April 2017 News and Updates from Commissioner Higgins

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linda higgins

April 2017

Thank you for subscribing to my newsletter.

Signs of spring are appearing. Green plants are poking through the leaves. Birds were making a racket as I walked to the garage this morning. Bicyclists and motorcycles are on the streets and roads. And it's sunny and warm today.

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


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Tax forfeit SBE Pilot sign

Small Business Home Rehab Pilot Program renovates vacant homes, creates local jobs

With the launch of the Small Business Home Rehabilitation Pilot Program, I’m excited to report that the county’s use of several new and innovative contracting methods has created accessible contracting opportunities for more than 20 businesses.

Hennepin County, like all governmental agencies in the Twin Cities metro area, has been historically challenged in creating accessible contracting opportunities for small businesses which tend to be primarily women-owned and minority-owned companies.      

Among the practical barriers these companies face in doing business with government agencies is the size of a typical government construction project.  They often exceed the capacity of a smaller contractor. The Hennepin County Purchasing Department worked with women and minority owned contracting experts to develop procedures scaled to smaller contractors.

These small businesses are currently rehabilitating nine tax-forfeited homes in Minneapolis, Golden Valley and Crystal, which upon completion this spring, will be sold at auction. 

Hennepin County received some great media coverage on this program:

KSTP: Hennepin County Program Renovates Vacant Homes, Revitalizes Businesses and Neighborhoods.

CCX Media: http://ccxmedia.org/news/newsitem.aspx?newsid=324&newsitemid=34759


Medica no longer an option for Medical Assistance and MNCare; Hennepin Health adding members in May

DHS logo

Effective May 1, 2017, Medica will no longer be a health plan option for Hennepin County residents with Medical Assistance or MinnesotaCare (MNCare), which means Hennepin Health will likely see a significant increase in its Prepaid Medical Assistance Program (PMAP) and MNCare membership as of this date.

The state has created a special enrollment period from February 21 to April 14 for Medical Assistance or MinnesotaCare enrollees who will need a new health plan effective May 1. The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) is working with those affected by this change to ensure their transition to a new plan goes smoothly. If you have questions, please call the Minnesota Health Care Programs (MHCP) Member Help Desk at 651-431-2670 or 800-657-3739. You may also see Frequently Asked Questions at the Minnesota Department of Human Services page.

Hennepin County provides resources for homebuyers to better inform the process

Home buying image

Spring home buying season is here. Hennepin County has resources for house hunters to enhance, inform and supplement the home buying process.

This information is more accurate, comprehensive and reliable than home buying aggregate websites, and features unique historical information and records not found anywhere else.

Property information interactive map
Look up specific properties to find out exact property taxes, parcel size and the previous sale price.

Home history research from Hennepin County libraries

Find out homebuilder, construction date and history of owners. View historic maps, atlases, photos and news clippings about the house or neighborhood.

Online homestead application
File online for homestead status to lower taxes and qualify for property tax refunds, after purchasing the home.

Hennepin County bike map
See what bike trails and lanes exist near potential homes for safe commuting and recreational biking.

Hennepin County parks map
Find nearby parks that offer preferred amenities. Links provided to Three Rivers System and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

HCMC's Minnesota Poison Center

Poison Photo

All 87 Minnesota counties use the Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) Minnesota Poison Center.

Minnesotans call the Minnesota Poison Center around 48,000 times a year. 91% of the time, the Poison Control Center can advise treatment in the home. For every dollar spent on poison control, there is $13 saved in health care costs.

See how the Minnesota Poison Center helped a dad (photo above) after his daughter drank toxic liquid. youtu.be/FsYXP9gp29M

Visit the Minnesota Poison Center page at mnpoison.org or post the number of 1-800-222-1222 on your refrigerator.

Hennepin County gets ready for child protection improvements

StarTribune story link

In the news: Kelly Smith of the StarTribune had a story on March 25 about Hennepin County’s Child Protection planned improvements. Read the story at startribune.com/hennepin-county-readies-for-13-million-child-protection-overhaul/417094433/ (photo by Rennee Jones Schneider, StarTribune).

