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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Missoula honored as U.S.’s top small town

Associated Press

MISSOULA — Men’s Journal magazine has named this city the No. 1 small town in the nation, citing such things as health and recreation and the amount of undeveloped land nearby.

Missoula led New Paltz, N.Y., Morgantown, W.Va., Apalachicola, Fla., and Kerrville, Texas, as best small town with a population under 100,000 in the magazine’s May issue. The best big city was San Diego, followed by Portland, Ore., Boston, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Austin, Texas.

Men’s Journal Senior Editor Tom Foster said the magazine has done the survey for three years, but the criteria for what constitutes the best cities has changed each year.

This time, the survey looked at a number of health and recreation factors, including cancer and diabetes rates, along with the annual snowfall, average days of sunshine, proximity to major sports teams or events, and amount of undeveloped land. Those combined with the more common rankings of population, cost of living and house prices.

“Missoula has a lot of land nearby where you can get out and have a good time,” Foster said. “And you can see there’s a lot of college towns on the list. With a college, you have the cultural benefits of a larger town than it really is.”

Foster said the survey also includes a few “wild cards,” such as the number of bars and bookstores, and the ratio of men to women in town and the community’s “body-mass” index.

Missoula City-County Health Department Director Ellen Leahy said she was pleased to see the health factors make a difference.

“I’m real proud of getting the environmental rating,” Leahy said. “And I’m not surprised we got a good rating on health areas. We tend to run a bit better (than the national average) in areas related to activity, and related areas like diabetes or obesity. Although our suicide rate for young men is much higher than the national average here.”

Two months ago, Inc. Magazine ranked Missoula as the No. 2 small place to do business in the country. Last year, Forbes magazine called Missoula its No. 11 small place for business and careers.

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