News from Como Park High School

Posted on 11 April 2015 by Calvin

Klobuchar-and-Como-students• 21 AP U.S. Government and History students spent the first week of March in Washington D.C. participating in the national Close Up program. The Como students had meetings to discuss public policy with both of their U.S. Senators and their Congresswoman during their visit to Capitol Hill. The students also participated in study visits to every major memorial and monument in Washington, visited several Smithsonian Museums, and attended seminars with Congressional aides, policy experts, and media members. Other cultural highlights included seeing a play at the Kennedy Center, and exploring neighborhoods such as Georgetown and DuPont Circle.

• Como Park freshman World History students advanced from Regional competition to State History Day at the U of M in the following categories: Research Papers – Fatha Ahmed, Noah Frese, Jackson Kerr, Gabe Reynolds, and Lucas Carmichael-Tanaka; Individual Website – Grace Commers and Eva Hanson; Individual Exhibit – Walter Medcraft; Individual Documentary – Arturo Digirolamo; and Group Documentary – Shukuri Abdullahi and Hodon Bashir, Stephen Boler and Eli Pattison. St. Paul Regional Honorable Mention was awarded to Allen Thoresen and Shyann Salverda for Group Exhibit, and Beth Fryxell and Emma Wallisch for Group Website.

• The Como Park Advanced Band received a certificate of Excellence from the Minnesota State High School League at the March 24 Large Group Competition at Tartan High School.

• Rachel Tetlie was awarded the Presidential Distinction Scholarship in addition to a music scholarship of $20,000 annually at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN.

• National AP Exams (Advanced Placement) will be conducted at Como during the first two weeks of May. 521 exams will be given in 23 different AP subjects that Como students have studied this academic year. April is a busy month of preparation and review with several student-led study sessions and multiple evening sessions led by Como AP teachers.

• The Robotics team debuted their robot, the “Recyclops” at the 10,000 Lakes Regional Contest on April 3 at Williams Arena. Results will be in the next Monitor.

• The Como Park Booster Club hosted a successful fund-raising event at the Urban Growler in March. The Booster Club is a parent organization that supports Como school activities with supplementary financial support, while also broadening community involvement. The Club recently awarded grants to the Como Choirs and Jazz Band for travel costs, an ELL Field Trip, and supported needs of the JROTC, Cross-Country Team, Student Council, and Senior Barbeque.

• The annual Student-Faculty Basketball Game took place during the last hour of school before Spring Break. A packed gym of students supported both teams in a fun-filled event with players from the Senior Class versus Staff members that always produces laughs and memories.

• The competitive spring sports seasons began with try-outs and practices in mid-March. Boys’ teams include baseball, track, tennis, and golf. Girls’ teams are fielded in softball, track, golf and badminton. Como also has Ultimate Frisbee teams for the boys and girls that are ramping up with more outdoor matches. New to St. Paul this year are co-op lacrosse teams for both genders.

• Cougars Softball is set to defend their conference crown, and a fund-raising event for the team is planned for Apr. 11 at the Nickel Joint, located at 501 Blair Ave., beginning at 6pm. Tickets cost $15 and include great food and beverages, and many door prizes and drawings.

• Como Boys’ Soccer is raising funds for its 2015 season with a May 8 event at the soon to be opening Como Dockside. More information about “Night By the Lake” is available at www.comosoccer.com with a link to purchase tickets.

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Wolf Ridge Como Students icon

Local students hit Wolf Ridge

Posted on 11 April 2015 by Calvin

Wolf Ridge Como Students iconFour Como students tried their hand at being student counselors at Wolf Ridge a late weekend in March. They went up to Wolf Ridge ELC with the Murray Environmental Inquiry Immersion class to help teacher Tim Chase and the Wolf Ridge staff. The Murray students and the Como counselors went on a backpacking trip, cooked their lunch on camp stoves, and later that Sunday, attended a career fair put on by the US Forest Service. The fire jumpers and the wildlife biologist were the biggest hits, and the forester and Steve Robertsen, District Interpreter, Tofte Ranger District of the Superior National Forest were also informative. The counselors responsibilities were to help the students get to classes on time, help facilitate the equipment use, time management, and dorm room community. Pictured are (from left to right) Tim Chase, Xeehlue Vang, Kari Gurney, Kelly Chase, Alyssa Brown, and Will Toney.

