tobacco products are, so shops selling those items fall under the tobacco products restrictions.

A variance of 40 feet is needed to allow for the new shop to open. It’s the second tobacco products shop distance requirement waiver the BZA has passed in three months. In July the board approved a 240-foot variance between two Rice St. shops. The board will hear a third request soon.

Embaye said he has little choice but to change his store. “Everything I am asking for is in reaction to what the city has done,” said Embaye. His convenience store, which he recently closed, wouldn’t be profitable if he cannot sell menthol-flavored tobacco products. Embaye believes it makes more sense for him to sell tobacco.

“It’s the only viable option I have at this point,’ he said. By becoming a tobacco product shop, the University Ave. storefront can have more than 90 percent of its sales from tobacco products, including the sale of cigarettes, cigars, pipes, loose tobacco, plants, herbs, and smoking devices.

BZA members debated the impact the latest variance would have. Bogen said Embaye could still sell other tobacco products in his store, just not those that are menthol-flavored. She said the variance doesn’t meet all of the required findings for approval, and that not meeting the distance requirement isn’t a hardship.

Other BZA members said the request is reasonable. “The applicant is at a disadvantage because menthol cigarettes are what sells,” said Trout-Oertel.

The Association for Nonsmokers Minnesota and Aurora-St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation youth program representatives objected to the variance, citing the detrimental impacts of tobacco on public health. Jeanne Weigum of ANSR-Minnesota said the area is already “heavily blanketed’ with tobacco licenses. She said that issuing distance variances “flies in the face of the City Council’s intent” in limiting access to menthol-flavored tobacco products.

BZA staff recommended approval of the variance, citing the business’s location in a commercial district, the fact that Little Grocery has long sold tobacco products and the distance requirement hardship. BZA staff member Jerome Benner II said the 40-foot variance request is reasonable and should be granted. Union Park District Council made no recommendation.

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Fix It Cafe 1

Mending and sustainability go hand-in-hand for Mobile Menders

Posted on 08 October 2018 by Calvin

When Como resident Jenny Losey learned about Mobile Menders in August 2017, she quickly signed on as a volunteer.

“I thought it sounded like a really unique way to do something I enjoyed while helping out the community,” recalled Losey.

Today, she serves as the group’s Community Outreach Coordinator and also helps organize the Dress for Success event in the Midway area.

Photo right: The mission of Mobile Menders includes education. Como resident Jenny Losey staffs a table during an event. On average, an American throws away 70 pounds of clothing and textiles per year. From January through August 2018, Mobile Menders’ 245 volunteers have repaired about 1,350 pounds of clothing. (Photo submitted)

“We live in a society that quickly makes assumptions about a person based on their appearance—including how they dress. Being able to help people have clothing that fits, zips, and looks decent helps provide a measure of dignity to someone no matter what their situation is,” remarked Losey. “On a broader level, helping to teach people about sustainability and mending helps reduce waste in our community which in turn creates a better environment for us all.”

On average, an American throws away 70 pounds of clothing and textiles per year. From January through August 2018, Mobile Menders’ 245 volunteers have repaired about 1,350 pounds of clothing.

“We are helping keep clothes and textiles out of the landfills by mending items and educating people how important it is to mend your clothing and textiles,” stated Mobile Menders Founder Michelle Ooley, who is passionate about helping people understand how their choices can affect the environment.

“Recycling is such a powerful word, and people can feel overwhelmed,” observed Ooley. “Getting your clothes mended is a simple way to start.”

Ooley is a self-taught seamstress who learned by reading various sewing blogs and watching videos. It involved a lot of trial and error and a good seam ripper, she remarked.

She was inspired to form Mobile Menders after volunteering at an Earth Day work event through her employer at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency in April 2017.

Photo right: “Clothes are so important to people, and they hold such a powerful emotional connection,” commented Mobile Menders founder Michelle Ooley. “We all have a favorite shirt, sweatshirt or pants. A story often goes along with an article of clothing. I’ve met some truly wonderful people that volunteer with Mobile Menders. It’s not only providing a much-needed resource to the community, but also to the volunteers and myself. It really is something to witness when you can mend someone’s shirt when they didn’t think you could.” (Photo submitted)

At a Fix-It Clinic event held at Union Gospel Mission, Ooley hemmed pants, replaced buttons, and fixed rips.

