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JA Sara Dziuk

JAUM welcomes new leader

Posted on 15 July 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Sara Dziuk

Gina Blayney retired on June 30, after a 30-year career with Junior Achievement (1745 University Ave. W.), 15 of those years as President & CEO of Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest (JAUM).
Blayney’s successor, Sara Dziuk, assumed the role of President & CEO of JAUM on July 1, 2020. Blayney and her husband will remain in the Twin Cities. They also are very excited to spend more time with their children and grandchildren.

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Treadle Yard Goods 01sm

If you can sew, you can help

Posted on 15 April 2020 by Tesha Christensen


Treadle Yard Goods owner Michelle Hoaglund (pictured center in purple) handed out 50 free kits for sewing cotton face masks on March 22. The dedication of Hoaglund and her staff to caring for community members epitomized why “buying local” matters. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

As efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic ramp up,  you may have found yourself trying to find ways to help — while still practicing the social distancing and other important guidelines put in place to protect the health of every person.
One critical need that has emerged over the past few weeks is the need for more personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks and gowns, in hospitals and other health care settings.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and Allina Health, along with several community partners, have launched a statewide volunteer effort, calling for people to sew and donate facemasks for doctors, nurses, and other health care staff.
Michelle Hoaglund is the owner of Treadle Yard Goods, a well-established, much loved fabric store on Hamline and Grand avenues in St. Paul. Partnering with the non-profit Sew Good Goods, Hoaglund and her dedicated staff were able to put together 50 free kits with enough cotton fabric and elastic to make 28 CDC approved face masks in each.
Distribution of the kits began at 1 p.m. on Sunday, March 22. By 1:05 p.m., according to Hoaglund, all of the kits were gone. The line of people, which had started to form at noon, stretched all the way to the end of the block and around the corner. People maintained a safe distance between one another, and many bought material from the store once the free kits had been given away.
“It was,” Hoaglund said, “beyond what any of us could have imagined.” She estimated there were between 80-100 people waiting in line and mused, “People who sew are just not the kind to sit around on the couch in a time of crisis.”
Treadle Yard Goods was able to make and distribute more free kits in the week that followed, and they are open regular hours as of our print deadline. The store’s efforts caught the attention of the New York Times in an article published on March 25, exemplifying the basic human desire to help others in a time of crisis.
Check their website for a how-to video with full instructions for making a mask with elastic (www.treadleyardgoods.com). Scroll down and read all of the instructions for safe protocol when dropping off masks. In addition, note the following:
• Cut fabric into 9” X 6” rectangles. Be sure to use fabric that is 100% cotton: tightly woven for the front, flannel or other soft 100% cotton for the back. If you have any doubts about the content of your fabric, don’t use it.
• Prewash all fabric on hot and dry on high heat to ensure pre-shrinkage. Area hospitals or other providers will sanitize the finished masks.
• Instructions suggest the use of elastic of ¼” elastic. If that is not available, you can make fabric ties easily. Each tie should have a finished length of 18 inches on both ends. To make your own ties, cut fabric strips 1 3/4” wide, fold in half and press both edges in to the middle fold. Stitch the ties right across the top and bottom of the mask.
• Use contrasting fabrics, so there is an obvious front and back side.
In this extraordinarily difficult time for small business owners, Hoaglund was reflective. She said, “I made my peace with all of the uncertainty a few days ago. I thought, we can’t control any of what is happening right now – but how we show up and love our neighbors, that’s what counts.”
Many organizations in addition to hospitals need masks including homeless shelters, nursing homes, and funeral homes. For more information about targeted distribution in the Twin Cities and how to help, go to www.donategoodstuff.org, or just follow your instincts and call organizations nearby.

