January 2015 News and Events from Commissioner Linda Higgins

Commissioner Linda Higgins, Hennepin County, MN

December 2014



Hennepin County is a great place to work!

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HIGHLIGHT: Human Services Resource Directory

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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 northeast Minneapolis, southeast Plymouth and St. Anthony.

2nd District Hennepin County

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As I look back at this past year with Hennepin County and reflect on the many initiatives we were able to accomplish in 2014, I am proud to share with you some highlights.

  • Opening the new human services office at Plymouth and Emerson Avenues North in August;
  • Penn Avenue Community Works and Lowry Avenue Northeast Community Works projects that are in process and engaging the public;
  • Working with the community, region and federal government toward light rail lines with the Bottineau (Blue Line Extension), Green Line to St. Paul, and Southwest LRT (Green Line extension) lines;
  • We opened a new 911 call center in Plymouth. The facility offers dispatch services for 37 communities, 23 law enforcement agencies and 21 fire agencies. Dispatchers handled more than 600,000 911 calls last year. Dispatching for Golden Valley now occurs at this center too;
  • We have been working with the community doing pre-design work with the architect for the new Webber Park Library;
  • Target Field Station was done on time for the All Star Game;
  • Secured funding for parks and equipment through the Hennepin Youth Sports Grants program; and
  • The board completed the 2015 budget (more information below in the newsletter).

This has been a busy and productive year. I want to thank the hardworking staff members at Hennepin and other elected officials in having a hand in these projects. Most of all, I want to thank you for bringing forward your ideas and priorities -- it is my honor to do this work and it is how we continue to thrive and grow as a county and as a community.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

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Top stories

2015 Hennepin County Budget

Budget reduces proposed property tax levy by 0.65 percent.

The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners approved its 2015 property tax levy of $695.6 million -- a 2.1 percent increase over 2014.

The proposed budget presented in September called for a property tax levy of just under $700 million. Since then, commissioners trimmed over $4 million during the budget review process to reduce the property tax levy increase to $695.6 million or 2.10 percent.

The approved 2015 budget for Hennepin County is $1,809,790,375. 

This budget furthers the mission of Hennepin County to enhance the health, safety and quality of life of our residents and communities in a respectful, efficient and fiscally responsible way.

The 2015 budget includes funding for new initiatives to expand county efficiency and effectiveness, provides new resources for workforce development, and continues support for early childhood and pre-K learning. Further information about the 2015 budget is at hennepin.us/your-government/budget-finance/budgets.

2015 budget by program

Expenditures by major program 2013-15

Prescription picture

Discount prescription program creates benefit for Hennepin County residents

The board renewed an agreement for a prescription discount program for county residents through 2016. The free Coast2Coast Rx card could provide savings of up to 75 percent on tens of thousands of prescriptions with additional savings available on health care services including diabetes supplies, lab and imaging diagnostics, and vision, dental and hearing care. The program also offers discounts on pet prescriptions and some veterinary care. Each time the card is used to fill a prescription, $1.25 will be generated for public programs. Residents can pick up a card from more than 69,000 participating pharmacies nationwide or print one from the Coast2Coast website, coast2coastrx.com/counties/mn/hennepin.  

Hennepin Valentine wedding

Valentine’s Day Eve weddings to be held at Government Center

A resolution was approved allowing Hennepin County's Fourth Judicial District Court judges to conduct free marriage ceremonies on Valentine’s Day Eve (February 13, 2015) from noon to 1 p.m. on the Hennepin County Government Center Public Service Level. This is the third free marriage ceremony event held in connection with Valentine's Day. There is a service charge for processing marriage licenses.

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

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

Hennepin Board supports Minneapolis Promise Zone application

The board voted to support Minneapolis’ Promise Zone Initiative application. The city is applying to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for a portion of north Minneapolis to be one of six urban communities designated as a Promise Zone. Promise Zone cities receive preference for certain competitive federal programs and technical assistance. The goals for this area are to reduce racial inequities through ongoing evaluation of public policies, programs and practices; reduce serious and violent crime; improve educational opportunities and reduce the achievement gap; increase economic activity; create jobs; and support stable housing for all. These are goals that have been supported through county community outreach efforts and the funding of projects in this area.


Chester Cooper

Chester Cooper appointed director of Community Corrections and Rehabilitation

The Hennepin County board appointed Mr. Chester Cooper as the director of the Department of Community Corrections and Rehabilitation on December 16. Mr. Cooper has been with the county since 1985 and has many years of leadership experience with the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Community Corrections and Rehabilitation. His role in leadership has been a constant throughout his career by providing and developing improved services using diversity and inclusion, innovation, and engagement.

Dec 6 new Webber Park Library meeting

New Webber Park Library update


A well-attended community meeting discussing the new Webber Park Library was held on December 6 at the Webber Community Center. Hennepin County staff and project architects Mohammed Lawal and Jennifer Anderson-Tuttle from LSE Architects reviewed the site preparation activities, library site plans and preliminary options for interior space design. (New Webber Park Library - December 6, 2014 Presentation.)

