Travel & Tourism
St. Louis To Mark Its 250th Anniversary With 'Biggest Birthday Bash' PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Dana Andrews   
Friday, 24 January 2014 10:49

ST. LOUIS -- January 23, 2014 -- A 250th birthday doesn’t come around every day but when it does, you want it to be a humdinger! And, in true St. Louis-style hospitality tradition, many of the major, blow-out-the-candles birthday events will be free to all.

Here are the key events planned thus far (be sure to check out St. Louis' birthday website often as
St. Louis area attractions continue to add special 250-themed activities to the calendar):

February 14-16: Birthday Bash Weekend. Was STL founded on Valentine’s Day or on the day after? Historians can’t agree so the city is making a weekend of it. National musical acts, a 25-foot-high flaming heart sculpture titled “Burnin’ Love,” luminary décor, light shows illuminating the park and spectacular fireworks displays will highlight this blow-out event in Forest Park.   

Re-enactors will bring St. Louis' founding to life along the Mississippi riverfront on Saturday, Feb. 15. They will also trace the broader influence that various cultures played in shaping St. Louis--the Osage, the Spanish and the French, including those from New Orleans and Quebec.

To commemorate St. Louis’ French ties, French heritage awareness group Les Amis will place street signs with the original French names on streets in downtown St. Louis.

February 14: Missouri History Museum Exhibit. A major, free exhibition commemorating the city's 250th anniversary will open at the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park. Titled “250/250: 50 People; 50 Moments; 50 Places; 50 Images; 50 Objects,” the exhibit will showcase the richness, diversity and complexity of the city’s long history while telling stories of murderers and musicians, prostitutes and poets, composers and clowns.

Displays will feature objects older than 250 years as well as some we still use today. Visitors can listen to first-hand accounts of both the big and small moments that have made St. Louis history and see images of St. Louisans at work and play throughout 250 years.

During opening weekend visitors can participate in interactive exhibits and activities, enjoy live musical performances and sample prime edibles from local food vendors.

July 4-6:  Fair Saint Louis. Thomas Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase officially transformed St. Louis from French to American, so it’s fitting to turn the Fourth of July 2014 into a birthday party for St. Louis and the entire nation. Fair Saint Louis, St. Louis’ long-time Fourth of July celebration, moves to Forest Park this year for an entirely new celebration experience. Nationally known music acts, a huge parade with birthday-themed floats, air shows and nightly fireworks ensure this joint celebration of St. Louis’ and our country’s births will be an event to remember.

December 31: Kickoff of St. Louis' future. The birthday year culminates with fireworks, music and more during a fun-filled First Night that kicks off the start of St. Louis’ next 250 years.

For more information about St. Louis’ Biggest Birthday Bash, visit stl250.


News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Glenn Kass   
Friday, 24 January 2014 10:33

Historic Davenport hotel is only property named in Iowa

DAVENPORT, IOWA – Hotel Blackhawk management is pleased to announce its recognition as a 2014 Recommended Property by the Forbes Travel Guide – one of 82 hotels worldwide to earn that title and the only one in Iowa. The announcement is part of the guide’s 56th annual Star Awards for hospitality establishments worldwide (

The Forbes guide (originally known as the Mobil Travel Guide) was the originator of the prestigious Five Star Ratings and certifications. It has provided the travel industry’s most comprehensive ratings and reviews of hotels, restaurants and spas since 1958.

This back-to-back honor for Hotel Blackhawk adds to its current status as an AAA Four Diamond Award-Lodgings, two-time TripAdvisor® Certificate of Excellence Award recipient, two-time Bix Bistro Wine Spectator Award of Excellence status as well as three-time Smart Meetings Platinum Choice Award recognition.

“Retaining our status in a travel guide like Forbes is recognition earned by the team at Hotel Blackhawk,” said Tim Heim, Senior VP – Sales & Marketing, Innkeeper Hospitality Services – parent company of Hotel Blackhawk. “Continuing to meet the expectations of a prestigious rating organization is to again be part of a gold standard for hospitality excellence today.”

