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Covering life, work, and play in the Historic Mill District and Downtown Minneapolis Riverfront neighborhoods. Have an opinion, local news or events to share?  Contact us.


Spoonriver Chefs Show "The Human" How to Cook Healthy

By now most people have heard about Blue Cross Blue Shield's campaign with Scott, “The Human”, who has been getting in shape while being on display at the Mall of America. 

Recently, Brenda Langton and Sarah Jean of Spoonriver visited Scott and showed him how to incorporate a variety of healthy foods into his diet.


Tonight - Nipa Bhatt & Chefs for Change at People Serving People

Time: Tour at 6:30pm, Dinner 7:00pm-9:00pm

Location:  People Serving People, 614 South 3rd Street

Nipa Bhatt, a finalist on season four of the Food Network's The Next Food Network Star, will be showcasing her talent of Indian and American fusion at People Serving People’s Chefs for Change.  Nipa was one of ten finalists to compete for the biggest prize on television: their own Food Network show.   See menu will be hard to resist.

Special Group Price!
Buy 4 tickets to Chefs for Change and Save $100! $200 for four people (Regular Price $75 per person.) To take advantage of this deal call Mary at 612-277-0246 or email her at  All proceeds benefitting People Serving People.  


Ground beef kebobs served on a bed of spinach with
marinated onions and fresh lime
Jhinga Masledar
Zesty and spicy wok tossed shrimp
served on a warm Asian slaw
Dhabha Chicken
 This is the chicken you see sold on the street side
stalls of Mumbai, saucy and wild, bursting with flavor
Vegetable Korma
The mixed vegetable curry of the Moghul
ancestors, velvety and smooth
Pork Vindaloo
Tender boneless pork loin cooked in a red wine
infused gravy, tangy, dark and rich
Accompaniments and Desert
Cucumber Yogurt Raita
Naan Bread and Steamed Basmati Rice
Mango Shakes


It's Wine Week at Sanctuary!

Through April 16, buy one glass of wine and get a second glass for 10¢!

Sanctuary, 903 Washington Avenue South, is featuring two outstanding wines you will not want to miss!  The Ferrari Carano story is a classic tale where an Italian Ferrari fell in love with an American Carano and settled in California.  Their babies?  Truly outstanding wines!  We're featuring these two: 

Ferrari Carano Cabernet Sauvignon ~ rich and jammy $12
Ferrari Carano Fume Blanc ~ crisp, balanced and refreshing $9

Sanctuary serves these wines at excellent prices normally, but during wine week, you can enjoy these two at a steal!


Update on Pillsbury A Mill Complex

Here's a linkin case you missed Jennifer Bjorhus' April 7 Star Trib article regarding possible new life for the Pillsbury A Mill Complex (plus the interesting reader comments).



Countdown to May 7 Opening Day at the Mill City Farmers Market!

Finally - Spring is really here, and we're only 4 weeks away from the May 7 Opening Day at the 2011 Mill City Farmers Market!

Every Saturday until opening day, we're posting pictures from the 2010 MCFM to help get you in the mood...

Mill City Farmers Market 2010

Mill City Farmers Market 2010

Mill City Farmers Market 2010

Mill City Farmers Market 2010

Mill City Farmers Market 2010

Mill City Farmers Market 2010

Mill City Farmers Market 2010

See you there! :D



This Weekend in Mill City / April 8 - 10  

Events this weekend in and around the Historic Mill District of Minneapolis and across the Stone Arch Bridge in Old St. Anthony.

Friday, April 8

Artist Talk with Tim Carroll at the Soap Factory

Adult Honors Recitals at MacPhail Center for Music

Live Music at the Aster Cafe

Saturday, April 9

Washburn A Mill Tour at Mill City Museum

Goldy's 10 Mile, 5K and Kids Run

Mini-Comics Day Event at MCBA

Live Music at the Aster Cafe

Sunday, April 10

Concerto and Aria Concert at MacPhail Center for Music

Ukrainian Easter Egg Festival

Live Music at the Aster Cafe

Weekend Brunch

Saturday & Sunday

Brunch at Spoonriver
750 South 2nd St (at Chicago Ave S)
Minneapolis, MN 55401

Reservations recommended

10:00am - 2:00pm

See the menu...

