December 2018 News and Updates from Commissioner Higgins

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linda higgins

December 2018

Six years ago, I was sworn in as your Hennepin County commissioner from District 2. In January, Irene Fernando will have that honor. Thank you for allowing me to serve 22 years in public office on your behalf. Each of you holds a special place in my mind for the work we’ve done together.

Thank you, also, to my team at Hennepin County – Tina Sanz, Jeff Vang, Roshonda Royston, and Beverly Hammond -- for their work to make life better for District 2 residents. And I can’t forget to thank our other Hennepin County staff, from Public Works to Human Services to Resident and Real Estate Services and more, for answering my questions and yours; for explaining the intricacies of programs that sometimes have county, state, and federal requirements; and for making me proud of our thousands of staffers every day.

I look forward to hearing of the good things that Hennepin County will continue to do! Please extend to Irene all the kindness and courtesy you have given me over the years. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.


linda higgins signature

Taking part in our democracy – absentee ballot processing

elections counting

Earlier this month, I had a great time helping process absentee ballots for Hennepin County. On the top floor of a downtown Minneapolis building, there was a room filled with workers, busy preparing and tabulating absentee ballots. Beginning 7 days before the election, local elections officials can start processing absentee ballots. It takes about 3 minutes to process one ballot. After volunteers – a combination of county employees and University of Minnesota students -- got them ready, county staffers ran them through high-speed tabulators that register the votes. No actual voting information is released until polls close and the information is combined with the votes cast on Election Day. I felt really honored to be able to be part of this democracy thing in such a hands-on way.

Absentee ballots are processed for 44 cities in Hennepin County (Minneapolis does its own) and voters shattered records in the number of absentees cast! Hennepin County had 182,400 absentee ballots cast. Our previous record was 82,000 in the 2008 election.

Hennepin County voter turnout results

Total ballots cast in Hennepin County

In the 2018 election, 631,100 people voted in Hennepin County. Of these, 182,400 cast absentee ballots and 448,700 voted at their polling place on Election Day.

Voter turnout

Voter turnout in Hennepin County was 77 percent of registered voters. For comparison:

graph elections

All results are available on Hennepin County’s election results webpage  and all statewide results are available at the Secretary of State’s election results webpage.

For more information about elections and voting in Hennepin County, visit

Jobs with Hennepin County

jobs icon


The County has several job openings among and more than 400 different job types. To learn more and view current openings see

Minnesota Cold Weather Rule

cold weather rule

The Cold Weather Rule (CWR) is now in effect (October 15 - April 15). People who need help in paying their heating bills must contact their natural gas or electric utility company to make and keep a payment plan in order to receive CWR protection.


Community Action Partnership of Hennepin County (CAP-HC)

CAP-HC works with seniors, homeowners and renters with low incomes to help them pay energy costs, such as a heating bill, furnace repair, or weatherization, between October 1 and May 30 each year.

ClicHERE for the 2018-2019 Minnesota Energy Assistance Programs Application 

Haga clic Aquí para la Asistencia de Energía de Minnesota Programas de aplicación 2018-2019

For more information or to request an application, visit CAP-HC or contact 952-930-3541.

Learn about HIV

World AIDS Day

December 1 is World AIDS Day. Hennepin County has been a leader in work to stop the spread of the disease.

Learn more about work to combat HIV.

Red Door, a sexual health clinic in Minneapolis, provides care to people with HIV/AIDS. Get confidential tests and treatment in a safe, caring setting

County road/bridge construction and maintenance activities wind down for the season

Focus shifts to winter maintenance and preparing for future construction

During 2018, Hennepin County reconstructed and repaved several roads and bridges, and conducted bridge inspections, upgraded traffic signal systems, improved accessibility, expanded the bikeway network and made a number of other improvements that county road users can enjoy. 

As this construction season draws to a close, we thank county residents for their investment in this work, and for their patience and being safe around work zones.

Residents also saw work reach substantial completion on several major projects, including on 1.5 miles of Douglas Drive (County Road 102) in Golden Valley, on Pinto Drive (County roads 115 and 116) where the roadway intersects with Highway 55 in Medina, and on the Portland Avenue (County Road 35) and Cedar Avenue (County Road 152) bridges over the Midtown Greenway in Minneapolis.

Several one-season projects were also completed, including:

  • Reconstructing Golden Valley Road Bridge over Bassett Creek (County Road 66) in Golden Valley
  • Repairing the concrete driving surface on East Hennepin Avenue (County Road 52) in Minneapolis
  • Making safety improvements around a railroad crossing on Humboldt Avenue North (County Road 57) and at a pedestrian crossing on Shoreline Drive (County Road 15) in Minnetonka Beach.
  • Updating pedestrian ramps at various locations, including along Broadway Street Northeast (County Road 66)

In addition, crews completed several smaller-scale road and bridge projects across the county’s roadway system of more than 2,200 lane miles – including road repaving, restriping, sign replacement and pavement sealing projects. Crews have also been busy completing regular bridge inspection and maintenance activities. 

