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Exploring the Capitol in Iowa

When I arrived at the Iowa state Capitol in Des Moines, the security guard suggested I hurry to the first floor to catch the tour that had just started a few minutes ago. Our knowledgeable guide stopped first in what had been the Supreme Court room, which is now used as a committee room and for the tour introduction. As I had approached the Capitol, I had noted that the center dome was gold-covered and four other domes were covered in copper. It turned out this is the only Capitol with five domes.

The tour guide explained that in some way the gold was the cheapest way to cover the dome since gold lasted so long and protected the stone it is standing on from staining. Staining is a problem with the copper domes. The layer of gold is tissue thin and if all the gold were collapsed into a ball, you could hold its six pounds in one hand. It had been recovered in 1999 at a cost of $500,000 including labor. A wide variety of imported and domestic marble were used, along with different types of wood from Iowa, making this a very attractive interior. The inside view of the dome from the rotunda is very beautiful.

Finished in 1886, it used gaslights and candles for illumination. This was a hazard that led to a fire that destroyed the House chamber in 1904. Later our guide showed us the extensive renovation that had been done to the House of Representatives to make the building useable. The Senate had had no damage and is still in the original style with lovely chandeliers that were originally for gaslights. The Legislature meets only four months of the year and was not in session when we were there. Our guide stressed the number of different occupations members of the Legislature come from, making it truly representative.

The most unusual section of the building is the extensive law library with 100,000 books. It is an open room three stories high with the books being reached by circular iron staircases at each end. The library is open to the public but librarians must retrieve the books for you, and visitors are not allowed to go up the staircases. It struck us that the librarians must be in very good physical condition. The library also has a unique collection of historic English law books. My oldest daughter, a doll collector, would have enjoyed the display just outside of the governor s office with dolls of the 44 first ladies in their inaugural gowns.

The “Western Pioneers,” 140-foot mural depicting the state’s history painted by Edwin Howland Blashfield in 1905, was at the top of one of staircases. While it was well done, I preferred the hard-nosed realism of the murals in our own Missouri Capitol by Thomas Hart Benton. To make up for the lack of many murals, the Iowa Capitol has an impressive collection of 47 monuments and statues surrounding the building. In front, I especially liked the statue of Abe Lincoln reading to his son Tad, and one of a pioneer with his son and a Native American guide. Des Moines is rich in other attractions, such as the State History Museum and the Living History Farms in nearby Urbandale, which have been written about in other Venture Bound columns.

Ken Knox leaves growing legacy of expertise, dedication

Derek Lacey Times-News Staff Writer @BRNDerek

Ken Knox has been described as a doctor, a historian and even a guru. But throughout his illustrious career, he didn’t work with medicine, or at a university or as a religious teacher his passion and his life’s work were trees. Known professionally as The Tree Doctor, Knox spent the bulk of his career, more than four decades, as a consulting arborist. He diagnosed problems with trees and prescribed proper treatments, advised on the preservation of historic trees, analyzed potential hazard trees and more. Knox, 79, of Flat Rock, died March 11 at his home.

His influence and impact can be seen in the healthy trees in places like Augusta National Golf Club, Wade Hampton Golf Club, Charlotte Country Club. He helped revitalize an avenue of old live oaks at golf community Belfair Plantation in South Carolina and helped with the arboretum at Furman University. Kenneth Allan Knox grew up in Gettysburg, Penn., where his father owned a sporting goods store and newsstand. Ken and his brother Donald worked at their father’s store, Gettysburg News and Sporting Goods, which had its own bowling alley in the back. While working there, he’d set out five newspapers for First Lady Mamie Eisenhower while she was visiting nearby Camp David, and she would call to find out if the papers were in, coming into the store with just one security guard to pick them up. She insisted that Ken refer to her only as Mamie, according to Knox’s wife, Pam.

The sporting goods store also carried fishing flies tied by hand by Ken’s father and uncle, a tradition that Ken, an avid fly fisher, continued. The local game wardens knew Ken to be such a talented fly fisher that they asked him to come to Camp David and fish the stream there to remove some of the native trout population, which was becoming overpopulated since President Dwight Eisenhower didn’t want to remove them himself, Pam said. He went on to graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree from Pennsylvania State University School of Forestry in 1959, and continued his education with later training from the National Arbor Day Foundation and the USDA Forest Service.

At Penn State, he met lifetime friend Dan Speace, who said the two met the first week in September, 1955. At Penn State, one of the top forestry schools in the U.S., 125 students enrolled in their freshman class, but fewer than one-third graduated the four-year program. Knox and Speace worked together in the dining hall three meals a day, setting and clearing tables, serving food and washing dishes, getting paid in free meals. Speace remembers Ken as a well-organized student, driven and committed, who earned top grades while also working various jobs.

Working for six weeks at a required forestry summer camp in the summer of 1959, Speace and Knox worked on the same crew, surveying, map-making and more. During that time, Knox naturally emerged as the de facto crew leader, Speace said. After graduating, Knox went on to work for Monroe Company in upstate New York, serving as a leading factor of the company’s rapid growth, Speace said. But years of that work came with a high cost and Knox decided to move to North Carolina in 1978, starting his own business soon after. He was quickly propelling his own consulting business to success, becoming known as The Tree Doctor.

