December 2015 News and Events from Commissioner Linda Higgins

Commissioner Linda Higgins, Hennepin County, MN




Hennepin County is a great place to work!

Browse open positions or sign up to receive job notification emails from the county. 

Browse current library openings.


Linda Higgins
Commissioner, District 2

Tina Sanz
Principal Aide

Roshonda Royston
Administrative Secretary


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

2nd District Hennepin County

View larger map


County departments, agencies and other entities

Elected and appointed officials

Hennepin County libraries

Hennepin County Medical Center

Hennepin volunteers

Online services

Phone directory

Service Center information

Make an appointment at a service center

Sign up to receive e-newsletters and notifications

Understanding your property tax

Thank you for subscribing to my newsletter.

It has been a busy month here, as we are working toward completing the Hennepin County budget for 2016.

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


Higgins signature

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.

Top stories

Holiday train visits on December 10

The 2015 Canadian Pacific Holiday Train will make its only stop in Minneapolis Thursday, Dec. 10, 7:30 to 9 p.m., at Shoreham Yards, 2800 Central Avenue NE. The train will arrive at 8:30 p.m. The event includes holiday lights, live musical entertainment by Kira Isabella and Doc Walker, activities for kids, horse-drawn hayrides, and refreshments. The event is free and open to the public. Cash and non-perishable food donations are encouraged to support the food shelves of East Side Neighborhood Services. For more information, visit

Holiday Train


HCMC clinic and specialty center groundbreaking and helistop landing

Two events marked the biggest expansion in the history of Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) this month. Hundreds of community members attended the groundbreaking for the new 377,000 square foot clinic and specialty center and the inaugural landing of a helicopter on the hospital’s newest helistop.

The $220.8 million clinic building will consolidate 40 clinics and specialty services that are currently spread across nine buildings downtown into one facility. Care will be centralized and accessible for people who need a quick visit to the doctor, same-day surgery, or the latest cancer treatment, with close parking and skyway connections to rest of the HCMC campus.

Immediately following the clinic building groundbreaking ceremony, a Life Link III helicopter landed on a new helistop. The new helistop doubles the capacity to receive trauma patients by air and reduces the transport time into the hospital. The $3.8 million helistop sits atop the roof of the building housing the emergency department, operating rooms, and by saving minutes, will likely save lives.

Blue Line LRT

Blue Line Extension LRT reaches milestone

Earlier this month, the METRO Blue Line Extension (the Bottineau line) took a major step forward as the Corridor Management Committee recommended approval of a more precise scope and cost estimate for the 13-mile LRT line. The updated scope, which project staff presented in October, takes into account needed infrastructure adjustments that address safety concerns and potential traffic and floodplain impacts. The Metropolitan Council will consider this recommendation when it votes on the updated scope and cost estimate on Dec. 9. Photo by Metro Transit.

SW LRT Construction

SW LRT construction mixer draws nearly 200 contractors

Construction contractors from around the country gathered in Minnetonka on Oct. 21 to learn about the planned Southwest Light Rail Transit line, and network with firms that are likely to bid on the $1.77 billion project. While construction won’t begin until 2017, potential contractors need time to prepare their bids for a spring 2016 deadline. The project anticipates a need for 7,500 workers during construction from 2017-2019.  One contractor said it was one of the best such events he's ever attended. Photo at right by Metro Transit.

Fifth regional human service office opens in downtown Minneapolis

Downtown service center location

Hennepin County has opened its fifth regional human service center, located in downtown Minneapolis. 

The newest location, meant to serve residents who live and work in central and northeast Minneapolis, is in remodeled offices at the Health Services Building, 525 Portland Avenue. The location is close to Metro Transit light rail service, and limited pay parking is available in the HCMC parking ramp (enter on South 6th Street).

The new site is part of the larger plan to decentralize Hennepin County's human services. The Century Plaza building will eventually close in 2017. For more information and other service center locations, visit us online at regional human service centers.

