With the city ice rinks at Veterans Memorial Park just opening this week, skaters were literally playing pond hockey at Hallet’s Pond on the north side of St. Peter.
City crews cleared the snow on an area on the ice to open it up for skating starting Jan. 22. With the Veterans Park rinks open, too, skaters in the community now have two options.
St. Peter middle schoolers Ethan Moreau, Joe Greenig and Alex Korir have been among the skaters taking advantage of the natural ice rink.
The 12-year-old sixth-graders started skating there the last couple of weeks, and they have enjoyed it.
“I like it,” Greenig said. “It’s really fun. I get to play with my friends, and I get to skate around.”
Korir said, “I like that it’s big and that we can bring like the nets here and we can play. This is actually my second time playing hockey.”
Moreau said, “I think it’s fun out here because I get to score a lot of goals on these guys. And I like how it’s close to my house, and it’s easy to get out here. It was a little bit colder and windy yesterday, but today is really nice.”
Moreau, who has been playing hockey since age 5, plays youth hockey for the Minnesota River Bulldogs B Peewees. Greening and Korir are basketball players and have only played hockey a few times.
With Moreau being the experienced hockey player, they played 2 on 1.
Moreau and his dad, Eric, built their own goal. “The two of us planned it out and built it out of some extra wood in our shed.”
Comparing the natural ice to man-made ice rinks, Moreau said, “ The ice is different because it’s not a normal hockey rink that they flooded. The water is already there. It definitely feels better in some ways and worse in some ways. I feel like the ice is better when there’s no cuts in it. But when there are a couple of cracks and big chips in the ice it makes it worse.
They have to be careful to avoid the cracks or they may trip.
The pond ice also is harder than normal rink ice, so it’s harder to dig in, but it’s faster, Moreau said.
Access to Hallet’s Pond is only available by foot. Driving and parking is not allowed in the park, and the owners of the property to the south (just off North Third Street) have posted their land as “private property.”
Access is available on the north side of Hy-Vee, from the marked sidewalk off of St. Julien Street across from Skrove Automotive, or from the sidewalk east of the city’s wastewater treatment plant at 400 W. Saint Julien St. Parking is available at all three of those locations which are a short walk away from the ice.
There is no supervision or warming house. There are picnic tables in which to sit and put on skates. Organized practices and games are not allowed.
City of St. Peter leaders continue to be concerned that the community’s available housing stock doesn’t meet demand, but a couple new residential projects in 2021 should at least contribute to a solution.
At Traverse Green, a city-developed subdivision in northwest St. Peter, outside developer Community Asset Development Group, LLC, intends to put up a mixture of multi-family and twin townhomes. Not too far away, at the privately developed Windor Pond neighborhood, Volk Building, Inc. is finishing a third addition and is now looking at a 12-lot fourth addition.
It’s welcome progress for a community that can use more living spaces at all financial levels.
“Comprehensively, we have a lack of multi-family. In October 2019, the vacancy rate of our multi-family units was under 2%,” Community Development Director Russ Wille said. “And if you took an inventory of single-family lots in development for sale outside Traverse Green, you’d find less than a handful.”
Traverse Green, up to this point, has been a city-led development for single-family homes. Similar to the Washington Terrace and Nicollet Meadows neighborhoods, the city built up the infrastructure and partnered with developers (nonprofit or for profit) to build and sell homes. As homes popped up in those first two neighborhoods, they sold quickly, but it’s been slower going at Traverse Green recently.
“There has been no action on the single-family development,” Wille said. “We have 20 of 59 lots that have been developed (at Traverse Green). Our speculative homes, we sold all three at a loss (in 2020).”
One or two Habitat for Humanity homes will be built in the neighborhood each year, but it’s not enough to fill up the neighborhood at the rate the city would like. With the spec homes not selling at value, rather than moving forward with more spec homes, the city’s Economic Development Authority and City Council are hoping outside developers can take the reins.
