July 2017 News and Updates from Commissioner Higgins

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linda higgins

  July 2017

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Summer is filled with events to remind us why we live here – parades, fireworks, festivals large and small, family and friends, fishing, swimming and more. Get out and enjoy our beautiful state!

See you at the Northeast Minneapolis parade tonight! It will be a beautiful night for a parade. Starts at 6:30, goes from 27th to 18th on Central Avenue. Thanks to the Northeast Chamber for organizing.

Happy 4th of July! Thanks to everyone who promotes freedom for all!


linda higgins signature

Webber Park Library grand opening

It’s open! We finally have a new Webber Park Library!

More than 500 people attended the grand opening on May 18. People came two hours early, in hopes of being the first to go in. I was honored to cut the ribbon with the Big Scissors and hold the door open for visitors who were anxious to see our new, beautiful library.

Almost 1,500 people visited from Thursday to Saturday of the first weekend. On Thursday alone, patrons checked out 578 items, and staff issued 46 new library cards. They checked out the kids spaces, the computers (more than twice the number in the old library), the three conference rooms available for use, and the outdoor spaces.

Go visit our library, located at 45th and Humboldt Avenue North! I can’t overstate its importance as an anchor for our community. It’s a place to get books, of course. But it also is a place to gather, to build community, to make hopes and dreams a reality. I heard over and over again at the opening how delighted people on the Northside are, after all this time, to have a world-class library of their own.

Photo by North News.

Linda with big scissors

Change to sales tax for transit and transportation

Transportation tax projects 20170519

The board voted to terminate the joint powers agreement establishing the Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB) and increase a quarter-cent sales tax to a half-cent sales tax in Hennepin County. The change was necessary, in part, because of lack of action on transit funding by the state legislature. It will support the county’s transit and transportation projects. Public hearings were held on the tax March 21, March 28, and June 6, 2017.

Transit lines include the current Blue Line, Green Line and Northstar Commuter Rail, and the future Southwest LRT (Green Line Extension), Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension), I-35W South BRT (Orange Line) and Riverview Corridor.

It was a complicated agreement.

  • The four other counties in CTIB, Anoka, Dakota, Ramsey and Washington, all must do the same for CTIB to dissolve and the new tax to take effect in Hennepin County.
  • If CTIB dissolves, the current quarter-cent CTIB sales tax will end on September 30, and the county’s half-cent sales tax will begin on October 1.
  • Sales tax revenue also has the potential to cover county transportation projects and improvements such as road and bridge work.

Read more about the action.

See the Hennepin County sales and use transportation tax implementation plan.

Veterans Services officer appointed

Veterans Services director Doyle

The board appointed Neil Doyle as Hennepin County’s veterans services officer, effective June 25. Doyle brings 15 years of veterans service experience to Hennepin County, most recently serving as veterans services supervisor for Olmstead County. His experience also includes 15 years of service with the Army National Guard; he has a master’s degree in management with an emphasis on healthcare management. Doyle will lead Hennepin County’s veterans service office, a team of nationally accredited staff helping service members, veterans, survivors and family members get the benefits they’ve earned.

Learn more about the appointment.

Learn more about veterans services

Plymouth Farmers Market opens June 28 at Parkers Lake Playfield

Plymouth farmers market image

Plymouth will kick off its annual Farmers Market Wednesday, June 28 at Parkers Lake Playfield parking lot, 15500 County Rd. 6. The market will be open 2:30-6:30 pm each Wednesday through October 11.

Mayor Kelli Slavik will sound the horn on opening night to signify the market commencement.

Donations for the Interfaith Outreach food shelf will be collected. Donations can be previously bought or purchased at the market. More information at plymouthmn.gov/farmersmarket.

Hennepin County Career Connections

Program will provide pathway to commercial driving careers

commercial truck image

The board approved a $150,000 agreement on June 13 with Summit Academy OIC to implement a program to recruit, train and place up to 24 people into jobs as commercial drivers. This program will become one of several Career Pathways training programs that connect people facing employment barriers to jobs with Hennepin County and other regional employers. The board Tuesday also approved an agreement to renew funding for Career Pathways.   

Read more about Career Pathways training programs.

New Hennepin housing initiatives to assist Penn Avenue homebuyers and current owners

Penn homeowner programs house image

Two new housing programs from Penn Avenue Community Works are launching in 2017 to both encourage people to buy homes in the Penn Avenue corridor and help current homeowners fix-up their properties. 

