March 2018 News and Updates from Commissioner Higgins

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linda higgins

March 2018

Thank you for subscribing to my newsletter.

We’ve had more than a foot of snow fall this past weekend, but spring is on its way. After all, Daylight Savings Time starts Sunday, March 11! As usual, there is a lot of great information in this issue of our newsletter, thanks to the good work of District 2 staffers Tina Sanz and Beverly Hammond.

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

Best wishes,

linda higgins signature

Expanded NorthPoint campus design moves forward

NorthPoint site sketch
NorthPoint map

The expanded NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center at the intersection of Penn and Plymouth avenues in North Minneapolis has approval from the board.

The board also approved a contract to continue design of the new facility that will cost an estimated $39 million. The NorthPoint campus expansion is one component of a larger North Minneapolis Community Wellness Center project budgeted at $67.6 million.

As part of the larger project, construction of the Estes Funeral Chapel construction has already started and is scheduled to be complete by the fall of 2018. Thor Construction is also developing a corporate office, parking ramp and retail space on the southeast corner of the intersection. 

NorthPoint will remain open throughout construction, slated to take place between fall 2018 and summer 2020. 

Read more about this action.

Read more about the campus expansion project

Assistant Hennepin County Administrator for Human Services retires with honors

Rex Holzemer, center

Photo by Lisa Fleming, Hennepin County

Assistant County Administrator for Human Services Rex Holzemer began his career with Hennepin County in 1977 as a social worker. Many initiatives and well-deserved promotions later, he retires this year.

In the commendation honoring his work, the County Board noted he dedicated his career to serving residents of Hennepin County by ensuring access and quality outcomes, innovating and improving operations and engaging staff at all levels. He was [and remains] consistently professional, respected by both staff and vendors, used humor to diffuse tense case discussions and conducted himself with the utmost integrity.

Many thanks and best wishes to Rex and his family in retirement!

See the Hennepin County board commendation of service.

Hold the salt! Hennepin manages road salt usage wisely

snow salt truck

KSTP News shared a news story about how Hennepin County Public Works carefully manages its salt usage, both for environmental and sustainable reasons.

Federal legislative platform approved

The board adopted the 2018 federal legislative platform asking Minnesota members of Congress to support the county’s requests in the following areas:

  • Transportation
  • Health and human services
  • Safety-net health services
  • Taxes
  • Criminal justice
  • Housing and community development 
  • Workforce development 

Hennepin County’s state and federal legislative priorities may be found at (note: subject to change by future board action).

Keeping hot dish hot

Environmental health inspectors help ensure food safety

health inspections

Visitors and residents alike can be assured the foods they eat at restaurants and food trucks is safe, thanks in part to Hennepin County environmental health inspectors.

That includes temporary establishments during large events, such as those in conjunction with the Super Bowl. During Super Bowl festivities, eight of the county’s environmental health staff joined inspectors from Minneapolis and other cities to inspect eating establishments popping up along Nicollet Mall and throughout the county.

The cities of Minneapolis, Bloomington, Brooklyn Park, Edina, Richfield and Wayzata have their own environmental health departments. When there’s need – such as large events – Hennepin County, those cities and other counties help one another through mutual aid agreements.

Unintentional food-borne illness can occur when foods reach temperatures that allow growth of microorganisms, such as bacteria. With temporary events, inspectors work to make sure vendors follow food safety practices, such as keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold.

Inspections also reduce risk of tampering that can result in foodborne illness. Inspectors ensure vendors purchase foods from licensed distributors and keep ingredients secured to minimize risk.

Read more about the science of food safety.

Hennepin residents finish strong in the American Birkebeiner

Gregg at 2013 Birkie

Caitlin Gregg from Minneapolis took home her fifth Birkebeiner title this past weekend. This is a record for both the men’s and women’s races in a field of skiers from 36 countries and 49 states. Also noted from Hennepin District 2 were Josie Nelson of Medicine Lake, who took third place in the women’s 55K Saturday, and Joseph Lynch of St. Anthony Village who grabbed third place in the men’s skate race.  

Congratulations to all the skiers!

See the full news story at Fox9 or more at

Photo from the Duluth News Tribune (2013)

Congratulations to our Drug Court graduates!

Drug Court photos

During a commencement ceremony Friday, Hennepin County Drug Court recognized 25 graduates who overcame addiction and abstained from repeating the behaviors that brought them to court.

Drug Court aims to quickly identify and intervene to break the cycle of chemical dependency and crime. The voluntary program works with nonviolent adult offenders who are chemically dependent.

