The Battle for
of the World
Roadtrippers by Signe Schloss
There are seven cities in the United States that claim to
be “the watermelon capital of the world.” Only one can
prevail. Let’s put them to the test and see which can claim
the melon-y title.
1. Cordele, Georgia
Watermelon claim to fame: Cordele is in the number one
watermelon producing county in Georgia, but it is only
fourth in the nation. Despite this, it uses the title due to the
quality and quantity of its melons, which it claims are the
largest and most luscious. Also, all but one page on the first
list of results for the Google search “watermelon capital of
the world” refer to Cordele, so it’s the frontrunner in the
search engine category.
Watermelon attractions: Cordele hosts the annual Watermelon Days Festival in June, and its racing track is named
the Watermelon Capital Speedway.
2. Weatherford, Texas
Watermelon claim to fame: This town was once a major
watermelon supplier, but now it quenches thirst by producing beer instead of the juicy fruits.
Watermelon attractions: You can still buy delicious
watermelons (and peaches) at the Parker County Farmers
Market, but that’s not enough to merit the title of “
watermelon capital of the world.” It was voted one of CNN’s
best places to retire, though. That’s, y’know, something,
3. Green River, Utah
Watermelon claim to fame: Watermelons are suited for
growing in desert climates, and this Utah town grows the
best in the state.
Watermelon attractions: This is the location of the
“World’s Largest Watermelon,” which is a giant wooden
statue of the fruit. They also host an annual Melon Days
festival in September, which luckily does not coincide
with Cordele’s festival, so fanatic lovers of the fruit can
attend both celebrations.
4. Hope, Arkansas
Watermelon claim to fame: The world record biggest
watermelon was grown here in 2005, weighing in at
268.8 pounds. The town has a long history of record-breaking watermelons, dating back to a 136 pounder in
1925. It is also the hometown of Bill Clinton, who took
a step up (or down?) when he moved from the watermelon capital of the world to the capitol of the United
Watermelon attractions: Apparently watermelon festivals are a thing, as Hope holds the Hope Watermelon
Festival which includes concerts, a Watermelon Idol
contest, and lots of melon consumption.
5. Beardstown, Illinois
Watermelon claim to fame: Beardstown is a bit less
ambitious than the others, but also more ambiguous. It
calls itself simply the “Watermelon Capital,” so it is not
seeking global domination. They produce a lot of watermelons here as one of their many agricultural crops.
Watermelon attractions: Spears Family Market is a
fruit stand that specializes in flavorful watermelons.
Very flavorful watermelons.
6. Rush Springs, Oklahoma
Watermelon claim to fame: A lot of farmers in the
area grow watermelons.
Watermelon attractions: You would’ve never guessed,
but this town holds the annual Rush Springs Watermelon Festival, where celebrators eat over 50,000 pounds of
the fruit and enjoy rodeo shows and watermelon-themed
7. Naples, Texas
Watermelon claim to fame: This town is a big grower of
watermelons in East Texas.
Watermelon attractions: I’m sensing a pattern here. Stop
by the Watermelon Festival for some melon-y fun.
Final Verdict: I can’t even decide because my mind is
blown from discovering that watermelon is both a fruit
AND a vegetable?!
OVERTIME continued from page 1
While the rule won’t likely be finalized for many months,
the change is forcing companies to consider keeping closer tabs on hours worked by overtime-eligible employees,
including how to handle work done out-of-office, such as
responding to emails or texts in the evening or working at
a conference over a weekend.
Under current DOL regulations – last updated in 2004
– employers are required to pay all employees time-and-a-half for any hours they work in excess of 40 hours per
week if they make less than $23,660 per year, regardless
of the employee’s job responsibilities. The proposed rule
would more than double that salary threshold so that any
employee earning a salary of less than $50,440 per year
would become eligible for overtime pay. In addition, the
minimum salary would automatically increase each year
to match the 40th percentile of the average salary earned
by full-time employees in the United States.
While the Notice focuses primarily on updating the salary threshold for overtime-eligible workers, the proposed
rule is also seeking comments on whether the current
duties test is working as intended or needs to be modified. As an example, the Department asks whether the
regulations should be revised to require that employees
spend the majority of their time performing the exempt
work that is their primary duty in order to qualify for
exemption. As many salaried employees perform a wide
range of duties in the course of their work, it’s possible
that a change to this regulatory language could turn many
exempt positions into overtime-eligible positions.
We join with the American Society of Association Execu-
tives and their findings about the rule. Some of mutual
concerns can be summarized into five main areas:
• We believe that the Department of Labor’s proposal
of a minimum annual salary level for exempt employees
of $50,440, with automatic annual renewals, sets a one-
size-fits-all measuring stick for middle-class incomes.
The minimum salary level for exemption should instead
be keyed to government data on regional cost-of-living
• The minimum salary level should be set lower than
the proposed level of the 40th percentile of average full-time employee salaries. Under the current over-inclusive
proposal, too many senior-level exempt employees would
be reclassified as overtime-eligible because of their salary
• The proposal would adversely affect businesses
with limited revenues, and would harm many affected
employees of numerous member businesses. To contain payroll costs from increased overtime obligations,
employers would have to either lay off employees or exclude reclassified employees from communications-work
and career growth opportunities outside of core business
hours. Under both scenarios, the remaining exempt employees would bear the brunt of increased workloads.
• We also believe that no changes to the duties test
regulations should be made without providing notice of
the specific proposed changes and another opportunity
for public comment.
• If the Department of Labor considers changes to
the duties test, it should (i) add clarity to classification
determinations by incorporating new examples of exempt
occupations, including examples specifically addressing
common job roles in membership organizations, and (ii)
avoid adopting a rigid minimum time percentage test for
assessing the “primary duty” of a position.