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.

Posts about People and neighborhoods

New art to be added along Green Line

Posted by: James Walsh Updated: February 17, 2015 - 2:42 PM

A piece of art designed and built by sculptor Emmett Culligan will be installed at the new Goodwill Easter Seals store at 1239 University Ave. W. in St. Paul on Wednesday, Feb. 18, at 10:30 a.m.

The sculpture, to be combined with new landscaping outside the store, is intended to enhance a pedestrian-friendly atmosphere along the Green Line.

Culligan is an artist based in Colorado. According to his website, his artistic concerns "lie foremost within the manipulation of material and often reference common forms found in everyday life. He considers the act of 'making' as primary to the universal human endeavor; finding comfort and purpose in this simple act. Beyond this intent and purpose, content is revealed through a process  of 'intentional transference' as described by the artist."

Saints name new chef, catering manager for new ballpark

Posted by: James Walsh Updated: February 12, 2015 - 4:42 PM

The St. Paul Saints announced a couple of moves Thursday -- not to bolster their bullpen or batting order, but to please fans' tastebuds.

The team has hired Executive Chef Ray Remler and Catering Manager Effie Minitsios.

Remler was a chef at the Rivertown Inn in Stillwater. At the Saints' new ballpark, he will be in charge of creating unique food options for all the concession stands during 50 Saints home games and more than 150 other events. He will oversee a staff of about 15 people.

Remler and the Saints plan to use organics and locally sourced ingredients in their ballpark fare. Not only will Remler help cook in the main stands along the concourse, he will also be in charge of setting the menu on a nightly basis in the Club and in suites.

Remler has worked for Embassy Suites, the Sheraton Bloomington Hotel and the Radisson Hotel in Bloomington over his nearly 30 years in the hospitality industry.

Minitsios comes to the Saints from the Detroit Tigers, where she worked as a suite coordinator for Delaware North Companies. At CHS Field, she will be in charge of picnics, suites, Skybox, the Club and all specialty seating areas.  Minitsios oversaw the catering of 92 luxury suites at Detroit's Comerica Park.

Minitsios has also worked for Fifth Avenue Management at the MGM Grand Casino in Las Vegas.

CHS Field, the new Lowertown ballpark set to open in May, will feature 12 different areas where fans can buy food and drinks -- six concession stands and six portable kiosks. Groups will be able to use four picnic areas on the concourse: The Lawn, which will seat up to 1,000 people; the Craft Beer Bullpen, an area next to the popular craft beer taps; The Terrace, a tiered area down the right field line that seats up to 150 people and The Gallery, an art centric area behind home plate that seats up to 100 people.

Donations being taken for family of 4-year-old girl killed in fire

Posted by: Nicole Norfleet Updated: February 10, 2015 - 1:23 PM

The family of 4-year-old Ntshialiag (pronounced Chialia) Yang, who died after her family's home caught fire Sunday, is accepting donations.

The Yang family is taking donations of not only money but also clothing, hygiene products and other goods for the surviving members of the family. For more details, visit the family's fundraiser page.

"We appreciate the outpouring of support from the community," the family says, in a statement on the Web site. "Many people have asked how and what they can donate besides money. Here is some information about the family if people would like to donate goods."

On Sunday night about 8:30 p.m., firefighters were called to the Yangs' home on the 500 block of E. Jessamine Avenue in the city's Payne-Phalen neighborhood. While Ntshialiag's father was able to get the other six members of his family out of the house, he wasn't able to find Ntshialiag after multiple attempts. Fire crews discovered her in a second-floor bedroom, but she was pronounced dead after being taken to the hospital.

Ntshialiag Yang was St. Paul’s first fire fatality of the year. Authorities have yet to release information about the cause of the fire.

Rice Creek Commons website launches

Posted by: James Walsh Updated: February 9, 2015 - 1:51 PM

Ramsey County officials announced Monday the launch of a new, dedicated website for Rice Creek Commons, the new name of the development at the old Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant in Arden Hills.

The website will be a place to go for the most current information about the project, officials said.

Work is progressing at the site. Since the county bought the 427-acre site in April 2013, crews from Bolander & Sons have demolished the 44 buildings that once stood on the property and completed environmental cleanup on 60 percent of the site.

