Deb Malewski

Contributing Writer

In 1947, Jack Davidson, the mayor of Eaton Rapids and a native of Philadelphia, considered Eaton Rapids a “paradise.” “We’ve got a town,” he said, “that’s just about right. Our people are loyal to each other. They live here by choice. Lots of them could get a better paying job in the city, but why? They’d lose more than they’d gain.” “The town is a little island of peace and plenty in a sea of national uncertainties and a turbulent world,” writer Kent Sagendorph wrote about Eaton Rapids in his article “Small Town with Big Ideas.” Has it changed much over the years? Friendly, safe, small-town atmosphere, and convenient. That’s what many people still enjoy about living in Eaton Rapids. Eaton Rapids is a friendly, welcoming community, many say. “I grew up in Lansing, so ER has always been a big contrast to that,” Dan Clements stated. “I have grown to appreciate how easy it is to live here. Everything one needs is close by; doctors, dentists, restaurants, grocery store, hospital, golf course…I really like how easy it is to make new friends in a small town, a big plus for me.” Are people kinder in small towns? Maybe. “I love it,” said Tammie Driggs. “Everyone is friendly. People are willing to help people in need. If someone older needs something, people are often willing to help them without charging them.” Laura DeLong is a life-long resident of the city. “It’s a small community so it feels more like family. People are friendly and will step up and do whatever it takes to help a person in need. It’s beautiful.” Delong also pointed out a financial benefit of living in the Island City: “It’s close to Lansing and the property taxes are lower than some of the surrounding communities.” It can bring back childhood memories of small-town life. “We moved here when my daughter was five years old,” said Mary Jenkins. “I picked it because it was a lot like the community that I grew up in.” Rita Honeysett, director of the Jean Kline Senior Center, echoed that. “It’s a small town like what I grew up in,” she said. “Plus, it’s close to work.” “I know just about everybody,” said Helen Wright. “I was born right here on Bentley Road, not in a hospital.” Several brought up the safety factor of living here. “I love ER for the small-town atmosphere. You can walk around town and feel safe and wave to your neighbors,” said Chris Allen, with the G.A.R. Museum. “It’s safe, friendly, and convenient,” said Sandy Coats. “Everything you need is right here. We have a good hospital, good grocery stores, and a cemetery, along with good neighbors. We watch out for each other.” This is especially true for Sandy, as she was instrumental in the apprehension of a burglar that entered her neighbors’ house, thanks to her watchful eye. Pam Colestock, mayor pro tem of Eaton Rapids, has lived here her entire life and has felt the positive impact on her. “It’s home. It’s my comfort spot. It’s the place that made me who I am.” Some pointed out the amenities that drew them to Eaton Rapids. Greg Moore, a former resident of Eaton Rapids, said, “Island Park. The post office, because it was easy to get to. I liked walking my kids downtown for ice cream.” “We like being able to ride our bikes to the playgrounds,” Becky Ely and her son commented. The playgrounds and parks are a popular draw for families with young children. The new addition of a river walk, which has not been completed yet, runs from the GAR Island Park to Mill Pointe Park, will add even more to the interest.