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City Manager Blog

Each week I send out an FYI Update to City Council and staff on the latest happenings within the City of Maplewood.  I would like to share this information with the residents of Maplewood, as well. 

Follow my blog if you would like to be kept up to date on the behind the scenes happenings within the City. 

Nov 19

November 19, 2021

Posted on November 19, 2021 at 12:55 PM by Chad Bergo

COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK: November 19th , 2021

 

Meetings and Announcements:    

 

• The next City Council meeting will be held on Monday, November 22nd.

• Please note that we will be returning to zoom meetings for the foreseeable future. This has been reinstated by Mayor Abrams due to the extremely high levels of positive Covid cases. We have surpassed the benchmark of 50 positive cases in 100,000 population for over two weeks. Today’s number was 75 per 100K.

• Reminder that City Offices will be closed next Thursday and Friday for the Thanksgiving holiday.

• The last Council meeting of the year will be on December 13th at 7 pm. There will not be a workshop.

  

ADMINISTRATION


Maplewood’s wellness program has helped save the city more than $1 million in health care costs since it started in 2010. The program covers a wide range of topics focusing on preventative care, tips on living healthier and better understanding mental wellness. It’s helped many Maplewood employees lead more active, healthier lives. Three of our employees shared their personal road to better health.

 

ICMA recognizes communities for their commitment to the principles of performance management. Maplewood received our first award with our first entry that was submitted by Lois Knutson and Mike Sable.

We are grateful to get the award and will continue to strive to achieve the next two award levels. Thanks for Lois and Mike for applying for this award on the City’s behalf.

Nov 16, 2021 | ARTICLE

 

ICMA recognizes communities for their commitment to the principles of performance management and effective communication of their performance data with residents and peer communities.

Depending on the level of recognition, Excellence being the highest, criteria include incorporation of data gathering and verification, public reporting, benchmarking and networking, strategic planning, community surveying, staff development, dashboarding, and continuous improvement.

For more information, visit the certificates in performance management page. For those interested in applying for the 2022 Certificates in Performance Management, the criteria and application form will be posted when it is available.

Certificate of Achievement

  • Bettendorf, Iowa
  • Chester County, Pennsylvania
  • Costa Mesa Sanitary District, California
  • DeLand, Florida
  • Elk Grove, California
  • Frisco, Texas
  • Georgetown, Texas
  • Hudson, Ohio
  • Lake Wales, Florida
  • Maplewood, Minnesota
  • St. Lucie County, Florida
  • Stanly County, North Carolina
  • Temple, Texas

 

PUBLIC SAFETY

 

New Embedded Social Worker coming soon

The Public Safety Department is pleased to announce that the department will be adding a second embedded social worker in partnership with Ramsey County.  The second social worker will begin training with the Mental Health Outreach Team on December 6th, 2021.  Maplewood’s approach to mental health has become a model in the region. Both of our embedded social workers and mental health outreach team members will continue to work collaboratively to address the needs of the community.

 

 

PUBLIC WORKS

 

Notes from residents- Steve Love passed this on for you to see. Always great to share positive feedback.

A couple of residents sent some nice messages to the engineering department this week.  I thought you would like to see them.

 

The first one came in to Tyler (see attached image below) and Tyler sent it out to the engineering team.   His email is as follows:

 

Good Morning Team,

The attached card reminds me of all the good we do here at the City, please take a moment to read.   The excellent service the Engineering Division provides to the residents of this City wouldn’t be possible without all of you. So… thank you for all you do, it matters.

 

Tyler-

 

The second one came in to Lu about John DuCharme.  John is in the process of helping a resident who has an issue with their private sanitary sewer service line to their house.

              

Hello Lu

John is really a wonderful man.  He answered all my questions,  His work attitude is absolutely amazing.  He went beyond my expectation.

