Como Pk HS Culinary team on news

News from Como Park High School, March 2019

Posted on 11 March 2019 by Calvin

Compiled by ERIC ERICKSON, Social Studies Teacher

• The Como Culinary Club participated in the St. Paul Public Schools Culinary Arts Competition on Feb. 23 at St. Paul College. The club has eight dedicated members who are passionate about cooking. They have taken classes at Como including Introduction to Culinary, Advanced Culinary, and International Cuisine. Courtney Gbolo teaches the Culinary Arts courses and coordinates the club.

Photo right: Como Park chefs swept the St. Paul Public Schools Culinary Arts Competition on Feb 23. Members of the Culinary Club are (l to r) Ong Vang, Jillian Brenner, Emma Luchsinger, Robbie Link, Miguel Ortiz-Loveland, Dina Thoresen, Audrey Westerberg, and Isaac Vu. (Photo by Courtney Gbolo)

To promote the St. Paul event and display the skills they’ve learned, Como juniors Isaac Vu, Ong Vang, and Miguel Ortiz Loveland did a cooking demonstration on the Feb. 19 edition of the Fox 9 Morning News show. “Anytime students have the opportunity to showcase something they’re passionate about, the sky’s the limit,” Gbolo said.

As for the competition, which required students to prepare a three-course meal in an hour, Como’s students shined brightly. The team of Robbie Link, Ong Vang, Jillian Brenner, and Emma Luchsinger came in second place. They prepared a starter of pink gnocchi with pesto, ricotta and beet sauce, an entrée of glazed black cod with honey cream and crunchy grapes, and a chocolate, avocado and lime parfait.

Photo left: Como students Isaac Vu, Miguel Ortiz-Loveland, and Ong Vang promoted their dish on the Feb. 19 Fox 9 Morning News with the hosts and their Culinary Arts teacher Courtney Gbolo. (Photo courtesy of Fox 9 News)

To complete the Como sweep of the competition, the team of Dina Thoresen, Isaac Vu, Audrey Westerberg, and Ong Vang took first place. They prepared a starter of vegan scallops and a citrus fennel salad, an entrée of ravioli with acorn squash, marjoram, sage and butter, and a dessert of strawberry and pistachio Fraisier.

The club kept cooking after school and prepared for the State ProStart Competition on Mar. 7 after the Monitor went to press. Look for results in the next Monitor!

• The Academy of Finance (AOF) and Math Department are partnering with local businesses to bring in mentors to help serve Como Park students. Every Wednesday, ten mentors visit Como to tutor 20 freshmen with their algebra skills during the advisory period. The mentors are from Math Motivators, coordinated with the Actuarial Foundation, and represent companies and institutions including Securian Financial, Travelers Insurance, the University of Minnesota and the University of St. Thomas.

AOF Coordinator Kris Somerville believes the external support from the foundation can help students achieve while strengthening partnerships in the community. “By getting help with math freshman year, students will be more confident academically in their high school years while also building relationships with outside professionals and mentors. Win! Win!” Somerville said.

Arden Ashley-Wurtmann is the Program Coordinator for Math Motivators. She understands the challenge of bringing in extra help for individual math tutoring. “As a former teacher, I often had volunteers who were excited to mentor students but didn’t have the math confidence to help them with their work. Recruiting tutors who are either professionals or students majoring in math-related fields has been critical to the success of the program,” Ashley-Wurtmann said.

Any public school or math-related business desiring partnership with Math Motivators may contact arden.wurtmann@actfnd.org.

• Lori Nakamura, who has been Como’s school nurse since 2008, coordinated a project with the Helen Keller Institute that provided every Como student an opportunity to receive a free eye exam at school and obtain free glasses.

Many Como students don’t have access to regular eye exams or resources to secure corrective eyewear. In total 869 students were screened and 194 students are getting glasses. An additional 32 were referred for further treatment.

“Students were thrilled to see clearly! Being able to choose their frames brought a whole new level of excitement!” said English Language Learner (ELL) teacher Jane Sevald. ELL teacher Jill Wielgos added, “even for students who had glasses, many had frames that were outdated or damaged. Students were extremely thankful for an updated pair.”

• History Day at Como featured the presentation of final products culminating weeks of research and development by 11th grade U.S. History students.