Front Yard Fix Up program

The Front Yard Fix Up program is an effort to help beautify, deter crime and signal investment in the Penn Avenue corridor. It will provide homeowners up to $5,000 for improvements that can be seen from the street (exterior lighting, concrete, porch, landscaping, etc.).

The program is provided through a no-interest forgivable loan that is available to low- and moderate-income owner-occupied households on Penn Avenue between I-394 and 44th Ave. N. and along Osseo Rd. from 44th Ave. N. to 49th Ave. N. Residents with total household incomes up to $102,960 are eligible to apply for this program. Deadline is September 1. Learn more and apply.

Homebuyer assistance program

In an effort to attract homebuyers to the Penn Avenue corridor, Penn Avenue Community Works is offering financial assistance of up to $3,000 to help with down payments and closing costs to buyers. This funding is available for buyers who purchase a single family home, duplex, townhouse, or condominium unit in the Penn Avenue corridor, which extends from I-394 to 49th Avenue North and includes Penn, Oliver and Queen Avenues.

The program aims to make homeownership more affordable for people of low and moderate incomes. Homebuyers with total household incomes up to $102,960 are eligible to apply. Learn more and apply.

Summertime at the Hennepin County Libraries

Bookawocky summer library fun image

Learning is fun at the library

Keep the kids’ minds active and strong this summer with summer learning at Hennepin County libraries. During summer vacation, neighborhood and regional libraries offer learning opportunities in science and nature, arts and crafts, games, computers and technology, and of course book clubs and discussion groups.

Ask about summer learning at your local library, or visit the library website.

Watch a video about the Bookawocky summer reading program.

Take better vacation photos with Hennepin County Library

Whether you are taking a world tour, seeing the great American sights or enjoying a Minnesota staycation, Hennepin County Library can help you memorialize your experiences. Library cardholders get free access to online courses on Lynda.com, a resource to learn creative, technical and professional skills. Create an account to access the “Mobile Photography Weekly” courses, to learn about composing, editing and sharing your photos online, and more.

Juneteenth Celebrations

Celebrate this important moment in African-American history in this family-friendly festival. Engage in crafts, cultural demonstrations, storytelling, singing, drumming, theater and more!

Start writing your novel now

National Novel Writing Month, aka November, aka NaNoWriMo, will be here before you know it. Hennepin County Library is here to give you a head start with a series of writing workshops and resources to help you get started.

Check out our NaNoWriMo book list.

Attend a Camp NaNoWriMo Writing Workshop, Tuesday, July 11, 5 to 6 pm,

Golden Valley Library, 830 Winnetka Ave. N.

Summertime free lunch for kids

summer lunch program image

If you know school-aged students in need of breakfast or lunch this summer, simply text “FOOD” to 877877 and receive a message back with a location closest to you where they can get free summer meals. Or you can call the National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3-hungry or call the 2-1-1 hotline or from cell phones - metro area: 651-291-0211. Operated by Hunger Free America, the USDA National Hunger Hotline connects individuals and families with food, assistance programs, and social services.

National Night Out 2017

Plymouth Night to Unite image

National Night Out, also known as Night to Unite 2017 in some communities, is right around the corner on August 1.

National Night Out is a great opportunity to promote community-police partnerships and enjoy a Minnesota summer evening surrounded by friends and family. You may contact your city to register (some requests have early deadlines) or for more information. See these links for Golden Valley, Minneapolis, Plymouth, and St. Anthony.

In Minneapolis, if your block applies for a block party permit before the deadline of July 18 you will not have to pay the $100 permit fee. ci.minneapolis.mn.us/blockeventapp/

If you are hosting a block party and would like someone from the County Attorney’s Office to visit, please contact Jean Heyer: jean.heyer@hennepin.us. To make a request for the Sheriff’s Office to attend your neighborhood event, contact the Sheriff’s office at (612) 348-3744 or email: sheriff@hennepin.us.  Requests should be made soon.

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Construction updates

Douglas Drive reconstruction updates

Douglas Dr and Golden Valley Rd image

Hennepin County, in partnership with Golden Valley, is reconstructing Douglas Drive (County Road 102) from Highway 55 to Medicine Lake Road (County Road 70). The second year of the Douglas Drive reconstruction got underway in March and is scheduled to be complete November 2017.

Two key segments will be complete soon. Duluth Street (County Road 66) from Douglas Drive to Adair Avenue is expected to be complete by the end of June. And the segment of Douglas Drive from Duluth Street to Golden Valley Road is expected to be complete by mid-July.

