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Artwork in progress It’s been little more than a year since The Loft on Main opened in Morrison, but it’s already become a destination for local artists – and there’s more to come

ALSO INSIDE ... To serve and support ... A Tampico woman answers difficult calls to duty Family invited folks to mosey on over to their saloon A Marine veteran hopes to find a new home for a high-flying Lyndon hero’s military gear

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FEATURE • STORY

DEER GROVE, ERIE, FENTON, LYNDON, MORRISON, PROPHETSTOWN, TAMPICO

Artwork in progress

Publisher Don T. Bricker General Manager/Advertising Director Jennifer Heintzelman Magazine Editors Kathleen Schultz & Rusty Schrader

Things are looking up at The Loft on Main. It’s been little more than a year since the art studio opened in Morrison, but it’s already become a destination for local artists – and there’s more to come

Page Design Rusty Schrader Published by Sauk Valley Media 3200 E. Lincolnway Sterling, IL 61081 815-625-3600

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To serve and support

When her husband’s life was cut short by a criminal’s bullet, Jennifer Morales found comfort in the people who could feel her pain and help her heal. Today, the Tampico woman is the one answering those difficult calls to duty.

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When a criminal cut her husband’s life short, Jennifer Morales found comfort in the people who could feel her pain and help her heal. Today, the Tampico woman is the one answering those difficult calls to duty, fulfilling a personal oath to be there for families of law enforcement officers who’ve lost a loved one. STORY BEGINS ON PAGE 7

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This project was supported by Grant #2015-VA-GX-0049, awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, through the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority. Points of view or opinions contained within this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice, or the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority.

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he is there at the saddest time in their lives. She is there when their lives come crashing down around them and all hope seems lost. Jennifer Morales is there because she knows how they are feeling – she lived it herself. The Tampico native is one of the founders of the Illinois chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS) and it’s through this agency that she spends much of her time trying to help other families pick up the pieces when their lives change forever. Morales was inspired to start the Illinois COPS chapter after she moved back to her hometown of Tampico, but not until she found herself in the situation she now tries to help others come to terms with and survive. Morales’ husband, Marlon Morales, was a Washington D.C. transit police officer who was shot by a fare evader while on duty on June 10, 2001, and succumbed to his wounds 3 days later. He died just 3 weeks after their daughter, Meghan, was born, and on their son, Jeramy’s 11th birthday. Their other child, Josh, was 8 at the time. It was at that darkest moment that COPS members came and stood beside her and her family to offer support and a way to deal with the grief. “I hadn’t heard about it before and when I

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The Morales family, just a few weeks before Marlon was killed in the line of duty. The picture, snapped just after Meghan was born, was the last taken of the family before Marlon was fatally shot.

lived in D.C. the chapter members showed up there to show their support,” Morales said. “I would go to meetings out there but then I moved back to Tampico.” She wanted to connect with COPS again when she settled back home, but could not find

an Illinois chapter. “There was no chapter in Illinois so I helped to get one started. I’ve been with COPS 17 years now,” Morales said. Continued on page 9

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Continued from page 7

She serves as treasurer on the board of directors, and as a board members she goes to regional meetings and meets with law enforcement personnel in various departments. She and her fellow members usually get an understanding nod now, but that wasn’t always the case. The greeting was more of a confused expression back when Marlon the group first started. Morales “Very few people knew what it was and they would give you that look,” she said. “But COPS has been around 35 years now and it’s the best kept secret that you don’t hear about until Jennifer you need us.” Morales And there is plenty of need, especially recently. So when the time comes when another family is grieving a loss, Morales and her board of directors will get the word out and activate their response team. Continued on page 11

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Meghan’s mom surprised her in October with a visit from one of Marlon’s academy classmates and fellow DC Metro Transit Police Department officers, Lt. Brad Hanna (second from right). He flew in from Washington D.C. to stand by Meghan during the portion of Senior Night celebration at ErieProphetstown High School, when parents and students were introduced. Whiteside County Sheriff Sgt. Kris Schmidt (left) and Albany Police Chief Wyatt Heyvaert also joined Meghan.

