COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK: April 24th, 2020
Meetings and Announcements:
The next City Council meeting will be held on Monday, April 27th. Staff is working to make sure the public hearing aspect of our meetings can be properly accommodated at the Planning Commission and City Council meetings. Mychal Fowlds sent out a Zoom invite and instructions earlier today. Please call if you have any questions.
There are updates from various departments below.
Updates from Staff and Council:
The League of Minnesota Cities hosted a conversation for city officials with Gov. Walz and commissioners on Friday, April 24. Walz and commissioners respond to questions from city officials about federal funding for local governments, LGA, elections, bonding, and broadband. Ellie Paulseth, Mychal Fowlds, Mike Sable, and I participated on the call.
COVID-19 Grant Opportunities
City staff are in the process of applying for a number of grants related to the additional costs incurred due to Covid-19. The first grant from the Department of Health for EMS in the amount of $30,000 has been received. This will help offset personal protective equipment and planning costs related to the Ambulance Service and the need to provide protection to EMS workers during the coronavirus crisis.
The police department is applying for a grant from the Department of Justice to provide funding for law enforcement response to the coronavirus. Maplewood is eligible for $33,960 of this funding.
An amount yet undetermined will be available through the federal CARES act to reimburse for certain expenses related to the coronavirus. The League of Minnesota Cities is working with Senator Julie Rosen and Minnesota cities to help determine how this funding should be allocated.
Finally, Chief Lukin is monitoring the status of FEMA grant opportunities yet to be announced.
We will continue to watch for available funding and apply for these grants as opportunities arise.
2020 Bid Openings- Great news
This has been an exciting week for the Engineering Division as we held three CIP street project bid openings. We had a good number of prime contractors that participated in this year’s project bidding. The following is a summary of the bid results:
· County Road B and Arcade Street Project
o Engineer’s Estimate = $3,813,811.63
o Low Contractor Bid = $4,056,778.60
§ $242,966.97 over Engineer’s Estimate
§ The low bid falls within overall project budget and 10% contingency
· Schaller Area Pavement Rehab Project
o Engineer’s Estimate = $1,592,922.00
o Low Contractor Bid = $1,367,132.52
§ $225,789.52 under Engineer’s Estimate
· Dennis-McClelland Street Project
o Engineer’s Estimate = $7,070,185.50
o Low Contractor Bid = $6,582,236.23
§ $487,949.27 under Engineer’s Estimate
All three bid results fall within approved project budgets and the 10% contingency. The bid results position the city in a great spot to improve 5.89 miles of streets this construction season.
The police department has been working on an uptick in thefts from motor vehicles, especially in apartment building parking lots, over the course of the last week. In addition to increased patrol and the use of our bait vehicle the department is posting fliers and educating residents to not leave cars unlocked or valuables in their cars. They have also worked with apartment building management at the larger apartment complexes to make sure that residents are getting the message to “target harden” vehicles and parking areas. The city has also seen an increase in burglaries over the past week and has made a number of arrests in connection with that offense. While many have been burglaries at unattached garages of apartment complexes or storage units, arrests were made during a burglary in progress at a car repair shop at 1905 County Road D (Aamco) and of two people burglarizing the construction site at the new Trails Ridge Apartments (next to Costco). Police are continuing to proactively patrol hotspots and monitor known offenders for these and other related offenses.
Unfortunately, the City of Maplewood has one of the highest rates of automobile theft in the state, owning to a number of factors including the number of car dealerships and commercial/retail areas. Last year we were fortunate to obtain a fully funded position for auto theft investigations and Detective Glen McCarty just filed his 3rd quarterly grant report with the state. All vehicles that are stolen in Maplewood are now being forensically processed for DNA upon recovery, and this as well as dedicated investigations, have dramatically improved charging and case clearances. When compared to statistics from the same quarter last year (prior to the grant) we see that the charging of auto theft cases has gone from 7% up to 23%, with many repeat offenders being held accountable. We are also seeing reductions in the number of vehicles stolen and a lot of communication with our auto dealers on how to prevent theft and fraud. Glen and the MPD were complimented in his work this week by the person who oversees the auto theft grant for the State of Minnesota, Department of Commerce, for the amount of work he is doing and the results that he is achieving.
The “Stay at Home” order has resulted in an overall reduction in police calls for service. Members of the Police Department have taken advantage of this by completing hundreds of hours of on-line training that are required to recertify their license every three years. The goal is to have most of our sworn officers taking a 40 hour on-line curriculum through the League of MN Cities series of “Patrol On-line”. Courses range from constitutional issues, to implicit bias, helping those with Autism Spectrum and other mental health issues, and dozens more. For our sworn staff, this equals a combined 2000 hours of training a little expense to the city, as we look for unique ways to make “lemons into lemonade” during the pandemic.
Maplewood Fire and EMS staff have experienced a reduction in call volumes over the past several week and as a result have been working to increase online training to improve their readiness to respond COVID-19 and non-COVID related emergencies. For the past six weeks, we have transitioned from team hands-on training to individual skills building and computer-based training initiatives for both Fire and EMS. There are no shortage of learning opportunities and we have been able to identify and act on strategic deployment operations such as building up our training platform and competing video productions (pump chart training) for future distribution.
Here is a summary:
- Utilize State Fire Marshal and MBFTE training resource for the following classes:
- COVID Respiratory Protection
- Basic Fire Alarm Training
- 4 Gas Monitoring
- Fog vs. Straight Stream patterns
- Wildland Firefighter of structural Firefighters
- COVID Updates for First Responders
- Positive Pressure Ventilation
- Uncovering passenger vehicle hazards for cars and light trucks
- BNSF Rail Emergency and considerations
- Blue Card Incident Command Certification Training
- In-house individual and small group training and Course Preparation
- Forcible Entry/Power Tools/Maintenance
- UTV/Wildland Operations
- Hoseline Management
- Firefighter Safety and Survival
- FAO/Pump Theory
- Engine Operations
- High Rise Stand Pipe Operations
- 2nd Quarter Regions EMS ALS/BLS Continuing Education
- Critical Case Review
- COVID specific training
- City and Department Policy Reviews
- Equipment maintenance preparation
Health and Wellness
- City Wellness Committee Initiatives
- Improving Your Immune System
While COVID-19 has forced us to think differently about how we operate, staff have adapted and continue to come up with unique ways to ensure that we remain prepared to respond to all emergency types in the community.
PARK AND RECREATION
Nature Center Webinar
The “Nesting and Overwintering Habitat for Bees” Program offered by Maplewood Nature Center was presented as a webinar by Naturalist Oakley Biesanz and University of Minnesota researcher Colleen Satyshur. Fifty-three people attended the program online. Resources were provided by the Xerces Society; and the University of Minnesota. Topics covered the life cycle of some of Minnesota’s 460 species of gentle wild bees who are fantastic pollinators in their own right. Research shows that thirty percent of bees nest in the old stems of shrubs, and perennials at heights from 8 to 25 inches or higher. They overwinter and hatch the following year in June. People were very interested to know how and when to manage their gardens to help these pollinators. For more information see the Nature Center’s 5 tips to help pollinators video.
That is the news from this week. Enjoy the beautiful weather and I look forward to hearing from you on Monday night. Please call to check in anytime. It is easiest to reach me on my cell phone as I am working from home a couple of days a week. Stay well. Melinda