Great River Park Design Team Presents Final Plan | 6.11
Breakfast Tastes Good in Our Neighborhood | 6.11
West End Neighbor Wins Minnesota Book Award | 6.11

Great River Park Design Public Meeting[IMAGE]

The final Great River Park plan will be presented at a culminating public meeting on Harriet Island, June 18 starting at 5 p.m.

photo courtesy ARP Design TeamAfter almost a year of process, public input, design forums and hard work, the Great River Park Design Team is ready to offer its plan to the community. The Great River Park Master Plan is intended to transform St. Paul in profound ways. Developed with hundreds of hours of citizen input, the Great River Park vision is based on three principles — to be more natural, more urban and more connected. These were outlined in the 2007 Great River Park chapter of the “Saint Paul on the Mississippi Development Framework.” These principles guide a grand vision for unifying the entire length of St. Paul’s riverfront. Moving forward, the master plan sets the stage for the manifestation of sustainable parks and open spaces, ecological restoration and economic development, connecting the City, its neighborhoods and people, to St. Paul’s unique Mississippi River resources.

Photo courtesy of ARP Design Team

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Breakfast Tastes Good in Our Neighborhood [IMAGE]

by Jo Heinz
Now that we are moving into summer, it’s time to take that morning walk and enjoy breakfast along the way. Several “hot spots” are the Mad Hatter’s Coffee Café & Teahouse and the Bay Street Grill & Pub.

The Mad Hatter’s Coffee Café & Teahouse (943 West Seventh, 651-227-2511), is always a welcoming place, whether sparked with lively conversation or in one of its quiet lulls. Dave Thune owns and manages Mad Hatter’s Café adjacent to his art gallery. His mother, Fran Gray is a gracious hostess, making everyone feel at home serving customers whatever one would normally desire for breakfast.

Fran Gray pours fresh coffee for Matt McGinn at the Mad Hatter.
Photo courtesy: Lois Tschida

There are two eggs any way for $5.95, (two scrambled eggs with cheese have a generous helping of cheese with the perfect taste and texture), with either sausages or bacon for $3.50; oatmeal that really sticks to your ribs with your choice of two toppings that can include butter, milk, dried fruit or syrup for $3.49 (call ahead for steel-cut oats, they take longer to prepare). On the go, there’s coffee for $1.76 that includes free refills. It is the perfect brew on its own or maybe an espresso or latte ($1.25) is more your style. Fran makes a wonderful variety of fresh scones ($2 each) daily (blueberry, whole wheat, craisin, and cardamom currant) that are moist and compatible with coffee or tea. For $3 one can get a steaming pot of Earl Grey, or Tea Source brand tea. Tea varieties — traditional chamomile, black, green, chai and organic are available along with Tisane rooibos teas, which are herbal and naturally decaffeinated. On Saturdays it’s a great place to socialize and partake of homemade waffles ($2.69 for one, 2 for $4).

Breakfast begins 8am Tuesday-Friday and 9am Saturday. Besides coffee and breakfast, one can visually take in a variety of framed art prints, paintings and photos. Picture postcards and note cards are for sale as well. For large groups call ahead.

The Bay Street Grill & Pub (731 Randolph) starts the day with breakfast at 8am on weekdays with a morning Happy Hour (8-10am Monday-Saturday, and 10am-12pm Sunday) so customers can have their morning coffee or orange juice or a Bloody Mary or Screwdriver with their breakfast. The coffee stands on its own, whether you prefer a pot of regular or decaf for $1.50.

It’s a fairly quiet spot until after 10 a.m. when most people are out of bed and ready for breakfast. It gets livelier on the weekends, and Sunday the crowd is more laid back and casual. Bay Street offers breakfast items all day, but there may be a slight delay during lunch and dinner hours.

Their big seller is the Bay Street Special: two eggs any way, hash browns and your choice of toast for $2.95. There’s steak and eggs, with an 8 oz. steak that’s lean and cooked to perfection. Or a thick slice of lean ham, and a variety of standard omelets — Denver, vegetable, or you can build your own. The pancakes are light and fluffy and the French toast is made with thick Texas style bakery bread, adding to texture and great flavor. If you love scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese, bacon, ham, hash browns and tender grilled onions, the Breakfast Burrito has it all. The soft warmed tortilla shell brings all the familiar flavors together, while adding sour cream and salsa makes it even taste better. Prices run from $5.50-$7.95 for a complete breakfast.

