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Following impressive work serving Iowans, Branstad gives Beth Townsend a bonus PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Office of the Governor of Iowa   
Monday, 14 January 2013 15:36

Townsend changed culture of Iowa Civil Rights Commission to one of dedicated service


(DES MOINES) – Gov. Terry E. Branstad today announced he has given Iowa Civil Rights Commission Director Beth Townsend a bonus of $5,000 for her impressive work turning the culture of the Commission into one of service to Iowans.

“Beth has turned the Iowa Civil Rights Commission into an exemplary department striving to serve the people of Iowa,” said Branstad. “Beth’s impressive leadership and management has resulted in more efficient case work, reduced back log, streamlined intake and increased quality.”

In June 2011, three Iowa Civil Rights Commission employees were dismissed after a Townsend investigation found they were sending hundreds of emails to each other on personal accounts calling their peers derogatory nicknames during business hours. One of the employees sent, on average, 75 emails a day on his personal account from March 2011 – June 1, 2011. The increase in personal emails resulted in slower case investigation.

“Lt. Gov. Reynolds and I made a commitment to change the culture of state government to one that serves the people of Iowa, not the other way around,” Branstad continued. “Iowans deserve a responsive Civil Rights Commission that gives them a fair hearing and takes each investigation seriously.”

Under Director Townsend’s leadership, the Iowa Civil Rights Commission has:

-          In FY12, reduced the non-housing investigative backlog from 260 cases to 118 cases and a reduction in the average age of cases from over 535 days to 356 days.

-          In FY12, reduced age of the oldest cases in the backlog from complaints filed in 2001 to those filed in December, 2010.

-          Remain on track to eliminate the backlog entirely by the end of FY13.

-          Streamlined complaint intake process, reducing the initial processing time by 71% and reducing the number of delays in the process by over 50%.    Complaints are now being processed within 24-48 hours of receipt of the complaint, as opposed to historical average of 8-10 days.

-          Significantly increased the overall quality and timeliness of all screening and investigative decisions prepared by the Iowa Civil Rights Commission.

-          Probable cause rate increased 8x in FY12 from previous year and was higher than in any year over the past decade Townsend’s current salary is $97,000, the highest possible for her position. The governor’s practice is to utilize bonuses to provide a recognition and reward for exemplary performance.


Gov. Branstad appoints eight Iowans to Judicial Nominating Commission PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Office of the Governor of Iowa   
Monday, 14 January 2013 15:30

(DES MOINES) – Gov. Terry E. Branstad today appointed eight Iowans to the Judicial Nominating Commission.


Iowa Code changes require the State Judicial Nominating Commission to sunset on December 31, 2012. The previous commission composition was based on Congressional Districts from 1965 with one member from each district, for a total of seven members appointed by the governor. The new State Judicial Nominating Commission, based on Congressional Districts following the 2010 census, is effective January 1, 2013 in accordance with the Code of Iowa


The new commission has two members from each Congressional District, one male and one female, for a total of eight members appointed by the governor. Lawyers elect eight lawyer members to the commission. Iowa law requires members serve staggered terms. Full terms are six years in length.


The following individuals were appointed by Gov. Branstad:


Congressional District One


Jerry Welter, Monticello (effective January 19, 2013) – term ends April 30, 2014

Kathy Pearson, Cedar Rapids – term ends April 30, 2018


Congressional District Two


Scott Bailey, Otley – term ends April 30, 2014

Helen Sinclair, Melrose – term ends April 30, 2016


Congressional District Three


Liz Doll, Council Bluffs – term ends April 30, 2016

John Bloom, West Des Moines – term ends April 30, 2018


Congressional District Four


Patricia Roberts, Carroll – term ends April 30, 2014

Steve Sukup, Clear Lake – term ends April 30, 2016


The governor’s appointments are subject to Senate confirmation.



