OMAHA, NE–(March 22, 2010)–Elizabeth Stella has been promoted from Director- Field Operations to State Executive Director of the Heartland States for Farmers Insurance Group of Companies®, announced Deb Settle, Senior Vice President, Northern Zone.

"I am pleased to welcome Elizabeth to the Heartland States.  She brings a wealth of insurance knowledge and experience to her new position, and we all wish her the best."

Ms. Stella joined Farmers in September 1998 as a Personal Lines underwriter in the Carlsbad, Calif. Regional Office. She moved to the Marketing support department in August 2000 as an AIMS representative.  In July 2003, Ms. Stella joined the California state office operation as a Personal Lines Agency Consultant and in August 2005 she became a division Marketing manager.

"I am looking forward to meeting and working with all of the Farmers agents, district managers, employees and customers throughout the Heartland States," notes Ms. Stella.  "It is an exciting move for me, and I am looking forward to the opportunities that lie ahead."

In August 2007, Ms. Stella transferred to the Home Office Sales department in Los Angeles, Calif. as a marketing consultant and she was promoted to Director - Field Operations in December 2008.  In February 2010, she was promoted to State Executive Director of the Heartland states - Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

Ms. Stella earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in fine arts from the New York University, Manhattan, NY.  She will reside in Omaha, NE where the Farmers Heartland States Office is located.  She will oversee Iowa, Nebraska, North and South Dakota.

Farmers is a trade name and may refer to Farmers Group, Inc. or the Farmers Exchanges, as the case may be.  Farmers Group, Inc., a management and holding company, along with its subsidiaries, is wholly owned by the Zurich Financial Services Group.  The Farmers Exchanges are three reciprocal insurers (Farmers Insurance Exchange, Fire Insurance Exchange and Truck Insurance Exchange), including their subsidiaries and affiliates, owned by their policyholders, and managed by Farmers Group, Inc. and its subsidiaries. For more information about Farmers, visit our Web site at www.farmers.com.

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Grassley, Landrieu-led Caucus Urges Foster Youth Views

in Education Program Re-authorization

WASHINGTON - The Senate Caucus on Foster Youth, led by Sen. Chuck Grassley and Sen. Mary Landrieu, is urging legislators who will begin re-authorization of federal education programs to hear from foster youth in the process.

"There's nothing like first-hand knowledge to educate lawmakers about the policy decisions they'll make," Grassley said.  "Foster youth are the experts on what it's like to deal with the challenges of attending school while in foster care.  Their views could help to improve the experience for the next generation of kids."

"Foster youth have the power to influence legislation as evidenced by our success in pass of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act," Landrieu said. "Children who had spent time in our broken foster care system were invaluable during that process. What has been made clear to me is that we must empower youth to educate Congress about their unique experiences in foster care and the obstacles they face. They help us make better policy decisions."

Grassley and Landrieu, joined by 10 other members of the Caucus on Foster Youth, wrote to the chairman and ranking member of the Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee, which recently began holding hearings on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.  The caucus requested that the committee "invite youth in foster care to one of these hearings to testify about their experiences in the nation's educational system, and their suggestions for reform."  Reforms could include better record-keeping, more of an effort to keep students in the same school when their foster home changes, and better coordination between school personnel and child welfare agencies in developing strategies to help these youths.

The caucus members' letter is posted here.

DID YOU KNOW... that a major problem in our community is the lack of affordable housing for all low income households?

DID YOU KNOW ....recent studies have shown that an additional 2,300 rental units are needed for households at or below 30% of Area Median Income (AMI) which is $12,630 for a one person household?  More specifically, nearly 800 low income persons with persistent mental illness struggle to find quality housing they can afford.

DID YOU KNOW ...most people in this group are extremely poor, relying on monthly disability payments of $639 which is just under $7,700 per year or 18% AMI?

DID YOU KNOW ... it is nearly impossible to find decent one-bedroom apartments that are affordable on this income.  The average cost for a decent apartment is currently $425 plus utilities?

DID YOU KNOW ... a local community Mental Health Center is set to break ground on a new 13-unit housing complex to help provide additional independent living opportunities for persons with mental illness? Please read the following press release for more information on how this organization is giving back to the Quad Cities.



