Readers Respond

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Letters to the Pilot

Turbines are 'functional art'

To The Editor:

Wide open spaces, neighbors who shovel your driveway without being asked and communities that look out for each other are just a few reasons why generations choose to call Iowa home. Now we can add personal income to the list.

According to recent date from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, personal income in Iowa rose to second highest rate in the nation last year. The average Iowan's personal income is just now over $30,500, up nearly 7.8 percent from the year before.

It beats my first job in radio news, where I proudly earned a grand total of $9,000 and somehow still had to find a way to make payments on my '79 Chevette. But it's not the gleaming new mega-mall or the growing financial centers popping up like my eight-year-old's Lego projects that get the kudos, it's agriculture.

Iowa farmers, by their very nature, have a penchant for leveraging their new raw agricultural assets to create new opportunities. These opportunities called "value-added" fuel areas such as renewable energy, bioscience and biotechnology.

Governor Vilsack also touted to the state's national ranking in personal income in a statement released last week, giving credit to Iowa's agricultural economy, hard work and good old Iowa resourcefulness...

Consider this: a 40-million per year ethanol plant creates 41 full-time jobs and provides a one-time boost of $142 million to the local economy. There are 14 plants in Iowa now placing ethanol at 72 percent market share. In fact, one in every 10 rows of corn you see while driving down the road this spring will go into ethanol production.

And, for the rest of the picture, look up. If you haven't driven to Sac or Buena Vista Counties lately, check out the hundreds of gleaming white machines that tower 200 feet in the air. To me, they're functional art, and certainly more impressive than those $20-million 'drapes' hanging in Central Park. Iowa's wind turbines currently generate enough energy to power 130,000 homes.

In addition, Iowa has three biodiesel plants that make the clean-burning fuel now used by our Armed Forces, the U.S. Postal Service, even NASA. Next year at this time, I believe we'll be reading about the economic boost created through bioscience research and the groundbreaking medical technologies being developed right in our own state. Maybe the best thing we can do is set that humble pie aside for a moment and brag about our agrarian roots and endless possibilities right here in Iowa. After all, you never know what college student might be within earshot at the local coffee shop.

- Laurie Groves, Iowa Farm Bureau

Why not rock out tobacco?

To The Editor:

The recent Rock and Remember event held at the Marathon Community Center should be commended for the monies raised to promote music in local schools. As schools have had to tighten their belts some music programs have had to make cutbacks. Every donation of this type does make a difference.

I do, however, have a concern about the event that should be addressed. Because the event is not smoke-free many people are exposed to second hand smoke. These people are not only adults, but children as well. It has been proven that second hand smoke that comes into the room or car off the burning end of a cigarette is just as dangerous as what a smoker inhales. And it's especially bad for kids. Doctors have discovered that being around cigarette smoke increases a child's chance of developing asthma, allergies, ear infections, bronchitis and pneumonia. Parents need to consider the health risks to their children before attending a "family friendly" event such as this.

People sometimes forget that the nicotine in cigarettes is truly addictive. That's why quitting is so hard to do. If someone in your household smokes, be sympathetic and understanding - but encourage him or her to quit. Let that person know that cigarette smoke affects everyone, not just the smoker. Let them know that you care and you want to help. And so do we at BV County Prevention Initiative and BV County Public Health and Home Care. Give us a call at (712) 749-2548 and ask how we can help.

- Pam Bogue, RNC, BV County

Public Health and Home Care

Big talk, little action in DM

To The Editor:

Tastes great, less filling. Everyone remembers the old beer commercials. I thought of that slogan as I reflected on the week's work in the House.

A little girl's death caused the Legislature to respond by getting tough on sex offenders. But to be effective many of the new laws require new funding in the coming fiscal year. Legislative leaders promised publicly to pay for the tougher penalties, including new money to hold sexual predators in civil commitment after their prison terms expire, to electronically monitor inmates who are released, and to keep a DNA database of all convicted felons. But what Iowans were promised was not delivered.

Tastes great, less filling. The rhetoric sounds great, but the funding doesn't fulfill our obligations. Instead of appropriating new money in next year's budget, the leadership required the Attorney General and the Departments of Public Safety and

Corrections to find $3.6 million in their existing budgets to provide the new services. So the Attorney General must divert $250,000; Public Safety must shift $1.1 million; and Corrections must reallocate $2.3 million-all out of programs that these agencies currently provide.

It's not like these departments are swimming in extra cash. Corrections has laid off more than a hundred prison guards due to lower funding, making those institutions more dangerous. Budget cuts at Public Safety have reduced the number of state troopers to the lowest level in forty years. Now, these same departments are being told to cut further into their budgets.

It's no wonder that there is growing cynicism about government.

- Iowa State Rep. Pat Murphy, Dubuque