The Achieve Quad Cities, "Career Navigators" mentor program is being highlighted with a news conference at Washington Junior School in Rock Island this Thursday, October 21, 2010 at 2:45 pm as part of the annual Lights ON Afterschool Day Celebration.  The program is led by United Way and the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend and includes the, Big Brothers Big Sisters, The Rock Island School District and the Rock Island Regional Office of Education.

The year-long program is being offered to 70 middle/junior high school students in the Quad Cities and is designed to assist in increasing graduation rates and reduce high school dropouts by pairing students with adult "career navigators" or mentors.

The navigators at Washington Junior School are from various local businesses who have agreed to serve as resources and guides over the next 12 months during after school hours.  The career navigators will help the students expand their interests and help them make tough decisions about high school classes and career goals.  They will meet twice a month and will include site visits to work sites, local community colleges, museums and media outlets.

Officials with Achieve Quad Cities, Big Brother Big Sisters, educators and a previous mentor will be available at the news conference which is being held on National "Lights On Afterschool" day.  Thursday, October 21st is a day designated to recognize the importance of after school programs.  The news conference in Rock Island is one of 7,500 events planned around the country to celebrate the 11th annual Lights On Afterschool day.  More than one million American are expected to rally for afterschool programs during this day.

WHAT:  News conference about the Achieve Quad Cities Career Navigators Program
WHERE:  Washington Junior School, 3300 18th Avenue, Rock Island
WHEN:  Thursday, October 21, 2010 at 2:45 pm
WHO:  Officials with United Way, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Achieve Quad Cities, The Rock Island Regional Office of Education, The Rock Island School District  and the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend.

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Des Moines, Iowa- Soldiers of the 387th Human Resources Co. (HR Co.), which consists of approximately 30 Army Reserve soldiers from many parts of the Midwest, returned from deployment on October 16th 2010.

The mission of the 387th HR Co., based out of Wichita, Kans., was to manage Human Resources and Postal Services for Camp Liberty in Iraq.  A casualty liaison team from the 387th HR Co.'s detachment in Fort Dodge, Iowa also deployed with the unit. This was the unit's first deployment.

A Welcome Home Warrior Citizen Award will be scheduled in the future to honor the soldiers of the 387th HR Co.

A Welcome Home Warrior Ceremony publically acknowledges our Army Reserve Soldiers for their selfless-service and sacrifice in support of contingency operations.   The soldiers have been released from duty to travel home to their families.  For additional information, please contact the 103rd ESC Public Affairs Office.

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Immanuel Lutheran Church is having their 2nd Annual "Treats in the Trunk" on Saturday, October 30th from 5 - 7 p.m. in the Church Parking Lot. Children & Families are welcome to come; walk our parking lot by the Picnic Shelter; getting candy & treats from our members. Haywagon rides will be offered and Concessions sold by the Youth Group. (Hot dogs, Popcorn, Nachos, and Chili). There will be free coffee and hot chocolate available to everyone!

This Event is open to the public, and all are welcome to join us. For more information please contact the church office at 563-324-6431.  Immanuel Lutheran is located at 3834 Rockingham Road, Davenport.

New Advisory Panel will Address Disparities in Breast Cancer Rates

CHICAGO - October 18, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today announced a new initiative to fight breast cancer that will improve access to mammograms and treatment. The effort will be overseen by a new advisory panel charged with raising the quality of care for all women, focusing specifically on strategies to reduce the racial disparity in breast cancer mortality.

"Breast cancer is a deadly disease that affects women across Illinois," said Governor Quinn. "We are doing everything we can to make sure more women have access to lifesaving screenings and treatments. The Breast Cancer Quality Screening and Treatment Board consists of highly-qualified medical experts and health care advocates who will work hard to fight this disease."

The members of the newly formed Breast Cancer Quality Screening and Treatment Board include :

  • Dr. David Ansell, Vice President for Clinical Affairs and Chief Medical Officer for Rush University Medical Center and Associate Provost for Medical Affairs, Rush University.
  • Dr. Bechara Choucair, Commissioner, Chicago Department of Public Health
  • Sister Sheila Lyne, CEO and President, Mercy Hospital
  • Eileen Knightly, Director, Mercy Hospital Breast Care Center
  • Anne Marie Murphy, Executive Director, Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force
  • Dr. Pamela Ganschow, Director, John H. Stroger Hospital of Cook County Breast & Cervical Cancer Screening Program
  • Dr. Elizabeth Marcus, Chair, John H. Stroger Hospital of Cook County Division of Breast Oncology
  • Stephani Huston Cox, Director of Patient Services, Planned Parenthood Springfield Area
  • Linda Maricle, Executive Director, Susan G. Komen for the Cure Peoria
  • Donna Thompson, Chief Executive Officer, Access Community Health Network
  • Elizabeth S.A. Patton, Administrator, East Side Health District
  • Salim Al Nurridin, Chief Executive Officer, Healthcare Consortium of Illinois
  • Vicki Vaughn, Director, St. Mary's Hospital

The mission of the Breast Cancer Quality Screening and Treatment Board is to work with the Medicaid Program and IBCCP to identify gaps in screening and diagnostic mammogram services throughout the state; expand the use of digital mammography; recommend common quality standards; identify best practices for effective outreach to reduce racial disparities; and monitor the pilot projects.

