Minnesota Cities Magazine

Bits & Briefs

Small children play with colorful blocksAn Early Learning Nation
City of Minneapolis leaders were quick to sign up when a new technical assistance pilot program, City Leadership for Building an Early Learning Nation, was launched by the Center for the Study of Social Policy and the National League of Cities. Minneapolis and 15 other cities across the country have committed to testing innovative ideas in creating successful starts for young learners. The goal is to identify effective methods that can then be adopted or adapted by other communities. Minneapolis has identified two priorities as part of the initiative: providing access to mental health services for young children, and supporting the roles of fathers and male caregivers in early childhood. Learn more at http://bit.ly/1PYQCsd.

Red stamp that says LMCIT Announces New Rates, Coverage Features, and Largest Dividend Ever
New premium rates and coverage changes for members of the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT) are now in effect—property/ casualty coverage kicked in on Nov. 15, and workers’ compensation coverage began Jan. 1. Of special note is the LMCIT Board’s decision to make volunteer accident coverage and workers’ compensation coverage for elected officials a standard feature for members of the workers’ compensation program. Also, the Board was happy to return a $16.5 million dividend to members of the property/casualty program in December—the largest dividend amount in LMCIT history. Learn more at www.lmc.org/coverage.

IDEA: Have a Kid Cut the Ribbon
A boy in a yellow construction hat and vest attends a ribbon cutting in St. Louis Park. When celebrating completion of a city project that will benefit future generations, why not invite a local kiddo to take part, like the City of St. Louis Park did for its Minnetonka Boulevard bridge reopening? A child in a hardhat can bring a dash of youthful enthusiasm to what would otherwise be an obligatory photo op. How to choose who gets the honor? Yet another opportunity to have a little fun. In the case of St. Louis Park’s young Marshall Schmitz (pictured above), he had been a regular spectator at the bridge’s construction site. When he witnessed a dog attack nearby in 2015, Schmitz summoned the help of one of the site’s construction workers to intervene.

A photo of the cover of A Handbook for Happiness
City leaders tend to be a hard-working, passionate crowd. That’s a good thing until burnout sets in, compromising your service to the community. Make a New Year’s resolution to practice a little more self-care when needed to keep that positive energy flowing. One place to start is a new book called The Mayo Clinic Handbook for Happiness, by Dr. Amit Sood. Yes, it’s a real thing. The book presents a multidisciplinary understanding of happiness—including nods to neuroscience and spiritual practices— and Sood’s four-step process may be able to point you in the direction of more fulfillment, less stress. Happier public servants = happier communities. Learn more at http://mayocl.in/1MUQGFC.

A photo of a diverging diamond intersection with carsDiverging Diamond Interchanges in Minnesota Communities
Be aware, new “diverging diamond interchanges” (DDIs) are cropping up throughout the state. Drivers in St. Cloud-Sartell, Rochester, Bloomington, and now New Brighton are navigating these new patterns, which eliminate left-hand turns across oncoming traffic, reduce delays, and cut the potential for serious accidents, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

DDIs are also purported to be less expensive and require a smaller footprint than other interchange designs. How does it work? The DDI design directs traffic to the left lanes when approaching the intersection (meaning you may feel like you teleported to England in your motor-car) then returns continuing traffic to the right lanes again on the other side. Traffic lights regulate the crossovers. Learn more at http://bit.ly/1PYV4qS.

A photo of small keys hanging down from a locker lockStorage Solutions for Homeless Residents
The City of Madison and Dane County, Wisconsin, are considering a proposal to provide storage locker access to people without homes. The lockers would be located in public parking garages around the city, and be available to those who complete a registration system. Storage large enough for essential personal possessions would allow registrants to go to work, job interviews, and appointments without carrying these bulky items around, advocates say. Storage would also keep the items off of city streets, where they might be considered an eyesore and be more susceptible to theft.

A vertical photo of a snow shovel and a cleared sidewalkShovel Dilworth
Promoting active living and all the benefits of pedestrian traffic in winter requires sidewalks that don’t resemble the Arctic Circle. The City of Dilworth has established the “Shovel Dilworth” program to motivate residents to help one another keep sidewalks clear and get moving when the flurries fly. The program was established last year in partnership with Clay County and the assistance of a Green Corps member. Residents sign up with a commitment to help keep their own sidewalk clear as well as a sidewalk, hydrant, or bus stop that would otherwise be neglected. At the end of the season, Shovel Dilworth participants are eligible to win donated cash prizes. Residents with clear sidewalks may also find a thank you card at their door, and a little more motivation to step outside.

Read the January-February 2016 issue of Minnesota Cities Magazine

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