Invites Iowans to create own balanced budget, reduce deficit

Washington, DC - April 19, 2011 - Congressman Bruce Braley (IA-01) invites Iowans from across the first Congressional district to attend a series of budget and deficit reduction town halls the week of April 25th. The town halls will be fully interactive and attendants will be able to decide how to balance the budget and reduce the deficit.

"It's long past due time for a serious, responsible conversation about our fiscal future - and that's why I want to bring the budget discussion directly to my constituents," said Rep. Braley. "These town halls will give Iowans an opportunity to see first-hand how the budget process works in Congress. Together, we can find the best ways to balance the budget and reduce our deficit. I look forward to hearing from my constituents and discussing these important issues with them."  

***The town halls will be open to all press.***

Attendants can RSVP on Rep. Braley's website at:

Rep. Braley will hold four town halls over the week of April 25th:

Monday April 25th - Quad Cities
The Rogalski Center
St. Ambrose University Campus
Corner of Ripley and Lombard Streets
Davenport, IA 52803
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Tuesday April 26th - Cedar Valley
Commons Ballroom
University of Northern Iowa
1224 West 23rd Street
Cedar Falls, IA 50614
4:30 PM - 6:30 PM

Wednesday April 27th - Dubuque
Grand River Center
500 Bell Street
Dubuque, IA 52001
9:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Wednesday April 27th - Fayette
Student Center Ballroom
Upper Iowa University Campus
East side of Washington Street in the middle of campus
Fayette, IA 52142
2:00 PM - 4:00 PM


Basic Information
Quad City Choral Arts, under the direction of Jon Hurty, will hold auditions for the 2011-12 season on Tuesday, May 3 and Thursday, May 5 from 6 - 9 p.m. or by appointment. For more information and to schedule an audition time please e-mail Jon Hurty at

We are looking for trained singers that have had extensive experience singing in choral ensembles. Ability to sight read and learn music quickly and independently is required. Previous experience as a choral singer is required. For more detailed information about the audition process, please visit

About QCCA
Quad City Choral Arts was founded to provide the Quad City region with high quality choral music. Membership in the ensemble is by audition and many of the singers are music teachers or choir directors in the Quad City region.

About Artistic Director Jon Hurty
Jon Hurty is Artistic Director of Quad City Choral Arts, Director of Choral Activities at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois and Chorale Director at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Davenport, Iowa. Before coming to Rock Island he was Director of Choral Activities at
Concordia University in Irvine, California. He has conducted school, church and community choirs for over thirty years. He completed his undergraduate degree in vocal performance at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas, his master's degree in choral conducting from California State University, Northridge, and his doctorate in choral conducting and literature from the University of Illinois. He has studied conducting with John Alexander, Don Moses, Chester Alwes and Ann Howard Jones. Active as a guest conductor and clinician throughout the United States, he has served in this capacity for the American Choral Directors Association, the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, and the Choral Conductors Guild as well as many churches and high schools.

Washington, DC - April 19, 2011 - Today, Congressman Bruce Braley (IA-01) released the following statement after Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signed the proposed redistricting plan into law:

"Iowa has a model redistricting process, and today it's officially completed. While the boundaries of my district will change in 2012, my commitment to listening, working hard, and getting things done for my current constituents won't. I'm honored to represent northeast Iowa and I'll continue to focus on the very serious challenges and exciting opportunities in front of us." 


Davenport Parks and Recreation has announced two new features at Vander Veer Botanical Park for the 2011 Spring/Summer season.

School aged children visiting Vander Veer Botanical Park Conservatory can enjoy an interactive hunt and find fun sheet for spring. Counting bunnies, carrots, eggs and baskets throughout the display will bring a sweet reward when they drop off their completed sheet to The Park Store.

The observational beehive has returned to Vander Veer Botanical Park and can be seen in the Conservatory. 10,000 Italian honey bees are busy at work and fascinating to view. Find the queen bee by locating her prominent red marking. The beehive is maintained by local beekeeper, Phil Crandall and will be on display through the summer. Come take advantage of this amazing indoor display.

