February 2016 News and Events from Commissioner Linda Higgins



Commissioner Linda Higgins, Hennepin County, MN




Hennepin County is a great place to work!

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Browse current library openings.

AARP Tax help

AARP Foundation’s Tax-Aide offers free, individualized tax preparation for low-to moderate-income taxpayers – especially those 60 and older. Find a location near you by visitinghttp://www.aarp.org/taxaidand click AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Locator.


Linda Higgins
Commissioner, District 2

Tina Sanz
Principal Aide

Roshonda Royston
Administrative Secretary

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For past issues of my monthly newsletter, visit my webpage.


District 2 serves the cities of Golden Valley,Medicine Lake, north and northeast Minneapolis, southeast Plymouth andSt. Anthony.

2nd District Hennepin County

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We’re off to a good start at Hennepin with a lot of projects in the works to make our county even better. As we go along, I’ll keep you updated on our work.

I’d also like your help in getting out the word about the great training opportunity for Building Operations Technician. Let anyone you can think of know of this great opportunity to get free college credits and job training for positions that are currently paying $19 to $38 an hour. See story below.

Be sure to check out all the great upcoming events this month, and think about subscribing to other interesting topics offered by Hennepin County. And as always, feel free to forward this newsletter!


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Top stories

A look back at 2015

Penn Community Works

Getting input from residents at Community Works community meeting

At the beginning of a new year, it’s always fun to look at this past year’s work.

  • Elected Vice Chair of the Hennepin County Board
  • Expanded hours and services at Hennepin County Service Center in North Minneapolis at 1001 Plymouth Ave. N. to include drivers licenses and other documents
  • Improved pedestrian and bicycle safety on Washington Ave. N. from 5th to Plymouth Ave. N.
  • Convened a group including rehabbers, residents and city and county staff to discuss how to best get people back into tax forfeited homes that have sometimes been vacant for years; initiated policy changes to allow rehabilitation of homes before auction
  • Approved a paid parental leave policy for employees Hennepin County after the birth or adoption of a child
  • Continued work with the Penn Avenue Community Worksand Lowry Avenue Northeast Community Works
  • Analyzed the independent assessment of Hennepin County Child Protection Services in conjunction with recommendations from the Governor’s Task Force on the Protection of Children; approved increased funding for Child Protection Services including authorizing the hiring of 100 additional workers
  • Improved pedestrian and bicycle safety with striping changes on Duluth Street and Winnetka Avenue from Medicine Lake Road to Orkla Drive in Golden Valley
  • Moved the Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension) and Southwest LRT (Green Line Extension) lines closer to final approvals
  • Secured building approvals for the new Webber Park Library at 45th and Humboldt Ave. N. (groundbreaking to take place this year)
  • Approved sale of land to Pillsbury United Communities for a grocery store at 44th and Humboldt Ave. N.
  • Adopted the 2040 Bicycle Transportation Plan, which replaces the 1997 Bicycle Transportation Plan
  • Opened the newest human services office at 525 Portland to serve Downtown and Northeast Minneapolis; started work on the south Minneapolis human services offices at Lake and Hiawatha with expected opening in 2017
  • Analyzed sheriff’s department staffing to reduce overtime costs and appropriately staff positions for the department using best practices from across the country
  • Approved Hennepin labor contracts that include a minimum wage of $15/hour for county workers
  • Secured funding for parks and equipment through the Hennepin Youth Sports Grants program including $200,000 to the City of Plymouth for a new adaptive softball field and universal access playground
  • Approved the 2016 budget
  • Approved campus expansion and new building for Northpoint Health and Wellness Center
  • Served as secretary-treasurer of the Association of Minnesota Counties and was a member of the Human Services Policy Committee
  • Chaired the National Association of Counties’ (NACo) Human Services Subcommittee on Children and Families and the Health Subcommittee on Behavioral Health
  • Served on NACo’s Large Urban County Caucus steering committee

Hennepin County Career Connections – Building Operations Technician training

Building Operations Tech training picture

I wrote in last month’s newsletter about the Career Connections program, guiding people onto career paths that include training, work experience and professional support once people are hired.

I’d like your help in getting out the word of a great new training opportunity. This is for the new Building Operations Technicianpathway that Hennepin County has developed with our partners MCTC and PPL.

It is a nine-month program where participants can earn 11.5 credits tuition free. Candidates must have a high school diploma or GED and six months work experience in facilities or maintenance.