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Front Avenue Pottery again joins Crawl

Posted on 11 April 2015 by Calvin

Front-Ave.-Pottery-iconSouth Como artists Mary Jo Schmith, owner of Front Avenue Pottery, Jason Trebs of Jason Trebs Pottery and Jim Gindorff of Gindorff Landscape Photography, will host a studio event, sale and free workshops as part of this year’s St. Paul Art Crawl, Apr. 24-26. Six other local artists will also exhibit with them at Front Avenue Pottery, 895 Front Ave.

Activities will begin Fri., Apr. 24, 5-10pm. In addition to Schmith (functional ceramics), Trebs (functional ceramics/stoneware), Gindorff (panoramic landscape photograph), visitors will be able to view the works of Bell and Frank Barr of Faerie House (ceramic & metal faerie housing), Ann Fendorf of Ann Fendorf Pottery (functional ceramics, low fire), Luci Haas of Adorae Artworks (functional ceramics, porcelain), Jenny Levernier of JMML Designs: Silver & Stone (jewelry), Brett Monahan (functional ceramics, stoneware), and Steve Wicklund (functional ceramics, porcelain).
Apr. 24, from 5-9pm, visitors will be able to try their hands at the potter’s wheel.

On Sat. Apr. 25, the doors will be open from 10am-8pm, with free workshops (make a hanging wall vase or Father’s Day beer stein) planned between noon-5pm.

On Sun., Apr. 26, the open house and sale continues 11am-5pm, with a free workshop (collage cards with Faerie House’s Bell Barr) from noon-2pm.

All workshops during the tour at Front Ave Pottery are free, although contributions will be accepted to cover materials.

The St. Paul Art Crawl is an annual art, open studio event hosted and produced by the St. Paul Art Collective. You can visit 26 buildings across 6 neighborhoods and register to win a prize in the Art Crawl’s Passport Program. Metro transit is free during the crawl! You can find all the locations and more information at StPaulArtCrawl.org.

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Calling gardners  for 2015 Como tour

Calling gardners for 2015 Como tour

Posted on 10 April 2015 by Calvin

MasterGardenerThe Como Park Neighborhood Garden Tour is looking for gardeners of all abilities interested in sharing their hard work with the neighborhood during the annual garden tour on Sat., June 20. Each year, 12-15 gardens are featured on the tour, which attracts over 200 people from across the area. If you’re interested in participating, or wish to nominate a neighbor, please contact tour coordinator Frank Dolejsi at fdolejsi@comcast.net by Apr. 30.

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Zoning study of Hamline University campus expansion undertaken

Zoning study of Hamline University campus expansion undertaken

Posted on 10 April 2015 by Calvin


HamlineUnivLogoSome Hamline University neighbors have been concerned about the university’s purchase of properties outside of its city-set boundaries, and the demolition of homes. City officials have taken note.

How college, university and seminary campuses in St. Paul expand in the future could be affected by the results of a study launched Mar. 27 by the St. Paul Planning Commission. The commission, on recommendation of two of its committees, voted to launch a zoning study centered on the establishment and expansion of college, university, and seminary campuses. No timeline has been set for the study.

“We’d like to be able to better work with schools as they make their expansion plans,” said City Planner Josh Williams. “The intent is to make sure that campuses complement the neighborhoods they are in.”

“I would say we have heard a lot of particular concern about one campus,” Williams said, referring to Hamline University. But he also noted the controversy a decade ago over University of St. Thomas (UST) expansion, which prompted years of debate as well as a legal challenge. UST was able to expand its campus, but only after agreeing to several conditions, including selling properties it owned outside of its boundaries.

The study was initiated by city staff and affected institutions will be notified. “We want to make sure that we manage the impacts campuses can have on neighborhoods and help neighborhoods stay strong,” said Planning Director Donna Drummond.

