Lapham Kids Retreat to Cargo Coffee Following Suspected Gas Leak

150 kids given refuge during a temporary evacuation of the school

The entire main floor was teeming with 200 Lapham four year-olds and kindergarteners following a temporary evacuation of the nearby school on April 2, 2014.

The entire main floor of Cargo Coffee (seen here during its grand opening) was teeming with an estimated 150 Lapham four year-olds through first graders following a temporary evacuation of the nearby school on April 2, 2014. -File photo

Lapham Elementary School Staff noticed a natural gas smell in the building around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday (April 2) and a precautionary evacuation was ordered. With approximately 250 children in the school, the nearby Salvation Army building did not have enough space to accommodate the entire school population.

Enter Cargo Coffee East, which just opened in February. Co-owner Lynn Lee (with brother Lindsey) said he received a call from the school asking if they could take some of the overflow. Lee’s daughter Addison is a student at the school and he readily invited the students over. The coffee shop is a veritable educational refuge since the entire east wall of the shop features a large mural depicting a map of the world that was created by Lee who is also an artist.

Approximately 150 students and 25 staff (kindergarten, first grade and four year-olds) were sent to the shop and Lee said he had to “hurry over” to move existing customers to the balcony to accommodate the arrivals. The evacuation lasted half an hour, but Lapham Principal Tammy Thompson Kapp said to Lee in an email that the district is considering adding Cargo East to its evacuation plans. Lee says Cargo will have a written policy for employees to follow should the site be needed again.

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These Kids Are All Right

East High cultural series hopes to encourage more involvement by neighborhood

The Accidentals play Cargo Coffee on March 21, 2014.

The Accidentals play Cargo Coffee on March 21, 2014.

Jazz music wafting through a coffee shop on a Friday evening is not uncommon, nor impressive unless you were at Cargo Coffee Friday night (March 21). A spoken word performance usually garners an echoey smattering of applause, and maybe a spirited “Woo!” from a patron, but not this night.

It could have been their ages, but more likely it was the polished, inspired, and passionate performances of Madison East High Students that brought enthusiastic applause from supporters and customers during a fundraiser to help make healthy snacks available to students at East.

Hungry students is not just an East high problem but is leading some to raise a larger question: Are Near East Side neighborhoods too detached from East High students? Friday’s event at Cargo Coffee shows there is much young talent to appreciate and support.

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Commercial Development on Willy May Dominate MNA Board Meeting

Developments at each end of street highlight contrasting neighborhood priorities

1380 Williamson Street is currently vacant, but 16 Bar Spoons wants to turn the residence into a craft cocktail lounge

1380 Williamson Street is currently vacant, but 16 Bar Spoons wants to turn the residence into a craft cocktail lounge

While every Marquette Neighborhood Association Board meeting is important, tonight’s (March 20) meeting may further illuminate the difference in preferences for development on Williamson Street. With the neighborhood already at loggerheads over too much residential development at 722 and now 706 Williamson; a proposal to convert an existing residence into a craft cocktail lounge did not earn MNA’s  Preservation & Development Committee recommendation at Wednesday’s meeting.

Josh Swentzel (Star Liquor, Grampa’s Pizzeria, Tip Top Tavern), Hastings Cameron (Forequarter, Underground Food Collective) and Gilbert Altschul (Grampa’s Pizzeria, Mickey’s Tavern) have formed 16 Bar Spoons, LLC. to lease the property at 1380 Williamson which is currently owed by Ben Altschul (Gilbert’s brother) and which Swentzel says is currently vacant. The yet to be named lounge divided the committee since the location would turn a two-unit residence into a commercial establishment.

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Willy East Remodel Work Thawing

Cold has slowed some work but August completion deadline is solid

Work on the exterior of Willy East has been slowed by the extended cold this winter.

Work on the exterior of Willy East has been slowed by the extended cold this winter.

Last summer Willy Street Co-op management put forth a referendum to members to approve an additional $2 million in expenditures to the already approved $2 million for needed repairs and expansion of their Willy East location.

With the concurrence of the membership, the Co-op has launched head-long into the project and noticeable changes are taking place. The cold has slowed progress on the outside but changes are humming along on the inside as evidenced by a large tented area in the middle of the store that, during a recent visit, appeared both surprising and mysterious.

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East Students to Fight Hunger With Jazz & Spoken Word

Event to raise money for healthy snacks for EHS students

FrontView_H650A unique event will be held this Friday from 6-8 p.m. at Cargo Coffee on East Washington Avenue to help Madison East High Students struggling with hunger to have better access to healthy snacks. East students will present “An Evening of Jazz and Spoken Word” to raise money for a healthy snack program for students.

