District 1 Updates from Commissioner Frethem

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Serving the communities of Arden Hills, Gem Lake, North Oaks, Shoreview, Vadnais Heights, White Bear Township, and parts of Mounds View, Spring Lake Park and Blaine.

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December 29, 2021

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Nicole Frethem
Commissioner, District 1
651-266-8362 or 651-425-9580 

Sheena Denny
Principal Aide

Nancy Larson
Administrative Assistant

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Commissioner Nicole Frethem

board meeting

The board of commissioners returned to virtual board meetings. Board meetings and workshops can be streamed online on the Ramsey County webpage.

Service in 2021

This year Commissioner Frethem had the pleasure to serve on several board appointments: 

  • Community Action Partnership of Ramsey/Washington (as vice president), 
  • Generation Next (as co-chair of the policy action group), 
  • Joint Property Tax Advisory Committee,
  • Metro Alliance for Healthy Families Home Visiting, 
  • Metro Conservation Districts Joint Powers Board,
  • Pritzker Early Childhood Initiative, 
  • Ramsey County Extension Committee, 
  • Recycling & Energy Board of Ramsey and Washington County, 
  • NACo Arts & Culture Commission, 
  • NACo Large Urban County Caucus,
  • AMC District X council,
  • State Subcommittee on Children's Mental Health, and;
  • Northeast Youth and Family Services.

Her most noteworthy engagements this year include co-chairing the childcare policy action group, engaging with residents to discuss new revisions to the Ramsey County park ordinance, and advocating for state investment for the Bruce Vento Trail Extension.

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Ramsey County has launched the new Job Connect online job board to connect residents and employers during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. This employment platform is the latest tool integrated within the county’s economic development website, RamseyCountyMeansBusiness.com, which provides business development resources and incentives.

Park Ordinance Updates

The final park ordinance has not yet been drafted. The county attorney's office has provided additional guidance regarding some of the questions that were raised about safety concerns and infractions. The Parks department is adopting RCAO's suggested edits to make the language tighter and clearer about infractions subject to the laws of other jurisdictions.

Once the final park ordinance language is finalized, the public comment period will take place after the first reading of the ordinance which is tentatively scheduled for January. If the first reading takes place in January as currently planned, the public comment period would begin a few weeks later in February.

Please continue to watch for updates on this project as we move forward in this process.

Ramsey County Invests in Early Childhood Academy

Early Childhood Care and Education Visual

On December 14, the Health & Wellness Administration held a workshop to present new ideas supporting Ramsey County's ongoing Commitment to Early Childhood Care and Education. These efforts came out of the Child Care Policy Action Group that Commissioner Frethem advocated for establishing and helped lead. The goal of Ramsey County's latest efforts is to ensure families and young children can strengthen and thrive through trusted relationships with Ramsey County service teams who assist families with children aged 0-5 years old. More information can be found here

Earlier that day, the board approved a $750,000 investment in an Early Childhood Academy that will provide credential training for residents that include a combination of wrap around supports to help people who want to get started in the early care and education field. This effort will increase the pool of qualified job applicants and expand the number of child care spots in Ramsey County which have been rapidly lost in the last year due to COVID-19.

All Minnesotans 5 years and older are now eligible for vaccine.

Photo of a boy getting a flu shot

Ramsey County continues to offer Pfizer and Moderna booster shots at our clinics, by appointment only.

COVID-19 vaccine booster shots are available for anyone 18 years and older who received their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least six months ago or Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago.

Visit the Ramsey County webpage or  the CDC webpage for more information on children and vaccines.

Vaccines are FREE for everyone and widely available. For more information, visit the covid-19 dashboard on the Ramsey County webpage. 

Current vaccination rates (as of December 20, 2021) in District 1 are:

  • 55112 - 76.9%
  • 55126 - 85.2%
  • 55127 - 81.2%
  • 55110 - 75.2%

If you are not sure how to find a vaccine or make an appointment, we can help. Contact our office at district1@co.ramsey.mn.us

Schedule your appointment today

2022-2026 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP)

On December 21st, a workshop was held on transportation funding and upcoming projects. Included in the workshop was information about an important project in District 1 on Lexington Ave from County Rd E to I-694.

Ramsey County is partnering with Arden Hills, Shoreview, and MnDOT to:

• Replace aging/deteriorating pavement
• Replace traffic signals
• Improve pedestrian/bicycle facilities
• Install center median to increase safety for road users
• Includes water main, sanitary sewer, storm sewer, storm water treatment
and new traffic signals.

More information can be found on the Lexington Avenue Reconstruction project page.

Lexington project photoLexington project photo

Happy New Year to all!

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Continue following CDC guidelines as you gather with family and friends to bring in the new year. Looking forward to an even better 2022! 