Thatcher Imboden from Hennepin County Housing, Community Works and Transit, provided an overview of the Request for Information process for the development of the surplus property located just south of the new library. Six respondents to the RFI displayed their proposals. Community members were invited to provide feedback concerning the proposals on comment cards. For additional information on the 4414 Humboldt Avenue North property or provide additional comment, please visit the RFI website or contact Thatcher Imboden at 612-348-4191. Some parts of the RFI responses are considered private data during the review process and Hennepin County staff members are in the process of ensuring that respondents’ private data is protected. Staff anticipates that additional material about each of the responses will be added to the website next week. 

The next Webber Park Library community meeting will be held in February to review initial schematic designs. More information on the meeting will be announced in January. To request future updates via email, contact Tina Sanz.

Youth Sports grants video

Youth Sports grants awarded

The board approved $1,849,665 in Youth Sports grants for 2015. The Hennepin Youth Sports Program awards capital grants to build, repair, renovate or expand youth sports facilities in Hennepin County.

Fourteen projects will receive facilities grants for 2015, among them:

City of Golden Valley for $325,000 for athletic facility improvements at Sandburg Learning Center

Minneapolis Public Schools for $172,000 for new fitness centers at Edison and Henry High Schools and $84,600 for a new fitness center at Southwest High School

Sixteen small equipment and/or other small capital projects also received $124,955 in funding. Since the program began in 2009, the county has awarded $13.2 million to 80 facility projects and 113 small equipment projects. For information about how to apply for Youth Sports grants, visit hennepin.us/your-government/projects-initiatives/henn-youth-sports.

scales of justice

Would your community group like to learn more about the courts?

Community groups are invited to learn about the judges, court initiatives and services provided in the Fourth Judicial District serving Hennepin County. Explore the different ways schools, neighborhood associations, faith-based organizations and concerned citizens can learn more about the judiciary by having them visit your group. For more information, go to the Fourth Judicial District Court website or contact Nancy Peters.

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Board news

December 2, 2014

County supports C Line bus rapid transit on Penn Avenue
The board voted to support Metro Transit in advancing design and engineering of the C Line bus rapid transit route along Penn Avenue (County Road 2). The route is currently projected to be in service late 2016. A $32 million investment will be made along the 8.4 mile route extending from Target Field Station in downtown Minneapolis to the Brooklyn Center Transit Station. The C Line travels along 7th Street, Olson Memorial Boulevard (Highway 55), Penn Avenue (County Road 2) and Osseo Road/Brooklyn Boulevard (County Road 152). The project includes building transit stations, much like light rail station platforms, with heated and lighted shelters, security cameras, real-time transit information and pay-at-the-platform technology. The county will continue to collaborate with Metro Transit on the planning, engagement and implementation of this project through the Hennepin County Penn Avenue Community Works program. Find more information on the project webpage.

County receives grant for DNA processing
The board approved a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Program to reduce the DNA backlog in the sheriff’s crime lab. The $100,000 grant will fund one full-time employee and provide training to reduce the DNA processing backlog. The grant program offers funding to local units of government to reduce forensic DNA sample turnaround time, increase the output of public DNA laboratories, and reduce DNA forensic casework backlogs.

Grant helps connect inmates to behavioral health care
Hennepin received a $30,000 grant from Minnesota Department of Health for a community health worker to assist people with behavioral health needs who are in the Hennepin County Jail and who are likely to return to jail after being released. Medicaid does not pay for health care or care coordination for incarcerated people. The community health worker will serve approximately 600 clients during the first year by helping them find primary care, housing, behavioral health, social services and employment services. The county will contribute in-kind funding of $29,428 for salary and benefits.

County receives additional $585,000 for workforce development
This year, the State of Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) recommended to the Minnesota Job Skill Partnership Board that additional allocations be made to workforce service areas experiencing lingering impacts of reduced Workforce Investment Act funding. Hennepin County, operating as Workforce Service Area 9, requested and received an additional $585,000 in funding that will be used for a web-based resource connecting job seekers and workforce professionals and other related workforce development programs in the Hennepin-Carver Workforce Service Area. These programs support workforce development through increased employment, retention and earnings for job seekers in the area.

December 16, 2014

Hennepin County board approves 2015 budgets and property tax levy

See story above. The approved 2015 budget for Hennepin County is $1,809,790,375. Read more in the news release about the budget.

Public hearing on electronic cigarettes
The County will hold a public hearing regarding proposed changes to the county’s smoke-free ordinance, which currently prohibits smoking in bars and restaurants in Hennepin County. The proposed changes ban the use of electronic delivery devices (e-cigarettes) in all facilities in which Minnesota's Clean Indoor Act prohibits smoking. The hearing will take place during the county board committee meetings on January 13, 2015, at 1:30 p.m., or as soon thereafter, at the Hennepin County Government Center in the board room.