Since its establishment in 1885, gardens and floral displays at Vander Veer Botanical Park have been a tradition at this beautiful 33 acre park, inviting visitors to stroll from the Conservatory to the Stone Fountain. The park grounds are home to an extensive collection of gardens and trees, including many planted during the early 1890's; maps are available at the Park Store.

Vander Veer Conservatory and Gift Shop hours are Tuesday - Sunday 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

The Park is located at 215 W Central Park in Davenport. Admission to the Conservatory is only $1 for those 16 years and older. Children must be accompanied by an adult. For questions or further information, call 563-326-7818.

"Art & Ideas" Series offered at the Figge

The Figge Art Museum presents the third lecture in a four-part series entitled "Celebrating Ideas" at 7 pm Thursday, April 21. Dr. Emil Kramer, Associate Professor and Chair of Classics at Augustana College will present the lecture "Egypt, Athens, Rome?and Us: Five Millennia of Connections through Art." The lecture series is offered in conjunction with the special exhibition Celebrating Ideas: Bridging Communities with Augustana's  Liberal Arts through the AGES, on view at the Figge through May 29. The exhibition of 100 works is in celebration of Augustana's 150th anniversary, and presents a rich and diverse art historical overview of pieces from the Augustana College Art Collection.

Professor Kramer's talk will highlight the ideas behind School of Athens, a fresco painted by the Renaissance master Raphael in 1510-11. This well known image depicts the Classical Greek Philosophers Plato and Aristotle surrounded by mathematicians, naturalists, astronomers, geographers, and other philosophers. Pope Julius II commissioned School of Athens, along with twelve other frescoes, for one room in the Vatican palace. An engraving by Joannes (Giovanni) Volpato after a drawing by Joseph (Giuseppe) Cades of Raphael's School of Athens is included in the Augustana exhibition.

The "Celebrating Ideas" series is part of the Figge's weekly Thursdays at the Figge programming. Admission to the museum and lecture is $7. Admission is free to Figge members and Figge institutional members. The Figge Arts Café and Bar will be open before and after the lecture.  

Claude Monet exhibition at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is one of the trip highlights

The Figge Art Museum is traveling to Kansas City July 8-10 to view the special exhibition Monet's Water Lilies at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. This exhibition re-unites three panels painted by French Impressionist Claude Monet between 1915 and 1926. The Figge trip also includes a tour of the Nelson-Atkins' new addition designed by architect Stephen Holl, a walking tour of the Henry Moore Sculpture Garden on the grounds of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, a tour of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, and visits to several art galleries in the Crossroads Art District. The trip is hosted by Ann Marie Hayes-Hawkinson, Figge Curator of Education, and Marika Jones, Figge Director of Development.

The trip fee is $385 per person (based on double occupancy) or $495 (based on single occupancy). The trip fee includes motor coach transportation, two nights at the Holiday Inn Country Club Plaza, which is walking distance from the Country Club Plaza; breakfast, a box lunch at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Sunday brunch at Lidia's of Kansas City, and museum admission. For more information, view the itinerary online at  For more information, please contact Ann Marie Hayes-Hawkinson, Curator of Education, at 563.326.7804 x7887.  Reservations and payment are due by May 1, or until the trip is full. Trip participants must be Figge members; memberships start at $40. To make a reservation, contact Heather Aaronson at 563.326.7804 x2045.

KINNICK STADIUM - SATURDAY - APRIL 23, 2011 - 12:00 PM TO  2:45 PM

This Saturday, April 23 - beginning at 11:45 AM is the Annual Hawkeye Day for Camp Courageous at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. This is an opportunity of a lifetime for campers to visit with the Iowa Hawkeye football players, coaches, and staff.  Camp Courageous campers will enjoy a great lunch, provided by Martin Brothers, and a tour of the Iowa football complex, including Kinnick and the practice facilities.  Campers will receive from the Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Stores of Iowa a special football that can be autographed by the players, coaches, and staff.

