Back to the Sep-Oct 2022 issue

Bits & Briefs

Remembered: Founding Trust Administrator Pete Tritz

When the commercial insurance market for cities reached a crisis point in the mid-’70s, League staff and several city officials set out to build one of the first municipal insurance pools in the nation.

Pete TritzPete Tritz, who at the time was supervisor of what is now the League’s Research & Information Service, stepped up (reluctantly, he would jokingly point out) to lead the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust into an unknown future. And for 37 years Tritz did just that, shaping the Trust into what it is today — coverage for cities, by cities — before retiring in 2017.

This absolute legend of the risk pooling and municipal league communities died July 1 at the age of 70, leaving behind a legacy of local government excellence and friendship.

“Pete believed passionately in the idea of public service,” said Dan Greensweig, who has been LMCIT’s administrator since Tritz retired. “Minnesota cities are better places because of his vision, and those of us who had the good fortune to know Pete are better people because of his wisdom and generosity of spirit. He was an outstanding mentor, a remarkable colleague, and a wonderful friend.”

In addition to his contributions to the safety and financial stability of city governments (towering), he will also be remembered for his wit (quick), and his approach to life (spirited).

A New Season of GreenStep City Workshops

GreenStep City logoThe 2022-2023 season of GreenStep Cities virtual workshops are just around the corner. Beginning Sept. 21, you can join in virtually for discussion of city sustainability topics, including financing energy projects, addressing outdoor air quality, preserving dark skies, and greening historic places. GreenStep is a voluntary challenge, assistance, and recognition program that helps communities achieve their sustainability and quality-of-life goals. Actions are tailored to cities of any size, focus on cost savings and energy use reduction, and encourage civic innovation. Your city doesn’t need to be a GreenStep City to participate. See the full lineup and register:

Where Do Gnomes Like to Roam?

A gnomeIn a garden, of course! Or in the case of Chanhassen’s recent Gnomadic Gnome Scavenger Hunt, scattered throughout the city’s parks system. The city partnered with The Garden by The Woods Garden Center this spring to celebrate parks and educate residents about local environmental matters and related park topics. Residents first registered and picked up a gnome buddy named “Eco” — the collection of 140 pint-sized figurines went quick. Participants could then visit 20 different way stations marked with interpretative signage about the parks and snap a picture of their gnome buddy visiting the site.

For each five “gnomies” (that’s a gnome selfie) participants received five, free 3-inch native plants. “It was so well received by the public, and participants got to learn local fun facts along the way,” said Environmental Resource Specialist Jill Sinclair.

The activity came about through the city’s Park Sponsorship Program when the business offered to provide an in-kind donation. The city provided the park media promotion, mapping, and the creation, design, printing, and installation of the signs. The garden supplied the gnomes, native plants, and the grand prize of free garden mulch with free delivery.

Bemidji’s Deer Count

Photo courtesy Bemidji State University

The City of Bemidji will once again partner with biology students from Bemidji State University this fall to conduct an annual deer population survey. In 2012, not long after the launching their university’s wildlife program, BSU discovered they had a large group of students eager for hands-on field experience. Today, the survey has become a popular annual activity for students.

Teams of students will embark at dusk by vehicle to conduct a count of does, bucks, and fawns. This data will then be used to develop population estimates, and will help the city plan white-tailed deer archery hunts during the regular deer archery season. The student volunteers gain field experience participating in a common wildlife management practice, while the city can better keep an eye on these sometimes-troublesome locals.

New Action Guide for Addressing Public Safety Mental Health

A man leaning on a steering wheelFire and police professionals are more at risk from dying of suicide than from being killed in the line of duty. But Minnesota public safety agencies and LMCIT are working to address the impact of PTSD and mental health concerns among first responders to save careers and lives. Creating a public safety mental health program is every organization’s responsibility, but you don’t have to go it alone: The recently released “Public Safety Mental Health Action Guide for City Leaders” will walk you through five steps to get started developing the culture and programming that will create supportive work environments that foster mental wellness and healing. Get the guide:

NLC CitiesSpeak Podcast

A microphoneThere’s a new municipal podcast on the block from the National League of Cities’ CEO and Executive Director Clarence Anthony. NLC’s “CitiesSpeak with Clarence Anthony” will be releasing monthly conversations with elected leaders and policy experts who serve cities across the country. Add it to the queue on your favorite podcast platform to get local perspectives from across the nation.

Welcoming Week

A welcome matMany cities in Minnesota will recognize Welcoming Week, Sept. 8-18. Welcoming Week is a national observation launched in 2012 by the nonpartisan organization Welcoming America that is dedicated to strengthening community connections and prosperity by celebrating and welcoming everyone in a community, including immigrant neighbors. The theme for Welcoming Week 2022 is “Where We Belong.” Past festivities have included a kid’s carnival and festivities in Marshall, proclamations and events including a potluck in St. Charles and Winona, and a “human library” storytelling experience at Rochester Public Library. Learn more: