Shutter to Think: It was a good day

Paula Sherman picks up garbage in downtown Dixon Wednesday, May 1, 2024 as part of the Beautify Dixon campaign.

A couple weeks ago I had a day of work that expanded across many different story and photographic avenues. It started around 9 a.m. with a stop in downtown Dixon to meet with a group called Beautify Dixon. The ladies were picking up litter and trash that had accumulated over the winter months in order to, well, beautify Dixon. More than one of the teams I crossed paths with mentioned how tidy the streets were – except for cigarette butts. They seemed to be the bane of the organization.

After this I headed for Rock Falls for the official first day of the farmers market and the unveiling of a new shelter put in place there. The attendance was sparse as one would expect on opening day for both sellers and buyers. The pavilion will definitely be a great addition when the midday sun starts beating down in the summer months.

Then it was on to a fire training session. Sterling and Rock Falls firefighters were granted use for training in a Rock Falls home destined for the scrap heap and next door to the Whiteside County Health Department. Just as instruction was wrapping up and the departments were poised to go into full training mode, a structure fire call went out at a home across town.

I followed along with the belief it was going to be burnt toast or overreaction from a scared homeowner. Neither was true. A home was, in fact, on fire and spreading to an adjacent structure. I did my best to stay out of the way while still telling the story and documenting how the fire departments go about saving, dousing and protecting. I had just enough time to head home and clean up before attending a luncheon for the United Way back in Dixon. The organization wrapped up its campaign year and was handing out recognitions at a luncheon in the Post House.

My next stop was back home to edit all these images which, at the end, took me close to the time I needed before heading to Polo for my final endeavor of the day, a rehearsal for the Polo Area Community Theater’s rendition of “Harvey.” I really like days like this where the stories are diverse and one has to adapt to what is presented. Plus, there was a giant imaginary rabbit.

• Alex T. Paschal is a photographer with Shaw Local News Network. Follow him @svmphotogs or email him at

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Alex Paschal

Alex T. Paschal

Photojournalist/columnist for Sauk Valley Media