Ronald Wilson of Bettendorf has been selected as a winner in Monsanto's America's Farmers Grow CommunitiesSM Project, which gives farmers the opportunity to win $2,500 for their favorite non-profit organizations in each of Iowa's 99 counties. Wilson has designated the North Scott FFA, located in Eldridge to receive the award in Scott County. A special check ceremony will take place during the North Scott FFA Banquet and Awards Ceremony. Media are invited to attend.  Interview and photo opportunities available.

WHEN:             Thursday, April 8

6 p.m. - Banquet

7 p.m. - Awards Ceremony

WHERE:           North Scott High School

200 S. 1st Street

Eldridge, IA 52748

Overview:  The America's Farmers Grow Communities Project was offered throughout Iowa and in parts of Missouri and Arkansas. It is part of a broad commitment by Monsanto Company to highlight the important contributions farmers make every day to our society by helping them grow their local communities. More than 7,500 farmers participated in the program, which is designed to benefit non-profit groups such as ag youth, schools and other civic organizations. For more information, visit

Monday, April 5, 2010

Sen. Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the Committee on Finance, with jurisdiction over tax policy, made the following comment in response to report from the Treasury Department in support of Build America Bonds.

"The thin 11-page report from President Obama's Treasury Department released on Friday fails to mention that, according to Thomson-Reuters data, California and New York did 16 of the 17 largest Build America Bonds deals.  Taxpayers from the rest of the country are bailing out California and New York under the Build America Bonds program, which offers state aid in the form of fat checks from the Treasury Department just for issuing Build America Bonds.  California and New York get a better deal from the program than states with better credit ratings, because the program simply pays 35 percent of the non-taxpaying entity's interest costs, regardless of how high their interest rate goes.  Of course state and local governments are going to 'save' money under the Build America Bonds program ? they're being sent checks from the American taxpayers that they don't need to pay back.  Also, some analysts are pointing out that municipal debt could be the next debt crisis, so it's fair to ask whether federal policy should encourage increased municipal debt that could contribute to a meltdown.

"This report confirms that large Wall Street investment banks continue to receive higher underwriting fees on Build America Bonds deals than they receive for tax-exempt bond deals.  Also, the report is simply factually incorrect.  It states that a 28 percent subsidy rate for Build America Bonds is revenue-neutral for the federal government.  However, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office's analysis of President Obama's fiscal year 2011 budget stated that a 28 percent subsidy rate for Build America Bonds will cost American taxpayers an additional $8 billion over 10 years.  The large Wall Street investment banks aren't satisfied with a 28 percent subsidy rate and have stated publicly that they want more.  Fortunately for the Wall Street banks, but unfortunately for American taxpayers, the House gave in to the Wall Street banks' demands and recently passed a bill providing for a subsidy rate as high as 33 percent.  Instead of looking out for just California, New York and Wall Street banks, I'm looking out for the American taxpayers who are going to be stuck with the tab."

4th annual event promotes natural resources stewardships for students.

SPRINGFIELD, April 5, 2010 - The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) will host more than 1,200 students at state parks throughout Illinois in April and May to celebrate Earth Day.  The 4th annual Earth Day in the Parks event series has become an increasingly poplular way to get children involved in the outdoors through a variety of conservation stewardship activities.

"What better way to celebrate Earth Day and our natural resources than giving students the opportunity to help the environment through fun and fulfuilling activities right in their own backyards," said IDNR Director Marc Miller. "Nothing gives me more pleasure than to see the next generation of outdoor stewards engaged in nature."

Sponsored by the IDNR Office of Public Services, Office of Land Management and the Illinois Conservation Foundation (ICF), Earth Day in the Parks offer students the opportunity to get outdoors and work in nature.  Their hands-on experiences help students develop a sense of ownership of the natural resources while enhancing wildlife habitat and natural areas protection.  Students and teachers are encouraged to return to the park to study the effects of their work.

"With more than 40 events throughout the state, there is definitely something for every student of every age.  Our hope is that students will be hooked on the outdoors for life," said Miller.  "Their visit during Earth Day in the Parks could be the first introduction in a lifetime of stewardship for many of these youth."

School groups were selected to participate at park sites through random drawings from an application process held earlier this year.

