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Iowa wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette (6) scores on a 13-yard pass during the first half of the Outback Bowl against Mississippi State Tuesday.

Seeing double: 2019's first babies are twins (PHOTOS)

WATERLOO — Not one, but two babies were born in Waterloo shortly after 2019 began.

The Cedar Valley’s first babies were a set of twins born shortly after midnight. The world welcomed Miral Al-Hassan at 12:22 a.m. and her brother Mahammed Al-Hassan at 12:24 a.m. Tuesday at Covenant Medical Center.

Younis Al-Hassan, 38, and his wife, Reham Albashrawi, 31, came in for a check-up New Year’s Eve and unexpectedly met their first son and daughter New Year’s Day.

They weren’t planning to be going home with babies, but their doctor told them they had to deliver then, otherwise there were risks for the babies and their mother, Hassan said.

After they filled out their paperwork, Albashrawi was brought into a delivery room.

“It was unbelievable when we saw the first baby come in (to this world) and I was crying, and her mom was crying,” Hassan said.

It’s an unbelievable feeling for Hassan, who just completed his doctorate in education at the University in Northern Iowa last week.

His doctoral dissertation research was titled “Non-profit Leader’s Risk-Taking Propensity and Managerial Leadership Styles” and his major was allied health, recreation and community service.

The twins were supposed to be born around 37 weeks, but instead they came after 35 weeks.

“There was no plan for it,” Hassan said. Hassan and his wife were surprised to give birth two weeks early. “It was surprising for us.”

Miral is 4 pounds, 14 ounces and 19 inches long; Mahammed is 4 pounds, 11 ounces and 17.5 inches long.

Hassan and his wife are originally from Saudi Arabia. He came to Iowa around 2013 to work on his doctorate, while his wife traveled back and forth between the two countries, working as a dentist in Saudi Arabia.

They’ve been married since 2011.

After they found out Hashrawi was pregnant they decided to stay in Iowa to have the children.

Both babies are healthy and mom is recovering.

“It was unbelievable,” Hassan said. “It is an outstanding feeling.”


Andy Fuchtman co-owns the three Sidecar Coffee shops in the Cedar Valley. Photo taken at Hartman Reserve Nature Center in Cedar Falls.

Andy Fuchtman: Roasting the craft coffee competition

Sixteenth in a series on this year’s 20 Under 40 winners.

WATERLOO — It was a chance encounter that led Andy Fuchtman to the career of his dreams.

Fuchtman was a musician at Orchard Hill Church in Cedar Falls when he first met Brent Dahlstrom. The two became friends, and several years later became co-owners of Sidecar Coffee shops in the Cedar Valley.

“I feel really lucky that Brent called me that day because I’ve found something I really, really love to do,” Fuchtman said.

The two, along with Jed Vander Zanden, who is in charge of roasting the coffee beans, operate three Sidecar Coffee shops in the Cedar Valley.

Fuchtman, originally from Ankeny, moved to Cedar Falls and graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with an English degree.

The College Hill Partnership, a nonprofit group that promotes the College Hill area near the UNI campus, conducted a survey in 2012 on what businesses the neighborhood would most like to see. A coffee shop was at the top of the list. In November 2013, Sidecar Coffee was born.

“I had always thought that I was kind of a coffee expert,” he said, noting he was known in several of his workplaces as the most picky about coffee. “I kept finding out more and more that I knew almost nothing about coffee.”

So he poured his time and energy into teaching himself the ins and outs of the coffee business. He visited his friends’ workplaces and offered his barista talents to gain experience and work on recipes.

Sidecar now has three locations — College Hill in Cedar Falls, Ridgeway Avenue in Waterloo and downtown Waterloo — as well as a mobile coffee truck.

“None of this stuff that’s unfolded was part of my plan. It turns out I love it more than anything else that I’ve done,” Fuchtman said.

The coffee business is ever-changing, he said, and staying on top of the latest trends in the larger coffee community is important to Fuchtman.

He is currently working to expand retail sales of coffee, with packaged Sidecar coffee available for purchase in more grocery stores and co-ops across the state.

Part of the Sidecar culture, he said, is teaming together to brainstorm new coffee flavors, with a twist.

The Jessica Rabbit includes cinnamon, carrot juice and turmeric.