"This is one of those experiences that will never be forgotten by the campers who attend.  We can not thank enough Kirk Ferentz, along with the players and staff for this opportunity.  It is heartwarming that individuals so gifted and talented and busy will take the time to spend with these special campers.  Every year the players do an exceptional job, engaging the campers.  

We would also like to thank Martin Bros., the Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Stores of Iowa and Kum & Go for providing all the goodies for the campers. "We have campers that have had a hard time falling asleep the night before, in anticipation of this big day." said Charlie Becker, Camp Courageous.


11:45 a.m. Camp Courageous bus & campers arrive at Kinnick Stadium. Charlie Becker will check-in everyone at the Krause Plaza on the South end of the stadium.

12:00p.m. Check in; receive name tags and complimentary football. Immediately go through lunch buffet provided by Martin Bros.

12:00 p.mHawkeye football team arrives and also receive name tags, and go through buffet lunch line. Players eat at tables with campers and parents

12:30 p.m. Begin short program. Thanking sponsors (PMCI, MARTIN BROS., KUM & GO). Introduce Chig, and Coach Ferentz. Coach will speak openly about past/upcoming season...etc. Introduce players, coaching staff who may be there. As they are introduced, they will proceed to a long table and sit for autograph line. After the introductions, Campers will line up for the autographs from players and coaches. Direct campers to meet at designated location after autographs to head out on their tour.

1:00-1:15 p.m. Timing depends when the autographs are finished. Begin tours. Camp Courageous will have their campers split into groups. (Black and gold). **Photos with players will be available on the field after tours and group photo. This will help the autograph line move quickly. Tours will include : Hawkeye Locker Room, Pink Locker Room, Press Box, Black tour group will start in the Locker Rooms, Gold group will start in the Brechler Press Box.

1:45 p.m. Both groups will finish on the South end bleachers for a group photo as we have done in the past.

2:00 p.m. Free play on the field. This will end the official 'tour' portion of the day. The Bubble Practice field and weight room will be open for tours on your own, but will not be a part of the 'group tours'. Logistically it doesn't work well to do with the large group. Possibly we can have one of the players take a group of campers who are interested to the bubble practice facility.

Also, once campers are on the field with their new footballs and new best friends (Hawkeyes) they generally don't want to leave!

2:45 p.m. Dismiss the campers and head back to the busses, and depart for Camp Courageous.

For more information, please call 319-465-5916 x2100.

DATE: April 18, 2011

On Friday, April 15th, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a budget for the upcoming year on a party line vote.  The plan sharply reduces the federal government's investments in education and infrastructure - investments that are necessary to ensure our country remains competitive in the global economy and generates jobs in both the short and long term.  While it makes huge reductions in spending, that is largely offset by completely extending the Bush 2001 tax breaks which were targeted towards the very wealthy.  

The budget also breaks our promises to senior citizens by eliminating Medicare and increasing the cost of prescription drugs.  If enacted, the budget will immediately increase the cost of health care for Iowa's seniors.  The measure now comes to the U.S. Senate for consideration.  Analysis released today shows that the budget proposal will have a detrimental impact on Medicare in Iowa.

Harkin's full statement on the House budget proposal can be found here.

"If Congressman Ryan's budget plan were enacted into law, it would immediately hurt senior citizens currently enrolled in Medicare in Iowa and around the country," said Senator Harkin.  "There is no question that the time has come for tough budget decisions, but the smart way to bring down the deficit is for Congress to pursue a balanced approach of major spending cuts and necessary revenue increases, while continuing to support Medicare."

Below are some specific impacts Iowa seniors will face if the House budget is enacted.

Increases Health Care Spending by 2022:

Total cost per Senior under the House budget: $20,500
Total cost per Senior under Medicare: $14,750

Makes Seniors Pay Double Out of Pocket by 2022:

Senior Share under the House budget: $12,500
Senior Share under Medicare: $6,150

Seniors' Share of Their Health Care Cost by 2030:

Under the House Budget: 68%
Under Medicare: 25%

[Source: non-partisan Congressional budget office.]

