When fomer Mason City Mayor Roger Bang used to talk about the advantages of living in North Iowa, he’d start out by saying, with a twinkle in his eye, “If you enjoy the four seasons of the year ...” — a subtle reference that we indeed do have winter here.

Then he would talk about how the city was a retail hub and it had a college, an airport, a fairgrounds, museums, industries, entertainment venues and a transportation network that serves business, industry and the general public very well.

He was also a strong advocate of the area’s regional strength.

My family has been part of North Iowa for a quarter of a century now — long enough to evaluate its strengths and weaknesses

It’s also long enough to appreciate the people who have helped make it strong and who are working on the weaknesses rather than just sitting on the sidelines complaining about them.

And new ideas come up all the time. For instance, within the next year or two, we’re going to have a dog park and an enhanced bike/pedestrian trail.

Two of North Iowa’s greatest strengths never show up in promotional brochures because they are hard to picture.

But it would be difficult for any other area to top our spirit of volunteerism and our generosity.

Without volunteers, we wouldn’t enjoy the Band Festival, Cannonball Days, the Civil War Re-Enactment, the Barbecue Bash, the North Iowa Fair and many other community festivities. Put them all together and you’re talking about hundreds of volunteers and thousands of hours of service to the community.

The generosity of the people is evident every year in annual fund drives for such things as the United Way, the Cheer Fund and the Salvation Army, among others.

We are a giving community and we prove it every year.

Volunteerism and generosity are assets that are not often talked about but those of us who live here know they exist, participate in them and benefit from them.

If I was going to give a North Iowa pep talk and start it similarly to the way former Mayor Bang did, I might add just a little something to it, also with a twinkle in my eye.

“If you enjoy the four seasons of the year — and you like the sound of train horns ...”

Reach John Skipper at 421-0537 or john.skipper@globegazette.com.

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