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The St. Paul February 2013 Volume 47 Number 2

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Bergquist named West Sider of the Year Mary Diedrick Hansen Staff Writer


t’s something you can count on every year. The West Side Community Organization (WSCO) accepts nominations for a shining star among the community to be named “West Sider of the Year.” Individuals chosen for this highly regarded award have a passion for the West Side and its residents. Typically they are leaders who have gone above and beyond expectations in their efforts to preserve and improve life on the “best side” of St. Paul. The 2012 West Sider of the Year is Gjerry Bergquist, who became an official West Sider when he moved to the Prospect Park neighborhood in 2000. He has been

an “unofficial” West Sider for more than 20 years, after he bought and began restoring a houseboat that sank during the infamous Halloween blizzard of 1991. He had it docked at Harriet Island, where he met Anne Hunt, a former West Sider of the Year, who also owned and lived on a houseboat there. Ironically, it was back problems resulting from a boating accident in Belize that led Bergquist to become a neighborhood advocate. His injuries forced him to slow down, but he still wanted to stay active.

West Sider of the Year / Page 2

Photo by James Ramsay,

Gjerry Bergquist, right, and Vicki Ford recycling copper wire at Alter Metal Recycling in St. Paul.

Community effort underway for new ball fields at El Rio Vista Mary Diedrick Hansen Staff Writer


The Gilbert de la O Ball Fields st. paul, minnesota

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The Wellstone Center/ Neighborhood House



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a. Full football field. b. New Entrance. Stairs, ADA ramp and curb cut, bleachers. c. Softball/Little League field: 60’ diamond, 200’ outfield, 25’ clear to backstop. d. Batting Cage. e. 100 yd x 65 yd U14 soccer field. f. New/Relocated catch basin with below grade storage. g. Existing catch basin. h. Score board. j. Chainlink perimeter fencing k. New monument wall and plantings



Renovating the ball fields has been on Comacho’s mind since he became president of Neighborhood House five years ago. He has imagined lush green manicured fields instead of the current dry, rock-strewn playing area. He quickly realized that money for such a project was in short supply so he let his dream simmer on the back burner all these years. Those plans boiled to the surface when Bolander and Sons put Comacho in touch with the Studio Five Architect design firm of Minneapolis, which agreed to draw up a conceptual design plan of the playing field — pro bono. West Side coaches, players, an official from St. Paul Ball fields / Page 3

on nt cli

o Armando Comacho, president of the Neighborhood House, it’s personal. The playing fields at El Rio Vista next to the Paul and Sheila Wellstone Center have been in terrible shape for several years and he wants them improved, for good reason. Comacho grew up in poverty on the West Side and said playing football there is what kept him off the streets. “The area around the Neighborhood House has the greatest concentration of poverty in the West Side, and I want to make sure the kids in the area get the same chance that I got,” he said. “Enough is enough. Just

because we live on the West Side doesn’t mean we need inferior conditions.” The fields are owned by the St. Paul Parks and Recreation Department but managed by Neighborhood House and the West Side Boosters Club. Comacho knows that the Parks and Rec Department’s ongoing tight budget has affected maintenance at most playing fields in the city. However, he is certain that improvements can be made at El Rio by forming private and public partnerships to raise the money and find the labor to renovate the fields. In fact, two local companies are already on board. Bolander and Sons and PCL Construction have both pledged their support.

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9 january 2013

STUDIO FIVE a r c h i t e c t s

The proposed design for new playing fields at El Rio Vista.



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West Sider of the Year from page 1

After attending a neighborhood meeting he discovered his love for the grassroots government process, and how he wanted to help enhance it. Very few people attended that meeting, which was held to garner public comments. The need to get more voices at the table and more people involved in the process became very apparent to him. “To make changes, it can’t just be one person,” said

Bergquist. “It’s the power of the community. A squeaky wheel gets the grease, but 30 squeaking wheels really get the grease!” He became passionate about getting more people involved in the process and took classes on grassroots neighborhood organizing to understand all steps needed to take action. “If you want to stand up at a city council meeting and call for change, you are

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way too late,” he said. “It’s about participating in public policy. You have a voice.” Bergquist has let his voice be heard in many WSCO venues. He has served as a WSCO board member, cochair of its Environmental Justice Committee, and a member of its Building and Land Use and Riverfront and Development Committee. He has also served in other ways, including on a Lilydale task force, the St. Paul Parks and Recreation Board, and the Capital Improvement Budget (CIB)

Task Force. Bergquist is known as a tireless West Side advocate who asks tough questions with the purpose of preserving and improving the quality of life on the West Side. Some of his strongest advocacy has been focused on the West Side’s riverfront and its industrial areas. The Bridges of St. Paul development project, a huge issue in the early 2000s, is an example where his passion showed. He agreed with the many citizens who spoke out against

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‘To make changes, it can’t just be one person,’ said Bergquist. ‘It’s the power of the community. A squeaky wheel gets the grease.’ the proposed project, saying that the billion-dollar riverfront development did not fit in with the West Side Flats master plan. Bergquist organized community meetings and ensured that residents were part of the discussion. He challenged the developer to abide by the West Side vision. Ultimately, these discussions played a part in heading off the launching of the development just as the housing crash began. When the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) recommended changes to the Holman Air Field flood wall and its policies regarding tree and building heights in most of the West Side neighborhood, Bergquist pulled together decision-makers from the Dayton’s Bluff District Council, St. Paul city planners and council members, and MAC rep-

resentatives to discuss the impact the changes would have on the West Side neighborhood. WSCO acknowledged Bergquist for doing his homework, researching policies and their potential effects, and coming to meetings well-prepared to help West Siders make informed decisions. His accomplishments include a reputation for recruiting new residents to serve on West Side committees, and being able to confer with committees and representatives from other neighborhoods who would be affected by the same changes challenging the West Side. In his spare time Bergquist is an amateur ham radio operator and a bird watcher. He said he likes to be outside, staring at the sky, listening to the birds and watching the clouds go by.

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“We don’t want to go to the city and say, ‘fix it.’ We are willing to do our part as a community to help renovate the fields that are in terrible condition for our youth. Some teams even refuse to play at our fields,” said Comacho. a bit unusual for a neighborhood group to take on a project of this size and scope. He said his department uses strategic and comprehensive long-term decision-making plans to determine funding for various projects. If no outside funding sources are available it can often take longer Arif ChildCAre

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Parks and Recreation, and a design firm representative convened to discuss what the community wanted. They came up with a design that includes artificial turf for a 100-yard football field, as opposed to the current 80-yard field, as well as an artificial turf baseball field. The estimated cost is $1.5$2 million. “Turf is more expensive, but easier to maintain,” said Comacho. “We don’t want to go to the city and say, ‘fix it.’ We are willing to do our part as a community to help renovate the fields that are in terrible condition for our youth. Some teams even refuse to play at our fields. We want to help the city with manpower and resources, and funding from grants and foundations.”

