And then I wrote...

by Dick Schilling, "Editor Emeritus"

... that I have often heard radio and TV announcers refer to something happening in Waukon, “way up there in northeast Iowa,” or print media reading Waukon, “in extreme northeast Iowa.” It is almost as though we don’t exist for the rest of Iowa.

So, after RAGBRAI put us on the map this summer, it is nice to see Waukon getting attention on the sports pages for its football team making the state finals.

By the time you read this, you will know if the result was the championship or runner-up. Either is quite rare for the school. We did have a state championship girls’ basketball team in recent years, and I can remember a runner-up finish for the softball team several years earlier. There were the successes of the boys’ cross country teams, but only “major” sports seem to get the attention.

It’s nice to be noticed for pleasant things.

I heard Sunday morning on a National Public Radio station a report on the immigration raid in Postville several years ago. I was so aggravated by the story that I don’t remember the context. It was full of inaccuracies, but even now, years later, no retraction was noted. But that’s the kind of publicity no area wants.

When major employers leave a community, as has happened in Waukon and Lansing, that makes wider news. But if a firm that employs 400 goes and is replaced by ten firms with 40 employees each, not so much. But the latter could be better in the long run.

My mother’s family was very familiar years ago with the concept of Lansing being a “company town.” Most families had one or more members employed by “the button factory.” It was a mixed blessing. Long-time employees frequently cursed management, but their sons and daughters often got their first jobs from the company, and their last jobs may have been piece work done at home.

Tourism, not cited in those years, is a major industry in Lansing these days. Waukon has major employees in the medical field, with a hospital and two medical clinics with major connections.

Getting back to sports, I was amused to note that the story about the highest paid state employees stressed the fact that coaches and medical experts topped the list. It wasn’t until the eighth paragraph that it was reported that the salary for Kirk Ferentz came from athletic department funds, not taxpayers, and that some medical salaries also included private funds, not state taxpayer money.

And still speaking of sports, the report of a farmer near Schley encountering a black bear in his cornfield brought back memories of several very successful pheasant hunts we experienced in what we called the “wild 80” within sight of that small town. The 80 acre tract was owned by a non-resident and was allowed to grow wild, and pheasants were thick. In those days, the season opened at 11 a.m. November 11 and that site was so popular we had to get there early in the morning to “reserve” our point of entry. And there often were hunting parties entering elsewhere. But there were so many pheasants no hunter conflicts were necessary!

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