Monthly Archives: July 2015

Ray N. Welter Celebrating a Long, Warm History

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If you think the Ray N. Welter Heating Company has been located forever on the southwest corner of McRae Park, for most of us, this assumption is correct. The residential heating and cooling business moved to an existing building at 4637 Chicago Avenue in 1940. In 1960, the building burned down and was rebuilt. The distinctive mural of an outdoors scene that was created in 1981 and was refreshed in 2014 reflects the Welter family’s enthusiasm for hunting ducks and pheasants. In fact, third-generation owner/operator Nick Welter reported that years ago his grandfather hunted ducks in the slough behind the shop that is the present-day McRae Park.

The founding of the family business

In the early 1900s, 5th Street and 3rd Avenue South in downtown Minneapolis was the location of competing home heating companies. One installed and serviced radiators; the other gravity furnaces. Although the founders started off as rivals, their children married and the businesses later merged to become today’s Welter Heating Company.

The founder of the current business was Michael Welter who was succeeded by his son Ray N. Welter. Ray’s son, Nick Welter, the oldest of 12 children, grew up just across the freeway from our neighborhood (before there was a freeway) and guided the company from 1955 until 2008 when his son Rick took over management and operations.

Celebrating more than 100 years

While a banner attached to the building proclaims a 100-year anniversary, it’s become challenging for the Welter family to determine a precise date for the founding of the business. Just as the Welter family determined a date to celebrate, new information became available. Recently a homeowner living on the 3600 block of 14th Avenue South called to report finding a receipt for services performed in 1904!

The services noted on that aged receipt are remarkably similar to those performed currently by Welter’s 25 employees: installation and servicing of residential furnaces. The current lead installer is the son of an installer, and all installers have journeyman or masters licenses from the city of Minneapolis in gas fitting and sheet metal.

What has changed during the years since the early 1900s are the furnaces. The best one has a variable-speed motor that is 92% to 96% efficient compared to the approximately 50% efficiency of the old gravity furnaces. The Welter family and employees discuss with homeowners who are considering replacing their furnace three points: function, safety, and options. Those qualities – plus pride in their workmanship and heritage – form the foundation that will keep this neighborhood business going for the next 100 years.


By Sue Filbin

Crisis Nursery Protecting Children, Supporting Families


In fall 2013, Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery returned to the Field Regina Northrop neighborhood, where it is once again located by Field School at 46th Street and 4th Avenue. This nonprofit – whose mission is to end child abuse and neglect and create strong, healthy families – provides essential services to over 2,400 children each year, serving over 700 families.

We recently talked with Joel Bergstrom, Development and Communications Director for Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery, about the many resources they provide to our community.

24-Hour Crisis Helpline

Parents in crisis can call the helpline at 763-591-0100 to access services, where a family advocate will answer to provide support to families in need. “Almost every family initiatives services through the helpline,” said Bergstrom.


The actual Crisis Nursery itself can house up to 20 children – newborns through 6 years old – or residential care for up to three days at a time. During these stays, children receive nutritious meals, engage in playtime in the gym or playground, do crafts and activities, and get individual attention from professional child-care providers. It’s a safe, nurturing environment during a critical time.

Crisis Counseling

“When the children are being cared for in the nursery, we will work with parents to help work through whatever crisis matters they are facing,” said Bergstrom. During the intake process, a family advocate assesses how severe the crisis is and gauges adequacy of basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing, and income, and provides referrals and an action plan to stabilize the family.

Home Visitation

Through the 4th Day Home Visiting Program, master’s-level practitioners visit the homes of clients weekly for up to 18 months. The program is designed to provide intensive support for families to make long-term change. According to Bergstrom, “This is how we can really work with families, helping them knock down barriers to self sufficiency long term.”

In addition, Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery provides other important services such as Pediatric Assessment and Medical Management (PAMM) to provide medical care for children who may not have regular access to healthcare. There are also many opportunities for parents to participate in parent education sessions and to join support groups.

If you, or someone you know, encounters a family crisis, take that first step. According to Bergstrom, “If anyone feels like they could use our services, they should not hesitate to call our crisis line. Taking that risk and asking for help takes a lot of strength and courage, and we are so grateful that people do.”

The Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery Helpline is 763-591-0100. For information on how you can volunteer, see
“How you can help” and visit:

You Can Help

Interested in volunteering time or resources to an organization committed to strengthening families? Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery serves Hennepin County residents – which, as Development and Communications Director Joel Bergstrom points out, “is about a quarter of our state’s population.”

