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A Living Nativity scheduled for Dec. 10 at Bethel Lutheran

Posted on 08 November 2016 by Calvin

The three-hour event takes a year of planning and up to 100 people to organize

By JAN WILLMS
(Photos courtesy of Bethel Lutheran Church from their 2015 event)
For the fourth year, the sights and sounds of Bethlehem at the time of Christ’s birth will be re-enacted at a pantomime presented by Bethel Lutheran Church. A Living Nativity will be offered to the congregation and the public Dec. 10 between 6 and 8pm at the church, 670 W. Wheelock Pkwy.

lving-nativity-03Congregation members will take part in a skit that shows the birth of Jesus. There will also be a Bethlehem Marketplace offering visitors a glimpse of what trades might have been offered in Biblical times.

“We added the Marketplace last year,” said Anna Zimmerman, Director of Discipleship and Outreach at Bethel Lutheran. “We call it the Bethlehem Walk, and that will go on from 5:30-8pm. People will have a chance to experience what it was like in the marketplace.” A Living Nativity was created by Jordan Ray, who held Zimmerman’s position until last year, and the church’s pastor, David Seabaugh. When Zimmerman arrived for last year’s production, she brought along the idea of the Bethlehem Market. “I had seen it in other churches; I saw one in British Columbia,” she noted. “So I presented the idea to our church, and they said yes.”

lving-nativity-07Last year the church’s basement, which holds a large fellowship hall, was also opened to people attending. This gives them an opportunity to sip on coffee or cider or sample some of the 400 cookies baked by women in the congregation.

“That brought in about 100 more people last year,’ Zimmerman noted. “It offered a warm place for people to sit and have fellowship with each other.”

She said the weather has so far not been a problem, but there are always contingency plans. Zimmerman said the congregation brings blankets for extra warmth if needed, and there are bleachers so people do not have to sit or stand in snow. There is also a fire pit for extra heat.

Cravin’ Pies, Belasquez Family Coffee and Bundles of Love, a church charity to help mothers in need, have all participated. Last year there was also a translator, who translated children’s names and spelled them out in Biblical Greek.

Zimmerman said she has also gotten in touch with Concordia Academy, which presents a craft show in November, to have them contact all those participants who might want to offer their crafts during the Living Nativity.

living-nativity-01“Bob from Bob’s Cock-a-Doodle Zoo brings live animals for the production,” Zimmerman said. Sheep and goats, as well as other animals, take part in the pantomime. Shows are offered every 15 minutes. When they are over, children can come up and pet all the animals.

Zimmerman said that Seabaugh had written the scripts for the skit each year until this one, since he is leaving to serve a congregation in Illinois. “I reached out, and Jeff Burkart, a professor from Concordia, agreed to write the pantomime. He did a beautiful job,” she said.

The presentation calls for a show team, which includes actors for the skit as well as Roman soldiers who will be announcing the birth to those gathered in the fellowship hall. “Last year we focused on shepherds and angels,” Zimmerman explained. “This year we are focusing more on the Wise Men.”

lving-nativity-04She said that the play always is about the birth of Christ, but looked at from different perspectives.

The show team also includes those who assist with stage managing, costumes and audio/equipment.

“The actors can choose to speak or not speak,” Zimmerman added. “It is a pantomime skit purposely.

So if Little Sally Johnson is afraid to speak, she can just stand and be an angel. All ages participate and attend. It is definitely a family event.”

There is a media team, a hospitality team and a building team. “We take the stable apart and put it up each year,” Zimmerman said. “We will set it up in a few weeks while it is still warm out.”

lving-nativity-05She said the planning for the next year’s Living Nativity starts before the current year’s event is even over. “I started reaching out and brainstorming about two weeks ago.” Then, right after the event, “we look at what went right and what didn’t work. Then I revisit that the next year.”

Zimmerman said that although she coordinates the event, it is totally a church undertaking. She said it involves participation from 75 to 100 people.

But all the work is worth it, according to Zimmerman. “Christmas is so rushed, and so much emphasis is put on gifts and Santa Claus and shopping. But we like to remind the community the reason we celebrate Christmas is that Jesus Christ came and saved us from our sins. That’s why we share the story.”

