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The St. Paul May 2011 Volume 45 Number 5

Cinco de Mayo Fiesta

How safe are our cities? Page 2

West Sider hopes to break Guinness World Record Page 8

Photo by Marina Castillo

A Guide to Minnesota’s Spiciest Celebration Susan Klemond Contributor


ow that winter is finally over, it’s time to celebrate the warmth, color and fun of Minnesota’s Spiciest Celebration. The 29th annual Cinco de Mayo Fiesta will take place May 6-7 on St. Paul’s West Side. Celebrating the richness of Mexican and Latino cultures, this two-day festival offers a wide variety of food, music, entertainment and activities. Add to that a parade, car show and lots of neighborhood gatherings and you have the makings of a very good time. Along with traditional fiesta favorites, new offerings this year go deeper into Mexican and Latino culture, said Brian Gioi-

elli, marketing manager for the Riverview Economic Development Association (REDA), which organizes the event. “We’re offering culturally authentic activities that also appeal to a larger audience,” he said. This article highlights what’s happening at this year’s fiesta. All information was accurate as of press time but is subject to change.

Time and location

The fiesta takes place 4-9 p.m., Fri., May 6, and 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat., May 7, in District del Sol on St. Paul’s West Side. Activities are held on six blocks along Cesar Chavez and Wabasha streets, between Highway 52 and Plato Boulevard. Parking will be available

for $6 in lots near the festival. Local youth will staff the lots, with part of the proceeds going to youth organizations. Shuttle buses will run between the parking lots and the festival. This year for the first time, visitors may download and print a free round-trip Metro Transit bus pass to the fiesta from anywhere in the Twin Cities area by visiting For transit information, visit www. or call 612-373-3333.

Special events • Fri., May 6, 4-9 p.m.: Lowrider Car Show. Cool cars, trucks, motorcycles and bikes from all over the region will be on view throughout the fiesta.

• Fri., May 7, 6:30 p.m.: Hydraulic Showcase at Congress and Cesar Chavez; the only show of its kind in the five-state area. • Sat., May 7: Celebration ceremony at the Boca Chica Stage, 11 Cesar Chavez St. This colorful event includes music, dance and appearances by politicians and local personalities. • Sat., May 7, 10 a.m.: Cinco de Mayo Fiesta parade along Cesar Chavez. The parade features bands, floats, cars and costumed dancers. Also appearing will be the newly crowned Miss Cinco de Mayo Fiesta.


With an outstanding

Fiesta Guide / Page 14

Stevens Realty turns 100 Page 10

P ublic Safety

Your community news and information source

How safe are our cities? A comprehensive look at public safety issues for the West Side, West St. Paul and Mendota Heights

West St. Paul

police departments and Dakota County crime fighting units helps keep a lid on crime. Still, it’s an ongoing battle.


Robert Street Corridor

Mary Diedrick Hansen Staff Writer

esidents of West St. Paul play a big part in determining how successful their cops and investigators are at fighting crime in the community. Police Lieutenant Matthew Swenke and Crime Prevention Specialist Laura Vaughan believe that the more residents report suspicious or disturbing behavior, the faster potential problems can be snuffed out. They have found that good communication, community policing and neighborhood meetings are effective tools in fighting crime. That and partnering with neighboring

The good thing about the busy commercial corridor is that it generates jobs and business. The bad thing is that busy commercial areas draw crimes such as shoplifting, stolen credit cards and fake IDs. Sometimes the stolen property shows up at pawn shops, The city’s location, just south of St. Paul, allows criminals residing in St. Paul to quickly enter and leave West St. Paul along Robert Street. Easy access to the city from Hwy. 110 and I-494 brings criminals into town from

across the metro area, as well, and they tend to meet and conduct their own style of business along busy Robert Street. Some of that business includes illegal drug activity. Unbekownst to them, the Dakota County Drug Task Force has the corridor under surveillance. They are making buys and making arrests. All this criminal activity shows up on the Dakota County Crime Statistic reports from the County Attorney’s Office. Here are the statistics of 2010 adult felony charges in West St. Paul: • Drug activity - 59, up from 44 in 2009 • Theft - 40, up from 38 in 2009 • Forgery - 48, up from 44 in 2009 • Stolen property - 28,

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West St. Paul police officer Christina Muellner on patrol. up from 10 in 2009 • Sex related crimes 18, up from 10 in 2009 • Assault related - 18,

up from 13 in 2009 • Robbery - 13, up from 4 in 2009 “Gang activity is as-

sociated with drugs,” said Swenke. “With drug activity there is always something new coming

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1643 So. Robert St., West St. Paul, MN 55118 Phone: (651) 457-1177 The St. Paul Voice assumes no responsibility for the opinions expressed by contributors and for the validity of claims or items reported. Copyright St. Paul Voice 2010. All rights reserved in compliance of Federal Copyright Act of 1978.

Page 2 - St. Paul Voice - May 2011

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P ublic Safety on the market. Since the State cracked down on methamphetamine labs, the drug is now being imported and is more lethal. A new synthetic heroin has been introduced, as well. We have a half dozen repeat offenders who we are very familiar with, but with easy accessibility to the city, some criminals are coming from Minneapolis.” West St. Paul works with gang units from St. Paul, South St. Paul and Inver Grove Heights to track offenders. They also use the Tri-County crime network, which transmits photographs and details of criminal activity to law enforcement offices across the state. “It’s amazing, the success,” said Swenke. “Last week in Woodbury a man broke into a church, stole a purse and used the credit cards. Officers in South St. Paul, Inver Grove Heights and the Department of Corrections looked at the photos and knew who the guy was.” Another tool for fighting crime is the Northern Dakota County crime blog, where photos of crooks committing crimes are there for everyone to see. Residents are urged to check in regularly and call in if they recognize anyone in the photos. To check it out, search online: Northern Dakota County Crime Blog. “It’s one year in operation and is getting a lot of hits,” said Vaughan. As West St. Paul’s crime prevention specialist, Vaughan works closely with rental property managers and owners in the city on crime prevention tactics. Rental property is typically associated with crime because in some instances renters are not long-term residents and have less stake in the community, Vaughan said. West St. Paul has a large amount of rental properties compared to other communities. Vaughan has monthly meetings with members of the Responsible Owners and Managers Association, where managers

Your community news and information source can learn more about background check procedures, and hear guest speakers discuss new law enforcement techniques. Property owners find out the number of police calls to their properties. They also have a chance to discuss and compare notes on any criminal activity occurring in their area of the city. “The goal is to develop a community philosophy, especially along Oakdale and Marie Avenue, that managers and renters can take more ownership of their property. They do this by assisting others,” said Vaughan. The city also assists through its Rental Licensing/Safer Tenants and Rental program, which requires updated contact information on building mangers and owners. The program is designed to discourage “slumlords” from moving into town.

When not giving safety presentations, they can be seen sitting down with the students having lunch. They also get out and meet more citizens during the “National Night Out” summer event. “The more they (neighbors) get to know each other, the more they will know if something seems out of place and will call,” said Swenke. “They move beyond their small view of the world and may take ownership of one block. Others will reach

you can do that, they will call if something bigger is going on,” he said. “I tell them ‘your taxes are paying our salaries, contact us.’ We take all calls seriously. It’s better when citizens take that active role.” For those gung-ho on supporting their police force in other ways, here are some opportunities. • Police reserves – Sixteen volunteer positions are available. Reserves are trained to transport criminals and write up minor theft and less seri-

ous crime reports. They learn department policies and use of force. It takes time and effort to become a reserve, but members reportedly love it. Some have logged up to 1,000 hours a year. • Community Services Volunteers – These volunteers are trained to organize “National Night Out” events and give policing presentations in the community. • Ride Along program

Public Safety / Page 4

Join us for a day of remembrance...

Responding to a changing market

With more Spanishspeaking people moving to West St. Paul, the department now has three Spanish-speaking officers to better serve this population. In addition, there is an interpreter available on a “language line” to handle calls. “Breaking down the language barrier works and alleviates the fear that Spanish speakers may feel toward the police,” said Swenke. As an example, he recalled how recently someone saw a West St. Paul police officer on the street who looked Hispanic. The person approached him to see if he spoke Spanish. When he found out the officer did, he told the officer, in Spanish, about a car theft he had witnessed. It was new information for the investigators. Addressing the needs of the growing number of seniors over 65 is also on the police department agenda. Efforts are being made to talk with folks at retirement communities about safety issues. At the other end of the spectrum, officers regularly visit local schools.

out to the neighborhood and others to the city. They are no longer passive, and become part of the solution. It empowers people to take responsibility. We stress calling the cops. If we don’t hear about a disturbance, we can’t help.” In general, Swenke is pleased with citizen participation in calling about criminal activity. He attributes this to the community outreach efforts of the police. “Just showing up to listen to someone vent — if

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P ublic Safety Public Safety / from page 3 – Sign up and see what a police officer beat is really like. • Citizen Police Academy – This includes a series of classes in which officers from different police units explain the type of work they do. Students see demonstrations and visit the police station to see where suspects are booked and jailed. “We are not like television,” said Vaughan about what citizens learn at the Academy and during the Ride Along program. “In one class we spend 3 ½ hours explaining why we are not like CSI and why we can’t get DNA results in 15 minutes.” Added Swenke, “The COPS reality show is almost fictional. If there was that much action we’d all be burned out in five years and looking for a retirement home.” West St. Paul is unique in that it has so many

Your community news and information source crime specialists on staff. In addition to the crime prevention specialist, the department has a K-9 specialist who is also part of the Dakota County Drug Task Force, a traffic safety officer, an arson specialist, and a parks officer. Another officer will join the staff this summer as a computer crimes specialist. “There is just as much crime in the internet as in the real world,” said Swenke. “At some point I believe it will surpass it.” Internet crime is on the rise with financial fraud, harassment and child pornography. Not only is evidence gathered from computers but also from iPhones, iPods, and now iPads. West St. Paul partners with Dakota County’s forensics unit to take on these crimes. Police try to anticipate potential problems with internet use and counteract them before they occur. A good example is Heritage Middle School,

and the $600 iPads each student will be loaned during the school year. West St. Paul police recently met with school officials to address safety concerns surrounding potential theft from students. They also made sure a safe, secure place was available for storing the iPads during the summer. They are expensive, compact, easy to steal, and easy to pawn.

Mendota Heights What accounts for Mendota Heights’ low crime rate? Police Chief Mike Aschenbrener said it has to do with good public zoning and planning. When the city started to grow in the ’60s, planners had a vision. Rather than developing a large retail outlet they developed an extensive industrial park instead. Big businesses now located there include: Sun Country Airline, Cray Research

and Brown College. Jobs were created at the Industrial Park, but traffic was minimized to once in and once out, unlike retail outlets which can draw an enormous amount of traffic throughout the day and lead to more police calls for service. Aschenbrener also pointed out that the city has very limited multifamily housing. What is being built in the city today is being aimed at the senior population. Even the Village at Mendota Heights has been carefully planned and businesses that locate there are chosen for their ability to connect with the local community. “That’s why a Lowes or Home Depot was not allowed in, because they attract people from too far way,” said Aschenbrener. The chief said he works closely with St. Paul Police in the Cherokee Park area and with bordering West St. Paul and Eagan police departments. According to the lat-

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• Spend more time with real-life friends than virtual friends • Tell an adult if someone online harasses you or wants to talk about sex • Cut off contact with anyone who pressures you for your personal information (name, age, size, photo, address, family information) • Be careful of strangers who try to turn you against your family while promising to be your best friend (they may send you gifts and give you lots of compliments) • Do not exchange pictures with strangers • Do not open e-mails/instant messages or download attachments from people you don’t know • Do not fill out your information to win free stuff • Do not go to meet someone you don’t already know in real life • Do not post personal information of any kind on a personal website or blog • Tell children that people aren’t always who they seem to be, online and even in real life. Sometimes they change and do mean things. Critical thinking about what we upload and download is the best protection. • “Sexting” is illegal. It is the exchange of sexually explicit messages or pictures, usually between cell phones. If you get a sext message and send it on, you can be charged with child pornography. The person who sent it to you can be charged with child pornography, too. If you post or send an inappropriate picture of yourself, it will be online forever.


