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News Releases - General Info
Written by Brian Jennings   
Thursday, 01 August 2013 13:43

DES MOINES – AFSCME Iowa Council 61 President Danny Homan released the following statement concerning today’s announcement that Abbe Center for Community Care, Inc., where AFSCME Iowa Council 61 represents employees, would close on September 30, 2013:

“Today’s news is devastating news for the residents of Abbe Center, their families, and the employees of Abbe Center. Since 1987, Abbe Center has provided exceptional transitional and residential services to adults with mental illness in Linn County.

“The closing of Abbe Center will disrupt the lives of 77 residents who will be forced to relocate. The closing will cost 80 employees their jobs. The local economy will suffer as $2,262,000 in payroll is wiped out.

“This closing shows the consequences of Governor Branstad’s misguided priorities that are harming Iowa’s communities. In June, Governor Branstad item vetoed $13 million for mental health services from House File 648. These funds would have allowed the Iowa Department of Human Services to award funds to counties to maintain services during the mental health transition. These funds could have helped keep Abbe Center open and providing mental health services to the community.

“The Governor’s veto is all the more unconscionable when you consider that the state has a massive cash surplus and that Governor Branstad has championed spending hundreds of millions of state, local, and federal dollars on a fertilizer plant that will create only 165 permanent jobs.

“At the time of the Governor’s item-veto, Senator Rob Hogg of Linn County said that ‘Republicans and Democrats in the Iowa Legislature created a $13 million dollar safety net.  The goal was to insure that every person who needs mental health services receives those services so future tragedies would be prevented […] Governor Branstad vetoed that safety net.  Ironically, the Governor’s own Department of Human Services would have controlled spending from this pool, providing it to individual counties on a case-by-case basis after need was demonstrated.  Governor Branstad’s veto of the risk pool guarantees that some counties will be forced to deny essential services to people who need them.’ AFSCME Iowa Council 61 completely agrees with Senator Hogg’s statement and it should be obvious to all Iowans that his prediction was 100 percent correct.

“Our hearts go out to the Abbe Center residents and Abbe Center staff whose lives will be turned upside down by this closing.”


Iowa State Fair Opens Fighting Hunger, Honoring Fair Dedication PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Lori Chappell   
Thursday, 01 August 2013 13:32

DES MOINES, IA (07/31/2013)(readMedia)-- On opening day, August 8, Fairgoers will start the 11-day celebration by packaging meals and helping the Fair honor the service of its loyal Fair supporters. The 2013 Fair runs August 8-18.

Meal Packaging Event

From 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. 1500 volunteers will package 250,000 meals to help alleviate life-threatening hunger around the world. The event is part of the International Association of Fairs and Expositions' "Dream Big" food drive by fairs and festivals throughout the world. Together, participants hope to collect 20 million pounds of food – enough to fill the daily food needs of nearly six million people.

Volunteer shifts are currently filled; however, the Fair is also collecting monetary donations to help purchase supplies. To donate, visit

Meals from the Heartland is a non-profit organization committed to providing meals for food-insecure families around the world. Since their initial launch in 2007, the organization has packaged more than 30 million meals which have been distributed locally through Iowa food pantry partners as well as shipped throughout the world.

Opening Ceremonies

At the west entrance of the Cattle Barn, the Fair will hold opening ceremonies and honor the Clearfield Lions for their 50 years of service. The club has improved the experience for countless Fair campers by providing easy, accessible transportation between their campsites and the events on the grounds since 1964. The Fair will commemorate their years of service to the Fair as well as their philanthropic efforts throughout Iowa.

The Clearfield Lions will also kick off this year's Fair as co-Parade Marshals with John Putney, outgoing Executive Director of the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation. Putney has held this position since the Blue Ribbon Foundation started in 1993 and will retire effective March 2014.

