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Local author comes out with his 15th book in O’Connor series

Posted on 10 October 2016 by Calvin

Photos and story by JAN WILLMS
kent-kruegerReaders of award-winning local author William Kent Krueger (photo right) have had a chance this September to renew their acquaintance with Cork O’Connor, the Irish and Ojibwe lawman who is the main protagonist in a series of 15 novels by Krueger.

His new book, “Manitou Canyon,” follows O’Connor into the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness as he sets out on a search for a man who has vanished from the area. O’Connor’s family becomes entwined in the quest as the level of danger increases for them all.

The O’Connor mysteries have an established sense of place, Aurora, MN. Although there is a town by that name in the state, the fictional Aurora exists in a county called Tamarack. “You will not find a Tamarack County in Minnesota,” Krueger noted. “The fictional town just happens to share a name with a real town. But anyone who has read my books and has been to the real Aurora will find they are very different places.”

Although Krueger was born in Wyoming, he said he fell in love with Minnesota when he moved here. “I was a gypsy kid before that. I lived everywhere, and I never found a place that felt like home. I have a deep love for this adopted state of mine.”

Krueger added that unlike some who have grown up in Minnesota and lived here their whole lives, he sees the state with fresh eyes. “Its beauty is new to me, and it always amazes me.”

Krueger said that like many Twin Citians, he and his wife have been drawn to the North Country and it has become their favorite place to vacation. Krueger, who has enriched his O’Connor books with Ojibwe (Anishinabe) culture, said that his awareness, and everything he knows about the tribe, didn’t begin until he decided to include them as an element of his work.

“The first thing we did was discover the North Country. We began spending time at a YMCA camp, Camp Du Nord, north of Ely,” Krueger explained.

“It was literally across the road from the Boundary Waters, and I knew that was where I wanted to set my work. And you can’t tell true stories of the North Country without including the Ojibwe because their power up there is ubiquitous; it is everywhere.”

He said his decision to focus much of his work on the Ojibwe culture was influenced by his admiration for the work of Tony Hillerman, an iconic writer in the mystery genre who has his work set in the Four Corners area of the Southwest and dealt significantly with the Navajo.

“At that time there were not many besides Hillerman doing native mysteries; there are a lot more now. I knew nothing about the Ojibwe, but I was a cultural anthropology major in college and so the idea of learning about the culture was interesting,” Krueger continued. “I began by doing what every good academic does, and read everything I could get my hands on about the Ojibwe. In the course of that research, I met members of the native community and formed relationships that have been significant to me across the whole body of my work.” In 1998 he wrote “Iron Lake,” the first Cork O’Connor novel.

“As a writer, I try to give my readers interesting plots,” Krueger said. “But that’s not why they come back. They come back to visit the people that they have fallen in love with over the course of the series.”

He described two kinds of characters. “When you decide you are going to write a mystery series with a central protagonist at the heart of it, you really only have two choices. You can have a static protagonist, somebody who never changes and never ages. Sherlock Holmes is a classic example of that,” Krueger said.

“A dynamic protagonist like Cork is a character who changes. What happens in one story affects the way he behaves in the next. He ages, his experience changes and the growth of his children and how they change affects how he looks at the world.”

Krueger said that for him, writing the developing character, rather than being difficult, keeps it interesting. “When I sit down to write a new book in the Cork O’Connor series, I’m not writing about the same people. What happened in the past story has changed them deeply. So it’s always to me an interesting journey to find out where the O’Connor clan is.”

In one of his books, someone close to Cork is killed off, and Krueger said some of the readers were upset by that and continue to be.

“When I finished the first draft, that person was still alive because that is what I wanted,” Krueger stated. “I read it to make sure the arc of the story worked. It was the ending I wanted, but it was not the ending the story wanted. If I have learned one thing in my career as a storyteller, it is that at some point the story takes on a life of its own. You have to step away from it and let that story go where it wants to go. So I rewrote it with the ending it has now, knowing it would upset a lot of people. But it was the right ending for the story.”

Stepping away from one of his books when needed is something Krueger can do when he feels it is best. He has written 15 Cork O’Connor novels, a thriller called “The Devil’s Bed” and the book he considers his best, “Ordinary Grace,” a cross between a mystery and a coming of age novel. This garnered him the Edgar, Barry, Anthony and Macavity awards in 2014. He had already earned awards for his O’Connor series.

He started work on “This Tender Land,” a companion novel to “Ordinary Grace.” He completed the manuscript and set up a meeting in Chicago with his agent to go over any changes he might want to make. “Two days before we met I contacted her and told her I did not want to meet to discuss revisions, but I wanted to talk about how we could keep this from being published because I was not happy with it. I knew if I was disappointed, my readers certainly would be.”

Krueger said that at this point he did not want to work on revisions, and he said he is fortunate to have a wonderful agent and an understanding publisher. “We renegotiated things, and when I let go of the horrible burdens and expectations of that story, I felt freed. It was like the sky above me cleared, and I saw the story I should have been writing.”

He began working on the novel, still titled “This Tender Land,” about six to eight months ago. The book is due out in 2018.

In the meantime, he completed “Manitou Canyon” and has started work on “Sulfur Springs,” an O’Connor novel that will take place in Arizona. “It may be my favorite in the series. I am having such fun with this book,” he said. That book is due out next fall.

Krueger said he does see parts of himself in O’Connor. “Because I know him so well, it’s probably all subconscious now. I am well aware that so much of Cork comes out of who I am, but it also works the other way. I have learned a great deal about myself in writing Cork.”

Krueger has done most of his writing in coffee shops in his neighborhood. He started out writing his manuscripts in longhand at the St. Clair Broiler. He eventually switched to a laptop and moved to the Como Park Grill. He now writes at the Caribou on Lexington and Larpenteur if he starts before 6:30am. If he starts after 6:30, he writes at the Underground Music Café on Hamline.

“I am a morning person,” he admitted. “I got that from Hemingway. He believed the first light was the most creative part of the day, and I figured what was good enough for Papa was good enough for me.”

He is currently making book tours with “Manitou Canyon.” “There are two things I love about what I do,” Krueger claimed. “One is writing, and the other is connecting with the audience. I love the touring. It gets tiring and is always rigorous, but I do it because I love connecting with my readers.”

Krueger said he has been asked if he is going to stop writing the Cork O’Connor novels. “If I were tired of them, I would. And as soon as I get tired of writing Cork, I will stop. But I so love the series; I want to continue that journey, and I have no plans at this point to stop.”

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Port Authority ready if needed for superblock redevelopment

Posted on 10 October 2016 by Calvin

If help is needed, the St. Paul Port Authority is poised to step in with redevelopment of Midway Center and a Major League Soccer stadium. On a 6-0 vote Sept, 27, the Port Authority Board designated the area as an industrial development district.

