After hearing St. Charles had been named the No. 1 city in the country to raise a family by Family Circle magazine, Ray Ochromowicz said he just wanted to throw his hands in the air.
"I first thought, 'Wow, this is great,' " the director of the city's parks and recreation department said Thursday.
"It is such a positive reflection of the entire community," Ochromowicz continued. "For the schools, the city, the library, the parks, the residents themselves ... everybody in St. Charles can feel a sense of pride."
St. Charles was the only city in the state that made Family Circle's list.
The magazine chose St. Charles for its "friendly neighborhoods, innovative schools and beautiful parks" according to a news release. The conditions considered were "affordable housing, good neighbors, green spaces, strong public school systems and giving spirits."
Mayor Don DeWitte said one of the best features of St. Charles is having a community that works together in all areas of the town.
"I think the criteria that may have shone the brightest is the fact that our community has the government, the city, the school and the park district working together creating a family-friendly environment," DeWitte said.
District 303 Superintendent Don Schlomann said cooperation is key.
"The city, the school district, the library, the county, the township, the park district meets monthly," Schlomann said. "We try to make the government more responsive and make our community work together. I think it's paid off."
To get to No. 1, Family Circle selected 2,500 cities and towns with populations between 15,000 and 150,000. It narrowed the list to 1,000, and each town had to have a median income between $55,000 and $95,000. After being graded on criteria, the 10 winners were chosen to be featured in Family Circle, which publishes 15 times a year and has 20 million readers.
Ochromowicz said St. Charles has unique amenities that other communities don't have like the Fox River, the nature center, the Pottawatomie Park 9-hole golf course and the miles of bike trails along the river.
"I'm involved in both state and national recreation committees. I have been around the country interacting with professionals from other states and they're envious of St. Charles," Ochromowicz pointed out.
Alderman Jon Monken, who is executive director of the Norris Recreation Center, has been a city resident since 1986.
"What's really neat about the community is it still holds on to that heritage and the family touch," he said. "So many of us do know each other, which makes everyone feel so comfortable.
"I can't think of a better town to raise my family," Monken said.