The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa on August 3, 1996 · Page 11
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The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa · Page 11

Des Moines, Iowa
Issue Date:
Saturday, August 3, 1996
Page 11
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(the Des Jfloincs itcpistcr EU3 Satikday, AiT.rsT.S, lfflti, StmoN T J1IM And Iowa News Metro Record NDY EVANS, Iowa Editor. 515-2S4-8065 OBERTBORSELLINO, Metro Editor, 515-284-8102 mm Lincoln grad expected to be named its principal A Lincoln High School graduate is expected to be named principal of the south-side school at Tuesday's Des Moines school board meeting. Michael Loffredo, principal at Har-' ding Middle School, has been recommended by Superintendent Gary We-genke to replace Tom Drake as Lincoln's principal. The board is expected to approve Wegenke's recommendation. Loffredo would be paid $74,088 a year. " "It's been a longtime goal of mine to be part of Lincoln High School and to be its principal," said Loffredo, 50, who has worked in the Des Moines school district since his graduation from Drake University in 1967. "This is a personal achievement for me as well as a professional achievement." Loffredo has been principal at Harding since 1988. Loffredo was one of two people interviewed for the job. Four people who work in the district had applied for the job, but two withdrew before interviews began. , Last month, the school board named Drake executive director of the district's middle and high school program. Drake replaced Barbara Prior, who retired. ; Loffredo, who graduated from Lincoln in 1963, said his top goal when he returns to the school is "relearn the traditions that have been established at Lincoln. I want to get to know the staff, the students, the parents and the community." -i A replacement for Loffredo must be found before he moves to Lincoln. Loffredo said he expects to be at Lincoln when school begins Aug. 26. D.M. man jailed, charged with assaulting his wife A 38-year-old Des Moines man was in jail on Friday on a charge of assaulting his wife, the ninth time he has been charged with domestic assault or domestic abuse. Police said Clifford Orris Jackson of 1718 24th St. admitted pushing Tami Jackson over a bench about 2:30 a.m. Friday. Tami Jackson had a three-inch bruise and scratches on her leg. Clifford Jackson has a long record of arrests, including domestic assault six times and domestic abuse three times. He has also been arrested on charges of sexual abuse, assault, willful injury, possession of drugs, trespassing, probation violation and several traffic violations. Tami Jackson told Officer Frank Scarcello she wanted a no-contact order against Clifford Jackson because she is afraid he will kill her. She had a previous no-contact order against him, but she was arrested last December for violating that one. She was arrested after she went to Jackson's apartment to get her cat. She got into a scuffle with Police Officer James Butler that time and kicked out a window of a police car. Change of command at Army Reserve unit The Army Reserve unit that returned to Des Moines Tuesday after seven months in Europe will have a change of command. Brig. Gen. Thomas J. Bruner, who has commanded the 3rd Corps Support Command since its activation in 1993, is retiring and will pass command of the unit to Col. Gary C. Watt-nem. " .. .The change of command ceremony will be at 2 p.m. today on the Fort Des Moines parade field. - Bruner joined the U.S. Army Reserve in 1960 and was activated for service in Vietnam in 1968. Bruner is manager of the Omaha Service Center for the Omaha Public Power District in Omaha. He lives in Crescent, la. ,, .Wattnem has served in the Army and the Army Reserve since 1969. He was born in Estelline, S.D., and now live6 in Mason City, where he is regional sales manager for Leica Inc. The group returned Tuesday from Germany after providing logistic support to Bosnian peacekeepers. Parents raising money to aid child care centers The parents whose child care centers are scheduled to close down at the end of August will host a public meeting Monday in hopes of raising the $200,000 needed to keep the centers open. The Naomi Wright and Woodland day care centers are scheduled to close Aug. 31 because of lack of money. The parents of the children have held car washes and barbecues to raise the money by