Two townies reflect on home’s history


TILTON, Ill. (WCIA) – Two lifelong residents have seen their small town through its ups and downs.

They shared with us a little history of what’s come and gone.

Virgil sheets has lived in Tilton pretty much his whole life.

He remembers his childhood, “playing kick the can, hide and seek, every night until dark.”

It was a simpler time.

“I could go down the street and tell you who lived in every house. Now them days are gone,” said Sheets.

He said when the general motors plant left in 1995, so did a lot of people.

The old General Motors plant

“That was a significant loss to Tilton,” he said. “We lost residents that lived here and worked there.”

But when that went out, other projects and businesses made their way in.

“The senior assisted living place over there. It’s beautiful. And we’ve developed a lot of retail over the years from when I was a child,” said Sheets.

David Phillips stands behind the city’s development, from a position he wasn’t expecting to be standing in…had it not been for his predecessor.

“Ha, it’s your turn to run. That’s what he told me. He said I’m done, it’s your turn to run. I said okay. So I’ve been the mayor since 2001,” said Phillips.

The line of Tilton mayors

His ties to the town go beyond that.

“I was a volunteer fireman for years,” said Phillips. “My dad was the fire chief for years. So that’s probably what promoted it. Our whole family has lived here for basically a lifetime.”

As mayor, he’s overseen road improvements, the town’s expansion, lake renovations, and business development.

However, he’s never lost touch with the friendly, small-town vibe he loves most about Tilton. That’s clear during any community event.

“Try to draw the community out, try to make them participate in it. A lot of them do, and it’s very appreciated,” said Phillips.

Sheets says he’s often thought about what it would be like to live in a bigger cit, like Chicago, or even Champaign.

For him though, nothing can beat the tight-knit community he finds in Our Town Tilton.

“It’s nice just to go to the grocery story, whoever you know, and just visit with people,” said Sheets.

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