December 4, 2020
We're Making a List of the Best Holiday Decorations
We're looking for the best holiday decorations in Como. Here’s how our friendly competition works:

  • Now: Sign up your house (or a neighbor's!). Get us the entry before 8 a.m. on Monday Dec. 14.
  • Beginning Dec. 15: We'll turn residents loose to choose their favorites. Check District 10’s website and Facebook page to find a map of all the nominated houses. Take a stroll or ride, and enjoy our community’s creativity.
  • Dec. 15-30: Vote for the Neighbor’s Choice Award (we'll link to the ballot when all nominations are in).
  • Thursday Dec. 31: We’ll announce the neighborhood's favorites -- who then get bragging rights, celebratory cookies, fame, and more.
It's a Free Food Friday
The Como Community Council and Sanneh Foundation are partnering to deliver free meal boxes today, Friday Dec. 4 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.

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 the next two Fridays, Dec. 11 and 18. We highly recommend reserving a meal box in advance; just fill out this form.
Environment Committee Meets Wednesday
The Como Community Council's Environment Committee meets this Wednesday. Dec. 9. The focus will be on projects for 2021. The meeting begins 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. An agenda and other relevant documents will be posted as soon as they are available.
Unpacking What to Do with Packing Materials
Wondering what to do with all the "protective" packaging that comes with your online orders or store purchases? Here’s a quick guide, courtesy of Ramsey County:

Bubble wrap, air pillows, plastic shipping envelopes. Do not put these in your blue recycling cart. However, you can recycle them at locations that collect plastic grocery bags and plastic film. These include many local Cub Foods, Kohl’s, Lowe’s, Lunds and Byerlys, Target, and Walmart stores. (Don’t forget to have fun deflating bubble wrap and air pillows before you recycle them.)

Cardboard boxes. Recycle them. Flatten the boxes (and cut them down if necessary). Then place them in your blue recycling cart. Oversized cardboard boxes can be recycled for free at Advance Disposal, 309 Como Ave., or outside Saint Paul Police Western District headquarters, 389 N. Hamline.

Packing peanuts. Do not put these foam doo-dads in your blue recycling cart. Re-use them if you can – either at home or by finding a store that accepts them (such as the UPS store at 1769 N. Lexington in Roseville). Fun fact: If your packing peanuts are starch-based, they’ll actually dissolve in water. But polystyrene peanuts do not dissolve; if you cannot reuse them, put them in the trash.

Styrofoam. Break it down and put it in the trash.

Tissue paper. Do not put tissue paper in your blue recycling cart. Either reuse it or place it in the trash. (Tissue paper without foil or glitter can be taken to a Ramsey County organics recycling site.)
By the Numbers
Can you read your house address from the street? In the dark? During the day? If you have a hard time, then think about the challenge facing delivery drivers – or emergency personnel. One local resident who does this for a living made a list of suggestions for making life easier. We did some research and added a few more.

Location. Place numbers where they can be seen. That means not under overhangs, not behind vegetation, not behind holiday decorations. Place them high enough to see them over parked vehicles. Oh, and make sure numbers face the street.

Height. At least 4 inches, but bigger is better if there’s room. Not too skinny, either. And horizontal is easier to read than vertical.

Contrast. White numbers on a dark background, dark numbers on a light background.
Keep it simple. Brass, bronze, and other metal signs can be impossible to read from a distance. The same with script or fancy ornamental designs.

Visibility. Use reflective numbers on a non-reflective background. Or, illuminate the numbers. (Then turn the light on when it gets dark!)
Where, When to Get a Coronavirus Test if You Need One
With cases of Covid-19 continuing to surge, the state and county continue to operate free testing sites.

When to get tested: If you have symptoms, get tested right away. If you are exposed to someone with Covid, wait five days after you are exposed; that allows for more-accurate test results. But quarantine in the meantime. Other advice on testing

Symptoms of Covid-19: Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, repeated shaking with chills, headache, muscle pain, sore throat, or a loss of taste or smell. Other less common symptoms include GI issues such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

If you test positive and are not in the hospital, you should quarantine at home to make sure you do not spread the virus farther. Quarantine until all three of these things are true, according to the Minnesota Department of Health: You feel better. It has been at least 10 days since you first felt sick. You have not had a fever for at least 24 hours, without relying on medicine that lowers fevers. A rundown of testing options:

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. Register in advance (Free saliva testing also is available at Minneapolis Saint Paul International Airport, the Minneapolis Convention Center, and other sites in the state.)

