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'Duct Tape Dads' assist Sioux City Heelan's show choir

SIOUX CITY -- Jeremey Malenosky will be a constant presence when more than 1,000 show choir students attend the Crusader Classic Show Choir Invitational, Friday and Saturday, at Bishop Heelan Catholic High School.

However, he is neither a show choir member nor is he a show choir director.

Instead, Malenosky, an Echo Electric Supply Company counter salesman by day, is one of about 16 volunteers known as "Duct Tape Dads."

So, what does a Duct Tape Dad do? 

Well, pretty much everything. When Heelan's show choir has an out-of-town engagement, the dads transports all of the gear -- costumes, risers, musical instruments -- in trailers to the performance site and back.

They quickly assemble -- and disassemble -- equipment within minutes. If something breaks, they fix it. If it can't be fixed, well, that's where duct tape comes in handy.

For the Crusader Classic, Malenosky and crew will set up Heelan's high school auditorium for middle school teams competing from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Friday. Then, they'll regroup while setting the "Pit," the affectionate nickname for Heelan's old gymnasium at 1021 Douglas St., for competing high school performers, beginning at 8:30 a.m., with finals starting at 7:30 p.m. 


Jeremey Malenosky, a Heelan Catholic School "Duct Tape Dad" since 2008, describe his role as being an in-town and out-of-town "roadie" for the high school's show choir. 

"I usually take Wednesday and Thursday off from work in order to get everything ready," said Malenosky, whose 11th grade daughter, Alycen, is a show choir member.  

Ably assisting Malenosky is John Van Holland, whose 10th grade son, Jackson, is in the show choir.

"Jeremey saw me at various school events and actively recruited me as a Duct Tape Dad nearly five years ago," Van Holland said. 

"You have to be continually recruiting new dads because kids are always graduating," Malenosky said of the group, which also includes Lance Fjeildeim, Matt Johnson, David Krogh, Bill Murphy, Bill Engle, John Beumler, Ed Griesel, Tom Rethman, Fred Summerville, Bart Hollis and Krishna Bishwokarma. 

Indeed, Heelan vocal music and show choir director Rachael Wragge has nothing but raves for the Duct Tape Dads.

"It's wonderful to have our own team of helpers to save the day when things go wrong," she said.

And Duct Tape Dads must be prepared for everything, including the occasional wardrobe malfunction.

"We've have to take needle and thread to a costume in a pinch," Van Holland said.

They are also needed when to scuffing up dress shoes. Um, what?

"Slippery shoes and risers don't mix," Malenosky said.

Conceding it requires a lot of hours to be a Duct Tape Dad, Malenosky admitted.

"We're essentially in and out-of-town roadies for a bunch of high school kids," he said.

Still, Malenosky said he loves what he does.

"We have the best of the house when the kids perform," he said. "And we get to break up the scenery as soon as they're done."

Grand jury indicts 2 for Le Mars bank robbery

SIOUX CITY -- A federal grand jury has indicted two people accused of robbing a Le Mars, Iowa, bank in December.

Filed Wednesday, the indictment charges Karen Merrick, 35, and Phillip White, 32, both of Sioux City, with bank robbery. White faces an additional charge of interference with commerce by threat or violence for the armed robbery of a Sioux City cab driver in October.

Both are scheduled to be arraigned Friday in U.S. District Court in Sioux City.

A federal complaint was filed against the two last month, accusing them of the Dec. 12 robbery of Iowa State Bank, 301 Plymouth St. NW.

According to court documents, White exited the bank with $16,190 in currency after telling a teller he had a weapon and wanted a bag of money.

Witnesses told authorities they saw White get into a U-Haul van, in which Merrick was waiting for him, the complaint said. Merrick led law enforcement officers on a pursuit out of Le Mars and onto county roads before she was stopped. The stolen money was recovered from the van.

White told authorities that he did not have a weapon and denied threatening the bank teller. He told investigators that he had robbed the bank because he needed to provide another person with $5,000 or a pound of methamphetamine that day, though he denied owing money or drugs to anyone, court documents said.

White also is charged with the Oct. 12 robbery of a cab driver in the 3100 block of Fourth Avenue Place. According to court documents, White showed the driver a handgun, demanded cash and fled with an undisclosed amount of money. He was arrested by Sioux City police and had pleaded not guilty to robbery and theft charges in Woodbury County District Court. Now that White has been indicted in federal court, it's likely the state charges will be dismissed.

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Fingerprints from Fortenberry googly-eye stickers lead Lincoln police to suspected vandal

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Lincoln police have cited a UNL researcher who they say added googly eyes to campaign signs for Rep. Jeff Fortenberry.

Patricia Wonch Hill was ticketed Tuesday with three counts of vandalism, police spokeswoman Angela Sands said.

Wonch Hill, a research assistant professor of sociology and a political activist, was fined $500 in Virginia last year for vandalizing the home of a National Rifle Association lobbyist.

On Wednesday, Lincoln police said fingerprints from Wonch Hill were found on the stickers used to vandalize Fortenberry campaign signs at 70th and A and 84th and Van Dorn streets in October.

The Fortenberry sign at 70th and A was also defaced with a strip of tape that turned the Republican's name into a sophomoric joke.

A sticker in the candidate's hair indicated that Betsy Riot, a neo-suffragette, punk-patriot resistance movement, was responsible for the mischief.

Wonch Hill was also cited for vandalism at U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer's office last year in which Betsy Riot stickers were placed on the door.

Vandalism is a city misdemeanor, with a possible penalty of up to six months in jail and/or a $500 fine.

Sands said the damage to property -- estimated at $100 -- went beyond free speech expression. Wonch Hill, she said, is being looked at in other open vandalism cases.

Fortenberry's congressional district includes Thurston County.

Democrat Julian Castro to campaign in 4 Northwest Iowa events

SIOUX CITY -- Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro will make four campaign stops in Northwest Iowa on Friday and Saturday.

Castro, a former secretary of Housing and Urban Development, previously spoke in Northwest Iowa in 2018. His three-day swing that begins Thursday is his first in Iowa since officially launching his candidacy for president in 2020.

Friday events include an 11 a.m. stop at Cronk’s Restaurant, 812 Fourth Ave. South, in Denison, a 4 p.m. event at Town Square Coffee Shop. 125 Central Ave. Northeast, in Orange City, and 6 p.m. at a private residence in Sioux City. The latter is sponsored by the Truman Club of the Woodbury County Democratic Party, which hosts house parties with presidential candidates and potential candidates.

Saturday's event in Storm Lake will be held at 10 a.m. at Better Day Cafe, 518 Lake Ave. North.

Castro, who is also a former mayor of San Antonio, Texas, also will visit Des Moines, Exira, Carroll, Boone and Ames this weekend.

Another Democrat who is considering a presidential run will also be in Sioux City on Saturday.

In a previously released itinerary, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper will hold a meet-and-greet event at 10 a.m. at Pierce Street Coffeeworks, 1920 Pierce St., then follow that with stops later in the day in Carroll and Ames.