By Meghan Callan
Clinton County Chatter Staff Reporter
ST.JOHNS — There’s no place like home, the old saying goes. Many residents of St. Johns couldn’t agree more.
According to St. Johns Chief of Police Kyle Knight, the town of St. Johns is a very tight-knit community; many residents have lived in the area their whole lives, or have migrated back later in life.
“I’ve been working with Clinton County police departments since 1987. I am honored to serve the people of St. Johns because I feel very connected to this community. I have become so close with many of the residents and have built such a family within this town,” said Knight.
Knight believes safety and family are two of the largest drivers of motivations either to move or to stay in one place.
“I want to maintain the standard of safety the town of St. Johns has upheld. People remain so home-bound because they want to feel safe and secure in their community, and they want the same for their family. If a town has low crime rates people stay and if it has high crime rates, people leave,” said Knight.
Public safety expert Gordon Gow at the University of Alberta agrees with Knight that safety in a community is vitally important to its residents.
“It is very difficult to attract homeowners, or business owners to neighborhoods that have significant crime or that are perceived as being unsafe,” said Gow.
Gow believes that a safe environment also draws in people who are starting to raise a family.
“As a parent you want the best protection for your child, and living in a community in which that safety is provided will cause people to stay,” said Gow.
Gow believes having a well-ranked educational system is also a factor that contributes to drawing residents to a community.
Superintendent of St. Johns Public Schools Dedrick Martin is confident in the educational system that the town of St. Johns provides.
“It’s our goal to provide a standards-based educational experience for all students of the district. The St. Johns Board of Education for public schools meets monthly so we can consistently create plans for improvements to strengthen our educational system,” said Martin.
The philosophy of St. Johns Public Schools as stated on their website is as follows.
We believe that education is a continuing lifetime pursuit and a shared responsibility of home, school, church and community-that schools are centers of community endeavor for the improvement of the quality of living and learning for all citizens. This philosophy makes education a total process and a universal concern.
Resident of St. Johns Federica Risi has lived in the township since she was a child, and now raises her children in St. Johns.
“I attended school in St.Johns when I was growing up. I ended up leaving to go onto college and get married but once I had my first child I found myself back living in the district,” said Risi.
Risi said the educational system of the town had a huge impact on her decision to return.
“One of my kids attends St. Johns High School and the other is at the middle school here. I knew I wanted my kids to have a sufficient academic experience and since I went to school in this town I knew I could trust the education system,” said Risi.
According to Angela Miles, an expert in community development at the University of Toronto, in addition to education having a sense of family within a community also drives people to remain home-bound.
“Fostering a sense of belonging within community as a resident is essential to remaining connected to a town. When people get involved within their communities and start meeting people, it creates social ties,” said Miles.
Resident and waitress at the Main Street Cafe in St. Johns Anastasia Niforos said she feels a sense of belonging within St. Johns through her work.
“At the cafe we have many regulars, people who have been coming to eat here for years. After awhile you get to really know the customers and learn their stories. I’ve met some amazing people in this community through this job,” said Niforos.
Aidan Chew is one of the many regulars who enjoys eating at the Main Street Cafe.
“I’ve been coming here with my wife every Sunday after church for years. It has become part of our routine. We always get the same thing to eat, and sit in the same spot with the same people. I look foreword to it every week,” said Chew.
Clinton County Pastor Russ MacCoy said he also feels a sense of belonging within the community through his work.
“I’ve been a pastor for St. Johns for over 10 years, therefore I’ve grown very attached to this community,” said MacCoy
MacCoy said he believes having a sense of community also stems from developing a purpose within that community.
“People don’t want to leave once they develop a purpose within the community they live in. I have met so many amazing people and couldn’t be more proud to represent this town,” said MacCoy.