Marquette Neighborhood Association Board Member Lynn Lee who also is co-owner of Cargo Coffee says there is little in the way of healthy options for students at East and many, due to their economic situation, come to school without breakfast.

“MNA and Cargo [Coffee] are going to hold a series of fundraisers to donate money to help stock these snack supplies.  Besides the Peat-Piper Scholarship, MNA has been looking for other ways to have a positive impact on our neighborhood schools.”

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Willy Street Blog @ “2″

Neighborhood blog to continue hyper-focus

What do you give the neighborhood that has everything? Well certainly not another person with an opinion. When you start a blog, its like any good essay, pick a few central themes and nurture them with attribution and reasoned analysis. But it is no small challenge to write about by far the most engaged, opinionated, funky, and cool neighborhood in the nation.

Willy Street Blog was born in March 2012, in the midst of the recall drive, but soon turned away from state politics as plenty of great voices were already speaking to the issue. In a city that features stupendous local reporting from numerous outlets, why should anyone bother to read some random blog?

The key is to really not care.

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MNA Chili Dinner is Tonight!

Event raises fund for two $500 scholarships for East High Students

ChiliDin_2014The 23rd annual Marquette Neighborhood Association’s Chili Dinner to fund scholarships for East High School students is tonight (March 1) at the Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center, 953 Jenifer Street.

A selection of veggie and meat chili , side dishes, desserts and beverages will be served for $10 ($6 for pre-teens) as you enjoy music from The Northwesterns.

This popular event brings out some of the best culinary creations from neighborhood and area restaurants such as Lazy Jane’s, The Weary Traveler, Smokin’ Cantina, Madison Sourdough, Eldorado Grill, The Batch Bakehouse and Monty’s Blue Plate Diner. Additional groceries provided by Jenifer St Market and coffee from Ground Zero will be served beginning at 5 p.m.

The Marquette Neighborhood Peat-Piper Scholarships honor friends Becky Peat and Margaret “Burkie” Piper, who were sophomores at Madison East High School in October 1991, when they were killed as they crossed East Washington Avenue in front of the school.

In the years following the crash the Peat-Piper Memorial Scholarship fund was set up to award $500 each year to graduating Madison East High students that reside in the Marquette neighborhood.

Learn more about the Peat-Piper Memorial Scholarship here

Star Bar Ready to Shine

One Barrel and Jade Monkey owners collaborate, open bar in Capitol East District

Star Bar, 756 East Washington Avenue, is on the first floor of The Constellation building.

Star Bar, 756 East Washington Avenue, is on the first floor of The Constellation building.

A new bar opening in the 700 block of East Washington Avenue plans to fuse Madison’s near-East Side industrial heritage with the present-day funky vibe of the Tenney and Marquette neighborhoods.

Star Bar, operated by Peter Gentry and Hawk Sullivan, opens January 16 on the first floor of The Constellation building, part of a slate of first floor retail offerings for the 12-story mixed-used building which opened last year.

Both men grew up in the Marquette neighborhood and hope to create a bar that is accessible to the surrounding neighborhood while also seizing on the rising activity in the Capitol East District. Gentry opened One Barrel Brewing on Atwood Avenue in 2012, while Sullivan is a longtime business owner with three other hospitality establishments in greater Madison.  Continue reading

Input on Neighborhood Fests Sought

MNA survey wonders aloud if Orton Park Fest should change locations

Orton Park Festival in 2012. Photo by: Thomas Balistreri

Orton Park Festival in 2012. Photo by: Thomas Balistreri

The Marquette Neighborhood Association is seeking input from residents through a survey, regarding the scope of their two sponsored neighborhood gatherings: The Orton Park and Marquette Waterfront Festivals. The events are a major city-wide and regional draw and provide a majority of the operating funds for MNA’s other activities. However debate has simmered in recent years about  whether they are most effective in their current form and location

While it seems unbelievable to hold the Orton Park Festival somewhere else, the event is bursting at it’s seams. Central Park is now finally taking shape and some have suggested large neighborhood events like OPF and La Fete de Marquette should be held at that location, just like La Fete was during its first years.

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Central Park West View

Photo by: Dan Cornelius

Photo by: Dan Cornelius

I was strolling past Central Park yesterday morning on Wilson Street to get a better view of the progress that has accelerated in the past few months. All the pathways are in along with lighting and benches from Brearly to Baldwin Streets. The restroom facility is still under construction but all that seems left is the exterior treatments as the basic structure, including it’s undulating roof, is complete.

I noticed that on the west side of the restroom building is wide circular plaza ringed with benches and imagined what a nice area it will be on warmer days. I thought to myself that I should take a picture but never got it done. But thanks to resident Dan Cornelius, who took a stunning picture later that day, you can all see what sunsets in Central Park will look like for years to come.