November 20, 2020
More Than Words Can Express
The generosity of Como residents is astounding. A few weeks ago, we invited your donations. We were hoping to raise about $500; that would let us provide Thanksgiving meals to about 50 neighborhood seniors who, because of the pandemic, will be isolated this holiday.

That will teach us: Never underestimate Como Kindness. We were hoping for $500? So far, you and other community members have donated more than $2,300! Here is what your generosity will accomplish:

  • Working with the North End South Como Block Nurse Program, more than 40 volunteers will deliver meals you’ve helped purchase -- not to 50 seniors, but to 150 seniors. A local business, TST Catering on Dale St., is preparing the meals.
  • Because we have more donations that we anticipated, we also are purchasing meals for about 50 homeless teens and young adults at the Salvation Army’s Booth Brown House on Como Ave. Volunteers there will cook the meals.
  • In a separate partnership, the North Suburban Kiwanis Club is providing nearly three dozen Thanksgiving meal kits for families in need. The meals – turkey and all the traditional fixings – will go to families of students at Como Senior High School and others we’ve been able to identify with the help of local congregations. Humphrey Job Corps Center is keeping the birds frozen until we need them, then volunteers from the Como Community Council board and Mission Orthodox Presbyterian Church will deliver the meal kits.

This week, we truly know what we are thankful for. 
Illustration by Monique Hussey
It's a Free Food Friday
The Como Community Council and Sanneh Foundation are partnering to deliver free meal boxes today, Friday Nov. 20. The meal boxes are available to Ramsey Country residents dealing with financial hardships because of Covid-19.

The boxes provide two meals of six servings each. They contain locally sourced food, including lean proteins, whole grains, fresh produce, and spices. Today’s menu is lemon chicken with fall succotash, and an African peanut stew.

We’ll distribute the meal boxes in the north parking lot of Niem Phat Buddhist Temple, at Dale and Front. Distribution is 1:30-3:30 p.m. (while supplies last). Distribution also will take place on Fridays Dec. 11 and 18. We recommend reserving a meal box in advance; just fill out this form.
Covid Forces More Social Distancing
With out-of-control numbers of deaths, hospitalizations, and Covid-19 cases, the state is clamping down on a wide range of previously permitted activities beginning at midnight tonight, Friday Nov. 20, through Friday Dec. 18. New restrictions include:
  • No indoor or outdoor gatherings, except with immediate household members.
  • Restaurants and bars are required to close except for delivery and take-out.
  • Gyms, pools, fitness, yoga, and martial arts studios, and all indoor recreational facilities, are required to close.
  • Event and reception spaces are required to close.
  • No indoor or outdoor events or entertainment.
  • No organized sports for youth or adults.
If You Need a Test for Coronavirus
With cases of Covid-19 surging and more restrictions in place, the state and county continue to expand free testing sites. A rundown:

Home testing: The state is partnering with Vault Medical Services to provide free saliva test kits that residents can use at home.

Ongoing: Free saliva testing at Roy Wilkins Auditorium; enter at 175 Kellogg Blvd. The site is open seven days a week: noon-7 p.m. weekdays; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. weekends; however, it is closed this Thursday and next Friday, Nov. 26-27. Register in advance (Free saliva testing also is available at Minneapolis Saint Paul International Airport, the Minneapolis Convention Center, and 10 other sites in the state.)

Drive-thru nasal swab testing: This Saturday, Nov. 21, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. State Fairgrounds' Compeer Arena (enter at Como and Canfield). Appointment required

Nasal swab testing: Wednesday Dec. 2, 2-6 p.m. Consulate of Mexico, 797 E. 7th St. Register beginning Monday Nov. 30. (Also on Wednesday Dec. 16.)

Additional testing locations: Use the state Department of Health's interactive map. These locations in Saint Paul and elsewhere are a mix of community clinics, health system clinics, and pharmacies. They might not be free, and they might offer testing only in certain situations.
Thanksgiving Delays Trash, Recycling Pickup
This is a holiday week. That means next Friday’s trash and recycling pickup are delayed one day. Eureka will pick up recycling on Saturday Nov. 28, not on Friday Nov. 27. Same thing if you have Friday trash pickup; your hauler will empty your cart next Saturday, Nov. 28, not next Friday, Nov. 27. (If you live west of Hamline and have Monday trash pickup, nothing changes.)
Transit Schedules Adapt to the Holiday
Metro Transit light rail service and local bus routes will follow their Sunday/Holiday schedule on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26. Next Friday, Nov. 27, most routes will follow their Saturday schedule. However, Route 61 sticks with its normal weekday schedule, and Route 3 has some modifications. Get details
We're Lying Low for a Week
Como Community Council staff will be off-duty (mostly) this week. There will be no newsletter next Friday, Nov. 27. On the other side of the holiday weekend:

  • Neighborhood Relations Committee meets on Tuesday Dec. 1.
  • Land Use Committee meets on Wednesday Dec. 2.