With one hour left, a man named Jim came up to her with two items needing repair: a bathrobe with a rip in the seam and a jacket that needed a new zipper. She told Jim that she could repair his bathrobe, but the jacket would need additional time. She asked for his cell phone number and told him she would replace the zipper and return the jacket in about two weeks.

“He couldn’t believe that I would do that for him,” recalled Ooley.

Two weeks later, Ooley met up with Jim to return the jacket. “Jim was moved to tears when I gave him his repaired jacket. He said it was the nicest thing anyone had ever done for him,” said Ooley. She was moved to tears, as well.

She knew she had to do something more. Mobile Menders was born.

Emotional connection to clothes
“Clothes are so important to people, and they hold such a powerful emotional connection,” commented Ooley.

“We all have a favorite shirt, sweatshirt or pants. A story often goes along with an article of clothing. I’ve met some truly wonderful people that volunteer with Mobile Menders. It’s not only providing a much-needed resource to the community, but also to the volunteers and myself. It really is something to witness when you can mend someone’s shirt when they didn’t think you could.”

She is always touched by the joy on a child’s face after their stuffed animal is repaired at a mending event. “Every item that someone brings to an event is important to them, so it’s important to us,” said Ooley.

Photo left: Mobile Menders volunteers have a variety of skills. Some sew at events and others act as greeters. (Photo submitted)

Losey remembers fixing a sweatshirt that had once belonged to the owner’s sister who passed away. Her cat had ripped it up, and it needed some patching. Another time, she worked on letting out a suit coat for a man at a recovery center who didn’t think he’d ever own another suit in his lifetime.

While Losey loves to sew, it wasn’t always that way. Her mom tried teaching her to sew when she was in middle school, but she couldn’t complete a project without a lot of help, so she gave up on it.

“About two years ago, I decided to try and tackle making Halloween costumes for my kids, and got the sewing bug,” she said. “I found a large online community of sewists and lots of YouTube tutorials to help me out when I got stuck, and quickly progressed into sewing a lot of my own clothes.”

Mending in the neighborhood
Mobile Menders was part of a Ramsey County Fix-It Clinic at Black Stack Brewing (755 N. Prior Ave.) on Sept. 22, and returned to the neighborhood for several events in October.

Mobile Menders had a table at the Hamline Elementary School’s Fall Festival on Oct. 6 for the second year in a row and demonstrated how to take an old t-shirt and turn it into a reusable bag.

Photo right: Mobile Menders was part of a Ramsey County Fix-It Clinic at Black Stack Brewing (755 N. Prior Ave.) on Sept. 22, and returned to the neighborhood for several events in October. The next one will be at Galtier Community School to offer a Make Your Own Superhero Cape during the Fall Festival on Thursday evening, Oct. 25. (Photo submitted)

Also in October, Mobile Menders began a partnership with Hamline Elementary School to provide free mending services to the students and their families in their Family Resource Room. “It’s a project that we have been working on for several months and are excited to get it started,” remarked Ooley.

Mobile Menders will also return to Galtier Community School to offer a Make Your Own Superhero Cape during the Fall Festival on Thursday evening, Oct. 25. Last year, over 150 fleece capes and masks were handed out to students. Each student then had the opportunity to go to a station and decorate a cape.

Like an old-fashioned quilting circle
“Mending events remind me of old-fashioned quilting circles where we all sit around talking and sewing,” remarked Losey. “I’ve met so many amazing people—both volunteers and the clients bringing in clothing to be mended. Lots of them stick around to chat or learn what we’re doing to their clothing, and I’ve heard all sorts of interesting stories.”

Some Mobile Menders volunteers sew, and others act as greeters at events.

“We all have different skills and it’s so cool to sit at a table and have a variety of people all work together to solve a mending problem,” observed Ooley. “It’s very collaborative in nature.”
For more information go to www.mobilemendersewing.com.

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Proposed Snelling development west of stadium is further refined

Posted on 08 October 2018 by Calvin

Five-story development could house 18,000-sq-ft of retail, and about 200 residential units, 200 parking spaces

Wellington Management’s hope to build a five-story mixed-use development west of the Allianz Field Major League Soccer stadium needs support from Union Park District Council (UPDC) and city officials, if the project is to expand to its full potential. The council’s land use committee is expected to vote as soon as Oct. 15 on a support request to purchase state-owned property.

