News from Iowa State Fair

DES MOINES, IA (01/25/2012)(readMedia)-- College-bound Iowa youth active in 4-H and/or FFA livestock projects and current undergraduate students may apply for $97,000 in scholarships available from the Iowa Foundation for Agricultural Advancement (IFAA).

The scholarships are available to freshmen entering any Iowa two- or four-year post-secondary institution this fall or current undergraduates attending Iowa State University. Applicants must major in animal science or a curriculum in agriculture or human sciences that is related to the animal industry, according to IFAA spokesman Harold Hodson. The awards include :

• Three $5,500 one-year scholarships

• Four $5,000 one-year scholarships

• One $4,000 one-year scholarship

• One $3,000 one-year scholarship

• Thirteen $2,000 one-year scholarships

• Six $1,500 one-year scholarships

• Sixteen $1,000 one-year scholarships

• Five $500 one-year scholarships

Applications and additional information are available by visiting the Sale of Champions section of the Iowa State Fair's web site ( or by calling 515/291-3941. Selection will be based on level of 4-H/FFA involvement in livestock project work, livestock exhibition and/or judging, scholarship, leadership and career plans. Applications for current undergraduate students must be postmarked by April 1, 2012 and applications for incoming freshmen must be postmarked by May 1, 2012. All materials should be sent to Winner's Circle Scholarship, c/o SGI, 30805 595th Avenue, Cambridge, IA 50046.

Winners will be announced during the 2012 Iowa State Fair annual 4-H/FFA Sale of Champions on August 18, an event sponsored by IFAA. The IFAA is a non-profit organization founded in 1988. It is comprised of agricultural enthusiasts dedicated to encouraging 4-H and FFA livestock, poultry and agricultural project members to pursue ag-related careers. IFAA scholarship funds come from a percentage of Sale of Champions proceeds, as well as Winner's Circle Club donations.

"Nothing Compares" to the 2012 Iowa State Fair, August 9-19. For more information, call 800/545-FAIR or visit

