(Moline/Quad Cities)  A small private Cessna aircraft which originated from Chicago-Midway, landed today at the Quad City International Airport at approximately 11:00 a.m. with two passengers aboard.  Upon landing, their aircraft exited the runway and flipped into the snow, causing only minor injuries.  The pilot from Missouri and one passenger from Kansas were taken to a local hospital.  Our first priority was tending to the passengers.  Our second priority then became removing the aircraft from its location, in order to re-open our main runway to commercial traffic (arrivals and departures.) This caused a handful of delays for commercial airline arrivals and departures late this morning and into the noon hour.

The main runway at the QCIA re-opened for commercial arrivals and departures shortly after 1:00 p.m.  There were four commercial aircraft diversions to other regional airports while the runway was closed.  Three of the four inbound aircraft relocated back to the QCIA once the main airport runway re-opened.  One inbound flight from Minneapolis-St. Paul diverted to Cedar Rapids, but did not relocate to the Quad Cities.  However, there was out-bound aircraft for those Minneapolis-St. Paul passengers who were waiting to depart here in the Quad Cities.

Officials at the Quad City International Airport would like to thank all affected travelers for their patience today.  Officials and public safety personnel attended to this matter as quickly as possible, with safety for all in mind during this process.

# # #

Amana - The Old Creamery Theatre Company in Amana is sending out a call to area artists to participate in helping us line the hallway of our Studio Stage in Middle Amana with local artwork during our production of Art, opening March 31 and running through April 17, 2011.

Art by Yasmina Reza focuses on three longtime friends who differ greatly on their definition of art. When Serge invests in an expensive painting - an immense all white canvas - Marc believes he's lost his mind while Yvan finds himself deeply in the middle.

The deadline to submit an application for a piece of art is March 1 and finished pieces would need to be dropped off at The Old Creamery's Studio Stage by March 15 and picked up after April 17. Only one piece per artist will be allowed and art can be in any medium.

Artists should include the title of the artwork and name/contact information on an 8.5 by 5.5 card to be displayed along with the artwork. If the art is for sale, that information can also be included on the card.

Please call The Old Creamery Theatre Company business office after Jan. 10 for more information and an application. 319-622-6034 ext. 110.

The Old Creamery Theatre Company is a not-for-profit professional theatre founded in 1971 in Garrison, Iowa. Voted #1 Theatre Group on the 2010 KCRG A-List, the company is celebrating 40 years of bringing live, professional theatre to the people of Iowa and the Midwest in 2011.

Here is the Kalamazoo Gazette's feature of a current Augustana College student who volunteers with The Arc's Special Olympics athletes through the Arc's Respite Center.


CHICAGO - December 13, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today named Jack Lavin as his Chief of Staff. Lavin previously served as the state's Chief Operating Officer. Current Chief of Staff Michelle Saddler will resume her position as the Secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS).

"Jack Lavin has helped my administration accomplish many of our top priorities and I have full confidence that he has the vision and ability to lead my office into a successful new term and will tackle the many serious issues facing our state," said Governor Quinn. "Michelle Saddler has done an excellent job as Chief of Staff. However, I wish to honor her preference to return to the work she began at the Department of Human Services. She is a key leader in my administration."

Lavin has served as Governor Quinn's Chief Operating Officer since February 2009, where he has led implementation of the Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program and directed the state's federal stimulus program. Lavin, who also leads Governor Quinn's job creation efforts, worked to keep Ford, Navistar and Chrysler in Illinois.

Throughout his career, Lavin has focused on economic development and job creation. Prior to his appointment as the state's Chief Operating Officer, Lavin served as the Director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, where he completed hundreds of business transactions which generated billions of dollars in private investment and created thousands of jobs. Lavin also spent four years working for then-State Treasurer Pat Quinn. As Deputy Treasurer, Lavin led the office's job creation efforts by ensuring the availability of loans to create and expand small businesses.

"I am honored to serve the people of Illinois as Governor Quinn's Chief of Staff," said Lavin. "As our state continues to emerge from this historic economic downturn, I look forward to continuing to work to create jobs and build our economy, while ensuring that state government is more efficient, effective and accountable to the taxpayers of Illinois."

