A dream vacation this month in Cancun turned into a nightmare for one Bettendorf couple. Tammy and Barry Spidell spent four lovely days in sun-filled Mexico …and then two horrible days there sitting out Hurricane Wilma. Tammy Spidell says they spent 48 hours in a shelter with 2,400 other people, though its capacity was a thousand. “The roof was falling in, we were barricaded inside,” she says. “You really gain a whole new respect for what the people in New Orleans went through, let me tell you.” Officials originally told them to expect to spend four or five hours in the shelter, so they brought diversions like a pack of cards. A group that spent their time together in the shelter was getting pretty tired of it by Hour Forty, she says. “They were not forthcoming with information — we got very spotty updates, and it was very frustrating for everyone that was there.” The airport closed down before the couple could get there to try and leave for home. Barry says the two Iowans had no choice but to suffer through Nature’s wrath. He says you didn’t know what to expect from minute to minute. The wind would start howling and he’d think ‘Okay, what’s going to happen next?” The couple finally got home this week, tanned and full of stories.
Archives for October 2005
In eight man football action tonight, third rated Essex visits number 10 Hamburg and the winner claims the district six championship.
Essex coach Mike Almquist says it’s something the seniors have talked about since last spring. He says every game has been a steppingstone. Almquist says it may not be a playoff game but everything is on the line. He says he’s told his team this is the reason you play sports.
A dozen of the spots in the 3A field are spoken for but a couple of games will determine district titles. One of those finds number four Grinnell at home against Williamsburg. Grinnell coach Jim Dunne says in a game like this mistakes can be the difference. He says they can’t afford to fumble the ball or throw interceptions. He says in a game of good teams, you have to minimize your mistakes.
The Raiders lost their first two non-district games but have reeled off six straight wins since and now will bid for a district title. Raiders coach Curt Richie says it has played out a little different than what they though, but he says they’ll just go out and play and try to win the title.
The University of Northern Iowa has a temporary display showing the trappings and history of “Day of the Dead.” Lydia Robert at U-N-I’s Center for Multicultural Education says it’s a holiday that goes back three-thousand years, to the time of the Aztecs in America.
It was a brutal time, she says, pointing out today’s celebration involves special candy including skull-shaped sweets made of sugar. But the Aztecs kept genuine human skulls around, to symbolize death and rebirth.
Roberts says the holiday’s origin has nothing to do with the origin of Halloween, though European invaders did change its late-summer celebration date. The Spaniards thought it was “rather barbaric,” and did move the date to their All-Saints Day, hoping to “being a little more civility to the tradition.” Roberts says the standards have changed with the times and now it’s a popular ethnic holiday.
It’s celebrated throughout the U.S., especially southern states, and is celebrated throughout Mexico. In this country, she says, the further south you go, the more intense and spiritual the celebrations may be. Roberts says today, the Day of the Dead generally is celebrated on the first and second of November.
The first day is for Angelitos, the “little angels” of babies and children who’ve died. At the altars people put photos of the people being honored as well as their favorite items…and they put out sweets November first, as the spirits of the children come back that evening, eat and visit with the people who are living. The second day’s for adults and there may be wine on the altar, a piece of favorite clothing and other items the dead person enjoyed during life. There are flowers, often marigolds because their flame-like colors symbolize the sun, rebirth and the idea that death is just a beginning.
It’s an exciting time, she says, with lit candles and incense, music and songs, and people who are in a celebrative mood. It’s a time of honoring those who’ve passed, of remembering them and being joyous over what they’ve brought into your life, not sad that they are gone. Located in the Maucker Union, the U-N-I Center for Multi-Cultural Education offers a library, computer lab and other resources to learn about minorities on campus.
The movie about a historic Iowa murder case comes out on video today (Friday). It includes the kind of bonus features today’s movie fans have come to expect with a DVD release, in addition to the film “Villisca: Living With a Mystery.”
Filmmaker Kelly Rundle says it was more work moving the movie from the silver screen to the television screen. Rundle says there are two feature-length commentaries, one by him and his wife Tammy and one with researcher Edward Epperly, who focuses on the historical perspective. Then there’s about 50-minutes of “bonus footage,” behind-the-scenes film and even a 1960s radio program that offers a historical note.
The radio broadcast included in the DVD release was one in a series of Iowa stories done in 1963. One of the stories chosen from Iowa history was the Villisca ax murders. Rundle calls the 3- or 4-minute radio piece “a little cheesy” but says it’s interesting that it was so well-known as an Iowa story that they chose it.
Historian Edgar Epperly says fifty years ago when he was a student at the University of Northern Iowa, he wrote a paper on the murders, along with two classmates. He says they’d grown up in Leon, so as natives of southern Iowa they’d hard about the case growing up. They chose that as an interesting topic, though he says writing the paper got him started.
Epperly says his interest never really quit after doing research and interviews on the murders, and he admits he continues gathering information on the case to this day. He says it became a hobby, though he hopes “not an obsession,” and over the years he’s continued to work on it, interviewing, reading newspapers, getting access to government files and gradually building up a file of information about the murders.
