Carver County has placed first on a list of the “Happiest Places in America,” a ranking of counties with populations greater than 50,000 compiled by the personal finance company SmartAsset. The ranking is based on family stability, physical health and economic security.

Strong economic factors helped boost Carver County to the top. With an unemployment rate of 3.1 percent and a poverty rate of 4.1 percent, the southwest metro county ranks fourth lowest among the 980 total counties analyzed.

It also has one of the highest median household incomes in Minnesota, at $88,600; only Scott County is higher.

Happy couples are abundant in Carver County, where 62 percent of residents are married and only 8 percent are divorced, according to data. For six straight years Carver also has been named the healthiest county in Minnesota, and it consistently earns top honors in local graduation rates, low violent crimes and access to jobs.

Carver County could still improve on its excessive drinking rates, according to the 2018 County Health Rankings report recently released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The report ranks nearly every county nationwide on 35 factors that affect health, including education, transportation, housing, jobs, diet and exercise.

Since 1990, Carver County has more than doubled in size and now tops 102,000 residents. It remains one of the fastest-growing counties in the seven-county metro area.

Four Midwestern counties, including Carver, made the Top 10 Happiest Places list. The others were Lincoln County, S.D.; Dallas County, Iowa; and Ozaukee County, Wis.

Liz Sawyer


City Council decides against licensing hotels

City Council members at a work session this month discussed licensing the city’s hotels as a way to address public safety and code violation complaints, but ultimately decided against it.

Five of the city’s nine lodging facilities were racking up “excessive” numbers of police calls, said Police Chief Eric Gieseke, though he added that not all the calls were criminal in nature.

Licensing would provide the city with additional enforcement tools, according to a city memo, though the state would still handle inspections. But Gieseke said he didn’t support hotel licensing because he couldn’t tell if it was effective, based on other cities’ experiences implementing it.

Minneapolis, Waite Park and Brooklyn Center require hotels in their city to be licensed, and Roseville and Plymouth are considering the idea, according to the work session presentation.

Licensing likely would come with a cost to taxpayers, said Mayor Elizabeth Kautz, since fees paid by the nine hotels wouldn’t cover the entire cost. And it might not have the desired effect, she said. Council Member Bill Coughlin said he wouldn’t support licensing if it wasn’t revenue neutral.

Nathan Kremer, manager of Best Western Premier Nicollet Inn, said he knew that the number of police calls at his hotel “is up there a little bit more” but said he prefers to call police when there’s a problem.

“I do feel like we’re getting penalized as a good property, I really do,” Kremer said.

The Burnsville hotel with the highest rate of police calls last year, based on the number of rooms, was the Norwood Inn and Suites. There were 195 police calls made last year regarding the Norwood, where Kautz said she had recently spotted property maintenance issues.

Erin Adler


City revokes licenses for vacuum sales reps

Bloomington has revoked solicitor licenses for a group of vacuum salespeople, following a Star Tribune article that documented pushy door-to-door tactics in other cities across the metro area.

The City Council voted to strike the licenses for employees at Burnsville-based RG Enterprises at its meeting last week.

“Our soliciting season has gotten off to a rough start this year,” said Doug Junker, Bloomington’s license examiner.

Bloomington city staffers had issued the licenses to RG owner Michael Gerber and two other employees in late March. In their applications, they wrote that they had never had licenses revoked, according to city documents.

City officials later learned through the article, published in April, that RG licenses had been revoked in Isanti and North St. Paul. “None of us knew about it,” Junker told the council.

The salesmen’s behavior was reported as rude, annoying and persistent. Between April 9 and 13, Bloomington’s licensing department received two calls, two e-mails and two police reports describing similar behavior.

Junker told the council that ever since the article was published, solicitors in the city had been less active than usual.

Miguel Otárola

Displaced tenants request council action

Tenants at Normandale Lake Estates in Bloomington urged the City Council last week to prevent future displacements such as the one they are currently facing.

New owners of the 105-unit apartment complex terminated the leases of some tenants and ordered them to leave by Friday so the building can be renovated. Some of the tenants previously had been displaced from an apartment flip in Richfield.

City Manager Jamie Verbrugge said it would be “next to impossible under such dire circumstances” for the tenants to find new housing.

Miguel Otárola

Prior Lake

Council approves subdivisions for 75 homes

The Prior Lake City Council last week unanimously approved preliminary design plans for two new subdivisions, expected to result in 75 new homes in the suburb.

The first development, called Majestic, aims to build 20 single-family homes across 8 acres in an area north of County Road 82 and west of County Road 21.

A second, larger subdivision, called Parkhaven, is planned for 55 homes over a 45-acre area north of County Road 42, east of County Road 21 and west of Pike Lake.

Liz Sawyer