The website Roadsnacks is at it again. According to their findings, Arkansas City ranks third on their list of the top 10 ghetto cities in Kansas. We are also accused of having the 8th dumbest population in the state. 

Adding insult to injury, the publication USA Today has also listed Ark City as the worst place to live in Kansas, and a website known as Wallethub, states that out of 50 states, Kansas is the 41st most boring state to visit.

I don’t think we’re half as ignorant, ghetto or boring as the people who make these reports want everyone to believe.

Roadsnacks states that several things were evaluated while making those determinations. Household income, high school graduation rates, the number of convenience, drug and discount stores, and the local crime rate were all considered.

I have a hard time understanding why having drug stores, convenience stores and discount stores is a bad thing. I grew up in a community with very few businesses. We had to drive more than 30 miles to get any of the things we needed. I would think having plenty of locations to shop would be a positive thing.

Roadsnacks states that Ark City has the 14th lowest income in Kansas, which it claims is the primary reason for the high the crime rate. Residents who have lived in our community for at least a year have a 1 in 25 chance of being a property crime victim, according to this report. I’ve lived here 12 years, and I haven’t had any problems.

Coffeyville is listed as the most ghetto city in Kansas. It seems that anytime Roadsnacks creates a negative report about Kansas’s communities, Coffeyville is always at the top of that list. The report states that Coffeyville is the fourth most dangerous place to be in our state. I have my doubts that any of the people who generate these reports have ever visited that community.

In the list of the most ghetto cities, Kansas City was awarded second place, Emporia fourth, Topeka fifth, followed by Parsons, Liberal, Wichita, Fort Scott and Columbus.

It would seem that Roadsnacks just doesn’t like Kansas at all. Perhaps they were frightened by the Wizard of Oz movie as children, and this is their way of getting even. Maybe they are just too lazy to drive out here and find out firsthand what we have to offer.

Roadsnacks main office appears to be in North Carolina. I was curious, so I looked up their listings of the worst states, most dangerous states, and several other categories. It came as no surprise that North Carolina was not on any of those lists.

I also looked up safest states, and the ones rated as the best place to live. I was surprised to see that North Carolina was also absent from those lists. Apparently, they are not brave enough to rate their own state.

So, in their opinion, what sets a state apart as the best and safest place to be? The website gave a list of criteria. The best locations have a high population density, low unemployment rates, high median income, high home values, high levels of college education, people who have insurance, low crime and no poverty.

All of those things are very nice, but I sincerely doubt any city could meet all of those standards. But there are a few very important items they failed to include.

How about cities with friendly people who care about each other and will go out of their way to help each other out? I could list several occasions where I was struggling with a situation, and someone I didn’t know, without being asked, jumped in to help me. I have watched people rally to help others with their medical expenses, or to replace belongings lost in a fire. I have watched people in this community dig deep to make sure that all of the children in this area received a Christmas gift.

I have witnessed community events where the entire city came together, and had a great time. No fussing, no fighting, just a lot of laughter and smiles.  Events like Arkalalah, the Last Run Car Show and so many others, draw the community together in a positive way.

Ark City has its problems. Issues such as low incomes, limited employment possibilities, and crime problems and do make things difficult. Keeping our hospital on solid financial footing has been a struggle, and we have many other needs that we can’t afford to address at this time.

But you’d be hard pressed to find a community that doesn’t struggle with many of those same problems.

For the most part, we live in a quiet and peaceful city. Sometimes we fight and argue with each other, but attack us and you will find yourself in a battle. In spite of our problems, we are proud of our community.

My family and I moved here from Wichita over 12 years ago. We didn’t know a single soul in this community. Everything felt strange, new and different. All of our family and friends were back in Wichita. We felt lost, alone, and homesick.

But things didn’t stay that way. We found that the community was full of friendly people. We found people who were only too happy to pass the time in conversation in a checkout line, or while sitting in a restaurant. We found people who were happy to answer our questions about where to find things in the community. We found people who were happy to welcome strangers from Wichita to their city.

I could allow this report from Roadsnacks to bother me. I’ll admit that I have been tempted several times to write them a letter that would be so hot, they’d need asbestos gloves to read it. But the more I think about it, I find myself feeling sorry for them, they have no clue what they are missing.

I really don’t care about their silly report. Kansas is a wonderful state to live in, and Arkansas City is a wonderful community. For my family and I, it’s home, and there’s no place like home.

CourierTraveler reporter John Shelman can be contacted at (620) 442-4200 or

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