With design in hand, Comacho now has something to show potential donors. He recently met with Dave St. Peter of the Minnesota Twins, who is excited about the plan, and has added Toro to the growing list of businesses that have pledged support. “This is another example of the West Side coming together for our most precious resource, our children,” said Comacho. St. Paul Parks and Rec has given its full support to the project, and will submit a Capital Improvement Budget (CIB) funding petition to the city council on behalf of Neighborhood House when more details are finalized. They plan to work with the community partners as the project evolves. According to Mike Hahm, director of St. Paul Parks and Recreation, it is

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BC 2 Bakery relocates to Mendota Heights Mary Diedrich Hansen Staff Writer


New Year’s resolution of healthy eating just got easier with the opening of BC2 (Bread, Coffee and Cake) artisan bakery and bistro in Mendota Heights. Located at Mendota Plaza at the southeast corner of Dodd Road and Highway 110, the new café has a colorful history that you may recall. The cafe, which opened on the West Side in 2007 near Cesar Chavez and Wabasha, was destroyed not long ago when a boulder broke loose from the steep bluff above it and plowed into the bakery’s back door, bursting a gas main. That event ultimately led to the city condemning the property. Owner and chef Robert Dubuc is still in the midst of an insurance settlement. He is using loans from private sources to open his new location. Dubuc has put together a menu that includes many

specialty items sprinkled among breakfast items, sandwiches, soups, salads, and, of course, artisan breads, coffees and desserts. Dubuc is a graduate of the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco and a former chef at D’Amico Cucina in Minneapolis. His search for nutritious bread led him into the bakery side of the culinary arts. When he moved to Minnesota in 1996 he couldn’t find anything on a par with the wholesome savory bread he was accustomed to eating while living in San Francisco so he began creating his own recipes and discovered that he had a knack for the science behind bread making. “Bread is not evil,” he said. “The secret is in the fermentation process.” He explained that bread needs to be made slowly and sit for a while so the yeast can absorb the starch. The waiting period reduces the amount of starch in the bread and ultimately what is digested by the body. His breads sit

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from six to 24 hours. He uses no chemical additives or refined sugars, but does include spices and herbs to make his tasty, nutritious bread. Dubuc’s artisan breads include natural sourdough rounds, garlic sourdough, 12-grain Levain, rye, whole wheat cherry almond, whole wheat cinnamon raisin, and threecheese chorizo. For those with a sweet tooth, Dubuc offers apple, cranberry and blueberry streusel cake, flourless chocolate cake, cookies, cinnamon and pecan rolls, bread pudding, pies, cheesecakes, tres leches cake, bars, muffins, hamentaschen and other hard-to-resist indulgences. The breakfast menu includes several types of wraps, French toast, pancakes, and two particularly intriguing items: the Caesar Chavez breakfast (two eggs, sautéed spinach on top of toasted chorizo-and-three cheese bread with a smoked tomato hollandaise sauce $8.75), and the BC2 Frittata, described as a Spanish quiche with manchago cheese, potato and bacon ($8.50), said to be inspired by Minnesota Timberwolves’ phenom Ricky Rubio.

Sandwiches and soups are made daily from scratch using fresh locally grown ingredients with no additives. Lunch features a soup of the day, and hot and cold sandwiches, including “Original Torta.” Salads include such standouts as romaine, apple, and walnut; Greek; pear salad with goat cheese and pomegranate vinaigrette; and wild run smoked salmon with corn, sweet pepper and ginger vinaigrette. Creativity and the pursuit of perfection are BC2’s core values, said Dubuc. Baked goods and dishes change with the seasons, and he insists that each plate that leaves the kitchen must be


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appealing to the eye and taste delicious. Dubuc developed a fancy for food at a very young age while sitting at his Grandma Rosa’s side watching her create culinary wonders in her kitchen. The steps she took in making tamales remain fresh in his mind. She started by cooking a hog’s head in a pot. “I remember his eyes looking at me and nose sticking out of the pot,” said Dubuc. “But I couldn’t stop eating the tamales once they were made.” These days he uses pork butt and shoulder to make tamales, but claims that all of the flavor is in the head. Dubac employs six people along with his mother, Rita, and his children, 16-yearold Chrisanto, and on occasion 11-year-old Clara. “Chrisanto showed me how to use the cash register,” Dubuc admitted. The bakery has a roomy open kitchen that allows customers to see bread com-

ing out of the big deck oven. In addition to seating in the front of the bakery, a long countertop seating space behind the bakery cases allows patrons to watch as their meals are prepared on a long, centrally located butcher block table. This area of the bakery is also designed for baking classes, which Dubuc plans to offer in the near future. BC2 supports educators and students in the community by offering a 10 percent discount for students and faculty members who present a current school I.D. from schools located within five miles. Dubuc also invites local artists to display their works in the bakery. He changes artwork every few months to feature new talent. BC2 is open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, and 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 651688-0798 or visit www.

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B usiness BYO Burger opens on Robert Street Tim Spitzack Editor


he owners of a new restaurant in the Signal Hills Center in West St. Paul know that nearly everyone loves a good burger. However, they also understand that not everyone loves the same burger. With that in mind, they are introducing a unique concept to burger connoisseurs with BYO (build your own) Burger, which opened in early January. BYO Burger is all about choices. First, patrons decide if they want a single 1/3 pound burger, a double or a grilled chicken breast. Singles start at $4.99.

Next they choose how it is cooked: charbroiled or flattop grilled. From there the options expand with six varieties of fresh buns and the same number of cheeses. While those options alone would satisfy most burger lovers, it’s the extensive extras list that will make their mouths water. Diners can top their burger with eight different fresh vegetables, from crispy lettuce and tomatoes to cucumbers and peppers, and nine delicious sauces, including Dijon mustard, horsey sauce and homemade salsa. All of that can be piled on the burger for free. For an additional charge, customers can get creative by adding a fried

egg, pepperoni, peanut butter, onion straws or nearly a dozen other items to their burger. If all the choices are too overwhelming, simply choose one of eight signature burgers: the Atomic Bomb, the Juicy Lucy, the Big Texan, the Sweet Hawaiian, the Cement Mixer, the West Sider, the Black and Blue and the Plain Jane. Also on the menu is the John Q, which is a customer-inspired burger of the month. Sides include fries, tater tots, kettle chips, baked beans, onion rings, onion straws, potato salad and cole slaw. Additional offerings include cheese curds with marinara sauce,

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chili cheese fries, a buffalo chicken sandwich, soups and salads, and three gourmet hot dogs, including a Chicago Dog. “There is nothing like it on Robert Street,” said Ari Levie, general manager of the new locally owned restaurant. “We wanted it to be different. We prepare food the way our customers want it.” BYO Burger is located at 1221 S. Robert St. Hours are 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. on Sunday. Beer and wine will be offered this spring. For more information, call 651-4574800.