Knox amassed a plethora of bowling trophies and always had a love for the outdoors, for fishing, hunting and hiking. His daughter, Amy, remembers endless hikes as a kid, hikes that always included an impromptu course on tree identification. He passed on his fly-fishing skills to Amy as well. Roy Simkins, who worked with Knox at Augusta, said Ken knew better how to protect special trees “than anybody I’ve ever run across. Ken had not only a passion about trees for their innate beauty, but also had a passion for helping other people” keep from doing damage to trees. Simkins, who’s in the real estate business, said that if he ever had a problem or a question about a tree, including about how to look after a damaged tree or work around one without destroying it, Knox was there.

He described Knox as an expert in identifying plants, and that he helped Simkins learn more about trees, and because of Knox and his enthusiasm, Simkins became an arborist of sorts himself.

“Ken made me curious … about trees and how to care for them,” he said, inspiring him to do a lot of study over a period of about 25 to 30 years. Knox worked on many golf courses, Simkins said, including Sea Island Golf Club on Saint Simons Island, Ga., Wade Hampton in Cashiers, and more. Knox helped them teach those responsible for the grounds and the overall well being of the course.

“(Ken) helped a whole lot of folks,” Simkins said. The two talked from time to time, most recently about a month ago, Simkins said, adding that Ken always made him feel good, telling him he knew more than most professional arborists.

“He was a great service to the plant communities of the Southern United States and beyond,” Simkins said.

Patrick O’Brien, an agronomist with the United States Golf Association who first met Knox around 25 years ago, said Knox’s moniker of “The Tree Doctor” was an apt title. Knox would help when there were issues with the trees at golf courses, helping to determine if they had safety or disease issues and would provide the essential input on making the decision whether to keep the tree showing also how to make them healthy again. O’Brien described Knox as very likable, an enjoyable person to be around, and that it didn’t matter if it was a low, mid or high-budget golf club, he treated everyone equally.

“His expertise and knowledge were just superior,” O’Brien said. “(He) really knew what he was doing.”

He even helped with the trees at O’Brien’s Georgia home, Loblolly Pines, more than 20 years ago, installing lightning protection for the “spectacular trees,” O’Brien recalls. Those trees have lived a long and healthy life, and even today, O’Brien says that the lightning protection has protected those trees just like Knox said it would. Ted Nye, of Grandfather Golf and Country Club in Linville, described Knox as more of tree historian, assisting village decisions on healthy and unhealthy trees, helping caretakers determine when and why trees may have been planted where they were and when they’d overreached their lifespan and making sure the roadways and common areas were safe. Knox would point out interesting facts and histories and estimate ages.

He was a pleasure to work with, Nye said. But Knox did not limit his care to trees. In the early 1980s, he had an idea: a Christmas dinner for everyone in the community that didn’t have a place to go. With the help of Immaculate Conception’s Father Wilderotter and more, the Bounty of Bethlehem became an annual tradition that today serves a hot dinner to thousands of people each Christmas Day.

A parishioner at Immaculate Conception Church in Hendersonville, Pam Knox said his faith was strong, as was his desire to do something for the community that would make a difference. For that first Bounty, Knox actually drove around the community, she said, picking people up and bringing them to the dinner. In those early days, he also worked with a local hardware store to provide heat for a homeless man. There are many stories of the wonderful things that happened not only at the first Bounty dinner, but stemming from what it inspired, Pam Knox said. It didn’t just bring in and feed people who were hungry or in need, it brought lonely people into a community, a place to gather and celebrate the holidays. It brought together different churches, different faiths.

Throughout his career, Knox wrote innumerable reports, but each one ends the same way, with this quote from Dr. Seuss’s “The Lorax:”

“I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues. And I’m asking you sir, at the top of my lungs, unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

A Memorial Mass will be held Monday, April 3 at 10 a.m. in the Our Lady of Angels Chapel of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. The family will receive friends immediately following the service.

Beyoncé, Blue Ivy and Jay Z Roll in Style to Family Lunch With His Mom – E! Online

This is how the Knowles-Carter family rolls! On Friday, Jay-Z took his favorite ladies out to lunch the group including pregnant wife Beyonc [1], their 5-year-old daughter Blue Ivy and his mother, Gloria Carter. Accompanied by security guards, they dined at the Gjelina restaurant in Venice, California, one of their favorite eateries, E! News has learned exclusively. And they certainly made an entrance: Bey, who wore a boho-style hat and dress, was spotted in one of the entourage’s three Escalades, while Jay drove a Tesla and his mother rode with him.

The group dined in the back of the restaurant, where they usually sit, for at least an hour. After they finished eating, a security guard drove one of the Escalades to the curb, right by the eatery’s exit, and Beyonc slid right inside. The whole group then headed to Def Jam Records’ offices a few miles away, where Jay Z and his mother went to pick up a woman before everyone drove away. Beyonc announced on Feb. 1 via an Instagram photo that she is pregnant with twins. She has not revealed the babies’ sexes but fans have speculated that she has dropped hints[2].


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  2. ^ fans have speculated that she has dropped hints (