Wellington wants to demolish the current Bremer Bank at 427 N. Snelling Ave. The site would be redeveloped with a new bank branch and Walgreens store on the first floor, and four stories of housing above. The first-floor retail space would be about 18,000-sq-ft that could house Walgreens and the bank, or the bank and up to three smaller tenants. The development would have about 200 housing units, with a mix of micro-unit/studios, one and two-bedroom units.

The St. Paul-based developer would like to purchase Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT)-owned land south of the bank. David Wellington, director of acquisitions and development for Wellington Management, told the district council land use committee in September some of the state property could be used for the new building. Some land could provide green space for residents and the surrounding community.

But acquiring the land means going through a state process. One option is for the city Department of Planning and Economic Development to work with the state on a land sale. That’s been done in several neighborhoods over the years.

Another way is to see if MnDOT would put the property up for sale on its own. The latter method has its risks as Wellington could get outbid by another developer.

A letter of support from the district council would be helpful, Wellington said. Land use committee members said while they’d be interested in supporting the land sale, they want more details.

The property was cleared in the 1960s when Interstate 94 was built and has been vacant since then. Various neighborhood visioning processes have come up with ideas for the property, which is sometimes occupied by people who are homeless. Ideas have included a park and active space.

Wellington said the project would be the first market-rate housing project near Green Line light rail in the area east of Fairview Ave. All other housing built on or near the light rail line in the past few years east of Fairview has been affordable housing.

About 200 parking spaces for residents and customers would be underground and on the first floor.
The first floor, which would be 18 feet in height, would have at-grade parking and a small parking deck.

The development has been through a number of iterations since a July presentation to the committee, including expansion to Roy St., said Wellington. Plans are now focused on Snelling Ave. between Shields and St. Anthony avenues. But that will take land acquisition. The development, which if it is to break ground next year, is at a point where it will need a decision soon on the state land acquisition.

The Snelling property eyed for redevelopment is zoned for traditional neighborhoods three use, which would allow five stories. Additional height could be granted through a conditional use permit process. With a taller first story, a permit might be needed. The need for a permit won’t be known until more detailed plans are developed.

Initially, Wellington and officials from the adjacent Central Baptist Church looked at demolishing two church-owned homes on Roy to develop a shared parking structure for the church and new development. The two houses are south of the church.

Three other Roy St. homeowners then expressed interest in selling their properties. Expanding the development west to Roy was considered, said Wellington. Making a larger project work financially would mean adding more height, which the developers aren’t comfortable with.

“We don’t want to bring commercial corridor massing into a single-family residential neighborhood,” Wellington said. Another issue is that of generating more traffic into the neighborhood west of the development.

The latest plan calls for using Snelling Ave. properties only, and not tearing down the church-owned homes.

The development team is also working on traffic flow west of the building. There is a north-south alley between Snelling and Roy, with an east-west extension to Roy about mid-block. Wellington Management met with the UPDC Transportation committee Sept. 10 to discuss traffic issues and the number of egress points for the new development. Both the bank and Walgreens wish to have drive-through windows. There’s also a need for separate resident and commercial parking access.

Most neighborhood reaction to the development proposal has been positive, said UPDC Board and land use committee member David Rasmussen. He lives near the development. Wellington Management has held meetings with neighbors to discuss their plans.


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Work it 08

Cooperative workspace energizes both brain and body

Posted on 08 October 2018 by Calvin

There’s nothing unusual outside the tidy, brick building at 635 Fairview Ave. N.—but inside, dozens of people are working in a way that is anything but ordinary.

Businesswoman Anne Hendrickson bought that building in 2017, replaced the roof, added an elevator, four bathrooms, two showers, and a full kitchen, to make her vision of a healthy workplace a reality.

The business she started last year, Work it, is a coworking space where members pay a monthly fee to use the space at any time, day or night. “What makes ours different from other coworking spaces,” Hendrickson explained, “is that members can integrate fitness into their workday. Every single piece of office furniture here, every single thing we do, is designed for slow, steady movement.”

Photo right: Anne Hendrickson, founder and owner of Work it, stood at her desk while balancing on a bosu. Her business motto is, “Work your body, boost your brain.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

There are 50 desks in the common spaces, private offices, and conference rooms at Work it. At the touch of a button, the desks can be lowered to sit at, or raised to stand at. The two-story, wheelchair-accessible facility uses specialized equipment from Lifespan Fitness and iSpace Environments, which allows the integration of fitness into otherwise sedentary work days.

