Settings #14 – The Westwynd Apartment Complex

When Ro made the decision to get her own place, the only apartments she even considered was the Westwynd Complex, for two reasons. First, because it was adjacent to the Shadowbrook Bike Path, where she liked to go for her runs; second because it backed up against a wooded area known as the Bottoms, which, of course, tied into her “thing” for trees. She chose the specific building and second-floor apartment because of its view of The Bottoms.

The complex was called Westwynd because it was on the west side of Lee’s Landing and because it had been built in the late eighties by the Wynd Brothers Development Company based out of Des Moines, Iowa. In fact, designing and furnishing the interior of the clubhouse had been one of the earliest projects for Kate Delahanty Design, Ro’s mother’s commercial interiors business.

The entire complex involved forty stand-alone buildings that added up to two-hundred-and-forty units, mostly two-bedrooms, like Ro’s, along with some studio, one-bedroom, and townhouse apartments.

The entire complex was a right-angle triangle, a little over half-a-mile wide at the base and not-quite-a-mile long north-to-south. The base of the triangle, the southern end of the property, was bounded by Shadowbrook creek and the bike path; the western side butted up to The Bottoms; the eastern side, the triangle’s hypotenuse, was against Old Post Road, a major cross-town commercial street in Lee’s Landing. There were two entrances to the complex off Old Post Road, one at the north end, one at the south.

The complex’s buildings were all positioned around the outer perimeter of the property, fronting on Westwynd Drive; each building had its own parking lot in front. In the center was the clubhouse, with the rental office, a vending area, meeting-party room and fitness center. An outdoor pool was behind the clubhouse.

Most of the buildings were all two-and-a-half stories with slightly below grade garden apartments, then two levels above that. The entire complex had a faux Tudor-style motif.

Ro’s building, Building Six, was toward the south end of the property, but on the west side of Westwynd Drive, about fifty yards from the bike path. Her apartment was unit six, on the south side of the second floor, so her address was 606 Westwynd Drive.

Next: Ro’s apartment

© 2019 Dave Lager

Settings #13: Ro gets her own place

As you know, Ro Delahanty wanted to be a cop since she was in fifth grade – nothing else; a cop. So, it should be no surprise that after graduating from high school in May of 2000, that fall she enrolled in the two-year criminal justice associate’s program at Mississippi Valley Community College (MVCC), over on the Illinois side of the river.

But, like so many eighteen-year-olds in their first year of college, she discovered partying and enthusiastically explored all aspects of that life-style. She did okay in her classes, mostly C’s and a couple of B’s. However, at the end of the year she figured out that while the party-life held a great deal of attraction for her, it was incompatible with becoming a cop – at least a being good cop. It‘d be awkward, to say the least, to be slapping handcuffs on a suspected drug dealer with whom you may recently have had a one night stand.

So, she decided instead of returning to MVCC in the fall of 2001 she would enroll in the Parker National Institute of Criminal Justice’s online bachelor’s in law enforcement program.

And get a job and her own apartment.

The job came first. And was the result of one of those serendipitous coincidence that makes one wonder if there really is something called “fate.”

Ro had met Penny Weiskopf, who was the Lee’s Landing Police Department’s first female officer, when Ro was in eighth grade and had done a ride-along in Wieskopf’s patrol car as part of a career exploration project. Over the years they stayed in contact, having lunch from time-to-time.

In 1997 Weiskopf moved over to the Fort Armstrong County Sheriff’s Department, which is how, in the summer of 2001, she knew the department was looking for a third shift dispatcher and called Ro to see if she was interested in the position. Ro got the job, starting that July.

Then came the apartment.

Ro had certainly never been unhappy living in her parent’s home; it wasn’t like she couldn’t wait to get out. But, at the same time, she always had a strong streak of independence and if she was taking her life in a different direction, getting her own place was simply something she felt she needed to do.

However, since she was only nineteen, someone had to co-sign the lease, which Kate, her mother, was more than happy to do. While Kate had offered to help her daughter explore different apartment complexes around Lee’s Landing, Ro told her the only one she was really interested in looking at was the Westwynd complex.

Next: The Westwynd Apartments

© 2019 Dave Lager

Aaron Copland on “writing”

“The whole point of composing is to feel inevitable.”