History scholars who qualified for the St. Paul regional competition on Mar. 9 include the following students from their respective categories:
—Group Exhibit: Dinnea Riley, Deleela Robinson, Anisa Moreno, and Kayla McDonald for Emmett Till.
—Group Website: Noelia Marin Leal, Mai Chue Xiong, Najma Adem and Moo Soe for Women’s Suffrage; Gemma Phan, Kaw Mu, and Paw Say Wah for Jonas Salk’s Polio Vaccine; Alicia Rivera, Dulce Ruiz Contreras, Mariana Zubke and Angeles Caballero for Frida Kahlo’s Paintings; Way Htoo and Shar Too for WAVES (Women’s branch of the U.S. Naval Reserve); and Ly Xiong, Rose Say and Maisee Her for the Immigration Act of 1924.
—Individual Website: Melody Yang for Pennhurst State Hospital; Jorge Nieto Pliego for Warren Robinett’s Easter Egg; Ethan Lee for the My Lai Massacre; Mai See Her for Anne Frank; and Lillian Sticha for NASA’s Human Computers.
—Individual Documentary Film: Lisa Saechao for the Hmong Genocide; Wyatt Hanson for Sound in Film; and Yeeleng Vang for 9/11.
—Research Paper: Issac Vu for the Tragedy of Pearl Harbor; and Aleeyar Keh for the State of Minnesota v. Dennis Linehan.

• For the fifth consecutive season, the Como Girls Basketball team won the St. Paul City Conference Championship. Dating back to 2015, the Cougars are on a 52-game winning streak within the conference. Como capped off its regular season with another Twin Cities Title by defeating Minneapolis South, the champion of the Minneapolis City Conference, with a dramatic 56-55 victory.

The annual Twin Cities Championship Game is always an intense game with city pride on the line. The Cougars have won all five of their Twin Cities games to keep bragging rights in St. Paul. The Cougars were practicing for the Section 4AAA semi-finals in early March as the Monitor goes to press. Their overall record was 23-2.

• Como sophomore Stone Frasl qualified for the State Wrestling Meet by placing second in the 138-pound division of the Section 4AA Meet. Sophomore Kaleb Sears and senior Alonte Johnson finished third in their weight classes, narrowly missing a chance to wrestle at state. They joined other teammates at the Xcel Energy Center on Mar. 1 to support Frasl, who lost his match but had an unforgettable experience representing Como on the big stage.

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Como Community Council Corner, March 2019

Posted on 11 March 2019 by Calvin

By MICHAEL KUCHTA, Executive Director

Annual elections will take place Apr. 16 for two-year terms on the District 10 Como Community Council board. Nine board positions are up for election; in at least five of them, the incumbent is not seeking re-election. That makes it an excellent opportunity for new activists to seek an open seat. The positions on this April’s ballot:
• Chair
• Secretary
• One representative from each of the four geographic sub-districts
• Three at-large representatives

Any renter, homeowner, or other resident of District 10 who is age 16 or older, is eligible to run. So are authorized representatives from a business or nonprofit organization located in District 10.

To get on the ballot: Submit your name and a brief biography no later than Tues., Apr. 9. Nominations submitted after that date will be treated as write-in candidacies. The nomination form, a list of board member responsibilities, and other information is available on District 10’s website at www.district10comopark.org.

Sunday Series
Yes, we’re rushing the season

District 10’s 2019 Sunday Series is guaranteed to get you thinking about spring and summer.
First up: mosquitoes. On Sun., Mar. 24, 1-2:30pm, one of our most invisible government agencies—the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District—talks about how they control the blood-sucking and disease-spreading pests, middle-of-the-night maneuvers, what’s in those fog machines, and even what those red triangles on storm grates mean. This free series takes place in the Como Park Streetcar Station, which is at the northeast corner of Lexington and Horton.

One week later: Tornadoes. Floods. Fire. Civil unrest. If disaster strikes, how prepared are you to evacuate your home in a hurry? Saint Paul Emergency Management talks about their role in preparing for the unexpected, what you can do to prepare yourself and your family, and what you should pack in your “go bag.” “Preparing for an emergency” will take place Sun., Mar. 31, 1-2:30pm, also in the Como Park Streetcar Station.

Upcoming events
• Sunday Series: “How to be a citizen scientist,” Sun., Apr. 14.
• Sunday Series: “Reduce, reuse, recycle: What do you really know?” Sun., May 5.
• Como Neighborhood Garage Sale, the weekend of May 17.
• Como Community Seed Library’s “Seed Your Dream,” Sat., May 18.
• District 10 Community Yoga, Sun., June 9.
• District 10 Ice Cream Social, Fri., July 12.
• Como Neighborhood Pollinator Garden Tour, Sat., July 13.

Upcoming District 10 meetings
• Como Community Council Board: Tues., Mar. 19.
• Environment Committee: Wed., Mar. 27.
• Neighborhood Relations Committee: Tues., Apr. 2.
• Land Use Committee: Wed., Apr. 3.
All meetings typically begin at 7pm at the Como Park Streetcar Station. 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.

