Category Archives: Simply Put

Simply Put – March 25, 2015

By Mike Whittlesey

In case you haven’t heard, RAGBRAI will be rolling through La Porte City on Thursday, July 23. As excitement begins to build, La Porte City’s participation in the event is being billed as RIDE LPC 7-23.
This year marks the 42nd annual bike ride across the state of Iowa. RAGBRAI was conceived in 1973 by a Des Moines Register editor, John Karras, and columnist, Donald Kaul. Kaul, who lived in Washington, D.C. at the time, agreed to a week-long bike ride across the state to see and write about the people and places of Iowa if Karras, an avid cyclist himself, would join him. Records indicate that a total of 114 riders completed that inaugural ride. By 1983, the last time the RAGBRAI route included La Porte City as a pass-through community, the event had mushroomed to include more than 6,500 riders.
In the coming weeks, we will begin to formulate a plan to welcome thousands of bike riders to our community in what will be a truly unique opportunity to show visitors what makes La Porte City a special place to live. While preparations to welcome thousands of visitors to our community will, no doubt, entail a lot of work, the effort is not unprecedented. Each summer, thousands follow the various trails to La Porte City for the enjoyment of the Festival of Trails Celebration in June.
Thanks to the growth of RAGBRAI, more than 40 years of experience have been condensed into the pages of a handbook that is distributed to pass-through communities along the route. Among the many proven strategies other host communities have found successful over the years are some interesting facts about the ride. Consider:

More than 225 communities are on a waiting list to serve as RAGBRAI hosts.
RAGBRAI limits the number of full-week riders to 8,500.
Each day on the route, RAGBRAI allows for an additional 1,500 single-day riders.
Approximately 3,000 non-riders in support vehicles will also participate in the event.
More than 60% of RAGBRAI participants will come from outside the state of Iowa.

On March 28, members of a group from La Porte City will join other 2015 pass-through communities throughout the state for a meeting with RAGBRAI officials in Webster City. At that time, important information about the ride will be communicated to each host community, with a special emphasis placed on the safety and well-being of the bicycle riders, as well as those who greet them along the way.
The City has already received numerous inquiries from individuals and organizations wanting to help with the plans to welcome RAGBRAI to La Porte City. Certainly, a large number of volunteers will be needed (and appreciated).
The Progress Review is pleased to join the effort to help facilitate communications for the event. Information related to RAGBRAI’s visit on July 23 can be found online at www.theprogressreview/RAGBRAI and on La Porte City’s Facebook page devoted to all things RAGBRAI: E-mail related to RAGBRAI’s visit to La Porte City can be sent to

Simply Put – December 24, 2014

By Mike Whittlesey

The front page of this Christmas edition of The Progress Review, entitled “Postcards from Home,” contains images of the recent past and present La Porte City. No other holiday evokes memories of home quite like Christmas. Perhaps that is why we are so drawn to images of the Union Carolers decked out in their Victorian attire (besides the incredible beauty of their harmonious vocals) and the sight of a horse and carriage in the snow.
The world certainly is a little more complicated than it was during the days when the horse and buggy was considered a primary source of transportation. In 2014, the holiday season’s digital footprint continues to grow at an increasing rate of speed. Letters to Santa? You can set your pen and paper aside and send your wish via e-mail. While I haven’t taken the time to look, there probably are ways to text the S-Man directly or access some form of a North Pole Facebook page, where you can upload your “likes.”
There is no doubt technology can play a helpful role in our preparations to celebrate the Christmas holiday. With so much hustle and bustle that comes with the season, is it possible to get caught up in all the excitement and lose track of what it is that makes the holiday truly special? Contained in the 16 pages of newsprint you now hold, dear reader, are features we hope will add meaning to your holiday season.
Within this special edition, you’ll find the meaning of Christmas expressed in a variety of ways. We are especially grateful to the area ministers who have taken time from their busy schedules to share messages of peace and hope. If you’re looking for a place of worship to celebrate the season, please note the service dates and times listed among their essays.
Another view of the season comes from La Porte City Elementary School fifth graders, who share what Christmas means to them on pages four and five. It is interesting to note how many references to the word “family” can be found in their writings.
Holiday greetings also abound from area merchants, whose best wishes of the season spread throughout this issue make this special edition possible. We hope you enjoy these features, along with holiday images from the annual Home Lighting Contest and the concerts so beautifully presented by the staff and students in our local schools.
Like the images presented on the front page of this edition, each of these features can be seen as a postcard from home in their own unique way. For more postcards, logon to our website ( or Facebook page ( and click on the link to view a video slide show featuring the holiday lights of La Porte City. Happy holidays and best wishes for a happy and healthy new year from The Progress Review!