That designation allows the Port to buy or lease land at the Snelling-Midway property if negotiations don’t proceed between the Minnesota United FC soccer team and center owner RK Midway. Part of the stadium would be located on land currently owned by RK Midway. The rest would be on the former bus garage site owned by Metro Transit and Metropolitan Council.

The Port’s action affects the shopping center property but not the old bus barn site.

superblock-photoImage left: It has only been a little over six months since the first conceptual illustrations of the “superblock” were unveiled. Of course, this is just a conceptualization…what it will finally look like after many years of development is still speculation. (Photo supplied)

Port President Lee Krueger characterized the action as a preemptive move, as did Board President Harry Melander. They said it doesn’t mean that the Port will redevelop the site, but will be ready if need be. Kruger said the Port has developed almost 80 similar districts over the years but didn’t do site development in many of them. He said other decisions for the RK Midway property would be made in the future if need be.

The Port has established similar districts in the past in the North End, Frogtown, West Side, West End and East Side neighborhoods. Most of have been for light industrial and office uses. None have been for the same type of office-retail-hospitality mixed envisioned at the Midway Center site.

Board and City Council members Dan Bostrom and Dai Thao expressed the most reservations about the district designation. Bostrom said he doesn’t want the Port to move in a direction different than what was agreed to earlier this year. A pact approved then has the Port leading environmental cleanup efforts and the city working with the soccer team and property owners on infrastructure.

Council Member Dan Bostrom, who is on the Port Authority’s board, said he did not anticipate that level of involvement from the city or Port Authority, which is a public agency, in the private development. He questioned whether the city was involved in a “bait-and-switch” deal. Thao shared Bostrom’s concerns about the level of potential public financing commitment.

But Krueger and others said the action should only be seen as an initial step. Any further actions to implement a district or spend money would have to come back to the board.

The Port is continuing to work on environmental cleanup of the property, said Monte Hilleman, Port Authority vice president. About $3 million has been found to clean up the old bus barn site.

As for the redevelopment of the center and soccer stadium construction itself, there are still more questions than answers. Gov. Mark Dayton indicated last month that a special legislative session, which would have included a tax break for construction materials and for the site, won’t happen. That pushes any action off to the 2017 session.

Team owner Bill McGuire hasn’t been saying much, other than that it is “too involved” and a complex project to move ahead. He told a Midway Chamber audience last month that he doesn’t want to conduct business “in the newspaper.”

Teams officials had hoped to break ground in May or June. That has been pushed back to an unknown date. The team still hopes to play at a new stadium in 2018.

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HMC Executive Director battling anxiety and depression

Posted on 10 October 2016 by Calvin

As Michael Jon Olson works his way back to full-time hours, he opens up about his struggles

michael-jon-olsonIt wasn’t easy to admit to himself, but Michael Jon Olson (photo right, photo by Tesha M. Christensen) is anxious and depressed.

The Hamline Midway Coalition Director was out of the office for much of the summer due to his health condition but is working his way back to full-time.

He expects his recovery to be two steps forward, one step back with some days feeling like he’s gone only one step forward and fallen two steps back.

It all started when he bought a house
Olson has been active in community organizing since he bought a house in the challenging Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis in 1995. While there, he served on the Ventura Village Board of Directors. Next, he was employed as program coordinator by the Seward Neighborhood Group, and, in 2005, he was recruited to apply for the executive director position at the Hamline Midway Coalition.

“I enjoy the diversity of the work,” explained Olson. “I get to work on a lot of different kinds of issues.”

Plus, he finds it appealing to have a hand in the development and evolution of a city.

An indefinite medical leave
But in July of this year, Olson’s health had deteriorated such that he could no longer do the work he loved, and Hamline Midway Coalition went to a low-power state. He realized it was the pressure of the work that was causing his poor health.

“He was trying to fight through it, but a few months ago he came to the board and told us what was going on,” recalled HMC Board President Steve Samuelson, who called Olson “a tremendous asset for the neighborhood.”

Samuelson added, “It’s one of those things that people don’t like to talk about. But I think bringing it out into the open is good for everyone.”

Out in the open
In December 2015, Olson caught a serious viral infection that hung on for weeks and disrupted his sleep patterns.

While vacationing in Mexico in February, Olson began experiencing sensations in his ears. Initially, he thought it was simply water stuck there from swimming. A few days after he returned home, he caught the flu. The sensation in his ears continued, and, in April, he was diagnosed with tinnitus, or ringing in the ears.

Over the next several months, the diagnoses continued to add up: hearing loss in his left ear, Eustachian Tube Dysfunction (a misdiagnosis), Tensor Tympani Syndrome, and Misophonia.
Finally, a specialist suggested his physical symptoms were due to anxiety.

“They’re all indicators of an anxiety disorder,” explained Olson. He pieced things together slowly over time “to understand that the physical symptoms were manifestations of anxiety and depression.”

He doesn’t know what came first, the physical symptoms of his ears or the depression, anxiety, and insomnia. “It’s impossible to untangle,” Olson said, but that’s what he began trying to do.

Anxiety and depression are hard to treat
He didn’t want to accept his diagnosis. So he had a CAT scan and an MRI, and he was evaluated for brain cancer. “I was looking at everything for some explanation besides anxiety and depression,” Olson said. “There was a part of me that didn’t want this to be anxiety and depression.

“If you have a physical malady, that’s easy to see and treat. Anxiety and depression are so much harder to diagnose and treat.”

Olson started trying different medications and scheduled an appointment with a psychiatrist—for three months in the future, the soonest opening available. He went to see chiropractors, a homeopath, a psychologist and various other specialists. He stopped drinking alcohol and caffeine and cut down on refined sugars.

At one point, he had lost 40 pounds and was on the verge of developing an eating disorder.
Then he hit rock bottom. On Aug. 30, his dark suicidal thoughts drove Olson into a psychiatric emergency room.

There he was finally was able to meet with a psychiatrist.

“One of the things I’ve learned from this is how poorly our medical system is set up for dealing with all of this,” observed Olson.

His general practitioner prescribed the first depression and anxiety medications, but no one had sat him down and said: “You know what you need? A psychiatrist.”

The emergency room psychiatrist began tweaking his medication, prescribing one for the long-term and another for short-term symptoms.

His current psychiatrist has adjusted his medication again. “Part of the process is figuring out what medications will work,” remarked Olson.

It’s not an easy task considering that his body does not metabolize antidepressants well, a result confirmed by the P-450 genetic test. The test explained some of his earlier reactions to the medication.

