Our story begins with a dog walk.

 

Hi, I'm Craig Williams, and I didn't know it at the time, but a simple dog walk with my then 13-year-old son in the fall of 2013 would change my life. My family had settled in our corner of Southern Illinois in the spring of 1975. We moved from North Iowa when my father retired from his corporate gig and, together with my mother,  decided to buy a small motel in Pinckneyville, Illinois. The idea, I think, was to acquire a whole string of these things, and have a nifty little chain of small-town lodging serving America's backroads and bi-ways. No matter, it meant I would be the product of a rural education, which was just fine by me. I attended middle school and high school in Pinckneyville before settling into a self-employed life of my own. I'd co-founded a screenprinting company a few towns south of Pinckneyville and, later, a community magazine publishing firm in my hometown. Along the way, I'd become involved in lots of community volunteerism and what-not, as many are prone to do in communities like Pinckneyville, before serving two terms on the local high school board.