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Family farm traditions fuel charity tractor cruise

Faith, family, farming read the T-shirts worn by many of the participants in this year s Heart of America Tractor Club Cruise, which got underway Saturday morning in the paved lot behind University Park on the campus of Northwest Missouri State.

And that pretty much said it all. The 12th annual cruise, which rolled over about 50 miles of blacktops in western Nodaway and eastern Holt counties, was very much a tribute to values associated with the rural Midwest: a willingness to help neighbors in need and the determination required to make a living and build a life by working the land. Held in Maryville one year and Stanberry in Gentry County the next, the cruise generally raises around $12,000 for various charities, especially organizations that help children.

This year s recipient organizations include Camp Encourage, Lettuce Dream, the proposed SSM Health St. Francis Hospital accessible playground, Muscular Dystrophy camp and Special Olympics. As for working the land, the cruise is essentially a rolling museum featuring now-legendary machines that in decades past were used to create a U.S. production agriculture industry tasked with feeding the world. Many perhaps most of the men and women who participated in the cruise started driving tractors before they learned how to drive a car. These are folks who love old farm implements, and who spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars painstakingly restoring them to dealership condition.

More than a few tractors entered in the Heart of America event have been owned by the same family for generations and were bought new as field machines by the fathers, grandfathers and even great-grandfathers of people driving them in parades and cruises today.

It s what we grew up with, said Lee Roy Sickman, a security officer at the Cooper Nuclear Station in Brownville, Nebraska, who lives on and works a 160-acre farmstead north of Tarkio owned by his family for more than 100 years. Everybody here has a story, and generally the tractor they grew up with is what they re driving. More or less. Actually, the tractor Sickman brought to the cruise was a 1960 Farmall 560 he purchased and restored not all that long ago. He also owns a 1952 Massey-Harris acquired in 2003, which is one of five Massey-Harris machines restored by Sickman and several of his in-laws. Two of those tractors rolled in Saturday s cruise.

But the former Texas oil field worker s pride and joy, now returned to mint condition, is a 1951 Farmall H that was bought new by his father to plow and plant the family spread.

It was Dad s favorite tractor, Sickman said. We did everything with it plowed, made hay. I got it painted in 2005, and now it s for parades and cruises only. For men like Sickman, old tractors are a window through which they can look back at childhood while remembering lessons learned from loved ones who have passed on.

He gave me that good old work ethic, Sickman said of his father, adding that the Farmall and his other two vintage machines for that matter aren t for sale at any price.

Hopefully, he said, my kids will keep them. Of course, those are just Sickman s collectible tractors. He owns also three newer machines needed for farm work.

My wife is real proud of that that I ve got six tractors, he said in the wry tone used by husbands everywhere to suggest mild spousal disapproval. There s two Internationals, and, well, I don t like to tell anybody this, but I ve got a John Deere, too.

Dean Johnson of Stanberry was another driver on hand for Saturday s cruise. Now retired, Johnson spent 40 years managing the maintenance department at Lawson Equipment, now Northwest Implement, in Stanberry. In other words, he was a professional tractor mechanic, and bringing new life to the old machines he used to repair for a living remains a passion. Three of Johnson s four tractors were on display Saturday, including a 1951 Farmall H he restored in 2001.

I didn t think it would take much to fix up, he said, but it didn t turn out that way $7,000 later. I had to do the motor, the transmission, the rear end everything.

Johnson s other machines include a small Ford NAA Golden Jubilee manufactured in 1953 and rolling off the assembly line exactly 100 years after Henry Ford founded the iconic motor company that still bears his name.

Then there is a 1956 Allis-Chalmers WD45, which Johnson s uncle bought new and that has been in the family ever since.

I don t know, Johnson said when asked why tractors, once his livelihood, remain such an important part of his retirement years. It s just the memories I guess. I ve worked on them all my life, and it s in my blood.

NH National Guard personnel to provide air base security

About 30 New Hampshire Air National Guard Security Forces Squadron members are going to be deployed in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. A deployment ceremony is scheduled for Sunday at Pease Air National Guard Base in Newington, New Hampshire. The ceremony also will celebrate the 193 airmen who have deployed this year. The soldiers are deploying to six locations throughout the United States Central Command. They have conducted combat skills training at Fort Bliss, Texas, and completed additional training locally. They will provide airbase security at six bases throughout the region.

Security officer warns businesses after fatal South Nashville …

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) A man died from a stabbing Thursday morning, and businesses in the South Nashville area tell News 2 they are sick of crime. Joshua Taylor, 19, was stabbed outside the Gold Star Market on Murfreesboro Pike. Taylor died at the scene. Security guard, Pauline Spalding, has worked across the street from the convenience store for seven years.

She has witnessed frequent crime in the area, and thinks businesses need to be proactive.

I worry about everybody and I tell everybody when they move in, do not go across the street due to that fact, said Spalding. I m honest with them. I don t want them stabbed. I don t want them robbed, but it s a constant issue for both.

Mitchell Tarver was arrested at a nearby homeless camp for the stabbing.

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