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Friday, January 31, 2014

Arlington Hills Community Center’s green building technologies


When the new Arlington Hills Community Center opens at the corner of Payne and Maryland Avenues on the Eastside in the spring of 2014, the building will feature many cutting-edge green building technologies, ranging from an ecofriendly geothermal heating and cooling system to LED lighting.  These small system changes are designed to work together to make the new Arlington Hills Community Center a leader in green building technologies.

Buried deep in the ground surrounding the building are the 80 wells required for the building’s heating and cooling system.  The Arlington Hills Community Center features a geothermal heating and cooling system which utilizes a series of wells and a heat pump to access the nearly constant temperatures of the earth to provide both the heating and cooling for the building.  Geothermal heating and cooling systems are rated as one of the most energy-efficient systems on the market today achieving an efficiency rating of nearly five times that of a natural gas-based system. 

In addition to a highly efficient geothermal heating and cooling system, the Arlington Hills Community Center will also feature LED lighting technology.  LED lighting technology replaces standard fluorescent or incandescent light fixtures with a Light Emitting Diode (LED) to provide the lighting needs of the facility.  When compared to regular incandescent bulbs,  LED lights last up to 75 percent longer and can last up to three times as long as a standard compact fluorescent bulb.  Another benefit of LED lighting is that the bulbs contain no mercury, lead or glass.

These are only two examples of a multitude of green technologies being implemented in the new Arlington Hills Community Center.  These technologies will help to ensure that the Arlington Hills Community Center has a small environmental impact, while have a large positive impact on the community.  For construction updates on the project please click here.

 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Neighborhood Honor Roll Celebration Recognizes Neighbors Who Go Above and Beyond


Submitted by Saint Paul City Council President Kathy Lantry

On Friday, January 31, all of the 17 district councils in Saint Paul will gather at the University of St. Thomas to celebrate the newest inductees to the Neighborhood Honor Roll.  The Neighborhood Honor Roll Awards Night has become an annual tradition to recognize those neighbors who go above and beyond to help make our neighborhoods a better place in which to live and work.  Each district council nominates individuals or programs to be added to the Honor Roll.

I have been honored to be a part of the Awards Ceremony for the past several years and I am always amazed and inspired by the work that these many volunteers are doing in our community.  This year’s inductees are no exception.  Whether it’s working with seniors or youth; participating in neighborhood cleanups or community gardens; restoring buildings or promoting businesses; organizing events or planning for the future, these volunteers spend countless hours of their time making our neighborhoods better. 

The new inductees will be awarded with a certificate and their names will be inscribed on one of the Honor Roll plaques that hang outside of City Council Chambers in the City Hall/Court House building.  The awards ceremony is also recognized with a city council resolution and the festivities this year will include hors d’oeuvres, music by The Light of the Moon Duo, and remarks by Mayor Chris Coleman.

The list of this year’s inductees is below.  Please join me in thanking them for their volunteer service and their inspiration to all.

District 1
Bonnie Peace Watkins, Gordon Westerberg, Christopher Melendez and Timothy Turner

District 2
Matthew Dunkel, Mark Helgerson, Jerry Romero

District 3
Don Oberdorfer, Monica Bryand

District 4
Anita Bendickson, Sage Holben, Cleo Kelly

District 5
Arlington Hills Lutheran Church, Golden Harvest Foods, Shannon Lawson

District 6
William Lipkin, Gidget Bail, Joe Zschokke

District 7
Mel Conklin, Anthony Fernandez 

District 10
Pete Bolstad, The Hubert H Humphrey Job Corps Center, Chris Harkness

District 11
Greg Anderson, Dan Loritz, Erin Pavlica

District 12
Sue Conner and Sherman Eagles, Julie Glowka and Cindy Thrasher, Deanna Seppanan

District 13
Glen McCluskey, Brenda Natala, Kristen Wasyliszyn

District 14
Sharon Toscano, Joyce Krech, Adam Backstrom and Lloyd Cledwyn

District 15
Barb Sommers, Bob Wokasch, Cretin-Derham Hall

District 16
Jim Fritz, Doug Rzeszutek, Bill Pesek

District 17
Rick Cardenas, Mark Haugen, Bill Thurmes


Monday, January 27, 2014

Check Out the Library After Dark


Star Party with Mike Lynch

Meteorologist Mike Lynch hosts three star-gazing parties in January. Learn about planets, galaxies, nebulae, and more. Then head outside to view the winter sky using 20-inch reflecting telescopes.  Be sure to dress for the weather!  FFI: www.sppl.org/starparty
Wednesday, January 29, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Rice Street Library, 1011 Rice St, Saint Paul
Thursday, January 30, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
West 7th Library, 265 Oneida St, Saint Paul
February 4, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Como Streetcar Station
1224 N Lexington Ave, Saint Paul
This event was originally scheduled for January 27 but was rescheduled due to weather.


