May 2018 News and Updates from Commissioner Higgins

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linda higgins

May 2018

Thank you for subscribing to my newsletter.

May is upon us! People are doing yard work, the flowers are starting to bloom, and maybe, just maybe, we have put winter behind us! May is also Bike Month, Farmers markets opening, belated Earth Day activities (rescheduled from our last heavy snow!), summer learning at your local library and Mother’s Day!

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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Expanded program aims to reduce contracting disparities

Nawal Noor

Above: Nawal Noor, owner of Noor Construction (currently contracted with Hennepin County for the new Estes Funeral Home at Penn and Plymouth Avenues N), addresses the Hennepin County Board on April 17. For video of this meeting, see

The board approved an action to supplement and enhance a program that promotes inclusion of minority- and women-owned businesses in contracts.

In 2016, the county participated in a joint disparity study led by the state, along with eight other state and local entities. The study documented that, despite the long-term use of a race- and gender-neutral contracting program, substantial disparities continue to exist in contracting dollars awarded to minority-owned and women-owned firms.

The county will take several measures to supplement and enhance its Small Business Enterprise program, its primary method of including local small firms in contracts. Tactics include the following:

  • Supplement and enhance the county’s Small Business Enterprise Program with narrowly tailored race- and/or gender-conscious contracting opportunities
  • Renew its participation in a collaborative that provides business development services and resources to local small businesses 
  • Streamline affirmative action/equal employment opportunity contract compliance for non-construction vendors
  • Continue set-aside contracts to businesses and non-profit entities that employ persons with disabilities, probationers and other persons under county supervision who live in Hennepin County. 
  • Coordinate department-level contract inclusion goals

Read the 2017 Minnesota Joint Disparity Study.

Read the board action here.


Help, I don’t understand my property taxes going up!

graphic by Tina Sanz

How do property tax increases and other things like property valuations get figured out?

North News editor Kenzie O’Keefe asked Hennepin County staff these questions this month. The result is one of the best written and most understandable explanations of where all the intersecting pieces fit with property tax that we have seen. The additional Hennepin County resources listed for when people get behind on taxes is new information for residents and is available if needed.

Note: This is an especially relevant question when looking at North Minneapolis, where the foreclosure crisis recovery means that home values here have increased at higher percentages this year than in other parts of the city.   

Check out the article at

How Hennepin County is tackling Minnesota’s employment disparities

Pathways training graduation

Persistent economic disparities exist in Minnesota. At the economic center of our state, Hennepin County government is working to change that dynamic by creating an alternative pathway to career county jobs outside the more traditional and costly path of earning a college degree.

People of color make up about 32 percent of the people of Hennepin County. Because of that, the county has been ramping up its efforts to make its employee base more representative of the community. Since launching the program in 2014, almost half of the new hires coming into the county have been people of color. In total, the county employs about 9,000 people, and 28 percent of them are now people of color.

Read more about the Pathways program in this great article from Minnpost

Hennepin County is addressing disparities and diversity and inclusion in its mission, strategic planning and outcomes for every department. To learn more about Hennepin County’s Pathways program, visit

May is Bike Month

New to bicycle commuting? Just want to go for a casual ride? Hennepin County has all kinds of resources to get you rolling. We have interactive bicycle maps, recommendations for routes, safety tips, and a whole lot more. 


Go Outside with Hennepin County and the Minneapolis Downtown Council

outdoor piano at Hennepin plaza

Enjoy free, family-friendly activities June through August on the South Plaza, including yard games and piano performances. Events will also begin in June at Target Field Station, including movie and trivia nights. Share your experiences at Go Outside events on social media using the hashtag #GoOutside.

Minneapolis offers low-cost pet vaccine clinic Sunday, May 6


Minneapolis residents can take in their pets for low-cost vaccinations May 6. Rabies vaccine, feline distemper vaccine, canine distemper vaccine, and microchipping will be available for $10 each or $25 for all three.

2 to 5 pm, Sunday, May 6
Fire Station 21, 3209 E. 38th St.

