Three Iowa commissioners participated in the Education Commission of the States meeting in Denver. The theme of the conference was “Enlighten Equip Engage" and focused on civic education and job skills, big topic in Iowa and one on which I hosted a town hall meeting last month at Iowa Central Community College. Pictured are Representative Cindy Winckler (D-Davenport), I, and Josh Byrnes (R-Osage). The Education Commission of the States in an interstate compact. I am a member of the governnance committee, the steering committee.
The Iowa State University Turkish Travelers met at the home of Sue and Andy in Ames and enjoyed a marvelous Turkish food potluck dinner.
Fort Dodge advocates of a Sister State linkage with Korea met with Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds. The discussion included the desirability of the relationship and the process to achieve it. Much of the impetus is a result of CJ Bio America, a Korean company building a $320 million amino acid plant in Fort Dodge. Pictured: Iowa Central Community College vice president and former senator Jim Kersten, Fort Dodge city council member Kim Alstott, Gov. Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, I, CJ Bio America general affairs manager Luke Palmer, and ICCC international student adviser and modern language coordinator Patty Croonquist. The photo and portrait hanging in the governor's office are of Norman Borlaug, the Iowan who earned the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize for his work as "Father of the Green Revolution." He is credited with saving more lives than anyone in history. Iowa is a leader in international engagements and citizen diplomacy.
Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, Senate President Jack Kibbie, I and Iowa Central Community College President Dan Kinney sponsored a skilled jobs town hall meeting in Fort Dodge and invited local businesses and organizations to let us know what we (the Legislature and community colleges) can do help provide a skilled workforce for Iowa's businesses. I noted that Iowa doesn't have a workforce shortage. We have a SKILLED workforce shortage. I include adult literacy among the skills needed. Check out this news story: http://messengernews.net/page/content.detail/id/552965/Meeting-the-demand.html.
Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, Senate President Jack Kibbie, I and Iowa Central Community College President Dan Kinney sponsored a skilled jobs town hall meeting in Fort Dodge and invited local businesses and organizations to let us know what we (the Legislature and community colleges) can do help provide a skilled workforce for Iowa's businesses. I noted that Iowa doesn't have a workforce shortage. We have a SKILLED workforce shortage. I include adult literacy among the skills needed.
Senator Jack Kibbe, my longtime friend, mentor and colleague, surprised me by participating in the skilled workforce town hall meeting. He has retired and will be missed at the Statehouse this January.
Byron's in Pomeroy presents marvelous entertainment on Sunday nights. I love the acts he brings to the area. On a recent Sunday, Harper was featured. Harper is a composer, singer and didgeridoo player. Named Peter Harper, he was born and raised in England and spent several years in Australia, where he learned to play the didgeridoo. He and his Aussie bride, Bobbi, will soon be naturalized as United States citizens. The new, improved and expanded version of Harper will include Bobbi as vocalist and will perform again in Iowa in March. Talented and delightful folks, the Harpers.
Joan Augustine Ascherl, Ed Augustine's daughter, joined her father at the Highway 20 celebration, obviously proud of her dad and his efforts to complete Highway 20 from Dubuque to Sioux City.
Longtime Highway 20 advocate, Fort Dodge's own Buck Boekelman, is flanked by two other Highway 20 advocates and cheerleaders, Representative Helen Miller and I. Several years ago at a very hot, humid grand opening ceremony of a stretch of four-lane Highway 20 south of Fort Dodge, I was invited to speak. I threw out packages of M & M candy, to focus on completion of Highway 20 from Moorland to Moville. It stuck. Buck Boekelman continued to keep that M & M metaphor before the Department of Transportation when he lobbied at every meeting of the DOT. At the Early event, Buck was presented with a ceramic red giant M & M, filled with . . . yes, M & Ms, which Buck gave out to the assembled celebrants.
Longtime Highway 20 advocate, Fort Dodge's own Buck Boekelman, is flanked by two other Highway 20 advocates and cheerleaders, Representative Helen Miller and I. Several years ago at a very hot, humid grand opening ceremony of a stretch of four-lane Highway 20 south of Fort Dodge, I was invited to speak. I threw out packages of M & M candy, to focus on completion of Highway 20 from Moorland to Moville. It stuck. Buck Boekelman continued to keep that M & M metaphor before the Department of Transporation when he lobbied at every meeting of the DOT. At the Early event, Buck was presented with a ceramic red giant M & M, filled with . . . yes, M & Ms, which Buck gave out to the assembled celebrants.
It was windy but so much warmer than the opening of Highway 20 near Rockwell City a couple of years ago. Several people and a middle school band joined officials for the grand opening of the Highway 4 - Highway 71 24-mile stretch. Pictured with me are Ed Augustine who was a long time cheerleader and advocate for the four-lane Highway 20 project, former Senators Rod Halvorson (D-Fort Dodge) and Doug Shull (R-Indianola) and Rep. Dave Tjepkes (R-Gowrie).
Two former senators were on hand for the grand opening of Highway 20 from Iowa Highway 4 to U. S. Highway 71. Pictured are Rod Halvorson (D-Fort Dodge) and Doug Shull (R-Indianola). Doug had served on the Department of Transpiration Commission and we served together in the Senate and on the Transportation Committee. Rod served as state representative and state senator and was recognized at the event by Congressman Steve King for his leadership on the Highway 20 project. The "Access Iowa Highway" Act sponsored by Senators Steve Warnstadt (D-Sioux City), Steve Kettering (R-Lake View) and I, which mandates that four-lane highways connecting cities over 20,000 (Sioux City and Fort Dodge), was based on Rod's session law.
Two former senators were on hand for the grand opening of Highway 20 from Iowa Highway 4 to U. S. Highway 71. Pictured are Rod Halvorson (D-Fort Dodge) and Doug Shull (R-Indianola). Doug had served on the Department of Transporation Commission and we served together in the Senate and on the Transporation Committee. Rod served as state representative and state senator and was recognized at the event by Congressman Steve King for his leadership on the Highway 20 project. The "Access Iowa Highway" Act sponsored by Senators Steve Warnstad (D-Sioux City), Steve Kettering (R-Lake View) and I which mandates that four-lane highways connecting cities over 20,000 (Sioux City and Fort Dodge) was based on Rod's session law.
I was honored to receive the Governor Robert Ray Public Service Award from Iowa Sister States. The award was presented at the Fort Dodge Kiwanis Club meeting, of which I am a longtime member. Pictured with me are Sister States Executive Director Carol Grant, Sister States President Tom Rial and Assistant Director Kim Heideman. Check out this news story: http://messengernews.net/page/content.detail/id/552807/Beall-honored-for-diplomacy-efforts.html
I was honored to receive the Governor Robert Ray Public Service Award from Iowa Sister States. The award was presented at the Fort Dodge Kiwanis Club meeting, of which I am a longtime member. Pictured with me are Sister States Executive Director Carol Grant, Sister States President Tom Rial and Assistant Director Kim Heideman.
Buena Vista University in Storm Lake is my alma mater, where I earned my BA in history and political science. I always enjoy returning to campus and had the chance to do so November 20, as guest of the president, Dr. Frederick Moore. President Moore annually invites area legislators to campus for a breakfast with students who are able to attend college because of the Iowa Tuition Grant Program. I’m a strong supporter of these grants and was pleased to meet students who put a face on the program. More Iowa students of modest means attend Iowa's private colleges than regents institutions. Pictured are Mike Frantz, vice president for enrollment management, President Moore, I, students Makensie Brown and Michael Davis, Representative-elect Megan Hess (R-Spencer), Rep. Gary Worthan (R-Storm Lake) and Rep. Dan Huseman (R-Aurelia). Makensie is from Huxley and has a double major in Spanish and graphic design. Michael Davis, from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is majoring in health services leader
Pocahontas and Humboldt counties are in my new Senate District #5. I'm getting acquainted with the nice folks from those two counties. On Monday, I met with Le Roy and Ruth Simonson from Rolfe (in Pocahontas County) for coffee at Miller's Landing in Humboldt (in Humboldt County). We discussed a number of topics and solved most of the world's problems. Delightful folks, the Simonsons.
Newly elected Iowa Senate Pam Jochum of Dubuque with State Senator Daryl Beall of Fort Dodge.
In a memo to senators, caucus staff director Ron Parker admonished us to wear suits or business casual attire because a photo would be taken. He admonished us not to wear anything like Hawaiian shirts. Hey, tell me I can't do something and I'm inclined to do it just in spite. So several senators showed up in . . . you guessed it . . . Hawaiian shirts! Pictured are Senators Jack Hatch from Des Moines, Bob Dvorsky from Coralville, Tod Bowman from Maquoketa, I, caucus director Ron Parker, Joe Bolkcom from Iowa City and Steve Sodders from State Center.
The 150th anniversary of Trinity United Methodist Church provided a marvelous homecoming opportunity. The Rev. Dr. Bob Burkhart was our pastor at First United Methodist Church in Indianola when I was the newspaper editor and publisher there. He is now the administrative assistant to the bishop. Pictured to my left (reader's left) are Bishop Julius Calvin Trimble, my wife Jo Ann, and Pastor Bob Burkhart.
Bishop of the Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church, The Rev. Julius Calvin Trimble, delivered the sermon on Trinity's 150th birthday. His message was timely: "Encouraging One Another." He admonished his flock to "hold on, but press on!"
My church, Trinity United Methodist Church, celebrated its 150th anniversary on Sunday. I was asked to speak and present the congregation with a certificate of recognition from the Iowa Senate and an Iowa flag that had flown over the Capitol. I noted that in this time of partisan bickering, that the certificate had bipartisan support -- it was signed by both the Republican and Democratic leaders. I presented the flag and certificate to Dr. Gary Astor, lay leader. Bishop Julius Calvin Trimble is shown in the foreground.
Hannah met former Fort Dodge teacher and Iowa Lt. Governor Bob Anderson.
With a little elbow work, I helped Hannah meet the vice president. Her mother, Meg, says Hannah is very interested in politics and public service. Sweet young lady, Hannah!
I helped get eighth-grader Hannah Beshey into the Vice President Joe Biden event at the Opera House in Fort Dodge Thursday evening, and, of course, inducted her as an “honorary” senator. I encouraged her to be a Senate page as a high school junior or senior.
Michael Von Bank and I have been friends since he was quite small. He has walked with me in many a Frontier Day parades. He is a remarkable young man and friend. Actually I think he wants my job! I just hope he waits until I’m finished with it. In the interim, I hope he applies to be a Senate page as a high school junior or senior. I love having my constituents as pages. I’m their boss in the Senate chamber, but of course, they are MY boss back in my Senate district!
My Turkish-American friend Bulent Sengun and me at the Biden event.
Michael Von Bank got to meet Vice President Joe Biden. Pictured are the vice president, my wife Jo Ann and our good friend Sandy Wills.
Representative Helen Miller and I welcomed Vice President Joe Biden to Fort Dodge, our hometown.
I am pictured here at the Vice President's visit with warm-up speaker Dale Wells, national anthem soloist Ed Shimkat, the Rev. Pamela Thompkins, who delivered invocation, and Representative Helen Miller.
Democratic congressional candidate, former First Lady Christie Vilsack, spoke before Vice President Joe Biden to a packed house at the Opera House tonight, and joined the veep on stage. Christie and the vice president roused the crowd.
Last Saturday I hosted Dr. Linda Hagedorn (with whom I traveled to China last June and to Turkey last month setting up educational exchange programs), and several of her graduate students from China and Indonesia were my guests at the Capitol. They were delightful, curious and articulate – and very welcome in Iowa.
ISU international students at Capitol
I am pictured outside of the Capitol dome with Jiayi Hu, a doctoral student at Iowa State University. Jiayi graduated from Beijing Normal University in summer 2011. Dr. Linda Hagedorn and I visited there in June. Jiayi is preparing to be a higher education administrator.
Dennis Van Roekel, president of the 3.2-million member National Education Association (NEA), was in Fort Dodge Saturday campaigning for congressional candidate Christie Vilsack. For Denny, as I've known him for 45 years, it was a bit of a homecoming for this 1964 Manson High School graduate. Denny and I married high school and college best friends, Julie Jackson and Jo Ann Hasty respectively. Denny and I taught school at the same time -- he teaching math at Muscatine High School and I teaching political science at Urbandale High School. He went on to teach in the Phoenix, Arizona, schools for 23 years, before becoming NEA's secretary-treasurer and then vice president. I'm proud of Denny's "local boy done good" story and legacy and it was so good to chat with him briefly at the Old Opera House at the Fort-Museum. Pictured are Dennis Van Roekel, his sister, Joyce Zehr from Fort Dodge, Christie Vilsack, and I.
Lest you think my travels to Turkey, Macedonia and Kosovo were all work, let me assure you, dear reader, that I enjoy being your senator and love working with educators, veterans, business leaders and colleagues to promote peace and understanding, build business relations and markets for Iowa products. Frankly, I love getting to know folks who look different from the reflection in my own mirror. I also took time to play -- a one-day trip to Thessaloniki, Greece, where my major purchase was a $5 cup of Starbucks coffee. Three Macedonian friends joined me in my rented car for the three-hour drive to Thessaloniki (Paul's letter to the early Christians there is found in the New Testament book of Thessalonians). Pictured in front of the White Tower, the Thessaloniki icon, are Mimi Stennes, Neda Radosavlevik and her mother, Snezana Radosavlevik. This was my second visit to Turkey. I love Turkey -- secular and remarkably hospitable, as it was to early Christians, persecuted Jews and now Syria
Vevchani -- a little village with a big sense of humor! Nestled in the mountains of southeastern Macedonia lies Vevchani -- actually the Republic of Vevchani! Yes, during the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991, the folks of Vevchani reportedly held a referendum and declared their independence, adopted a coat of arms, printed currency and issued passports, one of which I purchased (#0191). Of course, it was all in jest. Inside the official-looking passport, is this note to reality, with customary Vevchani humor: "Valid in all states if you carry it in bag." Nevertheless, I had my Republic of Vevchani validated. I'm pictured here with Goce Radosavlevik, Neda's brother.
During my two-week-plus travels in Turkey, Macedonia, Kosovo and Greece, I visited several mosques and churches. Perhaps the spiritual highlight was my pilgrimage to the Bigorski Monastary and church of Saint John the Baptist. Originally founded in 1020 and renovated in the 19th century, this Orthodox church and monastary sit on the banksof the Radika River in southern Macedonia. Across the river, perhaps a mile away, stand two mosques with spiring minterettes. I lit a candle and prayed for peace among God's children, Muslim and Christian. It was a great honor to meet the abbot of the monastary, Archbishop Parthenios, who has led a major rennovation of the monastary, part of which was destroyed by fire a year ago. He blessed me and I asked God's continued blessings for him, his ministry and monastary.
I had hosted these Kosovar leaders at the Iowa Capitol six years ago and had a "homecoming" with them in Pristina. Dennis: Will you please identify these folks for me and tell me what program brought them to Iowa? Thanks. Daryl
A pleasant surprise awaited me when our Iowa State University delegation visited Gediz University in Izmir, Turkey. I had met Mehmet Caputcu a few years ago when he was a graduate student at Iowa State University and events coordinator for the Iowa Dialog Center, a Turkish-American friendship society and predecessor of the Niagara Foundation, sponsor of the trip to Turkey. Mehmet and his wife and new daughter returned to Turkey. It was so good to see my dear friend who is now a graduate assistant and civil engineering teacher at Gediz University while he is pursuing his doctoral degree.
I traveled to Turkey and the Balkans at my own expense, promoting Iowa State University and Iowa's community colleges to university leaders in Turkey, lecturing at South East Europe University in Tetovo, Macedonia, and meeting with U. S. Embassy personnel and the minister of the Kosovo Security Force and minister of education and veterans of the liberation army in Prestina, Kosovo. The 16 day mission was my second trip to Turkey and my first to the Balkans. May they not be my last!
Senator Beall of Fort Dodge has been added to Iowa Central Community College’s list of Distinguished Alumni. Beall is very proud to be an Iowa Central Alumni and is honored to receive this award. Senator Beall (Class of ’67) is shown giving the 2012 Iowa Central commencement address. Photo Credit: Paul DeCoursey, Iowa Central Community College
The National Gurard's Charles Dick Medal of Merit was presented to Iowa State Senator Daryl Beall during the 134th NGAUS General Conference. Pictured from left: Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala, the NGAUS chairman of the board, Beall and Col. Jay Hooper, the NGAUS award committee chairman. Photo credit: Cathleen Allison
As chair of the Iowa Senate Veterans Affairs Committtee, I was honored to be invited to speak at the inactivation ceremony of the 875th Adjutant General Company (Replacement). In my remarks, I rhetorically asked if an inactiviation ceremony is like a retirement party, a graduation ceremony, a homecoming celebration or a time of transition. The latter it is, as the Army Reserve explores a new unit and a new mission to replace the 875th. I noted that it's not a wake or funeral. Most of the 29 soldiers in the 875th will be transferred to other Army Reserve units. I enjoyed talking with Col. Gus Checketts, support operations officer for the 103rd Sustainment Command. Col. Checketts lives in Omaha.
The 875th has rich tradition in Fort Dodge. It was deployed in 1990 for the Desert Storm duty and twice after 9/11 in our war against terrorism. That marked the largest call-up of Iowa National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers since World War II. "Old soldiers never die, they just fade away." Like an old soldier, may the 875th simply fade away, not die. There is too big a legacy and too many memories for the men and women who served their nation at the 875th for the unit to die. It was a sad and sometimes tear-filled moment when the 875th flag was retired during the "casing of the colors" ceremony.
You meet the most interesting people at the Capitol! When I’m working on the Senate floor, I watch for visitors and often chat with them. Oeroek Hofstede from Groninger in The Netherlands, is riding his bicycle from Minneapolis the Atlanta and stopped en route in Des Moines. When “Oek” told me of his adventure, I introduced him to my friend and colleague, Senator Bill Dotzler (D-Waterloo), also an avid bicyclist who has participated in several RAGBRAI rides across Iowa, so they could talk cycleese.
I hosted a dozen young political leaders from Myanmar (formerly Burma) who were guests of the United States State Department, participants in the International Visitor Leadership Program. They were party leaders in the multi-party emerging democracy. I spent two and a half hours with them, covering our constitutional government, political heritage, legislative process, role of political parties, and press relations. They were marvelous, curious, delightful students. I am honored and privileged to in a very small way to contribute to the development and democracization of Myanmar.
Funmi Oyeneyin, a young barrister from London, visited the Capitol, while she was being hosted by Des Moines attorney Nick Critelli. She is studying comparative law between the United Kingdom and United States, the British common law compared to our constitutional law. I introduced her to Cathy Engel, an attorney and judiciary policy analyst on my caucus staff, so they could talk legalese.
Vice Governor Shen Xiaoping from Hebei, China, and a large delegation from Iowa’s Sister State participated in several events in Des Moines this week, including signing several memoranda of understanding with the governor, secretary of agriculture, Iowa State University and several companies and commodity groups. As chair of the legislature’s International Relations Committee, I was privileged to present the vice governor and his delegation with an Iowa flag I had flown over the Iowa Capitol in his honor. Pictured with me and the vice governor is Representative Jack Drake (R-Griswold), vice chair of the International Relations Committee.
Ms. Jenny Yang visited Iowa a year ago with her husband and daughter, who was then a participant in the Iowa Youth Leadership International program. Her daughter is now a medical student in China. Jenny acted as an interpreter for Mayor Bu and me. She is a member of the U.S. – China Agricultural Center. We all discussed Iowa’s farm exports, including corn, soybeans and pork. Daryl Bouwkamp, senior director of the international business development office for Vermeer Manufacturing in Pella, also spoke and noted Vermeer’s exports and manufacturing plant in China. Charles Wang, president of Ten Square International in West Des Moines, also spoke. China and Iowa are major trading partners. I am always looking for opportunities to expand Iowa’s exports. I am proud to chair the Iowa legislature’s International Relations Committee.
At the dinner at the Shogun, I spoke about citizen diplomacy and that we are all citizen ambassadors – Mayor Bu for the Hebei Province and China; I for the State of Iowa and for the United States. I presented him and his delegation an Iowa flag that I had had flown over the Iowa Capitol in their honor. I am proud of our motto, “Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain,” and feel it is a call to action, not just a slogan. I have visited the Hebei Province twice, but never Mayor Bu’s city of Langfang. The mayor admonished to be sure to include his city on my next trip. I promised that I would!
In my remarks and presentation to Mayor Bu and his delegation on behalf of the International Relations Committee and the people of Iowa, I held up a photo I had taken earlier this year of Vice President Xi Jinping, China’s next president, who had visited Iowa the first time back in the 80s as a lower-level bureaucrat from the Hebie Province. He fell in love with Iowa and Iowans and included Iowa in his three visits to the United States. California and Washington, D. C., were his other visits. I joked with Mayor Bu that he and Vice President Xi are about the same age and have similar faces – “both handsome,” I added.
Five Chinese agriculture specialists came to the Capitol after participating in the Farm Progress Show. The head of the delegation was Zhang Shihuang, head scientist and director of the National Maize R & D and is a member of the Chinese Academy of Agriculture Science. We discussed seed corn largely and other agricultural and economic development issues. Mr. Zhang became "President" Zhang in the Iowa Senate Chamber.
French guy Jacques
US Senator Tom Harkin held a meeting at the Uptown Cafe in Jefferson on Wednesday. He discussed the farm bill, Affordable Care Act, education and other issues. Pictured outside the Cafe are Michael Palmer, Jefferson city administrator, Senator Harkin, I and Jefferson Mayor Craig Berry. I’ve represented the people of Greene County for 10 years, but due to reapportionment following the census, I’m losing southern Webster County and Greene County, and picking up Humboldt and Pocahontas counties. I’ll continue to represent all of Calhoun County, Fort Dodge and northern Webster County. I’ve loved being the voice and advocate for my constituents in Greene County and have a special affection for the Uptown Cafe (people and food). Tom Harkin and I have been friends since 1971. In 1972, we shared the ticket. I ran for secretary of state and he waged his first campaign for the Congress. We were both defeated that year, but he came back in 1974 and has represented us ever since.
Two friends from the Niagara Foundation of Iowa joined me at President Obama's rally at Iowa State University on Tuesday. The Niagara Foundation is a Turkish-American/Muslim-Christian friendship organization that promotes secularism, democracy, tolerance and peace in Turkey and friendship between the United States and Turkey. I traveled to Turkey a few years ago through the Niagara Foundation (then the Iowa Dialog Center) and will travel again in October, with Bulent (Halid) Sengun (pictured to my right in this photo) as my guide and host. Halid liked the rally and the president and, as a naturalized U. S. citizen, registered to vote after the rally. He will cast his first vote in November for Barack Obama. Akmal Mirsadikov, to my left, is the program director for the Niagara Foundation of Iowa.
Mayor Bu Zewen stopped by the Capitol en route to the Farm Progress Show. He’s a delightful gentleman.
11-year-old Elizabeth Hildreth from rural Humboldt was selected to team up with "Joe," a leader-dog-in-training in a game of musical chairs.
"Snoopy," an eight-week-old puppy has just begun training at the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility as a freshman.
The Fort Dodge Correctional Facility held "Puppy Days" last Sunday. Eighty inmates train dogs that "graduate" to continue their training at the Leader Training facility in Michigan. The Fort Dodge-trained dogs have a 94 percent successful graduation rate from the Leader Training program in Michigan. The national average is 40 percent. I was very impressed with the program. Warden Jim McKinney told the audience of a few hundred, including lots of Lions Club members from the Midwest, that the program "turns around the lives" of inmates. "This program is about changing lives -- lives of the offenders and the lives of blind people." A circus atmosphere permeated the FDCF auditorium, with "Big Top" streamers and lots of prisoners dressed and acting as clowns. Inmates who train the dogs paraded with their "students."
I was asked to volunteer at the IDAction tent at the Iowa State Fair. IDAction (Iowans with Disabilities in Action) is a nonpartisan political and civic participation initiative of Iowa's Developmental Disabilities Council, an organization that advocates for an improved system of service and supports and respects individual and family choice, control and flexibility. This self-advocacy group presents their priorities to legislators during the legislative session. I have advocated with and on behalf of Iowans with disabilities. Among the people I met at the State Fair was Brandy McCauley from Des Moines, a delightful woman with exceptional communications and interpersonal skills and a whole lot of passion and effervescence. I encouraged her not only to help affect public policy but to help make it -- as an elected leader, perhaps a legislator. Brandy and I were joined by Rik Shannon, executive director of the Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council.
It was a family affair -- a Compos Family affair at the fair. Visiting the IDAction tent were Patricia Compos, granddaughter Abby Dimmer, I, Michael Compos and Nicholas Compos. I've know Nicholas' mother Mary, a Des Moines political and human rights activist, for several years. I have found that Iowans involved with and committed to diversity and opportunities for Iowans with disabilities are some great people. And now Abby, Michael and Brandy are all now honorary Iowa senators. That's my way of recognizing and honoring Iowa's leaders of today and tomorrow.
Several friends of Fort Dodge musician Dave Hearn trekked to the State Fair to hear his band, HipKnosis. Dave plays the keyboard and along with his fellow HipKnosis performers, vocal soloist Heather Kelly, and guitarist Eric Hovey and bass guitarist Kirk Kaufman, write what they perform. Dave plays the keyboards. Heather and several other members of the band are Fort Dodger.
Heather Kelly, Fort Dodge vocal soloist with the band HipKnosis, autographed a copy of their newest CD, "Darkest Dreams," for me.
Like every patriotic and loyal Iowan, I attended the Iowa State Fair. I love seeing and meeting Iowans having fun at the fair. At the Drake Univeristy booth I met Cara Setsodi from Van Meter, a freshman at Drake. Cara will major in education and hopes to teach in Iowa. I hope we can keep Cara in Iowa, but many future teachers who want to teach in Iowa find higher teacher salaries in other states, and many, because of high college loan debts, feel they must teacher where the money is better. Fortunately Cara won't graduate with high student debts like many of her contemporaries. She attends Drake free because her mother works in the Drake admissions office. I am proud to have earned my MPA -- Master of Public Administration -- degree from Drake University.
Admittedly, it's an unscientific poll, the WHO corn kernel votes, but that doesn't stop Iowans from casting their votes for their favorite presidential candidate. I am no exception and cast my vote for Barack Obama before the watchful eyes of WHO anchor and poltical reporter Dave Price. Another equally unscientific, but less intrusive poll was at the IDAction booth where visitors could pick up their favorite candidate's picture on a fan -- sort of a candidate-on-a-stick. I don't know which candidates won which polls. The most important poll, of course, is the one on the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November.
Another thing about the Iowa State Fair is the biggest and heaviest of this and that -- biggest boar, bigger bull and the biggest pumpkin. This giant 993-pound pumkin won top honors. It was gorwn by Dave Miller from Riverside.
Major Remzie Zeqiraj is the public relations officer for the Kosovo Security Force and was at work taking photos at the SPP conference at Camp Dodge. We have something in common. I was the PR guy at The Des Moines Register, the university relations director at Dakota Wesleyan University and marketing director at The (Fort Dodge) Messenger. Add our military and international relations interests and presto! Common interests gave us something to talk about. Like her colleagues, Major Zeqiraj is a committed soldier and delightful person.
We had a sort of graduation photo taken of the presenters and participants. The conference was well planned and orchestrated and very informative. It really whetted my appetite to visit Kosovo in October. Prestina, the capital, is relatively close to Skopje, Macedonia, where I will lecture at South East Europe University. I will travel at my own expense as a citizen ambassador representing Iowa and the United States, building friendships one person at a time.
Agim Ceku is the minister for the Kosovo Security Force (KSF).He has been the leader of the Social Democratic Party since 2008. He was prime minister of Kosovo from 2006 to 2008. As prime minister he participated in negotiations on Kosovo's status and developed intensive diplomatic activity, resulting in 91 countries now recognizing Kosovo's sovereignty and maintaining diplomatic relations. Kosovo is a member of teh International Monetary Fund (IMF) and is applying for NATO membership. He was an officer in Tito's Yogoslavian army and served with Serbian officers, the same officers he fought with during Kosovo's war for indvoependence. The former lt. general is a national hero both in Croatia and Kosovo. Minister Ceku is a charismatic and popular leader.
Besa Kabashi-Ramaj is the senior advisor to KSF Minister Agim Ceku. Knowing that I will visit Kosovo in October, she gave me a copy of a very informative book, "Why Kosovo Still Matters." Besa is expecting a baby to be born on December 9. I suggested she wait and deliver the baby on December 11 -- my birthday. I also hinted that Daryl is a good name. It's obvious she takes her job seriously, but I could tell she didn't take my naming suggestion seriously.
Professor Hajredin Kuci was sworn in as deputy prime minister in 2008 and as minister of justice in 2010. He is an active promoter of education and community development. As a college student he was engagedin Kosovo's movement for independence during the disintegration of Yugoslavia. He served as a negotiator between Kosovo and Servia. Young and dynamic, he is leading the Kosovo judiciary "rule of law" and professionalizing the judges and prosecutors, building fair and ethical courts. We are pictured with Iowa Adjutant General Tim Orr.
Not all the Kosovar participants and presenters were soldiers and diplomats. Indira Hoti is the executive director of Foundation for Healthy Mothers and Babies, an NGO (Non-Governmental Organization). She outlined health care in Kosovo and described some challenges facing her nation, including high infant and maternal mortality rates, tuberculosis, lack of medical facilities and equipment, only 15 percent of the population with health insurance, lack of government spending for health services and a shortage of pharmaceuticals. Some progress is being made, but many obstacles remain. Yet obstacles are often disguised opportunities. May it be so.
The Iowa National Guard has a special relationship with the Kosovo Security Force, the State Partnership Project. Iowa Adjutant General Tim Orr says he wants to expand the relationship to include the "whole of society," and include schools, businesses, courts and other public-private linkages. General Orr and other Iowa National Guard members held a three-day conference with several Kosovar ministers, generals and even some NGO (Non-Governmental Organizations) at Camp Dodge. Akan Ismaili is the Kosovo ambassador to the United States. He's young and dynamic and energetic and serves his country at the Republic of Kosovo Embassy in Washington, D.C. Immediately after the NATO bombing stopped in1999, Mr. Ismaili co-founded a non-profit internet project dedicated to promoting the use of information and communications technology as a tool to foster rebuilding and development in Kosovo. He is credited with bringing internet to Kosovo.
Grandma Beall celebrated her birthday while we were in Virginia. I won't tell you how old Jo Ann is, but she's now as old as I am and I am now eligilble for Medicare. Pictured are soon-to-be-one-year-old Luke Fredin, Jo Ann Beall, Christen Fredin, and Kim and Scott Beall. Seated, ready to consume the ice cream birthday cake are Lily Beall, Katen Fredin, Jace Beall and William Fredin.
My grandson Luke and Michael Groharing are nearly the same age and played well together, hopefully becoming friends just like their dads. Luke is the one with his arm on Michael's shoulder, probably asking for Michael's vote!
Longtime Fort Dodgers will remember our friends, Don and Nancy Groharing. Don was the manager at Walgreens. The Groharing kids, Kim, Jeff and Jason, grew up with my kids. In fact, Kim and my daughter Lori are still close friends. Scott and Jeff were and are friends. Jeff is a former Marine JAG and now prosecutes terrorists for the U. S. Department of Justice. He and his wife Mary Ann have two children, Jack and Michael. They invited us to their Arlington home and we all went to a lovely park along the Washington Parkway.
Grandma Beall celebrated her birthday while we were in Virginia. I won't tell you how old Jo Ann is, but she's now as old as I am and I am now eligible for Medicare. Pictured are soon-to-be-one-year-old Luke Fredin, Jo Ann Beall, Christen Fredin, and Kim and Scott Beall. Seated, ready to consume the ice cream birthday cake are Lily Beall, Katen Fredin, Jace Beall and William Fredin.
On the mall, we visited Vietnam and Korean and World War II memorials and the Smithsonian Institution. Pictured in the front row are Katen Fredin, Lily, Drew and Jace Beall, and William Fredin. Standing are Christen Fredin, Scott and Kim Beall, and I. Grandma Beall and Luke James Fredin stayed home and did not go sightseeing in the District of Columbia.