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P ublic Safety est Dakota County crime report, total adult felony charges in Mendota Heights dropped from 40 in 2009 to 27 in 2010. Here are the 2010 adult felony arrests in Mendota Heights: • Drug related - 6, down from 12 in 2009 • Forgery related - 3, down from 9 in 2009 • Terroristic threat - 2, down from 1 in 2009 • Public Health and Safety Coercion - 1, down from 3 in 2009 • Burglary - 5, up from 2 in 2009 • Strangulation/Domestic Violence - 0, down from 2 in 2009 • Theft - 6, up from 2 in 2009 • Stolen property - 1, down from 2 in 2009

West Side When it comes to crime, St. Paul is a diverse city. Some areas have very little crime, while others seem to be magnets drawing criminal activity. In general, crime in the city appears to be declining. According to the 2009 St. Paul Police Department Crime Report, the most recent statistics available, the number of offenses dropped between 2005 and 2009. Crimes against people fell from 1,644 in 2005 to 1,445 in 2009. Crimes against property dropped from 14,624 in 2005 to 12,270 in 2009. Theft is the number one crime reported, followed by residential burglary. Data derived from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) shows that in 2005, the most common citizen call to police was for domestic violence, with 16,166. By 2009 that number declined by nearly half. Disorderly conduct doubled from 8,602 reports in 2005 to more than 17,000 in 2008, but have since returned to 2005 levels. Narcotics declined slightly from a high of 3,779 reports in 2006 to 3,175 in 2009. The one area seeing a significant jump is fights. The number rose from 2,875 in 2005 to 4,065 in 2009. The St. Paul Police Department manages calls for help by dividing the

Your community news and information source city into three districts. Police commanders in each of the districts become very familiar with the “hot spots” in their area. The number of patrol officers on the streets is based on criminal activity reported in each district. St. Paul Police crime statistics from 2009 show that when comparing the West Side to other areas of the city, it sits right in the middle when looking at the number of reports for crimes such as: theft, burglary and weapons fired. Aggravated assaults on the other hand are high. The number of narcotics reports is in the mid-range but when looking at those numbers based on the population of the West Side they are high. “There have been spikes in crime, but have been addressed quickly through the West Side Citizen’s Organization, Neighborhood Safe, the Neighborhood House,” said St. Paul Police Chief Thomas Smith, who was born and raised on the West Side and still lives there. “We are exposed to bad crimes and it is a challenge like anywhere else. Neighbors are still the best crime fighters, and West Siders are a very tight-knit neighborhood.” The West Side Safe Neighborhood Council was formed to promote safety and reduce violence on the West Side. The group organizes block clubs to encourage neighbor-to-neighbor and block-by-block communication to create a stronger neighborhood. The council also sponsors several neighborhoodwide events, such as National Night Out, National Neighbor Works Week, Bike Rodeo (collaboration with the West Side Boys & Girls Club), and many community meetings on safety with community leaders and the St. Paul Police. In addition, a police substation was relocated from the Wilder Senior Housing site just off George Street and Humboldt Avenue to the Neighborhood House, where many people from

the community gather. “They have great beat officers that have solved more problems before they started,” said Smith. “The perception of safety would be improved if they were up and front in the building.”


“One thing that has changed since I was a kid is that police do more social justice and preventative work than just law enforcement, and it works,” said Smith. “Gangs are not as preva-

lent as they were in the ’90s. Young men want to get out of gangs, and help with investigations to dismantle them. But when one gang dissolves there is a void and other people want to pick up where they left off.” Gangs, guns and violence are interrelated and lead to homicide, aggravated assaults and sexual assaults. Smith is very passionate about programs that help youth find a way out of crime. While enforcement provides the most immediate

reduction, a system that gives at-risk juveniles an alternative to gang membership must be implemented to sustain long term results. He cites as an example the St. Paul Gang Unit, which offers a variety of intervention programs for youth. One of these is the Neighborhood House Gang Reduction and Intervention Program (GRIP). Police officers assist in removal of gang tattoos and mentor the kids to be productive citizens. Police of-

ficers work in the public high schools encouraging students to graduate and stay out of gangs. Smith himself is a mentor at Humboldt High School. He believes the leveling off of crime shows that intervention is having an impact. “Great strides have been made in gang reduction on the West Side,” he said. “There are very few gangs. Some of the trouble comes from out-

Public Safety / Page 6

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St. Paul Voice - May 2011 - Page 5

P ublic Safety Public Safety / from page 5 side the area.” Another intervention program, which has become a national model for dealing with domestic violence, is blue print for safety. Through community advocacy and partnerships, the number of domestic violence calls has plummeted from 16,000 in 2005 to 8,000 in 2009. “Before, the different agencies were operating within their individual silos,” said Smith, “Now victims have an advocate to help them throughout the court process. Offenders have the opportunity to change through a variety of programs.” Aggressive enforcement, follow-up investigations and education for victims, families and the public has helped reduce this crime. Perpetrators of domestic violence are also involved in other criminal activities, such as drug dealing, prostitutions, gang crimes, bur-

Your community news and information source glaries and robberies. The majority of homicides in the city are connected to domestic violence, said Smith.


Since taking over as police chief, Smith has decentralized the FORCE Unit (Focusing Our Resources on Community Empowerment). This unit has strategies for fighting crime, which include: working with neighborhood groups and district councils to respond to neighborhood and business crime issues; target problem properties and street level narcotic activities; collaborate with code enforcement; and if necessary, to close, condemn, or vacate neighborhood homes that need to be repaired and brought up to code. Now there is one unit to work within each of St. Paul’s three districts and better serve each Neighborhood Council. The unit had to be increased

in size and now includes a crime prevention coordinator. Smith has great affection for the Unit, since he was the first officer hired for the Force Unit when it started in 1992 under Chief Bill McCutcheon. The highest percentage of calls that go to this unit pertain to drug dealing, so officers work undercover and covertly. Smith urges concerned citizens to call the local patrol district office with questions on how the Force Unit’s work is progressing. The Narcotics Unit drove the dealers underground, with the help of residents. Rather than standing on a street corner they were selling out of cars and bars. A recent drug bust netted 70 individuals. Smith said tactics must be changed to the tactics that dealers are using. Of all the criminals, Smith said the career criminal is the smallest percentage but causes 70 percent of the crime.

When he was senior commander of the western district, Smith organized forums so judges could learn from residents how they were affected by some of the judges’ decisions. In some cases Smith believes the monitoring systems in place to track those released from jail are not strong enough.

New trends

Smith said the national trend shows that crimes of violence are down, and that identity theft has become the new emerging crime. He recalled how his mother had her credit card stolen from her purse when she was in the hospital. Before she discovered it was gone, the thief had used it in three different counties. His advice: • Carry just two credit cards, so if one is stolen you will know right away. • Write “ID required” on the back of your credit cards, so cashiers can double check that you

are indeed the owner of the card. • Don’t leave anything unattended in your car. Put it in your trunk. • Be careful where you leave things in your house. A neighbor two houses down from Smith had her purse and laptop stolen. They had been sitting on the table near a window in her home. Someone broke in and took them. “Neighbors are the key component, they are the eyes and ears,” said Smith. “If we are doing our jobs, a larger number of neighbors will be engaged, 911 calls will rise and crime will decline.”

West Side statistics

In the law enforcement world, the greater the population, the greater the amount of crime. By measuring and comparing criminal activity on the West Side to other neighborhoods in St. Paul, based on crimes per 1,000, a clearer picture emerges of crimes of

concern for the neighborhood. • Homicide – for the past three years at least one person has been murdered on the West Side. Most homicides result from domestic violence. • Sexual assault – the number is holding at 11. Based on the West Side’s population when compared to other neighborhoods in the city it is one of the highest. • Robbery – numbers are bouncing from 32 in 2007 to 21 in 2008, to 39 in 2009. Based on population numbers it is high. • Aggravated assault – up in 2008 at 92, down in 2009 to 67. Based on population the numbers are high. • Residential burglary – rising from 87 in 2005 to 124 in 2009. Based on population, this is a midrange number. • Commercial property burglary – up from 18 in 2008 to 28 in 2009. This is a low number based on population.

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P ublic Safety • Theft – holding at near 300 for 2008 and 2009. These numbers are low based on population. • Motor vehicle theft – up and down in the 80s range. Thes are midrange numbers based on population. • Arson – down in 2008 to 3, and up in 2009 to 9. These numbers are high compared to the rest of the city. • Vandalism – 381 in 2007, up to 417 in 2008, and dropped to 303 in


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Your community news and information source 2009. The numbers are mid-range based on population. • Weapon discharge – dropping steadily from 33 in 2007 to 20 by 2009. The number is low based on population. • Narcotics calls – 218 calls in 2007, and up to 233 in 2009. Numbers are high compared to population.

Reporting Guide

If possible, report criminal activity while it is happening. Try to be as accurate and detailed as possible. Be sure nearby neighbors know your concerns so they can provide information or confirmation of what is occurring as well. Block clubs are a good way to keep people

informed and to hear police perspective of what’s happening in the neighborhood. Things to note about a crime: date, time, location, street address of the building or house, general description Suspect: Note the race, sex, age, height, weight, hair color, complexion,

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St. Paul Voice - May 2011 - Page 7

B usiness West Sider hopes to break Guinness World Record

Your community news and information source

Severe injury leads West Sider to new inspirational goal Tim Spitzack Editor


est Side native Rich Revord has a lofty goal and he needs your help. During the Cinco de Mayo celebration he hopes to enlist the help of the West Side and surrounding communities in setting a new Guinness World Record for the most simultaneous high-fives. The record is 1,790 and was set Sept. 4, 2006, at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. Revord thinks that number can be beat, and with the Cinco de Mayo celebration attracting nearly 100,000 visitors each year, he thinks the fiesta is a good place to do it. He’s scheduled the event for 7 p.m., Thurs., May 5, at El Rio Vista, 179 E.

Robie St., St. Paul. He has sent out 3,600 invitations through Facebook and received nearly 400 immediate responses.

