City News

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

Awards & Recognition

Cities Recognized for Communications Excellence
Several cities recently received awards from the Minnesota Association of Government Communicators (MAGC) for work completed in 2016. Plymouth Communications Manager Helen LaFave also received the MAGC Lifetime Achievement Award at the event held at Kellor Golf Course in Maplewood. As part of the MAGC Northern Lights Awards program, governments and government agencies from across the state submit their best communications work in 26 categories to be judged by peers. Submissions vie for the top award in each category, called the Northern Lights award, as well as silver, bronze, and merit awards for high scorers. MAGC also gives out a Communicator of the Year Award. See the list of award winners on the MAGC website

Cities Successfully Apply for GreenCorps Support
The GreenStep Cities of Duluth, Warren, St. Paul, Pine City, Edina, St. Louis Park, and the tribal bands of Leech Lake and Fond du Lac, were recently accepted to host a one-year, full-time GreenCorps member in each of their jurisdictions. Minnesota GreenCorps is an AmeriCorps program coordinated by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, designed to preserve and protect Minnesota’s environment while training a new generation of environmental professionals. Members will be accelerating city action on building energy savings, city auto fleet efficiency, waste prevention and recycling, and sustainability education and citizen action. See more information about the GreenCorps program

Eagan city administrator receives award of excellence
Dave Osberg, city administrator of the City of Eagan, has received the 2017 Dr. Robert A. Barrett Award for Management Excellence from the Minnesota City/County Management Association (MCMA). This annual award acknowledges an MCMA member who is an exemplary role model, leader, and mentor in the profession of local government management. Elected officials and staff of the city nominated Osberg based on his transformative impact on the community through initiatives like Eagan Forward, a 20-year community visioning effort; his leadership on efforts like creation of the Dakota County Joint Dispatch Center; and for his mentorship of emerging staff and colleagues in other local governments. Osberg is a past president of MCMA and of the League of Minnesota Cities.

**************

Eden Prairie assistant fire chief appointed to state board
The City of Eden Prairie Fire Department Assistant Chief Becki White has been appointed to the Minnesota Board of Firefighter Training and Education by Gov. Dayton. The board consists of 15 members from various fire departments and organizations throughout the state. Some of the board’s duties include ensuring consistent quality and cost-effective training, preserving components of training that work well, and funding standardized training. White began her four-year term of serving on the board as a representative of the Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association on March 21.

**************

Minnesota cities selected to test out national public art tool
Five Minnesota cities have been chosen to participate in a pilot project, Public Art and Placemaking Tool for City Planners, based on their active arts communities. Austin, Mankato, Red Wing, Rochester and Winona will develop and beta test the tool in 2017 and 2018. Public Art and Placemaking Tool for City Planners, developed by Forecast Public Art and American Planning Association, will be a resource for planners serving small and mid-sized American cities. By developing this learning tool, Forecast seeks to fill a void in the current options available to planners, as well as those in allied professions, such as landscape architecture, engineering, and architecture.

**************

Roseville officer receives Century College award
Roseville Police Officer Tom Pitzl recently received a 2017 Presidents’ Community Partner Award, given by the Minnesota Campus Compact for his work in the Law Enforcement Mentoring Program at Century College. Pitzl was recognized for the positive tone he set, for taking risks with activities to contribute to teambuilding, and for being engaged with his mentee, Century College student and Roseville Community Services Officer Ku Tha Tee. Ku Tha Tee was also recognized with a Student Leadership Award.

The Community Partner Award is given to community-based organizations that have enhanced the quality of life in the community in meaningful and measurable ways and have engaged in the development of sustained, reciprocal partnerships with a college or university.

Staff news

Olson joins Roseville as assistant city manager
Rebecca Olson was recently appointed as the City of Roseville’s assistant city manager. She is the first person to fill this position since 2002. Previously, Olson served as the assistant to the city manager for the City of Shoreview, and prior to that, she held the same title in Blaine for nearly 10 years.