Lyngblomsten, YMCA need masks
The Lyngblomsten Care Center in the Como neighborhood has a critical need for masks. Drop them (in a sealed plastic bag) in the donation bin at 1415 Almond Ave. The Midway YMCA also needs hundreds of masks for childcare workers onsite, and for staff visiting seniors in the community. Staff can accept donations inside the University Avenue entrance, where they are distributing food to the community M-F.
At this point, when people are being asked to consider wearing masks for shopping and other necessary outings, there is no shortage of people known and unknown who would appreciate receiving masks.
Fabric masks are far from ideal in critical health care settings, but they are what can quickly be produced. The mobilization of sewing volunteers has been spontaneous, and the distribution remarkably simple.
No matter where the fabrics are coming from, it’s time to get sewing.

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Touring University Avenue

Touring University Avenue

Posted on 12 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Building a Stronger Midway
By CHAD KULAS, Midway Chamber of Commerce Executive Director
Recently, the Midway Chamber’s Economic Development meeting took a bus tour of University Ave. to see all the progress being made with new buildings and redevelopments. If you have not looked at all the projects happening, our neighborhood has already changed and continues to do so with more investment. Here’s a sampling of what we saw on our tour.
We started our tour at Hmongtown Marketplace, 217 Como. Owner Toua Xiong has an amazing back story, from refugee to keeping his business afloat. Located at the old Shaw lumber site, Hmongtown Marketplace has well over 100 vendors who can sell you anything from authentic Hmong cuisine to clothes, insurance and many more items.
Once on University Ave., we headed west and saw the former Old Home site, now the mixed-use housing and retail Western-U Plaza. At 769 University, a new bright, colorful building is about to open – the Mini Oski Ain Dah Yung Center. The site will be home to 42 units of affordable housing development serving American Indian youth experiencing homelessness. Our first stop was at 1000 University, a building that re-opened in 2015 and is managed by Suntide Commercial Realty. Suntide has been a strong supporter of the Midway, also managing locations farther west like the Case Building and the Court Building.
Another example of mixed-use is at the northeast corner of Hamline and University – Hamline Station. The development has over 100 units of workforce housing and 13,000 square feet of retail space on the first floor. The Magic Noodle, one of the most hyped new restaurants in our neighborhood, opened earlier this year to rave reviews.
Our second stop was next to Allianz Field. We did our tour days after the first playoff game and the Tommie-Johnnie game both played there. Now that the team (and stadium) have wrapped up its first season, we’ll see what other events will be hosted there. The space is available for corporate events and nonprofits, as well. The site next to the field is in the process of being redeveloped; much like Allianz Field itself, Mortenson is working on the site. With Allianz Field has come new bars. The Black Hart of Saint Paul and the Midway Saloon have both opened in the past year across University from Allianz. Mixed-use will also go west of Allianz, as Bremer Bank’s old location will be redeveloped with housing above it and the old Furniture Barn site will also be mixed-use.
Our final stop was a tour within a tour – this time of the new murals from the Chroma Zone festival. Twelve murals are in the Creative Enterprise Zone, created by artists from all over the world. Many of the murals can be seen on a walking tour, and they brighten up the neighborhood. For more information on the murals, go to https://creativeenterprisezone.org/chroma-zone.
Our tour ended back where we began, at Hmongtown Marketplace where we ate at the food court. If you have not had a meal at the food court, you’re missing out on a great place to enjoy Hmong food. Most vendors leave around 6 p.m. and the food court offers several options. Hmongtown Marketplace may be expanding in the future, making it an even larger cultural destination.
University Avenue is continually changing, with billions of dollars spent on investment along the corridor since Green Line construction began. That investment has included several housing projects, a new Senate building, new restaurants, homes for nonprofits and businesses alike and the home of the Minnesota United FC.
If you take the same route as we did, you will also see a new mural at the northwest intersection of Dale and University, which reads “Development without Displacement.” As someone who lived in Frogtown for close to 10 years, this message resonates with me and I do hope developers will think about the community beyond their project. At the Midway Chamber, we strive to “build a stronger Midway.” My hope is developers will embrace both messages.

