April 2020 E-Newsletter

Jan Callison - News from District 6


  April 2020


Thank you for all that you are doing to support your neighbors, friends and community during this unprecedented time.

We have responded to this crisis in a series of steps, attempting to calibrate our actions to the rapid changes in information and state directives. Those steps include moving from asking employees who were able to do so to work from home, to closing access to public services such as libraries and our service centers, to finally mandating that employees who are able to work at home must take that step. We have been using this time of limited public access to re-imagine many of our services, working to convert them to virtual or telephonic access. I consider this period of time to be similar to the two weeks of planning time that Governor Walz mandated for schools. April 6, then, will be a crucial date for Hennepin County as we assess the effectiveness of the work that is being done by our talented staff.

These decisions have required balancing the critical need for services with the imperative to protect public health. They have required flexibility and understanding from staff members. I am grateful to them and, in particular, to those staff whose jobs require them to continue to report to work. Among our Board actions, was to approve an additional category of leave related to COVID-19. In the days to come, I expect that we will continue to review policies and procedures to see if we have found the right balance. As we continue to assess our services and staffing plans, the county will post up-to-date information on its website (www.hennepin.us) and will provide updates to community communication tools to keep residents and businesses informed.

In the meantime, in keeping with the spirit of looking out for each other that is so characteristic of our community, I know that many of you are concerned about how we are helping the most vulnerable among us. We moved 231 high-risk homeless individuals out of shelter and into alternative living arrangements. This was made possible by the board’s action to approve $3M to rent motel/hotel space in the community. We also are on the front lines of responding to health needs through our public health department and various clinics, including Northpoint Health and Wellness Center and HCMC, and have allocated $2.5M towards these efforts. In short, we are working hard to address the wide variety of needs that this crisis presents. Like you, we are deeply concerned with the short- and long-term impacts that we see unfolding or can anticipate.

Many folks have pitched in to meet this crisis. This includes our non-profit community. United Way, for example, is leading efforts to prevent evictions. Individuals can access them by calling 211 or contacting https://www.211unitedway.org/

I also have appreciated the work of our Hennepin County legislative delegation. They have reached out to us to understand how they can be helpful, whether by relaxing state mandates that hamper our ability to redesign our services, providing financial support or understanding the challenges that our clients and staff face. Their partnership is vital.

Finally, I want to say a word of thanks to County Administrator David Hough and his team. They have worked tirelessly to position Hennepin County to deal with this crisis. They have focused on an unimaginable range of tasks to be completed and problems to be solved. And they have done so in the spirit of service and selflessness that characterizes the best of our public servants.

My staff and I are here to help residents during this difficult time.  Our contact information can be found at the bottom of this email.

I hope you, your families and friends stay well.

Jan Callison

In this edition

Board meetings

March 10, 2020

Natural resources grants 


The board awarded natural resources grants to preserve, protect or improve natural resources and water quality.

Opportunity Grants will go to the following organizations to support larger projects:

  • City of Brooklyn Park, $100,000 to create a stormwater pond, stabilize the banks of the Mississippi River, and improve/create natural prairie habitats
  • Boisclair Corporation (Brook Gardens affordable housing in Brooklyn Center), $75,000 to work with residents to improve green space access/stormwater management, remove and replace ash trees, and create a "nature play” landscape design
  • Nine Mile Creek Watershed District (Edina and Bloomington), $60,000 to install four large rain gardens and one vegetated drainageway to treat runoff from parking lots and sidewalks at five churches

Hennepin County also awarded Good Steward Grants to five organizations for smaller projects.

Learn more about Hennepin County natural resources grant funding.

Southwest Light Rail Transit


Continued funding for the project

The board extended the county's grant agreement with the Metropolitan Council that allows previously committed county funding to continue being spent on construction of the Southwest Light Rail Transit project (METRO Green Line Extension) through the end of June, 2020. The action allows the project to progress as planned in advance of a full funding grant agreement expected from the Federal Transit Administration later this spring.


Cost participation for Eden Prairie Town Center Station

The board approved an action Tuesday to direct $1.2 million to support the construction of the Eden Prairie Town Center station of the Southwest LRT project. After being removed to cut costs in earlier planning phases, the Town Center Station was added back into the project in 2018 thanks to a federal grant for congestion mitigation and air quality awarded to the city of Eden Prairie. This action accounts for a portion of the local match required by the grant.

