Author’s Archive: Gregory Berry

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PLEASANT HILL, Iowa  —  The Pleasant Hill Fire Department had all hands on deck on Saturday morning to make the arrival of its newest addition official.

The department was given money by the city to buy a new engine two years ago, and now it’s ready for duty.

Members of the community were invited to help push it into the station, as part of a long-standing tradition at the firehouse.

“Many years ago, they actually, the fire engines were brought back to the station. The horses pulled the engines. So in order for them to put them back into the station, the firefighters had to push the engines back into the station,” said Acting Chief Jamie Xayavong.

Fire engines are usually in service for about 20 years before they are retired.

DAVENPORT, Iowa  —  A bicyclist who hit and killed a 79-year-old woman in Davenport will not face charges.

The incident happened along the Mississippi River on June 23rd. Ruth Ann Morris was walking with her son Michael along the trail when they walked onto the bike path. Michael says two cyclists lost control of their bikes, and one crashed into his mother.

The Scott County Attorney says it was an accident, but Ruth’s son says it doesn’t bring his mother back.

“I don’t necessarily think there should be charges, but they killed my mom,” he said. “I think he felt remorse. He said he braked too hard, that was the only thing that either one of them said to me that day.”

Michael says he hopes to honor his mother’s memory one day to go back to his daily walks on the trail, but right now it’s too difficult.

DES MOINES, Iowa–  The rain will only add to worries in Beaverdale.

Last month’s flash flooding poured into many basements in Beaverdale.

While it’s hard to stop 9 inches of rain some homeowners along 47th street say even a small downpour will flood their neighborhood.

“Anytime there is a five min down pour there is flooding at this intersection,” resident Jenni Klise said.

The most recent flash flood damaged Klise’s home and, more than a dozen others on this street.

Klise blames the flood on outdated storm sewer systems.

Last week, Klise took her concerns to city council Monday city council.

“This has been a known issue its a safety issue and it’s been an habitual problem, Klise said last week. “You have got to find the revenue for those storm sewers no other option”.

Friday, the city is listening.

“This is a direct response to the complaints of the residents of the inadequacies of the infrastructure,” Jonathan Gano Des Moines Public Works said.

Gano says every time there is a flash flood alert, this pump will be on standby.

“We want to try and make a temporary relief should the water come up in a forecast that includes potential flash flooding we thought it was prudent to park a pump here,” Gano said.

This won’t fix any damage on this street but will temporarily prevent it from happening again.

The city says this is the only metro neighborhood to have a SUMP pump.

Damage assessments are being reviewed, as a result other low-lying neighborhood could qualify.

The city says in the events of an unforeseen emergency down pour crews can mobilize the pump in an hour.

DES MOINES, Iowa  —  Governor Robert Ray greeted every person at Wesley Acres with a smile they will never forget.

“The thing that I noticed is he would just always smile. He would always smile for you. And it did bother him sometimes when he didn’t recognize somebody, but like we told him, he knew so many people, you couldn’t recognize everyone,” Wesley Acres Resident Betty Speas said.

The staff said he was always looking out for everyone.

“He’s somebody that we admire a lot. With the staff he’s always been so kind and such a sweet guy. In fact, with our dining staff, I know that he always asked them if they had eaten yet that day. He was always concerned about others,” Dining Director Sam Kolner said.

Kolner has a special connection to ray.

“During the dinner, I remembered I had a picture of him crowning my mother-in-law, Lois Theesfield, Miss Iowa in 1969. So I went through all of my pictures and brought that up and decided to show that to him and brought it over, and he got a big kick out of that,” Kolner said.

Ray reached out to many people, whether it was through work or even at church.

“I had long heard his name growing up in our church as a person of faith, as a person who my parents often referred to when they needed to share with me a role model,” Reverend Bill Spangler-Dunning said.

Speas said she also went to the same church.

“I knew him when all of us went to church. I knew him when I was a Sunday school teacher and I had his oldest daughter in first grade, and she was very quiet,” Speas said

They reconnected when he moved to Wesley Acres, and now she is sad to say goodbye.

