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Old 05-16-2008, 10:20 AM
 
3 posts, read 8,333 times
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I am looking to move somewhere near the Illinois river, within an area about an 80 minute drive from Peoria.

I am fine with a smaller town, but I do need a grocery store, public library, and a few townwide activities thoughout the year, like a 4th of July celebration or big craft show weekend. A farmers market would be nice as well.

I have one child the age of 10 who would attend public schools in the area. Scouts or 4-H or sports opportunities would be helpful. Assuming I'd be here for a while, I don't want his only options as a teen to be drinking and partying.

Internet access speedier than dial-up is preferred.

I work as an artist from home, so commute times are irrelevant. I enjoy organic gardening, archeology, wildlife and hiking.

The towns I have done some basic research on are:
Chillicothe
Henry
Pekin
Havana

Cana anyone share some information about these places or suggest new ones?
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Old 05-16-2008, 10:56 AM
 
Location: The rolling fields of Central Illinois
269 posts, read 1,040,717 times
Reputation: 78
On your list, I would have to say that Chillicothe, or Chilli, as it is know around here, is probably your best bet as far as towns go, IMO. It forms the northern most part of the Peoria metro, and while it looks like a nice little distance from the city, it is actually fairly close. Schools are good, and the drive into Peoria along the river is beautiful! I have never heard to many bad things about the town. It seems to be growing nicely, and has all the trimmings of small, Midwest town, USA. Their library though is one of the nicest, state of the art buildings, I have ever seen! Be sure to check it out! Upon first glance you wouldn't even think it was a library. Not to sure about festivals, but any town around here has them to some degree.

Henry is a town that I'm not too familiar with. It seems to be nice, but I really don't know. It is about halfway between both Peoria and LaSalle/Peru, so I guess you get the best of both worlds. Never heard to many negatives about it though. Cannot comment on schools either.

If you are looking for a " big craft show weekend" then Pekin may be your best bet. Pekin has a beautiful "lagoon" situated in their large park, (kinda Pekin's version of Central Park, but for the life of me I cannot think of the name of it). The craft show is huge for central Illinois, and draws people form all over the midwest. If you are into crafts then you do not want to miss it! They showcase this alongside their famed Marigold Festival, which is towards the first of the school year. Pekin, as a whole though has some problems. Pekin tends to think of itself as an isolated community far from Peoria, when in reality, it is just a few miles away. It also tends to have the stigma of being a little racist. For everything that Pekin has going for, there is 1.5 things going against it. The south end is absolute trash, and that is putting it midly. On the other hand, they have the large Sunset Hills area, that is very nice, with beautiful tree lined streets, golf courses, etc. There version of Grand View Drive, to an extent. Most of the new construction is at the bottom of the hill, but this tends to be fairly pricey and more on the upscale side. I have seen some of the houses in the area sell for close to a MIL. Like I mentioned before, Pekin has amazing parks and trails! Their shopping is nice for a city of its size, and in the midst of it sits the strangest thing you will ever see. Instead of building their own convention center, they instead went with a huge inflatable dome that looks like a giant marshmellow in a cornfield. It is really funny to see! They just built a new highway out in that direction with the intent on letting it meet up with I-474. The problem is, Pekin won't connect it! As a result, the only people shopping in Pekin are people from Pekin, Tremont, and Manito. Even though Pekin has more than Morton, the town gives no incentive for Morton, East Peoria, or any place else for that matter!, to drive on two lane roads into town. This is just one of the countless examples of Pekin doing something really interesting and unique, and then shutting themselves off! The schools in Pekin tend to run the full sprectrum. Some are horrible, some are great. Their highschool is one of the biggest in the state though. Most freshmen classes have something like 800-900 kids in them. Just depends on what you think your child needs. Let more know if you need more info on Pekin since it much larger than the other towns you listed, and really needs its own discussion.

I'm not too familiar with Havana. It is in Mason County, which is not such a great thing. If you don't mind being far away from bigger cities, and love being in isolated small towns, than Havana will work great. I have heard that schools there tend to be on the "not so great" side. There are members here that know more about it than me though.

Have you though about Peoria itself, or even Peoria Heights, or East Peoria?
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Old 05-16-2008, 11:29 AM
 
296 posts, read 1,125,674 times
Reputation: 133
Quote:
Originally Posted by greengardener View Post
I am looking to move somewhere near the Illinois river, within an area about an 80 minute drive from Peoria.

