Arizona Republic from Phoenix, Arizona on February 13, 1997 · Page 21
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Arizona Republic from Phoenix, Arizona · Page 21

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Phoenix, Arizona
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Thursday, February 13, 1997
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Page 21
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THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC HI OF -ICER KILLS MAN A n an reputedly wielding a knife is shot and killed by a Phoenix police officer. B2. 1 P THURSDAY FEBRUARY 13, 1997 Editor, John D'Anna 271-8222 Bbbbbbbbbbbbbbblabb r 1 ' i ; e.j. r.:o:iTi::i Republic Columnist 2 climbed, 1 ended up with God The boy who climbed a tower this week, and lived, reminded me of the man who climbed a tower last week and didn't. The boy's name is John McNeil. 'The man's name was Herman Billie. John is 10 years old and autistic. By now, everyone in the country knows his story. It was carried on the network news and over the wire services. The boy wandered away from home in his stocking feet and climbed a utility tower a 120-foot stick man whose spindly metal arms hold wires more fierce than light- hing bolts. Everyone has heard the story of John's 17-year-old brother, James, who climbed after John and held onto him until Mesa Firefighter Terry Self could get to the top of the tower to help them. They know how Self and Firefighter Jeff Mitchell stayed with the boys until a crane lifted a small platform to them, gently lowering the boys to the ground. We watched it unfold like a made-for-TV movie. The carefree beginning. The tense middle. The happy ending. All of it fading to black as day faded to dusk. , , By the time it ended, reporters knew that young John McNeil had climbed the tower before, that he didn't speak, that his family had strong neighborhood and religious ties. Different tower, story "About Herman Billie, who also climbed a tower, we knew nothing. I didn't even know his name, until ; yesterday. ' Last Thursday afternoon at Tower Plaza shopping center in east Phoenix, a man was spotted atop a 375-foot radio tower, waving his jacket and shouting into the wind. I' Television crews and newspaper photographers rushed to the scene, just as they did this week in Mesa. Cameras . - rolled as police tried to make their way to the man. They were there as the man slipped on the platform and, in desperation, grabbed a lightning rod. They saw the thin rod bend and the man fall and fall and fall. "- .That was it. -News stations aired footage of the man tumbling through space before relatives in Tuba City had been notified of f his death. Police tell me some family members saw it. Newspapers ran photographs of the man on the tower, and others of him falling, before police were able to contact his brother in Phoenix. In print and on TV, he was identified only as an "unknown man." But he was not unknown. Herman Billie was a Native American in his 30s. He had family. Police say he used to hang around Tower Plaza. They say a man walking through the parking lot noticed Billie staring up at the tower that morning and casually asked him, Climb it yet?" ..No," Billie said. Then, he did. When he got to the top, he shouted at the people below. They couldn't hear him, however. His words were carried away by the wind. ' Ten-year-old John McNeil did not shout at anyone when he got to the top of his tower. I figure he didn't need to. Better reception A kid in my grade school had a brother like John. He was "different," they said. And also silent. The boy's grandmother said the autism made him special, closer to the saints and the Almighty. . . "Why should he talk to us," she'd say, "when he can talk to God." ; .Maybe that's why John McNeil likes it up high. The reception is better. ' 'With Herman Billie, it's more difficult to say. He died before we bothered to find out his name. We'vcbothered to find out little else about him since. The police say his family is angry and hurt by the news coverage. I don't blame them. AH we know for sure is that Herman f Billie was not silent, like John McNeil. While standing on the tower, he didn't look toward heaven for conversation) but down toward the crowd in the plaza parking lot. , Billie shouted at them. -, He was trying to get their attention, to tell them something, when God decided He wanted to talk to him. CO -room, resort gains panel's backing, 1,2 Teighbors concerned traffic will get worse By Chris FIscus The Arizona Republic - An area that used to be raw desert soon may be home to a 1,200-room resort, v A plan to put the resort' near Deer Valley Road and Tatum Boulevard in the booming Desert Ridge project was approved late Wednesday by the Phoenix Planning Commission, despite concern from, residents that the area's traffic woes would be further aggravated. "We had signatures from over 500 residents," opponent Dave Fuhvider said. "We even had a letter (writing) campaign. It's basically been ignored." The resort, which still must be approved by the City Council, also stoked concerns from some about die dramatic growth of the northeast Phoenix project, which just a few years ago was, vacant desert Plans originally called for a 200-room, three-story resort. But the Desert Ridge developer request, approved by the commission, allows up to 1,200 rooms, pending a traffic study of the area. The panel limited the resort's height to 60 feet, plus 10 feet for architectural embellishments. It did not restrict the number of floors. "It blows my mind that they started with a small resort with 200 rooms and then they came back with 1,200," said Faith Sussman, a member of the village planning See PANEL, page B5 Getting 'bigger, brighter' Frank Zullo Illuminating saguaros in the Superstitions, Comet Hale-Bopp will become brighter through March. It now can be seen before dawn in the eastern sky. Comet graces morning sky tin 1 andthefcur .., y -. " "0'V-J Obsery ,......A...., ... -iLi 1 The Arizona