All dogs must be on a leash; all cats must be in a carrier. Must have a valid ID and/or proof of Minneapolis residency to participate. Visit to learn more.

Hennepin Youth Sports funding will be used to teach kids how to swim

make a splash - girls swimming

Hennepin County is partnering with the USA Swimming Foundation on a pilot project to connect underserved youth and communities throughout the county with swimming lessons.

According to a USA Swimming Foundation study, 70 percent of African American, 60 percent of Hispanic/Latino and more than 40 percent of Caucasians have little to no swimming ability.

This partnership aims to teach safety and improve quality of life for children who otherwise wouldn’t have this lifesaving opportunity.

An additional funding opportunity will come at the end of the summer/early fall to award the remaining balance of the $35,000 Hennepin County award, along with any additional available funds made available by the USA Swimming Foundation for our Local Partner network.

Find swim lessons and other information about the USA Swimming Make a Splash program.

Hennepin Youth Sports playground and small equipment grants awarded

youth sports

Each year, the Hennepin Youth Sports Program invests in our communities, providing capital and small asset grants throughout the county. The board awarded $215,043 of Hennepin Youth Sports grants for playground and small equipment projects across the county.

Hennepin County awarded $25,000 each to New Hope, Loretto and Shorewood for playground projects.

The 2018 Spring small asset grants are awarded to promote a mix of various sports and recreational activities throughout the county. District 2 Spring Equipment Applications approved included:

·         Patrick Henry High School for a Dr. Dish basketball shooting machine;

·         Edison High School for a Dr. Dish basketball shooting machine;

·         North High School for high jump standards;

·         Zachary Playfield in Plymouth for a prefabricated storage shed;

·         Beltrami Park for a foosball and ping pong table; and

·         Northeast Park Recreation Center for safety wall mats.

Since it began in 2009, Hennepin Youth Sports has awarded $22 million for facility, small equipment and playground projects, along with water safety lessons. Proceeds from the Twins ballpark sales tax support this program.

Read more about Hennepin Youth Sports

Hennepin County State of the County

Chair Callison

Hennepin County Commissioner and Board Chair Jan Callison detailed how the county is responding proactively to challenges in multiple areas, including affordable housing, public safety, transportation, human services and health and workforce challenges and opportunities in the annual State of the County Address, given April 10 in Golden Valley at the new Brookview Community Center.

Though one in five Minnesotans lives in the county, one in three jobs, approximately 30 percent, can be found in Hennepin County. Its economy propels the entire state, Callison said. Transportation, libraries, environmental services, food provision services, workforce training, child services and “even mosquito control” were among Callison’s listed county-provided programs. One in four people receives services directly from the county.

During her presentation at the Brookview Golden Valley Community Center, Callison also described how the county is expanding community engagement and involving residents in conversations about where to focus resources. 

Read the transcript or watch a video of the address.

Hennepin County Library news you can use

librarian in the stacks

Home is where the books are

Hennepin County Library provides books and magazines for residents of Fort Snelling Upper Post, a housing complex for formerly homeless veterans and their families. It’s one of many efforts by the library system to serve people who face barriers to visiting the library.

Read more about the collection at Fort Snelling Upper Post.

Above: librarian Suzi Stephenson.


Learn a new song

Songbirds are on the move again. Look up pictures and birdcalls of more than 760 bird species in the United States and Canada with Birds of North America Online, accessible with your library card.

Explore Birds of North America Online.

Get a free library card.

T.C. Bear walking some dogs for the Step To It Challenge

Step your way through a story

As mentioned last month, communities throughout Hennepin County will be joining the Step to it challenge in May. If you have decided to participate, add a story to your walk or run with a downloadable audiobook.

Explore the library’s resources for audiobooks on the go.

Discover Summer logo

Plan a smart summer

It’s almost time for summer learning at your local library. Events and registration will be posted Friday, May 4, on the Hennepin County Library website,

Henna Workshop

Sunday, May 20, 1 to 3 pm

North Regional Library, 1315 Lowry Ave. N., Minneapolis

Learn the basics of henna in a hands-on workshop led by artist Amy Leinen. Discover the history and science of henna through paste-making and cone-rolling demonstrations. Then, using tips and tricks, apply henna yourself. Materials provided.

