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Positive outlook in State of County

Commissioner Mike Slavik addresses a crowd at the State of the County Address on April 5. Photo by Michelle Wirth

Dakota County Board Chairman Mike Slavik had a positive outlook in his April 5 State of the County address at Royal Cliff Conference Center.

Dakota County is a great place to live, work and play, Slavik said.

In a residential survey conducted by the county in 2016, 95 percent of residents rated having a high quality of life in Dakota County. Slavik said the results of the survey reinforced the work that the county is doing.

With the focus of work being for the residents, Slavik said that Dakota County government recently created Facebook and Twitter accounts to better interact with residents. They were created as a way to be more transparent and accessible to residents in the community.

One of the top priorities for the board of commissioners is to improve transportation in Dakota County. Slavik said one way they plan to improve transportation is by leaving the Counties Transit Improvement Board so that more funds can be used for projects that directly serve Dakota County residents. The new Cedar Grove transit station will open in May.

Other projects that will take place in 2017 in order to improve roads in the county include the reconstruction of trunk Highway 52 and County State Aid Highway 42 in Rosemount. The intersection trunk Highway 55 and Argenta Trail will also see improvements.

Some of the county's recent accomplishments include the reduced unemployment rate from 8 percent in 2010 to around 3 percent today. The county's volunteer program had a 50 percent increase in volunteers during 2016. There were about 2,000 volunteers with 39,000 combined hours of volunteering.

Dakota County also added an iLAB space to the Wescott Library offering tools and resources in the form of video production, creative design, 3D printing and more.

Slavik also mentioned several key priorities that the board plans to address within the next five years. Commissioners would like to improve the response to people with mental and chemical health needs by developing responses in jail and increasing opportunity services. A vision for the Dakota County 2040 comprehensive plan will be revised and updated with goals and priorities. They want to improve the election process in the county to ensure it is convenient for voters and so that they can provide accurate and timely results. They plan to assist the business community with recycling mandates in order to make progress toward the 75 percent recycling goal by 2030. Additional goals include governance reform with the Metropolitan Council and improving capital facilities.

In conclusion, Slavik said that the employees and officials in the county hope to continue to build upon the county's legacy and continue to lead as one of America's best places to work, live and play.

Michelle Wirth

Michelle Wirth graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2013 with a degree in journalism and web design. She worked as a web content editor for a trade association before coming to the Hastings Star Gazette in 2016.

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