Author’s Archive: Gregory Berry

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DES MOINES, Iowa — The damage caused by flooding along the Missouri River is estimated at $1.6 billion. Now, federal help is on the way.

Gov. Kim Reynolds requested residential, business and agricultural assistance. The governor also requested more than $5 million to repair federal and non-federal levees in Iowa.

As Iowa waits for disaster money to roll in, a Des Moines brewery is doing its part to help.

Confluence Brewery tapped its “Local Cause Belgian-Style White Ale” on Friday.

All proceeds from the beer sales will be matched by Confluence Landscape Architecture Firm and donated to Iowa Rivers Revival.

Iowa Rivers Revival supports water quality projects, reducing flooding and flood damage, and state-wide repairs to roads and bridges.

Confluence made 20 barrels of beer and expects to donate about $18,000.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Thousands hit the metro during Des Moines’ last day hosting the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

“It’s that Midwest hospitality; everyone can come down here and have a good time,” Iowa City resident Seth Girton said.

The streets were packed with folks heading in and out of Wells Fargo Arena. Both games Saturday were sold out.

During the end of the Michigan State–Minnesota game, CBS analyst Reggie Miller praised Des Moines for the support and hospitality the city gave for the tournament.

“The best site I’ve ever been a part of, and always needs to be in the regular rotation,” said Miller of Des Moines.

With so many people flocking to the city for the games, people weren’t just spending money on tickets. They also spent money on things like restaurants and hotels, and the Des Moines Partnership estimates the tournament could generate more than $6 million for the local economy.

“Things have been really smooth. We’ve prepared for this for months, so now that it’s here it’s just a matter of taking care of people and being on our game,” said Buzzard Billy’s manager Chad Brown.

Some fans hope Iowa gets the bid again soon in the future.

DES MOINES, Iowa– A Central Iowa Red Cross volunteer is also helping fire victims.

Penny Merta’s from Des Moines’ help comes on the heels of another disaster deployment.

last week, Merta was in Fremont County, Iowa helping with flood recovery.

As soon as  Penny Merta arrived home Wednesday,  she we sent to aid residents displaced in Thursday’s Ankeny apartment fire.

The American Red Cross says the month of March is already on pace to have more calls for service than February.

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa — On Thursday, a jury found Jason Carter not guilty of murdering his mother, Shirley Carter.

Defense rested its case early on Thursday and attorneys for both sides immediately went into closing statements.

After a few hours the evidence was handed over to the jury to deliberate.

Judge Brad McCall read the jury’s verdict aloud to an anxious crowd in the courtroom, “We the jury find Jason Carter not guilty.”

Jason Carter and his wife, Shelly Carter, embraced each other and burst into tears hearing a verdict.

Channel 13 Reporter Laura Barczewski asked Jason about his reaction to the verdict and he was full of emotion.

“I can’t even talk I’m sorry. I just want to go home and see my kids. It’s been a long time coming. I’ve had to endure so much. No one can even come close to knowing,” Jason Carter said.

Shelly Carter was right next to Jason for the entire day on Thursday.

“To finally have some justice is all that matters,” Shelly Carter said.

Prosecutor Marion County Attorney Ed Bull said he felt they tried the case to the best of their ability.

“We respect the system when they come back not guilty. That’s the way our system works. We tried as good of a case as we can with the facts that we had,” Bull said.

Jason Carter’s Attorney Christine Branstad said they couldn’t have asked for a better verdict but hopes the investigation is not over.

“It is certainly our hope that the investigation opens up. There’s still information to work with. It’s clearly a cold case, but Jason has been asking for additional investigation for a long time,” Branstad said.

It took nine full days of testimony, 34 witnesses and about two hours of jury deliberation to reach a verdict.

Jason said he’s glad it’s over and he wants to move forward trying to rebuild his life.

Barczewski asked Jason if he would ever be able to reconnect with his father again.

He responded, “You know, a lot of people don’t know that my dad came and talked to me last fall and he said he was sorry. I don’t know. It’s just something you gotta think about. I just want them to figure out, bring the people, that did this to my mom, to justice. Do your job. Just do your job.”

Wednesday night, the Oklahoma City Thunder retired a jersey for the first time, Nick Collison’s #4.

Collison averaged just 6 points and 5 rebounds in his 15 years, but he was known as the ultimate teammate, and nicknamed, “Mr Thunder”.

Before the ceremony, Collison got most emotional when talking about Iowa Falls. Collison led Iowa Falls to two state championships.

 

AMES, Iowa — The big stage and the bright lights are nothing new for Iowa State wrestler Willie Miklus.

His championship story started back at Southeast Polk High School, winning back-to-back state titles his junior and senior season, cementing himself as one of SEP`s greats.

Then he was onto Mizzou, where he became a three-time All American. But his story is finishing in Ames.

“When he reached out to us it was pretty much done in his mind,” Iowa State Wrestling Head Coach Kevin Dresser said. “I mean he was coming to Iowa State.”

“When I thought about it, a no-brainer, but a necessity as well,” Miklus said.

The first person Miklus told about his transfer was his dad.

“He kind of didn’t believe me at first, and then he didn’t believe me the second time I said it either, so had to tell him three times,” Miklus said.

“I had no idea it was coming,” Willie’s Mom, LuAnn Miklus said. “It was as big of a surprise to the both of us that he had made those choices.”

It was for one reason, and one reason only, to be near his father, Garry.

“It was something I think I needed to do; something I felt I needed to do,” Willie said. “I just felt my mom needed help [and] my youngest brother. I felt like it would be better to be closer to my dad in the end.”

The end of a terminal illness.

“His diagnosis date was actually April 4, 2016,” LuAnn said. “So coming up this month, it would’ve been three years.”

