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USDA Seeks Applications for Grants to Increase Economic Opportunity and Improve the Quality of Life in Rural Areas PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Thursday, 14 August 2014 08:27

WASHINGTON, Aug. 13, 2014 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is seeking applications for grants that will be awarded to organizations to provide critical financial and technical assistance to recipients to develop and strengthen their capacity to carry out housing, community facilities and community and economic development projects.

"Many rural nonprofits often need capital and technical assistance to carry out their missions," Vilsack said. "These grants will provide both of these components through local and regional organizations that are experts at delivering such services."

USDA is making nearly $6 million available to qualified organizations under the Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI).

Recipients must be non-profit organizations, low-income rural communities, or federally recognized tribes. Intermediary organizations are required to provide matching funds at least equal to the RCDI grant. The grants do not go directly to business recipients but rather through qualified intermediaries.

The deadline for submitting RCDI applications is November 12, 2014. Applications must be submitted to the USDA Rural Development state office where the applicant's headquarters are located. More information about the program and how to apply is available on page 47427 of the August 13, 2014 Federal Register.

Here is an example of how the RCDI program is helping rural communities. The Western Maine Community Action Program (WMCAP) has received several RCDI grants in recent years to help low-and very-low-income seniors maintain their independence and remain in their homes through the Keeping Seniors Home Program. Started in 2004, this program has served nearly 3,000 low-income senior homeowners in Maine. WMCAP is also working on a regional job creation plan to train energy auditors, private contractors, and other community partners to provide additional support services to Maine's elderly rural citizens.

President Obama's historic investments in rural America have made our rural communities stronger. Under his leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).

Iowa Finance Authority to Host 2014 HousingIowa Conference September 3-5 in Des Moines PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Ashley Jared   
Thursday, 14 August 2014 08:25

500 Housing Professionals Expected to Attend HousingIowa Conference

DES MOINES  – The Iowa Finance Authority will host housing professionals from throughout the state at the Des Moines Marriott Downtown for the HousingIowa Conference Sept. 3-5. The conference, themed Awesometown, will showcase the wide-ranging benefits affordable housing has on communities. Attendees will hear from national housing experts, discuss local issues and network with housing professionals. The event is open to anyone interested in learning more about the housing industry. The registration fee is $200. More information is available at

Conference highlights:

Keynote speakers

  • Liz Murray, From Homeless to Harvard
  • Mary Kelly, PhD,  An Economic Update: What Housing Professionals Need to Know in Awesometown
  • Jon Stetson, Invest in your Intuition
    • 2014 HousingIowa Awards
# # #

Governor Quinn Signs Legislation to Improve Emergency Response Services in Rural Areas PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Dave Blanchette   
Thursday, 14 August 2014 07:44

New Laws Will Help Improve Emergency Response Times and Quality Care to People Across Every Corner of Illinois

SPRINGFIELD – Governor Pat Quinn today visited the Illinois State Fair on Agriculture Day to sign legislation that will help improve emergency response services in rural areas throughout the state. The new laws help ensure the highest quality of care can be provided in ambulances and on the scene of accidents across Illinois. Today's action is part of Governor Quinn's agenda to protect and improve the health and well-being of the people of Illinois.

“These common sense laws take advantage of the advanced emergency medical training that many emergency workers in rural areas already have,” Governor Quinn said. “When every second counts and you've got a lot of territory to cover, it's comforting to know that responders in any area of the state can use all of their training in emergencies.”

"By signing these bills, Governor Quinn has made Illinois a safer state, and even more lives will be saved,” State Representative Don Moffitt (R-Gilson), the House sponsor of both rural emergency response bills, said. “I commend Governor Quinn for making this upgrade in the level of emergency medical care available for the citizens of Illinois.”

House Bill 4523, sponsored by Representative Moffitt and State Senator John M. Sullivan (D-Rushville), allows ambulance providers in rural areas to be upgraded to the highest EMT license of any person staffing that ambulance, including registered nurses. This will allow more kinds of life-saving procedures to be performed when an ambulance responds to an emergency.

Under existing law, the ambulance itself is restricted to a set level of emergency care regardless of who is staffing it. Rural Emergency Medical Service (EMS) providers have struggled to properly staff emergency vehicles, and this legislation allows for the addition of a licensed, highly-qualified medical professional to help fill the void. The law is effective Jan. 1, 2015.

“In some rural areas of the state an ambulance ride can last up to an hour,” Senator Sullivan said. “It only makes sense to allow nurses certified at a specific level to provide the highest level of care during the ambulance ride.”

