Starting this month, Hennepin County is shifting some of the work it bids out for renovation or repair of county buildings from larger companies to small local businesses. From painting to small voltage electrical projects, small businesses now will get a shot at county jobs that come in under $100,000.

The county usually puts renovation projects up for bids in large chunks, bundling multiple renovation projects together. But by breaking up projects into smaller jobs, the county can help small businesses owned by women or minorities compete and overcome hurdles such as higher insurance requirements.

It's an expansion of a pilot program the county launched last year when it renovated nine tax-forfeited houses in Golden Valley, Crystal and north Minneapolis. Those houses haven't been sold yet, but county leaders have already deemed the project a success because 80 percent of the work is being done by women and people of color.

The program will also give small businesses in the community a chance to work with the state's largest county for the first time and gain experience, county leaders said.

County hosts free career fair on Monday

Hennepin County will host a free career fair Monday that features recruiters from nearly 40 organizations.

The event, which will take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Minneapolis Central Library, 300 Nicollet Mall, is part of the county's effort to connect employers with job seekers. Recruiters represent a wide range of employers, including care facilities, food stores and hotels.

It's sponsored by the Hennepin County Work and Economic Resource Center. The downtown library is served by several bus routes; to find the best one, visit or call 612-373-3333.

Assistant county administrator to retire

One of Hennepin County's top leaders plans to retire next year.

Rex Holzemer, the assistant county administrator of human services, plans to retire in early 2018 after working more than 40 years with the county.

The County Board recently appointed Jodi Wentland, the associate director of child and family services in Olmsted County, to take over as director of human services April 3.

The county has realigned Holzemer's position, shifting more responsibilities to Jennifer DeCubellis, who was promoted to deputy administrator of health and human services last year.



Council sets special election for May 23

A special election to fill the Richfield City Council seat left open by Pat Elliott's elevation to mayor will be held May 23.

The vacant council seat represents the city's west side. The winner will serve the remainder of Elliott's term, which expires at the end of 2020.

Elliott was sworn in as mayor March 20. The City Council adopted the resolution for the special election Tuesday.

The city will accept nominees through April 7. Interested applicants must pick up a nominating petition from the city clerk and collect at least 10 signatures from registered Richfield voters. Petitions must be turned in at the Richfield Municipal Center, 6700 Portland Av., along with a $25 filing fee.

Miguel Otárola

St. Louis Park

Gospel of Grace Fellowship moves from Edina

Gospel of Grace Fellowship, a nondenominational Christian congregation, has moved from its Edina location to share space in a Messianic Jewish synagogue in St. Louis Park.

The church will now operate out of the Kehilat Sar Shalom synagogue at 2734 Rhode Island Av. Its first service will be held today at 10:30 a.m. It will also offer bible classes from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sundays.

Earlier this year, the Thai Buddhist Center of Minnesota announced it was moving from its current location in Elk River to a former church site in St. Louis Park. The center, known as Wat Thai of Minnesota, is not expected to open until 2018.

Miguel Otárola


Brewery hosts neighborhood history event

The Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Historical Society will hold the next "Tapping History" event April 10.

The monthly series, which discusses Lake Minnetonka history at Excelsior Brewery, is free and open to the public.

The event April 10 will start at 7 p.m. and feature historian Scott D. McGinnis discussing the Cottagewood neighborhood and how it transformed from wilderness to a resort community and now a residential neighborhood.

For more details, go to