The Earth Day in the Parks sites in the Quad Cities region are:


Johnson-Sauk Trail State Recreation Area

28616 Sauk Trial Road, Kewanee, Illinois

Date: April 27. Time: 10:00am-12:00pm

Project: planting native tree species

School: AlWood High School, Woodhull


Prophetstown State Park

Riverside Drive, Prophetstown, Illinois

Date: April 22. Time: 9:00am-11:00am

Project: planting native tree species

School: Prophetstown High School


Rock Island Trail State Park

311 East Williams, Wyoming, Illinois

Date: April 21. Time: to be determined.

Project: planting native prairie wildflowers and grasses.

School: Dunlap Grade School, Dunlap

DES MOINES, IA (04/05/2010)(readMedia)-- State Treasurer Michael L. Fitzgerald announced today that Iowa has the highest rating from another top bond rating company. Fitch Ratings has joined Standard and Poor's in giving the State of Iowa's general obligation bond rating the best possible rating, 'AAA.' "This is great news for Iowa," Fitzgerald stated. "Two of the major rating firms say we have the best possible rating. It says a great deal about our economy and financial management."

Iowa's AAA rating results from Fitch's move to a global rating scale. This recalibration makes their ratings for municipal and corporate entities more comparable. "We are among fourteen states that have the Fitch AAA rating," Fitzgerald stated, "So, in these tough economic times, Iowa has stayed the course and experts notice." Credit ratings provide an opinion on the relative ability of an entity to meet its financial commitments. Fitch analyzes a state's economy, financial management and liabilities to establish its credit quality.


$75,000 in Cash and Prizes on the Line

FREE Total Outdoors-Kid Challenge April 17-18 at Bass Pro Shops

New York, NY?April 5, 2010?FIELD & STREAM, the world's leading outdoor magazine, and BASS PRO SHOPS, America's favorite outdoors store, today announced the dates for the 2010 FIELD & STREAM TOTAL OUTDOORSMAN CHALLENGE?PRESENTED BY MOBIL 1.  Now in its seventh year, the annual coast-to-coast competition to name the most competent sportsman in the land will kickoff with FREE qualifying events at Bass Pro Shops on April 17-18. This year kids are getting in on the fun, too, with their very own Total Outdoors-Kid Challenge with free activities, prizes and giveaways.

Widely celebrated as the country's premier competition for outdoorsmen, The 2010 Total Outdoorsman Challenge will host FREE local qualifiers at 48 participating Bass Pro Shops on Saturday, April 17, and Sunday, April 18, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Please visit for a complete list of participating stores. Thousands of sportsmen and -women across the country are expected to showcase their skills in baitcasting, air rifle and archery competitions. (Competitors must bring their own archery and baitcasting equipment.) Spectators and participants at the events will also be able to sign up to win great prizes, including Rocky Boots, given away at each store, and a trip for two to Big Cedar Lodge.

"If you love hunting, fishing and camping then you've likely been training for this event your entire life," says Anthony Licata, editor of Field & Stream. "Being a Total Outdoorsman means you approach every outdoor experience as an opportunity to grow your skills and have fun doing it, and that's exactly what this whole competition is about. It's a chance to celebrate the outdoors and earn big money and bragging rights all for doing what you love."

Kids will be joining in the fun this year with the new "Total Outdoors-Kid Challenge."  A fun and free event taking place at Bass Pro Shops Saturday, April 17, and Sunday, April 18, from noon to 3 p.m. with prizes for all. The young outdoorsmen will be able to participate in fun, friendly challenges like bucket fishing, archery, life-jacket races and the sleeping bag roll-up.  They can also enjoy other free activities like drawstring bag coloring, knot-tying lessons, the Total Outdoors-Kid Activity booklet and prizes at the Prize Wheel?all while supplies last.


Field & Stream editors will evaluate the local qualifier results to cull the top 200 participants to contend in one of four regional qualifying events taking place in June 2010.  Participants who place in the top three positions at the regional qualifiers will then advance to the final championship, where they will face off against the top three finishers from the 2009 Total Outdoorsman Challenge as well as one "wildcard" competitor selected from online submissions at The Total Outdoorsman Challenge will culminate in an intensive, three-day, final championship event at Dogwood Canyon Nature Park in Missouri, September 9-11, 2010, pitting 16 of the nation's top outdoorsmen in head-to-head competition in seven outdoor skill challenges:  fly-fishing, bass fishing, rifle, shotgun, endurance, archery and ATV handling.