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DENVER - Across the United States, taxpayer dollars are being used to subsidize the salaries and benefits of teachers and other municipal employees who work for their local labor unions.
This wasteful tradition costs taxpayers millions each year, and has gone largely unnoticed because the details of the arrangements are most often negotiated behind closed doors.
Luckily this practice, popularly known as "union release time," may be coming to an end in many parts of the nation.
Severe budget problems in California, Colorado, Arizona and other states have increased scrutiny on labor spending, with critics highlighting union release time as a disgusting waste of taxpayer money at a time when most schools and municipalities can least afford it.
Education Action Group has documented different forms of union release time in our reviews of teacher contracts in numerous states, and the issue has been probed in depth by researchers like Ben DeGrow of the Independence Institute's Education Policy Center.
Educators are often released from their regular duties with pay - either full-time, part-time or on a per-diem basis - to serve as union officials. They are free to use school time to handle grievances, attend collective bargaining sessions, lobby government officials, do political work, and perform other union-related activities.
Recent media reports from Denver and lawsuits filed in Arizona and California are bringing needed attention to the unnecessary expense, the first step in provoking corrective action.
The issue is coming to light most often in states and individual school districts with large budget deficits, including Colorado, where the Denver Post recently published a detailed report on union release time in the state's 20 largest districts.
The newspaper's findings confirmed what EAG and DeGrow have already exposed: taxpayers are subsidizing the state's wealthy and powerful teachers union by millions of dollars each year.
The ugly, expensive truth
Colorado's 20 largest school districts with union contracts spent a combined $5.8 million on salary and benefits over the past five years for school employees to work for their local teachers union, according to the Post.
The stipulations of the arrangements varied by school district - from full time off at full district expense to a set number of days with union reimbursement for a portion of the cost. In recent years, the most expensive agreements cost taxpayers in Douglas County, Adams 12, and Brighton 27 districts $1.3 million, $629,457, and $626,118, respectively.
The Denver Post found that only one of the 20 union contracts reviewed did not require the school district to spend tax money on release time for union business.
Colorado StateTreasurer Walker Stapleton put the issue in plain terms for the Post.
"It's a shame the money isn't getting into the classrooms and to students," he said. "It's another example of the stranglehold that unions have on education funding in Colorado."
Unfortunately, the problem extends far beyond the Centennial State.
EAG has documented union release time clauses written into teacher contracts in Michigan, New Jersey, Colorado, Indiana, California, Pennsylvania, Illinois, New York, Ohio and other states. In many cases, we submitted public information requests for the cost of this union perk, and the results ranged widely based on the details of the agreements and the size of the districts.
In Ohio's 18,000-student Lakota school district, for example, the local union president was granted half time off from teaching duties during the 2008-09 school year to work for the union at taxpayer expense. The union chipped in for a quarter of the expense, but the provision ultimately cost Lakota schools $38,000 in 2008-09.
At the Paterson school district in New Jersey, the union contract stipulates that the district must release several union officers from their school duties with full pay and benefits. Three district employees were released from their duties for the entire 2009-10 school year, and all were paid over $100,000 in salary by the district. The teachers union reimbursed Paterson schools for more than half, but taxpayers were left on the hook for $80,000.
We've also found expensive union release time provisions from contracts in Michigan and Indiana. The Rochester, Michigan district paid about $120,000 in total compensation for a teacher who worked full time as union president during the 2008-09 school year. The price tag was about $130,000 in the Troy school district, $50,000 in Ann Arbor, and $75,000 in Kalamazoo during the same school year.
Indiana's Fort Wayne schools subsidized its union president's compensation by nearly $25,000 in 2009-10.
The irony is that those same union officials use their paid release time to pressure school boards to increase salaries and benefits, and the financial burden on residents. It's a disgraceful circle of tax and spend that is leaving knowledgeable taxpayers dizzy and nauseous.
What makes matters worse is that many schools do not track the amount spent on union release time.
"It's bad enough that they pay for union release time at all, but to not even have a basic level of accountability, especially in these tighter budget times?" the Independence Institute's DeGrow told the Denver Post. "It's kind of appalling."
Getting tough
With school budgets drying up, the pressure has increased for district and labor officials to cut back or eliminate union release time. In Colorado's Douglas County, the district's new superintendent, Elizabeth Celania-Fagen, cut payments for the union leave nearly in half last year, and is expected to eliminate it altogether in the coming weeks.
"Going forward, my responsibility is to do what's right for our students in these economic circumstances and to be accountable for taxpayer dollars," she told the Denver Post.
Other Colorado school districts, including Aurora, Thompson and Adams 12, are phasing out the contract provision, as well.
In California, union officials in the Vista Unified School District agreed to pay $80,000 to settle a district lawsuit seeking reimbursement for $128,242 spent on union release time. Perhaps more importantly, the union promised to pay its own way in the future.
A lawsuit filed in Phoenix is challenging union release time for the city's seven labor unions. Phoenix's union contracts allow for more than 73,000 hours of annual release time for city workers to conduct union business at taxpayer expense, according to the Goldwater Institute, a non-partisan government watchdog organization behind the lawsuit.
The Institute is representing two city taxpayers, William Cheatham and Marcus Huey, who contend that the agreements violate the state constitution, which prohibits "using taxpayer dollars to subsidize private entities without proportionate, tangible benefits in return," according to the Institute.
Both examples illustrate that taxpayers are catching on to the union's free labor scheme, and we suspect that reports like those recently published in the Denver Post will only increase pressure to address it.
As more taxpayers become aware of the union subsidies, we believe most will come to the same conclusion as Clint Bolick, director for the Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation at the Goldwater Institute.
"Taxpayer money would be used exclusively for public purposes," he said. "The practice of shoveling millions of taxpayer dollars into union coffers must be stopped."
Contact Victor Skinner at or (231) 733-4202
Military service personnel of all branches of service, be it Army, Navy, Marine Corp,  Air Force or Coast Guard.  They serve with pride and honor and are sworn to protect our Country's borders, our Constitution and Bill of Rights.  They serve in peace time and war time, all with one common goal, our Country's Freedom.

We who served and those who now serve, ask only to be cared for by our Government if we have become sick with disease or injured in the line of duty.  We are from all walks of life.  We represent all religious faiths, all races, all political parties.