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Gotham Tax Service now open in WSP’s Doddway Center Gotham Tax Service recently opened new branch offices in West St. Paul and South St. Paul. The West St. Paul office is located in the Doddway Shopping Center near Bernard and Dodd Road, and the South St. Paul office is at 1317 Southview Blvd. Both are owned by Mendota Heights resident Steve Gotham, who has provided tax services for more than 20 years. He opened his first office in Inver Grove Heights in 2002 and moved it to its present location at 6428 Cahill Ave. in 2006. The South St. Paul office is managed by South St. Paul native Jody Dalske (nee Trealoff), who has worked as a tax preparer for nearly 20 years. All tax preparers at Gotham have the latest federal certification and specialize in individual, small business and rental returns, filing for all states, back year filing and resolving problems with the IRS. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call the West St. Paul office at 651-552-9320, South St. Paul at 651457-5090 or Inver Grove Heights at 651-455-4150, or visit

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Sibley Dance team captures sixth consecutive conference title John E. Ahlstrom Staff Writer


he athletic program at Henry Sibley High School has amassed numerous accolades over the past several years. Perhaps the most visible are the three consecutive trips to the state tournament by the boys basketball team between 2008 and 2010. But there is no athletic entity at the high school that has exhibited the consistent excellence that has become the trademark of the Henry Sibley Dance Team. On Friday, Dec. 21, the Warriors, who continue to toil in relative anonymity, captured their sixth consecutive Classic Suburban Conference Dance Team championship. They have represented the school in the state tournament in four of the past five years. The devoted and fully engaged head coach of the squad is Molly Engle. Her assistant is Tessa Kleinschmidt, a 2006 Sibley

graduate and a dance team alumnus. Engle, whose resume includes a career as a professional dancer, instructor and choreographer, became head coach in 2005. She is now in her eighth season at the helm and has lost none of her enthusiasm for the sport or those who dedicate themselves to it. Because of space limitations at the school, the dance team practices at the Net Ministries gymnasium in West St. Paul. It was there that I was treated to an informative hour-long interview with the head coach, an experience I have since dubbed Dance Team 101. One hundred and twenty six girls in grades seven through 12 participated in tryouts last spring. Those auditions, with a few additions and subtractions occurring along the way, resulted in a varsity squad of 25 dancers, a junior varsity of 24 and a B-squad of 22. The four-month long dance season runs from

the third week in October through the three-class state tournament conducted at the Target Center in Minneapolis on the third weekend in February. The preparation is grueling. The Sibley varsity team practices from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday and, as if that were not enough, 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays (so much for those Saturday morning sleep-ins that most teen-agers hold so dear). The Minnesota State High School league sponsors two categories of dance competition. “High-Kick features kicks and structured formations reminiscent of the famed Radio City Musical Hall Rockettes,” explained Engle. “Jazz-Funk is comprised of fewer dancers, less structure and incorporates ballet and other more sophisticated dance maneuvers.” The seven-team Classic Suburban Conference regular season included competitions on four con-

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Henry Sibley Dance Team: front row, left to right, Laura Rice (captain), Hannah Saltzman, Cassie Ballin, Paloma Godina, Annie Fudenberg (captain), Caitlin Ballin, Selena Regan-Montantes, Elise Gannon; second row, Imana Raddatz, Sydney Rosenberger, Hannah Peterson, Emily Essen, Gretta Bruestle, Rachel Feinstein, Emily Varner, Mary Kate Mahmood, Alicia Talkington; back row, Emily Hartley, Ashley McDew, Jamie Zaine, Maddie Novitzki, Callie Judnick, Kayleigh Cardinal, Aspen Doud and Kira Dybdal secutive Tuesdays, commencing on November 20. The first two meets featured Jazz-Funk and the last two featured High-Kick. Point totals extracted from those four events (generated by sanctioned judges in a rather complicated scoring system) were carried over to the Conference Championship meet which was hosted by Henry Sibley on December 21. The Warriors

entered that competition trailing Simley High School by a single point (15-14) in the overall standings. “Points double in the conference championship,” said Engle. “We knew that we had to win both competitions that evening in order to win the overall championship.” The officials at the scorer’s table included six judges, presided over by a “superior

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judge” who was responsible for tallying the scores and who was the final arbiter for all matters relevant to the competition. There were also two “kick-counters and timers” who insured that the dancers adhered to the kick rules and the prescribed length of their routines. “It was an incredible night,” said Engle. “You are never certain how the

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S ports judges will respond to a particular dance routine, but there was no doubt in my mind that our girls had saved their very best performances for this occasion.” At the end of the competition, there was a 20 minute wait while the judges tallied their scores and delivered the results to the official announcer. All seven teams lined up to await the verdict. Sibley edged Simley in both dance categories, and as a result earned 16 points to Simley’s 14. The season’s final tally: Sibley 30, Simley 29. The Warriors had successfully captured their sixth consecutive overall title. The sixth annual Henry Sibley Invitational was conducted two weeks later on January 5 with ten AAA schools participating. The Warriors finished first in the Kick portion and second in Jazz. The following weekend they traveled to the Min-

Your community news and information source netonka Invitational. They earned first place in Kick, fifth place in Jazz. The team is now gearing up for the 3AAA Sectional competition that will take place at Bloomington Kennedy High School on February 9. Junior Annie Fudenberg and senior Laura Rice are cocaptains of the Sibley dance team. Both are in their fifth season on the squad. “I think we are successful because we have each other’s back and our goal is to dance as one,” said Fudenberg. “We enter competitions confident, prepared and focused.” Added Rice: “We have great coaches. They not only conduct practices and cho-

reograph our dance routines, they also design our outfits, sew our shoes and do all the little things to prepare us to do our very best.” Engle is effusive in her praise for her team. “I have never coached a better squad,” she said. “We have never sent both the High Kick team and the Jazz team to the state tournament. I think this is the year we have a real opportunity to qualify in both categories.” The commitment to excellence is ongoing.

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S ample St. Paul

Your community news and information source

On the Town Artists’ Quarter

408 St. Peter St., St. Paul 651-292-1359

The Artists’ Quarter offers live entertainment throughout the month, including jazz bands and poetry nights.

Children’s Museum

10 W. Seventh St., St. Paul 651-225-6000

“Dora and Diego” is presented through September 22. Children and families are invited to the enchanting world of Dora the Explorer, her animal-rescuing cousin Diego, and their friends Boots and Baby Jaguar. Participants may explore Isa’s Flowery Garden, help Tico gather nuts, join the Pirate Piggies’ crew as they set sail, and search for baby animals in the Rainforest Maze.

Tickets are $9.50. Explore the museum free of charge 9 a.m.-5 p.m. the third Sunday of each month.