For the third year in a row, Field & Stream will host a regional event during the widely-attended, four-day CMA Music Festival in Nashville, Tenn., June 10-13, 2010, the "crown jewel" of country music events.  Total Outdoorsman Challenge defending champion Tom Boatwright will show off his keen outdoor skills against a field of country music stars in a special celebrity edition of the competition on June 11 leading up to the regional qualifier slated for the following day.

The May issue of Field & Stream (on newsstands now) features "The Total Outdoorsmen Guide Book" with instruction from five of the nation's most successful hunting and fishing guides. Competitors looking for more information can check out Total Outdoorsman Challenge training tip videos at

There is no fee to enter the Field & Stream Total Outdoorsman Challenge Presented by Mobil 1 and each event is open to the public. Anyone is invited to cheer on sportsmen from all walks of life as they test their abilities across a wide range of outdoor disciplines.

The Field & Stream Total Outdoorsman Challenge Presented by Mobil 1, enjoys support from: Bass Pro Shops, Outdoor Channel, Yamaha, Toyota, Eukanuba, Rocky Boots, 505 Games, ThermaCELL, Diamond Archery, Smith & Wesson, Thompson Center Arms, Smith & Wesson Firearm Care Products, CMA Music Festival.


Local Qualifiers?April 17-18
(Listed in alphabetical order by city)

? Altoona, IA
? Arundel (Baltimore), MD 
? Atlanta, GA
? Auburn, NY
? Auburn Hills (Detroit), MI
? Bolingbrook, IL 
? Bossier City, LA
? Broken Arrow, OK
? Cincinnati, OH
? Clarksville, IN
? Columbia, MO
? Concord (Charlotte), NC
? Council Bluffs, IA
? Dania Beach (Ft. Lauderdale), FL
? Denham Springs, LA
? Denver, CO
? Fort Myers, FL
? Foxborough, MA
? Garland, TX
? Grapevine, TX
? Gurnee, IL
? Hampton, VA
? Hanover County (Richmond), VA
? Harrisburg, PA
? Independence, MO
? Katy, TX
? Las Vegas, NV
? Leeds, AL
? Macon, GA
? Manteca, CA
? Memphis, TN
? Mesa, AZ
? Myrtle Beach, SC
? Nashville, TN
? Oklahoma City, OK
? Olathe, KS 
? Orlando, FL
? Pearl, MS
? Pearland , TX
? Portage, IN
? Prattville, AL
? Rancho Cucamonga, CA
? Rossford, OH
? San Antonio, TX
? Savannah, GA
? Sevierville, TN
? Spanish Fort (Mobile), AL
? Springfield, MO

Regional Championships:
? Grapevine, TX - June 5
? Nashville, TN - June 12 at the CMA Music Festival
? Independence, MO - June 19
? Leeds, AL - June 26

National Championship:
? Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, Lampe, MO - September 9-11

March 29, 2010, Davenport, IA - Senior Star at Elmore Place has become one of the Quad Cities' newest retirement communities - officially opening all of its 236 senior housing apartments that will redefine senior living. The three-building retirement campus, located at 4500 Elmore Avenue, Davenport, IA, features independent, assisted and memory care apartments that focus on spa-style fitness, gourmet-style dining and concierge services promoting quality of life and independence - a philosophy of world class customer service. The community has been under construction through 2009 and is now completed. It is projected to employ 200, as it contributes to economic development along the Elmore corridor with the addition of its residents and visiting families.

"Senior living is completely different than what it used to be," says Elmore Place Executive Director Leslie Dick. "The key is to help families embrace these life changes as positive, opening a new opportunity for socialization and experiences without the feelings of guilt or fear. Those in the Quad Cities contemplating retirement or considering an assisted living or memory care environment for themselves or their parents will find our community ready to enhance lives that can oftentimes be better than before."

The Independent Living complex features 61 apartments, complete with kitchenettes, a luxurious hotel-style dining area, Internet computer stations and fitness facilities such as a therapy pool, Wii lounge and much more. "Seniors can come and go, eat in their apartments or meet friends in our dining room or the pub," explains Dick. Senior Star has hired a chef to cater to all residents in each separate building within the community. "We focus on all aspects of the individual for healthy living including his or her physical, spiritual, mental and social needs. It's our goal that every resident leads what we like to call a 'Stellar Life.'"

The assisted living building has 135 units and is located in the largest building on campus. The residents are supported by a 24-hour care staff, receive assistance in all aspects of daily living, as well as individualized assessments to promote cognitive, emotional and physical independence. The building also features a grand common area for dining and community gatherings.

