For the better part of this year, a cloud has hung over the City of Dixon, Illinois.
Ever since Rita Crundwell allegedly embezzled more than $53 million dollars from the city coffers, Dixon has been mired in mostly negative headlines.
But city leaders hope to put that behind them and start recouping their losses when they auction off Crundwell's nationally renowned herd of horses next week.
"The public is going to have access to the auction site, so it'll be a substantial crowd, it could be 2-3000 people out there," says Dixon Mayor Jim Burke. He’s is expecting a big crowd, and hopes to make the most the visitors. It costs roughly $200,000 per month to maintain Crundwell's herd of horses.
"The quicker this wraps up the better as far as we're concerned," says Burke.
The live auction is expected to have more than 1,500 people bidding on more than 300 of Rita Crundwell's horses. Mayor Burke says he hopes to use this event to showcase the many positive sides of Dixon, Illinois.
A recent concert in Dixon with Grammy Award Winning Band Mumford and Sons, has brought some positive attention the town.
Now the city hopes to capitalize on the upcoming horse auction by bringing in a half dozen food venders, and a special horse artist named Justin.
"We're going to close off the block and we're going to have food vendors down there and it'll be a nice little thing for the visitors to the town," says Burke.
The mayor wants to do everything he can do change perceptions about Dixon, and perhaps even put a silver lining the storm of bad publicity that's plagued his city.
"It's giving people a chance, just like Channel 8, to take a real good look at Dixon, so we're getting a lot of exposure for the community," says Burke.