Now there’s no excuse to skip breakfast!

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West End Neighbor Wins Minnesota Book Award[IMAGE]

by Edie Meissner

Our Duke Street neighbor Mary Lethert Wingerd won The Friends of the St. Paul Library’s 2011 Minnesota Book Award for best nonfiction book about Minnesota. Her “North Country: The Making of Minnesota” (University of Minnesota Press) takes a unique perspective in describing almost two hundred years that included cooperation, intermarriage and peace among Europeans, African-Americans, and Native Americans in Minnesota.
Mary Wingerd.

Mary’s attachment to Minnesota and more specifically to St. Paul is grounded in five generations of her family living and working as retail and wholesale grocers in this city, and as ferry boatmen between Stillwater and Hudson. Both her mother’s and father’s families lived in Frogtown, socializing and attending school and church together. Her grandparents eventually built a home on Laurel and Snelling when “nothing lay beyond.” While the family’s heritage traced back to 100% German, she says there “was not an iota of ethnicity left by my parents’ generation. All my grandparents spoke German but my parents did not.” World War I, she says, had a definite dampening effect on the daily German culture and traditions that had been so easily practiced in Frogtown where “everyone was German.”

Mary, long known as a labor historian, had her sense of social justice seeded in her from early years of Catholic education when she was taught to treat anyone who came to the door as if s/he were Jesus. Like her mother and her own daughter, she attended Visitation Convent, which, also helped establish her strong appreciation for single-sex education for girls. In one of her first jobs as a lifeguard at the Ambassador Motel in St. Louis Park, she describes the opportunities she had to see the world through the eyes of people she worked with who came from different classes and races than her own. “My connection then to social justice was intimate and was about treating everyone I worked with right. While I had grown up with a lot of privileged people, I had opportunities to see things from many views.”

After her junior year of college, Mary dropped out to marry her high school sweetheart. Three children followed, a girl and two boys. Mary’s educational path picked up again later following her divorce when she got a clerical job at Macalester College and discovered that she could take classes as a job perk. And she discovered there that she loved history.

After graduating in 1990, she had a fortuitous conversation with her mentor and earlier history professor, Jim Stewart. “If I could do my life over again, I would go to graduate school, and the place I would go is Duke University,” she told him. This dream was based on her having read two books (“Populist Moment” by Lawrence Goodman, and “Civility and Civil Rights” by Bill Chafe) that “changed the way I thought about the world,” and both authors were from Duke. Jim Stewart encouraged Mary to apply to Duke and not only was she accepted, she received a fellowship. The family drove a U-haul to take one daughter to start Beloit College, and one mother to start graduate school at Duke at the age of 40.

Mary describes her seven years at Duke as better than any of her fantasies. “It was everything I dreamed of and more.” Her mentor again helped guide her future by calling with the announcement of an available job at St. Cloud “with your name on it.” Now with a Masters and Ph.D., Mary’s focus was in labor history. Her thesis became the basis for her book “Claiming the City: Politics, Faith and the Power of Place in St. Paul.” While this book has great depth in exploring the importance of place as a “constitutive element of all other aspects of identity,” she gives a brief personal childhood memory of place that exemplifies its early importance for her: “I was five years old when driving with my family down West Seventh I saw the house I had lived in recently being rolled down the street to make room for the Highway 5 ramp entrance,” and she found this both unsettling and traumatic.

Based on her work, she was commissioned by the University of Minnesota Foundation to write a history of Minnesota for the state’s sesquicentennial that would update the earlier history classic by Theodore Blegen. Mary used extensive existing scholarship on politics, on the fur trade, and on Native Americans. After writing and researching for a year, she had to report that the only book she could write was different from what was originally intended. With fresh eyes and her historian’s ability to “read the evidence,” she was struck by the emergence of a new public story brought together by previously separate strands of history. She saw two Minnesota histories: one that is more familiar that starts with the civil war and goes forward with agriculture, immigration, industry and the building of cities. And this history is built on the ruins of another society that existed for more than two hundred years where Europeans, African-Americans, and Native Americans lived and worked together for mutual benefit. She hopes her work will start new conversations, and show readers who dip in to it that history can be addictive.