Aug. 16, but they say they are falling short. The meeting, in which ideas on how to save the centers will be discussed, will be at 6 p.m. at Naomi Wright Day Care Center, 631 S.E. 26th St. Those planning to attend should call Mary Andrew Osborne, the center's director, at 265-6443. Ron Gruber's sentencing in March seemed to open the gates for information about Penny Weitzel's death in Boone. By THOMAS R.O'DONNELL Of The Reoistf.r's Ames Bureau Boone, la. Even Penny Weitzel's 6-year-old son, Nathan, knew who killed her. He wasn't at the house they shared when her head was shattered by a shotgun blast, but soon after his mother's body was found on Nov. 30, 1984, "the first thing he said was, 'Bad Ron did it,' " Barbara Sternquist, Penny Weitzel's mother, said Friday. ' "Bad Ron" was Ronald Gruber, 39, a member of the Sons of Silence motorcycle gang and a convicted rapist. This week, almost 12 years after Penny Weitzel, 23, died at her Boone home, officials charged Gruber with her murder. Gruber already is serving time in a federal prison in Greenville, 111., on a racketeering charge. He was one of 14 current and former members of the motorcycle gang, which had a Boone chapter, to face federal indictments in 1994. Gruber, who last lived in Smith-land, Ky., told prosecutors he had left the gang. He pleaded guilty and testified against his fellow defendants, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Murphy in Cedar Rapids. Threats Alleged Murphy said the federal indictment included allegations that Gruber was at Weitzel's house the night of her death and had later threatened people if they didn't keep quiet about the slaying. In March, Gruber was sentenced to four years in prison. It was about then, Boone County Sheriff Ron Fehr said, that information started coming in that led to the murder charge. Fehr and Boone County Attorney Steven Oeth wouldn't say just what broke the case open, but they said Gruber's prison term influenced the investigation. "I think maybe some people were willing to come forward a little bit now that he's out of the picture," Oeth said. Fehr said Weitzel, a divorced exotic dancer, and her live-in boyfriend, Tracy Lee, associated with motorcycle gang members. On the night of Nov. 29, 1984, several were present when Weitzel hosted a party, Fehr said. Weitzel was killed sometime after the party ended, Fehr said. Gruber Weitzel Charged Shot to death Lee found her body face down on a bed about 10 a.m., but didn't report it to police until 4:30 that afternoon, court records show. History of Trouble Gruber has a long history with Iowa law officers. In 1977, he was sentenced to 35 years in prison for rape and assault in Black Hawk County. While at the State Penitentiary in Fort Madison, Gruber was sued by two guards who said he and another inmate had assaulted them. Weitzel's family has been waiting for the day Gruber would be charged. They long suspected some member of the motorcycle gang, but law officers weren't able to compile the evidence needed to file charges. Donald Sternquist, Weitzel's father, said the charge against Gruber won't bring his daughter back. "It's not going to change anything for us at this point, but it's a degree of satisfaction," he said. Nathan Weitzel is 17 now and living with Donald and Barbara Sternquist in Roscoe, 111. "We filled him in a couple of nights ago as to what was going on. He was pretty happy about it," Donald Sternquist said. Traces of Another Era Mi , . i. v." - f t I I 4 i 4 f I f If 1 If f; . ' " K BOB NANDKLLTllE REGISTER Living History Farms worker Jodine Perkins play at this weekend's 1875-era Farmers' adjusts an antique hat Friday for a craft dis- Fair in Des Moines. Story: 3M. Trip Ended in Irwin Woman's Death Child motorist was Texas-bound to see jailed dad Emily Landgridge, 11, lost control of the truck she stole and ran head-on into Joyce Elder's car. By ANGELINA LOPEZ Register Staff Writer The stolen pickup truck was supposed to take 11-year-old Emily Landgridge to see her father in a Texas prison, authorities say. Instead, the trip ended two miles outside Kirkman with the death of a 67-year-old Irwin woman. Joyce Elder was killed Thursday morning when the car she was driving was hit head-on by the truck driven by Landgridge, of Kirkman, authorities said. Landgridge and another girl had stolen a neighbor's truck so that the two could visit Landgridge's father, said Shelby County