Simply Put – June 25, 2014

By Mike Whittlesey

Last week, on the return flight from Washington DC, Jim Coloff encouraged the Honor Flight veterans and their guardians to thank the corporate sponsors that help make such flights possible. Coordinating the effort to transport area veterans to Washington DC and back is a massive undertaking. It is also a costly one, as the bill for airfare, meals, bus transportation and other expenses incurred during the one day field trip to the nation’s capital typically exceeds six figures.
At the heart of Sullivan-Hartogh-Davis Post 730 is a group of volunteers, a committee responsible for organizing the trips, along with raising the money to pay for them. When the final Waterloo Honor Flight of 2014 is made in September, nearly 1,000 veterans in the Cedar Valley will have received an all expense paid trip to Washington DC since the group’s inaugural flight in 2011.
As long as there is a need, the good folks associated with Waterloo Honor Flight remain committed to the task of sending area veterans to Washington DC. The cost to do so, however, is not measured solely in dollars. It takes a tremendous amount of time and energy to organize each flight, from the paperwork associated with each applicant and guardian, to preparing for potential medical emergencies that may arise during the journey. These duties come with a cost, as the amount of time available for family and friends is compromised.
Over the past four years, the success of the Waterloo Honor Flight program can be traced back to the people and organizations who have stepped up and made a commitment to the veterans of the Cedar Valley when it was needed most. Last month, for example, John Deere followed the example of Burke Miehe and American Pattern & CNC Works, sponsoring a flight with a six figure donation. Likewise, as members of the Honor Flight organizing committee have relinquished their roles, other volunteers have come forward to take their place, offering a renewed sense of energy that has allowed the Honor Flight program to continue.
While dates for Waterloo Honor Flights in 2015 have yet to be confirmed, applications from veterans, guardians and other volunteers are still being accepted. To learn more about the program and to access the application forms, logon to
Earlier this month, the La Porte City Lions Club hosted the 28th Annual Festival of Trails Celebration. While the weather cooperated nicely for the Friday evening parade and fireworks, attendance on Saturday was noticeably lighter, perhaps as a result of My Waterloo Days being held on the same weekend.
Sustaining a citywide celebration for nearly three decades is a challenge. At the heart of the Celebration is a group of volunteers, a committee responsible for organizing the weekend’s activities. As the number of members in the Lions Club has dwindled in recent years, this task has proven to be a difficult one.
The success of the Festival of Trails Celebration the past 28 years can be traced back to the volunteers who have stepped up and made a commitment when it was needed most. This year, for example, volunteers helped coordinate and organize a public relations campaign to effectively promote the Celebration. And Friday night’s parade was bigger and better than ever, thanks to those who worked diligently on the project.
Planning for next year’s Celebration has already begun and you can help. How? Take a few minutes to complete the survey posted online at Your responses will be transmitted directly to Celebration organizers. As you look forward to the 29th Annual Festival of Trails in 2015, what are some of the ways you can contribute?

Simply Put – May 7, 2014

By Mike Whittlesey

ar•chive 1. Usually, archives. documents or records relating to the activities, business dealings, etc., of a person, family, corporation, association, community, or nation.  
2. any extensive record or collection of data.

