March 2010 Volume 7 Number 3
IN THIS ISSUE... • • • •
Still Standing After All These Years…
News Briefs.................................. Page 4 Sample St. Paul............................ Page 6 River Connections.. ...................... Page 8 Back in Time.. ............................ Page 12
Plans advancing for new Lafayette Bridge Page 5
Even during times of prosperity, the first quarter of the year can be challenging for many businesses. Yet, many local companies continue offering goods and services through good times and bad. The Voice turned to some long-time South St. Paul business owners to see how they are weathering the recession and find out what guides them toward continued success, and for their views on the business climate. Mary Diedrick Hansen Staff Writer
B & G Crossing 601 Marie Ave. 651-451-8563 Owner: Dave Gerkovich
Business History: In 1934, Ely Gerkovich opened Marie Avenue Dry Goods, also know as “Gerkovich’s,” in South St Paul. The store carried men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, including school uniforms, and a notions section with sewing supplies. The store continues as a family-owned business, although the name was changed to B & G Crossing to better reflect the identity of its owners, with the “B” representing Dorothy Gerkovich Blaisdell and her husband John, and the “G” for her brother Dave Gerkovich. The 1980s saw many changes for the business. The children’s department was eliminated and the business was computerized for better inventory and customer tracking. Dave eventually became its sole proprietor.
Dead Sea Scrolls coming to St. Paul Page 6
Dave Gerkovich, owner of B & G Crossing. Have you ever considered relocating outside of South St Paul? “We had considered opening a second store outside of South St Paul but were unable to find the perfect venue or qualified management for a second shop,” said Gerkovich. What accounts for your longevity in the clothing business? “You have to love what you do and have good quality vendors, good customer service, and the good fortune to have good customers.” Have you ever experienced a business climate
like the one we are in right now? “We’ve seen some pretty lean years – and this would be among the worst. It’s not just the economy, but also a changing demographic.”
“Definitely very personal customer service. Making hard-to-find sizes available, such as large and tall sizes for men, and petites and women’s sizes (1X, 2X, 3X) for women.”
What steps do you take to adjust to forces that challenge your business operation? “As a rule, we do whatever it takes to keep our customers satisfied, whether it means taking phone orders and delivering, and offering alterations.”
What is the most important aspect of your business?
1100 South Concord Street 651-451-0402 Owner: Dan Grevas
Business History: At age 14, Dan Grevas opened a package from his brother who was stationed in Viet-
Business Climate / Page 2
Cash flow on the Mississippi Page 8
C ommerce Business Climate / from page 1 nam. In it was a Canon Pelix camera, which was to become the start of a lifelong love affair with the art of photography. There was nothing “automatic” about a Canon Pelix back then. Grevas said he learned his skills from the “bootstraps up.” His hobby evolved into a 29-year business (and counting) when he established Grevas Photography in the Midway area of St. Paul in 1981. He moved to South St. Paul In 1984. Why has South St. Paul been such a good location for you? “Because most of the people support local businesses,” said Grevas. “I really appreciate that. When I ask my customers why they chose me, they say, ‘high quality, that I have been in the business for a while,’ but most say, ‘I’m from South St. Paul and I support our local businesses.’ That’s
Your community news and information source terrific. Our country has evolved into a global and internet nation. I won’t buy anything over the internet that I can buy locally. I try to spend my money locally. If you don’t, local businesses who pay taxes to the city will go down and taxes will go up for residents.” What accounts for your longevity in the business? “Working long hours: 50-60 hours each week, quality up front, and good customer service. Photography is really a people business. You need to make the customer feel comfortable to get a good portrait. My wife and I enjoy people but we work hard and apply ourselves.” Have you ever experienced a business climate like the one we are in right now? “There was a recession in the ’80s when I started. But back then if you made $50 you were hap-
py. I didn’t have anything to compare to. No, I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s tough out there. We all have to band together to get through. I’ve heard many business owners say they are working two times as hard for half the money. The business is your heart and soul. You will fight pretty hard to keep it.” What steps do you take to adjust to forces that challenge your business? “We are cutting-edge with slide shows, folded holiday cards and Facebook photos of the class of 2010. We constantly go to seminars to learn new techniques. We have a large 4,000 square-foot studio to manage the growing business — even have a waterfall and boulders and a flower garden outside and behind the studio as a backdrop for portraits.”
business? “The people. I am so glad they hang in there with us.”
What is the most important aspect of your
Business History Globe Publishing was started in 1919 to meet
Dan Grevas of Grevas Photography.
Globe Printing 224 North Concord Exchange 651-451-2261 Owners: Dan and Bill Horst
the printing needs of the Livestock Exchange companies at the South St. Paul stockyards. “In 1955, Eddie Horst (my dad) and John Goff, bought out the original owners,” said Dan Horst. “In 1960, Dad bought out Goff to become sole owner. Since the late 1950s, the business prospered under Dad’s leadership. There was little competition and, being
a union shop, election time became quite busy since most people wanted the union label on their printed material, especially in a blue collar city and state. In 1974 Dad turned over the business to my brother Bill and me.” Why has South St. Paul been such a good location for you? “We never really con-
by shopping locally! The following supporters are proud to be part of the South St. Paul business community. We encourage you to shop locally to keep our community strong. Dakota Premium Foods 425 S. Concord 455-6611 • Central Square Community Fitness Center
The South St. Paul Voice is published monthly and distributed to 8,500 homes and high traffic businesses in South St. Paul. Publisher & Editor: Tim Spitzack Copy Editor: Leslie Martin Reporter: Mary Diedrick Hansen Contributors: Lois Glewwe Masthead design by Nick Germano Advertising: Mario Polanco, Isaac Contreras Home Delivery: Independent Delivery Service Bulk Delivery: SC Distribution 651-285-1119
St. Paul Publishing Co.
1643 So. Robert St., West St. Paul, MN 55118 Phone: (651) 457-1177 firstname.lastname@example.org www.stpaulpublishing.com The South St. Paul Voice assumes no responsibility for the opinions expressed by contributors and for the validity of claims or items reported. Copyright South St. Paul Voice 2009. All rights reserved in compliance of Federal Copyright Act of 1978.
Page 2 - South St. Paul Voice - March 2010
“Where South St. Paul comes together”
100 - 7th Ave. N. 306-3690 • Jodee Paape & Associates, LLC 100 BridgePoint Dr.,Ste. 120 455-4621 • Ries Electric 777 N. Concord 451-2238 • James P. Leary, Jr. Certified Public Accountant
1560 Livingston Ave., Suite 102, West St.Paul 450-9373
Midwest Fabrics 1226 S. Concord 451-6289 • South St. Paul Healthy Youth Coalition
Working together to prevent underage drinking in South St. Paul by linking family, school and community for healthy youth.