If I have to rate him on Yelp or BBB, I would give him 5 star *****.  I also believe his boss (whoever boss) does the good job too by hiring the right person and providing the good leadership, and culture within his department.

I would also like to thank you for helping me.  You're great and respond to my questions promptly and friendly.

Sincerely,

 

Johnathan Nguyen

651-503-2048 Cell

JVUNGUYEN@YAHOO.COM

 

Parks and Natural Resources

 

Volunteer Meet and Greet at the Nature Center

The Parks and Natural Resources Department hosted a volunteer meet and greet at the Maplewood Nature Center on Wednesday afternoon. Long time and new volunteers attended to learn about a variety of upcoming opportunities at the Nature Center and other open space sites. In between hot chocolate, cookies and socializing, volunteers were asked to complete a form to update their contact information and indicate which activities they would like to be involved with in the future. Many attendees expressed that they hoped we would do more of these and that they were glad to be back in the Nature Center.

 

                                                                                    

Edgerton Community Garden

The last day of gardening at the Edgerton Community Garden was October 18.  Gardeners were asked to remove all fences, tomato cages, and trellises.   Weeds, corn stalks, tomato plants, and non-woody plants went into the compost bin.  Staff joined them and helped gardeners as needed.  Most gardeners did a great job clearing their garden and preparing it for winter. Century College students assisted the City in final shut down of the gardens on November 10. Professor Korpik and his biology students pulled weeds, picked up trash, and other garden choirs as part of their service learning.

 

The 2022 Edgerton Garden registration will begin in February for returning gardeners and March for new gardeners. In 2022 the City will transition management of the garden from Carole Gernes, Natural Resources Coordinator, to Shann Finwall, Environmental Planner.

  

Fall Clean Up Campaign

The City offers disposal and recycling events and opportunities throughout the month of October. The Fall Clean Up Campaign also includes education and outreach on reducing, reusing, and recycling. One of the events was the October 9 shredding event which was summarized in a previous FYI. This FYI summarizes the results of the reduced price bulky item collection by Republic Services and the free mattress collection by Second Chance Recycling.

 

Reduced Price Bulky Item Collection: Prior to the City’s organized trash hauling, the City held two clean up events, one in the spring and one in the fall. The events allowed residents to drop off bulky items at Aldrich Arena for recycling or disposal. The events require City funding and staff.  Now the City offers one clean up event in the spring, and promotes the curbside bulky item collection offered by Republic Services as part of the City’s contract in the fall. Curbside bulky item collection is convenient for residents.  Republic Services bills the resident directly for the service. Prices are reduced by 20 percent throughout the month of October. This October Republic Services collected 288 bulky items including refrigerators, furniture, televisions, etc.

 

Free Mattress Collection: New this year Maplewood collaborated with the Ramsey/Washington Recycling and Energy Center to offer free mattress and box spring collection through Second Chance Recycling. There was a limit of four mattresses/box springs per household. Second Chance collected 249 mattresses and 139 box springs.   All parts of the mattress and box spring are recycled, which is not the case when residents dispose of mattresses as a bulky item in the City’s trash program.

 

Bruentrup Farm Event

A Draft from the Past with Beer Choir Twin Cities!

Wed. Nov. 24 6-9pm

Bruentrup Heritage Farm

 

Come on out for a beer-in-the-barn event with Beer Choir Twin Cities, Maplewood Area Historical Society, and Vikings Table Food Truck!

 

Partake in Minnesota's great German Heritage on Thanksgiving Eve in this indoor/outdoor event at the Bruentrup Heritage Farm. Grab a burger, grab a beer, sing a song in the European song leader tradition in the historic 1905 Big Red Barn and maybe learn some Minnesotan/German history along the way!

Dress warmly, we'll be in a barn! All food sales from the Vikings Table Food Truck support the well-being of youth through engaging health and education initiatives with the Minnesota Vikings Foundation. Beer sales support the Maplewood Area Historical Society's Bruentrup Heritage Farm and Beer Choir Twin Cities!

