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Four homeowners in St. Paul Park are ready to experiment with rain gardens. Those homeowners, who live on Dayton Avenue and Blossom Lane south of 14th Avenue, have volunteered to let the city's public works department build free, experimental rain gardens in their yards, as a way to control stormwater runoff. "They welcomed us with open arms and agreed to the rain gardens and also to maintaining them," said St. Paul Park Public Works Supervisor Lee Flandrich.
After more than 100 years of use, the colors and memories that Mary Jane Arnfelt's quilt invokes are still vibrant. "It's not beautiful, but it's a wonderful quilt," said Arnfelt, a Cottage Grove resident. "When my husband lived with his grandmother, it kept him warm. Later, when we were married and lived on the farm, it kept our children warm." Arnfelt's story was one of many told last Saturday as members of the South Washington Heritage Society displayed quilts they had made or been given.
St. Paul Park homeowners and businesses will pay less for street reconstruction this year. City Council members March 5 approved a resolution, 5-0, that changed the city's street assessment policy. The new policy calls for homeowners to pay 33 percent and commercial or industrial owners to pay 40 percent -- down from the 75 percent assessment charged in 2002-03. To reimburse homeowners who prepaid for street reconstruction at the higher assessment rate, the Council agreed last week to a 50 percent rebate.
Despite one homeowner's protest, the St. Paul Park City Council approved plans to impose a stormwater fee on city property owners. The 5-0 decision to have city staff prepare the final draft for a new stormwater fee ordinance followed a public hearing held March 5. "We'll still be tweaking the ordinance," St. Paul Park Mayor John Hunziker said. "We will add a few things, possibly subtract a few things, but it will probably not be lowered. "In the metro area, stormwater management fees range from $12 to $105," Hunziker said.
A recent class project gave two Oltman Junior High School ninth-graders the chance to explore something close to home that's very relevant to their lives. As a project for their global resources class, Samantha Hartfiel and Katie Reiff decided to focus their attention on the recent announcement that perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA) was discovered in local wells. "We decided to do the PFBA issue because it was something happening right here," said Hartfiel of St. Paul Park.
More than 100 Junior Girl Scouts from the Girl Scout Council of the St. Croix Valley, visited Marathon Petroleum Co. in St. Paul Park, Feb. 24. The event was planned to coincide with Engineers Week, Feb. 18 to 24, and Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, Feb. 22, said Sarah Clark, advanced human resources representative at Marathon and organizer of the day's events. "If girls are getting interested in science, now is the time to catch them," Clark said.
St. Paul Park City Council members have tentatively approved a new stormwater management fee for homeowners and businesses. The fees will range from $32 per year for a single-family residence to $96 for a commercial operation. Council members will discuss the proposed fee at a public hearing, 7:15 p.m. Monday, March 5. The meeting is open to the public. The stormwater system includes curbs, gutters, streets, catch basins, ponding basins, sediment collection tanks and equipment, said Council member Steve Hunstad. "All these features require short- and long-term maintenance," he said.
The scope of the St. Paul Park 2007 street reconstruction project has changed. At a workshop session Feb. 20, council members agreed to add more streets to the project, construct medians on each side of three railroad crossings, use TIF money to help finance the project and change the street assessment ratio. Portions of eight streets on the east side of St. Paul Park will be added to the city's 2007 reconstruction project, but the cost to homeowners is expected to drop.
St. Thomas Preschool, a fixture in the St. Paul Park community for 36 years, is closing its doors. The preschool that once had families lined up waiting to register will graduate its last classes on May 17 and 18. "It's like leaving your family," said Liz Johnson, school director and one of two lead teachers. St. Thomas Preschool was licensed for 160 students per year for morning and afternoon classes. Johnson said the preschool is closing because of the economy, and competition from other centers. "Parents are looking for a daycare and preschool combination now," she said.
Oltman Junior High Social studies teacher Solomon Senrik goes to great lengths to help students learn about other cultures. In March, he's going all the way to Saudi Arabia -- an 8,000 mile, 20-hour flight from the Twin Cities. "I like to travel to places about which Americans have misconceptions," Senrik said. "I'm especially drawn to Saudi Arabia, which is sort of closed off to the average American. "I'm interested in people and the interaction of people," he said.