How it all began

“It started as a joke,” said Revord, 32, recalling the day he was first inspired to pursue this challenge. “It was during the Winter Carnival (2010) and I was at the American Burger Bar in downtown St. Paul. People were complaining about money and I said, ‘Hey, at least high-fives are free,’ and started giving everyone a high-five.” That was the beginning of a healing process in Revord’s life. Last March he was assaulted, which caused major damage to his right leg and foot. He spent six hours on the operating table, followed

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by six months of physical therapy only to be told that he would likely never fully regain the use of his leg. That news and other personal events that happened following the incident, including the break-up with his fiancée, left Revord emotionally drained and depressed. “With all the negative things I was hearing in my life, it became easy for me to be a very negative-thinking person,” he said. “In just a short few months, I went from being the most optimistic person one could ever meet to a complete zombie, with the deerin-headlights look 24/7.  I was scared to do anything. I was always looking over my shoulder and couldn’t make a simple decision. I tried reach-

Rich Revord is on his way to setting a new Guinness World Record for the most simultaneous high-fives. ing out for professional help and saw a therapist a couple times, but the effects (of his mental illness) were too great and I was afraid to leave my house. My engagement


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that fell just short, and all the people who told me no. I decided I was not going to let one more person tell me I couldn’t do something. I knew instantly I wanted to go into business for myself and somehow give back to the community.” Revord will launch his business in May by offering karaoke and deejay services, as well as merchandise. It will be a parttime venture — mostly

High Fives /

continued on next page

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One cause of this muscle contraction is a response to stress, depression or anxiety. Any activity that causes the head to be held in one position for a long time without moving can cause a headache. Such activities include typing or use of computers and fine work with the hands. Sleeping in a cold room or sleeping with the neck in an abnormal position can also trigger this type of headache. Other causes include spinal misalignment, eye strain, fatigue, alcohol use, excessive smoking, excessive caffeine use, sinus infection, nasal congestion, overexertion, colds and influenza. Chiropractic care can help pain associated with tension headaches. To see if chiropractic may be able to help you, call 651-455-5264 today for a complimentary consultation.

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Page 8 - St. Paul Voice - May 2011

ended and a day later I walked away from my job, virtually shutting down 100 percent.” This year is proving to be much better for Revord, who is reinvigorated by his goal of starting a new business called High Fives are Free (http:// fivesarefree.3dcartstores. com). “During my twomonth mental vacation, my life flashed before my eyes,” he said. “I thought about all the stuff I regretted, all the dreams

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B usiness MH couple finds small business suits them well Tim Spitzack Editor


hen Keith and Cindy Schweiger built their Mendota Heights home in 1987 they were in the throes of building a small chain of car wash businesses in the greater St. Paul area. Little did they know that nearly 25 years later they would embark on a new business venture that would be located just one mile from their home. The Schweigers recently celebrated their one year anniversary of owning Bella Boutique, which is located next to Fischerville Cafe and Eatery, 2150 Dodd Road, Mendota Heights. Oh, they now own that business, too, having purchased it in mid-January. Given the state of the economy and vast competition from corporate coffee houses, the acquisition begs the question of why the couple would purchase an independent coffee shop.

“It’s all surrounded by the venture Cindy has done with the boutique,” said Keith. “They complement each other very well.” That venture began in 2010 when Cindy started renting space for her boutique from the previous owners of Fischerville Coffee. The boutique is unique in its own right. Anyone familiar with the business knows that you have to plan ahead if you want the door to be open when you arrive. It is only open the first and third weekend of each month, from Wednesday through Sunday. The reason for such limited hours is that Cindy is busy during the other times of the month scouting out and purchasing “designerinspired” labels for women’s clothing, handbags, jewelry and accessories. When the shop is open, however, she’s there to provide information about the merchandise she sells, which is nearly all available for $60 or

High Fives from page 8

evenings and weekends — with the hope of turning it into full-time. He has worked in the hospitality industry most of his life and currently works as a sales representative at CPP North America. In January, he moved to St. Louis Park to be closer to his job, but his heart remains on the West Side. He is a 1996 Humboldt graduate and studied accounting and Spanish at the University of Minnesota-Duluth for three years, but left before getting his degree. Revord is starting his new venture for more than the opportunity to make a profit. He also hopes to use it as a way to give back to the community. He plans to donate 10 percent of total revenue to non-profit organizations, including the National Alliance

on Mental Illness, Boys & Girls Club, Narcotics Anonymous and others. In addition, he also plans to have some double donation promotions, including the Cinco de Mayo event. “What I’m most proud of is High Fives Are Free. What a great way to promote positive thinking to all ages, to encourage people to follow their dreams,” he said. “The organizations I’d like to support from the proceeds for the Guinness Book World Record event will be for West Side’s youth for proactive life building and achievement.” Neighborhood House and Humboldt High School will be the recipients of the proceeds. Rich Revord’s name sounds stunningly close to rich reward, which

Your community news and information source

less. “Sales have been increasing regularly as people are becoming familiar with the concept,” said Keith. “She buys only three or four of each (item), so the merchandise is more unique. You won’t find everyone else in the Twin Cities wearing it.”

A door to the future

The couple found that the clientele that frequented the coffee shop were a good fit for the boutique as well, so they approached the then owners of Fischerville with the idea of knocking a hole in the adjoining wall and adding a door so customers could access both businesses. They liked the idea and agreed. It wasn’t long after, however, that they had to close the coffee shop for financial reasons. In early January the Schweigers entered into negotiations to buy Fischerville, and by mid January they had

is exactly what he’ll experience if he can find 1,791 others to help him achieve his goal.

Keith and Cindy Schweiger are the new owners of Fischerville Cafe and Eatery, located at 2150 Dodd Road, Mendota Heights. sealed the deal. Their first order of business was to do some cosmetic updates and add a few items to the menu. “We didn’t change anything, just added to it,” said Keith. What was added were a few healthier choices, including oatmeal with craisins or berries, and a fruit bowl. They also added more soups, wrap sandwiches, WiFi service, and this summer will have soft-serve ice cream. What they didn’t change, were the panini sandwiches, although they do now offer half-size panini sandwiches and meals.

“The paninis are fantastic,” said Keith. “They are the life-blood of Fisherville, along with our high quality coffee.” According to Keith, it appears they made the right decision with the newest business venture. “Things are going well,” he said. “They (customers) were all extremely happy to see Fisherville open again. They like the feel of going to a family owned business instead of a national chain.” The Schweigers also believe in giving back to the community. For example, Bella Boutique offers pri-

vate parties where they return 10 percent of the sales to the organization. In April, they hosted a party for the Friendly Hills Parent Teacher Association and gave back over $200 to the group. When not helping manage these businesses, Keith stays busy operating two used car lots and one car wash on University Avenue in St. Paul. In the late 1990s, his car wash operation included five locations, but he sold four of them once he opened his first car lot.

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St. Paul Voice - May 2011 - Page 9

B usiness Standing the test of time

Your community news and information source

Stevens Realty celebrates 100 year annivesary Mary Diedrick Hansen Staff Writer


here’s no place like home, and for a good part of the last 100 years, “home” to Stevens Realty has been St. Paul’s West Side and the city of West St. Paul. In 1911, founder John Stevens opened his doors for business in a big home located at the intersection of Dodd Road and Smith Avenue, where the grocery R.C. Dick’s now stands. At that time, West St. Paul was filled with farmland, and streetcars were making their way from downtown St. Paul up Smith Avenue to Annapolis. Now, third generation grandson Ron Stevens is running the realty business out of the Stevens Building, at 849 Smith Ave. on St. Paul’s West Side. Although the real estate business has been

in a slump for a few years, the company’s history shows that its owners have always adjusted to the roller coaster ride that any business with longevity has to endure. After a period of descent Stevens is confident the business will eventually begin an upward climb, and he plans to hold on tight and be there when it does. Reflecting on the company’s history, Stevens recalled stories of how in the early days, his grandfather conducted affairs with a handshake. He chuckled over stories of the unusual driving techniques his grandfather used at the turn of the last century, when automobiles were first being introduced as an alternative to the horse and buggy. “At the time, there was a lot of farmland in West

St. Paul, and he would drive around a lot and cruise right through stop signs saying, ‘they didn’t belong there,’” said Stevens. “He also opened the driver’s door to signal he was turning left.” His grandfather grew up on a farm near Prior Lake. Once into the realty business, he sold farmland from the first ring cities next to St. Paul, and built several homes along Mahnomen Avenue on the West Side. He rode out the storm of World War I, the joy ride of the Roaring ’20s, the Great Depression, and the Second World War, and celebrated the enormous housing boom that came with the postwar baby boom. That’s when sons Joe, Jay and John joined the business, which moved from the Dodd/Smith home to a building at Stryker/Ste-

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Lighting Hearts, Guarding Souls, and Guiding Minds for over 125 Years Page 10 - St. Paul Voice - May 2011

Ron Stevens proudly displays the photo of founder John Stevens. vens on the West Side. An apartment building stands there today. “Uncle John was a big schmoozer,” recalled Stevens with a chuckle. “He would get a listing and then spend the next hour talking to his client. Grandpa was always on him to get the listing and get out of there. My dad (Joe) was very gregari-

ous and knew everyone in town. He was quite an athlete, and played football and hockey at Humboldt.” Stevens said he never intended to get into the business, but while painting large, older homes in the Crocus Hill area of St. Paul in the mid-’70s, he noticed that the homes were being purchased for

$30,000 to $40,000, rehabbed and, after his $1,000-$1,500 paint job, sold for $50,000 to $60,000. “There was a kind of explosion with prices rising fast. With the family business history, I thought I would give it a try,” he said. His sister and some cousins joined in as well.

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B usiness It wasn’t long before everyone learned about the ups and downs of the business when the sky high interest rates of the early 1980s forced them to draw up many complicated “contracts for deed” between homeowners and buyers. “To succeed at real estate, an agent must be detail-oriented and get

Your community news and information source along well with people,” said Stevens. “Most of my business comes from referrals. I wear a lot of hats, and deal with all kinds of different people. We used to have up to eight agents working with me. Now I have three.” The last few years have been difficult and Stevens believes dependency on oil could increase the

cost of living and reduce the amount of income available for future buyers to put toward the purchase of a home. Will the glory days of early the early 2000s return any time soon? Stevens has his doubts. “Through it all, the real estate business must be able to sustain itself and

remain resilient,” he said. “I deal with a lot of firsttime home buyers. I work in the West Side, West St. Paul, South St. Paul and Mendota Heights, and most of these cities have affordable housing.” Like his father, uncles and grandfather before him, he will make adjustments and wait for the

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St. Paul Voice - May 2011 - Page 11

N ews Briefs El Burrito to provide food at Target Field

El Burrito Mercado, a family-owned business that has been located in District del Sol for more than 30 years, has entered into an agreement with The Minnesota Twins and Target Field food service partner Delaware North Sportservice to provide Walk-a-Tacos at Target Field. The tacos are one of several new concession offerings. Other items include a Giant Juicy Turkey Sandwich, Minneapple Pie and a kosher hot dog.

CNHS hosts annual fundraiser

West Side-based Community Neighborhood Housing Services (CNHS) will host its annual fundraising event 5-8 p.m., Wed., May 25, at the Summit Brewery, 910 Montreal Circle, St. Paul. The theme is “Growing Communities: Investing, Strengthen-

Your community news and information source ing and Building Your Community.” Tickets are $25 per person, which includes dinner and beverages. Proceeds will be used to help low- to moderate-income families obtain affordable housing, prevent foreclosure and/or rehabilitate their homes. For more information, call Nancy at 651-292-8710.

Senior day at the Y

The South Family YMCA, 150 E. Thompson Ave., West St. Paul, will host activities and exercise programs for seniors 8-11 a.m., May 25, in celebration of National Senior Health and Fitness Day. The Y offers regular events that are open to non-members age 55 and older with a photo ID.