Construction is continuing

Under Governor Walz's Emergency Executive Order 20-20, transportation, logistics and public works have been designated as critical sectors and are exempted from the stay at home order to perform work duties. This includes transportation projects like Southwest LRT as well as public transit workers. Southwest LRT construction will continue within the cities of Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Hopkins, St. Louis Park and Minneapolis. The civil contractor is practicing working environment protocols as outlined by public health agencies. Essential Met Council staff continues to monitor and review construction activities and conditions through our field inspectors and their on-site reporting. Community Outreach Coordinators are available by email or phone during this time and our construction hotline is still answered 24/7. 

Southwest LRT Resources:

March 17, 2020

Declaring continued local emergency

The county board declared a continued local emergency at a special board meeting on March 17, in addition to other actions related to COVID-19.

The declaration of local emergency invokes Hennepin County’s disaster plans, along with the county’s powers to quickly provide emergency aid.

The emergency will remain ongoing, due to the continued need for extraordinary and immediate measures to protect the health, safety, and welfare of Hennepin County residents and employees. It is not anticipated that these needs will be resolved in the immediate future.

This declaration also authorizes up to $2.5 million to purchase and contract for all necessary goods, materials, supplies, equipment, and contracted services as part of Hennepin County’s COVID-19 response.

All Hennepin County ordinances, rules, and policies that may inhibit or prevent prompt response to COVID-19 may be suspended for the duration of the local emergency if necessary.

Agreement to provide quarantine and isolation spaces

The board authorized up to $3 million to provide alternative quarantine and isolation spaces for people who depend on county services.

This action will provide quarantine and isolation spaces for residents who cannot provide for this on their own. People who may need this accommodation include returning travelers, such as students studying abroad, or people experiencing homelessness.

This action gives County Administration the authority to negotiate leases to provide these spaces through the end of 2020.

March 26, 2020

County leaders provided an update on COVID-19 and Hennepin County's efforts. The county has made several significant changes, including: 

Changes to how services are delivered

  • Closed all public-facing services at libraries, human service centers, and licensing service centers through April 6
  • Authorized employees to work from home
  • Authorizing operational changes at facilities
  • Working with state to relax/eliminate requirements for face-to-face interactions
  • Increasing disinfecting in public areas

Emergency response

  • Opened an Emergency Operations Center to respond to the quickly evolving emergency
  • Prepared COVID-19 response plans to maintain continuity of operations and protect employees/residents
  • Coordinating with the Minnesota Department of Health and other partners

Mobilizing workforce to meet new needs

Hennepin County has set up private spaces for people experiencing homelessness/people living in congregate settings, to reduce their risk of exposure and to isolate those who are sick.

Hennepin County’s workforce is rising to the challenge to meet needs at these sites. Within two days of a callout being made to all county employees, more than 100 staff responded offering their help.

Continued exploration of new ways to deliver service

Leaders discussed ideas for additional changes, including:

  • Mailing library patron material holds 
  • Using drop boxes where residents can drop off human services documents
  • Enlisting technology when remote work is recommended
  • Deploying resources where help is needed

More information

View a video of the presentation.

Labor agreements

Employment agreement with Sheriff’s Deputies Association

The board approved an agreement with the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Deputies Association, setting terms and conditions of employment until December 2021. The agreement covers approximately 254 licensed employees. Key provisions of this agreement include modifications to wages, merit increases, market adjustments, and medical insurance. 

County calendar

April 1, 2020

Census Day

April 1, 2020 is the official census day.  Fill out your census form online, by mail, or over the phone.  Reminder letters will be sent out during April to those who have not responded. 

Encourage snow birds to respond to the census.  Minnesota is home to over 44,000 snowbirds.  Snowbirds are residents who call Minnesota home, but live elsewhere for part of the year. Snowbirds should use the Census ID from Census Bureau mail delivered to their usual residence, or enter their usual address if they do not have access to that ID. DO NOT use the Census ID from mail delivered to a seasonal home.

Residents can easily respond to the census online by visiting my2020census.gov, or over the phone by calling 844-330-2020. 

April 6, 2020

Libraries are temporarily closed through April 6

Hennepin County has temporarily closed all public-facing services at all 41 libraries, and all library events and meeting room reservations are canceled through April 30. Learn more about managing your library account and accessing library services during this time.

April 14, 2020

Public Hearing

Hennepin County is seeking public feedback on a five-year plan for housing and community development, in addition to a one-year action plan. The county is required to submit these plans to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to be eligible to receive federal housing and community development funds. 

When: Tuesday, April 14,
           1:30 p.m.

Where: location TBD

May 11, 2020

Youth sports equipment and playground grants now available   


Hennepin County is seeking local governments who are interested in developing facilities for youth sports and recreation. 

