Author’s Archive: Gregory Berry

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URBANDALE, Iowa — Get those packages ready! According to the United States Postal Service, the busiest mailing and shipping week starts on December 17.

Abbey Sires. who helps run an online jewelry business, said she makes a trip or several to her local post office, “All day every day we are back and forth.”

Sires said she is sending thousands of pieces of jewelry on Friday in hopes the pieces make it to their destinations before the busiest mailing and shipping week of the year.

“They are Christmas presents for a lot of people actually. We sell on Amazon so we’re shipping all of this to amazon and then they’ll go out from there,” Sires said.

With 20 percent more packages going in and out than previous years, postal workers said they are working until late in the evening to make sure presents arrive on time.

“They need to make sure that we can see their address. When they are out in the dark, it’s really hard to read the house address. So if they can leave the porch light on that would help a lot,” Natalie Welter, with USPS, said.

There are also some popular gift items that can’t be mailed through USPS.

“We can’t mail perfume, no tobacco products or alcohol. Lithium batteries, you need to make sure that they are installed correctly into the device and powered off. Any other type of battery needs to be removed from the device or shipped in the manufacturer’s original packaging,” Sherry Grandberg, with USPS, said.

In order to prevent package thefts, postal workers said it’s best to specify delivery instructions on the USPS website and check your front porch multiple times a day.

“So we have extra people come and deliver nothing but parcels. So sometimes you might see us come to your house two or three times day because of the volume we have in the back we Can’t get it all sorted at once,” welter said.

But most importantly, Abbey Sires said mailing packages early and on time makes all the difference for the Christmas season.

“On time, Oh it’s detrimental to our company if we don’t. I mean we have to get them in and out as quickly as we can just to beat the holiday rush and everything just to get them to amazon on time,” Sires said.

Christmas shipping deadlines:

  • For packages going to military members overseas they must go out before Dec. 11.
  • Priority Mail Express needs to be mailed by Dec. 22.
  • Priority Mail and First Class Mail needs to be sent by Dec. 20.
  • USPS Retail Ground needs to be mailed by Dec. 14.

DES MOINES, Iowa –Des Moines firefighters spent the frigid overnight hours on the scene of a house fire in the neighborhood near Roosevelt High School.

Two people living there made it out of the home, but they were sent to the hospital with burn injuries.

The fire started just before 1 a.m. at 825 41st Street. That’s across from the Des Moines Playhouse.

A neighbor says the man woke up to the flames and smoke and got his wife out of the house. He then ran next door for help.

Neighbor Grant Wilson said, “I got a banging on my window. Somebody was yelling, and I didn’t know what it was. I came my front door, I looked outside and didn’t see anything. I looked out my bedroom window, and I went back to my room and I called 911. And then I yelled outside, and then I finally heard my name. He said there’s a fire.”

The house suffered extensive damage. Investigators are now looking into the cause of that fire.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — At first look the final in this year’s Cy-Hawk showdown may have given the home team a victory for the fourteenth time in sixteen meetings but it also showed there is no downplaying of much this game means to the players on the court.   Iowa State broke into the game with an early 6-2 lead in a hostile environment but the Hawkeyes seemed unfazed and poised to feed off their home crowd.  Isaiah Moss caught fire from beyond the arc early and notched eighteen of his twenty points in the first half alone.  A put-back dunk by Tyler Cook before time expired in the first half gave the Hawkeyes a 45-38 edge at the break.

In the second half it was more of the same for Iowa.  Tyler Cook took over scoring a game high twenty-six points to go along with ten boards to help lead the Hawks over Iowa State 98-84.  Joe Weiskamp gutted out an ankle injury to chip in seven points and Nicholas Baer helped pour in fourteen points off the bench.  The Hawkeyes bench outscored the Cyclones bench 34-14.

For the Cyclones, they saw stellar play from Talen Horton-Tucker who led the team with 21 points. Marial Shayok was a difference maker and added 19 points but ISU shot just twenty percent from three and just twelve of twenty from the free throw line.

Emotions boiled over as the final buzzer sounded and the teams had to be separated without a final game ending handshake.

DES MOINES, Iowa–  A WWII veteran is being honored Friday for Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

Leo Greenwood from Iowa died back in 2005 and 13 years later his name is being added to the Pearl Harbor WWII Memorial Wall in Des Moines.

The wall was built nearly 30 years ago.

“This is the first time that we have ever added a name,” Mary Vanhorn with AMVets Iowa said.

Until recently there were 511 names etched into it.

“For the last six months we have gone through a verification process to make sure he rightfully should have been on here,” Vanhorn said.

Seaman First Class Leo Greenwood is the 512 name to be added.

“It was empty, and we were able to get the funding to get his name added to the wall,” Vanhorn said.

Greenwood’s name will be unveiled Friday during a ceremony to honor all those who served in WWII.

“We thought it would be nice to do it in conjunction with Pearl Harbor Day we didn’t realize President Bush was going to pass away- this is good timing to honor those veterans from WWII,” Vanhorn said.