Both meetings begin at 7 p.m. Any community member who wants to join the discussion by phone or by Zoom video conferencing should email the District 10 office. Staff will send access information. Agendas and other relevant documents will be posted as soon as they are available.

Also, if you want to keep track of what the community council’s committees and board are doing, you can always download minutes from previous meetings.
Fairgrounds are Aglow
The State Fairgrounds' Glow Holiday Festival is underway, and runs every evening through Sunday Jan. 3. The drive-through event features a one-mile loop of more than 1 million holiday lights, icicle and art installations, a giant gingerbread house and, of course, a State Fair food court.

Entry slots run Sundays-Thursdays from 4:30-9 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 4:30-10 p.m. Vehicles will enter at Gate 14, at Como and Canfield on the west end of the Fairgrounds. Admission is $46 per vehicle (plus $7.14 in taxes and fees). Tickets are for a specific day and time slot. On most nights, $2 of every ticket goes to a different charity.

  • The festival means the Fairgrounds are closed to walkers, runners, cyclists and other everyday users until Jan. 10.
The Final Pieces Inch into Place
Como Ave.: Construction work is done for the season but: very colorful hydro-mulch is being sprayed on boulevards to stabilize soil until sod can be planted in spring, temporary pavement paint is still being finished, and signs are still being installed. No parking is allowed between Hamline and Arona between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays so crews have room to work.

Dale St. Bridge: Work on the new bridge is done for the season. That means Dale Street itself, its new sidewalks, and its public art are open completely. Ramps to and from Interstate 94 are open. Concordia (on the south side of the freeway) and Saint Anthony (on the north side of the freeway) are open to through traffic, and once again are one-way streets. Crews will continue installing lights along Dale, which may shut down some lanes temporarily. But no more road work until next summer, when Dale will be repaved from Concordia south to Iglehart. 
City Reworks Its Website
The City of Saint Paul has redesigned its website (including a new logo). Take a look. Also new from City Hall:

"Truth in Taxation": Public hearing on the city's proposed 2021 budget and tax levy, Wednesday Dec. 2, 6 p.m. To speak live during the remote hearing, register in advance. You can also send comments by email, or leave a voice message at 651-266-6805 by noon on Tuesday Dec. 1.

Redefinition of “family”: Saint Paul intends to redefine “family” in the city’s zoning code. Three options are being considered; each would change how many related adults and unrelated adults could legally constitute a household in Saint Paul. The intent, in theory, is to better accommodate multi-generational families, extended families, and families sharing living space in order to afford housing. Got a preference, or another suggestion on how to regulate occupancy limits? The public comment has been extended until Monday Dec. 14. Find more information, or watch the presentation city planner Michael Wade gave to District 10’s Land Use Committee on Nov. 4. Submit written comments by email.

