Monitor Saint Paul Serving the Midway and Como neighborhoods of St. Paul Wed, 22 Apr 2015 23:54:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 News from Como Park High School Sat, 11 Apr 2015 14:20:21 +0000 Klobuchar-and-Como-students• 21 AP U.S. Government and History students spent the first week of March in Washington D.C. participating in the national Close Up program. The Como students had meetings to discuss public policy with both of their U.S. Senators and their Congresswoman during their visit to Capitol Hill. The students also participated in study visits to every major memorial and monument in Washington, visited several Smithsonian Museums, and attended seminars with Congressional aides, policy experts, and media members. Other cultural highlights included seeing a play at the Kennedy Center, and exploring neighborhoods such as Georgetown and DuPont Circle.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Monitor In A Minute Sat, 11 Apr 2015 14:11:03 +0000 Compiled by Jane McClure

Green Line access still a concern

IOC11_14_GreenLineGreen Line light rail is a welcome transportation option for people with disabilities, with easy boarding of trains and space for wheelchairs and mobility scooters. But cracked and pothole-ridden sidewalks, steep slopes, views blocked by tall plantings and gaps between rails and concrete make getting to and from the trains a challenge. In a few places, fire hydrants and light poles placed in the middle of sidewalks make traveling a challenge.

Ways to address those concerns were outlined Mar. 11 in a report released by the District Councils Collaborative (DCC). More than 40 people reviewed the report and saw a video, “The First: Last Mile”, demonstrating the difficulty of accessing some rail stations.

The DCC, which is made up of St. Paul district councils and neighborhood organizations along the rail line, studied walkability in 2011-2012. The walkability studies covered north-south streets several blocks north and south of rail stations. Reports were done for each station area. DCC Executive Director Carol Swenson said that evolved into a more in-depth study focused on access for people with disabilities.

“We received sharp criticism from the disability community, that the studies hadn’t done enough to address access,” Swenson said. About 9,050 people with disabilities live within a few blocks of the Green Line. Many live downtown and others live in the seven Public Housing Agency buildings in adjacent neighborhoods. Studies for September 2014 showed that more than 1,000 people with disabilities use five of the stations, with 2,000 using Central Station in downtown St. Paul.

Kjensmo Walker, a person with disabilities, helped with the study. She said access needs to be broadly understood and that meeting federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines “only scratches the surface” in terms of what accommodations are needed.

One issue the DCC will work on is that of having a place where accessibility complaints can be made, so that those issues can be responded to quickly. Another is to tie into city, county and state plans for transportation and accessibility, and to work with Metro Transit on proposed transit and transit shelter improvements.

Snelling detours set

When Snelling Ave. mill and overlay work, as well as Interstate 94 bridge redecking, gets underway, traffic will be detoured. The St. Paul City Council voted unanimously in March to approve detour routes and road wear and tear compensation from the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT). MnDOT is involved because Snelling Ave. is a state highway.

Construction gets underway this spring and motorists should watch for signs. The construction area is from Pierce Butler Rte. to Selby Ave.

St. Paul will be compensated $17,315.29 for the “consumption of road life” caused by the detours. The routes posted for detours will be Minnehaha, Prior, and Cretin Ave./Vandalia St. The routes total less than three miles.

Truck weights of up to 9-ton axle loads will be permitted on the detour routes.

The state will handle signage, put up and remove any needed traffic control devices, paint roadway markings and take other steps to control traffic on the detours. MnDOT will also do any street patching as needed during the detour

Brake noise regulated

Noisy “jake brakes,” or compression release engine brakes, have long drawn complaints throughout St. Paul. The devices are used to slow down large trucks, but their noise is disruptive. The St. Paul City Council voted Mar. 18 to ask the Minnesota Legislature to to give St. Paul the authority to prohibit the use of air compression engine brakes on all city freeways, highways, and streets.

The name “jake brake” is used because many of the systems are made by the Jacobs Company. The brakes are used for slowing down on steep grades, or for quick stops. Use of the brakes means being able to shift from highway speeds to a complete stop and back very quickly.

There have been complaints in area neighborhoods about the brakes, along truck routes and the freeway. State Sen. FoUng Hawj, DFL-St. Paul, is revving up the issue at the capitol. Hawj’s district includes I-94, where the noise has drawn complaints.

The City Council resolution states that according to one manufacturer of compression release engine brakes, the decibel level is between 96 and 100 decibels. As a comparison, in St. Paul, rock concerts are limited to 85 decibels.

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Local students hit Wolf Ridge Sat, 11 Apr 2015 14:03:47 +0000 Wolf Ridge Como Students iconFour Como students tried their hand at being student counselors at Wolf Ridge a late weekend in March. They went up to Wolf Ridge ELC with the Murray Environmental Inquiry Immersion class to help teacher Tim Chase and the Wolf Ridge staff. The Murray students and the Como counselors went on a backpacking trip, cooked their lunch on camp stoves, and later that Sunday, attended a career fair put on by the US Forest Service. The fire jumpers and the wildlife biologist were the biggest hits, and the forester and Steve Robertsen, District Interpreter, Tofte Ranger District of the Superior National Forest were also informative. The counselors responsibilities were to help the students get to classes on time, help facilitate the equipment use, time management, and dorm room community. Pictured are (from left to right) Tim Chase, Xeehlue Vang, Kari Gurney, Kelly Chase, Alyssa Brown, and Will Toney.

