March 2016 News and Events from Commissioner Linda Higgins

Commissioner Linda Higgins, Hennepin County, MN

MARCH 2016



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Linda Higgins
Commissioner, District 2

Tina Sanz
Principal Aide

Roshonda Royston
Administrative Secretary

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

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It’s an honor to serve the people of District 2. I’m ready to work with you, steering the kinds of smart public investments that make us all stronger.

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Top stories

Green Partners environmental education grants

Environmental grants

Grants totaling $150,000 were awarded to 15 organizations to implement projects that will empower residents to take action to protect the environment and many of the projects will engage underserved, harder-to-reach and youth audiences. Learn about the projects awarded. District 2 Good Steward (Root) grant recipients include:

  • Black Storytellers Alliance, Minneapolis – $8,000.
  • Cleveland Neighborhood Association, Minneapolis – $6,600.
  • EMERGE Community Development, Minneapolis – $14,500.
  • Freedom Academy Charter School, Minneapolis – $6,300.
  • Metro Blooms, Minneapolis – $9,600.
  • Northeast Minneapolis Tool Library, Minneapolis – $7,900.
  • Three Rivers Park District, countywide – $10,500.

Natural resources grants

The county also awarded eight grants totaling $257,500 for projects that will preserve, protect or improve natural resources and water quality.

District 2 grant recipients include:

  • Cleveland Neighborhood Association, Minneapolis -$10,000; to install up to 15 rain gardens within the ClevelandNeighborhood that drains to Crystal Lake in Robbinsdale.
  • Chef Tro Enterprises LLC, Minneapolis – $15,000; to captureand treat stormwater that drains to the Mississippi River.
  • City of St. Anthony – $5,000; to install 20 native, pollinator-friendly gardens to stormwater runoff.

Commissioner Higgins at 800 W Broadway

New future for 800 W. Broadway

I recently attended the groundbreaking at 800 West Broadway Avenue in Minneapolis with Governor Mark Dayton, DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben, Senator Bobby Joe Champion, Minneapolis Council President Barbara Johnson, Mayor Betsy Hodges and others.

Hennepin County had been responsible for the building since 2010 due to tax forfeiture. Sale of the building at a good price was critical for this challenging project.

Scheduled to open in the fall of 2016, 800 West Broadway will include the North Minneapolis Workforce Center (DEED), NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center, and Minneapolis Public Schools. In addition, retail space (hopefully including a coffee shop or restaurant) will operate on the first floor.

800 W Broadway sketch

ERF grants

Grants awarded to clean up contaminated sites

The board awarded eight Environmental Response Fund grants totaling $1.2 million. Environmental Response Fund grants support a variety of projects that promote economic development by increasing the tax base, creating permanent jobs, enhancing greenspace and developing affordable housing.

ERF projects included:

  • City of Golden Valley: $152,000 for contaminated soil cleanup at the DeCola Ponds Project, to construct new stormwater management structures in a flood-prone area.
  • City of Lakes Community Land Trust: $115,000 for asbestos and lead paint abatement associated with the renovation of four houses that will be owner-occupied, affordable housing.
  • Hennepin County Resident and Real Estate Services: $250,000 to demolish hazardous and contaminated buildings on the tax-forfeited former Universal Plating facility site in Northeast Minneapolis.
  • Minnesota Brownfields, countywide: $200,000 to continue the Brownfields Gap Financing Program, which provides small environmental assessment grants to municipalities and nonprofit organizations.
  • Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board: $50,000 for disposal of contaminated soil on the east bank of the Mississippi River in northeast Minneapolis.
  • Perspectives, Inc.: $61,000 for contaminated soil cleanup that will facilitate the expansion of Perspective’s adjacent family center.

Read more about the Environmental Response Fund process and grantees.

Library news

National Read Across America Day

See what’s happening at your local school on Wednesday, March 2 or get some ideas at If you don’t find yourself anywhere near Whoville on March 2, you are guaranteed to find a good book at your Hennepin County Library.

In other Hennepin County Library news, bookclubs are a great way to bring neighbors and friends together! Bookclub kits are available at

Each bag contains 8-10 copies of a single title, a set of discussion questions, and tips for running a successful book club. A complete list of bookclub kit titles is at

Tax help

Tax Day is just around the corner. Find help with your taxes

AARP Foundation Tax-Aide offers free, individualized tax preparation for low-to moderate-income taxpayers – especially those 60 and older. Find a location near you by visiting and click AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Locator.

