Farewell to the Quad Cities

Dear Visitors,

As of September 2014 I am moving to a new part of the country. Once I settle in I hope to start another news blog there. There will probably be other posts and updates on this website, but my focus will primarily be on a new area.

It has been my great pleasure to get to know the Quad Cities. Many thanks to those who shared your stories with me and to those who’ve supported my efforts here just by showing up to hear, watch, or read a story. I will miss the beautiful Mississippi, the eagles and other wildlife, the sound of cicadas in the summer, the fireflies, the churches, the changing seasons, the almost complete lack of traffic, the snow (yes, even the snow), and the people of the Quad Cities who are so dedicated to the upkeep and improvement of this area. I hope, in some small way, my reporting has helped your mission of continually improving this area, which seems to be a common theme in all these communities.

With a heavy heart I move on to a new chapter in my life. I hope it’s a good one!

(Last updated Aug. 18, 2015.)

Living Lands and Water Barge Tour

During Tugfest 2014 in Port Byron, Illinois the Living Lands and Waters barges were berthed offshore and open for tours. Here’s a short tour and quotes from Chad Pregracke’s dad and one of his former board members. Chad wasn’t there Saturday or else I would have interviewed him too.

Tugfest is an annual event held on the Mississippi River in Le Claire, Iowa and Port Byron. Teams play tug-of-war with a giant rope stretched across the river. The festival offers rides, arcade games, live music, food vendors and fireworks.

Memorial Day at Rock Island Arsenal

Slide show:

Please note: I ordinarily never retouch my photos or video except for using editing practices that are common in all news photography. Common practices are: cropping to better emphasize a subject, color correction, exposure corrections, adding movement to still photos in video (aka the “Ken Burns Effect”), or inserting text like dates, ownership, or captions into a photo.

In this slide show I removed names from headstones and badges out of respect for survivors and the military. I made that decision after searching for Associated Press photos of national cemeteries and noticed many of those cemetery photos, not all, have the names on the stones out of focus or hidden in other ways. This was an exception I made for this particular story.

NPR Story: Justice is Not Blind for the Poor

This story is not specifically about the Quad Cities. It is a story about poverty and the Quad Cities have their fair share of poor people just like every other town in the U.S.

Joseph Shapiro reports – When the poor are arrested or ticketed and cannot pay their fines they are often incarcerated, and so in many states they are, in essence, punished twice. Wealthier people can pay their fines and go. The poor cannot. Most U.S. court systems operate in this manner.

Link to the story (12 min.)

State by State Court Fee Chart on NPR

Profiles of Criminals Who Were Forced to “Pay or Stay”  

Latest Study Says Widely Used Pesticide is Killing Bees

A new Harvard University study published this month in the Bulletin of Inscectology says that “sub-lethal exposure of neonicotinoids, imidacloprid or clothianidin” causes Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). CCD is responsible for wiping out millions of pollinators vital to the reproduction of crops and other plants.

Here’s two articles detailing that recent Harvard study: Discover online / Christian Science Monitor

Recently on Iowa Public Radio, Iowa State University entomologist Donald Lewis told host Charity Nebbe that Iowa has lost about 70 percent of its bees due to bad weather and other factors.

Neonicotinoid pesticides are manufactured by Bayer CropScience, Inc. An article published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune says Bayer disputes the findings that their products are harmful to bees.

European Union nations have already banned, for two years beginning December 2013, the use of neonicotinoids on their crops.

Here’s a link to the EU press release regarding the ban.

New Photos from Washington, Illinois

These pictures are from the exact same neighborhood I went to in November, 2013. (Scroll down to see November photos.) I hope to interview the tornado survivors I spoke to back then to see how they’re doing.  As you may know, residents from Washington will receive state aid but they did not qualify for FEMA funds. Washington, Illinois is about a 90 minute drive from the Quad Cities. (Some street names have been shaded out to preserve the privacy of homeowners.)

Peoria Journal-Star
Story about Red Cross efforts

Here are only a few of the many Washington area news stories about recovery efforts. The city is still seeking volunteers!

Jane Goodall Greets Over Five Thousand Supporters at U of I

Here’s the start of Dr. Goodall’s speech. Her goal is to educate and motivate children and adults to heal our planet. We were allowed to tape and photograph the first five minutes only.

Click to Listen: Opening of Her Speech at University of Iowa