Friday, Nov. 17, 2006
A few days ago I told you about Jason Hill, a 35-year-old guy from Anchorage, Alaska, who is on a two-year bicycle jaunt that will take him across much of America and then to Argentina. [The Complete Book of Long-Distance Cycling: Build the Strength, Skills, and Confidence to Ride as Far as You Want]
He’s ridden more than 15,000 miles since starting out in June 2005. Despite packing more than 70 pounds of gear, he averages around 20 miles per hour.
This fellow is hard-core. He camps out most nights and rides off-road whenever possible. In Colorado, he got the hankering to go mountain-climbing, so he parked his ride and conquered a 14,000-foot peak.
Jason told me he doesn’t have much of a master plan, that he “makes the route up as he goes along.”
He’ll spend the winter with friends in Cincinnati, and pick up some paychecks as a landscaper and bartender before heading out again in March.
And get this. After returning to Alaska to relight the home fires, he might ride across Africa.
I flagged him down near Montgomery, Ind. It was almost a shame. He had a better pace than some cars I’ve owned.
He talked about purifying his drinking water, repairing his drive train and eating wild mushrooms.
Jason said he’s in no hurry to find a real job, and that he’d much rather pedal the ridgelines of Colorado.
I gave him the name of a good place to eat in Loogootee, and hoped the gypsum trucks outside Shoals don’t get as close to his hind parts as they did mine when I biked across Indiana on U.S. 50.
And he was off, possibly the most self-sufficient human being since Mr. Lewis and Mr. Clark.
Admit it. You’ve thought about leaving the work-a-day world behind and heading into the horizon, free as the tooth fairy.
But you don’t get any farther than the end of the driveway. There’s the mortgage to think about. And the moles that are threatening to plant their victory flag in your backyard. And who’s going to watch the dog while you’re in Costa Rica?
So you stay, your roots sinking yet another inch.
When it comes to adventure-seeking, Jason Hill is our elected official without the vote-counting and swearing-in ceremony.
We’re not quite willing to take off for two years with nothing for certain other than we’ll need a boatload of water-purifying tablets.
We’re not quite willing to pedal in the driving rain for 10 hours, sleep on a bed of pine cones and wake up the next morning with creepy things on our carcass.
So we let guys like this Mr. Pistons For Legs represent us.
When he dips his bike in Prudhoe Bay in upstate Alaska, he’s doing it for us.
When he’s pumping up the Andes Mountains, he has our dreams in his saddlebags.
Happy trails, Jason.
We’ve got to stay behind to pay into our health plan, but we’re with you in spirit.
May the wind always be at your back and may no mushroom give you gastric distress.
You’re the champ in my eyes, pal.
Lewis and Clark were good … as far as they went.
Thursday, Nov. 16, 2006
A 7-year-old Washington state girl who disappeared six months ago has been reunited with her father, police said.
Charles Ard, of Clark County, Wash., picked up his daughter, Brittany Ard, on Friday.
Police said the girl’s mother interfered with custody arrangements and moved the girl to the Cincinnati area. Regina Tiel and her husband, Kary Tiel, have been charged with felony interference in custody.
The Tiels used a false name to enroll the girl last month at the Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy in Symmes Township, authorities said.
Kathy Gims, the child’s first-grade teacher, said she became suspicious for several reasons, including that the girl’s hair looked dyed. An admissions counselor at the school also had difficulty tracking down the girl’s records, including a permanent address.
Gims and the counselor went to the Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s Web site, where they found a photo of the girl.
The center contacted Vancouver, Wash., detectives, and police arrested the Tiels on Thursday.
Lottery winner Bill Rivenburgh said, “It’s going to be a little easier. I won’t have to live paycheck to paycheck.”
The 38-year-old’s fortune changed for the better on October 25th in the parking lot of Stewart’s on Brandywine Avenue in Schenectady. That’s when he scratched off his winning “Be An Instant Millionaire” ticket on his way home from work.
“I called my wife and told her about it. She thought I was lying and that was that,” said Rivenburgh.
He said once he scratched it, he had to look at it more than once before he realized how much he had won.
