Listen up northsiders of Ottumwa. Let me clue you in. If you agree to let the city annex you how you will get shafted, as the people on Lake Road have for 42 years.

The City of Ottumwa annexed a mile out on Lake Road in 1975 with the promise of sewer, water, lights and all amenities of being in the city limits. In 1983 my parents, Richard and Nancy Ellis, had a huge barn fire. The city came to fight with no water pressure due to no hydrants. They had to stand and watch it burn.

I called the parks department this year and talked to Gene to ask why they hadn’t mowed the ditches. It’s very dangerous around that first curve, where my parents live. He drove out there and within two days my parents had a letter stating they were in violation of the city grass ordinance. No other neighbor got a letter that day. When I called back to confront him he claimed in 2015 the city voted to no longer maintain the ditches. Our family went out and took care of what the city’s obligation is. The city claims rights to the ditches but no longer wants to maintain them. Now, mind you, this is farm country. The ditches are steep, made for runoff, not mowing with a lawnmower.

Kudos to Brian Morgan, whom I spoke with about this situation and he got ahold of the county. Within two days Lake Road and Bluegrass Road were mowed.

Do not accept the city’s promises of what they will do for you. Forty-two years of promises to the people on Lake Road is a long time. Stand up for yourselves. You will not get the fire safety you deserve. You will not get the sewer you deserve. You will not get your ditches mowed. The raising of your taxes does not outweigh what you will receive.

Carol Ellis Carnahan


Iowa has over 10,000 factory farms, more than any other state. These facilities come under fire from animal rights groups, environmentalists, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They are breeding grounds for diseases and generate 22 billion gallons of manure annually, which contaminates our rivers, streams and wells with E. coli bacteria. Today, Iowa has a record-breaking 750 polluted bodies of water. The burden of cleanup falls upon everyday Iowans.

The Master Matrix is a tool in the permitting process that is supposed to protect communities and the environment from factory farm pollution. But it has failed to live up to those promises. The DNR has denied only 2 percent of applications in spite of objections from citizens. The result is that Iowa has more factory farms and more pollution than ever.

We need to strengthen the permitting process for factory farms. The Department of Natural Resources needs to take up a petition filed last month by Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and Food & Water Watch to strengthen the Master Matrix. This is something the DNR needs to do right now because our legislature has failed to address the problem. Iowans can’t wait any longer.

Jan McGinnis, Iowa CCI member


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