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, Aug. 20, the 232nd day of 2014. There are 133 days left in the year. 1864 -- 150 years ago: Quite a number of Negroes have lately been brought here by abolition offers returning from the army in violation of the laws of the state. 1889 -- 125 years ago: Miss Tillie Denkmann, of Rock Island, was making plans to accompany a Davenport family on a tour of Europe. 1914 -- 100 years ago: The German advance into Belgium was going apparently without serious check. The American ambassador at Berlin published a denial of the charge that Americans had been ill-treated in Germany. 1939 -- 75 years ago: Seventy-two members of Rock Island High School's 1939 graduating class are preparing to enter college — 34 of them at Augustana. 1964 -- 50 years ago: One of the oldest buildings in Milan, which for a number of years has housed the Milan Hotel, will be razed to make way for a modern, two-story office structure. 1989 -- 25 years ago: Some are blaming it on the sudden influx of insects and the extreme humidity. Still others say the invasion was inspired by a recent movie. But whatever the reason, the Quad-Cities is swarming with bats.