Julien's Journal January 2017 (Volume 42, Number 1) - Page 22



Elizabeth is Poised to


by Mindy Dalgarn

Mike Dittmar has been president of the Village of Elizabeth in Illinois since 2009 . He is a husband , father , teacher , farmer , and civic leader . His roots run deep as he grew up in Elizabeth , and with the exception of college and a year of teaching elsewhere , he has spent his life in the community he describes as “ damn near perfect .” Elizabeth sits atop Terrapin Ridge amid rolling countryside , beautiful farmland , and rows and rows of corn . With a population of just over

750 , it boasts five museums , multiple gift shops and restaurants , and the region ’ s largest antique mall . Apple River flows around the Village , adding to its beauty and charm .
According to President Dittmar , “ Elizabeth is a wonderful place to raise a family . We have a great quality of life and standard of living . There is no crime . People are kind . We ’ re progressive and forwarding thinking . Elizabeth is like a popcorn kernel just ready to pop !” Elizabeth has the good fortune of being home to two of the county ’ s leading … and oldest … business establishments . In 1888 , William Hoskins established what was to become Hoskins Building Center . Originally a lumber yard , Hoskins now includes a cabinet and appliance showroom and hardware store . The Elizabeth Garage , built in 1915 , has been in the Graves family for 90 years . It ’ s always been on the same corner and now brothers Jay and Jeff Graves are at the helm . Jeff runs the garage and handles repairs and Jay serves as the administrator , car salesman , and Elizabeth ’ s Postmaster . Interestingly , the impetus for President Dittmar ’ s commitment to his community came as a result of a conversation he had with a student in his class at River Ridge School about ten years ago . The student reported that , “ There is nothing for us here .” Mike , who readily admits being both “ town proud and school proud ,” was motivated to step up and do all he could to change that perception . The greatest challenge in Elizabeth is one faced by many towns regardless of their size or location – and that ’ s lack of funds . “ We could fix anything and everything if we had
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