Saturday & Sunday

Brunch at the Aster Cafe
St. Anthony Main
125 SE Main Street
Minneapolis, MN 55414

Until 2pm.

See the menu...


Brunch at Spill the Wine
1101 Washington Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55415

brunch buffet 10am- 2pm Sunday
$12/person (kids 3 and under eat free, 4-12 years are 1/2 price!)

includes: eggs, bacon, french toast, hash browns, fresh salad and fruit, pastries, build your own omlette bar and more...

featuring absolut bloody bar for $5.

also offering fair trade coffee and full bar.


Breaking News - Zen Box Izakaya Coming to the Mill District City Apartments Retail Space - Mill City Times Exclusive

Update 9/20/2011:  Zen Box Izakaya opens tomorrow, more here...

This morning Camille Amiri, Public Relations Manager for Village Green, shared with us that a new restaurant, Zen Box Izakaya, is indeed opening in the retail space of Mill District City Apartments. The owners of the new spot currently operate a successful location in the Skyway, though it is a lunch only spot.  Here's a link to their current location, though a website for their new Asian themed concept is a ways off.

I had a chance to speak with Owner Lina Goh, and learn a little bit about the plans for their new location.  At present they're working with their architect on the design of the space, as well as with the city on permitting.  Construction may start as early as May, with a hoped for opening in August, though Goh cautioned that the timing is a little fuzzy at this point.

Here's a tidbit - there will be sidewalk dining!  Great news.  They also plan on large windows that can open to the sidewalk to give an outdoor feel even when dining indoors.

I asked Lina why she chose the Mill District City Apartment location, and was not surprised that beyond the standard considerations, she loves the neighborhood.  Some time ago she and her husband lived in Elliot Park and would frequently walk down to the Mill Ruins, Stone Arch Bridge and the other many amenities on the Riverfront.  Although they have since moved further away, the Mill District is the first place they bring out of town guests.  "I hope for the Mill District to become the next 'Uptown' - the cool, hip place to eat, drink and hang out" Goh said.  Stay tuned as we track this story...

Lina also provided the following information:

The principle of Zen Box is simple – Honest-to-goodness Japanese comfort food in a casual, unpretentious environment.  We are dedicated to the idea bringing people together with good food. Our passion is food and our pleasure is to share it with others.

We are not a typical “Midwestern Japanese” restaurant concept where Sushi and/or Hibachi are the main attraction.


Seeing the need to bring Japanese food culture to the skyways of Minneapolis, John and Lina decided to quit their corporate jobs in San Francisco, packed up, parted with their friends and family and moved to Minneapolis to pursue a dream. They traveled and ate their way from Tokyo to New York.

The original Zen Box was introduced to the Minneapolis Skyway, the Japanese eatery has been serving up restaurant-quality Japanese comfort food at fast-food prices to the downtown workforce since 2004.

Their determination to resist shortcuts, perseverance to use only fresh ingredients for their house-made sauces and painstaking preparation of ingredients, for just a ‘lunch-only’ eatery, have gained them several ‘Best Skyway Lunch’ awards.

Brand new to the community, Zen Box was very fortunate to be embraced by culture-savvy Minnesotans, food lovers, neighbors and folks who are just excited to be able to have a different kind of Japanese food culture to come to town.


Growing up in San Francisco, John’s restaurant adventures began at high-school, working several part-time jobs from dishwasher to Sous-chef, to pay for his college tuition. His passion for Japanese cuisine was honed under the training of a Japanese chef. With a background in Architecture, John developed his unique sensibility and honest approach to the art of Japanese cooking  - the simplicity of harmonizing ingredients to enhance their natural flavors.

The urge to share their passion for Japanese comfort-food with the friends and families of their ‘loyal skyway fans’ encouraged the duo to open their 2nd location. They teamed up with a group of Japanese business-partners to introduce a different aspect of Japanese food culture to Minnesota.

Neither restaurant nor bar, an Izakaya (pronounced ee-ZAH-ka-ya) is a form of a Japanese Gastropub. It is another unique form of Japanese food culture, long overdue to become one of the biggest Japanese cuisine trends in Minnesota.

Zen Box Izakaya is not just a place where you can share delicious food and relaxing drink - It is also a community hub for the Mill District Neighborhood. 

