CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Two Putnam County cities rank highly among the top 15 places for young families to live in West Virginia, according to one financial advice website.Nerdwallet.com, a San Francisco-based personal finance and credit card comparison website, ranked the "Best Towns in West Virginia for Young Families" as part of a nationwide evaluation of each state's top cities, according to Mike Anderson, an analyst for the site.Hurricane and Nitro, ranked No. 2 and No. 3 respectively, were chosen based on interviews and Census data comparing median home values, average income, school quality, population growth and proximity to large urban areas, he said.According to the site, Hurricane's median income is $56,861 (the 2011 median income for U.S. households was $50,054). Its average home value is $125,800 and the city has a GreatSchools.com rating of 9 out of 10. According to the rankings, Putnam County Schools has among the most educated teachers in the state: 63 percent hold a masters degree or higher, a full 10 percent higher than the state average.
Scott Edwards, mayor of Hurricane, said he believes the reason the city has thrived is largely because of its people -- people who have lived in the area for years and invested in its future.
"The foundation of Hurricane is the people who are here," Edwards said. "The people of Hurricane are good -- genuinely good -- people. We like to help each other; that's the basis of it."Hurricane, the largest city in Putnam County, is home to about 6,200 people."People want to move here and raise their families here. They work in Charleston, or Huntington, or Ashland (Ky.), but they choose to live in Hurricane," Edwards said.Nitro, a city of roughly 7,100, is part of both Putnam County and neighboring Kanawha County. Built to be an American ammunition production facility during World War I, Nitro is "the living memorial to the First World War."Nitro High School was recently recognized by the College Board as having the highest success rates in the state on Advanced Placement math and science tests. In November, hundreds of citizens gathered to watch the unveiling of the new Dick Henderson Memorial Bridge, which connects the community to neighboring St. Albans.The top-ranked city on the list is Bridgeport, in Harrison County. The city of Charleston ranked No. 11 on Nerdwallet's list. For the full list of the top 15 cities for young families in West Virginia, visit www.nerdwallet.com/blog/2013/best-towns-west-virginia-young-families
. Reach Lydia Nuzum at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5189.