The memory care community features 40 private apartments and is designed especially for those with memory care needs. "We have incorporated in our memory care building design elements, practices and research-based methodologies from the Alzheimer's Association and the federal Administration on Aging in order to maximize a person's dignity, self-determination and independence," says Christine Gilbert, RN and Elmore Place memory care director. Ms. Gilbert says the new campus includes Destination ProgrammingT and a SnoezelenR room that promotes soothing, sensory experiences.

Senior Star at Elmore Place is managed by Senior Star Services in Tulsa, Okla. Senior Star currently operates or owns nine retirement communities in the Mid- and Southwest. In addition to the Elmore Place property, Senior Star also just opened another community in Romeoville, IL, a western suburb of Chicago.

"We are looking forward to becoming a part of the Quad City community and working with retirees and their children in writing a new chapter in their lives," says Ms. Dick, who relocated from Tulsa after managing a Senior Star property there. "I have found the Quad Cities to be a lot like Oklahoma - friendly and willing to work together to better our hometowns."

"We are a very community-minded organization and are ready to forge partnerships with Quad City senior advocacy organizations to ensure seniors enjoy the quality of life they deserve. Our mission is to help seniors and their families embrace senior living, and we instill this corporate philosophy of compassion in employee training programs from housekeeping to management," says Ms. Dick.
The grand opening event is Saturday, April 10, 11 a.m. - 2 p.m., at Senior Star at Elmore Place, 4500 Elmore Ave., Davenport, IA. To tour the Senior Star Community any time, contact Rhonda Halterman at (563) 359-0100.

About Senior Star
Senior Star, based in Tulsa, Okla., is a private company founded in 1976 and entered the seniors housing business in 1989. Its portfolio currently includes nine retirement communities in six states. As a recognized leader in the seniors housing industry, the company provides independent, assisted living and memory care options. Additional information is available on the Web site,

CHICAGO - April 2, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today acted upon 407 clemency petitions. Of the 407 petitions, Governor Quinn granted 147 pardons, authorized 2 persons who had already received pardons to seek expungement of their convictions, and denied 258 petitions.

The 407 clemency petitions acted upon by Governor Quinn are part of the 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 dockets.  Each person granted clemency has recently undergone a criminal background check through the Illinois State Police's Law Enforcement Agencies Data System (LEADS).

Since taking office, Governor Quinn has acted on 769 clemency petitions. Governor Quinn has granted 321 pardons, authorized 8 persons who had already received pardons to seek expungement of their convictions, and denied 440 petitions.

For further information on the approved clemency cases, please contact the Prisoner Review Board at 217-782-7274.


Quad Cities, USA - Living Lands & Waters (LL&W) is seeking approximately 800 to 1000 volunteers from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri to take part in a first-ever, multi-state clean-up of the upper Mississippi River.  The event will take place Saturday, June 19, 2010 with a goal of  involving  volunteers in 22 cities from Saint Paul, Minnesota to St. Louis, Missouri.  LL&W is also needing site coordinators for each location, boats and drivers, and supply donations.

Over the past 12 years, LL&W has removed more than six million pounds of trash through clean-up efforts along the Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Illinois and Potomac rivers.  LL&W has also coordinated flood clean-up efforts after Hurricane Katrina and the historic floods in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. LL&W Founder and President Chad Pregracke calls the Great Mississippi River Cleanup "We've been able to host  over 440 community cleanups over the years and this is the biggest effort we've ever done."  Pregracke adds, "This has been needed for a long time, and we're so very excited to be coordinating this important effort."

Living Lands & Waters is a 501(c) (3) environmental organization established in 1998 and headquartered in East Moline, Illinois. Besides Community River Cleanups, LL&W conducts Big River Educational Workshops, the MillionTrees Project, Riverbottom Forest Restoration and the Adopt-a-River Mile program.

The Great Mississippi River Cleanup will remove debris; such as tires, barrels, propane tanks, appliances, plastic bottles and even a message in a bottle or two from the shorelines and islands of the upper Mississippi River.  For more information about what LL&W has pulled from America's rivers and our needs in this massive cleanup visit


With the Spring Comes a Breath of Fresh Air for the Economy

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and the Labor Appropriations Subcommittee, today issued the following statement on the national jobless rate.  According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employers added 162,000 jobs in March. The national jobless rate, however, remains unchanged at 9.7 percent.

