Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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June 25, 2011

Sullivan’s Salvos 5/10/11

In this edition:

*Amish Farm Tour
*Bike To Work Week
*IC Farmer’s Market
*County Historic Preservation
*IC Historic Preservation
*Social Security Stats
*Hickory Hill Plant Sale
*Did You Know?

*Amish Farm Tour
The Board recently had a very enjoyable tour of southern Johnson County, including Farmer’s All Natural Creamery, Yoder Auction House, and several Amish farms.

The tour was not just for fun, however – Amish farmers are struggling with a couple of Johnson County ordinances, and would like to see some things change.

One of the most important ordinances we have on the books is the definition of a farm. In Johnson County, a farm is a parcel of over 40 acres used for agriculture. A farm of greater than 40 acres may only have two houses on it.

This causes problems for some of our Amish friends. Many Amish families have 6, 8, and even 10 children. Given the current land prices, it is very difficult for an eldest son to afford the 40 acres he needs to begin farming on his own. A father may be able to sell 40 acres to one son, but certainly cannot do it for a second, third, or fourth. This forces many young Amish to leave our area and begin new Amish communities, such as the one near Drakesville in Davis County.

Some of the Amish feel that the 40-acre rule penalizes them. Using “typical” methods of farming, it would be very difficult for a “farmer” to earn a living off 40 acres. This is not the case for the Amish, who have an abundance of labor. There are Amish families earning nearly six figures off as little as ten acres. (That six figures must support a huge multi-generational family, of course!)

So why not just allow Amish farmers to farm less acres? It is not that simple. If we allow it for one group, we need to allow it for all groups. My biggest fear is that we begin creating a bunch of ten-acre lots, and we end up with a bunch of McMansions with chemical lawns sitting atop our prime farmland.

I shared this concern with the Amish men, and they understood completely. My biggest fear is their biggest fear. I think there are a few other rules we can tinker with that may assist small farmers. Meanwhile, I believe we should proceed with caution before we change our definition of a farm.

*Bike To Work Week
Bike to Work Week is May 15 – 21, 2011. Once again, our flagship event will be the “New Pi to New Pi” ride on Wednesday, May 18th. The ride leaves from Chauncey Swan park in Iowa City and ends at the New Pioneer Coop in Coralville, where New Pioneer hosts a dinner and music.

Bike to Work Week is pleased to be affiliated this year with the new website , a web site dedicated to promoting bicycle culture and healthy living in Johnson County.

Bike to Work Week Events:
Monday, May 16: Bike to Work Week Breakfast Kick Off
30th Century Bicycles, 310 E Prentiss St.
7:30 to 9:30am. Food by Red Avocado, coffee by Wake Up Iowa City. Free as usual. Door prizes.

Bike/Bus/Car Race, sponsored by the MPO of Johnson County, beginning at 11:33 a.m. at the Coralville Public Library and ending at the Iowa City Public Library.

Tuesday, May 17: Ride through virtual “Bike Town” Free tour of the Hank Virtual Environments Lab, an immersive/interactive bicycling simulator. Includes presentation of local research on child and adult cyclists crossing intersections and tour participants will be given the opportunity to ride the bike through the virtual “Bike Town.” Tour starts at noon, Room 311 MacLean Hall.

Wednesday, May 18: Old Pi to New Pi Ride sponsored by New Pioneer Coop, beginning at 5:30 p.m. at Chauncey Swan Park in Iowa City and ending at New Pioneer Co-op in Coralville. Live music, food, and door prizes will be offered. No preregistration is required.

Friday, May 20: End of Week Celebration featuring the Heels & Wheels Fashion Show hosted by the Johnson County Trails Foundation, as well as live music and prizes. Activities begin at 5pm, at the Hawkeye Hideaway. See you there!

Art Show: “bicycle generator installation” at Public Space One, 129 E Washington.

May 16-May 20: The Broken Spoke is sponsoring a raffle for a Kona Ute.

*IC Farmer’s Market
Keeping with tradition, the Iowa City Farmer’s Market began its 39th season on Wednesday, May 4. Please come visit the many vendors each week as they sell their home grown, homemade products fresh to you twice a week during the months of May through October. Also, enjoy musicians as they play live music in Chauncey Swan Park on Wednesdays from 5-7 pm and Saturdays from 9-11 am, June through August.

While the downtown Iowa City market is the largest and best known, there are several other markets in Johnson County; for a complete list, see the website of the Johnson County Local Food Alliance at:

Farmer’s Markets - a sure sign that summer is on the way!

*County Historic Preservation
Johnson County has openings on the Historic Preservation Committee. This committee has a great deal of potential to do many cool things… we just need a couple new bodies. Please consider applying!

*IC Friends of Historic Preservation
Speaking of Historic Preservation, the Iowa City Friends of Historic Preservation is holding a Parade of Historic Homes on Sunday, May 15.

The tour includes Plum Grove, home of Governor Robert Lucas, as well as a look at a few of the Moffit homes. (Those cool, funky little houses that utilize stone in interesting ways? Moffit houses!)

For more info, see

*Social Security Stats
Some interesting statistics on Social Security in Iowa:

Social Security Beneficiaries in Iowa: 574,315

Retirees: 388,139

Widow(er)s: 52,462

Disabled Workers: 68,425

33.6% of non-government workers aged 55-64 are without workplace retirement benefits.

Please allow me to take this opportunity to remind you that Social Security – one of the most successful programs in human history – has NEVER added ONE CENT to the federal deficit.

Social Security is in good shape for at least the next 25 years, and with minor adjustments, will be set for a couple generations.

*Hickory Hill Plant Sale
Friends of Hickory Hill is holding its annual Spring Plant Sale May 13 (4-7 PM), May 14 (10-4), May 20 (4-7) and May 21 (10-4). The sale will be held at 1167 E. Jefferson in Iowa City.

All proceeds from the sale benefit FHHP projects within the park. See for more information.

*DID YOU KNOW? SEATS set an all-time record with 10,326 trips in March of 2011.

Anyone interested in learning more about County government should take a look at the County website-

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