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Edgework

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The week following the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001 held enormous grief but some joy as well.

Six days after the World Trade Center terrorism, our sweet granddaughter Rianna, now 16, was born in Ames.

A few days before, Karen’s younger brother, Duane Akers, perished in a grain bin with wet corn at its bottom. His company was rushed to finish the work, and Duane entered the bin without wearing a safety harness.

The company issued no statement, maintaining that its attorneys advised to say nothing until a pending investigation was completed.

The Akers family sued, and after years of litigation, the corporation was held accountable for nothing. It did pay for what amounted to funeral expenses.

Duane’s employer at least issued the tepid but probable statement that lawyers told them to stay hush-hush.

That’s more than Hallett Materials conceded the day after a truck driver was found dead at the bottom of its sand pit, full of ice and water.

Like Duane’s company, Hallett may have been hurried to finish a job. Just south of the quarry, workers are sweating night and day to finish a county bridge on 155th Street. Is Hallett providing materials for the bridge construction site?

No, the new bridge construction has nothing to do with Hallett Materials. A call to the country engineer confirmed that. Hallett owns property—north and south--adjacent to the bridge and crosses 155th Street when it moves dirt.

But who knew? Hallett isn’t talking. An autopsy on driver Christopher McMullen will at least provide conjecture until an investigation is finished.

First rule of crisis communication: get a statement out there, so the public doesn’t rush to judgment you’re covering something up. Even a whiff of transparency, whether sincere or not, is better than nothing.

Instead, five days after McMullen was found face down at the bottom of the pit, Hallett Materials remains silent, as quiet as the worksite that appears shut down.

On Friday afternoon, phone calls to Hallett—beginning in Wall Lake and Ankeny and Human Resources offices--were kicked upstairs so fast that receptionists barely got out “let me transfer you.”   

A call which finally reached corporate headquarters wasn’t answered.

If Hallett officials believed they had anything to gain by issuing a public statement, there would have been one by now.

In the past five days, a young man from out of state was found dead in a sand pit filled with ice and water on a property owned by Hallett Materials. They can’t even offer public condolences?

Maybe in the time-honored fashion, Hallett Materials will send some flowers.

  

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