OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (07/22/2014)(readMedia)-- Oklahoma City University is proud to announce that Shannon Beshears of Milan, IL has been named to the President's Honor Roll for the spring 2014 semester.

Students must complete a minimum of 12 credit hours during a semester and maintain a GPA of 3.9 or higher to meet the President's Honor Roll requirements.

Founded in 1904, Oklahoma City University is a non-profit, comprehensive, private United Methodist university that is consistently ranked among the best in its category. OCU students pursue academic excellence through a rigorous liberal arts & sciences core curriculum that focuses on their intellectual, moral and spiritual development.

Congressman urges President to engage with Congolese government

Washington, D.C. - Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers in urging the United States government to address the issue of stalled adoptions with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, ahead of the Congolese Prime Minister's attendance at a summit in the United States next month.

"The United States can and should speak with one voice when it comes to resolving this issue and uniting these families," Braley said. "Iowa families have made the courageous decision to bring a child into their homes and are being prevented from doing that by red tape–and that's not right."


Recently, a resolution introduced by Braley calling on the Congolese government to resolve the issue passed unanimously in the U.S. House.


Over 900 U.S. families have had their adoptions suspended by the DRC. Some, including Erin and Michael Peat of Dubuque were granted their adoption visa by the United States. However, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) suddenly refused to issue exit letters, which is the final step allowing families to bring their children to the United States.

In June, Braley met with Erin Peat and Kevin and Dawn Schafer of West Des Moines, along with other families who are facing delays in their adoptions from the DRC.

Braley has written the Congolese Prime Minister, the Congolese Ambassador to the United States, and Secretary of State John Kerry calling for a resolution to this issue.

The Letter to President Obama can be found below.


June 16, 2014

The Honorable Barack Obama

President of the United States

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama,

We write to ask for your personal engagement to resolve over 900 international adoption cases of Congolese children who either have been or are in the process of being adopted by American families, yet who are unable to obtain Congolese exit permits due to a suspension in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). We understand that you have invited President Joseph Kabila to Washington in August for the first ever U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, and we urge you to use this event and the time leading up to it as an opportunity to press for an expeditious resolution that is in the best interest of these children.

In September 2013, the DRC suspended the issuance of exit permits for children adopted by foreign parents, reportedly due to concerns about suspected malfeasance in the local DRC adoption process and lack of information about the well-being of adopted children after they arrived in their new homes.  This suspension is having tragic consequences for these children as they wait to be united with their American families.  Already, 10 children who were matched with American families have died since the suspension went into place and many more have urgent, life-threatening medical problems. There are over 350 children who have been legally adopted by US families and have been given Congolese passports and U.S. visas, but are still waiting for exit letters to be able to leave the DRC.

Overcoming this impasse is a priority for many in Congress and we appreciate the State Department's efforts to raise this issue with its Congolese counterparts. In April of this year, a bipartisan and bicameral group of 170 Members of Congress wrote to President Kabila and Prime Minister Matata Ponyo, urging the DRC government to resume processing exit permits for adopted children. To date, there has been no official response to this letter. Secretary Kerry raised this issue directly with President Kabila during his visit to Kinshasa in May and later that month the DRC government did release exit letters for 19 children adopted by American families, 4 of whom were medically fragile. Unfortunately, this represented only a small percentage of the completed cases and leaves dozens of critically ill children without the medical care they need to survive. The U.S. Department of State has continuously engaged the Congolese government to resolve the remaining completed cases, but to date all overtures have been unsuccessful. For example, when the DRC Director of General Migration (DGM) Francois Beya visited the United States in June, he received multiple requests for meetings ranging from State Department officials to Members of Congress. Mr. Beya declined to schedule any meetings on the suspended exit permit issue. That is why we are requesting your direct engagement with President Kabila.

We respectfully request that you raise this human rights crisis with President Kabila prior to his attendance at the U.S.-African Leaders Summit next month, and then use the opportunity of the summit to press for a firm resolution.  We would appreciate your leadership on this issue to help unite these children and their families.

Thank you for your attention to this important request.


# # #

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that federal disaster aid has been made available to the state of Iowa to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds and flooding during the period of June 3-4, 2014.

The President's action makes federal funding available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds and flooding in Adams, Clarke, Decatur, Mills, Montgomery, Pottawattamie, Ringgold, Taylor and Wayne counties.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

Michael L. Parker has been named as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area.  Parker said additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.



Following is a summary of key federal disaster aid programs that can be made available as needed and warranted under President Obama's disaster declaration issued for the state of Iowa.

