Category Archives: Opinion
By Mike Whittlesey
When it comes to elections involving city government and the local school district, recent history has shown that La Porte City, like many small communities throughout the state, has had a limited number of candidates from which to choose. In the 2015 school board election, four open seats on the seven member Union Community School District Board of Directors were filled. Of those, voters had just five candidates to consider, leaving three of the four races uncontested. That same year saw just three candidates run for election on the La Porte City City Council. With three seats available, voters were again left without a choice. Each candidate ran unopposed.
Last week, announcement was made that a special election will be held in La Porte City on February 7. The election will give voters the opportunity to select the person who will complete the remainder of David Williams’ term on the City Council, which expires on December 31, 2020. You may recall that Williams resigned his seat last month prior to his move out of state.
In situations like this one, the Code of Iowa gives local government a couple of options to fill a vacant seat. The four remaining members of the LPC City Council could have filled the vacancy by way of temporary appointment, or called for a special election to let the voters make the final decision. Regardless the action taken by the Council, the matter would have eventually come before the voters anyway, as state law dictates that temporary appointments are only valid only until the next regularly scheduled municipal election, November 2017 in La Porte City’s case. Should voters not wish to wait until the next election rolls around, the law allows them to request a special election by way of petition.
At a special meeting on January 29, the LPC City Council met to address the issue of the vacant Council seat. Their task, however, was no simple one, as three candidates, Jasmine Gaston, Stuart Grote and Chad Van Dyke, submitted letters indicating their desire to serve. With one seat to fill, the Council had something not seen at the last municipal election- an abundance of candidates.
Had just a single candidate come forward, the decision to appoint would have been an easy one. Following a brief question and answer period where Council members had the opportunity to address each of the candidates, the decision to appoint Chad Van Dyke was made on a 3-1 vote. Five days later, voters filed a petition to call for a special election. As this edition of The Progress Review went to press, the names of the candidates running for election were not yet available.
The announcement of the upcoming election has portions of the community buzzing, and that’s a good thing. Nearly every decision made by a governing body opens the door for scrutiny and criticism. In this case, the City Council was faced with the unenviable task of choosing someone when, for the first time in years, there was more than one candidate to consider. Imagine how difficult it would be to choose one of your fellow citizens to represent you with little more than a letter of introduction and a 15 minute Q&A session. No small task, indeed.
Given the level of interest in serving on the City Council at this time, it is appropriate that the voters of La Porte City decide who should represent them.
The County Auditor’s estimate of $2,500 to conduct a special election is a small price to pay to ensure that every La Porte City voter has an opportunity to cast their vote. The candidates who have come forward and expressed a desire to serve the community should be commended for their efforts. They give the citizens of La Porte City a choice to make for who they believe will best represent their interests over the next three years.
In so many ways, the upcoming special election is a sign that our community is alive and well. Casting your vote on February 7 is the best way to prove it.
by Nathaniel Sillin
Health and Wealth in One – How to Make Money While Working Out
The end of the year is a perennial period of self-reflection, and I enjoy partaking in setting a few New Year’s resolutions. Unfortunately, I’ve (more than once) enthusiastically started a year with shiny optimism only to find myself falling short a few weeks later. I know I’m not alone, and I’m encouraged by people who challenge themselves time and time again.
Resolutions related to finances and health, two important components of everyone’s life, are especially common. Here are a few ways that you could tie physical activities to achieving your financial goals. Hopefully being able to tackle both resolutions at once can help keep you motivated for the entire year.
Compete with yourself, or others. If you’re up for a little friendly competition, consider creating or joining a challenge and putting money on the line. There’s an online app that you can use to place a wager on how often you’ll work out. At the end of the week, you have to pay your preselected amount for each workout you miss. But if you complete your workouts for the week, you collect a portion of the amount paid out by everyone else.
Some people make an arrangement with a friend where you each agree to work out X times a week and to pay the other person $5 or $10 for each workout missed. Or, you could opt to make a donation to a charity of your friend’s choice rather than pay each other. The goal is to provide accountability, and the financial aspect can add a sense of urgency and be a great motivational tool.
Connect an activity tracker to rewards programs. Several services give you points each time you work out and let you redeem the points for cash, gift cards or other prizes. The real trick is to use multiple programs and maximize your rewards from every workout. Some employers also provide bonus points to employees that use these programs or have similar rewards programs of their own.
Make working out your work. If you’re looking to make a serious lifestyle change, and potentially some serious money, consider becoming a personal trainer or fitness instructor. While the certification process can be expensive and time-consuming, afterward you’ll be able to charge clients for classes or one-on-one training.