The Mill District has re-emerged as the historical and cultural center of Minneapolis. The district consist of elegant residence, office spaces, the Guthrie Theater, the Mill City Museum as well as the MacPhail Center for Music - A unique community with a rich history, activities, and culture which serves not only the residents, but also people who are visiting the City.

The unique design of the Mill District City Apartment and the eclectic vibe of the neighborhood is the perfect setting for Zen Box Izakaya (Japanese Pub & Kitchen).

A environment that Zen Box is meant to be – sharing good food with good friends.  It is the place for ‘Good Food, Good Drinks and Good Company’. That’s the notion of the Izakaya.

From the website for the Skyway location:

Zen Box

Outside view of the space for the new eatery:

Zen Box DSC06061_tonemapped


Upper River Forum at Mill City Museum with Tim Griffin

Creating a dynamic riverfront can transform our city, but is also critical for our region's competitive advantage. 

Watch Tim Griffin, a Twin Cities expert with national experience in shaping cities through their riverfronts, challenge us to see our Mississippi shaping our region's future. 

We taped this by request of several long time friends of the river who could not attend.

This monthly series of Upper River Forums are hosted by the Minneapolis Riverfront Partnership and the Above the Falls Citizen Advisory Committee to highlight the place-changing opportunities ahead in 2011 for the Minneapolis Riverfront.

*Please forgive the video quality, we experienced technical difficulties.  That being said, we captured the entire presentation save for a few minutes in the middle while the video camera needed to be restarted.

Part 1

Part 2



Water Power Park Opens Today, April 7

Experience the power of the mighty Mississippi River as it flows over St. Anthony Falls!

Water Power Park is accessible from Main Street just across from St. Anthony Main, and provides the closest possible approaches to the falls.



West River Parkway Will be Closed April 7 - 8 Between 22nd Avenue and Fourth Street.

The Central Corridor Project Office has changed the format of the construction updates for West Bank and East Bank in Minneapolis.  These two updates are now combined into one update for the area to provide information in a more complete format.  Construction on one can affect travel to the other bank.

Updates are sent out every Friday. Schedules subject to change due to weather and other unforeseen circumstances! Check here frequently for updates. 

West Bank Overview
Click here for an overview of 2011 work planned on the West Bank, including the Washington Avenue Bridge.

Minneapolis Animation                   
Click hereto view an animation of LRT along Washington Avenue to Stadium Village.


Tonight - Shapiro & Smith Dance at Southern Theater


April 7 - 7:30pm
April 8 - 8:00pm
April 9 - 8:00pm
April 10 - 7:00pm

Location: Southern Theater, 1420 Washington Avenue South

This exciting weekend of dance includes three world premieres: Burning Air, a solo by Joanie Smith about the Great Hinckley Fire of 1894; When We Last Spoke, an intimate work for four women and one man (alternately taking on the role of lover, son, and father); and a physically daring new work by Eddie Oroyan for himself and fellow company members. The program also features last season’s smash hit Bolero, a “thrill ride of a dance” (Star Tribune). Known for performing tales of beauty and biting wit with breathtaking physicality and emotional depth, Shapiro & Smith Dance has earned an international reputation for virtuosity, substance and pure abandon.


Tonight - Public Meeting at Mill City Museum re: Development of New design Guidelines for the St. Anthony Falls Historic District

Time: 6:00pm - 8:00pm

Location: Mill City Museum (6th Floor ADM Conference Room) 704 South Second Street

On March 21 The City of Minneapolis announced an upcoming community meeting to discuss the history of the St. Anthony Falls Historic District and introduce the process to develop the new historic district design guidelines.  The community meeting will be held at Mill City Museum.

Historic district design guidelines are a local policy and regulatory
tool used in decision-making to evaluate alterations and new development
within the historic district.  The new design guidelines will include
guidance on the following:

* Archaeological sites and sites of specific cultural/historical significance.
* Existing and new infrastructure; sites of specific engineering and transportation significance.
* Natural features and open space.
* Existing buildings and the construction of new buildings; sites of specific architectural significance.

