I was 16 when I arrived in West Onion, Ioway. “Was this heaven? No it’s Ioway” (Kevin Costner). This town had four grocery stores downtown, five flourishing bars, two clothing stores and a new $22 million high school. Heying Foods employed my Dad and, along with Schwans, was one of the major employers that we harassed out. They had two shifts and 93 employees under my Father’s leadership. Dad retired because they relocated to Panora and ended up a part of Cargill, a private agriprocessor that makes millions.
West Onion today has no bars left, no businesses downtown, one grocery store and all the factories have left except for Rupp. Our biggest growth industry is prisons, charging $30 to $50 a day for inferior food and for the privilege of being caught in the system. One guy is getting 15 years for narcotic paraphernalia, no marijuana, but just a pipe. Our criminal law system wastes 20 percent of our citizens yet we profit from it immensely.
Wow! We have made progress. Is this heaven? No, it’s Ioway. Goodbye and good luck. Judge ye not lest you be judged yourselves. I used to love this town. What happened?