Aaron Copland (1900-1990) – Composer and conductor

Although he was writing about his world of music, it seems to me just as germane concerning what we do as writers.

Settings #12 – A re-introduction

“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” – George Bernard Shaw

I changed my mind…

Last fall I started a series of blog posts that I called “Settings,” the idea being they would be more detailed descriptions of geographic locations in my Ro Delahanty novels than I could legitimately fit into the story narrative. The emphasis was initially going to be on the geography of Fort Armstrong County.

I then thought I’d start another series of posts called “Places,” this time focusing on buildings – Ro’s apartment, the Delahanty’s home, and so on.

But then it struck me that the difference between “settings” and “places” was semantical nit-picking at best, to say nothing of confusing for the reader, so, I decided to merge them into one expanded “Settings” series, since they really are all “settings.”

This is a re-introduction of that series; the remainder of these “Settings” posts is now going to include:

Settings #13 – Ro gets her own place

Settings #14 – The Westwynd Apartment Complex

Settings #15 – Ro’s specific apartment

Settings #16 – Her study

Settings #17 – The York Ridge Lane house where Ro grew up

Settings #18 – Her childhood bedroom

Settings #19 – Atti’s childhood “studio apartment”

Settings #20 – Tuck’s condo in downtown Lee’s Landing

Settings #21 – The old sheriff’s department headquarters in the courthouse in downtown Lee’s Landing

Settings #22 – The new Regional Law Enforcement Campus, which included & sheriff’s HQ…

Next: Ro decides to take her life in a different direction

© 2019 Dave Lager

The ADHD story-teller

In my long ago youth I was a newspaper reporter… That is the only time I can think of when I’ve been able to function as a straight linear story-teller – you go to a meeting, you report on the facts of what happened….done The writer of fiction, however, is rarely, if ever a linear story-teller – for example, I am currently at work on the fourth Ro Delahanty novel, “Twists and Turns,” as well two novellas, “A Sniper’s Day” and “The Neshnala Saga” – definitely an ADHD approach.

Words matter

“Words are sacred, they deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world.”

Tom Stoppard (1937-  ) – Playwright, screenwriter

Unfortunately, that coin has two sides; when someone consistently twists words and cynically uses them with disrespect, well, they can nudge the world toward the dark side.

Settings #11 – Trader’s Island: Canoes to towboats

Trader’s Island is a nearly 600-acre island (about a mile-and-a-half long and a half-mile wide) in the Mississippi River near the Iowa shore, several miles west of Lee’s Landing.

It got its name because it was where white traders in the late 1700s and early 1800s put their canoes ashore to meet with local Native Americans to trade goods like cooking pots, axes, blankets, steel knives, traps, rifles, tobacco and whiskey for fur pelts. It was once heavily wooded, with open meadows where the Native Americans would set-up their camps for trading.

However, because the main channel of the Mississippi River in the area favors the Iowa side, it became a spot where steamboats and later towboats and barges would tie-up and load and unload. In fact, today’s island is cluttered with dozens of buildings and warehouses − some as big as half a football field, others like the large pole buildings you see on farms − parking areas, docks and storage and loading yards. There is a maze of roadways that often dead -end at buildings or rails spurs, or jog right or left around fenced storage yards.

Entrance to the island is at either end from River Road via combined railroad and roadway bridges.

The island is officially owned by the U.S. Government through the Army Corps of Engineers, with the occupants all paying long-term lease fees. However, because the Corps has only a very small police force, whose main job is to check campers in corps developed campgrounds up and down the river, they have contracted with the Fort Armstrong County Sheriff’s Department to provide law enforcement on Trader’s Island.

In effect, the government contract reimburses the county for a part-time deputy who is supposed to patrol the area occasionally and respond to calls when necessary.

In the early Ro Delahanty novels the island is part of Ro’s regular assigned patrol area, the western third of the county.

But I have the kernel of an idea for a future Ro novel in which Trader’s Island would play a significant role. Stay tuned…

Next: We’re taking a holiday break; the next Settings post will be January 2nd

© 2018 Dave Lager


My apologies to you, Mr. Green, but I somehow incorrectly added three decades to your age in yesterday’s post of your writer’s quote – your actual birth year is 1977, not 1948. I honestly don’t know where I came up with that other date.

And thanks, Sandra Schehl for giving me a heads-up on this…

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