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Front Avenue Pottery again joins Crawl Sat, 11 Apr 2015 13:59:45 +0000 Front-Ave.-Pottery-iconSouth Como artists Mary Jo Schmith, owner of Front Avenue Pottery, Jason Trebs of Jason Trebs Pottery and Jim Gindorff of Gindorff Landscape Photography, will host a studio event, sale and free workshops as part of this year’s St. Paul Art Crawl, Apr. 24-26. Six other local artists will also exhibit with them at Front Avenue Pottery, 895 Front Ave.

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

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

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

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

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

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Interact opens first performance Apr. 23 Fri, 10 Apr 2015 23:22:23 +0000 Theater-iconInteract Center for the Visual and Performing Arts, 1860 Minnehaha Ave. W., will welcome audiences to its new home in the St. Paul Midway neighborhood with “Plotholes: A Fool’s Foibles,” a new ensemble-created Bouffon Clown piece (with songs) directed by Jon Ferguson, with music and lyrics by Aaron Gabriel.

This inaugural performance in this new space will mark the launch of a three-year exploration of the role of the fool in history, literature and theater. “Plotholes: A Fool’s Foibles” preview performance will be Thur., Apr. 23, 7pm, and will open Fri., Apr. 24 at 7pm. It will then run Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 7pm, as well as a matinee performance on Saturdays at 3pm. The play closes Sat., May 16 with its 7pm performance. Run-time is approximately 60 minutes. Five-For-All performances are Wednesdays, May 6 and May 13 at 7pm.

Ticket prices are $20 for general admission and $5 for DIS/Cover tickets. Reservations and additional information can be found at or by calling 651-209-3575.
For driving directions, parking information, and public transportation options visit:

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Calling gardners for 2015 Como tour Fri, 10 Apr 2015 23:14:03 +0000 MasterGardenerThe Como Park Neighborhood Garden Tour is looking for gardeners of all abilities interested in sharing their hard work with the neighborhood during the annual garden tour on Sat., June 20. Each year, 12-15 gardens are featured on the tour, which attracts over 200 people from across the area. If you’re interested in participating, or wish to nominate a neighbor, please contact tour coordinator Frank Dolejsi at by Apr. 30.

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Worst-to-first turnaround makes for dream season at Hamline Fri, 10 Apr 2015 23:09:52 +0000 Reporting and photo by MATTHEW DAVIS

Hamline hockey iconIt suffices to say Cinderella on Ice came to Hamline University this winter.

The Pipers men’s hockey team turned around a program that had three wins since the 2012-2013 season to knock on the door of the NCAA Division III Frozen Four in March. Only eventual national runner-up Wisconsin-Stevens Point stood in Hamline’s way.

Despite trailing 2-0 after two periods in the NCAA quarterfinals on March 21, the Pipers fought back twice to pull within a goal of the Pointers during the third period. It took a Pointers empty netter with little time left to avert a Hamline comeback in a 4-2 loss for the Pipers.

It prevented an improbable trip for Hamline to travel just a few miles to the University of Minnesota’s Ridder Arena for the Frozen Four. Nonetheless, the Pipers made a turnaround that rivals the best of any team, in any sport, at any level.

Hamline went 14-11-4 overall and won the MIAC tournament championship. The Pipers had a previous two-season 3-41-6 mark.

First-year coach Cory Laylin took the reins for the Pipers and led the turnaround. The Hamline coach formerly played Division I hockey with the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the 1990s.

Joe Rubbelke had another strong season for the Pipers with 23 points. The three-time All- MIAC award winner and North St. Paul native had plenty of help around him this time.

Charlie Adams led the Pipers in scoring with 19 goals and had 33 points for the season. Brand Zurn had the second-highest total with 15 goals and 18 assists.

John Sellie Hanson had a good season in goal for the Pipers with a 2.93 goals allowed average and a .914 save percentage. He went 12-9-3 in net.

MSHSL varsity boys lacrosse comes to St. Paul schools

Como Park, Central and members of the other St. Paul Public Schools will compete at the MSHSL varsity level for boys lacrosse this spring.

The St. Paul Celts co-op has been part of the MBSLA for 15 season and looks poised to make noise in the MSHSL field. The Celts, a top-five regular over the past eight years, ranked fourth among MBSLA teams last season.

Returning MBSLA All-State seniors Carter McCoy and Austin Cameron return at attack and defense respectively. Brady Olsen, also a senior, made MBSLA All-Conference last year.
Delcan Flynn and Bjorn Holm will be looked to for contributions as part of a strong Celt freshman class. Three freshmen from the Team Minnesota U15 have come on board for the Celts, which will give them an added boost for talent.

“We are laying the foundation for future seasons with St. Paul Public Schools, and with the St. Paul Celts team being split into third, we find ourselves with veteran leadership as well as a strong youth movement,” Celts coach Ben Mooney said.

Nonetheless, life in a new league will have its challenges, though Mooney plans to keep the same system, which brought previous success for the Celts.

“Our opponents may not know us other than from our past program, but a new year, program and having the backing of the St. Paul Public School system will breed new life and lend some added motivation to our players,” Mooney said.

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Zoning study of Hamline University campus expansion undertaken Fri, 10 Apr 2015 22:59:11 +0000 By JANE MCCLURE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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