Learn more about this arts and culture program.

Changes to the county’s solid waste management fee aim to ease financial burden on reuse retailers

Downtown Mpls Salvation Army

Public hearing scheduled for June 5 on ordinance changes

Help shape housing and community development in your community. Tell us what you think about the draft 2018 Hennepin County action plan that guides the use of $6.1 million in federal funding for housing and development in suburban cities.

The county is currently proposing changes to Hennepin County Ordinance 15 – Solid Waste Management Fee, which was established in 1994 to fund environmental programs that protect human health and the environment. The fees collected, which are charged by haulers on trash service and remitted to the county, fund programs that prevent waste, increase recycling and organics recycling, promote environmental stewardship, and protect land and water.

A key change to the ordinance is aimed at supporting reuse retailers by reducing the fees they pay to dispose of non-reusable household goods that are donated to them. Some administrative changes are also being proposed. Learn more about the proposed changes.

A public hearing about the ordinance changes will be held on Tuesday, June 5 at 1:30 pm in the Hennepin County Boardroom.

For more information or to submit written comments, contact Randy Kiser at or 612-348-5889.

Golden Valley seeing lime green with new LimeBike program

bike program bike

Golden Valley residents will be seeing a lot of green…. lime green.

The Golden Valley City Council approved a test program with California-based LimeBike, allowing the company to roll out its bikes across the city in April. The bikes are dockless, meaning you can find them anytime, anywhere using an app on your smartphone.

Golden Valley is the first in the state to try the service. The company charges roughly $1 per 30 minutes of riding.

Learn more about the LimeBike program in Golden Valley.

Spring cleaning gets easier with Hennepin County

spring cleaning Midwest Home

Midwest Home magazine recently wrote a great article on spring cleaning to show what you can donate or recycle before dumping it and gave a shout out to Hennepin County. Check it out for some new tips and tricks!

Midwest Home Spring Cleaning Hacks.

See the Hennepin Green Disposal Guide for more tips and tricks.

Hennepin Medical Examiner receives international award

dr. Baker

Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Andrew Baker recently garnered recognition from the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) for his contributions to the forensic pathology profession. 

AAFS presented Baker with two awards at its scientific meeting this February in Seattle. The organization includes more than 6,600 members representing multiple disciplines and 70 countries.

Baker received the Milton Helpern Award, which recognizes people who have demonstrated lifetime achievement and dedication to the mission of forensic pathology. This award focuses on leadership, service and teaching. 

He also received the Kenneth S. Field Award of Appreciation. This award recognizes those who have made a difference in the daily work of a department or AAFS staff member.

Baker heads the medical examiner’s office, which investigates all unexpected deaths in Hennepin, Dakota and Scott counties. He also has held numerous leadership positions within AAFS and other forensic organizations.

Read more in the Southwest Journal.

The Minneapolis Farmers Market returns!

Farmers market

Spring has finally sprung! Visit the Minneapolis Farmers Market at the Hennepin County Government Center South Plaza from May through October. A variety of vendors will sell fresh produce, flowers and more Tuesdays 9 am to 3 pm.

The Nicollet Farmers Market also returns and will run Thursdays from 6 am to 6 pm through October. Stop by for fresh products and local products throughout the summer. Visit mplsfarmersmarket

Campaign furthers work to end HIV epidemic

HIV U=U campaign images international

Hennepin County is among the first U.S. government agencies to join an international campaign to share new information about how HIV treatment also prevents its spread.

Medical experts now know that once HIV is undetectable in a person’s blood, it is not transmittable to others through sex. The Prevention Access campaign includes more than 600 health departments and community organizations across 75 countries.

Hennepin County and the Minnesota Health Department will use the campaign to raise awareness and empower people to halt HIV’s spread. This work ties in with the county’s Positively Hennepin initiative, a strategy to end the HIV epidemic. 