We had a big time in Washington, visiting many of the monuments and memorials, including the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. Pictured in the back row are Scott and Kim Beall (my son and daughter-in-law) and my daughter Christen Fredin. Grandkids are Drew, Jack and Lily Beall, and Katen and William Fredin.
My grandkids had the opportunity to meet their distant cousin, Abraham Lincoln, at Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. I am proud that the Great Emancipator and I are sixth cousins. My Grandfather Beall's grandmother and Nancy Hanks (Lincoln's mother) were first-cousins, so that means that Lincoln's grandparents were my great-great-great-great grandparents. And had I been around in 1860 I would have no doubt been a Republican! Pictured are Katen Fredin, 4, Drew and Jace Beall, 10, William Fredin, 2, and Lily Beall, 7. The Fredins live in Lorton, Virginia, and Bealls live in Slater, Iowa.
With Carmen Taylor of Montana and Valerie Weber of Nevada at an Education Commission of the States meeting in Atlanta.
At the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial in Taipei. Sun Yat-sen was the founder of modern China, transforming the dynasty system into a republic in 1912. He is viewed as the Father of Modern China in both the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan).
Sabine Chen, vice consul for the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Chicago was our delegation escort throughout our entire mission to Taiwan. She performed marvelously and we were amazed we were her first delegation -- she did such a good job "herding cats" as she accompanied and led us to numerous places, meeting with several officials. We all sang Sabine's praises for doing such a great job. She's pictured here aboard a boat at the lovely Lake Sun Moon.
We joined lots of Chinese families and honeymooners as tourists at the beautiful and romantic Lake Sun Moon, the largest fresh water body in Taiwan.
I love Chinese food and we tried a lot of exotic dishes, including the crab and "squid on a stick."
As a former commission on the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission and proponent of passenger rail in the Iowa legislature, I took particular in the Taipei Rapid Transit Corporation, which runs the subway system, and the Bureau of High Speed Rail in the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. We wrote the 300-kilometer-per-hour to Taichung, a distance of about 100 miles, which we reached in about 45 minutes from Taipei.
I had a lot of questions and points about high-speed passenger rail and mass transit, as a member of the Senate Transportation Committee and vice chair of the Transpiration and Infrastructure Appropriations Subcommittee. Pictured with me are Sabine Chen, Senator Arlan Meekhof, Deputy Director Benjamin Kang and Representative John Walsh.
Leading the discussion of rapid transit was Benjamin Kang, deputy director of the Taipei Rapid Transit Corporation. Mr. Kang received his degree in transportation planning from Iowa State University.
Midwestern legislators were briefed by representatives of the American Soybean Association and Taiwan Vegetable Oil Manufacturers Association.
Representative Helen Miller and I took particular interest in a presentation by the American Soybean Association in Taiwan. We were concerned by part of the briefing in which we learned that the Taiwanese are looking beyond the United States for soybeans because, we were told, with higher American yields, the protein content is reduced, making them less appealing. We plan to learn more about this situation because we most certainly want to continue to be a reliable supplier of quality soybeans.
At the Chaing Kai-shek Memorial in Taipei. Generalissimo Chaing was our ally during World War II but was ousted by the People's Liberation Army led by Mao Zedong (I learned it Mao Tse-tung) and moved teh nationalist government to the island of Taiwan (formerly Formosa).
The Straits Exchange Foundation was established in 1991 to build peaceful relations, not confrontation, with Mainland China. While the Nationalist Chinese still don't accept the "one-China" principal, they signed four agreements and are still negotiating with the Mainland China. Now there are 560 flights weekly between the two Chinas. From 1949 until 1987 there was no contact between the two. At the lovely new Straits headquarters, the Midwest legislators met with Taiwan officials and were briefed and engaged in discussion. Pictured on the American side of the table are Senator and Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R-Michigan), TECO Deputy Director General Sabine Chen, Representative Marcus Evans (D-Illinois), Representative Deb Berry (D-Waterloo, Iowa), Representative Camille Lilly (D-Illinois), I, Senator Joe Hune (R-Michigan), Representative David Winters (R-Illinois), Kuoyu Tung, deputy minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), Representative Helen Miller (D-Fort Dodge), Sen
One of the highlights of the mission's visit to Taipei was meeting with Ambassador Bruce J. D. Linghu, director general of the Department of North American Affairs, MOFA.
The Midwestern legislators are pictured at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
We visited the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial. Dr. Sun Yat-Sen is revered in both China and Taiwan as the National Father. He founded the Republic of China in 1912, ending centuries of rule by various dynasties.
I presented an original copy of the Senate Resolution I sponsored with Senator Nancy Boettger (R-Harlan), ranking member of the International Relations Committee, congratulating Taiwan for their involvement in international organizations and calling for their inclusion in more entities, including the World Health Organization and the Civil Aviation Organization to Guan-Ting Luo and Kuoyu Tung. The Republic of China (Taiwan) is a true democracy in Asia and is a major trading partner with Iowa and the United States.
Christina is a sophomore at the Affiliated Senior High School of National Taiwan Normal University and she personally guided a tour of her campus. She possesses exceptional English-speaking skills and interpersonal skills, effervescent and enthusiastic.
We visited students at the Affiliated Senior High School of National Taiwan Normal University. As a former teacher, I loved getting back into the classroom. These two 16-year-old sophomores led me on a tour of their school.
I attended the Pocahontas County Fair and met with several delightful people, including John Schott, who was representing the Corn Growers Association and Soybean Producers Association. I was recognized by both commodity groups because of my strong support of ethanol and biodiesel.
I had the distinct privilege of hosting both my American cousins and French visitors at the Capitol. Bruce and Mary Ann Schwering are my cousins who live in Nevada. They were hosting friends and former business partners from Beaufort-en-Vallee, France. Pictured in the majestic Law Library are Bruce and Mary Ann Schwering and Georges and Yvonne Fontaine. Delightful folks, the Fontaines and Schwerings!
Former Lt. Gov. Bob Anderson and several journalists from Belarus visited the Capitol and I was honored and pleased to host them. We discussed a free press in a free society. As a former journalist, I love meeting with journalists from other countries. I am fond of quoting Thomas Jefferson, "If I had to live in a country with a government but no newspapers, or with newspapers but no government, I was most certainly select the latter."
Governor Terry Branstad invited the Belarusian journalists to his office. He and Bob Anderson have something in common -- both were lt. governors. As a former government teacher, I love sharing the American political and governmental system with our guests. They include the three equal branches of government with checks and balances and our two-party system.
Former Lt. Gov. Bob Anderson and several journalists from Belarus visited the Capitol and I was honored and pleased to host them. We discussed a free press in a free society. As a former journalist, I love meeting with journalists from other countries. I am fond of quoting Thomas Jefferson, "Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter."
Talk about inspiring -- the keynote speaker at the Youth Leadership Forum and Iowa High Students with Disabilities was Donny Daughenbaugh, a Marine originally from Iowa, who was wounded in the Afghan/Iraqi War and still carries a bullet in his head. His disabilities include severe headaches and seizures, which are under control with medication. He gave a spirited and inspiring message to the students. Daughenbaugh now lives in Texas where he serves as the spokesperson for the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes, a group that supports disabled veterans. I placed a "Patriot Award" lapel pen on the Marine from the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, an organization in which I serve as a Military Liaison assigned to the 133rd Air National Guard Squadron in Fort Dodge. In that capacity I act as a volunteer civilian ombudsman for Guard members and their families and civilian employers.
I was pleased to host two Fort Dodge youth for the Youth Leadership Forum for Iowa High School Students with Disabilities, Jacob Amhof and Kyle McGriff. Both are Fort Dodge Senior High School graduates and are heading to Iowa Central Community College this fall. Later that evening at the Iowa Historical Building, I addressed Jacob and Kyle and a couple dozen of their counterparts from around Iowa. I spoke about leadership and self-advocacy. I hope my comments were inspiring because these two young men certainly inspired me.
The Daybreak Rotary Club in Fort Dodge invited me to be the speaker. I talked about the 2012 legislative session and the upcoming 2013 session. We had a lively dialog. Pictured are club president Carla Shimon, Gary Moore, program chair, and I. I am predisposed to say yes to speaking requests.
The Neimeryer girls were so excited to be in the Gowrie parade and loved the political process, so I invited them to the Capitol where I provided them with a tour of our majestic Capitol. Pictured here in the Senate gallery are Caia, Cadyn and Camrie Neimeryer. Folks, you're looking at future leaders here -- maybe a senator, governor or president!
Between the ECS conference and Atlanta airport, I visited the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Martin Luther King, Jr., National Historic Site, including Ebenezer Baptist Church, and the burial site of Rev. and Mrs. King. I struck up a conversation with a delightful lady, Frances Dickson from Cleveland, Ohio. She was very familiar with the King family, having grown up in the Atlanta neighborhood near Ebenezer Church, where Revs. Martin Luther King, Sr., and Martin Luther King, Jr., preached.
2010 National Teacher of the Year, Iowan Sarah Brown Wessling, Colorado Governor and ECS Chair John Hickenlooper, and Microsoft founder Bill Gates led an exciting and informative session. Wessling, posing a question to to Gates, is seen on the large screen. Gates also was a keynote speaker. I found it interesting that this tech-savvy gentleman did not use a Power Point presentation. In fact, there was no technology at all – just a simple straightforward oral presentation.
Sarah Brown Wessling, a Johnston High School English teacher, was prominent at the ECS “Innovation & Opportunity” National Forum on Education Policy. She was the 2010 National Teacher of the Year. I was so proud that a fellow Iowan was recognized as the National Teacher of the Year after earning Iowa Teacher of the Year honors.
Award-winning PBS commentator and education correspondent John Merrow, president of “Learning Matters,” spoke to the several State Teachers of the Year, including Iowan Charity Campbell. He also was the moderator of a session, “How Can America Regain its Competitive Edge,” which featured Dr. E. D. Hirsch, Jr., professor emeritus of education and humanities at the University of Virginia and founder of the Core Knowledge Foundation. It was an informative session that explored education and workforce issues, challenges currently facing states, and how America’s competitive edge can be restored. I am pictured with John Merrow and my fellow Iowa commissioner, Representative Josh Byrnes (R-Osage).
The Education Commission of the States (ECS), an interstate compact, held the National Forum on Education Policy recently in Atlanta, Georgia. I am proud to be a commissioner from Iowa and I also serve on the Steering Committee, the governance committee. The conference focused on improving public education in America. Keynote speakers were retired U. S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who is co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. I was pleased to meet 2012 Iowa Teacher of the Year, Charity Campbell, a physical education teacher at Norwalk Middle School. She is very impressive, teaching young people lifetime sports and healthy life styled.
Nevada Republican Governor Brian Sandoval will be the next ECS chair, replacing Colorado Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper. The chairmanship rotates from Republican to Democratic governors. Governor Sandoval is an impressive up-and-comer Hispanic governor whom I believe has a bright national political future. Frankly, I like him. I am also very fond of the current chair, Governor Hickenlooper. (Yes, former Iowa governor and U. S. senator Bourke Hickenlooper is his second cousin.) Governor Sandoval will be the fourth governor with whom I’ve served on the ECS – former Kansas Governor and current Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and former Minnesota Governor and Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty.
ECS President Roger Sampson and I met with Dr. E. D. Hirsch, Jr., professor emeritus of education and humanities at the University of Virginia and founder of the Core Knowledge Foundation. Dr. Hirsch was honored as the 2012 James Bryant Conant Award, education’s highest and most prestigious award.
It's good to get together with my children and their spousal units, here at a picnic following Luke's baptism in Minesota. Pictured are Christen Fredin, Lora Sink and Scott Beall.
It's good to get together with my children and their spousal units, here at a picnic following Luke's baptism in Minnesota. Pictured are Christen Fredin, Lora Sink and Scott Beall.
Luke was baptised at Hope Lutheran Church in Comfry, Minnesota, home church of his father, Major Paul Fredin, who is now in Qatar, Yemen and Saudi Arabia, is fourth tour of duty in that part of the world. My son and daughter-in-law, Scott and Kim Beall, are Luke's godparents. I am truly blessed with 11 grandchildren and their moms and dads.
Luke was baptized at Hope Lutheran Church in Comfry, Minnesota, home church of his father, Major Paul Fredin, who is now in Qatar, Yemen and Saudi Arabia, is fourth tour of duty in that part of the world. My son and daughter-in-law, Scott and Kim Beall, are Luke's godparents. I am truly blessed with 11 grandchildren and their moms and dads.
Independence Day was a busy day for me -- I was in three parades -- Gowrie, Otho and Humboldt. But I had some great help from old and new friends. Joining me in the Gowrie Fourth of July parade were Chris Neimeyer, Dick and Carmen Edwards, and Jackie Neimeyer, and decked out in their home-made patriotic outfits are Caia, 10, Camrie, 6, and Cadyn, 9, Neimeryer. Dick and I worked together at Sears in Des Moines when we were teachers and the Edwards family moved to Fort Dodge shortly after we did in 1974. Our kids grew up as cousins. The Neimeyers moved back to Iowa and love living in Norwalk. I've literally known Jackie since she was a little girl. She and Chris have a wonderful family. The girls are nice, courteous, well-behaved young ladies. Dick was the assistant principal at Fair Oaks Middle School, principal at Feelhaver Elementary School and at Fort Dodge Senior High School. Carmen was the school secretary. They now live in Laughlin, Nevada, and recently retired. I'm trying to pers
Independence Day was busy for me. I was in three parades: Gowrie, Otho and Humboldt. I had great help from old and new friends. Joining me in the Gowrie parade were Chris Neimeyer, Dick and Carmen Edwards, and Jackie Neimeyer, and decked out in home-made patriotic outfits are Caia, 10, Camrie, 6, and Cadyn, 9, Niemeyer. Dick and I worked together at Sears in Des Moines when we were teachers. The Edwards family moved to Fort Dodge shortly after we did in 1974. Our kids grew up as cousins. The Neimeyers moved back to Iowa and love living in Norwalk. I've known Jackie since she was little. She and Chris have a wonderful family. The girls are courteous, well-behaved young ladies. Dick was assistant principal at Fair Oaks Middle School, principal at Feelhaver Elementary and at Fort Dodge Senior High. Carmen was the school secretary. They now live in Laughlin, Nevada, and recently retired. I'm trying to persuade them to move back to Iowa, as all three of their kids live in Iowa and Omaha.
Saranya Sai, a university student from India, visited her aunt and uncle Sarmila and Ramanujam Paravastu, in Des Moines and all came to the Capitol. I invited them to the Senate Chamber after their Capitol tour and I was pleased they joined me. Saranya is a remarkable young woman and I predict a bright political future for her in India.
I was asked by the Iowa Chinese Association to host three Chinese students at the Capitol, and having just spent 10 days in China, I was happy to oblige. They were eager to learn about the Iowa legislative process and the American political system. I also provided them with a tour of our majestic Capitol. Pictured in the Senate Chamber are Anan He, I, Jiahui Li and Emma Ma. Anan and Jiahui are from Beijing and currently study at the University of Dayton (Ohio) and the University of Indiana respectively. Emma is a graduate student at Drake University working on her Master of Public Administration degree. We've that in common -- I earned my MPA from Drake.
Iowa's Adjutant General Timothy Orr joined Commander Spencer, Senator Harkin and me after the veterans parade.
I was honored to participate in the veterans appreciation homecoming parade in Des Moines, and joined several public officials and veterans on the reviewing stand. Pictured here are Commander Larry Spencer, U. S. Senator Tom Harkin, and Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie. Commander Spencer was shot down over North Vietnam and was captured and spent seven years at the infamous "Hanoi Hilton," February 1966 - February 1973. He was Iowa's longest-serving POW. Senator Harkin was a Navy pilot during the Vietnam period.
Des Moines Area Community College President Rob Denson drove an 18-wheeler in the veterans parade. Iowa's community colleges work closely with returning veterans to provide a skilled work force for Iowa's businesses and employers. Community colleges readily meet the needs of Iowa's employers, be they truck drivers, welders, nurses, technicians and other skills required. I shouted at Rob, "Do you have a license to drive that rig?" The answer: Yes, he does!
Hundreds of Iowans responded to the most massive military call-up since World War II, and many were joined by their families in the parade that paid tribute to the veterans -- and those left at home, who also sacrificed greatly.
The Hoover Jr. ROTC unit carried an unfurled 30' X 40' American flag in the veterans parade. What an inspiring sight!
Nine-month-old Luke James Fredin enjoyed swinging at Oleson Park in Fort Dodge. He will be baptized this Sunday in Minnesota.
My daughter Christen, son-in-law Paul, and grandchildren Katen, William and Luke James came to Grandpa and Grandma's house for a few days. We are pictured walking along the Fort Dodge nature trail close to our home. Oh, add my granddog Phoebe to the list of visitors. Paul is a major in the United States Air Force and works at the Pentagon. He will deploy this month for his fourth tour of duty in the Iraq-Afghanistan war.
I was the speaker at the Fort Dodge Rotary Club and provided an overview of the 2012 legislative session. I am pictured here with Steve Hoesel, Rotary Club president.
Reg and Oznur Pecen were recognized at a going-away party at the University of Northern Iowa where Reg is a professor of industrial technology. He has been named to be the president of a university in Houston, Texas. I will great miss my Turkish-American friends. They were my guides and hosts a few years ago in Turkey, on a trip organzied by the Iowa Dialog Center, a Turkish-American, Muslim-Christian friendship group. May our paths cross again, Reg and Oznur, Inshallah.
Longtime Fort Dodgers will remember my friends Dick and Carmen Edwards. Dick and I worked together at the Merle Hay Sears credit department when we were teaching in the Des Moines area. To our surprise, they moved to Fort Dodge a month after we moved back to Fort Dodge. Dick was assistant principal at South Junior High School (now Fair Oaks Middle School) and then principal at Fort Dodge Senior High School. Our kids grew up together and are like cousins. The Edwards moved to Yuma, Arizona, after Dick earned his Ph.D. from Iowa State. For the last several years, Dick was principal at Laughlin (Nevada) High School, and Carmen was the secretary at the Laughlin Elementary School. Both are now retired. Their children have all stayed or migrated back to the Midwest, two in Iowa and one in Omaha. It was good to have Dick and Carmen, Forever Friends, visit us for a few days (mutual friend Sandy Wills also joined us). They will be back over the Fourth of July. Welcome home, Carmen and Dick!
Longtime Fort Dodgers will remember my longtime friends, Dick and Carmen Edwards. Dick and I worked together at the Merle Hay Sears credit department when we were teaching in the Des Moines area. To our surprise, they moved to Fort Dodge a month after we moved back to Fort Dodge. Dick was the assistant principal at South Junior High School (now Fair Oaks Middle School) and then was named principal at Fort Dodge Senior High School. Our kids grew up together and are like cousins. The Edwards moved to Yuma, Arizona, after Dick earned his Ph.D. from Iowa State University. For the last several years Dick was principal at Laughlin (Nevada) High School and Carmen was the secretary at the Laughlin Elementary School. Both are now retired. Their three adult children have all stayed or migrated back to the Midwest, two in Iowa and one in Omaha. It was good to have Dick and Carmen, Forever Friends, visit us for a few days (mutual friend Sandy Wills also joined us). They will be back over the Fourt
I knew I was in China when I visited the Great Wall, built centuries before Columbus discovered America. I am amazed by how young the United States is and how old China is. I love the juxtapositions of the old and the new – a centuries-old pagoda next to a modern skyscraper.
Dr. Li Yonghui, dean of the School of International Relations and Diplomacy at Beijing Foreign Studies University, welcomed Dr. Linda Hagedorn, associate dean of undergraduate and international programs and professor in the Human Sciences at Iowa State University, and her assistant, ISU doctoral student Hu Jiayi, and me to the remarkable institution that teaches 32 languages, including Icelandic and Swahili and prepares students for international careers. We are exploring exchange programs. I was invited to lecture on the American political experience. Jiayi superbly orchestrated a lot of the logistics for the trip, having earned her undergraduate degree there. Pictured are Dr. Li, I, Dr. Hagedorn, and Dr.-to-be Hu.
I presented an Iowa senator’s pin and inducted him as an honorary Iowa senator, whereupon he gave me his university pin and named me an honorary Beijing Foreign Studies University professor. I later practiced my trade with 50 or 60 graduate students, presenting a lecture on the American political experience.
Dr. Hagedorn and I presented Dr. Li Iowa gifts, including an ISU Cyclones flag.
Friends, old and new. Joining Dr. Hagedorn, Cindy Chen, Hu Jiayi and me for dinner in Beijing were Yu Lan (Linda) and her aunt, Liu Jun. I met Liu Jun three years ago at the International Youth Leadership summit in Beijing. I believe international friendship and global understanding start with people-to-people, citizen diplomat friendships.
At the Great Wall, I met Aisin-Gioro Yuming, the youngest nephew of the last emperor of China, Emperor Puyi. Yuming is a master calligrapher and I watched him create a work of art for my wall, entitled “Happy Family,” which I purchased.
Cindy Chen and I met with Hebei education and university leaders to explore secondary and post-secondary student and teacher exchanges between Iowa and Hebei. I’m confident that such exchanges will take place soon. At the table were representatives of Hebei Normal University, Hebei University of Economics and Business and Hebei University of Science and Technology.
More “Ping Pong Diplomacy”? Sports and other forms of people-to-people citizen diplomacy often augment and even precede government-to-government relations. We discussed ping pong competition between Chinese youth and Iowa youth. Pictured at the Hebei Zhengding National Table Tennis Training Base are Cindy Chen, the 80-year-old director of the training facility, I and Zhang Zhijun. The Chinese take ping pong seriously, having won38 world championships and 15 Olympic gold medals.
Hebei Province is Iowa’s Sister State and its capital, Shijizhuang, is Des Moines’ Sister City. The relationships don’t stop there. Personal relations have grown too, after a number of exchanges. I’m shown here with my friend Zhang Zhijun (John) who works for the Hebei Provincial People’s Congress Foreign Relations Committee, and his son, Zhang Qisheng (Tony), who will be a freshman student at Drake University this fall, majoring in actuarial science. I told Tony and his father that I would be his surrogate American dad and I expected him to be in early every night or else! We are pictured at Longxing Temple, a Buddhist temple built in 586 A.D., located in historic Zhengding, near Hebei.
An old friend, Ya Jun, foreign relations director for the Jiangsu, was a perfect host for Cindy Chen and me in Nanjing. We’ve hosted each other in our respective capitals and have become friends as well as colleagues.
Cindy Chen from Des Moines and I met with Jiangsu Provincial People’s Congress and education officials in Nanjing, setting up student and teacher exchanges between Iowa and Jiangsu.
I presented an overview of healthcare in the United States at the Traditional Chinese Medicine Symposium in Nanchang. The theme of the conference was natural, harmonious and quality healthcare based on the centuries-old Chinese model. I remain skeptical of much of Eastern medicine, but know for a fact that acupuncture can be an effective analgesic. We suggested that Eastern and Western health professionals learn from each other in my “East Meets West” presentation.
I met two delightful and fascinating gentlemen at the Traditional Chinese Medicine Symposium and we spent a lot of time together, becoming best buds. I’m pictured here with fellow presenters Russian philosophy professor and president of the Russian Philosophical Association Dr. Alexander Chumakov and French Ambassador Jean-Daniel Tordjman.
World Health Organization (WHO) representative Michael O’Leary gave the United Nations’ WHO stamp of approval for TCM – Traditional Chinese Medicine. Dr. O’Leary is from Brainerd, Minnesota, and earned his M.D. degree from the University of Minnesota. He works in vaccine-preventable diseases, including HIV, TB, typhoid and other infectious diseases in Asia. Standing between Dr. O’Leary and me is Nobel laureate Robert Mundell.
The Three Musketeers, I, Professor Alexander Chumakov and Ambassador Jean-Daniel Tordjman were joined by Tennessee author and entrepreneur Shawn Mathis and our attentive hosts. Pictured are I, Zeng Chu Hong, Professor Alexander Chumakov, unidentified host, Shawn Mathis, unidentified host, and Ambassador Jean-Daniel Tordjman. Shawn Mathis wrote, “Republic of Nurses,” and is the CEO of companies that work to alleviate the international nurses shortage.
I met Isabella Tong three years ago when I was the keynote speaker at the World Youth Leadership Summit in Beijing. She works for the World Cultural Forum and is Professor Mundell’s assistant. We are seated in the chairs that Chiang Kai-Shek and Madame Chiang sat in Lusan (Mount Lu). Interestingly the house was later home for Chairman Mao Zedong. In fact, the leader of the Republic of China and the leader of the People’s Liberation Army, actually met there during World War II in their mutual war against the occupying Japanese. Of course the two resumed their internal fight for control of China after the allied forces defeated Japan.
Columbia University Professor Robert Mundell, 1999 Nobel Prize in economic recipient, helped organize the Traditional Chinese Medicine Symposium and invited me to participate. Dr. Mundell is a supply-side economist and is recognized as the “Father of the Euro.”
I was greeted in Nanchang by a floral tribute and cheers from student volunteers at the Jiangxi University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and the sounds of shutters, as if the paparazzi thought a celebrity had just arrived. Each presenter had the attentive host, Zeng Chu Hong, whom I dubbed, “Girl Friday” because we met on Friday and she was my constant helper. Chu Hong is 20 and is a sophomore, just like my granddaughter Lydia. Both Chu Hong and Lydia are charming, pretty, smart and nice.
Joining Mr. Kim and me for dinner was Jisoo Lee, who works for a member of the Korean National Assembly. I had met JiSoo three years ago when she was a student at the University of Iowa and completed an internship with the Iowa Senate Democratic Caucus.
CJ Bio America’s Peter Kim took me to the Demilitarized Zone where South Korea meets North Korea. Together, we rang the peace and reunification bell on the 38th Parallel.
In the CJ Bio America corporate office, I presented an Iowa flag that had flown over the Iowa Capitol to my gracious hosts, Peter Kim, production vice president who will be the operations manager at the Fort Dodge facility, Jung Tak Nam, president and CEO, who will preside over the Fort Dodge operation, and Lim Seung Ho, senior vice president.
Ji Soo Lee was a marvelous and hospitable host in Seoul and took me on a cruise on the Han River. In the background is the 299-member National Assembly where she works and where we toured.
Several Korean 4-H members wanted to interview me and have their picture taken with me at the Gyeonghuigung Palace in Seoul. I found many Korean and Chinese young people wanted to engage me, as an American, and to practice their English skills. I love meeting with youth from around the world.
I was privileged to host 54 Duncombe elementary fourth-graders at their Capitol this week. They were accompanied by teachers Ruth Hanson and Sara Meyer, counselor Kristy Smith, principal Pat Reding and some moms and dads. I explained the legislative process and the system of checks and balances. Mr. Reding served as the Senate "president" in the well. My constituents are always welcome at the Statehouse.
My grandson, Christopher Sink, graduated from Columbus Catholic High School in Waterloo last Sunday. Chris will join his sister, Lydia, at the University of Northern Iowa. Pictured are Grandma Jo Ann Beall, Dad Steve Sink, Paul Sink, Theodore Sink, Lydia Sink, Christopher Sink, Joseph Sink, and Grandpa Beall. Christopher graduated with academic and athletic honors, attributable to his maternal grandmother's good gene pool!
Former state senator and current vice president at Iowa Central Community College Jim Kersten orchestrated the tribute to Jack Kibbie.
I've known Jack since 1965 when he was serving his first term in the Iowa Senate and wrote the legislation creating Iowa's community college system. He is highly regarded for his vision and is known as the "father of Iowa's community colleges."
I was the emcee for a tribute to retiring Senate President Jack Kibbie at Iowa Central Community College's Willow Ridge last week. Iowa Central President Dan Kinney presented Jack with an honorary Associate of Arts in "Real World Politics." I will really miss Jack as my mentor and colleague.
My 10-year-old identical twin grandsons participated in the musical program at Ballard High School in Huxley. Drew is pictured on the extreme right and Jace fourth from the right in the striped shirt. They put on quite a show, but I claim no genetic credit for their musical talent.
At the CJ Bio America groundbreaking ceremony I met a delightful Fort Dodge Korean-American, Ok Ja Kim, who demonstrated several products. Ok Ja is a pharmacy technician at Hy-Vee Pharmacy. Her husband, Don Fredregill, is a pharmacist at Hy-Vee Pharmacy.
On hand for the groundbreaking ceremony were several CJ CheilJedang officials who are pictured with Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and I. Standing between Bill and me are Jung Tak Nam, president and CEO, and Seung Ho Lim, senior vice president for BIO Technical Application Control Center. I will meet with Mr. Nam in Seoul on June 4 where I will pledge my support and assistance for the company locating in Fort Dodge.
A big event in the history of Fort Dodge is the building of a $330 million amino acid facility owned by a Korean firm, CJ CheilJedang, doing business as CJ Bio America. At the groundbreaking ceremony I found a familiar face, that of Dallas Tonsager, under secretary for Rural Development at the U. S. Department of Agriculture. We lived in Huron, South Dakota, at the same time his son and my daughter went to school together. Small world!
I love and respect Governor Robert D. Ray. He, more than anyone else, is responsible for the diversity in Iowa -- he literally and figuratively changed the face of Iowa. He welcomed the so-called Boat People, the people of Southeast Asian, to Iowa and encouraged Iowans to open our homes and our hearts to the people of Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand. I recall that when I was a member of the Fort Dodge school board in the early 80s, that we created a program to help assimilate these Asian people by providing English-as-a-second-language classes. We dropped the program after two years because the immigrant kids were doing better than our home-grown kids were doing! Today, it's as common for the high school valedictorian to be named "Nguyen" as it is "Smith." Ruth Cooperrider, the Citizens’ Aide/Ombudsman, is pictured here with me and Gov. Ray.
At the tenth annual CelebrAsian celebration at the Capitol recently, I met a 12-year-old Filipino-American author who had just published her first book at American Revolutionary War 16-year-old heroine Sybil Ludington, "Sybil's Ride of Courage. Her name is Jade Miller, a delightful young lady. Gee, I am a writer, but have not published a book yet. But Jade is already a published author!
Representative Anesa Kajtavzovic and I made presentations to consuls general and other business and diplomatic officials at the IowAsian Business Summit recently in West Des Moines on behalf of the Iowa General Assembly's International Relations Committee. We are shown here presenting a legislative certificate proclaiming Sunyoung Chang, Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency global business director, a distinguished guest of the people of Iowa.
Many Fort Dodgers will remember Kim Hinkle, State Farm Insurance area manager. She moved a few months ago. I was pleased to meet her brother, Don Nguyen, a West Des Moines attorney, at the recent IowAsian Business Summit.
Four of my Democratic colleagues are retiring after a combined total of 78 years in the Iowa General Assembly. We will most assuredly miss their institutional knowledge, leadership, service and vision. Pictured with me on the Senate floor are Senate President Jack Kibbie (Emmetsburg), Senator Tom Hancock (Epworth), and (back row) Senators Tom Rielly (Oskaloosa) and Gene Fraise (Fort Madison).
We always know that the last day of the legislative session has arrived when Eric Bakker wears his loud, obnoxious green and yellow floral jacket. Eric is the administrative assistant to the Senate majority leader, Mike Gronstal.
There was a break during the last day of the session, so two of my colleagues and I walked in the fresh air and sunshine to the Iowa State Historical Building. We enjoyed the new exhibit, “Iowa and the Civil War – Nothing but Victory.” Iowa and Iowans paid dearly in lives and casualties during the Civil War. I encourage all Iowans to visit the Civil War exhibit. Pictured with me are Senators Pam Jochum from Dubuque and Herman Quirmbach from Ames.
Here, atop the Iowa State Historical Building overlooking the majestic Capitol are Professor Viktoriia Leviakova and I. It was a pleasant surprise to run into my Russian friends at Baratta’s Restaurant at the Historical Building.