457-9491 • Central Bank 835 Southview Blvd. 451-2133 • Mayor Beth Baumann • ABC Rentals 460 E. Villaume 451-2264 • South St. Paul Voice 457-1177
What accounts for your longevity in the printing business? “We’ve always been able to take care of our customers in a very personal way. Whenever you call Globe, one of the bosses is sure to be available. Eddie, soon to be 101, comes in every day, and you may even get to talk to him. We have developed lifelong friendships with our customers, mostly because they know they can trust Globe.” Have you ever experienced a business climate like the one we are in right now? “My brother Bill and I have never experienced
Globe Printing patriarch Ed Horst took over the company in 1955 with a business partner and became sole owner in 1960. He remains active with the company today.
Real German Food!
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Fish Fry ALL YOU CAN EAT
605 W. 7th St., St. Paul (1 mile west of the Xcel Center)
this type of business climate, although our Dad sure has during the ’30s. Things are improving but we still have a long way to go.” What steps do you take to adjust to forces that challenge your business? “The economy has given us the unpleasant task of letting a couple of employees go. They had been with us for a long time. It really hurt making that decision, but our workflow just wouldn’t give us any options. We try to keep abreast of new technology and now have a high-speed digital color printer. It makes us competitive on short-
Happy Hour: Every day, 3-6 and 10-Midnight
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sidered moving from South St. Paul because all the Horst family lives here. It’s home. The only move made was back in 1973 during an urban renewal project, when we moved across the street. The United Federal Savings & Loan Building was bought on a handshake and a signature, and the family business is still there today.”
Your community news and information source
and medium-color runs. We have a website, www. globepubco.com, making access to us even that much easier.” What is the most important aspect of your business? “Our business tends to be about people first and product second. We enjoy people, and hope that it shows to the point that they’re willing to trust us with their business. The quality of the work we deliver is also a very important aspect of our image. A fair price for our product and on-time delivery is something we strive for every day. None of this can happen without great employees.”
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Dance team takes 5th at State
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The South St. Paul varsity girls dance team took third place in the section tournament, and 5th place overall for AA Jazz/Funk at the State tournament, held in mid-February at the Target Center. Team members are Gabby Thompson (co-captain), Diedrah Porter (co-captain), Kelsey Kropp (co-captain), Jayna Anderson, Lauren Moore, Jessaca Karg, Josi Hendrickson, Sabreena Darveaux, Allison Fuchs, Jana Kronberg, Nicole Fuchs and Katie Ray. Managers are Holly Ecwochi and Molly Thistle. Head coach is Shannon Ross and assistant coaches are Rachel Wilson and Tara Martin.
South St. Paul Voice - March 2010 - Page 3
N ews Briefs Library events
For more information on the following South St. Paul library events, call 651-554-3240 or visit www.southstpaul.org/ library. Book Discussions - “The Ginger Tree,” by Oswald Wynd, is the title discussed in March. Mary Mackenzie sails to China to marry another Brit, but soon falls for a Japanese nobleman, setting into motion a life of abandonment and discovery. Discussions are held at 1 p.m., Wed., Mar. 17, and 7 p.m., Thurs., Mar. 18. Information packets are available at the library’s front desk or at www.southstpaul.org/library, under Adult Book Discussions. Computer help - Staff will be available in the library meeting room 1-3 p.m., Tues., Mar. 23, to answer basic questions about Word, Excel, Internet Explorer, the web, email, and other computer questions. Read to Lulu or Caesar – Children are invited to come to the library 6:30-7:30 p.m., Mondays and Thursdays to read to Lulu or Caesar, dogs that are part of the Reading Education Assistance Dogs (READ) program. Junior Book Club “Things Not Seen,” by Andrew Clements, is the title that will be discussed at 4 p.m., Mon., Mar. 1. Read-to-me club party - The Winter Read-to-me Club Party will be held Wed., Mar. 10. Participants are invited to bring a bag lunch at noon and enjoy a show by “Penny Planet,” beginning at 12:30 p.m. Teen Book Club -
Your community news and information source “Stargirl,” by Jerry Spinelli, will be discussed at 4 p.m., Fri., Mar. 5. This club is for teens ages 1218. Refreshments will be provided.
St. John Vianney church in South St. Paul is hosting a Reduce/Reuse sale 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Mar. 25-27. There is a $2 entry fee for the presale held 4-7 p.m., Thurs., Mar. 25. There is no charge on Friday and Saturday. The sale is also open 5-7 p.m. during the Friday Fish Fry. A $2 bag sale begins at noon, Saturday. The church is located at 19th Avenue North and Bromley. Donations are welcome, Bring items to the church 5-7 p.m., Mar. 23 or 2-7 p.m., Mar. 24.
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 the South St. Paul school district. To enroll or receive more information, call 651-4579441.
SSP residents honored for volunteer work
Laurel Venhuizen and Yvonne Morency of South St. Paul were honored as DARTS Volunteers of the Year for 2009. Venhuizen was recognized as Administrative Volunteer for the clerical help she provides
Live Music Every Thursday in March with the Lift Kids House Band Tom Robinson - guitar, vocal, Fred Weber and Tony Moreno - percussion, Tom Church saxophone, clarinet, flute, Vince Hyman vibes, melodica All shows start at 7 p.m. at Lift Kids/ Global Village, 508 Jackson St., St. Paul. For more information, call 651 298 9200. Great live music in the heart of downtown St. Paul! www.myspace.com/iluaye
Page 4 - South St. Paul Voice - March 2010
weekly. She also works with DARTS’ Learning Buddies program and is an active volunteer at her church and with Neighbors, Inc. Morency was recognized as the Intergenerational Volunteer for her work with the Learning Buddies program at Lincoln Center in South St. Paul. For three years, she has worked weekly with second grade students on their reading and writing skills. For more information or to learn more about volunteering at DARTS, call 651455-1560 or visit www. darts1.org. DARTS is a nonprofit organization that assists older adults and families experiencing life transitions.
SSP organizations receive Cultural Heritage Grants
Two South St. Paul organizations recently received grant money from the Minnesota Historical Society. The Dakota County Historical Society received $75,000 to acquire and install compact storage to better preserve historical materials, and the Minnesota Genealogical Society received $6,971 to broaden public accessibility to primary records by adding eight fiche and 96 rolls of microfilmed city directories. The money comes from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, created with passage of the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment.
