- Our Sites
- The News-Gazette
- NewsTalk 1400 WDWS-AM
- Lite Rock 97.5 WHMS
- 107.9 WKIO
- Community News
RANTOUL — Downtown Rantoul, it’s time for your makeover. Or the start of it.
A mural project is expected to begin this spring on the west side of the building occupied by Thiel’s Consignments at the southeast corner of Sangamon and Kentucky avenues.
Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kellie Wahl said individuals and businesses willing to donate and participate in the $5,000 project are being sought. So far, about $2,000 has been raised.
Organizers are working with Laura Billimack, who is head of the art department at Rantoul Township High School, on the mural project.
Billimack said last year the original plan was for a smaller mural, but when she saw the building in person, “I just couldn’t believe how perfect it was for a much larger mural.”
The building at one time was home to a mural, but several years ago was covered up. Wahl said some of the old mural art will be incorporated into the new one.
Rantoul Historical Society President Jim Cheek is researching the old mural to help with that portion of the project.
The village board, some school board members and the Downtown Association have provided input for the project, the chamber official said.
“We want it to reflect the Rantoul community and the downtown area,” said Wahl. “We decided to go with elected officials to try to put this piece together. The other artists are all of us.”
Wahl said a number of Rantoul alumni are returning to town to help with the project.
“Laura (Billimack) does this for a living.”
Members of the community will help add to the art work — even those with little or no artistic ability.
“They use a graphing method, or they can use projectors so students have a structure to follow,” Wahl said. “In simplest terms, you can think of this as an adult paint by numbers.”
Experienced artists will provide the detailed art.
Wahl said the project will be implemented in late spring with one focus being to raise the remaining $3,000 needed.
Some of those expenses will involve coating the building and protecting the structure afterward, plus insurance and protecting it from a legal standpoint so no one can demolish it in the future.
“There’s a lot of paperwork and processes,” Wahl said. “That doesn’t include regular wear, tear and maintenance ... if anyone should vandalize it.”
Wahl said additional murals could be added to downtown buildings later.
In the past, there has been discussion about possibly bringing in the Walldogs that have done murals in several area towns. The Walldogs would provide their own artists (there could be hundreds of them from around the globe), and several murals would be painted during a three- to four-day period at a cost of $15,000-$25,000.
“However, we were also listening to our community members because they wanted to be involved in this piece,” Wahl said.
Other chamber activities
Wahl also gave updates of other chamber-related activities.
A USO dance will be held March 31 at the Rantoul Club (formerly the Knights of Columbus building), sponsored by the chamber, Rantoul Exchange Club, Rantoul Rotary, Rantoul American Legion post, Rantoul American Legion post the Urbana American Legion post and Rantoul Veterans Memorial.
The Rantoul Township High School jazz band will perform.
Proceeds will benefit the new student Salute to Service scholarship, which will go to an RTHS student or students who plan to enter the military following graduation.
Wahl also said the chamber is working with the Rantoul Economic Development office for downtown marketing. The facade and microloan programs are in place to provide incentives.
And through the Rantoul Tomorrow initiative, a template called Doing Downtown Differently will be used to examine issues such as cleanup, infrastructure, security, zoning, marketing and promotions.