Anxiety and depression are widespread
All along, Olson’s struggle has included feelings of self-loathing “because I wasn’t able to work or be fully present in my home life,” he said. “When you’re in that kind of state, suffering from anxiety and depression disorder, you can’t help but think those things. It’s where your mind goes.”

He has often felt like he destroyed the wonderful organization he built, something his board of directors assures him isn’t true. They remind him: “You didn’t choose this. You are dealing with a medical condition. Nobody chooses to struggle with these kinds of issues.” Intellectually, he knows this is true, but he can’t always help himself from feeling otherwise.

Through his struggle, Olson has learned just how common anxiety and depression are. When he talks with friends and others he knows, he’s often told they’ve also suffered from anxiety and depression, or someone they love has.

“I think it is a bigger issue than we acknowledge in this culture,” remarked Olson. “I want people to know how widespread it is.”

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18% of the population.

Major Depressive Disorder is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15 to 44, and it affects more than 15 million American adults in a given year.

“The number of people struggling with depression has increased by 10 percent every decade since 1910,” pointed out Olson.

While the medical system is better than it used to be, it still isn’t well equipped for dealing with anxiety and depression, said Olson. “We don’t understand how the mind-body connection works.”
He thinks there is much to be learned from some of the alternative practices, such as yoga and mindfulness techniques.

One of the big issues right now is that the system is fragmented. “It’s not like you can walk into a center for anxiety and depression, and see specialists who will work together as a team. It’s up to you to put things together when you’re in a really bad state of mind.”

Mind-body connection lost
Olson hopes people start recognizing that the roots of the anxiety and depression affecting so many is due to our cultural practices. “We are a very individualist society and people don’t have strong bonds of community. We, as a species, came of age in very tight-knit tribal or clan communities.

There have been studies done that show where this still exists you don’t have the level of mental illness, of anxiety and depression, that you have in our society.”

Today, technology disguises itself as a community, but Facebook, Twitter and such are very different than face-to-face encounters, Olson observed.

“What we’re learning about mental health illnesses is the loss of mind-body connection,” he pointed out. “We spend so much time in front of screens we lose our connection to our body and other people.”

Regaining that connection is an important part of his healing process.

HMC in reflective period
As he returns to work, HMC is embarking on an effort to redefine itself.

hmc-staffOn Sept. 1, Melissa Cortes moved from volunteer to full-time employee, filling the community organizer role vacated by Kyle Mianulli in July. Christine Shyne has been contracted to lend a hand in the office as needed.

Photo left: Hamlin Midway Coalition is no longer on a low power state. Melissa Cortes (left) has filled the community organizer role vacated by Kyle Maniulli in July. Christine Shyne (right) has been contracted to lend a hand in the office as needed. Executive Director Michael Jon Olson (center) is working his way back to full-time. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

“Regardless of my situation, the organization is in need of a good reflective period,” observed Olson. “We’ve really come through a very active, very involved period with a lot of balls in the air. Part of that is what contributed to my getting overwhelmed.”

Several projects, that the HMC served as fiscal agent for, need to be wrapped up and closed out, including the Friendly Streets, Better Bridges Initiative; St. Paul Healthy Transportation for All; and the Midway Mural Project.

HMC also recognizes that funding challenges lie ahead, and wants to prepare for them.

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Neighborhood celebrates Prior Bridge re-opening

Posted on 10 October 2016 by Calvin

Story and photos by MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
In an ambitious summer of road repair, nine St. Paul bridges across I-94 experienced partial or full closure this summer. The budget for the project was $4.3 million and included bridge repair at Pelham, Cretin, Cleveland, Prior, Pascal, Hamline, Lexington, Victoria and Dale streets and avenues.

The longest closure was expected to be Prior Ave., and it was. For four months beginning Apr. 27, the Prior Ave. Bridge was closed for an overhaul that included a full deck replacement, new railings, and improved lighting.

The neighborhood celebrated the bridge’s re-opening at Merriam Terrace Park at with activities for all ages just before the bridge opened to traffic at 8pm Aug. 30.

Kevin Walker, MnDOT communication and engagement director, said, “This was a chance for us to say ‘thank you’ to the neighborhood residents and business owners, the Union Park District Council and the Merriam Park Recreation Center. Everyone has been supportive and very patient.”

“In advance of the project,” Walker explained, “we talked with every nearby business owner about the possible impact this closure might have. The original Prior Ave. Bridge was built in 1966. We expect this one to last another fifty years.”

Walker said that the “Prior Ave. Bridge reconstruction is part of the City of St. Paul’s Bike Plan. With its spacious bike lanes and buffers, it will provide a safe north-south route for bikers for years to come.”

prior-bridge-opening-01Photo left: Crews worked up until the last minute marking and taping lane dividers. The new bridge has 10’ wide sidewalks, 6’ wide bike lanes and 6’ wide buffers in both directions and 12’ wide lanes for automobiles.



Photo right: Terry Barnes (left) and Lili Zoltai (right) explore the new bridge. The Prior Ave. Bridge was one of nine bridges undergoing repair across I-94 between Pelham Blvd. and Dale St. this summer.





prior-bridge-opening-17Photo left: One of two bands performing was Eli’s Sons, local “public figures” as they like to call themselves, and solid musicians playing around town.





prior-bridge-opening-20Photo right: At the Prior Ave. Bridge Community Social, bikers of all ages decorated their bikes. Free bike tune-ups were offered by the Express Bike Shop. A social enterprise of Keystone Community, they reinvest 100% of their proceeds into their urban apprenticeship program – developing the work, leadership, and entrepreneurship skills of neighborhood youth.




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Republican, DFL candidates vie off in State Representative races

Posted on 10 October 2016 by Calvin

When you head out to the polls on Tue., Nov. 8, you’ll get the opportunity to select your top picks for national and state offices.

Local state representative races include Districts 64A, 65A, and 66B.


erinmurphy64aErin Murphy (I) – DFL
Murphy graduated from high school in Janesville, Wis., and later attended the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh, receiving her B.S. in nursing in 1984. She earned her M.A. in organizational leadership in health care from St. Catherine University in 2005, and also attended the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota from 2005 to 2006.
Murphy has set four priorities:
1) Universal Access to Preschool and Early Learning Opportunities;
2) An Economy that Benefits All;
3) Student Loan Debt; and
4) Economic Security for Women.

She believes the issue of high-quality, cost-free universal access to preschool and early learning opportunities is crucial for Minnesota’s future for many different reasons, including the need to equitably educate our children and close the achievement gap. She also sees it as an economic issue about providing flexibility and opportunities for families of all incomes.

For Murphy, ensuring access to paid family leave and earned sick leave will mean working Minnesotans can meet family obligations without the fear of jeopardizing their livelihood.