Rivenburgh said, “Oh, I had to look at it five times. My wife thought I was lying. I told her I was as serious as a heart attack.”
A veteran of the war in Iraq, Rivenburgh was sent overseas one day after his Valentine’s Day wedding to his wife Lisa in 2004. But instead of taking that honeymoon they never had, Rivenburgh instead plans to invest in his kids’ future.
“I’m going to invest some of it in CDs for my nieces and nephews, my kids, my stepson. That way they have something when they’re old enough,” Rivenburgh said.
The Rivenburghs haven’t had it easy. Lisa spent some time in rehab while her husband was overseas and the couple has taken in Bill’s sister’s three kids in addition to their own.
Lisa Rivenburgh said, “We don’t have to wonder where your Christmas presents are coming from every year. That’s how I’m looking at it. We’re not rich. We’re just more comfortable.”
Rivenburgh also plans to renovate his house and take the kids to Disney World. He’ll receive $50,000 a year for the next 20 years.
Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2006
Today a group of Dubuque Catholic Charities volunteers from Dubuque will tear into the wreckage of Isaac Bolden’s home in the Gentilly quarter of New Orleans.
The structure is the 1,000th home Catholic Charities volunteers have rescued in the year since Hurricane Katrina inundated the city and sent tens of thousands of refugees fleeing for their lives. [Unnatural Disaster: The Nation on Hurricane Katrina]
The 10-member demolition crew, led by the Rev. Jack Paisley of Dubuque, is made up of members of Resurrection Catholic parish in Dubuque.
“We have two more groups who are going in February,” said Sister Francine Quillin, pastoral associate. “We have a very active social justice committee in our parish. ”
For the most part, the Catholic Charities crews have focused their efforts on helping elderly and disabled homeowners begin the clean-up process. The Bolden home was inundated by 10 feet of water. Bolden did not have flood insurance and he has experienced major health problems.
Bolden is currently living in an apartment in Atlanta. He is traveling by train to thank the volunteers, according to Corinne Knight, spokesperson for Catholic Charities in the New Orleans archdiocese.
“A lot of people are so moved by the experience that they want to do more,” Knight said. “They want to continue their relationship with the community, something we are so grateful for.” [Rebuilding Your Broken World]
Operation Helping Hands began over Thanksgiving weekend last year and has taken off largely by way of word-of-mouth organizing, organizers said.
“A thousand homes gutted means that 1,000 families have started to rebuild not only their homes, but also their lives,” said Joan Diaz, project manager.
To date, 6,848 volunteers participating in Operation Helping Hands have gutted 999 homes and given 178,641 hours of service valued at more than $5.4 million, Knight said. More than 3,000 volunteers from across the United States are scheduled to participate in the project through March 2007. About 1,000 homes remain on the waiting list.
Monday, Nov. 13, 2006
A STOLEN video camera containing family pictures has been returned to its owners.
Police believe it was stolen during a string of thefts from cars in Kearsley.
The Sony video camera was left at the scene of a car break-in in Teak Drive, Kearsley, on Monday, October 16, when a car owner said he had disturbed thieves who had broken into his car.
The man found the camera beside the car and it was thought to have been stolen earlier and left behind by the thieves.
Police released pictures taken from a video in the camera in a bid to trace the family and return the camera to them.
The pictures appeared in The Bolton News and the family got in touch with police.
PC Dave Carlisle, of Bolton police, said: “The victims believe the camera was taken from their car while they were visiting family close to the scene of other attempted car thefts.
“The family did not even notice the camera was gone until recently, which is why they did not report it missing.”
Thursday, Nov. 9, 2006
Six-year-old Shawn Rulo was near death when he was airlifted to Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center with a gunshot wound in his head.
Now, about a month later, the boy from Washington County who was shot when his father’s rifle accidentally discharged is making an amazing recovery. [Cheap Shots, Ambushes, And Other Lessons: A Down And Dirty Book On Streetfighting & Survival]
His mom calls it a miracle.
Shawn is now walking, talking and eating solid food, his mother and doctor said Friday.
