The Hennepin County Board awarded $1.9 million in youth sports grants last week, bringing to nearly $22 million the total funding given through the program to cities and schools in the county since 2009.

The grant money is part of the county’s Youth Sports program, using proceeds from the county’s ballpark sales tax (which pays for Target Field) to fund the local projects.

Since the program began, the county has given money for 136 facility projects, 260 small equipment projects in 2009, 10 playground projects and water safety lessons.

Receiving money Tuesday to improve or expand youth sports facilities:

• Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, $250,000 for a skate park at Central Gym and Park, $150,000 for tennis courts at Loring Park and Morgan Tennis Courts, and $100,000 for improvements at Folwell Park.

• Maple Grove, $250,000 for new artificial turf fields at Fernbrook Fields.

• St. Louis Park, $200,000 for new softball fields at Aquila Park.

• Orono School District, $200,000 for improvements to the locker rooms at Orono Ice Arena.

• Golden Valley, $150,000 for ball field lights at Isaacson Park.

• Edina, $139,800 for lighting and netting at Braemar Park.

• Minneapolis Public Schools, $125,000 for athletic field lighting at South High School.

• St. Anthony-New Brighton Schools, $100,000 to expand and renovate the gym at Wilshire Park Elementary School.

• Richfield Public Schools, $75,000 for a playground at the Richfield Dual Language School.

• Loretto, $54,500 to renovate the baseball/softball field at Loretto Athletic Park and Arnold Klaers Park.

• Hopkins Schools, $10,700 for a running track at Meadowbrook Elementary.

• Champlin, $10,000 for renovations at Richardson Park.

Six cities, two school districts and two park systems also received smaller grants totaling $125,000 for recreational equipment: Deephaven, Eden Prairie, Maple Plain, New Hope, Plymouth, Rogers, Minneapolis Public Schools, Robbinsdale Area Schools, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and Three Rivers Park District.

In written statements, Commissioner Peter McLaughlin said that facilities receiving the grants “will make an impact on children and families for years to come,” and Commissioner Mike Opat said that sports facilities “help kids stay busy and active while having fun and pursuing their interests.”

David Chanen


Students win Human Rights Essay Contest

Essays by two Edina students that explored inequalities faced by girls and women were chosen as winners of the city’s Human Rights Essay Contest.

The winning students — Mythili Iyer and Eva Hadjiyanis — were recognized this month at an Edina City Council meeting, where they read their essays. They each received a certificate and a gift card to Barnes & Noble bookstores.

The essay contest, which was run by the city’s Human Rights and Relations Commission, asked how discrimination affects women and girls today; how race, nationality, socioeconomic status, ability or educational level play a role; what the writer can do to combat discrimination, and what the community can do.

Iyer’s essay touched on the stereotypes about women and on her own experiences growing up in an Indian household. She also addressed the issues of domestic and sexual abuse.

“Women should not have to be afraid of the consequences when speaking up about their experiences dealing with violence and discrimination,” she wrote.

Hadjiyanis wrote about the discrimination that women face and efforts to put more women in positions of power. “I cannot hope to single-handedly shift the way every person thinks, but even helping one woman understand that she can do whatever she sets her mind to can begin a domino effect,” she wrote.

Miguel Otárola


City hires two city of Victoria employees

Plymouth has hired two city leaders from Victoria for key administrative positions, it was announced last week.

Laurie Hokkanen, who was Victoria city manager, was named Plymouth’s new administrative services director. She will lead five departments, including the city clerk’s office and finance and communications teams.

Ben Landhauser, who was Victoria’s community development director, will become the economic development manager for Plymouth. He will lead efforts to recruit and retain businesses in the city, where more than 54,000 jobs are located.

Hokkanen and Landhauser will begin their new jobs on Jan. 2.

Miguel Otárola

Hennepin County

County gets $500K to battle homelessness

The Pohlad Family Foundation has given Hennepin County a $500,000 grant to support homeless families and youth, or those at risk of becoming homeless.

The funding will be used to help people avoid eviction and find shelter, in keeping with the foundation’s funding priorities to help unaccompanied youth and families that are at-risk.

The county hasn’t selected specific contracted providers to receive the funds, but staffers from three county offices have been meeting to discuss how to use the funds. Through 2015, the foundation has issued more than $140 million in grants.

David Chanen

Stueve named transportation project head

The County Board has appointed Carla Stueve as director of Transportation Project Delivery, the department that coordinates design and construction of county transportation projects.

Stueve, who will begin her new role on Jan. 1, has 22 years of transportation engineering experience, including five years with Hennepin County. She worked for the SRF Consulting Group in Plymouth, where she was responsible for traffic impact studies, and as traffic engineer for the city of Plymouth, where she did traffic forecasting.

David Chanen