District 1 - 2021 Year in Review

Greetings! This year was not what I expected or hoped for it to be. As we look to 2022, I continue to hope for new opportunities, growth, and to collectively overcome the many challenges the last two years have presented. However, like many of you, I find my optimism much more tenuous than I did at the end of 2020. As many of us celebrate holidays that recognize the triumph of light over darkness, I ask for us to join together in this time of reflection and support our friends, neighbors, and community by sharing our hope, faith, and love. Best wishes to you and yours,

Nicole Frethem

Christmas photo of Commissioner Frethem and her daughters Signe and Margit in front of their Christmas Tree

Commissioner Frethem and her daughters Margit and Signe in front of their Christmas tree.

Commissioner Frethem's statement on the 2022-2023 Budget

2022-23 biennial budget

Full information about the 2022-2023 budget approved by the Ramsey County Board on December 21, 2021 can be found on the Ramsey County website.

For the 2021 budget, Ramsey County worked hard to keep the property tax levy amount flat, despite a planned 4.5% increase. This year the levy only increased 1.5% while overall reliance on levy funds in the county budget was reduced.

This budget is not about tightening our belts, we're getting redressed in something that fits better. The work we do as a county, in health, social and human services, in public safety, in community and economic development, in protecting our natural resources and built infrastructure is critical even as each of those systems crack under the pressure of decades of disinvestment and the pandemic.

Our residents, employees, and agency continue to be asked to do more with less, causing us to shift burdens back and forth without addressing why we keep finding ourselves in this position. Now is the time to dig deep and repair the structural and foundational issues so we can build on something stronger. This budget and our strategic use of ARPA funds invest deeply in affordable housing, violence prevention, and challenges our leadership to innovate new ways of bringing in revenue that reduces the on-going cost burdens from property owners.

Our strength at Ramsey County is good governance and prudent fiscal management. This budget builds on that strength and puts trust in our leaders to manage their budgets responsibly. This shift may be burdensome and challenging, however, it is necessary and I believe in our people and our employees and their capacity to manage nimbly and responsively.

Many of our employees are struggling right now. They have been on the front lines of the pandemic, putting themselves in harm's way to help our residents. They have been reassigned, moved around, worked overtime, worked while caring for and teaching their children at home, forgone vacations, sacrificed their own financial well-being to ensure that we could propose a 0% levy increase last year. We see you and we appreciate you. Contract negotiations are happening right now and that process can feel ugly, demoralizing, and polarized. But I also believe that the work we're doing to repair structures and foundations in our services, also needs to be part of how we support our employees. We cannot be shortsighted in how we move forward now to get a quick win because that inevitably shifts the burden of unmanageable costs onto residents and future leaders with unknown risks.

I am proud of Ramsey County and believe that the work that has been done long before I joined the board, to establish a reputation of excellent financial management, to lay a foundation of continuous quality improvement, and to dig into some of the biggest issues facing our residents and identify solutions to those issues (such as our work in economic inclusion, juvenile detention alternatives initiative, and transforming systems together) have positioned us well to seize the once-in-a-generation investment that federal ARPA funds present and invest in positive, transformational, and sustainable change in Ramsey County.

Rice Creek Commons Dialogue Circle Follow Up

Rendering of Rice Creek Commons development

Artist rendering of Rice Creek Commons city center

In the late summer of 2021, I had the opportunity to engage with residents around the proposed development in Arden Hills, known as Rice Creek Commons (or TCAAP or the Arsenal Site).

These dialogue circles were an opportunity to have a conversation about the future of our community, our hopes and our fears. I greatly appreciate the dozens of community members who gave time to join us in circle and share their thoughts, questions, and ideas.

A dialogue circle does not seek to solve a problem, but to hold space for all participants to engage on a topic or issue. In these circles, we talked about our connections to Arden Hills and the development, the community values and goals that spoke to us, and how to tackle difficult problems in a respectful way.

From these conversations, I took away several important thoughts and ideas including:

  • We must clarify the shared vision for Rice Creek Commons and what it means in terms of development specifics;
  • We must acknowledge the challenges of finding consensus among many disparate ideas and determine what role leaders should play in making decisions based on agreed upon values and goals;
  • We must be more transparent in providing information to the community.

Many continue to be unclear about where exactly the Rice Creek Commons development will be (some fearing that it will replace the Rice Creek Park or AHATS observation area). Others are still unsure what city and county authorities were delegated to the JDA and how the JDA model for development differs from traditional property owner/city development interactions. Though most were aware that there was litigation between the city and county, very few understood the basis of the litigation, the outcome, and what that means going forward. Over the next year, I will continue to push Ramsey County leadership to address these on-going concerns and hope for fresh energy and commitment from all parties on this development.

word cloud of values such as neighborhoods, environment, safety, respect, opportunity, engaged, vibrant, community

A word cloud of values and goals that residents shared during dialogue circles