She supports policies to relieve the burden of student loan debt, including legislation that would dramatically reduce the cost of college for current and future students, while significantly reducing the existing debt that many Minnesotans are saddled with.

Murphy supports keeping contraception accessible and affordable, promotes health and economic security for women and their families, and that’s why she will seek to pass the CHEER Act.

Murphy also supports legislation requiring all of Minnesota’s two- and four-year colleges to develop, in concert with their students, student policies requiring affirmative consent before engaging in sexual activity.

rileyhoranimg_5770Riley Horan – R
Horan, a 20-year old college student at the University of St. Thomas, is presently a business law major. During his freshman year, he joined the College Republican’s Club. Horan is presently employed as an intern at a dynamic law firm in downtown St. Paul and plans to attend law school after completing his undergraduate degree.

Horan was born and raised in Northern California and is the eldest of five children. He is a practicing Catholic and was educated in the parochial school system.

Horan bills himself as a young conservative with bold ideas.

He will support any legislation that cuts income taxes for individuals and families, and would like to see the corporate income tax rate cut to loosen the grip that regulations place on small businesses in Minnesota. Horan supports support Right to Work laws.

Rather than offering universal, free, Pre-K to all, Horan proposes that scholarships be offered to qualifying low-income households. He supports school choice, and legislation allowing school districts to hire and fire based on performance, rather than tenure.

Horan believes that colleges must cut needless spending, forgo the daycare-like atmosphere, and operate more like true businesses to reduce student debt.

On the social side, Horan is for completely defunding Planned Parenthood of all taxpayer money, and believes Republicans should end the fight against limiting the freedoms of men and women in the LGBT community.

He would increase funding for the police, eliminate the MNsure program, and use the budget surplus to address evolving road and bridge infrastructure needs. Horan is pro-gun and pro-second amendment. Rather than limit the rights of law-abiding gun owners, he supports additional funding to combat mental health.


moniquegiordana_headshot_300_dpiMonique Giordana, R
Giordana’s mother taught her you can learn something from every single person you meet. Giordana’s Portuguese father immigrated to the United States to live the American dream where he ran a small business garden center. These lessons drive Monique’s passion to see every person achieve their dreams and live their lives to the fullest.

Raised in Minnesota, Giordana now works at Regions Hospital as a cancer center clinical pharmacist.

She graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Doctor of Pharmacy and went on to complete additional education and training by completing a general pharmacy residency at the VA North Texas Healthcare Center, a Hematology/Oncology specialty pharmacy residency at Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, and board certification in oncology pharmacy.

Giordana believes every family deserves affordable healthcare and the freedom to choose their healthcare team.

She would end big bonuses for executives at MNsure and save individuals and families money on health insurance over the next three years. She supports reforms that lower health insurance costs and provide more health care options.

Giordana advocates for greater local control of how education money is spent and believes teachers should be fairly compensated and rewarded based on effectiveness not just years of service.
She supports tax relief and would get rid of unnecessary business laws, taxes and regulations.

She decries the gridlock and partisan politics that are hurting St. Paul and all the residents of 65A.
Giordana promises to lead the difficult and complicated conversations necessary to bring all police officers, early education, public schools, families, and neighbors together to find solutions. It’s not about us versus them.

renamoran65aRena Moran (I) – DFL
Moran is the mother of seven children. Twelve years ago, she moved to the Twin Cities in search of a better life for her kids. Homeless, she and her children stayed in a Minneapolis shelter for several months. It wasn’t long before she and her family went from homeless to homeowners. She found her first job in Minnesota earning minimum wage at Camp Snoopy, then at the YMCA on University Ave. before moving on to work at a commodities trading firm in downtown Minneapolis for five years. During this time, she began to get involved in social change work. After five years, she left the comforts of her corporate job to become a Wellstone Organizing Fellow and embark on her new vocation of community organizing. Moran was sworn into office on Jan. 4, 2011 as the First African American to represent St. Paul at the Capitol.

She is a member of the following committees: Education Innovation Policy, Greater Minnesota Economic and Workforce Development Policy and Health and Human Services Reform. Also, Governor Mark Dayton appointed Moran to serve on the Minnesota Task Force on Prematurity, the Council of Black Minnesotans and with the Visible Child Work Group.

Moran has been endorsed by the AFL-CIO, AFSCME Minnesota Council 5, North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters, MAPE, Service Employees International Union, Minnesota Women’s Campaign Fund, International Union of Operating Engineers, and the Minnesota Nurses Association.

Moran earned her bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Southern Illinois University.

She also works in the non-profit sector as the Director of Parent Leadership with Minnesota Communities Caring for Children.


johnlesch66bJohn Lesch (I) – DFL
John Lesch was first elected in November of 2002. His focus in the legislature is on consumer protection, corporate accountability, liveable neighborhoods, economic opportunity, and data privacy.

Legislative committees on which he has served include: Taxes, Local and Property Tax Division; Regulated Industries, Gaming Division; Civil Law and Elections; Judiciary Policy and Finance; Governmental Operations and Veterans Affairs Policy; and Local Government and Metropolitan Affairs. Lesch currently serves as ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Civil Law.

Lesch has rallied to increase access to justice through the courts, for corporate accountability and other efforts that augment the people’s right to seek justice. He sat for two terms on the Minnesota Financial Crimes Task Force, charged with developing statewide procedures to investigate identity theft and other financial crimes.

For 15 years, in addition to his role as a legislator, Lesch prosecuted domestic assault crimes as an Assistant City Attorney for St. Paul. Lesch currently works at Lesch & Duren, a St. Paul firm specializing in criminal defense. In 2009, Lesch enlisted in the Minnesota National Guard where he currently serves as a staff officer in the 2-135 Light Infantry Battalion.

Lesch has been a Sunday School teacher and a member of his church finance council. Lesch was a founding member of South Como Block clubs and an active participant with the District 6 Community Council, North End Area Revitalization, and the Great Northern Corridor redevelopment.

Lesch earned his B.A. from Saint Louis University in 1995 with a double major in Philosophy and Psychology, and a J.D. from Hamline University School of Law in 1998 with a concentration in Government and Regulatory Affairs. He lives with his wife, Melissa, and daughter in St. Paul’s Como Park neighborhood.

William Brownell – R
Email: Brownell4house@gmail.com
No campaign website
William Brownell is a 2016 Republican candidate for District 66B of the Minnesota House of Representatives.

Brownell was a 2014 Democratic candidate who sought election to the U.S. House to represent the 5th Congressional District of Minnesota. Brownell failed to file with the Secretary of State to run in the primary election.


jonheyerJon Heyer – R    
Jon Heyer is a Minnesota native who grew up in the Roseville area. He and his wife Teri have lived in St. Paul for 30 years and together have two daughters, two son-in-laws, and two grandchildren. Heyer’s son-in-laws are both in the service–one in the United States Air Force and the other with the Minnesota Army National Guard.

