My goodness, it's been a banner week for political luminaries in Chariton. We started with U.S. Sen Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and U.S. Rep Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa) at Monday's dedication of Veterans Memorial Park and ended it on Friday during lunch with Sen Charles Grassley (also R-Iowa) on Friday.
The latter senator was in town to have lunch and answer questions during a noon meeting with Chariton Rotarians. I was one of several non-Rotarians invited to sit in (thanks, Ray), which meant an excellent lunch served up by the Charitone Market Grille staff --- pork loin with stir-fried kale or chicken breast with wild rice compote, grilled fresh asparagus, smokey white mac and cheese, pie to die for, etc., etc.
Ordinarily, the Rotarians meet at Carpenters Hall --- but have taken to the road for two weeks, landing Friday on the lower level of the Charitone, which is in the process of being finished into a rental events venue. This is a large and well-lighted L-shaped area left largely unfinished when the top four floors of the Charitone were completed; now the walls and ceilings have been finished and the floor is next.
Politics was the post-luncheon fare and the Rotarians, very polite hosts. A majority of the questions were related to the ongoing debate in Congress about the future of Obamacare. Since neither Grassley nor anyone else knows exactly how or when this debate will end, there were few definitive answers. Although, Grassley does seem to believe that protections for those with pre-existing conditions will remain in some form.
It was fun to share a table with, among others, Florence Heacock, a veteran staffer in the office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives who, upon retirement, moved to Chariton and took on management of the Chariton Area Chamber/Main Street office for Kris Patrick, manager. Her questions were related to Social Security.
Finally, Ray Meyer asked the veteran senator (now 83 and in office since 1981) when he planned to retire. Grassley, who has four more years on his current term, suggested that four years from now would be an appropriate time for that question.