Throughout his career, Lavin has been active in the community, advocating for people with disabilities and working to solve education issues, particularly for children with special needs. Lavin is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and has a master's degree in business with a specialization in finance, as well as a master's degree in international relations from the University of Chicago. He resides in Chicago with his wife, Kathy, and their three children.

"It has been a privilege to serve as Governor Quinn's Chief of Staff," said Saddler. "Returning to the Department of Human Services will allow me to pursue my truest passion and continue to address the immense challenges and needs facing human services in Illinois."

Saddler was appointed by Governor Quinn to be Secretary of DHS on Oct. 11, 2009. On Aug. 24 Governor Quinn appointed her as his Chief of Staff. Last week the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless honored Governor Quinn and Saddler for their work in creating and implementing the Put Illinois to Work program. More than 26,000 workers have been hired since Put Illinois to Work was launched last April.

Previously, Saddler held a number of policy and management positions in both the public and private sectors. She received her bachelor's degree from Princeton University and has a master's degree from Northwestern University's J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management.


Le Claire, Iowa, December 13, 2010 - Mississippi River Distilling Company is proud to open the doors of their new business for visitors and connoisseurs alike.  The first micro-distillery in the Quad Cities area since Prohibition will roll out their first handcrafted product, River Baron Vodka, on Friday, December 17.  Mississippi River Distilling Company will release River Rose Gin in February followed by a bourbon whiskey in late 2011.

As artisan distillers, everything "from grain to glass" will be done at the Le Claire site.   100% of the grain comes from within 25 miles of the distillery, purchased directly from the farmer who grew it. The grain is first sorted and cleaned and then milled into a flour-like consistency.  The grain is cooked to make a mash and yeast is then added to let it ferment.  The fermented mash is distilled and then filtered and blended to proof.  From there, it either goes into a barrel or a bottle.  River Baron Vodka is made from a blend of corn from Le Claire and wheat from just across the river in Reynolds, Illinois.  This small batch process ensures that only the sweetest, smoothest portion of each distillation is used.

Each bottle that leaves the Mississippi River Distilling Company bears the unique stamp of handcrafted approval and is individually numbered to show the batch and bottle number.  According to the American Distilling Institute, Mississippi River Distilling Company is one of only about a dozen micro-distillers in the country and the only in Iowa or Illinois  to use only local grains in their spirits.

The largest eye-catcher in the building is a copper and stainless steel still that was handmade by Kothe Distilling Technologies in Eislingen, Germany.  The still, which has been affectionately named "Rose" by the distillers, consists of a 1,000 liter boiling pot and two tall copper purification columns.  Those columns house rectification plates that allow the purest vodka to be distilled, up to 95% alcohol.  Some or all of those plates can be turned off to make whiskey in a traditional pot still fashion or anything in between.

The building also hosts a retail area featuring River Baron Vodka, along with bar glassware, clothing and other souvenirs.  The retail shop is open from 10 AM to 5 PM Monday through Saturday and from 12 to 5 PM Sundays.  Free tours are offered to the public daily on the hour from 12 to 4 PM or by appointment.  The tour takes visitors through the entire distilling process.  Tours end in the Grand Tasting Room with free samples of products for those patrons over 21 years of age. The Grand Tasting Room will also feature artwork by a new local artist every two months.  The inaugural exhibit will be from renowned marine artist Michael Blaser's "NIGHT AND DAY-ON THE RIVER."  Blaser lives and works in Bettendorf, just a few miles from the distillery.

Distillers, and brothers, Ryan and Garrett Burchett are anxious for the community to get their first taste of River Baron Vodka. "This is really a dream come true," comments Ryan Burchett.  "We decided to take a chance and now what started as a crazy idea, has grown into an opportunity to create something that these parts haven't seen since Prohibition.  It's a chance for people in Iowa and Illinois to enjoy truly home grown, handmade spirits."

Roof Top Sedums just received a national certification as a Women's Business Enterprise (WBE).  The certification is given by the Women's Business Development Center/Chicago.  Roof Top Sedums has also recently received their certification as an Iowa Targeted Small Business (ITSB).  This certification helps women, minorities, or persons with disabilities overcome some of the major hurdles of starting or growing an Iowa small business.