Reopens the "Donut Hole" in Medicare:

The Republican budget plan would repeal parts of the federal health care law, including measures to close the "donut hole."  The health reform law fixed a deficiency in the Medicare prescription drug program by addressing the gap in Medicare Part D coverage that had forced beneficiaries to pay 100 percent of their drug costs after they exceeded an initial coverage limit and until they qualified for catastrophic coverage. That gap in coverage?which totaled $3,610 in 2010?has existed since the drug benefit's creation in 2006.  

Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed by President Obama in March 2010, seniors who get stuck in the "donut hole" will now see the costs of their brand name drugs discounted by 50 percent, phasing out the "donut hole" completely over the next ten years.

Impact on Iowa:
  • An estimated 49,554 Iowa Seniors will be impacted by the "donut hole" in 2012.
  • Additional cost Iowa seniors currently in "donut hole" will pay for Prescription Drugs under the House plan in 2012: $28 million.
  • Additional cost Iowa seniors currently in the "donut hole" will pay for prescription drugs under the House plan through 2020: $554 million.

[Source: Analysis from Senate Democrats.]

Rather than a pessimistic budget, which says America can't afford to maintain and rebuild the middle class, Senator Harkin believes we need a budget that creates a better future - one that creates jobs, keeps our promises to seniors, educates our children, and reduces the deficit with smart spending cuts and by asking millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share.

April 18, 2011?The Goodwill® Sale, a partnership between The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. (NASDAQ: BONT) and Goodwill Industries International, has collected 3.8 million pounds of donations. Consumers donated gently used clothing and textiles to support the job training programs, skills training and community-based services that Goodwill agencies provide in their local communities.

The most recent Bon-Ton Goodwill Sale took place from March 9- 23, 2011 at Bon-Ton stores in 23 states. Bon-Ton, which operates stores under the Bon-Ton, Bergner's, Boston Store, Carson Pirie Scott, Elder-Beerman, Herberger's, Younkers and Parisian nameplates, received donations for Goodwill at its 275 stores. Goodwill sold those donations in its retail stores and the revenues were used to fund programs that give people the skills they need to enter the workforce, including people with disabilities, those who lack education or job experience and others facing challenges to finding employment.

"The Goodwill Sale is playing an important role in helping people in the communities where we operate," said Bud Bergren, president and CEO of The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. "Investing in the economic engine of our local communities is important to our culture."

Nearly 60 Goodwill agencies participated in the partnership and distributed  millions of discount coupons to generous donors, who received 15 - 20 percent off of merchandise at Bon-Ton stores. Donors also had the opportunity to share their donation on the Million Acts of Goodwill website, where they could access an exclusive 25 percent-off coupon and a chance to win a trip to New York to see Live! with Regis and Kelly.

"The donations from the community have enabled Goodwill to raise an estimated 17 million dollars to benefit Goodwill's mission of helping people find jobs and strengthen their families and communities," said Jim Gibbons, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. "We are truly thankful for the generosity of Bon-Ton customers and will put that support to good use by providing the services people need to build fulfilling careers."

The Goodwill Sale takes place twice a year ? each spring and fall season. Since 1994, the Goodwill Sale cause-marketing collaboration has helped generate an estimated potential value of $135 million in revenue to support Goodwill's employment placement services and other support services for people with disadvantages to finding employment.

About Goodwill Industries International
Goodwill Industries International is a network of 165 community-based agencies in the United States and Canada with 14 affiliates in 13 other countries. Goodwill is one of North America's top five most valuable and recognized nonprofit brands as well as a leading social services enterprise (Source: Cone Nonprofit Power Brand 100, 2009). Goodwill operates more than 2,500 stores and the first and only nonprofit Internet auction site, Goodwill agencies also build revenue and create jobs by contracting with businessesand government to provide a wide range of commercial services, including packaging and assembly, food service preparation, and document imaging and shredding. Last year, more than 2.4 million people in the United States and Canada benefited from Goodwill's career services. Goodwill channels 84 percent of its revenues directly into its programs and services. To find a Goodwill location near you, use the online locator at, or call (800) 741-0186. Twitter: @GoodwillIntl. Facebook: GoodwillIntl.

