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Friday, May 30, 2014

From Warsaw to Saint Paul: Sam Rafowitz - Remaking a Life

On May 9, the City of Saint Paul’s Department of Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity partnered with the World Without Genocide program to host a Holocaust Remembrance event.  The well-attended event honored the victims and survivors of the Holocaust, and featured local retired businessman and Holocaust survivor, Sam Rafowitz. 
The event included a viewing of the documentary film “Sam Rafowitz: Remaking a Life,” which detailed his incredible journey from Warsaw, Poland to Saint Paul, Minnesota.  After being taken from his family home by Nazis at the age of 15, Sam survived five concentration camps and a death march.  Sam searched tirelessly for his sister and was eventually reunited with her after the war. Sam and his wife immigrated to Saint Paul where they raised a family and Sam experienced success as a local businessman. 

The remembrance ceremony also featured a discussion with Sam about his life and mission to remember the victims and survivors of the Holocaust.  In addition to the Holocaust Remembrance ceremonies, the City of Saint Paul and Connie Coleman, wife of Mayor Chris Coleman, declared May 9, 2014 as Sam Rafowitz day in the City of Saint Paul. 

A recording of the event is also available for anyone that may have missed the ceremony.   
The Jewish Community Relations Council also has additional information regarding Holocaust education in Minnesota and the Dakotas.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Wireless Text Alerts--Get Ready to Cut the Cord

Wireless Emergency Alerts are here and the new way to be alert and be prepared


Submitted by Mike Lovas, Saint Paul Emergency Management

We use our phones for everything.  Odds are if you want to buy, sell, read or look something up, there’s an app for it.  There is almost nothing we can’t do on our phones.

If you have one of a countless number of weather apps, odds are you’ve seen weather alerts pop up on your phone.  Now, you can receive weather emergency text alerts directly from the source.

It’s called Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) and is part of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) that requires broadcasters, satellite digital audio service and direct broadcast satellite providers, cable television systems, and wireless cable systems to provide communications capability.

The new wireless member of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) will begin appearing as free text messages on your smartphone with not just weather alerts, but important emergency messages—like AMBER alerts—distributed by state and local authorities.

 WEA messages include a special tone and vibration, both repeated twice.  The alerts are based on your phone location. This ensures that if you enter an area under an alert after the message is initially sent, you will still receive that message when you enter the area.

 It’s important to remember the text alerts are an additional tool alongside EAS messages on television, outdoor warning sirens, weather apps on mobile devices and NOAA weather radios to warn people during an emergency.  It also requires the device to be on and in an area of cellular coverage.

We live in a wireless world, and these text alerts are the perfect way to cut the cord on emergency alerts.

For more on how Wireless Emergency Alerts work, check out

Friday, May 23, 2014

Save time and resources by going paperless!

Customers who currently receive a quarterly bill can choose between paying your bill as you receive it now, or, if you want to divide your bills into equal monthly payments, you can choose our monthly manager system. Either way, your water bill will automatically be deducted from your checking or savings account, whichever account you choose.
You will still get a statement each billing cycle telling you the date the bill amount was drawn from your account. Forms are available here.

 To give you even more options, you can also choose to go paperless or make credit card payments online at our online service at If you choose to go paperless with an ebill, you will get quarterly notification via email of the due date of your next bill. With an ebill account you can check on past water use and past payment history. You can also see the breakdown of the components of your bill, including Right-of-Way, sewer and water charges.

Choose how you want to receive your water bill today. Check here for more information.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Art in the Hollow Celebrates the Arrival of Spring

By Saint Paul City Council President Kathy Lantry

Photo by Toni Thomas
Now that the snow has finally melted and the trees and flowers are starting to bud, Saint Paulites like nothing better than to be out in our parks and natural areas enjoying the warmer weather.  Ward 7 is lucky to boast some of the most beautiful parks and natural areas in the city.  Some, like Indian Mounds Regional Park, are well-known to visitors from near and far.  Others are more hidden gems, just waiting to be discovered.