Governor Quinn also signed House Bill 5828, sponsored by Representative Moffitt and State Senator Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet).  Many rural communities do not have an ambulance service, but most are part of a fire protection district. Many volunteer firefighters are also trained as paramedics. This new law will allow those firefighters who are trained as paramedics to use those skills in their roles as firefighters. This was not allowed under the previous law. HB 5828, which is effective immediately, offers rural areas in Illinois increased access to medical response and care.

“This is part of my continued effort to help rural emergency service responders increase their capabilities to serve the population in some of Illinois' most underserved medical areas,” Senator Rose said. “This capability will better enable our EMS crews to take care of a wider variety of emergencies.”

In addition, Governor Quinn signed Senate Bill 3398, sponsored by State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights) and State Representative Elgie Sims, Jr. (D-Chicago), which exempts certain specially-designated vehicles used solely for farming purposes from federal trucking regulations. The Governor signed the bill on Agriculture Day at the Illinois State Fair as part of his commitment to supporting Illinois’ agriculture businesses. The law is effective immediately.

Governor Quinn is committed to protecting and improving the health and well-being of the people of Illinois. Earlier this year, Governor Quinn invested $4 million to help 193 fire departments across the state purchase equipment and other tools necessary to provide effective responses to emergencies. Over the past few years, the Governor signed multiple pieces of legislation to modify a state financing program to assist local fire departments in purchasing fire trucks and ambulances as well as making station upgrades.

In 2010, Governor Quinn signed legislation to ensure the highest quality of emergency medical transportation for people across Illinois who are critically ill. The law establishes minimum standards for ambulance services that provide advanced critical care transportation.

In 2013, Governor Quinn signed legislation to make emergency response systems in Illinois more efficient and effective by developing an Illinois 9-1-1 systems directory to allow calls answered by one system to be easily forwarded to another 9-1-1 system when necessary.


Harkin Continues Legacy Tour PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Harkin Press Office   
Wednesday, 13 August 2014 12:49

Events highlighting Harkin’s investment in Iowa: Clinton, Keokuk, Burlington, Jewell, Mason City, and Davenport

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today announced several events in Iowa this week designed to complement a legacy tour announced earlier this summer.  A full list of his public events follows.

Wednesday, August 13 — Clinton

9:30 A.M.       Clinton Community Health Center Event

The Canticle, Sisters of St. Francis

843 13th Avenue North

Clinton, IA 52732

Senator Harkin will meet with members of the health care community as well as local officials and supporters to encourage their ongoing commitment to the future success of the clinic. Over the years, Harkin has worked to secure $3.2 million to build the Clinton Community Health Clinic.


3:00 P.M.        Burlington Community Health Center

1706 W. Agency Road

West Burlington, IA 52655

Senator Harkin secured $1,825,000 to construct Burlington’s Medical and Dental Clinics.  These clinics are housed on the grounds of Southeastern Community College, which provides hands-on training for nursing and health aide students studying at the college. The Burlington Community Health Center provides services to a five county area (Iowa-Des Moines, Lee, Henry, Louisa and Illinois-Hancock).


Thursday, August 14 — Keokuk and Burlington

9:15 A.M.       Tour of Lock and Dam No. 19

Lock 19

525 N. Water Street

Keokuk, IA 52632

Senator Harkin will meet with local officials and Colonel Mark J. Deschenes, Commander and District Engineer of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District at the Army Corps Lock and Dam 19 to discuss how federal funding has helped improve the Lock and Dam system along the Mississippi River. From 2004 to 2007, as a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, Harkin helped to secure more than $23 million for rehabilitation and maintenance of projects at Lock and Dam 19.


11:30 A.M.      Iowa Army Ammunition Plant Picnic

Burlington Memorial

200 Front Street

Burlington, IA 52601

Senator Harkin will attend the annual Iowa Army Ammunition Plant (IAAP) Picnic in Burlington to meet with local officials and current and former IAAP workers. In 1997, Harkin received a letter from Bob Anderson, a constituent in Iowa who wrote about how he and many of his former co-workers at the IAAP had become ill with various types of cancer after working at the plant. Although the U.S. Army initially denied these accusations, Harkin continued to investigate the situation and discovered that Department of Energy workers were in fact exposed to massive doses of radiation at the Burlington plant from 1948-1974. The primitive safety measures in place at the time meant that these workers were exposed to unmonitored and excessive levels of radiation and other chemicals that led many to develop various types of cancer and other illnesses. Harkin has continued to work to get compensation to Bob Anderson and thousands of other sick workers across the United States, including the passage of the bipartisan Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Plan Act of 2000. To date, the U.S. Department of Labor has paid out almost $300 million in compensation to workers and survivors in Iowa, including both the Burlington workers and former workers at the Ames Laboratory.


