May 2015 News and Events from Commissioner Linda Higgins

Commissioner Linda Higgins, Hennepin County, MN

MAY 2015



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Linda Higgins
Commissioner, 2nd District

Tina Sanz
Principal Aide

Roshonda Royston
Administrative Secretary


The 2nd District serves the cities of Golden Valley, Medicine Lake, north and northeastMinneapolis, southeastPlymouth and St. Anthony.

2nd District Hennepin County

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There are a lot of great projects happening or being planned in District 2 and elsewhere in Hennepin County these days. Thanks to everyone who gives us ideas and opinions on how to make them better.

Be sure to check out all the great upcoming events this month, and think about subscribing to other interesting topics offered by Hennepin County.


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Top stories

Neighbors applaud new Webber Park Library architectural design

Commissioner Linda Higgins, Hennepin County staff, and architect Mohammed Lawal of LSE Architects led a meeting for the new Webber Park Library on April 21 at the Webber Community Center in Minneapolis. Neighborhood members including Friends of the Webber Park Library and local elected officials were invited to view and comment on the updated concept drawings for the new library presented by project designers LSE Architects.

Webber Library exterior front view

above:Webber Park Library image, view facing Webber Parkway: below: Architect Mohammed Lawal presents a plan on April 21.

Webber Park Library meeting April 21

The Webber Library drawings and presentation drew spontaneous applause from the audience, along with a few additional questions. Commissioner Higgins thanked everyone for their participation in the public input process, and gave special thanks to the Friends of the Webber Park Library for their perseverance in making this vision a reality.

“Play and Learn Together at the Library,” a Hennepin County Library staff presentation about library space for kids, gave community members an opportunity to see leading examples of early literacy spaces in other HCL libraries that will inform a learn and play space for the new Webber Park Library.

Neighbors also asked about the adjacent parcel at 4414 Humboldt(the former Kowalski’s site) and were told that a staff recommendation from the public Request for Information (RFI) process will likely come before the Hennepin County Board in early May.

Updated architectural concept drawings and the Play and Learn presentation are at

A Star Tribune article about the meeting by reporter Steve Brandt is at

2040 Bike Plan

County board adopts 2040 Bicycle Transportation Plan

The county board adopted the 2040 Bicycle Transportation Plan, which replaces the 1997 Bicycle Transportation Plan. The county has made great progress under the current plan and gap study, building and funding more than 136 miles of new bikeways and closing 59 gaps. Bicycle commuting has doubled in Hennepin County since 2000 from 0.8 percent to 1.6 percent of trips to work.

Development of the plan began in spring 2013, with community engagement activities in summer and fall 2013 as well as throughout the plan drafting process in 2014. The plan was available for public comment between October 6 and December 5, 2014. The Hennepin County 2040 Bicycle Transportation Plan has been revised based on comments received. This plan is a guide for supporting the vision of increasing bicycling within Hennepin County. Implementation of the plan requires additional action by the county board through the annual capital appropriations and cooperative funding agreements.

Goals of the county bike plan:

  • Quadruple the number of bicycle commuters from 2012’s 12,000 people to 48,000 people by 2040
  • Complete an average of 20 miles of the bikeway system each year.
  • Close an average of five bikeway gaps each year
  • Achieve an access level where 90 percent of homes in Hennepin County are within one-half mile of a bikeway or within a mile of the enhanced bikeway network by 2040
  • Move toward zero bicycle deaths
  • Halve bicycle crashes per capita from 2010 levels by 2040

For more information see the news release. For the full plan, downloadable bike map, and other information,

A Piece of my Mind exhibit

A Peace of My Mind exhibit at Hennepin County

Hennepin County Human Services and Public Health Department – Project Diversity are sponsoring the exhibit “A Peace of My Mind” which will be on display in the Hennepin Gallery during May 2015. The exhibit is a multimedia art project created by photographer and author John Noltner that fosters public dialogue about issues related to conflict resolution, civic responsibility and peace. The exhibit can be viewed at the Hennepin County Government Center (A-level) free of charge. There will be a presentation and music on the Skyway Level on Wednesday, May 6 as part of the exhibit.