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Monitor In A Minute August 2019

Posted on 11 August 2019 by Tesha Christensen

by Jane McClure

Midway Amoco faces sanctions
A Hamline-Midway convenience store faces sanctions for selling flavored tobacco products in violation of city regulations. The St. Paul City Council July 24 took action against the tobacco license held by Midway University & Hamline LLC d/b/a Midway Amoco BP, 1347 University Ave. W. but the store owners requested a hearing, so that decision was rescinded Aug. 7.
The business has a troubled past, including incidents of violence, a fatal shooting and license violations.
Ward Four Council Member Mitra Jalali Nelson brought in the request for sanctions, which date from a November 2018 inspection by the Minnesota Department of Revenue. State officials found flavored tobacco products, which cannot be sold in St. Paul convenience stores. The city’s Department of Safety and Inspections (DSI) then stepped in.
The business owners disputed the finds and requested that city officials hold a legislative hearing, which was done. But the owners didn’t attend the scheduled hearing, so DSI staff sought a default judgment. The administrative law judge who handled the case issued findings and ordered a $500 penalty, but that penalty is now rescinded.

Dwelling wins needed change
A Hamline-Midway dwelling can continue to be used as a triplex, with St. Paul Planning Commission approval of a nonconforming use permit. Andrew Newby, who recently purchased 1614 Hewitt Ave., sought the change. The building had three leases when he purchased it last year.
The property was built as a duplex and has a long history of building improvement, but not all may have been issued city permits under past owners. The building has been used as a triplex since at least 2004.
The Planning Commission reviewed the issue and approved the change July 11, on recommendation of its Zoning Committee., Hamline Midway Coalition also recommended approval.
A nonconforming use permit allows the triplex use to continue. The Planning Commission found that rezoning the property for triplex use would constitute an illegal “spot” rezoning.
The nonconforming use permit is with the condition that the property go through a code compliance inspection, and that it be brought into compliance with all fire and building code requirements.
No one attended a Zoning Committee public hearing or sent letters in opposition to the change.

Community benefits plan takes shape
A long-awaited plan to create a community benefits fund tied to Allianz Field and redevelopment at Midway Center continues to take shape. Since 2016, Hamline Midway Coalition and Union Park District Council (UPDC) have worked with city leaders, Minnesota United FC and area businesses and property owners to develop the Neighbors United Funding Collaborative.
Leaders of the district councils say the fund is now in a position to start actively soliciting donations.
The fund was one of many ideas discussed during planning for the stadium and shopping center redevelopment in 2015-2016. The St. Paul City Council in August 2016 passed a resolution creating a task force to explore the fund’s creation, at the same time it was working with the team on a lease package and other agreements tied to site development.
The task force began meeting in early 2017 and hosted a larger community event to discuss ideas in November 2018. In late June, City Council members Mitra Jalali Nelson and Dai Thao met with stakeholders and district council members to discuss the fund and next steps.
The community benefits fund came out of a larger council resolution introduced by Thao, which also included workforce goals for hiring of minority and women construction workers, ensuring ethnic food vendors were able to be at Allianz Field and involving small businesses in other aspects of stadium development.
Thao noted that the work isn’t done. “We’ve had many positive conversations with potential sponsors of this fund and I’m eager to report back,” he said.
The fund could support projects such as business façade improvements, a marketing campaign for area business and public art. “Placemaking” and wayfinding improvements are also among the ideas that floated to the top.
Those priorities were chosen from a long list of ideas generated by area residents and business owners. “The ideas really ran the gamut,” said Brandon Long, executive director of UPDC. About 900 responses were received, from an online survey and at meetings.
It will be a community advised fund, housed by the St. Paul Foundation. The fund will be governed by a neighborhood-based steering committee, with subcommittees handling project reviews, finance, and marketing and communication.
Grants from the fund are anticipated to be between $5,000 and $50,000.
Minnesota United FC will be a supporter, along with area businesses, industries and individuals. The team, hasn’t announced its level of support.
The fund has four donor levels. Supporters give $1 to $499. Neighbors give $500 to $4,999. Friends are donors at the $5,000 to $49,999 level. Partners would contribute $50,000 to $499,999. Pillars donate $500,000 and up.
Minnesota United FC’s four largest supporter groups in July announced their support of the Neighbors United Funding Collaborative and are using their gifts as a means of encouraging others to get involved. The clubs are Dark Clouds, True North Elite, Red Loons and Dark Gliteratti. The clubs haven’t determined what their individual gifts will be.
Contacts for the fund are brandon@unionparkdc.org or info@hamlinemidway.org

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Hamline’s ‘Living Room’

Posted on 11 August 2012 by robwas66

New University Center designed for ‘collaboration’

At 133,163 square feet, including underground parking, the Center is the largest construction project that has been done on the campus. The third floor also offers a terrace with native plants and grasses. The green aspects of the building, especially the roof, have been created with help from Ken Dehkes, director of Facilities Operations and Horticulture Services. Dehkes has a background in horticulture, landscape management and design. (Photo by Stefanie Berres)


The first thing that strikes you as you enter the new Anderson University Center at Hamline University is the incredible view, magnified by the open spaces throughout the building.

At 133,163 square feet, including underground parking, the Center is the largest construction project that has been done on the campus.

The entrance on Snelling Avenue leads to an airy, spacious area with a store, the Spirit Shop, on the right where university gear can be purchased. With an information and welcoming desk on the left, visitors can walk in and use a number of computers available, watch an overhead television for the latest news or purchase a latte from the Starbucks.

“This floor is designated as a gathering space,” said Hamline student Marie Harmon, as she provides an informational tour of the new building. “We have not had one on campus. This center is energetic, yet clean. There is a real sense of community.”

She said the television is there for students to look up and see what’s happening. “We want them to be informed,” she said.

Throughout the open spaces are collections of chairs, encouraging people to be comfortable and relax. The rooms are in serene colors, beige and dark red walls, but the chairs provide a splash of bright color. And from almost anywhere in this gathering space, students and visitors can look out and see the impressive Old Main, the first building that was built on the campus.

“This is Hamline’s living room,” Harmon explained. This first floor also features a health privacy room for mothers who may need it, or for anyone dealing with a health issue. An outdoor patio provides more seating space, and a memorial that is being dedicated to Civil War participants is being erected near the Center. Smaller rooms are available on a first come, first served basis for more private study or conversations.

A circular staircase leads to the second floor, which provides dining facilities for 500. “That’s four times bigger than our old dining space,” Harmon said.

According to Lowell Bromander, associate vice president for facilities services, the Center opened Aug. 10 to the public

“We had football players arriving Aug. 11, and we had to be ready to feed them,” he said.

The building, which was designed by the Shepley Bulfinch Firm, had McGough Construction as the principal contractor. There are as few right angles as possible in the design.

Diners can use their meal plan to purchase meals in the dining room, as well as items from Starbucks. People can also bring in their own box lunches, use a microwave if needed, and sit at a table and eat their fare. The public can purchase food in the dining area, as well.

The third floor offers meeting rooms, a conference space and offices for campus organizations.

“Our focus is on student involvement,” Harmon emphasized. There is a tear-drop shaped room designated for meditation, complete with pillows and mats. The third floor also offers a terrace with native plants and grasses. The outdoor furniture is expected to arrive in late August, and can remain outdoors through the winter.

“The roof has permeable tiles,” Harmon said, “that can catch rainwater.”

The green aspects of the building, especially the roof, have been created with help from Ken Dehkes, director of Facilities Operations and Horticulture Services. Dehkes has a background in horticulture, landscape management and design.

“There was a multi-disciplined and team approach to the whole design,” he said. “We want to make sure the building is sustainable and maintainable for a long time.”

“One of the things that is so nice about this building is how much natural daylight there is,” Dehkes continued. “It’s just really neat. The openness and space are nice features.” Almost 75 per cent of the daylight throughout the building is natural. The building boasts solar panels and high performance glass and lighting.

“We had never had a green roof on campus before, so when it was proposed we knew we wanted to integrate as many sustainable features as we could,” Dehkes said.

They looked around at systems for growing plants. Dehkes said Hamline wanted to use local products, and with the significant transportation costs, did not want to have things delivered from some place 600 miles away.

“Bachman’s had distribution rights for a system that has been used three years called LiveRoof,” Dehkes explained. “The plants are pre-grown, delivered in plant trays and assembled on the roof.”

The plants were chosen for insulation, to absorb heat better and for storm water control. Instead of standard plant trays, four inches in depth, Bachman’s used a six-inch tray system, the first in the state.

Grasses, coneflowers and day lilies were chosen along with native grasses.

“We started propagating the plants into trays in August 2011,” Dehkes said. “The plants were grown through the fall and then placed in a greenhouse for the winter months.”

He said they were put together on the roof, somewhat like dominos or a jigsaw puzzle.

In May of this year the plant trays were lifted up by a crane to the University Center’s roof. “Doug from Bachmann’s and I worked with the roofing company, directing the placement of the plants,” Dehkes related.

The entire construction project for the Anderson Center, named in honor of its major donors, Carol and Dennis Anderson, took 16 months. “We broke ground on March 14, 2011,” Bromander said. A dedication is planned for Oct. 5 and an open house for Oct. 6.

“We’re very excited to have the front door of the Center open to Snelling Avenue,” Bromander said. “The Anderson Center is a connection point for us to the Midway community. The core sense of the building is about collaboration.”

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City Council votes to support Charles Avenue bike improvements

Posted on 11 August 2012 by robwas66

Traffic circles like this one are designed to calm traffic and make the neighborhood more pedestrian friendly. Last week the City Council voted to support Charles Avenue bike improvements to enhance safety for bicyclists and pedestrians. (Photo by Stefanie Berres)


Bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements for Charles Avenue between Park and Aldine streets will calm traffic and make the area safer. Or will they hurt businesses, make it less safe for cyclists and simply push traffic to other neighborhood streets? Those opposing views were heard before the St. Paul City Council voted 5-2 to support the 3-½ mile project.

In moving support for the project, Ward Four Council Member Russ Stark said his office and city staff worked hard to find a compromise. He said one issue that emerged is that “as neighbors, we need to reach out earlier and more often to businesses.”

Stark said he believes the project will have benefits and will not have negative impacts businesses fear. More than 100 people, wearing printed badges to show support or opposition jammed the Council chambers for the public hearing. Supporters included Charles Avenue residents from Hamline-Midway and Frogtown neighborhoods and bicyclists who worked for many months to get the project approved. They held block parties and events that drew more than 900 people as they sought ideas.

But opponents included other residents of Charles and surrounding streets who said the project isn’t needed or will affected neighborhood streets. A large group, including Midway Chamber of Commerce, came out to support Snelling Avenue businesses that fear losing customer access when the Charles-Snelling crossing is blocked with a median. The median will be built to allow bikes and pedestrians to safely wait for traffic to clear, and for emergency vehicles to get through. But Holcomb-Henry-Boom-Purcell Funeral Home, Ellis Drum Shop and Holiday Station are among those fearing they will lose business as customers cannot made left turns from southbound Snelling.

The median changes will be among the first made. The project is to be completed by the end of 2015. By then nine traffic circles and other changes should be made, as funding becomes available. The project also calls for more signage, street markings and corner bumpouts. One goal is to have Charles become a more “green” street.

As what is described as a compromise, the City Council did agree to reopen Snelling and Sherburne. Business representatives questioned how that would help. Stark also urged city staff to work with the businesses on either temporary or permanent directional signage.

Since 2010 Charles has been identified as a potential bike-walk route paralleling Central Corridor. It would connect to other routes via Aldine, Pascal, Park and eventually Griggs Street.

Attorney Ferdinand Peters represents Holcomb-Henry-Boom-Purcell. While his clients support the bicycle improvements, they are very opposed to the median and the potential impacts on their business. So is Ellis Drum Shop, said owner Tim Ellis.

“This would absolutely hurt, hurt my business,” Ellis said. “I can’t sell a drum set to someone on a bicycle.”

Some speakers asked why Thomas or Minnehaha avenues aren’t used, as those have signalized crossings at Snelling. “Why not look at Thomas?” said Charles resident John Smetana. “Isn’t that the best place for people to cross the street?”