We’re open once a month
The Como Park Streetcar Station is now open on the first Sunday of each month. It is 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 are noon to 4pm. The next open date is Apr, 7. (Beginning in May, the Streetcar Station will open every Sunday afternoon through September.) The Historic Streetcar Station is at the northeast corner of Lexington and Horton.

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Hamline Midway Coalition News, March 2019

Posted on 11 March 2019 by Calvin

Hamline Midway Coalition was a proud sponsor of the first session of “Criminalization of Poverty.”

Hamline University launch­ed the year-long educational series focusing on the Criminalization of Poverty, hosted by the University’s Center for Justice and Law. The first event was a Feb. 22 and focused on the criminalization of poverty in Minnesota.

For more information on upcoming sessions, visit https://www.hamline.edu/center-justice-law. Tickets for the 2nds session are almost sold out so get your tickets now!

Online business directory
Hamline Midway Coalition encourages neighborhood business to register for an online business directory.

The Coalition has spent the past few months improving their website to make hosting and sharing information easier. Hopefully, the changes are noticeable.

The business directory is one area on the website that has seen improvements and now they are encouraging Hamline Midway businesses to sign up! To do so, visit the website at https://www.hamlinemidway.org/community/business-directory to view or sign up.

Why shop locally? Each dollar you spend at independent businesses returns three times more money to your local economy than one spent at a chain. This fact isn’t enough? Learn more on our website.

Garage sale weekend returns May 3-5!
In 2015, the Hamline Midway Neighborhood Garage Sale started as a one-day sale and opportunity to meet neighbors, all while clearing out the items you no longer wanted or needed. Now, in its 4th year, more people are collaborating with neighbors to increase their visibility, coordinate this as a fundraiser for their school or team, and have hope that it is a way to boost the local neighborhood economy.

This year the fee to enter your sale is $12. This cost goes to advertising, fees for the interactive-online mapping tool, and for the signage that goes put all around the neighborhood. Now is your chance to start planning for this year’s sale and something we call all look forward to for warmer days!

Sign up at www.hamlinemidway.org/garagesale or contact us at garagesale@hamlinemidway.org.

Environment Committee
Hamline Midway Coalition is seeking applicants for the Hamline Midway Environment Committee. Do you have an interest in tracking, discussing, and taking action related to sustainability and the natural environment? If yes, this committee is for you. Anyone interested should call or email Melissa at 651-494-7683 or melissa@hamlinemidway.org.

A few exciting upcoming projects will focus around water quality with Adopt-a-Drain, and native species in an urban setting in the Pierce Butler Meadows! Visit us online to learn more.

Community Engagement Intern needed
The Hamline Midway Coalition (District Council 11) is one of 17 District Councils that serve the neighborhoods of St. Paul. A dynamic organization with a rich history, HMC is dedicated to making the Hamline Midway neighborhood a great place to live, learn, work and play. The neighborhood is a vibrant community that is home to a diverse and active population as well as many businesses and institutions.

For the position description visit https://www.hamlinemidway.org/news_events/331/community-engagement-intern-needed.

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School News March 2019

Posted on 11 March 2019 by Calvin

Hamline Elementary School

Every month is partnership month at Hamline Elementary, and in March we’re happy to welcome back some of our favorites: Science from Scientists, Hamline Midway Elders’ Reading Buddy Program, and Mobile Menders. Our fourth-graders will begin a social justice project with students from Hamline University. Fifth graders will continue with their swim lessons taught by certified swim instructors, using the Hamline University pool. And, our kindergarten classes will visit the Children’s Museum. The PTA will host a conference meal for staff and a special Friday night Hamline Family Night complete with a community meal and dance lesson.

We’re grateful for the support of neighbors and invite you to share your time and talents with the Hamline Elementary community.

We are currently collecting Box Tops for Education and looking for a couple more volunteers to tutor with Reading Partners to help us provide almost 70 students with 90 minutes of one-to-one tutoring every week.

Contact Marissa at marissa.heim@readingpartners.org to learn more.

Galtier Community School

The third-grade Galtier Gators are participating in the myON reading challenge. The challenge tracks minutes read for every school participating. It is set up in a bracket system similar to the NCAA basketball March Madness. There were 288 MN elementary schools in the challenge. Galtier was the only SPPS school remaining in the sweet sixteen round. On the last day of reading for the round, students read for 35 hours to make it into the top two teams who will compete in the “elite eight.” The four schools that make it to the “final four” of the reading challenge receive three tickets per child for the actual NCAA final four held at US Bank Stadium.

