On the bright side: Despite the dismal outlook, these freshly minted crocuses (or croci, if you prefer) prove there's still room for optimism. Photo: Nile Fellows
Making a Difference During the Pandemic
Stay at Home, Stay Informed
You're tuned in, or you wouldn't be reading this newsletter. So, you undoubtedly know Gov. Tim Walz has issued a "stay at home" directive beginning at 11:59 tonight, Friday March 27. It lasts through 5 p.m. Friday April 10. Here are details on what that means for our daily lives. Information includes links about unemployment benefits, schools, child care, and other topics.

There are zillions of sources of information about the pandemic and physical distancing. We recommend the Minnesota Department of Health, which devotes an extensive section to the coronavirus. It's an easy-to-use source for the latest updates, specific information about Covid-19 symptoms, recommendations for prevention, and guidance for different kinds of personal and public settings. The site includes fliers and videos in a dozen languages. The department also has a public hotline: 651-201-3920; staff answer every day from 7 a.m.-7 p.m.

The state's Department of Employment and Economic Development has a resource page for businesses. It includes information on small business loans, critical business exemptions, unemployment, and other needs.

Breathe easier? Both the state and federal governments have extended the deadline for filing and paying 2019 income taxes. The new deadline is July 15.
Stay at Home, Keep an Eye on Each Other
Here in Como, we continue working to help residents keep track of each other during the physical distancing that's necessary. We've got a kit with simple things you can do on your block or in your apartment building. The kit has:
  • Tools to help you set up a phone tree, email chain, text group -- whatever makes sense where you live.
  • Ideas on how to coordinate efforts, whether you've got a formal block club or not.
  • A supply of green and red paper that neighbors can use to indicate if they're OK -- or if they need a hand.
You can pick up the kit outside our office at the Como Park Streetcar Station; we're at the northeast corner of Lexington and Horton. Grab an envelope from the bin sitting outside the east door. Or just check our website for some of the basics.
Make Seniors Less Isolated
Plenty of seniors in Como are even more cut off than usual. This includes neighbors living at Lyngblomsten, Como By The Lake, Arbor Pointe, or in their single-family homes. So, we're looking for community members willing to send cards, letters, or even set up "pen pal" connections. 

Let us know if you, your children, your classmates, your circle of friends, or someone going stir-crazy are interested.  We'll work out the logistics with the residential communities and with our neighborhood block nurse programs. Thanks in advance. 
Photo: Brian Jones
Roll Up Your Sleeve, Give Blood
We know about the critical shortages of face masks, ventilators, and coronavirus test kits. We don't hear much about the critical shortage of blood. But with much of life shut down, blood centers have cancelled hundreds of blood drives and lost thousands of donations.

