The latest local news

Two Moline students recognized for academic achievements

WQAD News -

MOLINE, Illinois — Two student at Moline High School have been recognized by the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program.

Seniors Mandeep Kaur and Kiya Ritchie have been recognized for their exceptional academic achievements and were named Commended Students, according to a statement from the Moline-Coal Valley School District.

About 34,000 students across the country each year are named Commended Students.  These are students who placed within the top 50,000 out of 1.6 million students who entered the competition by taking the 2016 qualifying test.

Pay It Forward: Sweet Treats Club

WQAD News -

A group 7th graders in Aledo are on a mission to take something sweet and turn it into something even sweeter.

Showing somebody you care about them can come in many forms but for Malaynie McIntosh, Emi Bigham, Eden Mueller, Cora Whitenack and Jenna Ruh, caring comes in a very sweet yet girl powered way.

These girls have made it their mission to create a delicious snack for people in need. It’s called the Sweet Treat Club.

“That`s all we want to do is make someone’s day and help them out,” said Jenna Ruh, who created the Sweet Treats Club about a year ago.

Jenna started the club by herself then got her friends behind it.

Each girl is heavily involved in their community, church, and sports. Between all that and school plus family and a social life, the girls carve out time to meet once a month to make cupcakes for someone going through a tough time.

“My favorite part is when we go to their house,” said Cora Whitenack.

The girls find cupcake recipients though their churches. The pastors there give the girls names of people in the community who have lost a family member or just need some company and cheering up.

The girls’ parents help purchase supplies like, cupcakes, frosting, treats, sprinkles and boxes for the cupcakes and cards for an added touch.

For two hours every month the girls roll up their sleeves, tie back their hair and get to work. Each cupcake is pre-baked but frosted and decorated with an individualized touch by each girl.

Each layer of frosting, sprinkle and perfectly placed candy is made with love. The girls finish off their creation with a hand-written letter in bright colors, which transform into words of affirmation with a bible verse and finished with a touch of sparkle.

The girls then hop in the car and head to deliver the goodies to those who need it most. Instantly their mood changes and brightens when all five girls share their cupcake creations and kind cards.

“It makes me feel good to see them smile,” said Cora.

Their passion to bring happiness to strangers Inspired Kyle Lloyd to help them continue their selfless journey.

“You bake you have to have a lot of love in your hart to make them taste good and to give them to other people,” said Lloyd.

She nominated the girls for a Pay It Forward award. With the help of WQAD and Ascentra Credit Union, the girls were awarded $300 to pay it forward.

The girls plan to use the money for more supplies to help brighten the days of more people.

“I hope we encourage them to do something good for their community, too,” said Cora.

To see all the cupcake creations, follow the girls on Instagram @sweet_5_treats

Run the Milwaukee Marathon the last two years? No, you didn’t

WQAD News -

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Marathon officials have confirmed the city's marathon was short of "USATF Certification" markings due to the course being "set incorrectly." This marks the second year in a row of issues at the race, according to WITI.

Last year, it was too long. This year? Too short, by nearly a mile. Participants ran 25.4 miles, according to race officials.

Race officials said Tuesday an internal investigation was underway to determine whether the track was the regulation 26.2 miles.

Some runners said their GPS devices clocked the race at only 25.5 miles.

The race was advertised as a qualifier for the larger Boston and New York City marathons, but because the distance was off, this one won't count.  Heather Berken was among the hundreds taking on the Milwaukee Marathon. She said near the end, she thought something was odd.

"I passed (mile) 21 and I was like, 'what the heck?' We never passed 22, and the next one was 23, so I thought something was off," Berken told WITI.

Former state Rep. Mandela Barnes took part in the race. He pointed out last year, the race was too long -- 26.3 miles.

"It's unfortunate because it's two years in a row, and I know people who didn't run this year because of last year. I want to see it get right," Barnes said.

For those who may feel cheated, some said don't sweat it.

"My response to that is get over it. Run .5 miles to your car, and consider it a full marathon. You've got the medal. You've got the shirt. It's a marathon," Berken said. Both Berken and Barnes said they will run the marathon again.

The marathon was under new management this year.

Marathon officials issued the following statements, confirming the race was too short:

"After last year’s experience with vandalized cones in the 2016 Milwaukee Running Festival, course accuracy became our top priority for 2017 (right behind participant safety). Having said that, we took every precaution, hiring two separate course management companies – both experts in the space and highly respected by their peers and other large events — to ensure absolute accuracy.

Immediately after hearing about potential problems from some race participants, we began an all-hands investigation with the race director, route sector captains, and the professional firms employed to set up the course. In spite of these experienced professionals’ consistently successful track record working other races, we’ve come to the conclusion that the full marathon turnaround and 10K turnaround were set short of the USATF Certification markings.

