For the fifth year in a row, Carver County is ranked first in health outcomes among all 87 Minnesota counties, according to the 2017 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.

Carver County was ranked second in Minnesota for factors that contribute to health outcomes and determine length and quality of life. Health factors include 30 measures related to health behaviors, clinical care, physical environment, and social and economic factors.

It was at the top in graduation rates — now at 95 percent — and jobs. Unemployment in Carver County has dipped to 3.2 percent.

Counties on Minnesota's Iron Range, such as Beltrami and Itasca, were ranked lowest on the list due to high rates of obesity, children in poverty and alcohol-related driving deaths.



Steeple Center to get $290K worth of repairs

Rosemount's Steeple Center will receive a $290,000 exterior upgrade to restore its brickwork, windows, walls and trim.

The City Council awarded a contract for the work on Tuesday to Versacon Inc., after officials accepted its bid from among five submitted. The work is scheduled to being in May and wrap up in July, and Rosemount will use its capital improvement fund to pay for the repairs.

The fixes were recommended by a 2014 exterior maintenance study commissioned by the city. An expansion in 2015 added a catering kitchen, expanded restrooms, a lobby area with cafe-style seating, an outdoor patio area, three multipurpose rooms and a conference room.

The Steeple Center opened in 2010 in the former St. Joseph's Catholic Church building, at the north end of downtown. It is open to the public during the week and hosts a variety of senior activities and arts programming, as well as private events.

Erin Adler


Caesar, new police K-9, to take over for Bosco

The Farmington Police Department's new K-9, Caesar, will start work in May. The dog will replace the department's previous police dog, Bosco, who retired.

Caesar began a 12-week training course with detective Chris Lutz in March. The dog's $13,000 initial price tag was paid for with donations.

During the month of April, Farmington Liquors will collect supplies and money to go toward Bosco's ongoing vet bills, food equipment and training. For more information, go to

Erin Adler


Dakota County to expand gun permit staffing

The Dakota County Board is expected to approve a new full-time staffer to process gun permit applications at its Western Service Center in Apple Valley, in response to an ongoing increase in the number of permit applications since 2011.

The new hire was approved Tuesday by a board committee. The county also plans to create a new centralized area for processing permits at the service center, where the new staffer and a current employee will process gun permits.

The new employee's salary and benefits for the nine remaining months of the year — approximately $45,500 — would be funded through the Permit to Carry revenue fund.

Dakota County processed 5,006 gun permit applications in 2016, an increase of 38 percent over the previous year. In 2015, there was a 19 percent increase in permit applications.

Cities with the highest number of 2016 applications were Burnsville, 578; Eagan, 574; Lakeville, 569; Farmington, 498; and Apple Valley, 445.

With the increasing number of applications come more background checks and the probability of more permit denials and appeals, which must be completed within a specific time and require additional research and paperwork. In 2016, 45 applications were denied in Dakota County, up from 30 in 2015.

Erin Adler


Tribe doubles down on nutrition campaign

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community has committed an additional $5 million in funding toward its Seeds of Native Health campaign, the largest coordinated philanthropic effort in the country focused on improving Native American nutrition. Over the next two years, the campaign's total will reach $10 million.

The additional funding will expand corporate partnerships and launch new projects with the American Diabetes Association, Better Way Foundation, the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and the University of Minnesota.

Liz Sawyer