The council locked into a development agreement with Community Asset Development Group in 2020. The developer purchased 12.8 acres in the undeveloped part of the neighborhood, and it intends to build 66 multi-family units — a mix of multi-family and twin home townhomes — as part of an apartment structure. A potential second 66-unit structure may also be constructed after the first one is complete.
As an incentive for the developer, the city agreed to establish a TIF district in the development area, meaning the developer will be reimbursed for certain costs, based on the increase to property values in the project area. The developers will be reimbursed up to a maximum of $2.1 million.
As part of that TIF agreement, at least 20% of the residential units in the project must be occupied or available for occupancy by persons whose incomes do not exceed 50% of the county median. In other words, at least a fifth of the units must be considered affordable.
One hiccup for the city and developer in this project is the building of public services into the project area, specifically sewer lines. The city is obligated to extend the sewer line system to reach the new development area, but along the way, the sewer line would run into property that has not been annexed into city limits.
This means the city must either come to an agreement with the property owners or take action to annex the land, take ownership of the easement area and then install the lines. There is one property owner the city has not come to terms with, so the council may be voting at its Feb. 8 meeting to annex the land.
Either way, the city has a path to completing the public works project, but it might take longer without cooperation from the property owners.
Things are less complicated at Windor Pond, where private developer Volk Building is continuing to move forward. The first two additions to the neighborhood were completed by Valley View Land Company, which began work in 2002. By 2004, the original 22 single-family lots were mostly under construction or finished, and Valley View went ahead on an addition 34 single-family lots.
Before that second addition finished, Volk Building (under Windsor Homes, LLC) purchased the remaining undeveloped property and got to work on a third addition. Now that the third addition is near completion, the developer is looking ahead to a 12-lot fourth addition.
The City Council approved a development agreement at its Jan. 25 meeting.
As part of the addition, the remainder of Victoria Street will be constructed, along with an extension on Windsor Lane. The city’s Public Works Development said adequate water, wastewater, stormwater and electrical services can be installed/extended to serve the new properties.
The City Council was highly complimentary of the work done at Windor Pond, where home values sometimes exceed $300,000.
“I really like this neighborhood a lot,’ Councilor Keri Johnson said. “It’s good to see more development happening.”
Councilor Stephen Grams agreed.
“I looked at buying one of those houses when I initially moved to St. Peter, and they are really nice homes,” Grams said.
Community Development Director Wille added that the neighborhood represents the highest value per net acre in the community. He said it’s “a very good return for the city of St. Peter.”
River’s Edge Hospital will welcome four finalist candidates to interview in person for its open CEO position. One candidate is a current department head and the interim CEO at the hospital, while the other three are from outside the organization.
The candidates will be in St. Peter on Monday, Feb. 8 and will begin interviews with the River’s Edge executive team, Hospital Commission members and City Council members.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings, a community meet and greet will not be held at the hospital. In order for the community to get a chance to see and hear from the candidates, videotaped interviews with the candidates will be posted on the River’s Edge Hospital website at REHC.org and the River’s Edge Hospital Facebook page. Those videos will be available by 4 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 9.
Following the interviews, there will be a joint meeting of the Hospital Commission and City Council to review the candidates and make a selection. The commission and candidate will then enter into contract negotiations, and the candidate will be confirmed on Feb. 24 at the Hospital Commission meeting.
River’s Edge is using mostly the same process that was used in hiring Joe Stratton in May 2020. That proved to be an ill fit for the hospital, and Stratton was released from his contract six months later.
Staff leadership and the board did take time to reevaluate the hiring process, but the group ultimately decided that it still can work. Chief Experience Officer Stephanie Holden noted that the process was used to hire the CEO before Stratton, George Rohrich, who led one of the most successful periods in the hospital’s history.
“It’s been a process that worked for us in the past. It allows us to be very thorough,” Holden said.
