Housing and Redevelopment Authority
The HRA owns 279 living units on 52 properties. These units are mostly in Rochester but some are in the small towns in Olmsted County. Many of the units are apartments but the HRA also has a few single family homes. I support HRA’s plans and our continued collaboration with the Housing Coalition to increase the number of single-family homes.
I have supported Olmsted County’s efforts and practices to protect county data from hacking and cyberattacks. Some of the protections that have been put in place are relatively easy and are aimed at the user level. These include Multi-Factor Authentication, password reset registration (and frequent password changes), and employee training to recognize and avoid phishing. Additionally, more complicated and costly defenses have also been completed which include software upgrades to detect and defend against Malicious attacks, email filtering, Multilayered backups to protect the integrity of stored data, and a “24×7” managed security operations center to continually monitor our cybersecurity. Although no one is 100% safe from a cyberattack, Olmsted has taken extensive measures to do all we can defend our data from a cyberattack.
Olmsted County has 5.75 positions dedicated to licensing child foster care providers. In Olmsted County we have a total of 98 foster homes.
- 51 are relative licensed homes, 47 are non-relative homes
- 14 non-relative homes are willing to take “high needs” youth
- Of the 14, only 6 are willing to foster children between the ages of 12-18
- 22 of the 47 non-relative foster homes are willing to foster children from ages 0-10
The current greatest need are foster providers who can take sibling groups, older youth and those with complex needs. Olmsted also wants to increase the number of foster homes from a variety of cultural and racial backgrounds. For more information see: Child Foster Care | Olmsted County, MN.https://www.olmstedcounty.gov/residents/services-individuals-families/child-youth/child-foster-care
The county board has concluded that it will continue to hold the former Seneca site property. I proposed that the site could become an Urban Park called Graham Plaza. An urban park concept is different than a playground. To learn more about the concept of urban an urban park and learn about the many benefits it can offer please visit the Frederick Law Olmsted Society website: https://www.olmstedsociety.org
Other suggestions that were discussed included a housing project and commercial development. There was no conclusion on the future use for the Seneca site other than to continue to hold the site.
Environment and Climate Mitigation
Olmsted County has been studying and planning climate mitigation practices that can be put into action now or in the near future. I and the county board are actively involved in establishing goals that are climate friendly. The climate study will provide a plan to mitigate impact of climate changes. The study is the result of a 2022 board priority, which I supported, to prepare a climate sustainability and resiliency plan for the county. This was preceded by an inventory completed in 2021. Work is currently taking place in the areas of solid waste, protecting ground water, soil health, and maintaining our parks.
The result of this study that was completed by an internal taskforce was the identification of 32 climate action activities which will be acted upon. Many of these will require additional funding to complete. The county will be actively seeking funding through the Federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Federal Inflation Reduction Act.
Please know that Olmsted County has already taken action to help sustain our environment. These actions include:
- Reduction in paper and ink. From 2019 to 2021, the county printed 1.7 million fewer copies. This not only saved paper but resulted in a cost savings of about $480,000.
- Remote hybrid work has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by reducing commuter miles. The reduction equates to about 60% fewer commuter miles (550,000 miles) in 2021 compared to 2019.
- Internal recycling has resulted in tons of material being diverted from the waste stream.
- Ongoing efforts to upgrade existing buildings with energy efficient systems reduces the need for energy.
- The county has established no-mow areas and prairies. These areas do not require gasoline powered mowers, does not require watering, and returns more oxygen to the air.
- Olmsted has reduced the amount of salt used on roads and walkways which helps our lakes and streams.
Materials Recovery Facility (MRF)
Olmsted has asked the State for bonding money to construct a Materials Recovery Facility. The MRF has been in planning for several years. I have supported the planning and the bonding request because it is a benefit to Olmsted County in many ways. A MRF removes recyclable and non-combustible materials from the waste stream before they enter the Olmsted Waste to Energy Facility. Some of the benefits include:
- Increasing the amount of recyclables which can increase revenue for the OWEF enterprise
- Reduce the operational costs of the OWEF
- Delay the addition of another furnace (estimated cost of $40 – $50 million)
- Decrease the emissions from the burning process
- The MRF will also provide the capability of sorting organic material that can be diverted to anaerobic digesters to further reduce the waste stream and produce a useable biogas product.
- Reduce greenhouse gases and contributes to climate sustainability practices
Olmsted is requesting $16,250,000 from State bonding for construction.
If the bonding money is received, construction could begin in February, 2024 and begin operation in April 2025.
Ribbon Cutting May 5
The Grand Opening of the new Nature Center at Oxbow Park is scheduled for May 5 at 10:30AM.
Olmsted’s Public Health Emergency Has Ended
Olmsted County’s Public Health Emergency was officially ended at the May 2, 2023, Board Meeting. The emergency was declared March 17, 2020. Ending the public emergency declaration only affects Olmsted County’s policies and procedures and is not connected to any state or federal declarations.
See My Comments on KTTC TV
If you would like to see my comments on KTTC on the Midwest Access morning show, April 24, 2023, please go to: https://www.kttc.com/2023/04/24/meeting-olmsted-county-commissioners/
Olmsted County Recognized as one of the Area’s Best Employers
How County Government Benefits Life in the Olmsted County