Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Six Minnesota communities receive honors from League of Minnesota Cities
City-administered initiatives involving public safety education, service collaboration, emergency medical training, and promoting economic development through the arts were recognized today when the League of Minnesota Cities announced City of Excellence Award winners for 2013. The awards were presented today at the League’s Annual Conference in St. Paul. To compete for consideration as a City of Excellence, cities nominated a project, program, or initiative that was administered to achieve one or more of the following: improvement of the quality of a city service, development of an effective or innovative way to solve an old or common problem, modification of a program from another community or organization to fit city needs, discovery of a way to save the city money without compromising service results, and/or creative involvement of city staff or citizens in making a decision.Winning entries were chosen in three population categories and in a special topical category. A description of each winning nomination follows.
Population under 5,000
Cities of Centerville, Circle Pines, and Lexington (joint project) – Ticket Education Program
The Ticket Education program is a collaborative effort between the Centennial Lakes Police Department, its joint-powers cities of Centerville, Circle Pines, and Lexington, and its appointed prosecutors. The program promotes public safety education on the web. Low-level offenders go to class instead of court, and the offender’s citation is dismissed upon graduation from a web-based class. The program gives law enforcement officials a one-on-one opportunity to tailor education specific to the offense on the offender’s citation. The educational aspect of the program has proven to be a better enforcement mechanism than the traditional low-level ticket enforcement. Additionally, the program has the unexpected benefit of being a friendlier way to police low-level offenses. Officers found that once offenders learned of the option to take a class instead of going to court, their interaction with officers became more relaxed.
Population 5,000 to 19,999
City of St. Anthony Village  – Collaborating for a Strong Future
With a renewed emphasis on forging a network of collaboration with numerous government entities, the City of St. Anthony has been able to build relationships that enable the city to maintain and expand a variety of services throughout city departments that may have otherwise not existed. Examples of collaborations initiated in 2012 include providing complete financial services like payroll for the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization and utility billing for the City of Birchwood Village, contracting human resources with the City of New Brighton, contracting planning and engineering services with certified professionals, providing a fueling station for the City of New Brighton’s fleet, and participating in mutual fire safety training with the cities of Columbia Heights and Fridley. This new emphasis on collaboration has proved to be fundamental to the city’s mission of providing existing and expanded services, particularly in an era of diminishing resources and increased demand.
Population 20,000+
City of Woodbury – “Take Heart” Woodbury
While the City of Woodbury’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) team takes great pride in its fast response time, a single minute can be the determining factor between life and death for those experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. With this in mind, the City of Woodbury’s Public Safety Department created an aggressive, proactive initiative with a lofty goal of training 7,000 city residents in the administration of CPR within a single year. That goal was reached in February of 2013 due, in part, to the commitment of community and staff leaders, including the City’s EMS commander and two paid, on-call firefighters. The success of the project ensures that at least 10 percent of Woodbury’s population can now perform “Hands Only” CPR before additional medical services responders arrive at the scene of a resident experiencing cardiac arrest. An additional benefit of the program is that the collaborative effort strengthened city relationships with other organizations and residents in the community.
Topical category – Promoting Economic Development
City of Chatfield – Center for the Arts
In early 2010, the Chatfield Economic Development Authority determined that one of the best economic development efforts it could pursue would be to acquire a set of buildings that had formerly been used as a school, repurpose them into an art/cultural center, and breathe new vitality into the downtown area. The primary purposes of the center were identified as retention of current city residents, attraction of new ones, and creation of a stronger social fabric and economic vitality within the community. City officials believed that a fully functioning center would cause supporting and complementary businesses to develop in the historic downtown area, and initiated the project with that goal in mind. The first phase of this project – which includes introduction of the concept to community residents, gaining public acceptance, building collaborations, and developing a funding base that indicates feasibility – was recently completed, and the project is currently proceeding on schedule.