Environment & Weather
President's Environmental Youth Awards Competition Accepting Nominations from Students in Grades K-12 PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Kirk Lancaster   
Tuesday, 20 September 2011 11:49

(Kansas City, Kan., Sept. 19, 2011) – Entries are now being sought for the 2011 President's Environmental Youth Awards (PEYA), which recognize individuals, school classes (kindergarten through high school) and youth organizations for protecting our nation's air, water, land and ecology.

The program, which honors a variety of environmental projects developed by students, is open to students in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska through EPA Region 7 in Kansas City, Kan.

The program has two components: the regional certificate program and the regional award winner.  Regional certificates are awarded by each of the regional offices of the EPA. Each regional office also selects one first-place project as its regional award winner.

Projects must be postmarked by December 31, 2011. Program guidelines, eligibility information and applications are available online at http://www.epa.gov/enviroed/peya/index.html or by contacting Denise Morrison, 1-800-223-0425. Regional award winners will be notified in February 2012.

The PEYA program promotes awareness of our nation’s natural resources and encourages positive community involvement. It is one of the most important ways EPA and the Administration demonstrate commitment to environmental stewardship efforts created and conducted by our nation’s young people. Winning projects in the past include environmental science projects, recycling programs in school and communities, construction of nature preserves and major tree planting programs.


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Illinois National Guard Finishes Vermont Relief Efforts PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Katelyn Tye   
Tuesday, 13 September 2011 09:24

Mission Complete, Troops Heading Home

SPRINGFIELD – September 2, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today announced that the Illinois Army National Guard members assisting with Vermont flood relief operations have completed their mission and are heading home. Earlier this week Governor Quinn ordered Illinois National Guard helicopters and troops to active duty in Vermont after receiving a request for assistance from the state.

“The Illinois National Guard has again responded when the state and country has called on them,” Governor Quinn said. “Our servicemembers are some of the greatest this nation has to offer.  Time and again, they show their dedication by answering the call to duty and we are proud of them.”

“We are grateful for the opportunity to help another state in need,” said Maj. Gen. William Enyart, Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard. “This shows we are prepared to assist, not just in Illinois, but throughout our country.”

Approximately 95 members of the Illinois National Guard set up an operating base in Rome, N.Y., while their helicopters flew into Burlington, Vt. The Illinois Army National Guard assisted delivering food, water and other supplies to several towns in Vermont that were isolated by flooding.

“The Illinois National Guard has done amazing work here in Vermont. The towns I visited today that have been cut off by road for days were cheering when the helicopters started to arrive on Wednesday,” said Maj. Gen. Michael D. Dubie, Adjutant General of the Vermont National Guard. “We have stocked up the isolated towns and established rough road access to many that will soon support civilian vehicle traffic. A huge thank you to the entire Illinois team that made this happen.”

During operations in Vermont, the Illinois National Guard provided the following air movements of critically needed supplies:

  • 58 pallets of water
  • 63 pallets of food
  • 4 pallets of blankets
  • 3 pallets of cots
  • 3 pallets of tarps
  • 1 generator
  • 16 passengers

The six UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, two CH-47 Chinook helicopters, pilots and crew, ground support vehicles, and command and control staff were prepositioned in New York Aug. 29 to 30.  After completing needed operations today, they will head home and arrive in Illinois over the weekend.

Units that provided hurricane relief in Vermont include: Headquarters and Headquarters Company; 1st Battalion, 106th Aviation Regiment in Peoria and elements of Company A, 1st Battalion, 106th Aviation Regiment in Decatur; Company B, 1st Battalion, 106th Aviation Regiment in Chicago; Company C and Company D, 1st Battalion, 106th Aviation Regiment in Peoria; and 2nd Battalion, 238th General Support Aviation Battalion in Peoria.

“These Soldiers put aside their daily lives and commitments in a moment’s notice to come to the aide of residents more than 1,100 miles from them on the East Coast,” Enyart said.  “We also owe their families and employers a thank you for their support.”This is the fifth time this year the Illinois National Guard has responded to assist others in need. More than 500 Soldiers were activated for the February winter storms. Approximately 500 Soldiers responded to the southern Illinois flooding this spring. The Illinois National Guard also sent one CH-47 Chinook helicopter with five crew members from Company B, 2nd Battalion 238th Aviation based in Peoria to help the South Dakota National Guard battle flood waters on June 3.  A UH-60 Blackhawk and four crew members with Company A, 1st Battalion, 106th Aviation Regiment in Decatur, deployed to Omaha, Neb., in support of flood relief efforts June 21.

For video: http://www.dvidshub.net/video/124512/106th-avn-vermont-b-roll-and-interviews

Local Union Donates Thousands of Dollars in Man Hours to Barge Building PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Natalie Linville-Mass   
Thursday, 01 September 2011 08:17

Davenport, IA/ August 31st, 2011  – 12 fourth year carpenter apprentices and one instructor have just finished their 5 day stay aboard Living Lands & Waters (LL&W) new floating classroom last Thursday. These skilled workers are volunteers from the Carpenter Training Center of the Quad Cities and are among a group of 40 plus skilled craftsmen affiliated with Local Union 4 who have generously given their time and talent in the building of the newest barge in the LL&W fleet.

This new 150-foot long barge features a handicapped-accessible classroom, which can host up to 60 students at a time, as well as sleeping quarters for an 8 person LL&W crew. The new classroom will bring high school students on board for day long workshops on a number of different topics ranging from History to Biology to the Navigation of our waterways.  Living Lands & Waters has been conducting educational workshops since 2003, but this day long hands on experience could only be attended by teachers and instructors.  “We developed these workshops to give teachers a hands on look at our river environment with lessons they could take back to their students.  The instructors who attended were so engaged, but all said this would have much more of an impact if their kids could be on the barge for something like this,” says Tammy Becker, coordinator of the LL&W’s Educational Workshops.  Over the years, LL&W held 92 teacher workshops for more than 1,700 teachers and educators. There were over a 100 different presenters in these presentations and over 60 different topics covered. 