“But in a way, sometimes you think he’s earned his reward, but always sad to think somebody’s not going to be there when you walk over to the health center,” Speas said.

“You are in breach of condition 15.4(c) of your agreement with PayPal Credit as we have received notice that you are deceased.”

That’s the very real message a British man received three weeks after informing PayPal of his wife’s May 31 death from cancer at age 37.

“What empathy-lacking machine sent this?” Howard Durdle, 40, first wrote on Facebook, sharing the letter threatening legal action over Lindsay Durdle’s $4,200 debt, which her widower says her estate couldn’t cover, per Inc.

“As soon as our teams became aware of this mistake, we contacted Mr. Durdle directly to offer our support, cleared the outstanding debt and closed down his wife’s account,” PayPal tells the New York Times, adding it has “made changes to ensure that an insensitive error of this nature never happens again.”

Durdle, too, says his goal is to prevent future instances like this—”it can be hugely damaging for people who are trying to recover”—and he thinks speaking out is the best way to accomplish that.

“While PayPal’s mistake is getting lots of press, the truth is companies send out similar letters all the time,” Inc. notes.

Speaking to the Times, the president of consumer rights advocacy group Public Citizen blames companies’ increasing reliance on software and algorithms to communicate with customers. Per the BBC, Durdle was told a software glitch, bad letter template, or human error was likely to blame in his case, but that the exact cause would remain an internal secret.

“I just hope more orgs can apply empathy and common sense to avoid hurting the recently bereaved,” he wrote in a Tuesday tweet, per CBS News.

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They were only fingernails, but to Shridhar Chillal, cutting them off probably felt a bit like cutting off his own hand.

That’s because for 66 of his 82 years, Chillal, of Pune, India, has been growing the longest fingernails ever recorded on a single hand, his left. They together stretched about 30 feet, or the length of a bus, before he finally had them cut on Wednesday.

Beginning with his curling, 6.5-foot long thumb nail, the nails were removed with a mini power saw, as seen in a Guinness World Records video. But they weren’t destroyed: Chillal ultimately did away with the nails after New York City’s Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum promised to “maintain them very nicely and for a lifetime,” per ABC Australia.

“Chillal dedicated his life to something truly remarkable and Ripley’s is the perfect home to honor his legacy,” a rep says, per the Hindu.

Ironically, the nails now on public display came about after a 14-year-old Chillal accidentally broke a very long nail his teacher had grown. “I don’t know if the teacher is dead now or not, but I would definitely like to say the thing that you scolded me for, I took it as a challenge,” says Chillal.

Though his fragile nails complicated many everyday activities, like sleeping, Chillal has led a mostly normal life. He married, had two children, and worked for 22 years as a photographer at a government agricultural magazine, using a camera with a customized handle, per Guinness and Reuters.

He’s now looking forward to some relief, having complained of pain in his arm, shoulder, and fingertips. Due to the nails’ weight over six decades, however, Chillal’s left hand is permanently disfigured, leaving him unable to open his hand or flex his fingers.

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MIAMI – Police arrested a homeless Florida man with no arms after he allegedly stabbed a tourist in Miami Beach Tuesday tonight.

Jonathan Crenshaw, 46, is known locally for the detailed works of art he creates using his feet, the same extremities police say he used to jam a pair of scissors into 22-year-old Cesar Coronado.

According to the Miami Herald, Crenshaw told Miami Beach police that he had been lying down when Coronado attacked him first, punching him in the head.

Both Coronado and his friend, 22-year-old Cindy Barrientos, told investigators that they were just asking for directions when Crenshaw suddenly stabbed Coronado and walked off.

Coronado, who was visiting Florida from Chicago, suffered a wound to his left arm and officers found him lying on the ground bleeding, according to WPLG.  Paramedics took him to an area hospital for treatment.

Police have arrested Crenshaw multiple times in the past, the Herald reports, on charges that include trespassing, disorderly intoxication and battery on police officers, among others.

Crenshaw was booked on a charge of aggravated battery.

CONNERSVILLE, Ind. – A mother of five in Indiania made a life-saving donation to an 8-year-old after the two met at Vacation Bible School.