In other fun March news, Galtier fifth graders headed to Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center for a two-night stay at the beginning of the month. Third, fourth, and fifth graders head to the Children’s Theater to see the Hobbit at the end of the month.


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GUEST OPINION: German Immersion School expansion absent collaboration with community

Posted on 11 February 2019 by Calvin

An expansion of choice would burden the surrounding neighborhood with consequences

By Kevin Anderson, Teri Alberico, Anna Mosser, Bonnie Youngquist
—for Friends of Warrendale, Save Historic St. Andrew’s LLC.

“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”
Jane Jacobs, from her classic The Death and Life of the Great American Cities

The Warrendale neighborhood, nestled amongst the leafy trees on the southern edge of Como Park, represents many things to many people. For hundreds of us, it is home; it is family. It is an investment in property, a place to raise kids, and garner relationships with friends and neighbors. It has been a place for schoolchildren to learn and forge the bonds that can last a lifetime. It is all of these things and more because the neighborhood has successfully woven its many diverse uses into a cohesive whole.

In 2013, we welcomed new neighbors. The Twin Cities German Immersion School, a public charter school, moved into the former church and school building. The families have brought great energy, but unlike previous schools, nearly three-quarters of the current 585 students travel by car.

Unprecedented numbers of automobiles streamed into this residential neighborhood. Neighborhood parents struggled with the safety of their children at our bus stops. On formerly calm corners, cars repeatedly violated school bus flashing lights and stop arms. In the five years since the school moved in, it has more than doubled its enrollment, even as it reduced its on-site parking. Nearby streets filled with parked cars, and twice a day, clogged with lines of cars that routinely extend several blocks in either direction.

But the tipping point came in the spring of 2018 when the school announced not only a further expansion but their intention to tear down the crown jewel that for nearly a century kept watch at the heart of the neighborhood. The beloved and extraordinary former Church of Saint Andrew’s, which had been social and physical center of the neighborhood—would be leveled.

More students would mean more cars, more congestion, less safety, and less livability. Moreover, we would lose our neighborhood’s most visible historic structure and neighborhood landmark.

A group of neighbors quickly assembled and started a petition to delay the demolition. Father John Forliti, a widely-respected retired Catholic leader who has lived most of his life on the same street corner as Saint Andrew’s, invited German School board members and neighbors to his house for a series of dinners. Relationships were forged at these meetings. Everyone, school parents and neighbors alike, pressed board members to work collaboratively to explore alternative solutions that could include preservation of the unusual and ornate former Church of Saint Andrew’s.

In response, the school’s current board Chair said flatly, no.

The goodwill between school and community quickly unraveled.

In the following months, we’ve tried twice more to explore collaborative solutions. We identified skilled architects willing to contribute their expertise in architectural design and collaboration. When the district council asked the school to explore collaborative solutions last August, the school board rejected them. When we asked again last fall, we were rejected a third time.

The expansion that the German Immersion School proposes would make the school much denser than any other school in the city’s residential zoning districts. Their student population would be over four times denser than the median school in any of the city’s R1 to R4 zoning districts. The school looks to receive city zoning variances, city site plan approval, and city financing for a project that tears down a historic building and creates untenable transportation gridlock and safety concerns. These public asks are huge.

Unlike traditional public schools, which adjust to demographic and market swings, charter schools have control over their enrollment. The schools themselves set their enrollment cap each year. This expansion is the board’s choice. In actuality, it is an effort to push the true costs of operating the school onto the neighborhood. Instead of paying to bus most of their students, as other schools do, they expect the neighborhood to carry this burden in the form of reduced safety and livability. Instead of restoring the former church, as Cesar Chavez Academy Charter School did in Saint Paul, they want to build a facility that suits their immediate needs, pushing the loss of an indelible landmark on as a cost to their neighbors.

Rather than agree to neighborly collaboration, this school has mounted an unprecedented, cynical and antagonistic offensive on those neighbors who disagree. This is a sophisticated campaign designed to turn political support in their favor, identifying and cultivating allies, turning neighbor against neighbor.

At the center of the school’s strategy is TenSquare, a national for-profit consulting firm that currently operates in seven states and the District of Columbia. One of the city’s most connected, lucrative, and controversial charter consulting companies, Ten Square prefers to operate out of public sight, but their local Director of Real Estate Development quietly attends public meetings and coordinates public strategy. They communicate with paid media strategists, legal consultants, and architects. Their fees are paid by the school with taxpayer dollars.