She said the pantomime is by and for the congregation, but it is also an outreach to the wider community. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend.

“And we always make sure we tell people the story is not over when A Living Nativity ends. They are always welcome to join us for a candlelight worship service on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, too.”

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melissa-cortes

Melissa Cortes takes reins as HM Coalition Community Organizer

Posted on 08 November 2016 by Calvin

Photo and story by MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
melissa-cortesMelissa Cortes (photo right) stepped into her role as the community organizer and communications specialist for the Hamline Midway Coalition (HMC) in September.

A political science graduate of Hamline University, she said, “My college experience opened my eyes to what community could be. Even before going to my first class, it was clear that students were expected and encouraged to be part of this neighborhood.”

Cortes was born in Los Angeles, CA where she was raised by her mother—a single mom. “My mom got involved with community action early,” she explained, “and it made a strong impression on me growing up. One memory I have is of my grandmother, who was confined to a wheelchair. Our family lived near a city park, but my grandmother couldn’t enjoy it because the park wasn’t handicapped accessible. My mom got on that, and the necessary changes were made. I have a photograph of my grandmother sitting in the park in her wheelchair, and it continues to inspire me.”

“I moved to St. Paul to attend Hamline University,” Cortes said, “and soon found myself volunteering with Hamline Midway artist Lori Greene on community art projects. I also got involved with Hamline Midway Elders, shoveling snow and raking leaves for senior citizens. I started making community connections.”

Cortes was strongly influenced by a class at Hamline University taught by former St. Paul Mayor Jim Scheibel called People, Power, and Change. She went on to become a campaign manager for City Councilman Russ Stark.

“The Hamline Midway neighborhood has tons of energy,” she said, “and it can move in different directions very quickly. We’re in the process of changing the way HMC works. We want to get away from being so office-based. We want to get out in the community more and meet people where they work, rather than being administrators sitting in an office. We want creativity to be a bigger part of our engagement process.”

In this time of transition at HMC, the staff is working hard to listen to the diverse voices of neighborhood residents and business owners. Toward that end, HMC is hosting its first annual 0pen

House and Annual Meeting from 6-8pm on Tues., Dec. 13, at Hamline University’s East Hall #106. The Open House will feature food, beverages, a report on HMC activities, and board elections. The public is invited to attend.

HMC is an action-oriented neighborhood organization that develops and supports initiatives in community building, transportation, economic vitality, sustainability, neighborhood identity and more. HMC also coordinates participation in public policy decision-making and provides high-quality information to the community on matters of public interest.

In addition, HMC can provide fiscal sponsorship for neighborhood organizations.

It is one of 17 district councils in the City of St. Paul.

Cortes wears a lot of hats, including providing technical support and communications expertise for HMC events. The next one coming up is the Second Annual Hamline Midway Pop-Up Show on Sat., Nov. 26. It will be held at Celtic Junction from 11am-4pm, with a focus on Twin Cities small businesses providing artisan gifts for the season. 40+ vendors and artists will sell their wares, creating an authentic “shop local” experience, and Santa Claus will make an early season appearance.

Organizers for the event are HMC board member Greg Anderson and his spouse Christine.

“Even though all of my family is still in CA,” Cortes concluded, “something about St. Paul keeps me here. HMC has had a meaningful impact on this community. I look forward to being part of the team that is deepening the relationship between HMC and its constituents.”

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Did you know drivers need to stop for pedestrians at every corner?

Posted on 08 November 2016 by Calvin

Stop for Me working to educate drivers and pedestrians to prevent crashes and fatalities in St. Paul, state

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN
Someone walking or biking is hit by a car every other day in St. Paul.

Someone is killed every other month.

This is despite a state law that says vehicles must stop for anyone at a crosswalk or intersection.
And, all of these crashes were preventable, according to St. Paul Police Department Sgt. Jeremy Ellison, who is the Toward Zero Death Grant Coordinator.

“This is an extremely important topic,” Ellison stated. “We need everyone to do their part in reducing the number of crashes. Drivers need to slow down and look for pedestrians at every intersection, whether it’s a marked or unmarked crosswalk. Pedestrians need to walk safely and never get in front of a moving vehicle.”