 

Grab your friends, grab your family and join us for this one of a kind Thanksgiving Eve community event!

 

COVID Safety: This is an indoor/outdoor event.  We encourage fully vaccinated folks to attend with or without masks at your discretion.   If you are feeling ill, we ask that you stay home and join us for another event in the future.

 

This is the news for the week.  Have a great weekend. Please call if you have any concerns or questions. I will be on vacation for the rest of today but am available by phone should you need to contact me.

Melinda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

            

Melinda Coleman

651-249-2055

Maximizer | Communication | Responsibility | Woo | Ideation

Nov 08

November 5, 2021

Posted on November 8, 2021 at 9:26 AM by Chad Bergo

COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK: November 5th, 2021

 

Meetings and Announcements:   

• The next City Council meeting will be held on Monday, November 8th.

• 7:00 PM – City Council Meeting. There is not a workshop scheduled and we will not be serving dinner before the Council meeting. As you can see from the Council packet, it will be a very brief meeting.

 

ADMINISTRATION

Donation to Public Safety

Members of Calvary Church raised funds and purchased gift cards for our first responders to hand out to families in need this holiday season. It’s part of their community caring program, which was started in the wake last summer’s social justice movement and pandemic. They hope to build a stronger community bridge between Public Safety and our community. This donation will need to accepted and approved by the City Council. This will be on the November 22nd Council agenda.

 

County social worker makes a difference with Maplewood Public Safety | Ramsey County

This week, Ramsey County featured a story about our embedded social worker program and mental health outreach team (MHOT). If you haven’t met her, Amy Kuusisto-Lathrop, is a Ramsey County social worker who has been assisting Maplewood’s MHOT the past few months. So far, the team has produced tangible results helping connect people in crisis with the proper services and resources.  

 

 

PUBLIC SAFETY

Trunk or Treat with Public Safety staff

Report from Officer Ashley Bergeron –What a successful community engagement event. Thanks to all of our staff that participated. Great turn out for a first-time event.

  

Promotion

I reached out to the Communications Department in mid-September and requested their assistance in coming up with a fun cartoony flyer for the event. They were extremely quick to respond and we had a great flyer ready to go a week or two later. I sent out the flyer to all of our multi-housing complexes and requested our School Resource Officer to share them at all of the schools as well. We did multiple social media posts on the city and the public safety sites. We were able to promote the event on a traffic sign as well as the YMCA digital sign.   It was also advertised in the Maplewood Living magazine. I also sent the flyer and information to KSTP news for their Halloween weekend fun in the cities article.

 

Event Map

This is the tentative map I created to coordinate with the fire department on where various stations would be. The ladder truck had been moved over to the second parking lot, which allowed for some parking for handicapped vehicles among other vehicles. We spoke with the YMCA ahead of time and were given the green light to allow parking for the event there. I created two parking signs that were placed at the entrance next to the City of Maplewood sign, as well as the entrance into the YMCA. Other stations, such as the bean bag toss and drunk goggles obstacle course had to be removed prior to the event start due to staffing shortages.

 

Set Up

When I began my role in this position, to aide in community outreach engagement, I created two banners, one for the Halloween event and one for general community outreach. Often people would refrain from coming to pop-up events if they saw squad cars because they naturally assume it is an active scene or that if the police or first responders are there, they need to steer clear. When they see the banners they know it is an open opportunity to come and engage with us. Several months in advance as I had been planning the event since my first week in this position back September. We utilized four police vehicles; two squad cars, Polaris Ranger, and CSO truck. One squad was decorated like a monster with a monster theme bean bag toss, the other was an “under the sea” theme. The Ranger was decorated police theme where we handed out candy, and mini handcuff stretchy toys, badge stickers, and police department tokens. The CSO truck was decorated Halloween themed. We had an extra city pickup truck in the lot on the event day and one of our on-duty officers decorated it with her own Halloween decorations.