Breaking the cycle of addiction

Drug Court involves the coordinated efforts of the judge, prosecutor, defense attorney, law enforcement, social services, probation, and treatment. 

“The road has been really rough, and I was trying to figure out who I was,” said Brian Williams, drug court graduate. “In a time when there’s little hope, it’s so important when someone gives you a shot. It made me feel like a new person – like I could get my life back again.”

The Drug Court team keeps participants engaged in treatment, rewards progress for meeting goals and sanctions noncompliant behavior. Drug Court participants receive ongoing judicial supervision, are placed under intensive community supervision, undergo frequent drug testing and engage in long-term chemical dependency treatment. 

An innovative way to reduce recidivism 

The program shifts the way courts are handling certain offenders and working with key stakeholders in the justice system. Research shows that this approach has proven more effective than traditional court strategies at reducing repeat offenses.

WCCO TV (video) Hennepin County Drug Court Graduate: ‘Feels Good To Feel Good.’

For more information on Drug Court, visit the Fourth Judicial District Court webpage.  

MnSpin sets a stage for local musicians

MNSpin graphic

Minnesota musicians and bands of all genres are encouraged to submit one song for consideration between February 21 and March 28. A panel of local music experts and library staff will review all submissions, and invite selected artists to make one album available through the online platform. Artists will sign a license agreement and receive $200. The library plans to continue expanding this pilot project to offer additional submission opportunities.

Thanks to a grant from the Friends of the Hennepin County Library, music lovers will be able to connect to this new collection through Anyone can stream from the platform, and Hennepin County Library cardholders can download songs for free.

Learn more about submitting or listening to music on MnSpin.

NorthPoint and Hennepin County launch eviction prevention pilot program

eviction notice graphic

The Hennepin County Office of Housing Stability is working on eviction prevention to create more stable communities within Hennepin County.

The Eviction Prevention Pilot is an innovative program available to assist residents of Hennepin County to prevent housing evictions.  This pilot is a collaboration with Hennepin County, University of Minnesota, NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center, mediation services and legal aid services. The program will provide integrated housing support services, financial assistance, intensive case management, tenant/landlord mediation and legal assistance with housing issues to the community. 

Commissioner Higgins will help host a community information session on February 28.

Date: February 28
Time: 2 to 4 pm
Location: NorthPoint Human Services Building, 1315 Penn Ave. N., lower level conference room 108

For information or to enroll in the pilot, contact NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center at 612-767-9159 or visit 1315 Penn Ave. N., Minneapolis.

Community Action of Hennepin County offers legal clinics and other assistance

News you can use from the Hennepin County Library

chess comedy gratia images

Chess Club is a winning move at Minneapolis Central Library

Games of pickup chess are an island of contemplation in the atrium of the busiest library in the county. 

Read more about Chess Club.

Laughter is a channel for discussion

BLACKOUT Improv is a mix of comedy, social justice and arts access. This all-black troupe masterfully creates comedic dialog around serious truths by examining difficult topics and current events. Performances planned during March and April at Minneapolis Central, Hosmer, Sumner and Brookdale libraries.

Learn more about Laughing Matters events, including dates and locations.

March is Women’s History Month

Hennepin County Library celebrates Women’s History Month with displays, events, digital collections and book lists.
Learn more about Women’s History Month events at our libraries.

Volunteer with Hennepin Citizen advisory boards

board meeting

Members of the public and local officials can be appointed to serve on more than 15 various county advisory boards, task forces and committees.

Appointed members advise county commissioners on issues and programs, help set policy, and deal with a variety of topics of concern to the county. Though the board just filled a number of vacancies (see below under February 22 Board News), you can sign up for new opening notifications.

Review open positions, log in or create a Hennepin account to apply.

Get email alerts about new openings

Board news

February 6

Design continues for Hennepin County Library - Southeast improvements

The board approved an initial design for renovations to the Hennepin County Library - Southeast, located in the Dinkytown neighborhood of Minneapolis. The project will improve the building’s infrastructure, improve access for patrons and renovate the lower level of the library, which is currently closed because of its deteriorating condition. The entire library will be closed during renovations between summer 2018 and spring 2019.

Read more about the project.