Community Action Partnership of Hennepin County (CAPSH) also offers free tax assistance. Taxes are prepared and electronically and filed free of charge by certified volunteers. Tax preparation services are offered February through April for those who meet the income guidelines: $35,000 or less for individuals; $50,000 or less for families. For more information including current schedule, visit the CAPSH website or call 952-697-1414.

St Anthony logo

St. Anthony Village

Aeration system on Silver Lake

An aeration system creating open water and thin ice is in operation on Silver Lake in Anoka County T30R24 and Ramsey County T30R23. Weather conditions may cause the areas of thin ice and open water to fluctuate greatly. See map.

Run the Valley

Run the Valley
April 16 in Golden Valley

Run the Valley, one of Golden Valley’s most popular events, will mark its 22nd anniversary April 16 with a Kids Fun Run,10K race, 5K race and a 5K walk. Start and finish is at Brookview Community Center, 200 Brookview Parkway S, Golden Valley. Water stops and post-race complimentary snacks are donated by area businesses.

Run the Valley raises funds for the benefit of organizations in the Golden Valley Human Services Fund. In 2015, the event drew 442 participants and raised $16,000. For more information, go or call 763-512-2345.

student loan debt image

New Student Loan Repayment Counseling available through Lutheran Social Services

To help student loan borrowers and their families, Lutheran Social Services (LSS) received a two-year grant from the Minnesota Office of Higher Education to provide student loan repayment counseling to Minnesota residents. The new program will provide guidance, at no cost, to Minnesota residents who are repaying their federal, state, and/or private student loans, but have missed a payment or two.

For more information, visit, or contact Landon McKay at ext. 224 or Ammar Radhi at ext. 266. To make an appointment, clients should contact LSS appointment line at 1-888-577-2227.

Debra Brisk

Employee profile: Debra Brisk, Hennepin County Public Works

Each month we spotlight a position or employment opportunity in Hennepin County. This month, we introduce you to Debra Brisk (left) who is the Assistant County Administrator of Public Works, a department with over 450 employees. Public Works in Hennepin County encompasses 2,200 lane miles of road, 147 bridges, 651 miles of bikeway, 406 miles of sidewalk, and thousands of walls, signals, signs and culverts. In addition, its Community Works division partners with cities and other agencies, businesses, neighborhood organizations and county residents to build the long-term value of communities.

Debra started with Hennepin County in 2012 after working for a consulting firm that was working on Target Field Station.  Prior to that, she worked for the Department of Transportation in Arizona as the Assistant Commissioner for the DOT, but Minnesota is her home. Her favorite thing about the job is working with people.

When asked, Debra said, “One of the things I like most about my job is seeing opening day on a big project. Before opening day, projects take a long time – from concept/idea to engineering, community engagement, planning, architecture, place-making – and it’s bringing all those interdisciplinary pieces together to make the whole that is exciting!”


Geo:Code coming March 5 and 6

Geo:Code is where Community meets geography and technology. Community matters as the forum for bringing people together to solve problems. Geography matters because community concerns are tied to a place. Technology matters because it provides a tool to examine and address community concerns.

One of our biggest takeaways from last year’s event is that we have a lot to learn and a lot more work to do when it comes to creating good, usable open data.

What does really good open government data look like?

  • How can we create a data model that will allow people to most easily use and understand government open data?
  • How can we make government websites and applications secure and usable, enabling residents to confidently access services online?
  • How do we use open data to create more inclusive public services and opportunity for all?

Registration and more information is at

Anyone can attend including: Residents and community members; Geographic Information System (GIS) professionals and enthusiasts; Cartographers; Designers; Developers and coders; and Project managers.

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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 would be the second women to serve as chair.

The board also 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.

January 26

County board approves 2016 legislative platform

The Hennepin County Board approved its 2016 legislative platform. These are the priorities the board and county administration will support during pre-session committee meetings, and once theLegislature convenes in March.

Public hearing set: Tipping fees

The Hennepin County Board scheduled a public hearing during its regular meeting on Tuesday, February 23 to receive comments about the proposed gate rate tipping fee for municipal waste disposal at the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center and the Brooklyn Park Transfer Station.

Learn more about tipping fees.

