Arizona Republic from Phoenix, Arizona on April 7, 1998 · Page 13
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Arizona Republic from Phoenix, Arizona · Page 13

Phoenix, Arizona
Issue Date:
Tuesday, April 7, 1998
Page 13
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THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC m MUSIC FE3T TAKES E-AK Lollapalooza, the traveling rock fest, is taking the summer off, E3. OSITUARIZS, B4. TUESDAY APRIL 7. 1998 SWior Editor. David Fritze 444-8222 3 Kiter ej. iottoi Republic Columnist A feline blast from the past By the time Gerry Petersen got to the scene, firemen wouldn't let him into the building. A work crew laying cable cut a natural gas line near the Strapped Jock, an athletic shoe store in Phoenix that Petersen owned and operated for 10 years, and now the building had too much potentially 1 explosive air inside to let anyone near it. . j It was Jan. 15, about 4 a.m. I Much of what Petersen cared about was in that store. Not just the merchandise, but personal papers and prized mementos. It was a sturdy old brick building with an alarm system. On the walls were signed posters from the world's best long-distance runners. There were photographs. Team uniforms. The framed singlet worn by German Dieter Bauman when he won the Olympic 5,000 meter gold medal in 1992. As officials closed off Indian School Road and forced spectators farther and farther away from the building, however, it wasn't these things Petersen mentioned to firefighters. "I told them, 'I know this might not be your Number One priority,' " he remembers, " 'but my cat is in the store. " Not a priority He was correct. It wasn't their No. 1 priority. Maybe they weren't cat people. There was a time when I believed the -world was divided between dog people and cat people, and I was a dog person. It changed years ago when I returned home from a business trip to find a new kitten living in the house. The cat was meant to be a companion for a girl, and it was. Over the years, it became as well a thick purring presence on the back of the couch. A living, breathing head rest who seems to know intuitively when solace is best provided by a warm feline on a lap. So, now I'm a dog and cat person. The same way I'm a beer and wine person. A Marx Brothers and Three Stooges person. An ESPN and PBS person. At 5 a.m. on Jan. 15, just as a backhoe arrived to begin digging in search of the gas leak, onlookers saw a streak of fire shoot up the side of Gerry Petersen's business. This was followed by a concussion felt for blocks, and a ball of flame. "It was like lighting a barbecue that had been doused with starter fluid, Petersen says. "It burned for hours." By the-next day, nothing remained of his 10-year-old enterprise but a pile of twisted, charred debris. Nowhere to be found The cat's name was Sky Ion, taken from a running shoe by Nike. She was nowhere to be found. At the time the Strapped Jock went up in flames, she was expecting kittens. Since only a sadist would devote an entire newspaper column to a pregnant cat who got blown to smithereens, I hope by now you've figured out she's NOT dead. Two months after the explosion, the night manager at a Wendy's restaurant next door to the former shoe store noticed a stray cat hanging around the junk pile that had been Petersen's business. The manager was feeding scraps of food to the cat when one of his employees told him she might be Skylon. "I didn't believe it when they called me," Petersen says. The fire had rounded off her ears. Her fur and whiskers were singed. She wasn't pregnan anymore and there was no evidence of kittens. But, she was fine. "I've got to teach her how to talk because she's got a story to tell," Petersen says. "Besides, my friends are much more interested in how she's doing than in me. And why not? I feel the same way. Just seeing her again made things a lot better." He'd been depressed after the fire and the thought of w hat had gone up in smoke. Now, though, he'd come to realize something important. The loss he'd felt was not the loss of cash, but the loss of cat. Petersen hopes to re-open the Strapped Jock at a new location later this year. ' When he does, Skylon won't be there. She lives in Petersen's home now, wtiere the remainder of her days will be devoted to sleep and weight gain. She's given up the retail business. Too volatile. EJ. Mont mi can be reached at 444-8978 or at via e-mal n Wk 6 F r - 4 .-A., 0 o 4- .;f If 1 H Mark HenleThe Arizona Republic Phoenix Police Chief Dennis Garrett, U.S. Sen. John Kyi, U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon, U.S. Rep. J.D. Hayworth and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio tour a mock methamphetamine lab during a congressional hearing Monday. High cost of meth busting Cleaning up single drug lab costs $10,000 By Mike McCloy The Arizona Republic First, the door busters go in with black fatigues and assault rifles. They ve raided about 300 metham phetamine labs in Arizona since 1996, most of them in the Valley. After the crooks are cuffed, the khaki-suited hazardous-material team goes in with masks and green breathing tanks. They check out the lab for toxic and explosive chemicals and booby traps. Then the folks in the white bodysuits come in to clean the apartment, motel room, mobile home, shed or bus that was used to conceal the barrels and beakers used to cook America's latest illegal drug of choice. The cost of this complex apprehen sion process is about $10,000 per lab and, with meth arrests up 360 percent in Phoenix since 1992, law enforce ment agencies are feeling the pinch. In rural Arizona, the problem is even worse. "Most of the local drug task forces Mark HenleThe Arizona Republic The State Department of Public Safety's special operations unit secures a mock meth lab Monday in a demonstration for the U.S. Senate Judiciary subcomittee. are in serious financial difficulty," Mohave County Sheriff Tom Sheahan said Monday. "The costs for us are astounding." . Besides the personnel it takes to do surveillance and seize a lab in northwest Arizona, deputies must guard it for a day while they wait for the specialists in bodysuits to arrive from Phoenix, the sheriff said at a congressional hearing. The gathering, complete with a noisy drug-bust simulation at the Phoenix Fire