Community Close-Up

We continue our occasional series "Community Close-Up" in a village in transition. Since 2006, Elburn has been the last stop on the Metra line to and from Chicago. 

Annette Collier is one of those riders willing to sit on a train for an hour and a half.

The northern Illinois town of Plano stood in for Smallville in the Superman movie released in 2013.  While residents have embraced the recognition that came with the film, they want everyone to know the town is more than a Hollywood backdrop.

This fall, the city councils of Sterling and Rock Falls met in a rare joint session to give final approval to a merger of their two fire departments.

Gary Cook is the Chief of the new Twin City Joint Fire Command. He says the merger was the logical end result of an organic process, one that’s been going on for some time.

“Our automatic aid agreement was signed 15 years ago. So we had since worked forward from that point. We’re polishing what we’d already been doing.  We’re just taking to another level and making it better.”      

Our occasional series "Community Close-Up" continues in Sterling/Rock Falls. City leaders on both sides of the Rock River are building on the theme "Two Cities, One Community."

School pride isn't the only dividing line between these two cities, but Rock Falls Mayor Bill Wescott says things are changing.

We continue our series "Community Close-Up" in a town known for its sense of adventure. The founder of Polo named it after Venetian explorer Marco Polo.  Today, the rural city of 2500 holds onto a strong bank of memories, thanks to longtime residents.

On a recent Tuesday, a dozen women gather for an hour-long exercise class inside the Polo Senior Center. They start with sitting exercises and bounce foam balls off of their knees.

Our series of Community Close-ups continues with a look at the City of Sandwich, Illinois.  The city is perhaps best known for the Sandwich Fair, which bills itself as the oldest continuing county fair in Illinois.  But what about the rest of the year?  A place in the city’s downtown that has served as a focus of the community for generations. And it’s even older than the fair.

Chelsey Fulbright/pixlr

The fire destroyed the city's historical society. The second floor held vintage clothing, which could not be salvaged. Firefighters were able to rescue some items: papers, pictures and paintings. They arrived in various levels of disrepair at a nearby factory for "historical triage."  Two boys are charged with starting the July 15 blaze.

Charlene Hanson now spends her days organizing black-and-white photos from Prophetstown's past at the nearby Penberthy factory. Box fans are set on full blast to dry out the hundreds of pictures in neat piles around her.

Jenna Dooley/pixlr / WNIJ

This is an important year for the farming community of Earlville, Illinois.  Residents are preparing for the town’s Sesquicentennial. 

Think there's nothing to do in Earlville on a Friday night? Think again.

Guy Stephens/pixlr

Princeton is the county seat of Bureau County. It’s also the center for cultural activity that seems all out of proportion to its size.

Joni Hunt is Tourism Director for the City of Princeton. She says, no matter how you slice it, there’s a lot going on in this town of 7000.

“We have multiple platforms for artists and thespians and musicians, so it doesn’t matter what age you are, or what type of culture you’re interested in, there’s something for you here.”

Mike Moen

The LaSalle-Peru area is known for tourist attractions, namely Starved Rock State Park. It’s also home to a river rescue team that claims to be one of the oldest in the country. This volunteer group has served the community for more than 60 years.