Kathleen Conger

Our featured employee this month is Kathleen Conger. Kathleen currently works as manager of the Dayton’s Bluff library. A fifteen-year City employee, Kathleen is also a founding member of the Healthy Saint Paul Well-Being Committee.
You can find Kathleen on her bicycle riding to work most days from April-October. Her philosophy is: “If it isn’t raining, I ride.” She enjoys not only the exercise but the time it provides her to wind down on the way home. Plus, it’s a great way to avoid traffic jams and saves money on gas; not to mention that it helps in reducing cars on the road.
Kathleen’s recent trip to Europe was a reflection of her active lifestyle. It began with a Groupon she found for a seven day river cruise that followed the Danube River from Passau, Germany to Budapest. When she saw that the cruise offered a bicycling option, that appealed to her as a great low key option, so she booked the cruise.
As it turned out, the reality was that people took this cruise to bike – there’s not much else to do on the boat. The average age of the passengers was 65 – and out of the 91 passengers, about 85 took advantage of the bicycling option. There was a wide range of biking abilities, like Michael from Germany who looked like an Olympian and liked to say, “Water, what’s that? I only drink beer;” and Tara, a 65+ year old bodybuilder from Brooklyn who was the navigator and always chose the long route.
Bicycling routes were mapped out with points of interest marked. For five of the seven days on the cruise, Kathleen bicycled through towns in Germany, Austria, and Slovakia.
Kathleen was in Europe for two additional weeks visiting Nuremberg, Fussen and Munich. She also had an opportunity to spend a day hiking in the Swiss Alps. Her impression overall was that European cities are very walkable, have great public transportation – and lots of people playing accordions!

in the spotlight

Seasonal Affective Disorder

What is SAD?

Some people experience a serious mood change during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight. This condition is called seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. SAD is a type of depression. It usually lifts during spring and summer.

What are symptoms?

Not everyone with SAD has the same symptoms. The symptoms include:

  • Sad, anxious or “empty” feelings
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
  • Changes in weight
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Prevention and Management of SAD

Because SAD is linked to decreased exposure to light, it is recommended that you do what you can to increase your exposure. Open up blinds in your home and sit close to bright windows at work. Get outside for a long walk – even on cold days the outdoor light will help. It has been shown to be most helpful if you can spend time outside within the first two hours of getting up in the morning. Getting regular exercise, taking time to relax and making healthy food choices are all good ways to manage stress – which can lead to SAD. Socializing with people whom you enjoy being around can make a difference as well. If possible, take a trip to a location that is sunny and warm.
Everyone can experience days when they feel down. However, if that feeling persists for days at a time, if your sleep patterns are disrupted, or you’re having feelings of hopelessness or suicide, seek professional help with your doctor.
Excerpted from:

in the spotlight


Diabetes kills more Americans each year than breast cancer and AIDS combined. In fact, in the next 24 hours, over 5,000 new cases of diabetes will be diagnosed, and 200 people will die from it.

There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. Only 5% of people with diabetes have this form of the disease. In Type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. With the help of insulin therapy and other treatments, even young children can learn to manage their condition and live long, healthy lives.
With Type 2 diabetes, the body doesn’t use insulin properly. This is called insulin resistance. At first, the pancreas makes extra insulin to make up for it. Over time, however, it isn’t able to make enough insulin to keep blood glucose at normal levels. Type 2 diabetes can lead to other problems like heart disease, stroke, nerve damage, and kidney or eye problems.
Below are some common myths about diabetes.

MYTH: Diabetes is caused by eating too much sugar.
FACT: Type 1 diabetes is caused by genetics and unknown factors that trigger its onset; Type 2 is caused by genetics and lifestyle factors. Being overweight increases your risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, and a diet high in calories from any source contributes to weight gain. Research has shown that sugary drinks are linked to Type 2 diabetes.
MYTH: People with diabetes can feel when their blood glucose level goes too low.
FACT: Not always. Some people cannot feel or recognize the symptoms of low blood glucose, or hypoglycemia, which can be dangerous.
MYTH: It’s possible to have “just a touch” or “a little” diabetes.
FACT: There is no such thing as “just a touch” or “a little” diabetes. Everyone who has diabetes runs the risk of serious complications.
MYTH: Diabetes doesn’t run in my family, so I’m safe.
FACT: Family history is only one of several risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Learn more.
MYTH: You’ll know if you have diabetes by your symptoms.
FACT: Not always. Type 2 diabetes often goes undiagnosed because it usually has few or no symptoms when it first develops.
MYTH: People with diabetes need to follow a special diet.
FACT: People with diabetes benefit from the same healthy diet that is good for everyone else: plenty of whole grains and fruits and vegetables, with a limited amount of fat and refined sugar.
To find out if you are at risk for diabetes, take the Type 2 Diabetes risk test here: – Risk test.
Get tested for diabetes at biometric screening that will be held at various locations throughout the City during the month of February. Watch for more information on specific dates and locations.


