April 30, 2021
How Do You Find Out What You Need to Know?
What's the future of local news in a "social media" world? The Como Community Council’s Sunday Series goes straight to the source this Sunday, May 2, with a panel discussion led Scott Carlson from the Park Bugle, Tesha Christensen from the Monitor, and Kelly Smith from the Star Tribune. They’ll talk about changing economic realities for community news, how people get their information (and misinformation), news deserts, and more.

Details: The free online presentation is May 2 from 1-2:30 p.m. It will include plenty of time for Q&A. To attend via Zoom, register here.
Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going
Trying to figure out what the Como Community Council achieved (or didn’t achieve) in this unprecedented year? Here’s one viewpoint: The board gave its annual report to the community on April 27. Watch the recording about how the district council adapted and continues to adapt – and how you’ve helped.

Also at the same meeting, the board adopted a new mission statement and, for the first time, a vision statement.
  • The mission (which is the board’s definition of why the community council exists): We connect and empower each other, creating a compassionate community, courageously addressing injustices of the past and present, and forging a bold and inclusive future.
  • The vision (which defines the result of what the community council hopes to achieve): A vibrant, diverse, affordable neighborhood filled with a spirit of kindness and belonging.
District 10 Seeks New Executive Director
The Como Community Council is seeking an Executive Director to provide leadership, vision, and the administrative foundation for the Council, its activists, and its activities.

The director often is the most-visible representative of the district council. The director’s ability to provide continuity and connections, to organize and mobilize community assets, to expand capacity, to navigate systems and personalities, and to combine practical and aspirational goals heavily influences the organization’s success.

Learn more about the position; the initial review of applicants will begin May 20. The new director would replace Michael Kuchta, who has been in the position since October 2015. Kuchta is moving out of state to become town administrator on Madeline Island.
A New Chance to Make a Difference
Special elections in May give you a chance to fill one of two open seats on the Como Community Council board – and to have more say in how things turn out in your neighborhood. Elections will take place for:
  • One At Large seat. Any District 10 community member can run for this seat.
  • One seat from Sub-District 3. District 10 community members who live between Victoria, Larpenteur, Dale, and north of the railroad tracks can run for this seat.

How to run: Community members who want to get on the ballot in the special elections can fill out this application by Sunday May 9.

You can't have an election without votes: The voting period in the special elections will be Monday May 10 through Tuesday May 18. If you voted in the April annual elections, we’ll send you a ballot automatically. Other community members who want to vote should request a ballot.

Who is eligible: Renters, homeowners, and other residents of District 10 who are at least 16 years old can run for the board and vote. So can representatives from business, nonprofits, or other organizations with a physical presence in District 10.
Neighborhood Relations, Land Use Meet
The Como Community Council's Neighborhood Relations and Land Use Committees meet this week.
  • Neighborhood Relations meets Tuesday, May 4. Discussion includes whether to hold an Ice Cream Social this summer -- or what kind and where. 
  • Land Use meets Wednesday, May 5. The main topic will be coyotes, deer, and other wild critters wandering and flying around our neighborhood. Representatives from Saint Paul Natural Resources and Animal Control will talk about how, when, and why the city intervenes – or doesn’t. Bring your questions and concerns.

The meetings begin at 7 p.m. As always, we invite all renters, homeowners, and other District 10 community members to participate by phone or video conference. If you want to join either discussion, email the District 10 office before 6 p.m. the day of the meeting; staff will send you access information. We'll post the agenda when it's available.
Help Us Clean Up the Lake Your Way
The Como Community Council is coordinating two different types of Como Lake Clean-Up events in May.
  • An in-person clean-up on Saturday May 22: Get together with others in the community to clean trash from the lake surface or shoreline between 9 a.m.-noon. We’ll meet near the dock on the lake side of the Lakeside Pavilion.
  • A weeklong “do it yourself” opportunity from Saturday May 22 through Friday May 28: You (and your own circle of friends, neighbors, or family) clean up trash and debris on your own schedule.

Whichever option you choose, register in advance to help us plan. And, whichever option you choose, you are welcome to borrow tools (grabbers, rakes, buckets) while our supplies last. We’ll also have plenty of disposable supplies (trash bags, nitrile gloves) for you to use. Or, feel free to provide your own gear.

If you want to borrow tools or pick up supplies, stop by the lower level of the Pavilion any time between 9 a.m. and noon on May 22. You then can return tools to the Historic Streetcar Station on Saturday May 29 from 9-11 a.m.

(A partnership grant from the Capital Region Watershed District makes this all possible.)
Want to Add Trees at North Dale?
Parks and Recreation is seeking volunteers to plant trees on Saturday May 22. Groups of two-four can register to replace ash trees that were cut down to fight emerald ash borer. Planting takes place at North Dale Recreation Center, 1414 St. Albans, from 9 a.m.-noon.
More People Can Get Vaccinated at Fairgrounds
Here's the chance you've been waiting for -- especially if you live in ZIP code 55018. Through this Tuesday, May 4, anyone age 16 or older can walk in to get a Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for free at the State Fairgrounds. Vaccines are being given between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. each day in the parking lots south of Como.