Southwest LRT station map

Southwest LRT project costs increase to a projected $2 billion

The Hennepin County Board heard from Metro Transit staff at itsApril 28 Regional Railroad Authority meeting. The Metropolitan Council had released analysis on April 27 that stated test results and project delays have increased the cost of the Southwest LRT Project to $1.994 billion, a $341 million increase from the previous estimate. A summary of additional costs identified through testing and engineering is as follows:

  • 80% increase in retaining walls identified, as well as bridges and connecting roads
  • Design refinement due to additional poor ground conditions corridor-wide and soil contamination in St. Louis Park and Hopkins
  • Design refinement due to additional impacted wetlands, flood plains and drainage areas, mostly in Eden Prairie
  • 11 additional acres of property acquisitions identified (from 126 to 137 acres) due to refined design and established construction limits, and
  • 99 additional business relocations (from 47 to 146 relocations) due to refined design and determined building occupancy
  • Design refinement to address light rail and freight rail operational and safety requirements including five gated LRT crossings and improvements at five shared LRT/freight crossings.

The Hennepin County Board will weigh options and will look at efficiencies for cost savings. Commissioner Linda Higgins said, “We’re all going to have to think our brightest thoughts to cope with these numbers and find a way forward.” She also said she would hate for someone to say that the easiest way is to lop off a station. Hennepin County District 2 includes three Southwest LRT stations: PennRoyalston and Van White.

911 center

Sheriff Stanek: Be ready for severe weather season

On April 16, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office sounded all of the outdoor weather warning sirens throughout Hennepin County during the statewide tornado drill.  The annual event helps remind residents about severe weather season.

Remember throughout the severe weather season to take responsibility for the safety of yourself and your family with the following precautions:

Do not rely on sirens as your only source to warn you about severe weather. Sirens are intended to alert people who are outside.  Inside your home, you may not hear outdoor sirens due to noise from wind, rain, or other sounds. Inside your home, use a NOAA weather radio, a smartphone “app,” and stay tuned to local media — to alert you to severe weather.

Be “weather aware.” Keep tabs on the weather forecast for your area. There are times when forecasters predict a likelihood of severe weather many hours or even days in advance. In these situations, keep that possibility in mind as you consider your plans and be sure to check on the changing forecast.

Subscribe to a smartphone notification system.  Receive an email or text when severe weather is in your area. Find options at this link.

Lowry Avenue Northeast public comment period now open

Throughout 2014, Lowry Avenue Community Works worked with the community to develop a new plan for the Lowry Avenue corridor east of the Mississippi River that proposes sidewalk and road improvements for walkers, bicyclists, transit users and drivers, and explores redevelopment options that would support business and housing in the area.

The plan is available for public comment from April 20, 2015, through June 4, 2015. All comments received will be incorporated in the public record and taken into consideration in editing the final plan. Written comments should be submitted by email or regular mail to:

Haila Maze, AICP, Principal City Planner
Minneapolis Department of Community Planning and Economic Development
Planning Division
105 5th Avenue South, Room 200
Minneapolis, MN 55401
Phone: 612-673-2098; Fax: 612-673-2728

Further information is at

Thanks NOMI Social Workers

Seen on Plymouth Avenue by the 4th Precinct. Thanks MPD!

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Board Actions

Board actions on March 31

County receives grant for boat and water safety activities

The county received a $105,953 grant from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for boat and water safety activities. The grant offsets costs incurred by the Sheriff’s office in providing patrol, enforcement, search and rescue, water craft inspection, waterway marking and accident investigations throughout Hennepin County.

Michael Rossman appointed as director of human resources

The board appointed Michael Rossman as the director of the Human Resources Department. Mr. Rossman brings broad-based experience in human resources issues to this role. His leadership has been exemplary as the department administrator for the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office. He recently led that department’s merger with the Minnesota Regional Medical Examiner’s Office. He is known for his innovative approach and commitment to excellence. Mr. Rossman has previously worked in human resources for both Hennepin County Medical Center and Hennepin County. He has also worked at the Department of Community Corrections and Rehabilitation and Northwest Airlines.

Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board and Lower Minnesota River Watershed District Board appointments

The board reappointed Sherry White and appointed Kurt Rogness to the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board. The watershed district coordinates the management of the water and related land resources in the watershed that drains into Lake Minnetonka and Minnehaha Creek. The newly appointed members will serve three-year terms on the watershed district board.

The board also appointed Leonard Kemer to a three year term on the Lower Minnesota River Watershed District Board. The watershed district coordinates the management of the water and related land resources in the watershed that drains into the Lower Minnesota River from the north and south bluffs of the river to the confluence of the Mississippi River at Fort Snelling.

