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June 2016

Celebrating Our Rights!

By Jennifer L. Crull

One has to wonder what our Forefathers were up against in the year 1775.  Never in the course of history had a colony ever successfully broken ties with its Mother Country.  Everything was leading up to a point of explosion, with the citizens of the colonies being over taxed, no representation in Parliament, their homes entered without warrant, and British troops ruling every aspects of their lives.  While the first shot was fired in 1775, it took until June 7, 1776 for our Continental Congress to finally vote and approve the debate of American Independence.
While many delegates to the Continental Congress knew we would never reconcile with England, they were not eager to pursue the idea of independence. In order for the colonies to unite and display one vision for independence, a committee was formed to draft a declaration of independence for the American Colonies.  This declaration was submitted on June 28, 1776.  Finally, after many hours and days of debate, independence was voted on and approved on July 2, 1776 and then on July 4, 1776 our Declaration of Independence, as we know it, was approved and signed by every member present, except one.

Why have you just received this brief review of a history lesson that we all learned in our eighth grade history class?  One word comes to mind:  PATRIOTISM.  Webster’s dictionary defines patriotism as love of and devotion to one’s own country.  Our Forefathers did not secure every right we have today, but without their enormous accomplishments we would not have the rights we know today, such as the end of slavery, freedom of religion, and the right for women to vote.
As we like to complain about all that is wrong in our country, let’s remember all that is right and why we love this country.  Being able to complain about what we feel is wrong is a right our Forefathers gave to us.  We need to issue a challenge to each and every person in this country to remember their rights, respect their rights, and practice their rights.  As Thomas Jefferson so eloquently phrased it in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are the rights Jefferson wanted for us.  We have gone to war and into conflict many times to defend these rights for ourselves and other countries.  Therefore as citizens we have a responsibility to our country to exercise these rights.  Voting and civic involvement are the two most important responsibilities.
Voting is a right that few people had as our country was developing, but now everyone over the age of 18 can vote.  Countries all over the world are still fighting today for a right that Americans take for granted and don’t usually exercise.  But that vote is your say in government, the same government our Forefathers wanted for this great nation.  For we have a “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

Civic involvement is another important responsibility that many people shy away from, saying they are too busy or they don’t have the funds to donate.  Whether your town has 200 or 200,000 people, you need to be involved.  Civic involvement can take many forms such as running for office, serving on selected committees or boards, or just volunteering your time to a local organization.  Communities don’t thrive on a few over-involved people; it takes everyone.  Being involved from the local to the national level is one of the great things about our country.  The only requirement is the desire to be involved.
Please remember to celebrate our freedom, our independence, and our rights as citizens of the United States of America!

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Public Interest Institute.  They are brought to you in the interest of a better informed citizenry. 
Jennifer L. Crull, IT Specialist, Public Interest Institute, 600 North Jackson Street, Mount Pleasant, IA 52641-1328. Ph: 319-385-3462, Web site:  Contact her at

Double Up Food Bucks comes to Iowa City Farmers Market

Double Up Food Bucks, Iowa’s statewide healthy food incentive program, is coming to Iowa City – starting July 2. The Double Up program matches the value of federal nutrition benefits spent at participating farmers markets, helping people bring home healthier, locally grown fruits and vegetables.

Double Up matches the value of SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps) purchases made at participating sites with additional dollars to spend on fresh, locally grown produce. For instance, a family that spends $10 in SNAP benefits at a participating farmers market receives an additional $10 in Double Up Food Bucks to purchase Iowa-grown fruits and vegetables.

“We’re very excited to offer local families the opportunity to bring home even more delicious, healthy food, while supporting our local growers” said Tammy Neumann, who manages the Farmers Market for Iowa City Parks and Recreation.

The wins are three-fold: Low-income families eat healthier food, local farmers gain new customers and make more income, and more food dollars stay in the local economy. Each has a ripple effect of benefits.

“Double Up Food Bucks creates the kind of win/win solutions Iowa needs: more nutritious food for low-income families and more revenue for local famers. This results in healthy people, as well as resilient rural and urban communities,” said Jami Haberl, Executive Director of the Healthiest State Initiative, coordinators of the Double Up Food Bucks program.

Since its launch in 2009, Double Up has grown from five farmers markets in Detroit, MI to a nationwide success story with more than 150 sites including 142 farmer markets and direct marketing farms. To date, it has benefited more than 300,000 low-income families.

Locally, the program is funded through money designated by the Iowa City Council Sustainable/Locally Grown Agriculture initiative, with support from the Johnson County Board of Supervisors and the Healthiest State Initiative.

Hours for the Iowa City Farmers Markets are: Tuesdays from 3 to 6 p.m. at Mercer Park, 1317 Dover Street; Wednesdays from 5 to 7 p.m. at Chauncey Swan Ramp in the 400-block of Washington St.; and Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to noon at Chauncey Swan Ramp. The Mercer Park Market operates through August 30, and the Chauncey Swan Market operates through the last week in October.

