• It’s late afternoon on Christmas Eve as I write this. I have a few presents to wrap, stockings to fill and cooking to do. And politics is the last thing I want to think about.
    Yet yesterday in Red Oak, I experienced a moment of political hope.
    That’s the morning Senator Bernie Sanders came to Red Oak, and I was heartened to see more than 250 people pack into the Red Coach Inn to hear him speak. Finally, some political action!

  • Dear Editor:
    “Eight people were killed and at least 45 people were wounded in shootings” was the headline Sept. 21, 2015, yet the President didn’t rush to his bully pulpit to decry, “we need more gun laws” on that day. Why I wonder? Could it be it happened in another country? No, it happened in the United States.

  • Veterans Day is tomorrow. I’ll spend part of it at a program in a school gymnasium, thinking of other veterans, other times and sacrifices unknown or long forgotten.
    I expect few people know the story of four boys—Oscar, Eric, Paul and Evald—who grew up on the same Montgomery County farm and attended school in a building not far from where tomorrow’s program takes place.       
    All four enlisted during wartime.  
    All four were killed in action.   

  • Did they shrink like the Grinch’s?
    I was wondering this last Wednesday morning as I pondered the prospect of another Republican debate, this one covering the economy. I’d endured the first two Republican debates stoically. But I have a soft spot for economic issues, particularly because I’ve watched working America take hit after hit from Republican policies the last 40 years.
    Apparently, I wasn’t the only one thinking about this.
    When I turned to news of a budget deal to avoid a

  • There was a time when politicians spent their own money to buy votes; now they’re using yours.
    I’ve recently received a series of e-mails saying I’m entitled to a free cell phone and a generous monthly plan. One that arrived a couple days ago included, in capital letters, the line, “THERE’S NOTHING SADDER THAN A WASTED FREEBIE.” Actually, I’m no more “entitled” to a free cell phone than anyone else—and it’s certainly not free—but millions of them are paid for with tax dollars.    

  • Flushed from a recently combined field, the pheasant flew in a wide arc. The hunter lifted his shotgun, drew a bead and fired, sending the bird into an unnatural tailspin, headfirst into the remaining corn stubble.
    It was opening weekend for pheasant season and the video clip seemed appropriate for a story about it.

  • Call me a jaded cynic if you will, but when I first read about Speaker of the House John Boehner announcing he would be resigning from Congress at the end of this month, I was skeptical.
    Very skeptical.
    Was this grandstanding by a political animal I assume spends more time in a tanning booth than only Donald Trump?
    An epiphany brought on by the Pope-affect (Boehner, a Catholic, had met the Pontiff the day before)?

  • My wife watched the CNN debates wondering if there was a difference between the Socialist and the Progressives.  I pretty much knew the answer, and  went to the garage to work on my deer blind.  She’s a beauty; a piece of art.  With a little cardboard, burlap, a few corn stalks, cedar branches, some duct tape and twine I enclosed and camouflaged an old golf cart.  I knew it was good when my wife asked how much “that stupid looking thing” cost and went back to the house.      

  • For the last few weeks, I had been seriously considering taking an extended leave of absence from writing this column.
    I have plenty of good reasons. I haven’t had a sports writer for two months and my news reporter’s last day was Friday, leaving me with an abundance of writing assignments I normally don’t have.
    But the best reason of all to take a break from writing this column was a much more serious one: My wife has cancer.

  • Werner (pronounced “Verner”) Althoffer makes award-winning sausage, and has been doing so for a long time.  He’s a professional who learned his trade in Germany 70 years ago.   

  • Gov. Terry Branstad is working hard to turn Iowa into the next Wisconsin or, worse yet, Kansas.
    Last week, numerous articles appeared about our governor’s executive overreach. I hope you’re thoroughly incensed about his refusal to fund schools.
    Wonder where that $55 million dollars he denied education is going?
    According the Cedar Rapids Gazette four months later, Branstad is using the Department of Revenue to rewrite tax law to benefit manufacturers, pursuing a $46 million ongoing sales tax break for them. The editors write:

  • Dear Editor:
    The U.S. Congress passed the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) in 2005 and expanded it in 2007. This requires oil companies to blend ethanol with gasoline and help to reduce our importation of overpriced crude oil from the Middle East. It is good for America.
     This policy has saved you, the consumers, $100 billion nationwide in gasoline costs in 2013 alone. Also, over $8.3 billion in tax revenue has been generated by this industry.

  • Dear Editor:
    Over half a century ago Robert A. Heinlein noted “An armed society is a polite society.”
    Many politicians are caterwauling and otherwise making political hay out of the massacres  that happen occasionally – and far too often – in this country. None of them point out that if any of the victims had themselves been armed that the killer would have been stopped forthwith.

  • Dear Editor:
    I live on Eastern Avenue and have thrown up the white flag on the deer population here in Red Oak. Behind the Catholic church is a pasture that hosts a wonderful sanctuary for the deer to gather. You would think they are waiting for Mass, thanking God for all they have to destroy.

  • There are hundreds of stories associated with the orphanage that once operated in Montgomery County, and some took place long after the last child was sent away.  
    One has to do with three brothers who left an unusual will; a will that led to an acrimonious feud between two communities.        

  • Rep. David Young stopped by the office during the recent Congressional recess. We discussed several issues, ranging from gun control and mental health care to presidential politics and his favorite food at the state fair, which happens to be “pork chop on a stick.”

  • You’ve probably never heard of Jack Yates Longstreet, born in Red Oak in 1896, and there may not be anyone now living who remembers him. But in 1918 he made The New York Times and The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, and had things gone his way he might be known for having flown an airplane across the Atlantic before anyone else.  

  • Last Thursday I had another column written and was headed down the road to Shenandoah for a cross-country meet when I heard about the mass shooting in Oregon. After learning more on Friday morning, I decided it was time to ask again if more guns and ammunition sales are really the answer.
    Because that’s the only solution we’re offered after one of these mass shootings. No gun control legislation gets passed, but the National Rifle Association (NRA) ramps up fundraising and its fear factory, claiming our

  • Dear Editor:

  • Dear Editor:
        There’s a lot of hype and talk these days about soil and water conservation. Some make it seem like something new. It is not.  In 1935, the Montgomery County Soil Conservation Association was formed. Working with the CCC camp in Red Oak, conservation demonstrations were held around the county.