>>To apply for a citizen advisory board position visit

Board approves relocation of Southdale service center

The board approved the relocation of the Hennepin County Service Center in Edina to Southdale Center shopping mall. The current service center is located at the Southdale Regional Center facility which has infrastructure deficiencies, outdated building systems and circulation and way finding concerns. The county will lease approximately 6,735 square feet of floor space on the first level of Southdale Center near the JC Penney and Herberger’s entrance and is scheduled to open February 2016.

Moving the service center will allow for the eventual redevelopment of the site of the current regional center located at the southeast corner of York Avenue South and 70th Street West. Relocating the service center first will allow thoughtful planning and collaboration between court staff, the City of Bloomington and residents in south Hennepin County for new court facilities. Further planning will occur  before the board considers the relocation of the courts and the redevelopment of a new library.

County nursery to provide replacement trees for ones soon to be destroyed by emerald ash borer

A significant number of trees in the county will be affected by the emerald ash borer and will need to be replaced.  To address this, the board approved an initiative to add a gravel-bed nursery at the Hennepin County Adult Corrections Facility. The cost to construct, purchase trees and operations of the nursery are estimated at $170,500. As already demonstrated by over 20 Minnesota communities, a gravel-bed nursery offers a cost effective way for the county to replace trees on county property, diversify the county tree canopy and provide job skills training. The project will involve University of Minnesota students through the Hennepin University Partnership to conduct a canopy assessment that will guide future planting efforts throughout the county. The source of revenue for the nursery project will be from the Solid Waste Enterprise Fund.

Board commits funds for Better Together Hennepin (teen pregnancy prevention program)

The board approved $288,000 in contingency funds to be used as bridge funding for the Better Together Hennepin (teen pregnancy prevention) initiative. The funds will provide a reduced set of programs and services after federal grant funds end August 31, 2015. The initiative has seen significant results in reducing birth rates for teenagers in Hennepin County. Better Together Hennepin has been supported with a substantial federal grant ($3.3 million annually). Hennepin County is well-positioned for the next round of federal funding. However, funding will be highly competitive among organizations and, even if obtained, will be significantly lower ($1.5 million annually) than the current grant.

Board actions for April 28

Board appoints Jerome Driessen as chief information officer

The board appointed Jerome (Jerry) Driessen as chief information officer (CIO) for Hennepin County. As CIO, Driessen will serve as the department director of information technology. This position works to ensure county technology resources are aligned with county business needs and priorities. The CIO develops strategic direction for IT to support county departments and the organization, and to position the county for the future with technology needs.

Dowling Elementary School artwork exhibit at the government center from April 29 to May 22

The county will sponsor an exhibit of artwork by students from Dowling Elementary School on the Skyway Level of the Government Center, April 29 through May 22. The exhibit consists of painting by students with special needs and will showcase the talent of special needs students in the community.

Board takes the Make It OK pledge for Mental Health Awareness Month

The board took the Make It OK pledge for Mental Health Awareness Month. The board acknowledged the importance of mental well-being for people of all ages, races, social classes and walks of life. The Make It OK pledge is a pledge to learn more about mental illness, talk about mental illness to stop the stigma and to encourage others to take the pledge online. You can find more information about the pledge at

Board declares May 3 – 9 Correctional Officers Appreciation Week

The board declared the first week of May Correctional Officers Appreciation Week in Hennepin County. The first week of May has been designated to recognize correctional officers since a proclamation by President Ronald Reagan in 1984. The board recognized the dedicated employees and volunteers that make an important contribution to public safety and the criminal justice system. Thanks to all of Hennepin County’s Correctional Officers!

Board declares May 4 – 8 Jury Appreciation Week 

The board declares May 4 – 8 to be Jury Appreciation Week in Hennepin County. More than 27,700 citizens of Hennepin County have been summoned for jury duty and participated as integral part of the judicial process. Service by citizens as jurors is indispensable to the judicial system. Hennepin County, along with the Fourth Judicial Court District of Minnesota, would like to recognize jurors fulfilling their civic duty. Thanks to all of our jurors!