Partner project coordination continues

Crews from cities, transit organizations and utilities have also been working with us on county roads this season.

One of the most significant collaborations was with Metro Transit and the City of Minneapolis to reconstruct Penn Avenue North (County Road 2). Hennepin County worked with the community to redesign a seven-block segment of Penn Avenue, adding green boulevards, street lighting and safety improvements for all road users. Construction was coordinated with work for the Metro Transit C Line rapid bus, which will begin service next year.

The county is also a partner in MnDOT’s 35W@94 reconstruction project. We encourage residents to visit for more information about this multi-year project that includes improved transit access and updates to Lake Street (County Road 3).

Engagement begins for future projects

The county also is or soon will be sharing concepts and gathering community feedback on these and other upcoming projects in District 2:

The benefits of these projects range from improving experiences for people walking, biking and rolling, to improving safety for drivers, to integrating road and nearby improvements with surrounding neighborhoods and communities. Look for more information about these projects and others next spring.

In the meantime, we encourage you to learn more about how we manage our county roads for winter weather – and how you can do your part – by visiting

Early childhood intervention services

childhood intervention

Early childhood services at Hennepin County support young families from pregnancy through kindergarten. From services for children with special needs to support for families, Hennepin County can help match parents with available services.

Services include:

  • Prenatal care and the opportunity for a safe pregnancy and birth.
  • Regular social-emotional and developmental screening.
  • Treatment for developmental delays and mental health concerns.
  • Access to high quality child care and preschool.

Learn more about early childhood intervention services.

Learn about federal early childhood intervention resources.

News you can use from the Library

Read This
Library news

Read This newsletter

The Read This Newsletter focuses on adult readers.  It will be published four times a year and will share reading recommendations, highlight online resources and provide subscribers with tips and tricks to make using the library easy.  

Learn more and sign up to receive the Read This newsletter

Cooking and baking with help from your library

If you are a foodie and love to make meals or bake, the library has books and online resources that can help you expand your creative horizons (includes a curated list of reading on Indigenous foods, pictured left).

Learn more about library cooking and baking resources.              

Southeast Library closing for renovation

Southeast Library will close for a 10-12 month renovation, beginning Monday, December 10. The library is scheduled to reopen in late 2019.

Learn more about the Southeast Library project.

Healing Circles

Thursday, December 13, 6 to 7:30 pm 
Webber Park Library, 4440 Humboldt Ave. N., Minneapolis

Healing Circles are safe spaces for people affected by trauma to come together to connect, to be heard and to be supported. A mental health practitioner from The Zen Bin will lead the conversation and share self-care strategies.

Learn more about this health and wellness event.


Veteran’s Day Armistice memorial


We had a memorable commemoration of the 100-year anniversary of the Armistice agreement ending World War I on November 11. Please take a moment to watch the video if you were unable to join us.

Board news

November 6

Special levies will fund water quality projects

The board approved special levies for four watershed management commissions that do not have the ability to levy taxes on their own for water quality improvement projects. Levies will fund the following projects that improve water quality, stream habitat, flood control and pollinator habitat.

Bassett Creek Watershed Management Commission, $1.4 million

  • Medicine Lake Road and Winnetka Avenue long-term flood mitigation plan implementation, Golden Valley
  • Westwood Lake water quality improvement project, St. Louis Park

Elm Creek Watershed Management Commission, $462,500

  • Stream stabilization projects at three different sites – one along Rush Creek in Maple Grove and two along the main stem of Elm Creek in Plymouth and Champlin
  • Downs Road Trail rain gardens, Champlin

Shingle Creek Watershed Management Commission, $479,900

  • Becker Park infiltration project, Crystal
  • Soluble reactive phosphorus reduction project, Crystal and Brooklyn Park

West Mississippi Watershed Management Commission, $53,025

  • Cost-share program for city projects that provide infiltration and water quality treatment

Read more about these special levies.

Funding will support business expansion in Rogers

The board awarded an $836,000 grant to the City of Rogers for a $73.6 million expansion of an existing Graco Minnesota Inc. office, lab, and manufacturing space. This project will double the site’s estimated taxable market value by an estimated $13 million, retain 410 jobs and create 54 new jobs within two years of completion. Hennepin County is awarding this grant through its Economic Development Infrastructure Fund, which supports job preservation and creation through targeted business recruitment and expansion investments.

Learn more about this board action.

