The first of the week relatives of Henry Stabblefeld, of Aurelia, received word that Henry had committed suicide at a hotel at Milwaukee, Wis., where he had gone on a visit, and instructions were asked as to disposition of the body.
Instructions were wired to ship the body to Aurelia. The relatives were greatly mystified as to why Henry should commit suicide. He was a bachelor about 49 years of age, in good financial circumstances, healthy and apparently happy and well contented with his lot.
On arrival of the body there were such marks upon it that physicians were called to examine it and after a careful examination they are of the opinion that it is a case of murder, not suicide.
A confusion was found on the forehead as though made by a blunt instrument, the nose was broken and a dark circle was found around the neck and a bullet wound in the head. The bullet wound was so located that the physicians say it could not have been self-inflicted. They pronounce it a case of murder, though a coroner's inquest at Milwaukee pronounced it a case of suicide.
County Attorney McCulla, at the request of Aurelia parties, went there this morning to investigate, though if a crime has been committed the scene thereof was in Milwaukee and the court there would have jurisdiction.
It is said that Henry carried a considerable sum of money on his person and that his body was found at a cheap lodging house, not at the hotel where he was stopping. It is thought that he was lured to this lodging house and murdered there for his money.
The case is shrouded in mystery but will probably be closely investigated at the instance of relatives.
Henry was a member of the Woodman order in which he held a certificate of insurance for $500 and he is said to have held insurance in other orders and companies.
Motorists entering Cherokee from the north on highway 59 Friday afternoon slowed down, gaped, and wondered if their eyes were deceiving them.
Was the strange apparition before them a reality?
Surely not! But there it was...
An Eskimo, of all things--complete with dog team and sledge--plodding wearily down the road towards Cherokee.
No frozen arctic wastes were there for his shining runners to skim swiftly across--in fact the graveled road and hotly beaming sum were more nearly resembled Sahara--but that didn't matter. He didn't have any shiny runners. His sledge was no light, whale-bone constructed vehicle. He had no prancing, pert, smart team of white huskies. He was not in reality, an Eskimo himself. He was just a think grizzled, bewhiskered old man attired in a multi-patched pair of greasy jumpers. His "sledge" was a lumbersome contraption made out of old boards, canvas, and equipped with two old coaster wagon wheels from which the tires had long since fallen. Two nondescript mongrels, heads bowed with fatigue, tugged and strained at the lines, with which they pulled the crazy contrivance. One dog had a hind foot in a bandage. The "sledge" was filled with junk of every description which "Eskimo Bill," as he called himself, had garnered form road side junk heaps.
Asked who he was by The Chief photographer and reporter who came upon him two miles from town, he replied: "William Henning of Sioux Falls, South Dakota."
As the photographer swung his Graflex into action, Henning spat a huge mouthful of chewing tobacco at the middle of the road and declared "he'd better get his Eskimo 'get-up' on before he posed. And obligingly retrieved an old fur cap and long coat from the dark recesses of his junk cargo.
"Where are you bound for" he was asked.
"Gonna leave this (indicating the "sledge") in Cherokee and take a train or bus to Denison where my sister lives." He failed however, to say where bus or train fare was coming from.
"What do you do for a living?" the Cherokee Chief representative asked.
"Beg for it wherever I can," was the answer.
Henning said he started out recently from Sioux Falls and expected to make the entire trip on foot with the aid of his dogs, but had changed his mind after a hundred miles and thought he would finish the jaunt by rail. He said his home address was 221 E. 8th street, in care of Bridge Bar Saloon, Sioux Falls, S.D.
Whistling to the footsore dogs, he trudged on again, a grotesque figure, silhouetted against the setting sun.
Hordes of grasshoppers, hatched out during the present spell of warm weather, were reported Saturday in all sections of Cherokee county. On the Bert Smith farm 2 ˝ miles northeast of Cherokee literally millions of the pests swarmed over Gifford hill Friday afternoon and Saturday.
Farmers began to look with considerable apprehension at the invasion of the dreaded swarm, remembering last year's devastated fields.
County Agent C. H. Thompson said Saturday morning, "We're just gambling with the weather this year, in regards to these grasshoppers. Cherokee county is in the heavily infested area of egg deposits and the southern part especially, is in the extremely heavily infested section, according to reports I have received from state entomologists.