Previously reported:
  • Hmong College Prep Academy: Public hearing on the charter school’s request to build a skyway over Brewster Ave. to connect its current building with the proposed new middle school building. Wednesday Dec. 2, 3:30 p.m. You can send a comment via email, or leave your comment as a voicemail at 651-266-6805. The deadline for comments: Noon Tuesday Dec. 1.
  • Speedway: The gas station and liquor licenses for this convenience store at Front and Lexington are up for renewal on Dec. 1. Anyone with concerns should email District 10 or contact the office of Ward 1 Council Member Dai Thao. 
  • Carter’s BP: The gas station license for this convenience store at 623 Como Ave. is up for renewal on Dec. 29. Anyone with concerns should email District 10 or contact the office of Ward 5 Council Member Amy Brendmoen.
  • Best Western Plus Como Park: The liquor licenses for this hotel in Bandana Square are up for renewal on Jan. 3, 2021. Anyone with concerns should email District 10 or contact the office of Ward 4 Council Member Mitra Jalali.
  • Ted’s Recreation: The entertainment, liquor, Sunday liquor, and 2 a.m. closing licenses for this bar at 1084 W. Larpenteur are up for renewal on Jan. 31, 2021. Anyone with concerns should email District 10 or contact the office of Ward 5 Council Member Amy Brendmoen.
Coming Up Around the Bend
  • This Sunday, Nov. 22, 12:30-2:30 p.m. Drive-By Food Collection, Como Park Lutheran Church. Cash or non-perishable food donations will be accepted at the church parking lot (Hamline and Hoyt) then passed along to Keystone Community Services.
  • This Monday, Nov. 23, 4 p.m. Deadline for individuals or teams to submit “request for qualifications” paperwork to create public art along Wheelock Parkway between Como Lake and Lake Phalen. The project will select up to six installations, with budgets of between $20,000 and $50,000 each.
  • Next Friday, Nov. 27, 6-8 p.m. Saint Paul Public Library hosts a virtual celebration of Hmong New Year. Free
  • Monday Nov. 30, 6:30 p.m. Public hearing on Ramsey County’s 2021 supplemental budget and property tax levy. Get information to join online or comment in advance.
  • Wednesday Dec. 2: Deadline to order meatloaf or lefse in this year’s carryout fund-raiser for the Como Park Falcon Heights Block Nurse Program. Meatloaf is $10 each; lefse is three for $4. Call 651-646-7127; pickup will be Saturday Dec. 5 from 3:30-4:30 p.m. outside Como Park Lutheran Church, 1376 W. Hoyt.
  • Thursday Dec. 3, 10:30-11:10 a.m. Meditation and Movement for Caregivers. Online class organized by North Dale Recreation Center and Como Park Falcon Heights Block Nurse Program. Free, but registration is required. Also on Thursdays Dec. 10 and 17.
  • Thursday Dec. 3, 6:30-7:30 p.m. One Book One Minnesota online discussion of “The Plague of Doves” by Louise Erdrich. Registration is free, but space is limited. Additional discussions are Saturday Dec. 5 from 11 a.m.-noon, and Tuesday Dec. 8 from 7-8 p.m. (with the author herself). Download a free copy of the book
What Is It with Catalytic Converters?
Catalytic converters continue to be easy pickings for car thieves. An experienced thief can cut these anti-pollution devices from under your car in less than two minutes. Because of the precious metals inside the converters, thieves can get up to $200 each from unscrupulous scrap dealers. You, on the other hand, can get stuck with a deafeningly loud vehicle and replacement costs well over $1,000.

Police say pickups, SUVs, and the Toyota Prius are the most-common targets. To minimize your chances, police recommend:

  • Park in your garage whenever possible.
  • Park in a well-lit, visible area when it’s not.
  • Set up your car alarm to be sensitive to vibrations if possible.
  • Install an anti-theft device such as a Cat Clamp, Catstrap, or Cat Shield; all these accessories make thieves work harder and longer, which is not what they want.

You Make What We Do Possible
It is Giving Tuesday on Dec. 1. We will not flood your Inbox. But we will gratefully welcome your financial support for the things we do, week in and week out, to build a better community. In this tumultuous year, we:

  • Partnered with you and others in unprecedented ways to supply food to neighbors in need.
  • Launched anti-racism work to educate each other and identify concrete ways we can force change from our positions of privilege.
  • Overhauled our neighborhood elections. One result: Three times as many residents took part.
  • Continued to magnify the ideas and power of renters, homeowners, businesses, and nonprofits to create a vibrant, safe, welcoming neighborhood for those who live, work, and visit here.
  • Connected neighbors with other neighbors who want to accomplish things.
  • Provided a productive space to talk and listen, support for your energy, and a trusted way to stay informed.

Most of our operating budget comes from grants, which typically come with strings attached. Donations from you and other community members, however, give us flexibility and resources to accomplish more of your priorities. If you have the ability, you can donate online. Or, mail a donation to: Como Community Council, 1224 Lexington Parkway N, Saint Paul, MN 55103. Thank you.
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You are receiving this email because you expressed interest in District 10 activities.

District 10 is one of Saint Paul's 17 citizen participation districts. The District 10 Como Community Council is a nonprofit organization, governed by a volunteer Board of Directors who are elected directly by members of the community. As a district council, we work to improve and enjoy life where we live. We provide the glue behind neighborhood action, and combine the voices of renters, homeowners, businesses, and nonprofits who want to accomplish things.