The next segment will be from between Golden Valley Road and the Frontage Road near Highway 55. The project will feature:

  • Roundabouts on Sandburg and Golden Valley Road to improve flow of traffic
  • New sidewalks and trails along both sides of Douglas Drive with additional access for pedestrians and bicyclists
  • New traffic signal systems at Medicine Lake Road, Duluth Street, Frontage Road and Highway 55 with walk signal push-buttons adjusted to accommodate pedestrians with disabilities
  • New landscaping and streetscapes to enhance the aesthetics of the corridor

To learn more and sign up for updates on the project, visit www.hennepin.us/douglasdrive.

Thanks for your patience as we improve this important street!

Light rail closures begin this week

Metro Transit reports several downtown Minneapolis light rail stations will be closed beginning Thursday, June 22. The Target Field, Warehouse District/Hennepin Avenue, Nicollet Mall and Government Plaza stations will be closed for 11 days for scheduled maintenance. Starting at 6:45 p.m. Thursday, buses will replace Blue and Green Line trains from U.S. Bank Stadium to Target Field station. Trains will resume by 5:00 a.m. on Monday, July 3. Click here for information on detours, routes and more.

County Road 102 in Golden Valley 

Lowry Tunnel construction begins this weekend

Work on the I-94 Lowry Tunnel also ramps up this weekend. The Minnesota Department of Transportation reports eastbound lanes of the Lowry Tunnel are set to close at 10 pm Friday, June 23 to 5 am Monday, June 26. MnDOT lists the detour as Hwy. 100 to eastbound Hwy. 62 to northbound I-35W to eastbound I-94.

On Monday, June 26, the westbound Lowry Tunnel will be closed through early-August. Click here for the detour map. For more information on the project, click here.

Metro Transit, MnDOT, and the City of Minneapolis are encouraging anyone coming to downtown Minneapolis over the weekend and through the following week to stay informed and plan ahead.

Informational meeting on upcoming 2018 University Ave. construction

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) is having a public meeting about a project planned for 2018 on University Avenue from 40th to 27th avenues NE, on Monday, July 17, 6:30 to 8 pm, at Columbia Heights Public Library, 3939 Central Ave. NE.

MnDOT staff will share information about the project, which will require closure of the road from 44th in Columbia Heights to Lowry Avenue in Minneapolis from May to August, 2018. Staff want to talk to local residents about the traffic flow during construction and address any concerns they might have. Info: dot.state.mn.us/metro/projects/hwy47mpls.

Board news

Full board meeting agendas, actions and background material may be found at board.co.hennepin.mn.us/hcmeetview/.

May 23

Grants will support livelihood of small business districts

The board awarded two grants totaling $80,000 to support economic vitality of small business districts in suburban Hennepin County. Business District Initiative grants will leverage about $84,000 in matching investments and benefit as many as 80 small businesses.

Read more about the funding awards.

Read more about the Business District Initiative program.

County to apply for $5 million to conserve and restore natural resources

The board approved a grant application to the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council for $5 million to acquire conservation easements and restore natural areas. The grant would facilitate protection of unique and important remaining natural areas in the county, including the remaining portions of the historic Big Woods forests, tamarack bogs and native tallgrass prairies.

Read more about this action.

JET team aims to reduce crime in Minneapolis

Again this year, Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office will work with the Minneapolis Police Department and other law enforcement agencies to increase law enforcement presence in the city, focusing on North Minneapolis. The agreement will provide Joint Enforcement Team patrol between May and September in neighborhoods most affected by gun violence.     

Read more about the Joint Enforcement Team.

County awards contract for criminal justice diversion program

The board approved a $325,686 contract to divert first-time nonviolent adult offenders from the criminal justice system. The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office awarded the contract to Diversion Solutions, which beat out two other companies that responded to the November bidding process. Diversion Solutions received the highest rank while coming in with the lowest bid of the three companies. The new contract will save the county thousands of dollars annually and make better use of existing county services.  

Read more about the contract.

June 13

County sells Century Plaza for estimated $9.4 million

The board approved negotiation of the sale of Century Plaza, a former county human service location, to DEHL Properties. The developer proposes to renovate the six-story, 297,650-square-foot building into office and flexible space to complement the Minneapolis Convention Center and downtown hotels. Hennepin County officially closed the 1930s-era building in May as part of a multi-year effort to relocate human services closer to where people live, work and attend school. 

Learn more about the sale of Century Plaza.

Learn more about Hennepin County’s regional human service centers.