NE Library

Northeast Library celebrates 100 years

It’s been a big year for library anniversaries in my district. Sumner Library celebrated 100 years last month, and on November 14, Northeast celebrated its centennial. As soon as this library opened in 1915, it played an important role in the Northeast community:

  • Putting books in the hands of neighborhood kids.
  • Offering classes for immigrants adjusting to life in the U.S.
  • Collaborating with neighborhood schools.

Like Sumner, Northeast Library has been an inviting beacon, a friend, and a big part of neighborhood life. I love hearing from people who came here as kids and now bring their kids here for learning and fun. That’s the power of libraries.

Edison and Henry HS Youth Sports

Grand opening of Edison and Patrick Henry High Schools Youth Sports Grants fitness facilities

I had the privilege of celebrating with Edison and Patrick Henry high schools the grand opening of their new fitness facilities. Thanks to Hennepin County’s Youth Sports Grants program, more than half of Minneapolis Public Schools’ high schools have been able to create new, up-to-date fitness centers. Edison and Patrick Henry are just the latest to give their students the space to focus on their personal fitness. Thanks to a provision in the Twins stadium tax, the Hennepin County Youth Sports program has provided more than $15 million in grants to organizations and schools to build or renovate athletic and recreational facilities that serve young people throughout the county since 2009.

Partnering with local government entities to provide access to healthy and safe activities for its young people is part of sustaining a vital county. The partnership with Minneapolis Public schools helps them address the development of the whole student, mind and body.

citizen board meeting

Apply for a Hennepin County citizen advisory board!

Every year, the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners appoints county residents to volunteer service positions on advisory boards, commissions, councils and special task forces. Appointees deal with a variety of topics of concern to the county, advise commissioners on issues and programs and help set policy.

An open appointments process is used to select the membership of more than 15 county boards, councils, committees and task forces. This process not only promotes citizen involvement through volunteer service, but also allows county commissioners to tap into citizens' broad base of talent, diversity, knowledge and skills to benefit county government. The process offers all interested citizens an opportunity to be considered for appointments.

Interested residents can fill out an application for positions on any of the boards listed below. Applications are accepted through December 31, 2015, and the board will conduct interviews in January 2016.  Further information is at

Adult Mental Health Local Advisory Council (LAC) – 5 Vacancies (2 Mental Health Provider; 1 At Large; 1 Family Member; 1 Consumer)

Capital Budgeting Task Force (CBTF) – 2 Vacancies

City Planning Commission (Minneapolis) – 1 Vacancy

Community Action Partnership of Suburban Hennepin (CAPSH) – 3 Vacancies (Local Elected Officials only)

County Extension Committee (Minnesota Extension Service) – 2 Vacancies

Library Board – 3 Vacancies

Mental Commitment Attorney Panel Advisory Board – 2 Vacancies (Citizen and Citizen, Attorney)

Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Board – 6 Vacancies (4 Business; 1 Adult Basic Education; 1 Economic and Community Development Agency).

Todd Heintz

Hennepin profile: Todd Heintz

Each month we spotlight a position in Hennepin County. This month, we introduce you to Todd Heintz who is a Principal Office Specialist supporting Case Management and Adult Protection (shown right with granddaughter Lily). Todd’s wife Claudia also works for Hennepin County.

Todd’s coworkers call him the “Radar O’Reilly” (the character on M.A.S.H.) of Hennepin Human Services and Public Health (HSPHD) because he either knows how something is done or will find a way to do it. He lives in the Jordan neighborhood of Minneapolis in District 2.

Todd started with Hennepin County in 2001 working as a cleaner in the jail. From there he promoted to a job in the property room, and then as a receptionist at 710 West Broadway, and now to his current position. His current position supports and/or participates with several groups:

  • The Hennepin County Mental Health/Minneapolis Police Table.
  • Adult Mental Health Local Advisory Council (LAC), which, among other things, monitors, reviews and evaluates the allocation, adequacy and quality of mental health services within Hennepin County.
  • Project Diversity, which works with HSPHD staff and management to improve all HSPHD employees' skills in cultural competency.  
  • Veterans ERG, which supports the integration of veteran status employees into the Hennepin County workforce.