“Finding the right fit for this position was critical and we’ve done exactly that by adding Rebecca to the city’s executive management team,” City Manager Patrick Trudgeon said. “She brings a passion for local government and a reputation for building strong working relationships with all community members that will serve the City of Roseville well.”

In her new role, Olson will assist Trudgeon in managing city services, personnel, and budgetary resources, and serve a key role in the formation of strategic decisions.

In memory

Remembering City Government Leader Bill Bassett
William “Bill” Bassett, former city manager of Mankato and League of Minnesota Cities Ambassador, passed away on May 12 at the age of 84. Bassett played an instrumental role in shaping Mankato’s infrastructure and economic growth during his time as city manager, and was a leader for city governments around the state for most of his life.

After previously working in city government in Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin, Bassett joined Mankato as city manager in 1968 and served in that role until he retired in 1996, according to the Mankato Free Press. Right away, the new city manager took on difficult tasks such as dealing with the after-effects of the devastating 1965 flood. Over the years, he led many major city projects, from redeveloping the city’s downtown to building a new Veterans Memorial Bridge. Although some projects were controversial, Bassett handled them with professionalism and did what was best for the future of Mankato.

After Bassett’s retirement, he became the first Minnesota City/County Management Association (MCMA) Senior Advisor, in addition to being an LMC Ambassador. He served more than 20 years in both roles, providing guidance and expertise to officials in member cities. In early May, he received the MCMA 2017 President’s Award in recognition of his many accomplishments and contributions to the local government community.

Bassett is survived by his wife of 30 years, Pamela Year; four children; and seven grandchildren.

**************

Remembering former Hopkins mayor
Jerre Austin Miller, former Hopkins lawyer, councilmember, and mayor, passed away on Jan. 23, two days before his 85th birthday. Miller was a lifelong resident of Hopkins, and he dedicated himself to the city throughout his life.

In 1962, Miller became a partner to the Hopkins law firm of Vesely & Otto, where he spent his entire career. Aside from his law career, he served the local Hopkins Junior Chamber of Commerce committee, Rotary, Knights of Columbus & Elks and as chairman of the city’s Raspberry Festival, March of Dimes, Heart Fund Drive, and the DSA Committee.

Miller was elected to the Hopkins City Council in 1969, and served as the city’s mayor from 1975 to 1981. As mayor, Miller created the Mayor's Downtown Council leading to the revitalization of the downtown. Following his three terms as mayor, Miller worked as the city attorney for Hopkins & Medicine Lake from 1984 until his retirement. Along with his love for Hopkins, Miller also loved his family deeply. He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Ginny, and their four children Michael, John, David, and Stephanie.

Long-term service

City of Centerville thanks long-serving mayor for years of public service
Mayor Tom Wilharber stepped down from office at the end of 2016 after 38 years of service to the City of Centerville. It all started in 1973, when he was appointed to the Centerville Planning & Zoning Commission. He stayed with the commission until 1990, and was appointed to the City Council in 1991. Wilharber was then elected to the Council later that year.

The long-serving head of the city served as a councilmember until he was appointed as mayor in 1995. He was elected mayor later that year and served through 1999. After a short break, he returned to serve on the Planning & Zoning Commission from May 2001 to December 2004. And then he did another stint as mayor from 2010 to 2016. Centerville’s accomplishments during Wilharber’s tenure range from the building of a new City Hall and fire station in 1992 to the reduction of the debt from $10 million to $6.9 million in 2016.

The Centerville City Council passed a resolution to show its gratitude for Mayor Wilharber’s dedication and commitment to service, and Mayor-elect Jeff Paar declared Dec. 14 as “Thomas D. Wilharber Day.”

**************

Maple Lake city councilmember steps down after over 30 years
The City of Maple Lake would like to recognize and thank City Councilmember John Northenscold, Sr. for his 30-plus years of service. Northenscold, who decided not to run for re-election in 2016, was instrumental in many projects during his tenure, most notably his work with the city’s industrial park.