I was honored and humbled to be invited to deliver the 45th annual commencement exercises at Iowa Central Community College. My address was entitled, “A Call to Action” and I encouraged the graduates to apply their education, talents and training in service to others. I cited a word I learned from my friend, Herb Jonas, with whom I served on the Fort Dodge school board. Herb taught me about his Jewish faith – and my Christian faith. There is no Hebrew word for “charity,” but “tsedakah” comes close. It simply means doing the right thing simply because it is the right thing, with no expectations or mandates. The graduates had participated in numerous service learning and servant leadership activities that I used to illustrate that altruism is not only a moral imperative, but is also fun. Iowa Central Community College student senate president Dominic Vilmain eloquently spoke at the commencement exercises. Dominic had visited his Capitol where I hosted him and other Iowa Cen
What a sight! Looking out over all those Iowa Central blue mortar boards was exilarating and inspiring.
As a product of Iowa Central Community College, I was proud to be introduced by President Dan Kinney. I love the color and pageantry of academia at events such as commencement, which, as the name suggests is not the end, but just the beginning.
During downtimes and on days when I’m at the Capitol when we’re not in session, I often greet visitors, including school groups, as well as people on tours. I welcomed and spoke to a group who were at the Capitol with the University of Iowa Center on Aging. As the chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, I was pleased when six gentlemen responded when I asked if any were veterans. I presented each with a “Patriot Award” pin from the Employers Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) of which I am a civilian volunteer Military Liaison. This group includes Jerry Derby, Navy, Vietnam, from Des Moines; Dave Hamilton, Air Force, WWII, from Des Moines; Bill Byington, Navy, WWII, of Iowa City; Jim Ross, Marine, Vietnam, of Iowa City; Walt Johnson, Navy, WWII, from Des Moines; and Ken Langer, Army, WW II, from Des Moines.
Rick Morain, editor and publisher of the Jefferson Herald, and I were presented pens Governor Branstad used to sign SF430 that creates the Iowa Public Information Board. As a former newspaper editor and publisher, I strongly supported the legislation. I was also a member of the original interim study committee that recommended strong open meetings/public records and an enforcement board in 2008. Rick is an active member of the Iowa Newspaper Association as was I in the 1980s and early 90s.
My namesake and grandson, Theodore Beall Sink, played the role of the little boy who cried wolf too often in a musical at his middle school, Saint Patrick in Cedar Falls. The play was entitled, "The Trial of the Big Bad Wolf." "Theo Beo" was in-character all evening, and I think he was ad-libbing and hamming it up just a bit. It was fun. Pictured are I, Theo, Sister Mary Lou Irons, principal at Saint Patrick, and Joseph Sink, Theo's younger brother.
I had the privilege of hosting six students from the University of Saint Petersburg in Russia last week at the Capitol and then ran in to them again this week at the Historical Building. They are eager students wanting to learn more about the American political system and the Iowa legislative process. Pictured are (seated) Marina Rekun, Professor Viktoriia Leviakova, and Kesenia Pirogova, and (standing) Danil Parkhachev, Darla Panova, Alexander Golubev and Sofia Venedyapina and I.
I hosted a family that is global and international, with members close at home and abroad. The amazing family is like a mini-United Nations. Pictured in the Senate well are Pat McNulty, a Des Moines attorney formerly from Jefferson in my Senate district, Mary Ann Kundrat, Sara Smith in the president's chair, I, Miriam Coradazzi Smith, Sofia Smith and Bill Smith. The Smiths live in Steenbergen, Netherlands.
“Pulling Together” is the name of the sculpture in front of the Plumbers and Steamfitters union hall. Sculptor John Brommel, a retired Union 33 member, fabricated it from stainless steel. He is the noted sculptor who created the “Letter Boy” in the Pappajohn Gardens in downtown Des Moines. Pictured are Andy Roberts, Local 33 business manager, I, Senator Jochum, Nick Cerrato, business representative, and Jason Shanks, training director.
We observed some of the extensive and intensive training taking place at the Plumbers and Steamfitters Local Union 33 facility. Here, welding instructor Jeremy Lindquist, welds aluminum. Safety requirements are strictly enforced. They let me watch but not touch! Jeremy welded a perfect union.
Senator Pam Jochum (D-Dubuque) and I toured the impressive facility at the Plumbers and Steamfitters Local Union 33 in Des Moines on Wednesday. Nearly one dollar of each union member’s hourly salary helps fund the comprehensive training program, including various types of welding, foreman training, OSHA policies, and every imaginable installation from medical gas for hospitals, to commercial and residential plumbing, air conditioning, heating and ventilation. A newer training component is the installation of solar panels. Pam and I were overwhelmed by the sophisticated training and all the knowledge and skills required by journeyman plumbers and steamfitters. Senator Jochum and I are pictured with the mobile welding training unit – a sort of classroom on wheels – where welders are trained and tested for competency and certification.
More than 40 Manson-Northwest Webster fourth-graders visited their Capitol on April 30, and met with me in the Senate Chamber. They are members of Jodi Jacobsen's and Elaine Merritt's classes. I explained the legislative process, the separation of powers and the check and balance systems, and encouraged the young people to consider becoming Senate pages when they're high school juniors and seniors.
Manson-Northwest Webster fourth-grader Kolton Ricklefs joined me in the Senate President's chair when he visited the Capitol with his school class. Kolton is the son of Keith and Jodi Ricklefs from Knierim. I’ve worked with Jodi on Alzheimer’s Disease policies and fund-raisers. Kolton is a very nice young man.
Senate President Jack Kibbie was not in the chamber on Monday, so I was asked to preside. It was the shortest session in history! I gaveled in, and called upon "the senator from Potawatomi County" (Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal). He said, "Mr. President, I move that we adjourn until tomorrow at 9 a.m." That was it! Over and done with in less than a minute. But it was nevertheless an honor for me to wield the gavel normally reserved for my friend and mentor, Jack Kibbie.
About 75 friends paid tribute to Senate President Jack Kibbie in Storm Lake on April 28. He’ll retire at the end of the 2012 session after serving in the legislature 30 years. He was first elected to the Iowa House in 1960, then to the Senate in 1964. During that four-year Senate term, he authored legislation creating the Iowa community college system. He is recognized as the “father of Iowa’s community colleges.” Sen. Kibbie is also recognized as a champion of renewable energy, including wind, ethanol and biodiesel. He’s a noted authority on IPERS (the Iowa Public Employees Retirement System) and veterans’ affairs, as a Bronze Star recipient and Korean War tank commander. We thank Sen. Kibbie for his leadership, vision and service! Pictured, from left: Tom Harrington, Ames, chair of the 4th District Democrats; congressional candidate and former First Lady Christie Vilsack, Ames; Rep. John Wittneben (D-Estherville); I; Sen. Herman Quirmbach (D-Ames); Sen. Kibbie (D-Emmetsbu
I love our majestic Capitol! Members of the Des Moines Camera Club pictured outside the dome. I’m the chubby guy in the yellow sweater waving.
You can always tell the end of the legislative session is drawing near when the Senate pages decorate boxes for senators to pack up their belongings for the interim. The pages get quite creative with some of the boxes. Pages decorated my box with several faces, indicating the diversity and foreign visitors I host at the Capitol. It also contains two of my favorite quotes, “If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it all wrong,” and “Politics is glamorous and exciting.” I remind them of the latter when their duties are boring and routine. They also wrote “You’re an honorary senator,” something I say as I pin and proclaim Capitol visitors, including the pages, honorary senators. The pages are great young people and make lifetime friends during their duties at the Capitol. Pictured are Rachel Mortimer, Carlisle, Peggy Osmundson, Volga, I, Shannon Goes, Ankeny, and Mackenzie Bills, Altoona. Katie Jaeschke, Gowrie, was not at the Capitol on Tuesday when the picture was taken
The Marine Corps League is well served by Elaine Hansch from Fort Dodge. She is an active member of the Marine Corps League Auxiliary and is found working hard at many veterans events and activities, including the Marine Corps League steak fry at the VFW last Sunday. She’s a great friend of veterans – and me.
Gerri McCurdy has lived a life in law enforcement, and after his retirement from the Iowa State Patrol in 2009, is still in law enforcement – as a Capitol cop. McCurdy graduated from Rockwell City High School in 1971 and joined the U.S. Air Force and served as a security police officer in South Dakota and Alaska from 1973 until 1977. He returned to Rockwell City and joined the police department and then served as police chief from 1979 until 1987. He served in the Iowa State Patrol in the Cherokee and Fort Dodge districts as a senior trooper from 1987 until 2009. He was president of the Iowa State Troopers Association from 1995 to 2009. His public service wasn’t limited to law enforcement. He served on the Rockwell City city council from 1998 until 2009, and served as mayor pro tem from 1999 to 2009. He and his wife Jane moved to Ankeny, where she works at the Ankeny Medical Clinic. Their sons Kasey and Kory both live in Ankeny along with Kasey’s wife, Mandy, and their son, Cavan
I hosted several members of the Des Moines Camera Club at the Capitol and we trekked to the top of the dome. Pictured (from left) are: Tom Cameron, Deb Bates, Joleen Stephenson, Traci L Pilcher-Webb, Daniel Moran, and I.
I was honored to make brief comments and present certificates of gratitude to four retiring members of the Iowa Board of Medicine last week. Pictured are Analisa Haberman, D.O., from Mason City, retiring chair Siroos Shirazi, M.D., from Iowa City, I, Tom Drew, Des Moines, Ambreen Mian, Ames, and executive director Mark Bowden.
Art Pennington, a former Negro League baseball player, was honored in the Iowa Statehouse on April 18 with Senate Resolution 106. Art was one of the best players in the league and competed against some of the greatest baseball players ever. He was a great person on and off the field, as he moved to Cedar Rapids after his professional baseball days and eventually ran for sheriff and mayor of Cedar Rapids while working at Rockwell Collins.
I was honored to host Jacob Mayer and his family and friends from Lake City at the Capitol this week. Jacob is a member of the State of Iowa Youth Advisory Council and has been to the Capitol quite a few times this year to discuss matters of importance to him. Jacob hopes to be a Senate page at the Capitol next year, and we look forward to seeing more of him! His parents, Mike and Leisa Mayer are from Calhoun County. Pictured are: Leisa Mayer, Calhoun County CPC (Central Point of Coordination); MaeLann Nesbitt, a freshman at Morningside College; Mike Mayer; Tori Jones, a senior at South Central Calhoun High; Jacob Mayer, a junior at South Central Calhoun High; and I. MaeLann is majoring in nursing and Tori plans to as well. I urged them to remain in Iowa after graduation.
Art Pennington, a former Negro League baseball player, was honored in the Iowa Statehouse on April 18 with Senate Resolution 106. Art was one of the best players in the league and competed against some of the greatest baseball players ever. He was a great person on and off the field, and moved to Cedar Rapids after his professional baseball days and eventually ran for Linn County sheriff and mayor of Cedar Rapids while working at Rockwell Collins. Now 88, Art Pennington is still a source of inspiration.
Valley High School in West Des Moines has an exemplary foreign language program, offering six different languages to students. Among the languages is Chinese, taught by my friend Pan Na. Wednesday night at the grand opening of the Shogun International Cuisine, her students performed their entries for competition in Saint Louis this weekend. The featured speaker was former Iowa State University professor Dr. Eric Shepherd, professor at the University of South Florida and director of the U.S. – China Cultural Connections. He is the first professional Chinese storyteller in the United States and presented three humorous stories in Chinese, but the audience was able to understand much of his story by his body language and facial expressions. Pictured Pan Na, Dr. Shepherd and I. Incidentally, the food at the Shogun restaurant is superb.
Following my participation in the National Summit on the Role of Education in Economic Development in Rural America, and before I caught my flight back to Iowa, I had 45 minutes to meet with my daughter Christen and her family in Arlington, Virginia. Pictured are three of my 11 grandchildren: Luke James, 6 months, Katen, 4, and William, 2. My son-in-law Major Paul Fredin also stopped by for a few minutes. Paul is in the U. S. Air Force and is stationed at the Pentagon. He will be deployed for the fourth time in the Middle East in June. He and Christen are both civil engineers.
Fellow commissioner on the Education Commission of the States, an interstate compact, Representative Josh Byrnes (R-Osage) and I met with U. S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. Secretary Vilsack is a strong proponent of collaboration and cooperation in education and economic development and demonstrated that by working with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on committing their respective departments to work together on rural education and rural economic development.
After his presentation and participation in a panel with Secretary Vilsack, U. S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and I discussed some issues I consider important, including on-line learning, teacher assessment, student achievement and retention of third-graders. I found we agree on these matters.
Senator Tod Bowman (D-Maquoketa) is a teacher and coach and we serve together on the Senate Education Committee. We also traveled to the rural education summit in Washington on Tuesday. We had a marvelous conversation with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Short guys should not stand next to tall former basketball players!
I was invited to dinner meeting entitled, “Cultures in Harmony: From China to the West,” on Sunday. It was sponsored by the Chinese Association of Iowa, Drake University’s Music and Theater Departments, and the Chinese Cultural Exchange Program. The program honored two outstanding musicians and teachers from China who will perform this weekend after meeting with Drake music, drama and dance students. Pictured are Cui Jinlan, Leanne Freeman-Miller, I, and Lin Jing. Ms. Cui is an associate professor of piano and master instructor at the Music College of Minzu University in Beijing. Ms. Freeman-Miller is a soprano and teaches voice at Drake University. In 2006 she was named the Madelyn Levitt Teacher of the Year, Drake’s top honor. Professor Lin is a professor and master tutor at the Music College of Minzu University in Beijing.
Happy Bear brought hugs and smiles to children at the Domestic/Sexual Assault Outreach Center (D/SAOC) cake auction last Saturday at the Webster County Fairgrounds. Pictured are Kayla Hubbard, 2, and her mother Heather Hubbard. It was so fun watching Kayla interact – dancing and hugging – with Happy Bear. D/SAOC staff and volunteers do a marvelous helping victims of domestic violence working to prevent abuse. The cake auction is the agency’s major fundraising activity.
The Manson-Northwest Webster School District is exploring the implementation of a Chinese language and studies program. How exciting! As the chair of the legislature’s International Relations Committee and an eager global traveler, I am convinced of the need for more foreign languages to be taught in our schools. I commend Superintendent Mark Egli and the MNW board and faculty for their vision and commitment to tomorrow’s leaders. Mark Egli hosted an event at the Manson Public Library last weekend and provided a sort of teaser and preview of such a program. Pictured are Superintendent Egli, Swallow Yan, executive director of the Chinese Association of Iowa, Weimo Zhao who is studying English at Drake University, I, Sun Xiaodi (Sarah), a marvelous young harpist from The Liaoning Province of China and an exchange student at Urbandale High School, Hilda Wolle, a member of the Chinese Association board of directors, and Sicong Ma (Emma), a Master of Public Administration student at Dra
Rox Carisch of Calhoun County Electric Cooperative Association visited the Statehouse on April 12 to talk with legislators about the benefits of Iowa's electric co-ops. User-owned cooperatives are a great way for Iowans to get the electricity they need without paying too much. Roxanne thanked me for my affirmative votes on the stray voltage, copper theft prevention and other legislation.
I had the chance to give American government students from Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) a brief tour of the Statehouse on April 11. I explained the legislative process, and the checks and balance system. They were in the Senate gallery when we voted to confirm a couple of gubernatorial appointments. Their teacher, Kim Heidemann, is a friend and works at the Iowa Sister State organization.
On April 11, former Iowa Hawkeye and NFL football player Tim Dwight was in the Statehouse to talk to legislators about solar and wind energy. Tim has become deeply involved in creating clean energy and I was able to speak with him about ways in which Iowa can increase its renewable energy use and create jobs through the growing industry.
Warren McKenna of Kalona was at the Statehouse with Farmer's Electric Cooperative. We discussed solar power for small owner generators and net-metering to sell excess power back to Rural Electric Cooperatives (RECs).
Creating jobs is key to growing Iowa's economy. Paul Rekow of Spencer is doing just that. He has doubled his business since he began solar panel installation, adding new workers and clean energy to Iowa. Pictured from left: Rekow, Sen. Brian Schoenjahn of Arlington, Sen. Tod Bowman of Maquoketa and I.
More than 10,000 Iowa children have parents serving in the military, and many more have a sibling, grandparent or other family member in the armed forces. Military families and supporters gathered at the Statehouse April 10 to celebrate Military Family Appreciation Day and the Month of the Military Child. Jeanna Beeber’s husband, Brad, recently returned from service in Afghanistan. She brought her son, Aaron, and daughter, Grace, and mother, Myrna who is a constituent of Senator Boettger, to the Iowa Senate to meet with myself and other legislators. Ideas and resources can be found at “Iowa Operation Military Kids” at http://tinyurl.com/Iowamilitarykids. Pictured are (from left): Myrna Beeber, Grace Beeber, Jeanna Beeber, Aarob Beeber, I, and Senator Nancy Boettger (R-Harlan). (Please see related story).
The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association grilled more than 700 steaks for visitors, staff, legislators and others at the Iowa Statehouse on Tuesday. The organization represents 9,500 Iowa beef-producing families and associated companies and is dedicated to the future of Iowa's beef industry. Mike Sexton, a member of the Iowa Cattlemen's Association board of Directors, talked with me about the jobs and positive economic impact of the cattle industry in Iowa. Mike represented my district prior to my 2002 election. Pictured between us is Senator Rob Bacon (R-Maxwell). Yes, we had fun with Bacon at a Beef event. Rob jokingly requested the “other white meat.”
Three former senators visited the Senate Chamber on Monday. Pictured are Rich Olive from Story City, Staci Appel from Ackworth, and Bill Heckroth from Waverly. “Welcome home, friends!”
I introduced a special guest from Germany to my Senate colleagues on Monday. Kathrin Maurer from Kaisarslautern is preparing to be a French and English teacher in Germany and was accompanied to the Capitol by my friend Ann Geiger who serves on the Iowa Sister States board of directors. Ann and I have worked together on various international programs and initiatives and we’re both charter board members of the United States Center for Citizen Diplomacy. Ann lives in Princeton, Iowa.
My friend and colleague Senator Amanda Ragan (D-Mason City) often shares similar views as we have very similar districts. On Monday she took the sharing a step farther as she shared her four grandchildren with me. They came to the Capitol to visit Grandma Ragan. Pictured are Senator Ragan, William Blanchard (3), Isaac Wishman (5), I, Amanda Blanchard (6) and her baby doll with matching dress, and Ivy Wishman (4). The Blanchards live in Mason City and the Wishmans live in Des Moines.
Rachael Grimes, secretary of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Auxiliary, visited me at the Capitol on Monday. Rachael and her husband David live in McCallsburg. David is a locomotive engineer. I’ve sponsored rail safety legislation in consultation with the people who drive the trains.
Kansas Senator Dick Kelsey was a fellow panelist and speaker at the Kansas City event. I really enjoyed meeting and getting to know the Republican solon from Goodard, Kansas. Standing as the rose between two thorns is Deborah Fischer Stout, who orchestrated the passenger rail symposium on behalf of the Northern Flyer Alliance. The alliance is working to close a 200-mile gap of passenger rail service between Newton, Kansas, and Oklahoma City. I served as a fellow commissioner on the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission, an interstate compact.
Derrick James, Amtrak director of government affairs for the Midwest, was another speaker. I’ve worked with Derrick on the Quad Cities to Iowa City Amtrak proposal.
On Friday I participated as a speaker and panelist at “The Business Case for Passenger Rail Symposium” at the refurbished Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri. I spoke about initiatives, successes and failures of passenger rail in Iowa in more of a how NOT to do it in my presentation I dubbed, “Elections have Consequences.” Joe Szabo, administrator for the Federal Railroad Administration was a fellow speaker at the KCMO passenger rail symposium. President Barack Obama appointed the fellow Illinoisan Joe Szabo to the post in 2009.
I met with deans of several University of Iowa colleges last week about tuition, Regents funding and various programs. Pictured from left: Jean Robillard, vice-president for Medical Affairs, Ken Kates, CEO of UI Health Care, Paul Rothman, dean of the College of Medicine, I, Susan Curry, Dean of the College of Public Health, and Steven Craig.
Todd Eipperle of Marshalltown, an Iowa Army National Guard member wounded in Afghanistan last July, visited the Iowa Statehouse on Thursday, April 5, to thank legislators for helping Iowa’s returning combat veterans transition back to civilian life. Thousands of Iowa National Guard members are returning from the services largest overseas deployment ever. Both the Iowa Senate and House have voted to create the most intensive, long-term post-traumatic stress and dual diagnosis center in the state at the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown. Eipperle spent four months in rehabilitation in Kansas before returning to Iowa and to his job at the Boy Scouts of America. “If you’ve been in combat, it is not unusual to experience some level of post-traumatic stress,” said Eipperle. “I’m glad Iowa soldiers will be able to receive intense, professional care in their home state. That will help veterans more quickly and more completely return to civilian life.”
I hosted a family from Melville, New York, last week, who were visiting family members in Iowa. Dr. Dean Glasser, his wife Gladys, and their four children visited the Capitol as guests of Dr. Joyce Vista-Wayne, a child psychiatrist from Ottumwa. Dr. Vista-Wayne has helped me with autism and mental health legislation and is the sister of Gladys Glasser. Pictured are Dr. Vista-Wayne, Laura, Renee, Eric, Dean, Kevin and Gladys Glasser, and I.
Kale Burton of Fort Dodge graduated from Iowa Central Community College with honors. He was selected as an All American Academic Team member and was awarded the Iowa TRIO scholarship. He will continue his education at the University of Northern Iowa where he will major in education. I’ve met Kale previously and find the delightful young man and future teacher truly inspirational. TRIO is a federally-funded program that provides outreach and student services programs designed to identify and provides services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. TRIO includes programs targeted to serve and assist low-income individuals, first-generation college students and individuals with disabilities to progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to post-baccalaureate programs. I am a strong supporter of the TRIO program and annually welcome TRIO students to their Capitol. Congratulations to Kale and other TRIO scholars! I was honored and humbled to be the commencement spea
Several grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Fay and Gene Fraise visited the Capitol to recognize their grandpa and great-grandpa. Among them was a familiar face, that of former Fort Dodger Darin Astor. I remarked that I had known Darin since 1974 and he reminded me that was the year he was born. So, I guess I’ve known Darin for a long time. He and his parents, Dr. Gary and Joanne Astor, are long-time members of Trinity United Methodist Church, as am I. Pictured are Faye and Gene Fraise, and Julie, Josephine and Darin Astor and I. Darin is a teacher in Merriam, Kansas, a Kansas City suburb. Julie is a registered pharmacist with Hy-Vee.
Four retiring senators, aka “The Blues Brothers,” were honored at a party at the home of Senator Matt McCoy Tuesday evening. Sporting their Senator Bill Dotzler Memorial Sun Shades were Senators Gene Fraise (Fort Madison), Tom Hancock (Epworth), Jack Kibbie (Emmetsburg) and Tom Rielly (Oskaloosa).
Two University of Iowa college deans who had previously visited with me in Fort Dodge about their respective infrastructure needs, came to their Capitol last week to show off all the good things that are taking place at the University of Iowa. They are both delightful, passionate gentlemen with good senses of humor as they arm twist me for infrastructure appropriations. Dr. Donald Letendre, dean of the College of Pharmacy and Dr. David Johnsen, Dean of the College of Dentistry, are eloquent advocates for their respective colleges and for the University of Iowa. I am the vice chair of the joint House-Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Appropriations Subcommittee, and am a strong supporter of both outstanding colleges that prepare health professionals for Iowa.
I was interviewed by WHO-TV reporter Krystie Kacner on Monday about funding for higher education. I noted the governor and Senate Democrats are much closer on funding that are the governor and House Republicans. In fact, the governor chastised House Republicans for being too parsimonious. They cut $30 million out of the appropriations for regents universities and $20 million for community colleges. No doubt inasmuch as the House and Senate are so far apart, the education appropriations bill will probably be settled by a conference committee. It is important that House members here from their constituents and not only the governor that they must adequately invest in assistance for our universities and community colleges, as well as education at all levels.
Jacob Mayer, a senior at South Central Calhoun High School, was one of 13 young Iowans hosted by the Iowa Secretary of State this week for the Capitol Project. The project educates the participants on the legislative process and state government. Jacob is hardly a stranger at the Capitol or to the political process. He is a member of the State of Iowa Youth Advisory Council. We are pictured in the office of the secretary of state.
Adam Pitts is a Senate page from Cherokee and has really gotten to know his way around the Capitol. His parents and family visited the Capitol on Monday and I had the opportunity to meet them his parents they “done good” in the Son Department. I was surprised and pleased to learn we have some mutual friends in Fort Dodge. Pictured are Adam Pitts, his mother and father Kelly and Mike Pitts, Andy Pitts (16), and I. In the front row are Mason Pitts (13) and Molly Pitts (8). A very nice family.
Senator Tod Bowman (D-Maquoketa) and I met with some University of Northern Iowa students on the floor of the Senate chamber. It is so important for legislators to “put a face” – literally an d figuratively speaking – on education spending bills. Education is, without a doubt, our best investment in the future. We must adequately fund education at all levels, from pre-school to graduate school, including K-12, community colleges and Iowa Tuition Grants for students attending our private colleges and universities.
Two Coloradoans are visiting capitol buildings throughout the United States and found Iowa’s to be one of the most beautiful. Lane Bucher acted as Senate president for a few minutes while his mother, Sarah, and I looked on. Lane is a kindergartner in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Incidentally, after visiting perhaps half of our state capitols, I find Iowa, Hawaii and Rhode Island to be among the most beautiful and majestic. Last place? Alaska. Their capitol building looks like an ugly 1930s WPA sterile federal office building. Oh, it was.
Several regents students visited with legislators last week seeking adequate funding for Iowa’s three universities. Here, Max Wood, a freshman at Iowa State University from Fort Dodge, and Peter Wolff, a freshman from River Falls, Wisconsin, lobbied me and told me their stories. Max’s parents are Dr. Terrence Wood and Jeannie Wood. Both Max and Peter are ISU Ambassadors. Max is majoring in materials engineering and Peter is majoring in history.
Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) is a German company that purchased Fort Dodge Animal Health from the Pfizer Company. The Fort Dodge facility has been in business for decades. I remember calling the company “the serum plant” as many people did back in the 50s and 60s. BI is a progressive employer and good corporate citizen. On Wednesday, Hallie Maranchick, BI regional director of government affairs and public policy visited the Capitol on Wednesday. She wanted to learn more about health care in Iowa, so I invited Senator Jack Hatch (D-Des Moines), chair of the Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee, to update us on the state of health care and health initiatives in Iowa. We were also joined by Jim Kersten, vice president of Iowa Central Community College and former state senator. Pictured are Senator Hatch, Jim Kersten, Hallie Maranchick and I.
Leaders in Iowa’s higher education system were in the Statehouse on March 27, and I had the chance to meet Sally Mason, the president of the University of Iowa. I had the opportunity to talk with President Mason about college funding and legislation regarding Iowa’s colleges. She also shared with me some concerns she had and I was able to talk to her about making school more affordable for Iowa students.
I held a town hall meeting with local veterans March 23 at the Dakota City VFW Hall. About a dozen veterans attended and heard about legislation impacting veterans. As chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee in the Senate, I've helped the Legislature pass more legislation benefitting veterans in the past five years than at any time since World War II. Pictured from left veterans: John Van Horn, Jim Schuller, Marvin Grebner, I, Humboldt County Veterans Affairs Director Craig Malloy, veterans Gene Ruby, Dave Lee, Gordon Van Gronigen, Dean Telford and Don Wason. Thanks to the Humboldt Inedependent for this photo.
I was asked to speak in the Capitol Rotunda along with The Most Rev. Richard Pates, bishop of the Des Moines Catholic Diocese, Governor Terry Branstad, and Department of Education director Jason Glass, on Non-public School Day at the Capitol. The Iowa Alliance for Choice in Education sponsored the "Education Celebration." Pictured from back left are: Sally Kraayenbrink, executive assistant of the Iowa District West Lutheran Church Schools; Dr. Tim Barry, president of Fort Dodge Catholic Schools; Emily Woelfel; Blake Strickland; Jacob Cook; Austin Hofbauer; Robyn Kratz, teacher; Robin Deal, parent; EmaLee Andrews; KayLee Sprengler; Brady Read; Governor Branstad; I and Jessica Deal.
I was one of four speakers at the Non-Public Schools Day, along with Bishop Pates, Governor Branstad and Education director Jason Glass.
The Most Rev. Richard Pates, bishop of the Des Moines Catholic Diocese, was on hand for Non-public School Day at the Capitol on March 21, and we chatted prior to our respective presentations.
I hosted seven fifth- through eighth-graders from Saint Paul Lutheran School in Fort Dodge. They were at their Capitol for Non-pubic School Day at the Capitol. I presented them with an Iowa flag that had flown over the Capitol the day they were here. Pictured (from left) are: I; KayLee Sprengler; Brady Read; Blake Strickland; Jacob Cook; EmaLee Andrews; teacher Robyn Kratz; Robin Deal; Jessical Deal; and Emily Woelfer, teacher.
Spotting some possible future pages, I asked Senate page Katie Jaeschke from Gowrie to talk with the Saint Paul students about the application process and duties of pages. Pictured are: Katie Jaeschke; Robin Deal; Jessica Deal; Robyn Kratz, teacher; Austin Hofbauer; I; KayLee Sprengler; Brady Read; EmaLee Andrews; Sally Kraayenbrink, executive assistant of Iowa District West Lutheran Church Schools; Blake Strickland; Jacob Cook; Emily Woelfer, teacher.
And speaking of my wife Jo Ann . . . she visited me at the Capitol on Wednesday . . . along with our good friend Delpha Holtzman.
Controversial legislation to fund a new nuclear power plant will lead to significantly higher electrical rates if legislation to build a new nuclear power plant becomes law. That was the message I and other legislators brought to a Statehouse news conference on March 20. The legislation puts consumers at risk in order to finance a project that Wall Street investors see as too risky. See video from the event at http://youtu.be/eLMcqWT0W7w. From left: I, Senator Joe Bolkcom (Iowa City), Senator Rob Hogg (Cedar Rapids), Senator Tom Courtney (Burlington), Senator Pam Jochum (Dubuque) and Senator Mary Jo Wilhelm (Cresco).
The Turkish American Society of Iowa, the Niagara Foundation and the Intellectual Dialog Society hosted a dinner and program in Coralville Tuesday night and I was invited to share my experiences while traveling in Turkey a few years ago. I noted that I learned a lot about my Christian faith from my Muslim brothers and sisters. Turkey is an open, tolerant, diverse, accepting and secular society. Even before the Ottoman Empire, Turks welcomed early Christians who were persecuted in the Roman Empire, and Jews who were oppressed and murdered. The Virgin Mary lived out her final years in Turkey and Paul’s letters to the people of Ephesus are part of the New Testament. I told how much I loved Turkey and how friendly, engaging and hospitable the Turkish people were. I noted that at an ancient mosque in Istanbul I heard the imam preach about peace, justice, kindness, tolerance, acceptance and love. I said it was a familiar message similar to what I would hear from my pastor at Trinity United
The featured speaker at the Turkish event was Chuck Peters, president and CEO of Sourcemedia Group, which publishes The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette and operates KCRG television. Chuck delivered a marvelous presentation on leadership and teambuilding in the workplace. He is a Fort Dodge boy! He is an attorney, as were his father and uncle in Fort Dodge, and is a 1971 graduate of Fort Dodge Senior High School. His wife, the former Mary Ann Garton, is also a Fort Dodge product and is the sister of my friend Dr. John Garton, a Fort Dodge dentist.
Three Webster County 4-H club members and Linda Cline, Iowa State University extension specialist, visited me at their Capitol on Tuesday. They came prepared with questions and suggestions, including an issue near and dear to my heart that I was delighted to tell them had recently passed the senate – help for our veterans. I told them about the “Hire a Hero” bill that I authored and floor-managed. They also met with Senate page Katie Jaeschke, a former 4-H member from Gowrie. Pictured from left are: Katie Jaeschke, Luke Lewandowski, I, Ashlee Grady, Kylie Bergen and Linda Cline.
