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Longtime i wireless Center staffer finds perfect mix at arena job
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Photo: Stephanie Makosky
Gerry Iverson of Rock Island has been an usher at the i wireless Center in Moline for 16 years. She also works the switchboard and information desk in the afternoons.
MOLINE -- Photographs of Rod Stewart, KISS, Eric Clapton, Reba McEntire, Cher and Elton John are but steps from her chair. The personable and outgoing sort sitting near the personages feels as though she knows them all.

"Those faces around the walls and the (Quad City) Mallards in those 'big' years have made this arena the destination it has become," said Gerry Iverson, usher-receptionist at the i wireless Center. "It's amazing the kinds of acts we have had and continue to attract. It says something about the building, the staff, and it says something about the people of the Quad-Cities who support it."

Ms. Iverson had no idea she'd be employed at the i wireless Center when it opened as The Mark of the Quad-Cities 17 years ago on land donated by Deere & Co. For her there was no vision other than being an event-goer.

"I looked around while attending a Reba (one of her favorite entertainers) show and thought this would be a great place to have a job," said the Rock Island woman. "It was nine months after the building opened, and I've had a great time since."

Monday through Friday, from 12:30 to 5 p.m., Ms. Iverson mans the switchboard and information desk at the events center. She directs calls and answers a bevy of questions about the arena and coming attractions. Her usher duties start about 90 minutes prior to that day's event with a rundown of what's happening, what kind of crowd the night will bring and what to expect.

Her role is simple: assist the patrons and make their concert or sporting-event experience pleasant and safe.

"It's important to understand people have spent hard-earned money and want to have a good time," said Ms. Iverson. "Our goal is to make sure they enjoy the event they paid to see. People are friendly and sometimes need assistance to find a seat, locate the bathrooms (her most-asked question) and learn what the arena is about. You can make a difference in someone's experience and you want that experience to be a good one."

Ms. Iverson said i wireless staffers go through periodic training, refresher courses in customer relations and safety. She was, however, not ready for one new experience her job provided.

"I never knew what marijuana smelled like," she said with a giggle about first smelling the distinct aroma wafting from certain members of the crowd. "I don't remember what concert it was, but I was not familiar with it. The KISS concert is the craziest I have ever seen it here, but it was a good crazy. I mean it gets loud for concerts and people get into the music, but everyone is respectful of each other. I'd say the KISS concert was the loudest for me and the most excited I have seen fans."

In addition to Ms. McEntire, Ms. Iverson has a soft spot for kids and the i wireless Center. Whether for the circus or other children-themed acts, Ms. Iverson said it's great to see youngsters on board. And let us not forget the soft side she has for the local hockey team.

"Maybe the Mallards did not put the building on the map in those great years, but they sure helped get it recognized," Ms. Iverson said. "Those were great days. The championships and the arena filled almost every night with great fans. I'm a fan. Those were some amazing times."

In her 16 years, Ms. Iverson said she has seen less than a handful of unruly fans at arena events.

"It's not an issue," she said. "Our security staff is so good, and clear heads usually prevail. The environment is always positive. Truth is people just want to enjoy a night out."

Ms. Iverson said she has found the perfect job, splitting time in the i wireless front office and working hands-on for a variety of events.

"I'm a fan and I buy tickets to events here," she said. "And when I'm not attending something, I'm working and getting to see others having a great time. You can't beat that.

"You can't beat the people I work with and the atmosphere of my job. I love that our community knows the arena is an important place and supports it. It's a place where people come to have a good time, and you can't beat working in a place like that."

Local events heading

  Today is Wednesday, Sept. 17, the 260th day of 2014. There are 105 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: We are told league merchants have paid no attention to the prohibition on selling ammunition, but continue to sell just as before the order was issued.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The Rev. R.F. Sweet, rector of Trinity Episcopal Parish, left for the East to visit his boyhood home in Boston before attending the general convention of the Episcopal Church in New York.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Dr. E.A. Anderson was named to succeed Dr. E.L. Kerns as head physician of the Modern Woodmen of America, and moved to Rock Island from Holdingford, Minn.
1939 -- 75 years ago: One week late, because of the outbreak of war, Dr. E.L. Beyer resumed his work as professor of romance languages at Augustana College. Dr. and Mrs. Beyer left Germany on the last train to the Belgian border.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Employees in Turnstyle stores in Moline and Davenport will vote Oct. 2 in an election set up by the Chicago regional office of the National Labor Relations Board. Employees will vote either for the Retail Clerk International or for no union.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Rock Island High School is considering a step to help teen moms stay in school and get their diploma. The school board is expected to vote tonight on instituting an on-site child care center.

(More History)