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News Releases - General Info
Written by Amy Garringer   
Thursday, 02 August 2012 07:29

DES MOINES, Iowa – A Colona, Ill. man said he thought he had won a $50 prize on his “The Black Ticket” instant-scratch game, but then saw more zeros appear as he continued scratching.

Virgil Norton, 75, was traveling through Davenport when he decided to stop at Kwik Shop, 2242 E. 12th St. in Davenport to purchase a ticket. He hadn’t played The Black Ticket for a while, so he bought just one of those. He scratched it in the parking lot.

“I looked at those zeros and at the winning number and I was in shock,” he said.

Norton has told his family and friends about his win and everyone is very excited for him.

“My step daughter said it’s great, that we deserve to win,” he said.

Norton said he’s planning to use some of his winnings to do some work to his vehicle and around his house.

Norton claimed his prize July 23 at the Iowa Lottery’s regional office in Cedar Rapids.

The Black Ticket is a $5 scratch game. Players try to win a prize by matching any of “your numbers” to any “winning numbers” to win the prize shown for that number. If players find the “coin” symbol, they win that prize instantly. Players who find the “bill” symbol win double the prize amount shown for that symbol. The overall odds of winning a prize in the game are 1 in 3.74.

Two top prizes of $50,000 are still up for grabs in The Black Ticket, as well as 18 prizes of $1,000, more than 20 prizes of $200 and more than 45 prizes of $100.

Players can enter eligible nonwinning scratch tickets online to earn “Points For Prizes™” points. The point value will be revealed to the player on the website upon successful submission of each eligible valid ticket. There is a limit of 30 ticket entries per day. To participate in Points For Prizes™, a player must register for a free account at Registration is a one-time process. Merchandise that can be ordered by using points will be listed on the website in the Points For Prizes™ online store. Players can choose from items in categories such as apparel, automotive, jewelry, sporting, tools and more.

Since the lottery’s start in 1985, its players have won more than $2.9 billion in prizes while the lottery has raised more than $1.3 billion for the state programs that benefit all Iowans.

Today, lottery proceeds in Iowa have three main purposes: They provide support for veterans, help for a variety of significant projects through the state General Fund, and backing for the Vision Iowa program, which was implemented to create tourism destinations and community attractions in the state and build and repair schools.


Niabi Zoo Giraffe Baby Named PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Marc Heinzman   
Thursday, 02 August 2012 07:26
Coal Valley, IL – August 1, 2012 - Niabi Zoo has announced the name for their male baby giraffe which was born on June 1st, 2012.

After hosting a naming contest for the month of July, the name Wally emerged as the winner. Wally was originally suggested as a finalist choice by Niabi Zoo zookeeper Carl Mohler, who came up with the name after shortening his first idea of Walter.

Three finalist names were chosen by zoo staff, and then voted on by zoo guests with their pocket change. The name which collected the greatest dollar amount was declared the winner.

Overall, the contest earned a total of $826.72, with the name Wally winning by a close margin, according to Zoo Director Marc Heinzman. “Wally only won by $20,” said Heinzman. “It was an extremely close race this year. Last year’s baby giraffe name, Miya, won over fifty percent of the total vote. This year all three choices were very evenly matched.”

The choice of Wally earned a total of $306.01. The other two finalist name choices and their meanings were Jabali (strong as a rock) and Kofi (born on Friday). Jabali finished in second place with $285.36 and Kofi came in third with $235.35. All the proceeds from the naming contest will go toward the construction of a new elephant exhibit at Niabi Zoo.

Judiciary Committee hearing -- Rising Prison Costs PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Richard Martin   
Wednesday, 01 August 2012 13:58

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this hearing.  This is an important subject, and I’m glad the committee is examining it.  I thank the witnesses for being here today, and I look forward to their testimony.


I have, in the past, mentioned my concern about what I call the “Leniency Industrial Complex.”  There are some people in Congress, the public, academia, and the media, who think that sentences that are being imposed on serious criminal offenders are too stringent and that we need to be finding ways to let prisoners out of prison early.


Despite the repeated calls of this growing industry, keeping criminals in prison makes sense.  People should serve the time that the law provides for their crimes.  By keeping convicted criminals in prison, it prevents them from committing future crimes.  The data supports this common sense fact.


It is true that incarceration is up in recent years, but crime is down, significantly so.  Of course, other factors also had a role, like improvements to policing.  The tactics adopted by cities across the country in the 1990s, starting with New York City under Mayor Giuliani and Commissioner Bill Bratton, certainly were effective in reducing crime.  But there’s no serious doubt that incarceration is a major reason for the historically low crime rates that the United States now enjoys.


When considering cost effectiveness of incarceration, we need to remember that there are costs to crime, too.  Keeping people in prison reduces costs to society of those people committing more crimes when they are let out.  I have to wonder why the one area of domestic spending that the Obama administration wants to cut is prison funding.


Now, I also believe in being smart about crime.  If there are ways to prevent crime and punish criminals, while also saving money, I’m all in favor.  But, that cost savings shouldn’t be at the expense of public safety.


I have two concerns about moves to release prisoners to reduce costs to the criminal justice system.  First, we have to make sure that any programs to reduce incarceration costs will actually work.  So far, the evidence isn’t promising.


The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) recently found that a pilot program letting elderly prisoner’s serve out the ends of their terms in residential facilities cost more money than keeping them in BOP facilities.  While a Government Accountability Office review of this data questioned the BOP’s data, it raises even more questions about whether this policy is well founded and should even continue, let alone be expanded.


Unfortunately, we have a problem around here continuing to fund programs that don’t meet their intended goals.  And, just like this elderly offender pilot, a lot of the programs that were created under the Second Chance Act have no empirical evidence to prove that they work in reducing recidivism.  So absent this evidence, it’s not cost effective to set up programs that don’t work.