Greenwood served 77 years ago when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.

Greenwood was aboard the USS West Virginia when it sank.

“He swam below flaming water to get to shore along with a number of other survivors,” Vanhorn said.

Greenwood’s is believed to be the last WWII veteran from Iowa to be added to the wall, it signifies the end of an era.

No word about why Greenwood’s name was not added back when the wall was built.

The event is Friday at the WWII Memorial in Des Moines it starts at 11:40 a.m.

MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa — Individual residents and business owners in Marshalltown looking to the federal government for financial aid in the wake of this summer’s tornado appear to be out of luck.

Governor Reynolds had requested the aid in the fall but was denied. She appealed but the result remained the same.

According to a press release from the governor’s office, FEMA denied Governor Reynolds’ request because “The impact was not severe or widespread enough for individual assistance”.

That doesn’t sit well with residents or Marshalltown’s Mayor, Joel Greer.

“I think it’s too bad because a lot of the part of town that got hit are people that are maybe under insured or no insurance” said Jackie Fiscus.

“I was disappointed, but not surprised. I’ve been told by mayors who have gone through disasters like this, even worse disasters, they have not gotten that kind of a FEMA grant” said Mayor Greer.

Greer says part of that frustration comes because representatives from FEMA didn’t arrive in Marshalltown until weeks after the storm.

“I would have a suggestion to the president and FEMA. When a town like ours gets hit with a disaster, send someone out from FEMA, the next day, and meet with the mayor and city administrator so we’re given some idea” said Greer.

Greer says through the process he wasn’t told by FEMA or other mayors who went through a tornado how much damage would actually qualify a town.

“I can tell you it’s a mystery and nobody that’s been through a disaster has been able to solve it, nobody knows” he said.

A request for comment from FEMA answering that question was not immediately returned.

While FEMA is not offering money to individuals, Marshalltown does qualify for public funding from FEMA. In October the governor announced the state would be using some of it for the VALOR program, where impacted residents can apply for state grants to make up to $5,000 in repairs. Residents say the town needs it, even in homes that didn’t take a direct hit.

“The damage may not look like much from the outside but when you go in or start tearing into something you find out it costs a lot more” said Fiscus.

Mayor Greer praised the countless volunteers and private donations that have come to help Marshalltown. He also thanked FEMA for the work they’ve done elsewhere in the country, but says he wishes they could have done more in Marshalltown.

If you want to donate to continue helping the Marshalltown recovery you can do so through the Habitat for Humanity at

URBANDALE, Iowa– The Puppy Jake Foundation is a nonprofit that trains service dogs for veterans.

Becky Beach founded the organization. She worked with President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush and says the first family inspired her philanthropy.

“Animals grieve, they do experience emotions like ours,” Carri Marshall with The Puppy Jake Foundation said.

Along with having similar human emotions, Marshall said service dogs are among the most loyal companions.

“To an extent it shows the bond the dog has with their handlers and their owners,” Marshall said.

Bush’s service dog Sully was trained to help Bush pick up dropped items and get help in the event of an emergency.

That’s exactly what The Puppy Jake Foundation is training Bucky to do.

“We do something called bracing were the dog will hold still and actually help the veterans who are on the floor and need help getting up,” Marshall said.

That maneuver is one Iowa Army veteran David Iseminger said will change his life.

“I have a back injury and bad knees, so it will also help with bracing when I go to get up and picking stuff up that I drop,” Iseminger said.

He suffers from PTSD, and a traumatic brain injury.

“My dog will be for calming so that I can go out in public,” Iseminger said.

Beach was unavailable for an on-camera interview because she’s en route to Huston for Bush’s funeral.

DES MOINES, Iowa — A man who worked for a non-profit organization that helps at-risk youth, young adults and adults, is charged with enticing a minor under the age of 16 for a sexual purpose. Akil Jabbar was terminated by Creative Visions on December 3, 2018, the same day he was arrested and booked in the Polk County Jail. According to the criminal complaint and affidavit, Jabbar met with the minor in the middle of the night, even though her mother had told Jabbar to have no additional contact with her, with the intent of committing an illegal sex act with her.

Court documents say Jabbar planned to supply the girl with illegal drugs and alcohol. Ankeny Police say messages on social media corroborate the allegations. The CEO of Creative Visions, Ako Abdul-Samad, addressed the arrest today.

“Yesterday morning we found out that our part-time employee Akil Jabbar was arrested,” said Ako. “In doing our due diligence, we learned what the charges were. Due to our policies and the nature of the charges, we could not continue his employment at Creative Visions, until the issues are completely resolved.”

Jabbar has an extensive criminal background, but Ako says he was unaware of that, when he hired Jabbar.

“…We understand that he had some difficulties…,” said Ako. “But, do I know or did I know what his criminal background was, no.”

Ako says Creative Visions does not do criminal background checks when it hires employees.

“We had not to this point,” said Ako.

