The largest single financial gift in the history of the Quad Cities was given to the Davenport Museum of Art Foundation earlier this month. The $12 million donation was received from the Figgie Foundation and will be used for construction, operations, and programming costs for the new museum, scheduled to open in downtown Davenport in the fall of 2003. The new facility will be named the Figgie Arts Center in acknowledgment of the gift. V.O. Figgie, founder and CEO of the former Davenport Bank and Trust Company, was a benefactor of museums, schools, and churches. Other funding for the DMA project includes $6.5 million committed by the City of Davenport. Organizers hope to secure further funding from the Vision Iowa Program as part of a grant application for Scott County and the cities of Bettendorf and Davenport. Vision Iowa has approximately $180 million to distribute among programs designed to improve the quality of life in Iowa.

The Iowa Firefighters Association warns of a telemarketing company working for the Iowa Association of Professional Firefighters (IAPFF) and seeking donations for firefighters. The telemarketers are selling concert tickets and claim that the proceeds will benefit your local fire department. Yet volunteer fire departments and about half of Iowa's career firefighters will not receive a penny from these donations.

A harmless-sounding bill now before Congress titled "Public Safety Medal of Valor" contains a number of anti-civil-liberties provisions. The bill, H.R. 46, was originally written to set up a federal board to award Medals of Valor to policemen, federal agents, and the like. But on October 24, the Senate added provisions to expand federal asset forfeiture, expand wiretapping, provide additional punishments for people who use encryption, and federalize juvenile crimes. You can learn more about the bill in a December 15 column written by Dave Kopel of the Independence Institute, which can be found at (

Marycrest International University has expanded its community grant program. Students who have graduated with an associate's degree from one of the community colleges in Scott, Muscatine, Cedar, and Clinton counties in Iowa or Rock Island, Henry, Whiteside, and Mercer counties in Illinois can apply for grants for a total of $10,000 ($5,000 per year) when they enroll full-time at Marycrest. The expansion of this program is effective for the spring semester, which starts January 16. For more information, call (319)327-9225 or (800)728-9705.

The Libertarian Party claims that if you travel this holiday season, 41 percent of your costs will go to taxes. This includes the fact that a $400 plane ticket would cost only $240 without federal excise taxes, fuel taxes, passenger-facilities charges, air-traffic-control surcharges, and taxes directly paid by airlines. That $50 restaurant bill would cost $36.20 without alcohol, property, payroll, and franchise taxes paid by restaurants. Even to drive someplace, a $20 tank of gas would only cost $9.80 without the 43 different taxes levied by federal, state, and local governments.

The Quad Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau has been awarded a $4,026 advertising grant by the Iowa Division of Tourism. The grant will be used to place a half-page ad and brochure in the Illinois spring newspaper tabloid. The tab will be inserted into major newspapers throughout Illinois in April 2001 and will reach 1.7 million households and 5 million readers. You don't have to wait until April to see what there is to do in the Quad Cities. Just point your web browser at (

The Iowa Department of Public Health has sent two investigators to the Quad Cities to look into the death of a LeClaire woman who had to wait 23 minutes for an ambulance after suffering a heart attack. At the time, the LeClaire ambulance, driver, and paramedic were in Davenport attending a meeting on improving emergency services in Scott County and had made no provisions for other coverage. The Iowa attorney general's office will meet with the investigators and determine what action should be taken. This could include extending the probation LeClaire Ambulance is already operating under suspending the service, or revoking its license.

With the death of a Davenport man, fire has claimed its 60th victim in Iowa this year, tying the 1999 total. The 55-year-old man was found unconscious in his Davenport home by firefighters and was pronounced dead upon arrival at Genesis Medical Center West Campus. The victim did not have a working smoke detector in his residence. State fire-marshal officials say smoke detectors could cut the number of deaths from fire in half. Careless smoking and electrical malfunctions, along with smoke detectors that don't work, account for the vast majority of fire-related deaths in Iowa. Start the holiday season out right - please check your smoke detector. If you don't have one, they are very inexpensive (the last one I bought was $6) and very well might save your life.

The Rock Island Noon Kiwanis Club recently awarded $2,600 to local not-for-profit organizations. Donations included: $1,000 to the Martin Luther King Jr. Center holiday party; $500 to South Park Presbyterian Church's junior-high after-school program; $250 to the Pee Wee basketball program for the Rock Island Parks and Recreation Department; $250 to Audubon Elementary School PTA for a picnic, playground, and recreational area; $200 to Rock Island-Milan School District Medal of Honor Banquet; $250 for the Shoes That Fit program sponsored by AT&T Media Services; and $150 to Project Now Senior and Handicap Transportation Items from Kiwanis members for the D.A.R.E. Auction.

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