Quality of Life
(From the points of view of a couple transplanted from Central Illinois)
From the “he”…
As we drove down I-57 in the early 1970’s, we descended the big hill marking the southernmost advance of the great glaciers that once covered much of North America. We left the flat corn and bean fields of northern and central Illinois and entered Union County. To our delight, we found verdant, sheltered valleys nestled between gently rolling forested hills. Here, forty years later, we remain. It’s a great place to live.
From the “she”…
My husband and I came to Union County for a job for him and accessibility to a state university for me. Jobs were plentiful when I finished at SIU, so why did we stay?
At the time, I would have answered that it was a safe and beautiful place to raise a family. But now, after these 40 years, why DO we stay? We have become invested in the people and the community, and we appreciate Union County’s continuing development and prosperity. It is a special place in America’s Heartland.
- Ease of living−We local people take this for granted, but daily life is comparatively easy here. Since about everything we need can be found locally, it is easy to run errands whenever we choose. We have good, well maintained roads and traffic runs smoothly. Though we are all busy, people here are usually relaxed enough to stop and chat as they go through their day.
- Moderate climate—The weather is a draw to the area for many people—four full seasons of beauty. Our winters usually provide a few welcomed snowy days. We do have some hot, humid days in the summer, but those only make our usually long spring and fall even more glorious.
- Good people−Union County people are helpful and friendly; they want to be good neighbors. Many awards have been won by our communities and by individuals for their volunteerism, especially through the P.A.S.T Group, Promoting Appreciation of Structural Treasures.
- Group and Organizations—If you like community service, you will find any number of groups to join. Some of them are Union County Historical Society,Rotary, Kiwanis, Union County Garden Club, Women’s Club, Moose, VFW, and business related groups such as the Chamber of Commerce.
- Health and Safety—Access to good medical care (from family doctors, to urgent care, to the Union County Hospital and county ambulance service) and a low crime rate make this a safe place to live. Most days, people can be seen walking on the sidewalks or on a walking path, keeping healthy and enjoying themselves. There are private gyms for exercise, and Shawnee College’s fitness room is also very popular with all ages of adults.
- Education—Each community takes pride in its schools, many of which have taken various awards for programming and have lead students to recognized achievement. Most have strong academic programs while maintaining opportunities in the visual and performing arts and athletics. Also, there is a very active Shawnee Community College Extension center is in Anna.
- Orchards, Local produce, Farmers’ markets—Starting with the May strawberries and continuing through the fall vegetables, you can “eat fresh” much of the year. Many of our privately owned restaurants use our local fruits, vegetables, and beef as much as possible. Here’s a sample from the Yellow Moon Café in Cobden.
- Children’s Activities—Many extra-curricular community activities are available for our youth. Some examples are organized sports, such as soccer, t-ball through baseball and softball, jr. football, swim team; music and art through the Anna Arts Center and others; martial arts instruction; 4-H; and scouting.
- Recreational Opportunities—A love of the outdoors is a trait that most Union County residents share. We can participate in golf, hunting, canoeing, hiking, biking, fishing, bird watching, high school sports of every kind, and now the Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour, a zip line! Bad weather? We can enjoy bowing at the new Strike Zone!
- Arts and Entertainment—Cobden seems to be the center for the arts in Union County with its gallery displays and weekend musicians in restaurants, shops, “The Old Feed Store” www.theoldfeedstore.com and the Shawnee Hills wineries www.shawneewinetrail.com There is also find a full schedule of activities at the Anna Arts Center annaartcenter.com/ and numerous special events surrounding the history of the area: Abraham Lincoln’s debate in 1858http://www.realestateshows.com/show.php?mls=basic&id=403268 , the Trail of Tears, and Civil War programs. Our area also has a number of historic churches dating from the 1800’s.
- Orchards http://www.realestateshows.com/show.php?mls=basic&id=403383 , Local produce, Farmers’ markets—Starting with the May strawberries and continuing through the fall vegetables, we can “eat fresh” much of the year. Many of our privately owned restaurants use our local fruits, vegetables, and beef as much as possible. Here’s a sample from the Yellow Moon Café in Cobden http://www.realestateshows.com/show.php?mls=basic&id=570761
- Shopping and restaurants—In Union County we have everything from small independent shops with handcrafted items to large franchises; restaurant choices range from a little authentic taco stand to fast foods chains and locally owned mid-sized places for a tasty lunch or a gourmet dinner.
- Group and Organizations—If you like community service, you will find any number of groups to join. Some of them are Union County Historical Societywww.unioncountyilmuseum.com/, Rotary, Kiwanis, Union County Garden Club, Women’s Club, Moose, VFW, and business related groups such as the Chamber of Commerce www.shawneeheartland.com.
Location, Location, Location!
And just like with home buying (don’t forget to see the housing slideshow) one of the best things about Union County is its location. Yes, we have everything we NEED in Union County, but if we decide we want more…within 30-60 minutes, in the cities of Carbondale, IL, Cape Girardeau, MO, and Paducah, KY, we have 2 community colleges, Shawnee and John A. Logan; 2 universities-Southern Illinois University and Southeast Missouri State University; several shopping malls; small connecting airports; Amtrak; a minor league baseball team www.thesouthernillinoisminers.com ; more arts, entertainment, and sports; and 3 large hospitals with more specialization.
If we want or need even more, we are within 3 hours of St. Louis, MO, and Memphis and Nashville, TN. Union County is in the heart of everything!