Funding will provide winter heating assistance to low income Iowans

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, announced today that Iowa has been awarded $4,847,522 through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).  The emergency contingency funding will help eligible low-income Iowans meet home energy costs, and is in addition to the $67.8 million Senator Harkin secured for the state in Fiscal Year 2010 from the LIHEAP block grant.

"Winter can be a desperate time for people in need, and this has been a particularly brutal winter in Iowa," Senator Harkin said. "This funding will help thousands of low income households, especially those with young children and elderly, make it through the season."

On January 7, 2010, Senator Harkin joined a bipartisan group of 48 senators in sending a letter to the President urging him to release the emergency LIHEAP funding.  The full text of the letter can be found here.

In 2008, 95,234 Iowan households received LIHEAP assistance - one of the highest numbers on record.  A nationwide survey of households receiving LIHEAP aid found that 42 percent of recipients went without medical or dental insurance and 32 percent went without food for at least one day.

Rock Island, Illinois ? The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is seeking applications for seven leases for agricultural purposes, with a total of 458 acres. The leases are for a five-year term. Applications will be evaluated based upon the highest annual rental proposed.


Application packages and information can be obtained at the Lake Red Rock and Red Rock Dam Park Manager's Office, phone 641-828-7522, or by writing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Real Estate Division, P.O. Box 2004, Rock Island, Ill. 61204-2004, or by calling (309) 794-5955.

Applications will be opened at 2p.m. on March 1 at the Rock Island District Headquarters in the Clock Tower Building on Arsenal Island, Rock Island, Ill.

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Washington, DC - Congressman Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) cosponsored legislation today to allow individuals who make charitable contributions to the victims of the earthquake in Haiti to claim deductions in 2009. Braley joins Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles B. Rangel (D-NY), Ranking Member Dave Camp (R-MI), Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-SC) and House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) in support of this effort.

"The outpouring of support and generosity toward our neighbors in Haiti has been overwhelming and inspiring," Braley said. "In times of tragedy, Americans have always risen to help others in their greatest hour of need. This legislation not only provides a benefit to Iowans who have already donated their hard-earned money, but also an added incentive for those considering their ability to make a contribution."

Read the full text of the legislation here.

In 2005, Congress passed similar legislation for those who made contributions to the Indian Ocean tsunami relief efforts.


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NASHVILLE, TN./EVANSVILLE, IN. (January 18, 2010) - Soles4Souls ( and Shoe Carnival have joined forces to provide shoes and other aid to victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti.

As part of its ongoing partnership with Soles4Souls, Shoe Carnival will raise funds to support the donation of more than 100,000 pairs of shoes as well as other necessities, including food, bottled water,  medical supplies and baby products, to affected areas. Beginning January 15, customers at Shoe Carnival's more than 300 stores will have the opportunity  make a contribution during checkout, which will directly support relief efforts.
Soles4Souls has partnered with Operation Compassion, a charity that mobilizes support for victims of natural disasters around the world, to transport and distribute the aid. Thirty containers of supplies, including work boots, rain boots, children's athletic shoes and clothing items, are already en route to Haiti.
"As we struggle to comprehend the magnitude of this disaster, we cannot forget how important basic necessities - such as shoes - will be in the ongoing rescue and rebuilding efforts," said Wayne Elsey, Founder and CEO of Soles4Souls. "We deeply appreciate the support of Shoe Carnival and their customers in helping us provide shoes and other essential items to survivors and volunteers as they work in horrific conditions."

The death toll from Tuesday's quake continues to rise, and survivors and rescuers are facing dire health conditions including stifling heat, lack of clean water, broken glass and raw sewage.

"We feel the deepest compassion for the survivors in Haiti as they begin to rebuild their lives and communities," said Todd Beurman, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Shoe Carnival.  "That is why we want to help in any way we can to ensure the people of Haiti are able to get back on their feet in these very difficult times."