The international Prevention Access campaign and the local Positively Hennepin campaign help reduce shame and fear of HIV. The county is engaging with communities hit hardest by the epidemic to connect people with prevention and treatment. While HIV can infect anyone, it has had a stronger negative impact on certain communities, including:

  • Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men
  • Black men and women
  • American Indians
  • Latinos and Latinas
  • Transgender people

For example, black men and women living in the county are nearly five times more likely to live with HIV than their white neighbors. If the epidemic does not change course, one in two gay black men will live with HIV. To combat this crisis, Hennepin County is working with the West African HIV Task Force and black faith communities.

For more information about these campaigns visit Undetectable=Untransmittable and

Learn more about Positively Hennepin.

In addition, the County’s Red Door Clinic offers sexual health care for all people. Services include confidential tests and treatment. Find more information on the clinic’s webpage.

Board news

April 10

Juvenile probation staff offices to be centralized at Penn and Plymouth avenues

The board approved the initial design for an office space in North Minneapolis at the new Thor Development headquarters building that will combine and centralize three Department of Community Corrections and Rehabilitation offices serving juveniles. This office will occupy a portion of the future Thor Construction headquarters at Penn and Plymouth avenues. The consolidation will locate offices near other social services and public transportation and save on leasing costs.

Read more about this action.

April 24

Grants awarded to improve recycling in public spaces

The board awarded nearly $100,000 to improve recycling at parks, along business districts and in sports facilities. Cities will use funding to add more than 150 recycling containers throughout the county.

Hennepin County awarded grants to cities to purchase recycling containers for the following locations:

  • Bloomington Ice Garden 
  • Brooklyn Park – eight park locations
  • Maple Grove Community Center
  • Minneapolis – Eat Street (Nicollet Avenue) and Stadium Village business districts  
  • Richfield – Wood Lake Nature Center 
  • Rogers – North Community Park and Veterans’ Memorial Park
  • Shorewood Community Center

These grant awards will help meet the county’s goal of recycling 75 percent of waste by 2030.

Read more about these funding awards.

In addition, Hennepin County offers grants, signage, technical assistance and case studies to help businesses and organizations start or improve recycling programs, reduce waste and donate usable goods.

Read more about business recycling grants.

County to lease temporary space for youth library services at Sabathani Community Center

The board approved a lease agreement to move a limited range of youth library services to Sabathani Community Center between summer 2018 and summer 2019 while renovations take place at Hennepin County Library - Hosmer in South Minneapolis. This temporary relocation will reduce transportation obstacles youth may otherwise face in accessing programming to support out-of-school learning, such as Teen Tech Squad, Homework Help and the after-school snack program.

Grant will continue terrorism prevention efforts

The board accepted a $100,000 grant from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety to build resiliency in communities that are at risk for recruitment into extremist organizations. The Sheriff's Office will use funding for building trust and engagement with the community, including workshops with local partners.

Read more about this action

Look for more news on the Hennepin County website at


North Loop

  • Saturday, May 6, 3-7pm
    North Loop Food Truck Fair. Food, trucks, and music. Free. Heritage Landing Courtyard, 415 N. 1st St. FoodTruckFair
  • Saturday, May 12, 10am-12pm
    North Loop Clean Up Day. It’s spring! Help make the North Loop Neighborhood clean and inviting! 700 Washington Ave. N. NorthLoopcleanup