Public hearing set: Plymouth lake names

The board also scheduled a hearing on Tuesday, February 2, at 1:30 p.m. for the purpose of hearing comment about changing the names of three lake basins (“Unnamed Wetland” to “Snyder Lake”; “Snyder Lake” to “Kreatz Lake”; “Kreatz Lake” to “Unnamed Wetland”) located in the City of Plymouth.

February 9

Blue Line Extension design component approved

The board voted to approve the physical design component of the preliminary plans for the Bottineau Light Rail Transit Project, also known as the METRO Blue Line Extension. A Metropolitan Council/Hennepin County/Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority joint public hearing was held on January 19, 2016 for the physical design component of the preliminary design plans for the Bottineau Light Rail Transit Line.

Read the Bottineau Light Rail Transit Project resolution.

Read about plans for the Metro Blue Line corridor.

Funding increase to help Public Health Clinic work to prevent HIV spread

The board agreed to an amendment to an agreement with the Minnesota Department of Health, that increases a grant for HIV health education and risk reduction services by $226,928. The total grant to the Hennepin County Public Health Clinic now is $1.1 million over five years. In Minnesota, approximately 7,200 people have been diagnosed with HIV; about 4,000 of them live in Hennepin County. The Hennepin County Public Health Clinic is the largest STD/HIV testing and counseling site in Minnesota, diagnosing more STDs/HIV than any other single site in the state.

Federal legislative platform approved

The board approved the updated 2016 federal legislative platform asking the Minnesota members of Congress to support the county’s transportation, health and human services, HCMC, criminal justice and housing and community development requests. Read the summary of Hennepin County’s federal legislative platform.

Issuance of capital improvement debt

The Budget and Capital Investment Committee set a hearing to gather public comment on the proposed issuance of up to $200 million in aggregate principal amount of general obligation bonds of the county for the purpose of financing new capital improvements. The hearing will be held during the committee’s meeting on Tuesday, March 8, at 1:30 p.m., in room A-2400 of the Hennepin County Government Center, 300 South 6th Street, Minneapolis.

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St. Anthony

  • Monday, February 22, 6:30pm
    Tibetan New Year. Learn how it is observed, its significance, and how the celebration changed when many Tibetans moved to India. All community members are welcome to attend. For more information, call 612-543-6075.
    St. Anthony Library
    2941 Pentagon Drive NE, Minneapolis
  • Monday, March 1, 7pm
    The St. Anthony Village Parks Commission will have a meeting to hear from Hennepin and Ramsey counties about biking and walking in the city. After the meeting, participants can assist the Commission and city planner in outlining important routes and priorities for the Comprehensive Plan Update. For more information,
    St. Anthony City Hall
    3301 Silver Lake Road, St. Anthony
  • Sunday, March 13, 8:30am-12:30pm
    Pancake Breakfast. Live music, chair massages during breakfast, which includes pancakes, sausage, coffee, tea, orange juice and milk. $7; free for children 5 and under.
    St. Anthony High School/Middle School
    3303 33rd Avenue NE, Minneapolis


  • Thursday, March 3 through Saturday, March 5, 7pm
    Play. “Our Town.” $8 for adults, $6 for students.
    Edison High School
    700 22nd Avenue NE, Minneapolis
  • Tuesday, March 15, 7pm
    Spring Concert. Free. The Men’s and Women’s Concert and Varsity choirs will perform.
    Edison High School
    700 22nd Avenue NE, Minneapolis
  • Wednesday, March 16, 6:30pm
    Band Festival. Free. Light refreshments will be served prior to performances.
    Edison High School
    700 22nd Avenue NE, Minneapolis
  • March 19, 10am-2pm
    Northeast Winter Market. Local food vendor and artisans, music and children’s activities. For more information,
    Solar Arts Building
    711 15th Avenue NE, Minneapolis
  • Saturdays, February 27, March 19, April 23, May 14 and June 11, 9am-5pm
    Homebuyer Workshops. Participants will receive a homestretch certificate which creates eligibility for numerous down payment and first-time homebuyer assistance funds and programs. $40. Limited scholarship funds available to those who qualify. For more information or to register, call 612-256-2567, or visit
    Umoja Community Development Corporation
    1033 Lowry Avenue NE, Minneapolis
  • Saturday, March 26, 9am-11am
    Bunny Party. For kids ages 6 and under.
    Audubon Park
    1320 NE 29th Street, Minneapolis
  • Saturday, March 26, noon-2pm
    Egg Hunt. Treats, entertainment, games, bounce house. Treat bags will be given to the first 200 registered children ages 7-12 years; pre-registration by March 23 is required. To register, visit
    Windom Park
    2251 Hayes Street NE, Minneapolis


