Back to the Mar-Apr 2022 issue

Bits & Briefs

Submit Your Award Nominations by April 18

A trophyYou’ve been doing great work, and we want to hear about it: It’s time for League of Minnesota Cities award nominations. Don’t want to brag? Remember that every nomination submitted can benefit other cities by promoting smart ideas, showing the dedication of local government officials, and telling your city story to a broader audience.

This year, we’re debuting a new category to honor individuals — the Emerging Leader Award — for elected officials or staff who have served in their role for fewer than eight years. This joins the C.C. Ludwig Award for elected officials and the James F. Miller Leadership Award for appointed officials.

As for city awards, you can submit any project for one of three population categories or enter this year’s topical category: “Improving Your City’s Workplace Culture.” And participants in the Minnesota GreenStep Cities program can submit their nominations for the Sustainable City Award. Learn more and get entry forms at

Show Some Love to Volunteers This April

a group of volunteers

Every city, big and small, benefits from the impact of volunteer service. Whether your community’s volunteers participate as part of a formal program like “Hydrant Heroes” or informally, like the person who always picks up litter on their morning walk, be sure to give them some love April 17-23 as part of National Volunteer Week. Interested in resources that can help your city organize and administer a volunteer program? Check out the resources available through the Minnesota Alliance for Volunteer Advancement to get started. Learn more at

Honoring the Taconite Fire Department’s History

Firefighters in front of a fire truck
Photo courtesy City of Taconite

The Taconite Fire Department recently issued unique badge numbers to every firefighter who ever served the department, and created a custom plaque to honor past and active personnel. The 16-person department had previously cycled through assigning numbers 1-16.

“Our current roster is very proud to serve this department and community, and we have a great deal of respect for those that have served before us,” says Chief Dusty Sipe. “We wanted to take strides to honor those previous members, those currently serving, and those that will serve in the future.”

To reconstruct the history of the department’s roster, Assistant Chief Perry Coyle went through the handwritten books documenting the department’s monthly business meetings dating back to 1911. In addition to new badges, personnel have also designed the department’s first patch, which incorporates the Maltese cross, the U.S. flag, and the department’s mascot, “Taz” the Tazmanian devil. Both the badges and the patch are now part of a new Class B dress uniform that the department wears for formal community events and parades.

Popcorn pop pop poppingGet Your (FREE) Safety Training Videos

The League’s loss control team has re-upped access to CoastalFlix for 2022, providing free streaming safety training videos to all member cities. How it works:

Search the library of 300-plus safety training videos for your staff, including hot topics like back safety and fall protection. Videos range from 3 to 20 minutes long.

Email your picks to League staff, and they’ll send you access links.

Make some popcorn! These links will remain active until December 2023, so you can stream the videos as often as you would like to train staff and provide refreshers.

Learn more at

A Centennial Challenge in Ely

The Ely Public Library building
Photo Courtesy City of Ely

The Ely Public Library is marking its 100th anniversary in 2022 and, to celebrate, they’re posing a “Read the 100s” challenge to patrons. Readers can earn a small prize and enter a drawing if they read one book from each section in the Dewey Decimal System by the library’s anniversary — Oct. 7.

“It’s a great way to sample different types of nonfiction books,” says Library Director Rachel Heinrich. “You should try it!” There are 10 sections total, so that’s 10 books to read, covering everything from computer science to history. Other centennial highlights include a “Reading through 100 Years” series with the Friends of the Library Book Club, featuring a book and its movie adaptation from each decade of the library’s history. Later in the year, the library hopes to do something special for local authors and illustrators.

St. Paul Chosen to Join ‘Youth Excel’ Cohort

The City of St. Paul was recently chosen to work on improving career pathways for marginalized youth as part of a National League of Cities (NLC) cohort. The initiative is called “Youth Excel: Cities Advancing Equitable Youth Economic Recovery and Empowerment,” and the Saintly City is one of six cities from across the U.S. to participate.

Two young students in a lab“Early investments in our youth pave the way toward a brighter future for all of us,” says St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter. “This partnership with NLC will help us encourage and inspire the next generation of leaders in St. Paul.”

The city will receive a $150,000 grant and technical assistance for development and implementation of strategies that improve access to quality postsecondary education and STEM career pathways. St. Paul’s initiative will focus on youth and young adults who face barriers in accessing these opportunities, including members of the community who identify as Black, Indigenous, or people of color, are low income, or are disconnected from school and/ or the workforce.

Partners in the effort include Minnesota Technology Association, Ramsey County Workforce Investment Board, Ramsey County Workforce Solutions, St. Paul Area Chamber, St. Paul College, St. Paul Public Schools, Sprockets, and Youthprise. Learn more at