The South St. Paul Liions Club is hosting a pancake breakfast 8 a.m.12:30 p.m., Sun., Mar. 21, at Lincoln Center Elementary, 357 9th Ave. N. The meal includes pancakes, sausage, juice and milk. Cost is $5 for adults and $3 for children age 12 and under.
Garden Club meeting
Katherine Aby of the Espalier Society will speak at the South St. Paul Garden Club meeting at 7 p.m., Mon., Mar. 1, at the South St. Paul VFW Post #295, 111 South Concord Ex-
St. John Vianney School earns Flint Hills award
Thanks to the work of 4th grade teacher Marge Milner, St. John Vianney 4th and 5th grade students were able to have a Science Museum of Minnesota Outreach tour at their school, and travel to St. Paul in mid-February for a sleepover at the Science Museum. The event was sponsored by Flint Hills Resources. change, South St. Paul. Espalier is the technique of training trees through pruning and grafting to create formal “twodimensional” or single plane patterns by the branches of the tree. This makes them ideal for both decorative purposes and in gardens where space is limited. The meeting is free and open to the public. For more information, call Lois Glewwe at 651-457-3403.
Darlene Joyce, a certified genealogist and prominent lecturer on genealogy, will speak at 7 p.m., Thurs., Mar., 18, at the Dakota County Historical Society, 130 Third Ave. N., South St. Paul. Joyce will present a visual tour of major repositories for genealogical and family history research in the Midwest and will offer tips on how to prepare for visits, search key data collections from your home computer, take advantage of inter-library loans and download data from a variety of archive sources. The program is sponsored by the Dakota County Genealogical Society. The meeting is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Dick Thill at 651-452-5926.
Parks and Rec
The South St. Paul Parks and Recreation Department announces the following programs. For more information, call
651-306-3690 or visit Central Square Community Center (CSCC), 100 7th Ave. No. • Youth Spring Break trip on Tues., Mar. 30 – featuring bowling, swimming and a movie for ages 6 and up. Meet at Matties Lanes, 365 North Concord St., at 9:45 a.m. Cost is $20 and covers all fees, including bowling shoes, lunch and transportation. Child pickup is at Central Square at 3 p.m. Pre-registration required. • Community gardens for rent - Parks & Rec will be renting 15-foot by 20-foot community garden plots at the west end of McMorrow Field, 200 South St. Residents age 18-54 pay $20 plus tax; age 55 and over, $15 plus tax. Last year’s gardeners have priority sign-up, Mar. 2-13. Sign-up for other residents begins Mar. 16. Non-residents may rent for $25 plus tax beginning April 1. • Floats and Flicks at Central Square - All ages are welcome to relax on floats while watching big screen movies on Friday nights, 6-8 p.m., March 12 and 26. Free for members; $3.25 for nonmembers. Refreshments will be available for sale. • Swimming lessons Registration is open for American Red Cross certified swimming lessons for infant/toddler to Level 6. Choose an 8-week class on Monday night or Saturday morning in the Central Square
Pool. Fees are $35 for CSCC members; $45 for non-members. Online registration is available at www.southstpaul.org. • Summer program brochure - The Parks & Rec summer 1 brochure will be mailed to every household in the city in mid-March and online at www.southstpaul. org, with info on summer playgrounds, day camps, pre-school programs, youth trips, outdoor swimming lessons, outdoor pool passes and more. • Fare For All Express - CSCC is a partner in the Fare For All Express program of the Emergency Food Shelf Network. The program allows individuals to save up to 50 percent on monthly groceries by purchasing a variety of “express packages.” No advance payment or pre-registration is needed to purchase packages. Fare For All is open to everyone, regardless of income, and does not affect eligibility to receive assistance from the food shelf. There is no limit to the number of packages that can be purchased each month. Fare For All Express will be held 4-6 p.m., Mar. 2 and 30, at CSCC. • Adult softball leagues - The city’s Adult Softball Leagues are administered apart from Parks & Rec. Organizing meetings for men and women are usually set for mid-March. Contact the league director at 651455-1725.
N ews Briefs
Your community news and information source
Plans advancing for new Lafayette Bridge Mary Diedrick Hansen Staff Writer
ed up with daily traffic snares, chronic congestion and frustrating delays on the Lafayette Bridge entering downtown St. Paul from Highway 52, or tired of holding your breath while merging onto west I-94? Here’s some good news. Design plans for a new bridge — actually two new bridges — are 60 percent complete. Bidding for the project is scheduled for October, and construction is slated to begin next spring. Relief won’t come overnight, of course, but here’s the plan. First, a new three-lane bridge, with shoulders, will be constructed just east of the current bridge. Once the new bridge is open, the old one will be demolished. All traffic will be diverted onto the new bridge, with the shoulders in use as driving lanes. Then, a second bridge will be built, also with three lanes and shoulders, where the current bridge now stands. Eventually, the first new bridge will handle northbound traffic and the second will handle southbound. The bridge crosses over the Mississippi River and I-94, linking east metro thoroughfare Highway 52 to downtown. It is Minnesota’s most traveled bridge and is one of the longest in the state, almost three-quarters of a mile long. It was built in the 1960s when 24,600 vehicles traveled it daily. Although constructed to handle more traffic, it was not meant to manage the 81,000 vehicles using it daily today. Pedestrian and bicycle lanes have been proposed and are expected to be included in the design. The boundaries for construction are from East Seventh Street on the north and 200 feet beyond Plato Boulevard on the south.