The Need

The current Design Guidelines for the district were adopted by the
Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission in 1980. In the three
decades since the existing design guidelines were adopted, the district
has seen dramatic change. Access to and interaction with the falls and
the river has evolved, infrastructure has been added, project plans have
been developed and realized, and the understanding and knowledge of the
historic resources in the district have increased. The field of
preservation has also evolved from a disciplinary perspective. It is no
longer sufficient to simply save and re-use a specific collection of
historic buildings or properties. In order to create and sustain
economically successful places, it has become critical to evaluate and
carefully consider how entire environments function as a diverse, but
unified cultural landscape.

The existing design guidelines for the historic district provide a set
of architectural standards for new building construction based on a
series of discreet sub-districts. The existing document was not crafted
in a time when it was considered necessary to address some of the basic
and key features of the district: the falls, the river, industrial
infrastructure, archaeology and landscape features.

The update to the design guidelines will take a holistic approach toward
the many features that make up the essential character of the district -
one that balances preservation, restoration, and rehabilitation with the
opportunity that comes from integrating new infrastructure, new uses,
higher densities, new buildings, and new landscapes. New design
guidelines need to address the entire cultural landscape of the St.
Anthony Falls Historic District to steward the entire collection of
resources into the Twenty-first Century.


30 Days of Biking

There was a 30 Days of Biking articlein the April 5 Star Trib Variety section.  We watched from our balcony as that group gathered atop Gold Medal Park for their Kick Off Ride this past Friday night:

30 Days of Biking DSC05676 keep

30 Days of Biking DSC05701 keep



Delicious Mill City Farmers Market Spring Preview Party at Spoonriver

Last night Brenda Langton, along with her Spoonriver and Mill City Farmers Market (MCFM) staffs and select vendors, hosted a Spring Preview Party at Spoonriver.  Seeing familiar faces from the Market and sampling yummy food, combined with the early evening sun, helped put the unusually long winter behind us.

The place was packed, and if you weren't able to attend, here's what you missed:

Mill city Farmers Market Spring Preview Party at Spoonriver DSC05893

 Above, Brenda with Spoonriver Chef, Heather.  Below, Jeffrey started us off with an intoxicating concoction.

Mill city Farmers Market Spring Preview Party at Spoonriver DSC05889

Mill city Farmers Market Spring Preview Party at Spoonriver DSC05891

Mill city Farmers Market Spring Preview Party at Spoonriver DSC05831

Above, Jesse Haas, MCFM Assistant Manager, and Aaron Reser, MCFM Market Manager, greeted guests. Below, attendees enjoying themselves:

Mill city Farmers Market Spring Preview Party at Spoonriver DSC05822

Mill city Farmers Market Spring Preview Party at Spoonriver DSC05906

Mill city Farmers Market Spring Preview Party at Spoonriver DSC05858

Mill city Farmers Market Spring Preview Party at Spoonriver DSC05825

Below, Spoonriver Chef Heather describes the delicious, colorful salad she created for the Preview Party.

Mill city Farmers Market Spring Preview Party at Spoonriver DSC05854

Mill city Farmers Market Spring Preview Party at Spoonriver DSC05864

Spoonriver Chef Stephanie skillfully whipped up buttermilk crepes with goat cheese, herbs and chioggia beets:

Mill city Farmers Market Spring Preview Party at Spoonriver DSC05847

 Josh Resnik of Wild Idea Buffalo Company served buffalo brisket hash with mashed potatoes:

Mill city Farmers Market Spring Preview Party at Spoonriver DSC05851

Mill city Farmers Market Spring Preview Party at Spoonriver DSC05852

Steven Read of Shepherd's Way Farms provided samples of Big Woods Blue, Shepherds Hope and Friesago cheeses:

Mill city Farmers Market Spring Preview Party at Spoonriver DSC05933

Mill city Farmers Market Spring Preview Party at Spoonriver DSC05930

Zoie Glass (below, left) of Lucille's Kitchen Garden gave me a crash course in ways to enjoy their gourmet jellies.

Mill city Farmers Market Spring Preview Party at Spoonriver DSC05911

 Lesley Powers of Bliss Gourmet Foods served up several varieties of granola.  (It doesn't matter which flavor you choose - it's all delish.)

