PANA, Ill. (WCIA) — Lisa Bland believes there are good things ahead for Pana. She leads Pana Pride. It’s a group of about 30 citizens dedicated to getting this town of 6,000 rolling again. You can see their work everywhere. From the flowers in the park to the flags downtown. They paint stripes on the roads and plant the trees lining the streets. All of these improvements are the result of donated dollars and volunteer labor.

“You see those trees and the flowers and the urns,” Bland said. “It makes you feel good and we know in time the storefronts behind them will be filled and beautiful as well.”

That’s where Jack Nollman comes in. He heads the Retail and Industry committee and has lived here for seven decades.

“Pana Pride is a group that’s not happy with the way things have gone and trying to do what we can to bring it back to life.”

He’s working with a developer to bring in more shopping options. He wouldn’t tell us more than that but you can tell he’s excited about it.

Nollman said, “If we can get this project in, we are really hoping it can spur things on.”

Another project is improving the oil road in front of the grain elevator. Nollman said it will lead to a proposed industrial park on the northeast side of town that has 120 acres to be developed. These are big ideas but you can’t forget the small ones too. Like naming a yard of the month. 90-year old Rosealee McLeod got the latest honors.

She said, “I was real surprised, really shocked but real pleased about it.”

Bland says they will do anything to make Pana better. In fact, before the pandemic hit there were plans to have a monthly music festival and a semi-annual flea market in the park. Those plans are still there. Bland won’t let them die. Just like the town she was born and raised in.

“When you lose a business like Walmart, you can’t just sit. You have to do something and we’re doing that to go forward. We’re going to get better. We’re going to get it all back.”