According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/ DOT), the existing bridge is safe but nearing the end of its lifespan, although a 2006 inspection report rated it just below the I-35W span that collapsed on Aug. 1, 2007. The Lafayette Bridge was designed to meet the standards of 40 years ago. It was constructed in 1968 using the standard design, detailing and fabrication methods of the times. Like many bridges of that era, it has a history of problems with structural steel that may not pose an immediate risk but that require constant attention from Mn/ DOT’s bridge inspectors. The concrete deck is deteriorating from roadway salt and traffic. The main spans over the Mississippi are considered “fracture critical,” which means that key structural components (i.e. the supporting steel girders) cannot be taken out of service without removing the entire bridge from service. With the proposed two-bridge design, if one bridge needs repair, traffic can be diverted to the other while repair work takes place. Anyone traveling the Lafayette Bridge during the morning rush hour knows that something needs to be done. According to a Metropolitan Freeway System 2005 Congestion report, the Lafayette Bridge experiences more than five hours of congestion on any given weekday. One reason is that there is not enough space on the bridge to provide for individual exit lanes for East- and Westbound traffic onto I-94, or to East Seventh Street where the bridge ends. The sharply curved exit ramp onto westbound I-94 only makes matters worse. The radius of the curve is acknowledged as too tight, requiring slower speeds, especially for trucks because the
angle can lead to tipping and rolling. In addition, what’s called the “slip ramp” from East Seventh Street, also merges onto the Westbound I-94 curve, adding extra volume to the entrance to I-94 and slowing down those exiting the bridge even more. Congestion leads to crashes, and crashes in the Highway 52/Lafayette Bridge area exceed those of comparable roadways. Rear-end collisions account for the majority, followed by sideswipe crashes, with the numbers along Highway 52 increasing as it approaches the I-94 interchange. Complicating the problem is lack of shoulder space on the bridge. Shoulders provide a place to clear accidents, which reduces the chance for secondary crashes. It’s not easy redesigning a bridge at the current location. Consultants have to deal with navigation channel constraints along
Sketch courtesy of MNDOT
A number of designs are being considered for the new Lafayette Bridge project. Shown here is the steel box alternative. the river, which limit the available structure depth of the river spans and options for new pier footing locations. Nearby Holman Field has a runway clear zone that constrains bridge height. Likewise, Xcel energy has clearance requirements for overhead power lines. Design consultants are considering both concrete and steel bridge options. Mn/DOT will draft construction plans for the exit ramps.
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Call 651-451-9692 Ron Sterry, Accountant 907 Southview Blvd., South St. Paul Member: SOUTH ST. PAUL BUSINESS ASSOCIATION
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All You Care To Eat Fish (baked or
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Joey Lundquist, Mn/ DOT’s deputy project manager, said construction is projected at $185 million, with 80 percent coming from federal funding and 20 percent from the state’s Chapter
152 bond fund, enacted after the 35W Bridge collapse. He estimates that it will take a yearand-a-half to build the first bridge. The second bridge is estimated to be completed by 2014.
V.F.W. POST 295 South St. Paul • 651-455-1505 Live Music in March
March 5 .................................Killer Hayseeds (Country), $5 cover March 6 ...................................................... Dixie Hicks (Country) March 12 .............................................. The Big Twang (Country) March 13 ....................................Jonah and the Whales, $5 cover March 16 ................................River City Jazz Orchestra, 7-10 pm March 19 ............................................... Hillbilly Mafia (Country) March 20 ............................................. Chain Lightning, $5 cover March 26 ........................................Rockin' Hollywoods, $5 cover March 27 ....................................Lost Highway (Country) winner Battle of the Bands, $5 cover St. Patricks Day - March 17 - Beer and drink specials, green beer, Irish Whiskey,corned beef & cabbage meal and Reuben sandwiches, 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. & 4 p.m.-gone
Food & Drink Specials Sundays - Commanders & Color Guard Breakfast, second and fourth Sunday each month, 8 am-1 pm. Open mic and Jam session, 6-10 pm. Build your own Bloodys @ Happy Hour prices, 10-2 pm., open until 10 p.m. Mon - Fri - Happy hour, 4-6 pm Mon - Texas Hold 'em at 7 p.m. Free to play. $100 cash 1st place; Chicken wing night, 4-9 pm, 5 for $2, no take-outs Tues - $1.50 Burger Night; 2nd Tuesday Turtle Lake Casino Trip, 9 am, , $5, get two free drinks upon return from casino, Fourth Tuesday of each month is Comedy Nite, featuring Dennis Carney & his comedy troupe, 7:30-9 p.m., Free Wed - Bar and Mega Bingo, 7 pm start Wed & Thur - 7" Coney Night, 2 for $5, biggest & tastiest Thurs - Karaoke, 8-close; Ladies Night, $2 drinks and beers for the ladies, 9-close Fri - open until 2 am. Fish Fry through April 2, 11 am-1 pm and 5-8 pm Sat - Mega Tacos $3 and meat raffle,noon-4 pm, open until 2 am Burger Kitchen - open Mon-Sat, 4-10 pm Hall rental & special packages available for fundraisers. South St. Paul Voice - March 2010 - Page 5
S ample St. Paul Ordway Center for Performing Arts “August: Osage County” is presented Mar. 1621, at the Ordway Center for Performing Arts, 345 Washington St., St. Paul. Steppenwolf ’s “August: Osage County” is a new play that tells the story of the Westons, a large extended clan that comes together at their rural Oklahoma homestead when the alcoholic patriarch disappears. Forced to confront unspoken truths and astonishing secrets, the family must also contend with Violet, a pill-popping, deeply unsettled woman who is at the center of the family storm. Tickets are $44$70. For more information, call the box office at 651-224-4222.
History Theatre “Hiding in the Open” is presented through Mar. 21, at the History Theatre, 30 E. 10th St., St. Paul. For many years Sabina Zimering, a successful eye doctor in Minne-
apolis, held a secret close to heart. Then she took a class at the Loft Literary Center and her amazing story of escape and survival became a truly compelling book. Sabina, a Polish Jew, came of age as Hitler and the Nazis rose to power. When Poland was invaded, Sabina and her sister survived the horrors of the Holocaust by disguising themselves as Catholics from Poland, while living in Germany. Along the way they had to rely on one another and their quick wits to keep them safe and sane as the world around them crumbled. Tickets are $25-$30 for adults, $22-$28 for seniors, $15 for students and $10 for children. For more information, call the box office at 651-292-4323.
Minnesota Children’s Museum “Dinosaurs: Land of Fire and Ice” is presented through May 31 at the Minnesota Children’s Museum, 10 W. Seventh
Your community news and information source This scroll fragment from the book of Genesis will appear in The Dead Sea Scrolls: Words That Changed the World, exhibit, which opens Mar. 12, at the Science Museum of Minnesota. This particular fragment will be part of the third set of five scrolls. This fragment depicts Genesis 48: 8-10, which describes the patriarch Jacob and his blessing of Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh.
St., St. Paul. This exhibit will transport families back to the Cretaceous Period (145 - 65 million years ago) to explore dinosaur habitats and better understand how these mysterious animals lived. “Children of Hangzhou: Connecting with
China” is presented through May 16. This exhibit is designed to engage children and families in learning about one of the oldest civilizations – and now among the most modern in the world – through some of its young people. Tickets
are $8.95. For more information, call 651-2256000.