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“We get notified online of a duty death and will activate our critical incident memorial team,” Morales said. “They help set up for the services, especially for the smaller departments, and give them ideas on how to deal with the services. We meet with the family and make sure their needs are being met.” She said the biggest responsibility for COPS is to take care of the families, and they do that in many ways. The national chapter hosts a retreat for families each year along with a kids camp. They also pay for travel expenses to get to the Police Week MORE memorial event INFORMATION in Washington Concerns of Police SurD.C. each year to vivors Illinois Chapter participate in the PO Box 312 memorial service Sherman, IL 62684 and 2 days of 844-245-1915 Online: ilcops.org, or seminars. find “Illinois Chapter, “That first year Concerns of Police Surfor me at Police vivors” on Facebook Week, it was 11 National organization: concernsofpolicesurvimonths after my vors.org husband was killed and I thought this is so amazing,” Morales said. “There were eight widows with me and it was great to have a support group.” The Illinois Chapter also has meetings throughout the state, and Morales said they try to do other activities besides just the business portion. “We try to have some kind of fun gathering at the meetings to bring people out. Nobody wants to get together and just be sad,” she said. “We know why everybody is there and it helps to talk with people individually so it’s not so overwhelming.”

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In addition to supporting families of law enforcement officers who lose a loved one, Jennifer supports those who serve and protect. She and other family members stopped by the State Police headquarters in Sterling on Jan. 9 to drop off some treats for Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.

Perhaps the biggest activity COPS does during the year is its fundraiser bike ride from St. Louis to Chicago where members stop at the police departments that have lost officers during the year. Money raised through this event helps pay for families to get to Washington D.C. for Police Week. Going forward she hopes COPS services are

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not needed as often, but the truth is there will be times when they are, and she wants to be there to help support those families because she was in their place all those years ago. Morales wants them to know they are not alone and there is help. “Everybody here can identify with them. It’s such a unique experience,” she said. n

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k r o w t r A IN PROGRESS

Things continue to look up for THE LOFT ON MAIN. It’s been little more than a year since the studio opened, but already it’s become a destination for local artists, has welcomed works from around the nation, and has learned to stand on its own two non-profit feet – and its not done yet

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SMALL TOWN LIVING MICHAEL KRABBENHOEFT | FOR STORY TODD MCKENNA PHOTOS

t’s been more than a year since the doors opened at The Loft on Main in s Morrison and activity at the shop keep increasing. n St. Located downtown at 112 East Mai Loft The , ding in a renovated 1800s buil vity on Main has become a center of acti r thei lay for about 50 local artists to disp and s ting creations, including colorful pain all types of art. “We are thrilled with the response from e the community and the artists and we’v been able to forge wonderful partnerof the ships,” said Kim Ewoldsen, director ch whi p., Cor t men elop Morrison Area Dev

year of helped oversee the gallery in its first operation. l Today, the gallery has achieved its goa to tion niza of setting up a non-profit orga take over operation. “We’ve reached the culmination of that fit,” process of having started a non-pro Ewoldsen said. e The gallery also has become much mor r offe to ts than just a place for local artis to protheir creations for sale, it has grown demy Aca Arts n vide a location for Woodlaw as kids for ses clas to offer Mixed Media Arts ns. lesso ic well as private voice and mus

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Story continued on page 17

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Shelves at The Loft on Main are lined with works from Sauk Valley artists in all sorts of media – pencil and paint, glass and grapevine leaves (that’s right, grapevine leaves), and much more.

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The piece of stained glass at The Loft on Main will give people a taste of the tropics, a welcome relief during a cold winter’s day.

