August 2020 E-Newsletter

Jan Callison - News from District 6


  August 2020


I hope you are enjoying my electronic newsletters, and find them interesting and informative about county activities. In addition to my monthly newsletter, the county sends various newsletters and notifications available by email or text message. To explore the many opportunities to subscribe or to change your preferences, visit the subscription webpage.

Please feel free to send me your comments through my feedback form on issues that concern you or you would like covered. I value your opinions.

Warm regards,

Jan Callison

In this edition

Board meetings

July 28, 2020

Hennepin County board passed additional CARES Act funding

Housing stabilization

The county board approved $1.2 million in CARES Act funding to establish an affordable housing stabilization fund.

The funding will provide properties, owners, and tenants with outreach, education, and assistance to prevent evictions and mortgage foreclosures. This includes the creation of a virtual tenant resource navigation tool, individualized housing resource navigation, and support for tenants in Housing Court.

Low barrier emergency shelter

The county board approved $3.5 million in CARES Act funding to provide low barrier emergency shelter for people experiencing homelessness.

Funds will be used to support an emergency shelter at 2012 Cedar Avenue in Minneapolis, which the American Indian Community Development Corporation (AICDC) is acquiring and rehabilitating. The emergency shelter will follow CDC guidance to add sheltering capacity to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It will also address the overrepresentation of Native Americans among people impacted by COVID-19. 

Public information, engagement, and outreach campaign

The county board approved $2.3 million of CARES act funding for a public information, engagement, and outreach campaign. This broad, multifaceted campaign will encourage residents to wear face masks. It will also encourage people to take care of other health care needs like flu shorts and childhood vaccinations and, when appropriate, promote COVID-19 vaccinations.

Additionally, the funding will allow Hennepin County to contract with trusted messengers to augment the campaign and will support translation and interpretation services.

Board briefings

In addition to our regularly scheduled board meetings, the board often meets on Thursday mornings to receive board briefings. These are informal opportunities to discuss emerging issues. No votes are taken. Board briefings occur in the board room on the 24th floor of the Hennepin County Government Center and are open to the public.

July 16, 2020

Hennepin County Sheriff's Office

Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson and his administration presented the county board with a general agency update, as well as an update on how Covid-19 and recent community events have impacted the agency.

General agency update: Staffing levels have been down in recent years, however staffing levels in four critical job classes (detention deputies, licensed deputies, records clerks, and telecommunicators) are now fully staffed.  Since taking office, Sheriff Hutchinson has focused on hiring practices to increase diversity in the agency.  As of quarter 2 of 2020, employees of color make up 19.5% and females make up 36.1% of the agency.  Additionally, it is worth noting that two of the six members of the Sheriff's Command Staff are women of color.

De-escalation is a large part of deputy training, with the goal of avoiding any use of force.  The Sheriff's Office partners with the Barbara Schneider Foundation to help train deputies with very realistic, scenario-based training. 

The July 4th weekend was busy for Water Patrol across the county.  There were:

  • 72 stops/contacts
  • 21 citations
  • 5 BUI (plus 2 DNR on Minnetonka)
  • 80 verbal warnings
  • 2 written warnings
  • 6 medicals (all transported to hospital)
  • 1 PD watercraft accident
  • 1 drowning (St Louis Park-Pool)
  • 1 near drowning (Fish Lake)
  • Assisted DNR foot pursuit (suspect taken in custody)

Task forces and Investigative Division

Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office Task Forces have recovered 122 firearms so far this year compared to 113 for the same period in 2019. From May 26th to June 29th, 2020 there have been 140 gunshot wound victims in Hennepin County.128 of these victims were shot within the City of Minneapolis.  There have been 9 shooting related homicides and 3 other types of homicides (one stabbing, two physical trauma).

Covid-19 update

  • As of July 13th, 568 inmates have been tested for Covid-19 and 39 inmates have tested positive.
  • Similar to other jurisdictions across the country, the jail population has been decreased.  Staff anticipates that the numbers will increase.
  • The jail medical team has integrated OB/Gyn services to improve onsite access for women’s health.

