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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Keep your students engaged and active with the Summer Countdown

Did you know that during the summer most kids forget some of what they’ve learned during the school year? ‘Summer slide’ can create problems for students and parents alike with a lack of engaging activities and learning opportunities.
The City of Saint Paul and the Saint Paul Public Schools created a Summer Countdown tool that consists of simple suggestions every family can use on an everyday basis to keep students active and engaged. It includes ideas and resources from free to fee-based, and from simple to complex, to help families find activities and ideas that fit their budget and lifestyle.
If you’re looking for tips on keeping your kids learning and active this summer, sign up for the new summer-program texting service!
To opt-into the new texting program, text STPAUL SUMMER to 468311 or to receive emails text STPAUL SUMMER YourEmailHere to 468311 (standard messaging and data rates may apply refer to your wireless plan for details). Sign up now!
You can also visit the Sprocket’s Ready for Summer website for creative ideas to engage children in learning.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Conserve water, and money, with a few easy tips

Easy fixes can cost next to nothing and help conserve water and your money.

Household leaks can get expensive, fast. Without even knowing it, your house could be wasting thousands of gallons, and a sewer and water bill might double or triple in size. Most wasted water comes from bathrooms - the biggest culprit being the toilet. Make sure your toilet is working properly with these three easy steps.

Finding a silent leak:

1. Put food dye in your toilet tank.

2. Watch to see if the color seeps into the bowl without flushing.  

3. If the water changes color, replace the flapper in your toilet tank.

A leaking toilet can waste up to 5 gallons of water a minute – or 7,200 gallons a day - so make sure to check yours for silent leaks.

Here are more basic water conservation tips:

·         Learn how to use your water meter to check for leaks.

·         Grab a wrench and fix that leaky faucet. It’s simple, inexpensive, and you can save 140 gallons a week.

·         Check all hoses, connectors, and faucets regularly for leaks.

·         Don’t forget to check outdoor faucets, pipes, and hoses.

·         Take short showers instead of baths. A full bathtub requires up to 70 gallons of water.

·         Install water-saving aerators on all of your faucets.

·         When doing laundry, match the water level to the size of the load.

·         Washing dark clothes in cold water saves water and energy and helps your clothes retain their color.

·         When washing dishes by hand, don’t let the water run. Fill one basin with wash water and the other with rinse water.

·         If your dishwasher is new, cut back on rinsing. Newer models clean more thoroughly than older ones.


Check here for more water conservation tips.

Summer in the parks!

There's something going on every day of the week this summer at a Saint Paul park near you. Saint Paul Parks and Recreation is offering Music in the Parks, Movies in the Parks and now Fitness in the Parks! The best part is that it’s almost all free!

Fitness in the Parks is an all new free exercise program offering a variety of fitness activities in many Saint Paul parks including Mears Park, Raspberry Island, Como Park, Phalen Park, Kellogg Mall, Cherokee Park and Harriet Island. Scheduled activities include dance, yoga, kickboxing, crossfit and Tai Chi. No registration is required and all ages and skill levels are welcome. New classes and locations are expected to be added throughout the summer, so check the online schedule often. Classes will run through August.

From June through August, Music in the Parks offers a wide variety of musical experiences every Sunday through Thursday as well as some Friday and Saturday performances. Jazz, folk, A Capella, big band, hip-hop and swing are just a few genres being offered at parks including Como Park, Phalen Park, Indian Mounds Park, Mears Park, Raspberry Island, Newell Park and Rice Park. All performances are free except the Thursday, Friday and Saturday theater-style events at Como Lakeside Pavilion.  View the full Music in the Parks schedule here.

Movies in the Parks will kick off Friday, July 11 and run through mid-September. Family friendly movies begin at dusk at various parks and recreation centers throughout the city. All movies are family friendly and titles are subject to change. Movies in the Parks is always free and some locations may have pre-movie activities. Check out the schedule here.

Whether you want to dance the night away at Music in the Parks, lay down a blanket and relax at Movies in the Parks or get a workout at Fitness in the Parks, Saint Parks and Recreation offers something for everyone. View these and other great Saint Paul Parks and Recreation events here.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Library summer reading program: Learn for prizes!

The Saint Paul Public Library's summer reading program is here! The program is for ages 0-18, and it runs through August. It’s about reading and more! Participants get free books and other fun prizes for doing all kinds of learning activities.

To earn free books and other items, kids can read or be read to. Or they can do activities, like making a paper airplane, trying a new fruit or vegetable, or creating art on the sidewalk.