The county is an employer partner for this training and is being joined by the University of Minnesota, State Department of Administration, Fairview Health Services, PPL and Johnson Controls as additional employer partners.

It is our goal to have residents from North Minneapolis fill at least 10 of the 35 available slots for this tuition-free training. 

In a nutshell:

  • FREE training program that leads to jobs paying $19 to $38 an hour right now at Twin Cities employers
  • Hands-on training, including the basics of electric circuits and motors, HVAC, plumbing, using trade tools, and more.
  • Opportunity to job shadow a building operations professional on the job
  • Complete the program and you’ll be prepared to take the Minnesota Special Engineer Boiler Operator’s License Exam
  • Eligible for 11.5 credits from MCTC to get a head start on future academic and professional goals.

Find out more at one-hour information sessions held every Monday morning at 9 am at the PPL Learning Center, 1925 Chicago Avenue, Minneapolis.

The training begins February 2, 2016.

For more information about Career Connections, training programsand Hennepin County, visit hennepin.us/jobs/career-connections or call 612-348-7473.

Golden Valley Library

Golden Valley Library reopens after renovation

Hennepin County Library – Golden Valley, 830 Winnetka Ave. N., reopened Saturday, January 23 after a four-month, $1.4 million renovation.

Improvements include two new public meeting rooms, completely renovated restrooms, an expanded children’s area, and a new periodical area. Several interior walls were removed to open up the space, improve sightlines, and increase natural light, and new service points were created.

Behind the scenes, the library received lighting and electrical upgrades, as well as new data cabling and Wi-Fi. New automated materials handling equipment and a work room reconfiguration will improve staff efficiencies.

“It will be great to have Golden Valley Library open again,” said Hennepin County Commissioner Linda Higgins. “The library is well-used by the community, and we hope the space and technology improvements in place will encourage residents to visit the library even more often.”

See photos of the project in progress.

Patrons who chose an alternate pickup location for their item requests during the library closure will see their pickup location change back to Golden Valley Library automatically.

Upon reopening, Golden Valley Library and the City of Golden Valley are launching a first-ever Golden Valley Reads program, encouraging residents to read “Ordinary Grace” by William Kent Krueger and attend an event with Krueger on Monday, May 9, 7 p.m., at Brookview Community Center. For this full story and other events, see hclib.org.

Hennepin offers free Pre-Valentine’s Day weddings at Government Center

Valentine weddings

Video from a past ceremony (above) at youtu.be/xrtP5V-wkVE.

The Hennepin County Board approved Hennepin County’s Fourth Judicial District Court judges and the Hennepin County Resident and Real Estate Services Department conducting free marriage ceremonies on the Public Service Level of the Hennepin County Government Center on February 12, 2016, from noon to 1:00 p.m.

This is the fourth free marriage ceremony event held in connection with Valentine’s Day. Up to twenty Fourth Judicial District Court judges will volunteer to perform up to forty marriage ceremonies at no charge for couples providing properly completed documents in accordance with state law.

Pre-registration is required. Contactnancy.peters@courts.state.mn.us.

For more information on applying for a marriage license at the service centers, go to hennepin.us/servicecenters There is a service charge for processing marriage licenses.

MSP Home Tour

Minneapolis – St. Paul Home Tour

Home Tour needs nominations soon

The 2016 Minneapolis and Saint Paul Home Tour will be Saturday, April 30 and Sunday, May 1. For 11 hours each spring, homeowners and contractors open their doors to share ideas with other home enthusiasts, based on their remodeling experience. Visitors are particularly interested in period-accurate restoration and expansions sensitive to the surroundings. Being on the tour gives homeowners great feedback as well as the incentive to finish those last few projects.

The Minneapolis and Saint Paul Home Tour, is accepting nominations at their website.

Click on “submit a home” for the option to apply online or request an application by calling Margo Ashmore at 612-867-4874. Organizers want to have visited nominated homes by early February, so inquire today. Later nominations will be considered if they help reach tour goals.

Plymouth 169 construction

MnDOT: Highway 169 improvement open house set for Feb. 10

The public is invited to the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s open house to learn more about future improvements planned for Highway 169 between Highway 55 and Highway 62.

The open house is set for 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, February 10 at Hopkins High School, 2400 Lindbergh Drive, Minnetonka.

Open house attendees will have the opportunity to learn more about the project, construction staging timeline and project schedule. Representatives from MnDOT will be on hand to answer questions.