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St. Anthony

  • Saturday, May 2, 9am-noon
    St. Anthony’s Clean-up day. For more information,
  • Saturday, May 16, 10am-2pm
    St. Anthony Library Book Sale. Hundreds of adult and children’s fiction and nonfiction books in hardcover and paperback, priced $1 or less. Donations (no text books) will be accepted after May 1. For more information, call 612-543-6075.
    St. Anthony Library
    2941 Pentagon Drive NE, St. Anthony


  • Wednesday, May 6, 5-6pm, Saturday, May 9, 2-3pm and Monday, May 11, 6-7pm
    Art-A-Whirl organizers are looking for volunteers to fill shifts at the information booths, support the silent auction fundraiser, and fill a variety of shifts leading up to the event and throughout the weekend of Art-A-Whirl, May 15-17. Volunteers must attend one orientation (except volunteers for silent auction Installation shifts, the preview party, or directory distribution). Volunteers will receive a free Art-A-Whirl t-shirt at the orientation. Snacks and beverages will be provided. For more information, visit,, or call 612-788-1679.
    Betty Danger’s Country Club
    2501 Marshall Street NE, Minneapolis
  • Thursday, May 7 and Friday, May 8, 9am-5pm and Saturday, May 9, 9am-2pm
    Weed It and Reep volunteers needed. The Northeast Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce is looking for volunteers for Community Clean Up Days. The event is open to members and non-members, who will meet at Tom’s Style and Tanning, to pick up debris near local businesses, sidewalks, boulevards, area parks and neighborhood streets. Volunteers can also help prepare the “Cultivate Northeast” garden for planting. The Chamber supplies vests, gloves, garbage bags, and area assignments. Volunteers will receive an event t-shirt. Pre-registration is appreciated by visiting or contacting Christine Levens at 612-378-0050
    Tom’s Style and Tanning
    938 Lowry Avenue NE, Minneapolis
  • Saturday, May 9, 5-10pm and Sunday, May 10, noon-4pm
    NE Art Showcase. Architectural Antiques is hosting this free pop-up art showcase/exhibit. The event is open to everyone and will include four featured artists and four additional artists. There will be live music by Patty and the Buttons, and a silent auction on Saturday, and open viewing on Sunday. Featured artists are Caitlin Karolczak, Brandon Martin, Peter Geyen, and Jonathan Aller. For more information, visit
    Architectural Antiques
    1330 Quincy Street NE, Minneapolis
  • Monday, May 11, 4-7pm
    The Minneapolis Police Department’s Second Precinct community open house.
    Minneapolis Police Department, 2nd Precinct
    1911 Central Avenue NE, Minneapolis
  • Wednesday, May 13 and Wednesday, May 27, 2pm
    UCare informational meetings. UCare is hosting a free “Medicare 101” meeting, and a UCare for Seniors health plan informational meeting. To register or for more information, call 1-877-523-1518 (toll free).
    500 Stinson Boulevard NE, Minneapolis
  • Thursday, May 14, 5-8pm
    East Side Neighborhood Services (ESNS) will have its 19th annual East Side Wine Tasting. The event will include more than 200 wines, local food, beer, spirits, cigars, music and a silent auction. $45 in advance or $50 at the door. Proceeds will benefit ESNS programs.
    Nicollet Island Park and Pavilion
    40 Power Street, Minneapolis
  • Friday, May 15, 5-10pm, Saturday, May 16, noon-8pm and Sunday, May 17, noon-5pm
    NEMAA Presents the 20th Annual Art-A-Whirl. Art-A-Whirl is an open studio tour in Northeast Minneapolis. It’s a great opportunity to tour private artist studios and galleries, connect with the artists, and purchase original artwork. It has become the largest open studio tour in the country. This event is free and open to the public. For more information visit
  • Saturday, May 16 and Thursday, September 24
    East Side Neighborhood Services celebrates a century of service and seeks stories. Among the activities to commemorate its 100 years of service to the Northeast and Southeast Minneapolis communities, East Side Neighborhood Services, will have a community open house in May and a Gala Celebration in September. ESNS is seeking stories to share about how the organization has assisted residents throughout the years. To share a story, call 612-781-6011 or email Renee at For more information about celebration events,
    East Side Neighborhood Services
    1700 Second Street NE, Minneapolis
  • Tuesday, May 19 and Wednesday, May 20, 7pm
    Edison spring band and choir concerts. Both events are free and can be enjoyed by all ages.
    Edison High School
    700 22nd Avenue NE, Minneapolis
  • Saturday, May 30, 10am-2pm
    Pierre Bottineau book sale. There will be a bag sale, $5 per bag, 1-2 p.m.
    Pierre Bottineau Library
    55 Broadway Street NE, Minneapolis
  • Tuesdays through June
    MNSure Application Assistance by appointment only. East Side Neighborhood Services will offer assistance signing up for health coverage through MNSure. For more information or to make an appointment, call Angela at 612-302-3145.
    East Side Neighborhood Services
    1700 Second Street NE, Minneapolis
  • It’s Camp Bovey Registration Time. Registration for the 2015 overnight art camp and other summer camp sessions begins now. To register and for more information,