The library offers a special
summer reading program just for teens. By reading and pursuing topics, teens earn badges. For example, the Other Worlds badge (pictured here) can be earned by reading a book about time travel and visiting the Minnesota History Center. Collect badges for the chance to win prizes, including an iPad.

The summer reading program also features over 100 free entertaining, educational events. Join in the summer of learning!

Green Line Opening Day Highlights

Last weekend, Mayor Coleman and residents from across Saint Paul, Minneapolis and the metro area, took their first rides on the Metro Green Line light rail. The line connects communities, businesses and thousands of residents from across the two cities.

If you missed out on the festivities, check out the video for highlights from that historic day.

Explore the Green Line's 11 mile route as it passes through some of the city's most diverse, eclectic neighborhoods. Check here for a list of great places to get lunch along the line or here for a list of activities and events. Neighborhoods along the line abound with great places to eat and drink, take the Green Line and experience what the city has to offer.

Courtesy of Metropolitan Council 
For a full schedule and route map go to,

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Green Line is Open – Take a Ride and Be Safe!

The historic opening of the Green Line was an exciting (and wet!) event for Saint Paul with over 75,000 riders getting on board during opening weekend!  Now that those first commuters have some rides under their belt, and with so many excellent restaurants and local businesses to explore, lots of people will be on and around the trains and platforms as they head out on Green Line adventures.  But the start of service also means that riders, drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians need to make safety around trains a priority and take the time to learn how to be safe around light rail.

As we learned during the testing phase, accidents can happen when warnings or barriers are ignored, and its important to remember that all warning signs near the tracks and stations need to be followed.  Here are some tips to share with your friends and family – especially children – about safety around the trains.

       Trains can come on any track, at any time, from either direction.  Don’t assume you know when and where to expect a train.

       Trains move faster than they appear and cannot stop as quickly as a car. 

       Never walk or play on tracks - it is both illegal and dangerous.

       Cross tracks ONLY in designated areas.

       Never bike or skateboard on the tracks.

       Pay attention near the tracks. Listen for horns and warning bells.

       Look both ways before crossing the tracks by car, bicycle or on foot.

For those that will be driving along the corridor, here are some important reminders for motorists:

       Trains don’t have steering wheels and can’t swerve out of your way.

       Never try to beat a train through a light. The train will clear the intersection in a few seconds.

       Obey all traffic signals and warning signs.

Crashes involving trains are not only extremely dangerous for those involved, but also slow down travel for everyone else.  While the train and improved connecting bus service will help tens of thousands get around St. Paul and the region, making sure that this great new asset is safe for all will be key to its success.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Celebrate the Incredible & Edible with Chipotle this Summer!


Como Park Zoo & Conservatory is serving up some scrumptious garden fun for the fourth year in a row in the Chipotle Edible Garden.
The Chipotle Edible Garden will feature an array of vegetables, fruits, and herbs, and flowers. All plants are grown from seed, and every plant in the garden has at least one edible part. It is an exhibit for visitors of all ages designed to teach about planting and preparing foods that can be grown at home. The Como gardening staff hopes that the exhibit will give visitors an appreciation for how easy it is to grow a large variety of plants in Minnesota.
The exhibit will open Friday, June 13 and run through the fall. Trained staff and volunteers will be onsite 10am – 6pm to answer guests questions. At 12:00pm and 3:00pm daily, the Conservatory gardening staff will give gardener talks about growing techniques, ways to harvest and prepare food from your garden, natural pest control, and creative edible landscape design. The garden display covers more than 8,000 square feet and is south of the Visitor Center.
In 2013, Chipotle Edible Garden staff harvested 972.5 lbs. of produce that has gone to the Saint Paul Recreation Centers for various cooking classes and summer programs and 231.2 lbs. that has gone to Como Zoo animals. Como is hoping to exceed last year’s harvest which totaled 1518 lbs. Some of the more interesting plants grown in the garden this year are purple cauliflower, ‘Small Wonder’ spaghetti squash, luffa gourds, Chinese cabbage and 8 different varieties of cucumbers.
Edible G 5.22.14 (4)
Edible Garden October 7 (11)

Check out this video from a previous year's Edible Garden

Friday, June 6, 2014

Admiring Saint Paul: Historic Preservation Awards

Among other things, Saint Paul is known for its regal architecture, rich history, and prolific landmarks –characteristics that have charmed residents and tourists from the days of Pierre "Pig's Eye" Parrant. With a foot firmly planted in the past, Saint Paul residents and businesses continue to preserve and repurpose the iconic buildings and cultivate those traditions and resources.

The Saint Paul Heritage Preservation Committee (HPC) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) recently held the 24th annual Heritage Preservation Awards ceremony to highlight the work that residents and companies do to build on the city’s historical legacy. 

