“It’s the people” is more than just a slogan to the town of Hillsdale, it is a lifestyle and attitude embraced by its residents. When the “It’s the People” sign on the property belonging to Frank Beck Chevrolet off of M‑99 was in jeopardy of being torn down, many people were frustrated. But after lots of phone calls, paperwork, and a big check, the sign will get to stay.
In September of 2018, Hillsdale citizen Ted Jansen played around with the idea of building a sign of Hillsdale that displayed the town’s slogan. When people heard of the idea, they started donating money to Jansen to build the sign.
Soon enough, the sign was built with the help of Hillsdale College students, and Frank Beck Chevrolet worked out an agreement with Jansen to allow him to put the sign on its property.
In March 2019, Michigan’s Department of Transportation informed Jansen that his sign violated the state’s Highway Advertising Act.
Jansen’s sign required a commercial sign permit because his sign is neither an “on-premises sign” or a sign owned by the city.
Jansen had 60 days to make a decision: take the sign down or buy a permit. The 30-year Hillsdale resident remembered that when the original “It’s the People” sign was torn down, many citizens were upset because it meant so much to them.
“It’s the people that keep me here,” Jansen said.
Jansen made his decision. He wrote a check for $2,552 to purchase a permit from an existing permit holder in Empire Township, Michigan, with an $80 monthly fee.
Since then, a brick wall has been added to the structure of the sign and Smith’s Flowers added landscaping. Jansen also said he hopes to add illumination to the sign in the future.
Katie Kish ’19, a current resident of Hillsdale, said she believes the people of this community make an impact, and she’s glad that the sign is here to stay.
“It is most definitely the people that make Hillsdale feel like home,” Kish said. “Here I have found friends, mentors, and role models who have become family and who I know will maintain a significant place in my heart for the rest of my life.”
The slogan rings true for many, especially around campus, Hillsdale College junior Madison Rathbun agreed.
“The small campus, combined with the expectation to become your best self, holds students sometimes subconsciously to a higher standard, Rathbun said. ”We expect others to also uphold those standards and it forms an unparalleled community in the most natural way.”
Jansen says he is very appreciative of all the support and help he has received from the town, especially the help from the students of Hillsdale College. In the end, Jansen said he is happy to have brought back something that means so much to the residents of Hillsdale.
“I don’t do it for the glory,” Jansen said. “I do it for the people. It really is the people, the people appreciate it.”