CANTON, Mo. -- A new survey shows the vast majority of Canton residents are satisfied with the quality of life in their town, and 92 percent would recommend the community to others as a good place to live.
Canton Mayor Jarrod Phillips said he was heartened by the strong feeling of satisfaction expressed by residents in the independent survey, conducted by the North East Community Action Corporation.
"While there are some things to work on, there are some things to be proud of," Phillips said. "So the question is: How do we take this mass of information and put it into something that the community can use?"
Phillips plans to start that process by holding a town meeting within the next 60 days to outline the survey results and invite local "stakeholders" to take part in discussions aimed at making Canton even better.
The date, time and location of the meeting will be announced later.
The 2017 survey was a follow-up to a similar survey conducted by NECAC in 2014, both funded with a grant through NeighborWorks America. Canton was the only Northeast Missouri community surveyed through this program.
Carla Potts, deputy director of housing development for NECAC, said 157 Canton residents filled out surveys in 2014 while 168 responded in 2017. She said NECAC workers tried to contact residents in all of the city's owner-occupied homes and rental properties.
"We literally went block-by-block knocking on doors," she said.
Potts said students living on the campus of Culver-Stockton College were not included in the survey because the focus was on permanent residents who own or rent homes. However, both Potts and Phillips hastened to say that having a college in Canton adds significantly to the town's quality of life because of its role in providing jobs, quality education and contributions to the local arts and sports scenes.
Potts said the response from residents in both surveys reflected a strong feeling of satisfaction about the quality of life in Canton.
"What I was most impressed with is the number of people who would recommend this town to others and the number of people who are involved in the town," she said. "All of that speaks to a stable, growing community with people who really care about it and each other."
The survey showed 62 percent of respondents were "very" satisfied about living with Canton -- up from 51 percent in 2014 -- while 33 percent were "somewhat satisfied."
The results also showed that 65 percent of the respondents would "definitely recommend" Canton to others -- up from 43 percent in 2014 -- while 27 percent would "probably recommend" the town.
The latest survey also indicated that 80 percent of the respondents were willing to be involved in various activities in the community with the rest "not that willing."
Another statistic that jumped out to city officials was that 87 percent of the respondents felt "very safe" and 13 percent felt "somewhat safe" walking in Canton during the day, while a vast majority felt safe walking at night.
"It's what you expect out of a small town," Phillips said. He hopes the upcoming discussions with stakeholders will address what can be done for "those few people who don't feel safe" walking at night.
Mary Fretwell, office assistant at Canton City Hall, said that while both surveys show there is "room for improvement" in Canton, the results generally paint a positive picture of the town.
"It's actually thrilling for me as an employee of the city -- and someone who is very interested in community development -- to see that we have these types of results from the surveys," she said. "This confirms there are some things that we're doing correctly."
Carla Janney, co-owner of Janney Builder Supply and Construction in downtown Canton, said she would agree with the survey's findings.
"Canton is a very nice place to live," she said. "I like the small-town atmosphere. I think our community has an awesome school district, and it's a college town. Both of my kids went to Culver-Stockton."
Janney said "the whole town works together on things," and she feels Canton is a great place for families. "I definitely feel safe," she said. "I walk at night in town all the time."
Gina Foust, a florist at MidwestScapes Florist, says she finds Canton to be a good place to live and work.
"I think everybody likes the ruralness and the farm-town atmosphere," she said. "If you're a person who likes really fast-paced stuff, then you're probably not going to like it here. But I like the quiet, the calm. If I want drama, I can turn on the TV."
Madison Maupin, a freshman at Culver-Stockton College, said she likes living in Canton.
"I moved here from a small town, which is why I chose the school here," she said. "The community is really close here, and they back up the sports at Culver-Stockton."
Maupin, who plays softball for C-SC, said she and other athletes get involved in activities at Canton High School as a way to support the community.
"They're really supportive of the college here, so we kind of reciprocate that," said.
Maupin also said members of her sorority, Tri Sigma, "like to give back and do a lot of community service throughout Canton and just help the community in any way we can."