It's no great secret that small towns in this area have shrunk in population in the last decade. Neillsville is one of those communities whose population diminished.
But that's changing. There are a few new people in town who work in Neillsville and live here, too.
Mark Penton recently came to Neillsville from Eau Claire to work at TLC Wellness Center, where he is a massage therapist. He learned his skills at Globe University in Eau Claire.
Penton was born and raised in a Chicago suburb, then lived in Chicago until 2001. From there, he moved to Hawaii (Kauai) where he was a real estate office manager. But he wasn't meant to stay there. He moved to Eau Claire in 2008.
"I enjoyed it (Hawaii), but it's very expensive to live there," Penton said. "I moved to Eau Claire to be closer to my parents."
Penton started massage therapist school in January 2011 and graduated in December. But it was 20 years ago that he was given a gift certificate for a massage and decided he wanted to learn massage therapy.
"We take a lot of anatomy and physiology and pathology courses," he said. Penton is trained in Swedish massage, relaxation, deep tissue technique, sports massage, and he works with the elderly, pregnant women and the dying.
"Massage therapy is unique; it incorporates mind, spirit and body - they're connected," Penton said. It helps people be in tune physically and mentally. "We don't always take the time to treat ourselves," he said.
After completing the program, Penton was looking to work for a business that had similar philosophical values as he does. "I learned about TLC (Mya Rowe) through career development at school," he said.
Living and working in a small town is a different kind of lifestyle compared to the city.
"I wanted to live in a small town," Penton said. "I can walk to work, to the store, to the bank. I look forward to seeing Neillsville -can't wait to see the historic homes and parks."
Penton's hobbies include reading, cooking, baking, gardening, sewing, walking, hiking and being outdoors. His goals are to get re-grounded - to be able to relax, enjoy the beauty all around.
For more information, call Penton 715-743-3883, go to www.neillsvillewellness.com or email email@example.com.