Funding will expand behavioral health care at NorthPoint clinics

The board accepted a $285,000 federal grant to expand prevention and treatment at NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center Clinics for substance use disorder — including opioid use disorder — and mental illness. The county anticipates that it will receive $110,000 of ongoing annual federal funding to continue this work.

Read more about this grant award.

November 27

Hennepin County requires organics recycling for cities and certain businesses

New requirements usher in the next big advancement in recycling for our region 

The board approved key changes to the county's recycling ordinance to provide residents with the opportunity to participate in organics recycling and require businesses that generate large amounts of food waste to divert organics from the trash.

The changes require businesses that generate large quantities of food waste to implement food waste recycling by 2020 and cities to offer organics recycling service to residents by 2022. Revisions will provide residents with the opportunity to participate in organics recycling. The business food waste requirement applies to businesses that generate large amounts of food waste and can implement organics recycling requirement in a cost-effective way.

Read more about this actionRead the board action. Read the final ordinance language with the adopted revisions. See a summary of revision process and findings of public engagement efforts.

14 organizations receive environmental education grants

The board awarded funding that will engage and empower residents to protect and improve the environment. Hennepin County awarded Green Partners Environmental Education grants to the following organizations:

  • Clean Water Fund (Minneapolis)
  • Cleveland Neighborhood Association (Minneapolis)
  • Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy (Hennepin County)
  • Congregations Caring for Creation (Hennepin County)
  • East Side Neighborhood Services (Minneapolis)
  • Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys, Inc. (Hennepin County)
  • Great Plains Institute (Saint Louis Park)
  • Metro Blooms (Brooklyn Park, Minneapolis)
  • Minneapolis Toy Library (Minneapolis)
  • North Hennepin Community College (Brooklyn Park)
  • Northside Resident Redevelopment Council (Minneapolis)
  • Partnership Academy (Richfield)
  • Spark Youth (Minneapolis)
  • Tree Trust (Hopkins)

View the board action. Learn more about Green Partners Environmental Education Program.

County Home School program will prepare youth for careers in cooking

The board accepted a $10,000 anonymous donation to begin a program at the County Home School to create a Chef in Residence program that will prepare residents for careers in cooking. Young adults will learn about food preparation and cooking skills, menu planning and career paths in this field. Read the board action.

Free weddings at Government Center on Valentine's Day

The board approved a building use request to hold a marriage ceremony event at the Hennepin County Government Center on Valentine's Day. At this seventh annual event, Fourth Judicial District Court judges will perform free marriage ceremonies for up to 40 couples.

  • When: Valentine's Day — Thursday, February 14, 2019, noon - 1 pm
  • Where: Hennepin County Government Center, skyway level, 300 S. 6th St., Minneapolis
  • Media are invited to attend

View more information about this event.

Board approves 2019 legislative platform

The board approved its 2019 legislative platform, priorities the board and county administration will support during pre-session committee meetings and once the legislature convenes in February.

Priorities include:

  • Child protection
  • Mental health
  • Systems modernization
  • Safety-net health services
  • Housing
  • Disparity reduction
  • Transportation

Members reappointed to Hennepin Healthcare Board of Directors

The board confirmed reappointments of four members of the Hennepin Healthcare Board of Directors:

  • Melissa R. Irving, senior web operations manager, Best Buy
  • David MacCallum, MacCallum Ross
  • Brian J. Ranallo, chief operating officer, Oak Grove Capital
  • Kathy Tunheim, president and CEO, Tunheim

View the board action.


Look for more news on the Hennepin County website at



  • Saturday and Sunday, December 1 and 2, 9am
    Twin Cities Largest Tea Tasting. Mrs. Kelly's Tea, 77 13th Ave. NE., Ste. 103.

  • Tuesday, December 11, 6:30 to 9pm
    Holiday Train. Once again, the CP Rail Holiday Train will stop in Northeast. Plenty of activities including caroling and a concert from train when it arrives. Lions Park, 37th Ave. and Stinson Blvd. NE.

  • Thursday, December 20, 7am to 8:30pm
    Holiday Concert. The Northeast Community Band will present its annual holiday concert. Northeast United Methodist Church, 2510 Cleveland St. NE.

North Loop

  • Saturday, December 15, 3pm
    Christmas Story. A free outdoor showing of “A Christmas Story” at Target Field Station. Take a lawn chair, blanket, and hand warmers. Target Field Station, 335 N 5th St.


  • Sunday, December 2, 3 to 4pm
    Family Christmas Tea. Corner Church Camden will host a family-focused tea party. Tea, hot cocoa and some light snacks will be provided. Corner Coffee Camden, 4155 Thomas Ave. N.

  • Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays in December, 6 to 7pm
    Zumba-Dance Fitness Class. Free exercise classes on Mondays and Fridays at the Minneapolis Urban League, 2100 Plymouth Ave. N. and, Thursdays at NorthPoint Human Services building, 1315 Penn Ave. N.

