MASON CITY | Shortly before the verdict was read — revealing Larry Whaley was guilty of second-degree murder in last year's shooting of Samantha Teeter — snow was slowly starting to fall outside the Cerro Gordo County Courthouse.
It was then that Samantha's father, David Teeter, felt confident he and his family would have some closure to a tragedy that occurred in the early hours of Dec. 2, 2016.
"When I saw it started to flurry outside and we got the knock on the door, the jury was in, I knew we had a good verdict," Teeter said Thursday. "I felt like Sammie was right here with us."
Teeter and several family members and friends had spent the entire trial filling nearly half of Courtroom No. 1. At several points during testimony, multiple people broke down in tears as critical evidence was being presented — including the 911 call from Samantha Teeter's boyfriend, Kalab Van Scyoc.
The support of those individuals in the courtroom was invaluable, David Teeter said.
"That was awesome," he said. "That was a lot easier to get through with all these people here."
During the past year, support for the family has been great, he added. Earlier this month, family and friends held a vigil at 116 17th Street S.E. — the location of the shooting — in remembrance of Samantha.
"We’ve had a lot of support — friends, family, people we don’t even know," David Teeter said.
One of the things that has helped him and family get through the past year is Andre, Samantha's 3-year-old son.
"It really helps having her little boy at home," he said. "It’s kind of hard to be sad with him around."
Ultimately, David wants the public to know Samantha was a selfless person.
"Just how much she loved everybody in life, and she loved the holidays and she loved her friends," he said. "She would do anything for anybody."
Three women in Klemme are seeking help from the Christmas Cheer Fund for their neighbors who they say are always putting others first.
One of the applicants, who is calling herself a Secret Santa, said “times have been a little hard health-wise” for her 86-year-old neighbor, who bakes treats for the multi-family housing unit regularly.
“I was wondering if you could help her Christmas be a little merrier?” the applicant wrote. “She struggles, and we all try to help because she’s the best.”
Another applicant said her neighbor, who has had a difficult year, has a “really tough time making ends meet” and she’s “absolutely precious.”
“You’ll never meet a nicer lady or have a better neighbor,” she wrote. “I know this would help her a lot if you would see fit to help her out.”
The third woman said her neighbor, who is “helpful and kind” has “run into some misfortune.”
“She would never ask for help but helps everyone,” the applicant wrote.
Clear Lake woman requests help for girls
A Clear Lake woman says without the help of the Christmas Cheer Fund, her daughters’ holidays will likely be present-less.
The woman, who has daughters between 10 and 15, said her hours were cut at work this month making it difficult to afford items on her children’s holiday wish list.
“Presents will sadly be scarce,” she wrote in her application.
If granted Cheer Fund assistance, she will use it to buy her daughters something special for under the tree.
Unemployed Hampton woman turns to Cheer Fund
A Hampton woman who was forced to move in with her parents is asking the Christmas Cheer Fund for some assistance.
The woman, who is the mother of three children between 9 and 15, said she lost her job when the business she was working at closed earlier this year.
A past recipient of the Cheer Fund, she said if awarded, she’d use the gift card to purchase an outfit for each child and food for Christmas.
Clear Lake woman seeks assistance for sister, her children
A Clear Lake woman is asking the Christmas Cheer Fund to help her sister, who’s going through a divorce, get back on her feet.
Her sister, 30, is the mother of three children between 3 and 13 years old, the application said.
“She is trying to get on her feet, so that she can support her children and get out of a bad environment,” the woman wrote.
If granted assistance from the Cheer Fund, she said her sister would use it to feed her children or buy Christmas gifts.
Garner man seeks assistance for children
A Garner man is hoping the Christmas Cheer Fund and help him buy gifts for his children this year.
The man, 35, recently moved in with his parents while he and his wife are separated. According to the application, he has their two children, between 10 and 14, every other week.
Both of his children, the application states, have been in and out of the hospital for appointments and procedures since birth. One is autistic, and the other has a heart defect.
“I am just going thru hard times this last 18 months and hope to be able to get them a gift for Xmas,” he wrote.
The man, who hasn’t received Cheer Fund assistance in the past, said if granted a gift card, he’ll use it on his children.
Clear Lake woman requests help for Christmas dinner
A Clear Lake woman is asking the Christmas Cheer Fund to help her provide dinner for her children and grandchildren coming visiting for the holidays.
“I want it to be special,” she wrote in her application.
The woman, 77, said she’s having triple-bypass surgery in 2018 because her health is “not good this year.”