Second, I’m concerned that efforts to save money will come at the expense of public safety.  For example, I often hear about how there are so many “non-violent” offenders in prison who can be let out early.  Well, is someone who sells drugs while carrying a firearm a “non-violent” offender?  He may not have killed someone this time, but he surely was prepared to.


I also hear about “non-violent,” “first time” offenders in the context of white collar crime.  Bernie Madoff was a non-violent, first time offender, too.  And he got what he deserved.   I certainly hope any effort to change incarceration practices doesn’t lead to a get-out-of-jail-free card for white collar criminals.  I think the victims who lost their life’s saving would have something different to say about the cost savings achieved by letting someone like Madoff out early.


This brings up another important element of the debate over what to do about rising costs of incarceration.  Maybe this debate is focusing on the wrong end of the process.  As I said, I think people who have been convicted should serve their sentences.  But if there’s a problem with the federal criminal justice system, perhaps we should focus on who and what gets prosecuted.


For example, I’m very concerned that no major figures responsible for the financial crisis have been prosecuted.  As I understand it, most people being prosecuted for things like mortgage fraud are low-level criminals that feed off the lax oversight.  While they were convicted and should serve time in prison, why aren’t we asking where the prosecutions of the kingpins of the financial crisis are?


There is also an issue of whether the federal government focuses enough on major crimes that fall squarely into federal jurisdiction or is instead federalizing state crimes.  That’s a conversation we can and should have.  It’s also something that we might truly be able to reach a bi-partisan agreement on fixing.


So this issue is more complex than just the dollar cost of building and sustaining prisons.  We need to remember that crime has a cost to society and not just the federal budget.  Shortsighted efforts to cut budgets today could cause long-term damage by reversing the decades of falling crime rates.


The public deserves an honest conversation about the costs of prisons, so I’m glad we’re having this hearing.  I just want to make sure budget costs don’t trump public safety.  Thank you.

Loebsack: Congress Doesn’t Deserve a Summer Vacation PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Joe Hand   
Wednesday, 01 August 2012 13:47

Again Calls for Congress to Skip Vacation and Get to Work

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack released the following statement today after the Republican Majority in the House of Representatives voted to go on vacation for five weeks.  Loebsack has called on Congress to stay in session multiple times to get critical work done.

“Time and again, Congress has kicked the can down the road, punted, and taken a pass on actually getting something done.  Now the Republican Majority has voted to go on vacation for the next five weeks while our farmers suffer through the worst drought in 60 years, Iowans struggle to find jobs, and critical issue after critical issue facing our nation goes unaddressed.   It is the height of irresponsibility.

“It’s time for Washington politicians to learn what every kid in Iowa knows - if you don’t do your homework all year, you get summer school, not summer vacation. Congress must stay and get to work, not continue taking votes for politics’ sake and then give themselves 37 days of undeserved vacation.  Iowans are sick and tired of this Washington business as usual, and, frankly, so am I.”


‘Moving Meditation’ Offers Protection from Distress PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Wednesday, 01 August 2012 12:48

Would you like protection from anxiety and the harmful effects of stress in your life? 
Mary Jo Ricketson -- nurse, teacher, certified yoga instructor and personal trainer -- shows readers the way in her new book Moving Meditation (

“We all have within us the potential to experience peace and optimal well-being,” she says. “To be safe from all distress we must learn to live in the present moment, for the present moment holds the key to our potential I call the Good Within.”

The body is always present, grounded in the present moment by gravity, she says.  The daily practice of exercises in Moving Meditation disciplines the mind to stay at home in the space of the body, safe from all distress.

“We’re not free from stress – that’s not possible or desirable,” Ricketson says. “But we’re able to choose a response to the stress from a state of mind-body that is grounded, centered and strong. We learn to think and move from a space of open heart and open mind and become response-able -- able to respond to the stress in ways that promote life and optimal well-being.”

For many people, she says, living in the present moment is like living in a foreign land. Research over the past 10 years shows that for most people, up to 90 percent of their thoughts are fixed on the past with regret or remorse, or racing ahead to the future with worry and anxiety.

“Discomfort, tension and disease all stem from the inability of the mind-body to respond to stress in ways that are life-giving rather than self-defeating,” Ricketson says. “We forfeit our opportunity to respond effectively when the mind is not fully present to the body in times of distress. When the mind is not present to its own being in the space of the body, we cannot expect to be present for others.”

When the mind is absent, people experience a feeling of abandonment, which triggers a stress response. Through the autonomic nervous system, the body purposefully creates tension, increased heart rate, increased respiratory rate and other physiological changes. This is how the body gets us to “come to our senses,” Ricketson says.

In training, she reminds her clients to “come home”-- to call the mind home so that they can respond in the most effective way possible.

When people learn to discipline the mind to stay fully present in the body, they are most able to meet the challenges they face in ways that decrease stress and promote life. They gain confidence and strength in their ability to let stress work for them rather than against them.  Peace and well-being follow this conscious union of mind and body, Ricketson says.

“It is in this space of conscious union that we meet God,” she says. “Through our training of mind and body, we can learn to be with God here on Earth.  Conscious now of God’s presence, we come to know and feel all we are made to be.  You are made to know peace and well-being.  It is within you.  Practice being present and you will see the Good Within come to life.”

About Mary Jo Ricketson

Mary Jo Ricketson has studied human health and well-being for decades, earning a bachelor of science in nursing and a master’s in education. In 1999, she opened the Center for Mind-Body Training, which offers classes, seminars and personal training. She offers yoga training in her studio, at schools, and in corporate settings. She lives in the Boston area with her husband and two children.

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