Springing into 2017 construction

Image of Douglas Drive roundabout

Spring means the beginning of Hennepin County’s transportation construction season. During 2017, Hennepin County’s Transportation Department will deliver on several projects designed to get residents around the county safely and efficiently within a balanced, environmentally sound county transportation system. 

Some of the District 2 projects include

Douglas Drive (County Road 102) is a major project continuing in Golden Valley

Glenwood Avenue (County Road 40)

Golden Valley Road (County Road 66) over Bassett Creek 

Additional information about 2017 county road and bridge projects and activities as well as an interactive map can be found at hennepin.us/residents#transportation.

Career Connections: Hennepin Career Fair

career fair

Job-seekers can connect with actively recruiting companies at a career fair Monday, April 3, sponsored by Hennepin County Work and Economic Resource Center. The event is free and open to the public.

Event details

  • Monday, April 3, 9 am to 2 pm
  • Minneapolis Central Library, second floor, 300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis

Job-seekers are encouraged to dress professionally and take copies of their resume.

This career fair is part of a series of events to pair employers looking for workers with employees looking for job opportunities. All participating businesses are aiming to fill multiple openings. For more information about recruiters and job fairs, see hennepin.us/jobs/job-fairs-recruiters.

Recruiters from nearly 40 organizations will attend the career fair, including:

  • City of Minneapolis
  • CobornsDelivers
  • Comcast
  • Delta Global Services
  • DoubleTree by Hilton - Minneapolis North 
  • First Student
  • First Transit
  • Hennepin County
  • Hilton Minneapolis
  • Hyatt Regency Minneapolis
  • Mall of America
  • Options Family and Behavior Services
  • Select Comfort
  • Sojos pet food
  • SUPERVALU Distribution Center
  • Target (downtown)
  • United States Postal Service
  • YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities

This location is served by several bus routes. For more information, visit metrotransit.org or call 612-373-3333. 

Techie teens wanted for Teen Tech Squad

Hennepin County Library’s Teen Tech Squad is hiring teens to research, design and lead interactive workshops for and with youth, and teach STEAM skills through tinkering and making. STEAM includes science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics. 

Teen leaders work with adult mentors to create innovative programming for school-aged participants in programs held afternoons and on weekends. Teen Tech Squad employees work approximately 25 hours per month on nights and weekends and earn $15/hour. Teens ages 16 to 18 can apply online at hclib.org/about/jobs. The library system will accept applications March 17 to April 7.

The program gets financial support from Friends of the Hennepin County Library.

Teens lead workshops at seven library locations

In its fourth year, Hennepin County Library’s Teen Tech Squad program has employed 71 teens; currently, 30 teens work at Brookdale, Brooklyn Park, Eden Prairie, Franklin, Hosmer, North Regional and Best Buy Teen Tech Center at Minneapolis Central Library downtown.  

Golden Valley Humane Society - Find your pet


Are you thinking about pet ownership? Adoption is easy. Adoption staff at the Golden Valley Humane Society will work with you to find the right dog, cat or critter for your home. Spend time getting to know prospective pets. Stop by 845 Meadow Ln., N. between 12-8 p.m. 

If you have questions or wish to visit with an animal, just ask for assistance. Once you’ve made a decision, they will sit down for an informal consultation to ensure that you and the pet you’ve selected are a good match. Staff will guide you through the process and review the animal’s medical and behavioral records and explain policies. An online welcome kit for adopters is provided.

Adoption of animals is available 7 days week. Plan to allow one to two hours to complete the adoption process. For information call 763-489-2201 or visit FindYourPet.

Board news

Full board meeting agendas, actions and background material may be found at hennepin.us/your-government/leadership/board-meeting-materials.

February 23

Funding will expand community policing to Crystal

The board approved $120,000 of funding to extend a partnership to the City of Crystal that builds ties between law enforcement and local cultural communities.