Members can choose to use one of several types of wobble stools while seated, which require abdominal muscle engagement and quadriceps strength to hold steady. Hendrickson said, “These are the best office chairs ever. A person at work doesn’t have to move while seated if they don’t want to, but the option is there if they do.”

For a fitness challenge while standing, members can work on their computers while using a balance board, bosu (see photo), or treadmill.

Hendrickson is no stranger to entrepreneurship. She founded and ran Downtown Dogs (a daycare and boarding facility) in Minneapolis for ten years. In 2014, she was approached by a customer who wanted to buy her business and made her an offer she couldn’t refuse. Two years into a period of independent consulting, she found herself with no time to exercise. Worse still, because she didn’t have an office, she was always meeting clients at coffee shops and restaurants—eating food she didn’t want to eat and steadily losing touch with her body. Hendrickson realized she had traded her career for her health, and she thought, “I want to change that.”

The idea for Work it took shape over time. Hendrickson knew she had to buy a building rather than lease because the profit margin for a coworking space is just too slim. She had only two essential items on her short list of requirements for a building: natural light and free parking for members. It took her almost two years to find the building she eventually bought, which is just a short walk from the LRT and has easy access for cars and bikers too.

Memberships are available at different levels. A general membership costs $240/month. A small firm membership for up to eight people costs $400-$800/month. A private office costs $700/month. All levels of membership are on a month to month basis. Conference rooms can be rented by the general public for $40/hour. For a complete description of membership levels and amenities, visit https://co-workit.com.

Hendrickson added, “We have a very diverse group of members here. Wellstone Action is using our space for their employees for a year, while they relocate their offices. We have other non-profit members, a lot of tech people, writers, bloggers, and photographers. Dogs are welcome to come to work too. The bottom line is: you have to be able to get your work done, and not disturb anyone else in the process.”

Corporate clients seem especially drawn to the lower level, where workgroups often come for brainstorming sessions. Bike machines, free weights, open areas for stretching, moveable dry erase boards, revolving tables, and comfortable, supportive seating all lend themselves to better physical and mental health in the workplace. Hendrickson summed it up this way, “Every detail here is designed to maximize cognitive function.”

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Innovative entertainment/art space adds state-of-the-art ‘tap wall’

Posted on 08 October 2018 by Calvin

Can Can Wonderland, the first arts-based nonprofit in Minnesota, is remodeling and adding space to its location at 755 Prior Ave. Opened in January 2017, the festive venue offers food and drink, mini-golf, a boardwalk of arcade games, and live music.

The arts-based entertainment center is adding 10,000 square feet, renovating its kitchen and expanding its menu. “That space includes traditional private event space, activities, and a 5,000–square-foot pop-up art installation that will open in the next few months,” said Jennifer Pennington, Can Wonderland’s CEO.

And along with the remodel, Can Can Wonderland has added a tap beer wall that opened about two months ago.

When the business first opened, it offered craft cocktails. “With the number of people we were serving, it just wasn’t very good structurally,” Pennington said. She said the volume of people resulted in the service being slow. “We realized we had to change our structure, and so we pivoted and our director of operations, John Newsroom, found these self-service beverage walls,” she said.

“It’s really cool because it provides people more choices.”

Photo right: “We have instructions right on the tap screen,” Nicholson said. (Photo by Jan Willms)

She explained that if a customer is not sure he or she will like something, they can try it. “If you only want half a glass of wine, you can do that,” she said. “So it gives you a lot of choices, and it benefits the bar team as well. They still get tips, and there is still a bartender there showing people how to pour and making recommendations.”

The natural mechanics of the tap bar were installed through the Better Beer Society, a local group, and all the technology on the outside of the wall was provided by iPourit, a company with its headquarters in California. “The response to the tap wall has been extremely positive,” said bar manager Tony Cutrone.

‘“It’s a different kind of interaction with the guests, something they are excited about. It’s great to have a team that is excited as well,” Cutrone continued.

“We get to offer a lot more beers,” Pennington said. “We did not have any taps before; we just had beers in cans.” She said that limited space resulted in limited beers being offered. ‘”Now we have 36 taps of beer, wine, kombucha, cocktails and cold press coffee.” She added that the main bar is no longer just a craft cocktail bar, but a full-service bar. “You can come in and get a gimlet or martini or old-fashioned, and still get a craft cocktail.”

