Civic News & Info
Grassley supports Branstad’s request for federal disaster assistance PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 02 May 2011 09:33

WASHINGTON – April 28, 2011 - Senator Chuck Grassley has asked the President to grant the request made by Governor Terry Branstad for a declaration of a major disaster in response to the tornadoes, high winds, heavy rain, large hail and thunderstorms that swept through Buena Vista, Cherokee, Ida, Monona, Pocahontas and Sac counties on April 9 and 10.

In a letter of request sent today to President Barack Obama, Grassley said, “The Governor determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments to handle effectively and federal assistance is needed.”

Grassley visited Mapleton and Early two weeks ago to see the tornado damage and talk with local residents about the recovery effort.

Here is the text of Grassley’s letter to the President:

April 28, 2011

The Honorable Barack Obama

President of the United States of America

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

I respectfully ask that you grant the request made by Iowa Governor Terry Branstad for a declaration of a major disaster for the State of Iowa as a result of a severe weather system that produced tornadoes, high winds, heavy rain, large hail, and thunderstorms on April 9-10, 2011.  The storms moved into Iowa and severely impacted Buena Vista, Cherokee, Ida, Monona, Pocahontas, and Sac Counties.

The Governor determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments to handle effectively and federal assistance is needed.

Thank you for your prompt consideration of this request.


Charles E. Grassley

United States Senator

Governor Quinn Announces Increased Bicycle Safety Reporting PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Andrew Mason   
Monday, 25 April 2011 12:26

New Tracking of “Dooring” Crashes Will Identify Problem Areas

CHICAGO – April 25, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn announced today that the state will begin tracking “dooring” crashes – accidents involving bicyclists who are struck by opened doors from parked cars. The change will take effect immediately to help determine locations where road improvements and public outreach efforts may be necessary to protect bicyclists from these dangerous collisions.

“As more people are riding bicycles and embracing other green modes of transportation, we need to ensure that Illinois collects data that presents a complete picture of what is happening on our roads,” said Governor Quinn. “This new initiative will address a major safety issue for bicyclists and drivers, and will make our roads safer for everyone.”

The new policy is the result of collaboration between Governor Quinn, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Active Transportation Alliance. Prior to the change in policy, dooring collisions went unrecognized in IDOT’s annual reporting of traffic statistics because a moving motor vehicle was not involved.

The data collected and analyzed by IDOT can be used to plan for improved roadway designs and additional communication with motorists in areas with high concentrations of bicyclists.

“We appreciate Governor Quinn’s action on this issue,” said Ron Burke, executive director of the Active Transportation Alliance, an advocacy organization that works to improve conditions for walking, biking and transit. “Data on dooring problem spots will help communities take steps to reduce these collisions. We are grateful IDOT will track these crashes, and look forward to working with them to increase safety and education surrounding dooring.”

To assist police in submitting the correct information, IDOT’s Division of Traffic Safety is reaching out to law enforcement agencies across the state with instructions on how to begin recording dooring crashes. Police departments that have already have begun tracking dooring collisions, including Chicago, will have their data included in the state’s traffic statistics, retroactive to May 2010.

“We are committed to working with our partners in law enforcement to make roads safer for bicyclists,” Illinois Transportation Secretary Gary Hannig said. “Safety always will be a top priority at IDOT. The recognition of dooring accidents is another step in the right direction.”



News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Ron Summers   
Tuesday, 19 April 2011 10:24

Davenport Parks and Recreation has announced two new features at Vander Veer Botanical Park for the 2011 Spring/Summer season.

School aged children visiting Vander Veer Botanical Park Conservatory can enjoy an interactive hunt and find fun sheet for spring. Counting bunnies, carrots, eggs and baskets throughout the display will bring a sweet reward when they drop off their completed sheet to The Park Store.

The observational beehive has returned to Vander Veer Botanical Park and can be seen in the Conservatory. 10,000 Italian honey bees are busy at work and fascinating to view. Find the queen bee by locating her prominent red marking. The beehive is maintained by local beekeeper, Phil Crandall and will be on display through the summer. Come take advantage of this amazing indoor display.

Since its establishment in 1885, gardens and floral displays at Vander Veer Botanical Park have been a tradition at this beautiful 33 acre park, inviting visitors to stroll from the Conservatory to the Stone Fountain. The park grounds are home to an extensive collection of gardens and trees, including many planted during the early 1890's; maps are available at the Park Store.

Vander Veer Conservatory and Gift Shop hours are Tuesday – Sunday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

The Park is located at 215 W Central Park in Davenport. Admission to the Conservatory is only $1 for those 16 years and older. Children must be accompanied by an adult. For questions or further information, call 563-326-7818.

Governor Quinn Announces Illinois Relief Effort to Help Victims of Japan Quake and Tsunami PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Laurel White   
Friday, 15 April 2011 14:05

State will Supply 2,000 Radiation Detectors; Illinois Farmers to Donate Vital Supplies

CHICAGO – April 15, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today announced a statewide humanitarian relief effort to harness Illinois’ technological and agricultural resources to provide vital supplies for the victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) will donate 2,000 critically-needed radiation detectors to assist the relief effort, and a collective response by the Illinois agricultural community will help supply much-needed agricultural products to Japan. The Governor’s announcement marks the first statewide effort in the U.S. to pool resources and aid for the people of Japan.

“The people of Japan are our good friends, and the State of Illinois, our business community and our farmers are all working together to help them get back on their feet,” said Governor Quinn. “We are working across Illinois to provide resources that address Japan’s immediate needs, such as radiation detectors to help Japan with its efforts around the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant. And our farmers are stepping up to make donations from their harvests, so that we can help the Japanese people over the longer-term.”