When asked, Todd said, “I like helping people whether at work or in the public. For example, at one of the parking ramps I noticed people occasionally sleeping what appeared to be overnight. I contacted one of the people I work with and he was able to forward the information to an outreach team and they went by the ramp and gave resource information to one of the couples that I was concerned about.”

Back to top

Board actions

November 3

Board approves funding for HCMC outpatient center

The County Board approved a plan to proceed with construction of an HCMC ambulatory outpatient specialty center. Ssee photo/story above. Read more about the ambulatory outpatient specialty center proposal.

State grants will expand opportunities to improve health

The County Board accepted a five-year, $5.7 million grant from the Minnesota Department of Health to implement the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP). The program funds local projects that increase opportunities for healthy activities. In Hennepin County, it is administered by the Public Health Department. The funds must only be used to develop new activities, expand current efforts to reduce obesity and tobacco use, or replace discontinued funds from the state or federal government, or a third party. Outcomes from collaborations include:

  • Three post-secondary campuses passed tobacco-free policies, affecting 6,319 students and faculty. 
  • 267 multi-unit rental properties adopted smoke-free policies, affecting 11,844 apartment units and 29,610 people. 
  • The County Board approved the Hennepin County Bicycle Transportation Plan, and pedestrian and bicycle plans were completed and adopted by Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Eden Prairie, Hopkins, Maple Plain, and Robbinsdale. 
  • 99 employers with more than 28,500 employees made changes in their worksites to encourage healthy food choices, physical activity and breastfeeding for new moms, and 34 employers made changes to tobacco policies. 
  • Six new community gardens and orchards were established on publicly accessible grounds and over 49,000 pound of fresh produce were grown and distributed to local food shelves. 

Future projects will continue some of the same projects, and expand efforts to increase health. Read more about SHIP projects in Hennepin County.

Special levy will improve water quality

The County Board approved a request to set a special levy to support projects on four watershed districts: Bassett Creek, Shingle Creek, West Mississippi and Elm Creek. The special levy is separate from the general property tax levy, which is set to be approved next month. In most cases, member cities are subject to cost-sharing agreements. Projects include:

  • Bassett Creek: $1.2 million for two water quality and quantity improvement projects, reducing pollutants into Bassett Creek and reducing phosphorus loading into Northwood Lake.
  • Shingle Creek: $317,500 for two water quality projects and to support a best management practices program. One project will reduce the internal loading in Twin and Ryan lakes in Brooklyn Center. The other, in Brooklyn Center and Brooklyn Park, will incorporate stream reaeration structures to increase the dissolved oxygen levels in the creek.
  • West Mississippi: $50,000 to support a cost-share program, which will implement small water quality projects throughout the watershed to protect and improve the quality of water resources.
  • Elm Creek: $250,000 to stabilize approximately 5,000 feet of streambank using bioengineering and re-vegetation techniques, and expand regional stormwater ponds to incorporate additional treatment practices to reduce pollutant loadings to Elm Creek. Read more about the watershed projects.


Acting Community Works Director Kevin Dockry was named to lead the department that works to manage intersections between commercial and residential development, and transit by cars and trucks, mass transit, bicycles and pedestrians. Dockry, who brings more than 27 years of experience to the post, has run the department since April.

The board also confirmed Christopher Sagsveen as director of Transportation Operations (roads and bridges), effective immediately. Sagsveen is an experienced civil engineer who brings more than 13 years of experience and knowledge to the position. He has served as acting director since May.

November 17

Grant will fund soil and water conservation projects

The board approved agreements with the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) to provide non-competitive, formula-based grants to the county totaling $234,431 to deliver soil and water conservation services. Grants  include support local government water planning, enforcing the Wetland Conservation Act, inspect septic systems and administer volunteer water monitoring programs, funds to landowners to implement conservation practices, and to increase conservative services provided throughout the county. Learn more about soil and water conservation grants.

State cost-sharing will enable repair of soil damage from 2014 rains

The board accepted $308,000 in Disaster Recovery Assistance Program funds to repair damages from excessive rainfall in June 2014. The funding will be used by the City of Bloomington, the City of Champlin, and the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority.