Shawn’s mother, Gena Aubuchon, 25, of Caledonia in Washington County, spoke with reporters Friday at a hospital news conference for the first time since Shawn was shot on Oct. 10.
“He says his ABCs,” Aubuchon said. “He counts. He’s writing his name. He’s just a miracle.”
That’s a vast improvement from Shawn’s condition when he was brought to the hospital on the day of the shooting, said Dr. Adrienne Tilbor, medical director of the rehabilitation unit at Cardinal Glennon.
“He arrived in our emergency room near death,” Tilbor said. “His heart and lungs were working, but there were limited other signs of life at that time.
“His recovery so far is amazing, and he’s made tremendous progress,” she added.
Shawn was in a medically induced coma for several days after the shooting to allow brain swelling to subside, Tilbor said. He gradually regained consciousness and some abilities late last month after being brought out of the coma, the doctor said.
Tilbor declined to make a long-term prognosis for Shawn’s mental abilities but said he probably could make a full physical recovery. He’s already walking with some assistance, talking slowly and eating solid food, the doctor said.
Shawn also is taking only half the medications he needed immediately after brain surgery on Oct. 10 to remove bullet and bone fragments, Tilbor said.
Shawn was moved early this week to Cardinal Glennon’s pediatric rehabilitation unit from a regular hospital room.
Tilbor said she was unsure how much longer Shawn would be in the hospital.
She said Shawn would have more surgery Friday to replace part of his skull that had been temporarily removed to accommodate brain swelling.
She also said it was too soon to tell how much of Shawn’s brain might have been permanently damaged.
“We don’t know at this point how it’s going to affect him intellectually, but young brains are very plastic, so I think there’s a lot of progress that can be made,” Tilbor said.
Shawn’s father, Ricky Rulo Jr., 29, of Cadet in Washington County, is being held in the Washington County Jail at Potosi on a drug-related charge and also on an earlier charge of violating his probation from a previous conviction by possessing the rifle that discharged, wounding Shawn.
Authorities contend that Rulo was impaired by marijuana use when his deer rifle discharged. His bail has been set at $50,000.
Cadet is about 60 miles southwest of St. Louis.
Shawn’s stepfather, Patrick Aubuchon, 30, of Caledonia, said he was in Shawn’s hospital room a week ago when Shawn suddenly started speaking in short sentences after only uttering a word or two for a few days after coming out of the coma.
“I was shocked,” Aubuchon said. “I didn’t know what to think. He’s been making so much progress.”
Gena Aubuchon said the family continued to need help with Shawn’s medical bills, and she noted that donations may be made to the Shawn Michael Rulo Fund at any U.S. Bank branch in St. Louis and nearby counties.
“I’d also like to say thanks to everybody who’s been helping us,” she said. “Everyone’s been so helpful.”
Andy Holcomb shares his near-death experience in hopes of helping others with the problems they face in life. [Complete Idiot’s Guide to Near-Death Experiences]
His body broken and battered, Andy Holcomb’s spirit has never been more alive.
The Akron man was nearly killed in early 2005 when an industrial accident claimed the entire lower half of his body. Doctors believe Holcomb should have died that day, but he survived as a medical miracle.
For the first time, Holcomb is talking publicly about the journey he said he took during those moments while trapped in an industrial machine.
“Last thing I saw was the light before that happened,” Holcomb said. “First thing I thought to do was to say the Lord’s Prayer. There’s a real comforting presence the whole time It was there. It was almost as if like, God had taken me from my body, because I could like see me.
“As soon as I closed my eyes, I opened them and I was in this train. I had no legs and I was searching around me frantically looking for my phone. So I could call my family and tell them goodbye.”
At one point, rescuers believed Holcomb was gone, but he says his journey was just beginning.
“This angel stopped me and she looked at me. She wore a white gown and she told me that I couldn’t go where everyone else was going and I said ‘well why not?’ and she said ‘because you’re not dead yet.
“I asked her if I could keep my legs and she was like ‘Well I talked to Him (God), and He said you can’t keep your legs but you’ll have something much better than that when you get back.'”