Throughout all this, we neighbors aren’t willing to give up on the hope of finding a future together. We hold fast to our core belief in collaboration.

In Saint Paul, there are examples of former churches reused for performance spaces, homes, and yes, a charter school facility. Tom Fischer, the former Dean of the School of Architecture and Design at the University of Minnesota, met with the school and community leaders last summer. He walked away believing win-win solutions were eminently possible, even within a tight budget. In the AIA Guide to Twin Cities Architecture, retired Pioneer

Press writer Larry Millet called out the building as one of the best local examples of period revival. While rain gardens and pollinator gardens have their benefits, the environmental rewards of adaptive reuse are far more significant. The greenest building is the one already standing. This building deserves to be valued, not leveled.

Renowned writer and urban observer Jane Jacobs believed that a diversity of uses is what gives life to urban neighborhoods: schools, homes, churches, offices, and parks. She encouraged density for its critical role in the health of urban neighborhoods. But along with those beliefs, Jacobs realized, as we all should today, that a neighborhood’s core historic fabric and identity matters. Perhaps above all, she recognized that the delicate balance of uses and density that can make urban neighborhoods great can only come about when the people of that neighborhood have a central role in shaping its future. Together.

Learn more at https://savehistoricsaintandrews.org. Follow us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/historicstandrews1.

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Hamline Midway Coalition plans upcoming strategy meetings

Posted on 11 February 2019 by Calvin

The city’s 17 district councils have found it challenging over the years to rely on consistent city support. St. Paul started its district council program in 1975 as an innovative means of citizen participation. A 2018 report that looked at the district council system and compared it to citizen participation programs in other cities found the councils struggled with issues such as equitable outreach funding and staff turnover. Most district council staff lack employee benefits. With this uncertainty of city funding, Hamline Midway Coalition (HMC) has tried to prepare for any contingencies.

At its annual meeting in December 2018, HMC reported net assets of $260,000. “Before my arrival at HMC as executive director, Michael Jon Olson served as executive director for 14 years,” said Kate Mudge. “During his tenure, HMC and 16 other district councils in St. Paul were continuously unsure whether the City would continue to fund the District Council system. So each year the financially prudent decision was made to secure foundation/grant support, and HMC raised funds so that we would have alternative funds of roughly two years’ worth in case the City decided to discontinue its funding or disband the District Council system.”

“As all healthy nonprofits operate, reserves were built to provide funding in times of uncertainty,” she continued.

Based on the most recent Guidestar Profile, reportable assets for St. Paul’s district councils range from $24,159 up to $419, 246. They vary greatly because district council assets may include building, property, office equipment, or funds set aside for specific purposes, such as loan funds which are distributed and then paid back over time.

Mudge added that district council staff do not receive health benefits, so there were additional reserves to potentially pay out of pocket to support the health and welfare of staff. “Our reserves also include monies HMC holds for ‘fiscal agencies’ such as community gardens, the Public Art group and various other organizations, which are not to be used for any purpose other than that of the fiscal agency’s discretion,” she said.

Mudge said that HMC would be discussing what to do with its reserves at two strategic planning meetings, as well as board meetings, which are open to the public.

For the first time in decades, the 17 district councils will be splitting an additional $250,000 in 2019 after years of static fund levels. It has been reported that the City Council members agree that district councils are overdue for additional support, discussing the needs last year before and during the 2019 city budget process.

How much each district council will receive from the $250,000 has not been finalized. The money will be allocated based on a formula developed more than ten years ago. The formula uses metrics of the planning district’s population, poverty levels, employment and number of non-English speakers in each district.

District councils seek community input on local and citywide plans, zoning and variances requests and business license. Each prepares a district plan every decade to guide neighborhood growth and development. Council staff and volunteers field citizen questions and are involved in neighborhood-level crime prevention activities. Many have their own unique programs.

“As an organization, we’re in transition between executive directors,” Mudge said, regarding HMC. “Our focus areas may be changing, and we are working to identify the numerous opportunities available to advance projects in the Midway.”

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Dale Street bridge reconstruction plans unveiled

Posted on 11 February 2019 by Calvin

Area travelers who use the Dale St. bridge over I-94 to get around will look forward to its replacement. Plans unveiled in January to a packed room show a new bridge with 16 feet of pedestrian, bike and plaza space on either side, as well as public art elements commemorating the Rondo neighborhood.

The Ramsey County Department of Public Works hosted the meeting, which was the last before design work is completed. County officials received $6 million in federal funds and provided a $5 million local match for the project. The bridge as well as Dale St. between University and Iglehart avenues will be rebuilt in 2020. That’s a delay from the original start date of 2017, but gave more time for public engagement, work on pedestrian and traffic safety issue and adding public art.