It was ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. And it was taking a toll on the father that not only preached, but demonstrated the value of hard work.

“He was captain on the city of Des Moines Fire Department,” LuAnn said. “He worked for the city for 29 years. He was also a senior medic for years. He loved his job. Whatever Garry did, though, he did with 110 percent. He never did half way.”

“There was no other option with him. You’re either going to work out, work hard, or you were going to go inside and take a nap, and I wasn’t tired. So I had no other options,” Willie said.

Garry’s energy echoed in gymnasiums and arenas across the country, leaving only one word to describe the wrestling dad.

“Intense I think is the word I would use if I had to pick one,” Willie said.

“Garry is very intense,” LuAnn said. “He was always was saying `they should’ve done this` or `they should’ve done that.’” But it was out of the love he had for his kids.

“Garry’s goal was to be everywhere the kids were,” LuAnn said. “So if we had two kids doing something one weekend, one’s here and one’s there, well we would split up. He would go watch one and I would go watch the other.”

That’s why it was so important Willie was close to home this final season. Garry was there, for every single home dual.

“It was really important that he come to all those duals,” Willie said. “That was something he really wanted to do.” But Willie knew his dad’s time in the stands was dwindling.

‘I knew during dual meets and stuff that he might not make it to nationals, and then around February I was like, ‘he’s not even going to make it to conference,'” Willie said.

And Garry knew it, too.

“He stopped talking about NCAAs. He stopped talking about Big 12s. He stopped talking about going,” LuAnn said.

Willie’s final match on senior night would be Garry’s last. He died one week later.

“Anybody who has a family member with a terminal illness knows it’s coming, but how do you actually prepare for when it actually happens? It’s still like a dagger in the gut. Like, you’re just not ready for it,” Willie said.

But even with Garry gone, his words of wisdom drove Willie, his family, and Iowa State to keep their eyes on the prize.

“Obviously his dad was a very strong, tough individual and that’s the way Willie was raised,” Dresser said. “So the communication right after his dad passed with his mom was ‘this is the way it’s going to be. The focus is on Willie right now.’”

“He has to remain focused. He has a job to do and Garry would’ve wanted it that way,” LuAnn said.

“There’s no question about going, like I’m going,” Willie said. “You’re going and you’re going to try to win. That’s the goal every time.”

So Willie went on to wrestle in the Big 12 Championships, just five days later. He clinched his 100th collegiate career win, and qualified for the wrestling championships.

“I mean it’s definitely a difficult road to the finals when you look at it from my end, but that’s the way he would’ve made it,” Willie said.

This is Willie’s fourth trip to nationals, the first without Garry. But if there’s anything his dad taught him, it was not to feel sorry for himself and press on.

“It’s my last shot at a national title. This is what I’ve worked for since I was six-years-old. It’s the end of it,” Willie said.

“My dad, you know, got me started in this. He wanted to see it happen some days more than I did, but at the end of the day winning a national title is exactly what we wanted. So that’s what I’m striving for.”

Willie wouldn’t say if his father is giving him extra inspiration or motivation, but simply says the key for him on the mat this weekend is to just be himself, and “that’s a pretty fun thing to do.” He’s the sixth-seed in the 197 lbs. national bracket. His first match is Thursday morning.

BLACK HAWK COUNTY, Iowa — Democrat Eric Giddens beat out Republican Walt Rogers in the Iowa Senate District 30 special election Tuesday.

According to the Black Hawk County Auditor, unofficial results showed that Giddens received 56.83 percent of the vote. Rogers received 42.05 percent, while Libertarian candidate Fred Perryman had 1.07 percent.

Giddens is a Cedar Falls School Board member and a program manager at the University of Northern Iowa.

When sworn in, Giddens plans to work on expanding access to affordable health care, improving water quality, investing more in K12 public schools, and helping to create jobs in the area he represents.

District 30 includes Waterloo, Cedar Falls and Hudson.

Gov. Kim Reynolds set a special election for District 30, after Democratic State Sen. Jeff Danielson resigned. Danielson, who was also a firefighter, made the surprise announcement in February. He said he is stepping down from the fire department due to safety concerns stemming from a policy to cross-train police officers to also fight fires.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Police officers helped save several children from an apartment fire on Des Moines’ north side, including three who were tossed out of a third story window.

O’Sheana Harrison and her three kids were trapped inside during the fire.

Desperate to save her children’s lives, Harrison made the only choice she could and relied on Des Moines police officers to catch her kids from a third-story window.

“He was like, ‘you got to trust me,’ and I don’t trust anybody with my kids, but at that point in time, all I thought was I had to get them out, Harrison said.

Senior police officers Cole Johnson, Craig Vasquez, Casey Sanders and Tyler Kelley are all being thanked for their efforts.

Harrison says tossing her kids out of the window was the matter of life and death.

Harrison and her neighbors are now displaced. She is working on securing new housing.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The Summer Wood Apartments have no comment.

PACIFIC JUNCTION, Iowa — Severe flooding stranded dozens of dogs at an abandoned property in Pacific Junction, just southwest of Council Bluffs.

Amy Heinz, of AHeinz57 Pet Rescue and Transport, says the water was about five feet deep during the rescue.

Heinz says it took eight hours to rescue 26 dogs by canoe. It got too dark out to rescue the other four.

The dogs in the worst condition were taken to a local vet. The others are being driven to Des Moines.

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa — Jason Carter’s first-degree murder trial was on hold for the day Monday.

The judge agreed to continue the trial after Carter’s attorneys requested time to review new evidence in the case.

Some of the information has to do with the alibi of another man that Carter claims is responsible for his mother’s death.

Court is expected to continue Tuesday.