Fitzgerald Theatre

10 E. Exchange St., St. Paul 651-290-1200 http://fitzgeraldtheater.

“A Prairie Home Companion” with Garrison Keillor is presented at 4:45 p.m., February 2, 9, 16 and 23. Join Keillor and the Prairie Home gang for two hours of live radio fun. Tickets are $32-$48. Hot Tuna (acoustic blues-roots) with Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady will perform at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 21. Known for their acoustic and electric versions of original and traditional blues, Hot Tuna was originally formed

as a side-project of the legendary San Francisco band Jefferson Airplane. Their first recording, the self-titled Hot Tuna, was released in 1970. Since then, they have released more than 25 albums and songs. Their most recent studio recording “Steady As She Goes” was released on St. Paul’s Red House Records. Tickets are $30-$32.

History Center 345 W. Kellogg Blvd. St. Paul 651-259-3000

“Then Now Wow” This new exhibit, the largest ever at the History Center, highlights Minnesota’s history in the prairies, forests and cities. Visitors will encounter multi-media exhibits, artifacts and images unique to Minnesota’s diverse population and historic events.

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C.J. Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band will perform Friday, Feb. 8 at the Ordway Center. Ongoing exhibits include “The U.S.-Dakota War of 1862,” “Minnesota’s Greatest Generation: The Depression, The War, The Boom,” “Grainland,” “Open House: If These Walls Could Talk” and “Weather Permitting.” Museum tickets are $11 for adults, $9 for seniors and college students, and $6 for children ages 6-17.

The center offers free admission on Tuesdays, 5-8 p.m.

History Theatre

30 E. Tenth St., St. Paul 651-292-4323

“Nellie” is presented through February 17. This play celebrates the life of civil rights and labor activist Nellie Stone

Johnson, whose feisty spirit and drive to succeed made her a political force to be reckoned with on issues of social justice, labor rights and equality. Facing discrimination at her job, Nellie fought back by organizing workers to form a union, breaking numerous race and gender barriers along way. Tickets are $30-$40.

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“Cocktails with Culture” is presented 5-7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 14, featuring Songs of Love (Maria Jette, soprano, Alan Dunbar, baritone, and Sonja Thompson, piano) and the “Love spoons” exhibition and woodturning demonstration by Fred Livesay. “A Scottish Ramble” is featured 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 16 and noon-5 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 17. Enjoy bagpipe music, dance competitions, food, lectures and traditional music. Tickets are $5 adults and $3 for children and seniors

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Theater. With a solo career dating back to 1987 and eight albums under his belt, Chenier is widely regarded as one of the best zydeco singers, musicians and performers. Tickets start at $26.

Park Square Theatre

20 W. 7th Place, St. Paul 651-291-7005

“Johnny Baseball” is presented through February 10. This play is about the collision of three orphaned souls: Johnny O’Brien, a hard-luck right-hander on the 1919 Red Sox; his idol, Babe Ruth; and Daisy Wyatt, a stunning AfricanAmerican blues singer and the love of Johnny’s life. Tickets are $35.

tains adult sexual themes and language. Tickets are $25.

Science Museum of Minnesota 120 W. Kellogg Blvd. St. Paul 651-221-9444

“BODY WORLDS & The Cycle of Life” - This presentation uses real human specimens, including 20 full-body plastinates, to follow human development across the life cycle from conception to old age. Tickets are $27 for adults and $19 for children and seniors.

“Or” is presented February 22-March 17. A comedic romp set in 1666 Restoration England, complete with secret agents, cross dressing, rhyming couplets and lovers hiding in cupboards. Performance con-

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Country music superstar George Strait will present his “The Cowboy Rides Away Tour,” with special guest Martina McBride, at 7:30, Friday, Feb. 15. Tickets are $71.50-$91.50.

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“World’s Toughest Rodeo” is presented at 7:30 p.m., February 1-2 The toughest cowboys in the world show off their skill in action-packed events. Dustin Lynch will perform Saturday, Feb. 2, for the popular “Party On The Dirt.” Tickets are $17-$80.

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Lady Gaga will present her “Born This Way Ball” World Tour at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 6. She will perform songs from her latest album “Born This Way,” as well as music from “The Fame” and “The Fame Monster.” Tickets are $51.50-$117.

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“Tornado Alley” is presented through June 20 in the Omnitheatre. This film takes viewers on an epic chase through the “severe weather capital of the world.” Narrated by Bill Paxton, it follows Storm Chasers star Sean Casey and the scientists of VORTEX2, the largest tornado-research project ever assembled, on separate missions to encounter one of nature’s most awe-inspiring events — the birth of a tornado.


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St. Paul Voice - February 2013 - Page 9

N ews Briefs Student Notes Zachary Varner of Mendota Heights and Patrick Williams of West St. Paul were named to the dean’s list at Rochester Community and Technical College. Andres Brown of West St. Paul was named to the dean’s list at St. Cloud State University. Miriam Snyder of Mendota Heights was named to the dean’s list at Johns Hopkins University. Johanna Lepro-Green of West St. Paul was named to the dean’s list at Beloit College. Anne Schletty of St. Paul, and Anna Sonday and Matthew Tessmer of West St.

Your community news and information source Paul were named to the dean’s list at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. Sarah Koenen of Mendota Heights, and Laura Leritz and Holly Schram of West St. Paul graduated from Minnesota State University-Mankato. The following were named to the dean’s list at the University of Wisconsin-Madison: Bari Applebaum, Jennifer Bernick, Reid Dixon, Asha Ghassemlouei, Joseph Goldman, Erin Mette and Jennifer Petschen of Mendota Heights, Sarah Garr of Sunfish Lake, and Robyn Geist and Katherine Sather of West St. Paul.

Cerenity hosts sweetheart social

Ladies Morning Boy Scouts Out study begins pancake Ladies Morning Out, a breakfast

Cerenity Senior Care – Humboldt is hosting a Sweetheart Social 6:30-9 p.m., Friday, Feb. 8, at 514 Humboldt Ave., St. Paul. The event will feature a social hour, spaghetti dinner, special desserts, live music and a silent auction. Tickets are $25 per person and can be ordered in person at Cerenity, 514 or 512 Humboldt Ave., or at www. CerenityHumboldtEvents. org. For more information, contact Denise at 651-2201789 or denise.hannah@

weekly community Bible study for women of all ages, begins Thursday, Feb. 7 at Riverview Baptist, 14 E. Moreland Ave., West St. Paul. Refreshments are served at 9:30 a.m. and Bible study is held 10-11 a.m. Topics include “Studies in the Gospel of Matthew” and “How Majestic is Your Name,” a study on the names and character of God. Free childcare is provided for infant and preschool children. For more information, call 651-4573831 or visit


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Boy Scout Troop 288 is hosting a pancake breakfast 7 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 10 in the cafeteria of Community of Saints Catholic School, 335 E. Hurley St., West St. Paul. The meal includes sausage, juice, milk, coffee and all you can eat pancakes. Cost is $6 for adults, $3 for children age 12 and under and seniors, and $16 for families with children under age 12. Take out is available. For more information, call 651-457-2334.