Cutrone said there is a meter on the inside of the tap wall. “That hooks up to a tablet on the outside. That calculates how much you pour, essentially designs each tab. It charges by the ounce for how much you pour.”

Pennington said the patron is also limited to how much he or she can pour in an hour. “So if they reach that limit they need to go talk to a bartender who can assess them, and see if they need some water or food first. We make sure we are not overserving,” she said.

Cutrone explained that the cocktails at the tap wall are premixed.

“Every week we do a batch, depending on demand, eight to ten batches every week. They are pressurized and ready to go. I’ve never worked in a bar that premakes cocktails. It’s great and makes things run smoother.”

With the new technology, there have been some glitches, Pennington said. “Sometimes the lines had foam, so we had to figure it out, and now we can keep that under control. We also really need to do a good job of educating people on how to pour correctly. It’s not straightforward if you’re not a bartender.”

Darren Nicholson, vice president of iPourit, agreed that is a challenge. “We don’t have a lot of responsibility for it, but because we are a technology that fits into a beer dispense system, the challenge is patrons pouring their own alcohol.” He said the average patron comes into an establishment and has probably never poured a beer before. “There is a trick to it. We have instructions right on the tap screen,” Nicholson said. “There’s some secret sauce to pouring a perfect pint.”

He said another challenge from the perspective of iPourit is the market. “The market didn’t exist,” he noted. “It’s a completely different mindset on how you operate a business, so it was kind of a challenge to get people to understand that.”

He said iPourit was established in 2012 after its founders were out having drinks one night during a football playoff, and the bar was so busy they couldn’t get a drink. He recalled the founder, Brett, who is in IT, said, “All I have to do is create a software platform that you can throw a credit card in and pour your own drink.”

“Our first beer wall was installed in 2014 in Pacific Beach, CA, at Barrel Republic. Now the owner has three locations with tap walls, and a fourth going in. We have 128 location and over 3700 taps. It really is starting to take off,” Nicholson said.

He said iPourit serves several different markets, concentrating on five. “We work with taprooms, fast casual, hospitality, corporate office and what we call urban living. Can Can Wonderland is a mix of all of them.”

He said every person who checks in has to have a driver’s license and credit card swiped. “We collect all the data: gender, age, and zip code. We report on every ounce that those demographics drink.”

Nicholson said that across all the locations in the United States, the average pour size is 4.7 ounces; the average times a patron visits the beer wall is 5.5 times a visit. “So the average customer consumes 28 ounces of product, with an average price of 54.5 cents per ounce.”

He explained that when an entrepreneur is looking at developing a business proforma and determining how many clients will be served, this process really helps define what the opportunity is because of all the data.

Pennington said that visitors to Can Can Wonderland have been very happy with the choices provided by the tap wall. Cutrone agreed, and he also considered the system to be very workable.

“The technology was intimidating at first, but actually it is a really simple and easy system to use.”
Nicholson added that he has found the tap wall is a fascinating place to hang out and is very social.

“It can be hard to strike up a conversation at a bar, but people at a beer wall have an option to communicate with someone else they don’t know, and they don’t have to feel creepy about doing it,” he said with a laugh.

Can Can Wonderland is open Thur., 4-11pm; Fri., 11am to 1am; Sat., 10am to 1am, and Sun., 10am to 8pm.

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Sports Column St. Paul Central photo

St. Paul Central going strong into boys soccer postseason

Posted on 08 October 2018 by Calvin


Even when his team had a 13-0-1 record going into the final week of the boys soccer regular season, St. Paul Central coach David Albornoz didn’t want his team to be satisfied.

“We have done nothing,” Albornoz said. “I try to keep the boys thinking one game at a time. The worst thing we can do right now is to grow arrogant. I still believe we have room for improvement.”

St. Paul Central has shutout eight opponents this fall and captured the St. Paul City Conference outright. The Minutemen rank No. 5 in the Class 2A poll through the last week of September and have a top-five win to their credit. They tied defending state runner-up Stillwater 3-3 in an early-season contest Aug. 25 at the Ponies’ home field.

Albornoz said his team has been consistent all season and has handled the pressure well. The Minutemen have won six games by two goals or less this fall.

