Chris Matthews and John Edwards in Onawa – 10-14-04

On January 22, 2012, in , by Jody Ewing

Hardball Host Chris Matthews and
Sen. John Edwards

Onawa, IA ~ October 14, 2004

 
On October 14, 2004, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews and Sen. John Edwards visited Onawa, IA, where Edwards would meet with Monona County activists and where Matthews would interview Edwards before taping an episode for his renowned cable TV program, Hardball with Chris Matthews.

As part of his show, Chris interviewed Jody Ewing (Presidential candidate John Kerry’s county chair) and Dennis Ryan of Onawa. (See a partial of the video here.)

Click on any image to view larger slideshow with photo descriptions.

Christie Vilsack in Onawa – 12-14-06

On January 22, 2012, in , by Jody Ewing

Christie Vilsack in Onawa, Iowa

Kick-off Tour for Gov. Tom Vilsack’s 2008 Bid for U.S. President

December 14, 2006

Iowa’s First Lady Christie Vilsack visited with Monona County residents in Onawa on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2006 as part of the kick-off tour for Gov. Tom Vilsack’s ’08 bid for U.S. President.

Photos by Jody Ewing and Dennis Ryan

* NOTE: Click any image for larger slideshow with photo descriptions.

Bill Richardson at Thelander home – 9-13-07

On January 22, 2012, in , by Jody Ewing

Photos from Gov. Bill Richardson’s visit to my mother’s home in Onawa, IA

September 13, 2007

New Mexico Governor and Presidential candidate Bill Richardson knew he’d found an “uncommon” supporter in my stepfather, Earl Thelander (a lifelong republican), and when Earl suffered third-degree burns in an Aug. 28, 2007 explosion caused by copper thieves, Gov. Richardson made attempts to contact him at Clarkson’s Burn Unit in Omaha, NE. My stepdad, however, was kept in a medically induced coma due to pain from the severity of burns.

Though my stepfather succumbed to the burns and died Sept. 1, Gov. Richardson still wanted to know more about this man. On Sept. 13, 2007 — one week after Dad Earl’s funeral and the day following my mother’s breast cancer diagnosis — Gov. Richardson met privately with my mom and family in my mother’s home.

In that unhurried and wonderful afternoon, with no media nor any cameras present (except mine), we told a Democrat named Bill all about a Republican named Earl and, in the process, discovered the many common threads that connected this good man to another he’d never met.

Read my story about that day here.

* NOTE: Click any image for larger slideshow with photo descriptions.

All That Remains

On January 19, 2012, in , by Jody Ewing

All That Remains

This used to be my grandparents’ rural country home. Five generations once laughed and loved and celebrated countless family milestones here. After Grandpa died and Grandma moved in with my folks, my mom and stepdad purchased the house in order to keep it in the family, and were in the process of fixing it up for a renter when thieves broke in late on Aug. 28, 2007, stole copper piping, and let the home fill with gas for the inevitable explosion.

My stepfather, “Dad” Earl Thelander, suffered second- and third-degree burns over 80% of his body in the explosion. Four days later, he lost his life over less than $20 worth of stolen copper.

In early 2008 I put this slideshow video together and sent it — along with a detailed letter — to the Iowa Legislature’s Judiciary Subcommittee in support of House Study Bill 660, “An Act relating to scrap metal transactions, prohibiting certain sales, imposing criminal penalties, and providing an effective date.”

The bill would have made it more difficult for thieves to sell scrap metal in Iowa without proper identification. (Some states, including Florida, were moving legislation forward to make this crime a first degree felony.) Iowa’s bill, however, failed to make the March 7 first funnel date and died. An irony, indeed, considering we were the only state to have lost an innocent victim to copper theft.

Iowa needs an “Earl’s Law.” If other states can take this crime as seriously as they do, so can Iowa. Earl deserves nothing less.

Lobbyists for or against Iowa’s failed HSB 660 (in addition to those still undecided before the bill died) are listed below. I’m keeping the list for reference.

Thank you for taking the time to view the video.

