What a relief

Storm Lake and Buena Vista County can rejoice in the news that Hillshire Brands told employees this week that it intends to restore operations at its turkey processing plant here within the year. Employees were informed that they would be paid in the interim, that their medical benefits would be covered and that they might earn extra pay by helping clean up the mess left by the huge fire Saturday night.

It means that some 800 workers can remain in Storm Lake. It means that turkey growers will be able to stay in business. It means that all the businesses that depend on Hillshire, from feather collectors to tradesmen, will not lose a significant portion of their livelihoods.

Think of what it would be like if we lost such a huge block of our economic foundation. The car dealers, the restaurants, this newspaper, the local schools and churches all would take a hit in the gut.

Workers were heard praising the Lord at King’s Pointe following Wednesday meetings with corporate representatives. Some of those bearing glad tidings said they teared up when hearing the reactions of workers to the news that all would be well.

The company has not officially made a public announcement about rebuilding. A company spokesman notes that the fire investigation is not complete, and the company has not completed a full damage assessment.

But there was no question from the atmosphere at King’s Pointe that there is a new dawn for Hillshire in Storm Lake after a few dark days.

The City of Storm Lake and the State of Iowa stand ready to assist the company and its employees work through the clean-up and rebuilding process.

Hillshire expressed its gratitude for the heroic efforts of local firefighters and other public safety personnel who fought the fire and put themselves in great personal danger on an icy roof about to collapse. Their expertise was evident in bringing a huge fire in the roof under control, preventing complete devastation. The value of investing in sophisticated firefighting equipment was apparent.

It was also gratifying that neighboring fire departments rushed to the scene to help out Storm Lake.

We look forward to a celebratory announcement from Hillshire Brands that it will rebuild bigger and better than ever to continue the long history of turkey production and community building in Storm Lake.


A fatally stupid remark

Bruce Braley sure stepped in it. He told a bunch of Democrats at a fundraiser that if his party loses the US Senate, a farmer like Sen. Chuck Grassley could end up as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Braley is a quick study, but he apparently learned nothing from Mitt Romney’s campaign. Stick to your talking points, even among friends. In this day of cellphones, you do not insult the most popular politician in Iowa and expect to get away with it.

It will take millions of dollars to undo whatever Braley said in an effort to raise a few thousand dollars.

An educated Democrat already understands what is at stake if the GOP takes control of the Senate. Braley did not need to remind his friends by intimating that a man who holds a master’s degree in business from the University of Northern Iowa cannot understand the Constitution or the law.

In fact, it is not certain that Grassley would take over Judiciary. He might be named chairman of Finance, where he has been ranking member and formerly served as chairman. And yes, the main reason he might not be named chairman of Judiciary is because he is not a lawyer.

There are many reasons to want to run Chuck Grassley out of office. The main reason is he lied to Iowans about how the health care reform bill contained “death panels” that could deny grandma medical care. He knew better, but he knowingly perpetuated a lie just for political purposes. We liked Chuck Grassley before that. We thought he was honest. We found out he was just another power-hungry politician. He certainly is no maverick.

The real problem is that Braley does not know who he is running against. The Koch Brothers? Joni Ernst? Sam Clovis? For certain, Chuck Grassley is not on the ballot.

Romney made one stupid statement about the 47% of the voting public who are “takers” and no doers. It was his fatal statement. Braley might just have shot himself in the head by forgetting the Romney lesson.