Friday, February 17, 2017

'I Love My City!' A Second Helping from the LMC Board

In honor of Valentine's Day week, we reached out to the League of Minnesota Cities Board of Directors with a simple question—what do you love about your city? We got back plenty of answers, each one different and a reflection of the city and city official!

See the first scoop of city love here: 'I Love My City!' These LMC Board Members Tell Us Why.

Read on for more highlights from their responses:

"I love Hopkins because of the great downtown we have and the great people that make
up this city. There is a lot of pride." Mike Mornson, city administrator of Hopkins, MN
"We love our quarries, our central Minnesota location, our farmland, and our diverse
population. Pictured above is my favorite 'gem,' Transformer Quarry." Shaunna Johnson,
city administrator of Waite Park, MN.
"Bloomington somehow manages to feel like a small town (residents are involved, informed, and passionate),
a comfortable suburb, and a bustling big city all at once." Tim Busse, city councilmember in Bloomington
"I love St. Anthony Village because we are a small 'village' in the middle of the big city. ... Collaboration is in our DNA, and I know that we are stronger through our many partnerships." Mark Casey, city manager of St. Anthony Village
"I love Carver because it preserves and balances the natural environment, heritage, and growth opportunities in the community. Over half of the city’s land area is conserved within the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, the downtown has nearly one-hundred buildings with late 19th century architecture preserved on the National Register of Historic Places, all while balancing new growth." Brent Mareck, city manager of Carver, MN
"I love my city because it has a ‘can-do’ attitude. We have great people who are not afraid to invest in our
needs and take care of our infrastructure." Dave Smiglewski, mayor of Granite Falls, MN
Photos submitted by LMC board members

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

'I Love My City!' These LMC Board Members Tell Us Why

In honor of Valentine's Day week, we reached out to the League of Minnesota Cities Board of Directors with a simple question—what do you love about your city? We got back plenty of answers, each one different and a reflection of the city and city official!

Plenty of board members love the cities they live and work in because they're darn proud of all their cities have to offer. Take a road trip of these locales to see cities of all sizes that are retaining and growing businesses, offering places to play and enjoy the outdoors, and delivering city services with an eye on smart investments.

But board members also pointed out plenty of things that really say, "It's personal." From local lore to a good vibe with the neighbors, a sense of community wins the day when it comes to winning their hearts.

Read on to see some highlights in their own words! And see a second helping of love for cities here:
'I Love My City!' A Second Helping from the LMC Board.

I love my city because it is just the right size! It is small enough that we know each other and we can all count on a neighborly presence in good times (athletics and community projects/events) as well as support in bad times (fundraising events and a helping hand)! Yet it is big enough that we have exciting things going on." Tina Rennemo, city administrator of Baudette, MN

"I love my city because everyone cares about our community, and many citizens and groups are working
on ways to keep our community moving forward." Steve Nasby, city administrator of Windom, MN.

"I love my city because Olivia is a very distinctive small town. There definitely is a feeling of
neighbor helping neighbor in our community. Olivia has everything needed in a small community ...
[including] an award-winning coffee shop!"  Sue Hilgert, mayor of Olivia, MN
"'I'm from Bemidji and I couldn't be prouder … and if you don't believe me, I'll yell a little louder!' That old cheer from my days at Bemidji High School still rings true today! I love my city and I'm always willing to talk about Bemidji with anyone who is willing to listen. I enjoy describing how this former lumber town has rebuilt itself ... without sacrificing its “lumberjack” character." Ron Johnson, city councilmember in Bemidji, MN
Photos submitted by LMC board members

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Future Cities Competition Brings City Services to a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Ever wanted to design your own city from scratch? Middle-schoolers from around the state recently had that opportunity at the 2017 Regional Future City Competition. Nearly 50 teams of middle-schoolers gathered at Dunwoody Institute in Minneapolis to show off the city dioramas they built and to present information about how their cities were planned.

The League had the opportunity again this year to judge the “Building Quality Communities” special award. League judges looked for cities that promoted ideas to improve and maintain a high quality of life for residents. Many teams had outstanding ideas for this category, which made our decision difficult.

Three of Basabillion's student planners use the force
of good city planning and local government services.
This year’s recipient of the “Building Qualities Communities” award is “Basabillion,” designed by students from Black Hawk Middle School, located in Eagan. The team was very proud of their fictional city, which was inspired by the Star Wars planet of Endor.

According to members of the winning team, Basabillion has a native population of Ewoks (think teddy bears) as well as human citizens that share the city. The design of Basabillion started with solid infrastructure and services to create a better community. Residents can get from place to place by a taxi carpool service run through an app. The streets light up at night and are intended to be pedestrian friendly. For safety, the city uses community policing and plain-clothed officers. There is universal healthcare and a high minimum wage for all citizens. Citizens enjoy top-notch museums and history centers for fun things to do.

One of the most unique features of the city of Basabillion is its sense of community. The students designed public gathering spaces and programs to promote engagement between residents. Humans and the Ewok population live together in respect and harmony.

Black Hawk Middle School students did a fantastic job of designing a thriving community in their city of Basabillion. Not to mention that it’s always good to know we have a young generation of Star Wars enthusiasts.