  • Saturday, March 5, 10:30-11:30am
    Research the history of your Minneapolis home. Learn about tools and resources available at the library and throughout the city to research the history of a house, neighborhood or a piece of property within Minneapolis city limits. To register, visit or call 612-543-6875.
    Sumner Library
    611 Van White Memorial Blvd, Minneapolis
  • Saturday, March 12, 10am-3pm
    Northside Housing Fair. Opportunity to get all your housing related needs met in one location. Vendors, mini-workshops, food, prizes and more.
    Lucy Craft Laney School
    3333 Penn Avenue N, Minneapolis
  • April 11 through June 3, 9:15am-3:45pm
    Women-only IT-Ready career program. Free eight-week class. Includes books, learning materials, more than 200 hours of classroom and hands-on training. Qualification for a local, six-month paid on-the-job work experience and certification vouchers toward the CompTIA A+ exam. Only Minneapolis residents are eligible. Applications are due by Friday, March 25. For more information,
    EMERGE Career and Technology Center
    1834 Emerson Avenue N, Minneapolis
  • The City of Minneapolis invites emerging artists to apply to design public artwork for the 26th Avenue North Bikeway public art initiative, “Assemble.” Informational meetings for applicants will be held Tuesday, February 23, 4pm at Juxtaposition Arts Gallery, 2007 Emerson Avenue N, Minneapolis and Tuesday, March 15, 5pm at Theodore Wirth Park Chalet Dining Hall, 1301 Theodore Wirth Parkway. For more information, visit

North Loop

  • Thursday, February 25, 6:30-8:30pm
    Downtown Service Area Steering Committee Meeting. View plans for Loring, Elliot, Gateway, Park Avenue Triangle, Franklin Steel Square and plans for future parkland in North Loop.
    Minneapolis Park and Recreation Headquarters
    2117 West River Road North, Minneapolis

Medicine Lake

Golden Valley

  • Tuesday, February 23, 6-7:30pm
    Open House. View general replacement plans for Brookview Community Center and discuss the future of the project.  Brookview Community Center
    200 Brookview Parkway S, Golden Valley
  • Wednesday, March 9, 1-5pm
    Blood Drive
    Golden Valley City Hall
    7800 Golden Valley Road, Golden Valley


  • Tuesday, March 1, 11am to noon
    Walk with a Doc. Residents are invited to take a 45-minute walk with a local doctor, who will share information on a health-related topic and answer questions during the event.
    Plymouth Creek Center Fieldhouse
    14800 34th Avenue N, Plymouth
  • Saturday, March 5, 11am-2pm
    Wedding Expo. Wedding services and suppliers, including exclusive caterers, party rentals, florists, bakeries and photographers. $2 if preregistered or $4 at the door. To preregister, call the Plymouth Creek Center at 763-509-5280.
    Plymouth Creek Center
    14800 34th Avenue N, Plymouth
  • Wednesday, March 9, 7:30am
    State of the City Address. Join Mayor Kelli Slavik as she shares some of the recent work of the City of Plymouth, touches on the city’s financial situation and highlights a few developments that are in the works.
    Trillium Woods
    5855 Cheshire Lane, Plymouth
  • Sunday, March 13, 1-4pm
    Healthy Living Fair. Free. Health screenings, educational sessions, active samplers, giveaways and prizes, vendor booths and more.
    Plymouth Creek Center
    14800 34th Avenue N, Plymouth

Multiple communities

  • Saturday, March 26, 9am-4:30pm
    The Black Women’s Business Alliance is excited to kickoff our very first POWER UP! Goal Diggers Series. Hear a panel discussion from some of Minnesota’s most dynamic Black women leaders, eager to share their stories of courage, strength and leadership. Confirmed panelists and speakers include: Dr. Brittany Lewis, PhD Fellow;
    Tracey Williams-Dillard, President of Spokesman Recorder; Stella Whitney-West, CEO of North Point Health and Wellness; Commissioner Toni Carter of Ramsey County; Monique Linder, CEO of OMG Media Solutions; DeAnna Cummings, CIO of Juxtaposition Arts; Neda Kellogg, President of Project Diva; Dua Selah of the St.Paul NAACP Chapter. For tickets and more information, visit
    Humphrey School Conference Center
    301 19th Avenue S, Minneapolis