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Good Bad Ugly

1/2/2013

Good 010313The good

The Iowa Machine Shed Restaurant in Urbandale presented a $14,079 check to Wildwood Hills Ranch last week. The money was raised at its ninth annual Charity Thanksgiving Dinner, which was operated by an all-volunteer staff serving mostly donated food. Wildwood Hills Ranch is a 400-acre, non-profit facility in rural Madison County for at-risk youth and costs an average of $800 per week per kid. Even the smallest efforts help immensely in transforming our future.

The West Des Moines City Council agreed to transfer property to Polk County last week for the construction of a new county congregate meal site/community center for seniors in West Des Moines. The meal site will be located on Sixth Street in Valley Junction and is said to open next year.

 

Bad 010313The bad

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According to news sources, William Spengler was many things: a psycho, a maniac, a murderer and a coward, for starters. The ex-con set fire to homes in his Webster, N.Y., neighborhood last week in order to lure firefighters on scene so he could execute them from atop a nearby hillside using a rifle with a scope. He killed two firemen, injured two and took shots at police, injuring one, before taking his own life. Seven houses were ablaze by the time it was all over. If that’s not bad enough, Spengler, 62, was on parole after serving 17 years in prison for beating his 92-year-old grandmother to death with a hammer in 1980. The otherwise quiet neighborhood experienced a similar tragedy a year ago on Dec. 7, 2011, when a 15-year-old boy doused his home with gasoline and set it ablaze, killing his father and two brothers, 16 and 12.

Mental-health and disability services in Iowa could soon be reduced as the state wrestles with the transition to a new service system. The Legislature went from services provided by each county to a regional system, but components of the new system don’t go online until July 1. Meanwhile, the state has stopped sending money under the old system, with the Legislature instead approving the creation of a transition fund. Rik Shannon, a spokesman for the Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council, says counties were asked to share information about their financial situations in order to obtain grants from the fund. He said 32 have applied, but out of those, only three meet all of the DHS qualifications for transition funds, leaving the rest wondering how they are going to continue all of the services that they’ve been providing. Now the Legislature will have to determine how much money to provide counties, but in the meantime cuts could be coming for items such as psychiatric medication, rent subsidies for the mentally ill and services for people with autism. It’s said that without the state funding, such services will likely be the first to go.

 

Ugly 010313The ugly

He who smelt it may not have dealt it, but he certainly dealt with it. A Deland, Fla., man was arrested just before Christmas for allegedly beating his children for passing gas in the car. Austin Davis, 32, is being charged with three counts of aggravated battery stemming from an incident that occurred over Thanksgiving. Davis was in the car with his three kids when one of them farted. When he demanded to know who the culprit was, it’s no wonder why no one would fess up. He who supplied it denied it, indeed. Infuriated by the stench and his children’s refusal to confess, Davis proceeded to beat each of his kids, ages 12, 9 and 6, with a belt, leaving bruises on the thighs, legs and buttocks. The children said he would often punish them this way. Fortunately, this time a relative took pictures of the bruises and turned this bad dad into the authorities.

American soldier suicides continue to outnumber combat-related deaths in 2012. Statistics recently released by the Department of the Army show that through November potentially 303 active-duty, Reserve and National Guard soldiers committed suicide. As of Dec. 7, Stars and Stripes reports that 212 soldiers have died in combat-related deaths in Afghanistan. The Army set an unfortunate new record of 177 potential active-duty cases, 64 of which remain under investigation. The rest have been confirmed. In June of this year, The Pentagon reported there had been at least 154 suicides among active-duty troops — nearly one per day. CV

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