Bob and Fran Ray moved to Perryville from St. Louis in 1974. This year, the couple was named the Republic-Monitor's Citizens of the year.
"I like the people, the community, the park center and the walking trail," says Fran. "We love having lunch at The Barrens Winery, and I like the friendliness of the people here. When they say 'How are you doing?' they really care." Adds Bob, "I like (Perryville) because it's country. We don't have to wait through two or three traffic lights to get through town. We wanted that for our children, too."
Megan Looney grew up in Sikeston and coordinates the city's Music in the Park program. "I love that I know so many people (in Sikeston). I raised my son Cullen here with all my friends and their children," she says. "My perfect Saturday afternoon in Sikeston would be playing tennis or riding bikes. Whenever I have company, I take them to Lambert's. We also like to cook out, and I love to follow Sikeston Bulldog football and basketball."
Dr. Liza Jones, a Marble Hill resident and veterinarian, says the area offers tons of fun for her and her husband, Bryan, and their two young children, Eve and Gabe.
"I like living here a lot because it's such a beautiful environment to live in, and the community is a close-knit community," says Liza. "We like to go to the Bollinger County Museum of Natural History -- they have special events each month that we go to. We also go to the library, the playgrounds in the park, and go for walks and bike rides. There are lots of creeks to go catch crawdads and cool off in."
Chris Harris, the arts and entertainment guru at the Southeast Missourian, has lived in big cities and small towns. She moved to Cape Girardeau in 2006, and her new hometown offers the best of both worlds.
"It has almost everything a metropolitan area has; it just has less -- one large concert arena, one professional theater, one free-standing Starbucks," says Harris. "I enjoy almost any outdoor activities, which the area does not lack. The city installed a disc golf course, which can fill an hour or two. Most weekends, though, I'm on one of Cape Girardeau County's five golf courses. For a night out, I love grabbing a drink downtown and then walking down to the Bedell Performance Hall for a play or musical. If the theater's empty, you can bet a bar will have live music five nights out of seven. If you complain of boredom in Cape Girardeau, you're not paying attention."
Brand-new parents Ronnie and Jessica Maxwell love to help their hometown, Jackson. Ronnie works at the Bank of Missouri and Jessica is the principal at South Elementary, but they still find time to run in 5Ks, play in trivia night fundraisers, attend high school sports events and help out their church.