- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 1, 2014

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) - James and Eileen Schellhammer left Bloomington for seven years in the 1980s, but their hearts remained.

“We lived in another city from 1983 to 1990, but all that time, we couldn’t wait to get back to Bloomington,” Eileen, 74, told The Herald-Times (http://bit.ly/1lNyOAI ). “We did everything within our power to return.”

While they were gone, the Schellhammers continued buying IU men’s basketball season tickets, allowing friends to use them, so they’d still have them if they found a way to get back.

In 1990, when James found a job at Indiana University and Eileen secured employment with the Martinsville school district, the Schellhammers were ecstatic. They moved to Bloomington immediately and have been here ever since.

They love attending Cardinal Stage and IU student theater productions, outdoor band concerts and musical performances at the Musical Arts Center. They also enjoy attending IU Auditorium shows in addition to IU basketball home games, and sampling a smattering of Bloomington’s eateries. Eileen stays in shape at the Monroe County YMCA.

“Many of our friends have moved to Bloomington to retire,” she said. “We are here to stay.”

The Schellhammers are among a throng of seniors who feel Area 10 - a geographic area made up of Monroe and Owen counties - is a great place to live, according to a 2013 survey of seniors conducted by the National Research Center in Boulder, Colorado.

The survey, called the “Community Assessment Survey for Older Adults,” found that 87 percent of the 272 respondents rated Area 10 as a “good” or “excellent” place to live - the highest percentage among the 16 Area Agencies on Aging in the state, and well above the state average of 79 percent. The survey also showed that 79 percent of respondents ranked Area 10 as a “good” or “excellent” place to retire - also the highest percentage in the state and far above the state average of 65 percent.

“I think the ratings are exciting,” said Kerry Conway, director of the Area 10 Agency on Aging. “It’s not surprising, because we not only have a lot of resources and amenities, but people know about them and are able to access them.”

Seventy-nine percent of the respondents rated Area 10 “good” or “excellent” in recreational opportunities compared with the state average of 59 percent; 82 percent rated the two counties “good” or “excellent” in fitness opportunities compared with the state average of 61 percent; and 69 percent rated Area 10 “good” or “excellent” in skill-building or personal enrichment classes compared with the state average of 42 percent.

“One of the strengths in our area is walkability,” Conway said. “It’s easy for many of our seniors to get to the library, for example. McCormick’s Creek in Owen County is lower cost for seniors; and in Bloomington, the B-Line Trail is wonderful. My husband walks it every day.”

Conway lauded Indiana University and Ivy Tech Community College for offering a plethora of skill-building and personal enrichment classes and said seniors love the fitness opportunities at the two Monroe County YMCAs, Owen County YMCA, Twin Lakes Recreation Center and Area 10 Agency on Aging’s Endwright Center in Ellettsville - where more than 1,000 seniors are involved in individualized fitness programs, plus weekly “summer strolls,” yoga, and dance classes, and summer water aerobics in the Edgewood High School pool.

Jim and Becky Rusie have lived in Bloomington for the past 24 years and feel it’s the ideal community for their retirement lives - offering them a blend of entertainment, recreation and volunteer opportunities.

They enjoy dining out and attending musical performances, plays, and IU sporting events. They play golf and go to a gym three times a week. And they entertain their five grandchildren when they come to Bloomington to visit.

“It’s a very grandchildren-friendly town,” Jim said. “We take them to Cardinal Stage productions and WonderLab and all the local parks. The other day we were driving home after seeing a movie and our 9-year-old grandson said, ‘I like all the trees in Bloomington.’”

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