For more information on how to get involved and donate to the victims in Haiti, visit

About Soles4Souls®
Soles4Souls is a Nashville-based charity that collects shoes from warehouses of footwear companies and the closets of people like you.  We distribute these shoes, free of charge, to people in need around the world. Since 2005, Soles4Souls has given away over 7 million pairs of new and gently worn shoes (currently distributing one pair every 9 seconds). The shoes have been distributed in 125 countries, including Haiti, Kenya, Nepal and the United States. Soles4Souls is a 501(c)(3) recognized by the IRS and donating parties are eligible for tax advantages.

About Shoe Carnival
Shoe Carnival is a chain of more than 300 footwear stores located in the Midwest, South and Southeast. Combining value pricing with an entertaining store format, Shoe Carnival is a leading retailer of name brand and private label footwear for the entire family. Headquartered in Evansville, Indiana, Shoe Carnival trades on the NASDAQ Stock Market LLC under the symbol SCVL. Visit for more information.

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January 15, 2010

Q:  Why do you conduct oversight of Veterans Affairs (VA)?

A: I regularly conduct pro-active and vigorous congressional oversight of the executive branch of government on behalf of taxpayers and beneficiaries of federal programs, including veterans.  I recently received an internal memo from the Department of Veterans Affairs which stated that the wrong filter was used last year in dialysis machines at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System. That accident put at risk 83 patients, and maybe more, who were treated using the machines because they were possibly exposed to infectious diseases such as hepatitis or HIV.  What's more, I'm told that the VA has known about this for months but has yet to inform all of the possibly infected patients at the VA's Palo Alto Health Care System about the situation.  It's of great concern that America's current and former service members who rely on the VA's facilities would receive this kind of treatment.  They deserve better.  It's even more troubling that this isn't the first incident of contaminated equipment being used in the VA health system.  Both in April 2006 and February 2009, it was reported that service members might have been put in harm's way when contaminated equipment possibly exposed them to infectious body fluids or agents.  The VA needs to hold those responsible accountable and do what's necessary to prevent a repeat of incidents like these.

Q:  How else are you working in the U.S. Senate to help veterans?

A: Veterans have risked their lives to protect the American way of life and to help preserve freedom around the world.  The burden placed on service members often takes a major physical and emotional toll on both the service members and their families. Veterans need proper care to deal with the wounds they have received in our defense.  I've continued to work in the U.S. Senate to improve treatment and care for veterans suffering from mental injuries like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury resulting from service in combat zones like Iraq and Afghanistan.  I'm working to protect service members with PTSD or Traumatic Brain Injury from being discharged unfairly and losing benefits.  A bill I cosponsored providing training and funding to family members who take care of injured veterans full-time has now become law.  I also worked with the Iowa delegation to enact the Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act.  And, I won a commitment from the federal government to put a greater focus on hiring veterans. My record of support for those who have served our country was recognized with the American Legion's 2009 National Commander's Distinguished Public Service Award. Through my work with legislation in the U.S. Senate and my constitutional duty to perform government oversight, I will keep fighting to make sure our service members and veterans receive fair, timely and appropriate treatment from the federal government.

One of the largest indoor wine tasting events in Illinois

GALENA, Ill. - Now in its fifth year running, Galena Wine Lovers' Weekend on March 26-28, 2010, is a community-wide celebration of good wine, good food and good friends. Wine lovers of all sorts are invited to enjoy three event-filled days of fine wine, culinary delight, celebrity chefs, wine makers, pampering packages and all of the stops Galena can possibly pull out.

Galena Wine Lovers' Weekend is a spirited way to warm the winter and add romance - whether it is for vino, gourmet cuisine or the love for a town with history and charm all on its own. Wine-inspired dinners, spirit tastings, spa experiences, history tours, cooking demonstrations and shopping welcome and enchant visitors.