Background on the Highway 169 Project
The Highway 169 project has reached significant milestones since this past summer and additional information is available since the last public open house. In addition to meeting with stakeholders along the corridor, project staff has been working on preliminary design and an environmental review of the projects. The following updates on the projects include:

  • The bridge over Nine Mile Creek will be reconstructed as a causeway, which is a raised road across a low or wet ground.
  • The St. Louis Park City Council voted in support of closing the substandard West 16th Street ramps going southbound on Highway 169.
  • The official detour during the closure of Highway 169 has been determined and preliminary plans for construction staging are now available.

This project is expected to have major traffic impacts and delays. Current staging plans have Highway 169 closed for up to one year between Bren Road and 7th Street (Lincoln Drive/5th Street). The remaining project areas will be reduced to one lane in each direction for the road resurfacing work along with on and off ramp closures.

Please visit the project website for upcoming event dates and times, in addition to project updates, at mndot.gov/metro/projects/hwy169hopkins.

Give Kids a Smile provides free dental care for kids in need

Give Kids a Smile

Above/Left: Dr. Rochelle Avent-Hassan, NorthPoint’s Dental Director, performs a dental exam.

Above/Right: Dr. Michael A Brooks, Jr. and dental assistant, Wanda Haakenson, treating a teenage patient.

Each year, dental professionals from across the state participate in Give Kids a Smile, providing free dental care to children in need. The event takes place on Friday, February 5, and Saturday, February 6, 2016, and is made possible by the collaborative effort of the Minnesota Dental Association, volunteer dentists, and sponsors. To find clinic information to make a reservation, visit mndental.org/events/give-kids-a-smile. Hennepin County District 2 participating clinics include Bay Creek Dental; Children’s Dental Services; Larson Dental, LLC; and NorthPoint Health and Wellness.

Tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease, affecting an estimated 50% of first graders. Regular dental check-ups are critical to keeping children’s teeth and gums healthy, but a major barrier for too many families who lack access to good, affordable dental care. Left untreated, tooth decay can have devastating effects on young children, affecting their overall health and even their success in school due to excessive absenteeism, inability to focus.

For many children, Give Kids a Smile might be the first visit to the dentist.  In an effort to help ease some of their fears, clinic lobby areas are often set up to be child-friendly with interest areas such as reading, drawing and coloring.

car for registration requirements

New requirements for vehicle title, tabs and plates

Everything you need to transfer title, renew your license tabs, and get your license plates.

Effective January 1, 2016

With a new change in Minnesota law, every owner applying for a motor vehicle or motorcycle registration, re-registration, or transfer of ownership must provide proof of insurance. Required insurance information includes the insurance company’s name, the policy number, and the policy expiration date for the motor vehicle or motorcycle (MS 169.798, subd 4). More information from the State of Minnesota at dps.mn.gov.

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Board news

January 5

At its annual organization meeting, the Hennepin County Board unanimously voted to reappoint District 6 Commissioner Jan Callison as chair for 2016. Callison also served as chair in 2015.

Callison has served on the board since 2009. Her district includes Deephaven, northern Eden Prairie, Edina, Excelsior, Greenwood, Hopkins, Long Lake, Minnetonka, Minnetonka Beach, northern Mound, Orono, Shorewood, Spring Park, Tonka Bay, Wayzata, and Woodland. She is the second woman to serve as chair.

The board also unanimously elected Commissioner Linda Higgins, District 2, to serve as vice chair of the board. Her district includes the cities of Golden Valley, Medicine Lake, southeast Plymouth, St. Anthony and north and northeast Minneapolis, including the North Loop and Bryn Mawr neighborhoods. Commissioner Higgins has served on the board since 2013. Higgins also served as vice chair in 2015.

The board also established board committees and selected committee chairs:

Budget and Capital Investment: Commissioner Randy Johnson, District 5

Public Works, Energy and Environment: Commissioner Mike Opat, District 1

Health and Human Services: Commissioner Marion Greene, District 3

Public Safety and Judiciary: Commissioner Jeff Johnson, District 7

Libraries, Technology and General Government: Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, District 4

Intergovernmental: Commissioner Linda Higgins, District 2

Acting as the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority (HCRRA), the board unanimously re-elected Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, District 4, as chair and Commissioner Jan Callison, District 6, as vice chair of the HCRRA.

January 12

Acting as the Hennepin County Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HCHRA), the board unanimously re-elected Commissioner Linda Higgins, District 2, as chair and Commissioner Randy Johnson, District 5, as vice chair of the HCHRA.