Regional effort will deliver emergency alerts in multiple languages

The board approved a $165,000 agreement to broadcast and stream emergency preparedness information using Twin Cities Public Television channels. Funding will provide for a regional effort, one of the first in the nation, to deliver emergency alerts in Spanish, Hmong, Somali and English. Hennepin County Emergency Management will administer the program on behalf of regional emergency managers in partnership with Twin Cities Public Television, ECHO Minnesota and other public and private partners.

Learn more about this partnership.

Learn more about the TPT ECHO program.

Funding will continue family planning program in North Minneapolis

The board accepted $343,631 of grant funding to continue family planning services for North Minneapolis residents at risk for unplanned pregnancy. This new round of funding from the Minnesota Department of Health will allow NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center to extend services until June 2018. The teen birth rate in Hennepin County decreased by 52 percent between 2007 and 2014. 

Read more about this action.

Member reappointed to Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Board

The board reappointed Jenny Winkelaar to the board.

Read more about citizen advisory boards in Hennepin County.



  • Wednesday, June 28, 5-8 pm
    Second Annual “Share the River Nordeast.” Free introductory canoe rides on the Mississippi River with Park Service rangers. All ages welcome. Sponsored by the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization. Stormwater Park Learning Center. 2522 Marshall St. NE. sharetheriver.com.
  • Monday, July 3, 9 am through Tuesday, July 4, 10 pm
    Red, White and Boom. Celebrate the Fourth of July for this two-day celebration at the Minneapolis Riverfront, featuring music, food, fun and fireworks. Father Hennepin Bluff Park, 420 SE Main St. or Mill Ruins Park, 102 Portland Ave. S. Red-White and Boom.
  • Thursday, July 6, 5-9 pm
    First Thursdays, Ice Cream and Fun. Northrup King Building, 1500 Jackson St. NE. firstthursdays.com.
  • Saturday, July 8, 10 am-4 pm
    Brickmania Toyworks. See 10,000 square feet of unique, toys featuring epic-sized historic LEGO® displays. $5, under 3 free. 1620 Central Ave. NE, Suite 170. brickmania-toyworks.
  • Saturday, July 29, 10 am-2 pm
    Elder Law Clinics.
    Neighborhood seniors are invited to meet with an attorney for a free half-hour consultation. Discuss estate planning, wills, probate, landlord/tenant issues, social security or miscellaneous issues. Call 612-781-6011 to make an appointment or email Laura at lmurphy@esns.org. ElderLawClinic.

North Loop

  • Thursdays, June 29 and July 13, 7 pm
    Target Field Station Movie Night Out. Hennepin County hosts free movie nights at Target Field Station. Bring lawn chairs or blankets, find a spot on the Great Lawn, and enjoy. 335 5th St. N. MovieNightOut.  


  • Thursday, June 22, 5-8 pm
    Healthy Homes Resource Fair. A community fair focused on a holistic and healthy lifestyles. Music, food and fun. Parkway United Church, 3120 Washburn Ave. N. Healthy Homes Resource Fair.
  • Thursdays, June 22 through August 31, 7 pm
    Twin City River Rats hour-long water ski show. 1758 W. River Rd. (between Plymouth and West Broadway on the west side of the Mississippi River). Twin Cities River Rats
  • Thursday, June 22, 5-7 pm Celebrate Juneteenth at Sumner Library. Engage in crafts, cultural demonstrations, storytelling, singing, drumming, theater and more! ASL interpreters will be present. 611 Van White Blvd. celebratejuneteenth.com  
  • Saturday, June 24, 1-3 pm
    Celebrate Juneteenth at Webber Park Library. Juneteenth is the oldest African American celebration of emancipation from slavery in 1865. 4440 Humboldt Ave. N. celebratejuneteenth.com
  • Saturdays, 10 am-12 pm
    Sew Very Exciting. Free sewing classes for all levels of skill. Sewing machines and materials provided. Camden Neighborhood Center, 1210 37th Ave. N. Info: 612-787-3718.
  • July 12, 2-5pm Exploring Police Brutality and Mental Health. Minneapolis Urban League, 2100 Plymouth Ave. N. Exploring Police Brutality.
  • Fridays, July 23 through October 6, 3-7 pm
    West Broadway Farmers Market. Freedom Square, 2034 West Broadway (corner of Logan and West Broadway.) westbroadwaymarket.
  • Wednesday, July 26, 6-7:30 pm
    Yoga for Women of Color. Minneapolis Urban League, 2100 Plymouth Ave. N. Yoga for Women of Color.
  • July 27 through July 29. Thursday, 6-9pm, Friday, 3-10 pm, Saturday, 11-9 pm. FLOW Northside Arts Crawl. A celebration of the arts in North Minneapolis. northsideartscrawl.com.
  • Wednesday, June 28, 7-9 pm
    Victory Ice Cream Social. Victory Park, 4414 Upton Ave. N. IcecreamSocial.