Or, you could try to find flexible and active work that suits your interests and experience. Gardener, referee or dog walker could be good fits to supplement your income.
Keep exercise-related expenses down. It can be tempting to buy new workout equipment or sign up for a gym when you’re excited about a New Year’s resolution. However, there are many ways to get fit without expensive equipment or a large gym.
For example, you can find videos of free instructor-led workouts or yoga sequences online or try an app that creates and leads you through workouts. If you want to take up an activity that requires facilities, look for inexpensive options at local community centers.
Raise money for a charity with every step. You may not have a strong desire to earn money but are still looking for a little extra motivation to work out. Similar to the programs that reward you with points, there are apps like Charity Miles that you can use to raise money for your favorite charities while exercising.
You could also sign up for a charity walk, run or ride and know that when you cross the finish line you’ll be helping a good cause.
Bottom line: By keeping costs down and looking for ways to make money while staying active you can make your budget (and body) more flexible. This approach could help you stay motivated for longer, and you can use the extra money to pursue your other goals for the year.
Editor’s Note: The following letter was written in response to a letter published in the January 11, 2017 edition of The Progress Review. Click to view the original letter. -MW
I’m responding to your letter in The Progress Review on January 11, 2017, referencing incarcerated prisoners during the holidays. I tried to be compassionate and understanding while reading your letter, and to some degree I was. I don’t know why you are in prison, but because you are it tells me that you did something serious. I say that because confinement in prison is the punishment that courts most commonly impose for serious crimes, such as felonies. The courts usually impose short-term incarceration in a local jail for lesser crimes.
You stated that it isn’t empathy you want, yet your letter felt to me like that is exactly what you were hoping to gain. You said you understand how we (society) sees you, that you aren’t the animal we make you out to be and that you have just spent your second Christmas incarcerated.
Then, for whatever reason, you found the need to reference inmates and people serving their country. Not sure why you associated the two, but they are indeed, my friend, two different things. You first wrote, “I can’t speak for those serving for our country because I have no idea what that is like.”
Then later in the letter you wrote, “we are just as important as those who serve our country or have passed away.”
Let me tell you what it was like being a veteran who spent two Christmas’ in a combat zone, eating c-rations at the age of 18 and 19; It sucks!
Let me tell you what it is like for a parent who has a son in a combat zone, eating MREs (Meal, Ready to Eat) not one Christmas, but two Christmas’; It sucks!
Let me tell you what it is like for a parent with another son overseas for two Christmas’; It sucks!
In all three comparisons, and like every other service man or woman, we would have rather been home in the living room with our families, but it was a choice we made. The difference is every service man and woman that is serving their country hopes to return home safely, unlike an inmate. The difference is they made the choice of defending their country, allowing others to be free and make choices in their lives, unlike an inmate.
So, I want you to know and understand you are important as a human-being, but in no way under the present circumstances can you compare yourself to being as important as someone who is serving their country.
I do feel sorry for the bad choices you chose that ultimately got you incarcerated, but I’m not sorry for you because you are incarcerated. I do wish you had taken a different road, but it is too late now.
Speaking for myself, I don’t see you any different from anyone else, other than someone that made a bad choice and is now paying your debt to society. I judge a person on what they do and how they act after their debt is paid to society. Put this mistake in your history book as a lesson well learned and move on with your life…it’s not too late.
La Porte City
To the Editor:
Did you ever love someone who was disabled? Did you ever have trouble finding them sufficient housing?
John Hansen’s sister Tammy, my best friend died before John could get an abandoned nursing home in Fredericksburg remodeled. Not many people are aware of the desperate need for handicapped accessible apartments in rural areas.
John bought the nursing home in April of 2015 and used all his retirement SAVINGS to purchase the building and some remodeling. Tammy passed away in May of 2016. When Tammy got sick they looked for handicapped accessable apartments, but could not find any in the area. Tammy was looking forward to living in Fredericksburg and being close to relatives.
The city of Fredericksburg has no money to help John and he is in dire need. He has started a GoFundMe page on Facebook. The first $50,000 he intends to start remodeling again as the building will make about twenty apartments.
Honor Tammy with John fulfilling his lost dream for her. Reach John at firstname.lastname@example.org or send donations to 2977 Odessa Ave, Fredericksburg, IA 50630. Thank you so much.
Patty Beiner (formerly ‘Kate McGuire’ from 92.3 KOEL-FM)