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Read about awards, recognition, projects, celebrations, staff changes, and other announcements about Minnesota cities.

Awards & Recognition

Congratulations, newly certified city clerks

Forty-seven city clerks recently earned various levels of certification. Encouraging professional development is one way cities can support their employees in providing excellence in governance and service delivery to residents, and the League congratulates the clerks for this accomplishment.

—See the list of newly certified city clerks

Brooklyn Center former streets supervisor recognized

Todd Berg, fire chief and former streets and parks supervisor in Brooklyn Center, was honored recently with an award from the Minnesota Chapter of the American Public Works Association. Berg was the winning finalist in the category of Supervisor/Superintendent.

Berg was highly deserving of the honor, said Amy Grothaus, associate principal at Braun Intertec and president of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Public Works Association, adding that public works officials often perform their public service duties quietly and without public recognition. She said she applauds the efforts of all public works employees throughout the state, and welcomes the opportunity to give public recognition to those who serve so well.

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Monticello receives broadband award

The Blandin Foundation recently recognized the City of Monticello with its Courageous Leadership Award. Monticello was recognized for its early recognition of the importance of telecommunications to its economic future and for its perseverance in deploying a fiber-optic network, FiberNet, that has transformed the city’s technology capabilities.

“Thanks to this municipally owned fiber-to-the-home network, the City of Monticello has transitioned from a poorly connected community to one of the top connected communities in the nation,” said Bernadine Joselyn, director of public policy and engagement at Blandin Foundation. “Monticello leaders never wavered in their belief that access to broadband is essential to everything from economic vitality to quality of life.”

“Vitality can’t be divided between urban and rural; all communities deserve the tools necessary to thrive in the modern world,” said Monticello City Administrator Jeff O’Neill. “Thanks to our leaders’ courage of conviction, FiberNet remains an asset in the community more than a decade after its initial inception.”
Source: Monticello Times

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Minnesota cities included among the ‘best’

Four Minnesota cities were among those named on the list of USA Today’s 50 Best Cities to Live In. The City of Moorhead came in at No. 14. Its recent population growth, low unemployment rate, and employment growth were among the reasons cited for its high placement on the list. Other Minnesota cities on the list were Rochester (22), Sartell (34), and Grand Rapids (50).

The list is based on a weighted index of 25 measures from the U.S. Census Bureau, the FBI, and other sources. The measures fall into one of four categories: affordability, economy, quality of life, and community. All boroughs, census-designated places, cities, towns, and villages with at least 8,000 residents were considered for the list.

Grants

Hutchinson receives tree grant

A $30,000 grant from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will help the City of Hutchinson plant new trees in its efforts to mitigate an emerald ash borer (EAB) infestation.

Back in 2010, the city started setting aside funds annually for EAB prevention efforts, and in 2014 it began to cut down ash trees and replace them with different varieties. At that time, approximately 20% of the city’s 28,000 trees were ash.

The city has been cutting down approximately 50 ash trees annually, but with this new grant it hopes to speed the process up significantly. With the grant dollars and a $7,500 match from the city, the goal is to replace 300 trees over the next two years.

Source: Hutchinson Leader

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Waseca receives federal grant to create jobs

The City of Waseca is receiving nearly $396,000 from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration to help restore jobs lost as a result of losing its largest employer, Quad Graphics, in 2017. About 350 people lost their jobs when Quad closed. The money will be used to hire a recovery coordinator to reduce unemployment and underemployment and recruit new business. The position will be in place for three years.

Staff News

Picha and Richardson retire from Woodbury

Woodbury Community Development Director Dwight Picha retired in early 2020 after 43 years of service with the city. In his role, he led a department responsible for providing planning, economic development, inspections, housing, and code enforcement services. Picha’s long-term vision for high-quality development and managed growth helped Woodbury grow from a population of 8,000 to 73,000 during his tenure. Picha started working for Woodbury under the leadership of the city’s first mayor, Orville Bielenberg, and has worked with every mayor in the city’s history.

Woodbury Emergency Services Commander Mike Richardson retired in late 2019 after 43 years of service with the city, including more than a decade as fire chief. After serving many years as a paid on-call firefighter and then as fire chief with the city, he became the emergency services commander in 2010. In that role, he was primarily responsible for emergency preparedness and the city’s emergency communications plan, which serves as the foundation of the city’s disaster and emergency planning efforts. He also led the expansion of the city’s health and safety program, ensuring city staff continue to work in a safe and productive environment.

Leadership

Maple Grove Mayor appointed to Transportation Advisory Board

The Metro Cities Board of Directors has appointed Maple Grove Mayor Mark Steffenson to the Metropolitan Council Transportation Advisory Board (TAB). The board is keenly involved in the region’s transportation planning process and is made up of state, regional, and local officials; transportation providers; and community members. TAB members review and comment on plans produced by the Met Council and recommend projects for federal funding.

Steffenson’s interest in being a member of TAB is rooted in the foundation of good planning and sound investment for the continued growth and expansion of the region. “The role transportation plays in any area is critical to job centers, health care, transit, and movement of freight, but also impacts residents’ everyday actions such as getting to the grocery store, school, or place of worship,” Steffenson said.