Hamline-Midway resident and bicyclist advocate Benita Warns said it’s wrong to block off intersections and hurt businesses. She said traffic circles are a bad idea, noting she and her husband were almost struck while biking when a motorist didn’t negotiate a traffic circle correctly.

“We don’t like the fact that business is being further impeded,” said Paul McGinley of Midway Chamber of Commerce. Businesses have already been hurt by light rail construction. He also said that using Sherburne as an alternative puts pedestrians at risk there.

But supporters said they don’t believe the changes will have the negative impacts feared and instead will have many benefits for the neighborhood. Hamline-Midway resident Lars Christiansen said the project will not only make the street calmer, it also helps meet goals including place-making and community building. He said an “unprecedented” number of people weighed in in support of the project.

“The intent is to make the street safer for all users,” said Jessica Treat, Hamline-Midway resident and executive director of St. Paul Smart Trips.

“The light rail project effectively kicks bicycles off of University Avenue,” said Andrew Singer, a bicyclist and member of the St. Paul Bicycle Coalition.

Several speakers in support of the project said that diverting bikes to Thomas or other streets is contrary to the project’s purpose. “Even going a block or two out of your way is inefficient,” said Hamline Midway resident Nancy Fischer.

“The Snelling median is one of the most integral pieces to making this work,” said Hamline-Midway resident Matthew Lang.

“I think there’s actually huge pent-up demand for people who want to do more biking and walking, but right now, we don’t know what that is, because they don’t find it safe,” said council member Stark, who lives in the 1500 block of Charles Avenue.

Council members Dave Thune and Dan Bostrom voted against the project. Thune is worried about use of an unsignalized crossing at Snelling, saying, “I think somebody is going to get splattered.”

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Saint Agnes’ championship run rooted in humility and talent

Saint Agnes’ championship run rooted in humility and talent

Posted on 16 April 2012 by robwas66


Saint Agnes baseball coach Mike Streitz had a difficult call to make when the Lions All-Star committee contacted him to choose between two of his nominated players for a roster spot.

Seniors Charlie Turch and Mitch Kippenberg each played vital roles for the Saint Agnes Aggies in their recent Class A state championship run. Streitz had informed both that he had nominated them to the Lions All-Star game.

“I couldn’t pick one or the other because each has their own separate values to the team,” Streitz said.

Knippenberg had called him later that evening, which he often did prior to games. Streitz informed him of the situation with the Lions All-Stars and that probably neither will get on the team.

Knippenberg texted Streitz following the conversation, “pick Charlie.”

“Charlie would have done the same thing,” Streitz said. “They’re just a very humble group.”

The Aggies (23-6) used their humble, team-first approach to put together a championship season. They capped it off with a 6-0 victory over Lac Qui Parle Valley on June 18 at Target Field.

Saint Agnes, a K-12 Catholic school located in Frogtown, not only won their first baseball state title since 2001. They did so by knocking out the top two teams in the state and winning the state title without a single opponent reaching home plate.

“I can’t thank our pitchers enough,” Aggies senior first baseman Evan Morehead said. “They did an outstanding job of hitting their spots and getting ahead in the count. Our defense was solid behind our pitchers. We fed off that to get our offense going. To not give up a single run meant that our team was clicking on all cylinders, and when that happens I believe we are hard to beat.”

Jack Fossand, a sophomore pitcher, pitched shut outs in two of the Aggies’ three games at state. He helped the Aggies hold off previously undefeated and No. 2- ranked New York Mills 1-0 in the quarterfinals with 12 strikeouts.

“I want to throw a no-hitter, that’s my mindset,” Fossand said.

Streitz also implemented a new play, stealing home base while the pitcher stood on the rubber, for his team prior to the game. Aggies designated hitter Joe McDonald executed the play in the fourth inning for the lone run of the game. “We got in a situation to use it and it ended up working perfectly,” Knippenberg said. “The pitcher stepped off the mound and ended up balking.”

The Aggies won their semifinal game with much more breathing room in a 7-0 drubbing of Blackduck. They also jumped on the Lac Qui Parle Valley Eagles early in the title game with three runs in the first inning on three fielding errors. The Aggies never looked back and piled on three more runs for the victory.

