Silly me.

When my grandson was a youngster, his mother wanted to get a glimpse of his outlook on life.

“Andrew,” she said, “is your glass half-empty or half-full?”

He thought for a moment and then asked, “What’s in the glass?”

It sounds like a funny answer but I think he was on to something. You have to know what it is before you can decide whether you’re for it or against it.

John Skipper mug 2


In Mason City in recent years, despite the best efforts of city officials and economic development specialists, city residents have often hesitated to get too excited about projects and proposals until they know for sure what’s in the glass.

This may be the year we’ll be able to raise that glass in a toast to success and a brighter future.

On Wednesday at 10 a.m., ground will be broken on the 133-unit apartment complex on land east of Jitters on the waterfront. What a tremendous boon this will be to the housing market in Mason City. The apartments should be ideal for people moving into the community but not yet ready to purchase a home. They should also be ideal for older couples who are looking to sell their homes and downsize into something a little smaller. Their homes then go up for sale, thus increasing the availability of affordable housing.

On Tuesday, July 23 at 7 p.m., the City Council will hold a public hearing and then will most likely approve a development agreement with Gatehouse Mason City LLC to build a hotel and convention center in the far south parking lot of Southbridge Mall and connect the complex via skywalk to The Music Man Square across the street.

This is all part of the River City Renaissance Project which also includes the ice arena/multipurpose center being built in the old J.C. Penney’s building in the mall as well as a music pavilion in the north plaza of the mall. An infusion of nearly $10 million in state money, to be paid in increments, will help finance the project.

Soon there will be a Kwik Star gas station and convenience store in the north end of Southport in the former location of Wooz’s Car Wash, hopefully the long-awaited start of a rejuvenation of commercial activity in that part of the city.

Then there’s the possibility of a Bushel Boy hydroponic tomato facility locating in Mason City, Nothing is final on that yet, but both the company and EDC officials seem optimistic.

That’s a pretty good track record so far in 2019 for a city that has endured its fair share of disappointments over the past several years.

One other thing that might seem minor by comparison to other projects. The city has made arrangements to repair and replace “pavers” in the streetscape downtown. “Pavers” are what most of us call “bricks” and they are in dire need of repair.

In addition to being a safety hazard, the crumbled bricks look terrible and don’t present a good impression to people who may be visiting downtown for the first time. You can have a city full of tuxedos but it’s the dirty fingernails that people are likely to notice the most. Fix those bricks.

At any rate, the city’s glass seems to be half-full rather than half-empty so far, but as my friend and former restaurant owner Jay Kvigne used to say, “Either way, you’ve got to fill them up.”

Silly me.

John Skipper retired from the Globe Gazette in February 2018 after 52 years in newspapers, most of that in Mason City covering North Iowa government and politics.

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