I met a delightful couple at the Turkish dinner and program, Samil and Beth Sermet. Samil, a civil engineer, retired from the Iowa Department of Transportation. Beth graduated with my wife Jo Ann from Fort Dodge Senior High School where they shared the same home room – Jo Ann Hasty and Beth Johnson – based on alphabetical order.
I hosted some visitors from Fort Dodge at their Capitol on Tuesday. Actually, they were invited to the Capitol by their nephew, Senate page Adam Pitts from Cherokee. Pictured are Adam, Lori Ebel, Kirk Ebel and I. Kirk is the regional manager for NEW Cooperative and he oversees the elevators in Badger, Vincent, Duncombe, Woolstock and Blairsburg. Lori is a secretary with Farm Bureau Insurance in Fort Dodge.
The Iowa Cultural Coalition visited the Capitol on March 19 and shared their work with legislators and staff. I had the privilege to watch the Advanced Harp Ensemble of the Orchestra Iowa School perform as well as get to know a little more about the work of the organization. I am pictured here with Senators Wally Horn and Rob Hogg enjoying the music. I made the point that arts and cultural are basic human needs and strongly supporting putting art, music, drama back into the Core Curriculum. The House had stripped them out.
Michele Hull, director of Greene County RSVP was at the Capitol on February 22 with the Iowa Association of RSVP Directors. RSVP is a part of Senior Corps, an organization that helps give individuals over age 55 a chance to enhance communities through volunteer work. Michelle and I discussed the benefits of RSVP, and I got some good information on how we can improve the program. About 150 volunteers help with the food and nutrition project in Greene County.0
Harlan Reynolds, board president for Calhoun County, and Ron Hanson, director for Calhoun County, were on hand for the Calhoun County Rural Electrical Cooperative meeting.
The Calhoun County Rural Electrical Cooperative sponsored a meeting at the Starlite in Fort Dodge and presented their 2013 legislative priorities. Pictured are Roxanne Carrish, I, Representative Helen Miller, Mike Moran and Kathy Taylor.
On January 14th, several utility companies from around the state of Iowa were honored by the Governor for traveling to the east coast to help rebuild the region devastated by hurricane Sandy. The utility workers were awarded certificates as appreciation for their work. State Senator Daryl Beall of Fort Dadge thanks Terry Harrmann of Aligent Energy one of many companies recognized at the days ceremony.
I am working closely with Representative Dave Heaton (R-Fairfield) to improve services for children living with autism. Dave is the chair of the House Health and Human Services Budget Subcommittee. We’ve held two meetings already seeking input. We both believe that bipartisan (and bicameral) cooperation is needed to improve access and services for people with autism and their families in Iowa.
I met with local utility workers who helped in national response to Hurricane Sandy. They were in Des Moines to be recognized by the state of Iowa for their efforts.
Doug Egli of Fort Dodge was one of several local utility workers who traveled East to help repair the power system after Hurricane Sandy.
I met with several REC (Rural Electric Cooperatives) people from my Senate district at the State Historical Building. Among those participating from the Calhoun County REC were Harlan Reynolds, Auburn, an REC director, and Lonnie Holder, Rockwell City, a staff assistant. The evening was largely social, but we discussed some of the REC’s legislative priorities.
At the REC reception were several directors of the Midland Power Cooperative, Kevin Rasmussen, Goldfield, Mike Coleman, Humboldt, Rick Thompson, LuVerne, and Joel Skow, Wesley.
My clerk for the 85th General Assembly first session is Dana Vasey from Johnston. I’ve known Dana for a few years because she has been a Capitol tour guide. She has also helped with the mock legislature for high school government students. Dana will assist me with constituent services and legislation and will be the secretary for the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee which I chair. Welcome aboard, Dana!
The chief judges of the eight judicial districts were on hand for Chief Justice Cady’s State of the Judiciary message including fellow Fort Dodger, Kurt WIlke. Judge Wilke not only presides in district court, but administers all the courts and judges in the Second Judicial District. We spoke after the chief justice’s address and Judge Wilke confirmed much of what Chief Justice Cady had said about the need for more clerks of court and court reporters. Judge Wilke said on any given day six district court judges cannot hold court because of a lack of court reporters. That shortage impacts Judge Wilke one day a week, in which he cannot hold court. The Chief Justice called for a 3.5 percent increase in the Judiciary budget to fund 53 FTE clerk of district court offices each year 42 FTEs for court reporters, law clerks and others who administer the justice system in our state. “Justice delayed is justice denied.” I will support the chief justice’s call for support from the legislat
Pictured after Chief Justice Mark Cady's State of the Judiciary message, Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal and I commended him for making such a remarkable presentation.
I spoke with Governor Terry Branstad on Wednesday at a reception. We were joined by Senator Daryl Beall of Fort Dodge.
This is me with Maggie Tinsman of Davenport and Jean Lloyd Jones of Iowa City. Both of these wonderful women have served in the Iowa Legislature and they are part of the 50/50 in 2020 organization. The goal of this organization is to elect 45 women to the Iowa Legislature by the 2014 elections and reach political equity by the year 2020 in Iowa by electing 50 women to the House of Representatives, 25 women to the Iowa senate and a woman governor of Iowa.
Mental health issues and the problems they can sometimes cause are something Iowa law enforcement deal with in the line of duty every day. To help provide expert advice to the Judiciary Committee on this issue, Story County Sheriff Paul Fitzgerald stopped by the Statehouse on January 22nd for an afternoon meeting. I met with Sheriff Fitzgerald and discussed the ways we can improve law enforcement’s approach toward these issues.
We owe our freedom to our veterans and service members. During Veterans Day on the Hill, we welcomed Iowa veterans to the State Capitol to honor and thank them for their sacrifices. During this year’s event on January 23, I got the chance to talk with World War II veteran and Webster County Veterans Affairs Commissioner Ray Ault about veteran’s issues.
We owe our freedom to our veterans and service members. During Veterans Day on the Hill, we welcomed Iowa veterans to the State Capitol to honor and thank them for their sacrifices. During this year’s event on January 23, I got the chance to talk (from right to left) with Russ Naden, Tom Dorsey, and Ray Ault of Webster County Veterans Affairs about veteran’s issues.
Wednesday, January 23 was Veterans Day at the Capitol. In addition to the many veterans, family, and friends that attended the event curious visitors were also present to meet veterans and thank them for their service. One of these curious visitors was Michael Kates, a member of the Fort Des Moines Museum and Education Center staff who I met with and talked with in the Capitol Rotunda.
We owe our freedom to our veterans and service members. During Veterans Day on the Hill, we welcomed Iowa veterans to the State Capitol to honor and thank them for their sacrifices. During this year’s event on January 23, I got the chance to talk with (from right to left) Lee Ayers, Ken Christensen, Richard Peterson, and Robert Pelz Jr. of the American Legion Post 191 in Webster City about veteran’s issues.
We owe our freedom to our veterans and service members. During Veterans Day on the Hill, we welcomed Iowa veterans to the State Capitol to honor and thank them for their sacrifices. During this year’s event on January 23, I got the chance to talk with David Worley, the Commandant of the Iowa Veterans Home, about veteran’s issues.
I attended the She Matters conference held at the state Capital on Jan. 24 2013 where I spoke with San Wong, Director of Iowa Human Rights Department. We discussed how the Human Rights Department is organizing outreach meetings in local communities around the state in order to increase social support, health care, and employment of the various minority citizens throughout the state. They have designated 14 different communities to participate with hopes of expanding the capacity of information for Iowans as a whole.
During the She Matters 2012 Iowa Women’s Leadership Conference, I spoke with Michelle Durand-Adams from the Waukee area. She is a part of the Friends of Iowa Commission Status of Women which focuses on issues such as allowing women to have access to health care, increasing household income of women so that they are above the poverty level and the importance of equal pay for men and women.
I enjoyed welcoming one of Iowa’s newest citizens to the Iowa Statehouse. Kylie and her mother, Stacey Frelun, were at the Capitol to support “pulse-oximetry” testing for all newborns. The American Heart Association supports this simple, non-invasive heart defect screening as a way to give all children the best start possible in life. Health care advocates believe the test has the potential to save the lives of countless newborns.
A French delegation met at the Statehouse early in the 2013 legislative session. As part of the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program, two members of the French delegation met with Senator Beall, Senate President Jochum, and Iowa Director of Human Rights San Wong. This picture, taken in the Senate President’s office, shows from left to right: Senator Daryl Beall, from Webster County; Senate President Pam Jochum, of Dubuque; Ms. Chrysoula Malisisanou, from France; Iowa Director of Human Rights San Wong, of Des Moines; Mr. Madjid Bourabaa, from France; and Senate Page Celia Ver Ploeg, of Des Moines. The international visitors were here to study equal opportunity, ending discrimination, and promoting universal civil rights.
Senator Beall speaking on the Senate floor on Tuesday, January 29.
Not all lobbyists work for big corporations; some are just ordinary citizens trying to do the right thing. I was reminded of this on Tuesday, January 29 when I met Jayde Reynolds and Adam Henry, two people from Des Moines who stopped by the Statehouse to lobby for legislation supporting the rights of people with disabilities.
Not all lobbyists work for big corporations; some are just ordinary citizens trying to do the right thing. I was reminded of this on Tuesday, January 29 when I met Jayde Reynolds and Adam Henry, two people from Des Moines who stopped by the Statehouse to lobby for legislation supporting the rights of people with disabilities. Also pictured is Senator Beall/Hart.
Not all lobbyists work for big corporations; some are just ordinary citizens trying to do the right thing. I was reminded of this on Tuesday, January 29 when I met Jayde Reynolds and Adam Henry, two people from Des Moines who stopped by the Statehouse to lobby for legislation supporting the rights of people with disabilities. Also pictured are Senators Beall/Hart/McCoy.
United Way advances the common good by focusing on its communities’ health, education, and income. The organization has worked in Iowa for years and on Tuesday, January 29 I met with Steve Scott of United Way of Central Iowa; we talked about economic advancement issues.
Do you think that in this economy there aren’t any people looking for workers? Well, Roger Klouda is, he’s the owner of MSI Moldbuilders in Cedar Rapids, the 26th largest moldbuilding company in North America and on Tuesday, January 29 he said he could hire eight people immediately if they had the right training. But here’s the catch, there are very few people who have gone through the required two-year community college program, and that’s the reason Mr. Klouda came to the Capitol on Tuesday, to lobby for more funding for skills training programs so that employers like him can hire more people. I spoke with him about this, and other economic issues.
Amber Lewis is a single mom with three kids and she is on the way up. Thanks to new state help for students taking non-credit courses, she’s upgrading her skills. Thanks to students like Amber, we are starting to make a dent in Iowa’s skilled worker shortage. Her local community college has helped her earn her high school diploma, a CPR certification, and made her a Certified Nurse Aide and a Certified Nursing Assistant. Amber is an example of why it pays to invest in Iowans, including adults looking to improve their lives.
I talked briefly with U.S. Representative Bruce Braley of Waterloo this week. Representative Braley is working at the federal level to do more to get radon, a colorless, odorless radioactive gas out of our kids’ classrooms. Iowa is one the states most affected by radon exposure, a known cause of lung cancer.
I talked with representatives of the Iowa Limestone Producers Association on Jan. Gilmore City in my Senate District is the Limestone Capital of Iowa. Pictured with me are Neil Grant, Division Manager at Martin Marietta Materials, and Matt Edwards, Production Manager for Martin Marietta Materials.
Jay Krammer, of Fort Dodge. He runs the transit systems in the Fort Dodge community. Also serves as transit manager for Midas Council of Government. Picture taken January 31st in the Senate Chamber.
The Alzheimer’s Association is the world’s leading voluntary provider of Alzheimer support and care. On Tuesday, February 05 Senator Mathis/Beall (left/second from right) and I met two members of the Greater Iowa Chapter of this organization, Deborah Peterson (right) and Community Relations Coordinator Amy Von Bank (second from left), both of Fort Dodge.
Despite Iowa’s recent steps to fight bullying in schools the problem continues to occur. On Tuesday, February 05 Senator Beall/Wilhelm and I met with Ally Mullenbach of Osage (middle), Ambur Koenigs, and Child Advocate Kim Koenigs of Plymouth. They were at the Statehouse to lobby for more measures against bullying.
Iowa’s educators work hard to ensure that our children have the skills they need to succeed in today’s competitive global economy. They always have something to teach me too! On Wednesday, February 6 I spoke with Jeff Kruse (right), the Superintendent of Rockwell City/Lytton and Southern Cal Community Schools, and Pocahontas Area Superintendent Joe Kramer (left).
Iowa’s educators work hard to ensure that our children have the skills they need to succeed in today’s competitive global economy. They always have something to teach me too! On Wednesday, February 6 I spoke with Mike Sherwood (left), the Superintendent of Webster City Community Schools.
Iowa’s educators work hard to ensure that our children have the skills they need to succeed in today’s competitive global economy. They always have something to teach me too! On Wednesday, February 6 I spoke with Wendy Parker (left) and Jeff Herzberg (middle), the Special Education Director and Chief Administrator of the Prairie Lake Area Education Agency in my hometown Fort Dodge.
Educators at all levels provide a valuable service to our state. On Wednesday, February 6 Senator Hatch and I spoke with Xiaoyi Shan, Ph.D. M.D., Assistant Professor in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at Drake University.
Educators at all levels provide a valuable service to our state. On Wednesday, February 6 Senator Hatch and I spoke with Xiaoyi Shan, Ph.D. M.D., Assistant Professor in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at Drake University. I introduced Dr. Shan to Senator Hatch because she was looking for a guest speaker for one of her classes and he is the Chair of the Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee. He accepted her invitation and is excited to talk with her students!
I always love it when my constituents come to the Capitol to visit! On Wednesday, February 6 I spoke with officials from Webster and Humboldt Counties. From left to right: Webster County Supervisor Bob Singer, me, Webster County Engineer Randy Will, Humboldt County Supervisor Harlan Hansen, and Humboldt County Engineer Paul Jacobson.
Autism is an increasingly diagnosed mental disorder that affects communication and social skills. Fortunately, there are a number of treatments that effectively lessen many of autism’s symptoms. Thursday, February 7 was Autism Day at the Capitol and I had the opportunity to talk to experts on the disorder including Paul J. Olson (left) PhD. Chair, Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Briar Cliff Univeristy.
On Thursday, Senate President Jochum and I were delighted to meet with advocates and family members and of children with autism, including Erica Hotchkins, Bobbi Schell, Kevin Kapparos, Ana Kapparos, Brian Keehner, Craig Beytien and Alyson Beytien. We spoke about why it’s important that autism be recognized like other disabilities. Dubuque is proud to be a statewide leader in supporting children with autism.
Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America is a student organization committed to helping young men and women become leaders and address important issues through Family and Consumer Sciences Education. On Monday, February 11 I met with an FCCLA group in the Senate Chamber. From left to right: Jeannie Schleip, State Officer, Sidney FCCLA Chapter; Erin Edge, State Officer, Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont FCCLA Chapter; Katie Jaeschke, Iowa FCCLA State Staff; me; Raeann Hanlon, State Officer, Prairie Valley FCCLA Chapter; Kolton Hewlette, State Officer, Central Decatur FCCLA Chapter, Eva Shelton, State Officer, Williamsburg FCCLA Chapter, and Mariah McGuire, State Officer, Gilbert FCCLA Chapter.
Home care service providers are an important part of Iowa’s health care system. On February 12, we recognized that fact during the Iowa Alliance in Home Care Day on the Hill. Rep. Helen Miller and I had a good conversation with Teresa Naughton, executive director of Lifeworks Community Services in Fort Dodge.
I always love it when constituents come to visit! On Tuesday, February 12 I talked to (from left to right) Randy Christensen of Scranton, JoAnn Neppl of Humboldt, Dalton Schmit, Bill McKinn of Jefferson, Mike Coleman of Humboldt, and Tom Ross of Ames. The reason why Dalton is in this photo is that Pioneer, the company most of these men and women work for, sent him and several other students to Washington D.C. and he had just introduced himself to thank them.
On Tuesday, February 12 the Agribusiness Association of Iowa held its legislative breakfast. I met with Agribusiness Association of Iowa Chair-Elect Max Smith, and had a rewarding conversation about agricultural policy.
I like to be familiar with the local businesspeople in my district, so when I heard that Tuesday, February 12 was Grocer’s Day at the Capitol I looked to see if anyone from my district was visiting. Sure enough there were, Jeff Petersen (left) owns Jamboree Groceries in Gowrie and Rob Scott (right) owns Dayton Community Grocery in Dayton.
March of Dimes believes all newborns should be tested for congenital heart disease before leaving the hospital after they are born. Currently, 117 of Iowa’s 134 hospitals already provide this simple, low cost, noninvasive test. On Tuesday, February 12 I met with Jessica Streit of Des Moines.
Dean Coleman of Humboldt is the District 2 director for the Iowa Soybean Association. The soybean farmers were at the Capitol seeking to expand bio-diesel, which I strongly support.
On February 13, I met with several representatives of Community Health Center of Fort Dodge. I had a good conversation about healthcare with (left to right) Shana Flatgard, outreach coordinator, Renae Kruckenberg, director of operations, and Lynn Nulle, chief financial officer. They encouraged the Legislature to expand Medicaid, which I strongly support.
Biodiesel is a major product produced and exported from this state. On Wednesday, February 13 I was reminded of this fact by a couple of biodiesel advocates at the Statehouse. From left to right: Danny Mauser, owner of Western Iowa Energy, Dr. Don Heck with the Iowa Central Fuel Testing Laboratory, me, and Julaine Bidleman with the same laboratory.
March of Dimes believes all newborns should be tested for congenital heart disease before leaving the hospital after they are born. Currently, 117 of Iowa’s 134 hospitals already provide this simple, low-cost, noninvasive test. On Tuesday, I met with advocate Jessica Streit of Des Moines. She has family in Gowrie and Lohrville.
Chris Vrba, editor of the Pocahontas Record-Democrat, visited me at the Capitol last Friday while he as in town for the Iowa Newspaper Association convention. As a former newspaper and editor, I’ve participated in a lot of INA meetings and conventions. Actually we talked briefly about newspaper stuff, like public notice advertising and open meetings/open records and other public-right-to-know issues. Chris is a progressive newspaperman and is a major proponent of his community. His pride for Pocahontas is included in his mantra, “Pocahontas – clean community, safe streets and superb schools.” Chris is obviously making a difference in his community.
Not all of the participants in the 30th anniversary celebration of the Hebei-Iowa Sister States celebration traveled from afar. Grace Guo and her husband from Des Moines were celebrants. I’ve known Grace for several years through Sister States, the Iowa Chinese Association, the Iowa Asian Alliance and the Iowa International Center. Grace and I are pictured here.
The State of Iowa and the Hebei Province of China have been Sister States since 1983. We had an anniversary celebration at the Capitol and at the Kum & Go corporate headquarters in West Des Moines. Five provincial government officials and 50 young musicians from Hebei participated in the events, which were held on the major Chinese celebration of the Lunar New Year. It was noted that our guests chose to visit Iowa on a special day usually spent with family. One of the five Hebei provincial officials was Ms. Zhang Lan-jun, in the provincial finance bureau within the Foreign Affairs Division.
Governor Branstad officially welcomed our Hebei guests to Iowa and noted that another guest from Hebei visited Iowa back in 1983 – Xi Jinping – who is now the vice president, and soon-to-be president of China. I had met some of our guests on my three trips to China and others are new friends. Representative Mark Lofgren (R-Muscatine) is the chair of the International Relations Committee and I am the vice chair. We are pictured here with our guests.
I first met Qisheng (Tony) Zhang in his hometown of Nanjing with his father, Zhijun Zhang, who was a high-ranking official in the Jiangsu Provincial People’s Congress, four years ago. Our paths crossed again last June in Nanjing. Now Tony is an actuarial science major at Drake University and he participated in the Sister State celebration. It was so good to see Tony again.
Last Sunday in Boone, I spoke to a group of 20 high school students from the Fort Dodge area who will travel to Italy and Greece this summer through the People-to-People program. We discussed being good citizen ambassadors for their state and nation and I provided them with some pointers on protocol and cultural differences. President Eisenhower created the People-to-People program in 1956 in the height of the Cold War. He knew that in addition to government-to-government relations, we need citizen-to-citizen diplomacy. These young people will be tremendous citizen diplomats and will gain so much from the experience. Pictured are Olivia Hanson from Gowrie and Sophia Johnson from Gilmore City. Olivia is a junior at Prairie Valley High School and Sophia is a freshman and Humboldt High School. I meet Sophia a couple of years ago when she wrote an award-winning essay. Bon voyage and safe travels to our young ambassadors from Iowa!
Iowa Sister States is a non-profit organization that connects Iowa citizens and government to the world community. On Monday, February 18, Senate President Pam Jochum and I met with the deputy director of Iowa Sister States, Kim Heidemann. She was in the Statehouse along with a group of Russian municipal officials studying at Iowa’s economy and political system.
I’m always eager to talk with visitors from the international community. That’s why some Senate pages, Senator Jochum, and I were excited to meet with municipal and local government officials from Russia on Monday, February 18, 2013 in Senate President Pam Jochum’s office.
I’m always eager to talk with visitors from the international community. That’s why some Senate pages, Senator Jochum, and I were excited to meet with municipal and local government officials from Russia on Monday, February 18, 2013 at the well of the Senate Chamber and in the president’s office. Most of our Russian guests are from Stavropol, Iowa’s sister state.
I was honored to participate in the change of command ceremony for the Civil Air Patrol Northwest Iowa Composite Squadron. Major Cindi Wachholz recently was named vice commander of the Iowa Wing and passed command of the squadron to Major Jim Currie. It was an impressive ceremony. Major Wachholz has worked tirelessly as the unit commander. Her son, Adam, is the cadet colonel and is a clerk in the Iowa House of Representatives.
The State of Iowa Youth Advisory Council (SIYAC) is composed of 21 youth from around the state, including Jacob Mayer from Lake City. Several SIYAC members were at the Capitol this week, lobbying on behalf of legislation to add cyberbullying to anti-bullying policies. I was impressed by the students’ passion and knowledge. I strongly support their efforts. Here I am pictured with three SIYAC council members, Simrita Varma and Aditi Dinakar from Johnston High School, and Rekha Karuparthy from Pleasant Valley High School. Adita is also the president of the Iowa Youth Congress. She interviewed me on the Watergate scandal and how it affected me and public policy. She is writing a paper for a national history project. I was amazed at her knowledge of events and outcomes that took place 30 years before she born.
On Tuesday I met a group of Farm Bureau representatives from counties I formerly and currently represent. From left to right: John Sobotka of Pocahontas County, Kevin Poen of Calhoun County, Larry Alliger of Webster County, John Beltz of Greene County, John Fredrickson of Webster County, David Seil of Webster County, Kyle Brinkman of Pocahontas County, Steve Peterson of Webster County, and Joel Zeman of Humboldt County.
I like keeping in touch with Iowa’s representatives in Washington, so I jumped at the chance to talk with Congressman Dave Loebsack and his aide (as well as my former clerk!) Sara Sedlacek during their visit to the Capitol Wednesday.
Bishop Nickless of the Diocese of Sioux City met with Representative Helen Miller of Fort Dodge and I at the Iowa Statehouse on Thursday. One priority issue for Iowa’s bishops this year is Medicaid expansion, which they say will “help Iowans who’ve lost their jobs or are struggling in jobs without health benefits get access to quality care. It will reduce costly emergency visits and reduce the burden on Iowa’s providers who provide care to Iowans who currently lack coverage.” I agree with efforts to make health care more readily available and affordable to all Iowans.
Bishop R. Walker Nickless of the Diocese of Sioux City and Dan Ryan, superintendent of the Diocese of Sioux City, were at the Statehouse on Feb. 20. We discussed the School Tuition Organization, which I strongly support. It provides scholarships to low- and middle-income children who want to attend nonpublic schools, providing school choice. Over 100 Catholic schools provide quality educations for 30,000 Iowa students, including my grandchildren at Saint Patrick School in Cedar Falls and Columbus Catholic High School in Waterloo One priority issue for Iowa’s bishops this year is Medicaid expansion, which they say will “help Iowans who’ve lost their jobs or are struggling in jobs without health benefits get access to quality care. It will reduce costly emergency visits and reduce the burden on Iowa’s providers who provide care to Iowans who currently lack coverage.” I agree with efforts to make health care more readily available and affordable to all Iowans.
Dan Ryan, Superintendent of the Diocese of Sioux City, met with me Wednesday at the Iowa Statehouse on Thursday.
On Wednesday, Senator Herman Quirmbach and I talked to a contingent of visiting social work students from my Alma Mater, Buena Vista University in Storm Lake. From left to right: Kayla Crawford, Sarah Staver, Stacy Gerling, Samantha Birzer, a Fort Dodge resident and friend, Alberto Enciso and Ellen Holmgren.
The Leadership Fort Dodge participants visited their Capitol on Wednesday and I was delighted to welcome them. We met in Room 22, the majority caucus room and larger committee room. I explained the legislative process and invited them to share their views on pending policy and legislation, and to advise me on matters of interest and issues of importance to them. One issue of concern was education reform and funding. Leadership Fort Dodge is a marvelous program in which participants learn about local and state government, non-profits, transportation and health issues, economic development and the business community, education and other matters. I always like hosting them at their Capitol. It was a crazy day at the Capitol, with debate and committee meetings being rescheduled. The Leadership Fort Dodge participants were very understanding and patient.
The mission of Iowa Public Television (IPTV) is to provide quality, noncommercial programming to educate, inform, enrich and inspire Iowans, regardless of where they live or what they can afford. More than 2.2 million Iowans a month turn to IPTV for news and information. This week’s celebration of Iowa Public Television included a visit by Clifford the Big Red Dog.
Following the change of command ceremony and my remarks to the cadets, I joined Iowa Wing commander Col. Michael Mouw in congratulating Major Wachholz for her promotion to vice commander.
Kalen Petersen, executive director of the Central Iowa RSVP, visited me at the Capitol this week. RSVP has the motto, “connecting people to purpose,” and is engages volunteers aged 55 and above in meeting critical community needs. Kalen serves Story, Marshall, Hamilton and Webster counties.
Jay Lynch, a farmer from Gilmore City, visited his Capitol this week. He came to the joint House-Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Appropriations Subcommittee and then came to the Senate Chamber with me. I invited him to my desk and gleefully showed him a piece of limestone from his farm that I visited a few weeks ago. He was showing me the family’s conservation practices and Ag Drainage Well project. The wells are closed and the water is diverted via large tiles to protect groundwater quality. I “stole” the rock from his farm but I don’t think he minds. Jay is a delightful fellow and conservation-conscious farmer.
Jeanine Nemitz, director of the Foster Grandparent Program in Fort Dodge, visited her Capitol this week. The program, along with the RSVP, are marvelous in providing volunteers to perform community service activities. Hey, I am now eligible age-wise. Maybe I will have something meaningful to do when and if I retire from the Senate!
Former senator and governor, and now Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, visited the Statehouse this week and met with all four caucuses and with Governor Branstad. He encouraged us to adopt a resolution in support of the Renewable Fuels Standard, which is being attacked by the oil lobby in Washington. Inspired by the secretary, Senator Hubert Houser (R-Carson) and I are, I believe, the first two sponsors of the resolution. The secretary also told us of several projects and programs available to Iowa farmers though the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Rural Development. I will share some of the USDA’s new grant programs as I receive them from Secretary Vilsack. One of Tom Vilsack’s longtime friends is my longtime friend, Cathy Jury. Cathy was a student of mine at Urbandale High School back in the 70s and was a government intern and worked in the Iowa legislature learning the art of public policy making and politics. Something must
The Iowa Environmental Council (IEC) is an alliance of organizations that work to protect Iowa’s environment. On Tuesday the IEC visited the Statehouse and I spoke with Webster County Conservation Director and friend of mine Harry Graves.
It was Iowa State University Day at the Capitol on Feb. 25. I spoke with some of the school officials, including official mascot Cy!
Iowa Valley Leadership is a group of Marshall County residents who meet once a month to explore local issues such as education, the environment, and poverty. On Wednesday IVL member Abigail Pelzer visited the Capitol, we had an interesting conversation.
From time to time the good people of northwest Iowa come to visit me in Des Moines. Wednesday was one of those days and I had a nice conversation with Pocahontas County Engineer Jack Moellering.
The Iowa branch of AARP is one of the state’s strongest supporters of expanded Medicaid. AARP members include many Iowans who have fallen through the cracks of the current health care system. AARP members flooded the Capitol on Wednesday, pointing out that expanding Medicaid will cost Iowa less and cover more uninsured Iowans than under existing programs. From left to right: John McCartney of Fort Dodge, me, and Beverly McCartney of Fort Dodge.
My favorite Drake University professor, Dr. Richard Pattenaude, is the new president of Ashford University in Clinton. Rich was my public administration professor and his classes were informative, interesting and fun. Rich has a quick wit and is very bright and articulate – and I surmise is a great Trivial Pursuit player. He left Drake in 1980 to become president of the University of Southern Maine in Portland. He maintains his home there and works out of the Ashford University office in San Diego, but assures me he will reacclimate to Iowa. Welcome home to the cornfields of Iowa, Rich!
Two friends who spend their time between their native China and their adopted home in Des Moines, visited me at their Capitol on Wednesday. I accompanied them to China three years ago on education and health professionals exchange programs. They are soon returning to China for business and stopped by to wish my a Happy Chinese New Year and to give me a beautiful Chinese calendar. They are Lan Li and his wife Wendy Wei.
I attended a “Climate Action Across Iowa” event at Iowa Central Community College. Orchestrated by my friend and colleague, Senator Rob Hogg (D-Cedar Rapids), the Fort Dodge event was one of 10 held throughout the state. Students, faculty and staff at Iowa Central were encouraged to sign a letter to Congressman King encouraging Congress to take a closer look at global warming and climate change. The Iowa Central Green Club, which has mobilized an environmental awareness campaign on campus and set out recycling barrels, organized the event. The event dovetailed with some of the science classes taught on campus. Pictured with me at the information booth in the Iowa Central Student Resource Center are Tom Arney from rural Paton, teacher Julie Ehresmann who is currently teaching a relevant class, Population Problems, environmental science teacher Beth Collins who is the faculty advisor for the Green Club, and student and event organizer Nadia Morneau from France.
Members of the Iowa Environmental Council visited the Statehouse on Tuesday. I spoke with Webster County Conservation Director Matt Cosgrove, a friend of mine. Knowing my strong support for REAP (Resource Enrichment and Protection), he pinned a REAP button on my suit coat. He was delighted to know that I am fighting for $20 million – the first time we’ve fully funded the program.
Iowa AARP is a strong supporter of expanded Medicaid. AARP members include many Iowans who have fallen through the cracks of the current health care system. They say that expanding Medicaid will cost Iowa less and cover more uninsured Iowans than under existing programs. I'm pictured here with John and Beverly McCartney of Fort Dodge.
Pocahontas County Engineer Jack Moellering was in Des Moines on Feb. 27 for Transportation Day at the Capitol. He attended the Senate Transportation Committee meeting, of which I am the vice-chair, and offered input on the road and infrastructure needs in Pocahontas County.
Iowa Valley Leadership, a group of Marshall County residents who meet once a month to explore local issues such as education, the environment and poverty, came to their Capitol on Wednesday. Pictured is member Abigail Pelzer. Abbe is the editor of The Marshalltown Times Republican and was previously a reporter for The Messenger in Fort Dodge (2007-2009). She is a Grandview University graduate and is the daughter of a good friend, Evans McWilliam from Paton. Great to see you, Abbe!
Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines is responsible for healing and nurturing hundreds of children each year. On Thursday they sent a few representatives to the Capitol on behalf of the Iowa Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Senator Hatch and I met with Kathy Leggett, the director of the Center for Advocacy and Outreach at the hospital.
Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines is responsible for healing and nurturing hundreds of children each year. On Thursday they sent a few representatives to the Capitol on behalf of the Iowa Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. I met with Kathy Leggett, the director of the Center for Advocacy and Outreach at the hospital.
Iowa has a shortage of skilled workers. This shortage hampers the growth of our state’s economy. To fill skilled job openings at local businesses, and to ensure our state remains a competitor in the global economy, we must expand job-training programs. Senate Democrats are proposing a total of $25 million in new funding for community colleges to address the skills gap Iowa has compared to other states. When Senate Education Committee approved this legislation, every Democratic Senator and a majority of the Republican Senators voted yes. Governor Branstad has also indicated his support for these ideas. Pictured with me at a Feb. 28 Statehouse news conference on this topic are (from left) House Democratic Leader Kevin McCarthy, Rep. Chris Hall of Sioux City, and Sen. Brian Schoenjahn of Arlington, chair of the Senate Education Budget.
During Health Science Day at the Capitol, I met with leaders in the health sciences field, including David Johnson, dean of the University of Iowa College of Dentistry, and Debra Schwinn, dean of the University of Iowa, Carver College of Medicine. Iowans are fortunate to have world class colleges of pharmacy, medicine, and dentistry as well as schools of nursing and preparing health professionals and the University Hospitals and Clinics conducting research and treating and healing patients.
Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines is responsible for healing and nurturing hundreds of children each year. On Thursday they sent a few representatives to the Capitol on behalf of the Iowa Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. I met with Kathy Leggett, director of the Center for Advocacy and Outreach at the hospital, and David Stark, president and COO. I’ve worked with Kathy over the past several years on child restraints and graduated driver’s licenses to keep young drivers safe and on other bills to protect young people.
Thursday was the University of Iowa’s Health Sciences Day at the Capitol and Senator Gronstal (second from left), Senator Schoenjahn (far right), and I met with a leader in the health sciences, University of Iowa College of Dentistry Dean David Johnson (second from left).
Senator Beall (left) and I always are happy to greet students visiting the Capitol, especially when they have come as far as these two! The young woman is Milica Njezic from Bosnia and the young man is Eun Ho Kim from South Korea; both are sophomores majoring in international relations at Wartburg College in Waverly.
Senator Schoenjahn (right) and I always are happy to greet students visiting the Capitol, especially when they have come as far as these two! The young woman is Milica Njezic from Bosnia and the young man is Eun Ho Kim from South Korea; both are sophomores majoring in international relations at Wartburg College in Waverly.
I got a visit in the Senate Chamber from Gary Eischeid and Matt Eide. Gary is the general manager of the POET Biorefining facility near Gowrie. I am a strong supporter of the ethanol industry that is good for Iowa farmers, consumers, the economy and the environment, and helps make us less reliant on foreign oil. Gary is a retired general in the U.S. Army. I thanked him for his service to his country and community. Matt is a former Fort Dodger and is a legislative lobbyist for POET.
Employer Support of the Reserve and Guard (ESGR) is an operational committee founded by the Department of Defense to promote cooperation and understanding between National Guard and Reserve members and their civilian employers. On Wednesday several members of the group stopped by the Statehouse. From left to right are Bob Seigel of Graettinger, Ted Ellis of Emmetsburg, I, Jeff Johnson of Clive, and Don Lane of Sigourney. I’ve been involved in ESGR since the late 70s-early 80s. I am currently a military liaison, a volunteer, civilian position in which I act as an ombudsman for National Guard members and families and their civilian employers.
It’s always nice to be visited by my constituents! On Wednesday Mary Martens of Fort Dodge, Elaine Bleam of Manson, and Natalie Passaw of Fort Dodge (from left to right) visited me in the Senate Chamber at their Capitol. We spoke about their priorities, which I passionately share, quality education.
What a good looking group of kids! On Wednesday a group of elementary students from St. Patrick’s School in Cedar Falls visited the Statehouse. My daughter Lora teaches these students, including my grandson Theo!
I’m a lucky man to have such a wonderful family. On Wednesday my daughter Lora and my grandson Theodore visited me in the Senate Chamber.
On Wednesday the Iowa Library Association visited the Statehouse, and of course they found their way to the law library! From left to right: Dan Chibnall, me, Maryann Mori, Kelly Munter, Joy King, Suzy Niebling, and Senator Peterson.
On Wednesday the Iowa Library Association visited the Statehouse, and of course they found their way to the law library! From left to right: me and Trisha Hicks of the Burt Public Library.
On Wednesday, the Iowa Library Association visited the Statehouse, and of course they found their way to the law library! From left to right: Dan Chibnall, I, Maryann Mori, Kelly Munter, Joy King, Suzy Niebling, and Senator Janet Petersen (D-Des Moines). These librarians are in The Central Iowa District of the Iowa Library Association. My Senate district is in three different districts. Webster County is in the Central District. Calhoun and Pocahontas counties are in the Northwest District, and Humboldt County is in the North Central District.
Trisha Hicks of the Burt Public Library demonstrated The Learning Express Library that the legislature funded last year, whereby students and job-seekers have the world at their fingertips. It’s good to see our investments at work.
Kerry Scheidergger from Jolley is on the Calhoun County Fair Board and is also Northwest District director of the Association of Iowa Fairs. He visited me at the Capitol on Thursday with a summary of how legislative appropriations help county fairs. We appropriate a little over a million dollars annually for our county fairs – a great investment. In Calhoun County, the funds were used for the new community center. Humboldt County used the funds to build a new track officials stand. Pocahontas County used the appropriation to renovate the expo center kitchen and improve the livestock barn. Webster County renovated the auditorium and repaired the outdoor arena with its state appropriation. I strongly support our county fairs, helping build infrastructure and young people’s lives.
Milica Njezic from Bosnia and Eun Ho Kim from South Korea are sophomores majoring in international relations at Wartburg College in Waverly. Senator Brian Schoenjahn of Arlington and I met with them and discussed the American political system and the Iowa legislative process.
I’m a lucky man to have such a wonderful family. On Wednesday my daughter Lora and my grandson Theodore visited me in the Senate Chamber. They were here for Non-Public School Day. Lora teaches at Saint Patrick’s School in Cedar Falls. They joined me at my desk on the Senate floor.
The Girl Scouts of America has the goal of seeing a woman in every boardroom and laboratory in America. On Monday, they were at the Statehouse to advocate for the girls who will achieve that goal. A few scouts also showed Senator Bowman (center) and me the robot they built for First Lego League, a competition where teams build robots to complete tasks. The competition is one aspect of the Girl Scouts’ focus on advancing women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.
On Monday, a group of foreign students visited the Capitol. We got a picture together in the Senate Chamber. I love making friends for Iowa and showing them the magnificent Iowa Capitol.
I love Iowa’s community colleges and our vast number of international students. This week I had the opportunity to embrace both of my passions when a group of Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) students visited the Iowa Capitol. I spoke with them briefly about the Iowa legislative process and American political system. I also emphasized the role of citizen diplomacy, that people-to-people process advocated by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956 in the midst of the Cold War. Yaw Doh was among the DMACC international students that I welcomed to the Capitol. Yah is from Maynmar (formerly Burma) and is an interpreter in his native Karen language for the Iowa International Center. A delightful young man, Yaw Doh.
The Girl Scouts of America has the goal of seeing a woman in every boardroom and laboratory in America and on Monday they stopped by the Statehouse to advocate for the girls who will achieve that goal.
Girl Scouts from Troop 795 were joined Sally Frotscher (left), regional director of the Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa, and me in the Statehouse rotunda. Sally is a former Fort Dodger and a fellow Kiwanian.
On Tuesday, a few members of Prairie Energy Cooperative out of Clarion came to visit at the Statehouse. From left: Ted Hall of Forest City, Ken Mersch of Eagle Grove, Jim Wellik of Woden, Belva German of Clarion, Donald Christopherson of Duncombe, Scott Stecher of Clarion and Marion Denger of Dows. We discussed stray voltage and other issues.
My constituents do such a nice job of visiting me at their Capitol. On Tuesday Michael Ryan stopped by the Senate Chamber to chat. Ryan is an assistant pastor at Pocahontas Baptist Church.
The goal of the League of United Latin American Citizens is to advance the economic conditions, educational influence, housing, and health of the Hispanic population in the United States. As a result of this goal, they support expanding Medicaid in Iowa since this move would mean an additional 150,000 Iowans would have health insurance. On Tuesday, the group visited the Statehouse and I talked with Mary E. Campos of Des Moines. Mary is a longtime community leader and friend.
The goal of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is to advance the economic condition, educational influence, housing, and health of the Hispanic population in the United States. As a result of this goal they support expanding Medicaid in Iowa since this move would mean an additional 150,000 Iowans would have health insurance. On Tuesday the group visited the Statehouse and I talked with Joe Enriquez Henry, the State Director of LULAC.
Recent research suggests that the first 2,000 days of a child’s life are extremely important in determining how a person develops physically and intellectually. That’s what I learned during Early Care Health and Education Day on the Hill when I talked with Elizabeth Stanek, the executive director of Linking Families and Communities.
On Wednesday a group of international students attending Kirkwood College visited the Capitol. Senator Wally Horn (fifth from left) and I had a fascinating conversation about the higher education experience in Iowa.
On Wednesday members of the Senate had the honor of meeting an Irish member of the national Paliament, Deputy Marcella Corcoran-Kennedy (center). Senator Hart and I discussed a wide range of topics with her, she has a refreshing perspective!
On Wednesday, members of the Senate had the honor of meeting an Irish member of the national Parliament, Deputy Marcella Corcoran-Kennedy. Senator Mike Gronstal and I discussed a wide range of topics with her. I had the honor of introducing her in the Senate and welcoming her to Iowa. She will be the guest of honor during Saint Patrick’s Day activities in Emmetsburg.
Wednesday was Iowa Association of Counties Day at the State Capitol. I talked with several county officials, including Humboldt County engineer Paul Jacobson.
Carroll County Supervisor Marty Danzer and Calhoun County Supervisor Gary Nicholson advised me on roads and infrastructure needs in their respective counties on County Day at the Capitol.
Wednesday was Iowa Association of Counties Day at the State Capitol. I talked with several county officials, including Calhoun County Central Point of Coordination (CPC) director Leisa Mayer (center) and her son House page Jacob Mayer. Leisa stressed the importance of funding mental health and expanding Medicaid.
Pictured in the Statehouse cafeteria (starting at right and going counterclockwise): Darcy Bosch of Boone County, Jeremy Hamp of Pocahontas County, Gary Nicholson of Calhoun County, I, Jana Bratland of Humboldt County, Carl Mattes of Humboldt County, and Harlan Hansen of Humboldt County. We discussed mental health, expanding Medicaid, the gas tax, roads and infrastructure, and agricultural drainage wells.
Farmer Mark Olson of Bode represented the Humboldt County Farm Bureau during a recent visit to the Statehouse. We spoke about the Nutrient Reduction Proposal and the fuel tax.
Senator Joe Seng (D-Davenport) brought his accordion into the Senate Chamber to celebrate the upcoming St. Patrick's Day. He and Senator Rita Hart (D-Wheatland) serenaded our Irish Parliamentarian. I can’t carry a tune, so I only clapped.
On Wednesday, a group of international students attending Kirkwood College visited the Capitol. Senator Wally Horn and I had a fascinating conversation with them about their higher education experience in Iowa. Kirkwood is one of only three community colleges in the United States with a Fulbright Scholars program. International students come from Indonesia, Brazil, Egypt, Costa Rica, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, and Pakistan. I host the students every year and often visit them in their classrooms in Cedar Rapids.
It’s always a pleasure to get a visit from my constituents in Des Moines! From left: Ed O’Leary, John Hale, me, Dale Struecker, and Tom Salvatore.
I am always eager to hear from the people of my district! On Thursday I did when Merle Ayres, an ex-teacher from Humboldt, stopped by the Statehouse.
It’s always a pleasure to get a visit from my constituents in Des Moines! From left: Representative Helen Miller, Ed O’Leary, Deborah O’Leary, me, Tom Salvatore, and Dale Strucker.
Iowa Small Business Development Centers (ISBDC) have provided free, customized business advice to Iowa business with 500 employees or less since 1981. On Thursday a few representatives of ISBDCs visited the Statehouse, including (from left) Bill Morain and Lisa Shimkar.
Orchard Place helps children statewide dealing with mental health and behavioral issues. Advocating for the kids they serve were Nancy Bobo, Betty Grundberg, Anne Starr and Brice Oakley.
The School Administrators of Iowa visited the Capitol on Thursday and I took the opportunity to meet with a few of them. From left to right: Senator Herman Quirmbach, Tom Narak, Government Relations Director for School Administrators of Iowa, me, Senator Bob Dvorsky, Senator Brian Schoenjahn, Tim Taylor, Superintendent of Ames Community School District, and Tom Lane, Superintendent of Carlisle Community School District.
I participated in a presentation by Linn County child advocates and was asked to provide an update on my autism legislation. Pictured with me is Chris Kivett-Berry, the director of Early Childhood Iowa in Linn County.
The Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives represents the state’s rural utilities. Senate President Pam Jochum and I talked with JoAnn Neppl of Midland Power Cooperative, which provides power to many of my constituents, about the current state of the power industry and how we can improve it.
Merle Ayers, a former sixth-grade math teacher in Humboldt visited me at the Capitol to discuss a number of education, environmental and human rights issues. During our visit, a Fort Dodge friend, Lisa Shimkat, director of the Small Business Center, also came to the Capitol. I started to introduce the two and discovered that Lisa had been Merle’s student as a sixth-grader. Another one for the “small world, ain’t it” department!
We held an impromptu Fort Dodgers reunion last week at the Capitol. Four great friends and constituents ventured down to make sure their senator was on the job, working for them. We were met by former Fort Dodge city council member and Social Security director John Hale, who now lobbies for health care issues. Pictured are Ed O’Leary, John Hale, I, Dale Struecker and Tom Salvatore. The three amigos are all retired postal workers. Ed and I worked together at the Fort Dodge Post Office when I was a seasonal assistant clerk-carrier, 1965-1967. My dad and grandfather were both rural mail carriers in Iowa.
Several Fort Dodgers and I were joined for lunch by Representative Helen Miller (D-Fort Dodge) and Debbie O’Leary, Ed and Betsy’s daughter. I’ve known Debbie since she was a little girl participating in political events with her activist father. When she was a student at Saint Edmond High School we served together on a Fort Dodge city commission. Debbie used to be the chief of staff for the Senate Democratic Caucus. For the past several years, she has served as the manager of business operations for the Iowa Information Technology Enterprise. Pictured are Representative Miller, Ed O’Leary, Debbie O’Leary, I, Tom Salvatore and Dale Struecker. Ed, Tom and Dale are retired postal employers and are longtime friends.
Rural Electric Cooperatives Day at the Capitol brought friends and constituents representing Prairie Energy, including Don Christopherson, Duncombe, Belva German, Clarion, Mike Moran, Lorrie Holder and Rox Carisch, all from Calhoun County REC, and Darrell Goff from Clarion.
From left to right includes: Jean and Paul Swenson, Shirley Grant, myself, Dean Grant, and Jennifer Horner. Advocates on behalf of Prevention 1st, a group concerned with women's health and family planning, visited the Statehouse on Tuesday, March 19th, 2013.
The Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives is an organization representing the state’s rural electric cooperatives. On Tuesday the organization visited the Capitol and I met with a representatives of Prairie Energy Corporation. From left to right includes: Don Christopherson, Belva German, Ted Hall, myself, Lorrie Holder, Rox Carisch, Mike Moran, and Don Komrad.
Two friends are both involved in the same field – economic development. Dr. Bill Morain served as president of the Decatur County Economic Development Corporation in Lamoni for 12 years and is now the secretary. Lisa Shimkat is the director of the Iowa Small Business Development Center in Fort Dodge. The Small Business Development Centers provide free business advice to Iowans.
Advocates on behalf of Prevention 1st talked with me about women's health and family planning. From left: Jean Swenson and Paul Swenson from Urbandale, Shirley Grant and Dean Grant of Rockwell City, and Jennifer Horner of Red Oak. Among other issues, they encouraged me to support the expansion of Medicaid – which I do.
Irish Parliamentarian Marcella Corcoran-Kennedy (seated) was the guest of honor last week in both the Senate and House of Representatives. She was the VIP at the Emmetsburg Saint Patrick’s Day festivities and parade. She was joined in the speaker’s chair in the House of Representatives by several representatives and senators. Everyone is Irish, of course, on Saint Patrick’s Day. Erin go bragh!
School Administrators of Iowa met with a number of legislators, including several of us on the Senate Education Committee. Pictured (from left): Senator Herman Quirmbach (D-Ames), Tom Narak of the School Administrators of Iowa, I, Senator Bob Dvorsky (D-Coralville), Senator Brian Schoenjahn (D-Arlington), Ames Schools Superintendent Tim Taylor, and Carlisle Schools Superintendent Tom Lane. High on their list of priorities is increasing allowable growth to 4 percent, the Senate has passed 4% four times this year, but the House approved only 2 percent.
Calhoun County REC friends displayed various energy-saving programs and home energy audits they perform for their patrons. RECs are also vital to rural economic development. I’m pictured here with Mike Moran, Lorrie Holder and Roxanne Carisch.
On Wednesday, former Governor Robert Ray visited the Capitol to present the Herbert Hoover Uncommon Public Service Award to Senator Amanda Ragan (D-Mason City) and Representative Dave Heaton (R-Mount Pleasant). Senator Bob Dvorsky (D-Coralville) and I welcomed him to the Senate Chamber. Senator Dvorsky received the Herbert Hoover Uncommon Public Service Award in 2008 and I received it in 2011. Each year one senator and one representative are honored. I love and admire and respect Governor Ray and I thanked him for his leadership in encouraging Iowans to open our hearts and our homes to the “Boat People” from Southeast Asia in the late 70s and early 80s. I noted that today a high school valedictorians are as apt to be named Nguyen as Smith or Jones. I told him I sponsored and floor-managed a bill recognizing the diversity of new Iowans, who often come from refugee camps and hostile environments, many of whom are not even literate in their own language – the English Language Learne
Biodiesel is important to Iowa’s economy. On Wednesday, Senator Joe Bolkcom (D-Iowa City) and I met with biodiesel advocates Bill Horan, chair of the Western Iowa Energy, and Danny Mauser, a former farmer and director of Western Iowa Energy.
Christina Butts, a longtime friend and colleague visited the Senate Chamber on Wednesday and met with Senator Wally Horn (D-Cedar Rapids) and me. The Capitol welcome mat is always extended to friends – old and new. Welcome “home,” Chris!
The Humboldt County Memorial Hospital management team hosted me in their boardroom for a meaningful, substantive, informative and enlightening meeting. CEO Jim Atty compared pros and cons of the Iowa Care program, the governor’s Healthy Iowa plan and expansion of Medicaid. We explored the financial implications and the quality of patient care under the various programs. We discussed rural health care, critical access, Accountable Care Organizations (like Trinity Regional Medical Center), write-offs and charitable care, uniform admission procedures, scope of practice, mental health, tele-health, rural health and veterans’ health issues. I learned that Jim and his team have a tremendous commitment to being mission-driver and customer-driven, not process-driven. I was so impressed by their approach to health care and providing accessible primary care to area residents. Pictured are CFO Art Holle, CEO Jim Atty, I, organizational development director Mary Moritz and community developmen
The Herbert Hoover Foundation honored Senator Amanda Ragan (D-Mason City) with the Herbert Hoover Uncommon Public Service Award. Senator Ragan is an outstanding colleague who really believes in a better future for Iowa and is exceedingly worthy of this honor. In my remarks recognizing her on The Senate floor, following President Pam Jochum’s (D-Dubuque) tribute and citing Amanda’s nomination, I added another of her attributes: Humility.
Scott Bundt from the Duncombe Fire Department, Marty Smith, chief of the Otho Fire Department, and Moorland Fire Department firefighters Zach Gangestad and Sheri Gangestad visited me at their Capitol. We discussed several issues including recruitment and retirement. Many rural volunteer fire departments are struggling to maintain their strength. I am so grateful to and for our firefighters.
Dan Gable has one of the most accomplished athletic and coaching careers in the history of wrestling. As a wrestler for Iowa State University, he lost only one match during his entire time in college and went on to win a Gold Medal in the 1972 Olympics without allowing a competitor to score a single point on him during the entire tournament. He went on to coach at the University of Iowa, where his teams won 15 NCAA titles. On March 21, he joined us in the Senate Chamber for a resolution protesting the International Olympic Committee’s decision to end wrestling. Pictured with us is Senator Tod Bowman, a former wrestler and wrestling coach at Maquoketa High School, and Dan Gable.
Representative Mark Lofgren (R-Muscatine) and I, chair and vice chair respectively of the joint House-Senate International Relations Committee, hosted some local government officials and legislative staffers from Ukraine. They were sponsored by the United States State Department and Iowa Sister States. They were good students of government and asked some insightful questions. I hope my responses were equally insightful!
Friends Bev and John McCartney from Fort Dodge were in the Senate gallery advocating for Medicaid expansion. The McCartneys are retired educators and active AARP members. It was sort of fun showing off for them, my constituents and bosses, while speaking in favor of SF296. The Senate voted to expand Medicaid.
I like to put a face on legislation. Too often in the Legislature we talk about numbers, dollars and percents. That’s not what it’s all about. It’s about people. I cited two constituents in my remarks during debate on the Medicaid expansion (SF296), and how not expanding Medicaid affects them. Former Sheriff Brian Mickelson talked to me last weekend and I cited how high premiums and high deductibility adversely impact on him and his wife. I also read from a letter sent to me by Mrs. Faith Villhauer from Rockwell City, who asked me to “stand up for older Iowans and hardworking low-income Iowans who’ve paid into it throughout their working lives.” The bill passed the Senate along straight party lines and moves to the House of Representatives. (You can see the video of my remarks at www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCpnemj6sbw.)
On Monday, my pastor, The Rev. Michael Willer from Trinity United Methodist Church in Fort Dodge, was the Chaplain of the Day in the Iowa House and Senate. He opened sessions in both houses with prayer. I hosted Pastor Mike in the Senate and Representative Helen Miller hosted him in the House.
Tom Grau, director of the Pocahontas County Economic Development Commission was at the Capitol on Wednesday to receive the award and stopped by the Senate Chamber to share the good news. Tom is so proud of how various communities in Pocahontas County came together to enhance the county. The Keep Iowa Beautiful (KIB) Executive Director Gerald Schnepf acknowledged that Pocahontas is “the first county community to participate in KIB’s Hometown Pride program to building stronger communities.” In the “Small world, ain’t it” Department, I introduced Tom to Caitlin Copper-Leehey, a former Senate page, my clerk for two sessions, and now a legislative intern with Drake Law School. Tom’s daughter, Michelle, and Caitlin are classmates and friends. Congratulations to my Pocahontas County friends and constituents upon earning this well-deserved and prestigious award!
Major General Timothy Orr has been Iowa’s adjutant general for four years and Governor Branstad appointed him for another term. General Orr is a marvelous leader and in my remarks cited his “leadership, service and vision” and his many accomplishments. The Senate confirmed General Orr unanimously. As ranking member and chair, respectively, Senator Ken Rozenboom (R-Oskaloosa) and I accompanied General Orr down the center aisle of the Senate to formally introduce him to our colleagues prior to his confirmation vote.
On Tuesday, a few of my constituents visited me in the Senate gallery. From left, back to front: Dawn Asay of Fort Dodge, me, Claire Asay, Megan Olsen of Austin, Minnesota, and Emily Asay.
Several 4-H members from Humboldt County visited me at their Capitol. Humboldt County 4-H clubs have 143 members, 27 Junior Clover and Clover Kids in 11 clubs and two project clubs. Pictured, left to right, are Maci Ludwig, Faith Bolen, Dillon Kirchoff, I, Cody Thompson, Hannah Bothne, Amy Craven and Sarah Warden. Amy is the Humboldt County Youth Coordinator with Iowa State University Extension.
Three members of Webster County 4-H clubs and their leader joined me on the Senate floor this week. Pictured are Luke Lewandowski, I, Maddy Christensen, Linda Cline, Cole Davis and Representative Helen Miller. This was Luke’s second trip to HIS Capitol this session. He was here last week with TeenPact, a leadership development group. I also know Luke through the Civil Air Patrol in which he is a cadet. Outstanding young man, Luke. Linda is the youth coordinator for Iowa State University Extension and is a fellow member of the Fort Dodge Kiwanis Club. Webster County 4-H clubs have 302 members. The 4-H Youth Development Program offers positive outcomes for Iowa youth, the adults who work with them, and the communities in which they live.
Webster County ID Action team members Linda Mosley, Connie Nichols and Christine Bratland met in the Capitol Rotunda and we discussed the Friendship Center in Fort Dodge, a peer-managed center.
On Tuesday, visitors from seven different nations came to the Statehouse to learn about Iowa’s government and political process. It was fascinating to meet people from such varied parts of the world. From left: Damma Mumuni, a Senior Development Planning Officer from Ghana; Lokman Affandy Yahya of Malaysia; Abigael Mbagaya of the National Land Commission in Kenya, Olfa Zarovi ep Ben Yahia, an Internal Auditor in Tunisia, Anton Pominov of Transparency International in Russia, Yousif Yaqoob Lori of Bahrain, me, Glenn W. Carey of the U.S. State Department, and the Honorable Julius Espat, a parliamentarian from Belize. Senate President Pam Jochum is seated in the front. The group of local and national government and NCO officials were in Iowa studying openness, ethics, accountability and transparency in government. Senator Pam Jochum and I talked about the newly-created Iowa Public Information Board which helps citizens accessing their local governments to enhance open records and public
Two Calhoun County students at the University of Iowa visited me on April 2 and we discussed the Hawkeyes in the NIT tournament, of course, and substantive issues about their Regents education. We discussed the importance of affordable, high-quality public universities to Iowa. More than 100 students, alumni and university leaders traveled to Des Moines to discuss higher education issues, especially the tuition freeze proposed by the Board of Regents. I support a freeze on in-state undergraduate tuition for next year. Pictured from left: Thomas Biedenfeld of Manson, I and Lee Henely of Lake City.
Today I met with Prince Manvendrasingh Gohil of Rajpipla, India.
Prince Gohil is an important voice in India for tolerance and respect for every person. Prince Manvendra made international headlines in March 2006 when he came out. His effigies were burnt in Rajpipla, where the traditional society was shocked. He says the people of his state respect him for his leadership on HIV/AIDS education and
prevention. Prince Gohil is in Iowa to speak at the 8th Annual Iowa
Governor's Conference on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) Youth. It was an honor to welcome him to the Iowa Senate and introduce him to other legislators. More information about Prince Gohil can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manvendra_Singh_Gohil.
University of Havana Law School Professor Maritza McCormack is the first Cuban law professor to ever receive permission from the U. S. government to travel to the United States since the embargo against Cuba began in 1962 – 51 years ago. She is spending the week at Drake University Law School, as a guest of the Agricultural Law Center, teaching classes, meeting with students and faculty and exploring opportunities for future exchanges. On Wednesday, I had the honor of introducing her to the Senate. I noted in my introduction of Professor McCormack, that this was truly a historic event and cited the 1959 visit by Soviet Union Premier Nikita Krushchev to the cornfields of Iowa at the invitation of Iowa farmer and businessman Roswell Garst from Coon Rapids. Both are examples of citizen diplomacy, a people-to-people program established by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956 during the height of the Cold War. Professor McCormack has taught law for nearly 30 years and directs the only g
On Wednesday I had the honor of introducing distinguished Professor Maritza McCormick (left) of Cuba to the Senate. Here she is speaking with Senator Nancy Boettger (right).
On Wednesday I had the honor of introducing distinguished Professor Maritza McCormick (left) of Cuba to the Senate. Senator Nancy Boettger and Senate page Ashley Green stopped by to talk to Professor McCormick. From left: Ashley Green, me, Professor McCormick, Senator Boettger.
Professor Neil Hamilton. From left: Senator Rob Hogg, Professor McCormick, me, and Professor Hamilton.
A few members of the Coalition for Iowa’s Woodlands and Trees visited the Capitol. I spoke with Stephanie Sheetz of Fort Dodge about the importance of Iowa’s trees to the environment, particularly concerning air quality. Pictured with me here are Stephanie Sheetz, Rep. Helen Miller (D- Fort Dodge), and Senator Bill Dotzler (D-Waterloo) Fort Dodge’s “other” or “honorary” Senator.
I got to play the Easter Bunny with three of my 11 grandchildren on Easter Sunday. Jace, Drew and Lily Beall came to Grandpa and Grandma Beall’s house for an old-fashioned Easter egg hunt. They raked in the loot!
To your health! Two Senate colleagues and I met with Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, the director of the Iowa Department of Public Health. We were celebrating the University of Iowa’s Hawkeye Caucus at the State Historical Building. Pictured with Dr. Miller-Meeks and I are Senator Amanda Ragan (D-Mason City) and Senator Rita Hart (D- Wheatland).
Rep. Helen Miller and I are pictured in the Senate Chamber with Prince Manvendrasingh Gohil of Rajpipla, India, and Sylvester Merchant, CEO and co-founder of Prince Manvendra’s charity, Lakshya Trust. The crown prince is the only openly gay member of royalty and advocated for tolerance and inclusion and prevention of HIV/AIDS.
Representatives of the Woodward Resource Center visited with Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell (D-Ames) and me in the Statehouse rotunda. “Amazing” Grace Amemiya, Ames, and Shirlee Trent, Fort Dodge, are advocates for Iowans living with complex physical and intellectual disabilities. Both Grace and Shirlee are good personal friends.
Corey Kasch, franchisee for McDonald’s restaurants in Fort Dodge, Webster City, Algona, Emmetsburg, Estherville and Okoboji, visited me at the Capitol on Tuesday. We discussed commercial property tax and Main Street issues. I learned that more people from Webster County utilize the Ronald McDonald House in Des Moines more than any other county in Iowa. The Ronald McDonald House is available to families while their children are hospitalized at Blank Children’s Hospital and other hospitals. McDonalds introduced their new Premium McWrap at the Capitol. Yummy and healthy!
Resident Bishop Julius Calvin Trimble of the Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church was my guest this week as Chaplain of the Day. Bishop Trimble delivered a marvelous prayer and met with several of my colleagues and pages, including Ashley Green from Wapello, Iowa.
The Iowa Association of Independent Colleges and Universities is an organization composed of 27 private, non-profit institutions throughout the state. On Wednesday a few leaders from these colleges visited the Capitol to discuss the role they play educating Iowa’s next generation of leaders. From left: Senator Amanda Ragan, Dr. Frederick Moore, President of Buena Vista University, and I.
Iowa’s private colleges and universities presidents were at the Capitol Wednesday. I joined Dr. Fred Moore, president of Buena Vista University, for a few minutes in the Senate gallery, and introduced Senate page Hanna Zinn from Spencer. Hanna will be a freshman at Buena Vista this fall and will major in international business. I told them in introducing them, “Fred, I like you, and Hanna, I like you. So you two will surely like each other.” I am a proud graduate of Buena Vista University where I majored in political science and history with a teaching endorsement.
On April 9, Ambassador Quinn hosted legislators and staff at the World Food Prize headquarters in Des Moines. The building features gorgeous artwork that tells the story of Iowa's efforts to feed the world and of Norman Borlaug, founder of the World Food Prize and Cresco native. From left: myself, staffer Erica Shorkey, Sen. Steve Sodders (D-State Center), my clerk Casey Erixon, Sen. Bill Dotzler (D-Waterloo), Sen. Mary Jo Wilhelm (D-Cresco), Sen. Liz Mathis (D-Robins), intern Matt Uttermark, intern Kelly Arndt, and Asa Shorkey.
My three grandchildren from Virginia visited Grandpa and Grandma Beall last weekend. I dearly love and enjoy the little ones, Luke James, 1, William, 3, and Katen, 5.
Several senators took our clerks for dinner at the World Food Prize. Pictured in front of the painting of Dr. Norman Borlaug are Marae Hart, Senator Rita Hart (D-Wheatland), I and Casey Erixon. Marae is her mother’s clerk and Casey is my clerk. He is majoring in political science at Drake University. We all sit in the same row, next to each other, on the Senate floor.