Xcel Energy Center
Pop-rock singer/songwriter John Mayer will perform at 8 p.m., Tues., Mar. 2. Mayer’s “Battle Studies Tour” features
special guest Michael Franti & Spearhead. Tickets are $51-$71. Grammy Award-winning recording artists The Black Eyed Peas will perform at 7:30 p.m., Mon. Mar. 22. The group’s “The E.N.D. World Tour 2010” features special guest LMFAO. Tickets are $49.50-$81.50. International Irish music phenomenon Celtic Woman will present their “Songs from the Heart” tour at 7:30 p.m., Wed., Mar. 24. Tickets are $47$77. Grammy Award-winner Michael Bublé will perform at 8 p.m., Sun., Mar. 28. Tickets are $51.50-$91.50. The Xcel Center is located at 199 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul. For more information, visit www. xcelenergycenter.com.
Park Square Theatre “Painting Churches” is presented through Mar. 21 at Park Square Theatre, 20 W. 7th Place,
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S ample St. Paul St. Paul. When Mags returns home to help her aging, eccentric parents pack up their Beacon Hill house in Boston, she suddenly sees them in a new light. This play explores family ties and is filled with moments of bravado, mischief and intimate memories. “The Diary of Anne Frank” is presented through May 7. In this extraordinary account of eight Jews hiding in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam, Anne Frank emerges from history as a lyrical and intensely gifted young woman. Be inspired by this timeless account of a girl whose imagination and hope would not be stifled by adversity. Tickets are $36-$40 for adults, $31-$35 for seniors and $15 for age 30 and under. For more details, call 651-291-7005.
Science Museum of Minnesota “Dead Sea Scrolls: Words That Changed the World” – This exhibit, featured Mar. 12Oct. 24, offers a rare opportunity to witness one of the greatest archaeological finds of the 20th century—The Dead Sea Scrolls, which include the earliest known Biblical writings. The 2,000-year-old, authentic text fragments are steeped in scientific, religious and cultural significance. Complementing the exhibit is “Arabia,” showing in the Omnitheater. This new film offers a look at Arabia’s culture, history and religion. Tickets are $28 for adults and $22 for children ages 4-12 and seniors age 60 and older, or $34 and $28 respectively with admission to the Omnitheater. Omnifest 2010, a giant screen film festival, is presented through Mar. 11, at the Omnitheater, located in the Science Museum, 120 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul. The featured films are “Africa’s Elephant Kingdom,” “Into the Deep,” “Van Gogh: Brush with Genius,” “The Greatest
Places,” and “Ski to the Max.” Tickets are $8 for adults and $7 for children. For more information, visit www.smm.org, or call 651-221-9444.
Minnesota History Center “Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World” is presented through July 4, at the Minnesota History Center, 345 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul. You know about Benjamin Franklin’s famous experiment with a kite, a key and some lightning, but did you also know about his rebellious youth? That he pioneered wind surfing and invented swim fins? That he helped found the nation’s first hospital, was an environmentalist and charted the Gulf Stream to assist in ocean travel? In many ways Benjamin Franklin is the founding father nobody knows – misunderstood because of the sheer breadth and diversity of his accomplishments. Discover the many ways Franklin has affected our world today in the new exhibit. “Minnesota’s Greatest Generation: The Depression, The War, The Boom” - This exhibit features more than 6,000-square-feet of artifacts, interactive displays and innovative multimedia experiences that reveal the lives and stories of the men and women who came of age during the Depression and World War II, and who went on to create the phenomenal postwar boom. The exhibition features first-person narratives in recorded interviews, images, film and audio. “MN 150”- Meet 150 people, places, events and things that have sparked significant change within Minnesota and beyond. History Center 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 from 5-8 p.m. For more information, call 651-259-3000 or visit www.mnhs.org.
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downtown St. Paul, of- lar B-3 organ night, held Artists’ Quarter “Hockey Mom, HockThe Artists’ Quarter, fers live entertainment at 9 p.m. every Tuesday. ey Dad!” is presented located in the Historic throughout the month, For more details, call for SSP Voice:Ad for SSP Voice 10/30/09 2:24 PM Page including jazz 1bands, po- 651-292-1359 or visit through April 26 at Adthe Hamm Building at 7th etry nights and the popu- www.artistsquarter.com. Lowry Theatre, 16 W. Place and St. Peter in th 5 St., St. Paul. Comedy and drama collide in this romantic comedy about two lonely, single parents who meet and fall in love while watching their kids play hockey. Tickets are $14.50-$27.50 and can be ordered by calling Ticketmaster at 1-800• Letterheads • Flyers • Stationery • Business Cards 982-2787. For more inOne color, two color and full color• Rubber Stamps • formation, call the box Newsletters • Booklets• Postcards • Envelopes • Forms office at 651-227-2464. FREE LOCAL PICKUP AND DELIVERY
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Free ballet program
St. Paul City Ballet is offering Ballet Tuesdays at noon, the second Tuesday of the month at the Landmark Center in downtown St. Paul. This free program runs through April 13. The majority of Ballet Tuesdays will feature St. Paul City Ballet’s Company of dancers, who will perform and educate attendees on various aspects of ballet and preview upcoming performances. March performances will include excerpts from the company’s Sister City tour to Manzanillo, Mexico, as well as the company’s performance at the Ritz in March. For more information, call 651-292-3276, or visit www.landmarkcenter. org.