State legislation authorizing the construction of Target Field allows Hennepin County to use a portion of the 0.15% sales tax surcharge to grant over $2 million dollars each year to Hennepin County communities to assist with developing these facilities. These grants are made through the Hennepin Youth Sports Program.  

  • The application deadline, originally March 30, has been extended to Monday, May 11 with applications being sought for equipment and playgrounds. 
  • Visit the Hennepin Youth Sports Program webpage for more information. 


Community donates personal protective equipment to support COVID-19 response


Hennepin County put out the call for personal protective equipment to help in the COVID-19 response, and the community is answering.

Over the first three days at three collection sites, people in a total of 571 vehicles dropped off supplies. Wayzata Public Schools donated 400 N95 respirators and 1,000 Nitrile gloves. The University of St. Thomas donated 30 boxes of gloves, face shields, N95 respirators and Tyvek suits.

Supplies collected will be used throughout the county to support work in quarantine operations, in public health, in clinics and hospitals and with first responders.

Need for many items remains high, however, including face shields, goggles, isolation gowns, safety glasses and surgical masks.

Read more, including what's needed and how and where to donate.

NorthPoint Health & Wellness seeks donations for food shelf, mobile pantry

NorthPointFoodShelfNorthPoint Health & Wellness is seeing a dramatic increase in need at its food shelf and mobile food pantry. Additional financial donations can help fill the need.

Each dollar donated has at least three times the buying power because NorthPoint can buy food at bulk prices.

How to help

Donate online

Mail a check to NorthPoint Food Shelf, 1256 Penn Ave. N., Suite 5300, Minneapolis, MN 55411

Alternative isolation and quarantine locations for shelter population

Hennepin County has successfully relocated 231 people identified in our shelter system as at especially high-risk of COVID-19. Staff continue a large-scale effort to move especially vulnerable people experiencing homelessness from congregate shelter settings into separate accommodations at area hotels, including 157 seniors and 74 other high-risk residents.

23 more people with flu-like symptoms have been identified and moved to separate living spaces. There are currently no documented positive cases of COVID-19 within the Hennepin County shelter system.

Emergency assistance for rent

As a part of the Governor’s Executive Order, evictions cannot be filed in Minnesota at this time.

All households should try to continue paying as much as possible toward rent each month. While households cannot be evicted, they can fall too far behind in rent for assistance.

Households that need assistance with rent or a notice of late rent should visit our emergency assistance webpage to learn more about help that may be available.


REAL ID deadline extended one year to October 1, 2021

Real ID

The new date for obtaining your REAL ID is October 1, 2021. Until then, your standard driver’s license or ID card is still valid for identification and lawful driving privileges, domestic air travel and access to most federal facilities. 

Always check with your destination to confirm ID requirements. For more information on REAL ID and where to apply, visit the MN Department of Public Safety

Expiring MN driver’s license/state IDs extended 

The State legislature has passed a COVID-19 response bill. The bill extends the expiration of driver’s licenses, state IDs and disability certificates or permits that would have expired during this time. Expiration dates will be two months from when the health emergency is declared over. 

Out of state licenses may be used in Minnesota for more than 60 days. 

County closures and service disruptions

Hennepin County closed all public-facing services at all libraries, human service centers, and licensing service centers through April 6. Hennepin County staff will undertake a period of planning through April 6, to define creative solutions for serving our residents that do not require person-to-person contact.

View the full list of closures and disruptions on hennepin.us.

Changes to county board meetings

Hennepin County Board of Commissioner meetings are currently being held remotely.   You can view meeting materials, watch past meetings, and watch live meetings here.

Open forum will now take place at both committee and county board meetings.

During committee meetings, members of the public are invited to attend open forum and address the county board on any topic relevant to Hennepin county. For board meetings, members of the public are invited to address the county board on topics specific to items that appear on the meeting agenda. For both opportunities, remarks are limited to up to three minutes.

These meetings are typically held on Tuesdays at 1:30 p.m.

View the board action.

See the upcoming meeting schedule and agendas.

About District 6

District 6 map

The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners consists of one commissioner from each of seven districts. I am proud to represent Deephaven, north Eden Prairie, Edina, Excelsior, Greenwood, Hopkins, Long Lake, Minnetonka, Minnetonka Beach, northern Mound, Orono, Shorewood, Spring Park, Tonka Bay, Wayzata and Woodland.

County information

Jan Callison
6th District

Allyson Sellwood
Policy Aide

Bill Fellman
Administrative assistant/scheduling


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