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Kathy Dahl at Shelter Insurance
Did You Know...
On December 9 three Bettendorf Chamber members were honored by the Iowa Department of Economic Development as "Century Businesses". The awards ceremony recognized Iowa companies that have been in business for over 100 years. Boyler's Ornamental Iron, Ruhl and Ruhl Insurance and Minnesota/Iowa were among those honored. They were nominated by the Bettendorf Chamber of Commerce.

Did You Know...
The “impact” manufacturing jobs have on a community can be tremendous. When employment increases, the expanding population requires greater service. Providing those services becomes a source of additional new jobs.
For every 100 manufacturing jobs, the following is added to a community:
  • 200 more people
  • 102 more families
  • 64 non-manufacturing jobs
  • 7 additional retail establishments
  • $2,187,000 more personal income per year
  • $275,000 more in property tax revenue
  • $1,658,000 more retail sales per year

A quick glace at the above economic indicators reveals the importance of each manufacturing job to a community and state.

Did You Know...
The second span of the Iowa-Illinois Memorial Bridge went up west of the first between June 1958 and December 1959 at a cost of $6,182,402 - four times the cost of the original bridge. It opened in November 1959, and the older span closed for repairs.

Both new "twin bridges" were officially opened and dedicated Jan. 20, 1960. Dr. Conrad Bergendoff, president of Augustana College, led the prayer, and Walter Vieth of the Davenport Bridge Commission gave the address. The governors of Iowa and Illinois were both present.

For just that day, the new span was free - and closed to cars. Citizens were invited to walk across and inspect it.

Amazingly, the toll on the bridges was never adjusted for inflation between 1935 and 1960. When the new four-lane twin suspension bridge opened, cars still paid 15 cents, pedestrians 5 cents and horse-drawn vehicles 30 cents.

A large tollbooth was built in the center of the bridge, where a small parking area remains today. The toll offices hung below the bridge, under the tollbooth and gave the administrative staff a beautiful view of the valley.

Although the Davenport Bridge Commission wanted to keep the twin bridges under toll to finance future bridge construction and keep local control of such projects , the federal government wanted the bridges for the planned Interstate 74 river crossing.

Commissioners Vieth and Herbert Lohmiller traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with the Bureau of Public Roads and negotiate a compromise. Lohmiller and Vieth argued that other interstates, such as the Indiana and Pennsylvania Turnpikes, charged tolls, as did other interstate bridges, such as the George Washington Bridge in New York. Rex Whitton, chairman of the Bureau of Public Roads, told the two Davenporters that those other bridges had administrators with clout that the city of Davenport lacked.

In August 1965, the commission made an agreement with the Iowa and Illinois highway departments to give up the twin bridges when toll revenues were sufficient to repay construction financing. Reluctantly, the Davenport Bridge Commission tuned over the bridges on Dec. 31, 1969.

The commission celebrated 38 years of volunteer leadership on New Year's Eve 1969 with a party at the Clayton House. Even though the commission no longer had a source of revenue, its members considered staying together to help plan another bridge.

The Davenport City Council dissolved the commission in 1971 after 40 years. Even then, several members had already lobbied government officials about a new bridge located between the Government Bridge and the twin bridges.

Beginning in1971, the sidewalk was removed from the older span, the tollbooth and suspended below-deck offices were removed from the middle, bridge approaches were razed, and the new, elevated Interstate 74 was connected to the bridge decks. New on and off-ramps also were completed, although work lagged during 1973, the wettest year in Quad Cities history.

The I-74 bridge over the Mississippi River opened to traffic in both directions on Nov 26, 1974, and Interstate 74 was completed through Moline a year later, on Dec. 10, 1975.

Did You Know... In 1950, Bettendorf was the largest city in Iowa without a high school. It had three elementary schools but offered no education beyond eighth grade. High school students went to Davenport High School, now Davenport Central, with the Bettendorf School Board paying their tuition.