The work on “North Country” has sparked new directions for Mary. While another volume continuing this history is called for, she says this will be work for another historian. After a year’s sabbatical following publication that provided time and energy for travel to France, leisure reading, home improvements and gardening, Mary will return to St. Cloud to direct and teach in its Public History MA Program. Mary’s growing interest is in researching more about what happened after 1862 to those five generations of peoples who had served as cultural bridges in their efforts to build successful lives.

Mary moved to Duke Street in 2002, an area of St. Paul she had not previously known. “This is an exceptionally interesting neighborhood. Such a potpourri. All the people working together in the brewery shared economic circumstances that I speculate helped create strong friendships. The German breweries were structured in a paternalistic way. The owners lived right here with their workers. There was accountability between owners and workers. This was both unusual and unique. Brewers were very sensitive to labor relations. They knew that their customers were not the Summit Avenue people but the working people in the neighborhood. They used their paternalistic forum to create loyalty.”

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St. Paul Police Dept. Value Neighborhood Alertness | 6.11

by Todd Axtell
Senior Commander St Paul Police Western District

A few initiatives for the Western District are to improve communication, increase partnerships and work closely with our district councils. I had sent to the district councils to drive home the point that we need the public to collaborate with us. This was a great example of what can happen when neighbors look out for each other.

I would like to use this quick summary of a burglary on Edmund Avenue as an example of the importance of our residents keeping an eye out for suspicious activity and then calling 911 to report. A witness observed two suspects knocking on the front doors and looking into the windows of at least two houses. Remember, this is the method of operation (M.O.) we have been highlighting via our crime prevention staff. The witness said the suspects were trying to “shoulder” the side door of the house, after it was obvious to the suspects that the house was not occupied. The witness left the view of the crime to call 911; when the witness came back, the suspects were out of sight.

An officer arrived in just over three minutes, and as he approached, he saw the reflection of one of the suspects in the window of the detached garage behind the house. The suspect fled on foot and the officer immediately set up a perimeter, which involved five officers, when he lost sight of the suspect. A K9 officer spotted a green Cadillac parked on Fry Street and both the front doors were closing as she approached. The K9 Officer saw that the car was occupied by two males who matched the description of the suspects as described by the caller. While she did have her dog with her, it was not used in the apprehension, although sometimes even the presence of the dog is enough for a suspect to surrender.

The K9 officer maintained visual contact with the car until another squad arriving in the area could stop it, and then assisted the officer at the scene. Officers stopped the suspect vehicle and determined the two occupants were the suspects. They were arrested, identified having prior burglary arrests.

Based on the M.O., these suspects could be responsible for other residential burglaries occurring in the district. Investigators will now try to determine if that is the case.

I feel very proud of our officers today. It is so difficult to catch burglars in the act. However, this arrest would not have been possible without our community partners. Send this to your e-mail lists as a reminder we need everybody’s help with keeping our community safe. Call 651-266-5512 with questions or comments.

St. Paul Fire Department Important Safety Reminders | 6.11[IMAGE]