Public hearing on the land sale at Lake Street East and Hiawatha Avenue
The Hennepin County Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HCHRA) will hold a public hearing regarding the sale to L&H Station Development of residential land within a redevelopment project at Lake Street East and Hiawatha Avenue in Minneapolis. The redevelopment project contains residential land that is proposed to be sold to third parties. The county is planning to build the South Minneapolis Regional Human Services Center at the location. The hearing will take place during the first meeting of the HCHRA in February. The date will be confirmed at the organizational board meeting in January.

County receives grant to address racial disparities
The county received a grant for nearly $1 million from the Minnesota Department of Human Services to address racial disparities for families served by the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP). The county is charged with developing and implementing subsidized employment strategies and addressing racial ethnic disparities in employment outcomes for families served by MFIP. Hennepin County will work with NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center, Incorporated (NorthPoint) to provide targeted employment and supportive services to African American families participating in MFIP through an initiative called On Point. On Point will target 100 African American male and female head of households participating in MFIP ages 18 and older. On Point clients will be enrolled in four tracks to advance their success. Each client will be assessed and partner agencies will utilize their strengths in specific areas to support client success in each track. The four tracks are credential training (sector-based); GED completion; career/employment ready; and employability/life skills improvement.

Board approves legislative platform for 2015
As Intergovernmental Committee Co-Chair, Linda worked with commissioners and other partners to develop the 2015 legislative platform. Some of the highlights of the board approved 2015 legislative platform include:

  • Bonding requests for $5 million for the Penn Avenue community works program; $9.56 million for a project to provide access to I-35W from Lake Street (County Road 3); and $18 million for the Bottineau corridor.  
  • The county will advocate for several public safety initiatives including increasing Community Corrections Act funding to assure adequate state funding for supervision of offenders in the community under a single statewide allocation formula. The county also supports legislation and continued funding for offender reentry, including transitional housing, work opportunities and community-based treatment.
  • The county supports legislation that promotes streamlined service coordination and sharing of data across health, education, public safety and human services organizations.
  • The county is requesting for the legislature to restore SCORE funding to its original purpose -- funding county waste reduction, recycling and composting efforts to meet state solid waste goals by eliminating the diversion of SCORE revenues to the general fund.
  • The county board also supports legislation that promotes and sustains efforts to develop a comprehensive and integrated model of health care delivery to assure access to county health and human services safety net providers, as well as quality and cost effective care for low income, uninsured residents. The county will also pursue investments for early childhood education and wellness.  
  • The county will ask for funding to be maintained for homeless prevention, outreach and emergency shelters to meet the goals established under Heading Home Hennepin.
  • The county will be asking for the legislature to protect essential state funding that supports county-mandated services and reduces reliance on property taxes.
  • The county will ask for increased funding for regional training partnerships among employers, MNSCU and community-based organizations to create demand-driven career pathways into employment.

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St. Anthony 

  • Saturday, January 24, 6:30-10:30pm
    St. Anthony Band and Chamber Choir Winter Gala Fundraiser. A musical performance will begin at 7pm. Appetizers, desserts, punch and coffee are included in the ticket price of $20 in advance and $25 at the door for ages 21 and older. Advance admission and raffle tickets are available from members of the band and choir, at St. Anthony Village Middle and High School offices, and at St. Anthony Community Services. 


  • Fridays, January 2-30, 6-8pm
    Fire and Ice Family Skate Night at Windom Park. All ages are welcome for a free night of skating. There will be a fire pit to keep warm and make s'mores. Hot cocoa and popcorn will be served. Registration is not required. For more information, call 612-370-4905.
  • Mondays, January 5, 12 and 26
    Job Search Assistance. Get one-to-one assistance with filling out job applications, writing your resume, or finding job leads. This is your opportunity to work with a job counselor and get some help with your job search, connections to community resources and training programs. No appointment necessary.
    Northeast Library
    2200 Central Avenue NE, Minneapolis
  • Tuesday, January 13, 7pm
    Winter Band Concert
    Thomas Edison High School
    700 22nd Avenue NE, Minneapolis
  • Wednesday, January 14, 7pm
    Winter Choir Concert
    Thomas Edison High School
    700 22nd Avenue NE, Minneapolis 


  • Saturdays, January 10 and February 7; and Thursday, February 12
    Homebuyer Workshops. Information will be available about how to manage your credit, choose the best mortgage option, select the right house, understanding the loan closing process, down payment assistance and first-time homebuyers financing. Pre-registration is required. The cost is $35 per family. Sponsored by Northside Residents Redevelopment Council. For more information and class times, call 612-335-5924 or send email to info@nrrc.org.
  • Saturday, January 17, Noon-2pm
    North Minneapolis Bicycle Advocacy Council meeting. This group will discuss the proposed North Minneapolis Greenway, local transportation projects, providing more opportunities for safe baking and walking, increasing access to recreation amentities such as community gardens, picnic areas, public art, playgrounds, and bringing better park and trail access to North Minneapolis.
    North Regional Library, second floor conference room, 1315 Lowry Avenue N, Minneapolis   

Golden Valley

Medicine Lake

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