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Local companies come to the rescue of St. Paul East Side hockey rink

Thieves stole the copper pipes from the popular outdoor skating rink, but businesses came to the rescue with labor and materials.

When thieves stole copper piping from the popular skating rink outside the Phalen Rec Center on St. Paul’s East Side, officials figured it would cost up to $20,000 to repair it.

But local heating company NAC Mechanical & Electrical Services, of Vadnais Heights, donated the labor to make the repairs, and a supplier, Mulcahy Co., of Eagan, donated the materials. Work on the refrigerated rink took about a week, but now it’s ready for action.

This time, they used a plastic composite, which kept the overall cost to about $10,000, and may discourage future thievery. (Police still haven’t caught the original thieves.)

Mayor Chris Coleman says the rink is one of the most-used in St.  Paul and thanked the two companies for their donations.

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A previous St. Paul mayor named Coleman — Norm Coleman, who went on to become U.S. senator — was well-known in his mayoral days for using the phrase “public-private partnership.”

Chris Coleman, too, over the seven years he’s been in office, has invoked the phrase, too, with such programs as rec centers taking on partners, a home-mortgage program with Wells Fargo and the coming Saints ballpark in Lowertown.

Now are there any companies out there willing to help out with snow plowing?