Board awards seven natural resources grants

  • The board awarded $70,865 of Natural Resources Good Steward grants to three landowners and the following organizations to preserve, protect or improve natural resources and water quality:
  • Minneapolis Public Schools – Field Community School to install rain gardens, provide educational signage and enhance curriculum 
  • Metro Blooms/Nokomis East Neighborhood (Minneapolis) to install a variety of stormwater management systems, including rain gardens, native plantings and permeable pavement throughout the neighborhood 
  • Standish-Ericsson Neighborhood Association (Minneapolis) to install up to 20 rain gardens throughout this neighborhood
  • Hennepin County also awarded a larger $100,000 Natural Resources Opportunity grant to Metro Blooms to implement the first two years of a five-year storm water retrofit plan for an apartment complex in Brooklyn Park.

Learn more about this action.

Learn more about Hennepin County natural resources grant funding.

Grants awarded to clean up contaminated sites

The board awarded $1.4 million of Environmental Response Fund grants for 10 projects to assess and clean up contaminated sites where added environmental costs hinder site improvements or redevelopment. The following organizations will receive grant funding:

  • City of Lakes Community Land Trust 
  • City of Maple Grove
  • City of Minneapolis
  • City of Robbinsdale
  • Minnehaha Creek Watershed District
  • Minnesota Brownfields

Read more about the grant awards.

Read more about Environmental Response Fund grant funding.

Board declares February as Human Trafficking Awareness month

By proclaiming February Human Trafficking Awareness month, the board recommitted to protecting and supporting a safe future for young people in the community. Sex trafficking occurs year-round in Hennepin County, not just during large events like the Super Bowl. During 2017, Hennepin County staff served 73 youth who had experienced or were at risk for exploitation or trafficking. The No Wrong Door and Safe Harbor initiatives guide the county's work on the principle that these sexually exploited youth are survivors and victims, not criminals. 

Learn more about this proclamation.

Learn more about the county's work to help sexually exploited youth

February 22

Funding will expand team fighting youth sex trafficking

The board accepted a $100,000 grant from the Women's Foundation of Minnesota to dedicate an additional staff member to a team investigating and prosecuting sex trafficking crimes. The board also recognized four young women who engaged in fundraising to raise this money with Students Against Sex Trafficking. 

This new position will join six other staff dedicated to the county's work on No Wrong Door and Safe Harbor initiatives. These initiatives focus on the principle that sexually exploited youth should be treated as survivors and victims, rather than criminals.

County staff work year-round to combat this persistent issue. The number of sex trafficking cases submitted to the Hennepin County Attorney's Office increased from 27 in 2015 to 95 in 2017.

Read more about this action.

Learn more about the county's work to help sexually exploited youth

Autonomous shuttle demonstration to take place along Midtown Greenway

The board approved negotiation of an agreement with the Minnesota Department of Transportation to lease an autonomous shuttle for a demonstration along the Midtown Greenway.

Hennepin County will test the electric-powered shuttle and offer free public rides along a two- to three-block stretch of the Greenway during Earth Day weekend, April 20 to 22. The shuttle, capable of operating safely in mixed traffic with pedestrians and bicyclists, will travel for limited hours during the demonstration on one lane of the existing bicycle and pedestrian trail. A human operator will be on board the shuttle to take over, if needed. The shuttle will travel no more than 12 miles per hour.

The county is interested in studying how this emerging technology can complement other multimodal forms of transportation and enhance connections to major transitways.

The Greenway was acquired by Hennepin County Regional Rail Authority in the early 1990s for future transit use and connects the Blue Line, Orange Line and planned Green Line Extension.

Learn more about the board action and view a PowerPoint about the pilot.

Grant will fund more than 100 home health and safety inspections

Voting February 13 as the Housing and Redevelopment Authority, the board approved a $60,000 grant from the Minnesota Department of Health to assess as many as 110 homes in Hennepin County for safety and health hazards. Through the Healthy Homes program, residents can receive free help to reduce home health risks, such as asthma triggers and lead paint.

Learn more about this funding.

Learn more about the Healthy Homes program (see also story in last month’s District 2 newsletter).

Candidates appointed to citizen advisory boards

The board appointed the following candidates:

Adult Mental Health Local Advisory Council

  • Barbara Kaiser 
  • Suzanne Bachman
  • Kathleen Goldammer-Copeland 
  • Kathryn Walton
  • Esther Muturi
  • Will Hall
  • Sankolo Dolo

Capital Budgeting Task Force

  • Greg Sticha
  • Heidi Hamilton

Minneapolis Planning Commission

  • Amy Sweasy

County Extension Committee (University of Minnesota Extension)

  • Jazmyn Becker
  • Library Board
  • Adja Kaba Ann
  • Rahfat Hussain
  • Sheila Letscher

Mental Commitment Attorney Panel Advisory Board

  • Kim Lutes

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Board

  • Tony Scallon 
  • Thomas Adams
  • Alexander Hanlon
  • Andrea Ferstan
  • Aaron Hill

Public hearing for issuing debt under capital improvement program

The board established a public hearing on issuing debt to finance new capital improvements included in the county’s 2018-2022 capital improvement program.