Overall, the Minnesota Department of Health continues to administer vaccines seven days a week, through June 9, at the Fairgrounds. Reservations are being taken for residents in 38 priority ZIP codes, including 55103 and 55117. You can sign up for a vaccine appointment:
  • By calling 1-833-431-2053 weekdays 9 a.m.-7 p.m. or Saturdays 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
  • Through the state’s Vaccine Connector website.

County expands vaccine availability: Ramsey County-Saint Paul Public Health is offering free Moderna vaccines to anyone age 18 or older at three sites, including Saturdays from noon-6 p.m. at Oxford Community Center, 270 Lexington Parkway N. Register in advance, or walk in up to 15 minutes before closing time.
More Coronavirus Resources
If you want to get vaccinated somewhere else:
  • Use the state’s Vaccine Locator, which is a searchable map and database that identifies pharmacies, clinics, and other vaccine providers.

if you think you’ve been exposed to Covid-19:
  • Order a free saliva test for Covid-19, which you can administer at home.
  • Get tested nearby – or anywhere in the state. Free saliva testing is available at Roy Wilkins Auditorium; enter at 175 Kellogg Blvd. The site is open seven days a week: 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekdays; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. weekends. Register in advance 
Instead of Cookbooks -- Meals
We’ve got a couple of dozen Little Free Libraries in the neighborhood – now we have our first official Little Free Pantry. Amy Hadiaris opened hers this week at 1474 Albert. The concept: stock the sidewalk pantry with non-perishable food, household paper products, or hygiene items. People in need can take what they need; others who don’t have need can donate items to keep the pantry stocked. Hadiaris calls it “an easy way for neighbors to help neighbors.”
Here's the Dirt on 2 Big Plant Opportunities
Ramsey County Master Gardeners hold their annual Plant Sale online from this Saturday, May 1, until next Saturday, May 8. Their selection includes native plants, vegetables (including more than 40 varieties of tomatoes), herbs, annual and perennial flowers, houseplants – and “excellent quality” garden gloves. Pickup will be Saturday May 15 at Holy Childhood, 1435 Midway Parkway.

The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory is selling hundreds of tulip, daffodil, hyacinth, and lily bulbs fresh from the Spring Flower Show (which ends this Sunday, May 2). Prices begin at $5. The sale is this Monday, May 3, from 9 a.m.-noon (or while supplies last), outside the conservatory. Masks required; credit card payment preferred.
Photo: Como Friends
Just in Time for 80-Degree Weather
Capitol Region Watershed District is starting a newsletter to help those of you who have rain gardens, permeable pavement, or other clean-water features on your property. Each newsletter will provide customized maintenance tips on what you should and should not do in the current season, and includes other advice such as a plant to consider adding and a weed to get rid of. Subscribe here; also don’t hesitate to rely on these additional resources.

Everybody wants to help: Gardeners of native plants can also get help this season identifying, tracking, and propagating what they are growing through a new collaboration called the MN Seed Native Plant Community Science Project. Participants will have access to webinars, seed swaps, advice, and more. If you live in the Capitol Region Watershed District (that includes everyone in Como), you can get discounts and other bonuses. 

The project is a collaboration of the watershed district, Minnesota State Horticultural Society, Como Community Seed Library, and Saint Paul Seed Circle.
Renters, Landlords Can Get Help
Minnesota Housing is accepting applications from:
  • Renters in the state who have unpaid rent or utilities as far back as April 1 of last year (2020)
  • Landlords whose tenants are behind on payments

In the Twin Cities, renters could be eligible if they have been impacted by Covid-19 and have annual incomes of less than $54,950 for an individual, or $78,400 for a household of four. Find our more, apply online, or call 211 Mondays-Saturdays 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

More help with energy bills: The state Department of Commerce also has energy assistance available for renters and homeowners to pay for heat bills or furnace repairs. Eligibility is based on the past three months’ income; for individuals, that would be up to $8,479; for a family of four, up to $16,307. Contact the Community Action Partnership of Ramsey and Washington Counties for details.
Make Your Neighbors Envious
The Bach Society of Minnesota is looking for backyards, driveways, or other cozy outdoor spaces across Saint Paul to provide a free, Mobile Mini Concert. The performance lasts about 15 minutes; your pandemic circle will be talking about it much longer than that. If you are interested sometime between May 10-23, email executive director Solveig Mebust.
Take the Next Left
What do you do when making a left turn? The Minnesota Traffic Observatory at the University of Minnesota is researching how drivers act at intersections with different kinds of traffic signals. Take their survey
Back to the 50s Will Not Be Back This Year
The board of the Minnesota Street Rod Association voted April 27 to cancel this year’s Back to the 50s Weekend, primarily because of ongoing pandemic restrictions on public gatherings. Get details