Stop for me. Every corner. Every time.
To improve safety for people who use St. Paul’s sidewalks and cross the streets, community members created the Stop For Me campaign.

a-driver-stops-while-a-district-10-volunteer-crosses-lexington2Photo right: Stop For Me educates drivers about Minnesota’s pedestrian safety laws and enforces the laws in partnership with local law enforcement. To get involved email jeremy.ellison@ci.stpaul.mn.us or call 651-266-5457. (Photo courtesy of District 10 Community Council)

It is organized by St. Paul’s 17 district councils, St. Paul Smart Trips and the St. Paul Police.

Stop for Me is working to:
• Bring attention to how often pedestrians take their life into their hands when they cross a street or parking lot.
• Raise awareness that state law requires drivers and cyclists to stop for pedestrians at every intersection, whether or not there is a painted crosswalk or stoplight.
• Educate everyone who uses the streets that they need to share the road, show more respect and patience, and recognize that the moment we step out the door, we are all pedestrians, according to Ellison.

He added, “We need to do something about the number of people who are being struck by vehicles. Too many of our friends, neighbors, and family, are needlessly being hurt, injured or killed by vehicles.”

highland-ped-event-headerPhoto left: Volunteers, St. Paul Police and St. Paul Smart Trips, are working to bring attention to how often pedestrians take their life into their hands when they cross a street or parking lot. They aim to raise awareness that state law requires drivers and cyclists to stop for pedestrians at every intersection, whether or not there is a painted crosswalk or stoplight. An event calendar is posted at www.stopforme.org. (Photo submitted)

“This campaign is important and making an impact because it brings together community volunteers, city staff, and the St. Paul Police Department to work towards a common goal: making St. Paul safer for pedestrians,” said Samantha Henningson, Legislative Aide to City Council President Russ Stark of Ward 4. “Having a city that’s safe (and pleasant!) for pedestrians increases our economic competitive advantage with other cities, improves public health, and puts more eyes on the street which is good for public safety.”

Stop For Me educates drivers about Minnesota’s pedestrian safety laws and enforces the laws in partnership with local law enforcement.

During set events, volunteers don high-visibility clothing to cross the street at designated intersections recognized as troublesome or otherwise unsafe for pedestrians. Law enforcement officers are present to issue citations to drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk.

A dozen District 10 residents, including Council Member Amy Brendmoen, put their foot down for pedestrian safety in May as the Como Community Council held its first Stop for Me pedestrian safety event.

Residents gathered at the intersection of Lexington Pkwy. and E. Como Lake Dr., where park paths cross north of the Pavilion. This corner is the second-most-dangerous intersection for pedestrians in the neighborhood, according to a survey of community residents. During the event, volunteers repeatedly crossed the street to emphasize that state law requires drivers to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk—marked or unmarked—every corner, every turn, every time.

Other local events included Pierce Butler Rte. and Hamline in Nov. 2015; Snelling and Englewood in June; and Como/Front/Dale and Jessamine/Dale in Sept. During National Walk to School Day on Oct. 5, multiple events were held in the Como/Midway area, and there was another push at Hamline and University on Oct. 19.

some-of-the-volunteers-debrief-at-the-end-of-the-eventPhoto right: Volunteers debrief at the end of the May 19, 2016, pedestrian safety event at the intersection of Lexington Pkwy. and E. Como Lake Dr. This corner is the second-most-dangerous intersection for pedestrians in the neighborhood, according to a survey of community residents. During the event, volunteers repeatedly crossed the street to emphasize that state law requires drivers to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk—marked or unmarked—every corner, every turn, every time. (Photo courtesy of District 10 Community Council)

These events were in addition to other enforcement activities when officers ticketed offenders, but volunteers were not involved.

