The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa


September 9, 2013

The Fluoride Debate

There was never a bigger crowd for a city council meeting than on March 22, 1965 when the final “showdown” for the Fluoride Debate would take place. The old auditorium of the Grammar School/City Hall (circa 1880-1978) was packed. In 1965, the huge auditorium with a 500-600 capacity was brim full of highly emotional and vocal proponents and opponents of putting fluoride in Clinton’s water supply. The Dental Society and all civic organizations, except one, led the fight to put this substance in the water supply. The PTA with the strong leadership of Mrs. Lou Lyon were leaders, but the key individual was a young, pediatric dentist, Dr. Curtis Layton. He said, “I was nervous about it, but the Society asked me to do it, and as time went on, it was fun to support the issue.” He gained confidence as he studied the facts and found them to be so powerful. Leading the opposition was Mrs. Margaret Van Verth and Dr. Burkert a local chiropractor and the community was once again split down the middle as they had been in 1952, when it had first come up.

This time, however, the city council was almost unanimous in favor of the issue. They were led by Byron Starr whose wife had been a leader in the 1952 try. Once, one of the audience said that fluoride was poison, to which Starr responded, “if it is a poison, we’d better check DeWitt to see if their death rate is higher than Clinton's, since their fluoride count is quite high. After councilman Daryll Smith read the ordinance for the first time, he turned and asked City Health Physician, Dr. Arno Jensen what he thought, to which he responded, “I am 100 percent in favor of this ordinance and I can speak for all the doctors of Clinton!”

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