Mill city Farmers Market Spring Preview Party at Spoonriver DSC05880

Mill city Farmers Market Spring Preview Party at Spoonriver DSC05878

Fereidoon (Fred) Golchin of French Nugget offers a guilt free pleasure comprised of 100% dark chocolate, almonds, honey and raisins:

Mill city Farmers Market Spring Preview Party at Spoonriver DSC05928

Mill city Farmers Market Spring Preview Party at Spoonriver DSC05917

Even if you missed the party, you can still become a Friend of the Market and donate any amount towards the sustainability of the Mill City Farmers Market.  Don't forget to mark your calendar for Saturday, May 7 - Opening Day! :)



Tonight - Jim Moore Publication Reading at The Loft

Time: 7:00pm

Location: The Loft, 1011 Washington Avenue South, Target Performance Hall

Graywolf Press and The Loft celebrate the publication of the latest poetry collection by Jim Moore, Invisible Strings.

A founding member of the Loft Literary Center, Jim Moore is the author of six previous books of poetry, including Lightning at Dinner. He lives in St. Paul and Spoleto, Italy, with his wife, the photographer JoAnn Verburg.

About Invisible Strings
Brief, jagged, haiku-like, Jim Moore’s poems in Invisible Strings observe time moving past us moment by moment. In that accrual, line by line, is the anxiety and acceptance of aging, the mounting losses of friends to death or divorce, the accounting of frequent-flyer miles and cups of coffee, and the poet’s own process of writing. It is a world of both diminishment and triumphs. Moore has assembled his most emotionally direct and lyrically spare collection, one that amounts to his book of days, seasons, and stark realizations.

“The moods [Moore] evokes include wistfulness, of course, and the deeper, more poignant ones of love and grief. . . . The experiences giving rise to the poems are the poet’s, and there’s no need to think the poet isn’t Moore, whose art consists of successfully making himself and the reader identical, so that this book will be turned to, by those to and for whom it speaks, again and again and again.”



Mill District Business Spotlight: Aloft and wxyz bar

Aloft Minneapolis, the hip, 155-room hotel located at 900 Washington Avenue South, opened in the Mill District on August 8, 2008.  It is part of the Starwood family, and guests earn Starpoints with each stay.

Jenai Sele, Sales & Social Media Manager, (below) took a break from her busy schedule to give us a tour and provide insight on what makes Aloft not only a great choice for lodging, but for neighborhood events as well.aloft - Jenai 1

A native of Grand Forks, Jenai has been with Aloft since moving to Minneapolis two years ago.  She held positions at the front desk and as Sales Coordinator prior to her promotion this January to her current position.

Below, the wxyz bar and lounge area look out onto the courtyard.   You can just hang out, or shoot a game a pool, play shuffleboard or other games.

aloft DSC05522

aloft DSC05552

The wxyz bar has a tasty selection of appetizers, including (but not limited to) pizza, burgers, quesadillas and tator tots.  Happy hours are 5p-7p and 10p-Midnight.

While Aloft doesn't offer room service, their "re-fuel" station - including sandwiches, salads, fruit, snacks, etc. - is open 24 hours.

Other amenities include:
 - 24-hour access to workout facility
 - Pool open 6a - 10p
 - Sundry shop
 - Free shuttle within a 5-mile radius
 - On-site washer and dryer
 - Meeting room facility for up to 75, with in-house food and beverage service and full AV package.

Click here for additional amenities.

There are adjoining rooms available, and this property has one suite with a King bed and full living area including dinette (with a downtown view, of course).  The rooms are comfortable and designed efficiently.  Lack of bathroom counter space is my number one beef with hotels, so I was really impressed with the ample counter space here.

Aloft offers an $89/night "condo" rate for guests of Mill District residents.  A Nice Ride station was recently installed on Washington on front of the hotel.

Sample events that both Mill District residents and hotel guests can enjoy:

- Friday night DJ's spin from 9:30pm-1:30am.

- New in March, 2011 - guests can show their room key at the Guthrie ticket desk for 50% off the price of a select shows.

- A popular offering started in 2010, Aloft's package deal including a BBQ followed by a show at the Guthrie. 

- Returning April 4 - live music every Wednesday night.  Weather permitting, it's in the courtyard.  If the weather isn't nice, it's in the lounge area.

- In addition to corporate meetings, Aloft also hosts special events. For example, Fashion Week is coming up, and there will be a Runway Show on April 8. 

With all the picturesque spots for wedding photos in our neighborhood, it not surprising that Aloft is popular with wedding parties.  Starting in May, they average up to 3 wedding couples per week.

