Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

Previous Posts


April 22, 2021

Sullivan’s Salvos     4/27/21




In this edition:



*Rettig Resignation

*May Day

*Worker’s Memorial Day

*Life Post-Vaccination


*Did You Know?




*Rettig Resignation

         As you may have heard, Supervisor Janelle Rettig resigned abruptly on Sunday, giving no notice. So Johnson County now has four Supervisors.


         Taking on her work will not be difficult. Rettig only worked 12-15 hours per week in 2019; that was down to about 6 hours per week in 2020. She was both literally and figuratively calling it in. So the rest of the Board can easily pick up the slack.


         What happens now? A committee of Recorder Kim Painter, Treasurer Tom Kriz, and Auditor Travis Weipert meets on Friday to choose one of two options:
1) Appoint someone to fill out the remaining two years of Rettig’s term; or
2) Call for a special election.


         This trio has been leaning toward special elections, and with two years remaining on the term, I am guessing they will go that route once again. If they do so, the parties would need to hold conventions and choose nominees. The election would probably be in June.




*May Day

         I celebrate May Day. You should, too! May Day continues to be a worldwide worker’s holiday; it used to be celebrated in the US, too, until McCarthyism. Workers earned the holiday then, and deserve it still today. So feel free – celebrate May Day!




*Worker’s Memorial Day

Each year dozens of Iowa workers are killed at work and hundreds more suffer work-related injuries or diseases. Join us to remember those who have died on the job, hear from workers and advocates who are confronting workplace hazards, and renew our dedication to the struggle for safer workplace.


A remembrance will be held Wednesday, April 28 from 12:00-1:00 PM near Hancher Auditorium in Iowa City.


Sponsored by Iowa City Federation of Labor AFL-CIO and the University of Iowa Labor Center.




*Life Post-Vaccination

         As you read this, it has been two weeks since my second vaccination. I feel very fortunate to have avoided COVID-19, and now to be protected against it. More and more Johnson County residents are joining me every day. That this is happening at basically the same time that spring is arriving makes the idea of a new beginning seem very real.


         So what comes next? I am planning to follow the advice of the experts, and I am going to continue to maintain precautions. But yeah, I am going to be doing things in-person. I’m really, really excited.





         Planting of all sorts is going on in Johnson County, and it causes me to reminisce about the farm.


Anyone who has known me long knows that I grew up on the family farm. It is not just any family farm; both my maternal grandmother and maternal grandfather came from families that settled in Iowa prior to statehood. We have two family farms that have been in the family seven and eight generations, respectively. My family has been on the same land since 15 years before the start of the Civil War! So yes, I am proud of my family farm roots.


         After growing up out on the farm, on a gravel road, miles from the nearest town, I moved to Iowa City. And while I love the things city life offers, I often miss the farm. One small connection that I maintain is my screensaver.


         Both home and at work, my screensaver is a photo of my Grandpa, Ed Jack, winning the 1960 State Corn Picking Championship. I love the photo for a lot of reasons, but primarily the way in which he holds his hat in his hands. Though he had become quite wealthy through farming, he was a very humble man. The photo really captures that. And despite the fact that he had been using a mechanical combine for several years, he obviously had not lost his touch when it came to picking corn. 


         We used to pick a lot of sweet corn when I was a kid. If you have ever seen anyone pick corn by hand, you know that it is not easy. And my Grandpa was a perfectionist – you had to do it right! I knew intuitively why he won that contest – he had the cleanest row and fewest deductions. Sure enough, that was true.


         My Grandpa loved to enter contests. He liked to experiment, and he had a competitive spirit. So his house was full of trophies and plaques. Only one, however, was first place. That was the State Corn Picking Championship.


         Also on a shelf were about a dozen trophies earned in various statewide competitions. There were 5th, 4th, 3rd, and 2nd place trophies – in some cases, multiples. Most of the awards were in yield competitions. 


         He got second in the highest yield contest in the late ‘50s, and once averaged 200 bushels per acre, which was the farming equivalent of breaking the 4-minute mile. The statewide average now is 189 bushels per acre, so technology has certainly caught up.


         I remember the importance he placed on watching the markets. The guys who were working on the farm came into the house every day at EXACTLY 11:55. They washed their hands with Lava soap, filled their plates, and started to eat dinner. There was no “lunch” – dinner at noon, supper for the evening meal!


Then they put on the WMT noon news, with the volume cranked, because years on the tractor (no cab) had ruined my Grandpa’s hearing. (KCRG showed a soap opera at noon and had no noon news. That was an unforgiveable heresy in the eyes of my Grandfather!) 


They would intently watch the weather and the markets, then decide what to do that afternoon. Maybe you got things ready to go to town and sell. Maybe not. The whole plan for the next 24 hours depended upon the market and the weather.


Nowadays, the commodities are presold on contract. There is no need to closely monitor prices and react. It is probably a lot less stressful. But at the time, it certainly seemed exciting to a kid watching it all unfold!


         My Granny played a different role, and we kids were her helpers. Each family had HUGE gardens – between the 5 families, the garden space (not counting sweet corn and fruit trees) was probably almost 2 acres. We spent all summer picking strawberries, asparagus, beans, peas, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, apples, pears, lettuce, cabbage, radishes… then Granny showed us how to clean them, cut them, and store them.


Farming has changed a lot since I was a kid. I was recently asking my Mom who was renting the family’s various plots of land. She reported that there are only 3-4 people farming in the whole area, and that these operations have become so large that what used to be considered a family farm (say, 100 acres) is barely worth their time to rent!


I never wanted to go into farming – I realized right away that I was a people person, and agriculture could get lonely. But I miss those days, and remember them fondly.




*DID YOU KNOW?  Clarion is the only county seat in the exact center of the county (Wright County).




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


"Sullivan’s Salvos" is sent once per week to any interested party. It will give a brief update on issues of interest to Johnson County residents.


These messages come solely from Rod Sullivan, and neither represents the viewpoints of the whole Board of Supervisors nor those of groups or individuals otherwise mentioned.


If you do NOT want the weekly E-mail, simply reply to this message, and type "unsubscribe" in the subject line. 


If you know anyone else who might be interested, just forward this message. They can E-mail me at with "subscribe" in the subject line.


As always, feel free to contact me at 354-7199 or I look forward to serving you!








Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home