City News

Awards, recognition, projects, celebrations, staff changes, and other news about Minnesota cities around the state.

Awards & Recognition

Columbia Heights Receives All-America City Award
The City of Columbia Heights has received a 2016 All-America City Award from the National Civic League. The honor is given each year to communities across the country. This year, the awards program highlighted community efforts to “ensure that all our children are healthy and successful in school and life.”

Columbia Heights was honored with the award for a variety of initiatives that benefit children and families. The city’s Police Department works with schools for its Cops-N-Kids program that includes officers volunteering as Big Brothers and the creation of a Teen Police Academy. Teen arrests have fallen drastically as a result of the program.

The city is also working with Somali immigrants and other residents to design and fund a City of Peace Park in a low-income area. In addition, the city is planning to build a larger public library. The Columbia Heights Public Library already plays a central role in the community with more than 200 youth programs, and that role will grow with the construction of a larger building, which is expected to be completed this year.

Columbia Heights was one of 10 All-America City Award winners from across the country. Minnesota’s City of Woodbury was also a finalist for the award.


Duluth PD wins MCPA Excellence in Innovation Award
The Duluth Police Department received the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association (MCPA) 2016 Excellence in Innovation Award for its embedded social worker program. Through this program, the department has a St. Louis County social worker involved to help handle mental health-related calls for service. The embedded social worker assists officers with chronic offenders, repeat calls for service, individuals with mental health issues, and those in crisis. Because of the program, situations involving individuals with mental health issues have been de-escalated, enabling the social worker and law enforcement to work together to quickly connect individuals with the appropriate services, said Police Chief Mike Tusken in a column published in the Budgeteer News. This interrupts the revolving door of emergency calls to police, who out of necessity use hospitals, detox, and jail as short-term solutions to often long-term problems. Decriminalizing mental health issues is the goal of the program.


Bloomington wins Tap Water Taste Test
The City of Bloomington was named “Best of the Best” in the Tap Water Taste Test sponsored by Avista® Technologies, Inc., the American Water Works Association (AWWA) announced in late June. The event was composed of regional winners from water-tasting competitions across North America and held at AWWA’s Annual Conference and Exposition in Chicago. Bloomington received “Best in Glass” honors from the Minnesota Section of the American Water Works Association in 2015, earning the right to enter its water sample into the National AWWA Conference “Best of the Best” competition. A judging panel rated each water system on its flavor characteristics. Second place went to the City of Iola, Kansas, and third went to the Village of Canajoharie, New York.

The City of Bloomington utilities employs more than 50 people to run the water treatment plant, maintain the water distribution and sanitary sewer collection systems, perform field maintenance, serve customers, and administer the utilities. The division processes clear, clean water at the water treatment plant and distributes it to the city’s more than 86,000 residents, while also processing the city’s wastewater. “City staff at the Sam Hobbs Water Treatment Plant play a key role in producing outstanding drinking water that has been recognized nationally as the ‘best of the best’ from a panel of experts,” Utilities Superintendent Bob Cockriel said. “This honor is a result of their continued efforts to produce award-winning water on a daily basis to the residents and businesses in Bloomington.”


Eden Prairie named a 'Top Workplace'
For the third year in a row, the City of Eden Prairie was named a Top 150 Workplace by the Star Tribune, ranking 47 in the mid-sized company category in Minnesota—a ranking that places the city among the best of the best in the state. Eden Prairie is the only municipal government in Minnesota to receive this recognition.

“It is quite an honor to be recognized as a Top 150 Workplace for a third consecutive year,” said City Manager Rick Getschow. “This designation reflects the contributions city employees make every day to a positive work culture that values high performance and excellent customer service.”

“This is outstanding recognition for the city that validates the exceptional work environment city leadership strives to create,” said Mayor Nancy Tyra-Lukens. “The distinction this ranking brings to the City of Eden Prairie cannot be overstated; I am honored to work alongside the dedicated employees who work hard every day to make this community such a great place.”


