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Living in Boone County

Daniel Arevalo had visited Belvidere a handful of times but when family members moved here, Daniel decided to tag along for good. And he is glad he did.

Born and raised in Peoria, Ill., Daniel was a junior in high school when he joined his sister, Denise, and brother-in-law, Joshua, in Belvidere. “My parents retired and moved to Mexico,” he says. “I wasn’t ready to leave the Midwest. I thought Belvidere was a nice little town. It is more relaxed. You can actually walk down State Street. There is no congestion.”

Daniel attended Belvidere High School, where he played drums in the school band. After graduation he moved on to Rock Valley College, where he took general classes. Today, he works in sales at a local gas station. Last year, when the alderman from Ward 2 moved away, Daniel took her place. Despite having no political experience, Daniel is learning quickly about local government.

“I enjoy every aspect of it,” he says. “I enjoy talking to business owners and trying to recruit new businesses to town. I feel like I have a better understanding of what Belvidere is all about. I feel like I have a voice in the community.”

For the next two years, Daniel will be busy representing his constituents. But he already envisions a day when he can get even more involve in the area. “There is good cohesion between the county and the city,” he says. “You don’t see that everywhere.”

Daniel is not alone in his passion for Boone County. Jane Eurek, a real estate broker and Belvidere manager for Dickerson Nieman, sees it every day in her job as a Realtor. Jane says at the height of the housing market, 75 percent of her clients moved to Belvidere from out of town. While that number has dropped recently, those looking for a new home still recognize the value of living in Boone County.

“Belvidere is still more affordable than moving east to the suburbs,” says Jane. “We have a great park system, good schools and low crime rate. We are seeing medical professionals relocate here, as well as seniors from within Boone County downsizing from their big homes into something more manageable.”

“This community runs deep in my bones,” she adds. “We still have people who wave and say hello. They don’t honk when the light turns green. People pitch in to help their neighbors. It is what we do in Belvidere. It is a place where I wanted to raise my kids. There is still a good quality of life here in Boone County.”

Natalie Hyser Barber returned home to Belvidere to start a life with husband, Justin, a probation officer. Natalie is a lawyer for Tobin & Ramon, and a Belvidere native. She graduated from Belvidere High School in 2000.

“I always wanted to come back home, but I did not know if there would be the opportunity,” she says. “My plan was Chicago where I got some good experience for three years.” But when longtime lawyer Curt Tobin retired, Natalie joined the firm.

Natalie has fond memories of growing up in Belvidere, which includes Fourth of July parades, playing high school sports, and spending time at her family’s farm. Natalie has been back in town for nearly two years. She and Justin bought a home next door to her parents and the couple’s first child was recently born. “It is surreal to be home again,” she says. “Everyone here is helpful and friendly. I am excited to raise our son in my hometown.” •

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