• Business Record columnist• Email: daveelbert@bpcdm.com• Phone: (515) 988-3787© 2012 Business Record
• Business Record columnist
• Email: daveelbert@bpcdm.com
• Phone: (515) 988-3787
© 2012 Business Record

A lot happened in 2012 that I’d just as soon forget, starting with the Iowa caucuses, which were followed by an incredibly divisive election and one of the worst droughts we’ve seen in years.

Nonetheless, as the year winds down, I realize I have much to be thankful for, beyond the fact that I’ve been able to play golf in Iowa every month so far.

In no particular order, here are some of the things I’m grateful for this year:

• For the new “Symphony in Sculpture,” which had its world premiere in Des Moines Sept. 29.

The 25-minute piece was commissioned by John and Mary Pappajohn and written by Twin Cities composer Steve Heitzeg. The music matches video shot by Blur MediaWorks of nine sculptures in the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park.

The performance kicked off the 75th season of the Des Moines Symphony and made such an impression that the Pappajohns agreed to underwrite a commercial video.

As a result, the orchestra and conductor Joseph Giunta will record music for the DVD on Dec. 3. The disc can be pre-ordered from the Symphony website for $25 with delivery set for sometime in January, according to Richard Early, executive director of the Symphony.

• For WOW!, the Wonder of Words Festival sponsored by the Des Moines Public Library and the Downtown Community Alliance.

The ambitious 13-day event featured more than 70 Iowa authors doing readings and presentations at a variety of venues. There was even a Pub(lishers) Crawl sponsored by Full Court Press Inc., which owns such popular watering holes as El Bait Shop.

Hubbell Realty Co. chief Rick Tollakson gets credit for the inspiration for WOW, which now joins the Des Moines Arts Festival and Winefest Des Moines as a signature event for the metro area.

• For people like Bill Knapp, Jim Cownie, Connie Wimer, Mike Gartner and Steve Lacy, who are filling the shoes of John Ruan, John Fitzgibbon, David Kruidenier and others who did so much for Des Moines in the 1970s and ‘80s.

For a long time, people wondered where the next generation of leaders would come from. Now, we know.

• For completion of the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates.

The work that Ken Quinn and John and Janice Ruan did to turn Des Moines’ hundred-year-old riverfront library into a 21st-century masterpiece of art and technology is awe-inspiring, to say nothing of the global accomplishments of the World Food Prize Foundation.

• For my October travel companions to Spain, Steve and Barb Dinnen, Toby and Becky Joseph, and my wife, Amy.

Steve and Barb, who have been traveling to Spain since college, took us to places most tourists never see, while Toby used his iPad to keep us current on what was happening in Des Moines.

• For unusual Iowans, like Bill Mandelbaum, who works in the mailroom at Meredith Corp.

Mandelbaum has an unusual talent. When he was at the University of Northern Iowa in 1984, he began doing research and making election predictions.

This year, he correctly predicted the presidential vote in 47 of the 50 states, 31 of 33 U.S. Senate races, 420 of 435 U.S. House races and 10 of 11 gubernatorial contests.

• For new beginnings.

After 40 years of meeting daily newspaper deadlines it’s great to only have one deadline a week as a columnist for the Business Record.


Elbert Note: First broadcast

The first public broadcast by an Iowa radio station occurred 91 years ago this week on Nov. 21, 1921, when experimental radio station 9YI broadcast an hourlong concert from Iowa State College in Ames. Six months later, 9YI received the first commercial license in Iowa and began broadcasting as WOI radio.