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What happens when Nighthawk Rd. is closed?

This past week I had a column in the Peabody Gazette-Bulletin about the county straightening a correction curve on Nighthawk Rd. north of 120th Rd. to make it safer for the hundreds of people who use the road to get from Peabody and U.S.-50 to Hillsboro, Marion, and Marion Reservoir.

Peabody will have to move its water line — which is adjacent to Nighthawk Rd. — to accommodate the change. The reason for the column was to let Peabody taxpayers know they will be paying for an unexpected charge to keep the state happy.

I do not intend to argue the pros or cons of that issue in this column. What has left me unhappy about the whole situation is the fact that Nighthawk Rd. is “closed to through traffic” at the construction site. Apparently, the closure will last from two to three months. Harrumph! That is all of wheat harvest, most of summer, and right into fall with milo, corn, and cotton crops ready to reap.

For 15 years, I have been driving Nighthawk Rd. several times a week to get to Marion for newspaper business. I like taking the road and observing changes. I can see which farmers have good crops and are good stewards. I know the old barns and structures that shelter turkey buzzards, which swoop across the sky and clean death from the pavement and land.

Pastureland shows off wildflowers, and wooded areas display blossoming trees and colorful birds. A doe and one or two fawns often cross the road in a low, swampy area near the construction site. That area also is home to tiny frogs, which some people call “Peepers,” that chirp and sing early in spring.

When I started driving back and forth, an old cast-iron fence that surrounded a small Catholic cemetery at 150th Rd. fascinated me. I had not realized the fence was there until I took this job. Almost every trip past it I would think, “Boy, that is going to get stolen one of these days…those fence panels are rare.” I figured there were too many city folks traveling up and down the road for the fence to be ignored indefinitely. Someone was going to pull the darn thing out, toss it in the back of a pickup truck, and flee. Well, guess what? One day I sailed past on my way to Marion and, sure enough, the fence was gone.

In my travels back and forth, the landscape has changed as old buildings have been torn down. New homes and equipment sheds have been built. Hedge rows have come out, and new fencing has gone up.

I watch all the seasons as one eases into the next. Nighthawk Rd. is a great place to see it all.

However, I am about to miss wheat harvest and miles of “amber waves of grain.” By the time I have a chance to drive the road again, it will be time to harvest milo. The corn will have ears and tassels — or be gone altogether. A whole chunk of the year will be gone. Other roads to Marion have different stuff. Traveling on them will not be the same — bummer.

—susan marshall

Last modified June 8, 2016

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