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An Icon Restored: A Night at the Hotel Blackhawk PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Devin Hansen   
Tuesday, 11 January 2011 14:34

I’d read the reviews of the restored Hotel Blackhawk – all the fawning and fanfare. So I wanted to see if the fuss was warranted or just a bunch of civic cheerleading. My 15th wedding anniversary seemed like the perfect excuse for a stay, along with the discounted $79 room rate for locals that ended the next day on December 30. I also have an empathetic respect for people that put their heart, mind, and money into restoring dilapidated buildings, as I had done once with an abandoned cinema. I believe Amrit and Amy Gill of Restoration St. Louis deserve a lot of credit for taking such a risk with the Blackhawk, especially after others had forsaken the downtown-Davenport landmark.

So I went to the Hotel Blackhawk about an hour before my wife was to arrive, enough time for a few drinks at the “belly-up” bar in the lounge. It was designed to encourage folks to stand rather than sit by removing the chairs on the side of the bar that opened up to the lobby and having sparse seating along the other three sides. And I have to admit: This magical feng shui worked. It was open and welcoming, and its proximity to the check-in allowed me to sip on a Templeton Rye while watching the line diminish.

I tried to get our room key before my wife showed up, so I could surprise her with a bottle of Brut and a dozen roses in the ice bucket, but I didn’t have the credit card that we used to reserve the room; it was in my wife’s purse. Half-joking, I asked woman behind the desk if they took cash. She ignored me. I don’t know if it was my lack of credit, the bag filled with wine bottles clinking at my side, or my insistence on getting a room with a hot tub at the discount rate, but she made me feel like some kid on prom night trying to scam a room. I will say she was the only one during our entire experience that raised my hackles. The rest of the crew was very cordial, even when the experience was occasionally below expectations.

 
William M. Johnson, RIP (1922-2010) PDF Print E-mail
In Memorium
Written by Kathleen McCarthy   
Wednesday, 05 January 2011 05:48

William M. Johnson

William M. Johnson was my maternal uncle, who joined his wife of 62 years, Carm, when he passed quietly on December 30, 2010. He was 88 years old, and a treasure to me who, over these past four years, shared a rich and detailed view into my family’s history. His perspectives and memories of his generation’s era are invaluable.

Bill led a charmed life. He was a Depression-era child in Rock Island and fondly recalled how he used to join dozens of neighbors hunting worms at night in Longview Park so they could fish for their suppers from the Mississippi. Decades later he retired from Deere & Company, having served for 36 years as executive pilot, coming on board at the genesis of Deere’s aviation department after World War II. Bill is survived by two sons and daughters-in-laws – Bill and Neva, and Tom and Kathy – 16 grandchildren, and six great grandchildren. And me and my husband, Todd. We could not have loved him more.

 
Inspiring Action: Students and Colleagues Rise to the Aid of Injured Moline Teacher PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Tushar Rae   
Wednesday, 29 December 2010 10:27

Curtis Butterfield, Sarah Mason-Butterfield, and their daughter Clara. Photo courtesy Sarah Mason-Butterfield.He was a frightening figure when I first met him, with tattoos of verses in Arabic and lines from literature on his arms, a shaved head, a ragged beard, and the combination of a stern voice and piercing gaze.

As an Indian who is often mistaken for someone from the Middle East, I had received plenty of negative attention from people who looked like him. But I could not avoid him.

It was 2002, and Curtis Butterfield was my freshman biology teacher and my coach for the junior-varsity academic team at Moline High School.

Early in the school year, Butterfield gave me a confrontation, but not the one I had been dreading.

“You know this is not your best work,” he said, with the voice and glare used to full effect, “and if you think you’re staying in my class, you need to start doing better work.”

Butterfield “doesn’t invite people to come in and learn; he demands that students learn,” said Nicholas Pitz, a Moline High German teacher and varsity academic-team coach. “Learning is not an option.”

 
Don’t Drink the Water? Author Paul Connett Wants People to Take a Fresh (or First) Look at Fluoridation PDF Print E-mail
Health
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 09 December 2010 05:16

If you’re approaching this article on water fluoridation with trepidation, Paul Connett knows how you feel.

“I didn’t want this issue,” said Connett, the co-author of the recently published book The Case Against Fluoride, in a phone interview last week.

“When my wife dumped a whole bunch of papers on my desk one afternoon in July 1996 and said, ‘Dear, would you read these papers?’” he recalled, “I said, ‘What is it? What’s it about?’ She says, ‘Fluoridation.’ I said, ‘Take it away. These people are crazy.’”

Connett already had a full-time job as a professor of chemistry at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York. And for a decade he had been a vocal opponent of waste incineration, a cause that sent him around the world presenting lectures.

“I didn’t want a third issue,” Connett said. “I certainly didn’t want this one, which was stigmatized ... as the province of a bunch of Flat Earth Society crazy people. And I’d succumbed to that same notion without doing any research.”

That night the Village of Canton was considering whether to continue fluoridation of the city’s drinking water. Connett said: “When I started to read the papers that she put there, my intention was as quickly as possible to find out where these crazy anti-fluoridationists had made some fundamental scientific mistakes and [determine] that there was nothing to worry about. ... It didn’t take me long to realize that there were some very serious problems with that practice” of fluoridation.

 
The Best Local TV News: KWQC Is Still King, but Surprising WHBF Is an Underdog Worth Watching PDF Print E-mail
Media
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 28 October 2010 05:21

Most of us like to root for an underdog, so here’s a story that our local television news stations should eat up.

When the River Cities’ Reader analyzed Quad Cities newscasts for four days earlier this month, there was one major surprise: The fourth-place local station at 10 p.m. – CBS affiliate WHBF, whose newscast has gotten trounced in the ratings by a syndication sitcom on Fox 18 – might just have the best local television news in the Quad Cities.

In just about every objective and subjective measure, WHBF’s late-night newscast beats or presents a strong challenge to established power KWQC, the local NBC affiliate.

 
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