Assistance for the State and Affected Local Governments Can Include as Required:

  • Payment of not less than 75 percent of the eligible costs for debris removal and emergency protective measures taken to save lives and protect property and public health.  Emergency protective measures assistance is available to state and eligible local governments on a cost-sharing basis. (Source: FEMA funded, state administered.)

  • Payment of not less than 75 percent of the eligible costs for repairing or replacing damaged public facilities, such as roads, bridges, utilities, buildings, schools, recreational areas and similar publicly owned property, as well as certain private non-profit organizations engaged in community service activities. (Source: FEMA funded, state administered.)

  • Payment of not more than 75 percent of the approved costs for hazard mitigation projects undertaken by state and local governments to prevent or reduce long-term risk to life and property from natural or technological disasters.  (Source: FEMA funded, state administered.)

How to Apply for Assistance:

  • Application procedures for state and local governments will be explained at a series of federal/state applicant briefings with locations to be announced in the affected area by recovery officials. Approved public repair projects are paid through the state from funding provided by FEMA and other participating federal agencies.

FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate all hazards.

Follow FEMA online at www.fema.gov/blog, www.twitter.com/fema, www.facebook.com/fema and www.youtube.com/fema.  Also, follow Administrator Craig Fugate's activities at www.twitter.com/craigatfema.

Governor Branstad requests second Presidential Disaster Declaration for 26 counties


DES MOINES - Governor Terry E. Branstad received word today that President Obama approved his request for a Presidential Disaster Declaration for nine counties impacted by severe weather in June.

The counties included in the declaration are: Adams, Clarke, Decatur, Mills, Montgomery, Pottawattamie, Ringgold, Taylor and Wayne.

The governor sent the request for a declaration on July 7 in response to significant damage that was caused by severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding that occurred June 3-4. This is Iowa's first Presidential Disaster Declaration in 2014.

The declaration by the President will provide federal funding to the declared counties under the Public Assistance Program. A Presidential Major Disaster Declaration for Public Assistance puts into motion long-term federal recovery programs, some of which are matched by state programs, and designed to help public entities and select non-profits. Public Assistance funds may be used for emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities and may include debris removal, emergency protective measures, repair of damaged public property, loans needed by communities for essential government functions and grants for public schools.

The Governor also received notification that the Presidential Disaster Declaration includes funding to conduct hazard mitigation activities for the entire state. With this funding, Iowa will be able to minimize the impact of future disasters by taking steps now to strengthen existing infrastructure.

This Presidential Disaster Declaration is the 19th Major Presidential Disaster Declaration Iowa has received since March 2007.

New Presidential Disaster Declaration request for 26 counties


Also today, Governor Branstad signed a letter to be delivered to President Obama requesting a second Presidential Disaster Declaration for Iowa as a result of severe storms, damaging winds, tornadoes, heavy rain, hail and flooding that occurred June 14-23.

The 26 counties in the request are: Allamakee, Buchanan, Buena Vista, Butler, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Clay, Dickinson, Emmet, Fayette, Franklin, Hancock, Humboldt, Ida, Kossuth, Lyon, Osceola, Palo Alto, Plymouth, Pocahontas, Sac, Sioux, Winnebago, Winneshiek, Woodbury, and Wright.

Iowa HSEMD requests additional damage assessments for four counties


In addition, the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department (HSEMD) sent a request today to FEMA requesting damage assessments in four counties as a result of severe weather and flooding that occurred June 26 and continuing. The damage assessments, which will primarily cover public infrastructure, will be conducted jointly with HSEMD and other state officials as well as local and federal partners. Results of the damage assessments could be used to determine if a request for a Presidential Disaster Declaration is warranted. Damage assessments will be conducted in the following counties: Benton, Keokuk, Tama and Washington.

Governor Branstad issues Disaster Proclamation for Chickasaw County


Governor Branstad today issued a disaster proclamation for Chickasaw County as a result of severe storms that occurred beginning June 26. The governor's proclamation allows State resources to be utilized to respond to and recover from the effects of these storms.

In addition, today's proclamation activates the Iowa Individual Assistance Program for Chickasaw County, as well as Benton and Des Moines counties, for which he had issued disaster proclamations on July 10 and July 2, respectively.

The Iowa Individual Assistance Program provides grants of up to $5,000 for households with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, or a maximum annual income of $39,580, for a family of three. Grants are available for home or car repairs, replacement of clothing or food, and for the expense of temporary housing. Original receipts are required for those seeking reimbursement for actual expenses related to storm recovery. The grant application and instructions are available on the Iowa Department of Human Services website. Potential applicants have 45 days from the date of the proclamation to submit a claim.