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Continued from page 13

The Loft on Main also has expanded to include exhibitions by notable artists of various media, and one of those exhibitions is ongoing at the gallery: a unique collection of historically significant photographs made from glass negatives and taken by Howard Clinton Tibbitts, who was a prominent photographer based in San Francisco. Anyone who has seen photos from Ansel Adams likely will enjoy Tibbitts’ work as he preceded Adams by about 35-40 years. Tibbitts documented much of the same life and landscape that Adams is renowned for as he traveled MORE through the western part of the U.S. and INFORMATION into Canada and The Loft on Main Mexico. 112 E. Main St., Morrison Tibbitts photoHours: 10 a.m.2 p.m. Thursdays, graphed Native 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Fridays Americans, Yosemite and Saturdays Valley, Redwood for815-772-4005 ests, early Missions, Online: Find “The Loft agriculture, railroads on Main, NFP” on and early American Facebook life during his travels Mission: “To promote around the start of Morrison both as a the 1900s. regional arts’ destination The exhibition is by providing a venue for local artists to create, just one of the many promote and sell original attractions at the art and to foster arts’ gallery these days. education through lesMany works of art in sons and programs.” all shapes, sizes and colors fill the shelves and the walls at The Loft on Main. These creations are the work of local residents who didn’t have a place to sell them other than their homes before The Loft on Main came along. The items are for sale and have a wide price range so anyone looking to add a some art to their decor can find something to take home. “We’re now getting people who are requesting commission work from artists too,” Ewoldsen said. The next step in promoting the gallery is to link up with other galleries in the area and hopefully get a way to include them all in promotions and awareness. “Whiteside County has been a good partner with economic development and created an arts trail map link,” Ewoldsen said. “We’re trying to figure out with other galleries in the region and how to partner with them. We want to capitalize on that.” n

One of the latest exhibis at The Loft on Main is a collection of historically significant photos made from glass negatives and taken by Howard Clinton Tibbetts, a prominent West Coast photographer who documented much of the same life and landscape that Ansel Adams is renowned for as he traveled through the western part of the U.S. and into Canada and Mexico.

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STORY BEGINS ON PAGE 19

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Marvin Younger, a Korean War Veteran, holds up two uniforms that are part of his militaria collection. Younger collects a bit of everything but has a special place in his heart, and his business, for his military items. He said he would like to find some better homes for much of his collection. “I’m 88 and getting old so I’m looking for a museum to give some of this stuff to,” he said.

STORY TODD MCKENNA PHOTOS MICHAEL KRABBENHOEFT | FOR SMALL TOWN LIVING

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tretched across tables in a side room at K’s Corners at 13030 Galt Road in Sterling is a window into the past. It’s here that Marvin Younger sells antiques, but mostly this is a labor of love wrapped up in a sense of duty and a yearning for honor. Across those tables and on a few hangers are remnants of the past in the form of military uniforms, photos, postcards to soldiers scattered throughout the world and some personal letters written by troops back home as a way to • Tee Shirts • Sweatshirts • Custom Design • Screen Printing • Provide your own design

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stay connected to family and forget for a few minutes the hell that surrounded them as war raged nearby. Younger is a collector, but more importantly he is a U.S. military veteran himself. He knows all too well the horrors that war brings. He served in the Marines from 1948-51, with some of that time enduring the Korean War. He earned eight medals – four Bronze Stars and the others Purple Hearts.  He was in four major battles and during that

time suffered many injuries. He was shot in the mouth, two fingers were damaged by gunfire and his feet were damaged by the minus-20 degree temperatures in Korea. But Younger isn’t looking for recognition at this point, although he would like to receive just one of his Purple Hearts because, as he said, “it took me 50 years to get the first medals, but the Purple Heart is the one I really need.” Story continued on page 21

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Marvin Younger has a wide variety of military uniforms in his collection.