Community Calendar • The Optimist Club - The Optimist Club of West St. Paul meets 5-6 p.m., the first and

third Wednesday of each month at West Side Lanes, 1625 South Robert St., West St. Paul. Visitors and new members are welcome. For more information, contact Cheryl Bergstrom at ckbergstrom@hotmail. com or 651-450-7391. • Veterans’ meetings - The RiverviewWest St. Paul VFW Post 4462 hosts monthly meetings at 7 p.m., the first Wednesday of each month, at the West St. Paul Armory. For more information, call 651437-4481. American Legion Post 521 also hosts monthly meetings at the Armory. Meeting times are 7 p.m., the fourth Tuesday of each month. • Rotary Club - The West St. Paul/Mendota Heights Rotary Club hosts a weekly meeting at 7:30 a.m., Wednesdays, at Southview Country Club, 239 E. Mendota Road, West St. Paul. Each meeting features breakfast and a guest speaker.

For more information, visit www.rotarywspmh. org. • Kiwanis Club - The Kiwanis Club of West St. Paul hosts a weekly meeting at noon, Tuesdays, at Southview Country Club, 239 E. Mendota Road, West St. Paul. Each meeting features lunch and a guest speaker. • Chamber of Commerce - The Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce, which serves West St. Paul, Mendota Heights, Eagan, Rosemount and Farmington, hosts a monthly meeting called “The Buzz,” at 7:30 a.m., the first Thursday of each month, at the Northern Dakota County Service Center in West St. Paul. Each meeting features networking, a guest speaker and refreshments. For more information, call 651-452-9872 or visit

Volunteer opportunities • Ramsey County Community Human Services has volunteer opportunities for people age 18 and older. For more information, contact 651-266-4090 or volunteerservices@ • Minnesota Literacy Council - Volunteers are needed to tutor adult

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508-510, 516 Humboldt Avenue • St. Paul, MN 55107 Page 12 - St. Paul Voice - May 2011 or call 1-866-859-2825. • Neighbors, Inc., a social service agency serving Northern Dakota County, has a number of volunteer opportunities to assist local residents. Shifts vary throughout the week and mileage reimbursement is available. For more information, contact volunteer@ or call 651-306-2145. • Volunteers of America is looking for volunteers age 55 and over to assist children who are struggling with homework and reading. Time commitment ranges from 3 to 12 hours a week. To volunteer or receive more information, contact Gil Zamora at 651-4707416. • DARTS, a nonprofit organization in West St. Paul, has several volunteer opportunities to assist families and individuals with transportation and in-home services. For more information, contact 651-455-1560 or • St. Paul Senior Chore Service is looking for senior clients age 60 and over, as well as volunteers to help these clients with basic home and lawn projects. For more information, call 651649-5984.

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learners, assist in an adult classroom and teach basic English and GED classes. For more information, contact Allison at 651645-2277, ext 219, or • St. Paul Public Schools - Volunteers are needed to tutor elementary students in the St. Paul Public schools in reading and math. Under the guidance of a classroom teacher, volunteers assist students one-on-one or in small groups. For more information, contact Connie at 612-617-7807 or Volunteers age 55 and older are eligible to receive free supplemental insurance, mileage reimbursement and other benefits through the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), sponsored by Volunteers of America of Minnesota. • The Minnesota Reading Corps is seeking reading tutors. The program provides free, one-on-one tutoring to children age three through third grade.  Minnesota Reading Corps members receive a living stipend, reimbursement for college (up to $5,350) and health insurance (for fulltime members). For more information or to apply online, visit www.Minne-

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HHW collection

St. Michael County’s Open House

Ramsey household hazardous waste collection site at Bay West, located near the State Capitol at 5 Empire Dr. in St. Paul, is open year-round. Dropoff is free for residents of Ramsey, Washington, Dakota, Hennepin, Anoka and Carver counties with a photo I.D. For hours of operation and more information, call the Ramsey County Recycling & Disposal Hotline at 651-633-EASY (3279) or visit www.

Cherokee Heights Pool fund-raiser

Cherokee Heights Elementary School on the West Side is collecting aluminum cans to help raise money for operating costs of the pool. You may drop off cans during school hours at 694 Charlton, St. Paul, or call 651-293-8610 for more information.

St. Michael School of West St. Paul, a K-8 grade school located at 335 Hurley Ave. E., is hosting an open house at 6:30 p.m., Tues., May 3. For more information, call 651-457-2510 or visit

West Side Garden Club Annual Plant Exchange

Channel Road. West Sid- clinic. For license fees or $1 during the Cinco de ers may bring concrete, further information on Mayo Fiesta, 11 a.m.-6 bricks, rocks, construc- the West St. Paul clinic, p.m., Sat., May 7, in the tion debris, general re- call 651-552-4100. For church’s social hall, 401 fuse, reusable building more information about Concord Street, St. Paul. materials, reusable fur- PCU, call 651-770-7000 Fiesta parking is also niture, household items, or visit www.postalcu. available at the church for Free Acupuncture bicycles, scrap metals, org. $5. Proceeds benefit the Sun., May 1, 10-3 Sun., May 1, 10-3 clean wood and electron- Call or email for an appointment OLG Boy Scout Troop. Call or email for an appointment ics. To volunteer or re- OLG For more information, Taco Sale Little Needles Little Needles cieve more information, Community call 651-228-0506. The Women’s Society Acupuncture Community Acupuncture call 651-293-1708. of 651-705-6522 Our Lady of Guadal651-705-6522 upe (OLG) Church will Robert St. for $2 PCU offers free be 1635 selling tacos 1635 Robert St. West St. Paul, and pop and MN water for rabies vaccination West St. Paul, MN


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den Club is hosting its annual Plant Exchange 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Sat., May 14, at Stryker Avenue Community Garden, located at the corner of Stryker Avenue and Elizabeth Street. No need to bring plants to take plants home. For more information, call Maureen at 651-665-0064.

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The West Side Citizens Organization is sponsoring the West Side Cleanup 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Sat., June 11, at 565 Barge

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Postal Credit Union’s (PCU) West St. Paul branch is offering free rabies vaccination vouchers for West St. Paul’s Annual Vaccination Clinic, held 12:30-1:30 p.m., Sat., May 14, at the South Metro Fire Department, 1616 Humbolt Ave. The vouchers are available at Postal Credit Union, 1725 S. Robert St., West St. Paul, while supplies last.  Pets must be on a leash or in a pet carrier. Pet owners can also obtain a dog or cat license for their pet at the

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C inco de Mayo 2011

Fiesta Guide

from page 1 lineup of music and entertainment, the fiesta will extend its cultural roots deeper to include not only Mexican entertainment, but Columbian, Peruvian, Venezuelan and other offerings as well. “I just think people are going to be very impressed with the entertainment at Cinco de Mayo Fiesta this year,” Gioielli said. “There’s a

good variety and they’ll get to see things they haven’t seen at Cinco before. There’re a lot of new acts, and then there’re things that are just very fun.” A young, new Mexican band that promises spectacular rhythms will headline Saturday on the Viva Mexico Stage, according to Angel Maldonado, founder and CEO of Noche de Gala Productions, which works with REDA to set up fiesta entertainment. Los Sierreños de Sinaloa are known in Mexico and the United States for their recent hit “Niña Bonita.” In addition, on Friday and Saturday, local, regional and international musicians and entertainers will offer plenty of variety with norteño, salsa, cumbia, mariachi, rock and more. Minnesota hip hop artist Maria Isa will perform on Friday on the Boca Chica Stage. Cultural dance groups will return to the Parque Castillo Stage and Ma-

Your community news and information source riachi Canto y Flor and Alegres Bailadores will be back this year, as well. Two stages will feature a variety of sounds and entertainment on Friday: the El Rio Stage at Robert and Cesar Chavez, and the Boca Chica Stage. On Saturday, fiesta-goers can enjoy music and entertainment at the Boca Chica, Viva Mexico, Cozy Cantina, and Parque Castillo stages. For a complete schedule, visit

Food and beverages

Fiesta goers will be able to treat their taste buds to new culturally authentic offerings, which will be featured along with traditional food and beverage items. Choose Mexican dishes as well as other international specialties, including Greek, Lebanese, Middle Eastern, Latin American and North American. Beverages include soft drinks, beer and margaritas.

For a special snack, try the “People’s Choice” Salsa Tasting Contest. For a small charge, salsa lovers receive a basket of chips and the chance to sample local and regional salsas before voting for their favorites in three categories.

Jalapeño-eating contest

Back for the third year is the Cinco de Mayo Fiesta jalapeño-eating contest. “It’s very popular and a lot of fun,” said Gioielli. “We have no shortage of people who want to participate in it; who are willing to take the plunge into jalapeños.” This year the fiesta will feature three heats on Saturday: one at the Viva Mexico Stage and two at the Cozy Cantina Stage. The winner of each heat will receive an award. Sign up early as only 10 participants are allowed in each heat.

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Page 14 - St. Paul Voice - May 2011

Always a major attraction at the fiesta, the 12th annual Lowrider Car Show will feature up to 100 amazinglyappointed cars and other vehicles on Friday, from polished, classic cars and trucks to vehicles that feature the latest technology and details. The vehicles will also be located throughout the fiesta. Auto enthusiasts won’t want to miss the Hydraulics Showcase, where supercharged cars and trucks will compete for awards.

New and favorite activities

• New this year is La Plaza Quinceñeara, where the public can learn more about this significant Latino comingof-age tradition. Vendors offering Quinceñeararelated products and services will be available on Cesar Chavez Street across from El Burrito Mercado to help girls and their families plan their

events. • Children can enjoy face painting, storytelling, traditional crafts and huge inflatables on Saturday in the Children’s Area. Other activities will be offered by the Girl Scouts, Riverview Library and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, among others. Youth can see a magic show in the Children’s Area and entertainment by young people, including a mariachi band and folk dancers at the Parque Castillo Stage. • The Sports Zone will offer soccer, baseball, American football, martial arts and climbing, a BMX bike show, tennis and other activities. Amateur and professional sports teams and organizations will be represented, including the Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves, Minnesota Vikings, Saint Paul Saints and more. • The History area will present history and traditions of the West

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Watch for our float in the Cinco de Mayo parade on May 7!

C inco de Mayo 2011

Your community news and information source Representatives from many educational, nonprofit, social service, health, community and church organizations will provide information.

Photo contest

Photographers looking for fresh, new views of Cinco de Mayo Fiesta may submit their best shots for the 9th annual photo contest. First and second place winners in the following categories will receive prizes: “Food of Cinco,” “Music of Cinco” and for youth ages 16 and younger, “Cinco de Mayo Fiesta Memories.” Cost to enter is $10 for adults and free for the youth category. For more information, visit www. or call 651-222-6347.

Photo courtesy Riverview Economic Development Association

Side, Cinco de Mayo and Minnesota’s Latino population. Fiesta-goers may contribute their own photos and stories. • On Saturday, information on health, educa-

tion and social services will be featured at the Community Wellness Village. They can take advantage of blood pressure screening, dental checks and massages.

Menudo run

This 5K run follows the Mississippi River bluffs to the fiesta at State and Cesar Chavez streets. The timed run, which is

sponsored by the Minnesota Chapter of the Latino Peace Officers Association and REDA, starts at 8 a.m. on Saturday at Joseph’s Grill on Plato Street. Pre-registrations are accepted at for $25 through April 30. Register on race day for $30 by 7:45 a.m. Water, snacks and a T-shirt will be provided. Each age category winner will receive a prize. Proceeds go toward college scholarships for law enforcement students.