The city’s goal for 2016 was to do a total of 34 pedestrian safety events, two in each of the city’s 17 district councils. There were actually a total of 60 events between Oct. 1, 2015 and Sept. 30, 2016.
“SPPD and the city of St. Paul are committed to pedestrian and bike safety,” observed Ellison.
Get involved

The goal for 2017 is to continue to increase the number of events and impact on driving behavior in St. Paul. “We are also working closely with public works to provide feedback and make engineering changes when appropriate,” said Ellison. “Anyone interested in participating in the events should go through their district council representatives or if they prefer can contact me directly.” He can be reached at jeremy.ellison@ci.stpaul.mn.us or 651-266-5457.

An event calendar is posted at www.stopforme.org.

Why aren’t drivers stopping?
In the city of St. Paul, it is because they weren’t paying attention.

When asked, “Why didn’t you stop for the pedestrian?” the most common response during enforcement events is that they did not see the pedestrian.

“We interpret this to mean that they were not paying attention, whether they are distracted by a phone or perhaps daydreaming,” said Ellison. “We also know that drivers who drive slower (say 25 miles per hour) and actively look for pedestrians, do see them and do stop for them.”

A few drivers have said they were not aware of the law requiring them to stop at all marked and unmarked crosswalks.

“While the state crosswalk law is pretty old at this point, there hasn’t been enough education or enforcement historically,” observed Henningson. “We are starting to change this in St Paul, but drivers aren’t educated about the law, and they are not paying attention to pedestrians.”

The problem is everywhere, pointed out Ellison. “There is not a specific location in the city (or metro area for that matter) that this is not an issue,” he said.

One of the campaign struggles has centered on how to reach the broader community. “If you look at the crash data, you can see that only 38% of the drivers who hit pedestrians/bikers are from St. Paul. The majority live in another part of the metro area,” observed Ellison.

Stop for Me is working with partners at the county and state level to try to educate more broadly and call attention to the issue. “Our goal is to increase compliance with the Minnesota Crosswalk Law statewide,” said Ellison.

“We know that if we can change driving behavior, we will save lives. The police department alone can’t solve this problem. We know that by working closely with our partners in engineering, education, and the community, we will have the most impact.”

Are pedestrians always acting safely?
While the majority of pedestrians involved in crashes are acting appropriately, there are instances when they are illegally crossing, whether that be mid-block or against the light, according to Ellison.
Part of the Stop for Me campaign includes helping pedestrians be safe.

“We always tell them the number one rule is never to step in front of a moving car,” said Ellison. “We teach them how to put their foot into the crosswalk, so they satisfy the legal requirement of crossing in the crosswalk, while still being able and ready to step back if needed for safety.”

“The one thing that many of the citizen volunteers we train say,” noted Ellison, “is that they were not aware of how much distance they needed to give vehicles to safely slow down and stop. On a 30 mph road, vehicles are given 193 feet to see the pedestrian crossing, slow down and stop.”

In addition to the Stop for Me campaign, the city, and St. Paul Schools applied for and received a grant from Minnesota Department of Transportation to do rapid planning workshops for Safe Routes to Schools at three schools: Chelsea Heights, Upper Farnsworth, and Bruce Vento.

“From a city perspective, pedestrian and bike safety are priority issues but we have hundreds of miles of streets and thousands of intersections,” said Henningson. “It makes sense to start with schools because if you make an area safer for students, it will be safer for everyone else, too.”

Walking is healthy but leaves people vulnerable
“We often hear from people who are intentionally seeking out more walkable neighborhoods and from others who are concerned with a lack of pedestrian safety where they live and work. It’s not surprising,” stated Jessica Treat of Transit for Livable Communities, 2356 University Ave. W.

“Walking is an affordable, healthy, and sustainable way to get around—but it also means you’re vulnerable.”

“Pedestrian fatalities are up in Minnesota this year,” Treat added, “and fall is typically a particularly dangerous time. In our communities and as a region, we can and should do more to ensure people of all ages and abilities can stay safe while they are out and about on foot. How our streets are designed, how our traffic laws are enforced, and to what extent we’re investing in safe and accessible infrastructure all have major roles to play in making that happen.”