Tuesday, March 20, 1:30 pm
Board room (A-2400), Hennepin County Government Center
300 S. 6th St., Minneapolis

Read more about the public hearing.

Look for more news on the Hennepin County website at



  • Fridays, March, 2, 9, 16 and 23, 5:30-7:30pm
    Pierogi and Fish Fry Dinners. Take out available. Adults $12, children $6. Ukrainian American Community Center, 301 Main St. NE. FishFryDinners 
  • Saturdays, March 3, 10, 17 and 24, 9am-12pm Tax Preparation Services. Prepare and Prosper offers free tax preparation service. East Side Neighborhood Services, 1700 2nd St. NE. TaxPreparation 
  • Tuesday, March 6, 8:30-10am
    Tour of Minneapolis Drinking Water Plant. Mississippi Park Connection explores the relationship between the river and industry during a series of tours called “The Working River.” 4300 Marshall St. NE. Free. Register at MinneapolisDrinkingWater 
  • Friday, March 16, 4:30-4pm
    Potato Pancake and Soup Supper at St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Church, 2201 3rd St. NE. PotatoPancakeSoup 
  • Sunday, March 18, 10am-2pm
    Northeast Winter Market. Support local food vendors and artisans at Solar Arts by Chow Girls, 711 15th Ave. NE, third floor. NortheastWinterMarket  

North Loop

  • Wednesday, March 7, 5-9pm
    Entrepreneurs’ Rally. Bring questions, challenges and business cards for networking and education. $15. Aria Event Center, 105 N. 1st St. entrepreneursrally
  • Northeast Minneapolis Fridays, March, 2, 9, 16 and 23, 5:30-7:30pm
    Pierogi and Fish Fry Dinners. Take out available. Adults $12, children $6. Ukrainian American Community Center, 301 Main St. NE. FishFryDinners
  • Saturdays, March 3, 10, 17 and 24, 9am-12pm Tax Preparation Services. Prepare and Prosper offers free tax preparation service. East Side Neighborhood Services, 1700 2nd St. NE. TaxPreparation
  • Tuesday, March 6, 8:30-10am
    Tour of Minneapolis Drinking Water Plant. Mississippi Park Connection explores the relationship between the river and industry during a series of tours called “The Working River.” 4300 Marshall St. NE. Free. Register at MinneapolisDrinkingWater
  • Friday, March 16, 4:30-4pm
    Potato Pancake and Soup Supper at St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Church, 2201 3rd St. NE. PotatoPancakeSoup
  • Sunday, March 18, 10am-2pm
    Northeast Winter Market. Support local food vendors and artisans at Solar Arts by Chow Girls, 711 15th Ave. NE, third floor. NortheastWinterMarket


  • Wednesday, February 28, 6-8pm
    North Minneapolis Park Visioning. Help create the vision for area neighborhood parks, view and comment on the park design concepts at a series of public workshops. Kids activities and refreshments. North Commons Recreation Center, 1801 James Ave. N. visionforparks
  • Thursday, March 1, 7:45-8:30am
    Hawthorne Huddle. Join conversations with law enforcement and social service providers about partnering to reduce violence. Fairview Park, 621 29th Ave. N. HawthorneHuddle
  • Saturday, March 3, 2-3pm
    In Step: Soul Dance Celebration. Kindergarten to second grade. Explore the basics of energetic dances of the Soul era. Learn about the culture of that time. Webber Park Library, 4440 Humboldt Ave. N. souldancelebration
  • Saturday, March 10, 10-11:30am
    Xpressive Xplorchestra, presented by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. The classical music performance is geared for families with children ages 5 to 9. Capri Theater, 2027 West Broadway Ave. xpressivexplorchestra
  • Friday, March 16, 7-8:30pm
    Strong Sisters presented by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. The program consists of works by Nadia and Lili Boulanger, two of the best-known women in classical music. Capri Theater, 2027 West Broadway Ave. strongsisters
  • Wednesday, March 21, 1-2:30pm
    Be a Visitor in Your Own City. Michael Hernandez, Director of the Minneapolis Visitor Center, will spotlight activities available to local residents and visitors. Webber Park Library, 4440 Humboldt Ave. N. visitorinyourcity
  • Saturday, March 24, 10am-3pm
    2018 North Housing Fair. Connect with organizations to assist with housing needs. Contractors, loan programs, legal advice, and neighborhood resources. Lucy Craft Laney School, 3333 Penn Ave. N. NorthHousingFair  