Volunteers needed

Cinco de Mayo Fiesta is a success because of its volunteers. REDA needs 300 people to assist with the fiesta. Volunteers receive a volunteer T-shirt. To sign up, visit http://

docroot/cincodemayo/ CincodeMayoFiestaVolunteer.html or call 651222-6347.

Plan your trip

Find the latest information about the Cinco de Mayo Fiesta, as well as directions and parking information, at www., or call 651-222-6347. Cinco de Mayo Fiesta offers updates and contests for VIP passes on Facebook and Twitter. Cinco de Mayo Fiesta T-shirts are available at REDA’s office, 176 Cesar Chavez St., and at the fiesta ticket booth. Quantities are limited.

Cinco de Mayo Fiesta gives visitors a chance to see the best of St. Paul’s West Side and the District del Sol, Gioielli said. “We hope through Cinco de Mayo Fiesta all those businesses have a chance to get new customers and develop important relationships with customers and strengthen their current client base or customer base.” Cinco de Mayo Fiesta sponsors include:, Minnesota Twins, Pioneer Press, US Bank, Wells Fargo, State Farm Insurance, Target, Ameriprise, Qwest and UCare.

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C inco de Mayo 2011

Your community news and information source

Lowriders and other stylish vehicles move to center of fiesta Susan Klemond Contributor


his year the Cinco de Mayo Fiesta Lowrider car show is merging more fully into the fiesta, which means fiesta-goers can experience the thrill of seeing as many as 100 sleek and well-equipped vehicles while enjoying the sounds, tastes and excitement of the entire Cinco de Mayo Fiesta. The 12th annual Lowrider Car Show and Hydraulic Showcase, which previously was located at the edge of the fiesta grounds, will take place at the center of the site

4-9 p.m., Fri., May 6. “I think it’s going to be more exciting because the cars will be closer, they’ll be able to watch the Hydraulic Showcase,” said Sandy Alcocer, car show coordinator. “I know the participants will like it more because they’re closer and involved. They can see more of what’s going on.” Vehicles will be located near the Ken Yackel West Side Arena, around Boca Chica Mexican Restaurant, and near the gas station at Robert and Cesar Chavez streets, as well as several other locations, which will give auto lov-

ers a great reason to stay for the whole fiesta, said Brian Gioielli, marketing manager for the Riverview Economic Development Association, which organizes the two-day fiesta. “We want them to come and be a part of the whole thing,” said Alcocer. For the first time this year, the Lowrider Show will be limited to the first 100 vehicles registered, Alcocer said. Vehicle owners are encouraged to pre-register at cincodemayo/events/ low-rider.html.

Photo by Marina Castillo

Lowriders are cars or trucks with modified suspension systems (sometimes with hydraulic suspension) that enables them to ride very low to the ground. Lowriders often have user-controlled height adjustable suspension. Along with owners of lowrider cars

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Hot Rod, Lowrider and Full-Size Truck, Classic Car, Biggest, Cleanest and Most Unique Rims. A panel of judges will award first-place trophies in many of the categories. Winners can participate in Saturday’s fiesta parade. Vehicles in the show will catch fiesta-goers’ attention with elaborate graphics, large wheels, chrome, light and sound systems and much more. For even more excitement on Friday evening, check out the Hydraulic Showcase 6:30-8 p.m. on Cesar Chavez Street. Owners will defy gravity by lifting, tilting or dipping their vehicle with custom hydraulic suspension. Music from the nearby Boca Chica Stage and a range of refreshments will complete the experience. Crowd applause will determine the winner, who will receive $250. There is no charge to enter the Hydraulic Showcase. The entry fee for a motorized vehicle in the Lowrider Show is $20, and $5 for a bike. Customized hotrods, classic cars and any other vehicles in the show categories may participate. The Lowrider Show and Hydraulic Showcase promise to excite not only car enthusiasts but also fiesta-goers who didn’t come to see cars, Alcocer said. “I think a lot of people enjoy it even when they don’t know what it’s about,” she said. “Everybody who gets to it usually enjoys it.”

C inco de Mayo 2011

Your community news and information source

New at this year’s fiesta Susan Klemond Contributor

La Plaza Quinceñeara

In Mexico and other Latino countries, a girl’s 15th birthday, her Quinceñeara, is often celebrated with a religious service and a party can resemble a wedding reception. La Plaza Quinceñeara, located on Cesar Chavez Street near El Amanecer Restaurant, will be dedicated to this coming-of-age celebration. It will feature vendors with products and services related to this celebration, including dresses, catering, hair salons, video, photo and DJ services, a dance studio that can choreograph a dance for the event, and a runway fashion show. La Plaza Quinceñeara offers something new for teens, said Allison Tjenstrom, La Plaza Quinceñeara volunteer coordinator. “It’s going to be something different,” she said. “I think a lot of the parts of the festival are not necessarily designed toward teenagers. This is something that can be attractive to that age, that they can actually say, ‘this is for me.’”

Grito contest

Another exciting addition to Cinco de Mayo Fiesta is the Grito contest. The Grito de Dolores was a battle cry that began the Mexican war for independence in 1810.

(Mexican Independence Day is Sept. 16. Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Battle of Puebla, Mexico’s victory over the French empire on May 5, 1862.) Grito contests are now part of many Mexican celebrations. The contest will be held at 3 p.m., Saturday, at the Boca Chica Stage. Gritos will be judged for prizes by audience applause for their volume, pitch, length and other criteria.

‘Miss Cinco de Mayo Fiesta’ pageant

Cinco de Mayo Fiesta’s newest young representatives will bring extra sparkle to this year’s festival. The fiesta’s first pageant, held May 4, will crown Miss Cinco de Mayo Fiesta and two runners-up, who will showcase Latino heritage as they promote the community, according to pageant organizer Carolina Reyes. “This is something that’s new and exciting,” said Reyes, Miss Minnesota International for 2010. “It’s always nice to revitalize the Cinco de Mayo celebration in new and interesting ways, and I think this is definitely one of them.” The first Miss Cinco de Mayo Fiesta Pageant is open to Latina women ages 17 to 25. The pageant will be held at 7 p.m. at Neighborhood House at the Paul and Sheila Wellstone Center and is free and open to the public.

The pageant will be less about swimsuits and beauty, and more about personality, confidence and speaking skills, said Reyes, an Inver Grove Heights native and marketing account manager who also runs a personal development business for youth and adults. “I really wanted to make it something that focused on not only the educational aspirations of the women but to really put in the forefront that within the St. Paul community these are the women that we should be focusing on and rising up as role models,” Reyes said. Miss Cinco de Mayo Fiesta will receive a $1,000 scholarship and the two runners-up will each receive a $250 scholarship. The winners will be involved in the Cinco de Mayo parade and events and may take part in other events throughout the year. Women who would like to participate in the pageant should contact Reyes at 612-462-1986.

Photo courtesy Riverview Economic Development Association The passes are good for round-trip bus travel to the fiesta from anywhere in the metro area.

Social media

A good way to find out what’s going on at Cinco de Mayo Fiesta is through social media. Since January 2010, Cinco de Mayo Fiesta’s Facebook fan page has grown from 300 to more than 4,000 fans, said Cally Ingebritson, Cinco de Mayo Fiesta marketing coordinator. The fiesta also has a strong follow-

ing on Twitter. Fiesta organizers have grown the fiesta’s online presence by keeping its Facebook page and Twitter feeds active all year and by offering contests that motivate fans to get their friends involved. This spring, Facebook fans and Twitter followers can win passes to the Cinco de Mayo Fiesta exclusive VIP area, which offers special food and beverages. Also, Facebook fans can upload creative photos of themselves with the Cinco de Mayo Fiesta button and

vote on their favorite. Fiesta-goers on foursquare that check in at the fiesta will receive a Mexican flag bandana.

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St. Paul Voice - May 2011 - Page 17

C inco de Mayo 2011

Your community news and information source

Salsa contest offers many flavorful choices

¡Felicidades al Pueblo Mexicano!

Susan Klemond Contributor

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or the most flavor you can fit on a tortilla chip, it’s hard to beat the “People’s Choice” salsatasting contest. On Sat., May 7, salsa lovers will be able to dip their chips into many mild, spicy and exotic salsas from producers on the West Side and around the Twin Cities, and then vote for their favorites. “It’s a fun, interactive event,” said Charlie Ritt, assistant volunteer coordinator of the contest. “People can taste the local flavors of the Twin Cities. It’s a nice blend of different salsas from around the area.” Cold beverages will be available near the Boca Chica Stage while sampling over 10 salsas from several local restaurants and retailers. Last year, about 2,000 salsa tasters participated in the con-

test, and organizers hope that even more will take advantage of the tasty, inexpensive snack option this year. Participants pay less than $2 for a basket of tortilla chips, a halfounce sample of each salsa they choose and a ballot. Tastings are offered 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tasters will select their favorites in three categories: Best Mild/Salsa Suave, Best Hot/Salsa del Sol and Most Unique/Salsa Sabrosa. Along with their mild and spicy salsas, producers continue to offer a variety of less traditional salsas, some made especially for the fiesta. Past varieties in the “unique” category have included mango pineapple salsa, green salsa and salsa with shrimp. Last year’s winner was Baja Sol’s papaya salsa. Some vendors will sell their salsas at the contest

site, and others may offer coupons to promote their restaurants. Contest winners will receive a plaque, and their company names included in post-event

publicity. Last year’s winners were: Best Mild/ Salsa Suave: La Cocinita; Best Hot/Salsa del Sol: El Burrito Mercado; and Most Unique: Baja Sol.

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Page 18 - St. Paul Voice - May 2011

C inco de Mayo 2011

Your community news and information source

Cinco de Mayo grand marshal has been creating great smiles for over 30 years Susan Klemond Contributor


aying he’s not one to seek the limelight, the grand marshal for this year’s Cinco de Mayo Fiesta parade quickly turns attention to the organization he’s devoted much of his career to: the West Side Dental Clinic. For the past 33 years, doctor of dentistry Brad McDonnell has been a familiar face on the West Side as he’s worked to provide affordable dental care, especially for patients with modest incomes. While he’s proud that he’s been chosen to lead the May 7 parade, which begins at 10 a.m. along Cesar Chavez Street, he said he “sees it as an opportunity for people to know more about our clinic — what we do, some of our needs, some of our hopes and aspirations for the future.” In 1978, not long out

of dental school, McDonnell was the first dentist hired at the West Side Dental Clinic, which is part of West Side Community Health Services. “My focus when I went into dental school was to try and find a place that I could be serving some of the underserved areas of the population,” he said. West Side Community Health Services offers comprehensive healthcare services to diverse communities. It also offers dental care in other areas of St. Paul and is likely to expand dental facilities in the next several years, he added. The dental clinic’s focus is changing children’s outlook on their dental health and improving it, said McDonnell, noting that he often treats children with extensive dental problems. One concern on the West Side is a shortage of dentists willing to see un-

insured or state insured patients, he said. Another is cuts in state funding for adult dental services. “We still see a lot of adults with a lot of dental needs,” said McDonnell. “Urgent care is a big part of the things that we see here and we still do a fair amount of extractions and oral surgery because these people can’t afford to save their teeth but then we deal with the problem of missing teeth, and people that actually don’t have teeth to chew.” The dental clinic’s growth has required McDonnell to take on administrative duties and reduce the time he spends treating patients. “I’m considered the dental director here but first and foremost I’m a dentist and a provider of services,” he said. “All of that other stuff has kind of come with the turf. It’s not something I really relish.”