Accreditation Granted to Winona Senior Center
The Friendship Center in Winona is the first senior center in the state to achieve accreditation from the National Council on Aging/National Institute of Senior Centers. There are over 200 accredited senior centers in the United States.


Winona Joins 'Welcoming America'
Winona recently became Minnesota’s first Welcoming America city, joining over 100 other communities across the nation to help build a welcoming, more inclusive environment for immigrants and newcomers. Welcoming America is a membership organization that encourages communities to embrace immigrants and foster opportunities for all. In June, the Winona City Council approved a resolution supporting the program and encouraging city staff to take steps to make Winona more inclusive to immigrants and refugees.


Roseville PD wins Telly Award
Behind the Badge, Roseville Police Department’s behind-the-scenes television program about what a day in the life of a Roseville police officer is like, has been selected as a 2016 Telly Award winner. The 37th Annual Telly Awards received more than 13,000 entries in various categories, representing all 50 states and numerous countries. Behind the Badge was named a Bronze Telly Award winner in the public relations category of the film/video—TV programs, segments, or promotional pieces. The Roseville Police Department partnered with CTV North Suburbs to produce Behind the Badge to enhance outreach to the Roseville community. The winning Behind the Badge episode, Episode I, takes residents on a virtual ride-along with Officer Kyle Eckert, a five-year veteran of the Roseville PD who works the night shift.


Crookston Municipal Airport receives Governor’s Award
The Crookston Municipal Airport was recently honored with the 2016 FAA/Minnesota Governor’s Award. City Finance Director Angel Weasner said the award recognizes the overall management of the airport, including its finances, compliance with regulations, and strategic planning for the future.
(Source: Crookston Times)


Andover recognized for water conservation efforts
The City of Andover was named one of the most water wise cities in America by the Wyland Foundation. Andover was one of 4,100 cities to participate in the 2016 Wyland National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation by having residents pledge to conserve water. In total, residents across the country pledged to save over 1.9 billion gallons of water over the next year. The annual month-long campaign to promote drought resiliency and water quality had mayors from 39 states vying to see whose city could be the nation’s most “water wise.” Along with Andover, the cities with the highest percentage of residents making pledges during the campaign were Laguna Beach, California; Ventura, California; Aurora, Colorado; and Boston, Massachusetts.


Kenyon receives funding for new fire hall
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development State Director Colleen Landkamer recently announced that the agency will provide a $2.9 million loan for the construction of a new fire hall in the City of Kenyon. The Kenyon Volunteer Fire Department consists of 30 volunteers who serve nearly 3,000 local community members over a 90-square-mile radius across Kenyon and the five townships of Richland, Holden, Cherry Grove, Warsaw, and Wheeling.

The new facility is needed because the department is currently housed in multiple locations, and the main facility has a gravel alleyway that is shared with residential traffic that slows down emergency response time. The new 12,560-square-foot facility will be able to house all 10 vehicles and provide a meeting space, accessible rest rooms, and office space, allowing for the entire department to be housed under one roof and assure local residents faster emergency response times.

Since 2009, USDA Rural Development has invested over $431 million in loans and grants to build or improve over 350 essential community facilities throughout rural Minnesota. Rural Development also invests in housing, water and wastewater treatment, businesses, renewable energy and high-speed Internet. To learn more about Rural Development programs, visit the Minnesota website or call the area office in Faribault at (507) 332-7418, ext. 4.

Staff News

Mounds View police chief retires
Police Chief Tom Kinney, who got his start in law enforcement in Mounds View, recently retired after more than 30 years with the department. He began his work with Mounds View as a patrol officer in 1985 after earning an associate’s degree from Normandale Community College.

Kinney worked patrol for about 11 years and moved into investigations, where he remained for about eight years. In 2004, he was promoted to deputy police chief and was named interim chief when Police Chief Mike Sommer retired in 2009. Kinney was later named police chief in 2010. He also continued his education and earned a earned bachelor’s degree in law enforcement from Metropolitan State University that same year.