Golden Valley

  • Thursday, March 1, 5-8:30pm
    Music and Mingle. Live music, food and recreation for the kids. Three One Six bar and grill. Brookview Recreation Center, 316 Brookview Pkwy. S. MusicandMingle
  • Saturday, March, 3, 1-2pm
    Modernism in the Twin Cities Suburbs. Larry Millett, author of “Minnesota Modern: Architecture and Life at Midcentury,” will give a presentation and lecture. Brookview Golden Valley, Bassett Creek Room, 316 Brookview Pkwy S. ModernismArchitecture
  • Tuesday, March 27, 7:30-9am
    Minneapolis Tipclub. Structured business networking. Free for first time guests. Valley Square Corporate Center, 7500 Olson Memorial Hwy. minneapolistipclub

Medicine Lake

  • Thursday, March 8, 6:30pm
    Plymouth Lions Dinner Meeting. Medicine Lake City Hall, 10609 South Shore Drive. DinnerMeeting

St. Anthony

  • Tuesdays, March 6 and March 20, 7pm
    Community Knit Night. Cultural exchange for Spanish and English speaking students and families. Nativity Lutheran Church, 3312 Silver Lake Rd. For more information, contact Karen Weiberg at (612) 789-2769 or  


  • Monday, March 4, 1-4pm
    Healthy Living Fair. Take charge of your family’s health by sampling a variety of health screenings, educational sessions, active samplers and more. Plymouth Creek Center, 14800 34th Ave. N. HealthyLivingFair
  • Saturday, March 3, and March 27, 10-11:30am
    Coffee With Cops at Caribou. Ask questions, see the inside of a squad car and enjoy a cup of coffee with some of the men and women of the Plymouth Police Department. March 3 at 4345 Nathan Lane N. and March 27 at 1400 County Road 101. CoffeewithCops
  • Saturday, March 10, 9am-1pm
    Plymouth Farmers Market. Warm up inside our greenhouse to shop seasonal goods at the indoor farmers market, presented by the City of Plymouth. Produce, sweet treats, crafts, and holiday gifts from local farmers, bakers, and artisans. Bachman's Plymouth, 10050 6th Ave. N. plymouthfarmersmarket

Multiple communities

  • Saturday, March 3 and Sunday, March 4, 10am-5pm
    Healthy Life Expo. Local and national exhibitors will showcase doctors, clinics, nutritionists, healthy cooking chefs, in-home fitness products, authors, women’s and men’s health, yoga, martial arts, and more! Minneapolis Convention Center, 1301 Second Ave. S. HealthyLife 
  • Thursday, March 8, 3-4:30pm
    A Conversation with the Minneapolis City Council. Council members from several wards participate in moderated panel discussions about transit, public safety and workforce development. Free. Thrivent Financial, 625 Fourth Ave. S., lower level conference room. CityCouncilConversation
  • Saturday, March 10 and March 24, 10am-1pm
    Mill City Farmers Winter Market. Shop from over 40 local farmers, food vendors and artists. Mill City Museum, 704. Second St. S. MillCityFarmersMarket
  • Saturday, March 10, 8am-2pm
    African American Leadership Forum: Show Me the Money! - Advancing Economic Equity through increased Public Investment. Explore opportunities to prioritize eliminating socioeconomic disparities in the African American community through increased investment. Humphrey School of Public Affairs. 301 19th Ave. S. AfricanAmericanLeadershipForum 
  • Monday, March 12, 5:30pm
    Pints for Pillsbury United Communities. Casual happy hour to support the people and programs making a difference throughout our communities. Surly Brewing Co., 520 Malcolm Ave. SE. PintsforPillsbury 
  • Tuesday, March, 20 6pm-8pm
    Pillsbury United Communities Third Annual Sisterhood Fashion Show. Showcases the talents of young social entrepreneurs through spoken word, art and fashion. Augsburg University 2211 Riverside Ave. sisterhoodfashionshow
  • Saturday March 24, 8:30am-5pm
    Twin Cities Women’s Expo. Health, wellness, social activities and community engagement. Minneapolis Convention Center Ballroom, 1301 2nd Ave S. womensexpo


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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