Sheriff Gene Cavenaugh. The father is in prison in Victoria County, Texas, he said. The neighbor, William Uren, said he had not known Landgridge or . her parents, Scott and Sheila Boje. "She was an 1 1-year-old girl," he said. "She should have been playing with dolls." Cavenaugh said Landgridge .dropped off her friend, whose name police would not release, and at 8 a.m. was on a road outside Kirkman. She lost control of the car, went off the road onto the right shoulder, came back onto the road and crossed the center line, hitting Elder, he said. Landgridge suffered a broken nose and lacerations. She was taken to Myrtue Memorial Hospital in Harlan, where she was in good condition. Alcohol or drugs were not involved, Cavenaugh said. Charges are pending against Landgridge and her friend, he said. James Elder said his wife's deatn was accidental. "What can anyone do with an 11-year-old girl?" he asked. The couple had three sons and four grandchildren. Her 58th birthday would have been in 20 days. ' .i; , Elder had been a secretary at an alcohol and drug treatment center in Harlan for 23 years. Although it had been stressful work, "she was a happy lady and never went without a smile," said James Elder. Her boss of 14 months at St. Luke's Gordon Recovery Center Shelby County MIADAC agreed. "She was the kind of secretary-that was the wife and mother everyone wanted to have," Pat Honeywell said. "She took care of everyone." When Elder walked through the courthouse, Honeywell said, she got a wave from every hand: the judges, the lawyers, the police. As much as she will be missed as a secretary, she said, Elder will be missed more as a wife and mother. "Everything she did for me for the past 14 months, she did for them for many years," Honeywell said. Big Birthday for Chuck's Restaurant 40 years later, it's still the place to go City Side ' his wasn't supposed to happen. Linda Bisignano came home to Des Moines from Denver 22 years ago because she'd had a fight with her boyfriend and her motner was sick, but the move was supposed to be temporary. Her boyfriend would beg her to come back, she figured, and if he didn't, she would move to Manhattan and be a big-city girl. And here she is, hanging out at the end of the bar in an old restaurant in Des Moines, planning the joint's 40th anniversary party. She's going to block off the street, give away a ruby bracelet, have a raffle and, among other things, serve complimentary Waldorf cake and red wine. Classic cars will line the street and KIOA disc jockeys will broadcast from the scene. ' The party is from 5 to 9 p.m. today. ' Linda's parents, Chuck and Elizabeth Bisignano, bought the CITY SIDE Please turn to Page 6M 7 Try-rr Mary Ann LlCkTEIG 7T n'T7 j T"THT'rt rrrrrrri ! ' 1 ""w r S I Ai l. V 1 ill ... .. ; i u,.'j, . "ii I . : iff - ' . .. . A. i If mNrf A i 4 1 r . .... ... .1 4 Linda Bisignano, middle, sits outside Chuck's with her brother, Gary Bisignano, left, and his daughter, Sarah Bisignano. The restaurant on Sixth Avenue, just north of Euclid Avenue, is KEVIN WOLKTllE REGISTER celebrating its 40th anniversary with a party today. After four decades, the eatery continues to be popular with North and East high school students and alumni. ISU graduating the whole team man, wife By THOMAS R.O'DONNELL Oi The Register's Ames Bureau Ames, la. Larry and Judy Sessions took a longer route than most to the stage at Hilton Coliseum, where each will receive doctoral degrees from Iowa State Univer-. sity today. For the past five years, they've been conducting their research and writing their dissertations from Germany, where they're administrators at Department of Defense schools. "We used just about every mode of transportation there was, except (carrier) pigeon," Larry Sessions, 52, said Thursday. For five years, the Sessionses filed faxes, dispatched express mail, zapped electronic messages and ran up their phone bill as they pursued their goal of dual degrees in education administration. Judy Sessions' son, ISU student Ian Johnson, acted as their gofer on campus. Earning a degree while overseas doesn't make the couple unique, professional studies Professor Richard Manatt said. But earning degrees together does. "I've been in the business of preparing Ph.D.s for 33 years," said Manatt, who oversaw the Sessionses' doctoral research. "I've GRADS Please turn to Paae 5M

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