Community Calendar • 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 S. Robert St., West St. Paul. Visitors and new members are welcome. For more information, contact Cheryl Bergstrom at ckbergstrom@ or 651-4507391.

• Veterans’ meetings - The Riverview-West St. Paul VFW Post 4462 hosts monthly meetings at 1 p.m., the first Wednesday of each month at the West St. Paul Armory. For more information, call 651-4374481. American Legion Post 521 also hosts monthly meetings at the Armory. Meeting times are 7 p.m., the fourth Tuesday of each month. • The Rotary Club of West St. Paul/Mendota Heights hosts a weekly meeting at 7:30 a.m., Wednesdays at Southview Country Club, 239 E. Mendota Rd., West St. Paul. Each meeting features breakfast and a guest speaker. For more information, visit www.rotarywspmh. org. • The Kiwanis Club of West St. Paul hosts a weekly meeting at noon, Tuesdays at West Side Lanes, 1625 S. Robert St., West St. Paul. Each meeting features lunch and a guest speaker. • The Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce, which serves

Optimist Club of West St. Paul hosts two scholarship contests The Optimist Club of West St. Paul is accepting submissions for two contests that could lead to winning a $2,500 college scholarship. High school students under age 19 may enter the oratorical contest. Contestants give a four to five minute speech on the topic “Why My Voice is Important.” Printed and electronic submissions are accepted until February 20. The contest will be held March 7 at Heritage E-STEM Magnet School in West St. Paul. Winners in the boys’ and girls’ contests will advance to further competition that may include the Optimist district contest, scheduled for April 26 in Watertown, S.D. If a club winner participates in the district contest, the Optimist Club of West St. Paul will pay for lodging and meals. For rules and information, contact Cheryl Bergstrom at and include Optimist Oratorical in the subject line. The Optimist Club is also recruiting high school students under age 19 who reside in or attend school in Dakota County and have a hearing loss of at least 40 decibels to compete in a communications contest for the deaf and hard of hearing. Contestants give a four- to five-minute presentation on the topic “Why My Opinion Is Important” or “Why My Voice Is Important.” The presentation may be spoken, given in sign language or a combination of both. Because there are usually few participants, only one contest is typically held for the entire district, scheduled for April 27 in Watertown. The Optimist Club of West St. Paul will pay for lodging and meals for its participant at the district competition. Printed and electronic submissions are accepted until February 20. For rules and information, contact Cheryl Bergstrom at and include Optimist CCDHH in the subject line. The Optimist Club of West St. Paul has served West St. Paul and the surrounding communities since 1971. Club projects include the ISD 197 Spelling Bee, Learn to Bowl, and Operation Thank You. The club meets 5-6 p.m. the first and third Wednesday of each month at West Side Lanes. Visitors are welcome.

N ews Briefs 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 DARTS, 1645 Marthaler Ln., West St. Paul. Each meeting features networking, a guest speaker and refreshments. For more information, call 651-452-9872 or visit • Asperger’s/HFA Game Club - The Minnesota Aspergers/HFA Game Club meets at 6:30 p.m., the second and fourth Thursday of each month at Riverview Baptist Church, 14 E. Moreland Ave., West St. Paul. The club is designed to help youth ages 9-16 increase social and cognitive skills. For more information, contact Vicki at 651-552-7381 or Cost is $10 or $48/six weeks. A parent support group is also available during the same time.

Volunteer opportunities • Ramsey County Community Human Services is

Your community news and information source looking for an office assistant to provide clerical services to agency staff. It also has other volunteer opportunities for people age 16 and older. For more information, contact 651-2664090 or • Minnesota Literacy Council - Volunteers are needed to teach, tutor or assist in a classroom 2-3 hours per week to help adults reach their educational goals. Training and support are provided. For more information, contact Allison at 651-251-9110, or • St. Paul Public Schools - Volunteers are needed to tutor elementary students 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 for free supplemental insurance, mileage reimbursement and other benefits through the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), sponsored by Vol-

unteers of America of Minnesota. • St. Paul Public Schools Foundation is seeking tutors to assist one hour a week at schools and community organizations throughout the city. Orientation and training are provided.  For more information, contact Maggie Jacoby at 651-3254205 or Maggie.jacoby@ • The Minnesota Reading Corps is seeking  reading tutors. The program provides free, one-onone 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 full-time members. For more information or to apply, visit 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. It is particularly looking for volunteers to assist 1-4 p.m. on Saturdays in its thrift store sorting and

organizing clothing and assisting customers. For more information, contact David at 651-306-2145 or at • 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 651470-7416. • 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, call 651-455-1560 or visit • 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 outdoor projects. For more information, call 651-649-5984. • Big Brothers Big Sisters is looking for men, especially Latinos, to become mentors for St. Paul boys aged 7-12. Volunteers are

asked to commit just a few hours a month. To volunteer, call Jean Setley at 651789-2479 or visit www. • Cerenity Senior Care–Humboldt is seeking volunteers to transport residents to activities. It also needs Spanish speaking volunteers to assist with oneon-one visits. Volunteers may work weekly, monthly or at a special event.  Located on the West Side, the Cerenity Residence at 514 Humboldt provides assisted living, memory care and transitional care, and the Cerenity Care Center at 512 Humboldt provides nursing care. To volunteer, contact 651-220-1789 or or • Guild Incorporated, a social service agency based on the West Side that serves people with mental illness, has a number of volunteer opportunities, including drivers, phone buddies and help with administrative tasks. For more information, contact 651-9258456 or

• Building Blocks Tutorial ALC, held at Cherokee Park United Church, 371 W. Baker St., St. Paul, needs volunteer tutors to work one-on-one with primary grade students doing activities that support reading, math and writing skills. Tutors volunteer one or two days each week on Tuesdays or Thursdays, from 3-5 p.m. Volunteers must be age sixteen or older. Orientation and training are provided. For more information, contact Jill Jackson, program director, at 651-228-1378 or • Riverview Elementary, part of the BelieveAchieve tutoring partnership, is looking for volunteer tutors to help with literacy and math weekdays 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Time commitment is one hour per week through the first week in June. Training and orientation are provided. For more information, contact Katelyn Waalen at katelyn.waalen@ or call Riverview Elementary at 651-293-8665.

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Haul your own & SAVE! St. Paul Voice - February 2013 - Page 11

N ews Briefs

Your community news and information source from operations associate to senior operations associate and Laura Mayer has been promoted from senior credit analyst associate to commercial loan officer.

