I’m back from a week visiting our daughter in Portland, OR. And I promise I won’t blather on about all the cool things Portland is doing and has to offer, but with its proximity to the coast, mountains and rivers, it’s a pretty neat place. We visited with some old neighbors, Jim and Joan McCord (house next to library) who relocated to the Northwest a couple of years ago. They are doing fine but had some tough days recently as their son is a hotshot fighting fires in Arizona where the awful hotshot deaths occurred. He serves on a different crew, but it's very sobering to consider the dangers inherent in his chosen field. There is a serious conversation that has to happen about putting these courageous units in harms way to try to protect property that is isolated and vulnerable.  If you can’t get insurance on a prospective new home, you should probably think about a new site or expect problems. 

Our vacation meant that for the first time in 20 years or so I was not here for the 4th of July Parade & Picnic. I missed being here and heard that it was a lovely day and everything went very well. The Mayor even returned from his cabin to be on hand which was very nice of him. Sorry I couldn’t have shared the bandstand with him this year but hopefully, he will return again before he decides to call it a career. He knows he is always welcome here in his second home community. Thanks to Beth Commers and Erica Schumacher for taking over my emcee responsibilities, and Chris Collin for handling the raffle call. I did hear from many neighbors who appreciated the Spirit of the Park recognition given to Warren and Kiki Gore, looks like it was a very popular choice. 

D12 – Aside from sponsoring the solar troops that marched in the parade, things seemed to be pretty low key at the council the past week. Transition Town groups continue to move forward. The one dedicated to solar will be meeting tonight at the 3rd Place to look at a prototype contract that will be sent on to the St. Paul School District as a starting point for discussing a pilot project which would put solar panels on our elementary school. The devil is usually in the details, but the district seems very enthusiastic and we have members who represent Xcel as well as longterm solar activists so it’s certainly more than pie in the sky. The housing group is looking at aesthetically respectful ways to increase density on individual property sites which might mean rezoning considerations. The Transportation group is looking into single trash hauler as well as circulators to take people to light rail. Many good ideas being discussed. 

Schools – I got a chance to meet the new Murray principal, Stacy Collins, before I left on vacation. I was very impressed with her understanding of Murray’s culture and specific ideas on how to create an atmosphere that enhances achievement. She is still finishing up her work at a year-round school but had obviously given substantial thought to the challenges of her new job. She has already held a well-attended open house for parents and expressed that one of her immediate goals is to improve communication to the Murray community. The district is offering their full support during this transition – I was part of a group of parents who met with Steve Unowsky, the Assistant Superintendent in charge of the middle schools, and he was very clear about his high expectations for Murray’s future. I look forward to working with Stacy, the District, and the Murray parents to continue growing Murray’s great programs and solid reputation.

Listserv – Gordon Murdock sent out his annual notification of the chimney swift Sit sponsored by the state Audubon society. Chimney swifts roost in chimneys (thus the name)  at sunset and the society would like to know more about the sites they know exist and find new ones. These fascinating birds are declining in numbers, so monitoring their behaviors is important to helping understand the reasons behind the decline. Some of these sites have hundreds of birds nesting overnight and watching the flock descend into a chimney is amazing. Visit this website for more on the Sit and look at the youtube video they have linked on the bottom of the home page…a reminder that SAPAS (the old block nurses program) has light impact aerobics scheduled at the 825 Seal Building (Territorial & Raymond) every Monday & Thursday from 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm… 

StAPnotes – Coming up next Monday, July 15th, the monthly St. Anthony Park Neighborhood Sings! Dan Chouinard & Ann Reed will again lead the community in great American songs and requests. 6:30 Social & gathering time, 7-8:30 singing at the Luther Seminary Olson Student Center, 1490 Fulham, 2nd level. It’s a fun event and it’s free…Tour the new Urban Growler Brewery in south StAP, just south of the RR tracks and east of Raymond on 2325 Endicott St., St. Paul. Thursday, July 18th and Friday July 19th, 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. It’s a great chance to meet the owners, Jill Pavlak and Deb Loch and taste their beer. You might like it so much you’ll become investors!...there are some new trees being planted in Langford Park to make up for trees lost over the past few years. Some of this is regular maintenance, but some has to do with the ash bore. The Foundation got together with the elementary school kids to raise money for the new trees near the school. So go look for the new elms, River Birch, Kentucky Coffeetree, and Swamp White Oak that will be planted throughout the park.  15 trees in total. 

That’s all for now. Take good care of yourself and be a good neighbor.