Zacharia Furio before ..."This is a big risk even talking to you," said Alexander Iaccarino. "I'm afraid of being prosecuted for this. 'Cause I'm not absolutely sure that any of this is legal."

It was October 16, more than three months after it all started and two weeks before its finale: the Zombie Pride Parade on Halloween night in downtown Davenport.

Looking back with that information, it's easy to see what Iaccarino was up to, and easy to laugh at it.

But when he told me that he was concerned about getting arrested, he sounded sincere and serious. And when he launched ZWatch.org on July 10, things were less cheeky. The Web site talked about a man named Zacharia Furio who was missing, and it alluded to a secretive organization called the QC Department of Biological Sciences.

Iaccarino and a small group of friends then produced videos, photos, and faked documents to tell the story of the H1Z1 virus and a local cover-up, slowly revealing a zombie narrative. The story was supported by some conspirators, such as local author Brian Krans (http://bit.ly/4erGco), and missing-persons posters. (Incidentally, the "H1Z1" idea was not original with Iaccarino; the name and concept of an H1N1-related zombie plague showed up several months before ZWatch: Google.com/search?q=h1z1, http://bit.ly/eiZhp.)

How convincing was it? On August 7, the Rock Island Argus/Moline Dispatch ran a front-page article titled "In Search of Zach: Is Story of Missing Man Just an Internet Hoax?" The story (http://bit.ly/1kq4nV) certainly suggested that ZWatch and Furio weren't real, but it also allowed for the possibility that they were authentic. There remained a seed of doubt, which is all it takes.

Roxanna MoritzThe irony was clear. Earlier this month, Michael D. Elliott came in third place by one vote in the Third Ward primary for Davenport City Council.

Elliott ran for Scott County Auditor - the election administrator for the county - in 2008 on a platform that included election transparency and integrity, including a push for post-election audits. The recount he requested in the city primary gave him the opportunity to test the system.

The recount returned the same results, and Elliott said by e-mail that he was satisfied with the policies and procedures put in place by Auditor Roxanna Mortiz, who defeated him and Steve Ahrens last year: "The process was thorough and documented. Obviously the counts came out correctly. I was also there at one of the precincts to watch the poll be closed, so I pretty much got to see the entire process in action. I am very confident that the system works as it should. ... Moritz was very open and patient and did an excellent job throughout this small election. I'd say it was a good trial before our larger municipal election" next week.

The health departments of Scott and Rock Island counties along with Trinity Regional Health System and Genesis Health System are asking for the help of businesses and school districts to reduce traffic to doctor offices during flu season. In a memo sent last week to area chambers of commerce and school districts, the health-care organizations asked school districts and employers to temporarily relax their policies and not require a doctor's note prior to returning to school or work. Doctor offices are receiving large numbers of requests for signed forms for patients returning to work and returning to school. These requests bring people to offices for routine visits at a time when many clinics are already seeing larger volumes from those seeking treatment for flu-like symptoms. This not only increases exposure risk for patients but also strains the resources of already busy offices.

Genesis Health System and Trinity Regional Health System have temporarily changed their visitor policies to restrict visitors younger than age 18 from visiting children's and maternal units during flu season. To ensure the safety of patients, only visitors at least 18 years old and without flu symptoms will be allowed to visit Genesis BirthCenters at Genesis Medical Center in Davenport and Genesis Medical Center Illini Campus in Silvis, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Davenport, and the pediatrics units in Davenport and Silvis. Trinity's Pediatrics Unit at its West Campus in Rock Island, and Trinity BirthPlace at its Seventh Street campus in Moline (which includes its Neonatal Special Care Unit) and Terrace Park campus in Bettendorf have enacted the same restriction. Parents younger than 18 will be an exception.

If you're torn about how worried to be about the H1N1 flu virus, you're not alone.

Consider: "I think the hysteria of H1N1 concerns me the most." That's Paul M. Bolger, medical director for emergency medicine at Trinity Regional Health System.

