Minnesota Cities Magazine
More from Nov-Dec 2016 issue

Bits & Briefs

kids at the library The Public Library Still Gets Rave Reviews
Libraries are viewed as a safe place to spend time, connect with educational opportunities, and spark creative thinking among young people—those are just a few of the conclusions reported by a Pew Research Center spring 2016 phone survey. The survey, conducted annually since 2011, tracks how respondents use and think about their local libraries. Other interesting data highlighted by researchers: 80 percent of respondents said libraries should “definitely” offer services in the future to help people learn digital tools, but the majority of respondents said they still enjoy traditional library features and are unsure of whether physical books should be moved to make more room for additional meeting spaces or tech resources. To see all the questions and responses, view the report at http://www.pewinternet.org/ 2016/09/09/libraries-2016.

Point-of-Last-Drink Report
The City of Excelsior, a hotspot for boater revelry and lakeshore hospitality, adopted a Liquor Control Policy in 2016 that incorporates data from a “point-of-last drink report” to help cut down on over-serving. The city developed the policy with input from the South Lake Minnetonka Police and local businesses, according to the Sun Sailor. Police offi cers have been collecting point-of-last-drink information since 2014. When officers come in contact with someone with a blood alcohol content of .20 or higher, they ask the person where he or she took the last drink, and they document the location. And while the data may not perfectly capture where a particular person did the bulk of their imbibing, when paired with the Liquor Control Policy, it does give the city an aggregate look at over-serving and an opportunity to check in quarterly with businesses that exceed a threshold of reports based on venue capacity. If a business calls 911 for assistance, that contact will not be counted toward the threshold. The city used these check-ins last summer to help identify causes of over-serving and encourage additional training and monitoring.

River in Ely, MN Ely Thrills National Geographic
The City of Ely was recently listed as one of National Geographic’s “World’s Best Towns for Outdoor Thrills.” The northern Minnesota city is one of only two locales named from North America. Why did Ely catch the eye of the iconic publication? It’s location in the Superior National Forest didn’t hurt. Neither did its proximity to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. But Ely’s outfitters and hospitality businesses got special recognition for whole-heartedly embracing their adventuresome clientele, ensuring travelers get a dose of Minnesota nice to pack for the miles ahead. See the full list by National Geographic at http://on.natgeo.com/2dZN4dI.

Happy 10th Anniversary, Local Government Innovation Awards!
The Local Government Innovation Awards will celebrate their 10th year of promoting eff ective government redesign at an awards event on Dec. 6. Hosted annually by the Humphrey School of Public Aff airs in partnership with the Bush Foundation, the LGIAs recognize projects that move the needle on vexing problems facing today’s communities. The four 2016 winners will receive a professional video and a $5,000 Bush Foundation grant. Learn more at http://lgia.umn.edu.

Internship illustration Need Help? Apply for a MnTAP Intern by Feb. 1
You need time to think outside the box, but you’re busy just keeping the wheels turning. The Minnesota Technical Assistance Program’s (MnTAP) intern program hears that, and can offer cities an opportunity to put a student to work on those “niceto-have” projects that could someday redefine your city operations for the better. Through MnTAP intern assistance, businesses and organizations, including local governments, have been able to streamline processes, inspect where energy waste may be occurring, and put innovative and sometimes darn simple solutions in place. MnTAP is a non-regulatory program in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota and is funded by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Past local government intern recipients are the cities of Woodbury, St. Cloud, Hutchinson, and Rogers, as well as the Southwest Regional Solid Waste Commission. Learn more and apply by Feb. 1 at www.mntap.umn.edu/intern.

A Circle of Safety
The City of Duluth added an additional safety feature—life ring stations—to some of its swimming beaches last fall. The new life rings make it possible for bystanders who may not be able to perform a water rescue to still save the day. The city also developed a maintenance policy for the life ring stations, according to the Duluth News Tribune. The policy will help the city with liability issues and ensures the equipment is ready for action when the need arises.

Drawing of people singing Tuning in to Your Neighbors
“Community Sings” have been enjoying a revival in Minnesota. If the term doesn’t sound familiar, back up 60 years to when they were commonplace: the Minneapolis-based organization Minnesota Community Sings touts a local history of singing in city parks that lasted well into the 1950s. This practice of inviting the public, anyone and everyone, to warm up their pipes and create music together is a time-tested way to release the stress of the daily grind and make new friends. Cities can benefit from these informal events, as they help build community and allow residents a fun way to get to know each other better. And cities can be involved by providing space to gather—such as a city park or a community center. The gathering can happen anywhere large enough to accommodate your crowd and maybe a crock of apple cider during these winter months. Several organizations in the Twin Cities are reviving this tradition, bringing folks together for a range of music, from sea chanties to choral masterworks. Check out Minnesota Community Sings for an example at http://mnsings.com.

Read the Nov-Dec issue of Minnesota Cities magazine