Little Big City’

No. 1 is a great spot to hold, and in North Carolina, the Town of Holly Springs has clinched it.
Holly Springs is ranked as the 2013 Best Place to Raise Kids in North Carolina by Businessweek, based on factors like public school performance, safety, housing costs, income, employment and diversity.

“We certainly were pleasantly surprised!” said Interim Town Manager Charles Simmons of the no-entry-required ranking.

This little town has grown from 900 residents and a couple of convenience stores in the ’80s into home for nearly 30,000 people, complete with six public schools and the well-rounded Holly Springs Cultural Center.  

The town earned its No. 1 ranking after evaluations of more than 3,200 places nationwide, by Businessweek and Bloomberg Rankings.

So what do the parents of Holly Springs think about the state’s Best Place to Raise Kids? We took to the streets to find out.  

“It’s wonderful here!” said Yvonne Sarno whose family, including 7-year-old Annabella, has lived in Holly Springs for five years. “We love (Parrish) Womble Park where we run on the track, the community library and shopping local. There are so many programs for kids, and things for adults to do too. And our neighborhood’s safe; there’s community involvement, and everybody’s looking out for the kids.”  

The Frazees landed in Holly Springs five-plus years ago, after searching for a place to raise a family. Now with children ages 3 and 8 months, Alicia Frazee says the town is family-friendly all the way.

“Our block (in Holly Glen) has more than 20 kids on it, and everyone works together,” she said. “The neighborhood has so many activities and amenities. We also find the farmers market great for education, because the farmers talk to the kids. And my favorite spot is Thanks a Latte, for great local espresso!

“All towns have movie nights and things like that, but there’s just something about the people here in Holly Springs.”

The Fischettos arrived in Holly Springs in 2001, and now are parents to sons ages 10 and 7.

“It’s awesome because the boys can walk to school at Holly Ridge Elementary,” said Shellee Fischetto. “We love the school, and the teachers are great. We also like that we can walk to the library, or downtown.

“Our favorite places are the (W.E.) Hunt Recreation Center, Womble Park, and Bass Lake for fishing and nice trails. Holly Springs is also a central location; it’s pretty easy to get to Cary, Apex, Raleigh and Durham.”

Police Chief John Herring is a veteran townie compared to most, having made his home here since joining Holly Springs’ four-officer police department in 1993. Today, he leads 60 officers and staff, including resource officers in every school, a town program meant to foster trust and communication.

“Is this a family-friendly town? Absolutely!” Herring said. “There’s no other place I’ve ever been that I would choose over Holly Springs to raise my daughters,” ages 16 and 13.

“We’ve got a very low crime rate; demographics and growth have driven that somewhat, but the town is also proactive, not just in law enforcement but in the fire department, town government, and in controlling growth.

“I think this is one of the best places in the country to live,” Herring said. “The schools are phenomenal; we have great universities and health care nearby. This is a progressive area. It’s a little big city.”  

Town officials also chimed in on Holly Springs’ best-for-kids ranking.

“I think our commitment to provide a wide range of parks and recreation activities helped,” manager Simmons said, noting $20 million in parks and rec bonds approved by voters in 2011.

Those funds will provide new tennis courts, soccer fields, greenways and playgrounds at existing parks, plus the new North Main Athletic Complex, which may include a 1,500-seat sports stadium.

And director of economic development Jenny Mizelle points out more fun to come, including a bowling alley and movie theater at the recently-opened Holly Springs Towne Center, and a BMX training facility set to open this fall.

“2013 has already been an exceptional year for Holly Springs,” Mizelle said.

For raising kids, you might just call it the “best.”

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