If the difference between boys and men is the size of their toys, that was definitely on display when the WMT Tractorcade rolled through town on Monday. The men (mostly men) on those 500 vintage farm tractors were having fun! They cling to those machines as if to their past – just as I recall my Grandpa Roy F. Dyer never missing a threshing reunion.
Oh, the stories they could tell!
Our NSP staff is putting together a spread about the Tractorcade for the next issue of Country Connection, and is interested in your stories about your tractors. The deadline is June 19. Bring them to our office at 214 N. Second St., Eldridge; mail them to P.O. Box 200, Eldridge, IA 52748; or e-mail to editor Scott Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Change: It’s hard to imagine that the beautiful former Welcome Center building atop the hill in LeClaire is sitting empty, looking for a buyer. I remember 1989 when the elegant structure was designed by architect Robin Andrew. We were so impressed, a committee that I chaired hired Andrew later that year to help us build an Eldridge Community Center. (Instead of a new building, Andrew ended up redesigning the Skatepark facility into a community center, and he did a superb job!)
Who could have foreseen in 1989 that 23 years later people would be seeking travel information electronically to the extent that the beautiful structure in LeClaire would close? Indeed, it happened. Convention & Visitors Bureau CEO Joe Taylor said the number of visitors at the LeClaire Welcome Center peaked at 125,000 a year in 1997 and fell to 50,000 in 2011. We’re pulling for the QCCVB to find the right buyer. The location is exquisite with a spectacular view overlooking the Mississippi River.
Meanwhile, the Welcome Center was relocated to the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum at the Walcott interchange. Pictures and a story from the ribbon cutting were in the May 9 issue of The NSP. I was given a tour of the museum the day of the ribbon cutting by Delia Meyer, Iowa 80 Group senior vice president. If you haven’t seen the collection of vintage trucks that Delia and her late father, truckstop founder Bill Moon, have put together, you should put that on your “to do” list. If those trucks could talk, they’d tell the history of America.
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Gas Prices: With prices at the pump back down to $3.24, we aren’t hearing the politicians chirp about the president’s lack of leadership on this issue. As if the president set the price of gasoline anyway. Republican or Democrat, that was never true. The price is determined by supply and demand. Politicians make it a wedge issue.
You want high gas prices? Check out the sign at left. I took this photo in June 2008 in downtown Los Angeles. $5.09 makes $3.24 look good! But gas always costs more in the big cities. In April I drove to Chicago and the prices there were 60 cents more than in Eldridge.
The rest of the story on energy, despite what you hear from politicians, is that crude oil production in the U.S. is more than 6 million barrels a day – the highest since 1998. Oil production in North Dakota has risen sharply since 2007. We now import 45 percent of our petroleum, down from 57 percent in 2008. Imports are falling. That’s according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
IASB: If recent hires by the Iowa Association of School Boards are any indication, this is an organization on the mend. Remember that two years ago, IASB was rocked by scandal when its executive director’s pay was increased from $210,000 to $367,000 and board members said they were unaware, including board president Jack Hill, from North Scott.
The executive director resigned in disgrace. The Legislature got involved and singled out IASB for compliance with the Open Meetings and Open Records laws.
The IASB provides valuable services to school districts. Last year, Galen Howsare, a former administrator at North Scott High School, was hired as CFO (chief financial officer), and Marti Kline, the former publisher of the Altoona Herald-Index was hired as communications director.
It’s a small world. I know both of these individuals as persons of high integrity. It was a setback for North Scott when Galen and his wife, Kathy, left our community in 1988. (She was stellar as a high school guidance counselor!) Marti took a job with the Southeast Polk school district (with former North
Scott business director Mike Hamilton) after she sold her paper, and we’ve worked together through the Iowa Newspaper Association as well as Rotary.
In a recent e-mail, Marti commented, “The people at IASB who have stuck it out through all the recent challenges are dedicated, hard-working, tremendously smart people with whom I am honored to work.” Let’s hope this is a sign of positive things to come on behalf of local school districts who pay dues to IASB.
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Baseball: The Cubs used to be “can’t miss” TV, but now that they’re losing two games for every win (a percentage of .333), I wonder. So what’s the worst record in Major League Baseball history? You have to go back to 1899 when the Cleveland Spiders won 20 and lost 134 (.130). The only record since 1950 that was below .300 was the Detroit Tigers in 2003. They won just 43 games and lost 119 (.265).
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Tribute: We’re going to miss the smiling face of Eldridge resident Art Blavat at our door in the upcoming Football Contest season and other times, as well. Art, who died May 24, had a gift for making others feel happy. His obituary was in our May 30 issue.