Bridge design is about 30 percent complete, with plans to be finished late this summer. Bridge demolition is to start in January 2020, with the project done by fall 2020. Half of the bridge will come down at a time so that one lane of traffic can be maintained in either direction. Travelers should plan on detours. Western Ave. and Victoria St. are the closest multi-use bridges over the freeway. There is a pedestrian/bike bridge at Grotto St.

People generally liked what they saw, especially the public art and pedestrian safety improvements. “Me being a Rondo kid, that means a lot to me,” one woman said of the art.

One man who walks Dale St. regularly said he appreciates improvements, saying he keeps his bag at hand to be able to throw it at errant vehicles.

Several questions were raised about hiring, especially the hiring of people of color and women. Ramsey County is starting a six-month workforce equity plan, which will be used in bridge project hiring, said John O’Phelan, county workforce specialist.

The county is working to get more people into building trades apprenticeship and training programs and will work with local agencies include Ujamaa Place and the YWCA to get people into the trade and hired, not just for the Dale St. Bridge, but for other future projects, O’Phelan said. A similar process was used during Green Line light rail work. Hiring goals will be announced this summer but should be around 30 percent for people of color and 20 percent for women.

Wind, solar changes eyed
A delayed update of wind turbine and solar garden regulations for St. Paul is en route to the St. Paul City Council for a public hearing at 5:30pm on Wed., Mar. 6. The council will be looking at one of the first major updates to the city’s renewable energy regulations in almost a decade.

The most recent studies began a few years ago and went through a Planning Commission review and approval process. But changes in city staff and other issues meant the proposed changes were set aside. A new city planner has been assigned to shepherd the project through.

The six pages of changes deal primarily with where devices can be located, heights of poles, and other technical details. The update was sought for several years, as more people considered renewable energy options for their homes and businesses.

St. Paul’s regulations have been criticized for being very dated. For example, the current rules don’t allow solar gardens or community solar installations.

The changes are meant to bring city regulations into compliance with updated technologies and with a sweeping package of solar energy laws passed by the Minnesota Legislature in 2013. The state laws govern community solar installations or “gardens.” These solar device arrays, with multiple subscribers, are connected to the power grid. Subscribers receive a credit on their electric bills for the power the panels produce. The 2013 change allows Xcel Energy to provide energy to clients from solar gardens. Xcel customers can purchase energy from the sustainable resources. None of those resources are in St. Paul—yet. The city last updated its solar regulations in 2011.

Wind energy devices sought since 2002 have operated under different regulations, typically under “determination of similar use” requests. That meant governing wind turbines in the same way cell phone towers are regulated. Not long after a wind turbine requested for Metropolitan State University was voted down by the City Council in 2012, the Planning Commission asked that technologies be studied, and new regulations written.

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Office building to be renovated

Development Roundup Feb. 2019

Posted on 11 February 2019 by Calvin


Large Midway building complex to be renovated
A longtime Midway industrial/commercial property has a new owner. Minneapolis developer Hillcrest Development has purchased 641-655 Fairview Ave. The large complex has Prior and Fairview avenues as its west and east boundaries, and is two blocks north of the University-Prior intersection.

Work has already gotten underway inside the building, which is now the Hillcrest Business Center. It has had several different users over the years. Built in 1952, it was a printing facility for the Banta company many years ago. More recently it served as a warehouse.

“We’re very excited to own this property and excited about its potential,” said Scott Tankenoff, managing partner at Hillcrest. Work is already underway inside the building, to abate asbestos and renovate the interior. The intent is for the building to be renovated for shorter-term commercial uses, possibly with an eye on destination retail or hospitality. Parts of the building could also be used for medical or light industrial uses. Its underlying zoning allows for a variety of commercial, industrial tenants.

The building at 641-651 Fairview Ave. is a sprawling complex (in center of photo) that has Prior and Fairview avenues as its west and east boundaries, and is located two blocks north of the University-Prior intersection. (Photo courtesy of Google Satellite imagery)

“The Midway area is an up-and-coming area,” Tankenoff said. “It’s a solid neighborhood with a lot of good housing, good transit, and amenities.” Hillcrest, which has been working with St. Paul city officials on its plans, has already state and Metropolitan Council environmental cleanup grants for the property.

The property was owned for the past several years by Living Word Church and World Outreach Center, which is moving to a Hillcrest property, Mid-City, in the St. Anthony industrial/commercial area. Living Word bought the Midway building several years ago and used part of it as worship and child care space. Some space was rented out, but other space remained vacant.

