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

Awards & Recognition

Public works director wins national leadership award

Richfield Public Works Director Kristin Asher was recently recognized as a Top Ten Public Works Leader of the Year by the American Public Works Association (APWA). Asher saw a career in the field of public works as an opportunity to use her sociology background and technical engineering skills in a way that helps the community and can improve the lives of its residents. She started with the City of Richfield in 2004 as a project engineer. Eventually, she would assume the position of assistant city engineer, city engineer, and assistant public works director before taking the position of public works director in 2014.

During Asher’s tenure, the city has revitalized its infrastructure to the tune of nearly $100 million. These projects include the reconstruction of Lyndale Avenue, 66th Street, 76th Street, Lyndale Avenue Bridge, and an 85-mile mill and overlay program. In the future, she plans to work with the county to address the state of Nicollet and Penn avenues, as well as revitalize Richfield’s underground utility infrastructure.

“Kristin has shepherded Richfield through projects that have transformed the city into a better place to raise a family or start a business,” said City Manager Katie Rodriguez. “I know that she will continue to deliver projects that will only further enhance the quality of everyone’s lives in the city for years to come.”

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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.

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.

In Memory

Former Jordan Mayor Ron Jabs passed away on July 21 at the age of 68. He was mayor of Jordan for 16 years, from 1993 to 2008. Prior to that, he was a city councilmember for 12 years. Jabs remained active in city government for the rest of his life and was chairman of the Jordan Economic Development Authority (EDA) at the time of his death.

“Ron Jabs dedicated over 40 years of community service to Jordan,” Mayor Tanya Velishek said. “In being mayor, EDA committee representative, or volunteer, Ron dedicated his time and service to better the Jordan community. His commitment and spirit will be remembered from myself and all of those he worked with.”

During his tenure on the Jordan City Council, Jabs served on the League of Minnesota Cities Board of Directors, as the first president of the Scott County Association for Leadership and Efficiency, and as president of the Minnesota Mayors Association. The League honored Jabs in 2009 with the C.C. Ludwig Award, which recognizes city officials for their vision, statesmanship, and unwavering commitment to the public good. The award is considered the League’s highest individual honor for elected officials.

Jabs was a member of the Jordan Commercial Club and was awarded the Outstanding Young Jordanite and Distinguished Service Award during his lifetime. He also chaired the city’s 150th anniversary celebration event. He was a longtime member of the Jordan Historical Society and could always be seen dressed in historical clothing, alongside his wife Connie, at the society’s booth at Celebrate Jordan. Jabs was serving as president of the Historical Society at the time of his death.

Jabs worked 47 years at Minnesota Valley Electric Co-op, retiring in 2015. He is survived by his wife of 43 years, Connie, two sons, and eight grandchildren.

Source: Southwest News Media