The fire department brought their ladder truck, as well as their black Ford Explorer, and their fire Polaris Ranger. They decorated their Ford Explorer as a black cat.

We had several game stations. The first was a coloring contest where a picnic table was set up with coloring sheets and crayons. Children and parents were told if they put their name and contact phone number for the parent/guardian on the sheet and turned it in they could be a potential winner of the contest. We had 13 children enter their pictures for the contest, and currently, all are hanging up on my office door. Officers and other personnel are urged to vote on their favorite. I will be giving out Maplewood Public Safety swag to all of the participants because they all tried their hardest and they look lovely. We also had a chalk station where the children could draw in the parking spaces. We had a bowling game with candy corn pins and a pumpkin bowling ball.

 

We also had a separate station toward the night entrance where we set up our snacks and music area. There was hot apple cider, bottled water, juice, apple sauce, candy, and freshly popped popcorn from the popcorn machine. The fire department was able to rent wireless speakers from Hejny Rental to play Halloween music on. We also provided Halloween bags for trick or treating for those that did not have any.

I had begun ordering all of the candy and novelty toys mid-September and continued to buy more and more pounds of candy leading up to the event. I estimated that I probably had about seventy pounds of candy prepared before the event, and a few pounds worth of novelty toys and handouts. I estimate we nearly quadrupled that amount during the event.

 

Staffing
 The event had been promoted within public safety a month ahead of time for those interested to have the appropriate amount of time beforehand to schedule around it. The police department had four officers work the event off-duty; two Records Specialists, one of our Community Outreach Liaisons, and we even had one of our Multi-Cultural Advisory Committee members volunteer. We also had three on-duty officers help out during the event with handing out candy and decorating while calls permitted. The fire department had approximately seven employees assisting as well. We even had one of the communications department employees help out when he saw we were in need of supplies; he made several supply runs for the event. We had two public safety employees even bring their families to help volunteer with them in costume for the event.

 

I am so incredibly proud of all of the hard work and dedication all those involved displayed. We expected a lower turn out then what we received (which may be the biggest understatement of the year!). Everyone involved was so incredible with how flexible they were with all of the moving parts as we adapted the event to the large quantity of people. I let each and every one of them know how appreciative I was to have their assistance, and am still in awe of how well they all did. The employees that are staffed in this city are definitely unique and one-of-a-kind when it comes to their role in public service.

 

Turn Out

To say we had a good turnout is not all encompassing of what the event truly was – we had a GREAT turnout. I had expected that we more than likely would have a few hundred in total, including parents and children. We exceeded my expectation nearly a half hour into the event. We already had dressed up families coming in forty minutes before the event started.

bc9efc6e-7798-4f0b-9eda-278583be661fI estimate that we had over five-hundred children and over a thousand total in attendance.

Trunk or Treat 2021 - Entry line WideAs with any larger event, this one did not come without complications. However, the issues that arose never caused any problems and we were able to immediately adapt and move forward. We were able to fix the technical issues right away, and we never ran out of candy to give the children. Once it was noticed our supplies were getting low, we immediately had a dedicated group of people going out and making sure we never reached empty.

 

Trunk or Treat 2021

As We Look to Next Year…

Now that I know the large amount of people this event draws in, I am even more excited to prepare for next year’s. I have a lot of different ideas on how to approach next year’s event and am already brainstorming more ideas each day. I am hoping for next year to have a considerable amount more of candy and novelty toys, weeks in advance – you can never have too much candy. With the appropriate level of staffing and supplies, this annual event had the propensity to be even larger.

 

PARKS AND NATURAL RESOURCES

Staff re-located to Nature Center

Parks and Natural Resource staff have moved into their office this past week. We provided new work stations and made some changes to locks on the bathrooms to separate the public restrooms from the employees. The remodel and cleaning initiatives really turned out well.  I will send some photos next week.

