Category Archives: Letters to the Editor

Letter to the Editor – Justin Murphy

Dear Editor:
I’ve been living in La Porte City since I was the age of four. I attended the Union Community School District from the seventh grade until I graduated in 2012. In the time I’ve been living in La Porte City, I’ve looked through The Progress Review many times, and I am currently receiving your weekly paper.
I find your paper very informative about what is going on in the community. I do have some objections to what isn’t being printed in your paper. I feel, as I’m sure others do too, like the negatives, such as criminal happenings, student-teacher scandals, abusive husbands, the town alcoholic, football players being held out of games for alcohol-related incidents, or other negative happenings that may arise in a small town.
I’ve lived in La Porte City for long enough to know that the town I grew up in is not all “sunshine and daisies,” so why do you only publish the “sunshine and daisies” of La Porte City? The worst thing that you publish in The Progress Review is the monthly arrest log and obituaries. As the editor of a small town paper, you are well known in town. You may have heard about some of the things I referred to before, so why didn’t you, as a “journalist,” investigate these matters and publish them? You keep up-to-date with rumors spreading around like wild fires. What’s different about these other subjects?
I would like a response to this letter, if you would take the time to write one. I would also like it published in The Progress Review. Maybe then other readers’ eyes will be open to your “sunshine and daisies” town paper.
Justin Murphy, Mt. Pleasant

Read the editor’s response here.

Letter to the Editor – Susan Sack

To the Editor:

The Rock Island Clean Line (RICL) project has dropped from public view in Illinois but it isn’t gone. In Iowa RICL is renewing a publicity campaign after 23 representatives published a letter opposing the project. The unprecedented attempt of a private group of investors to get 200 foot wide easements across multiple states is still threatening both states. The last news RICL publicly released in IL was their announcement the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) had ruled granting them public utility status.
This publicity junket of 2014 was a smoke and mirrors attempt to make the public and investors believe all was well and the transmission line had permission to move forward. In reality the ICC ruling didn’t give them rights to use eminent domain to seize land, only easements. All the ICC ruling did was allow Clean Line to continue to attempt to secure voluntary easements in IL. Their land agents had been unsuccessful for years so there was little chance the ruling would help RICL.
The Illinois Land Owners Alliance, Illinois Farm Bureau and a major utility filed appeals in the Appellate Court to contest the ICC not completely denying the speculative, unnecessary land grab. Three Appellate judges the Honorable Wright, Lytton, and Carter heard contesting statements and questioned the ICC and RICL attorney. A decision is pending.
RICL has not only met with opposition from landowners and those concerned with eminent domain and unnecessary transmission building in Illinois, but also from Iowa. The Iowa Utility Board process has held the project accountable and without permission to build in Iowa dealings are on hold in IL. Less than 12% of the impacted Iowan landowners have signed voluntary easement agreements and a far lower percent signed in Illinois. Without the use of eminent domain the project is dead.
In response Clean Line’s strategy has shifted from pushing for individual states’ approval. They appear to be focusing their investor’s resources to Federal Eminent Domain lobbying. Hans Detweiller, who headed the RICL Illinois campaign, has been paid $40,000 monthly as their Washington lobbyist and it’s estimated Clean Line has spent more than $560,000. this year in efforts to push their scheme through federal channels.
Multiple states have ruled the 5 Clean Line proposed projects, including RICL, are not in the best interest of their state and Federal Eminent Domain appears to be Clean Line’s last best hope. Various groups are working together to stop Clean Line but we must continue to contact our representatives and stay vigilant as Clean Line is attempting to usurp state rights with green-washed lobbying. Contact or The Preservation of Rural Iowa Alliance if you are approached by RICL representatives or wish further information. Facebook pages posts daily developments.

Susan Sack
Mendota, IL

Letter to the Editor – Dale Barnett

To the Editor:

While we can all rejoice this Veterans Day that the steady flow of U.S. casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan has slowed to a trickle, we must never forget the incredible sacrifice that America’s defenders continue to make on our behalf.
Such is the case of Master Sergeant Joshua Wheeler, who died leading a Delta Force rescue mission of ISIS hostages held in Iraq on Oct. 22. A veteran of 14 combat deployments, his sacrifice is shared by four boys who are now fatherless and his wife, who became a widow far too early. But another important part of his legacy are the 70 hostages who were spared brutal executions by an enemy that is as ruthless as any that America has faced.
The willingness to face pain and death so others can be spared isn’t unique to just the fallen. Consider the case of two American veterans and their longtime friend when they bravely stopped a terrorist attack aboard a train bound for Paris this summer.
Airman First Class Spencer Stone, Army Specialist Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Salder could have run from the danger when a heavily armed gunman boarded the train.
Instead, Specialist Skarlatos said, “Let’s go,” as the men ran toward a future that could have easily meant instant death or maiming for them and all of the other innocent people within range.
Fortunately, this story is remembered not for the horrific tragedy that nearly happened but for the heroism that did. Even after enduring serious stab wounds that were inflicted as he disarmed the gunman, Airman Stone administered life-saving first aid to a passenger that was shot.
The terrorist was carrying 270 rounds of ammunition. But because of the actions of these three young Americans, and two Europeans who assisted them, the death toll aboard the train was zero.
There is also the incredible story of Chris Mintz. As others were understandably fleeing from a mass shooting at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College on Oct. 1, the 30-year-old former Army infantryman bravely confronted the gunman at a classroom door, as he attempted to save others who were inside. Mr. Mintz survived the attack and continues to recover after being shot five times.
These stories are inspiring, but certainly not surprising to me. As national commander of The American Legion, I meet veterans all of the time who have demonstrated tremendous heroism yet blend in our communities without fanfare.
There are many ways to thank the men and women who have served in our Armed Forces, but I cannot think of a better method of showing gratitude than to hire one. Employers who make this smart decision will usually benefit from the discipline, skills and loyalty that are found abundantly in today’s military.
Isn’t it likely that people who have survived firefights in Afghanistan can handle whatever tasks are thrown their way at the office without too much stress?
My old classmate, C. Hughes Clark, summed up the humble nature of most veterans. “I can say without regret that I wouldn’t have done anything different through it all, simply because it has given me a sense of accomplishment that I couldn’t have accomplished any other way.”

