The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory is a beacon on a cold winter day. Photo: Nile Fellows
Planning Commission OKs TCGIS Site Plan
Saint Paul's Planning Commission voted 7-5 on Friday to approve the site plan that will allow Twin Cities German Immersion School to build its proposed classroom, gymnasium, and cafeteria addition.  The roller-coaster ride that is the school's expansion project is not over, however. 

The vote by the full commission went against the recommendation of its Zoning Committee. The committee recommendation to deny the school's variances failed on a 6-6 vote of the full commission. (Under parliamentary procedure, a tie means a motion fails, because the motion does not have a majority.) The full Planning Commission also rejected its committee's recommendation to reject the site plan; this time, the committee motion failed on a 5-7 vote. The full commission then voted 7-5 to approve the site plan, which includes three variances: a 3.1-foot variance on height, a 1 percent variance on lot coverage, and a 34-space parking variance.

The Planning Commission's decision can be appealed to the City Council; a representative of the preservation group Save Historic St. Andrew's says an appeal will happen. In addition, the City Council has yet to decide whether to give the former St. Andrew's church building local historic designation. Designation could block the school's plan to tear it down.
Too Much Winter for the Carnival?
We're sure they're snickering in International Falls, but the Winter Carnival's Vulcan Snow Park is not off to a blazing start. Today's frigid temperatures mean the snow slide, Fire Castle, and snow golf course are closed. But, the snow-sculpting competition is on.

If the weather cooperates, here's what to expect this week at the Snow Park, which is on the State Fairgrounds (roughly in the Kidway area, bounded by Randall, Dan Patch, Underwood, and Cooper). Events run through next Sunday, Feb. 3.

  • Snow sculptures: Fifteen professional teams are carving from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday (Jan. 25-26), and until noon on Sunday (Jan. 27). Vote for your favorites between 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Sunday. Eleven amateur teams are carving from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. Amateur awards are announced at 4:30 p.m. Saturday; professional awards are announced at 1 p.m. Sunday. Spectators can look in at any time any day.
  • Activities: The snow slide, snow golf, snow maze, snow mountain, and Fire Castle are open weekends 9 a.m.-9 p.m., and weekdays 4-9 p.m. (Check the schedule to make sure weather isn't shutting things down.)
  • Special events: Vulcan Krewe Coming Out Ceremony (their wording, not ours), Sunday 10 a.m. Vulcan fire truck rides, Sunday 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Children's snow treasure hunt, Sunday 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Polar Plunge, Sunday noon-1:30 p.m. and (under black lights) 6:30-8 p.m. 
  • Costs: Admission to the Snow Park is free. The 300-foot snow slide is $2 per ride, or a donation of non-perishable food, or $15 for an all-day wristband. Snow golf is $5 per round. The Polar Plunge, which benefits Special Olympics, is a minimum of $75 per person.
  • Looking ahead to next weekend: Flag football competition (in the snow, of course) and barstool races.
The Toasty Side of the Carnival
Far from the cold, the annual Winter Carnival Orchid Show is this weekend, Jan. 26-27, at the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory. The show includes hundreds of orchids from the collections of the conservatory, individuals, orchid societies, and commercial growers from around the Midwest. The show runs Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; admission is $5 for teens and adults, $3 for children ages 3-12, with discounts available. (The Orchid Show means there's no Music Under Glass this Sunday.)

More flowers: The conservatory's free Winter Flower Show continues in the Sunken Garden daily from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Fix-It Clinic is Saturday
Ramsey County's next Fix-It Clinic is this Saturday, Jan. 26, from 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at the county's Roseville library, Hamline at County Road B. At a Fix-It Clinic, county residents can bring in small household appliances, clothing, and electronics. Volunteers with repair skills will provide free assistance in disassembling, troubleshooting, and fixing items.
Organ Concert Series Opens Sunday
Como Park Lutheran Church's annual Organ Concert Series opens this Sunday, Jan. 27. The congregation's own organist, Thomas Ferry, is featured.  The free concerts are 4-5 p.m. at the church, 1376 W. Hoyt. Upcoming performances:
  • Sunday Feb. 3: Joseph Trucano, of Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, Shoreview
  • Sunday Feb. 17: Jessica Park, chapel organist at the University of St. Thomas
  • Sunday March 3: Kathy Handford, of Lawrence University
Join Us in Thinking Warm Thoughts
Hard to envision warm weather right now, but that's what District 10's Environment Committee is doing  this week. The regular monthly meeting will get the ball rolling on a community "pollinator garden" tour this summer, repeating the flotilla of watercraft to clean debris from Como Lake, renewing our Adopt-a-Drain challenge with other neighborhoods, supporting the Como seed library, and integrating Como Connect into the District 10 Ice Cream Social.

