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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Ross Rambles: We're part of the state, too

Monday, November 13, 2006

I have a request for Governor-elect Chet Culver, please don't forget us here in Western Iowa.

I know Culver is not likely to see this plea since it is coming from a small town newspaper, and worse, a Western Iowa small town paper, but we can only hope that the message somehow gets through to the governor's office that we are not part of Nebraska or South Dakota.

He might need reminded since he has been in the Des Moines area through most of his adult life and is the son of a former U.S. Senator who served in Washington D.C. Lt. Gov. Patty Judge may also need reminded since she is a Southeast Iowan from Fairfield.

It might seem unfair to imply even the possibility of Culver being unsympathetic to the needs of one part of the state based on where he has lived. However, it has been our experience out here in the relatively uninhabited west, that we do not get much attention or respect from easterners, including governors.

This is not a partisan occurrence. It was true under the administrations of both Tom Vilsack, a Democrat, and Terry Branstad, a Republican.

I must confess here that I'm originally a Southeast Iowan, but I'm a reformed Southeast Iowan. Actually, I'm originally from Western Illinois, but I soon tired of living in Illinois and moved across the Mississippi River into Iowa at the age of four. I grew up in Fort Madison which is even souther and easter than Mount Pleasant where Vilsack is from.

The last time Vilsack was in Cherokee, he dismissed the importance of completing the upgrade of Highway 20 to four lanes, noting that the highway needs to get more use before the expense is justified. At the time, he was campaigning across the state, advocating that the state take a proactive approach to economic development by investing in high tech industries.

OK, Tom, you want to take a proactive approach by making high risk investments in private industries with taxpayers' money but you don't want to provide the infrastructure needed for economic development (the kind of infrastructure that has historically been accepted as within the role of government to provide) until the economic development that this infrastructure would make possible is already in place?

I hope that Culver can understand that once the section of Highway 20 is upgraded between Fort Dodge and Sioux City, the state has another east-west corridor through the state, one that will become part of the most direct four-lane connection between cities such as Chicago to the east and Portland and Seattle to the west

The corridor would not only relieve some traffic from Highway 80 but also bring traffic from Highway 90 in Minnesota into Iowa. It would make many Northern Iowa communities more attractive to companies seeking to build new facilities. These companies often develop a list of communities in a multi-state area for consideration.

In a matter that is even more specific to the Cherokee area, I hope the new governor is made aware of the potential of the mostly vacant state facilities here at the Cherokee Mental Health Institute campus. This would be a great, cost-effective location to house minimum-security, work-release inmates or a geriatric inmate program or a dual-diagnosis treatment program.

Hopefully, Culver will visit us one of these days. We might even give him a t-shirt displaying Mount Rushmore on it.