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Website ranks Chippewa Falls No. 2 in the state as an attractive place for retirees

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    Helen Bowe of Chippewa Falls plays bingo Monday at the Chippewa Falls Senior Center. Chippewa Falls is ranked as No. 2 in the state among places for retirees to live, according to a new study. View more photos at LeaderTelegramPhotos.com.

    Staff photo by Dan Reiland
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CHIPPEWA FALLS — Chippewa Falls is a great place to retire because of its numerous recreational and social opportunities for retirees, according to the website Smartasset.com.

The investment firm ranked Chippewa Falls No. 2 on its list of the top 10 cities in Wisconsin for seniors to retire. In 2016, the city was ranked No. 8 by Smartasset.com.

The city earned its ranking because it has 2.1 doctor offices per 1,000 people, 0.8 recreation centers per 1,000 people, 1 retirement center per 1,000 people, and 17.6 percent of the residents are senior citizens, the website states.

The website also factors in state and local taxes, particularly income and sales tax and how those numbers would impact a senior earning $35,000 annually between retirement savings, Social Security or part-time employment.

Chippewa Falls is higher than the state average in nearly all of those categories; the state average is 18.3 percent of the population are seniors.

Chippewa Falls Senior Center director Angie Walker isn’t surprised by the ranking. Walker sends out about 450 monthly newsletters to members, and on any given day there are between 75 and 100 people in the building enjoying lunch, bingo, card games and even weightlifting classes.

“It’s a major accomplishment for the whole community,” Walker said of the ranking. “We should be proud of how we are focused on our seniors — they are the foundation of our community.”

Walker said the programming offered at the senior center allows seniors to stay in their homes longer.

“It builds their mental stability and offers socialization, and we have all the wellness programs,” Walker said.

Jennifer Sherbinow, Chippewa Valley Family YMCA executive director, said she has seen the growth in senior citizens using the building.

“We have the pickleball craze,” Sherbinow said. “It’s a good workout. It’s very popular among active older adults.”

The Chippewa Valley Family YMCA also has its SilverSneakers programs for retirees, from swimming classes to senior yoga to recumbent bicycles that are easier to climb onto. The building also has a walking track that is well-used by seniors throughout the year.

“We average 30 people a day (in the SilverSneakers class), and it goes every day of the week,” she said.

The pool also is popular among seniors, she added.

“It’s a good no-impact workout,” Sherbinow said.

Chippewa Falls Mayor Greg Hoffman was pleased to see the city make the list again, and climb higher than the 2016 ranking.

“Our community offers a lot for the elderly — we have numerous restaurants and medical facilities,” Hoffman said. “We have boutique stores downtown. Retirees like the parks and the lakes. I’m big on ambiance — we want the quality of life to be there.”

Hoffman also noted that the city is well-positioned close to Eau Claire and the Twin Cities, allowing active seniors to get up and go.

“Retirees are more active today than they were 30-40 years ago, and they are enjoying those amenities,” Hoffman said.

By comparison, Eau Claire County has 1.0 doctor offices per 1,000 people, 0.3 recreation centers per 1,000 people, 0.5 retirement centers per 1,000 people, and only 13.9 percent of the overall county population are senior citizens, the Smartasset report states.

Antigo topped the list. Rice Lake — the only other city in west-central Wisconsin on the list — came in third this year. The rest of the top 10, in order, are Pewaukee, Waterford, Richland Center, Mequon, Brookfield, Waupaca and Superior.

The top city for retirees in the United States is Naples, Fla., the report concludes.

To learn more visit smartasset.com.

Contact: chris.vetter@ecpc.com

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