Though we were assured that the course was checked and then rechecked to verify that all cones were in the proper place, our post-race investigation confirms that they were in fact set short. We deeply regret that this human error by experienced professionals happened and are notifying all concerned. Delivering this news is hard, but we believe it is our duty to thoroughly investigate all concerns on behalf of our participants. We are working to identify and implement additional, 'above and beyond' best practice processes that will prevent this issue from happening in the future." - Joe Zimmerman, president, Milwaukee Marathon

"Race Day Events worked closely with the Milwaukee Marathon and were made aware that the distance of the marathon was short. After a thorough investigation, it was determined that the company hired to race direct and manage the course mistakenly set the turnaround early. We are working with the event to make sure participants are made aware of the mistake and any effects it may have on their performance. We are also using the results of this investigation to make sure we have a best process in place for next year’s event to insure this does not happen again.” - Ryan Griessmeyer, Race Day Events

"Regrettably, the course for the marathon route for this past Sunday’s Milwaukee Marathon was set incorrectly. Misinterpretation of the route certification map caused the turnaround on the Hank Aaron State trail to be set in the incorrect spot, causing the route to be approximately 4200’ short. I was contracted by the event and it was my responsibility as the technical race director to ensure race staff and vendors clearly understand the route, its markings, and intricacies. I failed to make clear the key points with the layout of the course. I will work closely with the Milwaukee Marathon, staff, and vendors to develop safeguards to prevent this type of mistake from happening again.” - Chad Antcliff, race director


Milwaukee Marathon


15-year-old girl fighting for her life after brother accidentally shoots her in face

WQAD News -

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A teenage girl is in the hospital after her brother accidentally fired a gun, shooting her in the mouth, according to WREG.

Police say around 1 a.m. Wednesday, a teen was playing with a gun outside of a home in Parkway Village when it went off.

A bullet went through the house's front door, hitting the teen's 15-year-old sister in the mouth.

She was taken to the hospital in critical condition. Her brother, whose age was not given, was taken into custody.

Police say the girl's brother asked to see her boyfriend's pistol and put his finger on the trigger not knowing the safety was off.

"You actually pulled the trigger and injured somebody, possibly could kill someone and who's to say, you know, she could die years from now from her injuries," said Dekisha Norwood, whose sister is a neighbor.

Norwood visits her sister on this street every day. She's big on gun safety and has carried one to protect herself for years.

She's had some close calls but hasn't had to use it. Norwood says the key to gun safety is knowing exactly how they work. It's something she's taught her 8-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter.

"If push come to shove, you know, if they have to use it, hey, to protect their family, do what you have to do."

Missouri teen says group of boys attacked her because she’s gay

WQAD News -

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- A 16-year-old girl and her mother believe a group of boys beat her up for being gay, according to WDAF.

Nylea VanHoutan and her mom call the attack on the young girl a hate crime.

VanHoutan says minutes after she and her three female friends left a pumpkin festival at a park, a large group of teenagers began to antagonize them.

"It was like 20 to 30 of them. They were high school kids because one of my friends said something like she had seen them at school," VanHoutan said.

But when she and her friends refused to fight and tried to continue walking to her uncle's house, she says the boys suddenly hit her in the back of the head, then punched her in her face and gave her a black eye.

"It was like in shock, really in shock," she recalled. "And when they did it, they called me a 'wanna-be boy expletive.'"

The high school junior is convinced the boys attacked her because she's a lesbian.

"I'm pretty sure it happened because I was queer," she said. "It's not okay, it's wrong."

Her attackers ran off and she was treated at a hospital. Her mom, Sescha Hicks, contacted police.

"Super angry as a mother. I believe down to the core of my bones it was a hate crime," Hicks said.

According to the research from the 2015 national youth risk behavior survey, 34 percent of lesbian, gay and bisexual students said they were bullied on school property. Twenty-eight percent were bullied electronically, and 10 percent were threatened or injured with a weapon on school property.

Three days after the attack, VanHoutan's right eye is still purple and a little swollen. Police are asking anyone who knows anything about the assault on the teen to call the St. Joseph Police Department.

Woman stunned by $185K DirecTV bill after signing up for promotion

WQAD News -

ORWELL, Ohio – Angela Mixon-Smith said she nearly had a heart attack when she opened her satellite television bill Monday.

“I mean, my chest got heavy,” she said. “I had to get some water. I don’t drink. I was ready to drink.”

The retired postal worker said her bill for DirecTV service showed a balance due of $184,530.67.

“I know I don’t have that kind of money,” she said. “And, since April? There’s no way.”

In April, Mixon-Smith said she began a promotional offer to bundle her existing DirecTV service with a new AT&T cellphone plan. In the months since, she said service problems and confusing bills have had the cancer survivor and Army veteran battling with AT&T, which merged with DirecTV in 2015.

Mixon-Smith said the outrageous bill was the last straw.

“They don’t have everything together,” she said. “AT&T, they just don’t have it together.”

AT&T spokesperson Holly Hollingsworth provided a statement to WJW:

“We apologize for the billing error that occurred. We’ve reached out to the customer to resolve the issue.”