Republic By Steve Yozwiak The Arizona Republic Comet Hale-Bopp, which last passed near the Earth about the time the Pyramids were built, is now easily visible with the naked eye throughout most of Arizona. First seen 19 months ago by Thomas Bopp of Phoenix and Alan Hale of New Mexico, Hale-Bopp can be seen to the east, just above, the horizon, about an hour before dawn. ' The celestial traveler is most easily seen outside metropolitan Phoenix, using binoculars. "It's awesome. It's really good," said Rex Ickes of Phoenix, an amateur astronomer who See COMET, page B6 Deer Valley Rd 1 mile 1 km Pinnacle Peak Rd. Hntel tlta I IMr' v -J crrr, I ' j , '9 I ' BeardsleyRd. fSv- Union Hills Dr. Ij -ifo Pell Rd. t ll r f c g co to 51 o ro co -r tl T K- m to Greenway Rd. Map f 12 PHOENIXjJj B-J1 .a rJ c Alignment, not yet built The Arizona Republic BPS. to close forfeiture unit Director notes potential conflicts By Eric Miller The Arizona Republic The Arizona Department of Public Safety is shutting down its legal unit that since 1991 has seized more than $1.8 million in cash and assets from drug dealers and others convicted of racketeering. The reason: DPS Director Joe Albo said it's a potential conflict of interest for DPS in-house attorneys to be involved in seizing the assets of accused criminals who are busted by DPS officers. The result: All future DPS asset forfeiture cases will be dumped on the Maricopa County Attorney and the Arizona Attorney General, two agencies already burdened with mushrooming caseloads. "Police departments don't have their own prosecutors," Albo said Wednesday. "Like they walk in and say, i just picked up this drunk, and I want you to prosecute this . See DPS, page B3 SEIZED ASSETS Companson of assets collected, expenses and net revenues, 1992-96, by the Department of Public Safety. Totals by category are listed in bold. Revenues Expenses Net e yrin collected revenues TOTALS: $930,444 B $100,000 $500,000 i $300,000 1992 1993 C 1994 1995 1996 Source: DPS Asset Forfeiture Counsel Unit The Arizona Republic Extrasensory perception? Tower rescue laid out hours in advance By Jim Walsh The Arizona Republic Mesa firefighters brainstormed Tuesday how they would rescue someone from the top of a utility tower, not dreaming that they would have to employ the technique just hours later. Members of the city's Technical Rescue Team During talked about just such a rescue over lunch Tuesday. A few hours later, an autistic boy who loves heights climbed to the top of a 120-foot . utility tower, and his devoted brother climbed after him, giving the firefighters a chance to execute their plan. They pulled off the feat to perfection, even though the Mesa Fire Department performs only about six rescues a year that are generally done under far less-taxing conditions, Battalion Chief Bob DeLeon said. See FIREFIGHTERS, page B3 (fS A Michael GingThe Arizona Republic Mesa Firefighter Jeff Mitchell (left) and fire Capt. Terry Self worked out a rescue plan over lunch, just hours before Tuesday's drama. VALLEY NEWS IN BRIEF TV talk show to feature reunion of Valley woman, abducted child SCOTTSDALE The Maury Povich television talk show will feature an update Friday on the Zenith Helton kidnapping, including the reunion of mother and daughter in Iceland last month. The show airs 10 a.m. on KTVK (Channel 3). Kelly Helton of Scottsdale was reunited with 4-year-old Zenith 'in January, nearly 15 months after Helton's mother, Connie Jean Hanes, took Zenith for a drive and never returned. Stories about the case on the Povich show and the NBC program Unsolved Mysteries generated enough tips to lead the FBI to Reykjavik, Iceland, where they found Connie Hanes; her husband, Donald; and Zenith. Friday's show Is scheduled to feature clips from the previous program and film of the Iceland reunion. Helton gave up her parental rights shortly after Zenith was born in October 1992, but quickly changed her mind. Helton and her mother fought over the custody of Zenith for months before Helton regained custody in January 1995. Connie and Donald Hanes, who also are suspected of entering Iceland with invalid documents, face extradition and deportation. Senate panel backs premarital counseling PHOENIX Couples who fail to undergo premarital counseling before tying the knot in Arizona would have to pay $65 more for their marriage license under a bill approved Wednesday by a Senate panel. Couples who opt for counseling would be spared the increased fee. The bill, passed 5-1 by the Senate Family Services Committee, is designed to curb the state's growing divorce rate, according to its sponsor, Sen. David Petersen, R-Mesa. Currently, marriage licenses cost $33.80. The bill would increase the cost to $98.80 for those who fail to undergo counseling. Kyrene voters asked to OK tax override PHOENIX Voters in the Kyrene Elementary School District will be asked to approve a $34.4 million tax increase on May 20. The tax override, if approved, would be used to build a new elementary school in the 2700 block of East Liberty Lane and renovate the Kyrene de las Lomas Elementary School, both in Phoenix. The tax increase would be collected for 10 years and add about $51 to a homeowner's annual real-estate tax bill the first year, if their home is valued for tax purposes at $100,000. Lund Cadillac plans new dealership site GLENDALE Lund Cadillac has decided to open a new dealership in Glendale by 1999. Lund had planned since 1992 toi locate in an auto plaza in Peoria, j but decided to move instead to " , j Glendale near 83rd Avenue and Bell Road. J The Cadillac dealership will pay for nearby street improvements. It also will create 200 jobs and a ! $10 million annual payroll, city of ficials said. In exchange, the Glendale City Council has approved an agreement allowing Lund to pay only half its city sales tax for five years, capping at $13 million. - Lund will keep its Phoenix store, 1311 E. Bell Road, when it opens its Glendale complex.

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