Communications bring progress

By Keith Williams

Well over 100 years ago, a village formed and grew along the Upper Iowa River about a mile north of the present city of Lime Springs.To be more exact, it was near Lidtke Mill, the last operating business of that village.

Why was it on the river? In many cases, cities are formed near rivers because of the transportation the river provided. In this case, it was probably because of the power available. A flowing river means power. With power you can make things! The products were flour and, later, electricity. Both were important commodities. Both were important to the growth of the area.

Let’s define “communications” as the transportation of messages in any form plus the transportation of people and goods. We learned that the first place villages sprang up throughout the history of the world was along water, including rivers. Why? Because rivers meant “communications” and economic growth.

As areas grew and time marched on, there has always been change brought about by communications. The socialistic system of life in the Amana Colonies was disbanded because of improved communications. Contact with the outside world, brought about by roads, automobiles and telephones, was just too much for their somewhat closed system.

Railroad changes things

The big change brought to the village we Lime Springers know as “Old Town” happened because the railroad, another “communications” tool, was built one mile north of the river.

What happened? The village essentially packed up and moved from the slow river to the railroad. Its speedy trains could take goods and people anyplace in the country. And, equally important, bring people to the area!

This new-to-the-area communications medium could also bring messages in the form of mail and packages! Imagine the thrill those early residents had when they first ordered from a Sears or other catalog! In just a week or two they were enjoying the same products their city cousins in Minneapolis or Chicago were using but which were previously unavailable to them.

Improved communications brought by the railroad improved the quality of life for those who lived in and around Lime Springs.

Electricity/phone changes things

Progress marched on. Electricity and phone service became available, even to citizens out in the country. Highways were built, with a major north-south highway, US-63, running just a mile from the center of Lime Springs.

Now, LimeSprings Beef is building its plant just a few hundred feet from that highway. Is that coincidental? Hardly.

New, faster, more convenient, and more affordable communications have always attracted activities, people, and industry. Economic growth follows. More businesses, more jobs, more people, more things to do, more support services, more houses to build, and so on. It’s a vicious cycle. A highly desirable vicious cycle.

Modern communications improvements have occurred during our lifetimes. The interstate highway system was conceived and implemented. Modern airports were built at smaller cities. Both have aided the economic growth of communities all over our country.

Airplanes change things

Lime Springs benefits from these modern communications mediums. We’re located about an hour from interstate highways. We have access to airports in Rochester and Waterloo which can handle almost any aircraft. Closer to home, Ellen Church Field at Cresco has a long, hard-surfaced, runway which can accommodate most business aircraft.

These forms of communications are vitally important to companies seeking to expand to new areas.

Digital changes things

Now we’re in the 21st century. There’s a new type of communications which is at least as important to businesses as the ones already mentioned. That type: digital communications!

To simplify it, let’s just call it the Internet!

Both Internet service and roads come in a broad range of capabilities. Roads range from dirt roads which are often impassible during certain periods to interstate highways. I-10 in West Texas, where the speed limit is 85 mph, can move people and goods much faster and more safely than can the blacktop road east from Lime Springs to Cresco. But both are useful and necessary for today’s people and commerce to continue and to grow.

Internet service also is available in a broad range of capabilities. First connections to the Internet were often via what’s known as “dial-up” because the connection was over existing telephone lines. It was the “dirt-road” equivalent and it was s-l-o-w . But it worked and gave us a new way to communicate. Now, much faster, more convenient, and more reliable methods of connection to the Internet are available.

Individuals and businesses have grown to rely on high-speed Internet service. Businesses like Rockwell Collins and Mayo Clinic would come to a screeching halt if their high-speed Internet was taken from them and replaced with dial-up! It is so important that researchers are constantly seeking ways to make it even faster.

High-speed Internet capability is no longer a luxury but a requirement today and in the future. It’s an absolute necessity for many businesses.

Lime Springs is conveniently positioned to obtain the highest speed Internet service currently available anywhere. One key to the fastest Internet service is fiber optics. The speed and data-handling capacity of fiber optics is huge. The good news is that there is a fiber optic system just a few miles from Lime Springs!

Task Force Howard County is working as part of the statewide Connect Iowa program to ensure that Howard County has the best possible Internet service. Such availability will enable industries such as LimeSprings Beef to communicate with their suppliers, contractors and transporters in the fastest, most efficient, manner possible. Most importantly, perhaps, it will permit communications with their customers.

High-speed Internet will benefit everyone in the area, as do modern airports and highways. The same capability will be available to our schools, our library, our medical services and our public departments. And it will be available to our existing businesses and new businesses which are seeking to expand into new locations.

At the suggestion of other civic-minded citizens, I have joined the Task Force Howard County. I plan to work with Jesse Stevens, Marcie Klomp, and others to support Lime Springs on the CONNECT IOWA project.

We will be coming to some of you for information in support of this project. I express in advance my appreciation for your support on this endeavor. Together we can secure a spot at the front of the CONNECT IOWA line for Lime Springs.

I’d like for each person to start defining the future of Lime Springs with the delivery of data by Fiber Optic Cable. I hope we will have a series of articles written by you on what you think it will mean for you, your family, your business and our community.

Can you imagine a Mayo Clinic surgeon preforming robotic surgery at St. Mary’s from their home on the Upper Iowa River? With high-speed internet, this is no more advanced than the thought of landing a man on the moon would have been sixty years ago.

If you want to kick it around with me just e-mail me at . I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas on the subject!


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