“I’d rather win 2-1 or 3-2 struggling or coming from behind than 7-0,” Albornoz said. “I think that reveals the real character of our team.”

Photo right: St. Paul Central’s Jared Garcia maneuvers the ball in a game this season. He helped the Minutemen go unbeaten in St. Paul City Conference play going into their final game of the season against St. Paul Como Park. (Photo courtesy St. Paul Central Boys Soccer)

It didn’t go that way a year ago as St. Paul Central lost five games by two goals or less, including a playoff defeat against Rosemount when the Minutemen had a high seed. Albornoz said injuries played a role in that, which also gave the team an opportunity to improve. He said that resilience had carried over into this season.

Daniel Barrett leads the Minutemen in goals with 13 along with six assists. Mac Staloch has seven goals for second on the team, and he has four assists.

Max Hand leads the team in assists with 11, and he has six goals. Aiden Cavanaugh has three goals and four assists.

Minutemen goalkeeper Owen Brooks has been stellar in net.

Central beat Como Park 4-0 Oct. 3 and won the St. Paul City Conference with an unbeaten record. They’re now 14-0-1.

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Hamline Elementary marissaprofile

Hamline Elementary News

Posted on 08 October 2018 by Calvin

Community Partner Spotlight: Reading Partners

Hamline Elementary is home to the largest Reading Partners program in St. Paul serving nearly 60 students last year.

Reading Partners starts with a simple, powerful belief that all students are 100% capable and have the desire to succeed in reading. Their program offers an extra scoop of reading help during the school day—one-to-one support, for 45 minutes, once a week, with the same tutor all year long.

Photo right: An inviting and comfortable space has been created for the volunteers and students in the Reading Partners program. (Photo provided)

Students are referred by the school principal or classroom teacher and are assessed by Reading Partners to determine their reading level and direction for skill-building. Students may be anywhere between 6 months to two-and-a-half years behind, so Reading Partners volunteers are trained to provide extra help with everything from phonics to comprehension.

This personalized, one-to-one approach is one of the best ways for students to make gains in reading and is an invaluable asset to Hamline’s literacy program.

Reading Partners also takes a personalized approach at their sites; at Hamline Elementary, they organized training sessions for Hamline University students who work in Hamline Elementary classrooms, so they are prepared to provide robust literacy support for all elementary students.

Hamline Reading Partners Site Coordinator Marissa Heim (photo left provided), a passionate literacy advocate and future educator, sees the good working happening in the program every day.

She observes that as a student’s confidence grows, so does their willingness to try. “The relationships are key; they build trust, and soon students know that this person is here to support them. That changes everything,” Heim said.

Heim’s favorite part of her job is working with the kids; she loves their creativity, their conversations, and their eagerness to participate in Reading Partners. “The kids are always so excited to see their tutors—to see me!—and that enthusiasm keeps them coming back not only to learn but to connect. That’s why it works.”

Heim would like to see the program at Hamline grow to 65 students this year and with a team of committed volunteers already signed up, that goal is within reach.

The team of Reading Partners volunteers at Hamline Elementary include many neighbors and Hamline University students; Heim hopes to encourage more young professionals in the community to become volunteers, citing the value of mentorship and connection with people of all ages and all walks of life.

Heim has created a beautiful and comfortable space (photo right provided) for students and volunteers to work together and routinely participates in school programs and activities outside of her Reading Partners duties; for these reasons, and so many more, she is an important and beloved part of the Hamline community.

To learn more about the Reading Partners program in the Twin Cities, check out readingpartners.org/location/twin-cities. To find out how to get connected to the program at Hamline Elementary, contact Heim at marissa.heim@readingpartners.org.

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District Council’s News

Posted on 08 October 2018 by Calvin

Como Community Council

Special election for Board vacancy set Oct. 16
The Como Community Council is seeking candidates to fill a board vacancy from South Como and Energy Park.

Any renter, homeowner, or community member who is age 18 or older and lives in Sub-District 4 is eligible to run. So are authorized representatives from a business or nonprofit organization located in Sub-District 4. (Sub-District 4 essentially is any part of District 10 between the railroad tracks; it stretches from Dale St. west to Snelling.)

The special election will be at the next District 10 board meeting, Tues., Oct. 16, beginning at 7pm. Community members living in Sub-District 4 and sitting board members are eligible to vote. The candidate elected will fill the remainder of the vacant term—until April 23, 2019.