Learn more about disaster recovery plans.

Plan builds foundation for emergency nuclear response

The county board approved receipt of a $240,000 allocation from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. The funding enables Hennepin County to maintain a pre-designated county emergency facility in Rogers, which is outside the plume exposure pathway in the case of a radiological release at the Monticello nuclear plant. This reception center, located at Rogers High School, is a place for residents of Sherburne and Wright counties to come for evaluation in the event of an emergency at the nuclear plant.  Learn more about the Radiological Emergency Preparedness program

Reallocated block grant funds to fund Zanewood Recreation Center project

At the request of the City of Brooklyn Park, the board agreed to reallocate $50,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds within Brooklyn Park, from the Village Creek Streetscape Improvement project to a new project, at Zanewood Recreation Center to facilitate improvements to the recreation center serving low-income neighborhoods immediately adjacent to the facility. Learn more about the reallocation request

Information about County board meetings - including agendas, minutes, and viewing information - is online at

Look for more news on the Hennepin County website at

Back to top


St. Anthony

  • Saturday, November 28, 11am-3pm
    Shop Small Holiday Market. Shop more than 40 Minnesota (and one Wisconsin) small businesses featuring locally made artisan and organic foods, custom art & prints, health and beauty products, natural cleaning products, apparel and gift baskets. Free child care for shoppers. Free parking. For a list of participating businesses, visit
    St. Anthony Community Center
    3301 Silver Lake Road, St. Anthony


  • Saturday, November 28 and December 19, 10am-2pm
    Northeast Winter Market. Local food vendor and artisans, music and children's activities. For more information, visit
    Solar Arts Building
    711 15th Avenue NE, Minneapolis
  • Sunday, November 29, 11:30am-4pm
    Holiday Festival. Folk dancing, musical performances, gift and craft vendors, food and baked goods. $5 for adults $1 for kids 6-12, free for kids under 6.
    Ukrainian American Community Center
    301 Main Street NE, Minneapolis
  • Wednesday, December 2, 5-6:30pm
    Northeast Networking Night. ’Tis the Season, to learn more about businesses and individuals that make up the Northeast Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce. $30 for members and $35 for non-members, includes appetizers. Preregistration is appreciated. For more information, visit or contact Linda Sue Anderson at or call  612-370-9152.
    Jax Café 
    1928 University Avenue NE, Minneapolis
  • Wednesday, December 2, 6:30-8:30pm
    Community reception with superintendent finalists. Minneapolis community members, including parents, students and MPS teachers and staff, are invited to meet with candidates and ask questions during the reception. Childcare and translation services will be provided. To learn more about the finalists and the search process, visit
    Webster School Building
    425 5th Street NE, Minneapolis
  • Thursday, December 3, 6pm
    Homegrown Minneapolis open house. Free and open to the public. Reservations are encouraged. Light refreshments, help for urban gardeners, resources for eating local food, updates on progress made in improving Minneapolis’ local food systems, and information tables on gardening and healthy eating resources, beekeeping, small business loans and technical assistance geared toward food businesses. 
    Minneapolis Public Schools Davis Center
    1250 Broadway Avenue W, Minneapolis 
  • Thursday, December 3 and Friday, December 4, 9am-5pm
    Book sale
    Northeast Library
    2200 Central Avenue NE, Minneapolis
  • Saturday, December 5, 10am-2pm
    Book sale.
    Pierre Bottineau Library
    55 Broadway Street NE, Minneapolis
  • Saturday, December 5, noon-5pm
    Holiday Craft Hop. Holiday themed craft show is free and open to the public.
    Grain Belt Brew House
    1224 Marshall Street NE, Minneapolis
  • Saturday, December 12, 10am-4pm
    Holiday Bazaar. Handcrafted jewelry, ceramics, handmade textiles, blown glass, 3-D printed art, original artist prints, and body products. For more information, contact Leann Dzemske at or call 651-492-5814.
    Artspace Jackson Flats
    901 18 1/2 Avenue NE, Minneapolis