Department Training Academy, was called by Sen. Jon Kyi, R-Ariz. Congress has set aside $30 million .for police training and $5 million to help local authorities dispose of hazardous materials, Kyi said, but he Please see COST, Page B3 ereed to coofess Tovrea child testifies at hearing on penalty By Victoria Harkor The Arizona Republic Deborah Luster glared at her mother's killer Monday and, in a soft voice that quavered with emotion, told him that he's a coward who should admit his guilt. The killer's relatives sat by silently, wearing white armbands bearing his booking number to protest his conviction. "Your greedy and cowardly actions, your stubborn refusal . . . has turned my heart to stone," said Luster during a death penalty hearing Monday for James "Butch" Harrod. Harrod, 44, of Ahwatukee, was found guilty in November of murdering Luster's mother, Jeanne Tovrea, a former cocktail waitress who married Arizona cattle baron Edward Tovrea Sr., who died in 1983. Jeanne Tovrea was found dead in Please see TOVREA, Page B2 "V'v James Harrod I I Jeanne Tovrea Navajo 'gift-giving' 'is all illegal now5 By Bill Donovan The Arizona Republic WINDOW ROCK - For centuries, Navajos have lived their daily lives by the principle of helping each other. When healing ceremonies are held, for example, the call goes out to family, friends and sometimes even complete strangers to contribute money, sheep, food or whatever they can afford. Aily' eh, or gift-giving, is a longstanding Navajo tradition. But over the past decade, tribal society has been troubled as the practice led to the ouster two of its presidents and the investigation of its current one. Albert Hale, who stepped down on Feb. 17, said he still doesn't understand why accepting contributions from people in his administration to hold a ceremony before an important meeting was illegal. Please see NAVAJO, Page B2 Family bids farewell to couple found dead after 2-month search By Diana Balazs The Arizona Republic For nearly two months, Richard and Laura Ann Meyer's family banded together in crisis to search for the missing Scottsdale couple. ' . For 90 minutes Monday, loved ones banded together in both sorrow and joy to remember the couple. Sorrow in knowing that the happy retirees who lived" life to the fullest would smile no more on Earth. Joy in remembering the good times the Meyers shared and the positive example they set for others. Through tears, song and remembrance, hundreds attended a funeral Mass at Christ the King Catholic Church in Mesa to pay their last respects. The Rev. Douglas Nohava, a longtime friend of the Meyers, was among the priests who officiated at the Mass. He called the Meyers a "good news" couple who enjoyed life and lived it fully. Nohava encouraged family members to carry on the tradition. The couple vanished Jan. 30 following an eye doctor's appointment in east Mesa. An extensive search was launched, with family members taking an active role in the case. On March 24, a motorist seeking a short cut on the Gila River Indian Community found the couple's car stuck in a sandy wash. The body of Richard Meyer, 84, a retired electrician, was found inside. His wife Please see COUPLE, Page B3 r ' I1- Ml f . 4 Mona ReederThe Arizona Republic The grandchildren of Richard and Laura Ann Meyer served as pallbearers Monday at the funeral Mass at Christ the King Catholic Church in Mesa. VALLEY & STATE NEWSIN BRIEF Tucson office opens to study eye problems among Hispanics TUCSON Researchers hoping to uncover the causes and prevalence of eye disease among Mexican-Americans have opened a Tucson office. Proyecto VER, for Project Vision, Evaluation, Research, already has randomly surveyed and examined 1,700 people. For the next year at the new office, project members will examine an additional 3,500 people, said Dr. Jorge Rodriguez, a University of Arizona ophthalmology professor and the project's clinical director. Proyecto VER is the first study to concentrate on eye disease in Mexican-Americans. It also is unique in its population-based approach, which involves selecting study subjects from door-to-door interviews. The project's goals are to determine the prevalence of diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma and other causes of vision loss. The trend shown in the first year of the project's research is that glaucoma and cataracts are major causes of vision loss in Hispanics, as they are in the general population. But Mexican-Americans may suffer less age-related macular degeneration. The office is at 1701 W. St Marys Road, Suite 111. Chief justice hurt in Tucson bike race TUCSON The chief justice of the Arizona Supreme Court was hospitalized Monday after suffering a broken pelvis during a bicycle race. Thomas Zlaket, 56, was competing in the 63-mile Tour of the Tucson Mountains race Sunday when his bicycle was struck from behind by another racer, just 50 yards short of the finish line. Zlaket was resting comfortably and was expected to remain hospitalized for several days, a court, spokesman said. Zlaket is in the second year of a five-year term as chief justice. He has served on the court since 1992. Flagstaff boy wins state spelling bee FLAGSTAFF By correctly spelling "sagacious," 13-year-old Jeremy Young spelled his way to state champion. The Flagstaff resident beat second-place Deanna Clem of Pima County and third-place finisher Jeffrey Beach of Pinal County in the final round Saturday. All three of the top finishers are home-schooled. "Right down to third place it was not clear whether I would win. It was the luck of the draw because I did not know the words the second and third missed on," Young said. Young will attend the national competition in Washington, D.C., in May. Scottsdale pedestrian : dies after being hit SCOTTSDALE A 62-year-old woman crossing Scottsdale Road in a crosswalk was struck by a van and later died of the injuries, police reported. Noriye Alice Nishi of Glendale died Saturday at Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn Hospital. She was struck shortly before 8 a.m. Saturday at Scottsdale and Jack-rabbit roads. Nishi, who used a cane, was struck by a van driven by David Boundy, 35, police said. No citations were issued and the accident remains under investigation.

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