Holcomb says he was swept away by the amazing sounds of an angelic choir. [Grace Plus Nothing]
“It’s indescribable,” he said. “Hearing it as loud and as graceful and as peaceful as it was. That’s kind of the sound when no one else is around. That kind of sound in the background.”
Holcomb is hopeful that military surgeons can help him with a special prosthetic, similar to what American troops injured in battle can receive. He struggles with daily pain, but says his new mission in life is sharing his faith.
“He gave me life twice,” Holcomb said. “I want to help other people like myself. Those people who are one in a million.”
NEVER have there been such devoted neighbours.
And this week Mrs Ada Pilling, of Christie Avenue, Morecambe, was officially named the best neighbour in the Lancaster district. [The Perfect Neighbor]
The 68-year-old, who lives with her husband Fraser, was nominated for giving endless care and support to neighbour Pamela Bennett during her most stressful times. Pamela said: “If it wasn’t for Ada’s help and support, I’d have topped myself a long time ago.
“She’s been my rock and my guardian angel and deserves this award so much.”
The 53-year-old said: “When my husband was seriously ill it was such a difficult time but Ada would come and sit with him until all the hours of the day and night, change his dressings and generally try and help out as much as she could.
“Then when he died I wanted to commit suicide but she stopped me and helped me out.
“She’d do my shopping and hang my washing out on the line.
“Now we’ve even been working together to lose weight. I’ve lost nearly eight stones and Ada’s lost about seven stones.”
Ada was surprised but delighted to win Lancaster City Council’s Good Neighbour Award. [Neighbor Power: Building Community The Seattle Way]
“I was so shocked and nearly collapsed when they told me I’d won. I’m the sort of person who would help anyone out and I don’t like to see anybody in trouble so if I can do anything then I will.”
The two runners-up were Maureen Knowles of Laburnum Grove, Marsh, and Barbara Arkwright of Highfield Road, Carnforth. Mrs Knowles was nominated by Sally Ann Dooke of Lime Grove while Mrs Arkwright was nominated by Pat Lovering of Highfield Road.
Monday, Nov. 6, 2006
You’d expect a Swampscott mom whose son and daughter-in-law are both in the Army to support American troops.
But you might not expect this much support; Dorothy Stemniski has made not one, not a few, but dozens of “Blankets of Hope” to comfort wounded soldiers during their recuperation at Landstuhl, Germany. Some of them even return to duty in Iraq and Afghanistan but never without their Blankets of Hope. [A Soldiers Hope: A First-Hand Account of it]
She says her active support for the troops, including son Capt. Peter Stemniski (three tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan) and daughter-in-law Maj. Kerrie Stemniski (one in Afghanistan), began when she became aware of an organization called Soldier’s Angels while she was visiting her mom in Pennsylvania. The organization, she says, was selling magnetic ribbons for the back of cars earlier than just about anyone else.
Steminiski kept in touch with Soldier’s Angels, organized by Patti Patton Bader, great-niece of Gen George Patton of World War II and North Shore homestead fame. The organization, aware of summer temperature in Iraq and Afghanistan, soon began providing cooling tubes for soldiers to wear about their necks.
“It’s 130 degrees over there in the summer and the troops are carrying 80 or 100 pounds of equipment on their backs,” Stemniski says with amazement. “The group also provides sand scarves to be worn under goggles and over the soldiers’ ears, keeping the sand out.”
Other volunteers in Soldiers’ Angels don’t do anything but write letters to troops because, as Stemniski says, some get very few if any letters – or e-mails – from home.
“Some volunteers even kind of adopt the parents of the soldier they write to,” she says. “Others actually ship bread machines to the troops because, believe me, they are anxious for good bread.”
Still other volunteers make mittens and booties for wounded troops.
“Did you know those big transport planes they use to take wounded soldiers to Germany are not heated?” she asks about Air Force C-130 planes. “Many of the injured troops get cold along the way way – and a few of them are naked because their uniforms have been cut off them to dress their wounds.” [The Blog of War: Front-Line Dispatches from Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan]
That’s where the “Blankets of Hope” comes in. While Soldiers’ Angels has many areas for individuals and groups to volunteer, Stemniski chose the Blankets portion of the project because of her lifelong love of sewing. (Swampscott people might well be familiar with her works because of her quilt donations to St. John’s Church.)