All the students displayed great passion and talent for designing their cities. We would like to congratulate all the teams at the Future Cities competition. We hope to see you involved in local government one day!

See recaps of past Future City Regional Finals and the Building Quality Communities Award winners:

What Makes 'Crystal Waters' Sparkle? Future City Competition 2016

Future City 2015 and the Building Quality Communities Award

Cities of the Future as Imagined by Students of Today (2014)

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Spotted: Minnesota City Officials at the 2017 Leadership Conferences

Hundreds of city officials across Minnesota started the new year running by attending one of the 2017 Leadership Conferences!

Newly elected officials gathered in both Mankato and Bloomington (with one training yet to go in February) to get the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in their new municipal roles. Meanwhile, experienced officials connected in Bloomington to discuss race equity and how to ensure city policies shape our communities in a way that all feel welcome.

An attendee chats with workshop presenter and Shorewood Finance
Director Bruce DeJong during a break at the Newly Elected
Officials Leadership Conference in Mankato, held Jan. 20-21.

Topics covered at the Newly Elected Officials Leadership Conference
include a 20,000-foot view of their responsibilities as a city leader,
finance fundamentals and the budgeting process, the ethical responsibilities
and legal realities of public office, and how to create more collaborative councils.

Attorney Korine Land reviews a city council's authority and limitations
with nearly 200 newly elected officials who attended the Bloomington location .

Julie Nelson, senior vice president at the Center for Social
Inclusion (CSI), welcomes attendees to the 2017 Leadership Conference
for Experienced Officials, while her co-presenter Glenn Harris
(R, sitting on the stage) - president of CSI - listens in.

More than 100 city officials from across Minnesota
gathered in Bloomington Jan. 27-28 to focus on race equity and
discuss how we can make our communities more inclusive.

Presenter Glenn Harris leads attendees in an exercise on race equity.

A big thanks to all of you who participated in one of our 2017 Leadership Conferences! And we're looking forward to seeing even more of you at the final Newly Elected Officials Leadership Conference (Feb. 24-25 in Brainerd).

Here's to a great new year for *all* Minnesota's cities and leaders!

Photo credit: LMC staff

Monday, January 23, 2017

Highlights from the Jan-Feb 2017 Issue of Minnesota Cities Magazine

The Jan-Feb issue of Minnesota Cities magazine is here! Start the new year off right with inspiration,
ideas, and important background on city issues that will affect our work in 2017.

Some of the highlights:

"Bonding omnibus bill"—it's a fancy term to describe how the state helps fund projects like construction of water treatment facilities and road reconstruction that impact your residents every. day. See what went wrong during the last legislative session (where legislators failed to pass a bonding bill) and how cities left in the lurch are responding in 2017 Legislative Session: Seeking State Funds for Crumbling Infrastructure.

You know the saying, "Once a strategic planning consultant, always a strategic planning consultant." In his column, Executive Director Dave Unmacht shares some of his expertise for making your city's next sit-down a healthy and productive one in St. Paul to City Hall: The Making of a Successful Strategic-Planning Session.

Does your city's good news deserve a standing ovation, but it sounds more like crickets? See how you can break through to get important city news and events picked up by local news outlets in Message Matters: How to Get the Media to Cover Your (Good) City News.
And as always, check out From the Bench for summaries of recent court cases, Ideas in Action to see the latest and greatest city projects and programs, and Bits & Briefs for a roundup of city conversation-starters.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Advocacy and Economic Development in Greater MN Cities

Economic development is more important than ever for cities in Greater Minnesota that want to strengthen their communities and maintain or improve quality of life for residents. Past LMC Board President Steve Nasby, city administrator of Windom, knows the issue inside and out. His experience has taught him that seemingly unrelated issues like workforce housing, good roads, and access to broadband, can make all the difference when attracting employers to set up shop in your city. In this video, Nasby shares his thoughts on getting your city's voice heard at the Capitol on these important issues—regardless of where you are in the state.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Law Enforcement Appreciation Day in Minnesota

Gov. Dayton has proclaimed Jan. 9, 2017 to be Law Enforcement Appreciation Day to recognize the service and sacrifice of all law enforcement. Kinda a big deal.

 Read the governor's Law Enforcement Appreciation Day proclamation here.

“Every day and night, law enforcement officers put their lives on the line to protect and serve communities across our state,” said Gov. Dayton in his press release. “Today, we recognize the service and sacrifice of those brave men and women, and their families. Minnesota is a safer, stronger, better state thanks to their unwavering service.”

To all the law enforcement officials in Minnesota: beat cops, investigators, clerks and support staff, community service officers, dispatchers, captains, head honchos, and everyone in between, the League would like to second that. Thank you for the work—and all the heart—you put into keeping cities safe every day and leading innovation in the field.

Here are just a few highlights of Minnesota law enforcement leading the way:

Working Together—Duluth’s ‘Embedded Social Worker’ Program
Making Minnesota Cities Home for Immigrants
The Future of Policing
Credentialing of the Professional Police Chief

It's not easy, but it's important work, and might we add, you look GREAT in blue (and black, and plain clothes ...).

Want more information and news about law enforcement topics? Check out On the Line, LMC's blog dedicated to public safety risk management.