A bullet, a disease, does not discriminate who we are or what we are in time of war.  A bullet or a disease does not care if we are of any one religious faith, black or white, yellow or red, democrat or republican or independent.  We are all equals.   Some of us are injured by a bullet or explosive device.  Some of us get sick by the use of poisonous herbicides that causes cancer, Hodgkin's disease, and Ischemic heart disease, just to name a few.  Some of us end up with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Yes, some of us even end up with a whole deck full of problems.

Some of our Legislators introduce Bills to the House and Senate to care for us who are in need.  We submit claims to Veterans Affairs.  Mountains of paperwork is required for us to prove we have disabling problems during our time in service to our Country.   It can take months, more likely even years for that paperwork to get through the system.  In the meantime those Legislative Bills receive little to no action in a hurry up and wait mode of operation.  Some of our Legislators aren't sitting on their hands, some support us, they are of the minority.  A few can not do the job needed, it takes a majority.

What are the priorities of our Legislative Body?  Do they tax the very wealthy, millionaires and billionaires or give them tax breaks?  To what countries do they give billions of dollars?  To what banks do they give assistance?  To what giant manufactures do they give assistance?  What Pork Barrel projects do they support? Just to name a few top priorities. But our military personnel who are sick and injured, where are they on this priority list?  At what point does the almighty dollar stop to help those who served? It seems to me, if the bureaucracy waits long enough and makes VA claims difficult enough, more of us will just die out, then there are fewer of us to be concerned about.  Sounds like a rotten death sentence?

What say you, The American People, is this what it has come to?  Are those who fought for Freedom to be forsaken?  Ask your Congressional Representatives and your Senators, are those who served to be forgotten?

Dear Friends,

I know that most of you, as well as the media, are focused on the heated presidential election, but we can't lose sight of something that is as important as winning the White House - taking control of the Senate!

The Tea Party Express, the nation's largest tea party political action committee, is proud to announce its endorsement of Ted Cruz in his campaign for the U.S. Senate in the state of Texas.

One of Tea Party Express' top priorities in 2012 is to elect a conservative majority to the U.S. Senate, and thanks to patriots like Ted Cruz, we are well on our way to doing just that.  But we need your support if we are going to be successful and finish the work we alll started in 2010.
We were careful in our endorsement selection. When all is considered, Ted Cruz's knowledge of the Constitution and focus on limiting the size, cost, and intrusiveness of the federal government make him not only the strongest candidate in the race, but one of the strongest Tea Party candidates in the nation.
We need representatives that are willing to pursue an agenda that tackles America's out-of-control debt. Mr. Cruz's steadfast commitment to repealing Obamacare, passing a balanced budget amendment, and cutting spending show his dedication to conservative principles that force Washington to live within it's means.
The Tea Party Express has already endorsed Senate candidates Jon Bruning in Nebraska and Richard Mourdock in Indiana and plans to continue a series of endorsements over the next few months

November 2012 will go down in history as the defining election of our lives. With the White House and Senate up for grabs and the future of our nation hanging by a thread, WE MUST DO EVERYTHING WE CAN TO TAKE BACK CONTROL AND RESTORE THE PINCIPLES THIS NATION WAS FOUNDED ON!

Five Tips to Combat Effects of Sexual Abuse
By: Kalyani Gopal, Licensed Clinical Psychologist

One in five girls in the United States is sexually abused each year.  Some do not disclose sexual abuse until they are much older.  These children find themselves in foster care if their parent does not protect them from ongoing harm.  The most common perpetrators are boyfriends, step-parents, and relatives, with 80% of the perpetrators being within the birth family.  Studies have shown that in the aftermath of sexual abuse, 50% of sexually abused girls later become juvenile delinquents, run away, are significantly more aggressive, engage in promiscuous activities when poverty is factored in, engage in drug related activities, can self-mutilate, have uncontrolled outbursts of rage, need to always be in control of situations, and become abusive towards boyfriends, or get into abusive relationships. Sexually abused children and teens also develop eating disorders, and have guilt, shame, anxiety and depression, and poor self-esteem.