Golden Valley

  • Friday, June 24, 5-12 pm
    2017 Golden Valley Fire Relief Street Dance. Food, fun, music and fireworks. Free. Chester Bird American Legion at Hwy. 100 and Glenwood Ave. Fire Relief Street Dance.
  • Friday, June 30, 11:30 am-12:30 pm
    Picnic and Music in the Park. Pack a picnic, grab a blanket, and enjoy a fun, captivating, and interactive musical performance by Will Hale. Brookview Park Gazebo. Picnic In The Park.
  • Monday through Thursday, June 30 through August 3.
    Puppet Wagon Shows. Watch your favorite puppets go on adventures and tell tall tales every week! Free. See schedule and locations at puppetwagon.
  • Sundays, July 2 through 30, 9am-1pm
    Market in the Valley. 7800 Golden Valley Rd. marketinthevalley.org.
  • Mondays, July 10 through July 31, 7 pm
    Concerts in the Park. Enjoy the First John Philip Sousa Band and others for a free concert. Brookview Park. 200 Brookview Parkway N. See schedule. concertsinthepark.

Bryn Mawr

  • Thursday, July 13, 6-8 pm
    BMNA Ice Cream Scoop-Off. Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, 420 Cedar Lake Rd. ice-cream-scoop-off.  

Medicine Lake

  • Wednesdays, July 5, 12, 19, 26, 6:30-7:30 pm
    Beginner Line Dance Lessons. West Medicine Lake Community Club, 1705 Forestview Lane N. Plymouth. For more information call 763-553-1107. Beginner Line Dance Lessons.
  • Saturday, July 15, 7:30 am-1:30 pm
    2017 High Cs Fishing Frenzy - The Medicine Lake Monster. Volunteer fishing guides provide boats for children for a great morning of fishing, ages 5 to 18. Bait and loaner equipment are provided if needed. Picnic to follow. West Medicine Lake Park, 1920 West Medicine Lake Dr. fishing-frenzy.

St. Anthony

  • Thursday, July 6, 7-9 pm
    Salo Park Concert Series-Jazz on the Prairie Big Band. Salo Park Amphitheatre, 3890 Harding St. saloparkconcertseries.
  • Wednesday, July 19, 8-9 pm
    Walk with a Photographer. Grab your camera, join fellow photographers, and share shooting tips. All skill levels and camera types welcome. Free. Silverwood Park, 2500 County Rd. E. walk-with-a-photographer.
  • Friday, July 28, 2017, 7:00 pm and Saturday, July 29, 12:00 pm
    Willy Wonka. Tickets, $10. St. Anthony High School, 3303 33rd Ave. NE. Willy Wonka.


  • Wednesday, July 5, 5:30 pm
    45th Annual Music in Plymouth. An evening of music featuring the Okee Dokee Brothers and the R Factor. Free. Hilde Performance Center, 3500 Plymouth Blvd. www.plymouth.gov.
  • Monday, July 10, 7 pm
    Water Ski Show at Parkers Lake Park. Family friendly. Bring picnic, chairs or blankets.15205 County Rd. 6. waterskishow.
  • Thursday, July 13, 7 pm
    Salsa Del Sol in concert. A Twin Cities-based, nine-piece orchestra. Hilde Performance Center.  350 Plymouth Blvd. salsadelsoul.com.

Multiple communities

  • Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, June 19 through August 31
    Go Outside Events. Enjoy outdoor activities at Target Field Station (335 N. 5th St.) and Hennepin County Government Center South Plaza, 300 S. 6th St., including classic movies, trivia, fitness classes, the Downtown Farmers Market, food trucks, music and more. Visit mplsdowntown.com.
  • June 24, 10 am through June 25, 6 pm
    Twin Cities Pride Festival. Create experiences that bring the greater GLBT community together to foster inclusion, educate and create awareness of issues, and celebrate achievements in equality. Loring Park, 1382 Willow Street. twin-cities-pride-festival.
  • Tuesdays, July 11 and 25, 10:30 am-12 pm Tours of the Governors’ Residence. The guided summer tour takes about 45 minutes. Free. 1006 Summit Ave. St. Paul, governors-residence-tours.
  • Thursday, July 13, 5 pm-8 pm
    Walker Wide Open Party. Celebrate the reopening of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Free guided tours, art-making activities, food trucks, and music. Walker Art Center. 725 Vineland Pl. sculpture-garden-reopening.


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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