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Dateline Dixon: Tourism radio station back up and running

Simonton to resign before taking over as sheriff

Published: Thursday, April 24, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT

Drivers on Interstate 88 now have a chance to listen to what Dixon has to offer.

The city’s low-powered Travelers’ Information Station – 530 AM – was repaired this month and is now broadcasting three 40-second ads for the city.

Many municipalities in Illinois and the rest of the county have stations that broadcast tourism or other information to interstate travelers.

Dixon’s station wasn’t operational for a while, said City Administrator David Nord, who wasn’t sure how long it had been down but said it wasn’t working when he was hired in November.

“It’s cheap,” Nord said. “It’s there. All you have to do is flip a switch.”

The station is broadcasting ads for Dixon Tourism, the Northwest Territory Historic Center, and the Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home, Nord said, adding that a Dixon Main Street ad promoting the downtown could be added later.

Signs along the interstate that tell travelers about the station also will be moved farther from the exit, Nord said, which will give travelers more time to tune to the channel and decide whether they want to visit Dixon.

With the signs’ current locations, Nord said, a driver going about 70 mph on I-88 has about 30 seconds to see the sign, find the channel, and listen to part of an ad before having to decide whether to exit at Dixon.

The signs will be moved 3 to 4 miles, which should be done by the end of the month, Nord said.

The city is allowed up to 17 ads at once, he said, but four of the ad slots are reserved for the police department for emergency purposes.

Simonton will step down

In the days and weeks since John Simonton, a Dixon police officer, defeated Lee County Sheriff John Varga in the March 18 primary election, I’ve been asked whether Simonton will resign from the Dixon Police Department.

The answer is yes.

Simonton told me last week that he planned to step down from the police department in October.

If Democrats don’t put a candidate on the November ballot, Simonton will have no opponent on Nov. 4t. His term as sheriff would begin in December.


Dixon’s application for a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER, grant is finished, Geoff Vanderlin, of the grant’s citizens committee, said in an email. He added that it will be submitted today or tomorrow, ahead of the April 28 deadline.

This is the city’s fourth application for a TIGER grant.

The application asks for $12.8 million to improve the city’s infrastructure and aims to widen and repair East River Street, add multi-use trails, and repurpose the Illinois Central Railway bridge west of the Peoria Avenue bridge.

Sauk Valley Media reporter Matt Mencarini covers government and happenings in Dixon. He can be reached at mmencarini@saukvalley.com or at 815-625-3600, ext. 5529. Follow him on Twitter: @MattMencarini.

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