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 Thursday, Dec. 12, the 346th day of 2013. There are 19 days left in the year. 1863 -- 150 years ago: Two boys who haul coal from Coal Valley to Davenport were arrested yesterday for running their teams through the city street at a furious rate. 1888 -- 125 years ago: E.H. Barker dislocated his left wrist and suffered a compound fracture of the right wrist when he fell from the roof of his icehouse. 1913 -- 100 years ago: Lou Harris was elected county superintendent of schools to fill the unexpired term of the late S.J. Ferguson. 1938 -- 75 years ago: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that a state must give equality in educational privileges to white and Negro law students. 1963 -- 50 years ago: About 300 employees of the Augustana Book Concern, staff members of the Board of Publication of the Lutheran Church in America, as well as friends of the community and out-of-town guests honored Dr. Birger Swenson at the annual Christmas dinner of the Augustana Book Concern last night in Westerlin Hall on the Augustana College campus. 1988 -- 25 years ago: The Christmas shopping season began early this year and continues to bring out shoppers in record numbers, according to Quad-Cities retailers interviewed today.