Jenai loves technology and social media.  Follow Aloft on Facebook and Twitter.

Final note, and it's rather embarrassing, I've always pronounced the name "AY-loft" - it's actually ah-loft.  Dah.


Today - Mill City Farmers Market Spring Preview Party at Spoonriver

Time: 4:00pm - 7:00pm

Location:  Spoonriver, 704 2nd Street South

Become a Friend of the Market and donate any amount towards the sustainability of your Mill City Farmers Market.
To say THANKS, please join us at the Spring Preview Party at spoonriver restaurant April 4th from 4:00 to 7:00 pm.

Come for a delicious sampling of healthy, mouthwatering treats, meet our new vendors and greet some of your old favorites, too!


The Benefits of Being a Mill City Commons Member - An Ongoing Series

Earlier this year Dave and I became members of Mill City Commons.  We joined for a number of reasons, including the ability to attend interesting member-only events, meet fascinating people, and to have more of a hands on role in helping with their various fundraising activities. 

Unfortunately, our schedules prohibit us from attending as many events as we'd like.   For example, last week more than 30 members enjoyed hearing New York Times columnist and PBS News Hour contributor David Brooks talk about his latest book, The Social Animal.

This week members will have the opportunity to attend two educational and interesting tours. 

The first will provide a first hand look at how emergency 911 operators and police and fire dispatchers perform during a tour of the Minneapolis Emergency Communications Center.  The second is a tour of the Goldstein Museum of Design's latest exhibit, Smart House, Livable Community, Your Future.  This exhibit explores the housing trend of aging in place.  Mill City Commons is sited at the exhibit as an innovation village supporting this trend.  Included will be the premier screening of "Smart House, Livable Community," a tpt production based on the exhibition.

To learn more about Mill City Commons, please visit the website, or contact Linnea at 612-455-3329 or


Up to 40% off Over 2,600 Wines at Sorella's thru April 16

We stopped by Sorella Wine & SpiritsFriday night for some Blue Moon, and literally had to wade through the crowd of customers who were enjoying the in-store wine tasting and Spring Wine Sale.

 Sorella DSC05618

Sorella DSC05640

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You can follow Sorella on Twitter and Facebook.


Hennepin County Commissioner Updates

April 1 e-newsletter Board updates from Jan Callison, Hennepin County Commissioner:

FY2012 Federal Funding Requests Approved:

- Hennepin County Medical Center: $500,000 for family medicine residency educational facilities and equipment;
- NorthPoint Health & Wellness Center: $18 million for North Minneapolis Community Wellness Center;
- 911 Dispatch Center:  $3.5 million for technology;
- Juvenile systems integrations:  $700,000 for technology to move critical data electronically between justice partners;
- Electronic data and information sharing:  $900,000 for develop,ent and enhancement;
- Minneapolis Interchange:  $21 million for project development; 
- Southwest Transitway:  $1 million for environmental studies and project development
- I-35W and Lake Street:  $6 million for road and transit access from Lake Street<<Nullam felis>>

March 29, 2011:

- A policy to ban use of tobacco products on all county property was approved.  All county sites must be completely tobacco-free by December 31, 2011.
- Victory Memorial Drive re-dedication is scheduled for June 11.  This year is the 90th anniversary of the World War I memorial which recently underwent a $6 million restoration and renovation.
- County commissioners return pay and encourage employees to take special leave without pay to help address county budget deficits.
- Approved the use of the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center (HERC) exterior walls for an artistice light projection display highlighting processes from within the facility that convert waste to energy.  The light display is part of the Northern Lights' Northern Spark Art Festival June 4-5
- The board, acting as the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority (HCRRA), approved Kimle-Horn and Associates, Inc. to conduct the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Bottineau Corridor for transitway development.
- The board accepted a $347,548 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to continue providing intensive case management services for multi-problem, chronic shelter-using families.
-The board approved an agreement with Project for Pride in Living Enterprisses, Inc. (PPL) and The Network for Better Futures to help increase reuse/recycling efforts while providing job training and living-wage jobs for hard-to-employ individuals.
- The board re-appointed or appointed several residents to citizen advisory boards.

For video and minutes of County Board meetings: Hennepin County website.