 

Fall 2021 Deer Management – Archery Hunts at Priory Preserve

An aerial survey conducted by Ramsey County this past winter counted an excess number of deer in natural areas north and south of Larpenteur, in less than a square mile of land.   Our target is a maximum of 15 deer per square mile of habitat.  A high deer population impacts public safety through deer/vehicle collisions.  In addition, a high deer population adversely affects vegetation at the preserve and in the surrounding neighborhoods.

As part of Maplewood’s deer management program, archery hunts will be conducted at the Priory Neighborhood Preserve this fall.

There will be two removals on the following dates:

•              Friday-Sunday, October 22, 23, 24            

•              Friday-Sunday, November 12, 13, 14

 

DURING THE HUNTS, THE PRIORY PRESERVE IS CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC.

The removals are being held with the assistance of the Metro Bowhunters Resource Base.  Archers for this year’s hunt have already been selected.   All participating hunters have taken a DNR archery safety class and must pass a shooting proficiency test.

If you have questions about the archery hunts at the Priory Preserve, please contact Carole Gernes at 651-249-2416.

 

Maplewood in the News

https://www.twincities.com/2021/10/30/sainted-thanks-to-all-first-responders-among-them-those-who-helped-my-grandma/  FYI – Cmmd Shortreed was “sainted”

 

This is the news for the week.  Have a great weekend. Please call if you have any concerns or questions. I will be out on vacation next Wednesday through Friday. I will name an Acting City Manager next Tuesday and send contact information before I leave town.

Melinda

Nov 01

October 29, 2021

Posted on November 1, 2021 at 1:33 PM by Chad Bergo

COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK: October 29th, 2021

Meetings and Announcements:    

• The next City Council meeting will be held on Monday, November 8th.
•7:00 PM – City Council Meeting. I am still putting together the workshop schedule. I will have more information on this when we put together the Council agenda on Tuesday of next week.

ADMINISTRATION
Congratulations Commander Shortreed
After 25 years of dedicated service to the City of Maplewood, Commander Mike Shortreed is retiring. Today is his last day. He served many roles in the department and has been an outstanding leader, always a mentor to younger officers. Mike always has a smile and was a fixture at city events. He was instrumental in helping the department heal following Sgt Joe Bergeron’s murder. Commander Shortreed is also a driving force in raising money for Special Olympics Minnesota, organizing and participating in Polar Plunges across the state, helping with the Torch Run and creating a Maplewood golf tournament. Please take a few moments to watch this video highlighting his impact on the charity.

PARKS AND NATURAL RESOURCES
2021 Annual Buckthorn Pickup
In 2021, forty-seven households and one townhome association registered for the annual Maplewood buckthorn pickup.  Volunteers, including Century College Ecology students, also removed buckthorn at two Maplewood Neighborhood Preserves.  With those sites added to the list, we had 49 stops on the list.

Kudos to our residents who removed 240 yards of buckthorn and our Public Works Department who picked it up!  The buckthorn was brought to Ramsey County Corrections for grinding and will be used   to mulch the Corrections Greenhouse floors for their horticulture program and on their trails.

Boulevard Ash Replacement Tree Planting
Last winter the city removed 171 boulevard ash trees with confirmed Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) infestation or those in poor condition.  For the second year, our fall replanting was supported by a Minnesota DNR Emerald Ash Borer Community Forest Response Tree Planting Grant.  Our goal is to replace ash trees removed due to EAB and increase the diversity in our city’s forest with climate resilient species.

This year’s boulevard replacement planting wrapped up this week with a   total of 53 trees were planted on 45 properties. The Communications Department created a fun and educational video documenting the planting process that can be seen here: https://vimeo.com/639747103/2ab0b27a85

Solar Power Hours
Maplewood collaborated with Midwest Renewable Energy to host two Solar Power Hours. A virtual Solar Power Hour on October 8 was attended by 23 people, and an in-person Solar Power Hour at the Nature Center on October 26 was attended by 12 people. The program included solar basics, solar financial benefits, and how the solar group-buy program works. Through the group-buy program the more properties that go solar, the lower the price.   Free, no obligation site assessments and cost estimates are offered by TruNorth, the competitively-selected solar. The deadline to sign up for the site assessment and be considered for the group-buy program is October 31, with solar installations taking place in 2022.

Incentives and funding are in place to help finance solar including:

·         26 percent Federal tax incentive on qualified solar expenditures;

·         Xcel Energy Solar Rewards, which is estimated to be $.03 to $.04 per kwh for ten years;

·         The Center for Energy and Environment and other financial institutions offer solar loan programs with interest rates of 2-1/2 to 4 percent.

For more information https://www.growsolar.org/twin-cities/ 

Hillside Memorial Lost and Found Tree
Maplewood resident Cliff Aichinger worked with staff to create a lost and found tree for Hillside Park in remembrance of his late wife Anne who loved to walk the trails there. Cliff provided all of the supplies and labor and has committed to the upkeep and maintenance of the memorial as he visits the park several times a week. It is a lovely and useful addition to Hillside and we appreciate Cliff’s dedication in caring for our parks.

Fall 2021 Deer Management – Archery Hunts at Priory Preserve
An aerial survey conducted by Ramsey County this past winter counted an excess number of deer in natural areas north and south of Larpenteur, in less than a square mile of land.   Our target is a maximum of 15 deer per square mile of habitat.  A high deer population impacts public safety through deer/vehicle collisions.  In addition, a high deer population adversely affects vegetation at the preserve and in the surrounding neighborhoods.

As part of Maplewood’s deer management program, archery hunts will be conducted at the Priory Neighborhood Preserve this fall.

There will be two removals on the following dates:

  • Friday-Sunday, October 22, 23, 24            
  • Friday-Sunday, November 12, 13, 14

DURING THE HUNTS, THE PRIORY PRESERVE IS CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC.

The removals are being held with the assistance of the Metro Bowhunters Resource Base.  Archers for this year’s hunt have already been selected.   All participating hunters have taken a DNR archery safety class and must pass a shooting proficiency test.

If you have questions about the archery hunts at the Priory Preserve, please contact Carole Gernes at 651-249-2416. 

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
Unsheltered Homelessness Update
Steve Lukin, Community Risk Reduction Coordinator, and Molly Wellens, Health Officer, have been coordinating on the city’s unsheltered homeless response and outreach. In recent weeks they worked with Ramsey County to identify shelter spots for homeless individuals in Maplewood. This resulted in two people moving into the temporary shelter this week at the Luther Seminary site. In addition, Ramsey County was awarded 52 emergency section 8 housing vouchers through the Metropolitan Council HRA that administers the section 8 program for suburban Ramsey County. Ramsey County is prioritizing the vouchers for households that are homeless or fleeing domestic violence. City staff worked with Amy Kuusisto-Lathrop and non-profit partners to process 11 applications for emergency vouchers for homeless individuals in Maplewood. Lastly, three homeless encampments in Maplewood were vacated and cleaned up this week.

Londin Lane Traffic Analysis
City staff met with Ramsey County Public Works on Wednesday to further discuss the traffic concerns on Lower Afton Road for the development of the former fire station property at 2501 Londin Lane. The developer has completed further work on a traffic impact study for the development and the county also agreed to conduct a speed analysis on Lower Afton Rd. The traffic study and speed analysis will be reviewed by Ramsey County staff to determine if any changes or improvement are needed at the Lower Afton/Londin Lane intersection. Our public works staff will also be performing a speed study on Londin Lane in coordination with the police department.  We will keep the council updated on any recommendations or requirements of the county.

This is the news for the week.  Have a great weekend. Please call if you have any concerns or questions.

Melinda