This week, though, the Fairgrounds are plenty busy (even though some of the events are off limits to the public).
  • Sahara Sands Spring Classic Arabian Horse Show: Today-Sunday, April 30-May 2, Warner Coliseum and livestock buildings. Hours: Friday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. No public admission.
  • Machinery Hills Criterium: This Tuesday, May 4. Bike racing series for men, women, and beginners of all ages. Register in advance, or beginning at 4:30 p.m. at Randall and Underwood. Fee: $20-$25 (plus USA Cycling license). Note: The series moves to Rosemount in future weeks.
  • FASH Spring Horse Show: Next Thursday-Sunday, May 6-9, Warner Coliseum and livestock buildings. Hours: 10 a.m.-2 p.m., 6-9:30 p.m. No public admission.
  • Minnesota Water Garden Society Water Plant and Pond Fish Sale: Next Thursday-Sunday, May 6-9, Grandstand Plaza. Hours: Thursday-Friday, 9 a.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Preregistration is required.
  • Drive-In Booyah Bash: Next Friday, May 7, Kidway. Hours: 6-10 p.m. In-person, $500 for vehicles of up to four people; virtual, free.
  • State Fair and Sports Team Merchandise Clearance Sale: Next Friday-Saturday, May 7-8, Visitor’s Plaza (Dan Patch and Underwood). Hours: Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
It's the Last Weekend for a Lot of Things
  • Today, Friday April 30, is the last day to apply to the Saint Paul City Council's Legislative Advisory Committee on Reparations. The committee will meet from July 2021 through June 2022 and set the groundwork for establishing a permanent reparations commission. Members will receive a stipend of $50 per meeting.
  • Saint Paul is considering proposals that would reduce or eliminate parking lot requirements in many situations. You can submit comments until this Sunday, May 2, at 5 p.m.
  • Comments on Saint Paul’s Homeless Services Zoning Study also must be submitted by email before this Sunday May 2 at 5 p.m. Find details here
  • The final online information session about the city's Cultural STAR grants take place this Monday, May, 3 at 4 p.m. (Register in advance) Applications for the grants are being accepted through Friday May 14.
  • Annual Action Plans: Saint Paul wants to modify agreements it has with the federal department of Housing and Urban Development to move $750,000 from “economic development activity” and “clearance activity” into Multi-Unit Housing Development and Multi-Unit Rehabilitation Activity funds. Public feedback is being taken until May 12. For questions or comments, contact Julie Hostak by email or phone at 651-266-8545.

Meanwhile, in District 10:
  • Minneapolis Saint Paul International Film Festival: City Council is scheduled to vote this Wednesday, May 5, on a sound-level variance for outdoor screenings scheduled at the Como Lake Pavilion for Thursday May 13-Saturday May 15. The variance would be from 7-10 p.m. on May 13, 7-11 p.m. on May 14-15, and the sound check between 5-6 p.m. each day. (The Como Community Council board voted April 27 to support the variance request.)
  • Gabe’s By The Park: The liquor, Sunday liquor, entertainment, 2 a.m. closing, patio, and gambling licenses for the restaurant at Lexington and Energy Park Drive are up for renewal this Wednesday, May 5. Anyone with concerns should email District 10 or contact the office of Ward 4 Council Member Mitra Jalali.
  • Como Lakeside Pavilion: The liquor, Sunday liquor, outdoor liquor, and entertainment licenses for the restaurant now known as Dock & Paddle are up for renewal on June 4. Anyone with concerns should email District 10 or contact the office of Ward 5 Council Member Amy Brendmoen.
  • Pope Automotive: The auto repair shop license for this business at 991 Front is up for renewal on June 13. Anyone with concerns should email District 10 or contact the office of Ward 5 Council Member Amy Brendmoen.
A Distinction We Don't Need
The part of District 10 between Hamline and Snelling, south of Como Ave. and north of Energy Park Drive, has the highest number of catalytic converter thefts of any “police grid” in Saint Paul so far this year. Grid 45 has 13 thefts reported in 2021.

Saint Paul has an ordinance forbidding scrap dealers in the city from purchasing converters, unless the seller has an auto dealer license. But it is easy for thieves to sell in other communities. Our neighborhood’s state senator, John Marty, has legislation to expand St. Paul-style restrictions statewide. But that seems to be going nowhere at the Capitol. So, tips from police:
  • SUVs, trucks, and other vehicles that sit high off the ground make easier targets.
  • Hybrid vehicles seem to be hit more frequently because the metals don't degrade as quickly; that make them worth more.
  • Vigilance and video are key in trying to identify thieves and theft rings.
  • When possible, park near a light.
  • When possible, back into a parking space; that makes it harder for thieves to access the converter.

These steps will cost you money, but not as much as replacing a converter:
  • Paint the converter with a high-visibility, heat-resistant paint.
  • Etch your vehicle's VIN into the converter.
  • Buy and install a "Cat Cage" or similar after-market product. These devices surround the converter; they are not fool-proof, but they do require thieves to cut through an additional layer, which buys you time.
  • Add a dash camera that can detect motion when your vehicle is parked.
  • Set your car alarm to respond to vibration.

This week's Como community crime update: By comparison, a quiet week
Spread the word
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.