"Here's where the gambling part comes in--if the weather keeps on being warm for a week or so and most of the eggs hatch out, the hoppers will have little green matter to feed upon and will consequently not do so well. Then, if the weather suddenly turns cold or wet, it will exterminate the whole hatch, so that any later hatch will not be large enough to do great damage.
"But if the weather doesn't do what we predict it will, Cherokee county will be in for a hard battle with these pests the rest of the year."
Thompson said the grasshopper eggs were laid last fall and most of the early hoppers were hatched out on hillsides where the snow had run off and the sun was warmer.
Dr. C. H. Johnson, campaign chairman of the Sioux Valley Memorial Hospital Building Program, reports an increase in traffic in-and-out of campaign headquarters as workers bring in their worked cards.
Ray France, vice-chairman of the Major Gifts Division, and Lee Miller, chairman of the Advance Gifts Division, urge all the workers to complete their calls by Monday, March 12.
The workers in the General Gifts Division have been somewhat delayed in making their calls due to the weather. They expect to have their calls completed by March 19.
Chuck Maher, chairman of the General Gifts Division, is making an appeal for 50 additional workers to call on prospects in their immediate neighborhoods. "Approximately 500 families will not be called upon and given an opportunity to give to the campaign, unless the good citizens of Cherokee offer to take a few hours of their time to make those calls," states Chuck Mahler.
"Considerable progress is being made in securing campaign workers in the townships and towns throughout the hospital service area," reports Dr. Johnson.
Dean Simonsen, chairman of the southern section of the county, met with team captains and workers Tuesday night, for final briefing. These workers will cover Grand Meadow, Willow, Rock and Pilot Townships.
Floyd Soseman, chairman of the Holstein area, and the campaign director, met with several team captains last Friday night. A "kick-off" meeting for workers has been set for Tuesday night, March 13, at the Lutheran Church in Holstein. They expect an attendance of 40 at this meeting. Zig Nelson, chairman for Aurelia, is scheduling a meeting of his workers for Wednesday night, March 14.
Workers are already making calls in Liberty and Sheridan Township.
All workers outside of Cherokee are being asked to complete their calls and turn their cards in by March 22.
The Campaign Cabinet Committee has arranged with radio station, KCHE Cherokee, for a panel type of program, dealing with facts pertaining to the needs for a new Sioux Valley Memorial Hospital. This program will be on the air from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m., Sunday, March 11. Charles Reznikov will be the moderator. Campaign leaders making up the panel will be: Dr. Doyle Simonsen, James M. Dunn, Kenneth Hobson and Charles Maher.
The moderator urges listeners to call in during the program and ask questions pertaining to the hospital building program and campaign plans.
Following are additional names of donors to the Sioux Valley Memorial Hospital's Building program:
Mr. and Mrs. Walter L. Adamson, MR. and Mrs. Mose R. Bell, Edith L. Benson, (Cedar Rapids), Chester C. Benson, Mrs. Katie Betsworth, Mr. and Mrs. Donald D. Bevins, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Brewer, Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Brokaw, Fred Brickman.
Caravan Motel, Mr. and Mrs. Peter W. Carstens, Christensen Bros.- Ready Mix, Christensen Bros.-Construction, Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Coburn, Mrs. Eva Crane, Cherokee Art Club, Delaplane Shoe Co., Dobson Furniture, Mr .and Mrs. Emery Dull, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Eischen, Mr. and Mrs. LaVerne T. Espeset, Ray Erlandson, MR. and Mrs. Wilbur Fishman, Mr. and Mrs. Ed Ford, Mr. and Mrs. Roger Frisbie, Wm. J. Friedrichsen.
Rev. and Mrs. A. E. Goldhorn, Mrs. C. H. Hall, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Hammquist, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur G. Johnson, Magnus Johnson, John Kern, Mr. and Mrs. Shelby Knee, Ethel Lasher (Quality Café), Mary L. Lowry.
McWiliams Drug, Elmer D. Nelson, MR. and Mrs. Carl Netley, Mr. and Mrs. Gunnar A. Osterling, G. Mervyl Olsen, Schmidt Furniture, Mrs. Barbara Seeman, Mr. and Mrs. Boyd Sinkey, Mr. and Mrs. Rollin Stonebrook, Mr. and Mrs. W. N. Sleezer.
The hearing was on the 1987-88 Cherokee city budget, but much of the concern Monday night was on the year after.
