By Marianne Mueller

Gordy Justice Sr. of the Walter Graham American Legion Post #332, Sign Project Chair from Prince of Peace Lutheran Church Kathy Leahy, Rockton Village President, John Peterson, Project Assistant from Prince of Peace Lora Conrad, and Rockton American Legion Commander Jim Griffin celebrated the completion of a sign project on July 31. This new gateway style sign sits at the corner of Hwy. 2 and Union Street in Rockton.

After years of an empty, particular, finished sign backdrop at the corner of Highway 2 and Union St. in Rockton

the unveiling of a new sign on July 31 created new life in that section of town.

Members of – or owners of – various churches, representatives from nonprofit groups or organizations and the community gathered to see results of many hours of hard work. Commander Jim Griffin and Gordy Justice Sr. of the Walter Graham Rockton American Legion Post #332 were on hand for the celebration.

The sign which sits at a main gateway into Rockton was a labor of love. It was made possible by a committee from Prince of Peace Lutheran Church. Project leaders were Service Deacon and Chair, Kathy Leahy and former Service Deacon, Lora Conrad who was an assistant to Leahy. “I noticed the original sign several years ago. It was faded, and incomplete. The signs that were hanging there were different sizes, and colors. It wasn’t a good representation of Rockton,” Conrad said.

Wooden signs that were on the old frame were a previous Eagle Scout project.

The overall project was funded by the Prince of Peace congregation. The funds that were used accumulated from the congregation’s weekly giving; a percentage is set aside to be used toward a service project fund.

Project leaders said a few words. “Every few years our church chooses a service project to complete, Lora Conrad said. “In 2014 our congregation renovated the interior and exterior of a house; “Project Winterland.”

“I was asked by our Chairperson Kathy Leahy if I had anything in mind for a service project that we could do. The Council suggested that she contact me since I had chaired Project Winterland.” Conrad said. “I noticed the condition of the previous signs and shared the idea with her.

The project took hundreds of hours to complete and the sign was modeled after signs you see when entering small towns. “We presented a prototype to the church council and to Village President John Peterson and the village Administrative Committee who approved the plans. We met with each organization and everyone who is on the sign in person. We had tons of meetings and put in a lot of hours, “Conrad reflected.

Prince of Peace representatives worked with Public Works Director Dan Barber. His crew painted the utility poles white to replace their dull gray color. Additionally Public Works added an extra bar at the top for the main banner and painted the bars black as a courtesy.

The sign was created by Olson Signs in South Beloit. The frame width is 144′, with a height of 150′. The main banner at the top measures 48”x144.” The other signs are either 36”x36” or 36’x30” according to their placement. Every inch was utilized.

Olson Signs was very instrumental in helping with the design and they were incredibly kind, “Conrad said. Conrad expressed an extra note of gratitude to Kara Wallace who went above and beyond to help with the project. All of the supporters were thanked for making this happen.

Everyone was invited to a taco bar lunch after the ribbon cutting and dedication to the sign project. She recognized Kristie McWilliams from Rockton Inn Pub and Grub for catering the meal.  As an extra bonus ice cream sundaes were available for dessert.

Village President John Peterson thanked Prince of Peace Church for completing this mission. So many times, someone might have good intentions but nothing gets accomplished. I really appreciate this project; the work that has been completed and the fact that local businesses participated.

First steps taken were to see who had signs previously up on the older frame. Those who no longer exist were eliminated. It was then determined who would be on the new signs.

Non-profit organizations, churches, and scout troops are represented. In the center, in the lower section, is a list of other amenities: antiques, restaurants, top schools, shopping, festivals, parks, golf, library, and a swimming pool. Surrounding the grounds are stunning plants that came from Rockton Garden Works. Executive lawn care took care of grounds work.

Churches hold a special place of prominence both in the Rockton community and on the newly presented sign. Providing places of worship is a strong suit of the community. The four oldest of Rockton’s current churches started with The Old Stone Congregational Church opening in the same year that Rockton was established; in 1838. Settlers met a year before to start planning to form a congregation.

Rockton United Methodist Church was founded in 1855. Prince of Peace Lutheran Church has been open for worship since 1962.

 St. Andrew Church has been welcoming a newly formed congregation since their first voters meeting on April 4, 1964.

The Church by the Side of the Road was built in 1965 and remains a popular wedding chapel. The church was once part of the Wagon Wheel. Each church holds a matchless beauty and charm both inside and out.

Now, visitors and residents alike who drive through this specific intersection they can enjoy pure beautification resulting from these great works!

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