"Let's say it's equivalent to a seasonal flu" in terms of symptom severity and mortality, countered Louis M. Katz, the medical director of the Scott County Health Department, an infectious-diseases specialist, and the executive vice president for medical affairs of the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center. "Multiply 30[,000] or 40,000 [typical annual deaths in the United States from seasonal influenza] times five or six, or three or four, in terms of number of deaths. It's a big deal. It's a huge deal. Both from the standpoint of what we call morbidity and mortality - illness and death - and from the impact on societal operations and infrastructure."

This is a worst-case scenario, right? "No, it's what's going to happen," Katz said.

These aren't really contradictory; they're just different perspectives. But they express the general realities about H1N1 that appear to be in conflict: Our brief experience with this new strain of influenza suggests that its symptoms are generally less severe than the seasonal flu's and that its death rate is comparable, but because there's virtually no immunity in people under 60, it has the potential to affect a greater percentage of the population and cause widespread problems.

Construction has begun on an addition to the Rock Island Fitness & Activity Center, located at 4303 24th Street. Construction is anticipated to be completed in October 2010.The new gymnasium and classroom space will host youth and adult sport leagues, special events, and school-break, fitness, arts, and special-interest programs. Planning for this expansion has been underway for several years, and more than $1 million has been saved for the project. The majority of the construction will be outside of the current building, so impact to current facility users should be minimal.

Ryan Collins"I think everyone has a complex relationship with where they're from," says Ryan Collins, the Moline native currently serving as Quad City Arts' poet-in-residence. "Especially if you've left and come back, which I've done more than once. But the prevailing opinion seems to be that there's nothing to do here. That it's kind of an in-between sort of place, you know?

"We're like a crossroads," he continues. "A place in between places. There's the state capital, the University of Iowa ... . These things are close, but, like, what's here?"

The question of "What's here?" in the Quad Cities is both directly and indirectly addressed in Collins' new chapbook, Complicated Weather. And the answer, as expressed in this thoughtful collection of poems, is as complex as the author's feelings about the area.

Trinity's and Genesis' emergency departments have implemented H1N1 testing guidelines that specify they will not test people with flu-like symptoms who visit the emergency department, because the treatment would be the same with or without a positive H1N1 or seasonal-influenza diagnosis. The only people who will be tested for H1N1 are those who are actually admitted to the hospitals with flu-like/sepsis-like symptoms in all age groups. Patients less than five years old or over 65, as well as those deemed higher risk by the Centers for Disease Control for seasonal-influenza complications, will be treated with Tamiflu or Relenza as though they had tested positive for H1N1. For more information on H1N1, visit CDC.gov/h1n1flu.

When we decided to break up our 2009 Best of the Quad Cities into two sections, the change had several benefits. For one, it allowed us to include more categories while making it easier for people to participate by cutting down on the number of categories on each ballot. And it allowed us to write articles about more winners.

This second half of balloting covers Arts, Culture, & Entertainment; Night Life; Shopping & Services; and People. (Food & Dining; Civics & Government; Media; and Recreation were covered in our April 1, 2009, issue. Those results can be found here.)

Over the course of two issues, our readers have voted on the best of the Quad Cities in roughly 120 categories, and we've written articles about almost 30 winners. In two rounds of voting, we had nearly 750 valid ballots. (This time, we required participants to provide reasonable responses in 20 categories.)

We also decided, with our summer balloting, to release the results online first, and readers have used the comments section over the past few weeks to debate the inclusion of certain categories (gay bar), the scope of certain categories (actor/actress), and the winners (band). That feedback is valuable in crafting future ballots, but we hope it also it encourages future participation. If you don't like some of the results this time around, make sure you and your friends vote the next time.

On Saturday, October 3, the Deere & Company world headquarters in Moline will be one of nine historic sites honored by Landmarks Illinois as part of the 15th-annual Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Awards. Situated on 1,400 acres of land and spanning a man-made ravine, the Deere & Company headquarters was designed by architect Eero Saarinen and is an icon of the Modern movement. Completed in 1964, the original seven-story office complex was the first architectural design to use Cor-Ten steel as a primary building material. For more information on the awards, visit Landmarks.org/awards.htm.

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