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Archive for the ‘Iowa Tattoo’

Des Moines confronting stinky situation with plan to tackle odor – Local 5 – weareiowa.com10.08.21

"Basically it smells like dog poop," said Veronica Stice, owner of Black Magic Tattoo in the East Village. "The whole downtown smells like dog poop."

DES MOINES, Iowa The Des Moines City Council voted Monday to spend $83,000 to hire a company to help them tackle odor problems within the city.

According to city documents, R.K. and Associates will teach city workers how odors spread, how to monitor them, and how to respond to complaints about them. The company will also review past complaints and try to identify the source of those odors to find odor clusters in the city and plot out on a map and address.

R.K. and Associates will also help the city implement an odor monitoring plan.

"Basically it smells like dog poop," said Veronica Stice, owner of Black Magic Tattoo in the East Village. "The whole downtown smells like dog poop."

Residents told Local 5 odors are evident at certain times of the day on the east side of town and in the East Village. Members of city council also expressed frustrations with the smell.

"A lot of us know, as you go outside some mornings, that it's very difficult to breathe," said Joe Gatto, the City Council member representing Ward 4. "I can't even describe the smell that we smell, so hopefully this study will pinpoint where it's at."

R.K. and Associates will also be conducting a survey to determine a base-line for odors detected in Des Moines to determine what is considered a strong odor. The city council hopes to have the results of the company's research by July of 2022.

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Iowa forever? Bret Bielema discusses forgettable tattoo choice as a teenager – Saturday Tradition07.25.21

Scott Schultz | 3 days ago

New Illinois head coach Bret Bielema is no stranger to media days, and after a nine-year absence from the conference, he took to the microphone today at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis to field some questions.

Of the many comments from the day, one, in particular, seemed to stand out. Intertwined with the usuals questions and answers about players, coaches, opponents, and the team, a throwback to Bielemas college days found its way to the pressroom.

I got a Tigerhawk tattoo when I was 19. It was a great idea then, not so much now, said Bielema with a chuckle. I think its important to realize that, that is a big part of where I am today.

I always tell our players, we all come from different parts of the country, different homes, different backgrounds, different religions, different communities, he added. Its important to know that youre here because of that and thats what made you who you are today.

Bielema comes to Illinois after having led Wisconsin to three-straight Big Ten titles from 2010-12. Having coached some of the best players in the country during that Badger run, he found his way to the NFL on the staff of the New England Patriots.

His message seems to be working as part of his recruiting effort. Bielema and the Illini will be welcoming five top 1000 recruits, and with the success, he has the Orange and Blue on a path to have a Top-40 recruiting class something that Champaign hasnt seen in over a decade.

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Pachino Hill trying to rise from his circumstances through boxing – Quad-City Times07.09.21

Boxing coach Jamie Shorter helps Pachino Hill warm up before sparring at Pena's Boxing Club in Davenport on April 29. Hill came back to the Quad-Cities after an injury in college and asked Shorter to start training him in 2015. Shorter and Hill became close after the passing of Shorter's son, Jeramie Shorter, who died from gun violence. Hill says he fights to honor the memory of Jeramie Shorter.

Pachino Hill goes through the list slowly in a controlled, even-toned voice. There doesnt seem to be any more emotion there than if he was telling you what he ate for lunch.

There was a close childhood friend who was shot and killed on the streets of Davenport in 2015. A beloved cousin passed away in 2016.

A few more friends died as a result of gun violence in the years after that. There were two more friends who died earlier this year.

In August of last year, one of Hills closest friends, Jeramie Shorter, was shot and killed while attending his sons funeral.

Pachino Hill talks with his daughter Klahni Hill after sparring at Pena's Boxing Club in Davenport on April 29.

Thats where the emotions that Hill so staunchly suppresses begin to trickle out.

"He was like a big brother to me," Hill said of Shorter.

Like a lot of other young men in troubled communities such as Davenport, Hill is trying to rise above some perilous circumstances.

Hes trying to do it through boxing.

The 24-year-old super middleweight is 5-0 as a professional following a technical knockout of Jarvis Williams on June 19 at the Davenport RiverCenter.

He is likely to fight again in Davenport in August and could step up to a higher profile, televised fight in November, but that is all yet to be determined.

"Hes just going to keep rolling," said Brandon Bea, who functions as Hills manager but actually heads a team of people who oversee the boxers training.

Jamie Shorter, the father of Jeramie Shorter, also is part of the team and essentially is Hills head coach.

"If he stays focused the way his mind is right now, I think he can go far," Shorter said.

Tough beginnings

Hill already has overcome a great deal in his life.

His father, Bryan Mitchell, was convicted of murder in 2004 and is serving a life sentence at the Anamosa State Penitentiary.

His uncle and namesake, Pachino T. Hill, was one of the more notorious criminals in the history of the Quad-Cities. He was arrested 29 times before finally being put away on charges vehicular homicide and cocaine trafficking in 2009. He resides in Bruceton Mills Federal Penitentiary in Hazelton, W.V.

Pachino B. Hill admits that he was no angel himself as a youth.

"I was bad," he said. "I was a troubled kid."

And although he is determined to break what he calls the "generational curve" and change the perceptions connected to his name, he hasnt managed to stay entirely off police blotters himself.

He was arrested last summer for his alleged role in a May 30 riot in downtown Davenport in the wake of the Minneapolis slaying of George Floyd.

Hill was charged with second-degree criminal mischief, conspiracy to commit a non-forcible felony, assault causing bodily injury and participating in a riot. A plea offer has been made but the case has yet to be resolved.

Pachino Hill's fans cheer him on as he battles it out with Jarvis Williams of St. Louis during their match at the River Center in Davenport on June 19.

Of the handful of people involved in the incident, Hill was the only one who turned himself in to authorities, and you can detect the remorse in his voice when he recalls what occurred.

"At that point in time I was going through a phase," he said. "I just gave up. The world had shut down. I thought the world was over with. In my eyes, the world was over."

The wake-up call

Hill suffered an even bigger blow later in the summer when the son of his coach was killed in a highly unusual incident.

Jeramie Shorters 8-year-old son, Jermier, had died after a lifelong battle with cancer and he was at the visitation at Weerts Funeral Home in Davenport when Shorter was shot and killed during an altercation in the parking lot.

Hill, who grew up across the street from Shorter, said the incident totally altered his outlook on life.

"It woke me up," he said. "There were nights where I would Google to see if something like that happened before, someone getting killed at their kids funeral. I couldnt find anything like that.

"It scarred me really," he added. "It also made me open my eyes. I had to start appreciating stuff more. Today Im still trying to wrap my head around why."

Prior to that, Hill wasnt really taking boxing that seriously as a career. Shorters death changed that.

"It was like my getaway until Jeramie got killed," Hill said. "Jeramie was in here with me when I was learning all this stuff, really learning how to box and how to get good at it.

"Basically, every step of the way he was there. Through my losses and my wins, he was there. So when he died, I couldnt run away. Every day Im in here I can think of memories of him being in here with me. I cant use this as a getaway because he was part of that getaway with me. I said Ive just got to face this. So now I have to appreciate life more."

Jamie Shorter definitely saw a change in Pachino after Jeramie died.

"It changed him up a little bit," Shorter said. "It hit him kind of hard."

Entering the ring

Hill always has been a good athlete.

He was a two-year letterman in both basketball and football at Davenport Central and as a senior in 2014-15, he was a first-team all-metro running back, accumulating 1,380 all-purpose yards for the Blue Devils.

That earned him a chance to play football at a junior college in Miami, but he tore his Achilles tendon in a workout the summer before his freshman season.

While he was recovering, he spent some time watching his cousin, Cederick Thomas, box. Cederick and his father, Fred, one of the coaches for the Davenport Pena Boxing Club, had been trying to coax Hill into boxing for some time, and he finally gave it a try.

Within the first two years, he won two Iowa Golden Gloves championships and qualified for the national tournament in 2017.

"I progressed fast," Hill said. "Every tournament I was going to as an amateur, I always had the least amount of fights. I always made it to the top five or top eight, but I always had the least amount of fights. Everybody had been boxing since they were 8 or 3 or 6. Theyd say: When did you start? Id say 19. How old are you? 22."

He turned pro early last year and hasnt really been challenged yet. Four of his five fights have ended with knockouts.

Hill felt the Williams fight was an important step for him. He named the fight "Built for it" because it was his first chance to prove himself against someone with a quality record.

Pachino Hill lands a punch on Jarvis Williams of St Louis during their match at the River Center in Davenport June 19.

Although he won the fight, he still showed some immaturity after Williams poked him in the face and tried to provoke him during the pre-fight weigh-in.

"I think that got the fans riled up and it kind of got out of control with fans running around," Bea said.

