A national family-focused magazine just added another feather to Columbia County's cap.
Evans was named one of the 10 Best Towns for Families in Family Circle magazine's August edition.
"I am delighted, how exciting," said Beda Johnson, executive director of Columbia County's Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The magazine compares Evans with about 800 other communities nationwide with an average income of about $75,000. The top 10 list was based on affordable housing, quality schools, access to health care, green space, low crime rates and financial stability.
"I think it is a tribute to the people, that's what really makes Columbia County great," said commission chairman Ron Cross, an Evans resident. "It is just the people who take an active interest in improving things and making it a good place to live."
The magazine article about Evans focuses on the county's school system, rating it a nine out of 10.
Amanda Rorvik, who lives in Ivy Falls, said she and her husband, James, lived in Augusta a few years ago when their children -- Brayden, 7, and Sidney, 6 -- were infants. When the military family learned they were headed back to Augusta about a year ago, Rorvik said, they knew they wanted to buy a home in Columbia County.
"The schools," Rorvik said of her reasoning for wanting to buy near Evans. "We moved back here basically for the schools."
Regina Buccafusco, Columbia County School Board chairwoman, said the school board, administration, teachers and staff are committed to continuing the legacy of fine education in the county.
"The credit goes to the teachers who are in the classroom every day," Buccafusco said. "The bottom line is the teachers are amazing. Teachers are the face of our system and it shows."
Buccafusco, an Evans resident, can attest to the value of a Columbia County education. Her two sons -- one now a law professor in Chicago and the other a producer/editor for MTV in New York -- went to county schools.
"Our kids can compete out there worldwide," she said.
In addition to the schools, the county offers families a range of amenities,from parks and playgrounds to Clarks Hill Lake.
Rorvik said she takes advantage of many of the county's child-friendly attractions, including visits to the water fountain behind the Columbia County Library.
"We love the library," Rorvik said. "The parks. And you've got to love the fountain."
Eric Lee said he moved from Richmond County to Evans 11 years ago and enjoys the big-city amenities combined with small-town charm.
"It is just a lot quieter," Lee said, while watching his daughter, Emme, 6, play in the fountain. "Everything is a lot more family-oriented than Richmond County."
Lee said he feels his family is safer in Columbia County, especially at the amphitheater park and the library.
As Columbia County's population rose over the past decade, the crime rate has remained relatively steady.
Cross attributes much of the comfortable family atmosphere in Evans and the surrounding area to Sheriff Clay Whittle and the efforts of the Columbia County Sheriff's Office.
"They are a big part of our success," Cross said of the school system. "But I also have to give credit to people like (Sheriff Whittle). Everybody feels safe here. We've got a good atmosphere."
Johnson said being included on the list validates the results of a recent market study that concluded that the county has "wonderful outdoor resources and a community filled with great stuff."
The listing also gives her yet another way to tout Columbia County as a great place to spend leisure time.
And that, she said, might show people from outside the area that Evans is a wonderful place to live.
"My job is to get people to come here and try us out, and spend money while they are here," Johnson said. "If they decide to stay here, that's great."
Previous Columbia County accolades include being named the 32nd best place to live in 2005 and the 76th in 2007; the 19th best place for job growth and the ninth best place for affordable homes in 2008.
Other communities on the Family Circle Best Towns for Families list include Rockwall, Texas; Sherwood, Ore.; Indian Trail, N.C., Perrysburg, Ohio; Hendersonville, Tenn.; Edina, Minn.; Noblesville, Ind.; Kenmore, Wash.; and Sun Prairie, Wis.
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