Category Archives: Letters to the Editor

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

Letter to the Editor – Rob Hogg

To the editor,

Iowa families are needlessly losing sons, daughters, mothers, and fathers to overdose deaths. In 2013, nearly 100 Iowans died from opiate overdoses – a sharp increase over the last decade that has yet to receive an effective response from state leaders.
An individual dying from an overdose can linger for hours. While there is often enough time to get help, the fear of criminal prosecution discourages other people from calling for help. In addition, opiate antidotes can dramatically slow or reverse the deadly effects of an overdose. Unfortunately, it is illegal for non-health care workers to possess or provide this drug to overdose victims.
While we should do more to prevent opiate addictions through better public education and drug abuse treatment, we must do more to save lives now.
Other states have dramatically reduced overdose deaths by providing immunity to those who call for help for an overdose victim and by making it legal for more individuals to provide life-saving antidotes.
Here in Iowa, families want these same safeguards, and we should listen to them.
We should also listen to health professionals and paramedics like State Senator Chris Brase of Muscatine. Senator Brase has seen first-hand the senseless deaths Iowa families suffer due to opiate overdoses.Last March, Senator Brase helped convince the Iowa Senate to cast an overwhelming bipartisan 44-2 vote in favor of Senate File 410.
Now it is up to the Iowa House and Governor Branstad. I’m hopeful Linda Upmeyer, the new Speaker of the House, will make this a priority in the upcoming 2016 session. The legislation has already been unanimously approved by the Iowa House’s Public Safety Committee.
Opiate addiction affects many Iowa families. We should all pay attention to suffering Iowa families working to prevent additional tragedies. They are telling us how Iowans suffering from drug addiction have turned their lives around.
Let’s give them that chance. Let’s make Iowa the next state to allow sensible, effective measures that will prevent overdose deaths.

Rob Hogg

Rob Hogg is a state senator from Cedar Rapids. He currently serves as chair of the Senate Government Oversight Committee and vice-chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Letter to the Editor – HPEA Executive Board

To the Editor:

The Hawkeye Professional Educators Association HPEA Executive Board Faculty members express our appreciation to all voters in our service areas who have supported Hawkeye Community College’s previous public measures. Your support changes lives, and we are so lucky to see it firsthand. Your support enables our main and outlying campuses to be the physical environments in which learning occurs, skills are polished, mentors are connected, and futures emerge. Your support also enables us to connect skilled workers with employers, employers with workforce training, and community members with careers. It is because of your support that Iowa is rich with graduates who serve in so many varied professional and skilled capacities in our communities.
As Faculty, we owe you our gratitude for the facilities and equipment that enrich our ability to serve our students and communities. We are ever conscious that the places we occupy and the equipment we have are a product of your public trust. We appreciate that our students enjoy a safe and comfortable environment enriched with current technology in which to learn and train for the careers they seek. We, as community college faculty, are proud to be connected with a college that places community foremost in its title, mission, and service.
On February 3, 2015, voters in a ten-county region will be asked to consider a $25 million bond issue for Hawkeye Community College. As proposed, Hawkeye plans to provide additional workforce development programs and services for adult students, expand capacity in high-demand fields such as healthcare/advanced manufacturing, and additional career academies in high schools and the College’s outreach centers. And because an existing levy is expiring, homeowners will not see an increase in Hawkeye’s overall tax rate. As Faculty we appreciate your support, and thank you for the ability to serve our communities. Please join us in voting on Tuesday, February 3.

Hawkeye Professional Educators Association (HPEA) Executive Board:
Carol Luvert, president
Jane Wagner, vice president
Rod Holke-Farnam, treasurer
Patty Crowe-Rubino, secretary