Blankets of Hope, each rolled up and placed in a plastic bag along with a tag placed by the maker, are then put in backpacks for wounded troops arriving at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.
“The wounded are stabilized on the battlefield and flown to Germany,” Stemniski says. “Often, they arrive with none of their personal possession, which may take months to catch up with them. In the interim, they get our Soldiers’ Angels backpacks in the hospital.”
The backpacks contain not only blankets and quilts, but a toothbrush, underwear (gender-appropriate, Stemniski laughs), and sweatshirts and sweatpants, all not necessarily in stock at the hospital from Army issue.
Stories produced from the effort are heart-warming.
“A woman from Westfield, Ind., wrote me. Her husband had been injured and then sent back to Iraq, but she wrote and said she and her husband, who had received a backpack, decided to continue the act of kindness. They gave it to a struggling local family with five children.” [Boots on the Ground: Stories of American Soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan]
The newest effort of Soldiers’ Angels is to get volunteers to send holiday cards to the military and medical staff at the hospital in Landstuhl.
“Sometimes, in our efforts to encourage the troops, we forget the civilian staff supporting them,” Stemniski says.
Money doesn’t hurt either and Stemniski points with pride to Marshall University in West Virginia, where students voted to send all proceeds of “Greek Week” this fall to Soldiers’ Angels.
Stemniski herself sent 24 Blankets of Hope this summer, each of them different – she says the dollar table at Wal-Mart is a great place to buy both crib-size blanket batting and fabric to cover it with – and will send many more this month.
Sewing runs in the family, she adds. Her mother was still sewing full-size quilts when she was 90 years old.
“My family always made clothing for all the children. I learned embroidery at age 4, doing Mickey Mouse, and my family taught all the girls how to sew. I think they figured that it was how they kept the girls out of trouble.”
What can other people do to support the troops, regardless of their views of the war? Stemniski says anyone can find something to do through Soldiers’ Angels (soldiersangels.org) if they just look.
“You can write letters, make things, get others involved. All it takes is some of your time,” she says. “And the rewards are great. The mother of one man, moved from Germany to an Air Force hospital in Texas, said the only thing her son took with him from place to place was his Blanket of Hope.”
The tears welled up in the eyes of Alfred Klipping, much as they did on that day so long ago when he left behind his brother to come to North Iowa and live with his adoptive parents.
“They tell me that the first night I was adopted, I cried myself to sleep saying ‘where’s Dale?’ And to think, after all these years, I found him.”
Klipping paused, removed his glasses and wiped away the tears. The Corwith man who works part-time at the Forest City Ace Hardware store had indeed found Dale.
“It’s unbelievable. … God was with us, wasn’t He?”
The two brothers – who had last seen each other in 1939 when they both lived in an orphanage in Toledo – met on Oct. 21 at an aunt’s house in Washington, their hometown so long ago. And almost immediately, they began bridging a 66-year gap.
“Oh boy, was it a long time coming,” Jacobs said in a phone interview from his Ottumwa home. “I wish we lived closer to each other, but right now, just to know he’s alive and well … it’s just great.”
George was 5 and Dale was 7 when they were taken from their home in Washington to the orphanage in Toledo.
“We still don’t know why we ended up there,” Klipping said, “but I remember it was kind of scary and I remember being real glad that my big brother was there with me.”
But in the 1930s and 1940s, adopting just one sibling was a common practice, and in early 1940, George and Lillian Klipping came to Toldeo to adopt Alfred and bring him back to the Forest City area.
Dale, meanwhile, stayed in Toledo, and in the early 1940s, his mother and stepfather came back for him.
“Mom never really did say what happened,” Jacobs said. “I’d ask her but she’d get real emotional. After a while, I realized she just didn’t want to or couldn’t talk about it.”
The two brothers grew up, eventually married and had children.
Alfred and his wife, Doris, had four children and farmed in the Thompson-Buffalo Center area until 1985. He then went to work at Southtown Lumber in Forest City until he semi-retired a few years ago. Dale, meanwhile, had four daughters and a son, and he worked as an electric-motor repairman.