Drive-thru nasal swab testing: This Saturday, Dec. 5, 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. State Fairgrounds' Compeer Arena (enter at Como and Canfield). Appointment required

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.
County Still Has Covid Assistance Available
Ramsey County has a range of financial assistance available to individuals and businesses impacted economically by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Financial assistance for individuals and families includes help with rent or mortgage payments, utilities, car repairs, child care, health care, and food. Some programs expire by the end of December.

The Small Business Relief Fund provides grants of up to $15,000 to cover non-payroll operating expenses. The deadline to apply is today, Friday Dec. 4.

The Landlord Assistance program provides one-time grants to landlords for up to $20,000 per rental unit to compensate for tenants' missed rent payments or unpaid fees in 2020 because of Covid-19. The application deadline is Friday Dec. 18.
Parks Dial Back Access, Activities
Here’s how the State of Minnesota’s latest “stay safe” pandemic restrictions are impacting Saint Paul Parks and Recreation:

Como Park Zoo and Conservatory: Closed. However, Garden Safari Gifts is open Thursdays from 2-7 p.m. and Fridays-Sundays from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Zookeeper and garden presentations take place live on Facebook Mondays and Thursdays at 1:30 p.m. And, yes, Reindeer Cam is back in action.

Other parks: Outdoor parkland, playgrounds, sports courts, athletic fields, open spaces, and trails remain open for informal use. No decision has been made on outdoor ice rinks. Adult and youth athletic programs and all indoor activities are cancelled – except the S’more Fun and Rec Check programs for youth, which remain open.

Como Park Ski Center: Lessons are cancelled through Jan. 3; however, equipment fittings for group lessons is still scheduled for Dec. 15-17.
Get Your Money's Worth
Every Saint Paul resident who pays for trash service can dispose of a mattresses, furniture, or other bulky items. If you’ve got a small cart, you can get rid of two items each year for free; if you’ve got a medium or large cart, you can get rid of three items each year for free. Contact your hauler in advance to make arrangements; get details here.
Fairgrounds Continue Glowing
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.
Skyway Request Remains Up in the Air
Hmong College Prep Academy: The charter school is seeking to build a skyway over Brewster Ave., which would connect its current building with the new middle school building that is under construction. Skyway approval requires the city to vacate “air rights.” City Council voted 4-3 on Dec. 2 to approve the skyway; however, ratification requires 5 votes. City Council will consider the request again this Wednesday, Dec. 9. 

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. Watch the presentation city planner Michael Wade gave to District 10’s Land Use Committee last month. You can submit comments using the form at the bottom of the city information page.

Previously reported:
  • 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.
In the Days Ahead
  • This Tuesday, Dec. 8, 5-6 p.m. Ramsey County Commissioners hold a “listening session” for residents to share their thoughts about trust, accountability, and transparency in the Sherriff’s Office. Join by video or by calling 651-372-8299; the meeting ID is 977 1283 1938. Additional listening sessions will be next Saturday, Dec. 12, from 10-11:30 a.m.; Tuesday Dec. 15 from 5-6:30 p.m. (focused on feedback from black residents); and Wednesday Dec. 16 from 5-6:30 p.m. (focused on feedback from American Indian residents). Request access information via email.
  • This Thursday Dec. 10, 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 Thursday Dec. 17.
  • Next Saturday, Dec. 12, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. In the parking lots south of Como Ave., Minnesota State Fair will collect essential kitchen tools – new or gently used can openers, mixing spoons, spatula turners and dish towels – for Bridging to supply to newly housed residents. Financial contributions also accepted.
  • Next Sunday, Dec. 13: Deadline to apply for the Water Steward training program through Capitol Region Watershed District.
Police Line Up Crime Prevention Classes 
Saint Paul Police are scheduling two crime prevention classes online in January. Registration is open now. 

  • Burglary Prevention, Wednesday Jan. 20, 6 p.m. Covers the basics of locks, lighting, landscaping, fencing, and more. Register
  • Crime Prevention 101, Wednesday Jan. 27, 6 p.m. Covers when to call the police, what to expect when you call, how calls are prioritized, getting crime statistics, and more. Register

This week's Como community crime update: Vehicles are not safe
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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.