When you had so strongly prided yourself exclusively as a reporter, doing anything else almost seems a betrayal to the passion you carefully fostered. But with time, and deeply embedded in a small town, my personal definition has grown more expansive and all-inclusive of what a community journalist could resemble. Now, the visual constant of storytelling is in plenty of scenarios my absolute favorite part of reporting. Included are some of my favorite moments.
Tony and Peg Vallillo, ages 92 and 91, respectively, laugh together on Feb. 13, 2013, at their Wesley Village apartment in Macomb. In light of the approaching Feb. 14 Valentines Day holiday, they discussed the success of their relationship, how they met and their lives together. They’d been married 64 years. “My advice is: Remember there are two individual people involved. Neither one of you really knows the other. I will look at her and wonder, ‘Why did we get married? Who are you?'” Tony said. “If you’ve got any kind of religious aspirations, that’s where the soul comes in, and that’s different.”
Rocker Bret Michaels touches hands with fans as they reach up during his performance Thursday, June 27, 2013, at the Forum in Macomb. The crowd pushed toward the stage throughout his concert, which fell on the first day of Heritage Days 2013 weekend.
Hot-air balloon pilot Spencer Conlin readies “Old Glory” to launch from a field near Macomb’s YMCA on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013, in advance of the annual balloon rally in Macomb, Ill. When asked how he’d control its direction to land at WIU’s Vince Grady Field, he said often “it’s at the mercy of the wind.”
Harlan Jacobson, 84, of rural Roseville tosses an ear of corn into a wagon behind him during the men’s 75 and up category at the Illinois Corn Husking Contest on Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013. The 33rd annual installment of the contest was held on his farm south of Roseville off U.S. Route 67. “You pick the corn by hand like the old-timers did years ago before the combines,” Jacobson said. “That’s all I can tell you. It takes a lot of practice.”
Students react and watch on as hay flies Friday, April 11, 2014, after a stuffed dummy was pulled into farm equipment during a safety demonstration at the McDonough County 4-H grounds. It was part of Progressive Agriculture Safety Day, an annual outing for students that entailed an array of activities in 15 areas, including several farming-related safety or informational demonstrations, as well as talks over first aid, water and utility safety, and a rollover demonstration. Activities were attended by kids from Macomb, Bushnell-Prairie City, West Prairie, St. Paul and Abingdon.
Five-year-olds Kyra and Timmy look out into the park after their time on stage during the third annual Little Miss and Master Good Hope Pageant Friday, June 6, 2014. The village’s pageant was among the first events to kick off the 40th annual Good Hope Sodbuster Days.
One of several training officers looks over the library at Macomb High School after victims, roleplayed by students, were ushered to a corner of the room during an active shooter simulation on Wednesday, June 11, 2014. The scenarios carried out were based on real school shootings. This one entailed a shooter who’d taken people hostage.
Walter Jones, 90, of Hamilton holds out a fiddle he made during the Spring Lake Bluegrass Festival and Jam on Saturday, July 19, 2014, in Macomb, Ill. Jones jammed with a small group of other senior-aged musicians away from the festival’s main performances and secluded under a tree canopy; however, he was the only one two bring an instrument he’d crafted himself over an expansive, decades-long career. “I’ve repaired violins,” he said. “I’ve even repaired one in Switzerland.”
A young girl rides her tricycle with no hands with marchers from the office of state Rep. Norine Hammond, R-Macomb, during the Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014, Western Illinois University Homecoming parade as it made its way east down Carroll Street in downtown Macomb, Ill. This parade is one of the two biggest each year.
Delorean Buckner, 7, hugs his mother, Felicia Jones, as she looks through pairs of jeans at Walmart Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014, and Macomb Police Chief Curt Barker watches on. The Lincoln School student was one of about more than 60 total children to benefit from that year’s Macomb Shop with a Cop program.
Hundreds of Western Illinois University students, faculty and community members marched through the Macomb campus on Friday, Dec. 12, 2014. What was dubbed a solidarity march and rally entitled, “WIU Race 4 Justice: Black Lives Matter,” came in the wake of the highly publicized deaths of young unarmed black men, Michael Brown and Eric Garner, who in separate altercations with police in different states were killed earlier in the year.
A Western Illinois University Peace Corps fellow pretends to lay injured after Illinois National Guard members in Hazmat suits had pulled her gurney from inside a vast Whalen Manufacturing plant in Macomb, where one of two disaster response exercises was carried out with local law enforcement on Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015. This role-playing victim was one of many who had “succumbed” to injuries sustained in a fake chemical spill.