Dr. Brad McDonnell and his staff at West Side Dental Clinic. As someone who’s spent a lot of time on the West Side, even though he’s not a resident, McDonnell said he believes the neighborhood is on the upswing. “When I first started coming down here staff was more concerned about their safety and things like that,” he said. “I don’t see that as much anymore. I just think it’s a wonderful community. I really believe that it’s constantly improving.” He sees Cinco de Mayo Fiesta as a community

building effort that creates a great atmosphere and showcases the West Side. “I think they’ve done a good job of keeping it a family event, which is very important,” he said. The dental clinic has long been involved in the fiesta through a health fair focused on preventative information, dental screenings and oral hygiene. In the past, McDonnell participated in the fiesta parade with staff members and their kids.

“All of us that had kids used to get them all dressed up in traditional garb and throw them in the back of my pickup truck,” he recalled. “We’d always be part of the parade back then.” This year as he rides in the parade as the grand marshal, possibly joined by his granddaughter, McDonnell will represent not only the dental clinic but also the West Side community whose smiles he has cared for the past three decades.

St. Paul Voice - May 2011 - Page 19

S ample St. Paul Xcel Energy Center Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band will perform at 7:30 p.m., Thurs., May 12, at the Xcel Energy Center, 199 West Kellogg Boulevard, St. Paul. Tickets are $69. Country superstar Tim McGraw and his “Emotional Traffic Tour,” with special guests Luke Bryan and The Band Perry, will perform at 7 p.m., Sat., May 14. Tickets are $29.75-$74.75.

Science Museum “Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs” is featured through Sept. 5. The exhibit, which features more than 100 artifacts of the treasures of King Tut, explores the time of the pharaohs and what scientists have recently discovered regarding the unexpected death of King Tut. To complement the exhibit, the Omnintheatre is featuring “Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs.” In the late

19th century, 40 royal mummies, including 12 Kings of Egypt, were discovered together in the same tomb. Today, scientists continue to explore the process of ancient Egyptian mummification using modern technology. See the first modern mummification in the Egyptian style since the time of the pharaohs, and find out what mysteries scientists hope to unravel by studying ancient DNA. Weekday tickets are $25 for adults and $16 for children ages 4-12 and $23 for seniors age 60 and older, or $30, $18 and $29 respectively on the weekend. Price includes all Science Museum exhibits. Museum tickets are $11 for adults and $8.50 for children ages 4-12 and seniors age 60 and older, or $17 and $14.50 respectively with admission to the Omnitheater. Omnitheater tickets alone are $8/$7. The Science Museum is located at 120 W. Kellogg Blvd. For more

Page 20 - St. Paul Voice - May 2011

Your community news and information source information, visit www. or call 651-2219444.

Ordway Center for Performing Arts

“Next to Normal” is presented May 10-22, at the Ordway Center, 345 Washington St., St. Paul. From the director of Rent, this Tony Awardand Pulitzer Prize-winning rock musical is an emotional powerhouse of a musical about a family trying to take care of themselves and each other. Tickets are $27$80. For more information, call 651-224-4222 or visit

History Theatre “Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story” is presented April 30-May 22. Part biography, part rock ’n’ roll concert, this is the musical retelling of the life and times of Buddy Holly, from his meteoric rise to stardom to the unforgettable concert in Clear Lake, Iowa. The show features nearly two

dozen hit songs, including “Peggy Sue,” “Oh Boy!” “Rave On” and “That’ll Be the Day.” Tickets are $28-$32 for adults, $25-$30 for seniors, $15 for students and $10 for children. Sample Night Live, a sampling of local productions, is featured at the History Theatre at 7 p.m. the first Wednesday of each month, except February. The format features 12 acts per night, including theater, film, dance, improv, visual arts, folk and opera. The next performance is May 4. Tickets are $20. The History Theatre is located at 30 E. Tenth St., St. Paul. For more information, call the box office at 651-292-4323.

Children’s Museum “LEGO Castle Adventure” is featured through Sept. 11. Visitors help design a new castle for the king and queen using one of the greatest building materials of all time: LEGO bricks. Visi-

Photo by Joan Marcus

“Next to Normal,” a Tony Award winning rock musical, is presented May 10-22, at the Ordway Center for Performing Arts. tors can construct castles, learn about real-world castles and their building

secrets, and plan their ideal castle’s defenses. Families can explore the

S ample St. Paul

Your community news and information source

History Center

“Opus” plays May 6-29 at Park Square Theatre. inside of the royal castle, test their fortress designs with a catapult, spot a dragon and climb a battlement wall. “Framed: Step into Art” is presented through May 15. Enter the framework of famous paintings and experience art as never before. View original and famous parodies of Mona Lisa, and create your own version of

Mona Lisa’s enigmatic expression by putting your face in a cutout version of the painting. Participants may also create their own wall mural with chalk and their own art gallery by arranging works of art in frames. Tickets are $8.95. The museum is located at 10 W. Seventh St., St. Paul. For more information, call 651-225-6000.

“Discover the Real George Washington: New Views from Mount Vernon” is presented through May 29, at the Minnesota History Center, 345 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul. Learn about George Washington as a young surveyor, dauntless warrior, entrepreneur and presidential first. This new traveling exhibit from Mount Vernon features forensic models of Washington at ages 19, 45 and 57, short films by the History Channel, computer interactive segments, portraits and decorative arts, period weapons and personal artifacts, including the only surviving full set of Washington’s dentures.  Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and college students, and $5 for children ages 6-17. The center offers free admission on Tuesdays, 5-8 p.m. For more information, call 651-259-3000 or visit

Park Square Theatre

“Opus” is presented May 6-29. A celebrated string quartet has their backs against a wall on the eve of their White House debut. They’ve had to replace their violist with gifted, inexperienced Grace, who’s never played Beethoven’s difficult Opus 131. “Opus” explores the power and pettiness of collaboration…and what a girl has do to play with the big boys. Tickets are $20-$60.


1508, 1526 Allen, W. St. Paul Move-In Special! $725-$795 1BD & 2BD 800-900 square feet Deck/Patio, Gar, AC

Call today! 651-308-8083

Discounts are available for age 30 and under and age 62 and older. The theater is located in the Historic Hamm Building, 20 W. 7th Place, St. Paul. For more information, call 651-291-7005.

Artists’ Quarter

The Artists’ Quarter, located in the His-

toric Hamm Building in downtown St. Paul, offers live entertainment throughout the month, including jazz bands, poetry nights and the popular B-3 organ night, held at 9 p.m. every Tuesday. For a complete schedule of events, call 651-2921359 or visit

Bilingual Marketing Specialist Reliable Insurance, a 17-year-old independent insurance agency in West St. Paul, is seeking a bilingual marketing specialist. The position involves marketing our agency to individuals and businesses in our community, setting appointments, and assisting with translation services. The ideal candidate will have excellent Spanish and English verbal skills and be extremely customer service oriented. The position offers a guaranteed hourly base pay plus a $50 bonus for each new client referred to our agency. Part-time but will grow into full-time for the right candidate. For more information, view the detailed job description at, click on the "Career" tab, or contact Steve at, or visit Reliable Insurance at 161 Marie Ave. E., West St. Paul.

Mother's Day Dining Mother's Day is Sunday, May 8! Treat Mom on her special day to a delicious meal or fresh bakery goods from Keys. We invite you to try our new bakery, featuring delicious sheet cakes, round cakes, cookies, bars, cup cakes, pies (fruit, cream & speciality) sticky buns, scones & more.

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St. Paul Voice - May 2011 - Page 21

C ommunity Celebrations

Your community news and information source

New leadership, new changes in store for West St. Paul’s annual celebration West St. Paul Days offers five days of family fun May 18-22 Tim Spitzack Editor


ife is what happens when things don’t go the way you planned. No one knows this better than Dave Wenda, the new president of Celebrate West St. Paul Days, a non-profit organization that organizes the annual community celebration. Five years ago the West St. Paul resident watched as his daughter, Kaitlin, was crowned Queen of West St. Paul Days. His summers haven’t been the same since, and now he’s logged more miles than he cares to remember pulling the royalty float at various events around

the Twin Cities and Western Wisconsin. However, it’s a labor of love for him and his involvement shows his passion for his community and its annual celebration. In February, Wenda assumed the lead role in the organization after his 7-member board accepted the resignation of Lambert Motz, former president and founder of the event. “Lambert is 80 and spends most of his time in Nevada,” said Wenda. “He sent us his resignation letter in January and the board accepted it.” That left little time for Wenda and his board to pull together this year’s event and raise the cash needed to fund its activities. Wenda has served on the board for three years and is joined by Kathy

Maher, Mark Tessmer, Jennifer Baltes, Lupe Lopez, John Kelly, Kari Hartman and Amanda Markle. Tessmer, Kelly, Baltes and Lopez are new this year.

Financial support

Fundraising for the celebration in the past several years has been challenging, and this year is no exception. Short on time and cash, the board opted to eliminate a few events this year, and is getting creative with others to keep them on the schedule. The most notable changes are, first, that the carnival will move from the Signal Hills Center parking lot to a new location, which as of press time was still to be determined. There will not be a spaghetti dinner and silent auc-

tion, and there will be a new band for the Kiddie Parade area. “Last year the band charged us $800. This year we found one for $450,” said Wenda, who hopes to raise $13,000 for the celebration. That figure is about half of what has been raised in the past, but the board believes it can make do with that amount. The biggest cost savings comes from using volunteer labor this year. “Money is tight. The corporate ones are the tough ones,” he said of business donations that fund most of the events. “We got a slow start, but I’m so happy that people are still willing to help.”

Keeping the celebration alive

There has been much

talk in recent months about making changes to the celebration, including murmurings of whether or not it should go on. To gauge interest, Wenda started knocking on doors and found that the moral support is still there. “I really pushed everyone to see what they wanted to do, and found everyone was in favor of it,” he said. To keep the event alive, Wenda said the board decided to “cut things down a little” but is trying not to change it too much. “The new board has a lot of energy and some really good ideas, but I have to tell them ‘save it for next year,’” he said. It’s that energy and enthusiasm that makes him believe the event will be successful this year and

even better next. This year’s celebration takes place May 18-22 at locales throughout West St. Paul. The theme is “Walk Among the Stars in West St. Paul.” The marquee event — The West St. Paul Days Parade — takes place Sat., May 21, on Robert Street, following the traditional route from Emerson to Haskell St. Circle the dates on your calendar and spread the word to family and friends that West St. Paul Days is alive and well. Here’s the line-up. Dates, times and events were accurate as of press time but are subject to change.

West St. Paul Municipal Center Open House

1616 Humboldt Ave., 5-7 p.m., Wed., May 18 Here’s your chance to

Walk Among the STARS in West St. Paul

Celebrate West St. Paul Days May 18-22

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS: Municipal Center Open House

1616 Humboldt Ave., 5-7 p.m., Wed., May 18

West St. Paul Days Carnival

Location to be announced, May 18-22 Hours are Thursday and Friday, 2-9 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday, noon-7 p.m.

