What’s making news in St. Paul, reported by the Star Tribune’s team of city reporters. Send news tips to richard.meryhew@startribune.com.

Six-year-old girl dies from possible drowning in Highland Park

Posted by: Kevin Duchschere under People and neighborhoods, Public safety Updated: December 23, 2014 - 12:52 PM

A 6-year-old girl died Tuesday morning at Children's Hospital in St. Paul in an apparent drowning at a Highland Park apartment building, officials said Tuesday.

The building is located in the 1300 block of E. Maynard Drive, near W. 7th Street.

The girl's mother was later taken into custody and no one else is being sought.

Investigators have preliminary information on the victim’s identity and are working with the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office for confirmation. The medical examiner is also working to determine the cause and manner of death.




Midway Stadium site gets state money for cleanup

Posted by: Kevin Duchschere under Local business, Politics and government, Urban living Updated: December 23, 2014 - 12:41 PM

While the Saints’ new ballpark continues to rise in downtown St. Paul, plans for their old home at Midway Stadium got a significant boost Tuesday from the state.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) announced $4.16 million in pollution cleanup or investigative grants to 10 redevelopment sites across the state, including $1.25 million to remediate the old ballpark site near Snelling Avenue in St. Paul.

The 12.9-acre site, once a dump, is co-owned by the St. Paul Port Authority and United Properties. They plan to build a light-industrial building where nearly 200 people can be employed. The redevelopment is expected to increase the tax base by $814,331.

The Port Authority and other grant sources will match the cleanup costs, according to a DEED news release.

The Port Authority acquired the Midway Stadium site in 2012 in a land swap with the city of St. Paul, which didn’t have the needed funds to buy the Lowertown site for the new ballpark. The Port Authority bought the downtown site for $1.85 million, then gave it to the city in exchange for the Midway site.

Another St. Paul developer also received $200,000 to clean up pollution at a site along W. 7th Street near the Xcel Energy Center, where a new hotel, housing and street-level commercial space are planned. The redevelopment is expected to add 50 jobs and increase the tax base by $818,317.

Other sites receiving cleanup grants Tuesday, along with plans for redevelopment: Howe Fertilizer, Brooklyn Center, dock facility, $610,000; 602 Residences, Minneapolis, condos and underground parking, $292,000; New Horizon Academy, Minneapolis, daycare center, $243,000; Brad’s Auto Salvage, Blue Earth County, shop and office building, $233,000; Washington and Chicago redevelopment, Minneapolis, apartment building with commercial space, $227,000; city of Mankato, children’s museum, $98,000; and Garceau Hardware, Vadnais Heights, senior housing complex, $18,000.

Cops arrest guy for tossing counterfeit cash

Posted by: James Walsh under Public safety, Urban living Updated: December 18, 2014 - 4:15 PM
Cops thought there had been a robbery. What they got was a footchase — and a suspect shedding funny money as he ran away.
St. Paul Police were called to an address in the 800 block of Magnolia Avenue E. just after midnight Thursday morning on a report of a robbery with a gun. But when they got to the house, they found only a tan sedan with four guys sitting inside. No victim. No sign of a gun.
That’s when the guy in the rear passenger seat decided to get out of the car and run. Police gave chase, and with the help of a police dog, they arrested the 21-year-old man a short distance away. For felony fraud — not robbery.
Turns out that as the suspect fled down a path away from the car, he tossed away three wads of cash — counterfeit cash — along the trail. Total recovered: $2,500 in 25 fake $100 bills.

St. Paul submits its legislative wish list for 2015

Posted by: Kevin Duchschere under Parks and recreation, People and neighborhoods, Politics and government, Lions, Urban living Updated: December 17, 2014 - 2:04 PM

The St. Paul City Council on Wednesday will sign off on the city’s legislative wish list for 2015, a series of funding requests, projects and statutory changes that council members and Mayor Chris Coleman are making a priority in the New Year.

At the top of the list: restoration of local government aid to 2003 levels, more state funding for transportation infrastructure and transit, and five top capital projects for which the city will seek state bonding (although 2015 isn’t necessarily a bonding year at the State Capitol).

Those projects and the amount requested, in order of priority, are reconstruction of the Kellogg Boulevard-3rd Street bridge ($40 million); an environmental learning center at Crosby Farm Regional Park ($19.5 million); renovation of the Como Zoo’s seals and sea lions exhibit ($14.5 million); a regional public safety facility and indoor firing range ($6.5 million); and a cultural center at the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary ($3 million).

Coleman said Wednesday that the city also hopes to get authorization for multiple tax-increment financing districts to aid development at the Ford site in Highland Park.

The legislative agenda includes a number of issues on which the city wishes to express its views. For instance, St. Paul opposes state-sanctioned tax levy limits, wants construction materials exempted from sales taxes, and supports more funding to help communities slow the progress of the emerald ash borer.

The city’s lobbying efforts are led by J.D. Burton, who has been St. Paul’s government relations director for a couple years.

“It’s a fairly wide-ranging package of things that we’ll be presenting to the Legislature,” Coleman said. “It’s consistent with what most cities and communities across the state are going to be asking.”

Santa, Mrs. Claus deliver gifts to hospitalized children

Posted by: James Walsh under Politics and government, Public safety Updated: December 17, 2014 - 1:50 PM

Shortly after 8:30 Wednesday morning, Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus marshalled their forces at St. Paul Police Department headquarters and launched an early start to Christmas for hundreds of sick children.

Using a St. Paul Police motorcade with sirens blaring as an escort, the department's Cops and Kids program first visited Children's Hospitals and Clinics on Smith Avenue. Later Wednesday afternoon, they were to appear at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare on University Avenue E. It is the 14th year for the event.

Santa, who left the police station driving a motorcycle and not a sleigh, and Mrs. Claus, who was riding in the sidecar, planned to deliver more than 500 gifts over the course of the day. And a handful of elves tagged along to help.

So did several police horses and Duke, a K-9 officer.

At Children's, Santa even played a little air hockey with one young patient.

Officer Amy Rahlf, who has been on the Cops and Kids planning committee for 14 years and has played Mrs. Claus for the last past three, said the event means as much to the cops as it does to the kids.

“It’s just amazing as you visit with the children and see their smiles when Santa and Mrs. Claus walk into their rooms,” she said. “It brings joy to everyone who participates in this event to really make it a special day for the children and their families.”

Cops and Kids is supported by donations from St. Paul businesses and organizations. Other police fundraising events -- including an officer-organized motorcycle run, chili cook-off and Koins for Kids collection -- provide money for the program. Police also give gas cards to some families with children in the hospitals to help ease the stress of getting to and from the hospital to visit their kids.

Photo of Emily Kargel with Santa and his helpers by Richard Tsong-Taatarii, Star Tribune


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