By the time, the two fighters stepped into the ring, things had reached a fever pitch.

"He could have boxed the guy and got him out of there probably in the second round, but he really fought," Bea said. "It was a fight instead of a boxing match. The thing about Chino is his IQ is off the scale so you didnt have to tell him afterwards his mistakes in the fight. He pointed them out and he said he needs to grow from it."

Gaining maturity

After the Williams fight, Hill posted on Facebook that he doesnt know if hes ready yet for the next level. He knew he let Williams get under his skin and into his head.

"I definitely think hes ready for the next level but I just told him he needs to look to his corner because we were telling him to box and use his skills," Bea said. "He was just in the mindset of getting the guy out of there, which he did end up doing."

Jamie Shorter agrees that Pachino is ready.

"Ive seen a little more maturity," he said. "Ive seen him change because Ive noticed the kind of friends hes hanging around with and hes hanging around with more positive friends, better people.

"Hes going to go far," Shorter added, "because he knows you cant just talk. Youve got to back it up."

Shorter said he also wants to see Hill become a mentor to the younger fighters he comes across in the gym.

Hill has begun to do that. He also wants to do everything he can to make his family proud.

He has young daughter in Davenport namedKlahniand also a 6-year-old son named Cashmere back in Florida.

In fact, he said his distinctive hairstyle with protruding dreadlocks tinted red are a tribute to Cashmere, who he calls Simba. He calls it his "Florida hairstyle."

He smiles as he says it, then quickly turns somber again as he realizes so many of the people he wants to make proud are no longer here to see what he plans to do in boxing.

"I took a lot of losses so I have to appreciate everything Ive got," Hill said. "All the losses I took started to make me appreciate life a lot more."

Pachino Hill pauses to listen to instructions before continuing shooting a commercial for his up coming fight at Pena's Boxing Club in Davenport, Thursday, April 29, 2021.

Boxing coach Jamie Shorter helps Pachino Hill warm up before sparring at Pena's Boxing Club in Davenport on April 29. Hill came back to the Quad-Cities after an injury in college and asked Shorter to start training him in 2015. Shorter and Hill became close after the passing of Shorter's son, Jeramie Shorter, who died from gun violence. Hill says he fights to honor the memory of Jeramie Shorter.

Pachino Hill runs conditioning exercise during boxing lessons for kids at Pena's Boxing Club in Davenport, Tuesday, March 9, 2021.

Pachino Hill shows Quincy Ross proper techniques at Pena's Boxing Club in Davenport, Monday, May 3, 2021.

Pachino Hill and his daughter Klahni Hill gather their belongings to head home after being at Pena's Boxing Club in Davenport, Thursday, April 29, 2021.

Pachino Hill dresses as Elmo during his families Easter celebration in Davenport, Sunday, April 4, 2021.

Con Jones tattoos a Dragon Ball Z tattoo onto Pachino Hill's arm at Aquemini Ink Tattoos in Davenport, Saturday, March 6, 2021. The tattoo represents all of the people in Hill's life that have passed away that he wishes that he could bring back.

Pachino Hill cheers on fellow boxers from his gym fighting at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds in Davenport, Saturday, June 5, 2021.

Brandon Bea, manager of Pachino Hill spars against Pachino Hill at Beasly's Downtown Boxing Club in Davenport, Monday, May 17, 2021.

Pachino Hill talks with his daughter Klahni Hill after sparring at Pena's Boxing Club in Davenport on April 29.

Pachino Hill starts yelling after Jarvis Williams of St. Louis poked his forehead during their weigh in at Gillys Corner Tap in Davenport, Friday, June 18, 2021.

Pachino Hill watches his fellow boxers from his gym fighting at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds in Davenport, Saturday, June 5, 2021.

Pachino Hill lands a punch on Jarvis Williams of St Louis during their match at the River Center in Davenport, Saturday, June 19, 2021.

Pachino Hill's fans cheer him on as he battles it out with Jarvis Williams of St. Louis during their match at the River Center in Davenport on June 19.

Pachino Hill lands a punch on Jarvis Williams of St Louis during their match at the River Center in Davenport June 19.

Fans of Pachino Hill take pictures with him after his win against Jarvis Williams of St Louis at the River Center in Davenport, Saturday, June 19, 2021.

Pachino Hill shows off to a camera crew during a commercial his team was shooting for their up coming fight at Pena's Boxing Club in Davenport, Thursday, April 29, 2021.

Pachino Hill runs conditioning exercise before the kids head inside for their boxing lessons at Pena's Boxing Club in Davenport, Tuesday, March 9, 2021.

Pachino Hill dresses as Elmo during his families Easter celebration in Davenport, Sunday, April 4, 2021.

Pachino Hill pauses to listen to instructions before continuing shooting a commercial for his up coming fight at Pena's Boxing Club in Davenport, Thursday, April 29, 2021.

Pachino Hill celebrates his win against Jarvis Williams of St Louis after their fight at the River Center in Davenport, Saturday, June 19, 2021. This brought Pachino Hill's record to 5-0.

Images from the Pachino Hill story.

Pachino Hill celebrates his win against Jarvis Williams of St Louis after their fight at the River Center in Davenport, Saturday, June 19, 2021. This brought Pachino Hill's record to 5-0.

Brandon Bea, manager of Pachino Hill, instructs Hill during a commercial they are shooting for his up coming fight at Pena's Boxing Club in Davenport, Thursday, April 29, 2021.

Pachino Hill at Pena's Boxing Club in Davenport, Thursday, March 4, 2021.

Pachino Hill holds his daughter, Klahni Hill, after weigh in with Jarvis Williams at Gillys Corner Tap in Davenport, before their fight, Friday, June 18, 2021.

Pachino Hill gets stretched out before his fight against Jarvis Williams of St Louis before their match at the River Center in Davenport, Saturday, June 19, 2021.

Pachino Hill talks with supporters before his fight against Jarvis Williams of St Louis before their match at the River Center in Davenport, Saturday, June 19, 2021.

Pachino Hill carries his daughter, Klahni Hill, out of a room to take her to a egg hunt during their families Easter celebration in Davenport, Sunday, April 4, 2021.

Images from the Pachino Hill story.

Pachino Hill lands a punch on Jarvis Williams of St Louis during their match at the River Center in Davenport, Saturday, June 19, 2021.

Images from the Pachino Hill story.

Pachino Hill celebrates his win against Jarvis Williams of St Louis after their fight at the River Center with local community members in Davenport, Saturday, June 19, 2021. This brought Pachino Hill's record to 5-0.

Pachino Hill puts on head gear before sparing at Pena's Boxing Club in Davenport, Thursday, March 4, 2021.

Pachino Hill and Brandon Bea at Pena's Boxing Club in Davenport, March 24, 2021.

Pachino Hill celebrates his win against Jarvis Williams of St Louis after their fight at the River Center with local community members in Davenport, Saturday, June 19, 2021. This brought Pachino Hill's record to 5-0.


Pachino Hill trying to rise from his circumstances through boxing - Quad-City Times

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In the new world of NIL, Luke Fedlam guides athletes on money, deals and the future – The Columbus Dispatch07.09.21

Steve Wartenberg| For Columbus CEO

College athletes will need guidance to navigate the new and complicated name, image and likeness rules that now allow them to profit off their popularity.

Theyll need someone like Luke Fedlam, an attorney and president of the Anomaly Sports Group, a small, fast-growing organization affiliated with the Porter Wright Morris & Arthur law firm, where Fedlam is a partner and chair of the sports law practice.

Anomaly is poised to be a major player in the growing field of educating athletes about the new name, image and likeness (NIL) laws the National Collegiate Athletic Association is hurryingand strugglingto finalize. Several states passed NIL laws that went into effect on July 1, and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine instituted NIL in Ohio via executive order that took effect on the same day.

I think [the evolving NIL rules] really highlights and amplifies the need for the services Luke and his team provide, says Clark Kellogg, a former Ohio State University and NBA star whos now a college basketball analyst for CBS Sports. These athletes and their parents, he says, need to understand their rights and how to protect and leverage their brand.

A noble king

The bright, determined kid who carried a Samsonite briefcase, ready to conquer the world, is only one side of Fedlams complicated childhood.

Only a handful of people know his actual birth name, Rex Allen Noble, and the details of his difficult first few years. I always felt like my life, my future, was all on me, that I have to do this for myself, Fedlam says. Ive been driven like no other.

Fedlam, 42, was put into foster care by his mother at the age of 3. Young Rex was adopted about six months later by Jim and Faye Fedlam, who gave him a new name: Luke.

The family initially lived in Iowa, then moved to upstate New York, where Fedlam ran track and cross-country and played basketball.