Two schools, Macalester College and Hamline University, each own several properties outside of their boundaries. Macalester owns several homes and commercial buildings outside of its boundaries, and rents the properties out. Last year Macalester bought another commercial building in the “Mac Market” area of Grand Ave. and the former Immaculate Heart of Mary Church building on Summit Ave.

While the Macalester purchases have generated little attention and no controversy, Hamline University is in a high-profile fight with its neighbors over the purchase of neighborhood property. The university and neighbors are currently in a mediation process overseen by ward Four Council Member Russ Stark. Neighbors were angered last year when college-owned houses outside of the campus boundary were torn down with no notice to neighbors.

A staff report stated, “Over the past several years, a large number of single-family residential properties have been acquired by institutions of higher education in St. Paul. Some of these have been demolished and left as empty lots. The institutions undertaking these actions have done so in the absence of a clear plan for campus growth. This has raised substantial public concern over the potential for damage to the character and vitality of the residential neighborhoods surrounding these campuses.

“Since the 1980s St. Paul has used a conditional use permit process to regulate campus boundaries and growth. The conditional use permits are used to set campus boundaries as well as building heights and setbacks and other conditions on campus growth. Schools make annual reports to the city of information including enrollments, the number of dormitory beds and the number of off-street parking spaces.“…

Underlying zoning can affect whether a conditional use permit is needed. Nor does a campus have to have contiguous property to require a conditional use permit.”

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Como continues recent baby boom

Posted on 10 April 2015 by Calvin

SONY DSCComo Zoo is continuing its recent baby boom announced the addition of a baby western lowland gorilla to its troop. The female gorilla was born in late February to first-time mother Dara inside the day room of the Gorilla Forest exhibit.

It is extremely important for mom and baby to bond shortly after birth and for the baby to begin nursing. While bonding wasn’t an issue for the pair, nursing was in question. During the week after birth the zoo staff, medical and veterinary professionals were able to gain access to the baby for a physical that included giving the baby fluids. The baby was soon reunited with her mother and shortly after that regular, timely nursing began.

Typically Zoo staff will not intervene unless the health of the infant is compromised or the mother shows no motherly instinct. In this case, the baby and mother were able to work out the situation with guidance from the Como Zoo staff and medical and veterinary professionals.

As a tribute to the late Arlene Scheunemann, often referred to as Como’s “Zoo Mom,” the baby will be named “Arlene”. Beginning in 1968 and spanning 45 years, Arlene Scheunemann was mother to four human children and foster mom to over 200 wild animals in her home. Arlene was responsible for the care and feeding of newborn animals such as tigers, orangutans, and gorillas in the days before Como had the facilities to care for infant animals.

Gorillas have an eight and a half month gestation period followed by an unassisted birthing process. Offspring are born nearly helpless except to cling to their mother’s fur and to nurse. Young gorillas stay with their mothers for several years after birth. At birth, baby gorillas weigh between 4 and 5 pounds. Each animal at Como Zoo has its own Birth Management Plan. Como has been recognized by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) as a leader in gorilla care and conservation for 56 years.

Gorilla mothers are very protective of their babies. A gorilla mother will carry the baby on her chest for the first three months. At about 6-months-old the baby will move to ride on the mother’s back and begin playing and moving around on the ground close to mother. “Gorillas are very family oriented,” said Jo Kelly, Senior Zookeeper. “Mom will let other family members see the baby and they will take their cues from mom as to how close they can be.” When the baby is older and able to move around on its own, other family members, including dad, will play with the baby.

The baby’s father, Schroeder, a 29-year-old silverback Western lowland gorilla, has been at Como Zoo since 1991. Schroeder’s troop includes females Dara (11), Nne (26 and pronounced E-Nee), and Alice (12) who also gave birth to a baby in November 2014, but sadly her baby passed away shortly after birth. Alice and Dara both came to Como Zoo as part of the AZA Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP). The Gorilla SSP serves 52 zoos across the United States to help guide the management of the gorilla population.

With this recent addition, Como Zoo continues its involvement in the Gorilla SSP. One of the SSP’s most important roles is to manage gorillas as a population to ensure that the population remains healthy, genetically-diverse and self-sustaining. Native to the lowland forests of Central and Western Africa, Western lowland gorillas are critically endangered. Commercial hunting for meat, habitat loss and disease are contributing factors to their status in the wild.