A semi-retired church educator with over 35 years experience, Heyer has a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Minnesota and an M.A. in Theology from Saint Catherine University. Heyer currently serves as a board member of St. Paul District 10 Council.

He believes “we need to create more living wage jobs, improve our schools, and make public safety a top priority.”

On education, Heyer would restore local control to communities and parents. He believes that competition will improve school performance, pointing to examples of dozens of private and charter schools with much better test scores than the public system at significantly less cost per student.
Heyer points to the state’s recent budget surpluses as evidence of over-taxation and would hold the line and not raise taxes any further. He believes in spending money only on things we need, not loading up bonding bills with non-essential things.

Heyer supports reforming the Affordable Care Act and MNSure as he doesn’t think they are helping those they are meant to. Too many people are getting “insurance” that is far too expensive for them to use due to high deductibles and co-pays, and he would be creative in finding better ways.

A life member of Trout Unlimited, Heyer supports following existing regulatory guidance and stop obstructing well-regulated mining and logging, as well as reducing the amount of trash that ends up in landfills by promoting recycling, compostable, and organic waste collection, and programs to reuse items.

He points out that roads, bridges, and public buildings are crumbling due to neglect and urges the state to take care of what is there instead of embarking on expensive new projects.

Heyer believes that the best way to solve the challenges of the economy is to support small and mid-size business creation.

alicehausman66aAlice Hausman, (I) – DFL
Hausman has been in office since a special election in 1989 and has served 14 terms.
She earned a B.S. in education and an M.A. in education from Concordia University and is a retired educator. She is married and has two children.

After a 10-year effort to construct a new facility to house the state’s natural history museum, Rep. Hausman was successful in getting legislation enacted that authorizes funding for a new Bell Museum and Planetarium.

She was named the 2016 Legislator of the Year Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Minnesota.

She earned the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) 2014 Legislator of the Year award as chief author of the Bonds for Affordable Housing bill authorizing $20 million in state general obligation bonds for rehabilitation and preservation of public housing. The bill also provides $80 million in Housing Infrastructure Bonds to finance the preservation of affordable housing and to address foreclosure.

The Sierra Club North Star Chapter presented Hausman with its 2012 Legislative Leadership Award because she is a staunch opponent of sulfide mining. She also has been a longtime champion of efforts to restore wetlands, improve transit options, invest in parks and trails, and protect clean water.

Recognizing a perfect record on key conservation, energy, and clean water votes, Conservation Minnesota has presented Hausman with its 100% Minnesotan award.

The League of Minnesota Cities named Hausman a 2008 Legislator of Distinction.

For her work on housing issues, Lutheran Social Services presented Hausman with its Vision Award.
Hausman has received the Legislative Champion Award from the University of Minnesota Alumni Association.

She has been endorsed by AFSCME Council 5, Conservation Minnesota Voter Center, Education Minnesota, Minnesota AFL-CIO Committee on Political Education (COPE), NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Sierra Club, TakeAction Minnesota and the United Transportation Union.

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Transforming Central slider

Central High School transformed for its 150th anniversary year

Posted on 05 September 2016 by Calvin

Improved landscaping, stormwater management, outdoor classroom and paved pathway to Lexington part of project

When students arrived at Central High School for the start of the sesquicentennial school year, the “prison” looked a little more inviting.

IMG_3791SeatingAreaSmPhoto right: Members of the Transforming Central Committee and Principal Mary Mackbee survey the work being done to create the outdoor classroom in August 2016. “I’m super excited for the outdoor classroom and learning opportunities that the project is installing,” said senior Olive Murdoch Meyer, who is the co-president of Roots and Shoots. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

The transformation of the state’s oldest, continuously-operating, and only five-story high school campus began on June 13. It included improved landscaping and stormwater management, an outdoor classroom, and a paved pathway across campus to Lexington Pkwy.

Before these updates, longtime Principal Mary Mackbee described the front entryway as “bland.” As work progressed over the summer, she was looking forward to returning students passing through the project area and seeing all the new things in front. “It’s wonderful,” Mackbee stated.

“We always joked that Central resembled a prison—and maybe took some pride in that—but these updates will make it have a sense of place, make it feel like the great academic school it is,” stated St. Paul Council Member and Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Chris Tolbert, who graduated in 2001.

Tolbert praised the group of parents who have worked on this update for years. “This project would not have happened but for their persistence, dedication, and resourcefulness,” said Tolbert. “I hope that we can keep that level of dedication from parents for generations.”

IMG_3791SeatingAreaSmPhoto left: Members of the Transforming Central Committee are excited to see five years of work coming to fruition. The changes to the stormwater system and front plaza were sparked by students, staff, and parents. The project completion kicks off the sesquicentennial celebration of the school. Left to right: Ann Hobbie, Lisa Heyman, Maggie O’Reilly, Principal Mary Mackbee, Julie Marckel, Olive Murdoch Meyer and Nina Tuttle. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

Committee members included Deb Ahlquist, Beth Black, Amber Buckner, Patricia Eaves, Craig Davies, Sally Gagne, Kris Hageman, Lisa Heyman, Ann Hobbie, Margaret Jones, Julie Marckel, Dana Murdoch, Maggie O’Reilly, Jeff Risberg, and Nina Tuttle.

“We thought that Central’s drab and uninviting exterior did not reflect the diverse, welcoming and vibrant community inside,” observed committee member Heyman. “With the addition of the outdoor classroom and seated planters there will be so many more places to sit. The paved pathway to Lexington will bring dignity to all students. No longer will they trudge through the mud to get to their buses.”

Someone cared enough
“Appearance plays a big role in the way people feel,” remarked Adrian Perryman, a 2003 Central High School graduate and current Concordia University employee. “Knowing that someone cared enough to invest their time into this project will make students feel special. I don’t recall any improvements when I was a student, but the appearance of the school and the grounds was definitely a topic of discussion.”

According to Maggie O’Reilly, the effort to upgrade and renovate the outdoor campus started five years ago when parents on the committee noted the compacted soil on the grounds, excessive water runoff, worn trees and landscaping, and unattractive entrance. They also noted a need for outdoor seating and a paved walking path from the plaza to Lexington Ave.

The Transforming Central project officially got underway by a dedicated group of parents, students and community members in the fall of 2011 when the committee partnered with the Root and Shoots environmental awareness team and the National Honor Society to plant over 500 bulbs on the school grounds.

Next, they surveyed students, faculty, administrators, parents and community members to gather input on desirable exterior improvements, which was put together into a document that guided planning for the next few years.

