Minnesota Cities Magazine

Bits & Briefs

Local Government Innovation Awards: Recognizing a Dirty Job Done Right
The City of Eden Prairie’s Utilities Division received top honors in the city category of the 2016 Local Government Innovation Awards. The city won for a system that removes the crud deposited by storm sewers from bodies of water, including ponds and wetlands, that may otherwise be inaccessible to large dredging equipment.

The awards, sponsored by the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs in partnership with the Bush Foundation, are co-sponsored by the League of Minnesota Cities, the Association of Minnesota Counties, Minnesota Association of Townships, and the Minnesota School Boards Association. The awards recognize projects in four different categories: cities, counties, schools, and townships.

Additional city award winners:

  • The City of St. Paul’s Public Works team was recognized for transforming their snowplow operations.
  • The Minneapolis Division of Solid Waste and Recycling was recognized for its organics recycling education and outreach.
  • The City of Alexandria was recognized for its “Missing Link” Complete Streets demonstration project.
  • The City of Albert Lea was recognized for its Blue Zones Project. (Read more about Blue Zones below.)
  • To see all categories and winners, visit http://lgia.umn.edu.

photo of a woman swimmingThe Blue Zones Project
More than 350 residents from the Chisago City, Center City, Shafer, Taylors Falls, and Lindstrom area turned out for a rally and community event last fall to learn more about “Blue Zones” and living for longevity. The event was organized by the area’s Healthy Living Team, which brings together com¬munity volunteers and repre¬sentatives from participating cities, businesses, schools, families, and health care workers all dedicated to making public health improvements.

What’s a Blue Zone? As described by author Dan Buettner, Blue Zones are areas of the world where people enjoy longer average lifespans than anywhere else on earth, based on findings by longevity researchers. Researchers identified nine “Basic Principles” of living longer that could be incorporated into our community’s built environment, policies, and networks to add candles to the birthday cake. As an extension of this research, communities can sign up for the “Blue Zones Project” to jumpstart communitywide collaboration geared toward making the healthy choice the easy choice. The City of Albert Lea was the first Blue Zones Project pilot city in 2009, and won a Local Government Innovation Award this year (see above) for its ongoing commitment. Learn more about the Blue Zones Project at www.bluezones.com/services/blue-zones-project.

Fond Memories of Duke Addicks
Former LMC employee Duke Addicks He was a famed storyteller, but the towering local government legacy of retired League of Minnesota Cities employee, Mentor “Duke” Charles Addicks Jr., is no tall tale. Addicks died in November at the age of 76. He first came to the League in 1973, when it was called the Minnesota Reference Bureau and was still a part of the University of Minnesota Extension Service.

Addicks was the League’s first legislative counsel and was involved in securing some of the first redevelopment authorities for cities. He was instrumental in updating the Municipal Planning Act, the Joint Powers Act, and the Municipal Purchasing Act. His efforts led to the 1980 law that authorized the formation of the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust. Addicks also took the lead on projects such as the first Handbook for Minnesota Cities and the League’s codification service. His friends and family will remember him for his numerous scholarly and cultural pursuits outside of the League; in addition to storytelling, Addicks was an accomplished musician. He will be missed.

treesTree Trek
Spruce Up Austin (SUA), a community beautification nonprofit with an emphasis on trees in the City of Austin, embraced its 25th year in 2014 by establishing “The Spruce Up Austin Tree Trek” as a gift to the city. The half-mile Tree Trek, located along a lakeside public path, now features over 60 different types of tree plantings with educational displays and species markers. A planned expansion in 2017 will bring the total to 75 trees. Each tree planted is a different species recommended for Southeast Minnesota, and QR codes on the markers allow visitors to use their cell phones to scan for more information about the tree species in front of them.

SUA worked closely with the Austin Parks and Forestry Division, which provided planting assistance and other expertise, as well as the University of Minnesota Extension forestry team and community volunteers. The city donated the first tree planted—an Avatar Colorado Blue Spruce. Learn more at www.spruceupaustin.org/tree-trek.

Labor Arbitration in 2016
Arbitration image QUESTION: How many labor arbitration decisions did the League of Minnesota Cities’ Research and Information Services staff summarize in 2016?
ANSWER: More than 50! All of the summaries can be found in the Arbitration Award Summaries Database, available at http://www.lmc.org/arbitration. Brief descriptions can be searched by category, employee group, date, or arbitrator, and each entry links to a PDF summary of the dispute. Cities can use this resource to spot trends and better anticipate how similar situations could play out in future arbitration proceedings.

Dip Your Toes in Solar Thermal
More and more cities with outdoor swimming pools are considering using solar thermal energy as a supplement to existing heating systems, according to Minnesota’s Clean Energy Resource Teams. But there’s no need to jump in head first to see what your city’s potential energy savings may be. Figuring out the cost of installation and the long-run energy savings in advance just got easier with the one-two combo of a free software system called RETScreen and a new manual designed to help you use it. The 14-page manual, developed by a University of Minnesota program assistant with the Southwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership, will help your city crunch the numbers using the RETScreen software to determine when cost savings will pay off the installation costs of such a project, and help you make smart decisions about paying for summer fun. View the guide at http://bit.ly/2gSdJGi.

Read the Jan-Feb issue of Minnesota Cities magazine

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