The candidates, listed alphabetically by last name, include:
Andy Lankowicz has served as the President, CHI of St. Alexius Health Devils Lake Hospital since April 2015. During that time, the hospital has been designated by the Chartis Center for Rural Health as a Top 100 critical access hospital in 2016, 2018, and 2020, which puts the hospital in top 7% of all critical access hospitals in the country.
Devils Lake Hospital is also rated by the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) as a 4-star hospital. Andy retired from the United States Army after 26 years of active service, culminating as the Chief Operating Officer for the West Point Health Service Area and Keller Army Community Hospital, United States Military Academy, West Point, New York. In 2006, Andy deployed for a 15-month combat tour in Iraq as the deputy commander for the 28th Combat Support Hospital, where he was awarded a Bronze Star for meritorious service. His other assignments took him to Korea, Germany, Bosnia, Texas, California, and Virginia.
Early in his military career, Andy was a medical evacuation officer flying the UH-1 and UH-60 helicopters and the Beech King Air fixed wing evacuation platforms. Andy holds a certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration as a multi-engine commercial rotary and fixed wing instrument rated pilot.
He received his bachelor of arts in government from St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York; master of business administration from Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York, and master of healthcare administration from Baylor University in Waco, TX. Andy is board certified in health care management and a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives. He is married to Anita (Eftefield) Lankowicz, an Army Nurse Corps veteran who is formerly from Edelstein, Illinois.
Shelby Medina has over 20 years of leadership experience in the health care industry. As a seasoned professional, she has partnered with both large and small health care organizations focusing on brand growth, maximizing operational excellence and delivering financial performance.
She describes herself as “driven by my passion for rural medicine, and I am committed to ensuring that rural communities have access to patient-centered, high quality care.”
She holds an master of business administration from the University of Phoenix, and is currently working on obtaining her executive juris doctorate from Purdue Global.
She leads efforts to achieve and maintain regulatory requirements, including DNV-GL Orthopaedic Center of Excellence certification. She has led the development, implementation and continuous improvement of care delivery models and services. Most recently, she has led the Emergency Management activities for River’s Edge during the COVID-19 pandemic. She has also served as the interim CEO during the most recent vacancy.
Having lived in a rural community for most of her life, Paula understands the importance of providing high-quality health care to the residents of the city of St. Peter and to those in surrounding communities.
Paula received her bachelor of arts in nursing and master of arts in organizational leadership from St. Catherine University. Additionally, she has certificates in ethics and strategic planning. She has 20-plus years of experience in nursing leadership/administration with 10 years of experience at the executive level.
Paula is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), Minnesota Organization of Leaders in Nursing (MOLN), Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) and the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE), and holds their certification in Nurse Executive Practice.
Locally, she has coordinated activities to support and promote education and exposure to health care careers for high school and college students, specifically, 11 years partnering with Gustavus Adolphus College J-Term program and the Health Science Academy High Step programs. She serves on the advisory board for Gustavus Adolphus College and Rasmussen College nursing programs. She is a member of the St. Peter Rotary Club.
As a passionate advocate for rural health care and a servant leader, “I find my greatest joy in ensuring that patients receive the highest quality of care possible, that colleagues have the benefit of a meaningful work experience, and that compassionate providers thrive and excel in a supportive organization,” Charisse Oland said.
Oland’s career as CEO encompasses citizens in Midwestern rural communities, including children from rural/remote areas of the state, serving adults with acute rehabilitation needs and critical access hospitals and health systems.
A University of Minnesota Healthcare Administration graduate, Oland served as a preceptor for senior executives aspiring to become CEOs. She obtained her doctorate in leadership from the University of St. Thomas. She also helped develop the nation’s first Evidence-based Design Accreditation for health care organizations interested in building better hospitals focused on patient-centered care, and she has consulted with numerous nonprofit and for profit organizations.
She said she actively engages in and contributes back to community organizations. She aspires to bring these experiences and skills in a collaborative manner to rural communities with shared values and aspirations for their residents’ health care system.