Last night was a busy one with three events that took me across a range of activities in our neighborhood. First was a showing of light rail station art hosted by the McKnight Foundation. At our two stations - Westgate and Raymond Ave – the art is being designed by Stanton Sears and incorporates different wheel imagery representing our history as a transit hub, from ox cart to railroad. It’s hard to tell what it will look like full-sized, but Sears is an internationally acclaimed sculptor and while his proposal isn’t as colorful as some of the other stations, it certainly seems in keeping with our industrial, transport-oriented environment. I guess we’ll get a chance to critique it when it’s unveiled next year.

My next stop was a non-foundation fundraiser for a local office holder at the Colossal Café. The food was wonderful and it was nice to see neighbors and friends out to support a candidate who I think has done a great job. I won’t go any further other than to remind everyone that every vote counts and we have two very important referendum issues on the ballot as well as the St. Paul Public Schools levy. I won’t tell you how to vote but I will encourage everyone to get to the polls. Once something gets into the state constitution, it’s very difficult to get out.

My final stop was at StAP Elementary for the first SAPSA (parent-teacher group) meeting of the school year. There was a very nice turnout, maybe 20 or so, and the report from principal, Ann Johnson, was very positive. As I reported a couple weeks back, there are 565 students there, in 22 appropriately-sized (district mandated limits) classrooms.  They have been going over their MCA test results from last spring which showed general improvement but no progress on the achievement gap, so, more work to be done there. This is the last year of 6th grade on that site, starting in fall of 2013 that class will move over to Murray. Preparations have been underway since last year. For an update on Area E (our new designation,) you can attend an informational meeting at Como High on Oct. 11. Check their website for a time, etc. Also check out sapsablog.com for info on the school throughout the year.

D12 – is heading into the fall with a full schedule. First is tonight’s Share Your Vision/Town Hall meeting from 6-8pm at the lovely Luther Sem coffeeshop  in the Olson Campus Center on Fulham. We’ll have a number of our state and local reps there, so stop by and to meet, eat and discuss. It starts with a Community Fair from 6-6:30 where local orgs and businesses can share info, coupons, etc.…This will be followed by one of my favorite events, the Home Tour on Sat. Oct. 6 from 10-3pm . It’s a chance to poke your nose into some of our neatest houses. I am particularly interested in Tim & Kathy Harding’s new modular home on the corner of Gordon and Commonwealth – it looks very cool…then there’s the Give & Take coming up on Oct. 10 at 6:30pm in the Creative Enterprise Zone’s Mattress Factory building at 558 Vandalia. What do you know? What do you want to know? That’s where it starts and just keeps getting better, interweaving interesting topics and speakers along the way.  Find out more at the D12 website.

Schools – I already covered the elementary school so let’s move on to Murray. Their numbers are good - in the upper 700’s - about what was expected. They scored significant gains in their reading scores on the MCA's and are offering a Parent Academy to help parents learn about the school and how they can support their kids success. Neighbor Cindy Thrasher is heading that up along with the tutoring program, so she is a busy person. Their AVID program (peer supported academic achievement) is bustling and just got back from a canoe trip. The tutoring program has 45 students and recently hosted the annual pizza/info party for them and their parents. If you have some time to help out, it’s a great program. Contact Cindy…Parent Academy and AVID are also going strong over at Como High. This is homecoming week with all sorts of events including a parade, picnic and dance. Saturday, Oct. 6 is their first annual golf tourney, everyone welcome. More info here.

Listserv – 10-12 year olds looking to start a rock band, glad to know the tradition continues. My favorite local school-age band name of all times was Ritalin…some car thefts and suspicious behavior in the wee hours. Report it to the police…the proposed property taxes provide some interesting numbers for StAP. First, our median-value home dropped in value by 1.9% as opposed to 19.9% over in Frogtown. Second, home owners in 12 of St. Paul’s 17 planning districts can expect to see a reduction in property taxes but we will see the largest increase at 6.9%. Third, property taxes will go down on average even if the school levy passes, due to higher commercial taxes and other funding sources…the cry has gone up: more pilates classes at the rec center needed evenings and weekends…finally, if you want to get in on a bulk purchase of recycled paper, contact D12.

StAPnotes – The Edge Coffee shop near University & Raymond is looking for a new owner…this week I’m introducing a calendar, which will not be completely inclusive, but is a start. Here goes:

StAP Calendar

Wed. 9/26 – 6-8pm, D12 Share the Vision – Sem Olson Center Coffee Shop

Thurs. 9/27 – 6-7:30pm, Meet & greet elected officials – 2294 Commonwealth

Fri. 9/28 – 6-8pm, Graphic designer exhibit at U of M Goldstein Museum of Design

Sat. 9/29 – 11am, Como High Homecoming parade at the school

Tues. 10/2 – 6:30pm, StAP Garden Club, mtg and social time, “Winter Seed Propagation for Summer Blooms”

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