In 2010, we began showcasing eight community leaders who have dedicated the bulk of their lives to the betterment of the Cedar Valley.
We can’t believe it took us so long.
In 2002, The Courier began presenting the 20 Under 40 Awards, annually featuring 20 young business leaders dedicated to making the community a better place. The awards were well received.
Eight years later, the inaugural class of Eight Over 80 was selected. It’s fortunate we saw the wisdom of featuring those who have had a hand in shaping our communities.
It’s only natural, considering the title of the award, that we have lost many of these leaders since that first year. In much the same way we have enjoyed witnessing so many aging veterans take part in regional Honor Flights, so too, we have enjoyed the Eight Over 80 Awards and the stories of their recipients.
These awards for local octogenarians have vaulted well beyond initial expectations, leaving permanent imprints on the lives and families of the dozens of winners since 2010.
The list of winners in the first three years reads like a Who’s Who in the Cedar Valley. Inaugural honorees were Louis Beecher, Harold Brock, John Deery Sr., Tunis Den Hartog, Betty Jean Furgerson, Cathy and Ed Gallagher (honored as a team), Ike Leighty and Milton Roth.
Last year’s class included Marianne Waldstein of Waverly, Reed Craft of Waterloo, Judith Harrington of Cedar Falls, Joan Duea of Cedar Falls, Lorraine Griffie of Waterloo, James Mudd Sr., of Cedar Falls, Thieleane Raecker of Waterloo and Marv Walston of Waverly.
In between, there have been dozens more who have done their part to make the Cedar Valley a better place to live for all of us.
Having listened to the reminiscences of each winner, both face-to-face and in video interviews of each at the award presentations luncheon, we can clearly see why it has become such a popular annual series.
The winners share many leadership qualities, including a spirit of volunteerism, deep community involvement, discipline and the willingness to share knowledge they have collected through many years of experience.
They also have remarkable differences.
They have been business leaders who were not afraid to reach for the stars in sparking economic development that has lasted for generations. They have enthusiastically passed on their knowledge — and even their businesses.
They have been educators, steeped in the belief bettering their communities stems from bettering its young people year after year.
They have been those filled with hope, working tirelessly through the local civil rights movement, sometimes motivated by small, incremental gains that proved enormous over their lifetimes.
They have been veterans who returned home after witnessing horrors we can’t imagine with a renewed interest in bettering their home communities across the Cedar Valley.
This year we expect the response will be greater than ever, considering the popularity of the awards and the pride they bring to those of us who love the Cedar Valley and realize what these honorees have done for it.
The most difficult of tasks will go to the award committee, which picks the final eight. But there will be an equal measure of joy for committee members who will discuss the lengthy resumes of the nominees and the important contributions they have made.
Who wins is also up to you.
We are asking readers to nominate longtime businesspeople or contributors to the community at large from the Cedar Valley who are age 80 and older and fit at least one of the following criteria:
Contributes now and in the past to the betterment of the community, often behind the scenes.
Continues to be a success in their vocation.
Has been a role model/mentor for others.
These are people who helped shape the Cedar Valley. Their efforts, over decades, show how deeply they care about their communities. Collectively and individually, they have raised the bar for the Cedar Valley.
Get your nominations in, because that’s worth honoring.
Iowa state lawmakers packed a month’s worth of significant legislation into one
It was a remarkable week at the Iowa Capitol, punctuated by a Wednesday that was off the charts.
In one day, legislators met to consider four of the most significant pieces of legislation that will be debated this session: an anti-abortion state constitutional amendment; overhauling the process for selecting the people who nominate judges to Iowa courts; legalizing sports betting; and funding for K-through-12 public schools.
Each of those issues is worthy of almost any news day’s top headline.
And here they were, packed into one big day at the Capitol.
It may be appropriate the anti-abortion amendment and a proposal to change the judicial nominating process ran on the same day, because their inspiration is drawn from the same place.