So how can we make our girls fight back and become resilient young teens?  How do we protect our young girls and teach them the right ways of coping?

Here are the top five techniques that have worked very successfully in my practice with teen girls (

• Develop Body Boundaries: Sexually abused girls tend to have poor body boundaries. TEACH body space, appropriate distance, hugging from the side, not pushing themselves into others' in the front, and maintaining appropriate distance from males

• Teens and Dating: Sexually abused teens also either get victimized or become aggressive towards their dating partner.  Develop self-worth in young teens, teach them to respect their bodies, teach them about being a woman in this world and be a role model for your teen.  They learn from your actions, not just words.

• Manage Eating Disorders: Eating can be excessive with binging and purging, or refusal to eat at all.  Both forms are ways young girls attempt to control their environment.  This need to control comes from the helplessness and lack of control due to sexual abuse.  Food is a way that a young teen can exert power over adults and cause anxiety in others.  Anorexia and Bulimia are common with these teens.  To develop a healthy sense of control, provide your young teen with healthy foods, give her areas of her life over which she has control and allow her to make decisions about the foods she eats.  Making a fuss about how much she is eating is going to worsen the situation and strengthen the eating disorder instead of reducing it. Rather, make food fun, use humor at dinner and provide her with healthy childhood snacks she loved.  Creating a low tension environment with a relaxed family non-judgmental environment will gradually relax your young teen daughter and she will substitute food with activities that you have introduced her to in which she can exert control and feel empowered.

• Deal with Bouts of Rage: Intense rage reactions are fairly common in children with sexual abuse histories and they can sometimes get violent. Often they are misdiagnosed as being Bipolar and placed on medication to keep them calm.  However, their rage is a primitive reaction to the emotional trauma of sexual abuse and can be explosive.  What works for these teens is trauma therapy and most importantly predictability.  They dislike sudden changes, unpredictable actions, sudden changes in schedules, and power struggles more so than the average teen.  Allowing your teen time to regroup, holding her when she wants you to, and giving her space when she asks for it so that she can bolster her defenses will help her handle stress, get "unstuck" and cope with new situations better.  What will worsen this situation is forcing her to talk to you when she is not ready and forcing her to complete chores and engaging in a power struggle.

• How to Handle Panic Attacks: Bouts of anxiety with fear of choking up, nausea, trembling, fearing that the walls are closing in and that she is going to die are all too common for our sexually abused teen.  Create resilience by identifying the triggers that have caused the anxiety and combat these triggers by pairing them with healthy effective empowering activities. The negative effect of these triggers will disappear over time, and your teen will become resilient and strong.

Successful parenting of your sexually abused female teenager will depend on CONSISTENCY, CALMNESS and CREATIVITY; the three Cs of parenting children with boundary issues.

About Dr. Kalyani Gopal

Dr. Kalyani Gopal is a licensed clinical psychologist with special interests in child sexual abuse assessment and treatment, attachment issues, and foster care assessment, adjustment and training. She serves on the Lake County, Ind., Child Protection and Child Fatality teams, and was the recipient of the Outstanding Service to Lake County award in 2004.

Obama called on Congress to stop looming July spike in student loan rates in State of the Union last night


Washington, DC - After President Obama used his State of the Union address last night to call on Congress to stop the looming spike in student loan interest rates, Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) introduced legislation today to indefinitely keep the interest rate for federally subsidized Stafford loans at 3.4 percent, their current, low rate.

Unless Congress takes action, student loan interest rates will double to 6.8 percent on July 1, 2012.  Such an increase would mean a student taking out the maximum Stafford student loan of $23,000 would pay an additional $11,000 of interest over the 20 year repayment period of the loan.

Tomorrow and Friday, Braley is visiting colleges and universities across eastern Iowa to host campus forums on the state of higher education.  The open forums will focus on college affordability, mounting student loan debt, and employability after graduation.

"Iowa college graduates have the 3rd highest student debt load in the nation," Braley said.  "Piling thousands of dollars more in debt on them puts Iowa students even further behind at graduation.