“Once we jumped up to that 3-0 mark, we could exhale and just play our game,” Morehead said. “Like I told our guys, all we have to do now is win every inning and do the little things and avoid big innings.”

The Aggies added to their storied baseball history. The team had been back to state a couple times in the past decade since the 2001 title, but came up short. The school also nearly closed six years ago.

“This state championship was extremely important to our Saint Agnes Community,” Streitz said. “We nearly closed in 2006, we are financially stable now and thriving. But it is no secret that our athletics have been down a bit due to remaining in the Tri-Metro Conference where we are the smallest school. This team showed everyone that we can win consistently when the coaching staff and players strive towards a common goal.”

A tough regular season schedule helped prepare the Aggies for teams such as West Lutheran in postseason play. The Warriors had been ranked No. 1 in Minnesota Class A and were recognized in the ESPN High School Magazine. The Aggies took two of three games against the Warriors to advance to state.

“We had a lot of composure,” Fossand said.

Four of the six graduating seniors will play college baseball. In addition, Fossand, Turch and Morehead made the All-Tournament team.

Turch also earned Class A Player of the Year honors and All- State honors. He and Knippenberg, also an all-state award winner, represented the Aggies at the Lions All-Star game.

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Posted on 07 March 2012 by robwas66


While you’re still enjoying the warm, sunny days of summer, fall is right around the corner. It’s not too early to be thinking about what you need to do to get your home and garden ready for winter.

If you feel your home could use some fixing up, you might want to check out how to get some financial help for your project from the Neighborhood Energy Connection.


Gutters and Downspouts

Clean gutters and drain pipes and be sure they drain away from the house. Drain outside faucets.

Be sure water is not coming down behind gutters and that all support brackets are securely in place.

Check to ensure water drains properly and doesn’t pool.

Windows and Doors

Change summer screens to cool weather storm windows and doors.

Inspect and repair any loose or damaged window or door frames.

Install weather stripping or caulking around windows and doors.

Clean and lubricate garage door hinges, rollers, and tracks and be sure screens are tight.

Remove window air-conditioners or put weatherproof covers on them.

Heating Systems

Replace the filter in your furnace.

Have a heating professional check your heating system.

Clean your ducts to better your heating system’s efficiency.

Clean your thermostat’s heat sensor, contact points, and contacts. Lubricate hot water heater’s pump and motor. Bleed air from radiators or convectors.

Drain hot water heater. Remove sediment from the bottom of the tank.


To prevent pipes from freezing and bursting, ensure that the pipes, as well as the wall cavities where they reside, are well insulated.

Be sure that you know how to locate and turn off the water shut-off valve in case pipes freeze.

Chimney and Fireplace

Have a certified chimney sweep inspect and clean the flues and check your fireplace damper.

Test your fireplace flue for a tight seal when closed.

Install a carbon monoxide alarm near the fireplace and furnace.

Attic Ventilation

Be sure attic insulation doesn’t cover ventilation vents in the eaves to prevent winter ice dams on the roof.

Be sure ridge vents and vents at eaves are free of plants and debris.

Check bird and rodent screens for attic vents to prevent any unwanted guests.


Check roof and around vents, skylights and chimneys for leaks.


Lawn Care

Fertilize cool season grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass, fine fescue, and perennial ryegrass.

Eliminate broadleaf weeds such as dandelions, broadleaf plantain, and ground ivy with weed killer.

Continue mowing every week or so until grass has stopped growing.

Lay seed so that your lawn gets a head start in the spring. Cover the seeds lightly with straw or mulch to protect from feeding birds.

Dethatch or aerate, or do both to reduce thatch, a layer of dead grass stems and roots that build up faster than they can decompose, accumulating on top of the soil layer and reducing water penetration to the roots.

Run all gas-powered lawn equipment until the fuel tank is empty.

Trees & Shrubs

For cooler regions, plant trees, shrubs, and vines now through the end of October.

This gives most plants a head start in the spring, since roots will grow in still-warm soil long after air temperatures drop.