Jody

————————-

Lobbyist Declarations for HSB 660

82nd General Assembly

John Gilliland FEBRUARY 27, 2008
Against — IA. Assn. of Business and Industry (ABI)

Nicole Molt FEBRUARY 27, 2008
Against — IA. Assn. of Business and Industry (ABI)

Robert Ellis FEBRUARY 26, 2008
Against — Alter Trading Corporation

Curtis Beason FEBRUARY 25, 2008
Against — Alter Trading Corporation

Douglas Kingsbury FEBRUARY 25, 2008
For — International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Iowa State Conference

Terry Harrmann FEBRUARY 25, 2008
Undecided — Alliant Energy Corporation

James Obradovich FEBRUARY 19, 2008
Undecided — IA. Environmental Council
Undecided — IA. Recycling Assn.
Undecided — IA. Society of Solid Waste Operations (ISOSWO)

Mark Douglas FEBRUARY 19, 2008
For — IA. Utility Assn.

Ross Loder FEBRUARY 19, 2008
For — IA. Dept. of Public Safety

Susan Walter FEBRUARY 19, 2008
For — Aquila, Inc.

Brad Epperly FEBRUARY 18, 2008
For — IA. Assn. of Electric Cooperatives
Undecided — IA. Automobile Dealers Assn.
Undecided — IA. Chapter, American Institute of Architects

James West FEBRUARY 18, 2008
For — IA. Assn. of Electric Cooperatives
Undecided — IA. Automobile Dealers Assn.
Undecided — IA. Chapter, American Institute of Architects

Judy Krewson FEBRUARY 18, 2008
For — Rural IA. Independent Telephone Assn.

Keith Luchtel FEBRUARY 18, 2008
For — IA. Assn. of Electric Cooperatives
Undecided — IA. Automobile Dealers Assn.
Undecided — IA. Chapter, American Institute of Architects

Paula Dierenfeld FEBRUARY 18, 2008
For — IA. Assn. of Electric Cooperatives
Undecided — IA. Automobile Dealers Assn.
Undecided — IA. Chapter, American Institute of Architects

Scott Sundstrom FEBRUARY 18, 2008
For — IA. Assn. of Electric Cooperatives
Undecided — IA. Automobile Dealers Assn.
Undecided — IA. Chapter, American Institute of Architects

Timothy Coonan FEBRUARY 18, 2008
For — IA. Assn. of Electric Cooperatives

Tom Graves FEBRUARY 18, 2008
For — IA. Cable and Telecommunications Assn.

John Pederson FEBRUARY 17, 2008
Against — Alter Trading Corporation

Lorelei Heisinger FEBRUARY 17, 2008
Against — Alter Trading Corporation

Lynzey Tharp FEBRUARY 17, 2008
Against — Alter Trading Corporation

Matt Eide FEBRUARY 17, 2008
Against — Alter Trading Corporation

Melissa Peterson FEBRUARY 17, 2008
Against — Alter Trading Corporation

Joe Kelly FEBRUARY 16, 2008
For — IA. County Attorneys Assn.

Susan Cameron FEBRUARY 16, 2008
For — IA. County Attorneys Assn.

Craig Schoenfeld FEBRUARY 15, 2008
Undecided — Home Builders Assn. of IA.
Undecided — IA. Lumber Assn.
Undecided — IA. Network Services, Inc.

Michael Heller FEBRUARY 15, 2008
For — IA. Wholesale Beer Distributors Assn.
Undecided — Waste Management, Inc.

Paula Feltner FEBRUARY 15, 2008
For — IA. Wholesale Beer Distributors Assn.
Undecided — Waste Management, Inc.

William Wimmer FEBRUARY 15, 2008
Undecided — Home Builders Assn. of IA.
Undecided — IA. Lumber Assn.
Undecided — IA. Network Services, Inc.

Cal Hultman FEBRUARY 14, 2008
For — Miller Brewing Company

George Appleby FEBRUARY 14, 2008
Undecided — Anheuser Busch
Undecided — IPSCO Steel, Inc.

Jennifer Tyler FEBRUARY 14, 2008
Undecided — Anheuser Busch
Undecided — IPSCO Steel, Inc.

Jim Carney FEBRUARY 14, 2008
Undecided — Anheuser Busch
Undecided — IPSCO Steel, Inc.

