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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Do You Have an Unresolved Cable Complaint?

Have you experienced a customer service issue with Comcast without resolution?  If you have, then the city of Saint Paul’s Office of Cable Communications (OCC) could help. 
For a cable company to locate their cable lines (fiber/ co-axial cable and equipment) on public property, they must obtain a cable franchise from the local franchise authority. In Saint Paul, Comcast holds a non-exclusive cable franchise to provide cable television services to its residents.   

The OCC is charged with overseeing the cable franchise, and assisting Saint Paul cable customers with unresolved complaints.  (Please note, federal law limits the city’s authority to ONLY cable television services, and precludes jurisdiction over telephone and data/internet services).
Before reaching out to the OCC, we ask that customers attempt to resolve the complaint directly with Comcast.   You can do this by calling Comcast at 651-222-3333, or by visiting the Xfinity store in Highland Park at 2050 Ford Parkway, at the corner of Cleveland and Ford Parkway.  If the issue/complaint with Comcast remains unresolved, then residents can contact the OCC by calling the customer complaint line, 651-266-8870, or by going to the city’s website and submitting an on-line complaint form.   

The OCC will make every effort to resolve the issue within their purview.     

Friday, April 25, 2014

Sustainable Saint Paul Awards- Green Line corridor lives up to its name

Since 2012, we have celebrated our business and community members who have gone above and beyond to create a positive impact on the environment with our annual Sustainable Saint Paul Awards (SSPA). Each year, we have more and more difficult decisions to make, as the candidates for each of the 14 conservation and environmental award categories become more and more impressive. It’s truly heartening to see so many of our community members across the city step up and make a difference. 

Photo courtesy of Aeon staff.
The 2014 SSPAs are unique, as more than half of this year’s winners are along or near the Green Line light rail, opening in just a few weeks on June 14. Much like the corridor’s namesake, these businesses, buildings and groups have made a commitment to creating a greener, cleaner, healthier future with innovation and tenacity.

Across the board, businesses and groups have come up with fantastic ways to conserve energy, reduce waste and save water. Here are just a few of this year’s highlights: 

8 Sustainable Saint Paul Awards along or near the Green Line:

Union Depot - Commercial Green Building Design Award -   The first stop is at the Green Line’s Union Depot for its design, runoff and transit connections for greater mobility. Development activity tied to the renovation of the Union Depot created 4,440 jobs  and resulted in 31,000 tons of construction waste recycled and diverted from landfills.

Photo courtesy of Frogtown Tree Frogs.
Frogtown Tree Frogs  - Natural Resources Conservation Award – Frogtown Tree Frogs earned this award for their work increasing tree canopy coverage in the Thomas-Dale district. The group provides no-cost shade and fruit trees to property owners in the Thomas-Dale planning district with annually secured grants and donations from the Unity Unitarian Church of Saint Paul and the United States Forest Service, Urban Connections Program. To date, the group has added more than 100 trees. 

Saint Paul Hotel  - Waste Reduction, Composting or Recycling Award – The Saint Paul hotel has achieved a 90 percent recycling rate, keeping  359,380 pounds of food waste and other compostable materials out of landfills and the waste stream. By making even more improvements to the hotel’s existing initiatives, the hotel’s new recycling rate is nearly double the average. 

Energy Innovation Corridor - Innovative Collaboration Award – The Energy Innovation Corridor collaborates and coordinates action plans and targets the strategic deployment of renewable energy, energy efficiency, smart technologies, and transportation along the Green Line light rail corridor. To date, the EIC has seen more than $50 million in economic impact and avoided 2.5 billion pounds of carbon. 

Capitol Region Watershed District, City of Saint Paul, Metropolitan Council and Ramsey County -Water Quality or Conservation Award – The construction of the Green Line light rail has led to three monumental water conservation features from this three-way partnership: Approximately five miles of an integrated tree trench system with 1,200 trees along the north and south sides of University Avenue; two types of surface green infrastructure practice (rain water and storm water planters) at nine locations adjacent to University Avenue; and infiltration trenches beneath two side streets within the corridor.

Inspiring Communities Program - Single-Family Residential Green Building Design Award - In 2013, Inspiring Communities Program invested $8.6 million in Saint Paul neighborhoods that had been impacted by vacancy and foreclosure. The comprehensive program is a replicable plan for creating affordable and sustainable housing that minimizes negative environmental impacts.

Renaissance Box - Multi-Family Residential Green Building Design Award - Nonprofit developer Aeon transformed this once-contaminated site into affordable, sustainable and historic housing. More than 90 percent of the storm water is managed on-site with a variety of methods, featuring two rain gardens, green space, and a green roof. Water consumption has also been reduced by at least 30 percent compared to typical constructions through the use of efficient toilets and faucets.

Hamline Church Tech Dump - Green Practices Award –Hamline Church United Methodist and Tech Dump provide the community with low-cost, accessible opportunities to recycle unwanted electronics and appliances at their “Hamline Church Tech Dump” events. In addition to promoting environmental stewardship, Tech Dump promotes social sustainability, utilizing the revenue created by recycling electronics to provide jobs for people who have been incarcerated and  would otherwise have difficulty finding employment opportunities.

