On some fall days, Silvis is a cloud of smoke amid clear Quad-Cities skies. Neighboring communities in both states have banned the odious practice of burning yard debris, in exchange for environmentally friendly methods of disposing of fallen leaves and the remains of backyard flower beds and gardens. On Tuesday, voters in that city will get a chance to weigh in on the issue in answering the straightforward question: "Do you support banning outside burning within the city of Silvis, except controlled recreational fires." Though some aldermen object to even asking the question, we agree with Ald. Caryn Unsicker, 4th Ward, who said every year she fields questions from "umpteen" people regarding leaf burning. "We thought that, once and for all, we would let the voters decide," she said. She's right. The question comes in a year in which drought conditions already have drastically reduced the number of burn days for residents. We hope that the experience of this season will help voters to decide in the affirmative regarding this issue. Yes, burn bans make it harder to get rid of yard waste. And it can be more costly, which is why cities should do everything they can to create programs that help the cash-strapped use other methods of leaf disposal. But the benefits to the overall public health far outweigh the inconvenience. In recommending voters say yes, we also urge Silvis residents to remember, when leaves are burning, it isn't just their air space being violated.
Today is Wednesday, March 12, the 71st day of 2014. There are 294 days left in the year. 1864 -- 150 years ago: Soldiers from the barracks on the Arsenal manage to elude the vigilance of the guard nearly every day and come to town armed. In the hands of excited and perhaps intoxicated men, these weapons are dangerous. 1889 -- 125 years ago: Manufacturing's merchants and professional men of Moline were petitioning the Western Union Telegraph company to establish a telegraph office in the business area of the city. 1914 -- 100 years ago: Three Rock Island students, the Misses Eleanor Cleaveland, Dorothy McCabe and Ruth West, escaped injury when fire destroyed College Hall at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. 1939 -- 75 years ago: The Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War gave a party for William H. Stremmel, the only survivor of John Buford Post 243, GAR. 1964 -- 50 years ago: The East Moline Grade School Board of Education last night granted salary increases totaling about $47,000 to teachers and staff members. 1989 -- 25 years ago: Five champion spellers from the Rock Island/Milan School district were selected after competition this week at Modern Woodmen of America. Winners are Sarah Cottay, Christopher Gilbrich, Jared Vogele, Kedric Roper and Kenny Stevenson.