Fireside Reading Series
Wednesdays, 7:00 p.m.
Hamline Midway Library, 1558 W. Minnehaha Ave, Saint Paul

With free cookies, hot cider and coffee, cozy up to the fire for readings by some of Minnesota’s finest authors who published new work last year. The 20th annual Fireside Reading Series is one of The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Libraries’ oldest and most popular events.

January 29: Jack El-Hai, The Nazi and the Psychiatrist: Hermann Goring, Dr. Douglas M. Kelley, and a Fatal Meeting of Minds at the End of WWII

February 5: Miriam Karmel, Being Esther

February 12: Brian Freeman, The Cold Nowhere

February 19: Heid E. Erdrich, Original Local: Indigenous Foods, Stories, and Recipes from the Upper Midwest

February 26: Karen Hering, Writing to Wake the Soul: Opening the Sacred Conversation Within
 
Library After Dark
Teens are invited to hang out after closing time at Rice Street Library without getting shushed! Library After Dark features movies, snacks, activities, and unlimited Internet time from 8:00-9:30 p.m. on Monday nights in February (except for President’s Day). Be there by 8:00 p.m. when the doors shut. Rice Street Library is at 1011 Rice St, Saint Paul. FFI: 651-558-2223.
 
 



 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Buying a home in Saint Paul? TISH is here to help.


Buying a home is one of the most important—and expensive—decisions a person can make. In Saint Paul, we have a Truth in Sale of Housing (TISH) ordinance that helps buyers be fully informed of a home’s condition, and hopefully make the decision easier.

Truth-in-Sale of Housing is a program that ensures home buyers have a full understanding of what type of condition a home they are considering is in before they buy it. The program provides buyers with a standard basis to compare the home condition to other homes, and alerts buyers to possible repairs, corrections or replacements that the home might require. The ordinance was adopted in Saint Paul in the mid-1970s.

The City of Saint Paul evaluates homes for the project using  the city’s Minimum Maintenance Code, Chapter 34, with some comparisons to current building (trades) codes. We provide a “disclosure only” report that does not require repairs of ‘hazardous’ or ‘below standard’ conditions found during the evaluation, but serves to inform buyers of the situation. We do, however, enforce the Hard-Wired Smoke Detector ordinance, which requires that at least one smoke detector be installed in all single-family homes. 

There have been many changes in the more than 30 years since the ordinance’s enactment. After Saint Paul pioneered the concept, other cities in the Twin Cities metropolitan area have adopted their own “inspection on sale” programs and tailored them to their own communities. A recent trend among the other cities has been to not just disclose the condition of a property, but to also require some degree of correction or repair to the deficiencies found during an evaluation.
Saint Paul’s TISH ordinance applies to all single-family homes, duplexes, townhouses, condominiums and co-ops, with a few exceptions. One exception allows a recent inspection (within the past year) to substitute for a TISH report.

To find out more about Saint Paul’s Truth in Sale of Housing program, visit this page.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Carbon Monoxide is serious, especially during the winter – but there are simply ways to guard against it


Often called the silent killer, carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless, and deadly gas created whenever fossil fuels like gasoline, wood, natural gas and propane burn incompletely. Heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel can be sources of deadly carbon monoxide any time of the year, but particularly during the winter.

This quick two-minute video gives a synopsis of what carbon monoxide is and what it does:
 



Here are some signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Headaches.  If several people in the home are suffering headaches then carbon monoxide poisoning may be the cause.
  • Flushed, red skin.
  • Flu-like symptoms.
  • Weakness and dizziness, then eventually unconsciousness.

