Dubuque Telegraph Herald. Nov. 21, 2021.

Editorial: Dubuque community thankful for John Deere, its workers

This week, as people from all walks of life take a moment to reflect on all they have to be grateful for, many in our community will give thanks that the Deere & Co. strike has ended.

In addition to the Deere employees — union and nonunion — who felt the direct impact, the broader community, too, had a stake in these negotiations. Many people recall the 1980s and the impact of Deere strikes on the community. They know the critical role that Dubuque County’s largest employer plays in the local economy, along with a network of other businesses connected to Deere. The community heaved a collective sigh of relief on Wednesday when a new contract was ratified.

The approval of the contract ended a five-week work stoppage that represented the first major strike by Deere workers in 35 years. And just like that, hours later, workers returned to factories for the third shift. Officials said Thursday that workers across the country were in the process of getting production back to full speed.

Nearly every family in the area has been touched in some way by the presence of the global manufacturer in our midst for nearly 85 years. The Dubuque community can appreciate just what this employer has meant to the livelihood of so many local people.

It’s not just because John Deere Dubuque Works is the largest employer in the area, boasting more than 2,800 employees. It’s not just because 40 years ago, the plant employed as many as 8,000 people. The impact of supplying good jobs for so many years has a ripple effect in the community.

In the Dubuque area, landing a job at John Deere has long been a coveted goal. Working at “Deere,” as the locals say, meant a good paycheck and great benefits from a company of gold-standard quality. Hundreds, if not thousands, of others have derived a living from Deere through indirect contact as suppliers and providers of other services. The community at large has benefited from the thousands of volunteer hours that the company and its employees invest every year.

Deere has reiterated its commitment to the area by time and again reinvesting in the community. One example came during the pandemic when John Deere Foundation donated $1.7 million to River Bend Food Bank, which includes St. Stephen’s Food Bank in Dubuque and supports more than 300 partner agencies in 23 counties in eastern Iowa and western Illinois, including Dubuque, Jackson and Jo Daviess counties. That gift allowed River Bend to expand its capacity when it needed it most.

This Thanksgiving, we offer a green-and-gold salute to Deere for its vital presence in our community through the years. Among the blessings we count this week will be a robust and productive John Deere Dubuque Works. That’s something for which our whole community should be thankful.


Quad-City Times. Nov. 21, 2021.

Editorial: A rare win for all of us

A week ago, President Joe Biden signed into law the $1 trillion infrastructure package.

Aimed at reversing years of neglect, the measure will make an historicx investment to rebuild bridges and roads, replace aging lead water pipes and extend broadband to rural areas. The new law will mean more money for freight and passenger rail upgrades, along with improvements to public transportation; and it will look to the future with substantial new investments in renewable energy.

Nobody should downplay what happened last Monday. This was a major accomplishment.

For years, politicians in both parties have talked about doing something about infrastructure, but that’s what it’s mostly been: Talk.

Not this time.

The American people are legitimately cynical about politics in Washington, D.C. All Congress seems to do is argue. Rarely, is there bipartisan agreement on anything. But not this time.

Thirteen House Republicans and 19 Senate Republicans, including Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, joined most Democrats to support this package.

Unfortunately, many of those Republicans are now taking grief from some in their party for their votes. That’s too bad. Polls have consistently demonstrated over the years that the American people, Republicans and Democrats alike, support new infrastructure investments. It would have been a shame to see this legislation fail.

Now, state and federal governments must see to it the money is wisely spent.

There’s plenty of need.

In Iowa, the state has consistently ranked among the worst when it comes to the condition of its bridges. Nearly 1 in 5 are structurally deficient. According to the White House, this law ought to mean $432 million for bridge repairs over five years.

In Illinois, the $15 billion nationwide to replace outdated and dangerous lead water pipes ought to be welcome, too. The state has more miles of lead water lines than any other state in the nation.

It is our hope as this funding rolls out, our congressional and state delegations will be aggressive in touting projects that will make a difference here in the Quad-Cities.

In Rock Island County, there still is work to be done to improve Interstate-74, widening it from Avenue of the Cities to the Rock River and improving connections at John Deere Road.

In Scott County, these new funds could also mean faster progress toward widening Interstate-80 between Interstate-280 and LeClaire. The corridor has become more congested over the years and needs changes, something the state DOT already has already recognized.

We hope this money might also mean substantive investments in the lock and dam system on the Mississippi River.

That would help farmers in both states, not to mention create jobs. Which is another selling point for this legislation — what it will do for our economy.

We noticed last week that Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker touted the infrastructure package for its promise to advance passenger rail, too, including in the Quad-Cities.

It’s always good to see the governor look our way, and we’re happy that passenger rail in this area still is on his radar. But we also are mindful that the Chicago-to-Moline connection has been around for a long time. Nearly $180 million in federal money has been sitting in the bank for more than 10 years, just waiting to be spent. So as we celebrate these historic new investments in infrastructure in Illinois, might it be too much to ask that this rail link get fast-tracked?

A few weeks ago, state Deputy Secretary of Transportation Doug House said the connection is still “several years out.” That’s hardly encouraging.

That said, we remain hopeful this new infrastructure package will make a big difference, in the Quad-Cities and around the nation; that the funding will make our roads and bridges safer and more efficient to use; that our water will be cleaner and our public transportation system will work better. And, ultimately, we hope this legislation lives up to the promise of making the U.S. more competitive around the world.

For all the political fighting that goes on in Washington, D.C. it is worth pausing to recognize this legislation for what it is: A time when members of both parties stood up and gave the American people what they said they wanted. And isn’t that what our elected representatives supposed to do?

We hope this won’t be the last bi-partisan accomplishment that comes out of Washington.

We hope that investments like this, which the American people support, are not just good policy; but they’re good politics, too.


Fort Dodge Messenger. Nov. 16, 2021.

Editorial: Solar project brings more renewable energy to Webster County

Iowa is typically not a place people would consider to be a hotbed of solar energy production. That seems like a better description of sunny Arizona, not Iowa.

But some experts who work in the solar energy field have calculated that the sunlight that shines down on our state can indeed be harnessed to generate electricity. To take advantage of the sunlight, an array of solar panels is being constructed on 850 acres near 160th Street and Samson Avenue.

This setup, being built by Holliday Creek Solar LLC, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, will channel electricity into a nearby MidAmerican Energy substation, where it will enter the transmission grid. It will be the largest solar energy site in the MidAmerican Energy system.

Right now, a forest of upright supports fills the area. The solar panels, each measuring seven feet long and three and a half feet wide, will be mounted on those supports.

There will be 275,000 of those panels. Each of them will generate 440 watts of electricity.

All of those panels combined will produce 100 megawatts of electricity. That is enough to power 16,000 typical homes.

Think about that for a moment. This solar site will generate enough juice to power all the lights, appliances, computers, TVs and other electric devices found in 16,000 homes. And it will do it without burning a lump of coal or sending anything up a smokestack.

Essentially, the solar panels will just sit there and soak up the sun and usable electricity will result.

Webster County Supervisor Mark Campbell has previously said the county will be an exporter of energy when this facility comes on line. He described that as “incredibly exciting.”

Because such a big solar power station is totally new to the county there will inevitably be some complaints about it. Perhaps someone will gripe that the place looks weird or ugly.

We believe it is more important to focus on the bigger picture. This solar panel array will generate a lot of needed electricity without putting any pollution or greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. That’s something we can all benefit from.

END

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