Dale and his second wife, Margaret, moved to Arizona in 1969, but when Margaret passed away, Dale moved back to Iowa a year ago so he could be closer to his children.
“It makes you wonder, doesn’t it,” Klipping said. “If we had started looking earlier, we probably wouldn’t have found him. And then who knows? Maybe we would have given up. God must have decided now was the time.”
For years, Jacobs wondered what happened to his brother. He wanted to find him, but he admits he didn’t have a clue where to start.
“I’ve been thinking about it for a long time, but [the adoption] happened so long, I just couldn’t remember anything. A lot happened and it was in the 1930s and I was just a little kid. Not knowing … that’s what was so hard.”
About a month ago, Klipping decided the time was at hand to find his brother. He and his wife went to a grandson’s birthday party in southern Iowa but left a day early to begin the search.
A daughter, Jennifer, picked up the proverbial ball from there. She drove to Washington, found Dale’s birth certificate and then by chance, searched for Dale Jacobs on the Internet.
She found him in Ottumwa and placed the call to the uncle she never knew. A few minutes later, she dialed her father.
“She said, ‘I think I found him’ and I didn’t say anything,” Klipping said. “So she said it again. ‘I think I found him.’ … And I just cried.”
As he talked, the tears of joy returned. Sixty-six years later, the search had ended.
They met at their Aunt Velma’s house in Washington, and the embrace was long and tight.
“It was wonderful,” Jacobs said, “and I’ll tell you, I’m not ashamed to say it but the tears came.”
“We’ve got a lot of catching up to do,” Klipping said, once again trying to hold back the emotions, “but God looked after us all these years. You know, at our age, one of us could have been gone, but He kept us here so we could find each other.”
Dale Jacobs turned 74 on Sunday. And for the first time, Al Klipping can send his big brother a birthday card.
“It’s a little thing maybe to some people,” Klipping said, “but it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long, long time.”
Many questions remain unanswered, but the brothers find comfort in the one that has been answered. Where is my brother? They now know.
Since the fourth grade, Taylor Crabtree’s nonprofit has raised more than $100,000 to purchase teddy bears for 23,000 young cancer patients at 300 hospitals throughout the nation.
This week, the Rancho Buena Vista High School junior was honored for her good deeds through her TayBear Co., when People magazine named her one of its top five heroes of 2006. She was featured on “The Early Show” on CBS and has been contacted by “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”
Taylor’s nonprofit raises money by recruiting youth volunteers to paint hair clips. Taylor then sells the clips and uses the profits to pay for the bears. She has been doing this since age 7, when she was inspired after her grandmother was diagnosed with colon cancer, from which she recovered.
Taylor, 16, said she’s unsure whether she’s deserving of the hero title, but is excited about the recognition.
“TayBear has just become a part of who I am,” she said. “If I didn’t have TayBear I’d feel like I was letting our society down. Starting at a young age has made me less self-centered, and I think it would be great if everyone was a little more that way.”
Taylor has recruited about 1,300 young volunteers during the years from churches, schools and youth groups such as the Girl Scouts. They paint the hair clips, put the TayBear tags on the stuffed animals and give each bear a hug.
During the years, Taylor has sold the hair clips online, in front of supermarkets and at school for $2.50 a pair. Today, she sells them after giving speeches about her organization to churches and community groups. She has spoken twice before the Million Dollar Round Table, an international association of financial professionals. Taylor also accepts donations online.
“TayBear is so much a part of who she is, it’s almost like honoring her for walking,” said her mother, Tricia Crabtree.
According to People magazine, the heroes selected were ordinary citizens who donated their time to charitable causes. On “The Morning Show” on CBS, those who knew Taylor praised how long she had stuck with her cause. This was no passing hobby or summer project.
At school, Taylor earns A’s and B’s and has a schedule packed with advanced placement and honors classes. She is also passionate about volleyball and plays on her school’s varsity girls team and for a selective Southern California girls team, on which she has been nationally ranked.
Joanne Pastula, president and CEO of Junior Achievement of San Diego, in which Taylor was active when she was younger, said Taylor is a role model for other children.