Two former Vincent people, Jeannine and Dale Cochran, were at the Capitol on Wednesday for Pioneer Legislators Day. Dale represented the people of Webster County in the Iowa House of Representatives. His peers elected him speaker, the top leader in the House. He later was elected Iowa’s secretary of agriculture. The Cochran. I’ve known the Cochrans since I was a student at Iowa Central Community College, 1965-66. Their son-in-law John Forbes is a state representative from Urbandale. He is married to the former Cindy Cochran. Politics is kind of a family affair.
On April 9, Ambassador Quinn hosted legislators and staff at the World Food Prize headquarters in Des Moines. The building features gorgeous artwork that tells the story of Iowa's efforts to feed the world and of Norman Borlaug, founder of the World Food Prize and Cresco native. The former Des Moines Public Library, built in 1900, now houses the World Food Prize. The facility is absolutely stunning having received a $30 million refurbishing. But just as stunning are the educational and service-learning programs sponsored by the World Food Prize and aimed at training new Norman Borlaug, the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize recipient and “father of the green revolution.” He is credited with saving more human lives than and person in history. And speaking of green, the remodeled facility is green, and earned the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) platinum award. Most impressive – the building, the people and the program – World Food Prize. I am proud to be an Iowan. I enco
I met a remarkable man a few weeks ago during the Hawkeye Caucus held at the Iowa Historical Building. Alec Brobston served in the United States Army and returned home to Iowa and is attending the University of Iowa where he is majoring in criminal justice. He spoke eloquently and passionately from the heart, not from notes, and really impressed me. He helped organize Team Iowa at the University of Iowa. It is composed of former veterans for former veterans and Alec is a veterans adviser. I invited Alec to address the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, which he did with aplomb. Alec served his nation with distinction and continues to serve his fellow veterans in their transition from military life to civilian life as students. Thank you and God bless you, Alec!
A group of Russian students visited the Statehouse to learn how Iowa’s government works. Senator Rob Hogg and I told them about our work in the Senate. They are human services professionals so I invited friend and colleague Senator Amanda Ragan (D – Mason City), chair of the Human Resources Appropriations Subcommittee, to talk with our Russian visitors about policy and funding.
On Wednesday the 133rd Air National Guard Test Squadron visited the Senate. They recently won the 2012 Air Force Outstanding Unit Award. It was an honor to introduce them to the Senate. I spoke to Major Jeff Clemens of Fort Dodge. Thank you for your service Jeff!
Advocates rallied at the Statehouse on April 17 to raise awareness of the detrimental impacts of climate change. Senator Chris Brase and I joined the group, which included Smokey Bear and Glori Dei Filoppone.
“Pinned!” Friend Rita Carlson and I pinned each other over a cup of coffee on Saturday. Rita is the regent for Court 216 of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas and is state chair of the 50th bicentennial Catholic Daughters convention to be held in Fort Dodge April 19 and 20. I provided senator lapel pins for the 200 members expected to participate in the convention and made her an honorary senator. And she pinned me, making me an honorary Catholic Daughter. Obviously I must be an honorary member because I otherwise not qualified being a man and Protestant. As regent, Rita has grown Court 216 by 25 percent since 2010. There are now 286 members. God bless you, Rita, and your ministry. I hope your convention in Fort Dodge is successful. Thanks for all you do . . . and are.
The 133rd Air National Guard Test Squadron based in Fort Dodge recently earned the 2012 Air Force Outstanding Unit Award. It was an honor to introduce some of the squadron members to the House and Senate and thank them for their service. Pictured in the House Chamber are (from left) Rep. Helen Miller (D – Fort Dodge), Lt. Col. Kerry Gill, Master Stg. Jeffery Halloway, Captain Luke Ascherl, Tech Stg. Lynn Koger, Commander of the 133rd Squadron Lt. Col. Jeff Clemons and I. Representative Miller was the chief sponsor of a House resolution recognizing the 133rd.
Lt. Col. Jeff Clemens, unit commander for the 133rd Air National Guard Test Squadron based in Fort Dodge and I chatted on the Senate floor after introducing them to a standing ovation by senators.
Kelly Oeltjenbruns from Dayton, and John Bray from Clinton, both students at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, visited the Iowa Senate on Wednesday. Both are majoring in political science and history and were visiting their Capitol to augment their classroom work. They were hosted by Tina Hargis, director of the Office of Vehicle Services at the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT). I explained the legislative process and had lunch with them in the Legislative Dining Room. They accompanied me to the Transportation Committee meeting where I introduced them and recognized Tina, who has provided a lot of assistance to legislators on behalf of the DOT. She was responsible for designing and producing the Gold Star license plate that was created by a bill I sponsored and floor-managed a few years ago. One of the prototypes was designed for me as the SPNSR (sponsor), which I am pictured holding on the Senate floor. Kelly is the daughter of Brad and Lori Oeltjenbruns from Dayton.
Translating strikes me as an interesting job, with the diverse people, cultures and travel it entails. On April 22, I met with a group of St. Petersburg University students from Russia who are studying to be Russian-English translators. Their visit to the Statehouse was led by Lyudmila Bali of Grimes. I love making friends for Iowa.
I love talking to foreign exchange students, they have such interesting perspective. On Tuesday Becky Corbett (seventh from right), the Regional Coordinator for the Eastern Iowa Educational Foundation of Foreign Study visited the Senate Chamber with some students from Germany, Norway, and Denmark. They got the chance to meet several state senators, including Senator Rita Hart (left), me (fourth from left),and Mike Gronstal (ninth from left).
Last Sunday my oldest grandchild, Lydia Sink from Cedar Falls, celebrated her 21st birthday. Her two grandpas concur that Lydia is the cutest girl on the UNI campus. She is as beautiful on the inside as on the outside.
DMACC International Club Vice President Shabana Basha from India presented me with the club’s T-shirt.
The international students at Des Moines Area Community College Urban Campus invited me to speak at the Monday International Club meeting. We discussed citizen diplomacy and elements of leadership. I love returning to the classroom, especially to discuss something near and dear to my heart – citizen diplomacy. President Eisenhower proposed people-to-people programs in 1956, during the height of the Cold War.
Farah Hashim from Iraq designed the T-shirt. We had met previously at various international functions.
On Wednesday, the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association visited the Statehouse to cook up some lunch. I talked with farmer David Vainreb of Pocahontas about his herd and how this important industry has changed over the years. He talked about the importance of 4-H clubs and other agricultural groups in keeping children interested in agricultural fields such as ranching. His 15-year-old daughter Bailey has her own cow-calf project to help pay for her upcoming college expenses.
In his new book, "America’s Climate Century", State Senator Rob Hogg of Cedar Rapids calls on Americans to make the fight against climate change our new national purpose. After the heat and drought of 2012, Hurricane Sandy and all of the other recent climate disasters, he says that it is time for America to take climate action. Books are $10. Please let me know if you would like to purchase Senator Hogg’s book.
Gee, this week was very international! I welcomed some unexpected visitors, high school students from France. The Capitol tour guide asked me to come up and greet them in the Senate Gallery, which I was glad to do. I told them that French philosophers contributed so much to our Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights: Rousseau’s concept of popular sovereignty, Montesquieu’s idea of checks and balances and separation of powers, Voltaire’s views on civil liberties and freedom of speech. Of course General Lafayette helped win our war for independence.
The Rev. Bienvenido Acosta, pastor at Life and Hope Presbyterian Church in Fort Dodge, was my guest on Thursday. He served as Chaplain of the Day in both the House of Representatives and Senate, opening both houses with prayer. He, his wife Marianela, and I are pictured in the Senate Chamber. Pastor Acosta delivered a marvelous prayer, drawing the thanks and praise of many House and Senate members. And my unending gratitude.
Former Iowa State basketball player Royce White was introduced in the Iowa House of Representatives and the Senate Thursday to raise awareness of mental illness. The stop in Des Moines is White’s first stop of a tour across the US this year to raise awareness of mental diseases. Royce White was a star player during the Cyclones' 2011 - 2012 season. He was drafted last summer by the NBA's Houston Rockets. He suffers from generalized anxiety disorder, which makes him unable to fly because of his fear of heights, and exhibits other fears and phobias. The mental health condition causes worry and inability to relax or concentrate, so his adjustment to aggressive NBA scheduling and life was very difficult. He played with the Rockets' developmental league affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, whose season ended last Sunday. “Like millions of other Americans, I struggle with my disease every day. It’s time for all of us to end the stigma surrounding mental illnesses and make sure eve
Miss Greater Des Moines, Katie Cole from Fort Dodge, visited the Capitol on Thursday. She is competing for Miss Iowa in June as part of the Miss America pageant. She was introduced in the House by Representative Helen Miller (D-Fort Dodge) and I introduced her in the Iowa Senate where she received a standing ovation. Katie is the daughter of Webster County medical examiner Dr. Dan Cole. She attended Iowa Central Community College and is a student at Northwest Missouri State University majoring in management and marketing. She’s also a varsity cheerleader. May she be selected Miss Iowa and then Miss America! She’s already very regal. Pictured are Representative Helen Miller (D-Fort Dodge), House Republican Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer (R-Clear Lake), Katie Cole and I.
Preceding his prayer, The Rev. Bien Acosta, met with House Speaker Kraig Paulsen (R-Hiawatha). Pictured are Representative Helen Miller, Pastor Acosta, I, and Representative Paulsen.
Royce White played basketball and was the leading scorer for Iowa State from 2011-2012 before he went on to be a first-round draft pick in the NBA. He also has been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), which causes people to experience “exaggerated worry and tension” according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Since going public with GAD he has become an outspoken advocate for those with mental health issues, pointing out their prevalence in society. As part of his advocacy on Thursday White visited the House and Senate Chambers.
I love it when college students visit the Senate, they have so much energy. On Tuesday, a group from Central Iowa Community College came to see the Statehouse and Representative Gary Worthan and I showed them the view from the Senate Gallery. Student Senate members from Iowa Central Community College visited me this week and I hosted them in the Senate Gallery during debate, explaining the process between votes. I love hosting students at their Capitol, particularly from Iowa Central, where I was Student Senate president, oh, just a few years ago. The students were accompanied by teacher and Student Senate adviser, David Drissell. We were joined by Iowa Central Vice President (and former state senator) Jim Kersten, with whom I work closely on community college issues and legislation. President Pam Jochum (D-Dubuque) introduced the students to the entire Senate and they received a standing ovation.
Eggs and Issues is a monthly event sponsored by the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance and Iowa Central Community College. It’s a marvelous opportunity for my constituents to ask questions and learn about what’s happening in the Iowa Senate. Representative Helen Miller (D-Fort Dodge) and always participate and are often joined by Representative Tom Shaw (R-Laurens). The April meeting included U. S. Representative Steve King (R-Kiron). Pictured to my left are Representative Miller, Congressman King and Representative Shaw.
Today I met with former ISU basketball player Royce White at the Iowa Senate. White, who was a first round draft pick in the NBA last year, was at the Iowa Statehouse to launch a national campaign to raise awareness of mental disorders. White’s professional basketball career has been negatively affected by his generalized anxiety disorder. I told White I’m working to fully fund Iowa’s mental health reforms, which will give every Iowan access to high quality care. For more information, here’s a link to a Des Moines Register article, including a video, on this issue: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20130425/NEWS/
The city of Johnston (home of Camp Dodge) and Peja, Kosovo, (home of Kosovo Security Force Minister Agim Ceku) are in the process of becoming Sister Cities. The mayor of Peja, Ali Berisha, was our guest at the Capitol and I presented him with a ceramic tile from the joint House-Senate International Relations Committee. Pictured with me are fellow members of the IR committee, Representatives Deb Berry (D-Waterloo) and John Landon (R-Ankeny).
John Olson was a Senate page in 1941 and 1943 when we had biennial sessions of the legislature. He lives in Des Moines and stopped by the Capitol to revisit his youthful “home.” I grabbed a page’s jacket and tried it on for size. John has maintained his school boy figure – the jacket still fits – 70 years later! Welcome home, John!
The Consul General of Turkey in Chicago, Fatih Yildiz, paid a diplomatic visit to the Senate on Tuesday. He was born in Ankara and has worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affair since 1994. Yildiz spoke about the excellent relationship between Turkey and Iowa, and invited everyone to a Turkish reception later that day. From left: me, His Excellency Fatih Yildiz, and Senator Rita Hart.
The Consul General of Turkey in Chicago, Fatih Yildiz, paid a diplomatic visit to the Senate on Tuesday. He was born in Ankara and has worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affair since 1994. Consul General Yildiz spoke about the excellent relationship between Turkey and Iowa, and invited everyone to a Turkish reception later that day which provided yummy Turkish food including baklava. From left: Senate President Pam Jochum (D-Dubuque), His Excellency Fatih Yildiz, Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (D-Council Bluffs) and I.
The Consul General of Turkey in Chicago, Fatih Yildiz, paid a diplomatic visit to the Senate on Tuesday. He was born in Ankara and has worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affair since 1994. Yildiz spoke about the excellent relationship between Turkey and Iowa, and invited everyone to a Turkish reception later that day. From left: Senator Tom Courtney, Senator Brian Schoenjahn, His Excellency Fatih Yildiz, and I.
The Consul General of Turkey in Chicago, Fatih Yildiz, paid a diplomatic visit to the Senate on Tuesday. He was born in Ankara and has worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affair since 1994. Yildiz spoke about the excellent relationship between Turkey and Iowa, and invited everyone to a Turkish reception later that day. As the ranking Senate member of the Joint International Relations Committee, I presented him with a Certificate of Recognition. From left: me, His Excellency Fatih Yildiz.
On Wednesday, 36 fifth- and sixth-graders from Saint Mary’s School in Humboldt visited their Statehouse to learn more about Iowa’s government. I joined them in the Senate gallery to provide them with a birds’ eye view of the chamber during debate. (I must be in the Senate Chamber to vote, but when in the gallery I raise my right index finger to vote yes and thumbs down to vote no. I am a former government teacher, so naturally I love the opportunity to share my love of public service and politics with young people. I also encouraged the young people to consider becoming a Senate page as high school juniors and seniors. They were accompanied by several parents and teacher Katie Phillips, and were introduced to the entire Senate by President Pam Jochum (D-Dubuque).
Paul Sink, my 17-year-old grandson, was confirmed Wednesday evening at Saint Patrick’s Church in Cedar Falls. Paul is a junior at Columbus Catholic High School in Waterloo. Paul is a kind-hearted young man and is very bright and articulate. I am very proud of him and the young gentleman he’s becoming. Pictured with Paul are his glowing grandparents, Jo Ann and I.
We have 14 high school seniors who are Senate pages. They’re a marvelous and helpful group of young people. Thursday was the last day for most of them, although some will come in next week. As a former government teacher, I believe their experience in the legislature is a marvelous learning experience. They perform various duties to help legislators. They’ve learned two axioms from me: “Politics is glamorous and exciting” (I remind them of that when they’re performing boring or routine tasks) and “If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it all wrong,” a quote I attribute to Dr. Bill Ryan.
After his presentation to the Senate, I thanked Turkish Consul General Fatih Yildiz and presented him with a certificate of appreciation from the Senate leadership. Mr. Yildiz is a delightful gentleman and loves Iowa and Iowans.
In my remarks I noted that “the face of Iowa is changing, literally and figurative.” That is especially true of Celenia Gonzalez, who has settled in Fonda, is raising her lovely family there, and has opened a Mexican restaurant. She was one of the organizers and speakers at the Hometown Pride celebration.
The people and nine communities of Pocahontas County are justifiably proud of earning honors in the Keep Iowa Beautiful Hometown Pride project. I believe the process – collaboration and cooperation – are as important as the product. Fonda also was selected as an Iowa’s Living Roadways Community Visioning City. I was honored to be invited to participate and to speak. Fonda City Clerk Phyllis Menke is a longtime friend and helped orchestrate the contest entries and the celebration event.
Remember the Honda TV commercials several years ago, featuring Rhonda from Fonda in her Honda? Well, that Rhonda has since moved away, but I met her replacement, Wanda from Fonda, who indeed owns a Honda, but this Honda is a motor bike. Wanda Krier is the Hometown Pride chair.
Max and Lauren Foecke, six-month-old boy and girl twins of Sue and Ben Foecke, recently visited their Capitol. “Grandpa” Beall loves babies and carted Max around the Senate Chamber. Sue is our caucus staff economic development analyst. Dad Ben works for the Iowa Democratic Party.
On Tuesday the Annual Vietnam Veterans Day Event was held at the Monument Area to the south of the Statehouse. In attendance were many service veterans and their spouses from across the state. Thank you to all who have served, we appreciate your sacrifice! From left: Senator Amanda Ragan, Senator Mary Jo Wilhelm, Cheryl Tan Creti of West Des Moines, me, Senator Bill Dotzler, Joe Hays of Truro, and Senator Liz Mathis.
On Tuesday the Annual Vietnam Veterans Day Event was held at the Monument Area to the south of the Statehouse. In attendance were many service veterans and their spouses from across the state. Thank you to all who have served, we appreciate your sacrifice!
On Tuesday, the Annual Vietnam Veterans Day memorial ceremony was held at the the Iowa Vietnam Veterans Monument south of the Statehouse. Veterans and their spouses from across the state came to Des Moines to share in the event. Pictured, from left: Senator Amanda Ragan, Senator Mary Jo Wilhelm, Cheryl TanCreti of West Des Moines, Senator Daryl Beall, Senator Bill Dotzler, and veteran Joe Hays of Truro, and Senator Liz Mathis. Cheryl works with the Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall, a traveling, threequarter-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
On May 7, the Annual Vietnam Veterans Day memorial ceremony was held at the Iowa Vietnam Monument south of the Statehouse. Veterans and their spouses from across the state came to Des Moines to share in the event. Pictured, from left: Senator Amanda Ragan, Senator Mary Jo Wilhelm, Cheryl TanCreti of West Des Moines, Senator Daryl Beall, Senator Bill Dotzler, AMVETS member Joe Hays, and Senator Liz Mathis. Cheryl works with the Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall, a traveling, three-quarter-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Pictured with Iowa Vietnam Veterans are (front, from left) Rep. Mary Gaskill, Rep. Jerry Kearns, Senator Mary Jo Wilhelm, Senator Daryl Beall, Senator Amanda Ragan, Senator Ken Rozenboom, Senator Rita Hart and Senator Amy Sinclair. Back, from left: Senator Joni Ernst, Senator Bill Dotzler and Rep. Chuck Isenhart.
I always like to thank our service members in uniform and veterans, especially Vietnam veterans. Unlike veterans of other wars, these vets did not return to heroes’ welcomes. That’s terribly sad and unfortunate. Regardless of the popularity of a war, we owe those who fight it our support and gratitude.
Members of the Des Moines Fairgrounds VFW Post 738 provided the rifle salute.
The color guard at the event was composed of North Iowa residents who are members of the Jerry Parmley Chapter 790 of the Vietnam Veterans of America. From left: Senator Bill Dotzler of Waterloo, Vietnam Era Veteran, Chuck Thome of Chapter 790, Senator Amanda Ragan of Mason City and I. Senator Ragan and I sponsored the resolution creating Vietnam Veterans Recognition Day six years ago.
The Iowa Resource for International Service (IRIS) is an Ames-based non-profit organization that was founded 20 years ago. Each year IRIS places several students from Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Pakistan, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Tunisia, Turkey, West Bank and Yemen in Iowa high schools and facilitates international students in Iowa community colleges and universities. Women in Leadership is a project whereby potential future leaders are identified and trained in Nigeria. IRIS was recognized with the National Award for Outstanding Achievement in Citizen Diplomacy by the United States Center for Citizen Diplomacy. As vice-chair of the joint House-Senate International Relations Committee, I introduced Del Christensen, executive director of IRIS, during a session of the Senate and presented him with a certificate of recognition proclaiming, “The International Relations Committee recognizes and commends the Iowa
Two cops from my past are now Capitol security officers. No, they didn’t arrest me! Pictured are Curtis Scott, I and Gerri McCurdy. Curtis was the police chief in Waukee where I was the justice of the peace back in the 70s. Gerri was a constituent and Iowa State Patrol officer and president of the Iowa Troopers Association. He lived in Rockwell City then. They’re still protecting and serving. Thank you, gentlemen!
On Tuesday the Annual Vietnam Veterans Day Event was held at the Monument Area to the south of the Statehouse. In attendance were many service veterans and their spouses from across the state. Thank you to all who have served, we appreciate your sacrifice! Front row, from left, includes: Rep. Mary Gaskill, Rep. Jerry Kearns, Senator Mary Jo Wilhelm, me, Senator Amanda Ragan, Senator Ken Rozenboom, Senator Rita Hart and Senator Amy Sinclair, along with Vietnam Veterans. The back row, from left to right, includes: Senator Joni Ernst, Senator Bill Dotzler and Rep. Isenhart.
On Tuesday the fifth-graders from Humboldt Middle School took a field trip to the State Capitol. I explained the legislative process, and we made it up to the Senate gallery.
On Tuesday the fifth-graders from Humboldt Middle School took a field trip to the State Capitol and the classes of Becky Ross and Kathy Stover even made it up to the Senate gallery.
On Tuesday, the fifth-grade classes of Becky Ross, Kathy Stover, Rachelle Mau and DeAnn Hatcher from Humboldt Middle School took a field trip to the State Capitol.
I explained the legislative process to the Humboldt students and asked who could identify the three white horses in the “Westward” mural visible from the second floor of the building. The bright young man I am “pinning,” Kord Hoover, was the first to correctly answer, so now he is an honorary senator.
I am always happy to see friends and neighbors from my district at the Capitol. On Wednesday Regina and Kraig Barber visited the Senate Chamber. It was also Regina’s birthday on Wednesday. Happy Birthday Regina!
I chair the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. At a special meeting on May 6, serious issues were raised about conditions at the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown. We heard testimony concerning allegations of a hostile work environment, mistreatment and harassment of staff and veteran-residents. Legislators will continue to investigate this situation and will take further action if needed. We expect the Iowa Veterans Home to be run in the most professional way. Those who have served and sacrificed deserve the highest quality care we can offer.
I serve on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. At a special meeting on Monday, May 6, serious issues were raised concerning the conditions at the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown. We heard testimony from Veterans Home Commandant David Worley and from former employees concerning allegations of a hostile work environment, mistreatment and sexual harassment. I believe this is a matter for the Government Oversight Committee, which can subpoena testimony and other evidence.
Ernie Doeringsfeld was my principal when I taught political science courses at Urbandale High School back in the 70s. Last weekend Ernie and I got together for dinner and some reminiscing. Ernie still lives in Urbandale and has been retired for several years. He still maintains a high interest in students and good schools. Ernie was a great school administrator and has been a marvelous friend for more than 40 years.
Queenie Jaun Li has been a communications intern for the Senate Democratic Caucus. She is a student at Iowa State University. On her last day, Queenie was joined by her mother from Taiwan. Pictured are Queenie, I, and Kung-Ti Chang. Thank you – xie xie – Queenie! You have been a marvelous member of our Senate family.
DeAnn Hatcher’s class gathered in the Senate gallery on Wednesday.
I hosted three of the four classes from Humboldt Middle School in the Senate Gallery where I explained the legislative process. Pages Dalton Schmit from Independence and Hanna Zinn from Spencer talked to the fifth-graders encouraging them to Senate pages when they become high school juniors and seniors. Pictured here are Kathy Stover’s class on the left and Becky Ross’s class on the right.
Theodore Beall Sink is my 14-year-old grandson and he played the role of a frog in a musical play at his school, Saint Patrick’s, in Cedar Falls. It was a take-off on nursery rhyme stories, complete with princesses. Theo sang and danced to “Mambo Bullfrog” and delighted in his role. I think he liked getting kissed by two beautiful princesses – simultaneously! Lucky guy, Theo!
I sampled diversity – especially at the lunch table, where various Asian villages provided their national dishes. I sat between Songphol Sukchan, Royal Thai consul general, and Yoshida Masaharu, consul general of Japan. Pictured here is His Excellency Songphol Sukchan as we were enjoying a delicious Thai dish with curry, garlic and exotic spices. It was yummy.
Sanjita Shrestha is the executive officer with the Office of Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs and the Office on the Status of Women. She was recognized at the CelebrAsian event for her contributions and leadership. Sanjita is a Nepalese-American and was at the Iowa Asian Alliance event as both a participant and as a mom – her two sons performed on stage. I am proud of the fact that several years ago I was the chief sponsor of the legislation that created the Office of Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs within the Department of Human Rights.
At the recent CelebrAsian event in Des Moines, I got to hold my little friend, Adam Pan Leatherby, and introduce him to the China panda. Adam is the 10-month-old son of friends Na Pan (“Panna”) and James Leatherby.
Anggun Dewi Astuty volunteered at the Indonesian village in her traditional dress. Anggun is a senior at North High School in Des Moines and plans to visit her native country this summer.
The CelebrAsian festival was held at the Statehouse grounds on Saturday and was a hit. I love meeting and getting to know people who look different than the reflection in my own mirror. And I had lots of opportunities to do that, taste international foods, watch performances and see folks in their national attire. A dozen different Asian “villages” – Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Filipino, Indonesian, Indian, Taidam, Vietnamese, Nepalese, Thai, etc. CelebrAsian is sponsored by the Iowa Asian Alliance. Photo 1) I met a delightful gentleman and gentle man, Jagtar Singh, a Sikh American. Sikhs are monotheistic, believe in equality based on race, gender, economic and social status, and freedom of religion and community service. It is a distinct religion, separate from Hinduism and Islam. The Sikh faith was established in the Punjab region (then Pakistan, now India) in 1469 by Guru Nanak, the first of 11 guru leaders. With 30 million faithful followers, it is the fifth largest religion i
Several Sikhs welcomed me to their booth at CelebrAsian and wrapped a turban around my head. Sikh men do not cut their hair and do not use alcohol, tobacco or drugs.
At the Japanese village, I talked with Kiyo Matsuyama, president of the Iowa Japanese Association, whom I had worked with on the 50th anniversary of the Japanese Peace Bell ceremony and with the Iowa-Yamanashi Sister State linkage. His daughter, Erika, is an artist and attends college in Minnesota. I purchased a coffee mug that she had designed.
Mindy Larsen Poldberg, government relations director for the Iowa Corn Growers Association, one of the sponsors of the conservation demonstration field day, welcomed Senator Hart and me to the event. It was a very informative and illuminating experience.
Legislators have worked hard during the 2013 session to create more opportunities for Iowans who want to improve their skills and businesses that need more skilled workers. This is the best way to grow Iowa’s middle class and our state’s economy. We can do it by providing more resources to our community colleges so that Iowans can get their GED, learn basic skills and earn industry-recognized certificates in welding, health care, technology and other areas. I shared those thoughts this week with Senator Brian Schoenjahn of Arlington, chair of the Senate Education Budget, which provides funding for many of Iowa’s most successful job-training initiatives.
The Iowa Department of Agriculture, Iowa Land Improvement Contractors Association and the Iowa Corn Growers Association held a conservation demonstration field day on Tuesday at a farm located near Melbourne. Several conservation practices are visible on the 80-acre farm, including wetlands, terraces, sediment control basins, grass waterways, water control structures, a bioreactor and a rain garden. We observed nitrate reduction projects in action at the wetlands. Iowa State University Professor William Crumpton demonstrated the sediment control project to Senator Rita Hart (D-Wheatland) and me.
Former Representative Dan Rasmussen (R-Independence) showed Senator Hart and me the wetlands and sediment control basins. He is the executive director of the Iowa Land Improvement Contractors Association, whose members build many of the conservation projects.
Senator Matt McCoy (D-Moines) and I serve on the Transportation and Infrastructure Appropriations Subcommittee; he as chair and I as vice chair. We were on the conference committee that hammered out differences between the House and Senate versions. I am a strong proponent of the lakes and rivers restoration funding and was pleased with the results. I am also a rail proponent and we were not successful. Fort Dodge Aviation Director Rhonda Chambers will be pleased. We got $1.5 million for commercial airports.
Governor Terry Branstad signed into law an economic development bill that I worked for this session. The legislation expands tax credits available for historic preservation and for cultural and entertainment districts. The initiative is part of my efforts on encourage economic growth and community development. I see opportunities for our local communities written all over this bill. The Governor gave me a pen that he used to sign the bill.
A delegation of young entrepreneurs from Tajikistan visited the Statehouse on May 17 during their travels through the United States as part of an Open World Leadership Center program. Iowa Sister States hosted the group during the Iowa leg of their journey. Senator Rita Hart of Wheatland and I were happy to talk with them about our work as state legislators when they stopped by the Senate Chamber. Pictured (from left): Maya Vahobova (Interpreter), Azizmo Manonova, Mubin Mukhammedov, Parviz Kamoletdinov (Facilitator), Lola Ashurova, I, Akmal Rakhmonov, Sen. Hart and Musaer Akovirov.
Paws & Effect is an Iowa-based nonprofit that trains service dogs to help with a variety of disabilities, including autism, Traumatic Brain Injury and mobility impairments. Volunteers recently brought their service dogs “in training” to the Statehouse, where legislators had a chance to learn more about the work they do. Pictured with me here are Marilyn Romine and service dog in-training Jackie. For more on Paws & Effect, go to www.paws-effect.org.
Beth Howard is “America’s Pie Lady.” She bakes yummy pies and owns and operates “The Pitchfork Pie Stand” at the American Gothic House, where she lives, in Eldon, Iowa Her motto is “the world needs more pie.” Amen! You may remember Beth for her good heart as much as her delicious pies. She traveled to Newtown, Connecticut, last December after the Sandy Hook shootings and provides hundreds of pies to volunteers, law enforcement personnel and mourners, with her message of hope in the form of pies. Iowa is proud of Beth Howard.
Welcome to the world, Luca Martin Janvrin! Luca is the brand new son of friends Jimmy and Lisa Janvrin. Grandpa Daryl loves babies and Luca is so tiny. Babies come in small packages, but he arrived in a family where he will never want for love.
Rose Daniels from Humboldt is the Rabbit Princess, named by the Iowa State Rabbit Breeders Association. We were in the Frontier Days parade. Her Royal Highness is a delightful young lady.
I had a lot of walkers who accompanied me in the Frontier Days parade. It’s the first of the season. The next parade will be at Heritage Days in Pocahontas on Saturday, July 22.
Michael Von Bank and I have been friends since he was quite small. He has joined me in numerous parades. Michael is an outstanding young man, Boy Scout, soccer player and friend. With us is Webster County Sheriff Jim Stubbs.
I had some family help walking in the Frontier Days parade. Pictured are my grandson Theo Sink, daughter Lora Sink, and grandson Christopher Sink. They live in Cedar Falls. Christopher is a student at the University of Northern Iowa, Theo attends Columbus Catholic High School in Waterloo and Lora teaches at Saint Patrick’s School in Cedar Falls. I’m mighty grateful for your help. Thanks!
Helen Beneke and Sherry Williams, both from Pocahontas, joined me in the Frontier Days parade. Poky Mayor Dick Gruber also joined us but is not pictured.
Steve and Debby Roe were honored at the 2013 Frontier Days Parade grand marshals and Citizens of the Year in Fort Dodge. They were recognized largely for founding the Beacon of Hope, a homeless men’s shelter. As a matter of faith, they invested their own money, by mortgaging their home, and a lot of sweat equity in establishing the needed facility at the former Masonic Temple. Steve is the executive director and Debby is the business administrator. Steve and Debby are active members of my church, Trinity United Methodist, which helped with the project. You may know them from their performances with the Hawkeye Community Theater and Comedia Musica Players. Congratulations and a hearty thank you to Steve and Debby Roe! Thank you for all you do – and are.
I was honored to share the reviewing platform with Steve and Debby Roe, Fort Dodge’s grand marshals in the annual Frontier Days parade, and as 2013 Citizens of the Year. We are members of Trinity United Methodist Church. The Roes founded and funded the Beacon of Hope homeless men’s shelter.