“They asked all the kids ‘What are your goals in life?’, and she was 8 at the time,” Kari Woods told WXIN. “When they asked her, she said she wanted to live to be 10.”

Woods was a volunteer at Vacation Bible School in the summer of 2017 when she learned 8-year-old Abby Steinard was suffering from kidney failure.

Steinard was on dialysis for nine and a half hours every day.

“I kept feeling a voice tell me, ‘Give her your kidney,’ and I just kind of put it in the back of my mind,” Woods said. “And I kept hearing, ‘No, give her your kidney.’”

Woods learned Steinard has a rare blood type, so finding a donor was even harder.

“They said her blood type is O Negative, and I said, ‘Well that’s my blood type, and I only need one kidney.’”

In December 2017, the mom of five checked into St. Vincent Hospital for the surgery that saved Steinard, who was 9 at the time.

“She started to get her color back probably on the second day, and then the activity level. By the end of the hospital stay, she was roaming around on the floor,” said Dr. Islam Ghoneim, who performed the surgery.

Dr. Ghoneim said Woods is healthy, and that helped her recovery.

Steinard will take lifelong anti-rejection medication and has regular doctor visits, but she is no longer on dialysis. She says she plans to have fun with friends on the rest of summer break.

“Hoping to have a water gun fight with my friend Brody,” she said.

It’s a notable change from this time last year. “When I play with Brody or Faith and Jacob, I don’t run out of energy that much.”

She now says that when she grows up she wants to be either a veterinarian or a zookeeper. Until then, she gets a new stuffed animal at each doctor’s appointment.

“One is a regular tiger and then the other is a snow tiger,” Steinard said of some of her favorites.

At her six-month check-up in July, she chose a lion.

Steinard’s mom says Woods, who was a stranger and is now family, saved her daughter.

Woods recently announced she is pregnant with her sixth child, and Dr. Ghoneim says that is a testament that donors go on to have normal lives after this life-saving surgery.

Kari started a Facebook group called ‘Hope for Kidneys’ to share more of her journey.

The Indiana Donor Network reports, as of February 2018, 1,280 people are waiting on an organ transplant. Of those, 1,117 are waiting for a kidney.

Click here for more information about the St. Vincent Abdominal Transplant Program (Kidney & Pancreas).

DES MOINES, Iowa  —  The Great Floods of 1993 became a valuable teaching tool for how city and state leaders would handle and prepare for widespread flooding in the future.

Members of the Iowa National Guard were deployed into their backyard to assist with more than a dozen support missions.

“Being able to come to the aid of Iowans in a time of need is really an important mission for us. We called it the no fail mission,” says Lieutenant Colonel Mike Wunn.

The Guard was tasked with distributing safe drinking water, sandbagging businesses and homes, and helping with security. Members are trained to help with the unpredictable, but even some of the missions they were assigned caught them off guard.

“When you have a 500-year flood, or some even say a 1,000-year flood, there are just some things you can’t plan and prepare for,” Wunn says.

Coordination efforts were something Wunn said needed in improvement in 1993, so the guard knew what to work on for the floods of 2008.

For Des Moines Water Works, hindsight is always 20/20. Since the flood, DMWW has put tens of thousands of dollars into flood prevention measures. Water Works has built two backup treatment plants, added six feet to the height of the current levee, and installed flood doors. Despite all that, Water Works CEO and General Manager Bill Stowe warns of the risk of a system failure.

“We spend a lot of money to mitigate that risk and mitigate it pretty well, but we will never be completely safe from flooding or the consequences of severe weather.”

He adds a change in Mother Nature could also contribute to the impending risk.

“We’ve kind of shrugged off these 500 and 100-year flood events because we know, but something has changed in the dynamic. Climate change is a reality,” Stowe says.

Des Moines Water Works collects data from a flood frequency report that tracks river levels and habits. Based on that data, officials determine when extra flood prevention measures should be taken.

Fort Dodge beats Urbandale, 5-2.

Johnston blanks East, 1-0.

Hoover edges Lewis Central, 3-2. Huskies return to state for the first time since winning it all in 1982.