Things really got moving in the summer of 2012 when students and parent volunteers planted the three large tiers that frame the front exterior stairway with native perennials and grasses thanks to private donations and school support. Committee member Julie Marckel recalled how two environmental classes spread out wood chips in the tiers to mulch the plants. Those classes, along with the National Honor Society and the Roots and Shoots, have continued to care for the grounds. “It’s a nice way to get the kids involved,” said Marckel.

Cleaning up water runoff
In November 2012, Central received a grant from the Capitol Region Watershed District (CRWD) to analyze storm water run-off at the site, and in September 2013, they got another CRWD grant for the stormwater retrofit project. More money came in later to make changes at the site, which included the removal of the berm areas in front of the school along Marshall Ave. and extensive excavation for the underground storm water treatment system that will also manage water draining from the roof. A large rain garden at the corner of Marshall and Lexington will beautify while collecting and filtering water.

Dead and diseased trees were removed and new ones planted. Memorial trees and shrubs planted over the years are being grouped in a Memorial Garden area. All of the new plantings will be native and hardy perennials, trees and shrubs, and will include many pollinator-friendly plants.

Impermeable surfaces are replaced with well-planned permeable ones.

“When the project is finished, 1,434,000 gallons of runoff each year will filter through the ground instead of flowing untreated to the Mississippi River, and 1,367 pounds of sediment will no longer erode,” pointed out Heyman. “Additionally, 4.23 pounds of phosphorous will no longer enter the Mississippi River watershed.”

Environmental science teacher Lisa Houdek and biology teacher Stacey Skinner received an educator’s grant from Capitol Region Watershed District to pay for curriculum and measurement tools. The system has been built so that students can access it to track how much water is in the system, the water quality, and more.

Several grants and donations have been raised over the years to make this project happen, with money coming from state organizations, civic and community groups, as well as private individuals.

The 2013 graduating class commissioned local artist Peter Morales to create a bench to be included in the new landscaping. Each graduating class since has donated money for the project, and Roots and Shoots raised money for the new red hanging bike racks that are located in the front alcoves.

Phase 2 will include art pieces that reflect the vibrancy/energy of Central students and the surrounding community, as well as additional lighting, benches and landscaping. “We are considering sculptures and banner-like art commissioned by local St. Paul artists,” said O’Reilly. Discussions about the art and fundraising for the $100,000 shortfall continue.
Outdoor classroom

A highlight for many is the new outdoor classroom, fashioned out of limestone blocks that form a Fibonacci spiral—a mathematical sequence.

“I’m super excited for the outdoor classroom and learning opportunities that the project is installing,” said senior Olive Murdoch Meyer, who is the co-president of Roots and Shoots. “The beautification of Central’s facade is wonderful, but I think the most important part is giving students a chance to appreciate and utilize the outdoors in a way that wouldn’t have been as accessible before.”

Murdoch Meyer added, “Central is such a strong, vibrant place that can and will get through anything, but this project will be a special refresher to remind us what we can do together as a community, and will bring extra energy to this upcoming school year, as well as years to come. I think that this transformation is a big milestone for Central.”

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Tool Library 15 slider

St. Paul Tool Library soon to open in Midway

Posted on 05 September 2016 by Calvin

Story and photo by MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
A different kind of library is opening this fall in the former American Can building, 755 Prior Ave. N. The St. Paul Tool Library will be the first of its kind in the city. The North East Minneapolis Tool Library (NEMTL) opened 15 months ago, and the two will share a common board, tool inventory, and membership base.

The new home for the St. Paul Tool Library was announced at a launch party/fundraiser Aug. 16. The event was held to further the St. Paul Tool Library’s crowd funding campaign that runs until Sept. 17. The goal is to raise at least $12910 including a $5,000 community support match grant from the Knight Foundation.

What exactly is a tool library?
A tool library is a space filled with tools that can be checked out and taken home by members for a set period. Like a book library, a tool library gives members the freedom to use the tools they need without having to buy them. A tool library also offers skill-building classes to help members learn to use new tools, and the chance to meet other members working on projects in the shared workshop space.

Power tools, hand tools, automotive tools, and yard tools will all be available when the Tool Library opens. Skill-building classes will include basic electrical wiring, and introductory woodworking projects such as how to build a bee-box, a raised garden bed, or picture frames.

Tool Library 10Photo left: Zach Wefel, of the North East Minneapolis Tool Library, greeted a prospective St. Paul Tool Library member at the launch party at Monster Lake Brewing. The Minneapolis and St. Paul tool libraries will be two branches of the same organization, sharing a common board to advise their growth and development.

If the success of the NEMTL is any indication, a lot of people believe in access over ownership when it comes to tools.

Zach Wefel, founder and president of the NEMTL, said, “The response in our neighborhood has been fantastic. We exceeded our membership goal of 250 in the first year, and are on track to exceed our goal of 400 in the second year.”

Wefel is an enthusiastic promoter of tool libraries. “My wife and I bought a 115-year-old house when we moved to Minneapolis. There were so many repairs that needed doing, and I would have had to buy a bunch of tools that were only needed for one or two special projects. The idea for a tool library just made sense.”

John Bailey has been instrumental in getting the St. Paul Tool Library up and running. A independent consultant by day, he claims to be, “neither a ‘tool -head’ nor a maker/builder.” Bailey said, “Mostly I like to find ways to organize things better. I helped to start the City Car Share in San Francisco in the 1990’s.

When creating a shared economy, like car sharing or tool lending, it’s a question of using resources efficiently. I see it as a way to practice good environmental stewardship, and I’m also kind of cheap.”

The new location for the St. Paul Tool Library is in the heart of the city’s Creative Enterprise Zone. The zone stretches from Prior Ave. to Highway 280, and from University Ave. to Energy Park Dr. The Creative Enterprise Zone is successfully attracting and fostering small, artist-owned businesses, capitalizing on a long history of small manufacturing and hard work. The zone’s motto is, “We make it here.” That motto hits the nail right on the head for the St. Paul Tool Library.

For more information about membership, when the doors will open, or to contribute to the St. Paul Tool Library crowd funding campaign, email StPToolLib@gmail.com, or visit facebook.com/SaintPaulToolLibrary. The crowed funding page can be found at www.ioby.org/project/saint-paul-tool-library.

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Carnage the Executioner slider

Staying true to your past and culture; staying true to yourself

Posted on 05 September 2016 by Calvin

From his early years growing up in the Midway, to a student at Hamline U., to the rapper Carnage the Executioner

An imposing strength and a fierce look on the face of Carnage the Executioner reflect the image of his name as the rapper performs onstage. But when a smile breaks out, the gentle soul of Terrell Woods, the man, comes shining through.

