In the Good Book, Job 1:21 states, “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away.” For my entire life I have heard a variant on this saying which says, “The Lord giveth, and the Government taketh away.” In my experience I have, “The Lord giveth, and the Perry City Council taketh away.” Let me explain.
I have been in Perry since January 1995 and moved here permanently in October 1995. Like everyone else who has lived here, I have noticed several changes. I was not part of the “glory” days of Perry but have seen a lot occur during the past 25 not-so-glory-days years.
Not that I am against good change but it seems that some changes can be an inconvenience to me. The first one was quite some time ago, and I cannot even for sure remember when it occurred. It had to be during the early 2000s.
This had to do with the improvements made on Second Street in front of the old Pegasus building. This is located at 1014 Second St. next to the old Odd Fellows building. I have to say that these improvements to the decor of the area made for a much more attractive area.
They used to hold the Perry Chamber of Commerce band concerts and other events there on Fridays. This was a well suited area for this, with a lot of outlets for the vendors to use. They held these events for the first few years after the improvements. It has been a long time since this area has been used. I remember a certain beverage that was sold there.
What inconvenienced me was the parking space that I liked to use. I liked to use the space where now there is curbing and a tree planted. I am not a fan of parallel parking, and this space sat at the intersection of Second Street and Willis Avenue next to the Carnegie Library facing south. I could pull in and out of there without having to parallel park.
Another inconvenience was a parking space that sat right in front of Pegasus. Pegasus Coordinator Keith Knoll got a hold of former Perry City Administrator Butch Niebuhr, and the Perry City Council made this into a handicap parking space. Some people call it disabled parking and others call it challenged parking. Anyway, I could no longer park there, which was very inconvenient for me. I could not blame Keith because the issue had to do with winter.
Keith needs to use a wheelchair, and during the winter the front wheels of his chair do not go through snow. Whenever it snowed, by the time Keith got to Pegasus, someone from DMACC would usually be parked there. Keith could park across the street and get to the sidewalk. The problem was that when they plowed the streets, snow would be piled up in front of the sidewalk, and he could not get across.
If the street was not clear, it was even worse. When he parked in front of Pegasus, Keith could get to the door even if the sidewalk was not shoveled by doing a wheely. If you want to know the hazards of using the sidewalks and crossing the streets in downtown Perry, go along with someone who uses a wheelchair. There are a lot of challenges. This change did not occur all that long ago.
Another inconvenience was when they built the Casey’s store on First Avenue. They must have built this in 2008, around the time of my gall bladder removal. I remember getting back home from the hospital after being in Mercy in Des Moines for over a week. I went in on a Sunday and came out on a Sunday. They thought that I had liver cancer at one point.
On Monday I was not too with it. I remember the phone ringing and a message being left. I could not quite get woken up. My work had called my neighbor, Mary Ann Pantier, who also worked at the Perry Lutheran Home, and she came down and knocked on my door until I got up. She told me that the police were trying to get me to move my car because they wanted to start work on the new Caseys.
Mary Ann got my keys and moved my car for me. I was thankful for her assistance. She is a good neighbor. Later I listened to the message, and it was former Perry Police Chief Dan Brickner, who was calling me so work could begin on the store. I have not seen him for quite some time. I wonder what has become of him.
I do not know why there was no previous notice given to us. I had parked there for years, and the store must have been planned for quite some time before construction began. I have noticed this before with projects. Twice, when Minburn Communications was installing fiber optic, I came out to find a large, deep hole right behind my car. I could not back out of my parking spot for the hole. The first time, I called the city to ask them if the next time they could let me know so that I could move my car. I was assured they would.
Not long after, the same thing happened again and again with no notice. In 2017, while on my way to a tour of England, Ireland, Scotland and Northern Ireland, I received a call from a female Perry Police Officer on my Trac Phone. She wanted to know if I could move my care because they wanted to paint the lines in the city parking lot by the post office.
I told her of my dilemma, and I expected that my car would be towed. It was not, and the lines got painted around my car. Again, I had parked this car there for two years and if someone had simply notified me in advance, I would have had my car moved before. Nothing else has happened for the past three years, just when it was impossible for me to do anything. It made my trip miserable.
At that time, I had two blue cars. A big 1986 Oldsmobile Delta 88 and a big 1988 Chevy Caprice Classic. Ron Short still drives the Chevy around Perry. I parked the Chevy in my parking space at the apartment and the other car on the street in one of the city parking spaces that went into the lot.
Before Casey’s, there was a parking lot there that Brenton Bank and later Wells Fargo owned. No one ever parked there. The only use that I ever saw it put to was when a group of Sudanese men who lived around the area would meet and squat in a circle while smoking like chimneys. I remember a couple of islands with some trees. Again seldom used. Old people like Duane Griffin used to tell me that two houses used to sit on the lot. Duane told me that he rented an apartment in one of these houses.
I know that my landlord, George McCarty, was mad about the sale. He had informed the bank that he would like to buy some of this area to use for parking by his building. No such luck. In 2011 I moved upstairs, and I found out that this Casey’s is a noisy place 24 hours a day.
Trucks come in all of the time, and people slam the dumpster lids all times of night. People get gasoline any time of the night who think that their radios need to be loud enough for you to hear and pickups that need to roar. They must have no mufflers. Winter is great for cars that will not start. People crank their starters to get the engine over, and they slam their hoods. You get used to it. Now they are closing at 10 p.m. because of the novel coronavirus scare. Still noises all night. I think that the trailers sitting there have refrigeration units in them.
I once asked Butch Niebuhr about this loss of parking because it was handy for me. He said that because this was a state highway, the state did not really like parking on it. Twelve years later and the other spaces are still there. I do not know when they were last painted though.
Now comes the expansion of the Progressive Foundry on Second Street. I am not against progress, and hopefully this expansion will better Perry. It might help economically, but it is another inconvenience for me.
Some of you may know that I frequently drive around town. For me it is therapeutic. I have a couple of routes that I use and sometimes vary this. The main starting route used to be Second Street by the U.S. Post Office and Progressive Foundry. I liked to look in the open doors of Progressive Foundry and see the piles of metal. On Sunday nights, I frequently saw a man come out of there all covered in soot.
Now this is gone. I have to go on First Avenue and then continue my route. I miss seeing what is going on at the foundry, but I will live. I thought it would be a good idea if they would put in garage doors on both the north and south ends so that I could use a remote control and drive through the foundry to see what is going on.
Such it is with change. Why so much of it affects me I will never know. Maybe a change will benefit me. All of these changes were approved by the Perry City Council. That is why I say, “The Lord giveth, and the Perry City Council taketh away.”