Friday, August 15 — Jewell and Mason City

1:00 P.M.        Hamilton County Main Street Investments Tour

632 Main Street

Jewell, IA 50130


Senator Harkin will tour a portion of Main Street in Jewell to see firsthand the impact that Harkin Main Street Grants have had on the community. Since 2004, Hamilton County has received four Harkin Main Street Grants totaling $240,000 for restoration of historic areas in the downtown district. These Grants have leveraged over $650,000 in private funds for the projects. On the tour, Harkin will see projects completed as a result of these funds, including the Shorthorn Building that was reconstructed in 2007 as well as three residential and commercial properties that have been completely renovated after long-term vacancies.


3:45 P.M.        Mason City Water Treatment Plant Tour

Senator Harkin will tour the Mason City Water Treatment plant to learn about how investments for the facility have helped to protect the public health and provide access to clean water for Mason City residents. From fiscal years 2003 to 2004, Harkin worked to secure $4.9 million to help the treatment facility construct the world’s third largest electrodialysis reversal technology system to remove increased levels of radium from the local water. Over the years, Harkin has worked to maintain federal assistance for the water treatment plant, including $492,000 in 2008 to expand the facility’s operating capacity and $220,000 for self-chlorination services following Hurricane Katrina.


Sunday, August 17 — Davenport

1:15 P.M.        Quad City River Bandits’ “Tom Harkin Day” Game

Modern Woodmen Park

209 S. Gaines Street

Davenport, IA 52802

Senator Harkin will throw out the first pitch at the Quad City River Bandits’ game as part of “Tom Harkin Day” at the Modern Woodmen Ballpark. The Bandits, along with the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce will host the event to honor Harkin’s years of dedicated service to the region through securing federal funding for local projects and investing in programs that benefit all generations of the community. Spectators will receive a Tom Harkin bobblehead and the Bandits will present Harkin with an honorary jersey for his work to support the Quad Cities region.



Iowa Rep. Deborah L. Berry Selected as CSG Toll Fellow PDF Print E-mail
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Written by CSG Media Relations   
Wednesday, 13 August 2014 08:21

LEXINGTON, Ky.--Iowa state Rep. Deborah L. Berry is one of 48 state policymakers from across the country selected as a Council of State Governments' Henry Toll Fellow for the Class of 2014.

The Class of 2014 Toll Fellows represents 35 states and Puerto Rico, with 35 serving in the legislative branch, four serving in the judiciary and nine hailing from the executive. A nine-member committee of state leaders, many who are Toll Fellows themselves, reviewed a record number of applications to select the class.

"The Henry Toll Fellowship has a distinguished history of cultivating some of the nation's top leaders and forging lasting relationships among a special few who serve without fear or favor," said Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, the 2014 CSG national chair and a 2002 CSG Toll Fellow. "This year's class is drawn from a very deep talent pool, and each of those selected will contribute significantly."

The Toll Fellowship Program, named for CSG founder Henry Wolcott Toll, is one of the nation's premier leadership development programs for state government officials. Each year, the program brings 48 of the nation's top officials from all three branches of state government to Lexington, Ky., for an intensive six-day, five-night "intellectual boot camp."

"I have heard from my colleagues who have participated in the program that the experience has been 'transforming' and helpful in terms of their aspirations as a legislator," Berry said. "As a sixth-term legislator, many would feel there is not much left to learn. I believe the experience in the program will provide new opportunities of leadership and provide an opportunity to share my experiences with my colleagues from around the country."

The program's agenda includes a lineup of dynamic speakers and sessions designed to stimulate personal assessment and growth, while providing priceless networking and relationship-building opportunities. While each year's program is unique, previous programs have included sessions on leadership personality assessment, media training, crisis management, appreciative inquiry, adaptive leadership and much more.

"The Toll Fellowship remains the oldest and most prestigious of all leadership development programs for elected officials," said David Adkins, CSG's executive director/CEO. "Its impact is profound and its quality is renowned. As a Toll Fellow from 1993, I know first hand the impact the program has on elected officials."

Adkins was a 1993 Toll Fellow when he served as a Kansas state representative.

Toll Fellows alumni include U.S. Rep. John Carney, a former Delaware lieutenant governor; U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, a former Hawaii state Senate president; U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, a former Indiana secretary of state; former North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue and former U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.

Berry said programs like Toll Fellows are important because they give policymakers the chance to get to know each other outside of the usual "us vs. them" atmosphere.

"Sharing ideas, networking and building lifelong relationships with colleagues from around the country provides for a more open and honest dialogue on issues once back home in our own state legislatures," she said, "which could lead to bipartisan efforts among colleagues. Eradicating the hostile climate we see today is critical in moving our state and country to a more productive place."

This year's program will be held Sept. 5-10 in Lexington.

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