I am fine with a smaller town, but I do need a grocery store, public library, and a few townwide activities thoughout the year, like a 4th of July celebration or big craft show weekend. A farmers market would be nice as well.

I have one child the age of 10 who would attend public schools in the area. Scouts or 4-H or sports opportunities would be helpful. Assuming I'd be here for a while, I don't want his only options as a teen to be drinking and partying.

Internet access speedier than dial-up is preferred.

I work as an artist from home, so commute times are irrelevant. I enjoy organic gardening, archeology, wildlife and hiking.

The towns I have done some basic research on are:
Chillicothe
Henry
Pekin
Havana

Cana anyone share some information about these places or suggest new ones?
Depends what you want. There are many nice river towns. Henry and Lacon are very small towns with a bit of a longer drive, but very pretty as they're built into the bluffs.

Chillicothe is a bit larger, more amenities, less small town feel, and closer to Peoria.

Pekin is a city of 30,000 plus with lots of industry and is pretty much part of the Peoria urban complex (they do have an excellent park system).

Havana is a longer drive to the city, is not really a practical commute to Peoria, and has a very rural feel to it--lots of duck and deer hunting.

Since you're not concerned with commute so much, Henry or Lacon might be good choices. They have small, but reputedly good school systems, I believe they have summer festivals, not sure about farmers' markets.
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Old 05-16-2008, 11:37 AM
 
3 posts, read 8,333 times
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Thank you for all that info! I have a little notebook I have been keeping track of everything in, so I'll add all this stuff to help in my decision.

I am actually somewhat familiar to the Peoria area as I have an aunt living there and I have visited friends at Bradley. It runs a little bit on the big side for my preferences, but I would like to get there within about an hour drive, maybe a bit more.

I would be looking to buy a three bedroom where I can turn the third into my studio or a two bedroom with an area that can be turned into a small studio. I'd need it to be somewhat quiet, so I'd like some space between homes, which is difficult to find in the bigger cities. I would need a yard large enough to have a decent sized garden, which is kind of hit or miss in bigger cities I have noticed.

You mentioned Mason County is not a very good thing. Is there a reason for this? Like, would Havana be a declining population town on it's way out? I don't know if I'd keep it on my list if that were so. I'm okay with small towns, but not towns that are going to become just a stop sign in a few years!
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Old 05-16-2008, 11:57 AM
 
296 posts, read 1,125,674 times
Reputation: 133
Quote:
Originally Posted by greengardener View Post
You mentioned Mason County is not a very good thing. Is there a reason for this? Like, would Havana be a declining population town on it's way out? I don't know if I'd keep it on my list if that were so. I'm okay with small towns, but not towns that are going to become just a stop sign in a few years!
Mason County is not "a bad thing." It really is a matter of what you're seeking. It's not a town on it's way out, but it is isolated from other population centers and there aren't a huge amount of jobs there.

But if you like rural settings, Mason County is a great place. Lots of farms interspersed with wooded areas. The town is right on the river. Property tends to be a bit more affordable down in that area. They also have a nice little library.

WELCOME TO THE CITY OF HAVANA ONLINE

There are plenty of businesses:

Havana llinois Community Information Mason County
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Old 05-16-2008, 12:16 PM
 
3 posts, read 8,333 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by runninfiend View Post
Depends what you want. There are many nice river towns. Henry and Lacon are very small towns with a bit of a longer drive, but very pretty as they're built into the bluffs.

Chillicothe is a bit larger, more amenities, less small town feel, and closer to Peoria.

Pekin is a city of 30,000 plus with lots of industry and is pretty much part of the Peoria urban complex (they do have an excellent park system).

Havana is a longer drive to the city, is not really a practical commute to Peoria, and has a very rural feel to it--lots of duck and deer hunting.

Since you're not concerned with commute so much, Henry or Lacon might be good choices. They have small, but reputedly good school systems, I believe they have summer festivals, not sure about farmers' markets.

Thank you. I'd only be making trips to Peoria on a weekend or something to visit my Aunt and the city itself. Same with other larger cities.

I don't particularly mind rural areas, but I'd still need access to higher speed internet. I submit some of my medical illustrations through the internet and dial-up is too slow. But ag areas and wildlife areas can be inspirational for the more "fun" art that I do (the stuff I don't rely on to pay the bills!)