  • November 23 through December 23, 10am-6pm
    Northside Holiday Boutique. Clothing, jewelry, body care products, cards, bags, local artist-made crafts and more.
    RBC Plaza, Suite 289
    555 Nicollet Mall (Nicollet Mall and 6th Street S), Minneapolis
  • Friday, December 4, 6-9pm
    Holiday on 44th. Family fun activities, roasted chestnuts and marshmallows, ice sculptures, music, crafts, storytellers and more.
    Patrick Henry High School atrium
    4320 Newton Avenue N, Minneapolis
  • Friday, December 18, 4-8pm and Saturday, December 19, 10am-4pm
    Pop Up Holiday Boutique. A great way for those that live, work and spend time in North Minneapolis to do their holiday shopping in their own neighborhood.
    1011 West Broadway, Minneapolis

North Loop

  • Thursday, December 3, 6-8pm
    Downtown Open House. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) invites the public to examine and comment on designs for parks and open spaces in downtown Minneapolis.  These concepts were created after months of listening, careful planning and creative design work.
    Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Headquarters
    2117 West River Road, Minneapolis
  • Saturday, December 5, 5-9pm and Sunday, December 6, noon-4pm
    Fine Art Sale. Painting, photography, sculpture and jewelry
    Traffic Zone Center for Visual Arts
    250 3rd Avenue N, Minneapolis
  • Saturday, December 5, 11am-2pm
    Gift drop off. The Link is accepting new and unwrapped gifts for older youth ages 16-21. For suggested gift and gift card ideas, visit
    Edina Realty
    226 Washington Avenue N, Minneapolis
  • Sunday, December 6, 11am-2pm
    Neighborhood Christmas Party. Food and holiday music.
    Downtown Resource Group
    700 Washington Avenue N, Suite 101, Minneapolis

Golden Valley

  • November 26 through December 18
    Toys For Tots collection. Bring new, unwrapped toys to the police department. Open 24 hours. For more information, contact Lt. Steve Johnson at 763-512-2503.
    Golden Valley Police Department
    7800 Golden Valley Road, Golden Valley
  • Friday, December 4, 6-7:15pm
    Supper with Santa. Pizza, music and a visit from Santa. Ages 2 and up with adult. Must pre-register. $10 kids $5 adults.
    Brookview Community Center
    200 Brookview Parkway, Golden Valley
  • December 4 through December 18
    Mailbox to the North Pole. Drop off letters to Santa Claus' special Direct-to-the-North Pole mailbox. Include a full name and address for replies. 
    Brookview Community Center
    200 Brookview Parkway, Golden Valley
  • Friday, December 11, 5-9pm
    Winter trail grand opening. Fat bike trail demos, fattyshack activities, and more. For more information, visit
  • Monday, December 14, 1pm
    Holiday Tea. Music and refreshments. Bring your tea cup. $9. Register by December 7.
    Brookview Community Center
    200 Brookview Parkway, Golden Valley
  • Saturday, December 19
    Skating rink opening day. For park locations and times, visit
  • Thursday, December 31, 7-10pm
    New Year's Eve event. Bring the family and enjoy extended hours for skating and sledding. Open to all ages.
    Sheid Park
    1856 Toledo Avenue N, Golden Valley

Medicine Lake


  • Tuesday, December 1, 11am-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, December 5, 2-5pm
    Old Fashioned Christmas. Free. Visit Santa, Mrs. Claus, elves and reindeer. Cookies, s'mores, sleigh rides, songs and holiday tales. This is also a toy drive. Bring new, unwrapped toys for children birth to 18.
    Plymouth Creek Park
    3625 Fernbrook Lane N, Plymouth
  • Thursday, December 31, 6-9pm
    New Year's Eve event. Ring in the new year with family fun. Ice skating, crafts, face painting, entertainment, swimming, inflatables, food, games and open gym time. $10 per person, if pre-registered by 4:30 p.m. Dec. 31. $13 at the door. No cost for children younger than age 2. To register, call 763-509-5200 or visit
    Plymouth Ice Center/Life Time Fitness
    3650 Plymouth Boulevard, Plymouth 

Back to top