Minnesota Cities Magazine
More from Jul-Aug 2017 issue

Bits & Briefs

Fireworks at the state Capitol Save the Date
Capitol Grand Opening

After four years and a $310 million restoration, the Minnesota State Capitol is open to the public. The building has been returned to its former glory and is ready for the next 100 years! To commemorate the occasion, the state of Minnesota is having a Grand Opening Celebration Aug. 11–13. The celebration will include fireworks, concerts, demonstrations by artisans, behind-the-scenes tours, and more. The state wants cities to be involved with the event and is asking them to:

  • Pass a resolution encouraging residents to attend the Grand Opening.
  • Make a 15-second video about what the Capitol means to their city. The videos will be played throughout the weekend and included in a time capsule.
  • Attend the “March of Mayors” on the morning of Aug. 11.

The state has sent detailed information to cities about these opportunities to participate. For more information, visit the Capitol Grand Opening website at http://mn.gov/mymncapitol.

Police-Worn Body Cams in Bemidji
State law requires police departments to share their body camera policies and procedures with the public. The Bemidji Police Department, whose officers will begin wearing body cameras this summer, met this requirement by having an informational meeting last spring—but the law wasn’t the only reason for the meeting, says Police Chief Mike Mastin. “We are very interested in the input of the community we are serving,” Mastin says. “We want their opinion.”

Prior to the meeting, the Police Department also conducted an online survey to find out how community members feel about the use of body cameras. “It appears most people are generally in favor [of the body camera policies], and seem to be on board with what we propose,” Mastin says, adding that they will continue to be as transparent as possible about any new policy changes that arise. If your city is using or planning to use police-worn body cameras, check out the League of Minnesota Cities’ information memo at www.lmc.org/bodycam.

Illustration of raised hands of young peopleBrooklyn Park’s Youth in City Government Day
Feeling a divide between the teenagers of your community and your city officials? The City of Brooklyn Park took steps to bridge that generational gap during its annual Youth in City Government Day last spring, when students from the surrounding area met with city officials and department leaders to learn about city operations. They took tours of the Brooklyn Park Fire Department, Operations and Maintenance, Water Treatment Plant, Community Activity Center, and City Hall, and even got to see the inside of a police car, reported the Sun Post. Also on that day, students and city councilmembers really got down to business when they were paired up to discuss topics such as communications, public safety, and youth programs.

Not only did this event provide students with a better understanding of how the decisions made by the city affect their day-to-day lives, but it also allowed elected officials and city staff to discover new ways they can connect with the young leaders of their community. “Engaging young people in their city’s social and civic infrastructure builds the connection and interest of youth to their city and lifts their voices to those that make decisions about them each day,” said Pam McBride, the city’s youth services coordinator.

Tom Grundhoefer honored with Public Attorney Career Award
The Douglas K. Amdahl Public Attorney Career Achievement Award intends to recognize public attorneys who have made many significant contributions to public service and who are recognized as models of the dedication and commitment of public attorneys. Tom Grundhoefer fits that description perfectly, and he posthumously received the 2017 Amdahl Award in May from the Minnesota State Bar Association-Public Law Section.

Grundhoefer dedicated four decades of his life to public service before his unexpected death last February. The League of Minnesota Cities was lucky enough to have him on its staff for more than 30 years, the last 20 as general counsel. During his long tenure with the League, Grundhoefer came to the rescue of Minnesota cities by helping them understand how various laws and judicial rulings affect their communities.

His colleagues who nominated him for the award said, “Whoever you were, whoever you represented, or whatever title or position you had or didn’t have … you left Tom’s presence feeling listened to and respected. Feeling ‘served.’ Tom’s commitment to serve others stands out as a shining example of a public law career well-served—a government lawyer to emulate.”

Illustration of a playgroundWaconia 7-Year-Old Makes Philanthropic Wish for City
Just like every other 7-year-old, Quinn Larsen of Waconia loves slides. Not like every other 7-year-old, Larsen has a cochlear implant to help remedy a hearing impairment. Unfortunately, this implant can be broken from the static shock of a typical playground slide. So last March, Larsen and his family presented a check for $5,000 on behalf of the Make-A-Wish Foundation to the City of Waconia to help build an antistatic playground for Larsen and all children in the community. The city is working to raise more funds to make sure Larsen’s wish is fulfilled

“This family and this child gave the city a true gift, something that no one would have blamed him for keeping for himself,” says Mayor Jim Sanborn. “But they decided to pay it forward and try to make a difference for other people.”

GraffitiStudent Group Seeks Graffiti-Free Parks
Teenagers are often the ones who get blamed for graffiti in city parks. But in the City of International Falls, a group of sixth through 12th graders is bringing attention to the tidying up that is needed in their community’s parks. Thanks to a grant from the Department of Human Resources’ Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Division, students in The Spirit of Borderland group at Falls High School are working on a photo voice project that will highlight the things they notice—positive and negative—in the public areas of their city.

Beth Slatinski, planning and implementation coordinator at the high school and mentor of the student group, says the students have been taking photos of their parks and public spaces and will later present their shots to the community in an art gallery. Slatinski and Spirit of Borderland students ran their project by the International Falls City Council after showing pictures of one city park that was covered in graffiti. The students hope to collaborate with the Council on some projects, and want to make International Falls a better to place to live not just for themselves, but also for the older generations in their city.

“They want to see [city parks] not full of graffiti,” Slatinski says, “and they’re willing to help wherever they can.”

Read the July-August issue of Minnesota Cities magazine

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