Ashley Green was a Senate page during the 2013 session who impressed me by her maturity, communications and interpersonal skills and her interest in international relations. I was honored to participate in her graduation party from Wapello High School in Louisa County. She will attend Iowa Wesleyan University in Mount Pleasant this fall. Congratulations, Ashley! And thanks for doing such a great job as a Senate page.
Senate President Pam Jochum welcomed the Prime Minister to her office. We presented the delegation with Iowa flags and gifts. Pictured are Republic of Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaqi, Iowa Adjutant General Timothy Orr, Senator Jochum and I.
Senator Rita Hart (D-Wheatland), a member of the International Relations Committee, and I met with my friend General Gashi.
As chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee and co-chair of the International Relations Committee, I've been involved in developing Iowa's relationship with the Republic of Kosovo. Last October, I met with the Minister of the Kosovo Security Force, Minister of Education and other leaders in the Kosovo capital of Pristina. I also met with Ambassador Ismaili and General Gashi. Gov. Branstad will sign an agreement establishing a Sister State relationship between Kosovo and Iowa. The Ambassador made an historic announcement on Thursday when he said that Kosovo will open a consular office in Des Moines, which will host the Consul General from Kosovo. Pictured: Iowa Adjutant General Timothy Orr, Brigadier General Xhavit Gashi, Kosovo Secruity Force attaché, Kosovo Ambassador to the U.S. Akan Ismaili, International Relations Committee Ranking member Rep. Deborah Berry (D-Waterloo), Republic of Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaqi, International Relations Committee Chair Rep. Mark Lofgren (R-Mus
Deb Cook, R.N, is working on her master's degree in nursing education and had a homework assignment for her public policy course. She chose to research the Affordable Care Act and its implication in Iowa, most notably the recent debate over Medicaid expansion and the resulting Iowa Health and Wellness Plan, which Governor Branstad signed into law on June 20. We discussed the legislative procedure that included a lot of compromise, the insurance exchange provision and details of coverage. Deb, a nurse at Unity Point Medical Center (formerly Trinity Regional Health Center), earned her associate degree in nursing from Iowa Central Community College and her B.S. degree in nursing from the University of Iowa. She and her husband Gary live near Moorland. I hope you ace your course, Deb!
Fort Dodge Police Chief Tim Carmody and Assistant Chief Keven Doty invited me to the Law Enforcement Center to review some recent legislation dealing with E911 emergency service. We toured the LEC, including the communications center where all incoming emergency calls are received. I observed the dispatchers in action. Pictured with me are dispatchers Brandi Weinzetl and Heather Tilton, and Assistant Chief Keven Doty.
Our town hall meeting in Pocahontas was well attended and provided lively discussion on a wide range of issues. We met at the Family Table. Among the participants were Pocahontas County Economic Development Director Tom Grau, Pocahontas County Auditor Margene Bunda, Pocahontas Area Community School District Superintendent Joe Kramer, I and Senator and Majority Leader Mike Gronstal. We discussed the bipartisan results of the 2013 legislative session.
Northwest Communications marketing and CSR manager Sheila Akridge and Northwest Communications CEO Don Miller met with Senator Gronstal and me in Pocahontas. We discussed the commercial property tax relief and reduction legislation we passed in a bipartisan, collaborative and cooperative way that positively affected small independent telephone companies. I’ve been working on this matter for several years. The legislation we passed finally places the small independent phone companies on a level playing field with the Big Guys.
Pocahontas County friends and constituents joined Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal and me at the Family Table in Poky. Pictured are Jim Bartosh, I, George Gleason and Sen. Gronstal.
I joined legislators from across the state on June 20 in Mason City for the signing of SF 446, a bill making affordable health care available to tens of thousands of low-income working Iowa families. Governor Terry Branstad acknowledged my work to insure more help for Iowa families living with autism be included in the bill. Pictured from left are I, Representative Mark Smith (D-Marshalltown), Senate President Pam Jochum (D-Dubuque) and Governor Branstad.
Drew’s Bill finally passed! My 11-year-old grandson Drew Beall lives with autism and is the inspiration for my longtime fight for coverage for all Iowa children who have autism. It all started several years ago with Senate File 1, which I dubbed “Drew’s Bill." Through the years, I’ve worked to expand that very basic legislation. Last year, working with two Republican co-sponsors, I tried to expand coverage to most Iowa children living with autism. The bill passed 43-7 in the Senate, but died in the House. This year, I worked with Republican House Health & Human Services Chair Dave Heaton from Mount Pleasant on autism legislation that passed both houses and was signed by the governor. I am especially grateful to Rep. Heaton and Senator Amanda Ragan (D-Mason City) for their yeoman work to pass this bipartisan bill. The governor noted Drew’s contribution to the historic healthcare legislation and presented both of us with pens he used to sign the legislation into law.
The Education Commission of the States, an interstate compact, held the National Forum on Education Policy in Saint Louis June 25, 26 and 27. As a commissioner and member of the steering (governance) committee, I participated. The focus was EL -- Early Learning (early childhood education), a passion of mine, which includes preschool and kindergarten readiness. Fellow commissioner and friend, Senator Nancy Boettger (R-Harlan) and I met Iowa's teacher of the year, Tania Johnson, a kindergarten teacher at Jackson Elementary School in Cedar Rapids. Congratulations to Iowa's teacher of the year! I wish you continued success in and out of the classroom, Tania.
Iowa was well represented at the Education Commission of the States National Forum on Education Policy. Among the participants was Kathy Hanlon, a bill-drafter for the non-partisan, professional Legislative Services Agency. Kathy translates many education ideas from senators and representatives (including some of mine written on a napkin!) into bills. Five years ago she was recognized by ECS as the nation's best education policy bill drafter. Kathy and I are pictured with ECS chair, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. Yes, he is a relative of former Iowa governor and U. S. senator, Bourke Hickenlooper. Gov. Hickenlooper has performed admirably as ECS chair. Chairmanship rotates back and forth between Republican and Democratic governors. The vice chair is a legislator from the opposite party. Republican Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval took over as chair and Democratic Hawaii Representative Roy Takumi was installed as vice chair.
Hawaii Representative Roy Takumi chairs the House Education Committee and was elected vice chair of the Education Commission of the States in Saint Louis. We have served together for several years as ECS commissions and members of the steering committee. I wish Roy continued success as ECS vice chair.
Several education-savvy Iowans participated in the Education Commission of the States National Forum on Education Policy in Saint Louis. ECS forums, conferences and meetings are substantive and meaty. I always return home smarter and more inspired. This year's forum focused on EL -- Early Learning. Three- and four-year-old youngsters are much better prepared for kindergarten and the learning gap is reduced among students from various social-economic statuses. Pictured here are members of the Iowa delegation, including Senator Nancy Boettger (R-Harlan), Legislative Services Agency education expert and bill-drafter Kathy Hanlon, Governor Branstad's special assistant for education Linda Fandel, and I.
The Education Commission of the States conferences are a chance to meet others who share a passion for education, and to renew friendships. Such is the case with former Colorado Governor Roy Romer. I met him when I was a newspaper editor and publisher in Colorado. He appointed me to a judicial nominating commission. Our paths continued to cross at ECS meetings. He chaired ECS and served for five years as school superintendent for the Los Angeles schools, where he reduced the learning gap among students from different social-economic groups. For his achievements, Gov. Romer earned the prestigious James Bryant Conant Award, the nation's highest education honor. Gov. Romer continues to provide leadership and vision for better schools. We had an opportunity to catch up, and I thanked him for his contributions to "positively and pervasively touching the lives of students." I also told him that he continues to inspire me and is my hero. Thank you and God bless you, Gov. Romer!
Recently I had one of those jaw-dropping moments. I was at the Hindu Temple between Granger and Madrid taking some photos and met another fellow who was also taking photos. We started a conversation and I asked his name. "Mike Beall," he responded. Mike Beall was my brother who was killed in an airplane he was piloting 50 years ago. Mike and I had flown that day (St. Patrick's Day) March 17, 1963. Mike was teaching me to fly. Not a day has gone by since that tragic day in 1963 that I haven't thought of Mike. So it hit me when this guy introduced himself as "Mike Beall." I guess he could see my surprise. I told Mike Beall the story of my brother. I learned that the new Mike Beall is a United Methodist pastor in Indiana. I told him that my parents, who buried two of their four sons, that it is normal and natural to bury one's parents, not one's children. In another coincidental turn, Mike told me that his son was killed in a tragic accident. Strange indeed.
It was a family affair for the gubernatorial bill-signing in Mason City. Of course the man of the hour, my guest of honor for the bill-signing of the historic healthcare legislation that includes autism language and appropriation, was my grandson Drew Beall, who inspired the legislation. Drew was identified as having autism when he was about 18 months old. Pictured at the bill-signing ceremony were my grandchildren (front row) Lily Beall, Jace Beall, Drew Beall and Joe Sink. In the back row are Senator Jack Hatch (D-Des Moines) who was instrumental in writing and passing the historic legislation, daughter Lori Sink, son Scott Beall, daughter-in-law Kim Beall, grandson Theodore Sink and I.
Friend Helen Beneke is a real spark plug and leader in the Pocahontas-proud progressive community. She showed me the Rialto Theater that the community came together to salvage, save and refurbish. Current movies are shown and plays are performed. In fact, Helen performed in a play that afternoon. She had to make a number of clothing changes, from parade attire, this vintage poodle skirt, to working at the Rotary booth, to the play. I admonished Helen to "break a leg," figuratively speaking in theater-talk, not literally.
Father Sefcik restored and owns a classic Farmall Special H tractor built in the early 50s. I vividly recall that Bud Moeller had a Farmall H on his farm near Somers where I grew up. I think my friend, Art Moeller III, has a similar restored H.
Several Fort Dodge area friends welcomed Senate President Mike Gronstal to town including Jane Burleson, my longtime friend. She served as a Fort Dodge city council member longer than anybody ever. She also bakes the world’s best yummy sweet potato pie that I love.
The folks at CJ Bio America hosted Sen. Gronstal and me at their construction site west of Fort Dodge. The $320 million plant will be operational later this year and will produce amino acid products for livestock feed. The company has hired 126 employees of the anticipated 180. Iowa Central Community College and CJ Bio America have formed a partnership to train workers. I led the effort to pass legislation providing $5.5 million for ABE, Adult Basic Education and adult literacy, and other skilled job training for Iowans. ICCC President Dan Kinney announced the college will launch a process technology program to help CJ and other Iowa businesses with a skilled workforce. CJ Bio America is a progressive company and good corporate citizen. A year ago, I visited their corporate headquarters in Seoul, Korea, and offered my gratitude and assistance. My hosts were gracious and hospitable. It was good to talk again with President and CEO Jung Tak Nam and Vice President and Production Team Mana
Two other Fort Dodge leaders met with Senator Gronstal and me. Former Representative and House Leader Jerry Fitzgerald and Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance CEO Dennis Plautz are pictured with us.
Friends from various walks of life were on hand to listen to Senator Gronstal and I tell about the bipartisan accomplishments of the 2013 session, including Dr. Alex Konstantinidis, production development manager at Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica (formerly Fort Dodge Animal Health), art teacher Baldus, I, former Fort Dodge City Councilwoman Jane Burleson, Senator Gronstal, and Sheila Hansen, Every Child Counts director for the Child and Family Policy Center.
Several folks came to Olde Boston to welcome Senator Gronstal to Fort Dodge, including Sheriff Jim Stubbs, longtime friend Ed O’Leary, Senator Gronstal, I, Megan Ridgely, wellness coordinator at Friendship Haven, and Rabiner Treatment Center CEO Brad Klug.
Rose and Jerry Burmeister from Fort Dodge demonstrated their hospitality to Senator Gronstal during his recent visit to Fort Dodge, one of six stops in our four-county tour outlining the accomplishments of the 2013 legislative session.
Manson held its annual Greater Crater Days parade on Saturday. It was windy and cool -- perfect conditions for a parade. And the rain generally held off during the parade. Joining me in the parade were friends Sandy Wills, Jo Ann Beall, Helen Beneke and Dick Gruber.
Friend and former constituent Adrienne Smith from Jefferson joined Jo Ann and me in the Lake City Western Days parade on Saturday. It was the 10th or 11th time I walked in the Lake City annual parade.
Lohrville Mayor Donny Hobbs and his family rode in style in the annual Western Days parade on Saturday. Donny successfully led the effort to prevent the U. S. Postal Service from closing rural post offices, at least for the time being. Donny is an organ builder for Dobson in Lake City and will build a custom-made organ in Oxford, England, this summer. Pictured (from left): Anastasia, Bridget, Catarina, Ean, Shannon and Donny. Shannon teaches elementary music part time at Paton-Churdan and is an EMT part time for the Stewart Memorial Hospital.
I had some good help in the Pocahontas parade last weekend. Pictured are friends and constituents Merry Crotty, George Gleason, Sherry Williams, Don Beneke, I and Margene Bunda. Not pictured are Margene's grandson Dalton and Helen Beneke.
I had a wonderful Father's Day with my son Scott, his wife Kim, and their three children, Drew, Jace and Lily. We took a five-mile walk on the High Trestle Trail west of Madrid. The trestle, first built in 1912, spans the Des Moines River valley and provides a spectacular view. Pictured with me are twins Jace and Drew, Scott, and Lily.
Cedar Valley High School alumni met for a reunion recently in Farnhamville. Five members of the 23-member class of 1965 participated. Pictured are Joyce Hanson of Fort Dodge, Kolleen Schmidt Hoffman of Iowa City, I, Shirley Wiese Wolf of Gowrie and Phyllis Moore Bird of Rockwell City.
Jo Ann and I reached our goal of finishing the 5K walk and run. When you don’t set your goals too high they’re much easier to achieve! At least we weren’t last!
Iowa Central Community College hosted a ceremonial bill signing for the state’s Education Budget on Aug. 6. Included in the bill is $5.5 million for Adult Basic Education and adult literacy, which have been much needed in Iowa. Pictured from left: Belinda Smith-Clark, Patricia Villa, Gov. Branstad, Trevor Clark, I, Emily Elkin, Susan Doyle, Constancia Hansen and Ann Waynar.
I was invited to speak at the Iowa Youth Leadership Forum at the Capitol on July 24. Sponsored by the Community Advocacy Services Office of Persons with Disabilities, I spoke about the power of self-advocacy and the importance of “putting a face” literally and figurative on the issue. I shared how to effectively lobby legislators. Among the participants was Tasha DeGroote, Ms. Wheelchair Iowa 2013. Tasha lives in New Hartform.
Friend and constituent, Pomeroy farmer Gregg Heide, built a 44-panel solar system that produces electricity for his own farm plus some extra that is purchased by the Calhoun County Rural Electric Cooperative through the Small Generator Demonstration Program. The solar system produces power during the peak demand time – during the day when air conditioners are running.
Gregg wanted to build his own wind generator and, although he was issued a license for one of the first farmer-owned turbines, he was not able to negotiate a power purchase agreement. He does, however, have a MidAmerica Energy turbine on his farm that is leased by the Investor-Owned Utility. Gregg says wind power has the potential of being a new “cash crop.”
Ben Albright, who farms near Lytton, shows Representative Helen Miller (D-Fort Dodge) and me his manure management plan for his cattle feeding operation on a Calhoun County farm tour orchestrated by Darcy Maulsby.
Representative Helen Miller and I participated in a tour of Calhoun County farms on July 29. Helen is the ranking member on the House Agriculture Committee and I serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee. Pictured are Representative Miller, Darcy Maulsby, Jason Folsom, Nick Burley, Ben Albright and me. We're visiting Ben's cattle-feeding operation.
Ben Albright shows me how he uses GPS to plant his crops and apply fertilizer, herbicide and insecticide. The GPS system even has an automatic pilot!
Representative Helen Miller sits on the "buddy seat" of Ben Albright's John Deere cab. Ben demonstrated the GPS he uses to plant and apply fertilizer and farm chemicals. The GPS system even has an automatic pilot!
Ben Albright showed us his no-till soybean field. Darcy Maulsby organized the Calhoun County farm tour for Representative Helen Miller and me.
Farm Bureau staffer Terry Seehusen from Humboldt County explains the nutrient reduction program and low-till conservation practices.
Darcy Maulsby, an independent marketing and communications specialist, orchestrated the Calhoun County farm tour on July 29.
Jason Folsom who farms near Rockwell City hosted us at his hog confinement facility.
Jason Folsom shows us the machinery he uses to incorporate hog manure in the fall. Pictured are Ben Albright, Representative Helen Miller, Jason Folsom, I and Nick Burley.
And after the Calhoun County farm tour, we were treated to lunch at the Farm Bureau office . . . and yummy pie baked by Darcy Maulsby. I enjoyed Darcy's triple berry pie -- delicious! I am grateful to Darcy for orchestrating this marvelous learning opportunity and to our farm hosts. It was very informative and helped put a face on Iowa agriculture.
Following our Calhoun County farm tour, I participated in the Cattleman's Association steak dinner in Lake City. I joined Alan and Lisa Albright, Ben's parents. I was delighted to learn that Lisa's father was Nick Lamberto, with whom I worked at The Register. Nick was a longtime reporter and World War II bomber pilot from Remsen, Iowa, a community settled by Luxembourg immigrants. I greatly respected Nick and was pleased that he has a namesake grandson, Nick Albright, who farms with his brother Ben.
I love speaking to service club members. On Tuesday, July 30, I had the honor of addressing the Fort Dodge Daybreak Rotary Club with an update on the 2013 legislative session. Club president Deborah Russell presented me with the club's pen. Longtime friend Ed O'Leary invited and introduced me. I was also a guest of the club back in January when I gave a legislative preview.
Christen Fredin, my daughter from Virginia and her children are visiting Iowa and Minnesota. We visited the Robert Ray Asian Garden on the Des Moines River. Pictured with Christen and me are Katen, 5, William, 4, and Luke, 2. Their dad, Air Force Major Paul Fredin, arrived a few days later.
The pedestrian bridge spanning the Des Moines River was a hit with my grandkids, but it made Grandpa a bit nervous. Pictured with their mom, Christen, are William (who understandably is being restrained by Mom), Luke and Katen.
My three Fredin grandkids attended an event -- perhaps their first political event -- in Des Moines with friends and colleagues, Senators Liz Mathis, D-Robins, and Rich Taylor, D-Mount Pleasant.
The Fort Dodge Civitan Club invited me to speak on Wednesday, July 31. I found several friends are Civitan members. President Pat Scheer hosted me and friend Jon Vessey invited and introduced me. I presented the accomplishments and a few disappointments of the 2013 legislative session.
The Fort Dodge Civitan Club earned the national Civitan HOPE Award, presented each year to the ONE club with the most participation and outstanding performance in the candy box program. This prestigious award includes a $1,000 contribution in its name to the Civitan International Research Center. Local club members Roger and Nancy Leo accepted the award in Denver. I learned that I know and have worked with the Leo's niece, Roxanne Cogil, on autism and disabilities legislation. I have pictures of Roxanne's two children on my Senate desk to remind me why I'm a public servant and to put a "face" (actually two faces) on autism and disabilities. Judy Lang is shown holding the HOPE award while her husband, Pastor Carroll Lang, looks on.
Representative Dave Heaton, R-Mount Pleasant, and I were invited to participate in the Regional Autism Assistance Program Expert Panel Members in Des Moines on July 31. The panel is responsible for helping write the departmental rules for SF446, which includes the autism language Representative Heaton and I worked on. We discussed the legislative intent and background for this legislation, which I called "Drew's Law" in honor of my grandson who inspired the legislation. Pictured to Representative Heaton's left is Gretchen Hageman from the Iowa Department of Public Health.
My bug scientist wannabe, Katen, met a real bug scientist student at the Reiman Gardens. Lyra Abbas is an Iowa State University entomology undergraduate student and intern at the Christina Reiman Butterfly Wing laboratory. I want to encourage Katen's interest and passion for insects. Do you think maybe it's premature for her grandpa to recruit her for Iowa State University? ISU IS a name brand school after all.
My five-year-old granddaughter Katen wants to become a "bug scientist," so I arranged a tour of the Reiman Gardens through my friend, Dr. Sue Blodget, head of the entomology department at Iowa State University. Pictured in the Christina Reiman Butterfly Wing laboratory, Anita Westphal, assistant curator, shows butterfly chrysalis and moth cocoons to my grandkids Lily Beall, 8, Jace Beall, 11, and Katen, 5.
Everyone in their science laboratory coats, we got a marvelous behind-the-scenes look at the butterflies and moths in the Reiman Gardens lab. Pictured are my daughter Christen Fredin, grandson William, Anita Westphal, our Reiman Gardens host, I, grandchildren Lily and Jace Beall and Katen Fredin.
Entomologist Anita Westphal captured and held the interest of my grandkids . . . and their granddad!
Pictured in the laboratory in our lab coats at the Reiman Gardens Christina Reiman Butterfly Wing are grandkids Lily Beall, 8, Katen Fredin, 5, Jace Beall, 11, William Fredin, 4, and daughter Christen Fredin, I and entomologist Anita Westphal.
It was a hands-on experience at the Reiman Gardens. Here my grandson Jace Beall views a butterfly wing "scales" through a microscope.
It was a family affair at the Iowa Irish Fest in Cedar Falls on Saturday, August 3, as we participated in the 5K run and walk. Participating were Jo Ann and I, son Scott, grandsons Jace Beall and Joseph Sink, daughter Christen Fredin, grandson Theodore Sink, granddaughter Lydia Sink, daughter Lora Sink and grandson Christopher Sink. My goal was to simply finish... and Jo Ann and I didn't even finish last!
Son Scott was joined by his son Jace, 11, in the Iowa Irish Fest 5K run and walk. Jace paced Scott.
I was so proud of my grandson Joe Sink for winning in the 12 and under age class and daughter Lori for coming in first in the 40s age class.
Jo Ann and I and four cousins traveled to Norway last month and visited Oslo and Bergen for a couple days each, and then sailed up the coast about the Hurtigruten MS Trollfjord, docking at several cities including Alesund, Geiranger, Molde, Trondheim, Tromso, Honningsvag, and finally Kirkenes. We crossed the Arctic Cirle and enjoyed the midnight sun. Cousins pictured overlooking the Bergen harbor are I, Jo Ann, Larry and Barbara Wentzel from California, and Mary Ann and Bruce Schwering from Nevada, Iowa.
Upon crossing the Arctic Circle aboard the MS Trollfjord, I was "baptized" by King Neptune -- ice cubes down my back. Brrrr.
Every year adventurer, filmmaker and entertainer Al Bell came to my school in Somers. He visited what to me was an exotic destination and brought his souvenirs and travel film and came to small schools in Iowa. I remember his travels to Cuba, Newfoundland and Lapland. Ever since his Lapland presentation, I have been fascinated the Sami polar people of Finland. Jo Ann and I left our cousins for a couple of days and rented a car and drove to Inari and Ivalo, Finland. Near Inari we visited a reindeer farm owned and operated by Tuula Airamo and her husband Marti. Tuula is Sami whose family has owned a small farm for more than 250 years. The reindeer are a source of food and clothing and are beasts of burden, pulling sleds and wagons (and in the case of Santa, sleighs!). I'm pictured here helping Tuula feed her livestock.
The six cousins rented cars following our coastal cruise and experienced some spectacular scenery, including at Trollstigen.
Independent living is one of the major successes that individuals experience. Individuals receive pre-vocational services, day habitation services, supported community living services and organizational employment services. Businesses that support West Fork generally pay a fee for services. I learned that state funding for supported community living and supported employment should be increased. Several staff members and individuals welcomed me to West Fork Services. Some were proud to show me their jobs. I was pleased to renew acquaintances with several who had visited me at their Capitol in Des Moines.
Kelsey Clark, legal and public policy analyst for the Iowa Association of Community Providers in Des Moines joined us at West Fork Services. Kelsey is a policy wonk with a law degree, but also has 10 years direct care experience, including eight years with ChildServe. She combines passion with knowledge and experience I . Pictured outside of the West Fork Services are I, Kelsey and Pat Tate.
I found something in common with Barb Jones from Fort Dodge who visited West Fork Services with her friends from Lifeworks. Barb is the past president of the Kiwanis Aktion Club. I am past president of the Fort Dodge Noon Kiwanis Club.
My Virginia daughter and her family were our house guests for several days and we twice visited the Community Apple Orchard, including a delicious lunch with longtime friends, Dick and Carmen Edwards and Sandy Wills. Dick and I worked together at the Merle Hay Sears credit office when we were teachers, he in Des Moines, and I in Urbandale. They moved to Fort Dodge a month after we returned to Fort Dodge. Dick was the assistant principal a South Junior High School (later Fair Oaks Middle School, then principal at Feelhaver Elementary School and Fort Dodge Senior High School. The Edwards kids and the Beall kids grew up as cousins. Dick and Carmen retired from the Clark County (Las Vegas) school system and live in Lofton, Nevada. Sandy Wills, the widow of Bob Wills, who was the assistant superintendent of schools in Fort Dodge, is a mutual friend of the Bealls and the Edwards. Pictured are four-year-old grandson William Fredin, two-year-old grandson Luke Fredin, daughter Christen Fredin,
Friends Gib and Nancy Stanek celebrated the 60th anniversary of their wedding. I presented the couple with a Senate certificate congratulating their anniversary.
West Fork Services in Humboldt CEO Patrick Tate invited me to visit his facility, staff and individuals served. West Fork serves individuals with disabilities.The motto, “Supporting individuals to achieve their dreams,” is obviously more than a slogan. Several companies in Humboldt provide community employment services for West Fork individuals. West Fork is also a distributor for Jumpy Monkey premium coffee, which is packaged by individuals with disabilities. In his office, a shrine to Iowa State University, West Fork Services CEO Patrick Tate outlined the policies, successes and challenges for me. He was joined by Curt Duffield, vocational director, and Teresa Naughton, executive director, for LifeWorks Community Services in Fort Dodge. Pictured are Curt, Pat, Teresa and I.
Christine Sturgeon is the librarian at Manson-Northwest High School in Manson. She invited me to her library to discuss education legislation. Christine is the vice president of the Iowa Association of School Librarians. She is an innovator and visionary, passionate about books, kids and learning.
The wonderful folks at the Child Health Specialty Clinic in the Physicians Office Building West in Fort Dodge invited me to their facility on Thursday, August 15. Pictured are Rachell Swanson-Holm, Angie Jessen, Lori Morrell, I, Marianne Post, Liesl Vaughan and Amy Pedersen. Angie is the family navigator, Marianne is the office manager, Liesl is the Early Access coordinator, Amy is the staff nurse, Lori is the health services coordinator, and Rachell is a project coordinator.
Several community colleges were represented at the bill-signing ceremony at Iowa Central, including MJ Doland, executive director of the Iowa Community College Trustees Association and Steve Ovel from Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids.
Elisha and I are pictured with the Iowa flag. I noted the Iowa motto, “Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain,” is more than a motto to me, it’s a call to action.
Several years ago, I met Elisha Didams Markus and his new bride, Dorathy Kato, in Kaduna, Nigeria. The mission was sponsored by the Ames-based Iowa Resource for International Service (IRIS). Elisha visited Iowa on his first trip to the United States. He was en route to delivering a paper on robotics at a conference in Hawaii. Elisha is a Ph.D. graduate student in South Africa, majoring in electrical engineering and robotics. He and Dorathy are now the proud parents of six-year-old Jessica, a beautiful little girl. For the occasion, I wore my Nigerian shirt that was given to me by my friend Elizabeth Anche during her women leadership and service studies at IRIS a few years ago. I had met Elizabeth at the radio studio she manages in Kaduna. Pictured at the Capitol with Elisha and me is Robert Davis, his Des Moines host. Robert is a retired social worker and active United Methodist. The Iowa United Methodist Church has a mission relationship with Nigeria.
The Homestead provides “innovative solutions for people with autism” and has been an active stakeholder while I’ve worked on “Drew’s Law” for children living with autism. Drew Beall, who inspired the law, is my 12-year-old grandson. Continuing the “family matter” is my cousin, Betsy Pipkin, a social worker who works at the new Homestead clinic in Hiawatha. She and Brad Bezilla, the clinic director, hosted me for a visit at their brand new clinic, a result of the “Drew’s Law” legislation that created regional autism centers around the state.
It was a pleasure to have Congressman Braley in Fort Dodge. We are shown here with my friend, Fort Dodger Dean Polking. Dean is a World War II veteran and we traveled to Washington a few years ago on the Honor Flight. I was a volunteer guardian.
Pat and Carol Seehusen welcomed me to their table at the Calhoun County event. Delightful folks, the Seehusens.
As the voice, advocate and senator for the people of Calhoun, Humboldt, Pocahontas and Webster counties, I participated in the Farm Bureau annual meetings and dinners in all four counties. We discussed a number of issues, including nutrient reduction, rural electrical inspections, eminent domain, infrastructure needs, fuel tax (“user’s fee”), conservation practices and wind and solar power. At the Calhoun County Farm Bureau meeting at Twin Lakes, I talked with Gary Campbell and Carol Stringer who farm between Somers and Knierim. Gary and I attended Cedar Valley schools and as a little kid I always respected Gary, an upper classman. Actually, I still do respect Gary!
Calhoun County Farm Bureau president, Ben Albright, welcomed me to Calhoun County for the second time in the past few weeks. He had hosted me on his farm during my Calhoun County farm tour. He and Darcy Maulsby showed Representative Helen Miller and me his cattle operation and conservation practices.
I enjoyed dinner with Webster County Farm Bureau Vice President Steve Peterson and Denis Heatherington to his right.
At the Humboldt County Farm Bureau annual meeting and dinner I sat with Dean Coleman, his wife Carol and grandson Spencer. Spencer is an outgoing little guy and “worked the crowd” just like a politician. I think he wants my Senate job – I just hope he waits until I am finished with it!
Mike Coleman (Dean’s son and Spencer’s dad), Joel Zeman and Rick Pederson served up a delicious meal at the Humboldt County Farm Bureau dinner and annual meeting.
Welding instructor Harlan Thompson led a tour of the modern facility and state of the art equipment where students learn welding and can become certified welders. There is also a non-certificate welding program. Graduates fill the needs of regional companies and factories.
In addition to traditional welders, students are introduced to this robotic welder. Brand new welding students Talisha Davis from Jefferson, Yolonda Smith from Indianola and welding instructor Harland Thompson showed Manufacturing Day visitors around the facility and answered questions.
Representative Helen Miller (D-Fort Dodge) and I joined Governor Terry Branstad at the ceremonial bill-signing at Iowa Central Community College on Aug. 6. The governor had already signed HF604, the state’s Education Budget, into law, but held a recreated bill-signing ceremony.
I was invited to speak at the bill signing ceremony. Holding the event at Iowa Central was appropriate because a major component of the legislation started there. I noted that last winter President Kinney, Senators Jack Kibbie and Mike Gronstal and I held a town hall meeting devoted to job skills – what Iowa’s businesses and employers need in the workforce. It was readily apparent that Iowa does not have job shortage. Iowa has a critical skilled jobs shortage. This year's Education Budget addresses that need.
Governor Branstad commended me for the language and policy I added to the Education Budget bill, for Adult Basic Education and adult literacy. He also presented me with the first pen he used to sign the bill ceremonially into law.
Representative Johnny Shaw from the Tennessee House of Representatives, is a delightful and fascinating gentleman and was an Urban-Ag Academy participant.
Friend, colleague and state representative, Helen Miller, orchestrated an Urban-Ag Academy at the Renaissance Savery Hotel and Iowa State Fair. Her vision is to close the urban-rural gap, bring urban and minority leaders and policy-makers together, inform urban legislators on agricultural issues and educate them on the impact to their districts. Atop the Renaissance Savery Hotel in downtown Des Moines are (to my left) Kellie Bray, senior director of government affairs for CropLife America, one of the academy’s sponsors, Vareva Harris, associate vice president of Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina, Rep. Bob Kressig (D-Cedar Falls), Sen. Rita Hart (D-Wheatland), Rep. Deborah Berry (D-Waterloo) and Rep. Miller.