Kicking off the weekend on Friday evening is the Grand Tasting and Wine Auction - which has grown to be one of the largest indoor wine tasting events in the state of Illinois. This year at the Grand Tasting, choose to sample from 300 varieties of hand-picked wines and spirits. Cost is $30 in advance (purchase online at or $35 at the door, while supplies last. Admission also provides you with a keepsake wine glass and an opportunity to win a wine-themed trip to San Francisco. Additional trip chances may be purchased for $15 each. Auction items include vintage wines, artwork, large format wine bottles and related items of interest.

Lodging specials and package deals fuel the passion. From dining packages to pampering in luxurious accommodations and the warmest of hospitality, Galena's finest provide a variety of options to cater to every taste and budget.

Visit for a detailed listing of weekend activities, links to lodging and an opportunity to purchase tickets online. Additional area offerings may be found at the Galena/Jo Daviess County Convention and Visitors Bureau at

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The "feminization of poverty" was a popular topic in the 1970s and 1980s, but it has largely disappeared from policy discussion. Although important progress has been made on women's issues since that era, a new report by the Child and Poverty Center shows the persistence of substantial gender-based disparities in poverty and earnings between men and women in Iowa and the United States.

"Women, Work and Poverty: The 21st Century Challenge," written by Charles Bruner, with Michael Crawford and Anne Discher, shows a continued gap in the poverty rate among men and women over the last half century, although the causes and consequences have changed.

Policy gains have helped many women.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the women's liberation movement put a spotlight on the difficulties women faced in the workplace, such as pay inequalities for the same work, the "glass ceiling" faced by women climbing the corporate ladder, the segregation of women in the lowest-paid jobs, inadequate child-support payments, and the absence of family-leave policies and affordable child care.

Since that time, women's participation in the workforce has increased dramatically, and a number of state and federal policies have helped to reduce pay disparities. Iowa's comparable worth legislation, for instance, narrowed the gap in earnings for men and women in state government. Significant improvements in child-support enforcement and awards have brought much-needed infusion of funds for single parents. Low-income parents have much greater access to child-care subsidies to help them enter the workforce. Federal and state earned income tax credits offer a critical boost in income to the lowest-income working families. All these actions have helped to improve the economic security of women.

Despite progress, women continue to lag behind men in earnings.

One factor countering this progress, however, is that women continue to be disproportionately employed in low-wage jobs in the private sector, including those in fast-growing fields like child care and home-health care. In fact, nationally, working-age women are 40 percent more likely than working-age men to live in poverty, a gap that has remained consistent since 1990. Women have significantly increased their education levels, but the mean income of women remains below that of men with similar levels of education. This fact is particularly troublesome in Iowa, where workforce participation of both women and men is higher than for the nation as a whole, but the proportion of women and men with college and graduate degrees is below the national average.

Single parenting is a major factor in the continued disparity between men's and women's incomes.

A second large countertrend to achieving greater equality in income has been the increase in single parenting during this period. There are many more single-parent families headed by women than headed by men - and much higher rates of poverty among those families. In Iowa, only 4 percent of married couples live in poverty, compared with 37 percent of mother-only families, and 16 percent of father-only families. While divorce plays a role in this increase in single parenting, the biggest factor is the increase in the share of never-married parents - a pattern most common among women with low levels of education.  These disparities have a critical racial and ethnic component. In 2007, 63 percent of
African-American families were headed by single parents, compared with 26 percent of white families. Adolescent parenting is also far more common among minority families.

Some safety-net programs for low-income families haven't kept pace with the need.

A final countertrend is the general decline in public assistance for single-parent families with young children. For decades, welfare payments were intended to provide ongoing income to families caring for young children. But welfare reform of the 1990s shifted the focus toward temporary aid as a bridge to employment. Even factoring in a substantial increase in the child-care subsidies needed to help parents enter the workforce, the state's investment in safety-net services has slipped. Between 1980 and 2008, Iowa investments in direct welfare payments and child-care subsidies together declined by nearly one-half in inflation-adjusted dollars.