Crystal will join six Hennepin County cities already belonging to the Joint Community Police Partnership. Each partnering city employs a community liaison, recruits and trains cadets and community service officers, provides cultural awareness training for officers, hosts community meetings and meets with diverse groups of community leaders to discuss community policing.

Federal legislative platform approved

The board approved the 2017 federal legislative platform asking Minnesota members of Congress to support the county’s safety-net health services, health and human services, transportation, criminal justice and housing and economic development requests. 

Read the summary of Hennepin County's federal legislative platform.

Candidates appointed to citizen advisory boards

The board appointed the following residents to citizen advisory boards.

County Extension Committee Board

  • Jose Gullien

Human Resources Board

  • Alvaro Giraud-Isaacson

Library Board

  • Katherine Blauvelt
  • Christopher Damsgard
  • Timothy Dolan

Three Rivers Park District Board

  • Steven Antolak

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Board

  • Gwen Janes 
  • Pete Parris
  • Vonnie Phillips
  • Khadija Zeig
  • Jeffry Wosje
  • James Dow
  • Jessica Bachaus
  • Oksana O'Neill
  • Christy Kierstead

Nine Mile Creek Watershed District Board

  • Grace Sheely

Learn about Hennepin County's citizen advisory boards.

County to save thousands on affordable housing legal costs

The board approved county participation in MinnDocs, a system that will save money and staff time by consolidating legal documents for affordable housing projects.

By offering one set of loan documents to developers receiving loans from multiple public funding sources, MinnDocs could reduce affordable housing legal costs by approximately $10,000 per lender, per project. Hennepin County will work with local housing finance agencies to develop this system.

Read more about MinnDocs.

March 14

Public hearing set for new transportation and transit sales tax

The board approved a public hearing to gather public comment on the imposition of a new sales tax of up to one-half cent and the potential uses of that revenue for transportation and transit projects.

This tax would replace the current sales tax of one-quarter cent imposed by Hennepin County for the Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB). Public hearings were held March 21 and March 28 at the Hennepin County Board meetings.

UPDATE FROM MARCH 28 MEETING: This item did not progress today and will be held in abeyance until the time comes to address it again.  There are five counties in CTIB, and the one county – Dakota – that originally moved to exit from CTIB will not now cooperate in dissolving the organization. (All five counties must vote affirmatively to disband CTIB.) Therefore, Hennepin’s move to dissolve CTIB and the motion to enact the other quarter-cent sales tax are not timely until other things get resolved.

Read more about the action.

Learn more about how Hennepin County is connecting people to places.

Agreement will help secure funding to help residents experiencing long-term homelessness

The board approved an agreement that will better position Hennepin County and six other metro counties to receive future grant funding to combat long-term homelessness. The agreement will allow the counties to expand coordination on housing issues, reduce administrative costs and submit regional applications for grant funding.

Renewed funding will continue to help teen parents and their children

The board accepted $66,667 of grant funding from the Minnesota Department of Human Services for a program that helps teen parents attend school, deliver healthy babies, delay subsequent pregnancies, develop responsive parenting skills and achieve self-sufficiency. Funding will allow the program to retain a social worker to connect eligible teen parents with services.

Highway 55 intersection improvements moving forward in Medina

The board approved a series of contracts and amendments relating to reconstruction at the intersection of Pinto Drive (County Roads 115 and 116) and Highway 55. Hennepin County is working with the City of Medina and the Minnesota Department of Transportation to address safety, capacity and mobility issues at the intersection.

Candidates appointed to citizen advisory boards

Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board

  • Richard Miller
  • Jessica Loftus

Adult Mental Health Local Advisory Council Board

  • Rosalin Chrest 
  • Kristin McGrath
  • Marjorie Schaffer
  • Rozeria Fuller
  • Rachel Dwyer
  • Christine Johnson 
  • Leonard Freeman 
  • Shelia Wiegman 
  • Shannon Williams 
  • Kelly Wysong

Library Board

  • Erin Vrieze Daniels
  • Margaret Ligon

Look for more news on the Hennepin County website at hennepin.us/news.