  • Thursday, May 3, 5:30-8:30pm
    Heritage Park Neighborhood Annual Meeting. Mayor Frey will speak about his vision for the future of North Minneapolis and answer questions.  Enjoy music and free dinner. Heritage Park Neighborhood Association, 1000 Olson Memorial Hwy Annual Meeting
  • May 5 through June 9, 9am-12pm
    Tennis Camp. Sponsored by the Minneapolis Police Activities League. 4400 Dupont Ave. N. TennisCamp
  • Saturday, May 5, 9-10:30am
    Early Birding. Take a hike through prairie, woodland and along the river while keeping your eyes and ears open for our feathered friends. Binoculars provided if needed. North Mississippi Regional Park, 5116 Mississippi Dr. N. EarlyBirding  
  • Saturday, May 5, 12-11pm
    Utefest 2018. An all day celebration of with live music, food trucks, and beer. Cost $10. Utepils, 225 Thomas Ave. N. Utefest2018
  • Saturdays, May 5 and May 12, 11am-5pm
    Mother’s Day Boutique. Clothing, accessories, art, perfumes and baked goods. West Broadway Coalition, 931 W. Broadway. MothersDayBoutique
  • Saturday, May 12, 9:30am-12pm
    24th Annual Shingle Creek Clean-Up. 5001 Humboldt Ave. N. Contact
  • Tuesday, May 15, 4-6pm
    Grand Opening of Downtown View, a new apartment building that will provide 46 units of high quality housing and support services for young people experiencing homelessness. Youthlink, 41 N. 12th St. downtownview
  • Friday, May 18, 9am-12pm
    NorthPoint Outdoor Market. Free fresh produce, food demonstrations, blood pressure check and other resources. NorthPoint parking lot, 1315 Penn Ave. N. NorthPointMarket  
  • Saturday, May 19, 9am-2pm
    Northside Fresh Plant Distribution. Produce and herb seedlings available at sliding scale prices. Free food, kid activities, cooking/planting demos, music, and more! Sanctuary Covenant Church, 2018 Aldrich Ave. N. PlantDistribution  
  • Saturday, May 19, 10am-2pm
    Cleveland Neighborhood Earth Day Spring Clean Up. Gloves, pickers and bags will be provided. Lutheran Memorial Church, 3751 Sheridan Ave. N. EarthDaySpringCleanup

Golden Valley

  • Saturday, May 5, 6:30pm
    Golden Valley Fire Fighter Recruitment Meeting. Learn more about what it takes to be a paid on-call firefighter. Fire Station 1, 7800 Golden Valley Rd. FireRecruitmentMeeting  

Bryn Mawr

  • May 5, 9am through Sunday, May 6, 5pm
    Festival of Garage Sales. You won’t want to miss it! Downtown Bryn Mawr, 400 Penn Ave. S. GarageSales


  • Thursday May 3 and Friday May 4, 9am to 5pm
    Weed It and Reap, NE Cleanup Days. Vests, gloves, garbage bags and area assignments provided. Volunteers receive t-shirts. Tom’s Style and Tanning, 938 Lowry Ave. NE. WeedItReap
  • Friday, May 11 and Saturday, May 12, 10:30am
    Stories Together: Pride: Celebrate family and self-expression through books, stories, rhymes, music and movement that reflect the experiences of the LGBTQ community. Pierre Bottineau Library, 55 Broadway St. NE StoriesTogether
  • Monday May 14, 5-7pm
    Minneapolis Police Departments 2nd Precinct Open House. Cops on Bikes, the mobile command center, K-9 team, outreach workers from the Child and Teen Center, and real working robots. Enjoy food and beverages. MPD 2nd Precinct, 1911 Central Ave. NE. PoliceOpenHouse
  • Thursday, May 17, 5-8pm
    Night at the Nic: East Side Neighborhood Services Annual Celebration. Samples of wine, local cuisine, and microbrews. Tickets $50. Nicollet Island Pavillion, 40 Power St. NightatTheNic
  • Friday, May 18, 5-10pm, Saturday, May 19, 12-8pm and Sunday, May 20, 12-5pm
    23rd Annual Art-A-Whirl. 650 artists in every medium at more than 50 locations throughout Northeast Minneapolis, including studio buildings, art galleries, homes, storefronts, and local businesses. Free. For schedule and locations visit artawhirl
  • Saturday, May 19, 2018, 12-4pm
    Minneapolis International Festival. Celebrating the different cultures in Minneapolis and surrounding communities. Boom Island Regional Park. 724 Sibley Ave. NE. InternationalFestival  
  • Saturday, May 19 and every Saturday this summer, 9am Northeast Farmers Market. Fresh produce, specialty foods, art, plus so much more! Expect live music, children’s activities, and food trucks. St. Boniface Catholic Church parking lot, 629 2nd St. NE.  NortheastFarmersMarket


