The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
Compiled and Edited by Virginia Ross
Stronghurst Graphic, Feb. 2, 1922
(The following is an editorial by the paper editor and gives insight into the age old argument of Henderson County resources being spent in Burlington with little return.)
"Come Over the River, Charlie" by A. H. Kershaw
Our neighboring city of Burlington is feeling the need of a new city hall; or, at least, the Greater Burlington Association thinks that such an improvement is needed. But, a new city hall will cost money and money means bonds and bonds mean taxes and taxes are unpopular and "What to do?" "What to do?"
Burlington has a preacher, a good preacher, we are told, and a reliable guide in spiritual affairs; and just to show that such a guide need not of necessity be devoid of ideas pertaining to worldly affairs, he has come forward with a plan which he has presented to the G.B.A. and which they have in turn presented to the city council, which if carried out would give the citizens of Burlington its coveted new city hall free of cost to them.
In fact, a little study of the scheme reveals the possibility of municipal improvements of almost any character of extent being secured without cost to Burlington.
The preacher took the members of the G.B.A. to one of the high mountains of the city and pointing with his finger eastward showed them all the fair and fertile land which lies beyond the great river and said, "Is this not rich and well watered and are not the inhabitants thereof prosperous and, moreover, are they not known as "suckers?" Then pointing to the great structure which spans the mighty river and over which was moving an endless stream of motor cars carrying the opulent settlers of the land of promise to the city, he continued, "Listen, and tell me what you hear?" And they said, " We hear the chick of silver." And he replied, "Yes, verily; it is the chick of the quarters and half dollars as they drop into the outstretched palm of the man at the end of the bridge. Is it not music to your ears? Do you not know that the great structure upon which you now gaze and over which comes a large part of trade which fills the coffers of our merchants, our eating house proprietors, our picture show and theatre mangers and other business men, has already been almost paid for with the silver which has dropped into the palm of the man at the end of the bridge? Cheer up! Is the bridge not good yet for lo these many years to come? And will the charms of our Crapo Park, our special 50 cent dinners, our hooch joints, our green trading stamps, our movies, our limb show, our tri-state fair and our pulpit oratory, lose any of their potency during these years? Are you the Greater Burlington Association? And have you layed down with your face to the wall because you don't know how your beloved city can get -a city hall without paying for it"
"Illinois is building hard roads to beat the band. Route No. 8 over which will soon flow the traffic from one of the richest sections of that state leads to our bridge. True, there are just now a few little stretches of rather bad going on this route, but hav'nt we asked Henderson County to fix them? Our neighboring state is spending the "people's money" without stint in carrying out its hard road program, and while the cement trust and the big contractors are getting theirs, why not get ours?"
"The people from Illinois do not object to paying an average of 25 cents per vehicle for the privilege of getting into our fair city and after they have been relieved of all their cash, with the exception of a quarter, do they not cheerfully give that up for the privilege of getting out? Have we not said they are called "suckers?"
$36,000 per annum of real money collected by the man at the end of the bridge will soon be waiting to spend and shall the poor people of Burlington be denied their city hall while this is so? Behold, they shall yet have a city hall to possess it. Let the Bridge do it."
As we stated above, the plan proposed by the preacher looked so good that the G.B.A. put it before the city council and we presume they are now wrestling with the difficulties involved in the working out of details. One of these difficulties which has been pointed out by the city attorney is that investors might not be real crazy to load up on city all bonds, which would have to be retired from funds derived from such an uncertain source as bridge tolls, but the versatile preacher again comes forward with the suggestion that the bonds, if issued, be retired with money raised by taxation and that the bridge tolls be turned into the city treasury and applied for other municipal purposes.
In deciding to ask the city council to adopt the plan of making the bridge revenues pay for a new city hall, the members of the Greater Burlington Association evidently found it convenient to forget that they had sent a representative to Oquawka last summer to protest against the raising by the board of review of the valuation of that part of the bridge which is in Henderson County, and that their plea was based on the representation that after the bridge was paid for, it would be made a free bridge or at least, the toll charge reduced to a point sufficient to provide a proper maintenance fund. In view of this representation and the benefit which would accrue to the people of Henderson County if the promise of a free bridge was fulfilled, we are told that the board of review agreed to a full valuation of $30,000 or an assessed valuation of $15,000 on a structure, two-thirds or more of which is in Henderson County and which cost to build about $170,000.
Of course, the oral promise of a free or low toll bridge made by an individual citizen of Burlington could have no binding effect, but if that city puts over the scheme of making Henderson County citizens pay a large share of the amount necessary to furnish Burlington with a new city hall in exchange for the privilege of spending their money with Burlington business men and our county board permits the present valuation of the bridge property located in this county to stand, they should be recognized as simpletons.
(Once the bridge funds went away with the new bridge, the city has had to invent new ideas to replace these funds. i.e. proposed franchise tax.)