Travel & Tourism
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.


Governor Quinn Opens Rockford’s New Morgan Street Bridge PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Grant Klinzman   
Wednesday, 18 December 2013 09:32

$29 Million Project Will Improve Commerce and Quality of Life on Both Sides of the Rock River

ROCKFORD – Governor Pat Quinn today joined local and state officials to cut the ribbon and open the new $29 million Morgan Street Bridge over the Rock River. The new bridge is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to create jobs and build a 21st century transportation system that will drive Illinois’ economy forward.

“Residents and businesses who need to cross the Rock River now have a better way,” Governor Quinn said. “We expect as many as 60,000 people will use the new Morgan Street Bridge each day, improving commerce and the quality of life throughout the Rockford area.”

The 497-foot Morgan Street Bridge includes a 370-foot tiered arch main span anchored to each bank of the river. The original bridge, which was built in 1916, was recommended for replacement in a 2000 bridge study. The new bridge includes a new roadway plus improved lighting, railings, sidewalks and a multi-use path.

The Federal Highway Major Bridge Fund, administered by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), provided $21.17 million for the bridge project. $4.26 million came from Governor Quinn’s Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program, and $3.55 million from the city of Rockford.

“The city and state worked collectively to find the gap funding we needed in order to get the bridge built,” Mayor Larry Morrissey said. “The commitment to the project by Governor Quinn and our local legislative delegation really made the project possible.”

“We are proud to celebrate the completion of this important bridge project in Rockford,” IDOT Secretary Ann L. Schneider said. “This project is a great example of federal, state and local officials working together to create jobs, improve safety, boost the local economy and help ensure Illinois’ transportation system remains among the best in the nation.”

The Morgan Street Bridge is part of a $40 million project that also involves $11 million worth of road work on both sides of the river. This includes reconstructing College Avenue from the bridge to Kishwaukee Street; Morgan Street from the new bridge to South Main Street; plus intersection upgrades. The City of Rockford also paid for land acquisition, utilities and engineering costs. Citizen input was incorporated throughout the planning process.

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.


Poll: Cell phones on planes? PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Rep. Dave Loebsack   
Friday, 13 December 2013 10:12
There is a lot of talk lately about whether passengers on a plane should be able to make phone calls while in flight. I want to know, based on your experiences, how far you think this ban should extend. Should phones be allowed for just texting and emailing, or are you OK with calls being made? I want to hear from you.

CLICK HERE and let me know how far the ban should go!

Should it be kept like it is where you can use your phone to listen to music, or play a game? Should it be opened up to be able to send texts and emails? Or, should phone calls be allowed? The Federal Communication Commission is going to make a decision soon. What do you think?

Tell me your opinion by clicking here!

Thanks as always for your response. I look forward to hearing what you have to say.


Dave Loebsack
Iowa's Second District

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