What was supposed to be a training flight turned into a lesson in how to crash land Thursday at the Denison airport. Crawford County Sheriff Tom Hogan describes what happened. He says this was a training or testing session of an ultra-light airplane. He says as the ultra-light took off with the trainer on board, they failed to get enough lift and were forced to make a rough landing that extensively damaged the ultra-light. Hogan says they were able to quickly get help to the downed plane. He says the whole thing was witness by some people who were flying a radio controlled plane and they called it in right away. The ultra-light was piloted by Larry Clayton of Urbandale. Neither Clayton or his passenger were injured.
The Waterloo Police Department and Waterloo Community Schools are partnering in a program that’ll be taught in the middle schools. Police chief Tom Jennings says “W-P-D and Me” will bring police officers into the classroom to talk about the all elements of the department, such as the patrol division crime lab and crime scene investigators.
Jennings says it gives the kids a view of the police department beyond someone who makes an arrest. He says it expands it and allows the kids to see the total department and answer questions about why they make traffic stops, why it takes time to respond when a call is made, and what they can and cannot do.
Waterloo superintendent De Witt Jones says this is more than just a life skills course. He says it takes it farther than the C-S-I program on t-v and puts it in a real world situation. Jennings says this expands on the work done by the drug education and school resource officers. He says it’s a step beyond both of those programs, and calls it “the next generation of interaction with the schools and the community.” The program begins next Tuesday.
An eastern Iowa man is facing some 17 years behind bars after his sentencing this week on child pornography charges. Mike Winkel had been charged with distribution and possession of child pornography after an investigation involving the U.S. Postal Service, U.S. State’s Attorney’s Office and federal authorities. The investigation, which began in late 2004, connected Winkel to a computer server that contained child pornography. Local police started the investigation when the department received information from a Pennsylvania state trooper who had traced the server to Clinton while investigating cases in the Pennsylvania area. Winkel, who was 36 when formerly charged in early 2005, pled guilty to the charges in March of this year. The sentence handed down in U.S. Federal Court in the Quad Cities was for 210 months on the possession charge and 120 months on the possession count and the terms would be served concurrently. Federal court officials say that least 85% of the 210 month sentence must be served.
More than 400 patients who’ve received bone marrow or blood stem cell transplants through the University of Iowa Hospitals will meet the donors today (Friday) in Iowa City.
Colleen Chapleau, associate director of the Iowa Marrow Donor Program, says the event is the eighth annual “Celebrating Life” reunion. Chapleau says patients and donors come together to talk about what they’ve been through and to encourage each other.
Some patients are only six months out from their transplants and can rub shoulders with others who are 20 years out and still doing fine. She says it’s inspiring. Often the term “transplant donor” conjures an image of someone who’s died and is having an organ harvested — but Chapleau says that’s not accurate in this special group. These are living donors who’ve donated blood stem cells or marrow, something any healthy person can do as Iowa’s part of a national program which she calls “truly life-saving.”
Chapleau says today’s reunion (1-5 P.M.) will bring together patients, donors, family members and staff from the U-of-I’s Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center.
She says one woman who was diagnosed last year with acute leukemia is flying in from Atlanta to meet, for the first time, the woman donor from Iowa who made her transplant possible, helping pave her road to recovery.
New York Governor George Pataki — a potential presidential candidate in 2008 — is in the state thanking Iowans who volunteered in New York City after September 11th, and he’s also helping local Republicans raise money.
“This year and then certainly next year when you have an open governor’s race and at least two very hotly-contested congressional races I’m going to do everything I can to help the Republican Party have the energy and the excitement to win these races,” Pataki says.
Pataki spoke last (Thursday) night at a Clinton County Republican dinner and he helped a G-O-P candidate for the Davenport City Council raise money, too. Earlier in the day, Pataki thanked 30 Red Cross volunteers from the Quad Cities who went to New York after the terror attacks of 9/11.
As the country sees another state try to recover from another hurricane, Pataki says having just one command center in New York four years was key to the recovery there. “The most important thing I think from government is that the initial response has to depend on strong, local leadership,” Pataki says. “One of the important decisions that I made on September 11th was that we were not going to have a state command operation, a city command operation, a federal command operation — we were going to have a joint center and a joint response so that all the decisions and all the actions were going to in a coordinated way.”
Pataki is reluctant to talk about the prospect of becoming president and what changes he might make in emergency preparedness. “I’m not going to speculate on what the next president of the country might do to change things,” Pataki says.
Pataki says the Bush Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency “responded appropriately” to the September 11th catastrophe. Pataki will tour the Vermeer plant in Pella this morning at nine o’clock to thank employees there for the equipment they sent to New York to help the 9/11 recovery.
Several hundred Iowans must have way too much money — as they never bothered to cash their federal tax refund checks this year. Christoper Miller, a spokesman for the Internal Revenue Service, says the agency is holding checks for 384 Iowans that were, for whatever reason, returned to the I-R-S as undeliverable.
In Iowa, there are more than 200-thousand dollars in undelivered checks. They average around 624-dollars. Some are as low as just one-dollar but one is as large as 84-hundred. Miller says there are many reasons why those checks may not have gotten into the hands of deserving Iowa taxpayers. He says it’s usually a “life-changing” sort of situation — someone may have moved or gotten married and forgot to remind the I-R-S of their change of address.
Miller says Iowans who don’t remember if they cashed their tax refund check earlier this year can quickly learn if they’re on the list. He say you can go to the website “www.irs.gov” and go to the “Where’s My Refund?” section to determine your status and if your contact information is up to date. You can also call 800-829-1040 to talk to a real person.