  • Thursday, April 13, 9 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
    Spring Bake and Easter Basket Sale. Homemade baked goods and Easter baskets all in one place. Bywood East Health Care, 3427 Central Ave. NE Springbake_Easterbasketsale.
  • Friday, April 14, 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
    Tiny Tot Spring Party. Kids ages 1 to 6 years old can ring in spring with open gym, face painting, art projects, treats and a visit from the Easter Bunny. Logan Park, 680 13th Ave NE. Pre-register at 612-370-4927. Tiny Tot Spring Party
  • Saturday, April 15, 12-2 p.m.
    Bunny Party and Egg Hunt. For ages 7-12 with games, a bounce house, children’s egg hunt and more. Windom Park, 2251 Hayes Street NE. Bunny Party and Egg Hunt.
  • Saturday, April 15, 9:30-11 a.m.
    Audubon Park Egg Hunt. $6/child. Bunny Party for kids ages 6 and under. Enjoy a hunt, craft and light breakfast. Pre-register to receive a treat bag at 612-370-4910. Audubon Park, 1320 29th Ave. NE Audubon Park Egg Hunt.
  • Saturday, April 15, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
    Mill City Church Annual Northeast Easter Egg Hunt. Logan Park, Minneapolis. Kids up to 12 are invited to take part in egg hunts, a bounce house and obstacle course, crafts, games, face painting and more.
  • Through April 15
    File Your Taxes for Free. Tax preparation and other financial services. Tuesday and Thursday. Sign-in at 5:30 p.m., Saturday at 8:30 a.m. Eastside Neighborhood Services. 1700 2nd St. NE. Call 651-287-0187 or visit Free Tax Filing.
  • Saturday, April 22, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
    Great River Coalition 5k Bee Run/ Walk/River Cleanup. Celebrate Earth Day 2017 with a walk or jog along the Mississippi. Cost $35. Boom Island Park, 724 Sibley St. NE. greatrivercoalition.

North Loop

  • Saturday, April 8, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
    7th C’est Chic Boutique Anniversary. Drawings, gift cards, promotions and complimentary treats and beverages. Boutique Anniversary.
  • Saturday, April 8 and 22, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
     Mill City Indoor Winter Farmers Market. Local produce, meat, cheeses, artisan foods, and unique gifts. Mill City Museum, 704 S. 2nd St. Indoor Winter Market.


  • Thursday, March 30, 4-7 p.m.
    Poetry for People: Poet and artist Molly Van Avery will create customized poems for willing participants. Van Avery will chat with you, ruminate on what you said and create an original poem using her antique typewriter. North Regional Library, 1315 Lowry Ave. N., Minneapolis. Learn more
  • Friday, March 31, 6-8 p.m.
    Hopewell Music Cooperative, Fifth anniversary concert and open house. Includes informal tours of the school, sample class lessons. 4350 Fremont Ave. N. www.hopewellmusic.com.
  • Friday, April 7, 8:30-9:30 p.m.
    Flashlight Egg Hunt. Bring your flashlight! No need to register but you must be present by 8:30 p.m. to hunt. Creekview Park, 5001 Humboldt Ave. No. Flashlight Egg Hunt.
  • Saturday, April 8, 1-4 p.m.
    EggStravaganza Helicopter Egg Drop. Hop on over to the park to view spectacular scenes of thousands eggs being dropped from a helicopter. Bring your own egg basket to collect eggs. Includes music, face painting, bounce houses, and food. Take a non-perishable food item or gently used clothing for food and clothes drive. North Commons Park,1801 James Ave. N. EggStravaganzaEggDrop.
  • Through April 13, 10 a.m.- 4:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday
    Winter Art Exhibit! Paintings, collage, drawings and new mixed-media works by young contemporary artists. Juxtaposition Arts, 2007 Emerson Ave. N. juxtaposition.org 
  • Friday and Saturday, April 21-22, 7 p.m. Sunday, April 23, 6 p.m.
    Shrek the Musical. North Community Theatre, North Community High School. shrekthemusical.com.

