(Received via press release)
BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Feb. 4 / -- Kent County, Maryland, was awarded top honors in the fourth annual edition of the "Best Places to Live in Rural America" rankings by The Progressive Farmer magazine, released today. Each year, the rankings name the top 10 rural counties in the nation, according to several quality-of-life indicators and statistics; all 10 counties are profiled in the February 2008 issue of The Progressive Farmer, and the top 500 rural counties are listed on the magazine's web site (http://www.progressivefarmer.com/).
The top 10 rural counties are ranked based on rural quality-of-life indicators such as great schools, access to health care, low crime and affordable farmland. In 2008, the editors of The Progressive Farmer added extra criteria by focusing on counties that have been able to protect farmland, control growth pressure from urban and suburban areas, and strike a good balance between agriculture, manufacturing and modern conveniences.
The Top 10 List of "Best Places to Live in Rural America" are:
1. Kent County, Maryland was selected as the best place to live in rural America this year. The county of 20,000 residents was chosen in part because of its commitment to preserving the county's rural roots, despite being within driving distance to Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia. A testament to this long-term planning is the stately farmhouses--many dating pre-Civil War--that dot the countryside and the average local who can trace his or her ancestry to the Revolutionary War. Many local farmers have sold development rights of their land to the state to keep sprawl at bay.
In order, the other counties selected among the top 10 "Best Places to Live in Rural America" are:
2. Ellis County, Kansas -- Located between Kansas City and Denver, this county is known for its frontier spirit, with agriculture and oil sustaining its economy. Like many agricultural areas, Ellis County saw hard times in the 1980s, but has since revitalized the area by forming a coalition to ensure economic vitality.
3. Livingston County, Missouri -- In the heart of this top-ranked county is Chillicothe, an inventive and industrious town known as the "Home of Sliced Bread." This can-do attitude extends past the town's city limits and can be seen through a regional marketing plan that attracted employers and residents to the county through services that make the area more livable as a whole.
4. Obion County, Tennessee -- This sprawling rural county is a place where agriculture and industry go hand in hand, forming a strong economy despite little or no population growth. The county also features great schools, great farmland and legendary wildlife populations.
5. Columbia County, Pennsylvania -- Located near New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia, Columbia County is certainly facing development pressures. But conservation easements and agricultural security areas are helping preserve farming for future generations.
And rounding out the Top Ten:
6. Wexford County, Michigan
7. Fayette County, Texas
8. Coffee County, Alabama
9. Gilchrist County, Florida
10. La Plata County, Colorado