Bettendorf High School opened in the fall of 1951, though much of the interior detail work was yet to be done. Its first graduating class had gone to Davenport High for three year. So as the Class of '52 started each new tradition, it developed a special camaraderie.

The first official Bettendorf High School student activity was a meeting at Jefferson School on April 27, 1951. Students voted on mascots, school colors, and names for the yearbook and newspaper. Janet Armstrong Matzen, the first yearbook editor, recalled: "Iowa was gold and black, and that was one of the reasons we wanted it." Matzen's classmate, Mary June Schmidt Brown, remembers how the newspaper and yearbook were named. "The Growl came because of the bulldog mascot," she said. "We called the yearbook The Beacon because we sat up on the hill, on 23rd Street."
Taken from Bettendorf: The First Century

Did You Know...
When William P. Bettendorf died on June 3, 1910, younger brother Joseph W. became company president. His employees called him modest, competent and fair. J.W. threw gala Christmas parties at Danceland for his 2,500 workers, with orchestra, Santa Claus and cigars. He also threw summer picnics. Before Prohibition took effect, J.W. rented a paddlewheeler and threw a stag party for his employees. He provided the beer.

J.W. founded the Bettendorf Loyalty Club to reward workers who stayed with the company for more than 15 years. On Aug. 23, 1923, he held a lawn party for the club at his mansion (now Rivermont Collegiate) with an orchestra and temporary dancing platform. "Several numbers were given by the Kiwanis quartet during the intermission," reported the November 1923 Car Journal.

In 1919, J.W. helped his workers found the Bettendorf Co. Employee Social Club, which met monthly at the Bettendorf Hotel. He also started a bowling league, built a baseball grandstand downtown to host the Bettendorf Co. Bears and organized a basketball team.
Taken from Bettendorf: The First Century

Did You Know...
That American's 22.4 million small businesses...

-Employ more than 51 percent of the private work force?
-Generate more than 52 percent of the nation's gross domestic product?
-Are the principal source of new jobs?

Did You Know... On July 6, 1903, the nine members of Bettendorf's first town council faced a daunting task. They sat down to codify the laws of the newly incorporated town, just over one month old.

It is not clear where they were meeting; Bettendorf's first city hall would not open until December 1907. Perhaps they met in Pillion's Saloon, where a few weeks before, on May 26, 1903, the town had elected its first mayor, Edward Robeson.

Clerk Horace Willits opened a leather-bound minutes book to the fist page, took up a fountain pen and blotter, and wrote the new town's purpose: "To provide for the safety, preserve the health, promote the prosperity and improve the moral order, comfort and convenience" of its inhabitants.

The town council then gave itself the right to pass ordinances. These ordinances were to be read, and read distinctly, on three different days before the vote, unless the council chose to dispense with the rule by a three-quarters majority vote. (The council dispensed with the rule frequently in the subsequent record. In fact, it dispensed with the rule that very day, in order to pass its first official ordinances.)

The mayor could refuse to sign an ordinance, if he did so within 14 days after the council passed it. The council could overrule the mayor's veto by a two-thirds majority vote. 

The very first ordinance passed - at least, after the ordinance granting the right to pass ordinances - was a ban on loitering.

"Be it enacted by the town council of the town of Bettendorf that from and after the passage of this ordinance it shall be unlawful for any person or persons in said town to loiter or congregate about or upon any stairway, doorway, window, or in front of any business or dwelling house, hall, church or street corner, or elsewhere and by so doing interfere with the free passage of such person or persons occupying such buildings or premises, as by their language, conversation or conduct, annoy, insult, or disturb persons passing along the streets or alleys or occupying, residing or doing business in any of said houses or places, and it shall be the duty of every officer having police powers to arrest any and all persons offending under this section."

The next council action that day was to outlaw houses of "illfame, idleness, gaming, drinking, fornication or other misbehavior." The council gave itself the power to break down the door and raid such houses and send their proprietors to work "on the stone pile."