Protect plants from rodents by keeping mice, voles, and other rodents from feeding on the bark of young trees in winter by wrapping a cylinder of 1/2-inch-mesh hardware cloth around the trunk.

Protect tender evergreens from cold by surrounding these plants with a shelter of burlap or old sheets. Provide additional protection by using an anti-transpirant spray on the foliage after the first hard frost.

Soak soil around trees and shrubs if rainfall has been light to ensure that plants enter winter fully hydrated.

Prune your trees and shrubs after the leaves turn to encourage healthy growth in the spring.

Remove leaves from lawn and planting areas.

Trim any tree limbs that are dangerously close to power lines or the roof of your house.

Flowers & Gardens

Plant bulbs such as crocus, daffodils, hyacinths, tulips, and other spring-flowering bulbs

In cold-winter areas, mulch after a hard freeze. Spread 2 to 3 inches of compost, composted cedar, pine, or fir bark, weed-free straw, or similar material.

In northern areas, dig and store tender bulbs such as tuberous begonias, dahlias, and gladiolus.

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Barricades and blocked streets hurting businesses

Posted on 26 May 2011 by robwas66

Central Corridor construction proceeding ahead of schedule


Central Corridor construction is proceeding ahead of schedule, but that hasn’t meant that all is going smoothly, especially east of Hamline Avenue. Concrete barricades, dug-up streets and blocked sidewalks are hurting businesses and angering residents. One of the biggest complaints is how north-south intersections are being rebuilt and how traffic is rerouted. In some cases traffic tieups have had cars backed up over Interstate 94.

In late June tempers flared as Ngon Bistro owner Hai Truong accused construction workers of sitting on the sidewalk by his restaurant and eating lunch, blocking pedestrian traffic with their legs. Truong said that was retaliation for his raising concerns about construction workers parking in the neighborhood. He received an apology and visit from Central Corridor project staff and a representative of Walsh Construction. But the issue highlights one of the many challenges in balancing a major project with neighborhood needs.

One of the biggest issues this season has been access across University, especially in the Frogtown and Summit University areas. “The message we’re hearing is that it’s just too hard to get across University Avenue,’ said Ward One Council Member Melvin Carter III. He has been caught in the traffic tie-ups. “It’s crazy.”

Much of the concern has been at the Western and Victoria intersections, which have been the focus of reconstruction efforts. Central Corridor project, St. Paul Public Works and Walsh staff have been meeting with businesses to work out details on detours, as well as business directional signage and temporary access. Still, some business owners say their income is down by 50 percent or more.

During construction last year on University Avenue’s west section, most cross-streets were blocked. Major cross-streets were rebuilt one half at a time, causing long traffic tie-ups and detoured traffic. This year, crews initially opted for short-term closures of major north-south streets, over a period of a few weeks. While Lexington and Dale stayed partially open during construction, the south sides of Hamline and Victoria were closed and rebuilt. Hamline traffic was detoured through Midway Marketplace; Victoria vehicles used Avon Street.

But the Western area was more problematic. Traffic problems generated many complaints, to the point that work stopped in May so that community members could be asked for input.

“As they say, the devil is in the details,” said City Engineer John Maczko. While most streets can be rebuilt half at a time, Western and Victoria are only 40 feet wide. Some residents and business owners have asked for those streets to stay partially open. Keeping two-way traffic during construction, even a single lane in each direction, isn’t possible.

Some business owners said they want work done on major intersections as quickly as possible and could live with a shorter-term full street closing. Business owners want detours to be clearly communicated and work to be done quickly. Mai Village owner Mai Nguyen said her family’s restaurant at University and Western has lost more than $20,000 since construction began this spring. Customers get caught in traffic tie-ups and don’t come back.

“We cannot survive if it continues like this,” she said. “It was bad last year and it’s even worse this year. We have people who tell us it takes them an hour to get here.”

Residents in neighborhoods north and south of University are unhappy about motorists speeding down their streets, endangering children and side-swiping parked vehicles. They are also upset about late-night construction noise. Pedestrians have to navigate through muddy areas to get across and then evade speeding traffic.

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