SAFETY TIPS
DRIVERS
• Stop for crossing pedestrians at every intersection, even those without crosswalks or stoplights
• Before making a turn, look in all directions for pedestrians
• Leave lots of room between you and the pedestrian when stopping
• Scan the road and sides of the road ahead for pedestrians
• Look carefully behind your vehicle before backing up, especially for small children
• Watch for people in wheelchairs and motorized carts, who may be below eye level
• Put away the cell phones, food and make-up
• Stop for pedestrians, even when they are in the wrong or crossing mid-block
• Never pass or drive around a vehicle that is stopped for pedestrians
• Obey speed limits and come to a complete stop at STOP signs

PEDESTRIANS
• Make eye contact with drivers and ensure they see you and will stop
• Clearly show your intentions to cross
• Watch for turning and passing vehicles
• Look across ALL lanes for moving vehicles before proceeding
• Stand clear of buses, hedges, parked cars or other obstacles before crossing
• Cross in a well-lit area at night
• Wear bright-colored clothing and reflective material
• Mount a safety flag on a wheelchair, motorized cart or stroller
• Cross streets at marked crosswalks or intersections; don’t cross-mid block
• Remove headphones and stay off cell phones while crossing
• Obey all traffic signals
• Don’t rely solely on traffic signals; look for vehicles before crossing
• Always walk on the sidewalk; if there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic
• If intoxicated, don’t walk without assistance, a cab ride home may be a safer option

WHAT DOES THE LAW SAY?
MN State
Statue 169.21 PEDESTRIAN.
§Subd. 1. Obey traffic-control signals. Pedestrians shall be subject to traffic-control signals at intersections as heretofore declared in this chapter, but at all other places pedestrians shall be accorded the privileges and shall be subject to the restrictions stated in this section and section 169.22.
§Subd. 2. Rights in the absence of signal.
(a) Where traffic-control signals are not in place or operation, the driver of a vehicle shall stop to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a marked crosswalk or at an intersection with no marked crosswalk. The driver must remain stopped until the pedestrian has passed the lane in which the vehicle is stopped. No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield. This provision shall not apply under the conditions as otherwise provided in this subdivision.
(b) When any vehicle is stopped at a marked crosswalk or at an intersection with no marked crosswalk to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway, the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass the stopped vehicle.

 

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Minnesota writer Brent Olson to discuss the art of writing

Posted on 08 November 2016 by Calvin

Story by MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
brent-olson-01Brent Olson (photo right), a writer from Ortonville in western Minnesota, will speak at the Merriam Park Library on Mon., Dec. 5. This Friends of the St. Paul Public Library event will run from 7-9pm, and all are welcome.

The presentation is being organized by Mark Kile, Merriam Park Library’s branch manager. “I picked up the Sunday Star-Tribune newspaper last July, and was intrigued by an article about Olson,” Kile said. “The article focused on his latest enterprise, reviving a small town café in Clinton, MN— not far from where he lives in Big Stone County. I was bitten by the itch of curiosity!”

Kile continued, “I was planning a vacation to the western side of the state in a few weeks anyway. I tracked down one of Olson’s books through our system, ‘Lay of the Land: a View from the Prairie.’ I loved the book and was inspired by the short form of Olson’s essays. I’ve always wanted to write but had felt intimidated by the process. Suddenly I was writing vignettes in the form of letters. I was able to describe memories of my parents, my childhood growing up in Africa, all kinds of details that were important for me to remember.”

Kile made the pilgrimage to Olson’s Inadvertent Café not long after. To hear him describe it, the Café is a modest place: three round tables surrounded by folding chairs. Everything on the menu costs $5, with coffee thrown in for free. People start rolling is as soon as the doors open at 6:30am. Relatives and friends of Olson’s are thick, but there are others who come through town and stop at the café too.

“In a similar way,” Kile said, “I hope that the Merriam Pak Library can become a living room for this community—a place where people can gather to express their curiosity, their joy, a place where they can come to learn.”

What is it about Olson’s writing that would light such a fire under a perfectly reasonable librarian? Olson said, “My essays have always been about the stuff of life: for me that’s been farming, raising a bunch of kids, and trying to be a decent guy. If there’s a common thread that runs through my writing, it’s that I’ve learned to embrace my mistakes.”

