City News

Awards, recognition, projects, celebrations, staff changes, and other news about Minnesota cities around the state.

Awards & Recognition


White Bear Lake Named Minnesota Monthly's 'Best Minnesota Town'

White Bear Lake was voted the 2018 "Best Minnesota Town" by a panel of Minnesota Monthly magazine judges. Earlier this year, Minnesota Monthly sent out a call to towns and cities across the state for entries in its second annual “Best Minnesota Town” search. The publication’s editorial team sought the answer to, “Which town most embodies the Spirit of Minnesota?” It was announced Dec. 5 that the town with the most spirit is White Bear Lake.

Dozens of towns heeded the request and submitted their cases on why they should be named best town. The selection process used wide-ranging criteria that included responses from the towns' people to questions about its traits and engagement, qualitative and quantitative research, as well as a popular vote.

Representatives from the top five finalists, Eden Prairie, Fergus Falls, Northfield, Roseville, and White Bear Lake, were invited to attend a “Best Of” party at the Aria in downtown Minneapolis. During the festivities, White Bear Lake was announced the winner by Minnesota Monthly Publisher Tammy Galvin and Director of Marketing, Events and Partnerships Arthur Morrissey.
Source: White Bear Press


Hopkins receives public works Project of the Year Award

The City of Hopkins recently received the Project of the Year Award from the Minnesota Chapter of the American Public Works Association for its Artery Project, which transformed 8th Avenue into a new multi-modal corridor between a planned Green Line Extension Light Rail Transit (LRT) station and the city’s historic downtown.

Hopkins’ Planning and Economic Development department originally imagined the project, which was completed this spring after nearly 10 years of planning, as a way to attract visitors to the downtown business district, provide access to the LRT station, and fill a missing gap between two regional trails. However, as the name suggests, the project turned into much more than a simple connection from point A to point B. The Artery features a wide designated cycle track, pedestrian and community spaces for residents and visitors to enjoy, and various art installations from both local and national artists. The scope of the project required the collaboration, endorsement, and oversight of the City Engineer and entire Public Works Department.

The city celebrated with a ribbon cutting and grand opening event for the Artery in September, closing off the corridor and inviting community members to gather and experience art in its various forms.


Maple Grove Transit receives Transit System of the Year Award

Maple Grove Transit received the 2018 Transit System of the Year Award from the Minnesota Public Transit Association (MPTA). MPTA presents this award to an organization that has demonstrated achievement in efficiency and effectiveness in such areas as ridership, cost, safety, and more.

“Maple Grove Transit had a very transformative year with strategic changes that set a foundation for continued success for years to come. Being recognized by your peers is a great validation of moving in the right direction,” says Maple Grove Transit Administrator Mike Opatz.

The following innovative projects demonstrate that Maple Grove Transit merits the MPTA Transit System of the Year Award:

  • Rebrand of Maple Grove Transit with new logo and graphics.
  • New name, branding, and vehicles for the Dial-A-Ride service—now known as My Ride.
  • New dispatching and scheduling software for My Ride program.
  • Implementation of mobile fare payment for My Ride.
  • TSA security review and audit.

“Our growth has been tremendous,” Opatz says. “We wouldn’t be where we are today without the help of the community members in our transit commission, the City Council, front-line employees, and our providers, Metro Transit and Midwest Paratransit Services. We thank them all for their continued partnership.”


Public Works professionals recognized

The Minnesota Chapter of the American Public Works Association recently honored five public works personnel. Award recipients were:

  • Brian Wagstrom, Public Works Director, City of Minnetonka
  • Lane Wegener and Dale Ronning, Project Coordinators, City of Eagan
  • Robert “Bobby” Brunette, Street Maintenance, City of St Paul
  • Mark Maloney, Director of Public Works, City of Shoreview

These individuals were selected based on exemplary public service within their respective communities by a panel of their peers in a 2018 statewide call for nominations. The first four individuals are the winning finalists in separate categories: Director, Engineering Technician / Field Personnel, and Public Works Maintenance.