Grassley meetings this week in Iowa PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 14 January 2013 15:07

WASHINGTON – After attending the swearing-in ceremony of the Iowa legislature this morning in Des Moines, Senator Chuck Grassley will meet this week with Iowans in nine Northeast Iowa communities, including Parkersburg, New Hampton, Delhi, Dubuque, Maquoketa, DeWitt, Davenport, Muscatine, and Cedar Rapids.


“I look forward to these events and meetings to listen to comments, respond to questions, and keep in touch,” Grassley said.  “Representative government is a two-way street, and it’s strengthened by dialogue between elected officials and the people we represent.”


During a Friday meeting with employees at Kent Corporation in Muscatine, Grassley will be presented the National Association of Manufacturers Award for Manufacturing Legislative Excellence by Gage Kent, Chairman and CEO of Kent Corporation.  Kent serves on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Manufacturers, which is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states.


Grassley has held at least one meeting with Iowans in every one of the state’s 99 counties since 1980, when he was first elected to serve in the U.S. Senate.


The Senate is not meeting in Washington until Inauguration Day on January 21.


Immediately below is more information about the meeting schedule.


Tuesday, January 15

11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.

Q&A with students

Aplington-Parkersburg High School

610 North Johnson Street in Parkersburg


3:30-4:30 p.m.

Chickasaw County Town Meeting

New Hampton Public Library

20 West Spring Street in New Hampton

*Grassley will be available until 4:45 p.m. to answer questions from local reporters.


Thursday, January 17

8:45-9:45 a.m.

Q&A with government students

Maquoketa Valley High School

107 South Street in Delhi


11 a.m.-12 noon

Q&A with students

Loras College Alumni Campus Center in the Mary Alexis Room

at the corner of Loras Boulevard and Loras Parkway in Dubuque

*Grassley will be available until 12:15 p.m. to answer questions from local reporters.


12:30-1:30 p.m.

Tour Facility and Q&A with Employees


700 Locust Street in Dubuque


2:15-3:15 p.m.

Q&A with senior-level students

Maquoketa High School

600 Washington Street in Maquoketa

*Grassley will be available until 3:30 p.m. to answer questions from local reporters.


4-5 p.m.

Q&A with employees

Wendling Quarries

2647 225th Street in DeWitt

*Grassley will be available until 5:15 p.m. to answer questions from local reporters.


Friday, January 18

8-9 a.m.

Q&A with students

Davenport West High School

3505 West Locust Street in Davenport

*Grassley will be available until 9:15 a.m. to answer questions from local reporters.


10:30a.m.-12 noon

Q&A with employees of Kent Corporation

In addition, Grassley will be presented the National Association of Manufacturers Award for Manufacturing Legislative Excellence by Gage Kent, Chairman and CEO of Kent Corporation and a member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Manufacturers.

1600 Oregon Street in Muscatine

*Grassley will be available until 12:15 p.m. to answer questions from local reporters.


1:30-2:45 p.m.

Cedar Rapids Naturalization Ceremony

111 Seventh Avenue Southeast in Cedar Rapids

*Grassley will be available until 3 p.m. to answer questions from local reporters.



Keeping Funeral Costs Affordable PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Steve Burke   
Monday, 14 January 2013 15:04

By Jason Alderman

Anyone who's put a loved one to rest knows that death is not cheap. According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the average adult funeral cost $6,560 in 2009 (their most current data). That doesn't include such common add-ons as a cemetery plot, headstone, flowers, obituaries and limousine, which can add thousands to the bill.

Because death is a frequently avoided topic, many people aren't armed with information about the many variables – and costs – involved in planning a funeral. Thus, just when survivors are grieving and most vulnerable, they're bombarded by decisions that must be made quickly, often without even knowing what their loved one would have wanted.

The key message for the living is to decide on preferred funeral arrangements ahead of time and to convey those wishes to your family – ideally in your will.