5th Annual Citywide Garage Sale

Thurs., May 19-Sat., May 21. Get a free map at Plaza TV and Appliance, 946 S. Robert St., For more information, call Dave at 651-457-1196.

Golf Tournament

Fri., May 20, 3 p.m. at Thompson Oaks Golf Course. For more information, call David or Mick, 651-457-1196.

Royalty Street Dance

Featuring the West Side Band. West St. Paul Commercial Club, 7-11 p.m., Fri., May 20. Cost is $5 and a West St. Paul Days button. For more information, call 651-451-4070.

1-mile Kids’ Fun Run

Sat., May 21 at YMCA, 150 E. Thompson Ave. begins at 9 a.m. Registration at 8 a.m., $9 fee For more information, call 651-457-0048.

Softball Tournament

Harmon Park, May 20-22. For more information, call Tim Nowak at 612-269-9471.

Page 22 - St. Paul Voice - May 2011

Bowling Blast

2:45-6:30 p.m., Sat., May 21, West Side Lanes, 1625 S. Robert St. $10, includes 2 games bowling, shoe rental and five prize drawing tickets. Hosted by the West St. Paul Optimist Club.

Kiddie Parade

10:30 a.m., Sat., May 21, at Haskell and South Robert Street. Children's band will perform in the upper parking lot of the West St. Paul Commercial Club, 938 S. Robert St. For more information, call Dave at 651-457-1196.

BBQ and car show

Commercial Club, 938 S. Robert St., at noon, Sat., May 21. For more information, call 651-451-4070.

West St. Paul Days Parade

1 p.m., Robert Street, traveling north from Emerson Avenue to Haskell Street. For more information, call Dave at 651-451-3397.

Pancake Breakfast

7 a.m.-1 p.m., Sun., May 21 at South Family YMCA, 150 E. Thompson. Hosted by Kiwanis Club. Call 651-457-6348.

Queen Coronation

1 p.m., Sun., May 22 at St Croix Lutheran High School, 1200 Oakdale Ave. A $5 West St. Paul Days button is required for admission. Buttons are available at the door.

More details at

C ommunity Celebrations

Your community news and information source

‘We got a slow start, but I’m so happy that people are still willing to help. I really pushed everyone to see what they wanted to do, and found everyone was in favor of it.’ Dave Wenda

New president of Celebrate West St. Paul Days

mingle with your elected officials while enjoying hotdogs, root beer floats and an inflatable slide and jump house. The event will feature demonstrations by the police and fire departments, and a special visit by McGruff the Crime Dog.

West St. Paul Days Carnival

Location to be determined, May 19-22 As of press time organizers were searching frantically for a new location for the West St. Paul Days Carnival. Signal Hills Shopping Center is no longer able to host it. The carnival will feature several thrill rides, carnival games and carni-

val fare such as popcorn, cotton candy and corndogs. Expected hours of operation are 2-9 p.m., Thursday and Friday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Saturday; noon-7 p.m., Sunday.

Citywide Garage Sale

Citywide, May 19-21 Treasure hunters and thrifty shoppers will be happy to know that the citywide garage sale is still on the schedule of events. Last year there were over 25 sales throughout the city, and this year promises similar numbers. Get a free map at area merchants, including Plaza TV and Appliance, 946 S. Robert St., and let the hunt begin.

Entry Level Electronic Assemblers Family Hairstyling

Mendota Heights $9 per hour To apply, call 320-864-5871

Athletic events The West St. Paul Days’ annual Golf Tournament begins at 3 p.m., Fri., May 20, at Thompson Oaks Golf Course. For more information, call David or Mick, 651457-1196. Tournament play begins with a shotgun start and is limited to 45 players with five players to a team. The registration fee is $45 per golfer and includes prizes and dinner at Gallaghers. St. Matthew’s Men’s Club will organize the 9th Annual West St. Paul Days Softball Tournament, held May 21. The tourney guarantees three games to each team and cash prizes to first, second and third

place winners. Refreshments will be available. For more information, call Tim Nowak at 612269-9471. A One Mile Kids’ FunRun is held Sat., May 21, at the South Family YMCA, 150 E. Thompson Ave. The event begins at 9 a.m. Register in advance by calling the Y at 651-457-0048, or on the day of the event, beginning at 8 a.m. Fee is $9. Participants receive a free T-shirt and prizes. The event will also feature a bounce-house and family fitness classes in the parking lot of the Y. For more information call Laura Day at 651457-0048. A Bowling Blast hosted by the West St. Paul Optimist Club has been added this year. The event takes place 2:456:30 p.m., Sat., May 21 at West Side Lanes, 1625 S. Robert St., West St. Paul. Cost is $10 per person and includes two games of bowling, shoe rental and five tickets for a prize drawing.

For the kids

The Okee Dokee Brothers will provide a musical backdrop during the Kiddie Parade, held at 10 a.m., Sat., May 21, at Haskell and South

Robert Street. Children are encouraged to decorate their bikes, wagons and strollers and join the fun. The band will perform in the upper parking lot of the West St. Paul Commercial Club, 938 S. Robert St. For more information, call Cathy at 651-402-7343.


The West Side Band will perform at the Royalty Street Dance, 7-11 p.m., Fri., May 20, at the West St. Paul Commercial Club, 938 S. Robert St. Cost is $5 and a West St. Paul Days button. For more information, call 651-451-4070.

Great food and car show

With over 20 years of basting and turning meat, the folks at the Commercial Club know how to serve up a great plate of BBQ. Head on down to the Commercial Club, 938 S. Robert St., at 11 a.m., Sat., May 21, for a BBQ feast and a car show. For more information call 651-451-4070. The Kiwanis Club will host a pancake breakfast 7 a.m.-1 p.m., Sun., May 22 at the South Family YMCA, 150 E. Thompson. For more informa-

tion, call Shelly at 651457-6348.


Enjoy some good oldfashioned fun by viewing fancy floats, marching bands and other colorful entries in the 100unit parade. Starting at 1 p.m.,Sat., May 21, the parade will take place along Robert Street, traveling north from Emerson Avenue to Haskell Street. For more information call 651-402-7343.

Queen coronation

The reigning 2010 West St. Paul Queen, Ashley Martinson, along with her Princesses, Traci Wenda and Shelby Edmonson, Junior Miss Amily Smith, Junior Princess Nakia McClaron and Little Miss Ally Belmore, will entrust their crowns and titles to their successors, wrapping up a year of excitement serving as City ambassadors in parades, royalty functions and events throughout the area. The coronation will be held at 1 p.m., Sun., May 22, at St Croix Lutheran High School, 1200 Oakdale Ave. A $5 West St. Paul Days button is required for admission. Buttons are available at the door.

Thompson Oaks City of West Saint Paul 651-457-6064

Spring Special Shampoo/Cut with Timothy $13* Long hair extra. Offer expires 6/15/2011

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Licensed teacher Piano, Guitar, Voice $19/lesson Call or text 651-303-4810

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Mother's & Father's Day Specials! St. Paul Voice - May 2011 - Page 23

E ducation Parents’ voices heard loudly in ISD 197 budget debate

Your community news and information source

Mary Diedrick Hansen Staff Writer


chool districts across the state are scrambling to revamp budgets that have been hit hard by dwindling government funding. At the same time, they’re looking for ways to maintain and increase the rigor of the curriculum for all students. Parents and others raised their voices to successfully defeat one controversial strategy that had been considered by district ISD 197 (West St. Paul, Mendota Heights and Eagan). A funding freeze from the state is forcing the district to reduce its general fund operating budget by $1.8 million for the next school. The district’s dilemma is how to do this while making educational gains, raising revenue and fulfilling one of the district’s strategic education goals of “growing” the district’s Early Learning programs. The school board presented four budget options at a March meeting. One of the options called for moving Mendota Heights Elementary School (K-4) to Friendly Hills Middle School (grades 5-8) beginning this fall.

The primary intent was to rent out part of the Mendota Elementary building, thereby raising revenue as well as establishing the building as a centralized location for the expansion of the district’s Early Learning programs. All these changes would make the most efficient use of space at both schools, the district proposed. Friendly Hills has about 600 students, with room for 1,000, so bringing in the 340 Mendota Elementary students seemed logical. A few other changes would have had to be made as well. Pilot Knob and Garlough Elementary school fourth graders who would normally move to Friendly Hills, would instead transfer to Heritage Middle School or remain at their schools and complete fifth grade there. Also, Independent District 917, which has classroom space at Friendly Hills for its Therapeutic Education Alternative (TEA) program, would have to move to another District 197 location.

Plan shelved

This is where the voices of the public sounded off loud and clear. Parents pointed out that Mendo-

ta Elementary was named a federal Blue Ribbon School for its high test scores and active parent participation. “Why take a school that is a gem and destroy it?” was the gist of those opposing the move. They raised concerns that educational gains made at the elementary level could be jeopardized by moving into Friendly Hills, which is not as academically proficient as Mendota Elementary. Safety concerns were also mentioned regarding moving younger children in with upper grade students. Opposition was so strong that the proposal was tabled. “The reason it was taken off the table was for a number of reasons, parent concerns being one of them,” said Susan Brott, chief marketing  and  communications officer for ISD 197. The proposal was designed to benefit the district’s long-range education plan of emphasizing Early Learning programs. “The plan called for a centralized location for Early Learning—ECFE (Early Childhood and Family Education), preschool, School Readiness, ECSE ( Early childhood special education)

programs in addition to maintaining two satellite locations at Moreland and Pilot Knob,” said Brott. “We still have that need and continue to explore options to grow the Early Learning program.” The proposal would have generated much needed revenue for the district from renting out the Mendota Elementary building. The district estimated approximately $100,000 in revenue the first year, and an additional $300,000 from year two and beyond.

Levy proposed

In desperate need of revenue to maintain its high standards, the district hopes to go to voters in November for approval to extend its current revenue stream from an operating levy that is set to expire in 2012. The levy currently generates $362 per pupil (about $1.7 million annually). The district has the option of renewing at the same rate or increasing to the state cap, which was voted down in last fall’s election. “There has been no decision on specifics, either amount or duration, for this fall’s levy,” said Brott. “The only deci-

sion thus far is that the district will have a levy question on the ballot. Even if voters pass a levy with an increase, we are still facing significant budget challenges in the future, and the increase could buy us a year, but there are many unknowns at the Legislature right now, so I cannot say for certain.”

Staff cuts

The district will cut a total of 17.5 full-time staff and teachers to meet the $1.8 million budget shortfall. Staff loss will lead to an increase in the student-teacher ratio at the high school, from the current 30:1 to 32:1. Despite the loss of staff, the district believes it can increase educational rigor and decrease the achievement gap by reconfiguring classes at the elementary and middle school levels. “There will be some multi-age groupings for grades 3-4, and there is some of that also happening at the middle school,” said Brott. “But it is really about utilizing the staff we have differently, redesigning the delivery model of instruction. It is using all of the staff we have in a building (regu-

lar classroom teachers, special education, English Language Learner instructors, paraprofessionals, etc.) and having them work as a team to meet the individual needs of each student. It is a move away from the traditional factory model of one teacher standing in front 25 students. It is really more student focused.” The district also plans to set aside $500,000 from recently approved budget adjustments as “Innovation Dollars.” Superintendent Jay Haugen will distribute these to sites or programs that may have had funds cut by the board. In addition, these dollars are to be used as start-up funds for innovative educational programs that will redesign educational services and provide future savings. Meanwhile, the future of Mendota Elementary remains unknown. “There is a proposal from one board member, which was tabled…but will be taken up at a future meeting to plan out more studies of various redesign options, including facilities configurations and high school redesign,” Brott said.