Maloney was awarded the Hugo G Erickson Award in recognition of his many years of outstanding service to the Minnesota Chapter of the American Public Works Association.


City of Chatfield receives arts award

The Chatfield Center for the Arts was selected to receive the 2018 Greater Rochester Arts Ardee Award from the Rochester Arts and Cultural Trust. A vibrant arts and cultural scene is essential to the quality of life and economic growth of a community. For the last six years, the Rochester Arts and Cultural Trust has been recognizing those organizations, businesses, individuals, and events that make our cultural scene what it is through the Ardee Awards. Named in recognition of Rochester Mayor Ardell F. Brede’s enduring support of the arts in the Rochester community, the Ardee Awards honor the very best in the visual and performing arts and the humanities and those whose support through leadership, education, and collaboration have had a significant impact on these endeavors.
Source: Fillmore County Journal

Staff News


Eden Prairie PD announces promotions

With the retirement of his predecessor James DeMann, Deputy Chief Greg Weber has become the seventh Chief of Police in Eden Prairie history. A 28-year veteran of the department, Weber started his career as a patrol officer in 1990. He has served as a field-training officer, patrol corporal, patrol sergeant, liaison sergeant, ERU team leader and team commander, support lieutenant, patrol lieutenant, investigations lieutenant, and captain. He was promoted to deputy chief in 2017.

Weber earned a bachelor's degree in law enforcement from Minnesota State University-Mankato, a master's degree in police leadership, administration and education from the University of St. Thomas, and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy.

In other Eden Prairie Police Department news, Lieutenant Bill Wyffels was promoted to the position of captain. Wyffels is a 30-year veteran of the Department and has served as a patrol officer, field-training officer, narcotics officer, detective, digital forensics specialist, patrol sergeant, support sergeant, investigations sergeant, support lieutenant, patrol lieutenant, and investigations lieutenant.

Wyffels earned an associate's degree in law enforcement from Alexandria Technical College and a bachelor's degree in police science from St. Mary’s University.

Leadership News


Roberts elected President-Elect of Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association

Vernell Roberts, general manager of Detroit Lakes Public Utility, has been elected president-elect of the Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association. Roberts was named general manager of Detroit Lakes Public Utility in August 2012. MMUA represents the interests of the state’s 124 city-owned electric and 33 city-owned natural gas utilities. Roberts also serves on the boards of the Western Minnesota Municipal Power Agency and Missouri River Energy Services.

In Memory


Vernon Monroe Owens, Floodwood city councilmember, died on Sept. 30, 2018, at the age of 61. He grew up in San Diego and graduated from Santanna High School. He moved to Floodwood in 1996.

Owens had been a member of the Floodwood City Council since 2008 and was in his third term. He previously served in the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, and Navy. He was active in Floodwood’s veterans community and was commander of the Floodwood VFW.

"Owens should first be remembered as a veteran who served his country," said Floodwood Mayor Jeff Kletscher. "He continued his commitment to civil service by running for City Council. Vern was a dedicated councilmember who rarely missed a meeting, was engaged in the community, and was always willing to step up to assist others."
Source: Star Tribune


Dan Eugene Elwood, former Spring Valley city administrator, passed away on Oct. 8, 2018, at the age of 70. Elwood was born in Estherville, Iowa, and was a graduate of Estherville High School and Central College in Pella, Iowa. After college, he eventually moved to Spring Valley, where he settled and raised his family. He later lived in Madison, Minnesota, until he found his way back to Estherville, Iowa, where he has made his home for the last 18 years.

Elwood was a city administrator for 20 years, 15 of which were in Spring Valley. He was also a past board member of the League of Minnesota Cities and past president of the Minnesota Association of Small Cities. After his retirement from city administration and his move back to Estherville, he continued to do some consulting work for small cities in Minnesota. He then went to work at Forest Ridge Youth Services in Estherville for a few years before he fully retired. He enjoyed his work at Forest Ridge and found joy in talking to and helping the young girls at the facility.
Source: Bluff Country Newspaper Group