I was always embarrassed by my (given) name, Fedlam says. But in high school, during an AP English class, Fedlam learned Rex meant king, and he realized my name was Noble King, he says. For someone whos big on motivation, I have a tattoo on my shoulder that says Rex, and Im getting one on the other that says Noble.

During his senior year at Wake Forest University, Fedlam reconnected with his birth mother and her six sisters. Ive gotten to know these seven white women and have built a relationship with some of them, he says. We still talk.

Fedlam has turned a difficult past into a place of positivity. His energy and passion about everything he does is really contagious, says Robert Tannous, managing partner of the Columbus office of Porter Wright.

After graduating from Wake Forest, Fedlam went to work for an investment firm, and he joined the Army National Guard soon after 9/11.

Much to his disappointment, he was never sent overseas. But during that time frame, he met the woman who would change his life: Janelle Toles, who was working on her MBA from the University of Michigan. They now have been married 13 years.

In 2009, she was pregnant and we were living a care-free, wonderful life, we were so blessed, Fedlam says. And then, Janelle went into pre-term labor. Luke Allen Fedlam Jr. was born on Oct. 15, 2009. He weighed a little less than 2 pounds, and he was immediately transported to a nearby neonatal intensive care unit.

He lived for only seven days, Fedlam says. Ill never forget leaving the hospital and driving back to our apartment without our baby. What do we do? What does this mean? This was the most crushing, devastating experience in our lives.

The death of their son was a turning point for Fedlam, who decided it was time to fulfill a childhood dream to become a lawyer. That experience made me think about how fragile life is, and what can I do to make it meaningful? he says.

Janelle landed a job with Abercrombie & Fitch as a merchandise planner, and Luke was accepted into the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.

Law school opened a lot of doors for Fedlam, who knows how to network. He first worked as an attorney for Kegler Brown Hill & Ritter, then for Scotts Miracle-Gro as director of business development and manager, legal.

Combining sports, law and business with education to help athletes make the best possible decisions was the goal, but it was one Fedlam wasnt quite sure how to accomplish. While at a Crew game in 2015, Bruce Wimbish, senior communications manager of the Greater Columbus Sports Commission at the time, introduced Fedlam to someone who asked him to speak to the Ohio State football team.

As a public speaker, you know when youre engaging an audience, Fedlam says of his presentation to the Buckeyes. [Young athletes] have no shame in tuning you out, and I knew I had their attention.

The interaction with the football team planted a seed in Fedlam. There was a need for more of this. I had worked with athletes as a lawyer and saw the challenges they faced, how to protect themselves, to understand documents and contracts and how to do due diligence and make good business decisions. I (realized I could) take and turn this into (Anomaly Sports Group)."

Fedlam honed his Anomaly craft by speaking to several Ohio State teams. All pro bono.

He spoke, for example, to our professional athletes program, says Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith of the junior and senior football, baseball, mens and womens basketball and ice hockey players in the program. He spoke about preparing for the professional life, what to look for in an agent, financial literacy around contracts.

And Fedlam spoke about the importance of character.

He talks about character all the time, your brand, your persona, is all about character, Smith says. This part of his presentation is off the chain, and I know it resonates with our athletes because Ive heard them walk out of sessions and talk about it.

Tannous was another of Fedlams professional mentors, and they met from time to time. I sought his counsel when I was thinking about whats next, Fedlam says.

He brought up the idea for Anomaly, and it was a no-brainer to bring Luke here [to Porter Wright], says Tannous, adding hed tried to recruit Fedlam unsuccessfully in the past. Fedlam went on to develop Anomaly as a separate entity, and he would also create and lead the firms sports law practice to represent professional athletes. But not as their agent.

We dont serve as their agents, we serve as general counsel for them as individuals, Fedlam explains. We help with agent selection and agreements, and review, from a legal perspective, any contracts, endorsement deals, and marketing deals their agents may find for them. Other services include creating a business or nonprofit foundation, real estate and investment advice, estate planning, intellectual property rights and post-career planning.

Ethics rules prevent Fedlam from listing his roster of professional athlete clients, but he says the Porter Wright sports practice represents athletes in all the major leagues, including the National Football League, National Basketball Association, Womens NBA, National Hockey League and Major League Soccer. Every year during the NFL and NBA drafts, he works with multiple first-round draft picks in each sport.

Luke has become a thought leader in this country on the NIL issue and a great platform to educate players and their families. I dont know of anyone else who brings along the families to educate them," Tannous says.

Many of Fedlams clients in the Porter Wright law practice are young Black men and women who find themselves suddenly thrust into the spotlight. I can play a role in protecting and changing the status of these athletes, who often get taken advantage of, and often go broke after their playing days are over, he says, adding this can have a positive ripple effect for their families and communities. They can make a real impact and create lasting change.

Steve Wartenberg is a freelance writer.

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Police say two persons of interest in deadly May Waterloo shooting believed to be in Des Moines area – kwwl.com06.29.21

DES MOINES, Iowa (KWWL) -- Police have identified a man and a woman possibly connected to a Waterloo shooting on May 15 that left a 23-year-old man dead.

Police believe these persons of interest, 25-year-old Marcus Robert Sykes and 23-year-old Shireca Wilson, are hiding together in the Des Moines area.

In the early morning of May 15, 23-year-old Dayton Lee Matlock was shot and killed in an alley along Grant Ave and Hammond Ave in Waterloo. There were two other victims in the shooting that suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

A post from Cedar Valley Crime Stoppers says that Sykes was in possession of a firearm at the time.

There are active arrest warrants for both Sykes and Wilson. Sykes has an arrest warrant for Felon in Possession of a Firearm and Wilson has warrants for Probation Violation, Burglary 2nd Degree, and Willful Injury.

Sykes is described as 5'9", 135 lbs, with multiple tattoos, and Wilson is described as 5'1", 136 lbs with a tattoo on her chest that says "Faith."

If you have any information, call either the:

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Authorities arrest 2 Dubuquers after $15000 worth of drugs found in apartment – telegraphherald.com05.19.21

FAYETTE, Iowa Two Dubuque men face drug charges after authorities in northeast Iowa discovered more than 8 pounds of marijuana and THC-related products in an apartment.

Matthew J. Wessels, 23, of 2243 Chippewa Drive, was arrested Saturday at a Fayette residence on charges of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, possession of drug paraphernalia and illegal tattooing-violation of public health rules, according to a recent press release from the Fayette Police Department.

Eric R. Heiderscheit, 21, of 1645 Atlantic St., was arrested Saturday at the Fayette residence on charges of possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The release states that officers executing a search warrant at Wessels Fayette residence recovered 8.5 pounds of marijuana, edibles, wax, THC oils and Crumble, a highly potent and dangerous variation of marijuana wax. The drugs had an estimated street value of $15,000.

Police also discovered an illegal tattoo operation being conducted inside the apartment, according to the release.

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Long left to struggle on its own, West Side in need of transformational change – Charleston Gazette-Mail05.06.21

For nearly five months, the Charleston City Council has been stuck in the proverbial mud. A bill aimed at curbing needle litter has dominated the councils last two meetings, with debate totaling more than five-and-a-half hours.

Frustration over the lack of work on other problems facing the community reached a boiling point April 5. Councilwoman Deanna McKinney, representing the citys West Side, assigned across-the-board blame to council members and the mayors office for turtle-paced action on the real issues plaguing Charlestons most impoverished community.

McKinney pleaded that everyone go see for themselves the gun violence, dimly or unlit streets, unsanitary conditions, vacant lots, drugs, food insecurity just to name a few.

Walk or drive around the West Side, day or night, and tell me what you see, McKinney said.

McKinney buried her only child, Tymel, 19, after he was shot and killed while sitting on his porch in April 2014. In the last seven years, McKinney has remained an outspoken advocate for curbing gun violence in the city, especially on the West Side. Then, less than 48 hours after her speech, Kelvin K.J. Taylor, 18, a beloved Capital High School student, was shot and killed standing on a West Side corner.

Charleston City Councilwoman Deanna McKinney hugs Omar Hanbrick, a Capital High School classmate of K.J. Taylor, at the site of a memorial on April 8, where Taylor was shot and killed the night before at the corner of Central Avenue and Glenwood Avenue.

Harm reduction is so much more than needle litter, McKinney said, so why has this debate left out the children who continue to be killed by guns, and what will be done to protect them?

Where is the cry for that type of harm reduction? she asked.

Gun violence is just one of the many complex, multi-layered issues facing Charleston. Nowhere are these issues more visible than the West Side.

The 1,438 people who live in the West Side flats from the Elk River to Park Avenue have an average life expectancy of 62.3 the 27th lowest of all 67,148 census tracts in the United States, according to 2010 Census results and subsequent data studies. The 2,183 people who live from Park Avenue to Iowa Street have an average life expectancy of 71.7, still well below the statewide average of 75.3.

