Macon prepares for President Barack Obama's visit

Wednesday, April 28, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 2:58 p.m. CDT, Saturday, May 1, 2010
Tom Salt of Kirksville sums up the general attitude of the participants at the Americans for Prosperity rally in Macon. Bob Bradley, a resident of Macon, and sister-in-law Alice Gerkowski, Lake St. Louis, also share their thoughts on the president’s forthcoming visit during the rally on April 27.

MACON – It was business as usual in Macon on Tuesday. The downtown streets were quiet by late afternoon. Teenagers warmed up on the track behind the high school while women shopped for flowers across town.

Things seemed perfectly ordinary on the eve of President Barack Obama’s visit to the small farming community in north-central Missouri. Normal except, perhaps, for the shroud of secrecy blanketing the town and its residents — most people didn't want to give information about the president's visit.


Related Media

Related Articles

As part of his Main Street Tour, the president will visit the POET Biorefining plant and a small area farm, both located near Macon. Obama will also travel to Illinois and Iowa during his two-day visit.

The POET plant, which began operating in 2000, is Missouri’s first to produce ethanol. It is expected that Obama will speak to workers there about the economy and jobs.

Employees at the plant were told by members of the Secret Service not to speak to anyone about the visit.

Secret Service and other security personnel “infiltrated” the town weeks ago but have been trying — and frequently failing — to keep a low profile, according to residents.

“They’re kind of hard to miss,” said Gary Pulliam, who comes to Macon often and shopped at the Westlake Ace Hardware in town Tuesday.   

The federal agents have been heard raving about Raspberry's Bar-Bq, a small restaurant just north of town and a few miles west of the POET plant. The owner was asked to deliver lunch to the plant tomorrow but could not give further details.

Residents first learned of the visit when it was officially announced early last week, but they said rumors had been swirling for a while before that. The announcement only increased the speculation.

“I had overheard several folks the other day saying the name of that farm he’s going to,” said Betsy Gray, who lives outside of town. Gray said she was too far from the group, though, and couldn’t hear the name.

“Too bad. I would like to know who got picked and why.”

Mixed emotions

Sentiments in the town seemed to be divided among irritation, excitement and indifference.

Members of the Missouri Republican Party and the Macon County Patriots, a tea party group, held a protest Tuesday. The group met at O’Laughlin, a ready-mix concrete plant about three miles from the POET plant.

Others celebrated the visit, which they see as bringing positive attention to the town.

“It’s exciting. It’s a historic event,” Gray said. “I’m glad he chose Macon. I wish I could meet him.”

Still others seemed altogether uninterested in the visit.

“It would be different if he were actually coming into town, to someplace where people could meet him or even just see him,” Pulliam said. “But he’s out there talking with the big business people when us real working people have things to say to him, too.”

The president’s visit is not expected to take him through any main parts of Macon, and the two stops will not be open to the public.

Residents speculated that the visit would shut down parts of Highway 36, which runs past the ethanol plant, but road closures were not confirmed.

'One for the record books'

The Macon County Historical Society has records of three previous presidential visits to the town; presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover and Harry Truman stopped in Macon in 1909, 1929 and 1945, respectively.

Ruth Masten, who works in the historical society’s museum and genealogy department, said she is sure this visit will also be “one for the record books.”

“I’m sure it’ll go down in the history of Macon that President Obama came and visited the ethanol plant here,” Masten said. “It’s something that is very exciting for our little town.”

Like what you see here? Become a member.

Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


Mark Flakne April 28, 2010 | 6:55 a.m.

Now I'm no fan of Obama, but should't that old tea partier in the top picture know that making a shirt from the American flag is pretty darned un-patriotic.

Where does it leave me if I can't stand Democrats, Republicans, or Tea Partiers? I'm a non-statist libertarian!

(Report Comment)
Larry Palmer April 28, 2010 | 10:04 a.m.

I went to the rally last night and it was really wonderful. Like most of the folks there, I share the sentiment that the President isn't handling this visit appropriately.

On the point in the article that says he is going to the ethanol plant to see the workers, that isn't exactly true. Most of the actual work force was told not to come in to work today so he's going to the ethanol plant to speak to the big wigs, not the common man.

I don't see how he plans to help our economy when he is shutting down two major highway trade routes and the detours for a large part of the day for this visit. Two of my children had appointments scheduled with their doctors this afternoon. Those plans were made long before this presidential display of mock goodwill was set up. Now we have to cancel those appointments because my wife will be stuck at her job in Clarence and won't be able to drive to Macon because the roads will be closed.

I understand greater good. I might have even supported the visit if he had gave us more time to prepare alternate routes or had actually made a public appearance. Instead, I consider the President to be like a bad house guest who dropped in uninvited and disrupted the plans of his hosts.

Thanks for hearing me out. Larry Ray Palmer

(Report Comment)
John Wobble April 28, 2010 | 11:55 a.m.

You have got to be kidding me, Larry. I know closing down 36 was a pretty major problem for some people, but you don't know how to get to Macon from Clarence without going on 36? Vine Street Rd. is a straight shot and doesn't take but a few more minutes. Anyone with access to the internet could figure that out.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith April 28, 2010 | 12:06 p.m.

POTUS can go where POTUS wants to go (in the United States), even against the advice of POTUS's advisers and the Secret Service. JFK was advised not to go to Dallas, not because there was a specific threat but because the Secret Service disliked the situation. Lincoln's personal secretary advised Lincoln not to go to Ford's Theater that fateful night.

On the other hand, POTUS needs to show his/her face to the public, in a variety of situations and settings.

(Report Comment)
Larry Palmer April 28, 2010 | 6:37 p.m.

To John Wobble: Yes, Vine street would have been an option except for all the rain in the last week has made it completely impossible to travel in a small car. In addition, all overpasses to 36 were shut down so she could not cross 36 to go through on the backroads that are paved.

Even so, like I said, if he is coming to Macon to make a public appearance, it should have been a public appearance and not just a chance to skim more pork off the big business backers at the Ethanol plant. Anyone care to take any guesses as to what the Presidents little road trip cost the taxpayers of the US? All I am saying, when a President is spending so much of my money and disrupting my life, I think it should have at least been possible to attend the event.

(Report Comment)

Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.