Q: Is there anybody in the Quad-Cities that offers hot air balloon rides? What is the cost?

— Chris, Davenport

A: Jim Thyne of Clinton, Iowa, will float people skyward for $200 per person in his hot air balloon, Cuz-in It. Rides last anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. “I fly pretty much all over the Quad-City  surrounding areas,” Thyne said. “We have taken people up for birthdays, anniversaries, to ask their girlfriend to marry them, or for just about any other occasion you could think of.”

The balloons can fly up to 10,000 feet, but Thyne generally flies at between 1,000 and 1,800 feet “or whatever the customer is comfortable at.” Thyne also has done tethered rides for parties.

Thyne’s balloon holds 90,000 cubic feet of air and can lift 1,860 pounds.

To make a reservation with Thyne, call him at (563) 357-6285. We expect there may be other hot air balloon pilots in the area. They can e-mail us at ask@qctimes.com and we’ll include their information in a follow-up file.

Q: I think I have an original painting by Paul Norton and would like to know something about him. Can you help?

— Connie, Muscatine, Iowa

A: Paul Norton died in 1984 at the age of 75. Originally from Moline, he was the son of a railway clerk. Norton painted more than 500 watercolors during his career and created many logos for companies such as Dairy Queen, Pella Windows and others. His paintings can be found in the White House, U.S. Capitol and the Iowa governor’s mansion, to name a few.

According to his Web site, nortonwatercolors.com, Norton won national commissions and traveled extensively in Europe. Still, he is best remembered for painting Mississippi River scenes and other sites familiar to the Quad-Cities such as historic landmarks, churches, schools and parks. His most popular works included paintings of the Delta Queen, Lone Star and Quinlan riverboats.

To determine whether you have an original, take a magnifying glass and look closely at a colored part of the painting. A fine pattern of small dots indicates a high-quality print. If no dots are present, the work may be an original. To find out,

e-mail estate@nortonwatercolors.com and someone can help you.

To find an appraiser, go to appraisersassoc.org.

Q: When the old Mercy Hospital in Davenport was being torn down years ago, someone at the time vowed to save and safely store the large, concrete cross that dominated the front of the roof. Does this cross still exist today?

— Chuck, Davenport

A: According to Craig Cooper, spokesman for Genesis Medical Center, West Central Park, where the former Mercy Hospital was located, several longtime employees at Genesis remember the stone cross, which later was clad in aluminum. However, nobody knows where the cross is now. Perhaps a reader can offer an explanation.

Q: Regarding the bridge over Black Hawk Creek at Clark Street in Davenport, it is all rusty. Last year, I asked about this and they said they were going to do something about it. No way! It looks terrible. The other one looks good by the Blackhawk Foundry.

— B., Davenport

A: All of the city’s roadway bridges are inspected every two years, said Gene Hellige, city engineer. The bridge in question was inspected in June.

“Yes, there are corroding stringers (main beams) at the outer edges of this bridge, however, there is not immediate danger,” Hellige said. “Nevertheless, a project is to be developed to do major rehabilitation of the bridge.”

The project will include the complete removal and replacement of non-salvageable, corroded members and replacement of the sidewalk areas. Repair plans and specifications will be prepared this winter and the repairs will be completed in 2008.

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