When the National Weather Service issued a Particularly Dangerous Situation tornado watch on May 25 last year, Terry Swails was in an unusual position: He could chase the storm - and not via a radar from the confines of a television newsroom.
He was in Iowa City that Sunday, coming home from a storm-chasing trip in Kansas during which he saw three tornadoes.
That Sunday storm produced the EF5 tornado that hit Parkersburg, Iowa - the strongest tornado in the state since 1968.
His wife Carolyn dissuaded him from chasing it - she'd had enough of storms - but for the first time in nearly three decades, Swails has been able to indulge his love of weather directly instead of through the technology of a television station. "When the storms came, I had to work," Swails said last week. "I was always inside."
On Monday, Swails returns to the airwaves after an 18-month absence, doing weather on WQAD's 6 p.m. weekday newscasts. It's a part-time gig, meaning that Swails can devote more time to the actual weather and to his Web site.
For WQAD, this is a bold partnership that will almost certainly erode KWQC's local-news dominance and could start a sea change. Channel 8 will allow Swails to directly promote TerrySwails.com on the air, and in exchange it will get the Quad Cities' most recognizable weather personality.
The two men came to the cross-country bike ride in different ways.
For Danny Leonard, a cancer survivor in his late 60s, the idea for a second cross-country ride arose from a conversation he had two years ago while running on a treadmill next to a young man preparing for a marathon. As the men ran next to each other for almost two hours, the young man explained to Leonard that running the marathon would be his way to raise awareness for leukemia and lymphoma research. The conversation left Leonard wondering what he could do to advocate screening for and raise awareness about the disease he had battled -- non-Hodgkin lymphoma. He decided to place an advertisement on Craigslist looking for a Christian who was interested in riding across the United States to raise awareness of the importance of early detection.
For Drew Wessels, an Augustana College graduate and Bettendorf native in his early 20s who stumbled across the listing while looking for a job, it was an opportunity to honor the grandfather he lost to leukemia three years ago.
But for both men it was the right time for the ride. This year marks the 10th anniversary of Leonard being cancer-free, and of his first ride across the country. Wessels, whose summers were usually consumed by basketball or school, found himself with a rare free summer. "The one time I actually had the opportunity, that something like this came by is pretty neat," Wessels said. 2009 also marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Two new park concepts are being developed by the Rock Island Parks & Recreation Department: Old Chicago Park and Douglas Park. Old Chicago Park, located on Ninth Street east of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center, will be a brand-new park. The designs can be viewed here. Comments and suggestions on the plans are being accepted by e-mail (
) and phone (309)732-7275. A finalized design will be created and presented for public comment in the coming months.
On June 20, the Marijuana Policy Project hosted a medical-marijuana forum at the Bettendorf Public Library. The event featured a screening of the documentary Waiting to Inhale as well as a discussion with patients who use medical marijuana and proponents of legalizing the drug for medical use. Video of the discussion follows.
The Goldman family has donated six properties in the 1600 block of Second Avenue to Rock Island Economic Growth Corporation. Stanley and Ann Goldman, owners of Hyman's Furniture Store, were honored Friday for their contributions to the community, including the recent property donations. The properties, valued at nearly half a million dollars, are slated to become a business incubator and housing.