“When the seasons change, we try to have at least one of our seasonal lattes be at least slightly culinary,” he said.

Alexander Hottle, a Sidecar employee, said Fuchtman empowers his employees “to be hard-working and strive to continue creating the positive work environment that he has created as well as allowing people to grow in the hospitality industry.”

Hottle nominated Fuchtman for the 20 Under 40 award, where he explained the camaraderie of Sidecar employees and owners. He said Fuchtman always introduces the employees as co-workers.

Fuchtman also is president of the College Hill Partnership, active with the Cedar Valley Boxing Club and a musician with local bands The Diplomats and Sugarfoot.

Fuchtman is married and a father of four children: Emma, 14, Corin, 12, Ian, 10, and Alexander, 8.

His next venture will be helping with the opening of Verve Kombucha, which is set to open in the Public Market building in downtown Waterloo.

“I think it’s going to be a huge win for our project and also that whole downtown plaza area,” he said.

‘None of this stuff that’s unfolded was part of my plan. It turns out I love it more than anything else that I’ve done.’

UPDATE WITH NAMES: 2 shot in incident on College Hill early Tuesday

CEDAR FALLS — Cedar Falls police are asking for the public’s help in solving a double shooting early New Year’s morning in the College Hill area.

Two Waterloo teenagers were wounded when a person fired shots into a crowd in the 2200 block of College Street about 1:45 a.m. Tuesday, police said.

Corey Jermaine Dunn Jr., 18, and Sincere Lanae Jones, 18, were struck by bullets early Tuesday morning. 

One person was shot in the hand, and another was shot in the foot. The window of the Octopus bar, 2205 College St., and a vehicle also were hit by gunfire. One person was taken to the hospital by ambulance and a second went to the hospital by private vehicle.

Police said the shooting took place outside on College Street, which is only a short distance from the University of Northern Iowa campus.

“One of the officers out there heard gunfire, went toward the scene and heard multiple shots,” said Police Chief Jeff Olson.

Police said someone fired several shots from a handgun into a crowd of people. The Cedar Falls officer on the scene ran after the shooter, but lost the person in a neighborhood around College Hill.

“The individual had quite a head start,” Olson said.

No one has yet been apprehended.

“One of the individuals involved has a connection to gang members in the local metro area,” Olson said.

Police continue looking for the shooter. Police encourage anyone who witnessed or has footage of the incident to come forward.

“If anyone happens to have pictures from their cell phones at anytime around that (scene), we’d like to take at look at that,” Olson said.

UNI students are on winter break until Jan. 14.

Dike boy dies in Texas crash

DIKE — The Dike community is mourning the loss of a local boy who perished in an auto accident while on a religious mission in Texas.

Hudson Hayes, 11, died in a two-vehicle crash on Interstate 35 south of the Dallas-Fort Worth area while traveling to Laredo.

“He was just starting to grow up, kind of losing that little kiddish part,” uncle Joel Hayes said Monday.

“He was a really nice kid, he was very polite. He enjoyed riding dirt bikes and being outside,” Joel Hayes said.

Joel Hayes and his brother — Hudson’s father Dustin Hayes — operate a drainage tile company, and young Hudson — who went to Dike Elementary and would have turned 12 in February — was reaching the age where he was helping with the business.

Family members had taken part in Seed Sowers projects before, but the trip to Texas would have been the farthest for them, Joel Hayes said.

“Kids from all over the country, the teenagers and younger hand out Bible texts door to door. Then there would be a gospel campaign done at the same time while they are down there. That’s what they were headed for,” Joel Hayes said.

Dustin Hayes, Hudson, Hudson’s sister, 13-year-old Emma, and Dustin’s friend, Spencer Gull of Garnavillo, had traveled through the night and were near mile marker 389 outside of Italy, Texas, when the crash happened around 6:40 a.m. Saturday.

The Iowa minivan was disabled in the roadway from a previous collision when it was struck from behind by a Dodge pickup truck, according to Texas media accounts.

Italy police said multiple vehicles were involved and at least five others were injured.

Joel Hayes said his brother had a concussion and hurt his back, and Emma suffered a broken collar bone and a leg injury. Gull, who was driving the van, also was injured and has since been released from the hospital, he said.

Media accounts said the pickup driver, 33-year-old Emmanuel Compos-Carrera from Dallas, was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

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