Ramsey County also is working with Arden Hills to complete a master plan for the development, as well as a long-term energy plan for the site.

Officials say the goal is a mixed-use development that includes housing, commercial, retail, light manufacturing and recreational uses.

The site is expected to be cleaned to residential standards by fall 2015.

For more information, go to: RiceCreekCommons.com

Six people were interviewed for St. Paul public works chief, and Lantry wasn't one of them

Posted by: Kevin Duchschere Updated: January 30, 2015 - 3:06 PM

In the days since St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman announced his appointment of City Council President Kathy Lantry to be the city’s new Public Works Director ( http://www.startribune.com/local/stpaul/289199231.html ), some people have wondered how that all came about. After all, she's not a typical choice for the job -- and she didn't apply for it.

Lantry knows as much, or more, about city government than just about anyone at City Hall. She’s smart, a skillful negotiator and possesses the kind of humor that enables her to disarm windbags without ruffling feathers. She’s able to cut to the heart of complex issues and has a large store of common sense.

But she’s not an engineer, nor has she ever worked in the department she soon will be managing.

Moreover, 33 people applied for the job in response to a national search conducted by a city contractor, Springsted Consulting, for $10,000.

Seven of the applicants were invited for interviews, and in the end a panel of city officials led by Deputy Mayor Kristin Beckmann interviewed six of them, said the city's Human Resources Director Angie Nalezny.

Of those six, three were interviewed by a second, larger panel -- including Beckmann, Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb, and public works officials with Minneapolis and Ramsey County.

One of those three, from the Chicago area, was immediately interviewed by Coleman to save the cost of flying her back to St. Paul. The other two of the three, reportedly from the metro area, likely would have been interviewed by the mayor -- had he not halted the process at that point and appointed Lantry instead.

Lantry and Coleman are longtime political allies. Both were raised in staunchly DFL homes in St. Paul, and both had parents who were effective and respected legislators. Both joined the City Council at the same time, in 1998. They’re separated in age by only seven days (Coleman is older).

Even so, the mayor has never been able to take Lantry’s support for granted. When she has disagreed with him – notably on budget issues, and most recently on the matter of funding for expanded library hours – she hasn’t been shy about saying so publicly.

The city’s job description says candidates “must have seven years of progressively-responsible, professional experience in public works construction projects and/or engineering design with three years at a management level,” and also suggests that candidates have a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, public administration or business administration.

Lantry’s degree, from the College of St. Benedict, is in liberal studies.

Lantry won’t be the city’s first public works director without a background in the field. Rich Lallier, for instance, took the job in 2010 after a long tenure in the Parks and Recreation Department.

Council Member Dan Bostrom doesn’t think technical expertise is essential for the job. “It’s more a management position as opposed to being out in the field,” he said. “Kathy having been around for a long time, you know who the actors are and who’s in charge.”

Lantry said that she was surprised by Coleman's job offer, but "he thought she would be the best person for the job," mayoral spokeswoman Tonya Tennessen said in an email message. "As a fellow lifelong resident of St. Paul and after serving 15 years on the City Council, no one knows St. Paul better than Kathy Lantry.

“What’s more, she has a deep understanding of the department given the many public works issues she has dealt with during her time on the City Council – so ramp-up time will be minimal. Yet, at the same time, she offers an outside perspective that will be important in setting the forward direction for the department.”

The job will mean more money for Lantry, but perhaps not as much as seems to be the case at first glance. She makes $58,491 on the City Council, which is considered a part-time job; her salary as public works director, which is full-time and then some, will be $136,000.

Lantry said she is excited at the prospect of starting on March 1, although she knows the job is “fraught with peril,” as she put it. A lot of fingers get pointed at the person in charge of making sure the city’s streets get repaired in the summer and plowed in the winter.

Although she didn’t say it, public works also may not be the best place from which to launch a mayoral campaign in 2017, should one be so inclined.

“It’s a big, daunting task,” Lantry said, “but I know the department, I know the players, and I come in with pure motives. I really am taking this on because infrastructure and public works are core city services that I want to make sure work well.”

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