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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.
In a 24-hour period, 850 fuel tanker trucks turn from St. Paul Park Road onto Summit Avenue, either heading to or from St. Paul Park. Each tanker weighs 80,000 pounds and measures 60 feet long. Each carries 9,000 gallons of gasoline or asphalt product. To reach Highway 61 from Marathon Petroleum Co., in St. Paul Park, each tanker must make a left turn, cross two lanes of traffic and accelerate up hill. "We only need one fuel tanker to be hit for a tragedy to occur at that intersection," said St. Paul Park Council Member Tim Jones.
A St. Paul Park leather crafter's work has made its way to the Grammys. A football handbag designed by Kent Begnaud, of Amen Acres Leather in St. Paul Park, was included in 165 gift baskets for presenters and performers at the Grammy Awards ceremony Feb. 11. Begnaud was asked to help design a handbag using a real football two years ago. The result is a sports fashion purse under the Red24 brand name.
Joe Hinz, a partner in one business and owner of a second, has added a third to his plate. Hinz, of Newport, purchased Big Bull Jerky from Tina Wakefield of Cottage Grove, last May and is running the business single- handedly at its Broadway Avenue location in St. Paul Park. He spends 80 to 100 hours a week cutting, marinating, seasoning, drying and packaging 12 varieties of beef jerky. Jerky is strips of meat that have been seasoned and dried and can be stored for long periods of time without refrigeration.
Kearstin Roy's search to help AIDS sufferers began at an orphanage in Johannesburg, South Africa, last summer. The 19-year-old student from Cottage Grove spent five weeks volunteering at a Salvation Army orphanage, which houses 65 children, from a few days to 3 years old. Most of the children -- nearly 80 percent -- are HIV positive or have had AIDS from birth, she said. "We played with them and hugged them and loved them," Kearstin said.
Commuters and tanker truck drivers trying to get out of St. Paul Park in the early morning have to be very patient. "Traffic backs up on Summit Avenue (County State Aid Highway 22) nearly back to Broadway, between 6:30 and 7 a.m. due to the timing of traffic lights on the overpass," said City Council Member Jeff Swenson. As a result, tanker trucks trying to turn left from St. Paul Park Road to CSAH 22 must wait for a gap in the line. St.
Sally Nelson and her children entered St. Paul Park's annual holiday lights contest in memory of her husband, Russ, who celebrated his last Christmas in 2004. "We promised my husband we would keep up the decorating tradition," Nelson said in December, after she was awarded first place in the contest. "We won this year and we won't enter again. We did it for him." St. Paul Park Mayor John Hunziker praised the family for their display and gave Nelson a $100 Visa gift card for her decorated yard, at 1009 Marshall Ave. Anchor Bank and the City of St.
The St. Paul Park City Council in a 4-1 vote turned down a request for variance from Michael Allram, 1539 Ashland Ave. Council member Jeff Swenson voted nay, saying he would abide by the Planning Commission recommendation. Allram asked for a variance on a structure built over a hot tub. According to the city's building code, the structure must be 10 feet from the house, and Allram's hot tub structure is only two feet from the house.
A local group called the Chrysalides is keeping chemotherapy and brain surgery patients warm this winter. The group makes soft, lightweight washable hats they give away free. After six years on the job, they have made close to 8,500 hats. "We don't just give them one, we give them at least seven -- one for each day," said Shirley Burbank, the woman behind the Chrysalides project.