Apr 13

GR dissolution hearing Monday

Two members of the public attended a March meeting regarding the second attempt to force dissolution of the Gladbrook-Reinbeck school district, the Grundy Register reports. That’s a far, far cry from a year ago, at least the one I attended. But there wasn’t much to report, either, since the proposed dissolution map hasn’t changed from the first go-round.

There’s going to be a hearing on Monday, which could bring more attention if it’s the last before a potential vote this fall. On the other hand, if everyone’s opinion is set (and I can’t believe that’s not the overwhelming case), then what is there to learn at the meeting?

In both related and unrelated news, the GR school board approved $151,000 in budget cuts on March 23.

Posted in Schools, Tama County | Comments Off
Apr 12

E is for Eldora

July 21, 2015: A lone RAGBRAI tent is pitched on the west side of the original Eldora school building. Every window on this side was blown out in a hailstorm Aug. 9, 2009. Open photo in new window/tab for larger view.

In September 2014, the Eldora-New Providence school board approved the demolition of the 1916 building that had been the high school until the early 1990s and then ENP Middle School until 2008. But a year after demolition was approved — as you can see in the photo of RAGBRAI campers — it was still there. A state grant was given in May 2015 to help pay for the demolition.


Eldora-New Providence began whole-grade sharing with Hubbard-Radcliffe in 2008, making this building (and later additions) superfluous. The two districts, together as South Hardin, have never consolidated, and won’t until at least the middle of the next decade.

Posted in Schools, Sequences | Comments Off
Apr 11

KCCI shines a light on Dysart

Well, sort of. Look at where the burst of light for the “Around Iowa” graphic originates from.


Posted in Tama County | Comments Off
Apr 09

100th anniversary of Traer school fire

August 14, 2010: Cornerstone of Traer School built after the 1917 fire, now the core of the North Tama school, along the hallway connecting the original building and the elementary.

One hundred years ago tonight, within a week of the United States’ entry into World War I, the Traer school burned down.

A class of girls which was rehearsing in the Traer high school last night for an operetta narrowly escaped death when fire broke out. All were rescued without harm, although many were hysterical. The fire almost totally destroyed the building, which was erected eight years ago. It is believed to have originated thru defective wiring in the attic, as the fire broke out in the roof and manual training room on the attic floor. (Waterloo Evening Courier)

Because of the fire, Traer became one of the Iowa towns with classic symmetrical, brick multi-story buildings from a construction period that ended around the Great Depression. Lots of core schools around Iowa — many in use, many not — will be having centennials over the upcoming 10 years.

Excavation begins for an elevator on the north side of the 1917 school building in Traer in 1994. Additions since then have hidden everything visible in this family photo from the middle of the third floor down.

The 1917 building runs longer north-south, allowing for classrooms on the east and west sides to have natural light. Because the main entrance was on the west side — where the cornerstone is — the school’s address remains 605 Walnut St. despite all future main entrances facing Sixth Street. A reminiscence in the Traer Star-Clipper includes an excellent photo from the northwest corner.

There have been many, many additions in the decades since. The last one, in 2010, removed all the remaining open space on the Sixth Street side and created an imposing new front entrance and new gym entrance, all with vaulted ceilings (SO STUPID — Ed.) that obscure everything from before on that side. From Walnut Street, the 1917 building still rises above the 1964 elementary, and the south side view is unobstructed.

Next fall the structure built after the 1917 fire will have served Traer, Traer-Clutier, and North Tama students for a century. May it serve for a century more.

Posted in Schools, Tama County | Comments Off
Apr 07

US 30 Grand Junction overpass delayed

According to a short item in the Ogden Reporter, construction of a new US 30 overpass on the east side of Grand Junction has been delayed for at least a couple of weeks.

The overpass is modern US 30 over the Lincoln Highway into Grand Junction, the east point of a realignment in 1958 that took 30 off some of Iowa’s earliest rural concrete paving across Greene County. The new overpass is supposed to have decorative elements commemorating the Lincoln Highway. Will it be finished before the Lincoln Highway national convention?

Posted in Construction | Comments Off
Apr 06

Finally, a plan to six-lane I-35 to Ames

Next Tuesday in Huxley, the DOT will have a meeting about a project that’s at least 10 and probably 20 years overdue — upgrading I-35 to six lanes between Ankeny and Ames. This would be the first rural six-lane interstate in Iowa.

For the most part, the existing northbound lanes would be the new median. I suppose the new northbound lanes will be built, traffic shifted, and southbound lanes moved on to the old northbound lanes while the new southbound lanes are built. It’s a 16-mile segment but there are only two interchanges involved (the Elkhart exit and IA 210).

This is not in the five-year plan; it’s going to be a decade out still. What is in the five-year plan is six-laning I-35 between Oralabor Road and the new exit on the north side of Ankeny, which won’t be done until 2020; converting the I-35/US 30 pure cloverleaf into an interchange with flyover ramps, which are dotted out on the plans linked above; and the replacement of Skunk River bridges just south of 30, which would be built with the six-lane in mind. The only other place Iowa has planned that far ahead is at I-80 over the Cedar River.

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Apr 05

HMS bond issue fails by seven votes

The third attempt at a bond issue in the HMS school district barely missed out on a supermajority, KIWA reports. There were 1518 votes cast, so 60 percent would be 911 votes in favor of the bond issue, and it got 904.

Now we wait to see if the district will make good on its threat to close a facility if the vote failed. This is the second-closest bond referendum failure that I’ve paid close attention to, but the results of the closest one resulted in something much more dire.

The Central district of Elkader got its bond issue passed, and so did West LyonOsage’s failed a second time.

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Apr 04

Orange school demolished

Until 1964, Orange Township on the south side of Waterloo was its own school district. Even after a consolidation of Orange with Waterloo West and Waterloo East, Orange kept its high school until 1972 and even had a football team that played area small schools. Then it became elementary-only until it closed in 2013.

At the end of March, the last tangible link to Orange High School went away with the demolition of the 1915 building and its additions.

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Apr 03

Atlas Obscura finds the Sullivan Line

Another article about the Honey War? Sure!

For a shorter story and more geographic nitty-gritty, there is my page on the Sullivan Line, but my photos were taken when the grass wasn’t green. Also, I visited the marker in “the corner” southeast of Bedford a second time on my circumnavigation.

(PS: The Matchstick Marvels Museum in Gladbrook is the first item that pops up in the Atlas Obscura search for “Iowa.”)

Posted in Geography, Iowa Miscellaneous | Comments Off
Apr 01

A story

April 7, 2016: The story you are about to read is a fib, but it’s short.

The town of Floris is very small, 153 people, between Ottumwa and Bloomfield. One day the only person walking around was a man named Hugh. Hugh saw a leaf pile burning and threatening to get out of control. He called out, but no one answered. He resorted to hooking up a garden hose to an outside spigot and sprayed the perimeter, keeping the burn contained.

The lesson of the story is that Hugh, and only Hugh, can prevent Floris fires.

Posted in Iowa Miscellaneous | Comments Off