Carnage the Executioner 2Photo left: Carnage the Executioner (Photo by Mike Madison)

Born in Chicago, Woods moved with his mom to St. Paul when he was around 5. “We lived in the Midway area, on Sherburne Ave. I first went to school at Maxfield,” he recalled.

But life was not easy, and as his mother struggled with alcoholism and addiction, Woods was placed in foster care at age 12. This was the beginning of moves throughout the Metro, from St. Paul to North Minneapolis to South Minneapolis and back and forth, as Woods lived in foster homes and group homes.

“I learned how to survive in the system,” Woods said. “I did some things to fit in, but never robbed or killed anybody or went to prison. Most of the kids were quite a bit more unruly than me, and I was good at staying afloat and making friends.”

One of the survival tactics Woods relied on was his love of music. “As early as I can remember I would hear certain songs. My mom wasn’t a musician, but she played a lot of the music that was popular and that I liked.”

“The first thing I wanted to do was play drums. I was 5 or 6, and I would set up pillows on the couch when my mom wasn’t home, and I would turn on the TV and get wooden spoons and hit the pillows, playing fake drums to every song on TV.”

He listened to Herbie Hancock and Run-D.M.C., one of the most well-known hip-hop acts of the 1980s. “I was at a friend’s house, and his dad was playing that group. I remember the beat. That was my first introduction to hip-hop, and I asked his dad to play it again and again and again.”

When Woods was as young as 8, he started working on the art he has perfected today, beatboxing, making drum sounds with his mouth. “I started teaching myself,” he said.

Carnage the Executioner 3Photo right: Photo by Sarah Dope

As well as wanting to be a drummer, he wanted to be a DJ, one of the other elements of hip-hop culture. “I was also getting into breakdancing, and the DJs were the ones spinning the records for the break-dancers,” Woods noted. “But drums and turntables were expensive, and I couldn’t afford them. So beat box came around right when it was supposed to because I could do that without buying an instrument.”

He was not yet in his teens, but as he entered high school in Bloomington, he became more involved with hip-hop, and he started writing his own songs. He was a senior when he recorded his first song.

And, although music was such a big part of his life, Woods was still thinking of it as a hobby. He started Hamline University, studying psychology.

“I didn’t see how studying music in college would really help me,” he reflected. “I needed a backup if something happened with the music, and having education as a foundation was important to me. I thought I would get a good job, and music would just be fun. But I never gave it up.”

He completed his first album while attending Hamline, and when he graduated in 1997, he began a career in social services. He returned to the foster care and group home system in which he had grown up, but this time as a social worker. “I thought it would be cool to work at all the places I had lived as a kid,” Woods said.

However, performing as a rapper was in his blood, and he could not let it go. He said he thought of how the hip-hop culture had helped him survive his childhood, and he wanted to give back to that culture. Finally, in February 2007, he took the step to make his living as a musician.

He has performed with Desdamona, providing backup sound to her spoken word. And he was close to Micheal “Eyedea” Larsen, the multi-talented Minneapolis rapper who died tragically in 2010. As he gained experience from working with other performers, he was honing his skills for his own songs, albums, and solo work.

Carnage the Executioner 5Photo left: Photo by Patrick Pegg

Woods is a strong believer in the basis of respect that is so much a part of hip-hop, and his music has drawn the respect of fellow artists. “I’m your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper,” he claims. “I don’t know any of my peers who don’t respect what I do.”

For many of his songs, Woods has drawn on his own past to create his volume of work. And he has drawn on his past in choosing his performing name, Carnage the Executioner.

“When I first came up with the name, I wanted something flashy and abrasive and memorable,” he said. “It didn’t take me too long to start figuring out how to justify the name, and it turned from just sounding cool to having some meaning.”

Woods describes it as being about a journey from where he came from and to where he is going. “Where I came from, there has been a lot of carnage in my life,” he explained. “As I have gotten older, I realize that if you don’t grow from your past, you are just a puppet to it. You become a victim of your circumstance.”

“I made it through every possible peril that was presented to me. So the name started having the symbolic message of a journey. I have learned to deal with carnage. Carnage is the artist; Terrell Woods is the person,” he said.

In listening to Woods perform as Carnage, the sounds he creates with his mouth can provide a full musical background for his words. He could be called the Bobby McFerrin of hip-hop. In forming his sound, he likes loop, allowing him to make a sound and play if over and over like a backdrop. He has added an effects pedal that he hits with his foot. “It’s kind of like a keyboard but has a pedal that I operate with my feet.

With it, if I wanted something to sound like a crazy spaceship, I can do it,” Woods said. “It adds texture to the performance.”

“I think I can stay true to the culture by staying true to myself and do music for a wider base of people,” he commented. “I’m about trying to connect with people. It’s important. If someone spends four minutes listening to a song, that’s four minutes they can’t get back. If they’re going to put their money on you, you have to make it worth their while.”

Besides writing songs and performing, Woods teaches youth how to beat box and still draws on his social work skills and experience. He has worked with McPhail and the Stepping Stone Theater Company, and he has a record deal in France, where he is a staple in French hip-hop. He said he loves to perform, enjoys being in the studio and writing. The hardest part is marketing himself, trying to be seen and be known.
“I can only speak for how hard I work to be this good and how many years I have put in,” he noted. “I do this for other people’s enjoyment.”

Having done much of his performing in Minneapolis, Woods is now living in a St. Paul suburb and focusing many of his concerts on this side of the river. “St. Paul should be ready to give me a chance—they’re going to see a lot more of me,” he quipped with a smile.

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Approvals and votes start falling into place for soccer stadium

Posted on 05 September 2016 by Calvin

Approvals are falling into place for a Major League Soccer stadium near Snelling and University avenues and redevelopment of Midway Center, with an eye toward stadium completion and soccer games here in mid-2018.

Soccer fans cheered the Aug. 19 announcement that Minnesota United FC will start play in the league in March 2017. The team will play at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium until the St. Paul facility is complete.

St. Paul City Council approvals Aug. 17 of several measures helped the stadium project along and also set the stage for longer-term Midway Center redevelopment. The stadium site plan, Midway Center master plan, a technical zoning amendment and property plan changes all passed 5-1. The council unanimously approved a community benefits agreement tied to redevelopment.

But Gov. Mark Dayton’s Aug. 18 announcement that there won’t be a 2016 legislative special session does hold up the stadium’s sought-after tax exemptions. Minnesota United sought a property tax exemption for the site and a sales tax exemption on construction materials for the $150 million facility. Dayton and legislative leaders were unable to agree on details of a special session, including funding for Southwest light rail.