  • Jail medical staff has also started tele-medicine in the jail, reducing inmate transports to HCMC. During Covid-19 we have used telemedicine for sick calls, mental health and addiction services.

  • Extensive medication assisted treatment (MAT) program administered by Hennepin Healthcare so inmates suffering from substance use disorder don’t lose treatment during incarceration.

Recent community events

I have received numerous comments from constituents regarding recent events.  I asked Sheriff Hutchinson to respond.  Below are quick answers to a few:

  • The Sheriff's Office is currently implementing their County Board approved body worn camera policy.
  • HCSO has a robust internal affairs investigations process that includes involvement by citizens.  In the past two and a half years, the entire agency has only received five use of force complaints.
  • After taking office, Sheriff Hutchinson created a community advisory board.
  • All use of force policies and procedures are public and can be requested by the public at any time.

Finally, the county has a number of bridges that are in need of replacement which pose a safety threat given the amount of use.  Tanager Bridge is a load restricted bridge that had numerous daily load violations. I had asked the Sheriff's Office to work with county public works staff to complete weight enforcement on the bridge.  The enforcement efforts have been incredibly successful and the Sheriff's Office has expanded their efforts.  HCSO increased their Commercial Vehicle inspections and conducted  safety presentations with local police departments in Hennepin County.  The goal is to inform commercial vehicle operators about the federal and state regulations surrounding commercial vehicle safety equipment, weight enforcement and operations. 

July 30, 2020

Disparity Reduction

Hennepin County began focusing on disparity reduction efforts in 2013.  County staff presented an overview of the work that has been completed, ongoing efforts, and what is to come.  

The county's disparity reduction goals are:

  • Increasing capacity for advancing racial equity by normalizing and operationalizing conversations about race​
  • Implementing and operationalizing inclusive and equitable policies and practices​
  • Generating community-driven results

The disparity reduction strategy is divided into seven domains: education, employment, income, housing, justice, health, and transportation.  The governance board has set priorities for each domain for 2019-2021, and staff has chosen one priority from each domain to focus on.

An example of a successful initiative is our pathways program.  As of quarter 2 of 2020, the county has hired 276 individuals from the program, and an additional 216 have been hired by outside employers.  Additionally, the current retention rate is 89% one year after hire for individuals from the pathways program.  The program focuses on individuals who are under or unemployed, people of color, and people who are on public assistance. 

A new initiative that has just begun is addressing the digital divide.  The county board approved $1.5 million for distance learning for county involved youth.  Devices have been purchased and are being distributed through our county staff and partnerships with the school districts. 

An additional board briefing on disparity reduction will be held September 3, 2020.

County calendar

2020 Election - Submit your ballot early

When you vote by mail, you have until State Primary Election Day, August 11, to get your ballot postmarked (ballots must be received by August 13). But given the unprecedented number of people voting during the primary election, we encourage you to return it as soon as possible. This allows Hennepin County’s election workers to start counting ballots sooner and have fewer delays in getting final vote tallies.

Remember, you can return your ballot in several different ways:

  • Mail it back in with the provided envelope.
  • Drop it off at the election office that sent your ballot.
  • Have someone drop off your ballot for you. Persons delivering ballots may not do so for more than three voters.

Dropped off ballots must be received by 3 p.m. on State Primary Election Day. If dropping off ballots in person, please be aware of COVID-19 policies in place at each drop-off location.

Check your ballot status

Follow your ballot every step of the way – from the time you drop it in the mail to when it’s counted. You can check your ballot status any time at the Secretary of State's website.

August 11, 2020

Census takers will start going to households


On August 11, enumerators (also known as census takers) will begin going to households to help those who have not yet completed the census.

If you do not want someone to come to your door, you can still complete the census:

  • Online:
  •  Toll-free: 1-844-330-2020.
  •  Text questions to 662020.

Census takers will continue visiting households until October 31 and individuals can also continue to complete the census on their own until this date.

Applications accepted until August 12, 2020

New funding available for small businesses impacted by COVID-19


Hennepin County is announcing the availability of $10 million for a new application round of emergency funding for small businesses impacted by COVID-19.

Eligible small businesses with between one and 50 employees may apply for grants of up to $15,000 to support emergency relief and costs associated with reopening under public health guidelines.