John Gilliland FEBRUARY 14, 2008
Undecided — IA. Assn. of Business and Industry (ABI)

Michael Sadler FEBRUARY 14, 2008
For — Qwest

Michael Triplett FEBRUARY 14, 2008
For — Miller Brewing Company

Nicole Molt FEBRUARY 14, 2008
Undecided — IA. Assn. of Business and Industry (ABI)

Blast Victim In ‘Critical’ Condition

On January 12, 2012, in , by Jody Ewing

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Blast Victim In ‘Critical’ Condition

KTIV photo of rural homeWe have a clearer picture of the injuries a western Iowa man suffered when his house exploded, Tuesday afternoon.

The Monona County Sheriffs Department says 80-year-old Earl Thelander suffered burns on 40% of his body in the blast at a home he owned, near Onawa.

He’s listed in “critical condition” in the burn unit of an Omaha hospital. Wednesday, Monona County investigators said Thelander’s burns are third-degree.

Investigators believe the explosion is tied to an early morning break-in at Thelander’s house.

Updated: August 29, 2007, 6:46 pm

Copyright © 2007 KTIV

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Onawa Man Injured in House Explosion – KETV

On January 12, 2012, in , by Jody Ewing

KETV logo


Onawa Man Injured in House Explosion

Officials Say Burglar Tried to Steal Copper Propane Line

POSTED: 9:50 am CDT August 29, 2007

ONAWA, Iowa — Western Iowa officials said an Onawa man suffered burns in a house explosion.

Earl Thelander, 80, was injured Tuesday afternoon in the blast that happened in the basement of a vacant house he owns in rural Onawa.

According to the Monona County Sheriff’s Office, Thelander had just plugged in a fan to help vent fumes from a propane line that had been cut on a furnace during a burglary. Officials said someone broke into the house and took copper waterlines and then tried to take the copper propane line.

After the explosion, Thelander drove to his home. He was taken to a hospital in Onawa, and then to a hospital in Omaha, Neb.

Copyright © 2007 KETV Omaha

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Home Explodes After Thief Nabs Copper Pipes – DTN Blogs

On January 12, 2012, in , by Jody Ewing

Home Explodes After Thief Nabs Copper Pipes

(The Des Moines Register, August 30, 2007)
Posted at 03:52PM Aug 30, 2007

A thief who stripped copper tubing from an exterior propane tank is being blamed for a gas build-up resulting in an explosion that severely burned an 80-year-old Onawa, Iowa, man.

Earl Thelander suffered third-degree burns on nearly half of his body after his home exploded Tuesday. The explosion was the result of the copper tubing that led to the furnace being cut by “urban miners” who steal the tubing and recycle it for cash.

The copper stolen from the Thelander home was valued at about $15. Copper prices have skyrocketed in the past few years due to increasing global demand, resulting in rising theft rates.

“It’s one thing to steal copper water pipes,” said Onawa Mayor Rebecca Tanner. “But to steal copper gas pipes is beyond comprehension. This caused a tremendous explosion. Everyone knows how dangerous gas can be.”

The explosion blew out one wall and bowed another, but Thelander walked out of the blast and drove himself to the hospital. He was later transferred to a special burn unit in Omaha, Neb., where he remains in critical condition.

© 2007 DTN Blogs

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Copper theft results in explosion, injuries

On January 12, 2012, in , by Jody Ewing

Omaha World Herald Logo

 

Copper theft results in explosion, injuries

Published Thursday | August 30, 2007

BY MICHAEL AVOK
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER

An 80-year-old Onawa, Iowa, man remained in critical condition Thursday with burns suffered in an explosion that occurred after metal thieves stealing copper pipes cut a propane line in the basement of a house he owned.

copper pipingEarl Thelander was hospitalized at Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha with second- and third-degree burns suffered in the blast.

“Realistically, looking at his age and severity of the injuries, this is just a tough, tough fight,” said his son Doug Thelander. “A good man is going through a lot of pain for nothing.”

Thieves seeking a quick buck from rising scrap metal prices have been stealing copper wire and pipe from abandoned homes, buildings under construction, churches and vehicles all summer.

On Tuesday, they hit the empty house owned by Earl Thelander, which he was preparing to sell. Thelander went to the house after learning that the thieves had removed copper tubing water lines and tried to steal the copper propane line.

“They cut it a foot above the furnace,” Doug Thelander said. “Why would they do that? They could have turned the gas off.”