The new initiative is a joint project by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). It will include an increase in the Medicaid reimbursement rate beginning in 2011 for screening providers who commit to high-quality service and data sharing on detection rates with the Chicago Breast Cancer Quality Consortium. Medicaid spending for the program will qualify for federal matching funds.

"I am very glad to be working with Governor Quinn, our partners at IDPH and our board of experts to improve access to-and the quality of-breast cancer screening and treatment for women throughout our state," said HFS Director Julie Hamos.

The initiative will include three new pilot projects to assist women who have breast cancer and are being treated through either the Medicaid Program for low-income women or the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP), which provides free breast and cervical cancer screenings and services to uninsured eligible women in Illinois. The pilot projects will test different approaches to best assist these women in navigating the complex system of breast cancer health care and treatment.

"Early detection can help save lives, and mammography remains the most effective means available to detect cancer in its earliest stages," said IDPH Director Dr. Damon T. Arnold. "We look forward to working with the new board to help ensure all women have access to quality mammography and other breast cancer services."

As part of the initiative, the state will ramp up its educational outreach programs about early detection and treatment of breast cancer. Women over the age of 40 will be informed of access to free annual mammograms - whether they are enrolled in Medicaid or Medicare, have private insurance coverage or are uninsured. Under the new federal Affordable Care Act all new and renewed private health insurance policies will offer free annual mammograms.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

WASHINGTON - Senator Chuck Grassley is continuing his effort to protect Medicare and Medicaid dollars, this time by demanding greater transparency from program officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), regarding possible waste, fraud and abuse of program resources by outside contractors.

In a follow up inquiry to CMS Administrator Donald Berwick, Grassley said the agency should release data about how much the agency is paying contractors to identify and investigate potential fraud, waste and abuse in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, and stop working to find excuses why the information about how public dollars are used should be kept secret.

"Government officials are stewards of tax dollars and they have a responsibility to be transparent and forthright about decisions and actions involving public money," Grassley said.  "That stewardship includes holding contractors accountable if they fail to deliver.  And, in this case like most others, transparency can help establish accountability."

Click here to read Grassley's letter October 15 letter to CMS Administrator Donald Berwick.

Click here to read Grassley's October 6 press release regarding the initial letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and CMS Administrator Donald Berwick seeking accountability.

 

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Former FBI Agent and President of the Chicago Crime Commission Will Help Enhance Transparency, Ensure Toll Dollars Are Spent Wisely

DOWNERS GROVE, IL - Governor Pat Quinn today announced the appointment of James W. Wagner as the first-ever Illinois Tollway Inspector General. Last July, the Governor signed Senate Bill 3118 to create a new Office of the Illinois Tollway Inspector General to oversee operations and investigate ethics violations not covered in the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act.

"The creation of this new office has set the standard for how all government agencies should approach internal oversight," said Governor Pat Quinn. "Jim Wagner is the right person for this important position and we're lucky to have him on board."

Mr. Wagner will investigate claims of wrongdoing or mismanagement in the day-to-day operations of the Illinois Tollway, including those involving fraud, waste, abuse and misconduct. He will also work to ensure that toll dollars are spent appropriately.

"Increasing transparency has been one of my top priorities since I started at the Tollway last April," said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur. "The appointment of Jim Wagner is just another example of how serious we are about being 100 percent accountable to our customers and the public we serve."

Mr. Wagner will serve a five-year term and have jurisdiction over the agency's officers, employees, vendors and others doing business with the Tollway. Additionally, Wagner will have subpoena power and submit bi-annual reports to the Governor, General Assembly and Tollway Board of Directors.

Before joining the Tollway, Mr. Wagner served as President of the Chicago Crime Commission and Deputy Administrator of Investigations for the Illinois Gaming Board. Prior to those positions, Wagner worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation for more than 30 years, serving as Special Agent and Supervisor and Program Coordinator for the Organized Crime Section.

Mr. Wagner has been serving as the Tollway's General Manager of Investigations and Audit since January 2010. He will continue to serve in that position until his appointment and the law creating the Office of the Illinois Tollway Inspector General become effective on January 1, 2011.

