Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA


February 22, 2007

Truck mines in NE Centerville


The Ragona story starts with Paul and Lucy Ragona, who came from Sicily in 1896, along with a number of other Italian families.  They had worked in the sulphur mines there.  When the King of Italy took over the mines, that left them out of work and the king gave them enough money to obtain passage to America.  Some of the families that came to Centerville were Belloma, Casale, Cossolotto,  Franko, Grasso, Lamatea, La Paglia, Montegna, Pancrazio, Zuccarello and more.

Paul Ragona went into the grocery business and had a store at Sunshine.  Two of his sons, Andrew and Joe worked in the Rosebrook Mine.  Andrew was to die there in 1926 at age 34 when a coal car ran over him.  He is buried in the Oakland Cemetery, and his grave is marked with a special stone, sent over from Sicily. Joe was crippled up and lost an eye in the same mine, when caught by falling rock in about 1927.

Some time after Joe Ragona started the Ragona mine, he suffered a heart attack and could no longer go down in the mine.  He then supervised the top operation as hoisting engineer and weigh boss while his son, also named Andrew, was the foreman down below.   One day after some dynamiting, loose rock was blocking a passage.  Andrew went in to clear it and got into some black damp. It seemed to suck all the air out of his lungs.  He was rescued and taken to the hospital, but one of his lungs was collapsed and the other partially collapsed.

Dr. Owsa told Andrew he should get out of the mining business.  Since his wife had started running the Dairy Bar, he decided to join her.  Since he had closed his mine rather suddenly, all of the mining tools and equipment were left down in the mine.  This included a mining machine, several hundred feet of rail and 30 rail cars loaded with coal.   The mine was soon full of water.  It was closed in 1965 after 32 acres had been mined.

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The Iowegian wants readers to think about the solicitation ordinance that will prevent groups or individuals from entering a roadway to solicit money. The Centerville City Council in June by a 5-0 vote passed the first reading of just such an ordinance. Public pressure and during a subsequent special meeting, the council voted 3-2 to table the ordinance. A second special meeting to discuss the solicitation ordinance is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 7 at City Hall. So, the question of the week is, "Do you or do you not support the ordinance to prevent solicitation of funds in city streets?"

A. I support the ordinance
B. I do not support the ordinance
C. Not sure
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