To prevent a tragedy in your home, please follow these simple tips:

  • Carbon monoxide alarms should be installed within 10 feet of doorways to bedrooms. This is a Minnesota law. We recommend the plug-in type with a battery backup.  Carbon monoxide is only slightly lighter than air so it mixes well. Carbon monoxide alarms can be at any level of the wall or on the ceiling.  You can even use combination smoke AND carbon monoxide alarms.
  • Have your furnace or boiler serviced annually, especially in our Minnesota climate.  This will not only ensure your furnace or boiler are burning “clean,” it may also reduce your fuel costs by making sure it’s running most efficiently.
  • Do not leave a car running in an attached garage.  Warm the car up outside.
  • Do not heat your home or apartment with the stove or oven.
  • If you’re using a generator, make sure it’s in a well-ventilated location outdoors away from windows, doors and vent openings.
  • Do not use a gas or charcoal grill indoors.
In Saint Paul, simply call 9-1-1 if your carbon monoxide alarm goes off.  Most carbon monoxide alarms calls we respond to are false alarms, but we’d rather go to 1,000 false alarms than not be called for a real carbon monoxide poisoning!

Test your carbon monoxide alarms in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, usually monthly.

If you’re a renter, be sure your landlord has provided you with carbon monoxide alarms.  If not, you can call the inspections department at 651-266-8989 to help you.

If the carbon monoxide alarms sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location and make sure everyone is accounted for.  Open doors and windows to ventilate.

A person can be poisoned by a small amount of carbon monoxide over a longer period of time or by a large amount of carbon monoxide over a shorter period of time.  We recommend the use of carbon monoxide alarms with a digital readout.  Here’s how effects differ with concentration of carbon monoxide (ppm = parts Per Million, shown on the digital reading):

  • 100 ppm  - No effects even with 6-8 hours of exposure
  • 200 ppm   - Headache after 2-3 hours
  • 400 ppm   - Headache and nausea after 1-2 hours
  • 800 ppm   - Headache, nausea, and dizziness after 45 minutes.  Collapse and possible unconsciousness after 2 hours.
  • 1000 ppm – Loss of consciousness after 1 hour
  • 1600 ppm – Headache, nausea and dizziness after 20 minutes
  • 3200 ppm – Unconsciousness after 30 minutes
  • 6400 ppm – Unconsciousness and danger of death after 5-10 minutes
  • 12,800 ppm – Unconsciousness and death after 1-3 minutes

Friday, January 17, 2014

Councilmember Stark: Projects for our homeless, both youth and adults


Submitted by Councilmember Russ Stark
The newly announced Dorothy Day Center ReVision plan to relocate, enhance, and rebuild the service structure offered in Downtown Saint Paul, coupled with our recent bout of extreme cold temperatures, has elevated an important discussion about services for the homeless in our community.  Recently, a panel of State agencies identified a set of strategies for eliminating homelessness for Minnesota veterans by 2015 and for eliminating homelessness for all in Minnesota by 2020. On any given night in our state, about 10,000 people experience homelessness, and half of those people are children.  A new Dorothy Day Center designed to serve as both an overnight shelter and to offer day services, as well as apartments to help transition people out of homelessness, would be a huge step in the right direction in Saint Paul. To learn more about the Dorothy Day ReVision plan, as well as how you can help make it a reality, visit this site.
 

Prior Crossing Project

Another important project in Saint Paul is Beacon Interfaith Housing’s proposed Prior Crossing project, which would be located in Ward 4 at University and Prior Avenues and house up to 40 teens and young adults experiencing homelessness. Beacon, Catholic Charities, advocacy groups, services providers and others around the state are hoping that the Legislature and Governor Dayton will continue to be a big part of the solution in 2014. Behind the banner of Homes for All, they are requesting $100 million in state bonding for affordable housing, some of which would go to housing serving those experiencing homelessness. These resources along with increases in funding for the ongoing operations and maintenance costs of providing housing for the homeless will be critical if we are to make real progress on this issue in our community and state in the near future. Please consider reaching out to the Governor and your legislators about this important issue in Saint Paul and beyond.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Now open in downtown Saint Paul – The Penfield


The Penfield, a 254 unit market-rate rental housing development, welcomed its first residents at the end of November. All of the apartment units are now complete and finishing touches are being made to interior décor.
The building occupies the entire block of 10th and 11th streets between Robert and Minnesota. 

The Penfield
Public art installations include: a corten light wall, corten steel lighted benches, cut granite benches, and a Spirit of the Mississippi statue. The statue will be installed this spring. There is also a historical interpretation capturing the history of the former Public Safety Building that once occupied the site. One wall of the building was preserved and incorporated into The Penfield.