“They learn from her that anything’s possible,” Pastula said. “If they have something they want to do, they can do it as long as they have a goal and drive.”
The biggest challenge with TayBear is raising money for shipping costs, which are paid for through cash gifts and business donations. Taylor has about 2,500 bears in her home office, which is the garage, waiting to be shipped out, but doesn’t have the money to send them.
Friday, Nov. 3, 2006
A BRAVE bird was stopped in its tracks by one of Worcester’s retained firefighters
Keith Sheppard, a technician at Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service’s Transport and Stores on Hylton Road, rescued a swan as it wandered away from the river
The 49-year-old said he was coming off a break when he saw the swan walking up the side of the Worcester News building and up the alleyway towards Henwick Road
“We phoned Swan Rescue but they said it would be three hours before they could get anyone there, and if it was OK I could pick it up,” he said
“I picked it up by its neck
I knew how to do it because I’m a retained firefighter and I have seen Swan Rescue do it.
“I took it back to the river, and it swam off quite happily.”
Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2006
When Monica Farris Linkner and her husband adopted a son in 1988, they went to Kansas to do so.
That’s because at the time, people in Michigan could not work directly with their attorney and a birth mother to arrange an adoption.
The experience of adopting a child, and the knowledge that not everyone had the time, money or ability to go to another state to adopt, led Linkner to begin working on changing Michigan’s adoption laws.
“I became very passionate about adoption in general and about getting Michigan laws to be more adoption friendly,” said Linkner, an Ann Arbor lawyer.
Because of her work on adoption issues, this fall she was named an “Angel of Adoption” by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, an organization composed of 196 members of Congress. Linkner was nominated for the honor by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and honored at a ceremony in Washington.
For Linkner, who also had a biological son 17 years before she adopted, the effort to change Michigan’s laws began about three years after her adopted son, Matt, was born.
Linkner, who lived in Lathrup Village in Oakland County at the time, contacted state Rep. David Gubow of Huntington Woods, who was chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Gubow became interested and held hearings around the state, Linkner said. She testified at several of those hearings, wrote position papers, talked to legislators, and brought in experts to promote reform.
In 1994, the Legislature enacted a set of 17 bills that took effect in January 1995. The new laws allowed direct placement adoptions, meaning prospective parents, working with an attorney, could be chosen by a birth mother. The laws effectively reduced the time it took to adopt a child, from four to six years down to a year or 18 months. The laws allowed the birth mother and adoptive parents to decide on the degree of openness in the adoption, such as whether there would be any contact between the birth family and adoptive family.
“It allowed people to really fashion their adoptions more flexibly,” Linkner said. “At the time, birth mothers weren’t picking the adoptive families at all.”
The new laws also effectively forced adoption agencies, which had been the gatekeepers for adoption, to change their rigid practices and open up to the new ways of adoption, Linkner said.
Mark McDermott, a Washington, D.C., lawyer and adoption expert, came in to help Linkner with her reform campaign.
“As far as Michigan was concerned, (Linkner) was the primary person who spearheaded (the reform),” McDermott said.
Diane Michelsen, an adoption attorney in Lafayette, Calif., who has worked with Linkner on interstate adoptions and who also was named an “Angel of Adoption” this year, said Linkner brings many strong personal qualities to her work.
“She brings a caring from her heart and she brings broad-based legal insights and intellect,” Michelsen said. “She is persistent and clear thinking.”
Her adoption experience, and her work on adoption reform, changed not only Michigan law but also Linkner’s career. After the reform, she focused her law practice exclusively on adoption and assisted reproductive technology cases dealing with procedures such as surogacy, gestational carriers and embryo donors.
During the campaign for adoption reform, Linkner also helped form an adoption support group, the Family Tree, which lasted for about 10 years and involved about 125 people at its height.
Linkner, 58, was born and raised in Detroit. She graduated from Mumford High School in 1965, attended the University of Michigan for two years, then finished her bachelor’s degree in anthropology at Wayne State University in 1972.
