St. Paul Voice Nov. 2020

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The St. Paul Sample St. Paul Page 16

Volume 54 | Number 11

Your Community News & Information Source

November 2020

A time to honor our veterans

Sheltering the homeless

Tim Spitzack Editor

Tara Flaherty Guy Contributor

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riving along West 12th Street near the State Capitol, one can catch a glimpse of the USS Ward Gun near the Veterans Service Building. Passing by, it’s impossible to appreciate the significance of the once-powerful 50-caliber naval war gun that was placed there in 1958 as a memorial. It’s altogether a different experience to touch the cold steel of the historic weapon and read the names of its crew members, as I did recently. I let my mind drift back to the “day in infamy” 79 years ago when a 9-member crew of young men from St. Paul were among those on board the USS Ward destroyer as it patrolled the entrance of Pearl Harbor in the early morning hours of Dec. 7, 1941. On that day, the gun was brand new and manned by naval reservists from St. Paul. Painted battleship grey, the 4-inch gun has seats on each side that resemble a tractor seat, and sturdy foot braces. It doesn’t take much to imagine two brave sailors seated there, legs taut, feet firmly planted and hearts pumping wildly as they get a bead on a Japanese midget submarine trying to infiltrate the harbor. With a booming blast, a shell speeds across the rolling chop of the South Pacific and strikes the sub. Other crew members drop depth charges, and the sub and its 2-man crew sink to their demise. Not long after, more than 350 Japanese planes thundered overhead and rained fire upon the Veterans Day / Page 10

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Time to vote: General election is Nov. 3 Tim Spitzack Editor

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he General election is just around the corner. If you haven’t voted early by mail, mark your calendar for Tuesday, Nov. 3 to exercise your civic duty at the polls. In addition to the presidential election, voters in the St. Paul Voice distribution area will cast votes for their preferred candidate in the U.S. and State house and senate, and the West St. Paul and Mendota Heights city councils. Candidates appear in alphabetical order. Statements have been edited for brevity. Visit www.sos.state.mn.us/ elections-voting for links to candidate websites, as well as information on voter registration, how to find your polling place, and to see a sample ballot.

Voter’s Guide / Page 2

n a year fundamentally shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps nowhere—apart from families suffering the grievous loss of loved ones—has the impact been felt more keenly than among homeless people, and the local government agencies trying to help them find safe, reliable shelter. In October of last year, the City of St. Paul counted 26 people living in outdoor encampments; the latest estimate in late September was 300. Concerned with the approaching winter, the City of St. Paul and Ramsey County announced in late September that they were working on a joint plan to find 100 additional shelter beds before Nov. 1. Their multi-faceted effort was a piecemeal project, originally centered on expanding existing shelter spaces, finding other buildings, and renting hotel rooms. On Oct. 6, M Health Fairview unexpectedly announced it planned to close both Bethesda Hospital and St. Joseph’s Hospital downtown, and lease Bethesda to Ramsey County as a homeless shelter with a projected open date of December 1. The announcement was met with shock and consternation in the neighborhood near the historic Bethesda property, which had operated as a community hospital since 1883. Discussions had begun in midSeptember when M Health Fairview Homelessness / Page 7

St. Paul Public Schools to hire 50+ for security and support Tim Spitzack Editor

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t. Paul Public Schools is on a hiring spree and over the next two years will add more than 50 staff members to its security and emergency management team (SEM). The majority will replace the former school resource officers (SRO) from the St. Paul Police Department and security guards now being

contracted through a private firm. The District will spend $4 million to hire 34 school support liaisons, seven social workers, five psychologists, four counselors and two licensed nurses—all full-time positions with benefits. The liaisons will fill duties now provided by security guards. The others are new positions designed to support the District’s goal of making security and safety more relational

and student-centered. The SEM department typically has around 60 members. Prior to the District ending its SRO contract with the Police department at the end of June, SEM had 11 support staff, 42 security guards, seven school resource officers and five community school liaisons. The District typically spends about $775,000 for staffing SEM services at its 73 schools and facilities and also contracts

with private mental health providers to support students. Restructuring was approved by the School Board in 2019 but planning has been in the works for three years, according to SEM Director Laurie Olson. She also said St. Paul Public Schools is the first district to incorporate such a program. “It’s all about taking a security function into a whole other realm,” said Olson.

“It’s being proactive, with intervention and restorative efforts. We want more control and take more of a student-centered approach. This is going to be a program that really leads the way.” The District plans to hire 12 liaisons this fall. One will be assigned to each of the District’s seven high schools. The other five will help with the high schools but their primary responsibility will be at the middle

and elementary schools and responding to emergencies related to busing and transportation. Applications for these 10-month, 40-hour-a-week positions are now under review. Minimum requirements include an associate’s degree in a safety and security program or two years of emergency management, School security/ Page 8