The damaged line caused propane to leak into the basement, and authorities said Thelander triggered the explosion when he plugged in an electric fan to air out the basement.

Doug Thelander said his father used to be in the heating and air conditioning business and wasn’t “an old guy puttering around in the basement.”

He said he talked to his dad just before he was transported to Omaha.

“He said, ‘Doug, I didn’t smell anything.'”

Before Thelander entered the home, police and sheriff’s officials had already been in the house to investigate.

“We never should have been in there,” said Onawa Assistant Police Chief Joe Farrens. “The fumes were really strong.”

Authorities said the house suffered considerable structural damage. The case remains under investigation, but authorities didn’t have any leads as of Thursday.

Doug Thelander praised law enforcement for their efforts.

“I appreciate all that is being done,” he said. “We’ll do anything in our power to find out who is responsible for this.”

Metal has been a popular target for thieves trying to take advantage of scrap prices.

In June, someone took copper pipes from Omaha’s Shiloh Baptist Church, disabling its air conditioners. About a week earlier, several Omaha Public Schools vans were damaged when catalytic converters were taken for their platinum.

While metal theft in western Douglas County appears to have slowed, authorities said, western Iowa hasn’t been as lucky.

In Pottawattamie County, rural areas are seeing more metal thefts, said Sheriff Jeff Danker.

Thieves have taken wire from cell phone towers, metal from along railroad tracks, air conditioners and even parts of center pivot irrigation systems on farms.

“They’ll steal anything they can get. If there’s nobody around, people aren’t going to see the theft,” Danker said.

Danker said businesses should consider using fences and cameras to better protect property. Individuals, he said, should try to keep their property where they can see it and where potential thieves can’t.

“Keep them from seeing it from the road,” he said.

Copyright 2007 Omaha World Herald

Anyone with information on the case is asked to call the Monona County Sheriff’s Office at 800-859-1414.

More articles on Earl Thelander death

Iowa Man Burned in Explosion

On January 12, 2012, in , by Jody Ewing

WOWT Logo

Iowa Man Burned in Explosion

Propane fueled blast

August 30, 2007

Earl ThelanderAn Onawa, Iowa man is hospitalized in Omaha in critical condition after suffering burns in an explosion on Tuesday.

Eighty-year-old Earl Thelander was injured in the basement of a vacant house he owns in rural Onawa, about an hour north of the metro area.

“If he has two enemies in the world it would surprise me, says Doug Thelander, Earl’s son.

“Always seemed to help neighbors who’d call on him when he’s needed, said Eddie Wagner, who runs the local hardware store. “Didn’t seem to matter if it was day or night, just whenever he’s needed, just like a good neighbor.”

Thieves had broken in earlier on Tuesday, first stealing copper water lines, then the gas line. The house filled with propane gas. Police arrived, the gas was shut off and the windows opened.

A few hours later, Thelander, a longtime plumber who was renovating the house, no longer smelled gas, turned on a fan to air out the structure. That ignited a pocket of gas that remained.

The blast threw Earl across the basement. “He was right at the center of the explosion and actually walked out through the fire to get outside the house,” said Monona County Sheriff Jeff Pratt.

Earl drove himself to the hospital in Onawa with third-degree burns on 40% of his body. He was later transferred to the Nebraska Medical Center.

“It’s senseless,” says Doug Thelander. “People stealing copper out of these houses for $20 worth of copper. We’ve got a man fighting for his life. This is a man that’s worked in the heating and air conditioning trade all his life. It isn’t like he was some old guy fumbling around.”

“I’m pretty sure he was careful when he was doing it,” says Wagner. “It’s just one of the things that happens.”

Sheriff Pratt says anyone with information concerning this incident should call the Monona County Sheriff’s Department at 1-800-859-1414. The calls are confidential. The sheriff also wants area salvage yards to beware of those selling copper and report any suspicious activity.


Comments

Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.

Posted by: Rev. Keith on Sep 1, 2007 at 04:21 PM
The thoughts and prayers of Earl’s son’s church in Clovis, California are with the entire Thelander family as we hope and pray that Earl survives this tragedy and is stable enough to undergo the necessary surgery he needs.

