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Quest for Transparency - Best Place to Live!

Hello everyone,

Last week, as I moved about town people said, “Hey have you heard that Green Bay is the top ranked place to live in the country?” People seemed a little surprised—not really that we have a great place to live, but that others have noticed. And when I say “we” I mean we in Kewaunee. Understand that Green Bay, the city is not ranked the best city to live in. It was the Metropolitan Survey Area, often called the MSA, which is a group of counties that make up a city from the federal government’s point of view. So for Green Bay, it would be Brown County along with Kewaunee and Oconto Counties. There are twenty of our cities in that area which work together to form the Green Bay MSA. And it’s the MSA that is ranked number one in the country. And of course, Kewaunee is one of those cities!

I have been telling people for years how great Kewaunee is. Why have we just now shown up as number one? What has changed? Well, two things—inflation and crime. Both are up in the rest of the nation, and they are up big. Wisconsin murder statistics would imply that we have average crime, but that’s not quite the real story. The Milwaukee MSA alone has 20 murders per 100,000 residents. That would imply when you watch the next sold-out Brewers game, that 10 of those people would be murdered this year—a shockingly high number. But that also means that crime in the rest of the state is very low, including the Green Bay MSA and much lower than the national average. And that has been noticed by the U.S. News and World Report, who has conducted this study.

The U.S. News and World Report is a magazine that ranks a lot of things. Their college rankings are well known. You have always heard that Harvard, Princeton and Yale are the best colleges. It’s the U.S. News and World Report that determines which schools are best. They also rank hospitals and cars and many other things. Best is a subjective term, meaning that two people could easily claim different things are best. I think cherry pie is best and my husband likes rhubarb. Who is to say? And so the U.S. News does a ranking by looking at government statistics and publishes their findings—and they show their work. Some might say that Huntsville, Alabama is the best city— it came in second. However, judging from the criteria published by the U.S. News and World Report, it’s clearly Green Bay this year.

Other statistics that pushed our area to the top is affordability. Our home prices are lower than in most of the country, and far lower than most big cities. Our store prices are lower too. I paid $7 for a beer in Illinois recently. I can get that same beer here for $4 at our local bar.

There are lots of cities with low costs, but they often have high crime or no jobs. We have lower prices, lower crime, and we have more job openings than we can fill. And something not quantified in the report, is that we have “Wisconsin Nice” people. The report also does not take into account our beautiful landscape, or that we can produce a winning football team in the smallest market with an NFL team.

We are not perfect. Like the rest of the country, drug abuse is affecting our area. But just take one look at Los Angeles or San Francisco with their very high housing prices and huge crime spikes—you can see we are doing something right. We have hard-working people who not only fund charities, but we work them as well. A few weeks ago our Rotary Club, combined with the city of Kewaunee, recognized three individuals for starting and running our Storm Snack Pack program that makes sure that every kid has access to nutrition. Caring people will look after their own, whereas government programs often fall short.

It’s terribly offensive to equate a large paycheck with increased morality. Crime is not associated with moderate income—it is associated with gangs and drugs. The greater Green Bay area, including Kewaunee, is the best place to live because the people value their neighbors and their town. They say hello and wave to the people they pass. The U.S. News and World Report knows that a community like Kewaunee, with naturally affordable housing and a low crime rate is something special. They call our area the best in the nation. And I agree.

Thanks for listening,


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