“Japan was struck by an unprecedented disaster, and the Government of Japan is doing everything possible to address the damage,” said George Hisaeda, Consul General of Japan at Chicago. “Words cannot express how deeply Japan appreciates the major donation by the State of Illinois, thanks to Governor Quinn’s leadership.  Illinois is a true friend of Japan, and this partnership will help Japan will recover and prosper.”

The earthquake and tsunami on March 11 has caused more than 13,000 to lose their lives, with more than 14,000 still missing and more than 100,000 without homes. In addition, radioactive contamination was released at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Illinois’ donation of 2,000 personal radiation detectors with chargers, batteries and heat covers will support the operations of organizations, such Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, in their ongoing efforts to monitor and minimize the impacts of the disaster.

The radiation detectors are part of the state’s Preventive Radiological and Nuclear Detection (PRND) program. Law enforcement officers and firefighters are equipped with the detectors to alert them to potentially hazardous radiological materials they may encounter in the line of duty.  Launched in 2009, the PRND program has deployed more than 1,200 detectors to more than 100 local law enforcement agencies and fire departments throughout the state.

“The need in Japan for these detectors is immediate,” said Jonathon Monken, director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the state’s Homeland Security Adviser to the Governor.  “Illinois’ world-class nuclear safety program enables us to help in this unprecedented situation.”

Illinois-based Caterpillar Logistics Services, Inc. (Cat Logistics), a wholly owned subsidiary of Caterpillar Inc., is providing transportation for the radiation detection devices from Illinois to Japan at no cost to the State of Illinois.

“On behalf of all Caterpillar employees, in particular our 23,000 employees in Illinois and the 5,000 employees we have in Japan, we are pleased to lend a hand and donate the transportation costs for this important humanitarian effort,” said Steve Larson, Vice President of Caterpillar Inc. and Chairman and President of Cat Logistics.

The radiation equipment was originally purchased for $1.3 million by the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System (ILEAS) with federal homeland security grants provided by the Illinois Terrorism Task Force.  Since the equipment was purchased with homeland security funds Illinois received from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), state officials sought and received clearance from DHS before finalizing the donation.

Detector deployment in Illinois will remain unaffected by the donation; nearly 3,000 additional detectors are currently on hand in Illinois.

In addition, two state agencies, the Departments of Agriculture and Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), have been working with agricultural producers and processors on a comprehensive plan to help address Japan’s longer-term food needs. Discussions have been held with the Consulate General of Japan at Chicago, Japan External Trade Organization, and Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in Japan to identify the areas of need that can be fulfilled through the relief effort.

“Japan is one of Illinois’ largest trading partners. We have a strong economic relationship, including hundreds of millions of dollars in agricultural trade alone each year,” said Warren Ribley, DECO director. “After a calamity of this magnitude, the needs of the Japanese people will vary over the short and long-term, and the plan the Governor is announcing today will allow agricultural producers across Illinois to work in concert to respond to those essential and diverse needs.”

Partners such as ADM, Illinois River Energy and the Illinois Farm Bureau/Country Financial have already acknowledged their commitment to assisting the people of Japan with hundreds of thousands in cash contributions. The plan currently in development will devise the best and most efficient delivery system to provide the greatest result for the people of Japan and mobilize all segments of the Illinois agricultural industry – individual farm producers, the commodity associations, agricultural associations and the food processing industry – to respond.

“In Illinois and in the agriculture community, we understand the importance of lending a helping hand in a time of need,” said Tom Jennings, director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture. The current challenges for the Japanese government are immense, and we recognize the need to plan now to best maximize the impact of the assistance that will be provided by Illinois’ vast agricultural resources come harvest time.”

“Farmers by their nature are willing to lend assistance to those in need,” said Illinois Farm Bureau President Philip Nelson. “We are in a global economy. We need to help each other out of difficult situations.”

Japan is the world’s largest net importer of food products. The nation of more than 127 million people imports 60 percent of its food supply, about $50 billion of food each year. Disruption of trade and the Japanese agricultural industry due to the earthquake and tsunami make Japan more reliant on agricultural aid as the country recovers from this disaster.


Governor Quinn Unveils $11.5 Billion Multi-Year Construction Program PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Andrew Mason   
Monday, 11 April 2011 13:04

Continued Infrastructure Investment will Create 155,000 Jobs

CHCAGO – April 7, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today unveiled the state’s new $11.5 billion multi-year construction program. The program will create 155,000 jobs and spark economic development throughout the state while improving safety and reducing congestion. Driven by the Illinois Jobs Now! capital program, the statewide multi-year plan for fiscal years 2012 through 2017 will improve 3,248 miles of road and replace or rehabilitate 611 bridges. In the upcoming fiscal year, the state is expected to improve 490 miles of road and 105 bridges.

“The last two construction seasons have been the busiest in Illinois’ history, thanks to Illinois Jobs Now!,” said Governor Quinn. “This plan will ensure that we continue this momentum in 2012 and beyond, that exemplifies my commitment to creating jobs and supporting our economic recovery through critical investment in our roads and bridges.”

Of the $11.5 billion program, $7.2 billion is from federal funds and $3.6 billion from state funds, including $2 billion through the six-year, $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now! capital program passed by Governor Quinn and the General Assembly in 2009.

State highways will see $8.3 billion in improvements over the life of the program, with $3.2 billion available for the local highway system. In the state portion of the multi-year program, $3.5 billion will be for reconstructions, resurfacings, widenings and other safety projects; $1.9 billion for bridge needs; $2.1 billion for congestion mitigation and $774 million for new roads and increased access for economic development.

“We are excited to move forward with these projects that will create jobs and make our roads safer,” Illinois Transportation Secretary Gary Hannig said. “We believe they will spark economic development and enhance the quality of life for residents across the state.”

The entire multi-year program is available online at




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