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Website names DeFuniak Springs Florida's "Best Small Town"

(WJHG)
Published: Jan. 17, 2019 at 6:58 PM CST
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Florida has more than 240 small cities, towns and villages within its borders. We're defining small as populations of fewer than 10,000 people. According to one popular website, one small town rose above the rest: DeFuniak Springs.

The city was established in the late 1800s and is the seat of Walton County.

"There's a lot of history here, there's a lot of great people that have helped form this community," said Mayor Bob Campbell.

Wikipeda says it was founded as a resort development by officers of the Pensacola and Atlantic railroad.

"It is steeped in a rich cultural history,” said 35-year resident Kelly Goff.

MSN.com Insider Online recently named it the "Best Small Town" in Florida.

"I was surprised, I did not know there was a competition going on,” said resident Robert McKnight, who also serves as vice chair of the DeFuniak Springs Economic Development Committee.

"Well, my husband told me [about the recognition] the other day," said long-time resident Shannon Macomber. "I was like, 'Wow! What?' I think it's awesome!"

"One person said Florida has about 20 million residents and the 5,300 people of this city won the prize," said McKnight. "And that lets you know how unique the city is in terms of its charm and its opportunity and its stewardship of its beautiful architecture and lake yard."

"[I'm] not surprised," said Goff. "We have so many opportunities here. We're about 30 miles from the beach, but still out of the traffic, out of the hectic nature of living in a tourist destination."

Mayor Campbell has been leading the city for nearly six years. In fact, he was born at the old Lakeside Hospital on historic Circle Drive.

"This town was birthed in education and religion, and it's also a lot of entrepreneurs that started off with sawmills and all types of job opportunities," said Campbell. "I'm hoping that that spirit is still residing in this place today, and I believe it is."

MSN.com trumpets the city’s charm and attraction to visitors, as well as its Victorian architecture and its almost perfectly round natural lake, the centerpiece of its historic district.

"I love DeFuniak," said Macomber. "I love this city. I love the people. I love how people just come together."

The city touts itself as being connected to its rich past, but not letting that keep it from moving forward.

"The thing we want to be here is smart enough not to ruin this beautiful serenity and the laid back atmosphere," said Campbell. "I think with good, smart growth [and] good, smart planning, you can have the hustle and bustle of good business and also have the laid back neighborhoods.”

From the oldest public library in the state...

"There is some tremendous value here and some assets that many would die for," said Campbell.

To its futuristic Tesla charging station, the only one in 125 miles in any direction…

"Whatever you're into, we have a little bit of that here," said Goff.

Many will tell DeFuniak springs provides the balance worthy of carrying the mantle of Florida’s "Best Small Town".