For more information about the Double Up Food Bucks program, visit, email or call 866-586-2796. Additional information about Iowa’s Healthiest State Initiative is available at

Herbicide under EPA focus

A common herbicide used by eastern Iowa corn farmers may have potential chronic risk to both aquatic and terrestrial life as well as the surrounding environments, according to an EPA study.

The EPA termed atrazine, a popular herbicide used on corn, a risk to most living things in an ecological risk assessment earlier this month.


Secretary Pate Statement on Iowa Supreme Court Decision

Below is Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate’s statement regarding the verdict in the Iowa Supreme Court case, Griffin vs. Pate:

“I applaud the Iowa Supreme Court in their analysis that felonies are infamous crimes, and therefore, felons lose their voting privileges as outlined in the Iowa Constitution. This ruling goes in line with 150 years of precedence and has been reaffirmed by the people of Iowa and their elected representatives on multiple occasions.

“I took an oath to uphold the Iowa Constitution and the laws of our state. That is what I will continue to do and that is what the Iowa Supreme Court did in this case. I agree with Chief Justice Cady, who wrote that the term “infamous crime” was generally recognized to include felonies at the time our Constitution was adopted, and that meaning has not sufficiently changed or evolved to give rise to a different meaning today. My office will continue to work to preserve the integrity and fairness of Iowa elections and strive to help and encourage every eligible Iowan to participate in the electoral process.” – Paul Pate, Iowa Secretary of State

Thursday Nights in the IRL: Movies, Music and More!

Looking for some fun ways to kick off your summer weekends? Join us Thursday nights in the Iowa River Landing for Movies, Music and More! The River Landing will feature several fun events on Thursday nights through August 18th including music with Kevin BF Burt, movies at Backpocket Brewing, horse-drawn carriage rides, and more!


State of Iowa Funds Iowa Arena

The State of Iowa announced they will provide funding for the Iowa Arena project in the Iowa River Landing. These dollars are a crucial step forward for the project, allowing planners to move closer to the goal of beginning construction in June of 2017. The arena and athletic training center will have the flexibility to host a multitude of events and tournaments in addition to concerts, family shows, and special events. Stay tuned for more updates on this exciting new addition to the Iowa River Landing!


Iowa City Police Chief Sam Hargadine retires | The Gazette

IOWA CITY — As he says goodbye to the department he’s led for nearly 11 years, retiring Iowa City Police Chief Sam Hargadine said he would put his officers up there with the best in the state.

During his time as chief — which began when he was hired by the city in August 2005 and ends on Thursday — the Iowa City Police Department has worked through a tornado, a historic flood, instituted a Crime Stoppers hotline, created Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender liaisons and had a 100 percent clearance rate on its homicide investigations.


July 4th Celebrations (Corridor Search)

July 4th Celebrations

How do you like to celebrate America's birthday?  A number of corridor towns have a parade and put on a fireworks show to celebrate the day.  Other events of interest include pancake breakfasts, tournaments and carnivals.  Here is a list of places to go and things to do by town.

Cedar Rapids - Freedom Festival:  Each year, hundreds of thousands of people attend the two week festival hosted in Cedar Rapids, Iowa to celebrate our nation’s birthday. The community of Cedar Rapids is showcased throughout the Freedom Festival with over 70 events taking place leading up to the grand finale on the 4th of July: the largest fireworks show in Iowa!

Coralville -  4th Fest:  Coralville's annual 4th of July celebration is a community tradition that attracts thousands of visitors and residents each year.  The multi-day event includes a 5K run / walk, entertainment, food, free concerts, a carnival, parade, and fireworks.  Coralville's July 4th celebration draws the biggest crowds in the corridor.  Festivities take place near the heart of downtown, in Coralville's S.T. Morrison Park.  There's something for everyone to enjoy, browse the listing of fabulous events by clicking here.

Hills - This community south of Iowa City celebrates the 4th with a kiddie tractor pull, a softball tournament, a horseshoe tournament, a Euchre tournament, a parade and caps it all off with fireworks.  Talk about a family fun in Iowa tradition!

Lake MacBride (Solon) - It's tough to beat a day at the beach on July 4, take in the boat parade at 4 p.m. (have you ever seen a boat parade?), then watch the booming colors sparkle over the lake later that night.

North Liberty - This little town north of Coralville puts on a parade at 2pm starting at S.R. 23 and Maple Street.  No Fireworks, but a very short drive down the street to Coralville takes you to all the festivities there.

Oxford - This town west of Coralville on Highway 6 puts on a darn good parade at 3pm and then has a fireworks show at the Lions Club Park.   Put together a picnic lunch and you've got a nice casual day of enjoyment. 

Sharon Center - This little community southwest of Iowa City puts on a good parade at Noon, followed by an awesome pork BBQ and potluck lunch at the Masonic Lodge at 1pm.  No fireworks.

If you're really into parades, you can see the circuit, starting with the Coralville parade at 10am; then the Sharon Center Parade at Noon; followed by the North Liberty Parade at 2pm; the Oxford Parade at 3pm; the Lake MacBride boat parade at 4pm and then the Hills Parade at 5:30pm.   Travel time could be an issue and such a feat would be nearly impossible, but I know people who do try to take in two if not three of these great parades.    Kids can really rack up on the candy!