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The Elbert Files

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The Elbert Files: Random thoughts

First thought: New book. 

“The Sophocles Rule” is local novelist Joe LeValley’s fifth book about the fictional town of Orney, Iowa, its local newspaper and star reporter Tony Harrington. And it may be his best.…

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The Elbert Files: ‘1776’ still a revelation

The 1969 Tony Award-winning musical “1776” was one of the first performances I saw in the then-new C.Y. Stephens Auditorium in 1971. Fifty-two years later, I still remember how curious it was that a musical …

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The Elbert Files: Legislative ‘oopses’

I met my friend K.C. inside the Panoramic Awareness Pavilion in the southeast corner of the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park. 

The pavilion is a light sculpture created by artist Olafur Eliasson. Its 23 …

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The Elbert Files: Rural Iowa’s conundrum

“If you look out broadly and objectively, you’ll conclude that nothing we’ve done is working,” economist David Swenson said about rural Iowa during a recent podcast. 

“Sixty of Iowa’s 99 counties had their peak populations …

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The Elbert Files: Landmark buildings

Consolidation of Wells Fargo’s Des Moines operations brings to mind the history of its downtown buildings and their location at Eighth and Walnut streets, where one of early Des Moines’ most storied buildings stood for …

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The Elbert Files: A Bright love story

This week’s Valentine Day-themed column is based on work I did in 2015 for the Bright Foundation.

One day in 1928, farm girl Lois Rynor drove her family’s Model T Ford to high school in …

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The Elbert Files: Rebel Republican

Gov. Kim Reynolds was not the first Iowa Republican to conduct a high-profile campaign against fellow party members when she successfully supported primary challengers last year against Republican lawmakers who opposed her school voucher bill. …

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The Elbert Files: Grand Avenue

The 7 3/4 -mile stretch of road we know as Grand Avenue was once anything but grand. 

It is a compilation of three earlier streets, all with different names, none of which was Grand. 

But …

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The Elbert Files: Iowa is well positioned

As we head into the new year, Iowa’s economy appears more solid than it has been for some time, according to the Iowa Department of Revenue’s Iowa Leading Economic Index. 

The index, despite its name, …

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The Elbert Files: Don’t ask

One of the more insidious spinoffs of digital technology is the customer satisfaction survey.

I regularly receive emails from merchants, mechanics, medical professionals and others I do business with asking me to rate their actions. …

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