"Congress needs to act immediately to stop the July spike in student loan interest rates.  Our colleges and universities are avenues of economic opportunity.  If America is to succeed in the global economy, we need to keep higher education attainable and affordable for every person who wants to attend."

In 2007, Congress passed the College Cost Reduction and Access Act which lowered federally subsidized Stafford student loan rates from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent.  Because this act expires on July 1st, 2012, federally subsidized student loan interest rates will return to 6.8 percent without Congressional action.

Text of the bill Rep. Braley introduced today can be found at the following link:

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Kristy Bryner worries her 80-year-old mom might slip and fall when she picks up the newspaper, or that she'll get in an accident when she drives to the grocery store. What if she has a medical emergency and no one's there to help? What happens if, like her father, her mother slips into a fog of dementia? Those questions would be hard enough if Bryner's aging parent lived across town in Portland, Ore., but she is in Kent, Ohio. The stress of caregiving seems magnified by each of the more than 2,000 miles that separate them. "I feel like I'm being split in half between coasts," said Bryner, 54. "I wish I knew what to do, but I don't." As lifespans lengthen and the number of seniors increases, more Americans find themselves in Bryner's perilous position, struggling to care for an ailing loved one from hundreds or thousands of miles away. The National Institute on Aging estimates around 7 million Americans are long-distance caregivers. Aside from economic factors that often drive people far from their hometowns, shifting demographics in the country could exacerbate the issue: Over the next four decades, the share of people 65 and older is expected to rapidly expand while the number of people under 20 will roughly hold steady. That means there will be a far smaller share of people between 20 and 64, the age group that most often is faced with caregiving. By Matt Sedensky

It was a love for the loyal customers and savory Mexican cuisine found at the popular local chain that motivated business owners Mike and Cassandra Kehl to open up their third Rudy's Tacos location on Elmore Avenue in Davenport, just across from Lowe's and neighboring the recently relocated Active Endeavors. With more than 54 years of combined experience and involvement with the franchise, the Kehls have witnessed first-hand the chain's rapid development into a community favorite and Quad Cities landmark.

"Rudy's offers a laid back atmosphere and a diverse clientele," said Mike Kehl, who also owns Rudy's restaurants at West Kimberly Road and West 4th Street in Davenport.   "This new location will probably be a great attraction to the active customer who wants to grab some good food and then head next door to check out the new gear," said Cassandra Kehl.

The impressive, newly-constructed Rudy's facility offers patrons a fun, family-friendly dining experience and an array of tasty menu options that can make choosing just one a difficult feat.  "I'm thrilled to see our company continue to expand in the Quad Cities," said Kevin Quijas, Vice President of Rudy's Tacos Corporation. "I feel honored there is such a high demand for our food."

What started in 1973 as a tiny restaurant in the Village of East Davenport seating only 15 to 20 people, has since expanded to include 13 different locations in Iowa and Illinois. The chain continues to grow and prides itself on remaining locally owned and operated. Rudy's Tacos offers dine-in, carry-out, private party and catering services.

"I chose this franchise over others because they're easy to work with," said Mike Kehl, "And it helps to be part of a corporation that's already well-established."

The Grand Opening will be Thursday, February 2nd from 4pm to 6pm. A ribbon cutting will kick off the festivities at 4:30pm, with free appetizers and soft drinks to follow. Patrons can take advantage of food specials all week long at the site in celebration of the restaurant's commencement.

The Figge Art Museum presents a special themed tour "All About Art" at 1:30 pm Sunday, January 29. This tour will examine several paintings which represent different genres, or types of art. Docents Barb Hansen and Sandy Cahoy will discuss the characteristics of each type of painting as well as the techniques the artists used in each genre. The tour begins with religious works in the Latin American Gallery and ends with Mural, Jackson Pollock's modern masterpiece. The tour lasts approximately one hour.

Admission to the museum and tour is $7. Admission is free to Figge members and institutional members. For a list of tours and other programs, visit


New Frozen Yogurt Bar! Choose from over 30 toppings for a Fun, Healthy Treat.

Smoothies, Coffee and Fresh Fruit Bouquets also available at this location.

South Park Mall Food Fair, 4500 16th St, Moline, IL 61265

Visit us online at