The poverty rates in both census tracts which cut the flats into two halves are 37% and 39.7%, respectively, more than double the statewide rate of 18%.

Were at a very, very critical juncture for this community, said the Rev. Matthew Watts, a longtime community advocate and pastor at Grace Bible Church. Things could get much worse, and they could get much worse in a short period of time.

The window, Watts predicts, is closing. In three months to a year, if city leaders cannot start pointing to real examples of holistic change, the neighborhood will be lost forever. Just think of how things have declined since the 2010 census, he said.

The mayors office and the City Council must change its approach to solving its problems, said Toni Young of Community Education Group, a nonprofit organization devoted to fighting HIV, hepatitis C and substance abuse. She said the council must shift its debate to address the syndemic with which the city is dealing.

When the world is engulfed by an infectious disease, its dubbed a pandemic. When multiple diseases and intertwined issues all play off each other such as HIV, hepatitis C and substance abuse its called a syndemic. An approach that doesnt take on all these issues head-on is useless, Young said. Then, the social safety net and community health start to fracture.

You cant treat one piece without treating the other piece, she said. You cant invest in one piece and not invest in the other two pieces.

They just put us in prison

The reality of who drug users are, and what they look like, has been the ignored underlying issue.

Solutions Oriented Addiction Response, or SOAR, is the volunteer grassroots harm reduction group thats been under fire for distributing syringes in a West Side church parking lot. Longtime residents have faulted the group for creating unchecked needle litter in the neighborhood, bringing with them crime and people high on drugs.

SOAR volunteers pushed back at recent council meetings, pointing to the lives saved by Narcan and infections prevented by clean needles distributed at health fairs. The group has offered HIV testing and provided a number of outreach services.

SOAR is a white-led organization. Nearly all its volunteers are white. Locals report only seeing white people being served by the organization.

A 2015 study estimates the minority share of the population at 36.2% from Elk River to Park Avenue and 55% from Park Avenue to Iowa Street. Black people make up 15.7% of Charlestons total population, according to census results.

After state and local government gutted the Triangle District a Black neighborhood in the 1970s for the construction of an interstate, the Black people who remained in Charleston were mostly pushed to the West Side, after the same governments broke their promise of an organized relocation.

We come from a different era, said the Rev. Marlon Collins, pastor at Shiloh Baptist Church, which sits in what used to be the Triangle District. When drugs and addiction tore Black communities apart during cracks reign, Collins said they were treated much differently. Second chances didnt exist.

They just put us in prison, he said.

So forgive Black taxpayers, Collins said, if some take issue when they feel white people are threatening their quality of life. While compassion, recovery and harm reduction have long been deficient for Black Americans, when its white people struggling, hot meals, clean needles, water, shelter and support are readily available and often government-funded.

At the April 19 City Council meeting, Joe Solomon, a SOAR co-founder, turned the public speakers mic away from council members and faced the West Side residents. He apologized for not being a better neighbor.

I turned around, in part, because the City Council clearly turned their back on people who use drugs over the last six months, Solomon said. But I also turned my back to City Council to directly face members of Charlestons West Side, who I feel like we could have done a much better job communicating with as SOAR found sanctuary at the Unitarian church.

Solomon said SOARs efforts started, tragically, in the Living AIDS Memorial Garden on the East End, where people were literally transmitting HIV. The group tried to find a home on the East End, then in Kanawha City as more people needed services. SOAR worked in a few other church parking lots on the West Side before settling at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Charleston on the corner of Vine Street and Kanawha Boulevard West.

Solomon said the city historically has disinvested in the West Side, creating the conditions existing today, and he understands his groups presence and approach might not have been welcome.

I get that for some people. They see harm reduction as another burden, where theyre already facing a lot of burdens on the West Side, he said.

Healing trauma

Martec Washington remembers selling more pills to students at George Washington High School than to Capital kids.

After his father died of lung cancer when he was 13, Washington said, he began selling drugs to support his family. Today, Washington, 32, lives on Randolph Street, blocks from where he grew up on the West Side. In recent years, hes become one of the most outspoken and productive young activists on the West Side.

Martec Washington, a young community activist, stands near his home on Randolph Street.

George Washington is one of the most affluent public high schools in West Virginia. Those kids dont fit the mold of how society views drug users, Washington said.

Washington walks the streets of the West Side daily. When the pandemic began, he walked a lot more. There wasnt much to do, he said. He couldnt see his older neighbors.

Walking the streets now, Washington saw the change the pandemic brought. Shootings increased, he said. Walking Monday with a reporter, he noticed two fresh bullet holes in the building on the corner just behind his home. One bullet stuck out of the wall.

This doesnt stop him from living free in the neighborhood he loves and fights for, he said. But he sees a shift in energy from his neighbors.

I wont ever feel unsafe because when its my time to go, its my time to go. Youre not going to push me out of my neighborhood, Washington said. I feel like my community feels unsafe.

As COVID-19 began to change the world, a string of all-too-familiar killings began to change the country.

In late February, three white men in Georgia chased down Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man out jogging. They hit him with their truck, then shot and killed Arbery in the middle of the street. Prosecutors on Wednesday indicted the men on federal hate crime charges.

Two weeks later, Louisville Metro Police shot and killed Breonna Taylor, 26, while executing a no-knock search warrant. Two months later, a Minneapolis police officer murdered George Floyd, 46.

Protests raged across the country. Demonstrations took place here, too. But Washington didnt care for the city and polices framing of the demonstrations.

[They] were like, Well, this stuffs not going on here. And I kept thinking to myself, But it has gone on here, he said.

He thought of Freda Gilmore, the 27-year-old Black woman punched and kneed in the head by Charleston police during an October 2019 arrest. Officers said they were responding to a report of an altercation in a West Side parking lot. The city paid Gilmore an $80,000 settlement.

Police killings of Black people elsewhere retraumatizes an already-battered community, Washington said. These things do happen here, he said, and every time, it pains the people of the West Side all over again.

Crystal Good, of Charleston, the last of 22 public speakers at the April 5 council meeting, stepped up to the mic and shared her story of recovery for the first time. In a later interview, she said the conversation the council was having for months was nowhere close to the one that needed to be had.

Officials missed their moment to talk about true recovery and harm reduction. She said she spoke out after hearing the crackheads and junkies talk by council members, and she wanted to be visible to anyone at home or in the crowd who was looking at recovery. Good said all it took was one person to take her to a meeting and educate her on what recovery really is.

Crystal Good speaks to Charleston City Council and members of the public during the April 5 council meeting.

Maybe I could be that person for somebody else, she said.

Good said there is no space in Charleston for Black people who want to recover from addiction and heal their collective trauma. Race is considered an outside issue in the recovery room to make white people feel theyre in a comfortable space, Good said. But these spaces leave out the important conversations about generational trauma.

Sorry, but praying with Bubba and his swastika hand tattoo, Good said, is not a space into which traumatized Black people need to put themselves. But when this is the only option for recovery in a community, either the trauma stays inside you, or youve got to grab Bubbas hand and pray.

Once I was in recovery, I realized that this is a conversation that didnt really exist in my world prior to needing it, Good said.

Good said she cant believe that even after the July overdose death of a Black city worker on the job 27-year-old firefighter and medic Jason Cuffee the city has not created the forum to have this conversation.

Trauma is everywhere, Good said, but I think specifically when you talk about the roads that lead people to addiction, you can start to see similar paths.

Its coming

The crisis is at the doorstep.

New York City, home to more than 8 million people, recorded 36 total cases of HIV tied to intravenous drug use in 2020. Kanawha County recorded 35 cases in the same year. The Centers for Disease Control labeled Kanawhas outbreak the most concerning in the United States.

The concept that this is not going to be a problem is extremely misguided, said Dr. Judith Feinberg, an infectious disease expert at the West Virginia University School of Medicine. Kanawhas cases are clearly just the tip of the iceberg, she said, pointing to half being discovered in hospitals meaning people are already getting sick.

People can go years without noticing the symptoms of HIV, which, if untreated, destroys the immune system and leads to AIDS. Even the most expensive treatment for HIV doesnt cure the disease. Its something people live with until theyre dead.

As things quiet down from COVID-19, and we do more [HIV] testing, were gonna uncover a huge problem, said Feinberg, who has spent years researching HIV and the opioid crisis.

The city has failed to address any aspect of HIV prevention in the last five months. In three hours of debate on the syringe restriction bill April 19, the word HIV was not said once. Feinberg said all council members can do now is implement mass testing citywide.

There is no way to mitigate the damage this law will do, other than to repeal it, she said.

Solomon said after criminalizing the most effective way to stop HIV spread and save lives, the city must declare a public health crisis.

About 25% of people in the U.S. who have HIV also have hepatitis C, according to the CDC. This plays back into treating the problem as a syndemic, Feinberg said. That isnt happening.

The evidence is very clear that having a needle exchange program is good for the community as a whole, and its good for the people that are using drugs, said Ted Boettner, senior researcher at the Ohio River Valley Institute policy group. Its disheartening to watch people completely ignore that evidence in order to push a political agenda.

Boettner said the conversation in Charleston is so political and emotional, an evidence-based approach to solve the HIV crisis a direct result of the opioid epidemic is nearly impossible to achieve. One real solution to fix needle litter and curb HIV and overdoses a supervised injection facility elicits only emotional reactions from city and county leaders, he said.

While injection sites seem like such a far-fetched idea, they already exist, and they already exist in Charleston. They are just scattered all over the city in bathrooms, alleys, under bridges and road underpasses and in abandoned buildings, Boettner wrote in April 2018.

Bishop Robert Haley (center) and congregation members help stack over 400 boxes in the entryway of A More Excellent Way Life Center Church on the West Side after the Family Dollar burned down in February.

Councilman Robert Sheets, the lone no vote on the syringe bill, said as much in a rare speech during a recent meeting. He said if all officials are going to talk about is needle litter, then why arent they talking about something as simple as lockable shrapnel containers for discarded needles?

In a 40-page economic analysis, researcher Jill Kriesky laid out the billion-dollar ramifications of inaction on the HIV crisis, finding the 35 HIV cases alone will cost nearly $17 million to treat. And for the 635 cases of chronic hepatitis C tied to intravenous drug use in Kanawha County in 2019, treatment will cost up to $44.5 million. Almost all of these costs fall on hospitals, health centers and taxpayers.

Nearly 4,800 people in Kanawha County use illicit, or opium-related, drugs, according to the study.

Even if Charleston City Council doesnt care about human life and human suffering ... the fiscal damage from this is huge, Feinberg said.

A commonality in this debate is the notion HIV only affects poor people and those who use drugs. The thing about infectious diseases, Feinberg said, is once they start in a subgroup like intravenous drug users, unless its contained, the virus will eventually make its way from the impoverished flats to the citys rich neighborhoods. Besides dirty syringes, HIV spreads through vaginal and anal sex.

You have someone who injects drugs that has sex with someone, and that person has sex with someone else, and that person has sex with someone else and sooner or later, it shows up in the hills above Charleston, she said. The idea that if you dont inject drugs, you are not at risk for HIV its a complete misunderstanding of how HIV spreads.

While the problem today might be confined to a stigmatized population, which historically gives public officials cover to dodge accountability, in a short time that wont be the case.

The enormity of this problem is so striking to me. In a way, you can see it coming. Its like looking down the tracks and you see the headlights of that train bearing down on you, Feinberg said. Its coming.

The path forward

Children have the most to lose.

Thousands of kids on the West Side live with these complex, layered issues, hoping they wont get swept up by the violence even as theyve grown numb to it. Lakeisha Barron-Brown, of Charleston, a mental health professional, said the neighborhood isnt the same one in which kids grew up a few decades ago.

There may have been crime when I was growing up in the 80s and 90s on the West Side I must tell you, it was nothing like this, she said.

Mental health in children must be spotlighted and taken seriously by everyone, she said. Its on parents to notice and take action if their childs performance in school starts to slip. Its on government to provide them a safe neighborhood and a chance to make it out. After tragedies like Taylors killing, its important children understand why all this is happening.

The Rev. Marlon Collins briefly pauses his speech to Charleston City Council April 5, looking down to the rosary wrapped around his hands.

We have to begin breaking these incidents down with our children in this community, because if not, the violence will continue and they wont know how to deal with their mental health, Barron-Brown said.

She said there must be accountability across the board. Parents and school and state and local government officials must take a holistic approach to make the transformational change children on the West Side need. If the community doesnt take youth mental health seriously, nothing is going to change.

If mental health is not addressed, its a lose-lose situation, she said.

Beyond mental health, some families have failed to address trauma and addiction under their own roofs, Washington said. For many of the best friends hes lost to drugs, Washington said, their families remained silent on the issue even after they were buried.

Its a culture issue. In the Black community, theres so many things that we dont talk about, he said. Stop lying about it. I understand that it hurts your feelings, but you might save somebody elses life. Or you could have possibly saved your own childs life if you just actually dealt with it instead of hiding behind it.

Washington said people hide behind the stigma that its only white people with drug problems on the West Side. SOAR has been accused for what they brought to the neighborhood, but locals must consider how entrenched addiction and trauma already are in their community.

There is definitely a need for harm reduction in this community. Hands down, he said. But people need to be open to it and they need to be more honest about it.

The West Side is also home to thousands of longtime white residents. Its why Watts and former Charleston NAACP President Rick Martin tried for years to convince the state Legislature to take an aggressive approach to end poverty for all West Virginians. While drastic racial health disparities exist in the state, the living conditions of poor white people statewide are unacceptable, they said.

Watts said he stays hopeful, but with all the federal funding soon to flow into Charleston and Kanawha County, theres now reason to believe things can change.

The West Side has suffered from disinvestment for 60, 70, 80 years. Some of these issues cannot be adequately addressed unless there are financial resources to do so, Watts said. We have got to demonstrate to this community that theyve not been forgotten.

Some in community-based organizations, like Bishop Robert Haley of A More Excellent Way Life Center Church on the West Side, said he isnt holding his breath that real change will be brought by government. Upstairs in the church, members are constructing their own community center, trying to connect children and adults to the services their elected officials farther down Virginia Street never offered.

We dont look for help from any of them because theyve never helped us in the past, Haley said. They put a Band-Aid over here and thats it. Were looking for true help.

Whats also missing is an entire conversation, said Collins. The city has not provided a forum to openly discuss the challenges of trauma, addiction and how they drive the complex issues facing the community.

Hailing from Little Rock, Arkansas, Collins said the problems facing that community were so much more dire than Charlestons. The gun violence that ended Taylors life, just as it began, happened nearly every day back home.

Oh my God, those people were so complacent for so many years. Then we started burying kids Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday literally that frequent, Collins said.

Charleston cannot let it go that far before the conversation is had, he said.

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Now that the NFL Draft is over, which Buffalo Bills picks will make the roster? – Democrat & Chronicle05.06.21

SportsPulse: Mackenzie Salmon highlights some of the most noteworthy grades from our NFL guru's Nate Davis picks. USA TODAY

When the Buffalo Bills take the field for their opening game in September, they will do so with a lineup that will be largely recognizable to the fan base.

Barring injuries or unforeseen circumstances such as a surprise release of a player or perhaps a trade, the Bills are going to trot out essentially the same starting group that played in the AFC Championship Game loss to Kansas City.

Rare is the opportunity for any NFL team to do that, but thats the reward for constructing a roster as efficiently as general manager Brandon Beane and coach Sean McDermott have, and then creating a culture that convinces players to stay with the team long term.

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Buffalo Bills draft picks 2021: Round-by-round selections, analysis and grades

How else can you explain the return of three key unrestricted free agents linebacker Matt Milano and offensive linemen Daryl Williams when it felt like, at the end of the 2020 season, all of them might be gone? Not to mention players like cornerback Levi Wallace, wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie, offensive lineman Ike Boettger, and special teamers Taiwan Jones and Andre Smith, all of whom came back to Buffalo.

Im very protective of our roster and our team, McDermott said back in late January. Once you get them in, you have to continue to form and manage and cultivate the culture because if you dont it will grow up in the form of weeds all around you before you know it. Its an ongoing process really more than anything.

What this high retention rate means is that the bulk of the eight-man draft class the Bills completed Saturday afternoon faces an uphill challenge in the coming months of not only getting on the field but making the team.

Its harder now than it was two and three years ago to enter the starting lineup, or make the roster, which is what I want. And I want to continue for it to be that way, Beane said. But we didnt go into this draft and say, Hey, we just want to draft for future. We wanted as many impact players this year as we can. Its just hard. We brought back a lot of our guys that started and played a lot of minutes for us on this team that went to the AFC championship.

Here are my thoughts on each draft picks chances, and what role he might play in 2021:


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He is going to be an interesting player to watch. When the pick was made, my main reservation is that he feels like a risk because he really only had one productive season in college at Miami. Those players worry me, especially when you pick them this high because teams cant afford to whiff on their first-ro und picks.

Rousseau played only 15 college games because he missed all but two games in 2018 due to a broken ankle, and then he opted out of 2020. His one year was impressive, 15.5 sacks in 13 games, but what also arches my eyebrows is he only began playing defensive end when he was a senior in high school.

Projected role: The Bills have time to acclimate Rousseau because they have veterans Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison returning, and they also have 2020 second-round pick A.J. Epenesa. I can see Rousseau getting about 25-30% of the rotational snaps and most likely not contributing very much on the stat sheet.


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The man they call Boogie is probably more ready to play this year than Rousseau. At Wake Forest he played 45 games with 33 starts and made 20.5 sacks. Hes not as explosive an athlete as Rousseau, but defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier will be able to vary where he uses Basham because he can rush from the inside as well as the edge.

Projected role: Dont be surprised if Basham gets more playing time than Rousseau, and depending on the game-day roster configuration, its possible Basham is active and Rousseau inactive more than the other way around.


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I dont have an issue with the player, but I do have an issue with the position because it just seemed like the Bills needed to pick a cornerback somewhere in the first three rounds. Beane claimed he stuck to his board and Brown was the guy they had graded in that spot. Thats fine, but the Bills need more guys who can cover than they did backup offensive linemen.

Projected role: This was a pick made for the future. The 6-foot-8, 311-pound Brown is a development player who did not see the top echelon competition playing for Northern Iowa. The Bills are probably going to take it slow with him and try to get him ready for 2022. At that point, they could move on from Williams as the starting right tackle, and Brown would have a chance to be his replacement.


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Read the above paragraph, and just change the name from Brown to Doyle. For starters, both players are 6-foot-8, and like Brown, Doyle didnt face premier competition at Miami of Ohio so its tough to envision either player being thrust into the lineup in 2021. The good news is that they both started more than 30 games in college so they have a solid base to build on.

Projected role: The Bills typically have three tackles active on game day last year it was Williams, Dion Dawkins and veteran Ty Nsekhe was the swing tackle. Doyle and Brown will compete for that job along with veteran Bobby Hart, and theres probably a good chance one of those three gets released. My guess is that its Hart, with Brown a game-day inactive most weeks and Doyle ending up on the practice squad.


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The only way hes making the 53-man roster is if the proves to be a dynamic return man, and the good news for him is that with Andre Roberts gone, that job is up for grabs. Hes staring at Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley, Emmanuel Sanders, Gabriel Davis and Isaiah McKenzie on the wide receiver depth chart, and possibly Isaiah Hodgins and Jake Kumerow.

Projected role: The Bills have typically kept six receivers on the active roster, so I cant see Stevenson making it. Hes probably destined for the practice squad.

Pittsburgh defensive back Damar Hamlin (3) celebrates after making an interception against Louisville during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020, in Pittsburgh.(Photo: Keith Srakocic, AP)

With reliable veteran Dean Marlowe gone, the Bills have a backup safety spot open and Hamlin will battle with Josh Thomas who spent almost all of 2020 on the practice squad. Hamlin has been called a great special teams player, so that might be his ticket to playing time.

Projected role: If indeed Hamlin can live up to his special teams billing, hell have a good chance to make the team.


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He was the only corner the Bills drafted, so just based on numbers, unless the Bills sign a veteran free agent, hell get his opportunity to earn a spot. His best path would be as a nickel corner, but hed have to leapfrog Taron Johnson and Siran Neal.

Projected role: Because I think the Bills are going to sign someone, its tough to see Wildgoose making the team.

Texas Tech offensive lineman Jack Anderson looks to make a block during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Iowa State, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020, in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State won 31-15.(Photo: Charlie Neibergall, AP)

The comparisons to former Bills guard Richie Incognito are interesting, not because they sort of look alike and have massive tattoo coverage, but Anderson was known as a player who could get a little nasty, never a bad trait for an offensive lineman.

Projected role: He was a four-year starter at Texas Tech which always impresses me, a guy who can come right in as a freshman and do that. However, with Feliciano, Cody Ford, Ike Boettger and Ryan Bates ahead of him, its tough to see him doing anything more than working out on the practice squad.

Sal Maiorana can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @salmaiorana.

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Jason Momoa Is Saving the Planet Or At Least Hes Trying – Footwear News04.22.21

Jason Momoa has been one of Hollywoods leading environmental activists in recent years, and now hes taking his fight against single-use plastic pollution to the footwear industry. The Aquaman star has teamed up with St. Louis, Mo.-based climbing brand So iLL for a signature line of sustainable outdoor and lifestyle products, including shoes and sandals.

Since launching the So iLL x On the Roam collaboration by Jason Momoa in 2019, more products have been introduced through direct-to-consumer, including waterproof outdoor bags, tees, chalk bags and face masks. Materials used include 100% organic cotton, BLOOM Foam for the sneaker insoles, which is made from 30% BLOOM Resin with top layer of cork and a rubber outsole mixed with Eco Pure technology that helps cut down on decomposition time in a landfill. Packaging is all plastic-free, as well.

The sneakers contain an insole made from 30% BLOOM resin, which is an alternative to synthetic and petrochemical EVA foams. The technology removes algal blooms to reduce water pollution, create sustainable materials, generate clean water and maintain healthy ecosystems.

CREDIT: Courtesy of So iLL

Creating more end-of-life solutions are top of mind and a continuous conversation, according to the company.

While Momoa is vocal about climate change having addressed the United Nations in 2019 about that issue and recently launched a water company made out of 100% recyclable aluminum cans called Mananalu Pure Water hes just as zealous about climbing.

Its the sport that brought So iLL founder Daniel Chancellor and Momoa together for this collaboration.

We both came from the same kind of place. I grew up with my mother in Iowa. She took me on a trip to the Needles in South Dakota [when I was 15]. I was just blown away by it and I fell in love. Then every weekend I would travel to Minnesota just to go to this climbing gym because there are very few and far between in the Midwest, Momoa told FN.

With a similar Midwestern upbringing, Chancellor wanted to create a brand as refuge for climbing enthusiasts seeking the same sense of freedom the sport has offered him when he first starting making climbing holds in his barn with his brother in 2002. To take his dream further, he has since launched the non-profit 1Climb, which partners with the Boys and Girls Clubs across America by building climbing walls in their club facilities and taking their members to local climbing gyms.

Jason Momoa during a 1Climb event.

CREDIT: Courtesy of So iLL

The access point for this new generation of outdoor enthusiasts actually starts inside, explained Chancellor. Then eventually they transition outside. And once you start climbing, you start spending time outdoors, you start experiencing the environment. That brings more respect. It gets people thinking about sustainability in that way, too. So if we can get more people climbing and more people outdoors with this collaboration, thats going to help sustainability down to a personal level.

Here, Momoa who presented Birkenstock with FNs 2020 brand of the year award, opens up about his mission to help the earth and how climbing has been part of this journey.

Jason Momoa holding his On the Roam x So iLL sneaker.

CREDIT: Courtesy of So iLL

Its been that way since the beginning. I was a [marine] and [wildlife] biology major, which is really amazing to go full circle and become Aquaman because I can really attack certain things and bring awareness to topics that have been in my heart since I was a little kid.

I just always wanted to be outside and to be in nature. It keeps me grounded, keeps me level. It keeps me connected to the environment and something that humbles me. Its just my lifes passion. Dan and I share climbing. I learned how to leap climb in my garage, hanging from the rafters. Its all about wanting to do the movement and how it feels in your body. We both agree on this lifestyle and the more that I can bring some positivity to it, we can make a little bit of change. Were small. We can try to do this and hopefully were doing our part. If it gets bigger, thats the whole goal. You cant wait for the bigger companies to [make change].

Just thinking about sandals and all the waste that goes into it. Being in the islands where I was born and going to see my father, seeing all the flip flops, the sandals. IfI could make something that was algae-based and you could put that in your garden and its completely compostable that would be amazing. So its a beautiful thing to go out and pitch an idea and have your friend instantly turn it around. It just keeps evolving.

The So iLL x On The Roam Dirty Pink Kanaka Sandal features Momoas triangular tattoo pattern on the foot strap and molded rubber outsole mixed with Eco Pure to help cut down on decomposition time.

CREDIT: Courtesy of So iLL

I literally called Dan after this years [presidential inauguration], and said, Bro, I need unity purple shoes now. After that happened and I saw all the ladies in purple, I said this country needs to be purple. Style matters. How you feel and how you wear it is important. I mean, Im an actor who puts on many different costumes to play different roles. I really love that we can have some function and fashion and make something good for the Earth. And I just love pink. It has a calming effect on me. I like the lighter side of everything.

The Unity Purple Roamer, and the Yaya Lavender Roamer, inspired by Momoas mother. (She hates the color lavender.)