Co-founder of Roof Top Sedums, Teresa Nelson stated, "We are excited to receive these certifications.  They show the dedication and commitment we have as a company.  We look forward to what the future has in store, thanks in part to these certifications."  Certifications like these two will help to elevate awareness of Roof Top Sedums minority ownership, so corporations and government agencies seeking to demonstrate their continued commitment to fostering diversity among their suppliers and vendors may consider it in their decision making process.

WBE's national standard of certification is a meticulous process including an in-depth review of the business and site inspection.  The Women's Business Enterprise National Council is the nation's largest third party certifier of businesses owned and operated by women in the United States. WBE is a resource for the more than 700 US companies and government agencies relying on WBE's certification as an integral part of their supplier diversity programs.

Certification to become an Iowa Targeted Small Business is conducted by the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals.  In order to become certified as a ITSB, a company must be located in Iowa, operate as a for profit company, and be owned, operated and actively managed by one or more women, minorities or persons with a disability.

Co-owners and sisters, Teresa Nelson and Roxanne Nagel, decided to fill a void in the growing green roof industry with the creation of Roof Top Sedums.  Today, this 100% women-owned business provides custom grown green roof vegetation for LiveRoof® modules and green roof plugs from their family farm in Davenport, Iowa.  They serve Iowa, Western Illinois, Eastern Nebraska, Eastern Kansas, and most of Missouri.  To date, Roof Top Sedums has completed over 20 LiveRoof® projects including the Genesis Medical Center, East Rusholme Street green roof located in Davenport, Iowa.



Des Moines, Iowa - House Democratic Leader Kevin McCarthy of Des Moines has appointed three local legislators to top posts in the Iowa House for the 2011 legislative session. Rep. Cindy Winckler will be the lead democrat on the House Education Budget Committee, Rep. Jim Lykam will be the top democrat on the House Transportation Committee, and Rep. Phyllis Thede was appointed to lead democrats on the Environmental Protection Committee.

"The Quad Cities will be well-served with these key legislators in top posts in the Iowa House," said McCarthy.  "These dedicated representatives will be key to keeping the state budget balanced while maintaining the key priorities of Iowans."

"I look forward to continuing my leadership role for House Democrats on state education issues," said Winckler. "We will continue to strengthen Iowa's educational system and make sure our kids graduate with the skills needed to land a good-paying job."

"A world-class transportation system is essential to growing Iowa's economy in the 21st Century.  I will do all I can to modernize our transportation infrastructure and keep our roadways safe for Iowans," said Lykam, who will also serve on Commerce, Natural Resources, and the Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee.

"I look forward to my new leadership role on the House Environmental Protection Committee.  Iowans in cities and rural areas deserve clean air and water," said Thede.

Rep. Winckler will also serve on Appropriations, Education, and Human Resources.  Rep. Thede was also appointed to serve on Ethics, Local Government, Natural Resources, and the Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee.   The 84th General Assembly will convene its first day of session on January 10, 2011.

# # #

Washington, DC - The U.S. Senate late last night unanimously approved the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2009 (S. 372).  The bill amends the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) and strengthens the rights and protections of federal employees who come forward to disclose government waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement.

The legislation is sponsored by Senators Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI) and Susan M. Collins (R-ME) and cosponsored by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Joe I. Lieberman (ID-CT), George V. Voinovich (R-OH), Carl Levin (D-MI), Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT), Thomas R. Carper (D-DE), Mark L. Pryor (D-AR), Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD), Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), and Jon Tester (D-MT).

"For far too long, Federal employees have feared retaliation for disclosing government wrongdoing," said Senator Akaka.  "This legislation strengthens critical protections federal whistleblowers need to help us stop waste and abuse."

Senator Collins added: "I am pleased that the Whistleblower Protection Act is moving forward.  Whistleblowers play a crucial role in Congress's efforts to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse and to help ensure the effectiveness of government programs.  They provide crucial information that Congress and our Committee need to conduct proper oversight of the federal government.  This legislation would give federal workers the peace of mind that if they speak out, they will be protected."

"Whistleblowers know where the skeletons are, deep in the closets of the federal bureaucracy.  They help strengthen transparency, good government and accountability," Senator Grassley said.  "The bill restores the congressional intent behind a number of key whistleblower laws.  It also includes, for the first time, whistleblower protections for employees in the intelligence community by creating a new procedure for whistleblowers to come forward and shed light on fraud and wrongdoing in the intelligence community."

