St. Louis County hires new director of Planning and Community Development; seeks public health award nominations

ST. LOUIS COUNTY — Matthew Johnson has been hired as the new director of St. Louis County’s Planning and Community Development Department. Johnson comes to the county after serving as the community development director for the Mid- Minnesota Development Commission (MMDC) for the past 21 years.

Johnson has considerable experience working with residents, staff and elected leaders. In his role with MMDC, which serves four counties in west central Minnesota, he led numerous projects involving comprehensive land use, hazard mitigation and water plans, as well as zoning ordinances and environmental reviews. He also has a strong background working with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and survey research.

Johnson has been twice honored by the National Association of Development Organizations with its Innovation Award. He holds two master’s degrees— in political science and regional planning.

“When I saw the position open, I knew this was the perfect opportunity to both expand my career and move my family to northern Minnesota,” said Johnson. “I enjoy helping stakeholders find creative solutions to work together for a common good, and make it a priority to engage citizens and townships in the planning process. Finding consensus doesn’t mean making everyone happy, but it does mean listening to different viewpoints to learn if there is any common ground.”

Johnson began work for the county on Feb. 13.

The St. Louis County Planning and Community Development Department is responsible for land use planning, zoning and land subdivision administration, on-site wastewater management, and community development in all areas where the county is the zoning authority. The department also oversees enterprise GIS planning and development.

As director, Johnson will oversee a staff of 34. He replaces Barb Hayden, who retired from the position last year. Nominations sought for Public Health Achievement Awards

St. Louis County Public Health is seeking nominations from the public to recognize individuals or groups who have made significant effort to improve the health of residents or communities in St. Louis County. The Public Health Achievement Awards will be presented during the St. Louis County Board meeting on Tuesday, April 14.

Winners will be selected based on their leadership, public health contributions, community health improvement outcomes, collaboration and advocacy. The deadline to submit a nomination is Wednesday, March 11.

This is the fifth year St. Louis County has presented Public Health Achievement Awards.

More information, including a nomination form and instructions, are available online at stlouiscountymn. gov/phaward or by calling 218-725-5210.

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