Corten light wall

Units feature stainless steel appliances, in-unit washers and dryers, granite countertops, kitchen islands, wood floors, soaking tubs, custom closets and open, airy layouts. Community amenities include an 18,000 square-foot courtyard and green roof with an outdoor pool, hot tub, fire pit, cabanas, dog run, green space, sundeck, clubroom with gourmet kitchen, fitness center, and enclosed parking.

The Penfield Clubroom
 There will also be a Lunds full-service grocery store on the first level occupying 27,500 square feet of space. Lunds is working on the build out of their space and will be opening this spring.

The Penfield is owned by the Saint Paul Housing and Redevelopment Authority. An open house is being planned for February 6. For more information, visit www.thepenfieldapts.com.

Monday, January 13, 2014

This Valentine's, Instead of Giving Flowers, Dine Amongst Them

Back By Popular Demand: We’ll Care For The Kids While Parents Dine!
 
1-2-3-4-5, senses working overtime. Ecstacy best describes the sensation diners will encounter as the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory opens its gardens for a truly unique dining experience on Friday, February 14 and Saturday, February 15. Instead of giving flowers this Valentine’s Day, people will have an opportunity to dine amongst them in an unforgettable romantic setting. Candle-lit tables of two will be set throughout the three featured gardens of the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory, each with its own unique characteristics.

SMELL the flowers in the Sunken Garden & lush vegetation in the North Garden and Palm Dome. SEE vibrant pinks, yellows, reds & purple created by azaleas, cyclamen, velthemia, amaryllis, cineraria featured in the 2014 Winter Flower Show. HEAR the elegant music of The Baroque Trio and the soothing sounds of the water feature in each garden. TASTE a sumptuous, double entrée, gourmet dinner, and FEEL the warm, humid air inside the cozy confines of the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory.

There will be two separate seatings per evening: 5:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. The cost for this all inclusive event is $165 per couple, a portion of which is tax deductible. For more information, to make a reservation, or to view the menus, click on the video below or visit www.comozooconservatory.org.




Can’t find a sitter? We’ve got that covered too. Whether dining with us or not, Como Kids’ Club will be available for parents looking for an entertaining and educational experience for their children. While parents are enjoying a well-deserved date night, their children will be entertained by an evening filled with active games, Valentine’s crafts, live animal visitors and story time led by Como educators. Como Kids’ Club is $25 per child for parents attending a Como Valentine’s Dinner; otherwise it is $30 per child. Pre-registration for each child is required by calling 651-487-8272.

For the involved resident—many ways to keep up with city meetings and videos


Before cable TV, the only way a Saint Paul resident could actually see their City Council in action was to attend the meeting.  Today, not only can our residents watch the meetings on cable TV (City Cable Channel 18) but anyone who has an internet connection can view the Saint Paul City Council meetings, both live and replay, from anywhere in the world.
Watching government meetings may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but numerous municipal surveys conducted around the Twin Cities area over the years consistently reflect that approximately 20 percent of cable TV subscribers tune in to watch their city meetings on a frequent or occasional basis.   And now, having internet access means anyone who wants to can watch the city’s meetings, including the ability to go directly to a specific agenda item.   To do this, simply go the City Council section at www.stpaul.gov, click on the All Meetings, link on the right side of the page.  This will direct you to a calendar of both upcoming and recent meetings, including their agendas and meeting video.   Select the meeting you wish to view by clicking on the “video” link.  Once that meeting is playable, you will then be able to click on a specific agenda item, as listed under the video on the left side of the page and it will take you directly to that item.   

You can also use the e-subscription feature on the city’s home webpage.  This button, located on the right column, will direct you to a page where you can sign up to receive city announcements for city meetings, agendas, city videos, as well as a plethora of other city activities and information. 
In addition to watching city meetings, the city also provides you with a library of more than 750 videos produced by the city’s Communications Services division.  
From Adopt a Fire Hydrant to …





 
Zoo Boo at Como Zoo, there is a wealth of city information literally from A to Z.   And there continues to be a growing interest in watching city videos and meetings online as illustrated below.   


If you’re more of a Vimeo person, you can find us there as well!


 

Friday, January 10, 2014

A note from the Mayor: Homelessness


Two very important things happened at the end of December, and the beginning of this new year.

Mayor Chris Coleman
First, multiple state agencies unveiled a plan to end homelessness in Minnesota. The next day, a commission I formed laid out their plan to end it in Saint Paul.

10,000 Minnesotans – half of whom are young people-- find themselves looking for some sort of shelter each night in Minnesota. The state effort, which involves a partnership between 11 state agencies and the full support of me and my administration, is the most ambitious effort in state history—combining both housing construction and a mix of preventative strategies.

