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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.
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.
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.
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.