Iowa Republicans are unhappy with some of the Iowa Supreme Court rulings in recent years — legalizing same-sex marriage and striking down anti-abortion laws, primarily. So, Republicans have proposed amending the state constitution to state clearly that Iowans do not have the right to an abortion. And they want to change the way judges are nominated to the
The anti-abortion amendment drew a large crowd to Wednesday’s subcommittee meeting, which was moved to a larger room to accommodate the crowd. And even then, dozens of people had to stand throughout the hour-long meeting just to be in the
Dozens testified, passionately and emotionally — as one might expect with an issue like abortion — but also respectfully. Call it another victory for Iowa nice. Emotions and tensions never ran too high, and there were no outbursts except for a round of applause from supporters as the meeting ended and the proposed amendment was passed along to the next legislative step.
The meetings on the sports betting proposal showed just how significant the hurdles are to passage.
First, there is the bottom-line question of whether there is enough support among legislators to make sports betting legal in Iowa. That remains an unknown.
But beyond that, there is the equally significant question of who will have a hand in sports betting if it is legalized. The casinos, the state lottery and state horse racers all want their hand in the sports betting cookie jar.
The casinos want to be the only player — they want sports betting to take place on their properties and online while being regulated by the state racing and gaming commission.
The horse racers also made their pitch to be the entity that oversees sports betting.
Lottery officials said they’re fine with whomever runs it, but they want to be able to offer sports betting games at any location where lottery tickets are presently sold. The casinos pushed back at this.
Not to mention professional sports leagues, which want a so-called royalty fee, a mandate that whomever operates sports betting must purchase bet-deciding data from the leagues — and to have a say in which in-game bets, often called proposition or “prop” bets, can be offered.
That’s a lot of cooks wanting to make this broth.
The challenge for Iowa legislators is to craft legislation that will make enough of those potential stakeholders happy and, more importantly, earn enough support from their colleagues in the House and Senate to pass a bill and get it to the governor’s desk.
Pardon the pun, but that sure seems like long odds, at least at the moment.
That said, there’s plenty of time left in the session. After all, for everything just discussed here, that was just one day.
WATERLOO -- With all of our problems here in America let's not forget our friends in Israel. They are our best partner in the war against terrorism. They are our best friend. I have been to Israel quite a few times and have friends over there. So I know. Those of us on Sarah's side of the family know without Israel we have no Jerusalem or all our holy sites. So we can't forget them. I sign my name as a friend of Israel.
CEDAR FALLS --- Parking. I saw a recent clever editorial cartoon regarding parking issues in downtown Cedar Falls. There have been recent articles about a lack of parking in downtown and the city has hired a consultant to review the situation. However, there has been little said about why parking is thought to be an issue.
There is actually lots of parking in the downtown. The problem is there are too many people who want to come to downtown Cedar Falls. The old saying "there is no such thing as too much fun!" may be wrong. I just hate going to restaurants that have great food and terrific service because I always have to wait for a table. And why would I go to a busy bar and have to wait for a drink and meet a lot of friends?
Of course shopping in small unique shops that have unusual items instead of basic big box inventory isn't interesting! When I think of fun places I've been I think of Nashville, Boulder, Chicago, Boston, Oklahoma City to name a few. And at all of them I had to walk quite a way.
Yup, downtown Cedar Falls has a "too much fun" problem.
HUDSON -- I have a solution to all the increases in this county tax, this city tax, this education tax: Assess a 50 percent county income tax on every dollar earned within Black Hawk County. Then maybe the (Dan) Trelkas and (Tony) Thompsons, various educational institutions, and city governments will stop the constant increases in city and county property taxes.
I'm being facetious, of course, with the 50 percent, but at the same time I see a countywide income tax coming at some point, or you'll continue to see the constant nitpicking increases every year. Know what's not going up? Social Security checks or small pension checks. Black Hawk County has a large retired population governments forget about.
My answer is to kiss the place I've called home for some 70 years goodbye, because I can no longer afford to live here. Think about that, city and county government, when you approve the next tax increase: Who does it affect the hardest?
SUMNER -- I blame religion for the cruelty that's done to animals. Anyone can be a sport hunter or trapper, or do any kind of cruelty to animals, and be a top-notch member of any church. In religion, only humans matter. The Bible is hostile to animal rights, and is not supportive of women's rights, either.
If any bills are proposed in the Iowa Legislature to stop cruelty to animals, it gets opposed by hunters, trappers, farmers and any groups that profit from exploitation of animals.