Here in Saint Paul, we face a similar challenge. Thirty-two years ago, business, government, faith and community leaders in Saint Paul worked together to open the doors to the Dorothy Day Center, where people could stop in for a cup of coffee and a roll. It was supposed to be short-term, as homelessness was thought to be a temporary problem in the Twin Cities. We all know it wasn’t temporary, and a lot has changed since then.

Today, homelessness in Minnesota is at an all-time high, and the Dorothy Day Center is overflowing. Some of our most vulnerable citizens are not getting the help they need at a time when they need it the most. This deteriorating building has become a crisis management center, rather than a place of hope and opportunity. And it certainly does not provide the dignity that each person deserves.

On December 20, a taskforce of civic, business and philanthropic leaders I commissioned unveiled a strategy to begin effectively ending homelessness in Saint Paul. It includes constructing a new multi-level building, made up of an emergency center on the ground level, upper-level rooms as well as efficiency apartments. It would connect to a job-training and social services building. The plan not only gives those in need the real feeling of upward mobility as they work to become self-sustaining, but the tools to get there.  And the Dorothy Day Center would be replaced with affordable housing.

The reality is that this should have been done five years ago. Everyone deserves to be in a safe, and dignified, environment – our thinking has evolved on how to achieve that, and it is time to act.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Stpaulbids.com is now open for business


The City of Saint Paul’s new online procurement database is now live!  For the past several years, the city has been working to develop a new process for viewing and responding to city bid opportunities and purchase orders.  Vendors interested in doing business with the city must register their business on www.stpaulbids.com (Stpaulbids).  Starting on January 7, all city contracting opportunities will be available on Stpaulbids and Demandstar will no longer be used.

The city is excited about the launch of Stpaulbids as it will provide improved communication between the city and its vendors.  Stpaulbids will offer vendors self-service registration and account maintenance, support multiple commodity codes per vendor, the ability to upload documents, and provide a single location for accessing and responding to city contracting opportunities.  Vendors can access training documents and learn more at Stpaulbids. 

The City of Saint Paul’s Department of Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity (HREEO) is partnering with ProBid LLC to host several free training sessions for interested vendors.  The training sessions are targeted toward VOP-Certified (small, minority, and women-owned businesses) and HUD Section 3 businesses.  The training sessions will review what vendors need to know prior to registering on Stpaulbids and then assist the vendor register correctly. 

ProBid Class Dates and Times
  • Tuesday, January 14, 21, and 28
5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, January 16, 23, and 30
5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
6:30 pm - 7:30 pm
 
All ProBid classes will be held at the Minnesota Builders Exchange, 1123 Glenwood Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55405.  Vendors interested in attending a training session should call 651-967-9395 to reserve a spot. 

The City of Saint Paul will also be hosting a series of Stpaulbids training orientation sessions to help ensure a smooth transition to Stpaulbids. 


City Orientation Class Dates and Times
  • January 14th 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
  • January 15th 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
  • January 16th 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
All City of Saint Paul orientation sessions will be held at the Wellstone Center/Neighborhood House, 170 Robie Street East, Room 272, Saint Paul, MN 55107.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Winter cold contributes to appearance of cloudy water


In the winter months, many people notice a milky or cloudy appearance to their tap water. This is caused by air bubbles trapped in the water. It is harmless and will disappear on its own if left out for a few minutes.

This phenomenon occurs more often in the winter due to the colder temperatures. Cold water can trap and hold larger amounts of dissolved oxygen than warm water. Most of our water comes from the Mississippi River, which then travels through a chain of lakes before arriving at our plant. This surface water is much colder in the winter months. Not only is the water cold coming into our treatment plant, but the pipes that deliver the water to your home from the plant are cold as well.

 In addition, water in the pipe is under pressure. That pressure makes it impossible for the air in the water to get out while it is still in the pipes. Once it comes out of your faucet, it is no longer pressurized and the air begins to escape, like opening a pop can. The warmer room temperature also contributes to the release of air bubbles, as warmer water cannot hold as much air. As the air escapes and the bubbles rise to the surface, it looks cloudy. Sometimes there are enough bubbles that it looks like there is debris or small particles swirling around your glass. As the air dissipates, the water clears from the bottom of the glass to the top. Bubbles may attach to the sides of the glass as the water clears.

