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3-1-05 Progressive Farmer Got Lots of Local Attention

The Newton Citizen, February 16, has an interesting story on the article that ranked Newton the 13th best rural place to live in the Southeast and the 75th nationwide.

…..Mary Mattocks of First American Bank and Trust …….. told me that her home county of McPherson County, Kansas, was ranked number 3 on the list



February 20, 2005


Progressive Farmer Got Much Local Attention


By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc.

It is surprising sometime how small the world really is.  It is also interesting to see how various communities react to recognition and rankings.  The Newton Citizen, February 16, has an interesting story on the article that ranked Newton the 13th best rural place to live in the Southeast and the 75th nationwide.

Mary Mattocks of First American Bank and Trust has worked in Oconee County for the last several years.  I knew she was from Kansas.  A day or two after the article appeared about Oconee County, I was talking to Mary about the article.  She told me that her home county of McPherson County, Kansas, was ranked number 3 on the list.  She commented that she always thought the two counties had many similarities.

Many Chambers of Commerce will get much mileage out of this article.  It is ironic that Progressive Farmer might be a stimulus to accelerate the loss of the rural atmosphere in the areas listed.

Many of us hope we can keep our quality of life for sometime yet.

SEE:  2- 7-05 Oconee County is Good Place to Live and Progressive Farmer Found Us


The Progressive Farmer Top Ten


1. Fauquier County, Virginia

"Rural, proud of it and trying to stay that way" could be the unofficial motto of this county lying 45 minutes west of Washington, D.C.

2. Oconee County, Georgia

A transitional county that retains its rural flavor, Oconee has been discovered as a great place to live by people just across the river at Athens, home of the University of Georgia.

3. McPherson County, Kansas

First things first--pronounce it correctly. It's mac-FUR-son, and any resident will tell you: "There's no FEAR in McPherson."

4. Callaway County, Missouri

Located almost in the middle of the U.S., Callaway County is a special place, as any Callawegian (that's what a native calls himself) will tell you.

5. Grafton County, New Hampshire

Though geographically large (it's twice the size, for instance, of Callaway County, Mo.), Grafton County is dominated by the White Mountain National Forest.

6. Gillespie County, Texas

Scenic granite hills to the north and fertile pastures to the south, all dotted with oak and cedar, give nearly anyone with a rural bent something to love.

7. Sauk County, Wisconsin

A surprise waits around every bend in the road and over every crest of the hill in this lovely county.

8. Wilson County, Tennessee

The eastern neighbor of sprawling Davidson County (Nashville), Wilson County retains much of its good farmland but with subdivisions and small farms playing a more prominent role now.

9. Eagle County, Colorado

Rocky Mountain peaks, ski resorts including Vail and secluded scenic valleys have made Eagle more of a playground for the rich and famous than an ag stronghold.

10. Rankin County, Mississippi

Rankin County, which lies just across the Pearl River from state capital Jackson, is growing quickly. Still, it manages to maintain its rural flavor.

The Newton Citizen



February 16, 2005


Farmers’ magazine ranks Newton 13th best rural place in Southeast

By Crystal Tatum

COVINGTON — Newton County is one of the best places to live in rural America, according to The Progressive Farmer, a nationally distributed magazine claiming a circulation of 2 million.

The magazine recently ranked Newton the 13th best rural place to live in the Southeast and the 75th nationwide.

Though Newton has been designated as an urban area by the U.S. Census Bureau, “there’s still a lot of rural areas left in this area,” said Board of Commissioners Chairman Aaron Varner.

Varner said The Progressive Farmer ranking proves that “there’s something here that people want. If there weren’t, they wouldn’t want to be moving here.”

Now that Newton is on the radar for people looking to relocate, “It’s up to us to protect it as best we can.”
District 1 Commissioner Mort Ewing, himself a lifelong farmer, said that agricultural areas in eastern, southern and parts of northern Newton County likely accounted for the rural ranking.

Last year, the Census Bureau ranked Newton as the eighth fastest-growing county in the nation.
Ewing said the national exposure from The Progressive Farmer issue could pique the interest of even more people looking for a better quality of living.

“It’s always good to be recognized by people who do not live here as being a county that has a good quality of life to offer. At the same time, as we change the rural landscape to an urban landscape, we’re gradually destroying the rural character of the county that people are moving here to enjoy, so I guess you would consider it a double-edged sword,” he said.

The commission has taken steps to protect the county’s rural character, including making a commitment to preserve 20 percent of the county as greenspace and passing the watershed protection ordinance.

The February edition of The Progressive Farmer marks the first time The Progressive Farmer has ranked rural counties…..

Rockdale County came in 24th on the Southeast list but did not make the national list. Oconee County came in second in the nation.

According to The Progressive Farmer Web site, the magazine has a circulation of 2 million, making it the largest farm and country living publication in the nation.

But regardless of the magazine’s prestige or popularity, it got its rankings wrong, said Scott Morris, president of the Newton County Chamber of Commerce.
“We totally disagree,” Morris said. “We know we’re the best place in the country to live.”