News release: County board actions for March 17, 2015

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Contact: Carolyn Marinan, Communications, 612-348-5969

News release

County board actions for March 17

Board moves to buy land to improve public safety

The county board approved a $1.8 million land purchase in Crystal in order to maintain public safety standards which would be negatively impacted by a proposed rerouting of freight trains through Crystal, Robbinsdale, Golden Valley, and Minneapolis. The board’s purchase reflects the significant public safety concerns involved with the railroads’ proposal, including the simultaneous and disruptive closure of frequent grade crossings that will sever the east-west connection for police, fire and rescue teams attempting to help those in need. The purchase of the land located at 5170 West Broadway is an effort to prevent the rail connection that would bring hazardous traffic through dense residential communities that have not previously been exposed to such traffic.


County to offer paid parental leave 

The county board approved a policy to offer paid parental leave to new parents. The county policy will be implemented May 1, 2015 and provides up to three weeks (120 hours) of 100 percent paid parental leave to eligible parents following the birth or adoption of a child. The policy will be used as a tool to attract and retain employees and give parents additional flexibility and time to bond with their new children, adjust to their new family situations, and balance their professional obligations.

According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, 12 percent of workers in the United States had access to paid family leave through their employers in 2014. Over the past several years, Hennepin County has experienced an increased number of retirements. Analysis of the new hire demographic data shows 65 percent of all newly hired employees fall between the ages of 20 and 39.


County awards grants to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species 

The county awarded six grants for projects that prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species in Hennepin County. The projects will increase education, improve equipment, conduct research, and expand inspections. The grantees will be required to collect data and report on the results of the projects, such as number of people reached and the number of boats inspected or decontaminated.

  • City of Eden Prairie - $15,000. The city will create and install new, high-quality signage at select boat accesses and increase watercraft inspections at Mitchell, Red Rock, Riley, Round and Staring Lakes. The Riley-Purgatory-Bluff Creek Watershed District is also contributing $25,000 to this project.
  • Minnehaha Creek Watershed District - $15,417. The watershed district will collaborate with the University of Minnesota and Montana State University to study milfoil types and management methods within Lake Minnetonka. The findings of this research could help guide future milfoil management decisions in Lake Minnetonka and throughout Minnesota.
  • Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, educational bike exhibit - $6,800. The park and recreation board will design and create a portable bike and trailer that will be used to educate the public about aquatic invasive species prevention. The bike and trailer will include interactive features to engage park visitors and event participants.
  • Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, public service announcements and video - $14,000. The park and recreation board will work with partners to create unique and targeted invasive species prevention messages that will reach new audiences.
  • Three Rivers Park District, mobile decontamination unit - $25,000. The Three Rivers Park District will purchase and operate a mobile decontamination unit that will be located at Baker Park Reserve near the public boat access to Lake Independence. The unit will be available to decontaminate watercraft and equipment.
  • Three Rivers Park District, watercraft inspection program expansion - $20,000. The Three Rivers Park District will expand watercraft inspection and education activities on six lakes within its park lands.

The county will retain $3,423 of this program’s money to purchase a hot water pressure washer for use by the Sheriff’s Water Patrol to decontaminate its boats and equipment before moving from lake to lake.


April 21 public hearing on housing programs

There will be a public hearing on Tuesday, April 21 at 1:30 p.m. about the 2015 -2019 Hennepin County Consortium Five Year Consolidated Plan and the 2015 Hennepin County Consortium Annual Action Plan. These are plans required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in order to receive HUD funds for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program, the HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) Program, and the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) Program.

The consortium includes the HUD entitlement jurisdictions of Hennepin County and the cities of Bloomington, Eden Prairie, Minnetonka and Plymouth. The 2015-2019 Consolidated Plan will include prioritized goals in specific housing and community development categories as required by HUD.

Public comment will be solicited on the draft 2015-2019 Hennepin County Consortium Five Year Plan and the draft 2015 Hennepin County Consortium Action Plan for 30 days beginning April 1, 2015. For more information visit the county’s housing plans webpage.


Board appoints members to Workforce Investment Board

The board appointed six members to serve on the Workforce Investment Board: Kendra Grunig to serve as a representative in the area of rehabilitation services; Mike Lang to serve as a representative of Wagner-Peyser Services; Anthony Scallon, Thomas Adams and Christine Dressel to serve as representatives of the business community; and Erik Hanson to serve as a representative from community based organization category.


County receives equipment grant from Toro Company

Hennepin County Department of Community Corrections and Rehabilitation has received a grant of equipment valued at nearly $11,000 from the Toro Company for the Sentencing to Service program. Sentencing to Service (STS) is a community work service program where offenders may be court ordered as a sentencing sanction, as a condition of pretrial diversion, or in lieu of paying traffic fines. The program offers offenders an opportunity to learn landscaping and other marketable skills.

The Toro Company was founded in Minnesota more than 100 years ago and is currently headquartered in Bloomington. Toro is a worldwide leader in providing products for the outdoor environment, including turf, snow and ground-engaging equipment, and irrigation and outdoor lighting solutions. Each year, Toro gives a minimum of two percent of its domestic pretax profits back to the community.


Youth sports equipment grants awarded

The board approved $124,956 for 25 small equipment grants for the Hennepin Youth Sports Program. The funding runs from May 1, 2015 through April 30, 2016.

  • Anoka-Hennepin Schools ISD 11 $6,375 for 75 pairs of rental ice skates, 25 helmets and storage containers at seven outdoor skating rinks in Brooklyn Park
  • City of Bloomington $5,600 for sets of soccer goals for Lincoln and Brookside Parks
  • City of Brooklyn Center $7,178 for 10 sets of golf clubs, 24 fling kits and SNAG Pro Kit for Centerbrook Golf Course
  • City of Deephaven $9,650 for two outboard boats, one pontoon boat and three sets of sails at Lake Minnetonka
  • City of Richfield $1,680 for track and field equipment for Augsburg Park and Richfield High School; $3,532 for archery equipment at Augsburg Park
  • City of Robbinsdale $1,955 for three pitching machines, hitting nets and tees, field rakes and pitching screens for Lee, Spanjers and Manor Parks
  • City of Rogers $8,000 for field striping tractor for use at various sites
  • City of St. Louis Park $2,380 for three pitching machines, eight sets of batting nets and tees for use at various sites
  • Eden Prairie ISD 272 $10,000 for a wrestling mat at Eden Prairie High School
  • Hopkins ISD 270 $1,079 for soccer goals, tackling dummies and pitching machines at Glen Lake Elementary School
  • Independent School District ISD 281 $8,982 for six barbell racks, floor pad and storage for Armstrong High School
  • Minneapolis Public Schools $8,000 for track and field hurdles for Edison High School; $3,800 for four basketball backboards and goals for North High School; $8,000 for track and field hurdles at Southwest High School; $2,500 for softball pitching machine, equipment bag and carts at South High School; $2,300 for two sets of portable soccer goals at South High School; $2,750 for a basketball shooting machine at  Roosevelt High School
  • Minnetonka ISD 276 $5,000 for a playground at Scenic Heights Elementary School
  • Minneapolis Parks and Rec $2,250 for life vests, kickboards, noodles, yoga mats and blocks for Webber Pool and Creekview Park; $5,000 for utility vehicle for synthetic turf fields at Fairview and North Commons Parks; $7,000 for high bar and gymnastics mats at Lynnhurst Park; $4,000 for volleyball net system at Kenwood Park
  • Richfield Public Schools $2,755 for basketball rebounder at Richfield Senior High School
  • Three Rivers Park District $5,190 for traveling fishing equipment for use at various sites

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