Trapping air is a natural phenomenon associated with cold water, and it does not affect water quality. If you have questions or concerns, you can always call our office at 651-266-6350.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Things to Know When it Snows

Submitted by Mike Lovas, Saint Paul Emergency Management

Winter is upon us and will take up residence in Minnesota for the next few months.  There are some important things to keep in mind to keep yourself ready and safe during Old Man Winter’s stay.  Winter storms can be deceptive killers because most deaths are indirectly related to the storm.  Winter storms can range from a moderate snow over a few hours to a blizzard with blinding, wind-driven snow that lasts for several days. Many winter storms are accompanied by dangerously low temperatures and sometimes by strong winds, icing, sleet and freezing rain.  Storms can knock down power lines leading to a loss of heat, power and communication lines that can last for hours or days.
For your home
Prepare your home by having a shovel or other snow removal equipment, sand to provide traction and salt to help melt icy conditions.  Many types of salt products are sold in stores, so make sure to see which one works best for you-- from basic salt to chemical enhanced salt to pet friendly salt options.  Be alert for overexertion while clearing snow.  Pace yourself, especially with large areas to clear or with heavy, wet snow.  If you need to clear snow or ice from your roof, use a roof rake or other device to safely clear snow from your room, gutters, air intake or vents rather than climbing up on your roof.
Have a survival kit ready in case power does go out with extra blankets, warm clothing, extra water and food sources that don’t need heating to prepare.  Remember to factor pets or animals into your plan and keep them warm and safe.  Frozen paws can happen fast.   And remember to clear a path to your garbage can and mailbox to ensure timely, uninterrupted service for both. 

Check your furnace, radiators, or other heating source to make sure they are efficient and operational.  Keep a safe clearance from them to prevent fire hazards.  Never use an open oven or stove to heat your house.  If you do use a fuel-burning source to provide heat, make sure it is properly vented to prevent dangerous carbon monoxide buildup; if you haven’t already done so, it is a great time to install carbon monoxide detectors in your house.  Check the status of your chimney if you have a fireplace and make sure it is clear of buildup that could pose a fire hazard.
Inspect your pipes to prevent frosting and freezing.  Insulate where necessary and shut off exterior water sources and open hose valves to mitigate pipe bursts.  Insulate your windows to help save energy and keep cold air out. 

Be cautious of how much you plug into an outlet and limit chain light sets, decorations or other things.  Too many things plugged into an outlet can lead to blown fuses or electrical fires.

For your car
Check your car to make sure it is ready for winter driving conditions.  Some things to inspect is the antifreeze level, battery condition, brake pads, exhaust system, air filter, heater and defroster, windshield wiper blades and washer fluid level with fluid designed for frost or freezing conditions, tire conditions and air pressure, fuel and oil levels, and have a snow/ice scraper.  It is always necessary to clear all snow and ice from your windows, hood, truck, and roof before you drive.  A bag of sand or kitty litter stored in your trunk can also aid in traction if you find yourself stuck on ice.

Make sure your car emergency car kit includes a small shovel, that your flashlight has fresh or extra batteries, water-type beverages with a snack such as a candy bar, granola bar or other non-salty food options, extra hats, gloves/mittens and blankets, jumper cables, road salt or sand, and road flares, chemical light sticks (chem lights), or bright colored material/cloth to signal for help or attention.
You can even purchase prepackaged meals at local outdoor stores similar to a Meal Ready to Eat (MRE) or other type of heater meal that can sit in the car in the event of an emergency if you find yourself stranded.  In the event of loss of traction, your car floor mat rugs can also be placed under your tires to gain traction. 

Make sure you take time to refresh yourself on driving conditions for your vehicle and specific techniques for 2-wheel drive car (front or back) and 4-wheel/all-wheel drive, check your following distances and what to do in the event of a spin out or if you encounter patches of ice or black ice.
For yourself

Review your communication plan, especially with family or friends with small children, elderly, or those with functional needs.  Make sure you always have a key or cell phone with you in case you get locked out of your house/apartment or find yourself stuck somewhere.  Dress for the conditions and stay dry.  Wet, cold clothes allow for hyperthermia, frost bite or other cold weather injuries.  Have enough medication on hand in the event you get stranded at home.
And remember to still consume water; there are more heat related illnesses reported in the winter months than the summer months because people aren’t thinking about hydration and are bundled up while participating in outdoor activities.  Water consumption is just as important in winter as it is in summer. 

For more on how to prepare for winter, visit: http://www.ready.gov/winter-weather