"The federal government's most critical asset is its people," said Senator Voinovich.  "This legislation clearly provides the protection federal employees deserve if they find themselves subject to retaliation following a credible disclosure of waste, fraud or abuse. Protecting the federal workforce is critical to the integrity of government programs and operations."

The bill as amended would:

·         Clarify the broad protections for disclosure of waste, fraud, or abuse - including those made as part of an employee's job duties.
·         Extend whistleblower protections and other non-discrimination and anti-retaliation laws to employees at the Transportation Security Administration.
·         Clarify that whistleblowers may disclose evidence of censorship of scientific or technical information under the same standards that apply to disclosures of other kinds of waste, fraud, and abuse.
·         Provide all federal employees a process for making protected disclosures of classified information to Congress.
·         Suspend the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals sole jurisdiction over federal employee whistleblower cases for five years.
·         Codify and strengthen the anti-gag provision that has been part annual appropriations laws since 1988.
·         Require Whistleblower Ombudsmen in Inspectors General offices to educate federal whistleblowers.
·         Allow whistleblowers to bring their cases before a jury under certain circumstances.
·         Provide protection for Intelligence Community employees against retaliation for whistleblowing.
·         Set up a process to review claims of whistleblower retaliation in security clearance decisions.


(MAQUOKETA, IA) Maquoketa Art Experience is hosting a "Create-a-Painting" Workshop led by artist and writer Sandra Principe of Hanover, Illinois on Saturday January 8 from 12-3 p.m. at 124 S. main Street in Maquoketa. This workshop is the second in a series of winter painting workshops.

Principe has created a painting event for anyone who is interested in exploring work with acrylic paints. In this class, participants will create a portrait of a winter landscape during a three-hour session led step-by-step by Principe. This class is designed for beginners or for anyone who wants to try something new. The registration fee is $35 for the three hour session. There is an optional materials fee of $15 that covers the cost of supplies if you choose not to bring your own. The registration form and materials list are available at www.maquoketa-arts.org. For further information or to request a registration form contact Paula at Maquoketa Art Experience, maquoketaartexperience@hotmail.com or call 563.652.9925.

In her work Sandra Principe's oil paintings capture light and are reminiscent of the American painter, Martin Johnson Heade and are included in numerious private and corporate collections.  Her work has been shown in solo shows across the country, from West Palm Beach and Vero Beach, Florida to Laguna Beach, California. She is represented by Meghan Candler Gallery in Vero Beach, Florida; and Brio Gallery in Galena, Illinois. View Sandra's paintings at www.sandraprincipe.com
# # #

Common sense prevailed in the agreement reached last night on a tax proposal, including the fact that ethanol and biodiesel offer the most effective alternative to foreign oil and support hundreds of thousands of jobs in the United States.

The federal legislation contains an extension of the ethanol and biodiesel tax credits and an extension of the ethanol tariff at current rates.  The U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote on the bill on Monday afternoon.  The ethanol provision in this tax bill is an extension of current  law.  To leave it out of the tax bill would be a tax increase, which I don't support.

Americans spend $730 million a day on imported petroleum, and ethanol is the only renewable fuel substantially working to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.  Domestic ethanol displaces oil from Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Nigeria.  It now accounts for almost 10 percent of the U.S. fuel supply.

The billions of dollars we spend on imported petroleum prop up unfriendly governments and dictators.  An average of $84 billion is spent each year by the U.S. military to protect oil transit routes.  Until there's another alternative fuel doing as much to reduce oil dependence, it would be foolish to undermine the only green, domestic alternative to imported oil.

I fought tooth and nail to secure the inclusion of both the ethanol and biodiesel provisions in the new legislative proposal.  There were efforts by some congressional majority Democrats and the White House to weaken the tax policy for these alternative fuels.  In fact, the current congressional majority allowed the blenders' tax credit for biodiesel to expire at the end of 2009.  Since then, 23,000 jobs in biodiesel have been lost nationwide.  The new tax agreement would extend the biodiesel credit retroactively to cover all of 2010 and through the end of 2011.

We can't risk a repeat performance with ethanol, where 112,000 jobs are at stake.  Getting both of these tax provisions extended through the end of next year will boost jobs and investment in the alternative energy sector, exactly when the economy needs a real shot in the arm.