Preparing Children for Child Care

Talk With Your Child about What Is Happening

New experiences can be scary. You can ease a lot of fears by talking to your children about going to child care if your children can understand. Let them know what is different about the new situation, as well as what is the same.

Share Your Positive Attitude about Child Care with Your Child

Your child will feel good about going to child care if you feel good about your decision. Talk with your child about the toys, people, and activities he or she will experience in child care. Let your child know that going to child care is necessary and can be fun.

Begin New Child Care Situations Gradually

It's frightening to be put in a new situation. Parents can help ease the transition by bringing their child to child care gradually. If it's possible, try putting your child in only part time?for a few hours or half a day?for the first few days. This will also help the child care provider get to know your child before he or she spends full days there.

Establish Good Communication with Your Child Care Provider

Leaving a child in someone else's care can be hard for parents. You may worry about your child's behavior, whether or not the provider and the other children will like your child, and if the provider can understand and fulfill your child's needs. Let your provider know as much as possible about your child.

Expect a Reasonable Amount of Adjustment Time

Every child is different. Some children will adjust to a new child care situation almost immediately. A few others will take several months. Some children will seem to adjust to the situation quickly, but then experience difficulty a few weeks or months later.

Contact Information:

Rose Allen, Extension Educator, Family Relations, University of Minnesota Extension, phone: 651-480-7745, email:


Yard and Garden: Forsythia

After a long, drab winter, most gardeners anxiously await the arrival of spring. One sure sign that spring has truly arrived is the bright yellow flowers of the forsythia. This week Iowa State University Extension garden experts have answers to questions about this deciduous shrub named after William Forsyth, an 18th century Scottish horticulturist. Gardeners with additional questions can contact the experts by emailing or calling the ISU Extension horticulture hotline at or  515-294-3108.

My forsythia shrubs are vigorous and healthy, but don't bloom well. Why?

Forsythias bloom on old wood. Unfortunately, the flower buds on some varieties are not reliably cold hardy in Iowa. For example, the flower buds on 'Lynwood Gold' and 'Spring Glory' are hardy to minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit.  Since most areas in Iowa experience winter temperatures below minus 10 F, these cultivars often don't bloom well in the state.

Improper pruning is another possible cause. Flower buds on forsythias begin to develop by early summer.  Pruning the shrubs anytime from mid-summer until just prior to bloom will drastically reduce flowering. To achieve the best floral display, forsythias should be pruned immediately after flowering.

What are some good forsythia varieties for Iowa?

When selecting a forsythia, choose a cultivar that reliably blooms in Iowa. The flower buds on some varieties are not reliably cold hardy in Iowa. For example, 'Lynwood Gold' and 'Spring Glory,' typically don't bloom well in Iowa as their flower buds are often killed by cold winter temperatures.

Forsythia varieties that grow well and bloom reliably in Iowa include 'Meadowlark' (bright yellow flowers, grows 8 to 10 feet tall, has arching spreading form), 'Northern Sun' (medium yellow flowers, grows 8 to 10 feet tall, has arching spreading form, University of Minnesota introduction), 'Sunrise' (medium yellow flowers, grows 5 to 6 feet tall, dense growth habit, an Iowa State University introduction), and 'Northern Gold' (yellow gold flowers, grows 8 to 10 feet tall).

When is the best time to prune forsythias?

Since they bloom on old wood, forsythias should be pruned immediately after flowering. Pruning the shrubs anytime from mid-summer until just prior to bloom will reduce flowering in spring. When pruning mature forsythias, it's best to remove one-fourth to one-third of the oldest (largest) stems at ground level every other year. New shoots will emerge from the ground and bloom in following years. Old, neglected forsythias can be rejuvenated by pruning them back to within 3 to 4 inches of the ground in late winter or early spring.  The shrubs will grow back quickly and should begin blooming again in one or two years.

