Regional News in Review - June 2012

Central Corridor comments sought

Metro Transit is working on a plan to enhance bus routes that will interact with the new Central Corridor Light Rail, and feedback is important as they finalize this new plan. Metro Transit is specifically seeking comments from the disability community, seniors, and transit-dependent individuals to ensure the transit network serves all people. Disability community liaison Kjensmo Walker is available this summer to bring the plan to community members.

The Central Corridor Transit Service Study concept plan is now out for public comment and review. For more information see http://metrotransit.org/centraltransit-study.aspx . Over the spring, input was gathered and now there is a concept plan that represents what was heard from various communities in the Central Corridor Transit Service Area. Metro Transit is now accepting comments on this concept plan until July 9th so that staff can generate a final plan. The plan will be released in November.

That is why disability community, seniors, and transit-dependent individuals need to be heard. Walker wants more input on changes to bus routes in the area and hopes to meet with as many people as possible in the month of June. Please contact her at 952-215-5451 or kjensmo@dcc-stpaul-mpls.org  for more information or to set up a time to see the new concept plan.

 

 

PACER Center is an E-chiever

PACER Center Executive Director Paula Goldberg was presented with an “EChievement Award’ in May in recognition of PACER’s national bullying prevention efforts. The award is presented by the syndicated “e-Town” radio program based in Boulder, Colo. The program educates, entertains, and inspires its audience through live music and conversation. Nominated by listeners, winners are cited for making a positive difference in their communities and beyond. The pre-recorded episode featured the award presentation aired May 16-22 on 300 stations across North America.

Goldberg is a founder of PACER Center in Minneapolis, a national parent center that has been serving families of children and young adults with any disability since 1978. PACER provides individual assistance, workshops, publications, and other resources to help families make decisions about education and other services for their child or young adult with disabilities.

Founded in 2006, PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center serves all children, including those with disabilities. It unites, engages, and educates communities nationwide to address bullying through creative, relevant, interactive resources. In 2006, PACER also developed National Bullying Prevention Month in October. The center’s award-winning websites each serve a specific audience: Information on the “e-Town” broadcast, and a list of stations that will carry it, is available at etown.org.

 

 

Benson’s leadership brought stability

After 38 years of state service, Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP) Executive Director Dennis Benson retired June 5.

“I am proud to have been part of a group of people who work hard every day to make a difference in the lives of others,” said Benson. “People who want to change can change. I am grateful to have been part of two organizations that genuinely care about marginalized populations. The work that goes on here is both noble and necessary.” 

Benson began his state service career in 1974 as a correctional officer. He went on to serve as a case worker, unit director, associate warden, and warden of the Department of Correction’s (DOC) Oak Park Heights and Stillwater facilities. Benson also served as DOC deputy commissioner for the Facility Services Division for 12 years. In 2008, he joined the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) as executive director of MSOP.

Upon arriving at DHS, Benson was charged with helping separate MSOP from DHS’ State Operated Services, which serves people with mental illness, developmental disabilities, chemical dependency and traumatic brain injury. During his time with MSOP, the program has opened a new 400-bed unit in Moose Lake, brought down the cost of the program and paid off a $16 million program deficit. Under Benson’s leadership, MSOP sought greater transparency and public awareness of the program. In addition, MSOP also saw the provisional discharge of its first client in a number of years.

Benson was a member of the National Deputy Directors’ Association and serves on the board of directors of Amicus. Nancy Johnston, facility director at MSOP in St. Peter, will serve as interim director while DHS seeks a permanent replacement.