I will check out the links you included in your other post as well. One of the draws for me about the Havana area would be that it seems to be a decent day trip to both Peoria and Springfield, so more options for weekend activities. But I'd rather not buy there if it's falling apart. I am from an area in south central Illinois where some of the towns are doing decently, and some are nearly just a post office now.The population is clustering more.

I'd still like there to be Schnucks/Kroger/County Market type of store along with the local grocery if possible. And I could go to the larger towns on weekends to stock up on the more obscure items.
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Old 05-16-2008, 01:52 PM
 
Location: The rolling fields of Central Illinois
269 posts, read 1,040,717 times
Reputation: 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by greengardener View Post
You mentioned Mason County is not a very good thing. Is there a reason for this? Like, would Havana be a declining population town on it's way out? I don't know if I'd keep it on my list if that were so. I'm okay with small towns, but not towns that are going to become just a stop sign in a few years!
Havana is the biggest town in Mason County, as well as the county seat, so I doubt that it will ever become a "stop sign" in a few years. However, what I meant by, "not doing so goood" is because it is a low income county with only agriculture as its economic staple. It has been on state watch lists for years due to its high poverty levels. Not to mention that the entire county only has three school districts that serve all of their kids, and out of those three, Havana has never been noted with providing a very high level education to its student body compared to the other two. Not to mention that the school district that serves northern Mason County goes well into Tazewell County and has more feeder schools in Tazewell County, and has more to do with Tazewell than it ever has with Mason. I'm sure that living in Havana is not a bad choice overall, and that there is plenty of scenic sights for artists. But for elementary education, compared to that in Pekin and Chilli, you aren't going to get very much.
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Old 05-16-2008, 09:28 PM
 
296 posts, read 1,125,674 times
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Originally Posted by BUalumni View Post
compared to that in Pekin and Chilli, you aren't going to get very much.
I wouldn't say that Pekin and Chillicothe have always been noted, at least in terms of reputation, for their stellar educational systems, particularly IVC. I'd rather have my kid go to a school like Havana with 300 or 400 students where they get more attention, than a school of 4,000 like Pekin, where you're basically on a college campus.
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Old 05-16-2008, 11:42 PM
 
Location: Woodbridge, VA
56 posts, read 194,318 times
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Well I lived in Chillicothe the first 18 years of my life. I don't ever want to move back, but based on what you have said, it sounds ideal for you. It is only about a 20 minute drive to Peoria, 10 minutes or so to Detweiller Park which has great hiking trails. There is the basics in town, a Krogers, fast food, a few sit down restaurants. They have great festivals like Claud-Ellen Days and Corn Boils in the summer and small town feeling things, like Rescue 33 Donut Days. I would say Henry is MUCH smaller than Chilli and Pekin is extremely large in comparison.

There are also some other towns on the other side of the river, like East Peoria, Metamora, Germantown hills, but they don't have access to the river for parks and such like the towns on the other side. (at least not that I am aware of ). Guess that's all I can think of for now.
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Old 05-17-2008, 09:05 AM
 
Location: The rolling fields of Central Illinois
269 posts, read 1,040,717 times
Reputation: 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by runninfiend View Post
I wouldn't say that Pekin and Chillicothe have always been noted, at least in terms of reputation, for their stellar educational systems, particularly IVC. I'd rather have my kid go to a school like Havana with 300 or 400 students where they get more attention, than a school of 4,000 like Pekin, where you're basically on a college campus.
Well I'm not going to sit here and argue with you about places that neither one of us live. But lets just be clear on a few items. I too have heard "inferior" comments made by people in the community about IVC. I think the big problem with doing that it, is first, look at its location in comparision to other schools. It sits right above the Dunlap and Richwoods school systems, which in many ways, most schools are hard pressed to compete against in terms of academics. Not to mention that Chilli isn't so far away that a significant Notre Dame presence wouldn't be felt or be readily available. Then, just across the river are where Metamora and GH schools are located, which seem to be all the buzz as of late. It isn't as if IVC is bad, it is just the school districts around it tend to be very high achieving. That is all.

As far as the Pekin vs Havana debate, that is as old as the hills. Sure, maybe in Havana you tend to get smaller classroom size, and MAYBE, more one on one attention. But in Pekin you get everything in terms of classes offered, athletics, every extra-cirricular imaginable it seems, and great college prep. Like I state, it is all about what you are looking for in a school district. Still overall, Pekin school district is better, in terms of testing scores, than Havana. If you the OP doesn't think that their child needs a better school district to prepare for college, then so be it.
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