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Columns

  • What's Going On: Iowa’s legislature needs to close gaping exploitation loopholes

     Like most states, Iowa has laws prohibiting sexual exploitation of vulnerable individuals who may be able to physically consent, if not emotionally, to a physical relationship. 

    The law protects patients from their counselor or therapists and students from their teachers.

    However, in November 2013, an Iowa appeals court ruled it doesn’t protect a parishioner from her pastor.

  • Miner Queries: Ernst puts Iowa at the butt of joke: Seriously?

      Seriously?

    That was my first reaction to watching State Sen. Joni Ernst’s new campaign ad last week.  

    My second reaction was: “Here we go again.”

  • The Time Capsule: Liederkranz vs. Velveeta: Which is best?

     A couple of years ago ‘The Time Capsule’ took a look back at Liederkranz cheese. I intended to do a follow-up, but the experiment went badly wrong.    

    Liederkranz interested me for several reasons.  It is not found locally, is so expensive it must be good and comes with a story. It was created in the 1890s by Emil Frey, a noted Swiss cheese maker. The target audience for Liederkranz was German immigrants who were fond of a similar cheese made in the old country. 

  • What's Going On: Will Glenwood voters write a blank check?

     In 2010, Glenwood residents defeated a $2.2 million proposal that would have started construction of an outdoor swimming pool.

    While receiving 49 percent approval, the proposal fell well short of the needed 60-percent total needed to pass. 

    Now, four years later, Glenwood voters will once again go to the polls in just a few weeks to decide the fate of a second outdoor swimming pool proposal. 

  • The Time Capsule: ‘The Almighty’s’ attempt at flight

     The Wright brothers became forever famous for their flight in 1903.  At the time, August Werner, a former Red Oak resident, probably didn’t notice. He was then spending his days at the mental asylum in Clarinda. Werner, it seems, thought he was God.

    Some believed he’d built a heavier-than-air flying machine long before the Wrights and but for his unfortunate mental collapse, might have perfected it.  

  • What's Going On: Ernst gambles on effect of castration emphasis

    The castration candidate. 

    I’ve covered a lot of political races, from local to county to state and occasionally, a federal one.

    Never before have I had a local person whom I’ve interacted with on a regular basis enter the foray of state politics, much less one at the federal level.

    That was before Iowa Senator and former Montgomery County Auditor Joni Ernst entered the U.S. Senate race for the seat soon to be vacated by Tom Harkin. 

  • Miner Queries: Do we want public schools or not?

     Watching the annual school funding battle at the statehouse makes me wonder if parents and grandparents understand the long-term local implications of this fight. The question really comes down to whether or not we want public schools.

  • The Time Capsule: Bonnie and Clyde’s trip through Villisca

     Watching the most recent re-make of “Bonnie and Clyde” brought to mind a story I was told years ago by a Villisca resident.  

  • Outside the Box: Workers deserve more than ‘minimum’

     In 1988, I got my first job.

    I was 15 years old and my startling starting pay was $3.50 per hour. Minimum wage was, at the time, $3.25 so my “startling” was brought on by the fact I was just hired for my first job and had already gotten my first raise. 

    Employee of the month, wasn’t far behind.

  • The Time Capsule: Hospital fire of 1950 sparks memory

     Tragic fires have been in the news of late, bringing to mind a class I used to do at Iowa State Fire School.  We started by giving a room full of firefighters this multiple choice question: Q. What was the worst fire in Iowa history?  (a) St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, 1950.  (b)  Kirkwood Hotel in Des Moines, 1942.  (c) The SS Sultana, a side-wheel steamship, near Dubuque in 1871.  (d) Coconut Grove nightclub, Keokuk, 1908.