  • May 1, 6-7pm
    Walk with the Mayor.  Take a 30 to 45 minute walk through Plymouth Creek Park and the Hilde Performance Center to kick off the Step to it Challenge. Snacks and water will be provided. Plymouth Creek Center, 14800 34th Ave. N. WalkwiththeMayor
  • Wednesday, May 2, 7-8:30pm
    Protect Medicine Lake from Invasive Species. The Association of Medicine Lake Area Citizens (AMLAC) invites you to a conversation with leaders from the DNR, Bassett Creek Watershed Management Organization, Three Rivers Park District, Medicine Lake, and Plymouth. Group will discuss plans to monitor and manage zebra mussels and other invasive aquatic species. Parkers Lake Playfield Parking Lot, 15500 County Rd 6. ProtectOurWaters
  • Sunday, May 6, 12-2:30pm
    Kid’s Garage Sale. Clear out those old toys, games and clothes you no longer want. Must be age 6-13 to rent a table (residents $15, nonresident $20). Plymouth Creek Center, 14800 34th Ave. N. kidsgaragesale
  • Wednesday, May 9 and Monday, 14, 6:30-7:45pm
    Home Alone Workshop for Children. Children will learn how to respond to an emergency if they are home alone. Ages 8 to10. Plymouth Public Safety Building, 3400 Plymouth Ave. homealoneworkshop
  • Saturday, May 19, 10am-2pm
    Bark in the Park. Bring your favorite four-legged friend and visit with companies and nonprofit groups specializing in dogs. Vendors, Pup-arazzi Photo Booth, face painting and caricatures. Hilde Performance Center, 3500 Plymouth Blvd. BarkinthePark

St. Anthony

  • Saturday, April 28, 2-5pm
    Annual Spring Beer Sampling Event. Market Place, 2700 Highway 88. SpringBeerSampling
  • Saturday, May 12, 7:30pm
    St. Anthony Civic Orchestra Dessert Concert and Annual Orchestra Benefit. Tickets $10. St. Anthony Community Center, 3301 Silver Lake Rd. NE. DessertConcertandBenefit

Multiple communities

  • Saturday, May 5, 8am-1pm
    Mill City Farmers Market 2018 Opening Day. Saturday Market, 704 S. 2nd St. farmersmarketopening
  • Friday, May 11, 7:30– 9:30pm and Saturday May 12 at 3pm
    The Soul of Gospel. Join the Edina Chorale and the Twin Cities Community Gospel Choir in a concert that explores the rich heritage of African-American gospel music. St. Mary’s Lake Calhoun Event Center, 3450 Irving Ave. S. Tickets $25. TheSoulofGospel
  • Saturday, May 12, 2-4pm
    Fireside Chat: Don Fraser, Minnesota’s Quiet Crusader, by Iric Nathanson. The book traces the life and political career of Don Fraser during the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement. Free. Hennepin History Museum, 2303 Third Ave. S. FiresideChat
  • Saturday, May 12, 9:30am-12pm
    Earth Day Clean-up. Join communities at multiple sites throughout Minneapolis to clean up the parks. For cleanup site listing visit EarthDayCleanup  
  • Friday, May 18, 6-9pm
    Collect Your Way to Happiness. Dr. David Farrar shares the psychology behind collecting and how it can help us live happier and healthier lives. Admission $10. Members $8. Hennepin History Museum, 2303 Third Ave. S. CollecttoHappiness  
  • May 22, 9am-12pm
    2018 State Procurement Opportunity Fair. Small businesses are invited to talk with buyers from more than 20 agencies about upcoming procurement opportunities. Learn about the Small Business Procurement Program. Elmer L. Andersen DHS Building, 540 Cedar St., St. Paul. Rms. 2370 and 2380. Free. Register at ProcurementOpportunityFair


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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