Dave Gontarek

This City employee has made a remarkable achievement. Dave Gontarek has run and completed every Twin Cities Marathon since 1982! When he decided to join his father-in-law in that first marathon, he didn’t expect to make this an annual event for the next 33 years. However, as he explains it, his father-in-law kept going, so he wasn’t going to quit. He is a member of the Twin Cities Marathon Charter Club, a group of 30 individuals who have run and completed every Twin Cities Marathon. (photo: Dave with daughter-in-law Lauren)
Running marathons has become a family affair for the Gontareks. Dave’s wife has run two marathons, his youngest son has run three and his daughter-in-law will join him in the Twin Cities Marathon in 2015. Dave will admit that running a marathon can be hard on the body and maybe not necessarily so good for you – but to live the lifestyle that allows you to finish one per year is good for you.
Dave was not always a runner and admits he’s really not built to be one. He can claim to have been a competitive golfer and cross country ski racer at one time, finishing 49th out of 3000 skiers. To keep in shape the rest of the year, he took up running. He doesn’t run much in the winter at all; he still cross country skies, snowshoes, and walks the City skyways during lunch. He thinks walking is good for runners, too. He believes the healthiest thing to do is exercise for mental and physical well-being.
In talking with Dave, he shared the following tips on exercise and running:

  • You don’t have to run fast – run so you can enjoy it.
  • The first mile is the hardest.
  • Without the back of the pack, there can’t be a front.
  • Set a goal to keep yourself on track and write it down. A Fitbit works great.
  • When running, you may have to walk at times – no embarrassment there.

Dave has worked for the City in PED as a principal project manager since 1977. He has been married for 34 years to his wife, Mary and they have two sons, Andrew and Bryan.

in the spotlight

Domestic Violence

a serious problem

On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States. Over the course of a year, that equals more than 12 million women and men. While domestic violence can happen in any relationship – regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or other factors – the vast majority of victims who report violence are women abused by male partners or ex-partners.

  • One in 4 women have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner, while 1 in 7 men has experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime.
  • Among women and men who experience rape, stalking or physical violence by an intimate partner, 81% of women and 35% of men report serious impacts such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms and injury.
  • A woman is far more likely to be killed by her spouse, an intimate acquaintance, or a family member than by a stranger.

Given these statistics, it is likely that you know someone who has been abused. They may be your friends and family members, your neighbors or co-workers. Domestic violence takes its toll on our communities as well, contributing to other forms of violence and suffering, burdening us with huge medical and criminal justice costs, and decreasing workplace productivity.


To stop domestic violence, we all need to be part of the solution. The following are some things that you can do to help:
Help a friend or family member who is being abused.

Let them know that the abuse is not their fault, listen to them, help them to identify resources and options, empower them to make choices for their safety, and provide nonjudgmental support and an opportunity for them to seek your support again.
Support your local domestic violence program.
Most hotlines, advocacy or shelter organizations could benefit from your time, financial support or other donations.
Speak up about abuse.
Let the person using violence or intimidation know their behavior is wrong and encourage them to seek help. If you see abuse, call the police. Doing nothing can make the abuse worse and even deadly.
Educate yourself and others.
Call your local domestic violence program to schedule informational workshops for your workplace, community group or church. Encourage schools to include abuse prevention as part of their curricula. The Domestic Violence Awareness Project at offers a variety of tools and ideas to support your prevention education and awareness efforts.
Set an example.
Make a commitment to work for equality and ending violence in all of its forms. Model non-violent and respectful behavior through your everyday actions.


Peter Borgen


Peter Borgen began working for the City of St. Paul Libraries 17 years ago and, over that time, has worked at many different branches. As a Library Associate, he is a “Jack of all Trades” in that his work encompasses services to patrons of all ages. He does programming for kids, teens, and adults, supervises the homework center at Dayton’s Bluff, provides outreach to parents at Early Childhood Family Education groups, education for daycare providers about early literacy, provides technology help for library patrons, and, of course, performs “other duties as assigned.”

Peter has always been active for the sheer enjoyment. He participated in competitive sports during high school such as cross country, soccer and swimming. He confesses he was never in jeopardy of winning – he simply enjoyed the activities and the social aspect of it all. In college, he joined the swim team for 1.5 years but decided he was more interested in education than in competition. He continued exercising and being active on his own throughout college and ever since.

