County board actions: child well-being committee established, Wentland appointed as director of Human Services, aquatic invasive species prevention grants awarded

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

County board actions

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Committee will advise staff, board on child well-being

The board established the Hennepin County Child Well-being Advisory Committee to guide work to protect and care for children.

In October, the Hennepin County Child Protection Oversight Committee laid out six core recommendations to improve the well-being of children in Hennepin County. The newly created advisory committee will continue these efforts.

“It is important to keep building on our past work. This advisory committee will help Hennepin County translate the oversight committee’s recommendations into better outcomes for children,” Commissioner Mike Opat said.

Opat, who chaired the oversight committee, will also chair the advisory committee. Commissioner Debbie Goettel will also participate in the committee, along with up to 18 board-appointed members.

The county is working to:

  • Adopt a new focus on child well-being to prevent maltreatment
  • Recruit and retain the workforce and allow for reasonable caseload distribution 
  • Improve professional supports by co-locating work teams to the same offices
  • Offer early and practical help to families that are at risk for violence or dysfunction
  • Improve data collection, analysis and collaboration
  • Continue monitoring improvement and ensuring accountability

“The county’s central goal is adopting the new child well-being focus. The key of this new focus is prevention – providing support to at-risk families,” Jennifer DeCubellis, Hennepin County’s deputy administrator of health and human services, said. 

The advisory committee will track the county's progress in adopting the new child well-being focus. Hennepin County staff and partners are using multiple approaches to prioritize children’s physical health, emotional and social health, relational health and development. 

“The county is using a variety of metrics to evaluate the well-being of youth involved with the child protection system, such as high school graduation rates, prenatal care and developmental screens. The advisory committee will review these metrics to inform the direction and focus of this important work,” Commissioner Debbie Goettel said.

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Wentland appointed as Human Services director

Jodi Wentland

The board confirmed the appointment of Jodi Wentland as director of Human Services, effective April 3. Wentland has more than 25 years of public human services experience, most recently serving as associate director of Olmstead County Child and Family Services. She has also served as co-chair of the Children's Committee for the Minnesota Association of County Social Services Administrators. Wentland received an undergraduate degree in social work and a master’s degree in business administration and master's degree in management.

Read more about the appointment.

Funding will prevent spread of aquatic invasive species

The board awarded 14 aquatic invasive species prevention grants totaling $320,000. Organizations will use funding for inspections at public lake accesses, outreach and education, research on zebra mussels, boat cleaning facilities and more.

Grant recipients include:

  • CD3 General Benefit Corporation ($63,000) –  to develop and test self-serve boat cleaning stations, including at North Arm and Spring Park public access points on Lake Minnetonka 
  • University of Minnesota ($30,500) – to research controlling population of zebra mussels
  • City of Bloomington ($25,000) – to incorporate a boat cleaning station and educational signage at West Bush Lake public access
  • City of Edina ($12,000) –  to develop teaching aids to use at public events and training
  • Minnetonka Yacht Club ($21,000) – to create an on-site decontamination station and provide education to students and sailors
  • Fortin Consulting, Inc. ($25,000) – to train lake association volunteers to monitor for aquatic invasive species at 16 lakes
  • Wood Lake Nature Center, Richfield ($5,500) – to eradicate a goldfish population in Wood Lake and provide education about how to properly dispose of aquatic pets
  • City of Eden Prairie ($28,000) – to incorporate a boat cleaning station and educational signage at Lake Riley public access
  • Three Rivers Park District ($25,000) – to expand watercraft inspections and outreach activities at public accesses
  • Christmas Lake Homeowners Association ($10,000) – to support watercraft inspections at Christmas Lake in Excelsior
  • Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board ($15,000) – to develop educational tools and conduct outreach at boat launches
  • Nine Mile Creek Watershed District ($15,000) – to develop educational activities and conduct outreach at community events
  • City of Mound ($45,000) – to install a programmable message board at Surfside Park on Lake Minnetonka that will run aquatic invasive species prevention and safety messages

Learn more about the grants.

Contract awarded for Hennepin County Library – Edina remodel

The board awarded a $995,217 contract to Terra General Contractors for remodeling the Hennepin County Library - Edina. The refurbishment will include a larger children’s area with interactive learning elements, additional quiet study rooms and an enclosed reading room. This project will also add a new automated book drop to the facility. The renovation is scheduled to begin in April, and the library will be closed for approximately four months.

Read more about the contract.

Read more about the remodeling project.

2017 spring Youth Sports grants awarded

The board awarded $250,000 of Youth Sports grants to several organizations for playground projects and small sports equipment. Since the Youth Sports program began in 2009, the county has awarded $19.6 million to 122 facility projects, 221 small equipment projects and five playground projects. 

Learn more about the program.

Minneapolis Farmers Market will return to Government Center

The board approved a building use resolution enabling the Minnesota Vegetable Growers Association to host the Minneapolis Farmers Market again this summer at the Government Center South Plaza. The farmers market will be open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays from May 4 to November 9. The 2017 market will build on the overwhelming success of last year's Government Center lunch hour events, including Summer on the Plaza music, lawn games and food vendors.

Read more about the farmers market. 

Board lays over resolution on proposed new sales tax

The board concluded its public hearing on a proposed new sales tax of up to one-half cent to fund transportation and transit projects. The new sales tax would replace the current one-quarter-cent sales tax imposed by the county for the Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB), should CTIB dissolve. Because all five CTIB counties have not agreed to dissolution, with Dakota County opposing, the board laid over a resolution to both terminate the joint powers agreement establishing CTIB and adopt the new sales tax. The resolution may be brought up again in its current form, at a later date, at the call of the chair, for action by the board. View the resolution.

View the resolution.

Comment on plan to use housing and community development funds

Hennepin County is hosting a public hearing to gather comments on its annual action plan to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development:

  • Tuesday, April 18, at 1:30
  • Hennepin County Government Center Board Room (A-2400)
  • 300 South Sixth Street, Minneapolis

This action plan will guide the use of approximately $4 million in federal funding for housing and community development activities in suburban Hennepin County.

A draft of the plan will be available March 31 on the county’s website and at Hennepin County Ridgedale, Southdale and Brookdale libraries.

You may submit written comments from March 31 to May 1 to Margo Geffen, manager, Housing Development and Finance, Hennepin County Community Works Department, 701 4th Avenue South, Suite 400, Minneapolis, MN 55415.

Read more about the public hearing. 

Board approves declarations supporting crime victims and prevention efforts

The board recognized the following observances during Tuesday's meeting:

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