The next stop in our 'Small Towns, Big Deals' series is Bismarck on April 14. Something to get you there ...
If you live in tiny McLean County village of Bellflower (pop. 408), odds are your name has appeared on a welcome-to-town road sign along Illinois 54.
Maybe even twice.
"We're so small that we've been known to repeat ourselves," said Janet Zimmerman, a 40-year resident who oversees the clever sign project. "But that's OK. We just start all over again."
Then-mayor Wilson 'Ish' Mears introduced the idea in 1986 as a way to honor community members. The first name to be posted was 95-year-old Grace Golden, the oldest resident of Bellflower, replaced two weeks later by 94-year-old Nell Moore. On and on it went, the mayor even taking pictures of each new sign and hand-delivering them to each Bellflower "celebrity."
Zimmerman — with help from Camille Munson, who paints the names — has carried on a "Home Of ..." tradition meant to spotlight everyone from high school graduates to anniversary couples to senior citizens to, well, ordinary residents like Amanda Blackwell, the current spotholder. The nomination process involves simply reaching out to a village board member.
"We're a small town," Zimmerman said. "We should know each other and take care of each other. This is one way to do that."
Have a small-town idea you'd like to pitch? Email N-G Media's Jim Rossow at firstname.lastname@example.org.