The council made it a misdemeanor to refuse to help a police officer, or to let "horses, mules, cattle, hogs, goats, sheep, hens, chickens, geese, ducks, or any other beast or fowl" run free.

Interestingly, it required every able-bodied male resident aged 21 to 45 to perform two days of volunteer labor annually on Bettendorf's streets and public grounds, sometime between Jan. 1 and Nov. 1. The men were to report to the street commissioner on a day and time advertised by leaflet. They could bow out for a fee of $1.50 per day. 

Considering that the new town had no paved streets but several muddy and rutted roads, the work order was quite necessary.

That was Day One of business in Bettendorf.

--Kristen Schipper, Bettendorf Iowa, The First Century

Did You Know... A new report from the Iowa Department of Economic Development shows that tourists are spending more money in Iowa. This defies the low expectations of many economists who predicted that large cuts in the state’s tourism advertising budget would lead to a decrease in out-of-state visitors. The increase is attributed to the security and economic worries of travelers in the Midwest, who are picking close-by destinations as opposed to distant getaways.

Did You Know... During the Depression, families who could find work nowhere else would take the bus sent by the onion farmers to 26th Street in Bettendorf. Families spent days at work in the fields, weeding and harvesting. The pay was 5 cents per bushel of picked onions, or $1 a day for weeding and planting. Onion picking was a first job for many local youths during and after the Depression.

The onion farmers sold the crop immediately after they harvested it. The Pleasant Valley onion market was competitive and diversified because almost every onion growing family owned land. A family could survive on 10 acres of onions, a milk cow and a few chickens.

By 1968 only five onion producing fields remained in Pleasant Valley, and by 1992 only the Schutter family remained in the business. Stanley Schutter continued to plant onions but watched houses and industry grow up around his farm.

Not much is left of the local onion industry but a collection of photographs at the Family Museum of Arts and Science; a few farmers and their memories; and the Pleasant Valley Cemetery, on a hill overlooking the Mississippi, just above the still unincorporated village. There, in tidy rows, lie generation after generation of families who farmed the onion fields of Pleasant Valley for more than a century.
Kristen Schipper

Did You Know... Edward W. Robeson (served 1903-1910) was Bettendorf’s first mayor. He gave $400 to the fund established by Davenport lawyer Charles A. Ficke, who wanted the residents of Gilbert to pay for the Bettendorf Co.’s resettlement.

Robeson was a member of an established local family long before Bettendorf made it onto the map; some of his relatives are buried in Fenno Cemetery, a pioneer cemetery at the intersection of present-day Belmont Road and Valley Drive.

He lived along the south side of State Street at the foot of today’s 10th Street. He worked at the Bettendorf Co. but also owned a meat market on Davenport’s Brady Street, between 4th and 5th streets.

For most of his tenure, Bettendorf had no city hall. Mayor Robeson, therefore, may have held council meetings at Pillion’s Salon, the spot there Gilbert voted to become Bettendorf on April 28, 1903. Pillion’s was also where Robeson was elected mayor in Bettendorf’s first election, on May 26, 1903.

A few months before, on Feb. 27, Robeson also led the group that drew up the petition for incorporation to the District court of Iowa and declared that the town would be named after the Bettendorf family.

Bettendorf: The First Century
By Kristen Schipper with Mary Louise Speer

Did You Know... The City of Bettendorf anticipates $77,346,246 in new-additional taxes and funds generated by the Event Center and Hotel Expansion proposed for downtown in the first ten years.

For the last seven years the City of Bettendorf has had the rejuvenation of the Downtown-Riverfront Corridor as the top priority. The city will soon be submitting a request for funding to the State of Iowa for Vision Iowa Program funds and if successful, will be moving forward with the project.

The city would like assistance in two ways. First, to speak to any group, club or organization in which you are involved. The city would like to get the word out to the public at large and feels the best way is face to face. Second, the city requests that you send a letter of support for this project. Please understand that these letters will be made a part of the application they are submitting to the State. Please call City Hall, 344-4000, if you have any questions and thank you in advance for your support.