Local Housing Corporation Begins Construction on New Facility

Groundbreaking Ceremony Scheduled for March 25, 2010 at 1:30 p.m.

Vera French is poised to begin construction on Vera French Court Apartments at 3465 Holiday Court in Bettendorf. The 13 unit complex will provide additional independent living opportunities for persons with mental illness.

Vera French Court will feature energy efficient one bedroom apartments, handicapped accessible units, a community room with kitchenette and computer center, laundry facilities and storage space. An outside patio, BBQ grill, picnic area and raised bed gardening area add to the amenities.

Residents living at Vera French Court have opportunities to participate in education classes and planned activities. Support services will be available on site.

Vera French's Housing Corporation has been successful in developing 105 units of affordable housing by combining public and private low interest loans and grants all across the Quad Cities.

Funding for this $2.3 million dollar project combines Iowa Finance Authority's Section 42 Low Income Housing Tax Credit with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Funding. Additional funding sources include Iowa Department of Economic Development, Scott County Housing Council and Scott County Regional Authority and NAMI Scott County. Midwest Housing and Equity Group, Iowa Fund V is providing $1,365,000.00 of equity to the project.

For more information on Vera French, please visit their website at www.verafrenchmhc.org.

Russell Construction, located in Davenport, IA is serving as the General Contractor on this project. In the past Russell has constructed two 10 unit Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) projects, Vera French Manor and Vera French Terrace. Robin Andrews, located in Huntley, IL will serve as the Architect.

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Washington, DC - March 21, 2010 - A resolution introduced by Reps. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) and John Kline (R-MN) honoring the 65th anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima passed the US House of Representatives today by a unanimous vote of 421-0. The Resolution honors the US Marine Corps and all members of the Armed Forces who so bravely fought and defended our country. Braley's father, Byard Braley, landed on Iwo Jima 65 years ago today.  Kline, a 25-year veteran of the United States Marine Corps, is the lead Republican co-sponsor of the resolution.

"My father was a teenager when he landed on Iwo Jima," Braley said. "One of his neighbors, Harold Keller, was involved in the famous flag-raising on Mount Suribachi. They, like millions of Americans, fought bravely for freedom and equality and the integrity of our nation. I'm proud to represent a state and country that cherishes those same ideals, 65 years later. It's important that we take this opportunity to honor all the brave men and women who have defended our country and it's important today to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice on Iwo Jima."

The full text of the House Resolution honoring the 65th anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima is attached.

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Includes Critical Medicare Reimbursement Language Secured by Braley

Washington, DC - Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) released the following statement today after voting to pass the Senate Health Care bill and House reconciliation package.  Yesterday, Braley and a core group of other Representatives were able to achieve a major breakthrough in Medicare reimbursement policy that secured his vote for the bills.

"One of my biggest priorities has been fighting to fix unfair and inefficient geographic differences, and reform the Medicare system to one that pays Iowa's medical professionals for the high-quality, low-cost health care they currently provide. Just yesterday, we achieved a major breakthrough in reforming our Medicare reimbursement system. I'm proud to say that the House bill will finally fix these inequities, move us to a better reimbursement model that emphasizes quality over quantity, and help recruit well-qualified health-care providers to Iowa.

"This bill will decrease health insurance costs, expand access to quality, affordable health care, improve reimbursements for Iowa medical providers and allow Americans to maintain their choice of health insurance. This legislation will provide much-needed relief for thousands of businesses in Iowa's First District and will reduce our deficit by more than $143 billion over the next 10 years and $1.2 trillion in the 10 years after that. After reading the bill, listening to my constituents and debating the bill's provisions in Congress, I'm convinced this legislation is good for Iowa."

In Iowa's First District, the health care reform package voted upon tonight will:

· Improve coverage for 394,000 residents with health insurance.

 

· Give tax credits and other assistance to up to 156,000 families and 14,000 small businesses to help them afford coverage.

 

· Improve Medicare for 102,000 beneficiaries, including closing the donut hole.

 

· Extend coverage to 16,000 uninsured residents.