Following her presentation, Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds talked with POET Biorefining’s Gary Eisheld and me. Gary manages the POET facility near Gowrie and POET was one of the academy’s sponsors.
Representative Helen Miller and I met with Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds following her presentation to the Urban-Ag Academy participants.
We had a wonderful tour of the Lincolnway Energy ethanol plant near Nevada. Vareva Harris, associate vice president of Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina, was an Urban-Ag Academy presenter and participant. Industrial goggles and hard hats are "musts."
Participants were treated to a number of speakers and topics, including Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, Iowa State University officials and others. We toured the Linolnway Energy ethanol facility and Nevada farmer Bill Couser’s cattle operation (pictured). It was an interesting and informative program, and I am grateful to Helen for organizing the Urban-Ag Academy.
If I like you, and I like you, I’m sure if I introduce the two of you, you’ll like each other. That’s the spirit by which I introduced friends from New York to a friend from Pomeroy. And, as a patron of Byron’s in Pomeroy, I am hoping Byron books the New York musicians. Actually, Bekka Lindstrom is from Twin Lakes and graduated from Manson High School. She and her wife were visiting her parents, Keith and Bobbee Lindstrom last week. Bekka and Donna Jean Fogel are musicians and recently starred in an all-girl band musical in Rochester, New York. Pictured at Byron’s to my left are Bobbee Lindstrom, Donna Jean, Bekka, Keith, and Byron Stuart.
Another mutual friend of the Edwards, Wills and Bealls is retired Fort Dodge teacher, Delpha Holtzman, shown here in her Corvette convertible. How sporty is that?!
The Badger Fire Department recently held a number of activities including a run, auction, dinner and fireman’s ball. I met with Badger Mayor (and firefighter) Chris Wendell. We discussed the fire department’s successes and needs, which include a new fire truck. Badger is a proud and progressive little town. I drove the Badger school bus route when I was a student at Iowa Central Community College. I joked that half my riders were named Dencklau with Johansons and Harveys thrown in for good measure. I love Badger. I am pictured wearing my University of Northern Iowa Tigers polo shirt – very appropriate inasmuch as Chris is completing his undergraduate degree at UNI, majoring in accounting. UNI graduates pass their CPA exams on the first attempt more than any other Midwestern university.
Berkley Bedell and I were political teammates in the 1972 campaign. He ran for the United States Congress and I ran for Iowa’s secretary of state. We both lost that year, but he came back a year later and won. He served in Congress from 1975 to 1987 when Lyme’s Disease took its toll. Berk has continued to work on health issues, government and campaign finance reform, and making America better. He is such a visionary and passionate populist.
Berkley and his bride Elinor recently celebrated their 70th anniversary wedding anniversary at United Methodist Church in Spirit Lake. It was wonderful to help them celebrate. Berk and Elinor have given so much back to their church, community and country. She was an unpaid aide on his congressional staff. You got two for the price of hone! He is my political hero and mentor. I presented Berk and Elinor with a certificate from the Iowa Senate congratulating them on their 70 years of marriage and wishing them continued health and happiness. It was signed by the Republican and Democratic leaders, Senate president and me. I noted that the senators don’t always agree, but on extending the Bedells our good wishes, there was no disagreement. My wife, Jo Ann, and I love the Bedells and are pictured with the “newlyweds.”
I met with board members at the Pocahontas County Farm Bureau annual meeting and dinner. We had some lively discussions.
Washington, D.C. REC Youth Tour participants Nate Hughes and Emma Bennett, Humboldt High School senior and junior, respectively, spoke at the annual meeting about their June travel to the nation's capital. They were joined by 32 other Iowa youth. Nate will major study to be a power line technician at Northwest Iowa Community College in Sheldon. Emma plans to double-major to in emergency management and radiology technology at Iowa Central Community College and then at the University of Iowa.
REC Youth Tour participants from Humboldt County, Nate Hughes and Emma Bennett, presented highlights of their Washington visit (June 14-20) at the Midland Power Cooperative annual meeting in Ames on Thursday, August 22. Nate is a Humboldt High School senior and Emma is a junior. Nate's parents are Rob and Melanie Hughes and Emma's parents are Roger Bennett and Lorie Ricklifs. Pictured are Melanie Hughes, Nate Hughes, Emma Bennett and Lorie Ricklefs.
It was "Humboldt Night" in Ames at last week's Midland Power Cooperative annual meeting. The Humboldt County Rural Electric Cooperative merged with Midland Power Cooperative that includes Greene, Boone and Hardin counties, plus parts of Webster, Hamilton, Franklin and Story counties. Much of the focus of the annual meeting involved the recent merger. Additionally, two Humboldt High School students, Emma Bennett and Nate Hughes, reported on their REC Youth Tour of Washington, D.C. Pictured are Humboldt County REC members of the new merged Midland Power Cooperative board, Larry Tilton, Humboldt, Michael Coleman, Humboldt, James Marso, Bode, Rick Thompson, LuVerne, Joel Skow, Wesley, and I. Larry Tilton and I were classmates at Iowa Central Community College and were in Mary Sula Linney's Spanish class together. (I never did learn to roll my R's!)
Some Pocahontas and Fort Dodge friends joined me in walking in the Gilmore City parade last Saturday. Pictured are Helen Beneke, Jo Ann Beall, Connor Voss, Julie Goepfert, George Gleason, Don Beneke, Jim Bartash, and I.
First District Congressman and candidate for the United States Senate, Bruce Braley, was the featured speaker at the recent Webster County event. My longtime friend and longest-serving Fort Dodge City Council member, Jane Burleson, welcomed him to Fort Dodge.
Representative Helen Miller provided the winning high bid for a personally conducted tour of the United States Capitol by Congressman Bruce Braley.
At the Webster County Farm Bureau annual meeting and dinner, Don Christopherson from Duncombe and David Seil, who farms near Gowrie, talked to me about issues on their minds.
The Iowa Soybean Association hosted a meeting for members and legislators in each congressional district. The Fourth Congressional District meeting was at the Riessen Farm near Ida Grove. Tom Oswald, director at large for the Iowa Soybean Association who farms near Cleghorn, brought an edamame bean. I love edamame and took it home and blanched it, salted it, and my wife and devoured it. It may be a new niche crop for Iowa farmers.
Three of my soybean farmer constituents participated in the Ida Grove meeting, as did a colleague, State Representative Megan Hess (R-Spencer). Nutrient reduction, bio-diesel, soybean marketing and conservation practices were topics of discussion. Pictured are Representative Hess, Randy Souder from Rockwell City, Carol and Dean Coleman from Humboldt, and I.
Welcome home, Wouter! At the Twin Lakes home of Jim and Cathy Janvrin, we had a sort of homecoming celebration for my Dutch foreign exchange son Wouter Hertzberber and his family. Wouter and my son Scott were classmates and teammates at Indianola High School. Wouter married Jessica Halgren from Indianola and they live alternatively in Iowa and the Netherlands. They have two beautiful children, Sophie and Max. Wouter is an attorney and Jessica is earning her doctorate. We consider Wouter our son.
We celebrated dual birthdays with Jefferson friends aboard the Boone and Scenic Valley dinner train. Jo Ann and Richard Smith celebrated their August birthdays. Adrienne Smith and I celebrate our December birthdays together too.
Another source of input and advice on the ATV issue is Jim Stubbs, Webster County sheriff. He updated me on the new ATV ordinance, recently passed by the Webster County board of supervisors.
The Calhoun County Electric Cooperative Association held its annual meeting September 4 in Rockwell City and I was invited to participate. Pictured, enjoying yummy food prepared by Howard and Karen Ball from Feed Shed Catering (my third Ball meal within a two-week period), are Jim Oberhelman, district assistant for Congressman Steve King, Lonnie Holder, Calhoun County REC staff assistant, Keith and Bobbee Lindstrom and Marlene and Melvin Pieper. The Lindstroms and Piepers live at Twin Lakes.
After the Calhoun County REC dinner and before the annual meeting I spoke with Jim Miller, president, and Roxanne Carish, CEO. I enjoy working with my REC friends and constituents.
Recently I was appointed to the ATV/OHV (All-Terrain Vehicle/Off-Highway Vehicle interim study committee and have solicited, and received, input and advice from various stakeholders, including City of Fort Dodge senior planner Stephanie Houk Sheetz and Webster County conservation director Matt Cosgrove.
Humboldt city administrator Aaron Burnett invited me to make a presentation to the city council, but first game me a homework assignment! He asked me to address several issues, including the new nutrient reduction strategy, the recent commercial property tax reduction and its potential impact on city revenues, transportation funding including the gas tax (user’s fee) increase and TIF (Tax Incremental Funding). I appreciated the opportunity to meet with the Humboldt city council. Pictured after the formal meeting Hizzhonor Mayor Walter Jensen, I, Aaron and council member Joe Hadar.
Atop the State Historical Building provides a marvelous view of our majestic Capitol. Pictured are Adrienne Smith, I, Rubab Malik, Rahaf Roubi and Richard Smith.
Two delightful young women are students at Jefferson-Scranton High School and visited me at the Capitol recently. They were accompanied by their “surrogate grandparents,” and my friends, Rich and Adrienne Smith. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial south of the Capitol pays tribute to Iowans who gave their lives in that war. Richard Smith, a Vietnam veteran, showed our guests the memorial, which is patterned after the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. Pictured are Rahaf Roubi, Adrienne Smith, Rich Smith and Rubab Malik. Rahaf, 16, is from Palestine, and Rubab, 15, is from Pakistan.
The Rev. Julie Poulsen, pastor at Jefferson United Methodist Church hosted the two young international guests and Rahaf Roubi spoke about her native Palestine, her Arab heritage and her Muslim faith. Pictured are Rahaf, Pastor Julie and Rubab Malik. Rubab will speak on her Pakistani heritage and Muslim faith this coming Sunday evening.
Jeff Herzberg, chief of the Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency, and AEA board member Gary Astor met with me to discuss legislative priorities for the upcoming 2014 session.
Kirkwood Community College and the Bo(hemian) Market in Cedar Rapids welcomed members of the Senate Democratic Caucus for our annual meeting. We enjoyed the yummy results of Kirkwood’s culinary science department. Pictured to my left are Senators Liz Mathis (Cedar Rapids), Brian Schoenjahn (Arlington), Evone Vognsen, director of the Kirkwood program development and continuing education, Senator Mary Jo Wilhelm (Cresco), and Senator Pam Jochum (Dubuque). Evone has a Fort Dodge connection. She attended grades 5 through 8 in Fort Dodge. Her father, the Rev. Charles Burchmier, was pastor at Epworth United Methodist Church.
Badger Mayor Chris Wendell was one of a couple of mayors to participate in “Fun on the Farm,” the other being Pocahontas Mayor Dick Gruber. Chris and my daughter were classmates and graduated together from Fort Dodge Senior High School, so they had some stories to share.
Among the participants at “Fun on the Farm” were two friends and Vietnam veterans, Tom Salvatore from Fort Dodge and Richard Smith from Jefferson.
Since 2002, Greg and Trish Moore have hosted “Fun on the Farm” for me at the Century Farm west of Somers, my boyhood home. I remember bailing for Greg’s dad, Meryl Moore and putting bales of hay up in the haymow, which is now kind of a party barn. Greg and Trish Moore own and operate the Moore Century Farm, site of “Fun on the Farm” since 2002. Greg’s grandfather, Breck Moore, was the first to farm the land, making Greg the third generation.
World-renown print maker Richard Black from Rinard came to “Fun on the Farm” from his own farm only a few miles away. Richard raises grapes for wine. He was a longtime art professor at Drake University.
Friend Floyd Herum from Fort Dodge and I engaged in some deep conversation at “Fun on the Farm.”
June McGowan from Rockwell City and Keith Lindstrom from Twin Lakes were among my friends, constituents and participants at “Fun on the Farm.”
My cousins, Laura and Tom Olson have smoked and served pork loins and prepared and served their yummy baked beans at 10 of my “Fun on the Farm” events. Pictured are host Trish Moore, Laura and Tom Olson.
‘Twas kind of a family affair with old and new friends at “Fun on the Farm.” My son Scott and his son Jace and daughter Lily, and my daughter and son-in-law Lora and Steve Sink and two of their five children participated, as did longtime friends Dick and Carmen Edwards from Nevada and Penny Miller from Michigan. Pictured are Joe Sink, Jace Beall, Paul Sink, Lora Sink, Scott Beall, Lily Beall, Carmen Edwards, Penny Miller, Dick Edwards, I and Jo Ann Beall.
I love showing off for my kids and grandkids, and of course I love showing them off to my friends and constituents. Pictured are Lora Sink, Jace Beall, I, Joe Sink, Steve Sink, Jo Ann Beall, Scott Beall, Lily Beall, and longtime friends Delpha Holtzman from Fort Dodge, Dick and Carmen Edwards from Nevada and Penny Miller from Michigan. Dick, Carmen and Penny previously lived in Fort Dodge.
The Drake University International Advisory Council invited me to join its ranks and my first meeting was last week. Drake, where I earned my Master of Public Administration degree, has a number international initiatives. The mission of the advisory committee is “to partner with faculty, staff and students to advance global and cross-cultural initiatives that connect Drake University with the world.” Pictured are Kavilash Chawla, Annique Kiel, Christa Olson and I. Kavilish is a 1998 Drake graduate and heads up Nur Global Strategies in Chicago and will serve as visiting in-residence global practitioner second semester. Annique is the assistance director of Drake’s study abroad program. Christa is vice provost for international programs.
The Marshall Hunting Study Club is composed of health professionals in Fort Dodge whose members meet monthly socially and professionally. I was invited to their October meeting to provide an overview of the accomplishments of the 2013 legislative session with a particular focus on those dealing with healthcare. I also provided a bit of a preview of the upcoming 2014 session. We had a marvelous discussion of health issues, including the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and insurance exchanges. Pictured are Jeff Foreman, O.D., optometrist, Prasad Purudappa, M.D., orthopedic surgeon, Jeff Morrill, D.O., radiologist, John Calisesi, D.C., chiropractor, Brady Pearson, D.C., chiropractor, I, Eric Pearson, DDS, dental surgeon, Richard Votta, M.D., pediatrician, Michael Willerth, M.D., surgeon, and Michael Lee, M.D. nephrologist.
I visited St. Edmond Catholic School on Oct. 7 with representatives from Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency and Iowa State University to see firsthand how STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) grant funds are being used to boost student achievement. : I also visited students and teachers at Fort Dodge Senior High School. I like the fact that FDSHS has added “A” to STEM – making it STEAM, as in STEAM ahead. So, we now have Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics. I am so impressed by what our students are learning and accomplishing in terms of science, math and technology.
Democratic Senator Jack Hatch from Des Moines is running for governor and quoted from William Jennings Bryan as he mounted an old manure spreader to speak, saying he had never delivered an address from the "Republican platform."
I was invited to speak at the National Manufacturing Day event at Iowa Central Community College last week because I had sponsored and supported various skilled jobs programs for Iowa’s community colleges. The day showcased students and the job skills they’re gaining at Iowa Central, and employers who need a skilled workforce. Organizers of the event were skilled jobs project manager Tim Heller and Lindsay Murray, case manager and emcee for the Manufacturing Day activities.
Dr. Seldon Spencer, a neurologist from Huxley and former congressional candidate, my son-in-law Steve Sink from Cedar Falls, and Floyd Herum from Fort Dodge joined me at Fun on the Farm.
A very bucolic setting was a perfect place for me to speak briefly.
Broadcasting journalism student Kelly Heinen interviewed me about my Manufacturing Day presentation. The interview was broadcast live on KICB 88.1 radio known as “The Point.”
I was so pleasantly surprised that my Turkish-American friend Bulent Sengun from Ames came to “Fun on the Farm” – and he even brought Turkish hazelnut chocolates. Bulent was my guide last year on a mission to Turkey and Turkish universities with Iowa State University deans and faculty.
I was so proud of Scott, my son with a good heart, when he helped make Sarah Jochum feel comfortable at “Fun on the Farm.” Scott is a special education teacher and has a child with a disability.
Sarah wanted to sit in the car during some of the speeches at Fun on the Farm (who didn’t?), so Scott joined her and sat in my car for several minutes.
Senator Jochum addresses the crowd, as my granddaughter looks on.
I welcomed Senate President Pam Jochum, who came all the way from Dubuque with her daughter Sarah to be a part of Fun on the Farm.
Iowa native, Dr. Norman Borlaug, earned the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize for being the "Father of the Green Revolution." Borlaug grew up in Cresco, Iowa, and is credited with saving more lives than any person in history. He founded the World Food Prize which honors laureates every October in Des Moines. The World Food Prizes were presented at the Iowa Capitol on Thursday, October 17. Pictured are Julie Borlaug Larson, I, Baraka Sani, and Jeanie Borlaug Lauke. Julie is the granddaughter of Norman Borlaug and Jeanie is his daughter. They both live in Texas. Ms. Sani is the agriculture commissioner for the Keno state in Nigeria.
At the World Food Prize event at the Capitol in Des Moines on October 17 was Dr. Patrick Kormawa, representative to Nigeria and director of the regional office of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization. I named Dr. Kormawa an honorary Iowa senator. Dr. Kormawa wants to spend a week working on an Iowa farm. Any volunteer farmer-hosts?
Among the distinguished guests at the World Food Prize were my friend, Dr. Yogesh Shaw, dean of global medicine at Des Moines University and Dr. Charity Mutegi from Kenya. Dr. Mutegi was presented with the Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application. Dr. Norman Borlaug was a Cresco, Iowa, native and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his heroic work. Known as the "Father of the Green Revolution," Borlaug is credited with saving more human lives than any person in history. Pictured are Dr. Shah, Dr. Mutegi and I.
Several Iowa legislators helped honor the World Food Prize laureates at the Iowa Capitol on Oct. 17 evening and are pictured with Canadian Consul General Jamshed Merchant. Left to right are Senator Matt McCoy (D-Des Moines), Senate President Pam Jochum (D-Dubuque). Consul General Merchant, Representative Jake Highfill (R-Johnston), Representative Mary Gaskill (D-Ottumwa), I and Representative Helen Miller (D-Fort Dodge).
My father died with Alzheimer’s Disease and my mother was his caregiver before I even realized it. At the March to End Alzheimer’s, different colored pinwheels indicated caregivers, family members and people who lost a loved one to Alzheimer’s. I thanked caregivers and noted that the disease is a “family affair.” More money must be raised to conduct research to find a cure for this insidious disease.
I was invited to speak at the March to End Alzheimer’s in Fort Dodge, given my personal familiarity with the disease. Dad died with Alzheimer’s and Mom was his caregiver. I acknowledged and thanked the “Heroic Helpers” who provide love and care to people with Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States and there is no cure for this progressive disease. 69,000 Iowans and 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s. Somebody is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s every 68 seconds. As Baby Boomers age, that will drop to every 33 seconds.
Barry and Connie Ellis invited me to the grand opening of the new location of their business, Guns N More, at 1301 7th Avenue North in Humboldt.
I was honored to host several members of the Hebei delegation at the Iowa Senate. I love showing off our majestic Capitol, a major tourist attraction. And all of these friends from our Sister State are involved in tourism. Tourism works both ways.
The Iowa Supreme Court held two oral arguments at the new Middle School in Fort Dodge. The court is sort of taking its show on the road, which has been very popular and very informative. A reception was held for the Supreme Court justices at the Smeltzer Home. Pictured with me are Chief Justice Mark Cady and Lin Simpson.
I was invited to represent the state of Iowa at the Conference on Hebei Tourism held at the Marriott Downtown Hotel and spoke about my three visits to China. The Longzing Temple in Zhending (near Shijiazhuang) is one of my favorites. Friend Zhang Zhijun and his son Qisheng (Tony) took me there and to the Chinese Table Tennis Academy, as well as to a traditional Chinese tea house and for a foot massage. I talked about how China juxtaposes the old and the new, that one often sees a centuries-old pagoda next to a modern skyscraper. The American experience is only 400 years old. China has a 4,000 year recorded history. “Our people share much more in common than differences,” I said, and continued, “To most Westerners China is an exotic place, yet the people are hospitable and friendly, much like Iowans.” Having set up educational exchanges during two of my visits to China, including to Hebei, I talked about education being Iowa’s fifth-leading “export.” And of course I noted
I have found that in Sister Cities and Sister States the more linkages within the linkage are likely to assure the long-term success of the relationship. Two famous bridges signed on as “Sister Bridges,” one in Iowa and one in Hebei, China. Perhaps the most famous bridges in Iowa are the Bridges of Madison County near Winterset. Zhaozhou Bridge is located in Shijiazhuang, capitol of the Hebei Province and Sister City with Des Moines. The bridge was built during the Sui Dynasty 1400 years ago (595-605 A.D.). The American Society of Civil Engineers recognized the marvel as the best bridge in the world. That’s good company to keep. I love the symbolism of bridges that metaphorically and actually link people to people. Zhao Jun Tang, bureau chief for the Shijiazhuang Tourism Administration, gave Terri Smith and me small mementos of the bridge. Terri is a board member and treasurer of the Iowa Sister State Commission.
I was a member of the planning committee to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Iowa-Hebei Sister State relationship. Nearly 200 guests from Hebei came to Iowa to celebrate and to sign more than $1 billion in Iowa exports. I am pictured here with members of my friend Cyndi Chen’s Chinese language class at Drake University.
Drake University welcomed many of our Chinese guests to breakfast. I attended both as the vice chair of the Legislature’s International Relations Committee and as a member of Drake’s International Education Committee. I sat with my friend Tony, who is a second-year actuarial science major at Drake, and Ba Cuicui, American Affairs Division manager, and Lv Xiaomei, secretary-general of the Hebei People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries.
I am pictured here with two young musicians from Hebei.
Young musicians from Iowa and Hebei joined voices to sing in a chorus at the World Food Prize headquarters. The blended voices sounded great.
The World Food Prize provided a marvelous setting for the 30th anniversary celebration banquet. I was seated next to a delightful and fascinating gentleman from California, Neal Gordon. Neal is vice president of JM Eagle, the world’s largest manufacturer of plastic pipe. The company has a plant in Wilton, Iowa. I introduced Neal to Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey.
Two nice people visited the Iowa Capitol last week and came into the Senate Chamber where I was working. I invited them to the well where Suk Singsatid sat in the president’s chair and was joined by her husband Jim Stallone. Suk and Jim met in Thailand. Two hours after their Capitol visit, Suk became a naturalized United States citizen. Congratulations, Suk!
The ten-member All-Terrain and Off-Road Utility Vehicle Interim Study Committee met earlier this week at the Capitol. We listened to several stakeholders testify about the use of ATVs (All-Terrain Vehicles), OHVs (Off-Highway Vehicles) and Off-Road Utility Vehicles (ORVs) on public roads. The committee will make recommendations to the full legislature in January. I invited two friends and constituents who are experts in the field to testify, Dan Kleen from Pocahontas and Alan Rodenborn from Fort Dodge. Dan Kleen is an avid ATV/ORV fan and is the president of the National Off-Highway Vehicles Conservation Council. I’ve worked with him during the past 12 years on the Gypsum City ATV Park and returning funds to ATV and snowmobile owners that were “scooped” by the Legislature prior to my election. Alan is the owner of Racing Unlimited, the dealer for Kawasaki, Victory and Polaris products. He is president of the Iowa Motor Dealers Association. Both Alan and Dan are reliable and respe
The Humboldt County Democratic Women invited me to speak to their group. I outlined the accomplishments of the 2013 legislative session and provided a preview of the 2014 session. We had a lively discussion of several issues. I have found the people of Humboldt County to be very hospitable and friendly as I have door-knocked in their neighborhoods. Pictured from left: Janell Ayres, Merle Ayres, Pat Baker, me, Kathy Eck, Barb Zabel, Denny Geitzenauer and Janiece Geitzenauer.
Iowa Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart came to Fort Dodge to provide factual information on the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), the Insurance Exchange and other issues of importance to employers and insurance professionals. I introduced Nick at the new headquarters of the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance. One of the participants was Katie Rosenboom, pictured between Nick and me, when she asked additional questions after Nick’s formal presentation. Katie is an agent and agency manager for Heartland Insurance Agency in Manson.
I was appointed to a 10-member joint House-Senate Administrative Costs in Higher Education Interim Study Committee that met at the Capitol on Tuesday. We explored the administrative costs at Iowa’s community colleges, private colleges and universities, Regents institutions and for-profit (proprietary) institutions. Among the presenters were the presidents of Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids and Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge, Drs. Mark Starcevich and Dan Kinney respectively. Pictured are Dr. Starcevich, Senator Bob Dvorsky (D-Coralville), Senator Rita Hart (D-Wheatland), co-chair of the interim study committee, Dr. Kenney and I.
The Elderbridge Agency on Aging has offices in Mason City, Spencer, Carroll and Fort Dodge and held a legislative forum in Fort Dodge on Wednesday. Representative Helen Miller (D-Fort Dodge) and I participated. We reviewed the five priorities of the Older Iowans Legislature and I was pleased to announce that I had already submitted bill draft requests for the five priorities, one of which to place sex offenders and appropriate settings which I interpret as separate facilities so they cannot harm Iowa’s most vulnerable people – young people and older citizens. Former Fort Dodge city councilman and Social Security director John Hale moderated the forum. Among the participants was Roy Schoon from Pomeroy, a longtime member of the Elderbridge board of directors.
The Iowa Department of Transportation held regional meetings throughout the state for legislators and transportation officials, including one in Webster City on Wednesday. We were updated on 2014 transportation plans and discussed the recent DOT’s nine proposals to increase revenue for our highways, roads and bridges. Pictured are Representatives Rob Bacon (R-Slater), Dave Deyoe (R-Nevada), John Landon (R-Ankeny), I and DOT Director Paul Trombino.
The Iowa Legislative Fiscal Committee held its first meeting on an Iowa community college campus and I was delighted they met at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge on Thursday. I am not a member of the Fiscal Committee, but was invited to extend the official welcome to my alma mater, hometown and Senate district. I thanked them for selecting Iowa Central to hold their first meeting on a community college campus. I noted that the Iowa Supreme Court had held oral arguments recently in Fort Dodge, that Iowa Insurance Commission Nick Gerhart came to Fort Dodge to discuss the Insurance Exchange and now the Legislature’s Fiscal Committee brought their show on the road to Fort Dodge. I called all of these events and activities that normally take place at the Capitol but are now being held outside of Des Moines as “Dome on the Range.” Pictured are Senator Jack Whitver (R-Ankeny), Iowa Central Community College Vice President (and former Webster County state senator) Jim Kersten
Jo Ann and I hosted the 18th birthday party for grandson Paul Sink (center in the front row) in Cedar Falls. Paul is a senior at Columbus Catholic High School in Waterloo. Pictured to my left are daughter Lora Sink, Theodore Beall Sink, Christopher Sink, Jo Ann, and son—in-law Steve Sink. Seated on either side of Paul are Joseph Sink and Lydia Sink.
The 133rd honor guard provided an inspiration and touching tribute to our veterans, MIAs and POWs.
The 133rd Air National Guard Testing Squadron’s honor guard presented the colors at the beginning and conclusion of the Veterans Day program at Saint Edmond High School.
Major Jason Kolacia of the 133rd Air National Guard Testing Squadron in Fort Dodge was the Veterans Day keynote speaker and delivered a marvelous tribute to veterans including to the Meskwaki code talkers. We had brunch afterward at the VFW Hall.
I love introducing international visitors to Iowa and building friendships abroad. Recently I hosted several young political leaders from Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Lithuania and Spain. They wanted to learn about Iowa’s role in the world. As vice chair of the legislature’s International Relations Committee the duty, which I consider fun, not a job, is hosting our global guests. The delegation was sponsored by the United States State Department and the Iowa International Center.
Senator Rob Hogg (D-Cedar Rapids), the Senate’s “Green Senator,” spoke to the group about global warming. From left to right are Nikolay Martinov of the Bulgarian Socialist Party; Jesper Petersen, a member of the Danish Parliament; I; Marianna Charalambous of the Cyprus Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and Sen. Hogg.
One of the things I love most about hosting international guests and traveling abroad as an ambassador for Iowa is that we are Iowans and Americans first and foremost, Republicans and Democrats a distant last. After meeting with the international delegation in the Senate chamber, we trekked down to the governor’s office where Governor Terry Branstad met with our honored guests in his formal office.
At the annual Otho Fire Department oyster and chili supper I spoke with Lt. Jeff Huen, firefighter Justin Hayes and paramedic and training officer Rod Case. Tod showed me the station and equipment, including a new device to extricate and save people from suffocating when trapped in a grain bin or elevator. He also outlined the department’s needs.
Hans Erickson is my new clerk and will sit beside me on the Senate floor. Hans is a financial adviser from Boone. He will assist me with constituent case work, correspondence and legislative research, and will be the secretary for the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.
I would not dare visit the Marian Home without stopping in to see Louise Bridenstine, a resident and longtime friend and former neighbor. Louise is a delightful woman and one of my most favorite senior citizens. Happy Thanksgiving, Louise!
When the U.S. Census was conducted three years ago, there was a big mistake in the count for Rockwell City. The mistake would have cost the city more than a half-million dollars in money to fix our roads over 10 years, but I was not about to let that happen. I sponsored a bill in the Iowa Senate to solve the problem. When our efforts paid off, State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald and I joined Rockwell City officials to celebrate on Nov. 13. We presented a ceremonial check for $108,404.54—the amount the city was owed for 2011 and 2012. Pictured from left: Rockwell City Mayor Phil Heinlen, City Clerk Kelly Smidt, I and Treasurer Fitzgerald.
Rahaf Roubi, a 16-year-old student from Palestine, spoke to Calhoun County Democrats on Monday, November 18 at the J. J. Hands Public Library in Lohrville. She talked about her native Palestine, “occupation” by Israel, the need for a fair two-state solution, her Muslim faith, and the food and customs of her country. Rahaf is an international exchange student at Jefferson-Scranton High School. She is pictured pointing to Palestine, a tiny dot on the globe.
June McGowan from Rockwell City warmly welcomed Palestinian exchange student Rahaf Roubi to Calhoun County.
Adrienne Smith from Jefferson has become a sort of surrogate mom to 16-year-old Rahaf Roube from Palestine. Adrienne and her husband Richard drove Rahaf to Lohrville to address Calhoun County Democrats. Senator Daryl Beall (D-Fort Dodge), who represents Calhoun County spoke briefly. He had hosted Rahaf and 15-year-old Rubab Malik from Pakistan at the Iowa State Capitol earlier. The two girls are international exchange students at Jefferson-Scranton High School.
The Marian Home in Fort Dodge hosted several area nursing home administrators and me recently to review legislative priorities for the 2014 session. The session was presented by the Iowa Health Care Association and the Iowa Center for Assisted Living. Pictured are Daryl Roberts, community liaison for Iowa Home Care in Fort Dodge, Gail Olson, administrator for the Laurens Care Center, Cody Geick, administrator for Pocahontas Manor, Eric Halverson, executive director at the Marian Home and Village in Fort Dodge, Mary Greeley, administrator for the Pomeroy Care Center, I, unidentified gentleman, and Diane Humphrey, marketing manager for Iowa Home Care in Clive.
Northwest Communications CEO Donald Miller and office manager Sheila Akridge hosted a legislative forum at their Havelock office on Nov. 18. The event was sponsored by the Iowa Communications Alliance, an industry association of small independent telephone companies. Miller said, "Access to a robust and affordable broadband to all Iowans is an economic development issue." He said broadband supports rural Iowa. Telephone executives from Northwest Iowa met with me, Senator Dennis Guth (R-Klemme) and Representative Tom Shaw (R-Laurens) to review the 2013 legislative session and preview the 2014 session. We discussed the "Connect Every Iowan" initiative and modernization of Iowa's telecommunications policy. Pictured: Steve Trimble, general manager of the Palmer Mutual Telephone Company in Palmer; Sheila Akridge; I; Marcia Boerner, assistant director of the Webster-Calhoun Cooperative Telephone Association in Gowrie; and Don Miller.