Another important lesson: Know your legal rights and what funeral-related goods and services cost so you – or your survivors – don't feel pressured into buying things you don't want or need. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) oversees "The Funeral Rule," which regulates how funeral providers must deal with consumers. Among its provisions:

  • Upon request, funeral homes must provide an itemized price list of all their goods and services, whether you call (even anonymously) or visit in person.
  • You have the right to choose among their offerings (with certain state-mandated exceptions) and are not required to purchase package deals containing unwanted items.
  • Prior to purchasing a casket or outer burial container from a funeral home, they must share descriptions and prices before showing you stock on hand.
  • Providers that offer cremations must make alternative containers (besides caskets) available.
  • Note: The Funeral Rule does not apply to third-party sellers such as casket and monument dealers, or to cemeteries that lack an on-site funeral home.

If your beliefs don't require following specific funeral protocols, here are a few ways to reduce costs while still honoring the deceased and their survivors:

  • Veterans, immediate family members, members of the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service and certain civilians who've provided military-related service may be entitled to burial at a national cemetery with a grave marker. Burial is free, but families are responsible for funeral home expenses and transportation to the cemetery.
  • A $255 lump-sum death benefit is available to surviving spouses or minor children of eligible workers who paid into Social Security.
  • For many, cremation is a viable, less expensive option to burial. If you plan to hold a viewing first before the cremation, ask whether you can rent an attractive casket for the ceremony.
  • Some families prefer not to hold a public viewing. For them, "direct cremation" or "immediate burial" may make sense. Because the body is promptly cremated or interred, embalming and cosmetology services are not necessary, which saves hundreds of dollars. Also, with direct cremation you can opt for an unfinished wood coffin or heavy cardboard enclosure for the journey to the crematorium.
  • You can purchase a casket or cremation urn from a source other than your funeral home. The funeral home cannot assess handling fees or require you to be there to take delivery.

The death of a loved one is always upsetting, but you may be able to ease your family's emotional and financial burdens by planning ahead.

Honoring Dr. King’s Legacy Through Service PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Vonnie Hampel   
Friday, 11 January 2013 14:44

By Congressman Dave Loebsack 

Each January, we pause to remember the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Best known for his work as a civil rights activist, Dr. King dedicated his life to improving the lives of those in his community and across the nation.  At the core of his beliefs was an unwavering dedication to helping others.  It is in the spirit of this commitment to serving that we mark each Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with a National Day of Service.

Here in Iowa, we have a longstanding tradition of not only helping our neighbors, but also those who we have not met.  In 2011, the Volunteering and Civic Life in America study found that nearly 40% of Iowa’s residents volunteer, making us 3rd in the nation.  All told, Iowans gave over 99 million hours of their time last year serving their communities.

I’m pleased that I was able to honor this tradition by introducing the Volunteer Generation Fund as a part of the bipartisan Serve America Act, which was signed into law in 2009.  This fund builds the capacity of state and local volunteer organizations to recruit, manage, and train volunteers.  Local organizations like the United Way of Wapello County, United Way of East Central Iowa, United Way of Johnson County, and Volunteer Center of Fairfield have already benefited from help to develop and expand their volunteer operations.

I know that as Iowans we will continue to give back and serve others, and this January 21st is a great opportunity to get out and do so.  The Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service is a part of United We Serve, a national call to service initiative.  On Monday the 21st, people across America will come together to celebrate Dr. King’s life and contribution to our nation by serving their communities at soup kitchens, schools, community gardens, and even in their own neighborhoods.

I encourage you to find a way to get involved.  You can find local service opportunities or create your own events at  Here you will find toolkits to help you plan your projects and get inspiration from what others are planning across the country.  You can also register your own project and invite your friends, family and community to participate at

If you are unable to join in on January 21st, you can still get involved.  People in our communities need us now more than ever, and any bit of time you are able to give will make a difference.  As January is National Mentoring Month, you might consider becoming a mentor to someone in your neighborhood.  Through the work of organizations like the Iowa Mentoring Partnership, mentoring promotes positive choices and high self-esteem, and shows proven educational and behavioral results.

However you choose to mark this year’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and the National Day of Service, I hope you will pause to remember his legacy and the difference the time you donate can truly make.


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