Other award winners included:

Gateway Food Co-op  - Local, Healthy Food Award

Central High School Roots and Shoots - Youth Leadership Award

Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities, CityLabs - Sustainable Partnership Award

Como Zoo Park and Conservatory - Chipotle Edible Garden - Environmental Education and Awareness

Wes Saunders-Pearce - Sustainable City Staff

Garden Fresh Farms - Green Products

Regions Hospital - Energy Efficiency and Conservation Award

 See the full award winners here and read the press release here.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Raising awareness and honoring victims of genocide

Last year, Governor Mark Dayton designated April as Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month – a testament to Minnesota’s strong commitment to human rights.  In recognition of this designation, the City of Saint Paul’s Department of Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity (HREEO) and William Mitchell College of Law’s World Without Genocide nonprofit organization, recently co-sponsored a “Rescuing the Children” event honoring victims of genocide.  
The event marked the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide and remembered victims of genocides in Darfur, Cambodia, Bosnia, the Armenian genocide, and the Holocaust.  Human rights advocate and activist of 25 years, Jack Rendler of UNICEF, shared his unique perspective on the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide. The goal of the “Rescuing the Children” event, and similar events that took place throughout April, is to educate about past genocides, remember those affected, raise awareness of ongoing conflicts, and advocate preventing future genocides.  

On Sunday, April 27 7:00 p.m., the Jewish Community Relations Council will host Yom HaShoah Commemoration at Temple of Aaron (616 S. Mississippi Blvd, St. Paul).  The free event is open to the public, and is part of the annual Twin Cities Holocaust Remembrance Day - the event will also feature voices of Twin Cities Holocaust survivors.

On May 9th from 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m., HREEO will screen the documentary, “Remaking a Life” at City Hall (Room 40A, 15 Kellogg Boulevard West). The 30 minute documentary presents the story of Sam Rafowitz, a local resident and former small business owner, who survived the Holocaust. The film will be followed by a short question and answer session with Mr. Rafowitz.

Check here for more events and information.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Right Track catching up with youth job demand

Are you looking for interns and youth workers? Apply here before May 1!


Earlier this month, record numbers of Saint Paul’s youth completed applications for the city’s Right Track internship and youth jobs program. Nearly a third of Saint Paul teens are unemployed—a statistic larger than the metro, state, and national averages—and one that we can change. The Right Track program is designed to pair students with employers for summer internships, providing real-life work experience for our youth, and a great worker for our businesses.

More than 1,600 students applied for this year’s summer internship program, and we are looking for additional small and nonprofit businesses to place applicants. Through a partnership with the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce and the support of several foundations, there is a new opportunity for small businesses and nonprofits to receive reimbursement for wages. Check here for more information on hiring a Right Track intern.

Right Track takes a pipeline approach to creating impactful and substantive work and skill development for our city’s next workforce. Working on a continuum, applicants start out working in parks, libraries, and nonprofits and develop skills in professional settings the following summer. If your small business or nonprofit is looking for internship or youth job opportunities, click here for program information and details. 

Keeping an eye to the sky

Submitted by: Mike Lovas, Saint Paul Emergency Management

After a long brutal winter, Minnesotans are itching to get outdoors and take advantage – unfortunately,  the weather doesn’t always cooperate.  Strong storms, tornadoes, flooding, and wild fires can occur with little to no warning. 
To prepare for these unique and potentially dangerous weather conditions, Severe Weather Awareness Week is planned for April 21-25.  To raise awareness, tornado drills will be conducted on Thursday, April 24 at 1:45 p.m. and 6:55 p.m. 

Severe Weather Awareness Week is a great time to talk with your family and friends about what to do in the event of severe weather.  Review your plans at home and work to know where to go and brush up on severe weather warning signs and how you’ll be alerted when the threat has passed.  Check your NOAA weather radio and review your emergency plans and kit.  If you don’t have a kit, make a kit for your home, car and office.  Remember to include important items such as closed-toe shoes, water, a whistle, medications, NOAA weather radio, children’s toys, baby food and diapers, pet food, etc. 

Severe Weather Tips:

  • Remember the 30/30 Lightning Safety Rule: Go indoors if, after seeing lightning, you cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder. Please stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder. 
  • Setup weather alerts on your smartphone or sign up for CodeRed, an emergency notification system to alert residents of important information or emergency warnings.  Remember, outdoor warning sirens are designed to warn people outside to go inside – it’s not designed to alert people inside that there is an approaching threat.  That’s why it’s important to have a NOAA weather radio handy.  Sirens normally sound for about three minutes, and then go silent. It is  rare to keep the sirens sounding the entire warning.  Remember, there is no such thing as an “all-clear” siren.

Lightning can strike at will. Tornadoes cause large devastation with little to no warning.  Take time to prepare yourself so you can enjoy the weather after a long winter.

For more on how to prepare for severe weather, visit this website.  For more information on Severe Weather Awareness Week, check out this page .