One of these lesser known treasures is the beautiful Swede Hollow Park.  Nestled between the bluff in the Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood and the Railroad Island neighborhood (with entrances from Payne Avenue and 7th Street, Payne Avenue and Drewery Lane, and the parking lot behind 720 Payne Avenue) the park follows a ravine that once carried Phalen Creek to the Mississippi River.  It now features several beautiful walking trails and the Bruce Vento Regional Bike Trail.  It also sits in the shadow of the former Hamm’s Brewery, now redeveloped by Flat Earth Brewery, 11 Wells Distillery and Urban Organics, an aquaponic urban farm.

Friends of Swede Hollow Park, a volunteer organization devoted to the protection, regeneration, and history of the park hosts an annual festival, Art in the Hollow, to celebrate the beauty of the area and promote local visual and performing artists.  This five-year-old, community-based art festival is put together by neighbors and students, and features artists who sell their art and demonstrate their work in the open air of the park. The event also includes a slate of global performers, and will highlight sculptures woven into the magical hidden park, to be judged the day of the event.

Photo by Toni Thomas
This year’s event, scheduled for Saturday, June 7 from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., anticipates the participation of more than 50 visual and performing artists, many creating works on-site including glass mosaics, murals, sculpture, and painted furniture. Plein air (open-air) painters will seek to capture the beauty of the deep, lush ravine, with its ponds and stream and its variety of flora and fauna.  Scheduled entertainers include Chilli Lor, the American Indian Magnet School Dancers and Drummers, Nancy Sanchelli, Mark Stillman, Juan Parker and others.

The event is free and open to the public, so it is the perfect opportunity to get out and enjoy the warmer weather and experience fantastic art in a beautiful Saint Paul park setting. 

For more information about Art in the Hollow, check out their website at or call 651-776-0550.  We hope to see you there!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Summer is around the corner -- we promise -- so let’s swim!

It was hard to imagine we would ever be dipping our toes in the water again after our long, cold winter, but the icy freeze is starting to pass and Saint Paul Parks and Recreation is getting ready to open the three seasonal swimming facilities for another summer of fun. 
Como Regional Park Pool, Highland Park Aquatic Center and Phalen Park Beach  will open for preseason on May 24-26 and May 31-June 1. For those unable to dive into the preliminary dates, all three facilities will officially open for the summer starting June 7. For anyone looking to get their feet wet before the preseason begins, the year-round Great River Water Park is where you’ll want to be.

Happy Pockets, Happy Kids.
If affordable family entertainment peaks your interest, you will be happy to know there are enough amenities at all three seasonal facilities to keep your family active, engaged and outdoors all day long. Check out park features:

Como Regional Park Pool
  • Family slide and children’s activity pool
  • Aquatic zip line and climbing wall
  • Basketball hoops and diving platform
  • Swimming lessons,water aerobics and junior lifeguarding
  • Lap pool and lazy river
  • Concessions
 Highland Park Aquatic Center
  • Two-story water slide and two drop slides
  • Splash pad and aquatic climbing wall
  • Lap Pool and diving boards
  • Children’s activity pool
  • Concessions
  • Swimming lessons, water aerobics and junior lifeguarding
Phalen Park Beach
  • Sandy beach and volleyball court
  • Locker rooms
  • Concessions
Why buy a membership?

Saint Paul’s aquatic facilities are among the most affordable in the Twin Cities metro and admission to Phalen Beach is always free.  Admission to each of the three water parks is $6 for 48 inches or taller and $5 for 48 inches or less. Family passes are only $20 for up to five people. A special discounted admission rate of only $2 per person will be offered on June 20, July 25 and Aug 15 as part of Family Fun and Fitness Fridays.

Daily admission fees are already low, but why pay every day when you could purchase a summer or year-round membership? Memberships  provide unlimited access to all three water parks, so whether you are looking for a way to stay fit, trying to find activities for kids, you’ll come away a winner with a Saint Paul Parks and Recreation Aquatics Membership.

