"You might have had brothers and sisters who attended Government Day," said Jolene Denbow in welcoming high school students to Tama County American Legion and Auxiliary Government Day in Toledo on Wednesday, April 9. What, Denbow could have added was "Your parents or even your grandparents could have taken part in this event."
It was the 60th annual event here which gives students a glimpse of how their government at the county level operates. County Government Day began in 1954 at a time when it was a nation-wide event.
Today, it is widely-held Tama County is the sole place where the tradition is continued.
Area high school students cast their ballots during Tama County Government Day activities on Wednesday, April 9, while Legionnaire Norbert Caloud, Clutier, watches over the process. Caloud has been a Legion representative at 59 of the past 60 Government Days, missing only once since 1954 due to illness.
News-Herald photos/John Speer
From the booking room of the Tama County Jail to a meeting with the board of supervisors, a stop in the Magistrate's Courtroom and a tour of the Tama County Historical Society Museum, students get a feel for the wide range of services provided at the county level.
An added highlight this year was an appearance by Iowa Supreme Court Justice Brent Appel. He was in Toledo to hear oral arguments at the Wieting Theatre in a special Supreme Court session.
Appel praised the students and the Government Day program, saying We need an educated citizenry to maintain a democracy."
How students voted at Tama County Government Day 2014:
1. Should Iowa legalize marijuana?
2.Should the sale of e-cigarettes be restricted to age 18 and over?
3. Should Iowa (ranked 48th) increase help for those with mental challenges?
4. Would raising the minimum wage help our economy and job creation?
5. Should proof of citizenship be required when voting?
6. Should drivers licenses be issued to those in our country illegally?
8. Should a drug test be required in order to receive government support?
He spoke of the "extraordinary system" in the United states in which juries made up of citizens often decide the fate of cases rather than judges. He called upon students to take part and assured them they will, at some point as adults" be summoned for jury duty."
Iowa Legion Department Commander James Demarest and Auxiliary President Ann Crawford were on hand for the activities.
Students also heard a panel presentation by county elected and appointed officials outlining the duties of their departments.
High schools represented Wednesday included South Tama, GMG, Gladbrook-Reinbeck and North Tama.
The Tama County American Legion Posts and Auxiliary Units of Chelsea, Clutier, Dysart, Elberon, Garwin, Gladbrook, Montour, Tama 73, Tama 701, Toledo and Traer jointly sponsor Government Day.
Members escort students on tours and prepare and provide the noon meal.