At Governor Quinn's direction, the Illinois Tollway has made strides to increase transparency and accountability, promote green and sustainable operations and contribute to the state's efforts to create jobs and foster economic growth in Northern Illinois.

"The Board of Directors is pleased to have such a strong leadership team in place at the Tollway.  We are also grateful to Senators Garrett and Schoenberg and other legislators who supported the creation of this office," said Illinois Tollway Board Chair Paula Wolff. "With Jim's able assistance, we will work to restore public confidence in the agency and meet the challenge Governor Quinn laid out for the Tollway?to be 'squeaky clean'."

About the Illinois Tollway

The Illinois Tollway is a user-fee system that receives no state or federal funds for maintenance and operations. The agency maintains and operates 286 miles of interstate tollways in 12 counties in Northern Illinois, including the Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88), the Veterans Memorial Tollway (I-355), the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) and the Tri-State Tollway (I-94/I-294/I-80).

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Sign Language Play

On October 28, 29 and 30 at 7:30 PM, Moline High School Theatre will be performing a remarkable play by Suzan Zeder, entitled "The Taste of Sunrise." The following weekend, Rock Island High School will be performing the sequel to the play, "Mother Hicks."  So?as both our plays contain themes about creating community?our lives will imitate art as we find community between our two schools.

As if this collaboration wasn't enough?Suzan Zeder?one of America's leading playwrights in Theatre for Young Audiences---has decided to attend the opening night performance of Taste of Sunrise.  She said that our story has captured her heart.  She will be doing workshops with the students and also host a staged reading of the third play in this trilogy, title, The Edge of Peace.
When Suzan Zeder wrote Mother Hicks, she includes a scene with an adult Tuc, who is deaf.  He says, "You see all the things I cannot do because I am deaf.  But you don't see that which I can do.  I can sing with rivers.  I can see the sharp sting of honey and I can taste the sunrise."

The moment these words flew off her fingertips into the page, she knew Tuc needed his own story.  This is it.

Politically, Tuc's story examines the hardships experienced by deaf people before the use of sign language was widely accepted. Socially, the play explores what it means to be an outcast.  Three of the leading characters all become outcasts in some way?a deaf boy, an African American female living on her own, and a teenage mom who doesn't know where she fits in.  The leading role of Tuc is played by Max Molina, who is part of Moline's Wilson Junior High School's hearing-impaired program.  His friend Maizie, played by Jenna Pautsch, is hearing but has deaf parents, so she is part of both the hearing and deaf worlds.

Audiences will find it remarkable to know that the entire cast learned sign language just for this production.  They spent their entire summer taking hour-long ASL (American Sign Language) classes at MHS twice weekly in preparation for this play, which will be completely bilingual -- both spoken and signed.  As the play unfolds, "shadow" characters will tell the story with words and signs. This is a powerful play, and it will be an unforgettable experience for all who see it.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - For many people, autumn weather brings a welcomed time of the year. Adding to the pleasure of the season are the vibrant colors displayed in nature. Leaf pigment, the physics of light, weather conditions, plant species, and geography all play important roles in the color of autumn.
Leaf Pigment and Light

Thanks to the physics of sunlight striking pigments in leaves, we see various leaf colors throughout the year. Leaf pigments play a crucial role in the colors we see. Chlorophylls, carotenoids, and anthocyanins present in a leaf help determine what color the leaf will display.

The pigment that gives leaves their green color is chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is used in photosynthesis which is the process that uses sunlight to transform carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates (sugars) that fuel tree growth. During the spring and summer, with more hours of sunlight and warmer temperatures, this photosynthetic process is most active thus leaves are green.

The pigment that gives leaves their green color is chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is used in photosynthesis which is the process that uses sunlight to transform carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates (sugars) that fuel tree growth. During the spring and summer, with more hours of sunlight and warmer temperatures, this photosynthetic process is most active thus leaves are green.

Unlike chlorophyll and carotenoids which are present in leaf cells throughout the growing season, anthocyanins are produced in autumn. Anthocyanins give color to familiar fruits such as cranberries, red apples, cherries, and plums. These complex water soluble compounds in leaf cells react with excess stored plant sugars and exposure to sunlight creating vivid pink, red, and purple leaves. A mixture of red anthocyanin pigment and yellow carotene often results in the bright orange color seen in some leaves.
Weather and Color

Weather conditions that occur before and during the decline of chlorophyll production can affect the color that leaves may display. Carotenoids are always present so the yellow and gold colors are the least affected by weather.

