Minnesota Cities Magazine
More from Jul-Aug 2015 issue

Bits & Briefs

JA15mediationNeed Help Reaching Consensus?
It can be tough to craft solutions that balance vocal stakeholders, competing goals, and polarized ideologies—but in public policy, that’s what it’s all about. To help, the State Office of Collaboration and Dispute Resolution (OCDR) offers neutral and experienced guides to help your city or organization navigate particularly challenging projects and debates. Collaborative processes usually result in better, more efficient solutions, less down time, and more trust between parties that can pay off down the road. Preliminary consultations are offered at no charge. Learn more and see a list of OCDR services at http://mn.gov/admin/bms/ocdr.

Getting Energized in Brainerd
People over age 45 in the Brainerd area are embarking on a new program this summer to stay active, social, and healthy. Based out of The Center in Brainerd, “The Center Energized” is a 22-week program for adults over age 45 focused on improving or maintaining physical exercise, mental fitness, healthy eating, and social interaction, according to the Brainerd Dispatch. For a nominal fee, participants will have access to information, ideas, and support from staff to help them meet their goals. The Center Energized is funded in part by a grant from Crow Wing Energized, a collaborative effort among community partners—including the cities of Brainerd, Breezy Point, Crosby, and Pequot Lakes—to improve health and wellness in the area. Learn more at http://crowwingenergized.org.

JA15IreneKaoCongratulations, Irene Kao!
The New Lawyers’ Section of the Minnesota Bar Association has presented the Outstanding New Lawyer of the Year Award to Irene Kao, a research attorney at the League of Minnesota Cities. The award is given each year to a “promising new attorney” who demonstrates commitment to the bar association or an affiliate organization. Kao, who received her Juris Doctor from Hamline University School of Law, is currently president of the Minnesota Asian Pacific American Bar Association.

Fundraising Treasure
Is it junk, or is it treasure? The St. Louis Park Historical Society hosted a live event last spring, à la PBS’s popular “Antiques Roadshow,” to help residents find out and to raise money for programming. First, the historical society enlisted local appraisal specialists to help with the event, called “Antique Parade” and hosted in the St. Louis Park High School gymnasium. For a suggested donation of $10, residents could get an appraisal and learn a bit about an item. Visitors were welcome to donate, but could watch the live appraisals for free. Nearly 90 items were appraised, and the historical society hopes to make the Antique Parade an annual event. Learn more at http://slphistory.org/pastprograms.

JA15trainRail Safety During Summer Events
Risky moves near railroad tracks result in more than 900 casualties annually in the U.S. So it’s particularly important for summer event coordinators to take a few extra precautions in areas where railroads operate, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation and Minnesota Operation Lifesaver, a nonprofit rail safety organization. Event organizers are encouraged to contact railroads whenever an event may be happening near tracks, and especially when using an at-grade crossing. Railroads can’t suspend traffic entirely, but it’s possible they can limit operations for that time frame. Local law enforcement officers should also be on the look-out for trespassers on railroad right-of-way— many people don’t realize how risky this zone is.

Looking for a safety activity to add to the mix? Operation Lifesaver also offers free presentations on rail safety that you can request. Other training is available for first responders that can count toward continuing education credits. And as always, community events are a great time to promote the “SEE TRACKS? THINK TRAIN!” mentality. Learn more about rail safety at www.mnoperationlifesaver.org and www.seetracksthinktrain.org. For a collection of railroad company websites, visit www.mnrailroads.com/mrra-members.

Minnesota Geospatial Commons
The new Minnesota Geospatial Commons website can connect you with a collection of handy geo-based data—open to anyone, at any time. The open source hub allows Minnesota organizations, agencies, government entities, and individuals to upload data sets, which are then available for public use. Think wetland locations, watershed management district boundaries, information on emerald ash borer activity, income tax data by city, and more. The site, which combines a few existing state geospatial resources into one, was released in March by the Minnesota Geospatial Information Office (MnGeo), a program of MN.IT Services. Check it out at http://gisdata.mn.gov.

Read the July-August 2015 issue of Minnesota Cities Magazine

* By posting you are agreeing to the LMC Comment Policy.