 

· Guarantee that 6,500 residents with pre-existing conditions can obtain coverage.

 

· Protect 700 families from bankruptcy due to unaffordable health care costs.

 

· Allow 50,000 young adults to obtain coverage on their parents' insurance plans.

 

· Provide millions of dollars in new funding for 11 community health centers.

 

· Reduce the cost of uncompensated care for hospitals and other health care providers by $54 million annually.

 

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Comprehensive reform increases access to affordable care, makes health insurance companies more accountable and includes historic investment in prevention, wellness

Education reconciliation provisions increase college affordability

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) issued the following statement after the U.S. House passed the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010.  With this vote, comprehensive health reform has passed and will go to President Obama for his signature.  The reconciliation package now heads to the U.S. Senate for consideration next week.  Harkin is Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

"With this vote today, the House took a major step forward in the fight to put American families and small business owners?not the insurance companies?in control of their own health care.

"This legislation makes the Senate-passed comprehensive bill even stronger by providing coverage to some 95 percent of Americans.  This will be affordable coverage, which will save thousands of lives and give peace of mind to those who have coverage now, but have a 50/50 chance of losing coverage in the next decade.  It will provide relief from skyrocketing and unstable premiums and holds insurance companies accountable to keep premiums down and prevent denials of care and coverage, including for pre-existing conditions.

"I am particularly encouraged that in passing comprehensive reform, we will, for the first time make an historic investment in prevention and public health to change our current sick care system into a true health care system.  These reforms will truly bend the cost curve and rein in rising health care costs.

"And we provide all of these reforms while also reducing the deficit by $138 billion over next ten years, and by $1.2 trillion more over the following decade; reducing waste, fraud and abuse, paying for quality over quantity of care.

"With the reconciliation package, the Senate is also on track to enact one of President Obama's key education priorities - a move that will make college more affordable and accessible.  The measure eliminates billions of dollars in wasteful subsidies to banks and redirects that money to students and families in the form of increased Pell Grants to low-income college students, putting the priorities of students and families ahead of subsidies to lenders.

"We are on the cusp of history in this country.  I congratulate Speaker Pelosi and House leaders on this historic achievement and look forward to working in the Senate to get a final bill to the President's desk as soon as possible."

For a list of the immediate health benefits of the bill, please click here.

For a list of the key improvements to the bill, please click here.

For a list of the Harkin-led prevention benefits, please click here.

For more details about the education reconciliation proposal unveiled earlier this week, please click here.

WASHINGTON, D.C (Mar 20, 2010). - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) tonight issued the following statement on the University of Northern Iowa's upset win over the top seed and number 1 ranked University of Kansas in a 69-67 victory.

"Ruth and I could not be more proud of the UNI men's basketball team. This major victory in the second round of March Madness shows how skill and determination can win out. Tonight the Panthers pounced. Congratulations to each and every one of these student athletes and Coach Jacobson."

WASHINGTON - Senator Chuck Grassley today said President Barack Obama amended a major disaster declaration for Iowa, triggering the release of FEMA funds to help more Iowa counties recover from the severe winter storm and snowstorm that occurred from December 23 - 27.  Additional designations may be made at a later date after further evaluation.

"Winter weather hit Iowa extremely hard and caused an enormous amount of damage," Grassley said.  "It's good to see this disaster being addressed by President Obama so Iowans can continue cleaning up the damage."

FEMA will additionally provide assistance to Buena Vista, Dickinson, O'Brien, Palo Alto, Plymouth and Pocahontas counties through the Public Assistance program.  The Public Assistance program assists state and local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities.

FEMA will also provide snow assistance to additional counties for emergency protective measures for a 48-hour period for Buena Vista, Dickinson, O'Brien, Palo Alto and Plymouth counties.

All Iowa counties are also eligible to apply for assistance through the Hazard Mitigation Grant program.  The Hazard Mitigation Grant program assists state and local governments and certain private non-profit organizations for actions taken to prevent or reduce long-term risk to life and property from natural hazards.

Grassley sent a letter to Obama asking him to grant Governor Chet Culver's request to declare Iowa a major disaster area as a result of the severe winter storm and snowstorm that occurred on December 23 - 27.