Applications will be accepted through Wednesday, August 12 at noon.

Learn more.


Deconstruction grant funding still available


To help divert waste from landfills, Hennepin County has grants available for homeowners and developers to deconstruct buildings to salvage building materials rather than demolish them. Compared to standard demolition techniques that use mechanical equipment to knock down structures, deconstruction involves carefully dismantling buildings to salvage building materials for reuse. About 85 percent of the materials in a typical demolition or remodeling project could be salvaged and kept out of landfills. But currently, only about 30 percent of building materials are reused or recycled.

Homeowners and developers of residential properties can receive up to $5,000 to help offset the additional time and labor costs associated with deconstruction. Projects must be located in the following cities: Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Deephaven, Edina, Excelsior, Greenfield, Greenwood, Hopkins, Minneapolis, Maple Grove, Mound, St. Louis Park, and Woodland. Additional cities are being added on an ongoing basis.

Learn more about the grants, including eligibility and requirements, and apply online.

COVID-19 testing

Covid testing

Minnesota has capacity to test 20,000 people for COVID-19 each day. If you have symptoms or think you've been exposed, please get tested. View a map of testing locations throughout Minnesota.

Many uninsured Minnesotans can get tested for COVID-19 at no cost to them during the pandemic, thanks to a new health care option.

Annual recycling progress report available

Annual recycling report

Hennepin County’s annual Recycling Progress Report (PDF) provides an update on our efforts to meet our goals of recycling 75% of waste and sending no waste to landfills by 2030.

In 2019, county residents and businesses discarded about 1.45 million tons of solid waste. This includes everything put into recycling, organics recycling, and trash. That is about a 3% increase over 2018, or about 40,000 tons more.

The county’s recycling rate, which includes conventional recycling and organics recycling, was 49%, about the same as in 2018. The remaining waste was managed as trash, with 22% going to waste-to-energy facilities and 29% to landfills. A greater proportion of garbage was sent to landfills in 2019 due to the closure of the Great River Energy Elk River Resource Recovery Project at the beginning of the year.

The report reflects on 50 years of waste management in Hennepin County – from open dumps and burn barrels in the 1970s to the development of recycling, organics recycling, hazardous waste management, and waste prevention programs throughout the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s.

Looking ahead to the future of environmental protection in Hennepin County, core services developed over the past 50 years to reduce and responsibly manage waste will continue. We are also focusing on making progress on our current priorities, which include taking action on climate change, expanding organics recycling, reducing food waste, and striving for zero waste.

Read a summary of the 2019 successes and download the report.

For more information, contact Ben Knudson at or 612-596-1176.

Covid-19 update

The following images were put together by county staff to illustrate Hennepin County specific Covid-19 data.  For ongoing and up to date information regarding Covid-19, visit the county's Covid-19 dashboard.


How the county is spending CARES Act funds

Since passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in March, the county board passed several additional actions to fund programs and service in response to COVID-19. Highlights include funding for:

  • Businesses – $28 million to support emergency relief and recovery efforts of small businesses through the Hennepin County Small Business Relief Program
  • Education – $4 million targeted for youth involved in county systems, such as child welfare and corrections
  • Food security – $2 million to food banks and other organizations
  • Human services – $2.5 million for non-profits and community organizations that serve individuals, families, and youth involved in county systems
  • Jobs – $2.5 million for job search resources for people experiencing income loss due to COVID-19
  • Licensing services – $3 million to reduce backlog, create social distancing, and provide safe services at county Service Centers
  • Public health – $1.7 million for multidisciplinary approach to combat COVID-19
  • Rental and housing assistance – $15.7 million for emergency assistance for renters and homeowners
  • Voting – $3.5 million for absentee voting
  • Youth programs – $3 million to support summer youth programs

Hennepin County is using additional CARES funding to equip Hennepin County and Hennepin Healthcare staff to best serve residents during this pandemic. Internal focus areas include:

  • Transitioning to new ways to deliver service
  • Emergency response
  • Time off/accommodations for employees
  • Health resources for employees

More information

Learn more about the how the county uses CARES Act funding to serve residents during the pandemic at

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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