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Bikes icon

St. Paul biking resources abound

Posted on 10 April 2015 by Calvin


Bikes iconThe City of St. Paul is currently designated as a bronze level “bicycle friendly community” by the Bicycle Alliance of America. With the recent adoption of the St. Paul Bicycle Plan (SPBP), that designation may well rise to silver—or maybe even gold.

In a recent press release, Mayor Chris Colemen said, “This long-term, comprehensive plan will transform our neighborhoods over time. It will help to ensure a balanced, equitable approach to transportation infrastructure, improved safety and quality of life, new economic opportunities and better access for people of all ages.”

The approved SPBP calls for an additional 197 miles of bicycle trails, boulevards and protected lanes for safe travel. Once completed, this will link 350 miles of biking throughways within the City of St. Paul. (See story on page 4.)

Whether you’re new to the sport or a seasoned cyclist, there are many resources near-by to help make your biking experience great.

If you don’t own a bike and want give it a try, consider renting one for an hour or a day through Nice Ride Minnesota. Their slogan is, “Public bikes for everyone—fast, affordable and fun.” They have rental stations in Hamline-Midway all along University Ave., corresponding with the Green Line stops. It’s easy to rent a bike with a credit or debit card at any of the stations. They’re getting an early start on the season this year and, weather permitting, plan to be up and rolling by Apr. 3.Their website is full of useful information, including fun day-trip routes around town and a valuable section on bike safety. Check it out at www.niceridemn.org.

If you have your own bicycle and it needs some work, there are several reputable shops within an easy bike ride from Hamline-Midway.

To the south are Boehm’s Cycling, Express Bike Shop, Now Bikes and Grand Performance, all of which can get you ready for spring.

To the east, at 712 University Ave. (near Grotto) is an innovative non-profit bike cooperative called Cycles for Change. Their mission is to build a diverse and empowered community of bicyclists, by helping people learn to maintain and repair their own bikes. While full-service repair for pay is an option, they encourage cyclists to come into the store during open shop times, to use their tools and ask questions of their mechanics on staff – all at no charge. The spring schedule for Open Shop is

Tuesday from 4-8pm (for women and transgender); Wednesday from 3-9pm and Sunday from 12-5pm, when everyone is welcome.

All MTC buses, the Blue, Green and North Star train lines are now equipped with bike racks. The racks will hold most wheel and frame sizes, except recumbents. There is no extra charge to use the bike racks and if you would like to practice loading your bike in a stationary setting, come on down to Cycles for Change or, another hub of bicycling wisdom, called St. Paul Smart Trips.

St. Paul Smart Trips (56 East 5th St., #202) is a TMO, or Transportation Management Organization. Their role is to collaborate with advocates, neighbors, workplace representatives and government staff—all working to address the transportation needs of the people of St. Paul.

Executive Director Jessica Treat, whose family is car-free by choice, is an enthusiastic supporter of bicycle commuting. “St. Paul Smart Trips helps people explore their options for getting around town, whether by foot, bike or transit. The goal of the organization is to provide information on healthy, environmentally friendly and economical ways to reduce car travel,” Treat said.

If the prospect of changing your transportation habits feels daunting, the staff at Smart Trips can help you understand your options—and they’ll be the first to remind you that one smart trip at a time, every little bit helps. Find them at www.smart-trips.org to learn more.

To experience one of the collaborative planning models that will support the SPBP as it becomes reality, mark your calendar. On Sat., Apr. 25 from 12-4pm, the Friendly Streets Initiative (FSI) will co-host an event on the Griggs Pedestrian Bridge over I-94. This family-friendly event, part of FSI’s Better Bridges Plan, will give residents a chance to share their thoughts on how to improve the Hamline, Lexington and Griggs Bridges over the freeway, making them safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

Friendly Streets Initiative is a non-profit partnership whose mission is to engage St. Paul residents in transforming their neighborhoods. They do this by employing a variety of creative and interactive strategies. Executive director Lars Christensen said, “We’ve learned that if you want to have a good community conversation, you have to have fun!” To that effect, the Apr. 25 gathering will feature food, music, art-making and lots of conversation.