“I’ve been a writer for more than 20 years,” Olson continued, “I don’t have any formal training as a writer; I just wanted to see if I could do it. My advantages growing up were that I was given two smart parents, and a house full of books. I went to Hamline University for a year until I ran out of money. I probably could have afforded to go to the U of M, but I couldn’t find anything in the course catalog that really interested me. I moved back to Ortonville and started farming instead. I come from a farming family.”

For most aspiring writers, the road to publication is paved with letters of rejection. Not so for Olson—at least not in the usual way. “In 1996,” he said, “I sold the first three articles I ever wrote to the Farm Journal, the second largest farm publication in the country at the time. I typed out the articles, put them in separate envelopes, and sent them to the east coast office of the Farm Journal.

One of the articles got lost in the mail, and eventually the editor asked me to re-submit it. I did so, ending my accompanying letter with a congenial, “Hope you don’t lose this one!” She wrote back immediately to say that my sense of humor was not appreciated and that my writing career with the Farm Journal was over.”

Olson went on to write for his local newspaper, The Northern Star, Living the Country Life and many other publications. He has filed stories from six continents and published five books. Olson’s fifth book, called “The Inadvertent Café: Lessons in Life, Business, and the Limited Value of Being a Do-Gooder” was published last month.

“I farmed full-time for 30 years,” he explained. “A few years ago, we subdivided our land into three parcels and rented it out. I imagined myself entering a peaceful chapter of life, maybe getting a dog and going for long walks in the country. But in 2012, I ended up opening a café in a neighboring town instead. I didn’t really mean to, so I called it the Inadvertent Café.”

Because the café only serves breakfast, there’s still plenty of time left for writing. Olson explained his writing practice, saying, “I’m an essayist, so I spend a lot of time thinking, and I think better when I’m doing something physical. When I go to type an essay, I’ve already thought it through. I’ve found the farming life, the cooking life, and the writing life are very compatible.”

Olson continued, “My wife of more than 40 years, Robin, and I live on the edge of a 120-acre wetland. My great grandparents homesteaded this land and built the house we live in. Now and then, I dream of building a writer’s shack on the property just far enough from the main house that I couldn’t connect to the internet. For me, it’s a big distraction.”

“I would encourage anyone with an interest to write,” Olson said, “because every person has at least one interesting story to tell. The best thing these days is that there’s no longer a geographic barrier. You don’t have to move to New York City to become a writer. You can live where you want to and still have a writer’s life.”

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night-trains-slider

Railroad Museum opens annual Night Trains

Posted on 08 November 2016 by Calvin

Night Trains season is a special Holidays tradition at the Twin City Model Railroad Museum, 668 Transfer Rd., Suite 8. It is running every Saturday evening from 6-9pm through Feb. 25.

night-trainsNight Trains season comes to the dozens of model railroad layouts in a magical way; the lights are turned down, the buildings and street lights glow warmly, setting the scene for specially lighted models of vintage passenger trains. The make-believe town of Matlin is buried in a blizzard, and throughout the Museum the layouts are adorned with miniature Christmas lights and decorations.

This year Santa will be visiting the Museum on Sat., Dec. 17. He will have a sack of goodies for good girls and boys. Bring your camera and tell Santa about the train you want for Christmas. There’s no additional admission to see Santa!

For more information visit the Museum’s web site, www.tcmrm.org. Admission to this special show is $15 per person and free for children age four and under. Discounted group rates are also available for groups of four or more (max 10).

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kent-krueger

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

By JANE MCCLURE
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

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN
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.

 

prior-bridge-opening-12

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

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN
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.

STATE REPRESENTATIVE DISTRICT 64A

erinmurphy64aErin Murphy (I) – DFL
www.neighborsformurphy.com
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
www.rileyhoran.org
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.

STATE REPRESENTATIVE  DISTRICT 65A

moniquegiordana_headshot_300_dpiMonique Giordana, R
www.moniquegiordana.org
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
www.renaforrep.org
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.

STATE REPRESENTATIVE DISTRICT 66

johnlesch66bJohn Lesch (I) – DFL
www.johnlesch.com
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.

STATE REPRESENTATIVE DISTRICT 66A

jonheyerJon Heyer – R    
www.heyer4house.com
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
www.alicehausman.org
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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