We’re saying hello to some of our neighbors during our member drive, meeting folks who support West St. Paul Reader. Today we’re meeting John Rapos, who works on staff at a college and has lived in West St. Paul for more than 25 years. He’s been a member of West St. Paul Reader since January 2020.
West St. Paul Love
What do you love about West St. Paul?
It’s safe, affordable, convenient.
Where is your favorite place in West St. Paul?
The restored prairie at Dodge Nature Center. I have an interest in prairie restoration and have been converting some land I own in Wisconsin to prairie over the last eight years.
What’s your go-to West St. Paul eatery?
El Cubano and World Famous Momo.
What is West St. Paul’s best kept secret?
The raptors at Dodge Nature Center.
What do you wish people knew about West St. Paul?
That it is more than Robert Street.
Why did you move to West St. Paul?
Love. Well, a combination of love and a cheap mortgage.
My now-husband/then-boyfriend and I decided to move in together in 1996 in his house near Emerson Park. I was less than impressed with West St. Paul at the time. Our nearest retail neighbors were a pawn shop, gun store, tattoo parlor, a dollar store, and low brow liquor stores. Signal Hills shopping center was about half full and there were lots of empty, weedy storefront lots on Robert.
We agreed we’d live in West St. Paul for no more than three years and then move to a better neighborhood in St. Paul. As we improved our house and yard, our neighborhood started to gradually but consistently improve as well and we decided to see where that was going.
Eventually, the neighborhood took a turn for the better and we decided to stay. In the meantime we got married. Houses on our block started getting improved. Robert got rebuilt. We have neighbors who have keys to our house. The gun, pawn, and tattoo shops closed. And we now have good Nepalese, Cuban, Thai, and Mexican food nearby. We can walk to Micho ice cream, Castillo’s bakery, and Amore Coffee.
26 years later we are probably here for good.
Being a West St. Paul Reader Member
Why did you decide to become a member and support West St. Paul Reader?
It’s important to financially support independent media. Most communities don’t have vibrant local press. We do, and I appreciate it.
What do you like most about being a member and supporting West St. Paul Reader?
Election and city hall coverage. And stories about oddball places I didn’t know about, like the new 40 Acres bookstore.
Be a Member
You can join John and support West St. Paul Reader. Membership starts at just $3 per month.
Thanks to John for supporting our work and sharing his story.