Thumbs Up … to Mike Peppers, the longtime Santa Claus of the Quad-Cities. Peppers is celebrating his 50th year in that role, delighting kids and our community. With his bright red "Santamobile" and his dedication to this community, Peppers has spread Christmas cheer to tens of thousands of people and families over the decades.
"It would not be Christmas without Santa and Mike Peppers,” Diane Sulg, founder of Quad-City Arts’ Festival of Trees, said in an article this week by Linda Cook.
Peppers is a mainstay at Festival, just as he is in the community. Anybody who has been to Peppers’ auto shop downtown, which is replete with Santa memorabilia, knows just how much this tradition means to him. It’s also a gift to the community, which we hope continues for years to come.
Thumbs Down … to Scott County's loss of access to two of Iowa’s three forensic pathology labs, which is resulting in higher costs for Scott County. Worse, according to Barb Ickes’ reporting, a county health department official predicted it would mean longer wait times for the results of tests involved in death investigations.
The county lost access to the lab at the University of Iowa this summer because of a staffing shortage, and last week it was notified autopsies can't be performed at Weland Laboratories in Cedar Rapids, either.
The only remaining option is the state medical lab in Ankeny.
These aren't little-used facilities, either. The county ordered 80 autopsies last year and 87 this year.
Previously, the county had used a provider in Rockford, but the Iowa State Medical Examiner’s office says in-state locations must be used.
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We haven't talked to the medical examiner's office about the rationale for using only in-state providers. As a community, we are accustomed to bi-state cooperation.
Iowa Rep. Gary Mohr, R-Bettendorf, has taken an interest in this. We hope the rest of the legislative delegation takes notice, too.
Thumbs Down … to the news that Midcoast Fine Arts, the non-profit that has for years run the Bucktown Center for the Arts in downtown Davenport, will cease operations next March. The organization also operates galleries in Rock Island and Moline.
Reporter Jonathan Turner noted last week that weather has hurt the organization over the past year. Flooding closed Bucktown for two-and-a-half months in the spring, and rain contributed to a shortened Riverssance festival in September. An official, however, says a real challenge has been to secure grants to pay for operating costs. Funders often would rather pay for programming, rather than salaries.
There have been discussions with Quad-City Arts about the situation, and Turner reported it’s possible some space for artists could be maintained after the owner of the Bucktown building renovates the structure. Still, it saddens us that, after all these years, Midcoast is closing up shop. The organization, and the people who have been a part of it, have contributed so much to the arts community and the Quad-Cities.
Thumbs Up ... to the selection of the Quad-Cities to be the site of the Professional Disc Golf Association's Tim Selinske United States Masters Championships next September. Visit Quad-Cities announced the selection last week.
The Quad-Cities hosted this event in 2017, and we're told it was quite successful. Dave Herrell, the CEO at Visit Quad-Cities, says this is a chance to yet again connect the Quad-Cities to a sport that is growing in popularity — and to an organization that boasts 120,000 members in 54 countries.
We are happy the PDGA is once again holding this championship event in the Quad-Cities, and we congratulate those who worked to secure this opportunity for our area.
Thumbs Up ... to Muscatine County and the Eastern Iowa Mental Health and Disability Services Region for taking steps toward mediation in their long-running dispute over the costs of providing services in our five-county region.
Muscatine County voted in October to leave to region, but the timing has been up in the air ever since. We are hopeful that mediation will bear fruit.