Hotel Blackhawk re-opened December 15th, 2010. The hotel retains its 99-year-old historic character while featuring modern conveniences throughout the 130 guestrooms and extended-stay suites, six meeting rooms and up to 300-person banquet capacity in the signature Gold Room.

Other features include wireless internet, a fitness center, business center, swimming pool, hot tub, Spa Luce (lu-CHAY), Milan Flower Shop, the Bix Bistro restaurant, the Beignet (been-YAY) Done That coffee shop and Blackhawk Bowl & Martini Lounge. The hotel is part of the Autograph Collection ( and the Historic Hotels of America network (

For more, visit or find us on Hotel Blackhawk).


News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Brian Jennings   
Tuesday, 14 January 2014 15:55

DES MOINES – Today, the Des Moines Airport Authority Board delayed making a decision on a contract with Pro-Tec Fire Services for firefighting services at Des Moines International Airport.


Currently, the Iowa Air National Guard provides firefighting and EMS services at Des Moines International Airport through highly trained state employees who are part of the Iowa Department of Public Defense. On September 30, 2014, these services will end due to a change in the mission tasking of the Air National Guard airbase at the airport. As a result, the Des Moines Airport Authority Board must find another way to provide firefighting services at the airport.


“The Airport Authority Board is considering hiring a for-profit company that will provide only minimal emergency services. The Airport Authority’s Request for Proposal included staffing requirements that are insufficient to meet OSHA requirements and National Fire Protection Association staffing and interior firefighting safety standards,” said AFSCME Iowa Council 61 President Danny Homan.


“The company that the Airport Authority Board is considering, Pro-Tec Fire Services, has a troubled history. According to reports in The Times (Trenton, New Jersey), Pro-Tec did not issue notifications when equipment was out of service, fell behind on training, paid low wages, and had high employee turnover at Trenton Mercer Airport in New Jersey. Pro-Tec also paid low wages at the MidAmerica St. Louis Airport in Illinois, according to the Belleville News-Democrat,” added Homan.


“The firefighters/medics currently at Des Moines International Airport have saved lives by responding to medical emergencies at the airport. The airport has a huge footprint of over 2,600 acres. The Des Moines Fire Department cannot guarantee that they will be able to respond to fire and medical emergencies at the airport in an adequate time frame. Outsourcing fire and EMS services at the airport would put lives at risk,” added Homan.


“The current firefighters/medics at the Airport have extensive training in crash fire and rescue and in emergency medical response. The Des Moines Airport Authority Board should recognize that these firefighters/medics’ training and experience are an asset that should be utilized,” added Homan.


“Des Moines International Airport has recently experienced great growth in the number of passengers it serves. As the airport grows, it should not lose its commitment to safety. We call on the Airport Authority Board to reject the proposed contract with Pro-Tec Fire Services at their next meeting. The Airport Authority should instead pursue a course that maintains current services using the current well-trained firefighters/medics as public employees,” added Homan.






Pro-Tec did not issue notifications when equipment was out of service. The Times (Trenton, NJ) reported in May 2000 that “Another issue about Pro-Tec has come to the fore in recent interviews: whether notices to airmen (NOTAMs) were issued as required by FAA regulations when fire trucks were out of commission. West, who has worked at Trenton Mercer for two years, said that NOTAMs need only be issued if 24 hours pass and no replacement vehicle is in place. But FAA rules state that a NOTAM must be issued immediately if a truck is out of service, even if only for a few hours for something as simple as an oil change, Peters said. The airport should also temporarily reduce its index, which refers to what size aircraft can be handled by firefighters at the airport. According to Russer, to avoid needing a NOTAM, chemicals for firefighting were transferred to another truck to maintain the ability to handle emergencies. But the truck had no equipment to dispense the chemicals. Barlow, who said he performed mechanical work when he worked for Pro-Tec in the mid-'90s, said trucks were regularly out of commission at the time, yet no NOTAMs were issued. The former Pro-Tec fire official who spoke anonymously said there may have been times when NOTAMs should have been issued and were not. The issue is a gray area, he said.” [The Times (Trenton, NJ), 5/13/2000]

