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Olson: Life-saving story is told

Dora Irons-Welch was determined that her story be told.

So determined, in fact, that my office was the second place she went after she was discharged from Kishwaukee Community Hospital on Wednesday.

Her first stop was Velasquez Mufflers and Brakes in DeKalb, to thank the people she says saved her life on New Year’s Eve.

Irons-Welch, 53, of Cortland, took her Chevy Impala to the auto repair shop at 1331 Sycamore Road on Monday for an oil change and some brake work.

“As I sat there for about 15, 20 minutes, I could feel myself getting short of breath,” Irons-Welch said. “So I told the receptionist, ‘I need to go to the doctor, I’m having an asthma attack.’ ”

The receptionist, Kleady Armenta, gave Irons-Welch her keys, but then saw that she didn’t get far in trying to leave.

“She was still in the parking lot, and her doors were open and her car was running,” said Armenta, who graduated from DeKalb High School in June. “She looked really bad, so I went out there to see if she needed an ambulance or something.”

When Armenta got to the car, she could tell her customer was in bad shape. Some of her family members have asthma, and Armenta decided the best thing to do was to take Irons-Welch to the hospital herself.

She got two of the shop mechanics, Julio Miranda and Jose Garcia, to help move Irons-Welch into the passenger seat, and drove to the hospital.

Once she got there, it was slightly awkward. Armenta said she parked the car in front of the hospital and gave the keys to the valet. Hospital staff took Irons-Welch away in a wheelchair, leaving Armenta to try to check her in.

“I didn’t know her name, they were asking me for her birthdate, I was like, ‘I don’t know her,’ ” Armenta said. “I looked in her wallet for her ID and everything because I didn’t know.”

When she finally had her faculties about her, Irons-Welch said she was a little bit worried about her belongings. She had gifts for family members in the car and a significant amount of cash in her purse, all of it left in the care of a stranger.

All of it was returned to her untouched. And as for that ride to the hospital?

“After I was able to be myself, the doctor said, ‘You know, if she hadn’t brought you here, you wouldn’t have made it because you wouldn’t have had time to wait for an ambulance,’ ” Irons-Welch said. “I was in bad shape.”

Like most people who aren’t seeking attention, Armenta seemed surprised that Irons-Welch came back to say thank you and that later a reporter called her on the phone.

“I didn’t expect anything I just got back to work and went home and told my parents about it,” Armenta said. “I thought that was the end of it. I didn’t expect her to come back and say thank you or anything.“

Irons-Welch still has an upper respiratory infection, but she made her doctor let her out Wednesday after spending all of New Year’s Day in the hospital. She was determined to share her story and remind people that for all the bad things we hear about, there’s a lot of good done every day, too.

“I’m just so sick of the bad stuff,” she said. “I want some people to hear something good, and I think this is something really good.”

Can’t argue with her there. Just goes to show: When we’re good to each other, it’s good for all of us.

• • •

Eat the rich?: I’m not sure when the solution to our country’s budget problems became taxing rich people more.

As though there’s this vast resource of wealth that’s somehow not part of our country’s economy and somehow not under the control of the government.

As though government, if it took and redistributed more of Americans’ income, would spend it better.

Uh ... no.

The only time governments are truly prudent money managers is when they’re forced. Usually they’re the ones that don’t borrow excessively, don’t count on annual increases in the amount of taxes they collect, and can’t print their own money and run up deficits in the trillions.

I’ve yet to see any problems solved in the long term by increasing taxes. They tried that in Springfield when Gov. Pat Quinn and state Democrats rammed a 66 percent income tax increase down our throats in 2011.

What did that solve? Nothing. All that extra cash was gobbled up by unfunded pension obligations that continue to grow and soon will probably reach $100 billion.

How about this new plan to tax the rich people in America, those with household incomes of $450,000 or more a year? We get some more of their money and that’ll solve things, right?

No. The deficit will continue to grow because so many of our representatives can’t bear to change the way government spends our money.

Last time I checked, the government hasn’t opened many factories, started many technology companies, or opened any delis that make great roast beef sandwiches with just the right amount of horseradish.

Who does that? Those darn rich people, or people who are willing to take a risk in hopes of becoming rich, or at least financially secure.

It’s not unreasonable to ask a small tax increase of people with means, I suppose. But can’t we cut spending, please, too? It got out of hand about $10 trillion ago.

• • •

I’m not ready: A classmate of mine in high school died over the weekend.

It was terrible news, and even though we weren’t too close, I felt sad for him and his family.

Like me, he was in his mid-30s. He died of a heart attack. I’m not ready for my contemporaries to be dying of such things.

I learned of it through Facebook, through friends communicating with others who were Lake Park High School alums. We don’t live in the same town, and it’s doubtful I would have seen an obituary for him otherwise.

Then I got an invite to his funeral service. Through Facebook. With his account.

I know this is the new way of the world. I embrace it in many ways

But it just seemed eerie to have a man inviting me to his own funeral among the trivial tidbits of living, photos of new guitars and dogs, and passing remarks about TV shows and the NFL playoffs.

Don’t know if I’m ready for that, either. Not that I was consulted.

• • •

On the bright side: I won’t leave you all on a downer. I’m a Monty Python fan. I always look on the bright side.

The DeKalb Park District is going to work to buy the 41-acre Kiwanis Park property from Dekalb School District 428 so that it remains green space.

Jordan Lynch plans to return for another season as the quarterback at NIU; the Bears have parted ways with Lovie Smith; and the Cubs have not been eliminated from playoff contention yet. They might even play hockey this year.

Meanwhile, we’re a year closer to the 2014 pullout of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, and the final episodes of “Breaking Bad” will air in about six months or so.

That’s better, isn’t it?

• Eric Olson is the editor of the Daily Chronicle. Reach him at 815-756-4841, ext. 2257, or email

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