For more information on Saint Paul’s swimming facilities, visit

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Arlington Hills Community Center Grand Opening May 22

Anticipation has been growing for months at the corner of Payne and Maryland. It’s finally time to open the doors and celebrate with the entire community for the grand opening of Arlington Hills Community Center!

Saint Paul Public Library and Saint Paul Parks and Recreation are throwing a party on Thursday, May 22, from 4:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. with refreshments and activities for all ages. Have fun with a climbing wall, bounce castle, face painting and enjoy performances by the Farnsworth Marching Band, Native American dancers and drummers, Cheer America, Iny Asian Dance Theater, and much more. 

A welcome program at 5:15 p.m. featuring Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, City Councilmember Dan Bostrom, High Schools Assistant Superintendent Theresa Battle, and Recreation Director Alex Glass will kick off the event. There will also be an appearance from Cearah Hamilton, Miss Black Minnesota US Ambassador, and Andrew Sendejo, Minnesota Vikings player. 
The center is the first facility in Saint Paul to feature blended parks and library services under one roof. The 41,000-square-foot center features a gym, walking track, fitness room, library with children’s area and community learning center, a teens-only lab - Createch Studio, and three community meeting rooms.
Join in the opening celebration! Find directions to the Center. For more info, visit

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

You’re invited to the 2014 Public Works Open House!

Have you ever heard of a Vactor truck?  Have you seen the inside of a snowplow?  Interested in learning more about city construction projects? Here’s your chance, Saint Paul.

On Tuesday, May 20, from 4 p.m. –7 p.m., Public Works will stage its annual Open House at the Dale Street complex.  The event coincides with the observance of National Public Works Week when public works agencies across the nation reach out to residents to teach about the services they provide.

The Public Works Open House is a fun, family-friendly event with something for all ages.  Activities for the youngest visitors include face painting, jump castle, a climbing wall and bucket truck rides. For adults, we have several educational displays, interactive exhibits, along with tours of the sign making shop.

Participants can enjoy live music, register to win prizes, explore Public Works facilities, learn more about street design and much more.

Check here for event directions and additional information.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Know the fire rules for your favorite Minnesota pastime

Nothing says summer like hanging out in your backyard and having a campfire with your friends and family. Fires are relaxing, a great way to spend time, and legal as long as you know the rules to stay safe. 

Stay safe and keep neighbors happy with these tips:
  • Campfires on the ground cannot be closer than 25 feet to a building or other combustible structure.
  • Campfires in “approved containers” – anything that keeps a fire from spreading – need to be at least 15 feet away from a building or other combustible.  ‘Approved containers’ include outdoor fireplaces, a ring from a metal drum, or a hole in the ground.  Tip: Placing rocks on the ground in a circle is not an approved container.   
  • The maximum size of the fuel area is 3 feet in wide and 2 feet high.
  • Don’t burn rubbish, leaves, grass, or construction material in a campfire.   Use only sawn wood.
  • Make sure to have a way to extinguish the fire nearby.  A charged garden hose would do just fine.
  • A campfire must be attended at all times - don’t leave it to burn out overnight.
  •  If the fire causes obnoxious smoke or odors to others, it can be constituted as a public nuisance and the fire department may order the fire to be put out.

Don’t burn waste without an open burning permit :

Open burning for disposal requires a permit from the Department of Natural Resources DNR.  Many of Saint Paul’s fire inspectors are official “Fire Wardens” for the DNR who can issue open burning permits.

However, an open burning permit cannot be issued if there are other reasonable means of disposal, or if it will create a hazard or public nuisance.  Open burning permits are rarely approved in the City of Saint Paul and most of them are for the controlled burning of vegetation by professionals.

If you need an open burning permit or want to know if your outdoor fireplace is approved, please call the Department of Safety and Inspections at 651-266-8989 or go to the fire department website at and look at the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

We want residents to be able to enjoy a beautiful campfire on a nice Minnesota summer evening but it’s important to do it safely - so follow the rules and have a wonderful time.