Back to the Sep-Oct 2021 issue

Bits & Briefs

An Outdoor Fitness Option in Worthington

Community partners in Worthington recently installed a public Fitness Court on the campus of Minnesota West Community & Technical College. Photo courtesy Michael Cumisky.

Are you still feeling that Olympic spirit or at least want to dust off the cobwebs? Community partners in Worthington have recently installed a public Fitness Court — you can think of it as a pretty cool looking fresh air gym — on the campus of Minnesota West Community & Technical College that can help. The court offers a full-body circuit workout complete with diagrams to show you the moves and QR code links to watch video instructions. The court design, equipment, and workout program is an initiative of the National Fitness Campaign. Waite Park was the first city in the state to join the campaign and was the inspiration for Worthington’s project. Law enforcement instructor Mike Cumiskey from Minnesota West has championed the project, and intends to use the court as part of the curriculum this fall. The City of Worthington was involved from the beginning, said Cumiskey, and dedicated funding for about a third of the project’s $160,000 price tag. “From the outset the college had decided to partner with the city and make this something accessible to the whole community,” said Cumiskey. Worthington Regional Healthcare Foundation and the National Fitness Campaign also provided grant money for the project. Next steps include training community ambassadors to get the word out to the public.

Downtown Storefronts to Sleepy Eye History

Main street, Sleepy Eye, Minnesota
Photo by Frank Scobie.

Sleepy Eye’s Downtown Revitalization Committee is creating a walking tour to help support downtown businesses while celebrating the city’s many original downtown structures. The committee, formed in 2019, includes Mayor Wayne Pelzel, members of the public, and reps from the Sleepy Eye Economic Development Authority and the Sleepy Eye Chamber of Commerce. Members are researching each building and gathering photos to create a display for the storefront windows that will give passerby a peak into the past. “This should be a fun project with a lot of community revitalization involvement,” said Pelzel. The committee also hopes to include the information in a guide to the entire downtown community, and make the guides available at local motels, campgrounds, and other likely traveler locations. For more information: www.

Check Out Some Fresh Air

A family walking in the parkWhile a library card is known to metaphorically transport readers to far off places and provide new points of view, residents in St. Cloud and Waite Park can now get a literal breath of fresh air from the checkout desk. Each library in the Great River Regional Library now offers two parking passes that can be used for entry to Quarry Park and Nature Preserve. The park pass program is a collaboration between the library system and the Stearns County Parks Department. The passes are available first-come, first-serve, and will save patrons the cost of a day pass or annual pass to the park for fishing, hiking, snowshoeing, or watching the clouds go by. What community treasures would you want your residents to “check out” at the library?

Ask a Stupid Question Day

A question mark.Ask a Stupid Question Day is Sept. 30. But remember, when it comes to understanding local government, a lot of perfectly good questions might feel “stupid” to a resident. To facilitate discussion, the City of Longview, Tex., invites residents to post their “stupid questions” in the comments of the city’s Facebook page. City staff monitor the thread for questions and connect with other staff to respond over the course of the day, sharing context, short explainers, and a few facts to shed light on each topic. Particularly complex and specific questions get redirected to staff email, and suggestions like “Why don’t you put a stop sign at this intersection?” get routed for follow-up. In 2019 and 2020 the city received such questions as: Why don’t the mayor and council just come up for election at the same time as the presidential election? Are their listings of tax-seized or abandoned property for sale? Why don’t all busy streets have turn lanes? Are their city ordinances prohibiting organized Nerf wars in local parks?

A New Season of GreenStep City Discussion Topics

This year’s lineup of GreenStep Cities virtual workshops are set. Beginning Sept. 8 and runningGreenStep logo. through spring you can join in virtually for discussion of city sustainability topics ranging from yard waste to parking. Minnesota GreenStep Cities and Tribal Nations is a voluntary challenge, assistance, and recognition program to help communities achieve their sustainability and quality-of-life goals. Actions are tailored to all Minnesota cities, focus on cost savings and energy use reduction, and encourage civic innovation. While workshop planners bring in plenty of city officials and subject matter experts to share know-how and lessons learned, attendees frequently cite the chance to meet up and talk with other city sustainability leads as a big perk of the monthly events. See the full lineup and register at

NLC City Summit: Beehive State, or Beehive State of Mind

The National League of Cities is offering their annual City Summit both in-person and virtually this year. The hybrid event is slated for Nov. 18-20 in Salt Lake City, Utah – and yep, Utah is known as the Beehive State! Executive education sessions spanning topics from understanding burnout to leveraging tourism start on the 15th. Attending in person? Take advantage of the mobile tours and see city projects and priorities in action. More information: