REINBECK — The kids typically lined up outside the Tscherter house on Halloween night. The guy who lived there was handing out cool Hot Wheels miniature race cars for treats.
That was Steve Tscherter. He had a large Hot Wheels collection. He also jump started the local bank and many farmers during the agricultural crisis of the 1980s.
He crossed the finish line of life Sunday. He died at age 71 of a sudden illness. Friends and colleagues say as a banker and a community leader, Tscherter took the checkered flag.
He began his career in 1968 as a federal bank examiner and was with Lincoln Savings Bank in Reinbeck from 1979 until his retirement in 2015, most of that time as president. He continued on as board chairman until January of this year.
During his early years at LSB, “the bank had its challenges,” said Erik Skovgard, who succeeded Tscherter as president. “He had to have some tough conversations with farmers to get their operations turned around, getting them to a position where they could be successful and pay back their loans. Not the first thing you want to do when you come to a community. But that’s what he had to do when he came to Reinbeck.”
Later, after conditions improved in the ’90s, Lincoln was at a position where it could either acquire other banks and expand or be bought out itself.
“We acquired a couple of banks in Aplington and Allison and after that the rest was history,” Skovgard said. “We probably had $40 million to $50 million in assets at that point.” Lincoln expanded into the Waterloo-Cedar Falls area and, about 5 1/2 years ago, into the Des Moines-Ankeny-Adel area. Today the bank has $1.1 billion in assets with 19 locations and 285 employees, compared with about 20 when Tscherter started there.
Also in the early 1990s, Tscherter instituted an employee stock ownership program, or ESOP.
“He was a great banker,” Lincoln board chairman Milt Dakovich said of Tscherter. “He was very interested in personal service, very interested in giving back to the community, very interested in having himself and others in the bank serving on community organizations. He was quite involved with the (Greater Cedar Valley) Alliance and Chamber. He was involved in Leader in Me, Dollars for Scholars and very much encouraged those who worked at the bank to be similarly involved. We’ll miss him at the bank and we’ll miss him as a friend.”
Kris Jones of Waterloo, Tscherter’s son-in-law, said, “He was a good person. He helped me build my house. He was very detail oriented. He loved to sing. He enjoyed his grandkids and he enjoyed sports, for sure.
“He’d pick up my sons and they’d go buy cases of Hot Wheels,” Jones said. Tscherter kept the collector’s items for himself and let the grandkids play with the others.
“He was a true professional, but I guess he helped me ‘up’ my game in life,” Jones said. He also noted his father-in-law would attend state athletic tournaments in Des Moines to cheer on his workers’ children. “He was very good at supporting his employees’ families.”
“He helped me move into my first house,” Skovgard said. “I had just moved out of an apartment, I had just graduated from the (University of Northern Iowa). He helped me move furniture. He was disappointed I didn’t have more to move.
“He was a good leader,” Skovgard said. “He challenged you ... but he had a tremendous amount of grace” and would grant “second, third and fourth chances” to help people succeed.
Tscherter would have marked his 50th anniversary in banking in October. Knowing he was critically ill, the Iowa Bankers Association and his friends at Lincoln moved up that celebration, presenting him his 50-year award Feb. 1.
“That was a very touching ceremony. I think it meant a lot for Steve,” Iowa Bankers Association president John Sorensen said. “Steve was clearly a leader in our industry” and a mentor. “He was just a great person and very kind, very interested in others’ lives in addition to being a good, solid banker.”
INDEPENDENCE — A district court judge has turned down a request for a new trial in the case of a Coralville woman convicted in the death of her son in Littleton in 2008.
Michelle Lynn Kehoe, 44, said anxiety, depression and a fluctuation in her medication prevented her from taking the stand in her own defense during her 2009 trial.
She was accused of cutting the throats of her two sons — killing 2-year-old Seth and injuring her 7 year old — and cutting herself at a pond outside Littleton on Oct. 26, 2008. She initially claimed they had been kidnapped after stopping at a convenience store but eventually admitted to the attacks.
At trial, her attorneys mounted an insanity defense. She was found guilty of first-degree murder and is currently serving a life sentence.
During a September 2017 hearing, Kehoe said her attorneys at the time of the trial should have evaluated her mental health in the lead-up to trial and shouldn’t have advised her not to testify. She told Judge Richard Stochl the jury needed to hear from her that she was out of control on the day of the slaying.
In a decision filed Feb. 6, Stochl said Kehoe’s attorneys weren’t ineffective.
“This court does not find that her attorneys, considering she was under regular medical care, had any duty to obtain further medical opinions as to her ability to assist in her own defense and stand up for herself in confrontations with them,” Stochl wrote in his opinion.
“If her own psychiatrist and counselors could not identify a mental health disorder that made it impossible for her to participate in her own defense, her defense attorneys surely should not be expected to do so,” Stochl’s ruling continues.
Stochl noted while Kehoe hadn’t seen her psychiatrist in the weeks before trial, she had been attending counseling and had talked intelligently with her counselor about the upcoming court date.
He also noted Kehoe had waived her right to testify during a brief hearing during trial.
Her attorney said their strategy was to bring out Kehoe’s story through two people who treated her.
“Counsel’s advice that she not testify was clearly trial strategy because it was perceived that her story came in better through her experts … rather than through her,” Stochl wrote in his decision.
Kehoe has filed a notice that she will appeal Stochl’s ruling.
WATERLOO – The Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley is accepting nominations now through March 16 for the 2018 Mayors’ Volunteer Awards and Top Teen Awards.
The awards recognize individuals who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to service through volunteerism in the Cedar Valley.
The Mayors’ Volunteer Awards honor the exemplary contributions of individuals 19 and older who dedicate their time and talent to volunteerism in Cedar Falls, Waterloo, Evansdale and surrounding communities in Black Hawk County.
The Mayors’ Top Teen Awards honor youths ages 13-18 attending a school in Black Hawk County. The Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa also selects one junior from each of the accredited high schools in Black Hawk County to receive the $1000 Mother Moon Service Scholarship.
All nominees and recipients will be recognized at special events May 1. More details will follow.
Nomination forms are available online at www.vccv.org or may be requested by contacting the Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley at 272-2087 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The awards program is sponsored by the cities of Cedar Falls, Evansdale and Waterloo, the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance and Chamber Ambassadors, the Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa, the RJ McElroy Trust and the Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley.
VINTON – The city has torn down walls of two businesses that were hit by fire Thursday night.
The remaining exterior walls at Michael & Dowd Furniture and Clingman Pharmacy were removed because they were unstable and presented a danger, according to city officials.
The blaze broke out at the furniture store and spread to the pharmacy building and nearby Fischer Law Firm before it was brought under control.
Because debris from the roof and upper floor collapsed, firefighters struggled to reach the fire in the basements of Michael & Dowd and Clingman that continued to burn and send up smoke over the weekend. On Sunday, the Vinton Fire Department was able to extinguish most of the remaining basement fires with the help of a demolition contractor and heavy equipment, city officials said.
Power was restored to neighboring businesses Friday, and the city planned to reopen the streets in the area of the fire Monday.
Q: What are the seven children (septuplets) of Bobbi and Kenny McCaughey from Carlisle doing these days? How old are they now?
A: They all graduated from high school in 2016 and are now 20. Four of them started college at Hannibal-LaGrange University in Missouri, which offered free tuition for all the kids. Two are attending college in Des Moines, and one son joined the U.S. Army.
Q: How does Waterloo City Council justify giving a 4 percent increase in pay to themselves and certain officials when the cost of living only went up 2 percent?
A: The Waterloo City Council did not vote to give themselves 4 percent raises. We think you are confusing the council with the Black Hawk County Board of Supervisors, which voted to approve 4 percent raises for the county government's elected officials. We also reported the justification provided, which was the recommendation of a compensation board that found Black Hawk County's elected officials wages lagged compared to those in other large counties.
Q: What is the annual salary of the manager at Country View?
A: The Country View administrator's current annual salary is $100,530.
Q: Who was James Glaze going after in his editorial Feb. 1? It sounded threatening. Do you know what it was about?
A: He appears to be referring to officials in the FBI and the Justice Department, who some Republicans contend have politicized the Russia investigation.
Q: What kind of background does the man who advertises “My Pillow” have?
A: Mike Lindell grew up in Chaska, Minn., briefly attended the University of Minnesota, started several businesses and battled cocaine addiction while starting MyPillow in 2004, but has been sober since 2009, according to Wikipedia. He is divorced with grown children.
Q: Where did the term skid row come from?
A: It's a variation of "skid road," meaning the greased road along which loggers dragged timber to the mills, originally used in Washington state. The skid roads were places where men gathered to look for work. When jobs dried up during the Depression, the phrase eventually turned into skid row, meaning the place in a town where down-and-out men gathered.
Q: How many children does Judge Judy have? Do any work in the law profession?
A: She has two children and three stepchildren. At least three of them are lawyers.
Q: What did actor Michael Clarke Duncan -- John Coffey of the "Green Mile" -- die of in real life?
A: He died a couple of months after having a heart attack.
Q: Why hasn’t The Courier published the Nunes memo that was released Friday?
A: We don't have the space, so we have published stories describing the contents of the memo and the reaction to its release.
Q: Where is the West Fourth Street exit on U.S. Highway 20 as reported in the caption on the front page Feb. 9?
A: That was in error. The photographer was standing on the West Fourth Street overpass over Highway 20 when he took the picture of the snowy highway.
Calls are taken on a special Courier phone line at 234-3566. Questions are answered by Courier staff and staff at the Waterloo Public Library.