Posted by: Vladamir on Aug 30, 2007 at 09:00 AM
This is some horrific news especially this explosion was likely caused by some idiotic meth users stripping the copper and alumimum piping in the house. Absolutely tragic.

Posted by: Brenda on Aug 29, 2007 at 10:12 PM
This is absolutely terrible! My heart goes out to this poor mans family. I offer nothing but the best, and my prayers for a fast recovery.

Posted by: Lori on Aug 29, 2007 at 06:30 PM
Earl is my stepfather, and our whole extended family is devastated by this tradgedy. To think someone is fighting for their life because of copper theft is almost more than we all can bear. I hope that we can find the person, or people who is responsible for this, and they are brought to justice. I ask for prayers for my “Father”, and hope that he he can recover from this. He is a strong man, and has the fight in him, and his family needs him like we need the air that we breath. God speed his recovery.

Posted by: Amy on Aug 29, 2007 at 03:26 PM
I sure hope that who ever stole this little bit of copper sleeps good at night. If this was my father I would want you hunted like an animal. My prayers go out to Mr. Thelander and pray for a speedy recovery.

Posted by: J.K. Lyons on Aug 29, 2007 at 02:57 PM
You will be in the thoughts and prayers of my family. Get well soon. When is enough going to be enough? You people that spend all day scamming and what ever else you do, if you put that much effort into getting clean and getting a job you would not need to carry out these crimes. Stop and tell your self it is a stupid drug. And I’m stupid for doing it. As for the rest of us stop being scared and start turning theses people in. Who care if it is someone you know. Turn them in so they can get help. And stop turning a blind eye.

Copyright © 2007 WOWT

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Victim’s Family Speaks Out About Copper Crime Explosion

On January 12, 2012, in , by Jody Ewing

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Victim’s Family Speaks Out About Copper Crime Explosion

August 30, 2007, 6:30 pm


Earl Thelander getting ready to plant tomatoes outside his homeAn Onawa, Iowa man is still struggling to stay alive, two days after a house explosion nearly killed him.

Now, that man’s family wants an answer, to who cut the propane line in his father’s home.

Over 40% [sic, was 80%] of Earl Thelander’s body was burned in Tuesday’s explosion. He went through three hours of skin graft surgery today.

However, doctors say he only has a 20% to 25% chance of survival.

We’re learning more about the minutes leading up to that powerful propane blast, as the search for clues to this bizarre crime, continues.

“I had talked to dad about 10:30, he told me about the theft at that point,” says his son Brad.

Someone broke into Earl Thelander’s basement Tuesday morning, came away with $10 worth of copper tubing, and left him with a dangerous problem, a gas leak. The 80 year old man opened the windows to air out his home, and left.

“He called me back at quarter to 11. Apparently at that time, he was headed back out to the house,” remembers Brad.

Thelander thought the air was clear and plugged in a fan, but then… “He said I’ve never seen a fireball that big,” says Brad.

Thelander quickly crawled out of the house, and tried to use his cell phone to call for help.

“But it was inoperative at that point, and there was no one else there. So, he got in the pick-up and drove home,” explains his son.

Thirty minutes later the 80 year old checked into the local hospital, with his body burned to the bone.

“Tonight we’re just hoping that his kidneys and his lungs keep functioning. You know it’s definitely a struggle at this point,” Brad explains.

Authorities say copper crimes are becoming more common, at least in parts of Siouxland.

Monona County Sheriff Jeff Pratt says, “We have seen an influx in the counties to the south of us, stealing of copper wire and tubing, and they’re reselling that, at this point we don’t know where.”

To Brad Thelander, stealing a piece of copper is not worth a life, especially not a loved one.

“He’s gonna be in a lot of pain if he lives through it. For this, to put something like this on a man’s life it’s sad that something has to do that. For ten bucks, I’d a given them ten bucks to keep my dad around,” says Brad.

Without any physical evidence or witnesses Sheriff Pratt says this is a very hard crime to solve.

If you saw or heard anything about the copper robbery you’re asked to call the Monona County Sheriff’s Department at 1-800-859-1414.

Authorities say you can protect your home from copper crimes the same way you protect it for any other burglary.

Lock your doors, install security lights, make it look like somebody’s home, and keep your eyes out for your neighbors too.

Copyright © 2007 KTIV

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