Here are a few highlights of this year’s honorees:              
Union Depot– This iconic Lowertown transit hub was transformed into a 21st century multi-modal mixed-use destination in 2012. After a $243 million investment, the Union Depot is home to businesses, Amtrak service, and will be a on the Green Line.

Francis M. Finch House – This 124 year-old home went through an extensive reworking, inside and out, to respect the building’s character and reveal its beauty. The owners kept the highest standard of craftsmanship to match the quality of the home’s designer, Cass Gilbert. 

Frank and Anna Shepard House – Built in 1880 as a private residence, this home spent the past 70 years in a variety of uses. Four years ago, the owners adapted the annex into a Montessori pre-school, restored the original 1880 structure into an elegant bed and breakfast, and rehabilitated the servant’s quarters into their own residence.

Also recognized were community organizer Karin DuPaul, author Karen Melvin for her book “Great Houses of Summit Avenue and the Hill District and the House of Hope Presbyterian Church.
For more information about the Heritage Preservation awards, visit or watch the video from the ceremony.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Saint Paul brings home 10 awards at annual communicator conference

On May 15, the Minnesota Association of Government Communicators (MAGC) held their 32nd annual Northern Lights Awards, and Saint Paul was a big winner.
This annual contest recognizes outstanding government communications work in a variety of categories.  Out of 159 entries overall, the City of Saint Paul received 10 awards. 

Entries are judged individually by their peers and may receive an Award of Excellence, Award of Merit or no award. Additionally, judges can recommend one entry in each category to be considered for the Best of Show award, the event’s top honor. 

Check out our winning entries!
  • Award of Excellence (Nominated for Best of Show)
Video – Promotional
Saint Paul Is…
Mike Kaplan, Communications Services OTC
Sara Swenson, Planning & Economic Development

  • Award of Excellence (Nominated for Best of Show)
Video – Informational
Saint Paul EMS Academy
Mike Popaduik, Communications Services, Office of Technology & Communications (OTC)

  • Award of Excellence
Video – Public Service Announcement
“Dig Me Out”
Nick Nelson, Communications Services OTC

  • Award of Excellence
Video – Informational
Surviving Domestic Violence
Mike Kaplan, Communications Services OTC

  • Award of Merit
Video – InformationalAll Aboard! Studying Streetcars in Saint Paul
Sara Swenson, Planning & Economic Development
Mike Popaduik, Communications Services OTC
  • Award of Merit
Saint Paul Construction Update
(The Penfield & Schmidt Artist Lofts)
Sara Swenson, Planning & Economic Development
Josh Wiederen, Communications Services OTC
  • Award of Merit
Video – Profile of a City Auction
Honey, I Bought a Fire Truck
Nick Nelson, Communications Services OTC

  • Award of Merit
Public Information Projects – Special Event
Ford Site Demolition Press Conference
Sara Swenson, Planning & Economic Development
  • Award of Excellence
Use of Social Media – Maintaining Strong Public Relations/Community Engagement
City of Saint Paul – Throwback Thursday Social Media
Sara Swenson, Planning & Economic Development

  • Award of Merit
Photography – Individual Photograph
Test Kitchen
Jodi Wallin, Saint Paul Regional Water Services

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Summer in Saint Paul

The sun is shining and our parks, lakes and pools are filling with people swimming, walking dogs and enjoying the warmer weather - a sure sign that we’ve finally rounded the corner and slid into summer. It’s finally time to get out and enjoy what makes Saint Paul the place to be in the summertime.  

Saint Paul’s official launch into summer started this Sunday, with the Grand Old Day celebration—an iconic event in an iconic part of our city, and one of Minnesota’s best festivals.  Summer is also home to our old staples—Rondo Days, Ordway’s Summer Dance Series, Music In Mears, Irish Fair, food trucks, summer Saints games – which will be played at the Lowertown ballpark—and more. 

This summer will have more live music than ever before with the inaugural Lowertown Blues Festival on June 14. The second annual Guitar Fest will make its appearance in Mears Park, just blocks away from BedlamTheater, which had its grand opening over the weekend. Midway Stadium is hosting the Summer Beer Dabbler in September, not to be overshadowed by the Saint Paul Summer Beer Fest in June.

Summer is the season for taprooms as Saint Paul is experiencing a boom of openings—like Flat Earth, Urban Growler, Summit, Burning Brothers, Bang, Tin Whiskers, and Vine Park.

Festivals, music, good food and good drink, combined with parks, aquatics, walkable shops and vibrant neighborhoods—all reasons why summer in Saint Paul is hard to beat.