CREDIT: Courtesy of So iLL

Trying to make sure that everything is not plastic its really, really challenging. Im on all these sets and even though its recyclable plastic, I hate using it. So Im like, Can we make utensils and give it to the whole crew? Im just trying to cut down, because we join the circus when [I work] on different shows and theres so much that goes into feeding everyone. Im just coming to Dan with ideas to make that change in my own business. Thats how I look at it from my own life.

Ive met with massive companies trying to find ways to heal this plastic problem and theres so many solutions. Its really quite sad if you break it down and hear [excuses] from the big companies they have solutions. It just costs more. And its just fing sad. So where theyre not doing it, at least I have to try. I dont know how people cant. If Im in this place, Im playing Aquaman, Im in this position, I have to try to at least tackle these things. You cant take, take, take. You have to give back. I feel guilty. I see it. Ive lived this single-use plastic life and it just buckles me.

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2021 NFL Draft: How Trey Lance went from small town and small school to the NFL’s next big thing at QB – CBS Sports04.22.21

On March 12, temperatures were just above freezing in Fargo, North Dakota. Not bad for one of the coldest cities in America. But even if a blizzard were unfolding (not uncommon until May, in these parts), dozens of NFL decision-makers still would've descended upon the Midwestern town. Thirty of the league's 32 teams were represented at the Fargodome that day, storming what amounts to a regional temple -- the deafening home of the North Dakota State Bison -- for something special: The chance to lay eyes on one of the most unusually tantalizing quarterback prospects in years.

Draftseason tends to evoke hyperbole. Top talents become "generational." Strong position groups become "historically deep." By the following April, plenty of pundits have already moved on, eager to be the first to crown the next big thing. But it's not often you see what those 30 teams saw in Fargo. It's not often a QB is a lock to go in the first round (perhaps as high as No. 3 overall) and will only be 20 years old when he's picked, having played just 19 games in college, with just one career interception, for an FCS school. The rocket arm, top-end speed and prototypical 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame are just bonuses.

That's Trey Lance.

Lance is a future multimillion-dollar face of a billion-dollar franchise. A week before his showcase at the NDSU pro day, he was engaged in much simpler matters: Wrestling his roommate.

Phoenix Sproles, a junior wide receiver for NDSU, has shared a Fargo apartment with the QB since the two arrived on campus in 2018. Sproles was one of Lance's top targets during the latter's last full season for the Bison. But off the field, they've been going at it for years, all the way up until Lance's Fargodome spectacle.

"We wrestle a lot," Sproles says, holding back a laugh. "I'm gonna admit, I haven't beaten him yet. But right before the pro day, I took it easy on him. I didn't wanna mess with him, you know? He's a big kid. He tries to give me -- he has this thing called the 'back breaker' -- where he tries to put my back on his knee and mess me up."

Sproles knows the NDSU coaches probably don't want to hear that. But it's indicative of their relationship, which also began on a competitive note.

"Junior year, you have all your Junior Day college visits," the receiver recalls, "and I kept seeing this dude at all the visits. I was the No. 3 or No. 4 athlete in Minnesota, and he was No. 2. I was comparing myself to him from the beginning; he was already a threat. I remember the first time I figured out who he was, I was at South Dakota State, and there was this tall, lengthy dude. I asked around, like, 'Who is that guy?' And someone was like, 'It's Trey Lance.' I made sure to size him up a little bit, make sure he knew I was present."

The rivalry was always out of respect. Lance became the first major recruit from that 2018 class to get an offer, committing to NDSU in hopes of becoming just the third Bison QB to ever be drafted. Two weeks later, Sproles joined him.

"I wanted Trey to be my quarterback," he says.

He ended up getting more. The two grew up in different areas -- Sproles in New Hope, a suburb of Minneapolis; and Lance in Marshall, the small southwestern Marshall town of under 14,000. But they bonded quickly, first over weekend hangouts and throwing sessions at Sproles' high school field, then over a grueling transition to college ball. It wasn't so much the awe of their new program that got them through. NDSU's powerhouse reputation, backed by a record eight Division I FCS championships in nine years, was undeniable. But Lance, with a work ethic that matched his goofiness, proved a more tangible resource for Sproles.

"They always say you wanna quit college football after summer of your freshman year," he says. "But we stuck together. We're for-lifers, that's what we say. I got him forever."

Plenty of people, see, are talking about Trey Lance these days. But they know him only as the big, strong, athletic mystery at the top of the 2021 draft. The latest hotshot from that school that produced Carson Wentz. The biggest boom-or-bust project of his class. The emerging celebrity at the center of a specific March afternoon in Fargo.

Talk to those in the small circle that's witnessed Lance's rare journey firsthand, however, and you get a clearer picture. That big kid, wrestling his teammate? The one trying to give his best friend a "back breaker?" The one who reverted to his "goofy freshman-year self" right after the pro day? That's also Trey Lance. It turns out he's every bit "just one of the guys" as a 20-year-old who isn't headlining ESPN and NFL Network -- maybe even more so. And that's what makes his march to stardom all the more unique.

Jake Hess first met Trey Lance when he was about 4 years old. They were teammates in tee ball. They were classmates at the same Catholic school, Holy Redeemer, in Marshall. And their friendship also blossomed from competition.

"Recess at Holy Redeemer, we were always the two captains," says Hess, now a junior at Minnesota State University, Mankato. "And we were always the two best players, so we were never on the same team. Never."

This, of course, naturally led to some standoffs.

"Sometimes it got to the point we'd have to have family sit-downs," Hess continues. "Elementary school, we would take the bus back to Trey's house almost every day to play two-hand touch in the backyard. And it got heated sometimes. One time, he yelled at me for shoving someone, and then I threw the ball so hard at the guy the next play, he was like, 'Go home.' So I went home."

They ended up doing everything together. Football. Basketball. Snowboarding trips. Sleepovers. Twins games. Sunday church. Visits to the Valleyfair amusement park, with Trey's younger brother, Bryce, tagging along.

The twist, when it came to Trey, was that he always went the extra mile. Not content to just join the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, he became a local leader and regional spokesman for the sports ministry. Hess, who also volunteered for FCA, recalls being particularly moved when Lance gave his testimony at a middle-school camp in Iowa, where they roomed together. Eventually, after Hess moved to one of Marshall's public schools, he and Trey "built a bridge between us and the Holy Redeemer kids."

And don't even get him started on athletics.

"As kids, it wasn't Xbox with Trey," Hess says. "It was Wii Fit. Or playing outside. He'd be in there, at school, lifting weights after basketball games, and I'm just gassed, laying in the locker room wanting to go drink a freaking milkshake."

Turns out Lance had some integral motivators at home. His mother, Angie; and father, Carlton, brought a model work ethic to the community long before anyone outside of Marshall knew their son's name. A former teacher, Angie has spent more than a decade at Schwan's Company, the locally famous meal delivery business. Carlton, meanwhile, served as Marshall's head middle-school football coach when Trey was young. Before that, he was a two-sport standout at Division II Southwest Minnesota State, played briefly in the Canadian Football League and attended training camp with the 49ers and Houston Oilers.

Not surprisingly, Dad accelerated Trey's foray into quarterbacking. When he taught his son to throw in the backyard, he did so through the lens of a professional defensive back. When the Marshall Tigers needed a backup QB during Lance's eighth-grade season, everyone pointed to Hess, but Carlton told Trey he was going to try it, too.

"We always thought he'd be a running back," says Terry Bahlmann, Marshall's high school coach for more than 30 years. "But in terms of athletes I had over the years, he'll go right to the top. He played strong safety for us, returned punts, returned kicks. I remember his freshman year, I told my wife, Jan, he was a special athlete. I just didn't know what he was gonna do yet."

Hess and Lance, the rivals-turned-friends, started by trading possessions in practice. ("I was the guy with the arm," Hess says, "but he could run.") As Hess gradually poured more into baseball, where both QBs were also captains, Lance started attending passing camps.

Then, in 10th grade, it happened. Eight games into the season, Marshall's senior QB suffered a serious injury, and Hess was already tending to a high-ankle sprain. So Bahlmann called on Lance, just a JV project at that point. Trey was much smaller then -- about 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds -- and threw a couple interceptions in defeat. But it was the last time he and the Tigers lost for a long time. Marshall went to three straight state tournaments under Lance's direction, and suddenly the spotlight was bright.

Not everyone bought into the hype. Coaches and scouts started showing up in Marshall, only to be treated to run-heavy offense more than Trey Lance clinics. Only one Power Five school made him an offer, and that was to play linebacker. As NFL Network's Chase Goodbread reported, there was also Lance's brush with the University of Minnesota. He'd grown up a Golden Gophers fan, attended a Gophers summer camp and negotiated his own unofficial visit with coach P.J. Fleck. But Fleck only saw him as a safety, and recruiting services almost instantly followed suit, reclassifying Lance as an "athlete" rather than a QB.