Pro-Tec promised additional training to get a contract renewal. The Times (Trenton, NJ) reported in June 2001 that “[County Administrator John] Ricci said the bid won by Pro-Tec, the lowest of three submitted, required that the firefighters get the additional training.” [The Times (Trenton, NJ), 6/8/2001]

But when airport officials followed up, the training had not been completed. The Times (Trenton, NJ) reported in June 2001 that “airport officials found some employees were deficient when they asked them for their credentials, he [Ricci] said.” [The Times (Trenton, NJ), 6/8/2001]

At Trenton Mercer Airport, Pro-Tec paid low wages and was ending health benefits. In April 2000, The Times (Trenton, NJ) reported in April 2000 that “Board members were upset to hear Skinner and Russer talk about an hourly salary of $7.97, with the company pulling all medical benefits on March 1, although few employees companywide used them.” [The Times (Trenton, NJ), 4/26/2000]

At Trenton Mercer Airport, there was 75 percent turnover in five years and equipment was in poor condition. In April 2000, The Times (Trenton, NJ) reported that “also, they were upset to hear from West of 75 percent turnover in personnel since 1995, and that the larger of two fire trucks, built around 1984, needed work on a broken turret, which directs foam on a fire.” [The Times (Trenton, NJ), 4/26/2000]

In 2001, Pro-Tec paid employees in Illinois low wages. The Belleville News-Democrat reported in February 2001 that “currently, firefighters [employed by Pro-Tec Fire Services at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport] earn $8.09 an hour, while captains earn $8.99 an hour.” [Belleville News-Democrat, 2/28/2001]

Iowa 80 Truckstop celebrates 50 years PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Iowa 80 Truck Stop   
Friday, 10 January 2014 13:59

After five decades, the Iowa 80 Truckstop at exit 284 along Interstate 80 in Walcott is still striving to maintain the self-proclaimed title of world's largest truck stop.

Governor Quinn Announces $2.9 Million for Construction Project in Henry County PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Dave Blanchette   
Thursday, 19 December 2013 16:08

Project Will Replace Route 6 Bridge

GENESEO – Governor Pat Quinn today announced a capital investment of more than $2.9 million for a bridge replacement project in Henry County, part of his Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program. The project is part of Governor Quinn’s commitment to create jobs and drive Illinois’ economy forward.

“Our investment will make travel along Route 6 safer and more efficient,” Governor Quinn said. “The project will also employ a number of construction workers, which will help the local economy.”

The bridge carrying U.S. Route 6 over Mineral Creek about a mile east of Green River Road will be replaced for $2,915,555 by McCarthy Improvement Company of Davenport, Iowa, the lower of two bidders. The project will also involve the replacement of several culverts carrying U.S. Route 6 over drainage ditches in the area. The project will be overseen by the Illinois Department of Transportation.

“By providing funds to make improvements in Henry County along Route 6, we are further enhancing the infrastructure throughout the 36th District,” State Senator Mike Jacobs (D-Moline) said.  “These funds will provide jobs and benefit the economy in Henry County.

“Route 6 is a vital part of the network of roads that help make the Quad Cities a regional economic hub,” State Representative Mike Smiddy (D-Hillsdale) said. “We need to ensure that it continues to bring needed jobs and economic development to our district, especially in Henry County.”

The project is part of Governor Quinn’s $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now! program, which will support more than 439,000 jobs over six years. Illinois Jobs Now! is the largest capital construction program in Illinois history, and is one of the largest capital construction programs in the nation.


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