If granted assistance from the Cheer Fund, she said she will use it for food.
“Thank you for all the work you do to help others at this time of year,” she wrote.
ROCKFORD | A North Iowa man charged with vehicular homicide after a rural Cerro Gordo County rollover Friday morning was intoxicated at the time of the crash, according to law enforcement.
Thomas John Parcher, 28, was driving a 2008 Dodge Ram in the 24000 block of 190th Street near Rockford about 2:09 a.m. when the vehicle rolled several times, the Cerro Gordo County Sheriff's Office said in a news release.
Deputies found the vehicle in the north embankment, off the roadway, the sheriff's office said. Passenger Tonya Martin, 50, of Rockwell, was ejected and died at the scene.
Parcher submitted to field sobriety tests and had a blood alcohol content of .136 percent, according to the criminal complaint. Iowa's legal limit is .08 percent.
There were four occupants in the vehicle, Cerro Gordo County Sheriff Kevin Pals said Friday. No one else was transported after the crash, according to the news release.
Parcher has been charged with homicide by vehicle — operating under the influence and is being held in Cerro Gordo County Jail on a $25,000 bond.
Law enforcement in a news release said Parcher is from Charles City, but court documents list a Marble Rock address. Property records indicate Parcher owns a home in Marble Rock.
Floyd County Sheriff’s Office, Nora Springs Fire and EMS, Rockford Fire, Mason City Fire Department and State Medical Examiner’s Office assisted at the scene.
MASON CITY | Friends and supporters of The Music Man Square received a surprise with their Christmas card from the organization this year.
Included in the card was a note from Elizabeth Allison, executive director of The Music Man Square, criticizing Mayor Eric Bookmeyer and the City Council "for overturning the citizens' vote regarding the River City Renaissance project."
The note urged recipients to contact the Iowa Economic Development Authority to express their displeasure.
Allison's name was typewritten at the bottom of the note but was not signed.
She said Friday the note was part of a private text she sent to someone who wanted to know how to express their opposition to the council action. Allison said she had no idea the note would be sent out with Christmas cards and that she did not authorize it.
The note said, "If you are upset/outraged at the actions of Mayor Bookmeyer and the City Council, please email Alaina Santizo at the IEDA (Iowa Economic Development Authority) ASAP!
"They absolutely need to hear from the citizens of Mason City! They, too, are concerned about what has happened and do not have confidence in G8 either.
"Let them know how you feel! It is critical that you do this NOW and tell all your MC friends and neighbors who are concerned to email, too. YOUR voice matters."
The note contains Santizo's email address. The return address on the envelope is that of Janice Rod, an employee of The Music Man Square.
Rod said Friday Allison wrote the note and she sent it with the cards.
The IEDA is considering awarding up to $10 million to help leverage Mason City's downtown renovation project that includes The Music Man Square.
John Barron, president of the Mason City Foundation which operates The Music Man Square, said Friday he knew nothing about the note being sent out and was upset by it.
"That's news to me. It was not authorized by the board," he said. "We just had a board meeting yesterday and there was no mention of it. I don't want anything to happen to undermine the project."
Barron said he didn't see the purpose of the Christmas card note which he said goes counter to a letter he sent to the IEDA board.
In his letter, Barron wrote, "With G8 Development stepping into this project, we are ready to move forward and to further foster this local relationship."
In all, as of noon Friday, the IEDA board had received 12 letters regarding the Renaissance project, including Barron's — seven in favor, five against.
One of the letters in opposition was from Dalena Barz, a Mason City Foundation board member. Barron said he was aware of Barz's letter.
Other letters in opposition were from Janice Rod and Nick Whitehurst, both employees of The Music Man Square; and two that were unsigned.
Letters in support of the project came from Barron; State Sen. Amanda Ragan; Iowa House Speaker Linda Upmeyer; State Rep. Sharon Steckman; Mason City High School Band Director Russ Kramer; Mason City Youth Hockey President Shane Cooney; and Philip Chodur, president of G8 Development.
The council on Nov. 27 voted to go with G8 Development instead of Gatehouse Mason City LLC on a project that includes building a hotel and connecting it to The Music Man Square, building a conference center inside The Music Man Square and moving its museum to an adjoining building.
The council had been negotiating with Gatehouse for several months but chose G8 when it submitted a last-minute bid that undercut Gatehouse's.
Allison was at the meeting and criticized the council for what she called a "bait-and-switch."
Voters on Nov. 7 gave close to 75 percent approval to two public issues related to the project when Gatehouse was the only developer.