The parade is set Wednesday, August 7, to begin at 6:15 p.m. in downtown Des Moines. The Iowa State Fair Parade is the state's largest, showcasing nearly 200 floats, animals, vehicles, novelty and performing units. Staging will take place at the State Capitol complex. Parade entrants will then travel west on Grand Avenue to 13th Street. Dispersion will take place between 13th and 18th Streets.


Fun Fair activities can also be found in the day long selection of contests, food, games and entertainment including performances by The Nadas, Home Free, Blue Öyster Cult and The Farm. Christian music favorites Casting Crowns and Jeremy Camp will perform on the Grandstand stage at 8 p.m. Tickets for the Grandstand show are $30 (plus convenience charges) and are available now through Ticketmaster outlets and the Iowa State Fair Ticket Office.

A complete listing of opening day activities is available at

"Nothing Compares" to the 2013 Iowa State Fair, August 8-18. Save money on advance admission tickets now through August 7 (while supplies last). The Fairgrounds are located at East 30th and East University Avenue, just 10 minutes east of downtown Des Moines. For more information, call 800/545-FAIR or visit

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Loebsack, Petri Lead Bipartisan Letter Calling for Strong Support of Meals on Wheels PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Lee Brooks   
Tuesday, 30 July 2013 10:50

64 members sign letter to House Appropriations Committee leaders

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressmen Dave Loebsack (IA-02) and Tom Petri (WI-06) sent a bipartisan letter to the leaders of the House Appropriations Committee, calling on them to include strong funding for Meals on Wheels and other Senior Nutrition Programs in the FY2014 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill.  The letter, which was signed by a bipartisan group of 64 members, called on the House Appropriations Committee to fund these important programs at the same level as the Senate.  Earlier this month, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved their FY14 Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriation bill, which included $816 million for Meals on Wheels and other Senior Nutrition Programs under the Older Americans Act.

“For more than 40 years, Senior Nutrition Programs have provided more than just meals. They have produced millions of dollars in savings for Medicaid and Medicare. The nutritious meals, along with the daily social contact provided at senior centers or by Meals on Wheels volunteers or staff, help seniors remain independent and healthier, live in their own homes and communities, and stay out of more costly health care settings,” the members wrote.  “Meals on Wheels and congregate nutrition programs are proven, effective and are exactly the type of investment taxpayers are looking for us to make with their hard-earned dollars.  We urge you to support strong funding for Meals on Wheels and Senior Nutrition Programs in the FY2014 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill.”

“What a tremendous show of bipartisan leadership and support at a critical time for millions of hungry seniors,” commented Ellie Hollander, President and CEO, of the Meals On Wheels Association of America. “It is clear that the message has been resoundingly heard:  Meals on Wheels programs make a social and economic difference, offering taxpayers a significant return on investment.”

National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs Board President Paul Downey of Senior Community Centers in San Diego called it "an important message to the House that these proven and effective nutrition programs need to be spared from further cuts which will result in the loss of millions of meals this year" and said that the co-signers were "important champions for older people in their Districts and the nation."

A copy of the letter can be seen here.


Steer Clear of Auto Repair Scams PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Jason Alderman   
Monday, 29 July 2013 13:56

If you feel frustrated or intimidated whenever you take your car in for repairs, you're not alone. According to the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau, auto repair fraud consistently ranks among the top consumer complaints they receive.

Although most auto repair shops are legitimate, some unscrupulous operators will rip off inexperienced car owners by performing unnecessary or unauthorized repairs, substituting counterfeit or used replacement parts, or even doing such shoddy work that lives are endangered.

Here are tips for becoming a more informed consumer and a few common scams to avoid:

Try to have a trusted repair shop already lined up before you need one. Ask friends or your auto insurance company for recommendations, or search the Better Business Bureau's website ( for accredited businesses. Also:

  • Ask the state Attorney General's office ( whether any complaints have been filed against prospective mechanics.
  • Look for mechanics currently certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence ( or who belong to your insurer's authorized repair network.
  • If your car's warranty is still in force, you may be required to use only authorized dealerships.

