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Stafford County has a lot to offer its residents. And that's worth remembering--especially in troubled times.
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By LEE WOOLF
IDON'T KNOW about you, but I'm ready for some good news. Everyone seems to be suffering from mental and emotional overload these days, thanks to the serial sniper, Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, state budget cuts, the declining stock market and the drought.
Even some of our casual pursuits are causing anxiety--the Redskins are struggling, flu season is upon us, and there are just 63 shopping days before Christmas.
So there are plenty of reasons to be disturbed, distraught and distracted.
But while we need to be alert and informed about the problems we face, we can't lose sight of the fact that Stafford remains a good place to call home. Despite threats to the quality of life in the past year, the county still has a lot to offer as a place to work and raise a family.
That's why some positive comments by Bob Carter at a recent meeting of the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce's North Stafford Roundtable were refreshing.
Carter, the acting director of Stafford's Department of Economic Development, offered several nuggets of information that reflect good news for county residents and the business community.
Here are a few:
Stafford is one of Virginia's fastest-growing localities in terms of both jobs and population.
The average household size of 3.01 persons and median age of 33.1 indicates that Stafford is attracting young, growing families.
Carter described Stafford's civilian labor force of 50,526 as "vibrant and versatile." The average weekly wage per employee is $531.
Despite a large number of commuters employed outside the county, more than 25,000 people come to work in Stafford each day.
Small businesses are thriving in Stafford. Of the county's 1,400 businesses, 85 percent employ fewer than 40 people.
State agencies and local colleges--including Mary Washington College's James Monroe Center for Graduate and Professional Studies--support professional advancement and personal lifelong learning.
Although the county's school system has experienced rapid growth in recent years, "Stafford's enviable reputation for outstanding schools at every level is an important reason why so many families have moved here," said Carter.
Both history and recreation play important roles in the lives of Stafford residents. Historic sites in the county include Ferry Farm, Chatham, Belmont and the White Oak Civil War Museum. Recreational opportunities include water sports, golf and a variety of team sports for both young and old.