North Loop

  • Tuesday, May 12, 11am-1pm
    Minneapolis Police Department 1st Precinct Open House.
    There will be interactive outdoor displays from the bomb squad, canine, horse patrol, S.W.A.T., and the Minneapolis Fire Department along with information from many other city departments.
    Minneapolis Police Department, 1st Precinct
    19 North 4th Street, Minneapolis
  • Thursday, May 14, 7pm
    RSVP to Kid-Free at Freehouse. Downtown Families Minneapolis hosts a kid-free night. Food, drinks and fun.RSVP before May 8.

Bryn Mawr

  • Saturday, May 2 and Sunday, May 3
    For more information on one of the best neighborhood garage sales in town, visit

Golden Valley

  • Weekdays, Friday, May 1-Friday, May 15, 8am-4pm
    Annual Spring Bush Pick-up. Golden Valley’s recycling program includes a three-week curbside brush pick-up in May as long as funds are available. Place tree limbs and brush at their curbs for collection and disposal.
  • Wednesday, May 6, 6-8pm
    The Annual Bike Rodeo. The Bike Rodeo educates kids in bike safety and introduces them to local law enforcement in a fun environment. No registration required. For kids ages 12 and under.
    Crystal Community Center
    4800 Douglas Drive N, Crystal
  • Thursday, May 7, 6-8:30pm
    Bottineau Station Area Planning Committee Meeting
    Golden Valley Council Conference Room
    7800 Golden Valley Road, Golden Valley
  • Thursday, May 14, 6:30pm
    The City of Golden Valley’s Human Rights Commission explores the issue of human trafficking with an awareness program featuring “bottom,” a play by the Blank Slate Theatre based on the stories of real sex trafficking survivors. For more information, visit
    Perpich Center for Arts Education
    6125 Olson Memorial Hwy, Golden Valley
  • May 3-30
    Step-to-it Challenge. Do you want a fun and easy way to get in shape in the spring? Then the four-week Step To It Challenge is for you! Show your pride, with friends at your side! The challenge is a fun, light-hearted way to connect with family, friends, and neighbors and get moving again after a long winter. In 2015, 24 cities will compete to see which one has the most active residents. Hennepin County honors the winning city with a variety of prizes. For more information, visit

Medicine Lake


  • Saturday, May 2, 7:30am-2pm
    Annual drop-off day. For Plymouth residents only. For more information and items that can be dropped off,
  • May 3-30
    Step-to-it Challenge. This four-week competition encourages physical activity as it pits 24 northwest metro cities against one another. Bragging rights will go to the city that is most active and to those residents that have the highest average “steps” per participant. For more information,
  • Sunday, May 3, 8am-1pm
    Fire Department Waffle Breakfast. Join the Plymouth Fire Department for all-you-can-eat waffles, served with sausage, juice, coffee and tea. Gluten-free option available. $7 in advance, $8 at the door or $20 for a family of four. Proceeds will benefit the Plymouth Crime & Fire Prevention Fund. For advance tickets, call 763-509-5120.
  • Sunday, May 3, noon-2:30pm
    Kids Garage Sale. More than 25 families will sell items, including children’s toys, clothes and games. There is no cost to browse the merchandise and the sale is open to the public.
    Plymouth Creek Center
    14800 34th Avenue N, Plymouth
  • Monday, May 4, 6-7pm
    Walk with a Mayor. Mayor Kelli Slavik will lead a leisurely 30-45 minute walk through Plymouth Creek Park and the Hilde Performance Center. Snacks and water will be provided – participants should bring a water bottle. Free Step to It Challenge t-shirts will be given away while supplies last. The walk is free and there is no need to register.
    Plymouth Creek Center
    14800 34th Avenue N, Plymouth
  • Bike Helmet Sale. The Plymouth Fire Department will sell low-cost bike helmets 6-8 p.m. the first and third Thursday of each month from May 7 through Aug. 20. Helmets range in size from toddler to adult extra large and come in many styles and colors. Traditional bike helmets are $14 and multi-sport helmets are $17.
    Fire Station III
    3300 Dunkirk Lane N, Plymouth
  • Friday, May 15-Saturday, May 16
    Compost Bin and Rain Barrel Pickup. The City of Plymouth will sell compost bins and rain barrels. Orders can be picked up May 15-16 at the Plymouth Maintenance Facility. For more information, visit