Here’s what you can do. The meal and snack opportunities would be a great way
for groups of families, friends, co-workers, or faith communities to get involved
in community service.

• Make a meal! Groups of up to six can volunteer to cook a meal for the kids at
the Crisis Nursery. The time commitment is just 2.5 hours, plus grocery shopping.

• Organize a snack time. There are three healthy snack times a day for the children –
another great group opportunity. Requiring just 90 minutes, plus shopping for snacks, this is an easy place to start.

• Volunteer to assist with childcare. For deeper involvement, you can volunteer
direct service to the children. There is an application process, and training and orientation, for people wanting to help in this way. The time commitment is
3-4 hours every-other week.

• Donate. Individual donations make up a majority of the funding of Greater
Minneapolis Crisis Nursery.

Visit to learn more about the many ways you can help
Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery.

By Carrie Shidla

Southside Sprint Puts Neighborhood on Bike Map


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The Southside Sprint brings bike racing back to the streets of south Minneapolis for the fifth consecutive year on July 19. This year’s event has been named the Minnesota State Criterium Championship, a designation organizers expect will mean more racers, more fans and more excitement.

Amateur bike races are often contested in suburban office parks or country roads with few spectators and few opportunities for family fun. The Southside Sprint is applauded by racers for its urban setting, enthusiastic crowds and plentiful dining and shopping options on the course.
“I was impressed with the crowds, the support, the staffing, the businesses and the neighbors. This is the largest crowd I have seen at an amateur race – and without a doubt the most fan support I have ever been privileged to witness,” noted USA Cycling official, Steve Haugh.

4_july-aug_frn-2-2Championship-Caliber Racing for Everyone

The most popular event of the Southside Sprint schedule is the Family Dental Clinic Dash – the Kids Fun Race. This free event for kids ages 4-12 gives little racers a chance to show off in front of family, friends and neighbors. It’s just one of the opportunities the Southside Sprint provides for racers of all levels. Race officials state that the race brings in the most new race license purchases of any Minnesota race each year. These new riders appreciate the Beginner Racing Clinic offered before racing starts and the dedicated beginner races that put coaches into the race alongside racers.

The event also showcases top Minnesota talent each year, including locally-based professionals, World Masters and US National Champions. Defending men’s Elite Champion, Colin Catlin, has won numerous races around the Midwest, including multiple MN State Championships. He currently splits his season between the Un2014 ss sprint_267iversity of MN team and the NorthStar Junior Development Team—a regional youth development squad. His sister, Kelly, took the women’s Elite prize in 2014 and is preparing to represent the United States at the upcoming Pan Am Games in Toronto.

Family Fun

Outside the fences, the Southside Sprint offers entertainment for everyone. The Twin Six Family Fun Zone includes free kids’ art activities, fitness and lifestyle exhibits from sponsors and other neighborhood businesses and the always-popular snow cone machine. This year, the Fun Zone will include an Athletes’ Village on 48th Street where teams will gather to warm up, cool down and interact with fans. Young race fans can get autographs and pictures with their favorite racers within a few steps of the finish line.

All of these activities bring new visitors to the neighborhood each year. Many racers live in the Twin Cities suburbs, greater Minnesota and neighboring states. For some, it’s their first visit to the Field Regina Northrop neighborhood. St. Paul racer Loren Willis noted, “I came back in the evening for a burger at Town Hall Tap and a scoop at Pumphouse Creamery. None of that would have happened without the Southside Sprint.”

Never-ending legs 

Never-ending legs – that’s every bike racer’s dream. Minnesota racers feed on the energy of the Southside Sprint’s fans and find themselves with “never-ending legs” every summer in the heart of the Field Regina Northrop Neighborhood. Said racer Terra James, “That was the best Minnesota race I have ever raced! A crowd like that makes a race feel like five minutes and gives a girl never-ending legs!”

Racing begins July 19 at 8:00 a.m. and concludes with the final State Championship awards ceremony at 4:00 p.m. The Twin Six Family Fun Zone runs during all race events at the corner of 48th Street and Chicago Avenue. Racers will toe the line just south of the 48th and Chicago intersection. Full race details can be found at:

By Jason Lardy

Editor’s note: Jason Lardy is co-founder of the Southside Sprint. He and his wife, Lisa, live in Northrop.