The meeting is Wednesday, Jan. 30, at 7 p.m. at the Como Park Streetcar Station, which is at the northeast corner of Lexington and Horton. All renters, homeowners, and other community members are welcome to attend, participate, and share their own ideas and involvement on these and other events once the ice melts.
Beat the Price Increase
The State Fair is raising ticket prices by $1: Admission for the 2019 Great Minnesota Get-Together will be $15 ($13 for seniors age 65 or older, and for children ages 5-12). However, you can get up to a dozen advance tickets for just $11 until next Saturday, Feb. 1. Discounted tickets are available onlineAfter that, advance tickets will be $12 until the fair opens.
Photo: Home Designer
Before You Throw Another Log on the Fire
Cozying up to a fire this weekend? Ramsey County Environmental Health wants to make sure you use your fireplace correctly. Some advice:
  • Only burn wood that has aged at least six months. Seasoned wood burns hotter and reduces smoke.
  • Use only clean newspaper or dry kindling to start a fire. Never use gasoline, kerosene, charcoal starter, or a propane torch.
  • Extinguish your fire; don't let it smolder overnight.
  • Clean ashes from the hearth so they don't clog air vents.
  • For a better draft and a smaller risk of flames where you don't want them, keep your chimney clean.
Turning Words into Action  
Saint Paul Public Library's 2019 Read Brave  activities continue this week, with book discussions, presentations, and even volunteer opportunities addressing housing insecurity. The library system has 5,000 print and digital copies of its featured books available to borrow. For adults, that means "Burn Baby Burn" by Meg Medina, and "Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City" by Matthew Desmond. (There are additional books for teens and youth, plus films and other resources to get even more informed.)  Among activities this week (all of them free):
  • This Saturday, Jan. 26: Read Brave Storytime for children, with Mayor Melvin Carter reading from "Shelter" by Celine Claire, 11-11:30 a.m., Highland Park, 1974 Ford Parkway
  • This Saturday, Jan. 26: Put together hygiene kits and sock bundles in coordination with HandsOn Twin Cities, 2-4 p.m., Dayton's Bluff, 645 E. 7th St.
  • This Sunday, Jan. 27: Put together hygiene kits and sock bundles in coordination with HandsOn Twin Cities, 1-3 p.m., Highland Park, 1974 Ford Parkway.
  • This Thursday, Jan. 31: Discussion of "Burn Baby Burn," 6:30-7:30 p.m., Hamline Midway, 1558 W. Minnehaha Ave.
  • This Thursday, Jan. 31: Facilitated discussion of "Evicted" with Paul Fate, retired CEO of CommonBond Communities, 6:30-8 p.m., St. Anthony Park, 2245 Como Ave.
Get a sneak peek of February activities, including an author talk by Medina on Feb. 20.
On the Other Side of the Fairgrounds 
You Can See into the Future
  • This Thursday, Jan. 31: Capitol Region Watershed District's Open House, 3-5 p.m. Eyeball their new headquarters at Aldine and Thomas.
  • Friday Feb. 8: Public hearing on Saint Paul's first pedestrian plan, 8:30 a.m. Room 40, City Hall, 15 W. Kellogg Blvd. (Or, comment online now)
  • Sunday Feb. 10: Citizens Acting for Rail Safety community forum and panel, 1-3 p.m., East Side Neighborhood Services, 1700 2nd St. NE, Minneapolis.
  • Wednesday Feb. 13: Information workshop about Saint Paul's Neighborhood STAR program, which provides low-interest loans and grants for neighborhood and local business projects. The workshop is 10-11:30 a.m. at the Minnesota Humanities Center, 987 E. Ivy.
  • Thursday Feb. 14-Saturday Feb. 16: Valentine's Day dinners at Marjorie McNeely Conservatory, 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. Make reservations online or by calling 651-487-8250. $170 per couple
  • Friday Feb. 15: Deadline to submit nominations for Saint Paul's Business Awards. There are three categories: Traditions, New Kid on the Block, and Good Neighbor.
  • Friday Feb. 22: Deadline to apply for a Saint Paul Cultural STAR grant: 4 p.m. The grants provide 1:1 matching funds for arts and cultural projects within the city.
How to See the Signs
Saint Paul Police are hosting a presentation of the Top Secret Project -- a free seminar from the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation that teaches parents and others how to recognize behaviors that hide in plain sight but suggest drug or alcohol abuse. The seminar is Wednesday March 13, from 6:30-8 p.m., at Western District headquarter, 389 N. Hamline. Seating is limited; to reserve a spot, email Patty Lammers or call her at 266-5455.
Spread the Word
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 Board of Directors who are elected by members of the community. The Council's mission is to inform, educate, and connect the neighborhood to increase community pride and confidence. 

You are receiving this email because you expressed interest in District 10 activities.