River’s Edge Academy partners with Outward Bound Sibley receives grant for new elective course

Henry Sibley High School in District 197 recently received a $35,000 grant from Project Lead the Way to begin a new year-long elective course next fall called Introduction to Engineering Design. Sibley, which is one of only 14 schools in Minnesota to receive the grant, will use the funds for teacher training, equipment and supplies for the course. The new course will allow students to improve their math and science skills and apply them to the engineering process, including research, design and learning how to use Computer-aided Design and Drafting (CADD) software. For more information, visit

Roaring River Rendezvous

Humboldt High School will hosts its 2nd Annual Roaring River Rendezvous 9 a.m.-noon, Sat., May 14. Page 24 - St. Paul Voice - May 2011

The event includes a fun run, scavenger hunt, student demonstrations, expert booths, Title I information, door prizes, games, music and more. Participants will meet at Humboldt, 30 E. Baker St., St. Paul, and be shuttled to the school’s adopted Mississippi River site. For more information, call 651-293-8600.

Free workplace English classes

South Suburban Adult Basic Education (ABE) offers Workplace English classes to adults ages 18 and older who want to enter the workforce and wish to improve their English language and job search skills. The classes are free and open to residents of ISD 197. To enroll or receive more information, call 651-457-9441.

Student notes

Paul Novak of West St. Paul graduated from the Art Institutes International Minnesota.

River’s Edge Academy (REA), an environmental charter high school on the West Side, has partnered with Outward Bound Twin Cities to offer its students a variety of expeditions that promote self-discovery and character development. The partnership was made possible by private donations totaling $180,000 over the next three years. “We are excited to partner with Outward Bound Twin Cities, which shares our mission of teaching students respect for the environment while also instilling the confidence to communicate, lead and serve others,” said Meghan Cavalier, REA director. The school, which opened in 2009, has 50

students that study under a Mississippi riverfocused curriculum that combines academics and hands-on projects. As a result of the partnership, students will have the opportunity to attend the Spring Wilderness Peer Leadership Expedition May 10-13. All students will trade in their cell phones for trail gear as they join Outward Bound instructors at Tettegouche State Park in northern Minnesota for an expedition where they will carry everything they need in backpacks and learn important skills, including perseverance, camp craft and how to set and achieve goals. “This will truly be a life-changing experience for our students where they will see per-

sonal challenges become personal victories,” said Cavalier. “We see their self-confidence soar after an expedition like this and we really stress that the success they see on the trail can be a metaphor for success in the classroom and throughout their life.” For more information on REA, call 651-2340150 or visit Outward Bound Twin Cities is a non-profit educational organization that serves people of all ages through learning expeditions that inspire character development, self-discovery and service. For more information, call 651-292-1062 or visit

C ommunity Columns Is it time for a home energy audit? Karen Reid Executive Director

Even though winter is behind us, energy usage and bills continue to influence our lives. At Neighborhood Development Alliance (NeDA), we take energy usage very seriously. In our residential loan and construction programs, we start all projects with an energy audit. This provides us with a guide to making efficient, economical and sustainable choices. Is an energy audit in your future? Take a moment to think about how much money you spend on your energy bills each year. Do you know what phantom load is? Have you ever felt drafts in your home? Do you know where the air leaks in your home are located? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, an energy audit could be just the thing. Home energy

5 steps to improve our community Elena Gaarder Executive Director

A colleague of mine from Ohio recently came up with a great list of things that she felt would help change the course of where (and how) we live.

Although the community in which she works has immensely more challenging issues than the West Side, this list is applicable regardless of geography. • Support projects

Your community news and information source audits are just what they sound like – a measurement of your household energy use. Energy audits are offered by utility companies, independent contractors, or insulation companies. Although there are different types of audits, they always involve a visual check of your home’s insulation, heating and cooling systems, condition of your doors and windows, carbon monoxide levels, and a review of your energy bills. More in-depth audits use a blower door test to determine your home’s “tightness.” The test locates where heat loss and ventilation occurs. Infrared testing is another tool, which finds voids and moisture in insulation, and air leakage. Gathering information on how your house works helps you map out necessary improvements to control your energy usage. Home energy improvements serve you in powerful ways. Homeowners we have worked with report using 10 percent less energy on a yearly basis and saving an average of 10 percent on energy costs per year. An audit is a solid start toward a more comfortable, healthy and efficient home. Your family will use less energy, save money and live more sustainably. Low- or no-interest home rehabilitation loans

are available through the city of St. Paul or your local nonprofit community development agency. If you’re interested in an energy audit, contact your utility company. They’ll set up an audit so you can move forward with home improvement plans. If you’re a renter, home energy audits are still an option. Contact your landlord to determine who will cover the cost. Depending on your household income, audits can be free. While energy audits and home energy improvements focus on technologies or techniques, your choices matter most. By taking simple steps such as turning off electronic devices, minimizing hot water usage, lowering the thermostat, and choosing EnergyStar rated products, you can save money every day. The Neighborhood Energy Connection, a nonprofit based in St. Paul, estimates that households spend about $279 annually on “phantom load,” the energy used when electronic devices are plugged in but not in use. Savings are close at hand. Look for them and make sure to ask for help. For more information on resources and steps to take, visit

that make sense. Support comes in many forms, and too often is spoken of in purely financial terms. But support can be with your time, with your expertise. Look for ways to connect to things that match your interests. This may require coming out of your comfort zone, but genuinely reaching out to help or support rarely ends in regret. • Dream big, but take practical steps. Having a big, long-term vision is fine as long as there are small action steps that we

• Don’t keep reinvesting in the same old ideas. Our economic situation necessitates that we reinvent solutions for the community. Things that our government or schools used to do may simply not be possible anymore, especially with fewer dollars. Reverting to old ways of doing things will surely bring old results. And even if they work in the short term, they won’t work for long. Instead, let’s view our current situation as an opportunity to do

can take to move us toward it. We build strong alliances along the way that may be useful in solving other community challenges. • Don’t count yourself out because you don’t feel qualified to participate. Offer your help in the things that matter to you. As a citizen, you have both rights and responsibilities. When it comes to knowing your neighborhood, you are as much of an expert as anyone — feel obligated to give back.

majority of them are located quickly. The Department of Justice study also notes that an estimated 58,200 children are abducted by non-family members each year, with 115 children being the victims of the more serious, long-term abductions.

Take action today to pave the way for a better tomorrow

National Missing Children’s Day

May 25 is National Missing Children’s Day, a commemoration day that was declared by President Ronald Reagan in 1983. This day serves as a reminder of the importance to continue efforts to reunite missing children with their families, remember those who are still missing, and make child safety a top priority. “Take 25” is a program of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, created in commemoration of Missing Children’s Day. This national child safety campaign encourages parents and guardians to take 25 minutes to talk to their children about safety. “Take 25” promotes an ongoing discussion between children, families and communities about child safety issues and ways for children to stay safe. It is also a national grassroots initiative that continues to raise awareness of the issues surrounding missing and exploited children. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, there are an estimated 800,000 children reported missing in the United States annually, which amounts to roughly 2,200 children missing each day. Thankfully the vast

Take 25 minutes on May 25 to talk to your children about ways they can stay safe. Take this time to develop an ongoing dialogue between children, families and communities about child safety. Dinner time, play time, class time or bedtime are perfect times to talk to kids about safety and teach them lessons that will impact them for a lifetime. Below are a few simple conversation starters that will help initiate an engaging 25-minute discussion.

At home

It is important for children to know their full names, address and phone numbers. Children should also know their parents or guardian’s full names, work and cell phone numbers. Teach children how to use 9-1-1 and make a list of three other people they can call in case of an emergency. Instruct children to keep doors locked and to not open them to talk to anyone if they are home alone. Set rules with your children about having visitors over when you’re not at home, as well as how to answer the telephone.

Out and about

• Take your children on a walk in the neighborhood and point out which homes they may visit with-

new things, include new people and implement new ideas. • Support good leadership. It is not enough to simply elect a new public official or name a new director of something. Be clear about your expectations of those in leadership positions, and be supportive and help whenever possible. Don’t be afraid to hold them accountable when they don’t deliver, and thank them when they do.

out you. Teach them the importance of asking your permission before they leave home, and to stay with a friend when playing outside or walking anywhere. Teach them to never approach a vehicle, whether occupied or not, unless they know the owner or they are accompanied by a parent, guardian or trusted adult. Caution children on accepting rides from anyone unless you have given them permission to do so. • Have a discussion about what children should do if they get lost at a park, sporting event, store, etc., and instruct them on how to locate help if this should happen to them. During family outings, establish a central, easy to locate “meeting spot” if they should get lost. • Teach children that it is okay to say “no” to anything that makes them feel scared, uncomfortable or confused, and to tell you immediately if anything happens. Teach them that if anyone tries to grab them, they should make a scene, yell “NO!” at the top of their voices and make every effort to get away. Help your children learn to recognize and avoid potential risks so they are prepared to deal with them if they find themselves in an unsafe situation. Become part of a national movement dedicated to protecting children by taking time to talk to your children about safety. For more information about online safety or for more safety tips, visit www.take25. org or Contact the West Side Safe Neighborhood Council for more information at 651-298-9727 or St. Paul Voice - May 2011 - Page 25

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Neighborhood House through the years: The West Side Reunion

These photos show the transformation of Neighborhood House over the years.

Last week, I was lucky enough to visit with a few of the Neighborhood House old-timers, listening to their stories from the thirties, forties, fifties and sixties, as they thumbed through hundreds of our archived black and white photographs that reminded them of their youth. We are preparing for The Westside Reunion, an all-day event, celebrating the memories and experiences of our neighbors, from the past to the present. There were tears and laughter remembering the old cottage house from the early 1900s and the first executive director, Constance Currie, who was like a second mother to so many of the neighborhood children. Little girls came with their dolls, dressed in their Sunday best, to tea parties in the dining room. Little boys learned to fish at Camp Owindego with counselors who “taught us how to be men,” as one friend recalled with a smile. They talked of social hour, cake walks and bicycle parades. They remi-

nisced about moving off the Flats and how it changed their families’ lives; but one thing stayed constant, the Neighborhood House. There were too many experiences to share in just one day, which is why the reunion will mean so much for so many, including me. I was a Neighborhood House participant years ago, and today I am proud to be the executive director. It will be my privilege to recognize this year’s Constance Currie Scholarship Award winners during the reunion. It is a special opportunity to honor the first executive director alongside past and present award recipients. These are youth who start out as immigrants, refugees, or from low-income households, with the odds stacked against them, and with the help of our staff and programs they become the leaders of tomorrow, one day sitting in a room together, flipping through old photos and remembering a different time. On May 21, starting at 10 a.m., we

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will come together, the West Side Boosters, AmVets, St. Paul Parks and Recreation Department, the oldtimers who remember when, and the youth of today who are creating our tomorrow. It will be a remarkable day for me and for those who are able to join us at the Neighborhood House. One woman wiped a tear from her eye and joked, “I’ll be there with a box of tissues.” For more information, visit

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Entertainment Time and location Page 10 Fiesta Guide / Page 14 Special events Page 2 Page 8 With an outstanding Susan Klemond Contributor •...

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