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R iver Connections Cash flow on the Mississippi
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A look at the economic impact of the Mississippi River in St. Paul Tim Spitzack Editor
pleasure boater from Red Wing steers his vessel into a rental slip at the St. Paul Yacht Club. He and his friends will dock there for the night, while enjoying dinner and an evening on the town. Music lovers from across the metro area flock to Harriet Island each summer for the an-
nual Taste of Minnesota and open up their pocketbooks to enjoy the food, drink and music at the event. A school group from Eagan enjoys a river cruise with the Padelford Packet Boat Company and then visits the Science Museum. These are just some of the many ways the Mississippi River has a financial impact on the city of St. Paul. The Mississippi River
is indeed an important economic resource for St. Paul and the surrounding metro area. In fact, it is arguably the most instrumental building block to the formation of the city itself, bringing in vast numbers of people and trade during the mid- to late-1800s, causing St. Paul to grow rapidly from a fledging village to a city of significance. City fathers quickly realized the
importance of the river and worked feverishly to establish St. Paul as the head of navigation on the river. In recent years, St. Paul city officials and boosters have used the river as a magnet to attract both tourists and commercial developers. The redevelopment of Harriet Island Regional Park, which began in 1998, was an important first step. To
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The Padelford Packet Boat Company attracts 85,000 visitors annually for riverboat cruises. date, nearly $2.2 million has been pumped into the park, which is home to such large events as the Taste of Minnesota and the Irish Fair of Minnesota, as well as the Padleford Packet Boat Company, which has served over one million visitors over the past 40 years. Padelford General Manager Gus Gaspardo said his company sees about 85,000 visitors annually for riverboat cruises, with another 13,000 visiting the Centennial Showboat, which his company manages for the University of Minnesota Theater Department. He said patrons to these venues often tell him that they couple their river experience with other area attractions, such as the Science Museum of Minnesota, the Minnesota Zoo or the Mall of America. After checking with a few organizations, such as the St. Paul Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Capitol City Partnership, it appears there are no formal studies that place a dollar figure on the financial impact of visitors to the Mississippi River locally. However, one can get an idea from a recent study conducted by the Riverview Economic Development Association (REDA), which sponsors the popular Cinco de Mayo celebration on the West Side. According to REDA Marketing Manager Brian Gioielli, attendees reported spending $32.35 at lo-
cal businesses during the 2-day event, which annually attracts crowds of 100,000 people. That translates into an estimated $3 million impact. In addition, 90 percent said they planned to return to the community in the next 12 months. Similar figures were found by Mark and Monica Frazer of Hub’s Landing and Marina in Hastings. The couple did a study last year on the economic impact of recreational boaters using the new public dock in Hastings. They determined if 10 percent of the boaters who use Pool 3 of the Mississippi and those that pass through Lock 2 spent $50 in Hastings, the city would see a $1.2 million impact. Brad Meyer of St. Paul Parks and Recreation said Harriet Island attracts up to a million visitors annually, which likely translates into a major infusion of cash into the local economy. Last year Harriet Island hosted nearly 500 events, ranging from weddings and reunions to the Taste of Minnesota, which attracts nearly 400,000 visitors annually, and the Irish Fair of Minnesota, which sees crowds of 100,000.
Commercial and residential developments
With improved green spaces and trails along the river, developers took notice. During the early 2000s, the riverfront saw significant commercial
R iver Connections and residential development, including the Upper Landing housing development along Shepard Road and the U.S. Bank operations center on the West Side. According to the city of St. Paul’s 2015 report, future development is planned for the Ramsey County West properties on the bluff in downtown St. Paul, the Xcel Energy High Bridge site and the West Side Flats. The city’s vision for the Ramsey County West property is construction of an office tower, convention hotel and housing development. The project is estimated at $200 million. The city also supports efforts by Xcel Energy to convert some of its former Xcel High Bridge Plant site into a park, and expects work to begin soon on the first phase of the $64 million plan to create a rental and mixed-use de-
velopment on the West Side Flats site, a 45-acre parcel along the river between Wabasha and Robert streets.
Work vs. Pleasure
According to recent statistics from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, both commercial and recreational boat traffic increased considerably on the Upper Mississippi River last year. Earlier this year the Corps reported that commercial traffic in the St. Paul area increased about 29 percent, and recreational traffic about 16 percent. Shipping on the river was up dramatically this past year, as well. Dick Lambert, director of the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Ports and Waterways, said tonnage through the Twin Cities increased 2.5 million tons in 2009 over 2008, with the biggest increase coming in grain.
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Library programs highlight Mississippi River The St. Paul Public Library will offer a variety of events to celebrate the Mississippi River in March. These free events will feature notable speakers, local photographers, experts on the Mississippi River, and a presentation by explorer Ann Bancroft. The Mississippi River Series begins at 2 p.m., Sun., Mar. 4, at Central Library, 90 W. Fourth St., with a presentation of photographic artist Chris Faust. Faust will share photographs taken along the Mississippi River and discuss the interaction between humans and the natural landscape. Faust has received numerous commissions for such projects as the Minnesota Historical Society’s Swenson Collection and the Minnesota Historical Society’s Minnesota 2000 Project.
On Sat., Mar. 13, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., Karen Campbell, education director at the National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics at the University of Minnesota, will talk about the social and geologic history of the Mississippi River in the Twin Cities area, particularly the retreat of St. Anthony Falls from St. Paul to Minneapolis. She will also share historic photos and information on modern river science. A presentation on national parks by Dan Dressler from the National Parks Service is offered 2 to 3 p.m., Sat., Mar. 13, at the James J. Hill Reference Library, 80 W. Fourth St. River Bird Life is presented 2 to 3 p.m., Sat., Mar. 20. Birding expert Sharon Stiteler (known as the Birdchick) will discuss bird life on the Mississippi. She runs one of
You have heard the announcement a million times before. “Neighbors Inc. is running its March FoodShare drive for donations, food, etc. Now is the time to give…..” It’s like anything else, isn’t it? If you hear it enough, it fades into the background. Sadly, it simply becomes just one more thing that the church does from time to time. We may not say it out loud, but our inaction says it loud and clear. We look at the same old annual announcement to help with a food drive and say “Who cares?” It’s somebody else’s job. It’s not new. It’s not the most exotic way to fill my time and spend my resources. Suddenly, mission trips to Haiti sound a whole lot more appealing. True confession: I fall into that way of thinking sometimes, too. Then something changed. I volunteered for a day at Neighbors, Inc. It opened my eyes to the basic needs of people in our own community.
ble of what used to be their homes. We can see children scrounging for food. It tugs at our heartstrings and we are compelled to do something about it. I was introduced to some new pictures when I volunteered at Neighbors, just down the street. Actually, they are old pictures to the folks who serve there every day. They are the pictures that keep recurring over and over again. Picture a boy stopping by the food shelf – this boy who lives just down the street from you and me in our neighborhoods – in search of some food. He comes to the bread rack and takes a loaf of bread. No butter. No peanut butter. No jelly. No mayo. No ketchup. No meat. Just bread. Only bread. And the boy jumps at the opportunity because this is the only meal he will have that day. His parents cannot afford to make ends meet. Food is scarce. This boy is grateful for the chance to eat anything. Picture a young mother with two small children. There is no husband or other major provider in her life. It’s just her. She is astounded at how quickly her children grow. They move out of one size diaper into the next. They need food, but the cupboards are bare because she is behind on the rent, the electric bill and a few medical bills. She comes to the food shelf because there are simply no other options. No one else can help. They aren’t very pretty pictures, are they? The folks at Neighbors have so many pictures to share that are similar, but it would take too long to talk about them all. Yet these pictures are vivid and they tug at my heartstrings, too. The bottom line is that the food shelf doesn’t stock itself. If it is going to continue to meet the needs of the community, it is going to need donations.
