“It’s The People” sign on M‑99, which was installed in 2018. Reagan Gen­siejewski | Col­legian

“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.”