Four Dakota County programs that improve the quality of life for residents, make the community healthier and save taxpayer money have received national recognition.
The county's restoration of Thompson Lake, its work to make public housing smoke-free, a partnership with rideshare company Lyft to help people with disabilities get to work and its growing volunteer program all received 2020 achievement awards from the National Association of Counties.
Staff involved in the programs were recognized Aug. 4 by the Dakota County Board of Commissioners.
“This is just a snapshot of the amazing work county staff do each and every day to collaborate and find ways to be an efficient, effective and responsive government for our residents," Board Chair Mike Slavik said.
Highlights of each project include:
The county provides case management services to more than 4,000 people with disabilities. Transportation has long been a barrier for people with disabilities in obtaining employment and accessing their community. The county partnered with Lyft in 2019 to offer an on-demand transportation option for those receiving case management services through Dakota County. The cost of these rides is covered by the individual's Medicaid waiver.
As of August 2020, 465 individuals were using Lyft to get to employment and access their community with positive results. For those riders, employment opportunities, community inclusion and quality of life have improved.
Federal rules required all public housing to go smoke-free by July 2018, including 323 of the Dakota County Community Development Agency's 2,891 residential units. The CDA chose to make all units smoke-free and partnered with the county to draft a new policy, engage multiple community partners and offer smoking cessation support to residents.
To ensure that new housing is smoke-free, the CDA has ensured that all developers receiving tax credits for eligible projects must have a written policy prohibiting smoking.
Thompson Lake restoration
The county, the City of West St. Paul and the Lower Mississippi River Watershed Management Organization completed a two-year, $2.6 million project to restore and protect Thompson Lake by eliminating contamination, preventing future contamination and improving use of the lake and surrounding Thompson County Park.
- removed more than 6,000 cubic yards of contamination from the lake.
- installed a stormwater treatment system to clean stormwater before it enters the lake.
- removed invasive plants from an acre of wetland and restored native wetland plant species.
- improved the trail and boardwalk around the lake.
- reduced pollution to the lake, including an estimated 48 pounds of phosphorus and 12.9 tons of pollutants.
The county continues to grow its volunteer and intern program, giving residents many opportunities throughout the year to improve the county and their local communities. The program has succeeded with its unique and thoughtful blending of citizen engagement, education and community service. Volunteers help with public health, library, tutoring, natural resources, social services and other programs.
More than 5,300 people took part in 305 volunteer opportunities in 2019. Volunteers contributed 41,000 hours of service — a value of $1 million. Since 2015, the program has managed more than 17,000 volunteers in 898 opportunities and our volunteers and interns have contributed more than 190,000 hours saving the county an estimated $4,500,000 in taxpayer funding.
To learn more or to volunteer, visit the Volunteer page.