Click here to see a copy of Grassley's letter.



Annual water main and hydrant flushing program kicked off in the Iowa Quad Cities

DAVENPORT, IA (March 19, 2010) Iowa American Water kicked off its annual distribution system flushing in LeClaire earlier this week. The program will continue throughout the spring and summer months in all of the company's service communities, which include Davenport, Bettendorf, Riverdale and Panorama Park in the Iowa Quad Cities. Flushing will be conducted from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. each week day. The company's Clinton District plans to flush its distribution system beginning in mid-April.

"The flushing program is designed to maintain a high quality of water in the distribution system by flushing or cleaning mineral deposits and sediment from water mains," said Randy Moore, president of Iowa American Water. "Over time, these sediments can build up in water mains causing discolored water and/or restricted flows.   As part of this program we will also inspect and operate fire hydrants to assure they are in good working order as well."

While no interruptions in water service will occur as a result of the work, Iowa American Water advises that when crews are flushing nearby, customers may experience a drop in water pressure or some discoloration of their water. Iowa American Water recommends that any customers experiencing discolored water let their cold water run to clear before using it again and refrain from doing laundry during that time.   Any water discoloration or low pressure problems should last only a short period of time.

In conjunction with the water main flushing, Iowa American Water is adjusting its treatment process for the next four weeks to prepare the distribution system for the on-going flushing.

From March 10 through April 19, the company is switching its disinfection method to a form of chlorine known as "free chlorine" which does not contain ammonia. Chlorine is commonly used in public water systems as a disinfectant and is monitored closely by our water quality experts to ensure optimum levels are present.

Due to the temporary change in the type of chlorine, customers may experience a more noticeable chlorine taste or odor in their tap water during the next four weeks.   There is no reason for concern. This is due to the switch in chlorine type only.

"The temporary switch in treatment is designed to make the routine flushing of water mains more effective and ensure we maintain our high quality water standards," Moore added.

If problems persist, notify Iowa American Water's customer service line toll free 24-hours a day at 1-866-641-2108.

The water main and hydrant flushing will be performed by Iowa American Water crews who will be working out of utility trucks labeled with the company logo.   All employees will also have photo ID badges.

Iowa American Water, a wholly owned subsidiary of American Water (NYSE: AWK), provides high-quality and reliable water and/or wastewater services to approximately 200,000 people. Founded in 1886, American Water is the largest investor-owned U.S. water and wastewater utility company. With headquarters in Voorhees, N.J., the company employs more than 7,000 dedicated professionals who provide drinking water, wastewater and other related services to approximately 15 million people in 32 states and Ontario, Canada. More information can be found by visiting www.amwater.com.

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from Senator Charles Grassley's office:

A new report from the Renewable Fuels Foundation says the expiration of ethanol production tax incentives would result in the loss of more than 112,000 jobs in all sectors of the economy, including those directly involved in ethanol production and all other jobs supported by the industry.  The excise tax credit (the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit, or VEETC) and the small ethanol producer tax credit both expire on Dec. 31, 2010.  Sen. Chuck Grassley, ranking member and former chairman of the Committee on Finance, has been instrumental in ensuring the growth and success of ethanol production through tax incentives.  Grassley made the following comment on today's report.

"We hear a lot of talk from the Democratic majority in Congress and the President about green jobs, clean energy, and restoring jobs and income security for the middle-class.  But the kind of policy to support clean energy jobs for the middle-class falls by the wayside under the current leadership.  The Democratic-led Congress easily could have extended the biodiesel tax credit before it expired at the end of 2009.  But the Democratic leaders chose to tangle up the biodiesel tax credit in more controversial debates, at the expense of renewable energy development and production.  As a result, the biodiesel industry has lost 29,000 clean-energy jobs, and 23,000 more jobs will be lost if that tax credit is not extended.  So there's every reason for concern about what could happen with ethanol this year.  That industry supports 400,000 jobs, and more than 112,000 jobs depend on extending the tax incentives.  These jobs are often in rural communities where employment is hard to come by.  And ethanol builds U.S. energy independence from imported oil.  Congress needs to make sure the ethanol tax incentives are extended sooner rather than later."

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