Peter has been married five years and has a four year old son. With demands of job and family, he finds he is naturally a little less active than before. However, he does call biking and skiing his obsessions; obsessions in that he has such a true passion for the activities. He enjoys them as often as possible. He has found the best way to indulge this passion is to include his family. This allows him to enjoy his exercise habits without having to choose between them and time with his family. His family bike around the neighborhood together a few times per week. He stops the rides short of when his son wants to quit; he prefers to leave him wanting more than wishing they would stop. Peter further indulges his desire for biking every summer by participating in the Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. This ride covers 400 miles over the course of a week. This year he rode the St. Paul Classic Bike tour and loved it.

His other activity passion is Telemark Skiing. It is essentially downhill skiing but uses a different type ski – sort of a cross between a downhill ski and a cross country ski. It has a different style of turning, and he describes it as more versatile, more graceful and a more challenging way to ski. His family also participates in skiing. He jokingly states that his wife made him wait until his son was two years old to have him start. Two years later now, his son loves it. Last year, Peter became a member of the National Ski Patrol at Afton Alps.
Running is not so much of a passion of his, but it seems to be a challenge from which he continues to receive satisfaction. He ran his first marathon as a lark in college but blew out his knee at 22.5 miles. This was so frustrating that he vowed he would finish a marathon before he turned 30. He did complete his first Twin Cities Marathon at age 29 and almost as an aside, he mentioned since then, he has run and finished it eight times.

Peter believes in not over-training and recommends finding activities that you enjoy doing. He enjoys showing his son how to be active and encourages him by doing it with him, side by side.


Matt Dornfeld

Meet Matt Dornfeld, case manager for DSI. Matt has worked for the City for 15 years. He has been married to Katie Dornfeld for 7 years and together they have a daughter , Peyton, 4 years old and a son, CJ, aged 2.
Matt’s story: While the level of physical activity Matt engages in may be more than what many City employees may consider, within his story are tips for the average person wanting to make a change to his/her lifestyle.
Matt has been into athletics all his life. In college, he played baseball. After college, however, he was looking for something that would provide some competition and a goal to work towards– as having a goal set out there to reach was always motivating for him. Lucky for him, Matt met his wife who is a teacher at Woodbury High School, a former personal trainer and a marathon runner. Katie suggested he get into running – and so he did. Matt completed his first marathon about 8 years ago. . .and to date, has run 13! What Matt loves best about running is how it helps him mentally. It is a stress reliever and he always feels better after a run. It also is helpful in keeping his weight under control; he enjoys a beer, pizza and cheeseburger on occasion and running balances this out for him.
Signing up for a race is a commitment to him and provides a goal that gets him out there regularly to train. Finishing the race provides a real sense of accomplishment as well. Also, he admits that he isn’t a “great” runner but really enjoys the whole atmosphere of the event. While he has traveled around the country running marathons, he thinks the Twin Cities marathon is his favorite. Great people, great environment and so much support from the spectators on the way.
So, tips for becoming more active from Matt’s story: Move – you will feel better when you are done; set a goal – write it down , tell someone, commit to an event; try something new – Matt hadn’t thought of himself as a runner but found out he really enjoyed it. Remember – it’s all about balance.

in the spotlight

Healthy Aging Month

Think it’s too late to “re-invent” yourself? Think again. According to Carolyn Worthington, editor-in-chief of Healthy Aging® Magazine and executive director of Healthy Aging®, it’s never too late to find a new career, a new sport, passion or hobby. The number of people over 45 is growing every year. The attention used to be just on the baby boomers. The generation x-ers are elbowing their way in and have many of the same interests as the previous generation – stay active and vibrant as long as possible. There are over 76 million baby boomers today over 50 and the first of the 82.1 million generation x-ers are about to reach that milestone in 2015.


To get you started on re-inventing yourself, here are some ideas from the editors of Healthy Aging® Magazine ( Maybe you will find some that will help you think outside the box.