Jobs legislation was incorporated in reauthorization of Workforce Investment Act

Washington, D.C. - Congressman Dave Loebsack released the following statement today after large portions of the SECTORS Act, legislation he introduced to close the gap between the kinds of skills that workers have and skills that businesses need, passed the House. HR 803, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WOIA), is designed to improve the nation's workforce development system. The legislation, which already passed the Senate on an overwhelming bipartisan vote, now heads to the President for his signature. Video of Loebsack discussing his SECTORS Act on the House floor can be found here.

"The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WOIA) is critical to our nation's economic recovery, and I am pleased that it was passed with truly bipartisan support. I am also pleased that this bill contains large portions of the SECTORS Act that will close the gap between the kinds of skills that workers have and the skills that businesses need. The sector partnerships created by this bill will get people back to work and move our economy forward."

Loebsack's SECTORS Act links together businesses, labor organizations, local stakeholders, and education and training providers connected to a particular industry. These partnerships work to develop or implement plans for growing or saving that targeted industry, promoting long-term competitiveness and advancing employment opportunities for workers. The inclusion of the legislation will ensure employees on the local level are properly trained so they can effectively compete in the 21st Century global economy. Loebsack first introduced the SECTORS Act in 2009 and the House of Representatives unanimously passed it in 2010. While it was not taken up in the Senate at that time, Loebsack has continued to fight for its passage.


NAMI Greater Mississippi Valley announces Board President, Max Ewalt, has stepped down as of June 10, 2014.  Max has served NAMI GMV as Board President for five years. He began work as President of the Board of Directors in 2009 when the organization was still named NAMI Scott County and has been instrumental in facilitating our merger with NAMI Rock Island County to become a NAMI of the Greater Mississippi Valley. NAMI GMV now serves the Iowa/Illinois Quad Cities and outlying areas, including Scott, Clinton, and Muscatine counties in Iowa and Rock Island, Mercer and Henry counties in Illinois.

The Board of Directors and members of NAMI Greater Mississippi Valley expresses their sincere appreciation to Max for his 5 years of service, dedication, and leadership.

NAMI Greater Mississippi Valley is proud to announce that Michael Freda, the former Vice President of the organization, has been confirmed as the new Board President of our local affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.  He has assumed these duties as of our annual meeting on June 10, 2014.

Michael brings extensive experience and leadership to guide the organization forward into the future.

Michael shares, "Over the next 2 years we hope to build a strong bi-state board, continue to expand NAMI's education and support programs into Rock Island and Muscatine, and increase our advocacy efforts by working with local service providers, our legislators and the Statewide affiliates."

BROOKLYN, NY (07/02/2014)(readMedia)-- Shannon Strickland, East Moline resident and a student at the prestigious Pratt Institute, was among more than 1,000 students who made the President's List in the Spring 2014 semester.

Founded in 1887, Pratt Institute is a global leader in higher education dedicated to preparing its 4,700 undergraduate and graduate students for successful careers in art, design, architecture, information and library science, and liberal arts and sciences. Located in the cultural hub of New York City with historic campuses in Brooklyn and Manhattan, Pratt is a living lab of craft and creativity with esteemed professors and scholars who challenge their talented students to transform their passion into meaningful expression.

Under the leadership of President Thomas F. Schutte, the curricula and reputations of Pratt's four professional schools, which include 22 undergraduate and 25 graduate degree-granting programs, are recognized internationally and perennially listed among the best in top-tier rankings from U.S. News & World Report, Princeton Review, DesignIntelligence, and others.

IOWA CITY, IA (06/26/2014)(readMedia)-- Approximately 300 students were named to the University of Iowa President's List for the 2014 spring semester.

Students from your area earning President's List honors include :

Nicholas Gerwe of Bettendorf

Ava Lynn of Bettendorf

Monica Ahrens of New Liberty

Dorothy Armstrong of Winona

Jordan Azinger of Grimes

Luke Byerly of State Center

Brittany Callahan of Ypsilanti

Katherine Campbell of Williamsburg

Seraphina Carey of Maynard

Carissa Dewaele of Moline

Nicole Ito of Davenport

Gabriela Magalhaes of Davenport

Amanda Ploof of Eldridge

Andrew Russell of Davenport

Paige Allison of Fruitland

Sarah Ares of Naperville

Eugene Pavinato of Moline

The President's List was established in the fall of 1983 to recognize academic excellence. In order to be included on the list, a student must have a minimum 4.0 grade point average (4.0 is an A) in all academic subjects for the preceding two semesters, with a total of at least 12 semester hours of credit per semester during that period.