The state and federal government have made major investments in other forms of assistance, such as Iowa's hawk-i program, which provides health insurance for children, and the food-support program, SNAP, formerly known as food stamps. Money invested in these programs now exceeds that put into direct welfare payments, but their benefits are still limited. The relatively low cut-offs for SNAP benefits and child-care subsidies contribute to a "cliff" in government support to low-income families, as families make even modest improvements in their wages. The corresponding reductions in food support and child-care subsidies often negate most or all of those gains.

Other public policies play important roles in supporting working mothers.

In recent decades, both the state and federal government have made major contributions to the well-being of families through tax policies. In particular, the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and child credit has effectively lifted tens of millions of children out of poverty. In addition, the state of Iowa was among the first states to enact an earned income tax credit. However, the state's more limited EITC and its overall tax structure reduce some of the federal benefits - and place a much heavier burden on working families than on any other type of taxpayer.

In other areas, major reforms in child support in the 1980s have substantially increased the amount of money flowing to custodial parents, generally women. In fact, public child-support-enforcement activity now exceeds the amount of benefits from direct welfare payments.

Finally, there remains significant work to be done in the area of family leave, particularly paid leave, where the U.S. continues to lag far behind many other countries. Such leave is an especially valuable tool for parents of young children, because they tend to be at the starting points of their careers and their parenting responsibilities are most time-consuming at this stage.


"Women, Work and Poverty" describes important trends and offers policy options to address them but does not provide simple answers. The purpose of the report is to provide the evidence and again raise the issue of gender disparities in poverty.

"CFPC produced this report to stimulate discussion and attention," Charles Bruner indicated. "The report provides the facts and information to show that 'the feminization of poverty' exists today and impacts both women and children. It needs to be a subject of policy attention today every bit as much as it did fifty years ago."

The executive summary and the full report are available at

Contact: Charles Bruner(515) 280-9027

The Des Moines-based Child and Family Policy Center (CFPC) was established in 1989 by former Iowa legislator Charles Bruner to better link research and policy on issues vital to children and families and to advocate for evidenced-based strategies to improve child outcomes. CFPC works at the community, state, and national levels on child- and family-policy issues, with a particular emphasis upon developing more asset-based and comprehensive approaches to helping children and their families succeed.

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American Veterans Traveling Tribute (AVTT) and Sands Resorts Donate TWO HARLEY DAVIDSON SPORTSTERS

Operation Gratitude Sends TWIN Milestone 500,000th Packages

Van Nuys, CA - December 21, 2009 - With the classic roar of freedom catching their attention, more than 1500 Operation Gratitude volunteers witnessed the presentation of the organization's historic 500,000th Care Package, as a parade of motorcycles rode onto the Armory Drill floor delivering the keys to TWO Harley Davidson Sportsters.  The keys, along with several other unique gifts, were added to Operation Gratitude care packages, to be presented to two U.S. Service Members serving in the harshest combat zones overseas.

Co-founders Carolyn Blashek and SSG Elizabeth Cowie, who started the organization in 2003, thanked AVTT and Sands Resorts for their generous donation of the Sportsters, and recognized the tens of thousands of volunteers, donors and supporters who have contributed throughout the years to the assembly and shipment of half a million care packages.

"The 500,000 care packages we have sent are an expression of our enormous respect and appreciation for those who voluntarily put themselves in harm's way to protect our freedom," exclaimed Blashek.  "How totally appropriate that today we are sending a classic American symbol of freedom--Harley Davidson Motorcycles--to two of our bravest warriors, both of whom have served multiple tours of combat duty."

"AVTT's mission is to honor, respect and remember those who served and thus those who are serving," said Don Allen, founder of AVTT, donor of one of the Bikes.  "The occasion of Operation Gratitude's 500,000th Care Package is a perfect opportunity to ensure that our message of support and gratitude is seen and heard by our Military around the world."

