SCHNEIDER/SHELBY | Removed from the sounds of urban living, the quiet streets of Lake County's southernmost communities invite a slower pace and closer link to nature.
Both the town of Schneider and unincorporated Shelby are host to outdoors enthusiasts and those seeking a simpler lifestyle.
Jenny Beier's family, on both paternal and maternal sides, has roots in Schneider where she visited, then lived, as a youngster. After a few years spent in Iowa's Quad Cities, she returned to Schneider and couldn't be happier with her choice.
"I live now in the house I bought from my great-grandmother," Beier, 33, said. "It's down the road from the park. I know wherever my 12-year old daughter is, she's safe. Everybody looks out for everybody. People mow the lawns for the elderly. They plow their driveways," she said.
Beier said it seems most of the townspeople are related to her somehow. That includes her aunt, Cristi Stavros, the town librarian.
"The library does a lot for kids. She calls personally to make sure parents know about dates and special events," she said, something that doesn't happen in larger towns.
Stavros, who also drives a Tri-Creek School Corp. bus, said, "The kids ask if we're doing anything at the library, so I like to call. We try to do a project once a week."
She said she knows all the children in the town.
"I've lived here my whole life -- 50 years," Stavros said. "My mother moved here as a teenager, and it stuck," she said.
Beyond the peaceful pace, the town nurtures family life, she said. She married a Schneider boy, Kenny Stavros, and they've made a life together for 25 years. "I think it's a nice place to move to. It's a nice place to raise kids," she said.
Outdoorsman Jack Jeralds likes the proximity to the Grand Kankakee Marsh, Willow Slough and LaSalle.
"You can pick mushrooms, whatever you want," he said.
A resident of Schneider for five years after moving from St. John Township, Jeralds said, "It's quiet. No traffic. Being close to nature is always a nice thing."
Even though it's small, Jeralds said the town has city amenities such as streetlights, garbage service and town sewers.
Jeralds said he bought a building from which he runs his wholesale business, Indiana Brick Panels, and enjoys family time in the small town.
"I take the grandkids out fishing. We go to the park to play with leaves and butterflies," Jeralds said. "You can walk the alleys in the evening and not worry about it. You see a lot of people out walking, even in the winter," he said.
To the east in unincorporated Shelby, Bert Bell, his wife, Susan, and their employees at ProEdge create decorative edge treatments for furniture, cabinetry and other wood products.
Their quiet production matches their surroundings, and Bell said it's a comfortable place to do business.
"We had a pretty good reception from residents," he said of the company's 2000 acquisition of the former Whiteco site where Crown Point billionaire Dean White got his start. He believes residents were happy to have an occupant for the site, which was in disrepair and vacant for several years.
"We've done tours for local groups. It's interesting. I've met quite a few people who worked here when it was Whiteco. It's kind of fun," Bell said. "Our property borders the Shelby Volunteer Fire Department, and we have a good relationship with them. We support their fundraisers. Let them borrow our forklift. Good neighbor stuff," he said.
At its peak, ProEdge employed 46. Now at 23 employees, many are from Shelby and nearby. "We have two close enough who walk to work," Bell said. Not many can say that, he said.
In Shelby's heyday, sportsmen from across the country and foreign lands flocked to the community for great hunting and fishing. One of the lodges, The Diana Club, still stands in Shelby on a gentle curve of Ind. 55. Converted into a residence many years ago, the stark, white structure recalls Shelby's lively past and remains a reminder of the natural appeal of river living that continues to draw folks to this riverside burg.