Rantoul Press editor

Walldogs and a downtown market will be among the topics when the Rantoul Business Group meets Wednesday, Feb. 20, at the Around the Corner store.

The group, which formed last fall, spearheaded by a desire to rejuvenate downtown Rantoul, will meet at 6 p.m. The store is located at 119 E. Sangamon Ave.

Paula Hopkins of the group said the downtown market — or farmers market — will be the primary topic at the meeting.

She said they hope to hold the downtown market on Fridays or Saturdays.

"That’s kind of up in the air yet on a day," Hopkins said.

"We want to start in April."

The downtown market will be a place where producers can sell their fruits and vegetables, similar to the way they do at Lincoln Square Mall in Urbana.

Walldogs to be discussed. Hopkins said there will be some discussion about Rantoul hosting the Walldogs, a group of more than 300 international artists who have painted murals in small towns across America in a joint effort with the communities to bring pride and business back to their towns.

Hopkins said she has had a great deal of response since she broached the topic — most of it positive.

Among those commenting have been the Chanute Air Museum, two area legislators and the Historical Society, "who all want to get involved in it," Hopkins said.

"I’ve had a lot of people … call me," Hopkins said, adding that most of the calls were positive.

Air museum representatives said if Rantoul hosts the Walldogs, they would like a mural done on their building at the former Chanute Air Force Base, according to Hopkins.

Hopkins said State Sen. Mike Frerichs (D-Champaign) placed a call in support of the Walldogs idea. And State Rep. Chad Hays (R-Catlin) sent a letter in support.

Hays’ letter wished Hopkins success and said "Danville is better" for hosting the Walldogs and "The artists are tremendous."

But the Walldogs won’t come for free. Money must be raised to pay for their time, expenses and talents.

Said Hopkins: "The next step is I want to get a group together that can help me start planning a benefit. I’m going to try for the fall if I can get anybody to help with that."

She said one downtown business manager is considering creating a downtown garden surrounded by the walls — on three sides — of the interior of a building that would be razed, and would like to have a mural painted on one of the walls.

We’re thinking that would be a fabulous spot for the garden area he’s going to create," Hopkins said.