But Ako says moving forward, in light of this incident, that policy might change.

“Some of our policies may change,” said Ako. “You know, I mean we`re growing, you know, and situations cause you to look at your policies and what needs to be done to go forward to ensure the safety of, you know, your clients.”



DES MOINES, Iowa — One teen is dead and another is in critical condition after police say they stole a car and crashed it Monday night.

Police say it was a series of bad decision that ended with 16 year-old Emilio Esteban Garcia dead and an unnamed 17 year-old in critical condition.

“Started about 8:11 p.m. with this car being reported stolen on Jefferson avenue. Within about 35 minutes we had a report of gunfire in a neighborhood on the 4100 block of Rosehedge” said Des Moines Police Spokesman Paul Parizek.

Police say the two teenagers had taken the stolen car to Rosehedge and began rummaging through another car.

“It looked like they were moving property out of a car into another one and for some reason they just started shooting bullets into this car” said Parizek.

Police say the two left the area quickly. They had taken off before an officer responding to the gunfire could stop them. That’s when another officer responding to the gunfire came upon a violent wreck nearby at the intersection of 30th and Jefferson. According to police, witnesses to the crash estimated the car moving between 90 and 100 miles per hour before it clipped a U.S. Postal Service van and slammed into a group of trees. The driver of the van, miraculously, was not hurt.

“There was no way for him to estimate that that car was coming at him, who knows if he even saw it at those speeds, he’s very fortunate that he was not injured” said Parizek.

Emilio Garcia was in the passenger seat at the time of the crash, his family released a statement reading:

“They are good kids, just misunderstood, both with families who are very devastated and our family is hoping and praying for the best. Emilio will be truly missed but never forgotten”

Police say the situation is sad all the way around.

“We’re looking right now at the impact of the community. We’ve got people who have their car shot up and had their property stolen both which makes them feel violated in and of themselves, but then we lost a 16 year-old kid. It’s heartbreaking” said Parizek.

Police say the initial car theft and the car the two targeted appear to be random.

DES MOINES, Iowa — President Donald Trump ordered all flags to be lowered to half staff to honor President George H.W. Bush following his death. He died on Friday, November 30, 2018.

According to the Curator Leo Landis at the State Historical Museum of Iowa, the tradition of lowering flags to half staff dates back to the early 1900’s in the United States.

“We had fought both the Civil War and the Spanish American War and in order to honor soldiers who had fought, the tradition was, on Memorial Day, the flags would go to half staff and then at noon on Memorial Day it would rise fully to the full staff height,” Landis said.

According to Governor Kim Reynolds’ office, Gov. Reynolds asked for flags to be lowered to half staff 11 times and President Trump asked for it 12 times, for a total of 23 in 2018 in Iowa.

“The tradition that we have today was codified or done as an executive proclamation by President Eisenhower in 1954 and it was really to have a standard in the US Flag Code saying here are the people that are deserving of having the flag fly at half staff,” Landis said.

The proclamation to order lowering flags has to come from either the president or the governor, but anyone can make a request.

Landis said there isn’t a penalty for not lowering a flag.

“It’s just incredibly bad form when the leader of our nation makes a proclamation asking all US citizens and people living in this country to participate in a period sorrow and recognition. It just seems unfathomable to me to not participate in that,” Landis said.

Flags can be at half staff for anywhere from several hours to even 30 days like the recent request following President Bush’s death.

“The federal standard is one standard but we could actually, as a state, keep it up longer at half staff for a longer period of time,” Landis said.

Landis said this special honor is reserved for people who have served the United States in an important way.

“It’s something that’s done to say these are people who have served our country. They ought to be recognized and especially in the case of a president, we want to recognize their service,” Landis said.

MT. AYR, Iowa- Astronaut Peggy Whitson will be honored in her hometown area. A giant boulder will be painted as a tribute to Whitson, who spent more time in space, than any other woman, and who also served as a Commander of the International Space Station.

“Came up with it one evening, and I told my wife, that I had this wild idea, that might be crazy but something we can work on was a Peggy Whitson rock, like the Freedom Rock that Bubba Sorenson paints,” said Ken Robertson, who hatched the idea.

Robertson called Whitson to ask if she would be open to the idea. “She like the idea, all she asked was that it have an American flag.

Whitson grew up on a farm near Beaconsfield, and she graduated from Mt. Ayr High School. Whitson is remembered for excelling academically and as a high school basketball player.

“I’m gonna work hard, and I want to be a guard and she worked very hard and became an all conference guard in one year,” said Mark Larson, who coached Whitson.

“She was in the national honor society, she’s probably maybe a perfect four point in high school, but it would be awfully close,” said James Saville, who also taught Whitson. “She got A’s in every class I had her in, she was interested in both math and science, but she did well in our social studies too because she wanted to know about everything.”

Hopefully the Whitson Rock will be completed and unveiled at a dedication ceremony in the spring. Organizers are hoping Whitson will be able to attend.

Here is a link to the Peggy Whitson Rock Facebook Page