The $3.7 million budget got few comments and passed unchanged. The tax levy will remain the same through June 30, 1988, $11.98 per $1,000 valuation.
But the council had to dip into its reserves to keep the levy level. That, plus the fact that valuations are expected to drop again next year, drew some comments from the public.
"We feel that if this council chooses not to consider and not to act on adjustments in our city government dictated by sound business practices, we then fear Cherokee in the years to come will be on a collision course with depleted operating reserves, greater bonded indebtedness, lower property valuations and ultimately, higher property taxes," said Charles Reinert, representing the Cherokee County Taxpayers' Association.
The reserves were a concern for another reason. The Legislature could pass a law that limited a city's reserves to 25 percent of the total budget. If that happens, Cherokee would have to cut another $18,000 to make the limit.
Liz Brasser of Cherokee also expressed concern about the reserves and how much money the city would have to work with next year. She also asked about unexpected costs such as the repairs to the city reservoir which were not included in the 1987-88 budget.
City Administrator Gil Bremicker said the reservoir repair was not included because the city doesn't have any estimate on what's needed.
The city will have about $711,000 less in reserves this year than last year in all accounts, according to the budget figures. $123,000 of that was in accounts paid by taxation.
The $11.98 is broken down into four different levies. While the total levy is the same, it will be split up differently next year.
The general fund will go from $7.80 to $7.71 per $1,000 and tort liability will go up from 29.8 cents per $1,000 to 38.1 cents per $1,000. The levy for debt service will go from $2.39 per $1,000 to $2.80 and the trust and agency (benefits) will drop from $1.49 per $1,000 to $1.07.
The city will take in $1.1 million in property tax, $1.54 million in other income such as water and sewage fees, $330,000 in liquor profit, municipal assistance and road use taxes.
Reinert commended the council "for your efforts to hold the line on spending and taxation while working through the 1987-88 budget. However, we feel that your work is only beginning and we encourage the council to shift your thinking into the 'survival mode.'"
Reinert proposed several areas for the city to look at before the next budget year:
* Joining the Iowa League of Municipalities' Iowa Community Assurance Pool in an effort to reduce liability insurance costs. The pool is designed to reduce insurance costs by spreading the risk over more cities.
* Reducing the cost of medical insurance by paying only a single plan premium for the employee instead of paying the premium for a family plan.
Bremicker said the city began paying family premiums in 1979 as a part of a negotiation with city employees. Any change would have to be renegotiated, he said. Bremicker also said the council has instructed him to review all insurance policies with an eye to reducing costs.
* Reducing, reassigning or cutting staff. The police department and fire departments were mentioned in particular, as long as the fire rating didn't drop.
* Not increasing bonded indebtedness for a new City Hall or airport expansion.
There were no raises for city employees in the 1987-88 budget. This is the third straight year library employees have been without a raise and the second year for other employees. Paul Fuhrman of Cherokee asked "How long are our employees going to bite the bullet?"
"As long as the rest of us," said a voice from the back of the room.
The budget also contained $20,000 for the Cherokee Industrial Corporation, which drew a comment from Jim Gregg over whether the city was getting its money's worth.
"If we don't get jobs for young people, we're going to get a 'geriatric' community," Bremicker said, referring to an earlier Reinert Comment. Reinert said Cherokee could become a "geriatric dead-end in which all young people move away because of few jobs and lack of industry, leaving only retired and other elderly people to support the community" unless things change.
Gregg also commented the city should forget about paving Iowa Street near the Mental Health Institute and put the money into repairing sidewalks instead. Westphal commented the street would be paved only if the state paid for it. There is state money for streets but none for sidewalks, he added.
Before the budget hearing began, council decided to forego two years of cable franchise fees to help pay for a proposed community cable channel to be based out of Washington High School. The school had requested $6,000 from the city. Centel will pay half the cost of the system and maintain and replace equipment for no charge, Westphal said.
The system will cost about $27,000 with the school picking up the rest of the cost. The other alternative was for the city to pay the $6,000 out of revenue sharing or unspent balances in cases Congress eliminates the cable franchise fee.
The council also decided to leave $14,000 in the proposed budget for a new truck and sander. The truck to be replaced was purchased in 1970 and last year cost the city $7,500 in repair bills.
"The truck is costing us a lot of money," council member Paul Goeb said. With snow removal costs minimal this winter, this year is a good time to buy a new vehicle, he said.