To see an example of their work in action, ride the Charles Ave. Bike Blvd. which runs four miles from Aldine to Park streets. The boulevard was conceived and built over the past four years and, pending final funding, will be completed this year. It sports safer crossings for cyclists and pedestrians, traffic-calming measures in the form of traffic circles instead of stop signs, stenciling on the streets to remind motorists that this is a bicycle boulevard, improved signage and more.

If all this talk about exercise is making you hungry, plan a visit to Trotter’s Cafe (232 Cleveland Ave. N.) where every Saturday night is Local’s Night from 5-8pm. Neighbors who live within 2 miles of the cafe get a 10% discount. Reduce your carbon footprint by walking, biking or busing to Trotter’s, and they’ll discount another 5%. There’s free music every Saturday from 6-8pm as well.

As the city moves into this new era of improved and sustainable transportation options, it becomes clear that not only is the physical infrastructure of St. Paul changing, but also the infrastructure of information and resources that support it.

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After tough patch, things looking up at Hampden Park Co-op

Posted on 16 March 2015 by robwas66


Caitlin Chandra is in the midst of her three-month externship at Hampden Park Co-op. The externship is the last step of her education from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, and she is devoting her time to creating new salads and sandwiches for the deli. (Photo by Jan Willms)


As spring beckons around the corner, the Hampden Park Co-op at 928 Raymond Ave. is looking forward to its busy season. Greg Junge, who took over as general manager last August, said he has been working under a fast learning curve.

“There have been a lot of immediate things that had to happen, and I have stayed very focused,” he noted. “The store needed to be more profitable.”

Faced with the recession, light rail construction on University Ave. and additional road construction on Raymond Ave., the co-op has struggled the past year. But with the support of its members, customers and the community, the Hampden Park Co-op is reviving.

Members had been asked to voluntarily return some of their discounts, and Junge said that to date the co-op has received $4,000 in returned discount money.

“This just shows the strength of the cooperative,” he said.

A new floor has been installed in the kitchen, an upgrade that was a necessity.
“We’ve become more efficient, using tools that are available to us in the co-op world,” Junge said.

The general manager of the River Market Co-op in Stillwater, along with some of his staff, conducted a mini-audit. “They showed us what is working for them,” Junge said. “That has helped us in staying true to who we are.”

In adding some fresh paint to the walls and ceiling, the Hampden Park Co-op operators queried the members for input. “We received 108 comments with ideas about colors for the walls,” Junge said. The colors chosen were Navajo White, Rendezvous Blue and a burn orange. “These are colors we can use that will work with the building,” Junge added.

He said the history of the building is important and can’t be replaced.

But with his background in retail and the culinary arts, Junge is promoting new ideas for the co-op as well. The store has partnered with Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Mendota Heights and has brought in a student to serve an externship with the store.

“It’s the first time one of their externships has been with a deli,” Junge said. Caitlin Chanda is starting her third week of the three-month externship. She has completed all the classes of her 21-month program, and she is now devoting her full time to creating new salads and sandwiches for the Hampden Park Co-op.

Her instructor, Auggie Austreng, has suggested a few trends that are gaining headway in the culinary arts. He said that pig fat or lard is making a comeback, with people tending to use that instead of Crisco. Oysters are being spotlighted, and seaweed is gaining popular use in soups, sauces and vegetable dishes. He sees flavored honey, yogurt and hummus being used more frequently in recipes.

Chanda said she has been creating dishes at the Co-op using ingredients that people don’t generally cook with, such as pasta with dried seaweed in the pasta dough to add color and a subtle flavor.

“I’ve thought of an apple and celeriac slaw with maple or honey,” Chanda said. She is also considering stuffed mushrooms with either tofu or sausage, mixed with mozzarella, green onion and spices and topped with wonton strips for some crunch.

While Chanda will bring new creations to the deli, another new factor in the co-op is renting the space above the store to the Twin Cities Aikido Center, a well known martial arts school.

“It’s a good fit,” said Junge.  While martial arts strengthen the body and mind, the co-op can provide a lot of nutrients. “The parents can shop while the students are attending classes,” he said. “This can also bring exposure to the co-op.”