Torchlight Parade is Feb. 2 The culminating events of the St. Paul Winter Carnival take place Saturday, Feb. 2. At 5:30 p.m., the Humboldt girls basketball team Vulcan Victory Torchlight raises money for food shelf Parade will begin to wind its way from Lowertown to The Humboldt High School girls basketball Rice Park. The Overthrow team raised $1967.20 for the Neighborhood of Boreas will take place House food shelf during its annual free throw immediately following the shooting benefit in early January. Each parparade on the steps of the ticipating team member shot 100 free throws James J. Hill Library, 90 and received pledges for each successful shot. W. Fourth St. Following This year’s donation exceeded last year’s by that event is the Vulcan Victory Dance at Crowne more than $700. The basketball team volunteered at the Neighborhood House food shelf Plaza Hotel, 11 E. Kellogg on Wednesday mornings this past summer and Blvd. ($15 in advance, $20 at the door) and a fireworks will do so again this summer. display launched from Raspberry Island. For more tion, call 651-457-9441 or information, visit www. HHW collection Ramsey County’s house- visit South Suburban Adult hold hazardous waste collec- Basic Education at 517 MaLenten dinners tion site at Bay West, located rie Ave., South St. Paul. at Holy Family near the State Capitol at 5 Empire Dr., St. Paul, is open Flag disposal Holy Family Maronite year-round. Drop-off is free American Legion Chal- Catholic Church, 1960 for residents of Ramsey, lenger Post 521 has a collec- Lexington Ave. S., Mendota Washington, Dakota, Hen- tion box in the vestibule at Heights, is hosting Lenten nepin, Anoka and Carver the West St. Paul Municipal dinners 5-7 p.m., Fridays, counties with a photo I.D. Center, 1616 Humboldt February 15-March 22. For hours of operation and Ave., for American flags that Fish has been added to the more information, call the are torn, frayed or discol- menu this year. Cost is $10 Ramsey County Recycling ored. For more information per person for two pieces of & Disposal Hotline at 651- on flag disposal or on the fish and unlimited helpings 633-EASY (3279) or visit Challenger Post, call John of Lebanese side dishes. For Ertel at 651-457-5597. more information, call 651291-1116 or Free GED Gateway Bank

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The following individuals were promoted to new positions at Gateway Bank, located in the Village at Mendota Heights: Tracy Roddy has been promoted from operations associate to senior operations associate/ head teller. Suzanne Goossens has been promoted

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Enchiladas at OLG Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 401 Concord St., St. Paul, is hosting an authentic Mexican Enchilada Lenten dinner on Fridays, 11:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m., February 15-March 29. Eat in or takeout is available. Cost is $9 for a large plate and $7 195 s. robert st. st. Paul

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Page 12 - St. Paul Voice - February 2013

Rotary International district governor visits WSP West St. Paul/Mendota Heights Rotary Club President Pete McCall (left) welcomes Rotary International District Governor Joe Kovarik, who spoke recently at the club on the theme of “Peace through Service.” Kovarik, a member of the St. Paul Rotary Club, coordinates community and international service projects for 64 clubs in eastern Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin. Members of the West St. Paul/Mendota Heights club volunteer with the Loaves and Fishes meal program at St. Matthew’s, roadside cleanups, West St. Paul Days and other community events. It also provides financial support to the Henry Sibley High for a small plate. Enchiladas for takeout are $15 a dozen. For more information, call 651-228-0506, ext.16.

Las Sirenas to open by Feb. 1 Las Sirenas Seafood Bistro is set to open by February 1 at 199 E. Plato Blvd., St. Paul, in the building that housed Awada’s Restaurant, 1973-2006, and most recently El Toro’s. The restaurant is owned by former West Sider Maya Santamaría. She also owns El Nuevo Rodeo nightclub at 2709 E. Lake St., Minneapolis.

Art exhibit at Cherokee Park An opening reception for “Introspective – collected works by Renato Lombardi” will be held 6:30-9:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 16 at Cherokee Park United Church, 371 West Baker St., St. Paul. A walking tour with the artist will take place at 7 p.m. Renato, who is originally from Argentina, is a musician and visual artist living in St. Paul.

School ALMAS club and other local organizations. In addition, it donates money to Rotary’s international effort to eradicate

polio worldwide and to other programs that assist residents of impoverished countries.

Financial Peace University classes begin

of Minnesota – 1874” at 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 21 at the Dakota County Historical Society, 130 Third Ave. N., South St. Paul. The program is free and open to the public. This unique volume, produced by Alfred T. Andreeas, can be used to trace farm families that settled in Minnesota during the early pioneer times. The atlas contains 70 pages of county maps and plans of cities and towns, along with 100 pages of historical description, statistical tables and biographical data. Bakeman is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, as well as the National Institute on Genealogical Research of the National Archives. She has written several family histories and numerous aids for researchers seeking ancestors in Minnesota, for which she received the Pioneer Explorer Award by the Minnesota Genealogical Society. The program is sponsored by the Dakota County Genealogical Society. For more information, call 651-452-5926.

Financial Peace University, a 13-week series of classes that provides biblical principles on money management, begins at 6 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 10 at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 700 Wesley Ln., Mendota Heights. The program was developed by Dave Ramsey, a nationally known financial expert. Each two-hour weekly session features an entertaining video and small-group discussion. Childcare will be provided. Cost is $97 for the membership kit, which includes a workbook, audio CD library, Ramsey’s best-selling book, budgeting forms and more. To enroll, call 651470-4587.

Program on historical state atlas Mary Hawker Bakeman, owner of Park Genealogical Books, will present a program on “The Illustrated Historical Atlas of the State

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South St. Paul HRA

N ews Briefs City Passport Center City Passport senior center will host the following events in February on the mezzanine level of the Alliance Bank Building, 55 E. Fifth St., St. Paul: happy birthday party, 2 p.m., Monday, Feb. 11; writers group, 10:30 a.m., Friday Feb. 15; current events discussion, 11 a.m., Friday, Feb. 15; trivia time, 10:30 a.m., Wednesday, Feb. 20; ice cream social, 1:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 22; blood pressure tests, Mondays at 10 a.m.; Melody Makers, Thursdays at 10:30 a.m.; acupuncture, Tuesdays at 9:30 a.m.; baby knit club, Thursdays at 1 p.m.; movies, Thursdays at 1 p.m.

St. Paul hotels purchased The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe is in the process of purchasing the Crowne Plaza and Hilton Double Tree hotels in St. Paul. The band, which owns the Grand Casino in Hinckley and Onamia, is seeking to diversify its revenue. It has no plans to introduce any type of gaming at the St. Paul hotels. The 473-room Crowne Plaza was built in 1965 and the 251-room Double Tree was built in 1979. Both were operated by Radisson for many years.