Unlike the Tribunes and Heralds of the newspaper world, The Progress Review has anything but a common name. The combination of two previous La Porte City newspaper names dating back to the latter half of the nineteenth century, the title aptly describes two primary roles this newspaper continues to perform after more than 140 years of existence: 1) the reporting of events deemed newsworthy (progress) and, 2) the archiving of said newsworthy events for historical preservation (review). This week, The Progress Review announces the upcoming release of two historical records that may be of interest to you.
For more than 40 years, Dolores Bader’s voice in The Progress Review offered commentary and bits of wisdom under a variety of banners. From “Siftings,” a column that began in 1967, to  “Connections,” most recently ending a run of more than a decade, Dolores has  written volumes about life in our part of the world. Her essays encouraged us when times were tough, and challenged us when we needed it most. In the coming weeks, a collection of her columns, published in The Progress Review from 2010-2013, will be available in paperback form. It is a unique look at our community’s recent history, told from the perspective of one of our city’s most prolific writers.
The second project The Progress Review has been working on is an archive of a different sort- electronic media.  Much of what we report in this newspaper is related to an important part of the community- our schools. Imagine if you could gather all the news, photos and video related to the events and activities conducted at the high school and compile them into one convenient package. You would have what we are calling The Progress Review Digital Record: 2014 Union High School. Beginning in August 2013 and ending with the commemorative graduation program published later this month, every news story, photo gallery and video clip published about Union High School during this ten month period will be accessible on your personal computer via DVD. For those keeping track, that’s nearly 4,000 photos, over an hour of video and slide show footage, combined with every feature story, honor roll listing, Senior Spotlight and high school sports statistic published in The Progress Review during the 2013-14 school year. It’s not a yearbook. It’s a piece of history in an interactive, digital format that will be available for a special, introductory price during the month of May.
The Progress Review is currently accepting pre-orders for both of these special archives. You may reserve your copies by logging on to

Simply Put – April 16, 2014

By Mike Whittlesey

If you’re reading this in the Print Edition of The Progress Review and have not yet filed your federal tax return, you may have a problem. The month of April is a significant one when it comes to taxes. In addition to the April 15 federal filing deadline, the state of Iowa will be looking for state returns to be completed by April 30.

According to the folks at the Tax Foundation, there is another reason why the month of April is significant from a tax perspective. Tax Freedom Day officially arrives on April 21, 2014. This is the day when the nation, as a whole, has earned enough to pay its total tax bill for the year. It’s important to note that Tax Freedom Day, the federal event, arrives three days later than last year. Experts attribute this to continuing economic recovery, which will boost the federal tax revenue collected through the corporate, payroll and individual income tax. Tax Freedom Day is calculated by economists using federal budget projections, data from the U.S. Census and the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

For residents of the state of Iowa, the tax burden is slightly more favorable. April 13th was Tax Freedom Day for state residents, with Iowa the 18th of 50 states to reach the milestone. Comparing taxes among the states can be challenging due to the wide discrepancy in tax policies that exist from state to state. Generally speaking, though, the states where residents have higher income but also pay higher taxes typically celebrate Tax Freedom Day later in the year. For example, Connecticut and New Jersey (May 9th) and New York (May 4th) are the states that attain tax freedom the latest. Louisiana (March 30), Mississippi (April 2) and South Dakota (April 4), on the other hand, arrive there the soonest.

Lest we get bogged down in the details of the numbers and how they are calculated, the computation of Tax Freedom Day has value when we take a “big picture” view of the trends over time. As recently as the year 2000, Americans paid 33 percent of their total income to taxes. That compares to just 5.9 percent in 1900, the year when tax freedom arrived on January 22nd.

“Arguments can be made for why the collective tax bill is too high or too low, but in order to have an honest discussion, it’s important to understand where we stand,” said Tax Foundation Economist Kyle Pomerleau.

“Tax Freedom Day gives us a vivid representation of how much we pay for the goods and services provided by governments at all levels.”

As part of that conversation, consider the following: Americans will spend more on taxes in 2014 than they will on food, clothing, and housing combined.