"The dark days of winter are behind us and just as a new season is taking shape, so too is our economy showing signs of a new season, with the largest increase in jobs in three years.  Knowing that employers added jobs last month is a breath of fresh air for an economy that has been stagnant for far too long.

"The fact is that the Recovery Act and other efforts are working.  Unfortunately there are still dangers ahead for those still looking for work, so additional efforts to move the country forward are needed. 

"First, Congress must overcome the obstructionism that is holding up an extension of unemployment insurance.  This critical safety net expires Monday and will leave nearly 38,000 Americans and 1,200 Iowans without benefits they need while they look for work.  In addition, we must take immediate action to prevent job losses among our nation's teachers - to protect the quality of education - and we need to pass job creating legislation.  When Congress returns, I intend to move immediately on those efforts."

Finance leaders say findings could help lower barriers to key U.S. exports

Washington, DC - Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) today requested a study of the market for agricultural products in China, including the effects of tariff and non-tariff barriers on U.S. agricultural exports.  In their letter to Chairman Shara L. Aranoff of the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), the Senators asked the ITC to cover a five-year period from 2004-2009 in its report, and to submit the report within eleven months of receipt of their letter.

"China is already the fourth largest market for U.S. agricultural products, but there is room for substantial growth if we can reduce trade barriers to our exports.  The United States is a top exporter of wheat and beef, but we face unjustified restrictions in the Chinese market," said Baucus.  "The report Senator Grassley and I commissioned today will investigate restrictions on these and other agricultural products, so we can begin to remove barriers and send more of our Montana and American-made goods to China and create jobs here at home."

"China has become a major market for American agricultural exports.  But the potential is there for China to become an even bigger market for these products," Grassley said. "We need a better understanding of the tariff and non-tariff barriers that U.S. agricultural producers face in trying to export to China.  The study that Chairman Baucus and I have requested today will help.  Specifically, beef and pork producers in Iowa and across the United States stand to benefit from the elimination of non-tariff trade barriers that have no basis in science.  This investigation will shed more light on those barriers."

The text of the Senators' letter follows below:

April 1, 2010

The Honorable Shara L. Aranoff


U.S. International Trade Commission

500 E Street, S.W.

Washington, DC 20436

Dear Chairman Aranoff,

We are writing to request that the U.S. International Trade Commission conduct an investigation under section 332(g) of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1332(g)) regarding competitive factors affecting agricultural trade between China and the United States.

Since it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, China's imports of U.S. agricultural products have grown substantially. China is now the fourth largest market for U.S. agricultural exports.  Yet sales are highly concentrated in a few products?soybeans, cotton, poultry, and hides and skins accounted for more than 85 percent of Chinese imports of U.S. agricultural products in 2009.  Chinese imports of several globally competitive U.S. agricultural products, such as certain meat, feedgrains, and processed food, are limited.  With rapidly rising per capita income and resource constraints on domestic production growth, China has the potential to provide greater opportunities for expanding U.S. agricultural exports.

At the same time, several factors threaten the ability of U.S. agricultural exporters to realize these opportunities.  Chinese government policies aimed at boosting domestic production and curbing imports, non-tariff measures, including sanitary/phytosanitary measures and technical trade barriers, and increased competition from third-country suppliers, especially those with which China has negotiated trade agreements, are important factors that could weaken the competitive position of U.S. agricultural products in the Chinese market.

The Commission's report should cover the period 2005-2009, or the period 2005 to the latest year for which data are available.  In addition, to the extent possible, the report should include the following:

* an overview of China's agricultural market, including recent trends in production, consumption, and trade;

*  a description of the competitive factors affecting the agricultural sector in China, in such areas as costs of production, technology, domestic support and government programs related to agricultural markets, foreign direct investment policies, and pricing and marketing regimes;

* an overview of China's participation in global agricultural export markets, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region and in those markets with which China has negotiated trade agreements;

* a description of the principal measures affecting China's agricultural imports, including tariffs and non-tariff measures such as sanitary and phytosanitary measures and technical barriers to trade; and

* a quantitative analysis of the economic effects of China's MFN tariffs, preferential tariffs negotiated under China's free trade agreements, and China's non-tariff measures on U.S. agricultural exports to China and on imports from the rest of the world.

The Commission should submit its final report no later than eleven months from the receipt of this request.  As we intend to make the report available to the public, we request that it not contain confidential business information.


Max Baucus                         Charles E. Grassley

Chairman                       Ranking Member