Both the Red Cross and Memorial Blood Centers are taking in-person donations Mondays-Saturdays in Saint Paul. To make an appointment:
  • American Red Cross, 176 S. Robert (just south of downtown): Call 1-800-733-2767 or schedule online.
  • Memorial Blood Centers, 737 Pelham Blvd. (near University and Highway 280): Call 1-888-448-3253 or schedule online.
Resources to Get By
Different Ways to Find Food in a Pinch
  • Saint Paul Public Schools are using bus stops as a way to provide meals to school children. That includes Chelsea Heights, Como, and Crossroads elementary routes on Wednesdays, and Como High and Murray Junior High routes on Thursdays. Or, families can pick up meals Wednesdays, Thursdays, or Fridays from 10-11:30 a.m. outside Como High, 740 W. Rose. Get the details
  • Metro Mobility is offering free grocery delivery for certified users who order from a participating grocery store. No guarantees about toilet paper, though. Call 651-602-1120 to set it up.
  • If you need a food shelf, find resources in or near Como using the interactive map organized by Hunger Solutions Minnesota.
City Works on Home, Business Relief
Various foundations and Saint Paul's Housing and Redevelopment Authority are setting up what they call the  Saint Paul Bridge Fund. The emergency money would include:
  • $1 million to provide grants of up to $2,000 for eligible residents to make rent or mortgage payments. Requirements include having at least one child in the Saint Paul Public Schools and a family income of 40 percent or less of the Twin Cities median. (That's about $32,000 for two of you, $40,000 for a family of four.)
  • $2.25 million to provide grants of up to $7,500, which small businesses in the city can use to pay five types of immediate expenses.
The City Council, meeting as the HRA, votes on the proposal this Wednesday, April 1.
Metro Transit Dials It Way Back
Metro Transit is cutting back service on most routes.
  • There's no service at all between 11 p.m. and 4:30 a.m.
  • Light rail runs only every 20 minutes.
  • Most routes are running their Saturday schedule every day; that includes the Snelling A Line, and Routes 3, 65, and 84.
The main exception in District 10: Route 61 continues to run normal weekday and weekend schedules.
Trash, Recycling Roll On, Uninterrupted
  • Trash and recycling services in Saint Paul continue, mostly as normal. However, Eureka Recycling no longer is accepting clothes or linens in the blue bins.
  • Ramsey County's yard waste sites return to full schedules beginning this Wednesday, April 1. The sites currently are open Saturdays 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sundays 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Beginning April 1, they also are open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • The Como community's food scraps recycling site remains open 24/7 at 1149 Beulah Lane in Como Regional Park.
Updates About City Stuff
  • No need to hoard water: Saint Paul Regional Water Services points out that normal treatment wipes out any virus (including coronavirus) and that Covid-19 does not spread through tap water.
  • Saint Paul is suspending sales of residential parking permits until June 1.
  • The City Council plans to meet remotely through at least June 16. Residents can tune in online or on local cable Channel 18. They can comment on agenda items in advance by using email or by leaving a voice message at 651-266-6805.
  • All schools are closed through at least May 4.
  • All Saint Paul Parks and Recreation buildings, classes, and programs are closed through at least May 10. That includes Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. The parks themselves remain open for general use -- but let's remember to keep our distance, especially at playgrounds and on the lake walking paths.
  • All Saint Paul libraries are closed. You can't visit, check out, or return materials. But children, teens, and adults can access a wide range of digital tools online -- including e-books, audiobooks, magazines, and homework help. In addition, a daily story time for children streams live every weekday at 10:30 a.m. on the library's Facebook page.
Updates About County Stuff
Ramsey County devotes a web page exclusively to information about accessing county services and facilities during the pandemic. A quick rundown:
  • Most social, mental health, veterans, employment, and family health services remain accessible by phone or online. The county has six locations open on a limited basis to drop off forms or deal firsthand with urgent needs.
  • Vital records and notary services are available in person on a limited basis.
  • County libraries are closed, but you can order materials for curbside pickup at the Roseville branch (Hamline and County Road B). Call 651-724-6001.
  • Parks and trails will be open for general use, with portable toilets and trash cans. Arenas, fields, and golf courses are closed.
Going On In and Around District 10
Beyond Mac and Cheese from a Box
All bars, restaurants, and other "public accommodations" in Minnesota remain closed until May 1. But hundreds of you looked up our list of restaurants and bars in District 10 (and on our borders) to find out who's offering carry-out, curbside pickup, or delivery. Here's the updated article
What Should We Do About Elections?
Because of the pandemic's restrictions on public gatherings, the Como Community Council is canceling the in-person neighborhood elections scheduled for April 21. But we need your advice on what to do instead. Do we delay elections? Vote online? Use mail ballots? Do something else? Tell us your priorities and suggestions. We'll keep the survey available through this Tuesday, March 31. 
Expand Your Circle of Influence
Regardless of when and how District 10 holds elections, it will be more important than ever to re-establish community. So now is definitely a time to have a bigger say in your neighborhood.

Nine seats are up for election. Any renter, homeowner, or other resident of District 10, age 16 or older, is eligible to run. So are representatives from a business, institution, or nonprofit in District 10.  Learn more about the roles and responsibilities of board members. Board seats on the ballot are:
  • vice chair
  • treasurer
  • one representative from each of the neighborhood's four sub-districts
  • two representatives from the neighborhood at-large
Those positions serve two-year terms. In addition, there is a special election to serve the one year remaining on a term from Sub-District 4, which essentially is South Como and Energy Park.
Fairgrounds Ban Vehicles
Beginning at 11:00 tonight, Friday March 27, the State Fairgrounds are locking all gates to motor vehicles (except in emergency situations). Some gates will allow limited access for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Photo: Star-Tribune
Options on Dale St. Narrow Further
Reconstruction of Dale Street -- including building a new bridge over Interstate 94 -- is underway. Entrance and exit ramps are closed, and there is no access to and from St. Anthony Ave. and Concordia Ave. 

Dale itself is down to one lane in each direction over the freeway; beginning this Monday, March 30, it will be down to one lane for an even longer stretch: from University south to Carroll. Also beginning Monday, access to Central Ave. east of Dale will be cut off. 
  • Watch a video of how it's all supposed to work when it's finished.
How Does Ambassador Sound as a Title?
Ramsey County is creating a Recycling Ambassador program. Ambassadors would get training about trash, yard waste, food scraps, and hazardous waste, then share their knowledge with other residents and organizations about how to reduce, reuse, and recycle more.

If this is something you'd think about doing, take the county's survey so they can design a program that works best for you. The survey is available through this Tuesday, March 31.
Lest These Get Lost in the Shuffle ... 
  • Today, Friday March 27: Last day to enter the lottery for one of 350 free trees that Tree Trust is giving to Saint Paul residents. Sign up here (only one entry per address).
  • Today, Friday March 27: Last day to comment by email on the liquor and entertainment licenses being sought by Essence Event Center, 1217 Bandana Blvd.
  • This Wednesday, April 1: Census Day. If you have not already filed your U.S. Census form, you can do so online, by phone, or by mail. Here's how
  • This Wednesday, April 1: District 10 Land Use Committee. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. online, using Zoom. All renters, homeowners, and other community members are welcome to participate. We'll post a preliminary agenda and log-in instructions, as soon as they are available.
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.