Downtown Riverfront Priorities
•Revitalizes existing downtown-riverfront corridor
•Creates a "sense of place" with multiple activities including: conference center, hotel, restaurants, sports-comedy club, banquet facility, cocktail lounge, retail shopping, riverfront bike path and gaming facility
•Diversifies the primarily residential tax base with commercial development
•Adds Bettendorf to the overall Quad City tourism capability to attract visitors.

Existing Tourism
•Currently 70% of all visitors come from outside a 50 mile radius
•Currently 70% of all visitors come from outside the State of Iowa

More Tourism Opportunity
•40,000 sq. ft. Conference Center
     Attractive to regional meeting planners
     Conferences, seminars and entertainment
     Fills existing need for "turn away groups"
•250 room addition to the Isle of Capri
     Total of 500 on-site hotel rooms
•Parking ramp that spans from the downtown to the riverfront
•Skywalk to connect it all.

Positive Impact
•Creates a destination appeal
     Excellent airport access
     Adjacent to Interstate 74
•125 new permanent jobs
•200 construction jobs
•170 "secondary jobs"
•$77 million of new taxes and fees
•New economic infusion of $296 million

Did You Know... The City of Bettendorf is pleased to offer residents a new bulky waste collection program that is convenient and easy to use. The new bulky waste program will begin the week of November 1-5. Residents may set out bulky waste on their recycling collection days.

The City is no longer offering Clean-up Week.

Bulky waste is large garbage items that are too heavy to be lifted by one person and too large to fit in a garbage cart. Bulky waste items include: furniture, appliances, and tires. Electronic waste, including computers, is also collected as bulky waste items.

Basic tips for bulky waste collection: set out your bulky waste material(s) on your recycling days only by 7 a.m.; leave an arm’s length of space between your bulky items and your garbage and recycling carts; consult your new 2004-2005 Garbage Guide for bulky items that you may set out; no paint or hazardous material are accepted; any bagged item set out needs a $3 sticker.

Did You Know... The City of Bettendorf was awarded by the Vision Iowa Board money in the amount of $4.1 million. It comes from the state’s Community Attraction and Tourism Fund (CAT) The money will be used towards the Rivers Edge Project. The Rivers Edge development includes a 40,000 square foot conference and events center to be connected via a sky bridge to an expanded Isle of Capri hotel complex and a 500-spot parking facility. The plan calls for a 250-room addition to the hotel.

The CAT grant will be used towards the $29.1 million events center portion of Rivers Edge and will be matched by $13.6 million from the city, $250,000 from Scott County and $10 million pledged by the Scott County Regional Authority over 10 years.  The Isle of Capri will spend $32.3 million.

Did You Know... That recent passage of the federal Transportation bill by the U.S. House and Senate has included funding allocations that will have a major impact on Bettendorf, and includes:

- $67.4 million has been provided to the Interstate 74 Mississippi River Crossing project. The major component of this project will include the replacement of the current I-74 crossing, featuring increased number of traffic lanes, longer access ramps and access for bicycles and pedestrians. While this funding is approximately 10% of the total cost of the project, it is sufficient to make certain the crossing will be a reality.

- $ 2.165 million is directed toward the extension of the Mississippi River Trail from Leach Park to Riverdale, Iowa. This funding will allow for engineering and assessment studies to be put into place so that the recently extended riverfront trail can traverse through properties on the riverfront so that it can link up with the current trail near the mouth of Duck Creek. It also sets the stage for further extension through Riverdale and up to LeClaire and beyond.

- $ 500,000 earmarked for a Justification Study and Environmental Assessment of the Interchange at I-80 and Middle Road. This study is an essential component to securing funding to improve the infrastructure at the interchange so that it can be developed into a professional business park. Such an employment center is vital to Bettendorf and the Quad Cities as it seeks to develop new locations for local expanding businesses and companies new to the area.

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