Golden Valley

  • April 5, 12-8 p.m.
    Humane Society Pet Adoptions. Golden Valley Adoption Center/Humane Society. Give a new home to a pet. Plan to allow one to two hours to complete the adoption process. 845 Meadow Ln. N. PetAdoptions.com.
  • Saturday, April 29, 7:45 a.m.
    23rd Annual Run the Valley. T-shirts, water stops and post-race complimentary snacks will be provided. Runners’ times are posted at onlineraceresults.com. Davis Community Center at Meadowbrook School, 5430 Glenwood Ave. RuntheValley.com.    

St. Anthony

  • Tuesday, March 28, 9:30-11:30 a.m.
    Preschool Drop-off: Doodlebugs - Spring Mornings. Drop off the kids for a whirlwind of art activities and exploring the natural wonders of the park. Reservations required by the previous Monday. Silverwood Park, 2500 Co. Rd E., St. Anthony. preschooldoodlebugs.com.
  • Saturday, April 8, 1-4 p.m.
    Silverwood Park Egg Hunt. Activities grouped by age. $5/child pre-registered or $6 at the door.Take an art-inspired egg hunt, photos with the bunny, collect treats, and enjoy live music and art activities. Silverwood Park, 2500 County Rd E. Silverwood Park Egg Hunt.
  • Saturday, April 22, 9 a.m-1 p.m.
    Earth Day Activities. Citizens for Sustainability and local organizations partner. Cleanup at Trillium Park and Salo Park. Bus ride to the March for Science from Nativity Church (email ddoerrer@nativitychurch.org to reserve a seat).Trillium Park, 2800 Highway 88. EarthDayActivities.


  • Tuesday, April 4, 7 to 8 p.m. PlymouthREADS: This kickoff celebration will expand on themes in the 2017 PlymouthREADS book selection, "The Life We Bury" by Allen Eskens. Representatives of the Innocence Project of Minnesota will discuss its mission and share stories of people who were wrongfully convicted for crimes they did not commit. Plymouth Library, 15700 36th Avenue North. Learn more.
  • Friday, April 7, 6-9 p.m., Saturday, April 8, 9a.m.-1 p.m.
    Plymouth Home Expo. Get ready for the growing season, visit exhibitors, attend presentations and shop for unique gardening tools and furnishings at the Plymouth Home Expo. Plymouth Fieldhouse,14800 34th Ave. N. PlymouthHomeExpo.com.  

Multiple communities

  • Friday, April 7-9, 10a.m.-6p.m.
    American Craft Show. More than 225 top contemporary jewelry, clothing, furniture, and home décor artists from across the country will gather under one roof. It’s your chance to touch, feel, and explore high-quality American craft and meet the makers behind the fabulous work. The American Craft Council’s only Midwest show. St. Paul River Centreamericancraftshow.com
  • Wednesday, April 12, 7 p.m.
    2017 Talk of the Stacks. Writer series talk featuring Andrew McCarthy, Hollywood actor, director and travel writer will discuss his debut young adult novel, Just Fly Away. Pohlad Hall at Minneapolis Central Library, 300 Nicollet Mall. Free. Doors open at 6 p.m. andrew-mccarthywriterstalk.
  • Tuesday, April 18, 7-9 p.m.
    Somalis in the Twin Cities: A Discussion of Immigration and Politics in Uncertain Times. Dialog exploring how the Twin Cities are seeking to create an immigrant friendly community as well as areas where improvement is needed. Reception to follow. Free event. Open Book, 1011 Washington Ave. S.,Target Performance Hall, Minneapolis. somalis-in-the-twin-cities.com.
  • Saturday, April 22, 9 a.m.-2 p.m
    2017 Minneapolis Teen Job Fair. Teen Prep Rally on-site, Interactive Workshop: Top Tips for Teens. Minneapolis Central Library, 300 Nicollet Mall. MinneapolisTeenJobFair.com.

Linda Higgins
Commissioner, District 2

Tina Sanz
Principal Aide

Beverly Hammond
Administrative Secretary

You can also send comments via my feedback form.



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