My husband and I are often asked, "Why are you still living in Huntington?" Since we're not West Virginia natives, no longer have family living in the state and are past retirement age, it's often assumed we would leave. It would be wonderful to live nearer our family, but here are some reasons that keep us anchored here:
The people. Most are kind, helpful and friendly; it's easy to find others with similar interests and values.
Public leaders and private entrepreneurs who work together. The vision of and plans for redeveloping downtown Huntington took decades, but today's downtown is alive with activities, businesses, restaurants and people. Even though it can be inconvenient, I smile when I see that all the parking garages and spaces are taken.
Fine health care. Everyone needs access to good health care (that is another column), and Huntington now offers it. In the past few years, Maury and I have had occasions to use Cabell Huntington and St. Mary's hospitals. While we would have preferred to avoid those stays, we know we were fortunate that excellent medical care is available right here at home.
We're a "university town." This means that everyone, not just those enrolled or employed at the university, can be involved. The "We Are Marshall" spirit blankets our whole area. Marshall football and basketball games are longstanding traditions; soon baseball will be a great attraction. Marshall's added a Lifelong Learning Program geared for retirees.
Culture and entertainment for all. Marshall's Artist's Series, Huntington Symphony's pops concerts, exciting shows at the civic center, summer Thursday evening concerts at Pullman Square, theater at Marshall, the Huntington Museum of Art, Heritage Farm and Museum and more offer something for everyone.
An amazing variety of restaurants. No city of any size can be considered fun without a wide range of eating establishments at varying price levels. If you want fine dining, it's here. If you crave ethnic foods, want a quick bite, desire craft beers or decadent ice cream, Huntington can satisfy.
Lack of traffic. Having lived in the New York, Washington, Miami and Chicago metropolitan districts, I know real traffic. Huntingtonians may complain about extra cars or traffic lights at rush hour or on Marshall game days, but traveling around this community is basically a joy ride.
Housing choices for different stages in life. We loved our four-story, old brick South Side house for 33 years, but 10 years ago realized that a one-floor condo would be better for people of our age. If we someday want a retirement community, there are excellent choices here.
Plenty of parks and open space with activities for all ages. Walking paths, tennis, golf, biking, playground equipment and more are easily and economically available.
Opportunities. Huntington is old enough to have roots, but young enough to have healthy sprouts. Thirty-four years ago, two friends and I started a psychology practice. Today it is owned and run by much younger professionals.
Huntington continues to need change and improvements, but it admits to and tackles problems. We've shed our infamous "fat" label. We've made progress in dealing with the opioid crisis.
Forty-three years ago, we didn't know that Huntington would become our long-term residence. But for the above reasons and more, we are happy to call it home.
Diane W. Mufson is a retired psychologist. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.