‘Sometimes we draw conclusions, and fail to evaluate the entire situation’

Staff Writer
Story City Herald

Occasionally we get in a mindset that seems to build momentum based on others’ perceptions. When this happens, we sometimes draw predetermined conclusions and fail to evaluate the entire situation without fully considering pros and cons. I read with interest last week’s (Oct. 22) Story City Herald letter to the editor regarding opposition to a possible truck stop in the community’s industrial park area.

I am proud to live in Story City and to have raised our family here. This, in my view, is not a community of exclusion but rather one of support for one another. It is one striving for prosperity while strengthening the economic possibilities within. I am not aware of any local business turning away, screening, or restricting who they serve regardless of what social background customers/clientele/patients come from.

Some of the arguments made in disputing the facility were extremely stereotypical and socially demeaning. This was shocking in that the comments were cast by good, well-meaning people. Opposition and/or resistance to change occasionally occurs when people are uncomfortable due to uncertainty associated with the final development.

The trucking industry is a vital form of transportation nationwide. Most drivers and those in the industry are not bad people. They are honest, hard working individuals trying to provide a living for themselves and their families. They are our neighbors, family, friends, and members of our communities. Trucks deliver items significant to our everyday lives such as mail, packages, parts & equipment, groceries, fuel sources, and agricultural products.

The fact that a truck stop may be located in our area does not, in fact, infer criminal influx. Crime occurs in all occupations whether blue or white collar. Casting a status label or doubt based on stereotype is a disservice. Bear in mind also that this proposed facility is not simply a truck stop, but rather a travel center. There certainly isn’t much reported criminal activity at the local McDonalds, Casey’s, Kum & Go or area rest stops all of which welcome and are frequented by truckers and travelers in all types of vehicles.

I worked near the Love’s Travel Center in Newton for nearly three years. I was frequently at the Center and at no time did I ever witness or hear of a crime. As in any business, a lot depends on good management. Love’s takes pride in maintaining a clean, safe, and responsible business operation.

It was also noted at the city council meeting that Love’s is not really a significant economic benefit to Story City. This statement is contrary to what I personally observed in Newton. The employees were primarily local people who knew their community and surrounding area. It was not uncommon for travelers to ask where in the community they could go for local goods and services.

Tax revenues increase with economic growth. Travelers will utilize local businesses such as restaurants, medical facilities, mercantiles, financial institutions, hair salons, and lodging sources. In reality, travel and transportation provide jobs both internally and externally. That equates to a real economic benefit for the Story City area. The added tax dollars and money spent within the community in one way or another will assist with school, road, park, rescue, police, and city service needs.

Additional concerns were reportedly brought forth at the council meeting regarding electrical lighting. Electric utility usage is a matter of daily life & business operations. Most of us, however, could do a better job of conserving or decreasing electrical power usage.

Lighting is not what it used to be. There are many options that could be considered or even set as standards for the Love’s site. One such option is high powered LED lighting that uses less energy. Street lighting and signage with no carbon footprint is readily available. These products are sustainable, contain no toxic materials, burn for a longer life span reducing landfill usage, and are 100% recyclable. Lens heads can be installed that cut off lumination, reduce glare, and contain no up-light. In addition, electric power can originate from renewable energy such as solar, wind, and geothermal.

Lastly, the traffic flow expectations can be studied and recommendations made accordingly. This may require that an additional road be constructed to divert traffic, an extra set of traffic signals be installed, and cooperation with the state Dept. of Transportation.

Having Story City close its doors to such development may not be the answer. Perhaps a better solution would be to look at the positive aspects and what we as a community can do to assure the new business would enhance its potential. It may be more meaningful to offer suggestions as well as set guidelines or regulate standards which address concerns while generating new opportunity.

Sandy Opstvedt

Story City, IA