Wheeling named in Family Circle's best towns

WHEELING The town was rated for its schools, parks and diversity.

Wheeling, just 26 miles northwest of Chicago with a population under 40,000, and a median income of $70,000, was voted by Family Circle magazine as one of the 10 best places in the country to raise a family. One of the reasons Wheeling was selected is because of its diversity.

Melissa Kolssak said she and her husband love raising their two boys, David and Chase, in the town.

"The park system here is wonderful. The schools are great. The park district is terrific. The open spaces are wonderful, and really, a great place to raise a family," Kolssak said.

"A great community, like different ethnic backgrounds," said Amy Burke.

"I wanted a community that would provide diversity, that's a microcosm of the world, and Wheeling does that from an ethnic and socio-economic standpoint," said Mike Burke.

Wheeling High School has won several championships in wrestling, debate and cross country and was recently recognized by Downbeat magazine as having one of the best jazz programs in the country.

In the selection process, Family Circle looked for towns that embrace the environment. Wheeling officials say since 2002, they have spent more than $2 million on five empty lots, turning them into small parks.

"Not a lot of open space at this point but trying to take whatever we have and turn it into parks and things of that nature," said J. Mark Rooney, village manager.

Wheeling also boasts Chicago Executive Airport, the third busiest airport in Illinois, a thriving business community and Milwaukee Avenue, often referred to as Wheeling's Restaurant Row because of the wide variety of upscale restaurants that line the avenue.

"Bob Chinn's came out here 28 years ago. And he's one of the top independent restaurants in the nation. For a town of 40,000 we have over 20,000 jobs created in the businesses, parks and the 900 and some businesses and retail outlets in Wheeling," said Rooney.

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