The value of pictures
The all-important question
Neighbors, Inc. Editor’s note: This article was written by Mark Kom, senior pastor at Crown of Life Church in West St. Paul, after he spent a day volunteering at Neighbors, Inc.
John Kemp Executive Director of Neighbors, Inc.
Do you know why many people will contribute toward the relief efforts in Haiti for many months to follow? (Our church will contribute, too, and it’s the right thing to do.) It’s the pictures. We can see people in the streets with no place to go. We can see the rub-
So here is the pivotal question, the answer to which will determine if the young boy will continue to find some bread or if the mother will continue to be able to find food for herself and her children when there is nowhere else to turn. The question is: Who cares?
the highest rated birding blogs on the Internet, Birdchick.com, and has been in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and on the NBC Nightly News. Her writing can be found in several publications, including Wild Bird Magazine, Outdoor News and Birding Business. Explorer Ann Bancroft will offer a presentation on her adventures at 7:30 p.m., Tues. Mar. 16, at the James J. Hill Reference Library, 80 W. Fourth St. On Sun., Mar. 21, from 2 to 3 p.m., Minnesota Historical Society acquisitions librarian Pat Coleman will give a presentation on the library’s diverse collection of books on the social history of the Mississippi. At 2 p.m., Sat., Mar. 27, Pat Nunnally, coordinator for the Institute on the Environment’s
River Life program at the University of Minnesota, will give a talk about the Mississippi River’s past, present and future. He will lead program attendees in a conversation about our own stories of the river, pondering the question “What will be our 21st Century story of the Mississippi?” The Mississippi River Series concludes at 2 p.m., Sun., Mar. 28, with a program on the social and environmental history of the Mississippi River by John Anfinson, historian for the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area and National Park Service. For those who want to explore the river, the Central Library will host a Mississippi River walk on Sat., April 3. For more information, call 651-266-7000 or visit www.sppl.org
We, of course, know that the answer must be: “We do.” In fact, as a religious community we have a better reason than anyone to care and to care deeply. We know that we dare not turn away or turn a blind eye toward those in our own community who need our help. We know how much Jesus loves us. Helping others is a way for us to show our love for Him.
I care – so what can I do?
We can donate food. Some of the “hot items” include crackers, cookies, apple sauce and a variety of soups. Canned goods like corn and baked beans, peas, green beans, canned fruit, tuna, spaghetti sauce, boxed potatoes, noodles, rice, macaroni and cheese and jello are excellent as well. Even different meats like hamburger, hot dogs, turkey breasts, chicken and BBQ ribs are accepted. If food and shopping is not your thing, you can donate cash. When you donate cash it allows the staff at Neighbors to purchase items in short supply that are much-needed.
Why March is so important
At the end of the day, it’s not just another annual announcement from our neighbors at Neighbors, Inc., is it? If it helps, remember the pictures of the people who find themselves in need of some help. The need is there. The opportunity is right in front of us. And so it begs the question: Who cares? Let’s answer it loudly and clearly this time. Let’s let the whole world know that we care — not so much by what we say, but by what we do. Please get involved and donate as generously as you are able this month. What a beautiful picture that would be.
Neighbors, Inc., 218 13th Ave. S., is hosting a rummage sale 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., Mar. 3 and 4. The sale will feature books, linens, towels, sheets, pots and pans, dishes, glasses, pictures, frames, lamps, puzzles, toys, small appliances, furniture and more. All proceeds will help fund programs at Neighbors. South St. Paul Voice - March 2010 - Page 9
Your community news and information source ing. We will take a look at a typical home and offer suggestions to “Go Green” in your home and yard. We’ll look at the 3 Rs — Reducing, Reusing and Recycling — and offer easy, commonsense ways in which everyone can get involved. The meeting will include experts in a variety of areas, a question-and-answer session, demonstrations and more. In addition, we will be looking at ways to put this knowledge to work in the community. So, what does going green mean to you? Here is what it means to some of our members. Austin writes that going green is becoming more environmentally friendly in protecting our planet. Beth states that going green is being conscious of what you throw away, the products that you use and
What does ‘Going Green’ mean to you?
Over the past few months, members of the Mayor’s Youth Task Force have been busy researching and sifting through massive amounts of information to develop an informative program on “Going Green.” They will present their findings 6:30-8 p.m., Thurs., Mar. 18, at a Town Hall meeting at City Hall. Residents are invited to attend or tune in to the live broadcast on Town Square TV - Channel 19. Getting the community involved and working toward a common goal is exactly what the task force is hoping to accomplish with the Town Hall meet-
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understanding how you affect the environment. Paxton says going green is saving energy, as well as reducing, reusing and recycling, like composting fruits and vegetables. Emma adds that going green will help the earth. Hannah said it means going out of your way to help save the environment by helping save energy, conserving water and reducing air pollution. She cites simple examples such as turning off lights when you are not home, taking shorter showers and walking or biking instead of using a car. If you have a question or suggestion and are not able to attend the meeting, contact Deb Griffith, community affairs liaison, at 651-554-3230 or deb. firstname.lastname@example.org .
everyday business problems. BusinessConnection, a new business assistance and referral network, was launched recently by Grow Minnesota!, a subsidiary of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. It is open to all businesses and can be reached at 888-MINNBIZ (646-6249) or www.mnbizconnect.com. “Our state has the business-assistance resources to solve most problems,” said Bill Blazar, senior vice president of public affairs and business development at the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, the state’s largest business-advocacy organization. “But our Grow Minnesota! business retention visits also suggest that Minnesota companies are generally unaware of the resources and how to identify and access those that can solve their problems.” Grow Minnesota!, a distinctive private-sector business retention and economic development program, is conducted in partnership with over 50 local chambers of commerce. Staff and volunteers average about 900 personal visits per year with owners and managers of Minnesota businesses. Most importantly, in five years of operation, Grow Minnesota! has solved more than 500 separate problems for individual companies. The requests for help ranged from acquiring specific permits, to looking for a raw material supplier for a manufacturing process, to searching for potential buildings and sites to expand within a community or the state. The number of queries and range of assistance provided were the impetus for creating BusinessConnection. Job retention and creation are our top priority at the River Heights Chamber of Commerce and Progress Plus. This network will increase utilization of existing assistance programs for businesses, and that will go a long way toward keeping jobs in Minnesota, as well as helping businesses grow. Grow Minnesota! is the River Heights Chamber’s job retention and business growth program. BusinessConnection is a joint project of Grow Minnesota! and the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). The service is designed to be statewide, well-publicized and easy to access. Grow Minnesota! worked closely with DEED, as well as other public and private economic development organizations, to shape BusinessConnection. “Preserving and growing jobs is increasingly challenging in today’s global economy,” Blazar said. “Businesses face enough obstacles without being frustrated in their attempts to find answers to simple questions or navigate the regulatory landscape.” Grants from the McKnight Foundation to Grow Minnesota! and DEED will cover the start-up and initial operating costs of BusinessConnection. Use of the database and network will be monitored carefully to determine the program’s permanency as part of Grow Minnesota.