Element Gym and St. Paul Ballet are among the tenants who will remain, but in different spaces. Murphy Warehouse has moved out.

The property is being advertised as ready for occupancy in the first quarter of 2019. It has drive-through space and as many as 25 locking dock spaces. It has most of its parking along Prior and along the southern edge of the building.

Tankenoff said the renovated building will be a good fit with other new or repurposed structures in the area. Hillcrest will host an open house at the building in the spring when work is further along.

Bars under new ownership
Big V’s Saloon (1567 University Ave. W.) and Hot Rods Bar and Grill (1553 University Ave. W.) have new owners. Changes are expected before the Minnesota United FC makes its debut at Allianz Field to the south.

Tolch Properties, which already owns the nearby Ashton Building, is the new owner of the two longtime University Ave. establishments and their adjacent parking lots. Tolch also owns a vacant lot between the two bars. The ownership is under a new entity, Midway Entertainment Group, which is going through the city licensing process.

Hot Rod’s had been closed for several months. Vic and Jeanne Masanz, longtime owners of Big V’s, decided to retire. They had owned the business for more than 40 years.

Gibson’s was granted liquor and entertainment licenses Feb. 6 by the St. Paul City Council. Hamline Midway Coalition recommended approval. Big V’s is to become the Midway Saloon. Its liquor and entertainment licenses are up for approval Feb. 13.

The Allianz Field stadium received its liquor and entertainment licenses Feb. 6 from the City Council.



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Baby Thunder 95

Chain of serendipity leads to publication of co-author’s first book

Posted on 11 February 2019 by Calvin

Como Park residents, and sisters, Jennifer Victor-Larsen (left) and Katy Korby (right) participated in a panel discussion at the St. Anthony Park Library. The event was called “Stories: the Door to Compassion, and also featured local author William Kent Krueger. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Writers sometimes have a flash of inspiration—but last summer, Como Park resident Jennifer Victor-Larsen experienced both a flash and a boom.

“We had such stormy weather in June,” Victor-Larsen said. “Every time it stormed, I was reminded of the story my grandmother used to tell us when we were children. Though the story changed slightly with every telling, the message was always the same: Baby Thunder was lost and was looking for Mama and Papa Thunder. The crashing sounds of summer storms became less frightening to my sister and me when we were little because our grandmother said it was just the family calling out to each other until Baby Thunder was found.”

Victor-Larsen continued, “In the middle of one particularly bad thunderstorm, I sat up in bed and texted my sister, Katy Korby. It was early last summer when family separations at the US/Mexico border were on the rise. Most people that Katy and I knew were appalled by this practice; we believe that, for kids, being lost for even a little while is traumatic. The message I sent my sister was this, ‘Should we finally write down the Baby Thunder story, and send the profits to an organization that helps children and families separated at the border?’ Also awake in the middle of the night, she texted back one word, ‘Yes!’”

The storm was the first in a series of fortunate events that lead to the publication of Victor-Larsen and Korby’s illustrated children’s book. Victor-Larsen recalled, “Katy and I decided to write down our own remembered versions of our grandmother’s story. We were sitting at my kitchen table and my brother-in-law, Shawn Korby, was there too. He and his wife own a real estate company, and he is also a talented artist. While Katy and I were talking and writing, Shawn started to sketch. The ideas he came up with became the watercolor illustrations for our book.”

The sisters were able to put their grandmother’s story down on paper, to take what she’d created for them—and use it to help other kids. They found an organization in Florence, AZ, called The Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project that works with families in detention. Their grandmother’s first name, coincidentally, had been Florence. The Florence Project is the only organization in Arizona that provides free legal services to detained children caught in deportation proceedings.

“Baby Thunder” is a book for and about families, and its creation was a family affair as well. Victor-Larsen’s mother-in-law, Ava Larsen, a retired children’s librarian, was an invaluable part of the work team. Victor-Larsen said, “She brought us books she thought were effective for the early readers our book is geared toward.”

On a sister’s weekend in Grand Marais, Victor-Larsen and Korby met notable Minnesota children’s book author Betsy Bowen at a craft fair. When they described their book, Bowen suggested they contact her designer to pull all the pieces together. Victor-Larsen said, “That’s just the way this project has gone for us. Doors kept opening, and people kept helping.”

Victor-Larsen and Korby are doing a number of “Baby Thunder” events in the metro area. They are partnering with friend, neighbor, and New York Times best-selling novelist William Kent Krueger for library events. They’re scheduled to be at the Anoka Public Library on Feb. 16, and the Hamline Midway Library in the spring. Their joint presentations are underscored by deep mutual concern over the current immigration crisis.