New hours at art museum The Minnesota Museum of American Art, now located in the Pioneer Building at Fourth and Robert, is open 4-9 p.m. Thursday and Friday and noon-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Anne Labavitz and Bill Gamble will give a presentation on film work at 7 p.m., Friday, Feb. 1, and an artists’ happy hour will be held 6-8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 8.

Winter Carnival director resigns Beth Pinkey has resigned as director of the St. Paul Winter Carnival, effective the end of this year’s carnival. She has accepted a position with the 2015 Senior Games, which hosts athletic events for older adults. She will be succeeded by Rosanne Bump.

Sears expansion Sears is planning to add two 2-story retail/office buildings to its site at University and Rice. The new

Your community news and information source buildings will be located on the south side of the existing store, which was built in 1963. Additional plans call for a group of townhomes, a 121-unit apartment complex and a 4-story office building.

Metropolitan Watchworks now open Metropolitan Watchworks has opened on the skyway level of the Alliance Bank Building, 55 E. Fifth St., St. Paul. Owner Doug Thompson is a certified watchmaker who has taught at St. Paul College for seven years. He offers complete repair of mechanical and electronic watches. For more information, call 612-708-6638.

Post office to open soon A new downtown post office is scheduled to open February 19 in the US Bank Center at Fifth and Robert. It will not have direct skyway access. Customers can reach the US Bank Center by skyway but they must go to the ground level and go outside to enter the branch. A mailbox is scheduled to be located in front of the post office for Saturday pick-up. The retail window will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday. Post office box lobby hours are 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Downtown events Lowry Lab Theatre, located at Fifth and St. Peter, will host a Generational Play Fest February 14-16. Theatre Upbound will present “Girl Shorts” February 21-23 and February 28-March 2, and “Queens of Fire and Ice” is presented February 1. Zeitgeist will present “Playing it Close to Home” at 7:30 p.m., February 22-23 at Studio Z, 275 E. Fourth St., St. Paul. Black Dog Café, 308 Prince St., is featuring Andra Suchy at 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 1, Dean Magraw and Davu Seru on Tuesday, Feb. 5, Gathering of the Gypsies on Saturday, Feb. 16, and Slavczeck on Saturday, Feb. 23. A CD release party and fundraiser will be held at

6 p.m., Friday, Feb. 15 at the McNally Smith College of Music. The CD will feature work by Jack McNally. Other events at the college include Live at Five at 5 p.m., Tuesday, February 5, featuring hip hop artist Toki Wright, and performances by students and faculty 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 2. Cellist Dmitri Kouzov will perform at the Minnesota Sinfonia Winter Concert, held at 7 p.m., Friday, Feb. 15 at Founders Hall at Metropolitan State University, 700 E. Seventh St., St. Paul. The Sinfonia will perform “Overture, the Emerald” by Paul Schulz and “Serenade for Strings” by Victor Herbert. A crossword tournament featuring individual and team competition will be held Saturday, Feb. 2 at the Hill Library, 80 W. Fourth St., St. Paul. Davina and the Vagabonds will perform at 8 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 28, at the Hill Library. A trivia time begins at 7 p.m. These events are part of the Book It: Loud at the Library series. The Central Book Club will discuss “The Wolf at Twilight” by Kent Nerburn at 10:30 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 14 at the Central Library, 90 W. Fourth St., St. Paul. Books and Bars will feature a discussion of “Carry the One’” by Carol Ann Shaw at 6:15 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 19 at Amsterdam, located at Sixth and Wabasha.

Pappas to serve as Senate president Senator Sandra “Sandy” L. Pappas was sworn in on Tuesday, Jan. 8 to represent Senate District 65 at the Minnesota State Senate. She was elected as president of the Minnesota Senate and will serve as chair of the State and Local Government Committee and as a member of the Rules and Administration, Capital Investment, Finance and Commerce committees. She was first elected to the Senate in 1990 after serving six years in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Sen. Pappas can be reached at 651-296-1802 or

New parking committee forming CapitolRiver Council/ District 17 (CRC) is looking for people to serve on a new committee that will address downtown parking concerns. For more information or to get involved, call 651-221-0488. CRC has appointed three new members to its skyway advisory committee. Geraldine Balter, Jim Ivey and Ginny Harris will serve two-year terms. The 7-member committee reviews requests for variances from property owners. CRC also named Jo Anne Hawkins, Jim Ivey and Jim Miller to its neighborhood honor roll to recognize them for their community service.

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St. Paul Voice - February 2013 - Page 13

C ommunity Columns

Your community news and information source

From the heart So often in this column I tell you the wonderful stories of people who benefit from the work we do here at Neighborhood House — heartwarming and encouraging stories that remind us about the power of helping our neighbors, friends and even complete strangers who walk a difficult path in life. But there are others at Neighborhood House who make that help possible, and I want you to know about them as

Elena Gaarder executive director


dmittedly, it was an interruption to my walk. The goal after all was to get my heart rate up, work up a little sweat and get some needed exercise. But I found myself standing there for a good ten minutes, just watching as children and parents jumped on saucers, snow tubes and various means of sledding as they rode their way down the hill. It was only 15 years ago that we were at the same hill with our kids, snow rising up into our faces, the occasional spill and near miss. We even traversed a natural bobsled run, winding its way through the woods, looking more dangerous than it ever turned out to be. Remembering my mom as she enthusiastically rode down the hill with her grandkids, I couldn’t help but wonder if someday I would do the same. There are places in our lives that have the ability to evoke a strong sense of connection with the land, with each other, and with those who have gone before. It is why it is important at times to stop, breathe a little more slowly and let our spirits be filled with the gifts of that moment. Some

part of our story, too. The people you will meet in this column are smart, experienced, and knowledgeable — all the characteristics we think of for experiencing a good life. But their most important characteristic may be that they live from the heart — a caring, compassionate center in which they see themselves in the life stories of others. As a refugee himself, family worker Bwei Paw works closely with refugee families to help them find housing and assistance programs, enroll their children in school, learn English and find steady employment. These families, having suffered violence, poverty and discrimination, find a safe haven at Neighborhood House. Paw’s know-how guides these new Minnesotans as they acclimate to and settle in our community. “It is my pleasure and my life’s work to help families adjust and feel at home,” he said. “When they arrive, they are in a new city, a new country. Refugees have already faced a long and difficult journey to reach Minnesota, and language barriers and cultural differences can overwhelm them. It’s really different from everything they have seen

before and they can feel lost without family or friends to guide them. Neighborhood House takes the place of that social network for many.” And so does Bwei Paw. Volunteer Mike W., a new volunteer in our food shelf, noticed something on his first day that disturbed him. He saw that the freezers in our food shelf lacked frozen meat. “Are volunteers allowed to donate food?” he asked. Staff assured him that he was more than welcome to do so. On his lunch break that day, Mike went to the grocery store across the street from Neighborhood House and bought three grocery bags of meat to stock the freezers. Our food shelf participants were excited to see a meat option to add their meals that week, and Mike’s bright smile said that he warmed to their pleasure. It is people like Bwei Paw and Mike who combine their efforts to make our community better. Thank you, from my heart to yours. To learn more about our food support program, refugee resettlement program or our volunteer opportunities, visit or call me at 651-789-2500.

