Newton shown as microcosm of woes plaguing Illinois
The only city in Jasper County is hanging on for dear life.
Newton, a city of less than 3,000 residents -- with numbers dropping for more than a decade -- was recently featured in a short video produced by the lllinois Policy Institute as part of its Forgotten Illinois series on small towns in Illinois.
Over the course of the eight-and-half-minute presentation, the institute's Joe Kaiser interviews four residents of Newton, asking about changes in their town and their day-to-day lives.
Jonathan Broscious, pastor of the New Hope Church campus in Newton, talks about unemployment's toll on the community.
"It really it is a concern for us that job opportunities are leaving," Broscious says. "I think Newton has tremendous potential. I think there is a workforce here that is ready to go to work and start making a great living for their families."
But being so close to Indiana, which has been cited recently as being much more tax-friendly to businesses, is a drag on Newton, the pastor says.
Scott Bierman, the owner of Personal Service Realty, says he has also seen Indiana attract Newton residents.
"I know a lot of guys in town who are driving to the plant in Princeton, Indiana, to work, and that's about a 350-mile round-trip a day," Bierman says. "It's sad when you hear about people leaving the state of Illinois because they can save money on taxes, because they don't come back."
Bierman also says that while he understands that Chicago is an important part of the state, the rest of Illinois is often forgotten in state politics.
The video also features Newton residents Patrick Finley, a local farmer who discusses the importance of family farms, and how they can help build connections and relationships in a community; and local business owner Roni Myers, who talks about the tightly formed connections she has built in the community.
The video closes with Kaiser saying more and more towns in Illinois are facing the same problems as Newton, even as residents work hard to improve their communities.