Dale Barnett, The American Legion

Letter to the Editor: Roark Horn

To the Editor:

We appreciate that the importance of school leadership has been recognized by the State of Iowa with a proclamation signed by Gov. Branstad declaring October as Principals Month. It takes great leaders to get great results, especially during difficult times.
As Iowans, we appreciate a good value when we see it, and the education that Iowa children are getting in their local schools is one of the best values in the country. In comparing important data such as Iowa’s first-in-the-nation graduation rate and year after year top-tier ACT scores, Iowa students consistently achieve at the highest levels nationally. This is accomplished in spite of the fact that 70 percent of states fund their schools with greater resources, according to the Iowa Legislative Services Agency FACTBOOK published last February. Simply put, Iowa’s local schools consistently provide a combination of effectiveness and efficiency not found anywhere else — a great value indeed.
A key, but sometimes overlooked, component of this success are the people who lead our schools — those superintendents and principals who work with all involved to create effective and efficient learning environments that stimulate high-quality education.
An important point to note is that today’s school leaders are asked to assume ever-increasing duties and responsibilities, as well as additional roles. In fact a recently released national study by The Wallace Foundation found that school leaders “appear to be bearing more and more weight as old responsibilities persist and … new ones are layered on top of them.” In the face of these mounting and increasingly complex demands, coupled with stagnant or decreasing resources, it takes great leadership to continually find ways to help keep the focus where it should be — squarely on the children and their learning. Superintendents and principals provide this leadership and keep all parts of the education system working together seamlessly.
This amazing combination of efficiency and effectiveness is an example of the Midwestern values and work ethic we as Iowans are proud to embody. Those values also include a high-quality education and the recognition that it is the greatest gift states can give their children. By creating and maintaining school communities that nurture student growth, helping children learn from both success and failure, and showing them what it means to be a contributing citizen, we are working together in the best interests of our children, providing them a path to do whatever it is they choose to do with their lives. Superintendents and principals provide the leadership needed to keep all parts of the learning community working together for this most valuable and precious purpose.
As we recognize principals and superintendents, I encourage you to take a moment to extend a heartfelt thanks to the school leaders in your community for their dedication and hard work!

Roark Horn
School Administrators of Iowa

Letter to the Editor – Janet Liming

To the Editor:

After reading the wonderful article on the beginning and continual successes of the 14 Sullivan Hartogh Davis Post 730 Waterloo Honor Flights, I’d like to share a little something that most do not know.
Each of the flights is joined by a newspaper reporter, the last 12 by Mike or Jane Whittlesey of The Progress Review.
Mike or Jane alternate flights, taking time from their personal work schedule to join the Veterans and their guardians on the Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. This 18-hour day requires a very early morning wake up, a drive to the Waterloo Municipal Airport to photograph and interview participants prior to the morning departure, and then spending a day in our Nation’s Capital capturing memories of the experience.
When the trip is over, Mike and Jane go to work putting these photographic memories on disc with musical background and then mail a disc to each of the veterans. All is done on their time and at their expense.
This generosity has given many a Veteran and their guardian memories that will last throughout their lifetime and they delight in sitting down and reliving their experience with anyone and everyone who cares to join them.
One of the many memories I have of this generous gesture happened about three weeks after the fourth flight, the second to be recorded by Mike and Jane. It is that of a WWII Veteran who was escorted on the flight by his son, a Viet Nam Veteran.
About three weeks following their flight, I opened the Waterloo Courier obituaries to see a photo and a face I recognized. It was, to my surprise, the photograph of this son–the Viet Nam Veteran.
To give my condolences, I visited with his father shortly after learning of his sons passing. What I learned from this elderly Veteran made me bawl like a baby…
He told me how excited he and his son were to receive the disc and how they sat down and relived their experience together immediately after the disc arrived.
He said the flight and trip of honor were more special than either could have imagined and how wonderful it was they were able to experience it together.
His words, in essence, were what caused my tears…
“I always knew that this trip would be one of the final, special, father/son experiences we would share. I never dreamed that it would be my son who would leave before me.”
His son never woke up one morning, he had died of a heart attack while he slept.
With a heart broken beyond repair, this elderly WWII Veteran was not only thankful for the experience of the Honor Flight, but now he had TWO memories preserved for eternity.
Because of the Whittleseys’ generosity he could not only relive the Honor Flight, but he could also relive the final father/son moment which would live in his heart until it too quits beating.
So, a special “thank you” to Mike and Jane for their dedication to the Waterloo Honor Flight as well.
And, as Paul Harvey would say…that’s “the rest of the story.”

Janet Liming