Western Illinois is different, and I'm very thankful for that.

Now before I begin, I want to say if you're from other parts of the state, this is not meant to offend. It's simply that our part of Illinois is unique.

This week, as I drove over portions of Central Illinois, I was reminded why Illinois is called "The Prairie State."  to say that some parts of Illinois are flat, is an understatement.

That's exactly one of the things I like about our area. You have the diversity of hills, bluffs, and hollers that just don't exist in much of the state.  Is the crop land as fertile? probably not as much as some areas, however I really think it's the people that make the difference. We're as tough and tenacious as the winding rivers in our area.

I remember a few years back, checking into a hotel in Colorado. When they saw my license said Illinois, they automatically thought I was from Chicago.  When they asked me about it, I told them where I lived was very rural and small-town.  Their attitude changed almost immediately after sharing that with them. No city-slicker here. We couldn't be further from most of the realities of Chicago, and I'm thankful for that.

I think most everyone likes to be proud of the place that they call home, and people of this area are certainly no different.  Honestly, I never really feel like it's a state thing in this area, except when I have to pay for my fuel. Illinois, Missouri and Iowa...this unique little corner of the world, we all share more similarities that differences.  It doesn't matter whether I'm in Quincy, Hannibal or Keokuk, they all have their special qualities that set them apart, yet make us all very similar in ideas and  practices.

So, sorry rest of Illinois. Nothing against you, but I'm glad we're different.