Lee Rawcliffe, President and CEO of Sands Resorts, and donor of the second Sportster noted:  "This exciting 500,000th package event represents a celebration of all the brave Americans who wear the uniform of our great nation.  We are honored to put 2 very special packages in the hands of two different service members who represent our courageous heroes-- past, present and future--from all branches of the Military."

In addition to the Sportsters, the twin 500,000th packages will include a year's supply of both 5 Hour Energy and Emergen-C. hand-made scarves, digital cameras from Target, t-shirts, hats, dvds and pins from the Shasta Salute to America Bike Rally, the usual items and personal letters provided by more than 250 Corporate Sponsors and Friends, and by tens of thousands of individual donors across the country.  Days of Our Lives Cast Members Jay Kenneth Johnson, Joseph Mascola and Taylor Spreitler presented a Certificate for two VIP Set Tours.

Special deliveries of the matching Half Millionth Packages are being arranged.

A 4th Grade student from North Carolina, the winner of the "Guess the Candy Weight and Letter Writing Contest,"  was announced, having guessed within a few pounds the total weight of candy donated to Operation Gratitude this Holiday Drive:  110,000 pounds.

Blashek and Cowie informed the energetic crowd that the 500,000th package represented:

~ 4 Million pounds of product
~ $5.5 Million of postage
~ 25 Million individual items
~ $50 Million worth of product

sent to the troops through Operation Gratitude since its inception in 2003.

With the shipment of its 500,000th package, Operation Gratitude wrapped up its 2009 Holiday Drive, having delivered more than 100,000 care packages to U.S. Service Members this year.

About Operation Gratitude:

Operation Gratitude ( ) is the 501 (c) (3) non-profit, volunteer organization that annually sends 100,000+ care packages filled with snacks, entertainment items and personal letters of appreciation addressed to individual U.S. Service Members deployed in hostile regions.  Our mission is to lift morale, bring a smile to a service member's face and express to all Armed Forces the appreciation and support of the American people. Each package contains donated product valued at ~$100 and costs the organization $11 to assemble and ship.

About American Veterans Traveling Tribute ("AVTT"):

AVTT ( is a veteran-owned project that travels the USA to provide a forum for communities to HONOR-RESPECT-REMEMBER all who have sacrificed their lives for our country's freedom. In so doing, AVTT also honors all Veterans and those currently serving, by letting them know they will never be forgotten. AVTT is funded through sponsorship fees, donations, and sale of merchandise at events. Donations to support AVTT's mission are qualified charitable tax deductions through The Traveling Wall Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) charitable organization.

About Sands Resorts

Sands Resorts ( has been the leading provider of Myrtle Beach vacations for over 35 years. Established in 1972, Sands now includes seven major oceanfront resorts, restaurants, a water park,  the nationally known beach bar Ocean Annie's, and vacations featuring golf and theater packages, children's programs, and convention accommodations. Sands Resorts new "Hall of Heroes," honoring our military, police and firefighters who throughout history have protected our freedom, is open free of charge, Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the first floor of The Rawcliffe Center at Ocean Dunes/Sand Dunes Resort & Villas.

Operation Gratitude
Carolyn Blashek
818.789.0123; cell: 310.876.2594



The Sparkles cheer team, a partnership between Pleasant Valley High School cheerleaders and Davenport's Hand-in-Hand, are being recognized for gathering to give back.

In November, a story submission from Sarah Herr of Bettendorf was named one of five national finalists in Modern Woodmen of America s Gatherings with Purpose giveaway.

The story received the most votes in the online contest, earning more than 4,600 votes over the two-week voting period.

Hand-in-Hand and the Sparkles will each receive $2,500 as contest winners. The presentation will take place during the Sparkles cheer practice. Members of the media are encouraged to attend.

When: Monday, Dec. 21, 5:45 p.m.