The sisters are also available for elementary school presentations and readings of “Baby Thunder” free of charge. Email Jennifer@herosearch.org for more information or to schedule. Victor-Larsen and Korby believe that “Baby Thunder” is both timely and timeless. It is about being lost and about being found. It is about the basic need for children to feel safe and loved.

“Baby Thunder” can be purchased locally at Micawber’s books (2230 Carter Ave. in Milton Square).

NOTE: On any given day, there are approximately 1,700 immigrant children detained in Arizona. They are denied the right to a public defender. Many of the children were abused, abandoned or neglected before coming to the U.S. They are unaccompanied minors (children under 18) who have crossed the border, or been apprehended by immigration authorities, without a parent or guardian. They are held in children’s detention facilities under the control of the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

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Hamline Elementary kg teachers

Elementary School News Feb. 2019

Posted on 11 February 2019 by Calvin

Hamline Elementary School

One of the very best things about Hamline Elementary is its educators—their experience, talent, and whole-hearted love for their school keep the students learning and growing as human beings, scholars, and future leaders in our community.

Photo right: Hamline Elementary kindergarten teachers Kathleen Walsh (left), and Carol Schjei have a combined 40 years of teaching experience. (Photo submitted)

Meet Hamline’s dynamic kindergarten duo—teachers with a combined 40 years of teaching experience and amazing hearts to match.

Kathleen Walsh
In her over two decades at Hamline Elementary School, Kathleen Walsh has taught every grade except 3rd (including sixth when Hamline had a sixth grade). This year you’ll find her in kindergarten, likely doing one of her very favorite things to do with kindergarten students—singing songs about math, reading, butterflies, and making maple syrup. She says there really is a song for everything and enjoys incorporating music and movement into all areas of study.

When asked what makes Hamline special, Walsh describes the professionalism of her colleagues and how seriously they take their work with children, how well they support one another, and how much fun they have as a team. They are friends as well as co-workers.

Walsh also loves how much she learns from the students and families in the Hamline community saying, “Every day I’m learning something about the world from the kids.”

In addition to being a teacher at Hamline Elementary, Walsh knows what it’s like to be a Hamline parent. Her children made the journey from Minneapolis with their mom to enjoy the benefits of this amazing place. It was a decision that created long-lasting friendships and a solid foundation for future learning.

Outside of school, Walsh enjoys the great outdoors and spends time with her family at their cabin in Wisconsin tending to their big garden/small farm where they have beehives, bunches of berry bushes, maple trees to tap for syrup, and heirloom tomatoes, all of which they sell to local restaurants and farmer’s markets.

Carol Schjei
“I have been teaching Kindergarten at Hamline Elementary since 1998. I LOVE spending my day with five and six-year-olds, and I LOVE Hamline Elementary!” exclaims Carol Schjei.

“Hamline Elementary is set apart from other schools because of our collaboration with Hamline University,” Schjei said. “Every day we have 70+ university students in our school tutoring elementary students. Hamline tutors work under a teacher’s direction tutoring those students who need extra challenge and those that need extra practice to master skills. They also work with small groups to ensure that all learners are held accountable.

At Hamline Elementary, we can meet learners where they are and make great progress with them. Our learners also benefit from going to the University for connections with athletic teams and academic departments, swimming lessons, musical performances, and more.”

Schjei concludes “I love Hamline Elementary so much that I hope to teach here until I retire from SPPS.”


News from Galtier Community School

The weather has been unforgiving, but it’s been warm and busy inside Galtier Community School this winter.

Feb. 11 was National African American Parent Involvement Day. All parents were invited to spend part of or the entire day with their students at Galtier, including an all-school assembly. Lunch was provided from local restaurants.

Midway resident Anne Reid is a teaching artist for COMPAS. She will be at Galtier for a couple of weeks in February. K-3 students will be doing seed art including self-portraits, landscapes, or portraits of their heroes. Fourth and fifth graders will be making night lights where they build all the circuitry from scratch and then design and create custom shades for the night lights.

Winter field trips will include pre-K and Kindergarten students heading to the Children’s Theater for either “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” or “The Biggest Little House In The Forest.” Third graders will head to the Minnesota Zoo for a day of animal adventures.

On Feb. 28, Galtier will host its Winter Wonderland event where families and students will enjoy food, activities, and being together in community.

For neighbors interested in supporting Galtier Community school, they can check out donorschoose.org and search “Galtier” for projects seeking funding. Alternately, Galtier has a wish list of books for its library that anyone can purchase via Amazon and donate directly to the school: http://a.co/0lYsKhX.

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