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Neighbors Growing Together | May 24, 2017

Driving tour celebrating birthday of Iowa Highway Patrol Sunday

Everyone is welcome to drive their vehicle or vintage vehicle on the tour from Des Moines to Washington, Iowa
By By David Hotle, Golden Triangle News Service | May 05, 2017

WASHINGTON, Iowa (GTNS) – A commemorative tour honoring Eunice Viola “Ola” Babcock Miller, the founder of the Iowa State Patrol and the first female Iowa Secretary of State, will be held Sunday and will travel from Des Moines to Miller’s final resting place in Washington.

The Mother Road Tour, or “Miller’s Patrol,” is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. at the Ola Babcock Miller building, there Gov. Terry Branstad, Iowa Commissioner of Public Safety Roxann Ryan, and Iowa State Patrol colonel Jeff Ritzman making comments honoring Miller.

At 8:30 a.m. the tour of enforcement and vintage vehicles will leave with a recently restored 1935 Ford Tudor Sedan State Patrol car, along with two other vintage patrol vehicles, leading the way.

At 10 a.m. coffee and Dutch letter pasteries will be presented on the square in Oskaloosa. The group will depart for Washington at 10:30 a.m.

The group is scheduled to arrive in Elm Grove Cemetery in Washington at 11:45 a.m. with a commemorative service scheduled to begin at noon with the Iowa State Patrol chaplain and bagpipes.

At 1 p.m., lunch will be held around the square with special entertainment planned. At 2:30 p.m., the tour will depart Washington to return to Des Moines with no stops planned.

Miller (March 1, 1871 - Jan. 25, 1937) was a strong political figure. She was born in Washington County and she and her family later moved to Washington. She attended Iowa Wesleyan College. She married Andrew Miller and taught in rural schools. Her daughter Ophelia married George Gallup, founder of the Gallup Poll.

She was elected secretary of state in 1932 as a Democrat. Motivated by the death of a friend’s son, she initiated the Iowa Highway Safety Patrol on Aug. 1, 1934, without official authority to do so. The group consisted of 15 motor vehicle inspectors tasked with helping to reduce highway accident rate by stopping violators. Her perseverance encouraged the 46th General Assembly to sign a bill for the 53-member Iowa Highway Safety Patrol. Gov. Clyde Herring signed the bill into law on May 7, 1935. The group later became the Iowa State Patrol.

She died of pneumonia in Des Moines. Over 1,500 people attended her funeral at the Washington Methodist Church.

The objectives of the tour are to raise awareness to the role and significance of enforcement in guiding quality of life; as a recruitment tour for those interested in learning more about the Iowa State Patrol; to increase the significance of the heritage of Miller; to provide the opportunity for individuals and the public to financially support the legacy of the Iowa State Patrol; to encourage the use of no litter hotlines; and to celebrate the founder of the Iowa State Patrol and encourage highway safety.

The public is invited to participate in the event by joining the tour with their vehicle or vintage vehicle.

For information, contact Trooper Alex Dinkla, Iowa State Patrol, public resource officer, at 515-443-6644 or Executive Director Gerald F. Schnepf at 515-321-6354.

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