She had been married and divorced and already had her first child when she entered law school at Wayne State University in 1974. Involved during her youth in the civil rights and women’s movements, she decided to go to law school after meeting a woman who was a lawyer.
“It never occurred to me that a woman could become a lawyer back then,” she said. “I met a woman lawyer and thought maybe I could be more effective working through the legal system to bring about social change than by carrying a picket sign.”
She says her parents, two aunts and the Jewish belief in “repairing the world” were responsible for her desire to help others.
Linkner moved to the Ann Arbor area in 2003; she lives in Webster Township.
Looking ahead, Linkner said Michigan still needs reform in the openness of adoption and access to adoption records. The state also needs a “putative father” registry where men who believe they are fathers of children and who want to claim parental rights would be required to register or give up those rights, she said. Such a registry would save much time now needed to track down putative fathers before adoptions take place, she said.
The state also needs to find a way to get more foster children into adoptive homes, she said.
Linkner said she is happy with her work and wants to continue it.
“I want to keep doing what I’m doing because I love it,” she said. “How many other people get to help put families together?”
Monday, Oct. 30, 2006
The hero cop sprayed with bullets while stopping an execution-style slaying in Brooklyn has no regrets about leaping into danger, relatives said yesterday.
Sgt. James Rector “took the bullet that was meant for the other guy,” his proud father told the Daily News. “He did what he had to do.”
“He’s glad he came out safe and alive, thank the Lord,” added James Rector Sr., 54, of Atlanta. “He doesn’t run from trouble.”
The cop’s quick action Thursday saved the life of Rishon Decoursey-Bliss, 26, who was kneeling and pleading for his life outside the Walt Whitman Houses in Fort Greene as teen gunman Eric Hines aimed a .40-caliber handgun at his head, police said.
Hines shot Rector in the ankle and the rear after hearing the cop yell, “Freeze!” police said.
Still, Rector returned fire, shooting 11 times and mortally wounding the 17-year-old triggerman.
Speaking from his hospital bed in Lutheran Medical Center yesterday, Decoursey-Bliss said he’d like to meet the officer who saved his life.
“Tell him he can come and visit me,” he said, wincing in pain from a leg wound.
Rector, a 34-year-old father of three, has been recuperating at his Flushing apartment with his family, relatives said.
Loved ones described the 11-year NYPD veteran as a devoted cop who knew he wanted a future in law enforcement from a young age. He attended John Jay College of Criminal Justice and signed up for the NYPD immediately afterward, his father said.
Rector took pride in his most recent position as supervisor at the NYPD recruiting station in the Walt Whitman Houses in Fort Greene.
He’s also devoted to his wife and three children – and loves to work out with his oldest son, an avid football and basketball player, relatives said.
Now, as he recovers, the cop will have to decide whether to return to the job that he loves.
“I told him, it’s up to him to make his decision. I just said, ‘Take some time off, heal, then make up your mind,'” Rector Sr. said.
“I know they’d love to have him back. He’s a good man.”
Friday, Oct. 27, 2006
While waiting in line at a temporary employment agency in Mt. Pleasant, Jerry Marks, 22, looked at a girl also standing in the line and got what he told the Morning Sun newspaper was “an eerie feeling.”
“As I looked at her I just said, ‘you know, you look just like my sister, who I have been looking for years,'” Marks said.
Tressa Norris, 23, of Mt. Pleasant, began talking to Marks, of Remus, as they waited outside the Labor Ready office on Mission Road.
As they recited names of relatives, the two simultaneously said, “Joyce Matthews.”
That’s when they realized that they had reunited for the first time since they and their six brothers and sisters had been taken from their mother by authorities and placed for adoption.
Joyce Matthews had reportedly been an abuser of drugs and alcohol as well as a prostitute.
The children had been in and out of foster homes until they were finally removed for good about ten years ago.
The last time the brother and sister had seen each other was at a supervised visit when they were both pre-teens and living in separate foster homes.
“We didn’t know whether to hug each other, kiss each other or cry,” Norris said.
The pair say they would like to reunite with their other brothers and sisters, if possible. They don’t know their current last names, but the first names are Tracy, April, Jason Lee, Rachael, Michael and Bruce.