Year in Review: Politics

(AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
(AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

KIMT Nwes 3- The biggest story in 2016 for Iowa, Minnesota, the country and the world was probably the race to see who would succeed Barack Obama as President of the United States.
As time ticked away to Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses on February 1, the candidates brought their arguments directly to the voters.

Hillary Clinton in Osage – “I think we should build on the Affordable Care Act, not rip it up and start all over again. Republicans have voted to repeal it now 50 times. That may actually get a bill to the President’s desk.”

Ted Cruz in Manly – “We’re going to bring back jobs and growth and opportunity by repealing Obamacare. By posing a simple flat tax, by unchaining small businesses and farmers, ranchers to create jobs.”

Bernie Sanders in Mason City – “We do not represent Wall Street, we don’t represent corporate America, we don’t want their money.”

Donald Trump in Clear Lake – “We need to protect our Second Amendment right. If he had a gun on his hip, if he had a gun, even if she had a gun, she looks tougher than all of them, then we might be able to stop some of these incidents.”

Bill Clinton in Mason City – “We dare not let our hearts turn to stone. We dare not believe that the answer is in demonizing our country’s most wealthy and the middle class Americans who drive our country.”

It was Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders who won the first contest of the 2016 campaign.
The political spotlight turned to Minnesota as the state held its last caucuses as part of Super Tuesday on March 1.

Bernie Sanders in Rochester – “I want to see us revitalize American democracy.”

Chelsea Clinton in Rochester – “Whomwever we electe will play such a fundamental role in shaping the country and the world, really the future that my children and the children sitting in front of me will grow up in.”

A former winner of the Iowa caucuses even threw his support behind Florida Senator Marco Rubio.

Rick Santorum in Rochester – “He’s able to go up with a guy that’s done reality TV shows for 10 years and has that gift and Marco’s gone toe to toe…and really the first campaign that has really put the Trump campaign on the defensive. That’s what we need.”

A huge turnout of Minnesota voters gave the win to Rubio and Bernie Sanders.
But politics wasn’t all that was going on.

In March, it was announced that Prestage Farms would build a $240 million dollar pork processing plant in Mason City.

Eric Bookmeyer, Mayor – “I believe very much with this kind of quality, family-owned company, building this state-of-the-art plant, we will be able to attract the people for the jobs.”

Dr. Ron Prestage, VP of the company – “I’d be a complete idiot to tell you there won’t be an odor associated with any congregation of pork in the world, but I don’t think it will be something perceived to be a problem in Mason City.”

But problems there were, as an organized effort to prevent the processing plant’s construction quickly got underway.

Dillion Daniels of Mason City – “Increased crime rates, increased strain on infrastructure, on the hospital, on the education system. It’s nothing good and these aren’t the sort of jobs that can support families, it’s just not the sort of thing we want in our town.”

In May, a tie vote in the city council killed an economic incentive package for Prestage and that put an end to the project…at least in Mason City.

John Lee, city councilman – “If history repeats itself, these guys are going to go somewhere and do something fantastic. And 10 years from now, we’ll be sitting around talking about how we let Target, the casino, Prestage get away.”

In August, the Wright County Board of Supervisors approved a development agreement to get Prestage to locate its new pork processing plant there.

In September of 2014, the Spam Museum in Austin closed. In April of 2016, the museum reopened at its new location in the city’s downtown area.

James Snee, Hormel Foods President – “I think our ability to move the museum to the heart of the town shows we’re committed to the community and we want to help drive tourism. We want to help drive additional business for other businesses in the downtown area.”

Craig Clark, City Administrator – “It was a big component to have them located in downtown. It was a great commitment that Hormel made to downtown. There will be a lot of positive to come from this.”

Hormel also marked its 125th anniversary in July and invited the public to join in the celebration.

Pam Hollrah-Asleson of Lyle – “It’s a Fortune 500 company and many towns that are 20,000 to 25,000 people don’t have that job opportunities or the exposure that it brings our community. They are very supportive of many of the activities and with non-profits and for-profit businesses in town.”

The Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office also made a big addition in 2016. A German Sheppard named Stalker became the department’s first K9 officer in six years, at a cost of $40,000. Sheriff Kurt Freitag says it was a need they could no longer deny.

Sheriff Kurt Freitag – “We are very appreciative of the agencies that come and help us. They are coming from a great distance and sometimes they aren’t working. So they have to get out of bed, get their K9 unit ready, get the car ready and head out to wherever we are.”

Adam McKane became Stalker’s handler.

Adam McKane – “We kind of bond and he follows me around everywhere. If I get up to leave a different room in the house, he’s got to follow me. So it’s pretty tight-knit. It’s like having a kid. That’s the best way to describe it.”

It was cold as usual in February but one man tried to heat things up in Nora Springs. Dale Peterson opened the Pole Barn Theater, a juice bar that featured nude dancing.
Dale Peterson – “Everybody is having a good time. And you get good performances from the girls. What more could you ask for?’

Apparently, the community asked for something else and Peterson closed the Pole Barn Theater a little over a month later, citing needed repairs to the building, protests and the hassle of dealing with city inspectors.

Two people from Rochester found themselves spending a good part of the year recovering from calamity.

In January, we brought you the story of Dr. Richard Olson, a retired Mayo Clinic pediatrician who went hunting in South Dakota when he fell into a ditch and broke his leg.
Dr. Richard Olson – “I knew I was really in trouble. I don’t know how I would know that without feeling the pain but when I felt that pain, I knew it was really going to be a bad deal.”

Olson had to pull himself out of the ditch and make it to a road that was half a mile away.
Dr. Richard Olson – “Whenever anything else came it I would just yell audibly. If someone was there they would have thought I was crazy. Because I would yell ‘bend my knee, dig in your heel, check to see if your gloves are on and then push.”

It took Dr. Olson 16 hours to make it to the road and be rescued by a passing motorist.
And in May, a nurse at St. Mary’s Hospital fell 100 feet while she was hiking in Arizona. Amber Kohnhorst spend 24 hours dealing with pain, thirst and hunger before help arrived.
Amber Kohnhorst – “There was a time when I thought I wasn’t going to wake up. I’m very fortunate.”

Amber spent 10 weeks in bed after her fall and even as 2016 comes to an end, her recovery continues.

Amber Kohnhorst – “It’s hard to be patient, it’s completely different. I was really protective of my patients before and now, I’m even more protective because I can relate to it.”

And the election that consumed so much of Iowa and Minnesota’s attention earlier in the year returned in force as both states found themselves up for grabs in November.
Mike Pence in Mason City – “America will once again lead on the world stage from strength. We will rebuild our military, we will stand with our allies, and we will confront radical Islamic terrorism. And the world will be safer as a result.”

Chelsea Clinton in Rochester – “I didn’t know I could care anymore about politics until I was blessed to become a parent and found that I could, found everything I care about before just has a sharper intensity.”

America woke up on November 8 expecting to get one President and ended the night with someone very different. Donald Trump’s victory produced disappointment and despair in some.

Brianna Cooper – “Personally, I am worried about a lot of things having to do with women’s reproductive rights, freedom for our own bodies, for friends who are immigrants and minorities that are feeling singled out.”

And one of the biggest impacts of the election was felt in Iowa as Governor Terry Branstad was named as Donald Trump’s choice to be Ambassador to China.

Josh Byrnes, State Representative – “I think it speaks volumes of how he is perceived on a nation level. I think as a state, we are fortunate to have that connection.”

Branstad’s nomination means he’ll be replaced by his Lieutenant Governor, making Kim Reynolds the first female governor in Iowa’s history.

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