2021

West St. Paul Reader Year in Review: 2021

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2021 has been a year of progress and setbacks. Thanks to vaccines, we finally started to come out of the pandemic—only to see it continue with new variations. Locally we saw a rash of construction and related complaints, but also a flourishing of new and expanded or remodeled businesses.

Here’s our year in review for West St. Paul, looking at the big news, the most popular stories, as well as some of our favorites.

2021 by the Numbers

First, let’s look at a few numbers for West St. Paul Reader in 2021:

Top 10 Posts

The clicks don’t lie. Here are the top 10 posts of 2021:

  1. 2021 Construction Updates in West St. Paul
  2. High School Name Change Survey
  3. Former Mayor Puts Up Blue Lives Matter Mural in West St. Paul
  4. Voter’s Guide: 2021 ISD 197 School Board & Levy Election
  5. What’s Going on With Hy-Vee and the YMCA?
  6. Burger King Returns to West St. Paul
  7. Two Rivers High School Is the New Name for Henry Sibley High School
  8. Crumbl Cookies Comes to West St. Paul
  9. Frustrated by New Business Options?: Why We Get What We Get in West St. Paul
  10. When Does World Famous Momo Open?

All but one of these stories were posted in 2021. The Hy-Vee story is from 2020 but still gets the clicks thanks to continued interest and a lack of any discernible progress or new information.

Top 5 Stories of 2021

While the most popular posts tell one story, they don’t always cover the top stories. Here are the biggest news stories of 2021 in West St. Paul:

Two Rivers High School

1. Two Rivers

Without a doubt, the biggest story in West St. Paul in 2021 was the renaming of Henry Sibley High School to Two Rivers High School. The ISD 197 school board voted unanimously to rename the school in late 2020, but 2021 saw the full process of coming up with names and ultimately selecting Two Rivers.

Robert Street in West St. Paul

2. Construction & New Business

West St. Paul has likely never seen so many cranes towering over the city at one time. 2021 saw at least 13 different construction projects starting during the year. The most highly visible include the Dominium apartments at the former Kmart, the Town Center One project, and Gateway Place. (And no, there’s no news on Hy-Vee construction.)

With new construction comes new business, whether that’s brand new buildings or new life to old ones. At one point, Mayor Dave Napier said West St. Paul had seen at least 80 new businesses since the reconstruction of Robert Street. New businesses in 2021 included Chase Bank, Crumbl Cookies, Lavilash Lashes, Mamm Couture, North 40 Tavern, Starbucks, Tumble Fresh Laundry, World Famous Momo, Xfinity, and more.

3. Black Lives Matter Mural

A West St. Paul story that drew national attention was the saga of the Black Lives Matter mural. The mural first went up in the fall of 2020, but the debate came in 2021 when the city’s demand to take it down (first issued in 2020 but given a reprieve due to weather) became public. It prompted a counter mural from a former mayor and even ongoing debate that will continue into 2022.

ISD 197 school board and levy renewal election and voter's guide

4. School Board Election

The ISD 197 school board election saw 10 candidates vying for three seats, plus a levy renewal, making for the most hotly contested race in years. Mirroring a national trend, the local school board race saw a sharp divide with conservative candidates challenging the pandemic response, questioning equity and how to talk about racism, and rejecting LGBTQ acceptance.

Robert Street underpass ribbon-cutting ceremony in West St. Paul

5. Parks

2021 was a big year for parks in West St. Paul with several major projects coming to fruition, including the long awaited Robert Street underpass on the River-to-River Greenway Trail and the newly redesigned Thompson Park. While the bulk of Thompson Park construction finished in 2021, it came too late in the year for most people to enjoy it and will likely be something we fully embrace in 2022. Other smaller changes included pickleball and a new playground at Emerson Park, new trails in Marthaler and Garlough Parks, a new course at the Garlough disc golf course, and a new Little Free Library at the Art Park.

Favorite Posts

The biggest and most popular stories aren’t always the best. Here are some of our favorite posts from 2021:

Brood

2021 Milestones

As a publication, West St. Paul Reader hit several milestones in 2021:

Getting ready for the West St. Paul Rider community bike ride.

Thank You

Thanks to everyone who supports West St. Paul Reader. We couldn’t do this without you.

This local coverage only happens thanks to the generous support of our members. You can join them, starting at just $3 per month through Patreon, and help support local news. In addition to helping your neighbors stay informed, you’ll also get a locally commissioned postcard and exclusive weekly updates. Learn more about supporting local news through Patreon.

Stay healthy and hopeful West St. Paul. Here’s to 2022.

Postcards by local artists commissioned by West St. Paul Reader
Here’s a look at some of the locally commissioned postcards we’ve made for our members. Support us through Patreon to get one of these exclusive postcards.

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