No matter. After sniffs from Air Force, Boise State and a few others, Lance became a Bison and unleashed the best marks of any NDSU QB amid an era of unprecedented production for the program's signal-callers. Brock Jensen (2009-2013) earned a camp invite from the Dolphins after throwing 34 touchdowns as a senior, Carson Wentz (2012-2015) went No. 2 overall to the Eagles after starring as a dual threat, and Easton Stick (2015-2018) was drafted by the Chargers after scoring 85 times his final two seasons.

Lance outdid them all as a 19-year-old redshirt freshman, totaling a school-record 3,886 yards (2,786 passing; 1,100 rushing) while guiding the Bison to a national title and college football's first 16-0 record since Yale went unbeaten in 1894.

"Everybody thinks he's a runner, but he's really got a strong arm, too," says Bahlmann. "I honestly think he's got a lot of Patrick Mahomes' skills."

The comps are all over the board: Hess sees a more accurate version of Cam Newton. Phoenix Sproles has heard the Wentz connection because of NDSU, but thinks Lance is a "more dynamic starter and smarter with the ball." Either way, the ceiling is high. And the scouts agree, even though Lance only played one more game before declaring for the draft. (The COVID-19 pandemic delayed all but one matchup from the 2020-21 season until this spring.)

Clemson's Trevor Lawrence boasts all the intangibles as the inevitable No. 1 pick, BYU's Zach Wilson is a top-three lock for his off-schedule play-making, and Ohio State's Justin Fields is another top five possibility with a big arm and elite speed. Lance, however, has drawn physical comparisons to former Colts No. 1 pick Andrew Luck.

"To me, he's still little 'Treybee,' with the little baby face. That's what we'd call him," says Hess. "Once he got to college, though, he was a big shot right away." Literally, too: "I got to one NDSU game, and afterward, I was like, 'Holy s***, he's big.' In high school, he was just little. Now he's built like a brick house."

In 2017, before any of the top rookie QBs even set foot on a college field, Lance, Lawrence and Fields competed at the same Elite 11 youth QB camp in Chicago. Also there: Quincy Patterson II, who transferred to NDSU from Virginia Tech this year and could succeed Lance next fall. Patterson remembers meeting Lance at the camp: Both were pretty shy, he says, but clicked when Trey showed his goofy side after running the 40-yard dash. Now, having consulted Lance and studied the QB's NDSU tape before his relocation to Fargo, he looks up to Trey's game.

"He's super smooth, he's got that swag about him and can really move," Patterson says. "I loved how Trey also really had control over the offense and made almost every decision himself. Not a lot of teams or offenses have that, and it helps with going to the NFL because quarterbacks are true field generals in the NFL. I believe Trey would have done the same things even at a higher level just because of how much he cared and how hard he worked."

The one thing about rookie QBs that you cannot evaluate is how they'll respond to the NFL lifestyle. For every home-run QB pick near the top of the draft, there are three times as many misses. Rarely is that because of a lack of talent. The circumstances may not be ideal -- poor coaches, bad injury luck, shoddy supporting casts. Often, however, it's the sheer pressure of commanding the big stage.

Take it from Mark Sanchez, who endured firsthand the highs and lows of the limelight after going No. 5 to the Jets in 2009: "You're a 21- or 22-year-old kid, and people expect you to make executive decisions like you're a 65-year-old Supreme Court judge. And ... that's not realistic every time. They're going to go out with friends, they're going to go out to a bar, they're going to meet a girl. They're kids! They're like everyone else their age, except with the weight of the world on them."

It's no secret that Lance's transition from Midwestern folk hero to NFL quarterback will be the biggest of his life. A move ripe with the possibility of missteps. But those closest to him don't see him as sheltered or unprepared. Besides trailing the likes of Lawrence and Fields and Co. in national recognition, he is softer-spoken. He prefers to let his body do the talking, either with highlight-reel plays on the field or professions of faith off it. (His newest tattoo, just inked recently, has "Child of God" spread across his back.) Yet his peers point to the times he hasleveraged his voice and platform as evidence of natural leadership.

When others transferred to NDSU, sometimes to challenge for his job, Lance would beat them out but somehow make them fans in the process. Consider Zeb Noland, who came over from Iowa State specifically to get more playing time. He ended up losing a competition with Lance for Easton Stick's No. 1 spot. Instead of transferring elsewhere, he stuck around because of a "special" bond with his new "best friend."

When neighboring Minnesota erupted last summer after George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, died at the hands of Minneapolis police, Lance's words penetrated the mostly white communities that often hailed him on Saturdays. As the biracial son of a Black father and white mother, he sometimes stood out in his little town of Marshall, where Hess recalls he may have gotten occasional comments from visiting schools about being the only Black kid on the basketball team. Attaching his name to the Black Lives Matter movement and marching with teammates against police brutality was even more visible.

"Protests occurred, (and) he took part in them and (received) a ton of negative comments and hate," says Patterson, "but still stood tall and did what he felt was right despite what some of his 'supporters' had to say."

And when he returns to Marshall? He's bigger, stronger and, in Hess's words, "much cooler" than he was as a little kid. But he's not above the small town that shepherded his growth. He's just Trey Lance.

"It's a big deal in a town of 14,000," says Bahlmann. "His pro day, we had a couple hundred kids on their phones watching it throughout the building. I sat in the cafeteria with his brother, Bryce, watching him. But I'm most proud of Trey being Trey and still remembering who he is when he comes back. He has time for everybody here. My wife and I, we were doing a boys basketball game once, and we realized, if you wanna find where all the little kids are, you find Trey. Because they're all over him, sitting around him, trying to get a chance to talk to him."

Once a week last fall, Trey would get texts from Wentz, per NFL Network. The ex-Eagles and new Colts QB is a long-distance mentor of sorts, primarily because of their NDSU connection. Far be it from him to cling only to the stars of his future employer, Trey would also exchange weekly texts with someone else: Bahlmann.

On April 29, the night Trey Lance will hear his name called by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, he will be in Cleveland, for the draft. Some of his crew will be in Fargo. His parents originally booked a private banquet hall for what's bound to be the most exhilarating evening of their son's life. Even some of Trey's not-so-good friends will probably reach out now, eager to touch the fame that awaits. A couple of names are already locked into the invite list, though. They have been for a while: Jake Hess and Phoenix Sproles.

If Trey had his way, the gathering might be in Marshall, where he and Jake once went head to head in the backyard. Some NFL teams want to fly out their draft picks as soon as they can after picking them, however. And everyone knows Trey will have a team that night.

Who will it be? The 49ers figure to have the first crack after trading up to No. 3. The Falcons, at No. 4, could use an heir apparent to Matt Ryan. The Lions (No. 7), Panthers (No. 8) and Broncos (No. 9) could all be in play, as could the Eagles (No. 12), Vikings (No. 14) and Patriots (No. 15) if trades unfold.

Sproles, who's discussed the possibilities with Lance, says he used to follow whichever NFL team his cousin, longtime running back Darren Sproles, played for. For a while he rocked a Chargers jersey. Then he called himself part of the Saints' Who Dat Nation. Then he went all in on the Eagles. He's got a similar plan with Trey.

"He trained in Atlanta for a long time, and I know he loves Atlanta. He wouldn't mind being a Falcon, playing in that uniform. I could see him in either a Falcons or Panthers uniform," Sproles says. "Whatever it is, I'm buying two jerseys. Two different colors. And I want it signed, 'To my best friend Phoenix.' Then I need some gear. Some T-shirts. A jersey and a T-shirt, that's all I want."

Hess has similar plans: He'd love it if his favorite team, the Steelers, somehow drafted his old buddy, but he's inclined to see Trey succeed regardless of location, and he's prepared to give his allegiance.

"He told me he'd like a good situation, ideally with a quarterback that's a great leader that he can watch and learn from," Hess says. "When it happens and he gets picked, I'm gonna be at the draft party like, 'Everybody shut up, I was his friend first.' I'll get his jersey right away and frame it."

Chances are, the town of Marshall will do the same. Back home, things are proceeding as normal. The spring flowers are growing. Students are gearing up for graduation. (Among them: Lance's brother who's already committed to NDSU as a wide receiver.) If Lance were in town, and no one knew any better, it'd be normal all the same. Because beneath the superstar-in-waiting is just another small-town kid who happens to be doing unusual things.

"In Marshall," Hess says, "you grow up, you go to college, you raise a family, and that's it. That's the motion. Trey was different. He's doing the things the third-grade teachers tell you will never happen: Making it to the NFL."

The best part: He's still Trey Lance.

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2021 NFL Draft: How Trey Lance went from small town and small school to the NFL's next big thing at QB - CBS Sports

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