City Administrator Jim Ericson, who has worked with Kinney for 20 years, said, “I have found Tom to be an effective leader and strong advocate for his department and his staff. His years of service and commitment to the Mounds View community and north metro region are both admirable and commendable, and we will certainly miss his contributions on our management team. I appreciate having had the opportunity to work with Tom over the years and wish him well in his future endeavors.”
(Source: The Sun Focus)


Eden Prairie police chief retires
Eden Prairie Police Chief Rob Reynolds has retired after more than 30 years with the department. In his early years with the department, Reynolds served as a school liaison officer and was quickly promoted to corporal in 1988. He served on the Emergency Response Unit for nearly 10 years, was promoted to sergeant in 1996, and then to lieutenant in 1998. And after a promotion to deputy chief in 2003, Reynolds was called upon to serve as the fifth chief of police for the City of Eden Prairie on Jan. 26, 2007.

Under Reynolds' command, the department saw several major upgrades to its software systems, radio technology and dispatch center before introducing dashboard cameras in 2015. In addition, Reynolds and the department worked to strengthen proactive policing efforts with the use of crime analytics—both as an investigative tool and to prevent crime. Since then, the department has been recognized locally and nationally for its implementation and utilization of a full-time crime analyst position. Reynolds’ retirement took effect on June 30, 2016.

In Memory

Landfall Councilmember Ron Sanoski
Ronald James Sanoski Sr., Landfall councilmember, passed away on July 10 at the age of 65. He served on the Landfall City Council for 30 years. He also previously served in the Marines. “Ron made it a point to do the right thing by helping others,” family members said. He “lived his life to [the] fullest as a loving husband and father."

Sanoski is survived by his loving wife of 42 years, Deborah; sons, Ron (Jill) and Ted; granddaughter, Shirley; grandson, Vincent; sister, Joanie (Jerry); brothers, Al (Nancy), Jerry (Joan), Arnie, and David; many nieces, nephews, and close friends.

Read Sanoski's obituary on the Cremation Society of Minnesota website


Former Alexandria Mayor Dan Ness
Harold Daniel (Dan) Ness, LMC ambassador and former mayor of Alexandria, passed away on July 1 after recently being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. He was 78 years old. He served as mayor of Alexandria from 2001 to 2012 and was 2011-2012 president of the League of Minnesota Cities. Ness also served as president of the Minnesota Mayors Association and of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities. He has been as an ambassador for the League of Minnesota Cities since 2013.

Ness retired from the public accounting firm he founded, Ness, Waller, Pearson & Co., in 1987. For more than 50 years, he also was a key player in the success of Alexandria Extrusion (now Alexandria Industries) and retired from there as chief financial officer and VP of administration in 2000. Ness served on the volunteer Alexandria Fire Department from 1970-1990, and as fire chief from 1985-1990.

In his spare time, Ness enjoyed spending time with his family, singing in church choir and barbershop choruses, hunting and fishing, traveling, and being involved in his community and church. He died on the date of his 55th wedding anniversary. Survivors include his wife DiAnn, four children, and 10 grandchildren.

Read Ness’ obituary on the Anderson Funeral Home website


Hawley Councilmember John Young
John N. Young, Jr., LMC ambassador and Hawley councilmember, passed away on June 7 after a valiant battle with liver cancer. He was 80 years old. Young served on the League Board of Directors in the early 1990s and was the winner of the League’s C.C. Ludwig Award in 1999. In more recent years, he has been a board member with the Minnesota Association of Small Cities. He has served as an LMC ambassador in west central Minnesota for over 15 years.

Young was a Hawley councilmember at the time of his death. He was on the Hawley City Council three separate times, totaling 28 years. He served as mayor of Hawley from 1994 to 1996. Young was a founding member of the Hawley Jaycees and Hawley Lions Club. He was also an active member of the city’s Annual Rodeo Committee, for which he served this year as a co-chair. Family was another big part of Young’s life. He and his wife of 60 years, Betty, had two daughters and four grandchildren.

Read Young’s obituary on the Wright Funeral Home website