10 Tips for Reinventing Yourself during Healthy Aging Month:

  1. Do not act your age or at least what you think your current age should act like. What was your best year so far? 28? 40? Now? Picture yourself at that age and be it. Some people may say this is denial, but we say it’s positive thinking and goes a long way toward feeling better about yourself.
  2. Be positive in your conversations and your actions every day. When you catch yourself complaining, check yourself right there and change the conversation to something positive.
  3. Have negative friends who complain all of the time and constantly talk about how awful everything is? Drop them. As cruel as that may sound, distance yourself from people who do not have a positive outlook on life. They will only depress you and stop you from moving forward. Surround yourself with energetic, happy, positive people of all ages and you will be happier too.
  4. Walk like a vibrant, healthy person. Come on. You can probably do it. Analyze your gait. Do you walk slowly because you have just become lazy or, perhaps, have a fear of falling?
  5. Stand up straight! You can knock off the appearance of a few extra years with this trick your mother kept trying to tell you. Look at yourself in the mirror. Are you holding your stomach in, have your shoulders back, chin up? Check out how much better your neck looks! Fix your stance and practice it every day, all day until it is natural. You will look great and feel better.
  6. How’s your smile? Research shows people who smile more often are happier. Your teeth are just as important to your good health as the rest of your body. Not only is it the first thing people notice, but good oral health is a gateway to your overall well-being.
  7. Lonely? Stop brooding and complaining about having no friends or family. Do something about it now. Right this minute. Pick up the phone, landline, or cell and make a call to do one or more of the following: Volunteer your time, Take a class, Invite someone to meet for lunch, brunch, dinner, or coffee.
  8. Start walking not only for your health but to see the neighbors. Have a dog? You’ll be amazed how the dog can be a conversation starter.
  9. Make this month the time to set up your annual physical and other health screenings. Go to the appointments and then, hopefully, you can stop worrying about ailments for a while.
  10. Find your inner artist. Who says taking music lessons is for young school children? You may have an artist lurking inside you just waiting to be tapped. Have you always wanted to play the piano, violin, or tuba? Have you ever wondered if you could paint a portrait or scenic in oil? What about working in wood?

    P.O. Box442


Cherie Englund

Cherie is a relatively new employee to the City of St. Paul, having just started in September, 2013. She is working at the Police Department West Team as an Office Assistant II.
Cherie has a passion – and she loves to share it. Her passion is: Stand-Up Paddle Boarding (SUP). It started back in 2008 when she signed herself and husband up for a class in Duluth. That day, it was 50 degrees and raining, and they were booked for 8 hours out on the lake. At first wanting to back out, the instructor encouraged them to put on wetsuits and endure the chill and drizzle. They did it and were hooked!
They started paddle boarding around the Twin Cities at area lakes where people were drawn to what they were doing. Not many people knew too much about it at that time, and there weren’t a lot of places to learn. So, they decided to become instructors and share their love of SUP with others. Cherie and her husband, Dave, are now certified with the American Canoe Association as SUP Level II Instructors.
As one thing often leads to another, they then formed a non-profit business, MN Stand Up Paddle Boarders Association. It was created to provide stewardship of the waterways of Minnesota and to teach the sport of Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP). They volunteer with local cities doing beach and waterway clean-ups on their stand up boards. They are able to remove hundreds of pounds of trash with the use of the paddle boards while doing this. They have taught SUP through the City of Minneapolis and Oakdale in their inner city youth programs.
They are now spreading their passion throughout the state. The DNR just started an “I Can Paddle” program at different state parks and have asked Cherie and Dave to be their instructors. It is a family event, with their two children accompanying them to the lessons. If you would like to see all the events they will be participating in (cleaning up of lakes, DNR events, classes), you can visit their website at
Cherie will tell you that SUP is a very different point of view from canoeing and kayaking. It is fun to do and easy to learn. You can gain balance and stability using all of the major muscles in your body. It is so fun that you won’t even realize you are getting a great workout in. If you would like to see all the events they will be participating in and (cleaning up of lakes, DNR events, classes), you can visit their website at
Cherie and her family have been through some personal challenges that included injuries, surgery, and closing of their business they had for more than 20 years. Through it all though, she has learned to roll with change and not be afraid of it and to not stop growing. Besides being physically active, they keep themselves healthy with a diet that includes no processed foods and have eliminated foods without nutritional value.

in the spotlight

Volunteering Does a Body Good!

For the heart and the spirit, give a little and you will get a lot back.

In recent years, it has become apparent that good health means much more than a set of numbers tracking height, weight, heart rate and cholesterol. It starts with the individual. It means taking an integrated approach to wellbeing that includes not only our physical health, but our emotional health, our sense of purpose, connections to our community and our overall quality of life.

A study by United Health Care of more than 4500 adult volunteers confirmed that volunteering made a difference – to the volunteers themselves. People who volunteer feel better – physically, mentally, and emotionally. They consider themselves in excellent or very good health, and they are more likely to say that their health has improved over the past 12 months.

Another important point in the study was how volunteering isn’t just something that healthy people do. Everyone can reap the benefits. Older individuals and those who suffer from multiple chronic conditions have taken on volunteering – and feel better as a result. They feel better physically as it helps to keep them active, but even more importantly, they reported that volunteering takes their mind off of their own problems and helping other people just makes them feel better.

Recognizing the benefits of volunteering, Healthy Saint Paul will be adding volunteering to the list of activities that qualify for the Well-Being Program’s incentive. Specific organizations will be listed from which employees/retirees can choose to serve. Watch for details on this new activity to come out in August.

Excerpted from Volunteering Does a Body good, US News and World Report, November 2010
United Health Group, Doing Good is Good for You. 2013 Health and Volunteering Study.