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St. Anthony


  • Monday, February 1 through Friday, February 5
    Free Computer Basics training. Contact Ellen Stavreff at612-787-4095 to RSVP. For times and more information,  visit esns.org.
    East Side Neighborhood Services
    1700 2nd Street NE, Minneapolis
  • Monday afternoons and Wednesday evenings, February 1 through April 13.
    AARP will provide free tax assistance to low-income seniors and disabled individuals. To make an appointment, call 612-781-6011.
    East Side Neighborhood Services
    1700 2nd Street NE, Minneapolis
  • Friday, February 12, 6-8pm
    Valentine’s Dance. Music, dancing, light dinner, cookie decorating, and card making. $5. Registration is required by February 11. To register, visit activecommunities.com.
    Audubon Park
    1320 29th Avenue NE, Minneapolis
  • Saturday, February 13, 10am
    President’s Day walk and celebration. Walk will commence at the Northeast Library with three warm-up stops along the way, ending at Northeast Middle School for lunch.
    Northeast Library
    2200 Central Avenue NE, Minneapolis
  • Saturday, February 13, noon-4pm
    Fix-It Clinic. Free to the public. Bring in small household appliances, clothing, electronics, mobile devices and more.
    Waite Park Recreation Center
    1810 34th Avenue NE, Minneapolis
  • Saturday, February 20, 6-9pm
    Northeast Winter Market. Local food vendor and artisans, music and children’s activities. For more information, visitnortheastmarket.org.
  • Saturday, February 20, 7pm
    SNO Ball. Live music, light appetizers, photo booth and silent auction. $25 advance $30 at the door. Tickets available at Two 12 Pottery and Gift Gallery, 212 13th Avenue NE, Minneapolis. For more information, contact Sandy Kortebein at kurzbein67@gmail.com.
    Grain Belt Brewery
    1215 Marshall Street NE, Minneapolis
  • Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings, now through Monday, April 18
    Free tax preparation. Walk in service for low income individuals and families. For times and more information, visit esns.org.
    East Side Neighborhood Services
    1700 2nd Street NE, Minneapolis
  • Registration is open for the Northeast Farmers Market Foodie 4 Mile: Race to the Market, Saturday, May 21, at 8 am. Those who register early will receive the “Early-Early Bird Special” price of $25. For more information and to register, visit active.com.


  • Tuesday, January 26, 3-6pm
    Grand opening of Commons on Penn.
    Penn Avenue North and Golden Valley Road, Minneapolis
  • Saturday, January 30, 2-6pm
    The Things We Love Artists Reception. A tribute to artist Susan Spiller, a collection of art that is as colorful, spirited, and well-rounded as she was.
    Heritage Park Health and Wellness Center
    1015 N 4th Avenue, Minneapolis
  • Friday, February 5 through Sunday, February 7
    City of Lakes Loppet Festival. The Loppet Foundation’s premier event includes cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, dogsledding, Kubb, fat tire and ice bike riding, snow sculpture contest, speed skating, telemark clinic and Luminary Loppet. To register and for more information, visitloppet.org.

North Loop

Golden Valley

  • Tuesday, February 2, 6pm
    Light Rail Transit open house and public hearing. View the plans and provide your input. For more information, visitgoldenvalleymn.gov.
    Golden Valley City Hall
    7800 Golden Valley Road, Golden Valley

Medicine Lake


  • Tuesday, February 2, 11am to noon
    Walk with a Doc. Each month a different doctor will lead a 45 minute walk that is open to all Plymouth community members.
    Plymouth Creek Center Fieldhouse
    14800 34th Avenue N, Plymouth
  • Saturday, February 6, 3-7pm
    Fire and Ice. Recycling bin races, youth ice fishing contest, goofy hat contest, hayrides, sled-dog rides, miniature golf on the ice, snow bowling, recreational skating, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing – weather permitting, entertainment, bonfire, on-site food trucks and fireworks.
    Parkers Lake Park
    15205 County Road 6, Plymouth
  • Sunday, February 7, 9am-12:30pm
    Waffle Breakfast. All-you-can-eat waffles with a host of toppings, sausage, coffee and juice. $7 for ages 6 and older; $4 ages 5 and younger. Pay at the door.
    Plymouth Creek Center
    14800 34th Avenue N, Plymouth
  • Thursday, February 11, 5:30-7pm
    Open house. View plans for a proposed trail gap completion along Old Rockford Road, connecting Vicksburg Lane to Dunkirk Lane.
    Plymouth City Hall
    3400 Plymouth Boulevard, Plymouth