Colors most affected by weather are the red tones created by anthocyanin. On warm sunny days lots of sugar is produced in the leaves. Trees exposed to brighter sunlight generate the reaction between the anthocynanins and the excess sugar creating the bright red hue.

Cooler temperatures cause the veins in the leaves to gradually close preventing the sugars from moving out which preserves the red tones. Thus a succession of warm sunny days and cool crisp nights can paint the most spectacular display of color.

The level of moisture in the soil can also affect autumn color. A severe summer drought can delay the onset of color change by weeks. Ideal conditions for producing the most brilliant colors are a warm wet spring, favorable summer weather, and sunny fall days with the cooler temperatures at night.
Species and Geography

The genetics of different tree species help determine what color the leaves will turn. Color depends on the levels of iron, magnesium, phosphorous, or sodium in the tree and the acidity of the chemicals in the leaves. Some tree species displaying yellow foliage are ash, birch, beech, elm, hickory, poplar, and aspen. Red leaves are seen most often in dogwood, sweetgum, sumac, and black tupelo trees. Some oaks and maples present orange leaves while others range in color from red to yellow, depending on the specific species.

Deciduous forests and trees, with their many broad leaves that change color almost in unison, display the most noticeable fall color. Evergreen species also display fall colors, only slowly and gradually. The appearance of autumn color starts as early as mid September in more northern latitudes and moves southward, reaching its peak in October, but color continues to appear in more southern regions and higher elevations in the west throughout November.

Only a few places in the world have the combination of tree species and climatic conditions necessary for the most vivid fall foliage. Some of the best locations with broadleaved deciduous trees and favorable conditions for brilliant fall color are:

* Northeastern U.S. (New England)
* Southeastern Canada
* Adirondack, Appalachian, Smokey, and Rocky Mountain Regions
* Select areas around Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco.

Remember that cooler, higher elevations will display color before lower, warmer geographic regions.

Even with these facts, the timing, location, and intensity of autumn color are not completely predictable. To truly experience the colorful display, you must be adventurous. There are many states with thousands of scenic byways designed to focus on the palettes of autumn color. So even if you live in a region that does not produce an array of color, take an autumn vacation and explore nearby states that do. For up to date regional information, you may contact the U.S. Forest Service Fall Color Hotline at 1-800-354-4595 or on the internet at http://www.fs.fed.us/news/fallcolors/index.shtml.

The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), headquartered in Champaign, Ill., is a nonprofit organization supporting tree care research and education around the world. As part of ISA's dedication to the care and preservation of shade and ornamental trees, it offers the only internationally-recognized certification program in the industry. For more information, or to contact a local ISA Certified Arborist, visit www.treesaregood.org.

Thanks to each of you who turned out for Ballet Quad Cities' first Trivia Night to support our anti- bullying program that will be taken into all of the Quad City schools. All of the moneys raised will go directly to our Ugly Duckling ballet that mirrors the message of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program supported by the Davenport Schools Foundation Great Minds. A special thank you goes out to Ellen Reilly for preparing the questions and then emceeing the evening. She did an awesome job, which set the tone for the great time that was had by everyone. Also thanks to St. Ambrose University's Teacher Education Program Honor Society, Iota Omega Kappa Delta Pi and Rogalski Center for providing an efficient staff and great space to host our event.

To learn more about our anti-bullying program, please visit our website www.balletquadcities.com or call our office at (309) 786.3779.

We can stop bullying in our schools, but it will take effort on everyone's part! Get educated and learn what you can do today by visiting www.olweus.org for information from the world's foremost bullying prevention program.

Joedy Cook, CEO, Ballet Quad Cities

SPRINGFIELD, IL (10/15/2010)(readMedia)-- Friends and family cheered as the 18 newest heroes of the Illinois Army National stepped onto the armory drill floor. The Bilateral Embedded Support Team (BEST) A5 returned from their roughly nine-month deployment in Afghanistan Oct. 15 at Camp Lincoln in Springfield.

During their deployment they worked with Polish Land Forces as part of Task Force White Eagle in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Task Force White Eagle saw more combat than any other Polish military force since World War II.

The Soldiers supported Polish military operations and improved their level of force protection and operational abilities, said Col. Tracey Nelson of Springfield, commander of the BEST A5.

"The impact made in the area of responsibility allows our follow on units to improve on a more manageable situation than the one we arrived in a few short months ago," said Nelson.

The Soldiers were be greeted by loved ones, the American Red Cross, the Patriot Riders and the unit's friends and fellow Soldiers.

"I'm glad to be home," said Maj. Chuck Kitson of Springfield. "It's indescribable; words can't express the appreciation we have for everybody who put this together for us."

The BEST A5 return home marked another successful deployment of the Illinois National Guard from an ongoing operation overseas.

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