I grew up in North County and for the majority of my life, that's where I lived. In 2004, I started dating a guy that lived in Arnold. I remember my first trip to the city - I thought I would never get there! When I finally arrived, I saw few businesses and A LOT OF FARMLAND. I felt like I was in the country.
Well, me and the guy hit it off, and I eventually moved to the city. I watched it grow from a few small stores and a lot of vacant land to a hustling, bustling city with a wide variety of businesses and services. I didn't have to travel to South County to shop anymore or deal with that area's traffic headaches.
When I lived in Arnold, I ALWAYS felt safe and had wonderful neighbors. Got a problem at 3 a.m.? You could count on them no matter what time of day. They would always be there to help.
In 2009, me and the guy called it quits. I moved to Affton because that was what I could afford. Although I was a "South County" resident, I still shopped in Arnold because it was a straight shot down Interstate 55, and again, no South County traffic headaches.
I moved back to Arnold late last year. This is when family, friends, co-workers and even community members questioned my decision, especially in light of the crime reported here and all the city council and school district shenanigans. Well, this is why I moved back:
- Arnold is the safest place I have ever lived, and believe me, I have moved around quite a bit in the last 20 years. Yes, I write up the police and court reports each week, but I am relieved that the officers are keeping our city safe;
- For the most part, people in this city are wonderful and kind, (I will explain this in a few);
- Everything I need is within a mile from my home, i.e. local businesses - dining, shopping and services;
- Property and real estate taxes in Arnold are the lowest in the St. Louis area, and I reviewed these stats for a good year.
- Location, location, location, I am within minutes of I-55 and Interstate 270.
Back to how the people here are wonderful!
- I recently attended the funeral service of an Arnold council member - Cricky Lang. I sat down in the back of the church. I was covering the service for Patch. A gentleman with a cane sat next to me - he was a friend of the family. His wife wasn't able to attend. He told me he had parked where he shouldn't have because of the crowd and said he was concerned about blocking others. I told him that I had parked in a nearby field in a mix of wet grass and sand, and that I was worried my car wouldn't be able to make it out. He left before I did, but he gave me his cell phone number and told me he only lived 4 minutes away, and that he would be happy to come back and pull my car out if I needed it. This coming from a complete stranger that I had just met, but an Arnold neighbor.
- Another kind act: I closed on my home on Oct. 31. I moved in on Nov. 8. My yard was a complete mess with leaves. I heard my neighbor outside mowing one day when I was hard at work for Patch inside. I let the dogs out and saw his yard immaculate and completely free of leaves. I called over the fence, "Randy, how did you get your yard in such good shape?" He said, "I have a lawnmower with a leaf vacuum on it. I'll come over and do your yard tomorrow." I told him he didn't have to do that. But he insisted. I offered to pay him, which he refused. The man spent two hours the next day cleaning up my yard! He even had to take down my cyclone fence to get his mower back there. I baked him and his wife some cookies, later learning Randy has a "sweet tooth."
- And here's a Patch experience proving how wonderful Arnold folks are. I first met Loretta Buettner in October. Loretta, a volunteer for the Jefferson County Animal Shelter, had been submitting photos and info on adoptable pets to our site for months. She and her husband have lived in Arnold for years. We immediately hit it off with the pet and Arnold connection. Loretta, not being familiar with computers or the online life agreed at our first meeting to start "blogging" on Patch. It was a term I was unfamiliar with just two years ago. But she immediately embraced it and gave it a try. She's been doing wonderful in her efforts ever since. I was especially impressed with a recent blog she submitted thanking several Arnold businesses who had donated sandwiches to shelter employees. Another example of the kind people and business owners in our area!
I don't have children, so as a resident, I really can't comment on the school district part of the equation. But, I have talked to many people who have graduated from Fox and have decided to move back to the city or who have continued to live here so their kids could attend.
Since taking over as editor of Arnold Patch in October, I have reported on several out-of-the-ordinary developments in local government. In my 20-plus years of city government reporting, I have never encountered such disarray among city officials.
I don't recall this being the situation when I lived in Arnold previously, but maybe it's because I just didn't pay attention. In the big scheme of life, here is what is important to me as an ordinary resident: family, friends and work - gotta pay the bills.
So family, friends, co-workers and community members, now you know why I chose Arnold for my home, despite the bad rep the city gets. I could cite many more examples of the kindness I've seen in this community, but I'm sure by now, you get the picture.