Civic beat :: Neighborhoods conference coming

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October 25, 2010
By: Jake Weyer
Jake Weyer
Minneapolis to host national neighborhoods conference

Hundreds of neighborhood representatives will converge on Minneapolis in 2013 for a national neighborhood conference aimed at building and strengthening community organizations.

The Neighborhoods USA Conference is expected to draw 500–600 people to discuss issues facing neighborhoods and share experiences. The Minneapolis Neighborhood and Community Relations Department (NCR) will work with the city’s contracted marketing organization, Meet Minneapolis, to organize the event. Representatives from the Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) will also be involved in planning, along with City Council President Barb Johnson (4th Ward) and Mayor R.T. Rybak.

Neighborhoods USA, a nonprofit formed in 1975, promotes communications and collaborations between community organizations and the public and private sectors. It recognizes standout neighborhoods, community leaders and programs each year and also hosts the nationwide conference annually.

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Solar array under way at Convention Center


The Upper Midwest’s largest solar-power system is on track for completion by the end of the year.

Earlier this month, the city reported that more than 400 of the 2,613 solar panels planned for the rooftop of the Convention Center were installed. When completed, the system will connect to the center’s electrical system and produce 750,000 kilowatt hours of renewable energy each year. That’s the equivalent of powering 85 homes annually, according to the city, which said the array would offset 539 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year.

Minnesota firms Best Power Int’l and Westwood Professional Services are overseeing the installation of panels, which are placed at an angle and are not visible from the street. Best Power Int’l will own the solar array and lease the center’s roof from the city, which will lock into a long-term contract with a fixed energy cost to protect against price increases and stabilize the annual budget for the system.

Federal tax incentives and a $2 million grant made the project possible without capital investment.  

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Partnership promotes safety for people, pets

Staff from Minneapolis Animal Care & Control, the city attorney’s office and the police department are teaming up to strengthen investigations of animal cruelty, which the city says is often linked to domestic violence.

“Studies clearly indicate the connection between animal cruelty and human violence, from the incidence of animal cruelty among families experiencing domestic violence to the greater incidence of animal abuse among violent criminal offenders,” said a city press release about the partnership.

Dog-fighting expert Sgt. David Hunt, who works in a Columbus, Ohio, special investigations unit, recently conducted a training session on animal-cruelty investigations with Minneapolis staff. Hunt, who has investigated more than 100 dog-fighting cases and made 66 related arrests, told participants that Minneapolis has some of the most strict dog laws he’s seen, according to the city’s release.

Minneapolis also recently launched a program to help victims of domestic violence who are afraid to leave a relationship because of concerns for their pets. The city will provide no-cost kenneling for pets of victims for up to five days.

The city has partnered with several local and national animal-safety organizations to further grow its efforts and hopes to eventually involve community members.