Where: Pleasant Valley High School cafeteria

Herr shared the story of a wonderful, and perhaps unlikely, partnership between a high school cheerleading squad and Hand-in-Hand, a non-profit organization providing critical services for families with special needs. The Pleasant Valley High School cheerleaders decided to create a high school-based cheerleading squad specifically designed to include students with special needs. To find potential participants, the squad volunteered to gather and cheer at Hand-in-Hand's annual Family Fun Walk fundraiser. The group dressed in uniform and spent the morning managing the games and painting designs on eager little faces. During the walk, the girls cheered on the participants with Hand in Hand, yes we can!

Through this gathering, the cheerleaders met several young girls and their families who enthusiastically supported the idea of starting a new cheer squad to include students with disabilities. Within two weeks, 10 girls with disabilities from Down Syndrome to autism signed on to be the first Spartan Sparkles! Since this time, the Sparkles have cheered through two football seasons and one basketball season in front of packed crowds and standing ovations. To express gratitude to Hand-in-Hand and more tangibly support its programs, the cheerleaders again gathered on a Saturday afternoon over the summer collecting donations for Hand-in-Hand. The group raised both awareness and $2,000 in donations for Hand-in-Hand. Two weeks later when they attended the next Family Fun Walk, the Sparkles had much to cheer about!

Nearly 100 stories were entered in the online contest and five finalists were chosen. The stories spotlighted families and friends who volunteered together to meet a community need, raise money for a local cause or add a volunteer activity to a social gathering.

Modern Woodmen members nationwide gather for good through local camps (chapters) and youth service clubs. The giveaway was launched to complement national efforts to bring people together to help others and meet needs in their local communities. Modern Woodmen sells financial products not to benefit stockholders, but to support its stakeholders members, their families and their communities. How? Through social, charitable and volunteer events where members gather.

Founded in 1883, Modern Woodmen of America touches lives and secures futures. The fraternal benefit society offers financial services and fraternal member benefits to individuals and families throughout the United States.

Investment in Storage Tank Maintenance Ensures System Reliability

Davenport, Iowa. (December 14, 2009) - Iowa American Water's elevated storage tank in Davenport is back in service today with a "new look" after maintenance work and re-painting of the facility's interior and exterior surfaces was completed last week. The one-and-a-half-million gallon tank, which is located near the intersection of Kimberly Road and Northwest Boulevard by North Park Mall, features Iowa American Water's new logo painted on one side and the City of Davenport's logo painted on the other side of the structure.

The tank was taken out of service and drained in August in preparation for the work which included preventative maintenance, painting and inspection services. The nearly $1.1 million project was completed on schedule last week.

Iowa American Water used an environmentally-friendly paint system on the inside of the tank. This high tech paint system has a very low volatile organic chemical (VOC) concentration compared to other paints typically used for this application. Low VOC paint is safer for the environment and the painters applying it.

"This work is necessary to extend the lives of our elevated storage tanks," said Randy Moore, president of Iowa American Water. "Water tanks serve a vital role in our water distribution systems by enabling consistent water pressure in customers' homes and businesses, providing adequate water supply during high demand periods and for fire protection."
Iowa American Water began re-filling the tank last week and put the facility back in service after water quality tests confirmed the water in the tank meets all federal and state quality standards. When completely full, there is 153 feet of water from the ground to the top of the tank.

The painting contractor for the project was American Suncraft Construction Company of Medway, Ohio and the inspection and engineering firm Tank Industry Consultants of Indianapolis, Indiana.

Iowa American Water, a wholly owned subsidiary of American Water (NYSE: AWK), is the largest investor-owned water utility in the state, providing high-quality and reliable water servicesto approximately 200,000 people. Founded in 1886, American Water is the largest investor-owned U.S. water and wastewater utility company. With headquarters in Voorhees, N.J., the company employs more than 7,000 dedicated professionals who provide drinking water, wastewater and other related services to approximately 15 million people in 32 states and Ontario, Canada. More information can be found by visiting