At the Aug. 19 announcement of the start of MLS play, Dayton said he’d do everything he can to get the exemption passed during the 2017 legislative session. Bill McGuire, a primary owner of the soccer team, has repeatedly said that the team is confident that the exemptions will be approved. The property tax exemption was in the tax bill passed by the House and Senate, but Dayton wouldn’t sign it because of a technical error related to another part of the legislation.

The City Council’s actions cap a planning process that began late last year. The stadium and Midway Center plans went through review by a community task force and were recommended for approval by the St. Paul Planning Commission. Work will continue with further studies on transportation, traffic and transit use, issues which emerged as red flags during studies of the project’s transportation impacts.

Ward Seven Council Member Jane Prince cast the lone votes against the project pieces; her main objection is that the actions “are both rushed and premature.” She cited similar concerns raised by members of the Snelling Midway Community Advisory Committee, who had to make recommendations before environmental impact studies were even completed.

Prince also quoted a project staff report on the Midway Center site plan which cited a “critical lack of detail” on the project. “Uncertainty abounds,” said Prince. She raised questions about potential developer and business interest in a redeveloped Midway Center, as well as the uncertainty about the requested tax exemptions, as other reasons to not support the actions.

Other council members said that while they may also have questions, they are confident that the stadium and shopping center redevelopment will be a success. Council President Russ Stark described the community review process as “extensive.”

Stark said that while some issues are unresolved, he is excited about the master plan for the redevelopment of the 34.4-acre Midway Center site and the soccer stadium site plan. He lives just two blocks from the shopping center and the superblock bounded by Pascal St. and St. Anthony, Snelling and University avenues. “It’s exciting to see the opportunity to redevelop this site and to see investment.”

Midway Center owner Rick Birdoff has said that the stadium project is the catalyst for shopping center redevelopment.

“This is really a game change for that neighborhood and the whole city,” said Ward Three Council Member Chris Tolbert.

Other council members said they are torn by the uncertainties about the projects, but voted for it despite that. Ward One Council Member Dai Thao said the benefits outweigh the uncertainties, adding that visitors to the city will no longer drive up Snelling Ave. past a “graveyard for buses.”

Thao got unanimous support for a community benefits agreement tied to the projects, drawing on input from the community advisory committee and other public meetings. The resolution spells out some community benefits any developers must commit to. One idea Thao included is that the developers have a community liaison to work with neighbors during and after development. One oft-heard complaint during the community advisory committee process was Midway Center management’s lack of attention to issues ranging from trash to shopping carts abandoned throughout the community.

The resolution suggests, but doesn’t require, that a fund be created to pay for neighborhood issues related to redevelopment. It also urges that developers avoid displacing businesses, provide affordable housing at the site and bring in a diverse workforce. Thao said his intent is to bring forward something that works for everybody. He also has an eye toward tying some community benefits to tax increment financing, if that is used in the future to redevelop the shopping center.

Ward Six Council Member Dan Bostrom was absent for the votes.

After the council votes, Mayor Chris Coleman issued a statement saying that the day had marked “a huge milestone for St. Paul and the entire region.” The mayor also said the votes bring St. Paul “one step closer to seeing incredible redevelopment in the heart of the Twin Cities—made possible by the catalyst of this proposed stadium—and one step closer to bringing Major League Soccer to Minnesota.”

The stadium site plan covers the 16-acre stadium site, indicating where streets, parking, rain garden, sidewalks, bicycle accommodations, a transit drop-off plaza and green space will be. It also lays out some details on the development of the 20,000-seat stadium. The Midway Center master plan is more visionary, with an ambitious scenario of mixed-use redevelopment.

The council approvals also set plat boundary lines and made a technical zoning change to allow a stadium in a traditional neighborhood-zoned property. Those and recent Planning Commission approval of two technical amendments to the stadium site plan complete city approvals, for now.

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Hamline Station Open-House 70 slider

Hamline Station open house celebrates project completion

Posted on 05 September 2016 by Calvin

Story and photos by MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
While Hamline Station is currently full, interested persons can call property managers Ifrah or Brian at 651-846-9810 to add their names to the waiting list.

Hamline Station Open-House 70Photo right: The Hamline Station housing and retail complex at the corner of Hamline and University avenues is up and running. Funders, supporters, and residents celebrated with an open house in August. All 108 apartments have been filled, and the ground level retail spaces are ready to lease. Hamline Station is a mixed-income housing complex, with rents aimed at 50-60% of the area median income. Fourteen units are set aside for families and individuals earning 30% of the area median income. Section 8 vouchers are accepted. Hamline Station sits on the former site of Midway Chevrolet, a property which had been abandoned for years.

Hamline Station Open-House 35Photo left: Hamline Station, 1333 University Ave., is a project of Project for Pride in Living (PPL). Speaking from the podium, executive director Paul Williams noted, “With its $25,000,000 budget and multiple funders, this is one of the most complicated projects PPL has ever done. We are thrilled to be part of the over-all development of ‘life beyond the rail.’”

Hamline Station Open-House 18Photo right: PPL’s vice president of development and external affairs, Joanne Kosciolek, said, “We received more than 600 inquiries for the available units. That really speaks to the need for affordable housing in this location, where we have great access to jobs all along the Green Line. We’ve had zero turn over since residents started moving in last December when Phase 1 was completed.”

Hamline Station Open-House 42Photo left: St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman referred to Hamline Station as, “the ultimate in transit-oriented development.” The main floor of the West Building, pictured behind Mayor Coleman, has 14,000 square feet of commercial space now ready for build-out.

Hamline Station Open-House 54Photo right: Featured speakers (left to right), Mayor Chris Coleman, Mary Tingerthal, commissioner of the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, Hamline Station resident Rejeanna Hill, and PPL executive director Paul Williams.

Hamline Station Open-House 68Photo left: Hamline Station resident Rejeanna Hill, said, “When we moved in, the Green Line was our limo. My husband Matt lost his vision four years ago, and living here has given him back a sense of freedom. The staff is wonderful; we feel respected here, and we feel safe.”

Hamline Station Open-House 09



Photo right: Amenities for residents include the use of the community room (pictured here), a community plaza between the East and West Buildings, 96 underground and 42 surface parking spaces, a playground for children, and a soon-to-be-completed fitness room. The buildings’ state-of-the-art security system provides 24-hour surveillance.


Hamline Station Open-House 62Photo left: US Bank was the project investment banker. Elness Swenson Graham Architects created the design. Anderson Companies built Hamline Station. PPL will continue to provide on-site property management. As PPL executive director Paul Williams said, “It takes a village to raise a building!” Williams pointed out that Hamline Station is a great place to live–and more. As one example, he thanked the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative for a recent $190, 000 grant to finance an employment and training module for residents of Hamline Station. This and many other supportive services are being put in place for those who wish to use them.


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