LAKE STATION | William "Bill" Eaton refers to Lake Station as "a small city with bighearted residents."
Eaton, 68, has called the city his home since the sixth grade and can't imagine living anywhere else.
"We may not be a rich community but we have a heart that some other communities missed," Eaton said.
Eaton, who teaches photography at Indiana University Northwest, also serves as Lake Station's Chamber of Commerce president.
He's pleased by recent progress in the city including improvements to the downtown.
"I've been through a lot of city administrations and each mayor gave some contributions in their terms ... I've been very encouraged by what I've been seeing after 2 1/2 years of the current administration," Eaton said.
One of those larger projects near the downtown included renovating the park at Grand Boulevard Lake. It offers numerous recreational activities including jogging, picnicking and boating.
Another major project, a new municipal complex/fire department, is under construction. The department anticipates moving later this year to a site near the Lake Station/New Chicago branch of the Lake County Public Library.
As chamber president, Eaton said his organization and members have continued to push to make such improvements in the city's downtown.
Some new businesses, such as the North Shore Health Centers, have found a home in downtown Lake Station.
In his role as Board of Zoning Appeals member, Eaton said he also is aware of plans for additional new businesses including a family restaurant.
The chamber also is exploring strategies to retain its existing businesses.
"We're looking a ways to get people to shop in Lake Station," he said.
In that regard, the chamber recently accepted 100 locally made decals from the school's DECA chapter with the message, "Thank you for shopping in Lake Station first."
Businesses will be encouraged to display the decals and residents, likewise, will be encouraged through coupon campaigns to shop locally.
Eaton believes the future for Lake Station is positive considering the city's location near some major highways.
"We're strategically located," he said.
Eaton also would like to see more industrial or commercial commerce along Ripley, north of Interstate 80/94.
Although Eaton has worked in a number of communities -- in which he operated his long-time photography business -- he can't imagine living anywhere else.
"There's been a lot of positive things occurring, and I'm sure that more positive things will be occurring ... I'm sure the mayor will continue to try and achieve more for our city as will our chamber," Eaton said.