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News

Lincoln Highway to display murals

The Illinois Lincoln Highway Coalition plans to put up 40 murals during the next three years along the historic highway, including five in DeKalb County communities - though that seems to be news to local officials. Sycamore Mayor Ken Mundy and Discover Sycamore Director Jamie Sands said Thursday they didn't know that the group plans to install a mural in Sycamore, while Genoa City Administrator Joe Misurelli had vague information and no details. Murals are also being proposed for Malta, Maple Park and Cortland, said Diane Rossiter, associate director of the Belvidere-based coalition. “This process took quite a few years. Administrations have changed, contacts have changed,” Rossiter said in a Thursday phone interview. “That's why they probably don't know; this was probably started under a previous administration. ... When we get our official paperwork, I will be sending a letter out to each community.” The murals, along with 20 “interpretive gazebos” detailing the history of the highway, will be paid for with more than $440,000 in federal grants and around $40,000 in state grants, according to a news release. The coalition began its mural project last year with murals in DeKalb, Rochelle and Creston. “Our goal was to have an interpretive mural in every community on the highway, to show how it impacted each of those communities,” Rossiter said. Though Sycamore and Genoa are not actually on the historic highway, they are close enough that they were affected by the first paved transcontinental road, Rossiter said. DeKalb received its mural last year and is now planning a site for its interpretive gazebo, Re:New DeKalb Executive Director Jennifer Groce said. The gazebos will contain three panels detailing the history of the highway and one telling a local story about the route. The road was paved in the early 1900s and travels across 12 states, from New York City to San Francisco. The coalition hopes the murals will be a draw for history-minded tourists. “Murals are not only pictures, they have a story to tell, and you can learn from them,” Rossiter said. “It makes people want to come to little towns and learn more and spend money there. ... We're all about getting people off the main highway.” The federal grant, from the National Scenic Byway Program, is scheduled to be doled out over three years. To complete all 40 murals in 36 months, the group intends to work on them in clusters, unveiling two to three at a time, Rossiter said. “In the past, we've used a group of muralists called the Wall Dogs, who are all over the country,” Rossiter said. “But because we have so many to complete now, we may try to include some local talent to paint the murals as well.” The murals will be painted on substrate at an off-site location, then mounted onto the buildings, Rossiter said. Reporter Dana Herra can be reached at dherra@daily-chronicle.com.

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