“We were approached by Living Lands & Waters to assist if we were interested. We never hesitated to volunteer, as a majority of our members enjoy time on the river hunting, fishing, boating, etc. Everyone already knew of   Chad   and what good things Living Lands & Waters are doing on our rivers. I think every person who has had a chance to see and hear about what this group does; be it river clean-ups to the tree planting projects to the educational seminars really got their eyes opened up to the magnitude and scope of what the organization is trying to accomplish, and is all about,” said local union member Steve Flogel.

Over the past month, the local carpenters union has donated up to 750 man hours of free labor to LL&W. They have done the entire vapor barrier on the roof and the walls of the exterior, and helped with the siding, windows, doors, interior walls, exterior upper deck, sleepers and floor insulation. This week the trim and finish class has been doing the trim for the doors and windows, finishing the ceiling board installation, and starting the installation of the bamboo floor.  ”We can’t express how thankful we are for the  Union ’s help.  Without them, this new barge would not be possible,“ expressed Chad Pregracke, founder of Living Lands & Waters.    

Chad Pregracke started Living Lands & Waters in 1998 as a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the beautification and restoration of America’s major rivers and to the education of people about environmental issues. From his single boat beginning, LL&W has grown to an internationally known organization with a fleet of barges and workboats.  LL&W engages thousands of volunteers each year in river cleanups, hands-on environmental education workshops, the Great Mississippi River Cleanup, Adopt-a- River-Mile programs and the Million Trees Project. 


News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by HUD Public Affairs   
Thursday, 01 September 2011 08:15

Foreclosure protection offered to displaced families in two counties

WASHINGTON – U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan today announced HUD will speed federal disaster assistance to the State of Iowa and provide support to homeowners and low-income renters forced from their homes following last month’s severe storms and flooding.

Yesterday, President Obama issued a disaster declaration for Dubuque and Jackson Counties. The President’s declaration allows HUD to offer foreclosure relief and other assistance to certain families living in these counties.

“Families who may have been forced from their homes need to know that help is available to begin the rebuilding process,” said Donovan. “Whether it’s foreclosure relief for FHA-insured families or helping these counties to recover, HUD stands ready to help in any way we can.”

HUD is:

Ø  Offering the State of Iowa and other entitlement communities the ability to re-allocate existing federal resources toward disaster relief – HUD's Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME programs give  the State and communities  the flexibility to redirect millions of dollars to address critical needs, including housing and services for disaster  victims. HUD is currently contacting State and local officials to explore streamlining the Department's CDBG and HOME programs in order to expedite the repair and replacement of damaged housing;

Ø  Granting immediate foreclosure relief – HUD granted a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures and forbearance on foreclosures of Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured home mortgages; 

Ø  Making mortgage insurance available – HUD's Section 203(h) program provides FHA insurance to disaster victims who have lost their homes and are facing the daunting task of rebuilding or buying another home. Borrowers from participating FHA-approved lenders are eligible for 100 percent financing, including closing costs;

Ø  Making insurance available for both mortgages and home rehabilitation – HUD's Section 203(k) loan program enables those who have lost their homes to finance the purchase or refinance of a house along with its repair through a single mortgage. It also allows homeowners who have damaged houses to finance the rehabilitation of their existing single-family home; and

Ø  Offering Section 108 loan guarantee assistance – HUD will offer state and local governments federally guaranteed loans for housing rehabilitation, economic development and repair of public infrastructure.

Information on housing providers and HUD programs -The Department will share information with FEMA and the State on housing providers that may have available units in the impacted counties.  This includes Public Housing Agencies and Multi-Family owners.  The Department will also connect FEMA and the State to subject matter experts to provide information on HUD programs and providers.

Read about these and other HUD programs designed to assist disaster victims.


Governor Quinn Secures SBA Disaster Assistance for July Storms and Flooding in Northwest Illinois PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Nafia Khan   
Tuesday, 30 August 2011 07:55

People, Businesses in Carroll, Jo Daviess, Ogle, Stephenson and Winnebago Eligible to Apply for Low-Interest Loans

SPRINGFIELD – August 29, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today announced that the state’s request for a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster declaration has been approved for several counties in Northwest Illinois that were hit by severe storms and flash flooding July 27-28. The declaration makes low-interest loans available to homeowners, renters and businesses in the primary counties of Jo Daviess and Stephenson, as well as the contiguous counties of Carroll, Ogle and Winnebago.

“This SBA declaration will support many people and businesses in these five counties who are recovering from devastating losses from the severe storms and flooding,” Governor Quinn said. “The low-interest, long-term loans available through SBA will provide a much-needed helping hand as they repair and rebuild their homes and businesses.”

Governor Quinn submitted the request for an SBA disaster declaration on Friday. In that request, Governor Quinn noted that Jo Daviess and Stephenson counties each had at least 25 homes or businesses that sustained uninsured losses of 40 percent or more.

“This SBA disaster declaration will help many people and businesses with their recovery efforts,” said Jonathon Monken, director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA). “We appreciate the SBA’s quick action on Governor Quinn’s request.”

Also on Friday, Governor Quinn requested federal assistance to help local governments in Carroll, Jo Daviess and Stephenson counties recoup 75 percent of their disaster-related expenses. That request is still pending with the federal government.

On August 10, Governor Quinn declared the three counties state disaster areas and pledged the state’s commitment to helping the area recover from the severe storms and flooding.


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