If your car needs major work, gather several estimates for comparison. Once you've chosen a shop, ask for a detailed estimate (with no sections left blank) before you authorize repairs. Specify that you must be called to grant permission before additional repairs. Make sure the work order clearly specifies:

  • Repairs to be done.
  • All fees, including parts, labor, storage, loaner car, etc.
  • Whether new, reconditioned, or used parts will be used.
  • Acceptable payment methods.
  • Completion date.
  • Diagnostic or reassembly charges if you decide to get a second opinion or have the work done elsewhere.

Make sure the final repair bill contains itemizes all work completed and parts used. (Ask them to show you the work done and replaced parts.) Also have the bill spell out any guaranteed items (including exclusions), in case problems occur later and you need contractual proof.

Watch out for these common scams:

  • They give you a verbal estimate then charge a higher price. Always get it in writing.
  • A shop lures you in with low-cost specials (oil change, brake inspection, etc.), then pads the work order with other repairs you don't want or need. If in doubt, have the initial work done and get a second opinion on the rest, unless there's an immediate safety issue.
  • Charging for services that are covered under the car's warranty. (Always read your warranty carefully.)
  • Dishonest mechanics have been known to inflict intentional damage during an inspection in order to boost needed repairs.
  • They don't want to return replaced parts to you, which could mean the work wasn't actually done, or they used inferior parts. (Keep in mind that there could be discarded parts lying around that they could pass off as yours.)
  • Going against your car manufacturer's recommendations. If your manual recommends getting an oil change every 10,000 miles but the mechanic says every 3,000, make sure there's a good reason.
  • Offers to waive the deductible – for example, offering to install a used part and bill your insurance company for a new one. This insurance fraud could land you in a world of hurt.
  • High-pressure sales tactics.

Just because you don't completely understand what goes on under the hood doesn't mean you can't protect yourself against auto repair scams. To learn more, visit the FTC's comprehensive Auto Repair Basics site at

Time to Get Organized? Learn How with a Free Rock Island Library Program PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Lisa Lockheart   
Monday, 29 July 2013 12:49
Rock Island, IL: Would your desk be a contender for “messiest office” award? Are your closets flowing over with items you can’t find a place for? Do you spend more time looking for things than actually using them? Want some tips for getting better organized when the kids go back to school?

If any of those statements describe either you or someone you live with, take advantage of a free program in August from the Rock Island Public Library, “5 Steps to Getting Organized.” The free presentation by professional organizer and national speaker Mona Brantley of “Organize That” will occur on Tuesday, Aug. 20 from 6:30 to 7:30 pm at the Rock Island Main Library, 401 - 19th Street.

In an entertaining presentation, Ms. Brantley will provide logical and helpful hints, tips, and tricks that will make a difference in your life.  You will discover the one difference between organized and disorganized people, while also understanding why you have trouble getting or staying organized.  Mona holds certificates on “Chronic Disorganization” and continues to educate herself to help her clients and to help you. The program is free and open to the public.

For details on other events for all ages, see, follow Facebook/rockislandlibrary, visit any Rock Island Library or call 309-732-7323 (READ).

About our speaker: Mona Brantley is a certified Advanced International Organizing Professional, a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers, and a member of the Institute for Challenging Disorganization. Mona has worked behind the scenes for “The Nate Berkus Show;” and appeared on local media.  She is dedicated to helping others simplify and declutter their spaces so they can focus on the important people and events in their lives. She has earned Certificates of Study in Chronic Disorganization, Basic ADD issues with the CD Client, Basic Hoarding Issues with the CD client, and Client Administration from the Institute for Challenging Disorganization.

A resident of Bettendorf, Mona Brantley started her own organizing business after a career in education. Holding a BA and MA in English Language and Literature, Mona has taught in multiple universities and colleges throughout the US. Her business, Organize That, adheres to green organizing principles, which involves repurposing, reusing, or recycling as much as possible. She will donate items for her clients to the appropriate local organizations, taking the burden of disposal off her clients. Organize That serves the greater Iowa and Illinois Quad Cities Area.


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