New monthly safety meetings being planned

residents, business owners, city council members and the police. They will also provide an opportunity to continue the work of longtime neighborhood block clubs by getting more residents involved in crime prevention efforts, and providing resources and training. WSCO is reaching out to existing block clubs and seeking input from community members. To comment or get involved, contact WSCO at 651-293-1708 or

The WSCO board of directors is working with a group of West Side community members to host a new monthly crime and safety meeting to be held at 6:30 p.m., the first Thursday of each month at WSCO, 1 W. Water St., St. Paul. These meetings will provide a forum for neighborhood safety concerns and crime updates, and will connect

would call these places sacred because they find through these encounters, more than a memory of days gone by, but a rich awareness that the joy of all those who traversed that place remains. In a very real sense it is as if my mom and all those other grandparents are still jumping on their sleds, grandkids between their legs, heading down the hill. The spirit of life is present on that hill. Those nurtured in a spiritual tradition might even call that spirit God. If it is possible to have this type of deep association with a particular place with just a generation or two of experience, one can only imagine what it must be like for those whose experience goes back many, many generations to the point of not knowing when time began. This, of course, is the experience of the Dakota people whose homeland is Minnesota, though they were banished from it following the war of 1862. For the Dakota, Minnesota is filled with sacred places evoking a deep connection with ancestors, the land, the Creator and all of life. The confluence of the Mississippi River and the Minnesota River is literally remembered as their place of origin, a Garden of Eden place, where their life as a people began. All along the rivers in bluff areas like Pilot Knob, freshwater springs like Cold Spring and many others, the Dakota people carry an awareness that these places are sacred. Among the places now held sacred is the land just below Fort Snelling, where over 1,700 Dakota women, children and elderly were held in a concentration camp following a forced march in the bitter cold of No-

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vember 1862. During that winter, lack of food, exposure to the elements, and illness took more than 400 lives. Sad memories of tragic loss can also be sacred places, just like the Vietnam Memorial has become for many in Washington, D.C. This past January, St. Paul City Councilman Dave Thune introduced a resolution entitled “The Year of the Dakota: Remembering, Honoring and Truth-Telling,” using language nearly identical to a resolution adopted by Minneapolis in December 2012. Dr. Chris Mato Nunpa, a Dakota elder and leader, calls it a historic resolution because for the first time, language is used to accurately describe the horrendous treatment of the Dakota, such as genocide, concentration camps, bounties, mass execution and forced removal. Among the important actions called for by the resolution is directing the Parks and Recreation Department to work in collaboration to identify, name and interpret sites that are sacred to the Dakota people. This, of course, is just a beginning in addressing the tragic history of the Dakota and the rest of us who came as immigrants. But it is significant. We all have our sacred places, even if it is only a generation or two that evokes this awareness. It is in such places that we can breathe more slowly, open our hearts and spirits to something larger than ourselves and experience the connections that make us human. By honoring the sacred sites of the Dakota we also acknowledge that our lives are enriched by those places that have become sacred to us.

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R iver Connections

Your community news and information source

Every mile is a memory

Reflections from the Riverfront

The 72 miles of Mississippi River that flow through the Twin Cities hold a treasure trove of memories in the making. In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area this November, we are publishing a series of articles that explore how the corridor has changed over the past quarter-century and how it continues to strengthen our relationship with the river and improve our quality of life. Read the series at

Searching for Hiawatha and Minnehaha Tim Spitzack Editor


here is a small tributary of the Mississippi River that takes its breath from Lake Minnetonka and meanders 22 miles through the backyards of suburban and urban homes before it exhales into the river. It is likely the most famous of all streams in the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, most notable for the 53-foot-high waterfall that bears its name: Minnehaha. The falls are the signature attraction of Minnehaha Regional Park, located along the Mississippi River near the intersection of Hiawatha Avenue and Minnehaha Parkway in South Minneapolis. More than 850,000 people flock to the park annually to gaze upon the majestic falls. I have been among the summer throngs but have never viewed the falls when they

are gripped by the hand of winter. I decided to visit them when the solstice moon waxed on one side of a new year and waned on the other. As I planned my adventure, I realized I didn’t know much about the lore behind their namesake so I purchased a copy of “The Song of Hiawatha” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It was my intention to read the poem while sitting near the falls. Once I got my copy, I knew that wouldn’t happen. The poem is oft referred to as epic, not only for its content but also for its length: 256 pages. Rather than take the risk of having someone find me frozen to a bench with Longfellow’s masterpiece in hand, I chose instead to read it in the comfort of my home over the course of a week. Reading classic literature beside a crackling fire is an enjoyable way to wile away the longest nights of

the year. “The Song of Hiawatha” was published in 1855 and weaves together the folklore and myths of the Native Americans who first occupied this land. Longfellow drew much of his research for the poem from the writings of Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, who extensively studied Native American cultures. Schoolcraft passed through this area in 1832 on his famous expedition to discover the source of the Mississippi River. I visited the falls twice recently: first when I purchased a copy of the poem and then after I had read it. On my first trip I marveled at what freezing temps can do to the outflow of a tiny creek that plunges off a 53foot high precipice. That day the falls were a halfmoon of a hundred columns of jagged blue ice and were indeed an awe-inspiring sight to behold.

A tiny trickle of water bubbled from them and quickly retreated beneath the crust of ice that covered the creek. I followed the frozen stream about a halfmile through the wooded ravine until I reached its confluence with the Mississippi River. As I stood on the shoulder of ice near the open water of the river I could envision Hiawatha making his solitary way through the valley. It wasn’t until my return visit that I truly understood the significance of this area to Native Americans. On that day I paid little attention to the falls because I was more interested in the life-size bronze statue of Hiawatha and Minnehaha that is perched on a tiny island in the creek just upstream from the falls. Hiawatha is carrying his lover in his arms, his right leg outstretched, toes pointed down, as he is ready to



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enter the stream. He and Minnehaha are both looking at the stream as if pondering the distinct danger of slipping and being swept over the falls. Nonetheless, the young Hiawatha appears confident and virile. He has “crossed the Mighty Mississippi” to the “land of the Dakotahs, where the falls of Minnehaha Flash and gleam among the oak trees, laugh and leap into the valley” to take Minnehaha back to the “shore

of Gitche Gumme, by the shining Big-Sea-Water.” This statue captures the heart of a couple who are just beginning their lives together, with vast possibilities before them. They don’t know what the future has in store for them but they are determined to carve out a life together and leave their mark on the world. And they know that sharing their journey together will make it that much better, come what may.

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