  • Saturday, December 8, 1:30 to 3pm
    Nature Art: Ginger-bird Houses. Invite birds into your backyard this winter by crafting an edible snack house for them. All supplies included and for all ages. North Mississippi Regional Park, 5116 North Mississippi Dr.

  • Saturday, December 8, 9am to 1pm
    Children’s Gift Sale. The annual PCYC Children’s Gift Sale. Donations of gifts and dollars are needed, and volunteer opportunities are available. Plymouth Christian Youth Center, 2210 Oliver Ave. N.

  • Sunday, December 9, 5pm
    Soul Bowl
    is soul food for the urban millennial. Chef Gerard Klass presents soul food in a modern, flavorful, healthy and eye-catching way. Breaking Bread Cafe and Catering, 1210 W Broadway Ave.

  • Friday, December 21, 5:30 to 7:30pm
    Winter Solstice Celebration
    the coming of longer days with an evening of celestial fun. Make a luminary and enjoy the warm glow of a bonfire while sipping hot spiced cider. North Mississippi Regional Park, 5116 North Mississippi Dr.

Golden Valley

  • Friday, December 7, 6 to 7:15pm
    Supper with Santa
    . Dinner, music, activities and a photo with Santa. $12. Ages 1 and under free. Brookview Park, 310 Brookview Pkwy.

  • Friday, December 14, 24 hours
    Annual Toys for Tots collection
    . Toys and gifts are collected at the GVPD throughout December. Toys are delivered to the KARE 11 Toys for Tots site in time for the 5 pm news. Golden Valley Police Department, 7800 Golden Valley Rd.

Bryn Mawr

  • Saturday, December 8, 4 to 7pm
    is an outdoor winter festival. Bonfires, children’s activities, and a street band. 400 Penn Ave. S.

  • Thursday, December 13, 5:30 to 8pm
    Anwatin Craft Fair and Taste of Anwatin
    . A middle school event featuring band and choir concerts and their Empty Bowls project. Anwatin Middle School, 256 Upton Ave. S.


  • Saturday, December 8, 2 to 5pm
    Old Fashioned Christmas
    . Enjoy the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the holidays; sleigh rides, musical performances and cookies. Plymouth Creek Park, 3625 Fernbrook Lane N.

St. Anthony

  • Friday, December 7, 4 to 7pm
    Winter in the Village
    . Merchants at the St. Anthony Village Shops will host their annual Winter in the Village event with horse-drawn trolley rides, a scavenger hunt and other great family activities. St. Anthony Village Shops, 2900 Pentagon Dr.

  • Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday, December 9, 10, and 12, 5:30 to 7:30pm
    Santa on the Fire Truck. For over 25 years, the St. Anthony Fire Department has helped Santa and his reindeer collect for families in need. Once again they will drive down streets in St. Anthony to help spread holiday cheer. St. Anthony Village Fire Department, 3505 Silver Lake Rd. NE.

  • Saturday, December 15, 1 to 4pm
    Candy Cane Hunt, Search for candy canes hidden by Santa’s elves, and enjoy a horse-drawn wagon ride, warm treats, arts, winter games, and photos with Santa. For children age 4 to 12. $6. Silverwood Park, 2500 County Rd. E.

  • Monday, December 31, 5:30 to 7pm
    New Year’s Eve Celebration. Spend New Year Eve creating a festive hat, visiting the photo booth with family, and roasting marshmallows. Tickets: $5/per person, discounted 20% for groups of 4 or more. Silverwood Park, 2500 County Road E.

Multiple communities

  • Saturdays in December, 1 to 5pm
    Lifecycle Exhibit
    . Explore the stories experienced on two wheels of eleven notable and influential cyclists, activists, and bicycle makers, with photographs by Nancy Musinguzi. Tickets: $5; $3 for seniors or students; free for members. Hennepin History Museum, 2303 3rd Ave. S.

  • Saturday, December 8, 9:30am to 4:30pm
    26th Annual Women’s Art Festival. More than 130 local women artists show and sell their wares in a variety of genres including jewelry, pottery, fiber, photography, painting and more. Food and beverages by Kabomellete food truck and Vittles Deli. Free admission, free ramp parking, all are welcome. Colin Powell Center, 2924 4th Ave. S.

  • Saturday, December 15, 2 to 3:30pm
    Magic Tales from Far Away Lands
    . Storyteller and actor Josette Antomarchi brings seasonal tales to life in this unique event using costumes and a range of voices. Tickets: $5; $3 for seniors or students; free for members. Hennepin History Museum, 2303 3rd Ave. S.


Linda Higgins
Commissioner, District 2

You can also send comments via my feedback form.

Tina Sanz
Principal Aide

Jeff Vang
Administrative Secretary

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