Cats of St. Paul get second chance at feline rescue

“It’s the people power here, I think, that makes a difference,” says Kelley Leaf, Community Relations Director of Feline Rescue, Inc.Yet despite the title, Leaf is not paid for her work; Feline Rescue is an all-volunteer no-kill feline rescue. Founded in 1997, the nonprofit houses and rehabilitates up to 70 cats at a time at its adoption center on Fairview, just north of University Avenue, in Saint Paul.The organization also maintains an extensive network of foster homes to care for kittens, whose special socialization needs require them not to be kept at the adoption center. In 2012, 277 cats were adopted from the rescue, making a dent in the hundreds of cats picked up by animal control each year in Saint Paul. This represented a 17% increase in adoptions over 2011, even as the shelter took in 10% more cats than over the previous year.Further helping to decrease the number of unwanted felines in the Twin Cities, Feline Rescue gets out into the community in partnership with MNSNAP and spays and neuters hundreds of feral cats (or as Leaf calls them, community cats). This year, a $24,000 grant is expected to increase the number of cats the organization can spay or neuter from the 719 ‘alterations’ performed last year.Those interested in adopting, volunteering or just visiting with the cats can stop by the adoption center seven days a week or visit the website at http://felinerescue.org. This is one of a number of articles produced by students at Macalester as part of a New Media class.CORRECTION: The official name of the organization is Feline Rescue, Inc.  Continue Reading

Minnesota legislators’ pay could jump by 32%—but still, 2014 is no 1979

On Tuesday, April 16, the Minnesota Senate voted 34-32 to pass SF 1589, a bill that would raise the pay of Representatives and Senators next session by about $10,000 annually, from $31,000 to almost $41,000 in 2015.  The pay raise was included in an omnibus bill covering a range of topics, and debate largely avoided discussion of the pay raise even as Republicans and a handful of Democrats from swing districts threatened to kill the legislation. But the brevity of discussion on the pay raises ignores the historic conversation surrounding Minnesota legislators’ salaries.The first reference to legislative salaries appears in a travel book by a Swedish visitor to the state.“Although the government officials in America are in general very poorly paid, which naturally results in fraud on every side, on the other hand, the members of the legislative bodies are paid enough so that they do not have to go home empty handed. The senators and representatives are paid five dollars a day, and they receive free travel back and forth and about twenty dollars for stationary [sic].” (Hugo Nesbitt, Two Years in America (1872-1874); Accounts of Travel, republished in Minnesota History, December 1927)Ever since the 1870s, debates over legislative pay have been vigorous. Legislators may be reluctant to vote for pay raises because of negative public reaction. In 1961, for example, Liberal Rep. Peter Popovich floated an anonymous trial balloon in the media proposing a pay raise. Continue Reading

ReNewell Project aims to restore historic Saint Paul oak grove

As planning begins for this year’s Heartwood Festival, an unusual partnership between the city of Saint Paul, the University of Minnesota and the Hamline Midway Coalition has planted the seeds for the renewal of a historic oak grove in Newell Park. TheReNewell Project aims “to engage community members in Newell Park restoration each year during the Heartwood Festival,” according to Faith Krogstad, a community organizer with the Hamline Midway Coalition, which organizes the Heartwood Festival in Newell Park each year.Newell Park, wedged between Fairview and Pierce Butler, is host to a grove of more than 150 oak trees identified on the city’s landmark trees list. This grove was already established when the park was dedicated in 1908, one of the last native growths in Saint Paul of its kind.“Newell Park is one of the oldest parks, if not the oldest park, in the city, and it is very iconic for the old-growth oak trees that exist there,” said Brett Stadsvold, a natural resource technician with the City of Saint Paul’s forestry unit. “So it is very important to the community of Saint Paul to make sure that we have trees to replace the mature oak trees in the future… so that we have something new to take the place of anything that comes down.”“In terms of mass stands like Newell Park, there is nothing else that is part of the landmark tree program,” Stadsvold added.The seeds of the reNewell Project were really planted four years ago, when Chad Giblin of the University of Minnesota’s Department of Horticultural Science struck up a research partnership with the forestry unit of the Saint Paul’s Parks and Recreation department.“The main focus that we are looking at with our research partnership is ‘What can we do to get younger trees established in the parks, on the streets, in the city, or so forth,’” Giblin said. Continue Reading

Ax-Man Surplus: In spite of light rail, a family affair

Packed into an old building at the corner of University and Fry, Ax-Man Surplus does not seem particularly noteworthy from the outside. Walking in, a potential customer is bombarded with a number of seemingly unrelated items. Several mannequins are waiting to greet the customer, dressed in whatever clothes the staff found lying around. These and a number of other goods are for sale: a crate of bowling pins, a bike, a box of umbrellas, tiny bells, garbage cans, a very-used nightstand, several rolling chairs, a giant model horse with a saddle, a giant scale, and a can crusher. And this is just walking through the entrance.Ax-Man Surplus has lasted decades on University Avenue, now surviving light rail construction with the help of a unique approach to business and a loyal customer base.It is hard to explain exactly what it is that Ax-Man sells. The website describes it as “A second home for collectors, crafters, artists, and those who love to tinker” and “home to pretty much everything you never knew you couldn’t live without.”“No two days are the same, that’s for sure. Continue Reading