Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke bristles at well-being rank

Mayor takes offense to Gallup study

EVANSVILLE, Ind. - Not surprisingly, Evansville mayor Lloyd Winnecke isn’t pleased that the Evansville metropolitan area had another poor showing in an annual Gallup survey meant to measure the health and happiness of different cities.

Speaking from inside the Ford Center on Wednesday, Winnecke issued an invitation to Gallup researchers for a visit before compiling next year’s rankings. He said he hoped such a visit would allow Gallup to consider, “what is actually happening in Evansville.”

In the annual Well-Being Index, the city ranked 180th out of 189 U.S. metropolitan areas. That was actually an improvement of two spots compared to the 2012 index, which was released last year.

“Frankly, I had to take offense at the perception that references that the Evansville metropolitan area is an unhealthy and unhappy place to live,” Winnecke said in his video message. “I know that’s not true.”

The rankings were compiled using the answers to a phone survey covering questions regarding behaviors, workplace happiness, general well-being, and physical and emotional health. To calculate Evansville’s score, researches used answers from residents in Vanderburgh, Warrick, Gibson and Posey counties in Indiana and Henderson and Webster counties in Kentucky.

Among the reasons that Evansville didn’t deserve such a low ranking, according to Winnecke’s video message? An improving unemployment rate, the soon-to-be constructed Hilton Doubletree Downtown hotel, the ongoing progress of Interstate 69 toward Indianapolis and the future Indiana University Medical School, which is planned for Southwestern Indiana.

Speaking purely about Evansville’s perks, Winnecke also touted the city’s monthly exercise program, the Mesker Park Zoo & Botanical Garden, its multiple museums, the Greenway, the Evansville parks system and the Downtown farmers market.

Winnecke also challenged the area’s residents to discover -- or rediscover -- the attractions the region has to offer.

“There’s a lot going on in Evansville, he said. “To anyone who is generally unhappy with the Evansville metropolitan area, I invite you to get involved in the community and visit the many amenities that exist.”

Despite the low ranking again this year, Winnecke said people should take pride in Evansville while they continue to strive to make it an even better place to live.

“We are a progressive city and region,” Winnecke said after issuing the invite to Gallup officials. “Our citizens deserve positive recognition for the momentum that is so obvious here in Southwestern Indiana.”

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