She could not provide an explanation for the billing mix-up. However, by Wednesday afternoon, the account for Mixon-Smith’s DirecTV service had been credited.

However, Mixon-Smith said she was still confused over remaining service and billing issues.
“I just want them to straighten out my service,” she said.

She said she also reached out to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office about the problems.

We Need YOUR Questions About Horror Fest 2017

WQAD News -

If you love Halloween, circle November 17th, 2017 on your calendar.

It may seem a few weeks late, but that's when Horror Fest 2017 is taking place at the Holiday Inn in downtown Rock Island.

On Thursday, October 26th, Good Morning Quad Cities is having "Breakfast With..." one of the co-founders of the event at a popular Halloween spot - Skellington Manor Event Center in Rock Island - with breakfast provided by QC Coffee and Pancake House in Rock Island.

If you have any questions/comments for Kelley Klemme - Co-Founder of Horror Fest 2017 - fill out the form below:


This "Breakfast With..." comes after a visit to the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center, a special in-studio interview with Iowa U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, an on-campus talk with Augustana College's President, a sit-down with the Vice President of Western Illinois University's Quad Cities campus, and a tour of the newest residence hall at the University of Iowa.

To see all our "Breakfast With..." conversations, click here.

Clerk accused of shooting man to death over $1 bag of gas station candy

WQAD News -

ST. LOUIS – A 39-year-old St. Louis gas station clerk is charged with shooting and killing a person he thought had taken a bag of candy from his store.

The shooting happened September 26 at a gas station in the 2800 block of N. Florissant Avenue, according to court documents.

The victim, Christopher Simmons, was a customer at the gas station when he got into an argument with the store clerk, identified as Taleb Rebhi Ali Jawher.

Jawher accused Simmons of stealing a bag of candy worth approximately $1.10 and pointed a handgun at him, prosecutors say. Simmons then left the store. Jawher followed him outside and allegedly shot Simmons in the back of the head.

Simmons did not steal or leave the store with the candy, police said.

“We’re just trying to find some peace,” Simmons’ mother, Dorothy Simmons, told the St. Louis Post Dispatch. “He was a wonderful young man who was taken from us too soon.”

Jawher was charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action, according to the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office.

Davenport Central Football player not letting hearing impairment hold him back

WQAD News -

Iain Gronewold, a Davenport Central Junior, lost his hearing when he was 3 years old due to an ear infection.  That hearing loss has not kept Gronewold from participating in sports.  He is a corner back on the Davenport Central Football Team.  Gronewold has cochlear implants that helps him hear, but still has an interpreter with him at practice and games to help bridge the gap fro communication.

Family of Iowa boy who died of heroin overdose admits they were in denial, offers help to other addicts

WQAD News -

INDEPENDENCE, Iowa– Nick Shonka was just 24-years-old when he died from a heroin overdose earlier this year. Like so many addicts, he was able to hide it from his family and girlfriend of five years.

“He was able to live a pretty normal life while using so it was hard. I was always questioning whether or not he was using, you know?” Nick’s girlfriend, Alyssa Wiest, explained.

And though she had suspicions, Nick’s loved ones admit they were in denial.

“He’d be kind of fumbling around and trying to communicate with us, where he’d be talking to us and falling asleep,” Nick’s mom, Kim Shonka, said.

But still, the denial, anger, and bargaining continues.

“How do they have access to something so hard?” Nick’s sister, April Dorman, asked. “Not my brother, not her son, not this young boy that has so much potential.”

The phone call came in February. Nick died from heroin mixed with Fentanyl, an opioid that’s now the leading cause of overdose deaths in the U.S.

Nick’s family is sharing their story to raise awareness that there is help out there, something they wish Nick had realized.

“I want them to feel like they are not being judged, that they are worth something, that they are somebody,” Shonka said. “There’s people out there to help everybody because they all deserve a chance.”

“Anyone coming up on their bottom, I am here to talk sense,” Dorman said. “I don’t know what you have done, or who you done it to, or what you did it for, but if you are here, I am here.”

Those haunting last words, from Nick’s sister, were actually his. She found them posthumously in his journal.

There are many places in the Quad Cities that offer help to anyone struggling with drug addiction.

Narcotics Anonymous holds ten meetings a week, in many locations throughout the Quad Cities.

UnityPoint Health Trinity offers a group-based outpatient treatment program to help people get and stay sober.

The Abbey Center in Bettendorf has both inpatient and outpatient options for people battling addiction.

Emergency crews respond to accident involving a school bus in Orion

WQAD News -

ORION, Illinois — Officials are on scene of a two-vehicle accident at Knoxville Rd. and Sherrard Orion Rd. in Orion involving a car and a Kewanee Community school bus.

According to WQAD crew on site, there were children on the bus. Police say there are two individuals with minor injuries but have not released any names.

The accident is under investigation.

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