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Continued from page 19

No, at this point in time, Younger’s attention turns to a recent donation from the family of Walter Gibson, a WWII Army bombardier from Lyndon, who sat in the plastic bubble at the front of the plane and was onboard for several bombing missions in Germany. Younger wants Gibson’s uniforms, photos, letters and postcards to find a more prominent place to be displayed, rather than just in his makeshift showroom at his business. “I met him a couple times and I have all of this of his and I feel he needs to be recognized for what he did,” Younger said. “I’m just trying to pay him back. The military gave me a heck of an honor and he was more of a hero than I was.”  One time awhile back Younger remembers a man who came into his business and said he also remembered Gibson, and a certain aerial stunt he conducted over his hometown of Lyndon that gave local residents quite a show.  “He said he remembered when (Gibson) flew his plane over Lyndon and said ‘I got to show off for the hometown folks,’” Younger said.  That story is confirmed by Gibson’s relative Kent, who added a few details to it. Turns out Walter got his pilot’s license after the war and during a local air show he climbed into a plane resembling what he flew in during WWII and decided that Lyndon needed a little “aerial support” that day, much to the delight of onlookers.  Younger said he would like to find some new more prominent homes for much of his collection because despite his name, age is creeping up on him a bit.  “I’m 88 and getting old so I’m looking for a museum to give some of this stuff to,” he said. n

Marvin Younger, a Korean War Veteran, points to a photo of himself that is displayed as part of his collection at K’s Korners. Younger has a special section dedicated to his military collection featuring uniforms, pictures and equipment.

Among the items in Younger’s military collection, clockwise from top left: a mine detector, a helmet, a 13-pound cannonball.

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Best West of the

Family members are pardners in success at a Fulton watering hole, where the staff invites folks to saddle up and head on over to their saloon

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STORY PHILLIP HARTMAN PHOTOS ALEX T. PASCHAL | FOR SMALL TOWN LIVING

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little piece of the Old West is as close as the south side of Fulton. King Pins Saloon and Dance Hall wears its cowboy swagger proudly. Customers enter through swinging doors inside the vestibule, steer horns hang overhead, cowboy-themed paintings decorate the wall, and “KP” is branded into the bar. The Old West decor sits comfortably alongside more modern touches: a neon Chicago Cubs sign, three big-screen TVs, and just past the pool tables there’s a dart board and video gambling machines. The Stoecker family opened the bar at 18675 13th St. in December 2015. Continued on page 23

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PHOTOS ABOVE: With a staff of 10 and plenty of room, King Pins Saloon and Dance Hall can provide a venue for a variety of events, big and small.


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“My dad, Paul Stoecker, owns it,” manager Kelly Stoecker, 48, said. “He’s always wanted a bar. He used to own Albany House when we were little.” With a staff of 10 and plenty of room, King Pins can provide a venue for a variety of events, big and small. Employee Becky Chadwick said the saloon can hold about 250 people. MORE “We’ve had weddings, wedding recepINFORMATION tions, retirement parties, and celebrations King Pins Saloon and of life. Exelon’s had events here. We have Dance Hall 18675 13th St., Fulton movable walls for private parties,” she 815-208-7066 said. Bar hours: 11 a.m. A stretch of open floor provides plenty to 1 a.m. Monday of space for Tuesday-night line dancers to through Friday and strut their stuff. 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Line dancing “is a big draw,” Stoecker Saturday and Sunday. said. “We have gambling. We have bands The kitchen is open once in a while.” from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. DJ Jared Wetzell from Sterling often Online: Find King Pins comes to perform during line dancing Saloon and Dance nights. Hall on Facebook. And what would a King be without a queen? King Pins has a Queen of Hearts drawing at 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays. For those who want to belly up to a table for some grub, the saloon offers its fair share of bar fare: appetizers and sandwiches with sides. It

The Old West decor sits comfortably alongside more modern touches: a neon Chicago Cubs sign, three big-screen TVs, and just past the pool tables there’s a dart board and video gambling machines.

also offers specials. “A big hitter is hot beef on Friday and Italian beef on Wednesdays.” Stoecker said.“Our Monday and Tuesday specials change. We have homemade soups daily.” Food, drinks, fun, and some fancy footwork in a family bar – it’s all part of the Stoeckers’ goal to give people a place to mosey on down to and sit a spell. n

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