What would be a good planting site for forsythias?

Forsythias grow and bloom best in areas that receive at least six hours of direct sun. They will grow in partial shade, but won't bloom as heavily. Forsythias adapt to a wide range of soils. However, they do not perform well in wet, poorly drained sites. 

The forsythia is an excellent plant for mixed shrub borders. It can also be utilized as an informal hedge.  Low-growing cultivars can be used as groundcovers.

How do you propagate forsythias?

The forsythia is easily propagated from softwood cuttings. Softwood cuttings should be made from the current season's growth in late June or early July. Using a sharp knife, cut off 4 to 6 inch long shoots. Pinch off the leaves on the lower half of the cutting. Dip the base (cut end) of the cuttings in a root-promoting compound. Root the cuttings in a large pot or flat containing coarse sand or perlite. Insert the bottom two inches of the cuttings into the rooting medium and firm the material around the base of each cutting. After all the cuttings are inserted, water the medium and let it drain. Cover the container and cuttings with a clear plastic bag or dome to reduce water loss. Then place the cuttings in bright light, but not direct sunlight. Forsythia cuttings should root in six to eight weeks. When the cuttings have well developed root systems, remove them from the rooting medium and transplant into individual pots using a well-drained potting mix.


Dealing With Tree Damage

AMES, Iowa ? Stormy weather frequently damages trees throughout Iowa. In most cases, the extent of tree damage isn't due to the luck of the draw.

According to Richard Jauron, Iowa State University Extension horticulturist, certain tree species are much more susceptible to storm damage than others. For example, silver maple, Siberian elm, willow and green ash are quite vulnerable to strong winds. Oaks, lindens and sugar maples are less susceptible to storm damage. In addition to tree species, the age of the tree, its condition and maintenance history also determine the extent of storm damage. Large, old trees with a structural weakness, such as some trunk decay and those with narrow branch angles are particularly susceptible to damage. No tree species can withstand the fury of a tornado.

Assessing storm-damaged trees
Carefully examine trees to determine the extent of damage. Give immediate attention to trees that are hazards to people or property. If a power line is involved, utility company personnel are the only ones who should be working in the area. After the elimination of hazardous situations, individual tree care can be assessed.

Storm damage to a tree can vary from a few small broken limbs to complete destruction. Severe damage to the main trunk often warrants removal of the tree. Trees that have sustained major trunk damage are no longer structurally sound and may come down completely in the next storm. Trees that have the majority of their crown destroyed are probably not salvageable.

Caring for storm-damaged trees
When pruning damaged trees, use correct pruning techniques to minimize the size of the wound and avoid flush cuts. Remove stubs by pruning back to an undamaged side branch, main branch or trunk. Generally, pruning paints are not necessary. However, wounds that occur on oaks between March 1 and July 1 should be painted to reduce the potential transmission of the fungus responsible for oak wilt. When painting pruning cuts on oak trees, use a latex house paint rather than asphalt or creosote-based paints.

The pruning of large branches and damaged branches high in the tree canopy should be left to trained arborists. Cabling and bracing may be appropriate if the cost involved can be justified. Cabling and bracing do not save trees that have suffered extensive structural damage.

Tree removal and replacement
If tree removal and replacement ends up being your only alternative, Jauron recommends selecting tree species and cultivars with a sturdy reputation. Excellent maple species include black and sugar. Oak species for Iowa include white, swamp white, bur and red. Linden (both American and littleleaf), American hophornbeam and ginkgo are other possibilities. Selection of a sturdy tree species alone will not ensure a strong tree. Proper pruning when small is imperative.

ISU Extension publications contain additional information on caring for trees damaged during storms:
Managing Storm-damaged Trees - Sustainable Urban Landscapes (SUL 6); Choosing an Arborist (RG 214); Pruning Trees: Shade, Flowering, and Conifer - Sustainable Urban Landscapes (SUL 5); and Understanding the Effects of Flooding on Trees - Sustainable Urban Landscapes (SUL 1) can all be downloaded from the ISU Extension online store.