Back to the Mar-Apr 2019 issue

Bits & Briefs

Introducing The City Speak Podcast

The League of Minnesota Cities is now offering a new podcast, The City Speak. Featuring interviews with city officials and topic gurus, episodes offer up relevant info, tales from the dais, and entertaining treks into the issues that city officials care most about. Each episode is about 15-20 minutes—perfect for listening on your drive to work, on a walk, or during your lunch break. To learn more and access episodes, visit


Lemonade Day: Training the Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow

Cottage Grove Mayor Myron Bailey visited a dozen lemonade stands last summer to support young residents exploring entrepreneurship. Cottage Grove was the first city in the state to host an official Lemonade Day through a national program that educates children on what it takes to own and operate a business. Local business owners organized the August event with help from the city to get the word out. In total, about 60 children ran a dozen lemonade stands, and learned basic business fundamentals through program materials. Kids also decided how to divvy up their profits into categories of spend, share, and save. Mayor Bailey says he wants to involve the Cottage Grove Chamber of Commerce next year, so children can set up stands outside of businesses and improve their visibility. For more information on the Lemonade Day program, visit


Protecting Urban Bird Populations

Bird-friendly communities can earn their wings protecting and conserving urban bird populations through both the Audubon Society of Minnesota and the Minnesota GreenStep Cities program. The Audubon Society is using a number of GreenStep actions as criteria to designate a Bird City. That means cities working for Bird City designation can also get credit for their corresponding sustainability efforts in the GreenStep program. To earn the designation, cities must engage in conservation efforts that center around habitat improvement, threat reduction, and citizen engagement. The Audubon program is modeled after Bird City programs in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Hastings was designated Minnesota’s first Bird City in 2016. Two other GreenStep Cities—St. Paul and Bemidji—are also Bird Cities. Learn more at


New App Alerts First Responders to People With Disabilities

A new app called Vitals can alert police officers and other first responders when they come within 80 feet of a person with a condition such as schizophrenia or autism. Think of it as a digital medical alert bracelet for emotional, intellectual, or developmental disabilities. Residents enrolled in the program carry a card, button, or phone equipped with a beacon that can transmit information such as behavioral descriptions, effective calming techniques, and emergency contacts. The information, provided by the user or a family member, is available to first responders via an app, and can guide a better response to the situation. Over two dozen police departments in Minnesota now use the app, according to a report by KARE 11. The app’s developer, Aware Services, is based in Minnesota and created Vitals in partnership with the Autism Society of Minnesota. For more information, visit


Let’s Celebrate Cities: LMC Now Accepting Award Entries

Do you know a city leader or project that deserves a round of applause? Nominate them for a League of Minnesota Cities (LMC) award! The LMC awards program is dedicated to recognizing excellent work and outstanding leaders who are taking city service to the next level. For the City of Excellence Awards, cities can submit projects in three different population categories as well as this year’s topical category, “Creative Programs and Services in Public Works.”

Nominations are also open for the C.C. Ludwig Award for elected officials and the James F. Miller Leadership Award for appointed officials. And Minnesota GreenStep Cities participants are eligible for the Sustainable City Award. The dead¬line to submit entries for all awards is May 6. For entry forms and more information, visit


Power Association Has a Little Fun With Squirrels

The American Public Power Association (APPA) recently displayed some collaborative spirit when it reached out publicly to its archnemesis: squirrels. On Squirrel Appreciation Day, Jan. 21, rather than berate the furry fiend, APPA wrote a blog post recommending a variety of power-grid approved tips for staying safe. The blog also linked to the association’s eReliability Tracker, which reveals that in 2016, utilities reported 3,456 outages caused by squirrels. Read the acorn-in-cheek post at


A Break on Buckthorn Removal

A program in the City of Eagan encourages residents to remove invasive buckthorn from private property in exchange for city pickup of the offending brush. The Buckthorn Removal Program has been around for upwards of 20 years, according to Gregg Hove, supervisor of forestry, and is as popular as ever—there is a waiting list for pickup during the busy spring and fall months. To qualify for city disposal, a resident must schedule a site visit with a city tree inspector prior to removing the buck¬thorn. Then the resident can schedule a time for the pickup. The site visit gives the property owner a chance to learn about identification, says Hove, as well as recommended removal and long-term treatment techniques. Learn more at