The deadline to get on the ballot is past, but District 10 bylaws allow candidates to nominate themselves at the meeting and run as write-ins. For more information on the responsibilities of a board member, see the District 10 website: www.district10comopark.org.

Get more connected
The first-ever Como Connect—a free, neighborhood resource fair —debuts on Sat., Oct. 13. It’s a chance to see, in one place, how much the community has to offer. The event features organizations and activities focused on aging in place, caring for children, keeping Como Lake clean, improving your do-it-yourself skills, things you can do at home to improve your environmental impact, urban agriculture, keeping your home and loved ones safe, and much more. The family-friendly event includes giveaways and activities for children.

Como Connect is Oct. 13 from 10am-2pm at Bethel Lutheran Church, 670 W. Wheelock Pkwy. For more details, see www.facebook.com/comoconnector.

Protect yourself from identity theft
A free seminar—Scam-Proof Your Finances: Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft—takes place on Wed., Oct. 17. The workshop (presented by LSS Financial Counseling, TopLine Federal Credit Union, and District 10) features:
• Ways identity theft happens
• Steps to stop it
• How to use a “deter-detect-defend” strategy to minimize your risk

The seminar is open to anyone; in this technological age, that includes children, teens, and adults of all ages. Admission is free, but registration is required. Call 763-391-9494.

Streetcar Station open once a month
With the change of seasons, the Como Park Streetcar Station is now open only on the first Sunday of each month. You can still stop in to pick up organics recycling bags or starter kits (while supplies last), or chat with District 10 board members who are staffing the day. Hours remain the same: noon to 4pm. Upcoming dates are Nov. 4 and Dec. 2. The Historic Streetcar Station is at the northeast corner of Lexington and Horton.

Upcoming District 10 Meetings
• Como Community Council Monthly Meeting: Tues., Oct. 16
• Environment Committee: Wed., Oct. 24
• Neighborhood Relations and Safety Committee: Tues., Nov. 6
• Land Use Committee: Wed., Nov. 7
All meetings begin at 7pm, typically 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.


Hamline Midway Coalition

Board members needed
Hamline Midway Coalition is governed by a volunteer board. Serving on the board is a way to serve your community and help make decisions about land use and development, transportation, sustainability, and community building. There are nine elected board members and four appointed seats. All board members are elected or appointed for three-year terms. Elected members are voted in by the community in an annual neighborhood-wide election. Terms are staggered such that every year three seats are up for election—one from each of the three sub-districts in the neighborhood. If you are interested in serving on the board, please contact Executive Director Kate Mudge at kate@hamlinemidway.org.

Interested in joining the Board of Directors? Anyone interested in running for an elected seat on the Board of Directors must return a completed application to the Executive Director no later than 5pm, Mon., Nov. 19. Application and more information can be found at http://www.hamlinemidway.org/about/board.

Committees meet
Hamline Midway Coalition Committee meetings are open to ALL community members.
­—Board of Directors: 3rd Tuesday of each month, Hamline Midway Library Auditorium, 1558 W. Minnehaha Ave.
—Community Engagement: 1st Tuesday of each month, Hamline Midway Coalition’s Office, 1558 W. Minnehaha Ave.
—Development: 2nd Thursday of each month, Hamline Midway Library Auditorium
—Environment: 4th Monday of each month, Hamline Midway Coalition’s Office
—Transportation: 1st Monday of each month, Hamline Midway Library Auditorium
Contact us for more information or visit at www.hamlinemidway.org/work/committees.

By adopting-a-storm drain in the Hamline Midway, you are directly impacting water quality by preventing unwanted materials from entering the river.

Visit us at www.hamlinemidway.org/adoptadrain and learn how you can contribute to Midway’s Adopt a Drain Challenge and Keep Our Water Clean!

Pop Up Shop
Midway Holiday Pop Up Shop plans to be your one-stop shop to shop local in Hamline Midway on Small Business Saturday!

Each year more than 30 local vendors come together in one spot, making it’s easier than ever to shop local for the holidays! Visit us on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 24, 10am-4pm at Celtic Junction, 836 Prior Ave.

Vendor list will be finalized in the coming weeks and will be shared through our website and Facebook. You won’t want to miss this yearly event!

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