The St. Paul Fire Department responds to more than 100 emergency calls each day. In their vast experience with fires and their causes, they regularly issue reminders about some of the most negligent and dangerous habits that can lead to fires and their potential consequences. Here is a collection of some of the most important of them. Fire Marshall Steve Zaccard welcomes your questions or comments (651-315-5689).
  • Careless smoking is the leading cause of fire deaths in Minnesota.
  • More and more people are smoking outdoors and carelessly discarding their smoking materials. Even outdoors, smokers should use an ashtray or other noncombustible container to discard smoking materials.
  • Unattended cooking is the leading cause of building fire in Saint Paul. When you’re cooking, Stay in the Kitchen. For a local example of this hazard see the sidebar: “FIRE!”
  • High-current electrical appliances like air conditioners and heaters should never be plugged into an extension cord or power strip. They should always be plugged directly into the wall outlet on a circuit suitable for the high current — preferably a 30 amp circuit.
  • Arson is the third leading cause of fires in Minnesota.
  • Inoperable smoke detectors are leading factors in fire deaths in St. Paul. Smoke detectors should NEVER be disabled. They should be inside and outside any room used for sleeping and tested at least monthly. Homeowners can get free smoke and carbon monoxide detectors by participating in the Safe Haven self-inspection program by calling St. Paul Fire Dept at 651-228-6273.
  • Recreational fires are permitted in Saint Paul as long as they can meet the state fire code. For example, they must be attended to at all times and you must have the means to extinguish if it becomes necessary.
  • Fireworks that explode or sail into the air, are Illegal in Minnesota. Sparklers, smoke bombs, fountains, and poppers are Legal. But just because some fireworks are legal doesn’t mean they’re safe!
  • Children playing with fire can cause serious problems. For information about Fire Play Intervention, call the fire department’s Public Education Office at 651-228-6203.
  • Trash dumpsters, which may catch fire at times, should be located no closer that five feet from a door, window, eaves, or other openings into a building.
  • Nationally, candle fires cause 4% of home fires, 6% of home fire deaths, and 10% of home fire injuries. Keep candles at least 12 inches from anything that can burn. Blow out candles when you leave the room or go to bed. Avoid using candles in the bedroom. More than one-third of candle fires start in the bedroom.
  • Space heaters should be placed a safe distance from combustible or flammable materials. A space heater should not be used in a parking or repair garage. Garages should be heated by heaters located near the ceiling so as not to ignite heavier-than-air flammable liquids, like gasoline, that tend to accumulate near the floor.
  • Electrical appliances should be left Unplugged when not in use.
  • Fire sprinklers are 96% effective in confining or extinguishing a fire with just one or two sprinkler heads going off. There has never been a multiple death fire in a building protected by fire sprinklers. Inexpensive fire sprinklers are available for your home, too, where people feel they’re safe, but where most fires occur and most people die.
“Carelessly discarded smoking materials and unattended stovetop cooking account for a vast majority of fires in the City, and ALL of these fires are preventable,” said Fire Chief Tim Butler. “Never leave the kitchen when you are cooking, and remember that if you light a cigar or cigarette, you are responsible for any fire that results from the discarded matches or ashes. All of us can make St. Paul a safer place to live and work if we follow the basic tips outlined in this article. If you would like further information, or if you’d like Saint Paul Firefighters to visit your home and help you reduce your risk of fires or accidents, call our offices at 651-228-6273 and ask about Project Safe Haven or the other programs mentioned above. We can help you make your home a Safe Haven in the neighborhood!”

St. Paul Fire Department wants your help.
Photo: Lou “The Photo Guy” Michaels

Fire!Fire!Fire!Fire! | 6.11

It was late afternoon, and a friend and I had just started a batch of yogurt. She insisted I should set the mixture in an aluminum kettle on the back burner of my electric stove to cure, rather than the yogurt maker I had on the table. We left the kitchen for the adjacent room and were talking, when she looked past me and shouted, “Fire!”

Panic shot through me as I turned around to see flames shooting out about eight inches from the burner in front of the yogurt. Being dyslexic, I had turned on this burner instead of the back burner where the yogurt was set, because I had mistaken the position of the dot on the grid picture on the stove. I rushed to the kitchen and froze for a few seconds as I realized I needed to act very quickly.

Should I use the small fire extinguisher a few feet from the stove? I had kept it for over 14 years, but had never learned how to use it. I remembered water was not the best choice and then it dawned on me to grab the cleaning dispenser of baking soda under the sink, also near the stove. With a medium sized shake the fire disappeared instantly. Once the fire was out the black cloud of smoke became just as much of a threat as it engulfed the ceiling of the kitchen, choking us enough to open windows and hurry outside. The cause of the fire was the plastic handle of a spatula, which had melted unto a small frying pan also damaged, as the metal solder had separated from the metal base. The burner pan was covered in melted plastic. It took several days for the smell to dissipate from the house. I learned a valuable lesson that day: it is very wise to review fire safety instructions annually, as it reinforces actions that need to be automatic in a life-threatening situation.
-- Jo Heinz

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