While working on innovations at the co-op, Junge has also been participating in the community, joining a St. Paul advisory committee for development.  The group has been discussing renovations to Hampden Park, as well as preparing for some further road construction on Raymond Ave. in the fall. Junge said he would like the co-op to have a voice in the community.

Junge said the cold weather has been rough on business, but he has scheduled a lot of the work on the co-op to be done during these frigid days.

“We have taken ideas from our membership base and have tried to listen carefully to what they and the community want,” Junge said. “There’s been a lot to get done, but everyone has participated. And I think we’re going to have a strong spring season.”

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Midway Chamber names annual award winners

Posted on 16 March 2015 by robwas66

IOC3_15MidwayChamberLogoThe Midway Chamber of Commerce has named the 2015 recipients of its annual leadership awards. The awards were given out at its annual celebration event and recognized different businesses, non-profits, and individuals, who go above and beyond in their support of the chamber and the Midway community through the volunteering of their time, staff, and other resources.

The winners of this years awards are:
— American Engineering Testing (AET)
received the award for large business of the year, sponsored by the Midway Lions Club. AET is an employee-owned corporation providing geotechnical, environmental, materials and forensics consulting and laboratory services to public and private sector clients in a broad spectrum of industries. AET has been a member of the Midway Chamber of Commerce for the past 14 years. AET was instrumental in taking the lead on implementing the now annual Economic Development Summit. They are members of the Sponsorship Circle at the Director’s level.
— Fenske Law Office received the award for the small business of the year, sponsored by the Roseville Visitors Association. Founded by Attorney Jeff Fenske, Fenske Law Office assists businesses with all of their legal needs, and individuals in the areas of estate planning and probate, real estate, and family law. Most recently, Fenske volunteered his time to assist and establish a Midway Chamber Foundation making it possible for the Chamber to expand its programming and offer additional benefits to membership.
— Episcopal Homes received the award for organization/non-profit of the year, sponsored by Mahoney Ulbrich Christiansen & Russ P.A. Episcopal Homes offers a continuum of senior living options and affordability. They have been welcoming people from all walks of life for 121 years. Episcopal Homes has been a Midway Chamber of Commerce member for the past 16 years and they participate in Economic Development meetings as an attendee, presenter and host. Throughout the years they have made amazing financial investments in the Midway area bringing growth and future possibilities.
— The Turf Club received the rookie of the year award, sponsored by the St. Paul Saints Baseball Club. The Turf Club is a bar, restaurant and music venue in St. Paul. It was originally a dance hall in the 1940s. Since the 1990s, the Turf Club has been a popular venue for national and international touring acts. In 2013, the owners of First Avenue purchased The Turf Club and gave it a substantial remodel.
The Turf Club has shown its commitment to the Midway area by investing in its building and business model. They have recently renovated the interior and are expanding their services by offering a full lunch menu. The Turf Club has openly embraced participating in the Midway Chamber of Commerce by joining and immediately coming on board as the presenting sponsor for the Midway Chamber Business Afterhours.
— Jamison Randall of Latuff Brothers Auto Body received the volunteer of the year award, sponsored by Davis Communications and Zipko Strategy. Randall is the consummate volunteer for the Midway Chamber of Commerce and is actively involved with Chamber activities. He is engaged as a Board member, Co-Chair of the Ambassador Committee and has been a major contributor to the success of our Lunch on the Line program.

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Local doctor elected treasurer of state association

Posted on 16 March 2015 by robwas66

IOC3_15DoctorDr. Matt Bauer was elected to Treasurer of the Minnesota Optometric Association (MOA) at its recent annual meeting.  Dr. Bauer practices at Open Cities, 409 N. Dunlap St., where he started the full time non-profit eye clinic. Dr. Bauer has been a committed member of the MOA since he joined the statewide association in 2011. He has served on the MOA Board of Trustees as well as the association’s Education Committee and the Third Party Committee. He has been a strong advocate for accessibility of eye healthcare in his practice, and has worked with the MOA to secure grants in the areas of diabetic eye health and children’s vision. He has both hosted and participated in public events to promote awareness and prevent vision loss.

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