H ome Improvement What consumers should know before remodeling I
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mproving your home to better fit your needs. will also increase the value of your investment – and for a lot less than the cost of a new home. Finding a qualified professional remodeling contractor is critical to your satisfaction with the project. This doesn’t have to be a difficult task, but it is important to take the time to find a qualified and ethical contractor to do the work.
Hiring contractors •
Check references in the community; local firms can be checked more easily. • Is the contractor licensed by the State of Minnesota, and are they bonded? Their letterhead needs to include their license number. • Check with the local office of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) for a list of the certified contractors that are members.
• Ask for verification of the contractor’s certifications of insurance. • If obtaining bids from several contractors, be certain that you provide the same information in a written document so that they are bidding on the same thing.
Think through the entire project from start to finish. Consider repairs needed, improvements desired and what your future needs might be. Professional remodeling contractors can help you in your planning by outlining options and discussing the improvements you can make within your budget.
Design & function
• Design and function should be foremost in your mind when adding a room or converting an existing room. Design/ build contractors are those who can provide
both quality design and construction services within the same company. • Major remodeling requires construction drawings to define contracts and permits procurement. If your professional remodeler does not provide design services, you can use a professionally trained architect that specializes in home remodeling.
• A well-written contract is essential. Carefully read the bid document or consult an attorney to be certain you understand the points being made about cost, materials used, warranties, your rights, start and end dates and terms of payment. • Various financing plans are available to homeowners. Among the most popular is the equity line of credit that bases the loan amount
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• Plan for the disruption in your life if you remain in your home during the construction. Discuss this with the contractor ahead of time so you can make plans for your family. Let the contractor know when you will be away on vacation or other lengthier times so they can schedule appropriately. • Move your personal property away from work areas and declare all work zones off-limits to children and pets. • If changes occur during the course of construction, either because hidden situations are
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discovered when tearing into the structure or because you have a new idea, be certain that the changes are made in writing and both you and the contractor sign the document. This is considered
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B ack in Time Centennial celebration marks new era for the city Lois Glewwe Contributor
n recent months, this history column has addressed the closing of both of South St. Paul’s major meatpacking plants between 1969 and 1979, the urban renewal efforts along Grand Avenue and Concord Street in the 1970s, and the challenges the city faced as the 1980s arrived. All branches of government, including city, county, state and federal agencies had brought their best efforts to the plans for revitalization of South St. Paul’s economic base. Some projects had succeeded, but the massive abandoned Armour’s plant dominated the riverfront, and the grand old Exchange Building, vandalized in 1981, stood silent with gaping, broken windows beckon-
ing pigeons into the once gracious hallways and offices of the 1886 structure. In the midst of this difficult time, the city of South St. Paul began making plans to commemorate the city’s Centennial in 1987. Mayor Bruce Baumann asked J. Robert “Bob” Stassen to chair the Centennial Commission, and Bob recruited many of the best and most dedicated local leaders and volunteers to serve. I was fortunate to be hired as the coordinator for the year-long celebration in April of 1986. At the same time, the South St. Paul Chapter of the Dakota County Historical Society gathered the reams of research and hundreds of photographs that they had been accumulating in order to produce a history of the city. I was doubly fortunate
that they chose me to be the editor of that massive book project. None of those who took part in the Centennial planning for the 21 events that were held in 1987, nor those who assisted with the publication of the city’s history, had any idea what an impact their efforts would have on South St. Paul’s future. Because of the community’s focus on its heritage, hundreds of individuals and families gathered throughout the year to share memories of the stockyards, the packing plants, the old downtown and the rich ethnic celebrations that had marked the city during its 100 year history. As the year of reflection drew to a close, in November of 1987, the Governor’s Design Team, a group of volunteer architects and city planners, came to
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The city of South St. Paul celebrated its 100th birthday in 1987 with over 20 community events, including those advertised on this huge billboard, which greeted travelers heading south on Highway 52 into the city. The billboard was sponsored by V.F.W. Post #295. The yearlong commemoration of the city’s past resulted in the creation of R.E.A.P., a grassroots citizens’ group that involved residents in the discussions and decisions that would ultimately restore public access to the Mississippi River in South St. Paul. town to help the community focus on its vision for South St. Paul’s future. A series of well-attended Town Meetings were held and people from all walks of life came and participated in the discussion. One of the main themes that came out of the process was a desire to reconnect South St. Paul to the Mississippi River. Another was to find a way to beautify and enhance the connection of the Southview and Marie Avenue shopping areas to the rest of the city. Redevelopment of the old Exchange Building and
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reclaiming of the land along the river where the old Armour’s plant stood were also identified among the top priorities. The ideas generated with the assistance of the Governor’s Design Team were powerful and, for many, impossible to imagine. The one tangible and achievable concept that arose from the process was the creation of a grassroots citizens’ organization that ended up being called the River Environment Action Project or R.E.A.P. Originally organized with several action groups dedicated to various aspects of the Design Team’s suggestions, R.E.A.P. was the driving force that kept the vision and the dream in front of the city council, the planning commission, the housing and redevelopment authority and the chamber
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Page 12 - South St. Paul Voice - March 2010
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of commerce. Citizens began to participate at public meetings in greater numbers and expressed their willingness to volunteer to assist with any steps that would bring the community closer to a successful future. Volunteers who had spent a year working on Centennial events transferred their energy into improving the community in a variety of ways. Citizens who had also spent 1987 hearing and reading about the city’s history remained interested and turned their attention to the new ideas for a different kind of development. Many were curious, although not entirely convinced that spending time and money to improve the riverfront was a wise move. Others firmly believed that South St. Paul should focus on replacing the packing plants with heavy industry and stop trying to become anything more. As the community gathered to dance the night away at the Centennial Ball on December 31, 1987, the stage was set for a dramatic decade that would bring more changes to the old city than anyone imagined. Next month’s column will examine the efforts to restore legal public access to the Mississippi River for all of South St. Paul’s citizens.