Area Tidbits

Alzheimer’s Community Education Offered in Dubuque

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The Alzheimer's Association is offering two free educational classes for the general public on Wednesday afternoons, February 7th and 14th, at Mercy Medical Center, 1st Floor Cafe Conference Rooms, 250 Mercy Drive, Dubuque. Both programs begin at 3 pm and end at 4:30 pm.

The class on Feb. 7th, Healthy Living for Your Brain & Body, explores the latest research on the question of whether healthy living may improve cognitive health as we age and whether or not it may reduce the risk of getting Alzheimer's and related diseases.

The class on Feb 14th, An Update on Research, briefly addresses the history of the search for effective treatments and will offer a hopeful view on the promise of effective breakthroughs on the horizon.

Advanced registration is required by calling 1-800-272-3900. Or, to register online visit, browse to Caregiver Center, Community Resource Finder, Alzheimer's Association Programs and Events. For more information contact Jerry Schroeder at 563-293-8056, or at

About the Alzheimer's Association
The Alzheimer's Association is the world's leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support, and research. The Association's mission is to eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research, to provide care and support for all affected, and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.


UnityPoint Health Finley Health Foundation Welcomes Grammy and CMA Award Winner Jo Dee Messina for Gala

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UnityPoint Health Finley Health Foundation is pleased to announce Grammy and CMA Award Winner Jo Dee Messina will be the feature act for the annual Miracles on the Mississippi Gala. The gala is on Saturday, May 5, 2018 at the Diamond Jo Casino.

Jo Dee Messina is a seasoned veteran in the music industry with nine number one hits, sixteen top 40 songs and has sold more than five million albums worldwide. Her breakout song "Heads Carolina, Tails California" made her a household name. Along with CMA, Grammy and ACM Awards, Jo Dee Messina was the first female in country music history to celebrate three consecutive multi-week, chart topping songs.

"The Finley Health Foundation is excited to partner with the Diamond Jo Casino again this year, to bring what is sure to be a great performance to Dubuque," said Barbara Potts, Executive Director of the Finley Health Foundation. "Community members will have an evening to remember while supporting the children and young adults within the pediatric rehabilitation program."

Funds raised at the 2018 Miracles on the Mississippi Gala will support Pediatric Rehabilitation services at Finley Hospital.

The event schedule includes the Miracles on the Mississippi Gala program with hors d'oeuvres and refreshments, live auction, and Jo Dee Messina in concert. To purchase tickets, contact the Finley Health Foundation RSVP and Ticket Line at (563) 557-2700 or email


Learn to break the procrastination habit

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The idiom "Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today" has been credited to many people, including Thomas Jefferson, Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde. Regardless of who first uttered the phrase, it still rings true. Many people are guilty of procrastinating, which can affect their productivity and various other areas of their lives.

Procrastination can sometimes be a good thing, giving a person time to think through decisions more thoroughly instead of acting impulsively. Waiting to do something until a deadline looms also may motivate a person to work harder to complete the task at hand.

Yet chronic procrastination can be a problem that affects one's job performance, academic success and general state of mind.

Psychology Today says that procrastinating is often done to temporarily reduce a person's anxiety about a task or alleviate boredom or negative feelings toward the work at hand. Procrastination is more a symptom of emotions rather than a problem of poor time management. Experts in the field of psychology say that even though procrastinating may temporarily relieve anxiety or unpleasant feelings, procrastinating ultimately can increase negative feelings.

Resolving to stop pushing tasks into the future can be a worthwhile goal, but it's difficult.

"To tell a chronic procrastinator to ‘just do it' would be like saying to a clinically depressed person, ‘cheer up'," said Joseph Ferrari, a professor of psychology at DePaul University.

Individuals can instead employ these strategies to get focused.

• Set deadlines. Open-ended time frames for getting things done may be a procrastinator's worst enemy. Setting deadlines can provide the inspiration needed to get things done. Set reminders to help stay on task.

• Seek cognitive-behavioral therapy. CBT is a common type of talk therapy that is used as a tool in treating various mental health conditions and other situations. CBT helps a person become aware of inaccurate or negative thinking to change a view on challenging situations, says the Mayo Clinic. This way one can respond to them in a more effective way.

• Identify feelings. Identifying why a person is procrastinating can help him or her get past the block. Fear, change, sadness, or lack of experience may be behind a person's tendency to procrastinate. Identifying the cause can help men and women overcome this hurdle.

• Break down the task. Dividing a challenging task into a handful of smaller tasks can make it easier to complete the project. Reward little successes, which will eventually add up to a big success.

• Keep distractions at bay. Remove distractions from the environment, so they can't be used as a procrastination crutch.

Over time, people can break the habit of procrastination and become more efficient and successful.


How to find a hobby

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Commitments to work and family can make adults feel like they have little time for much else. But finding time to pursue hobbies can benefit men and women in various ways. 

A form of escapism that can provide a much-needed respite from the hectic pace of daily life, hobbies can help men and women reduce stress by forcing them to focus on something other than the source of their stress. In addition, hobbies can be a great way to meet new people, an important benefit for working parents who may otherwise find it difficult to meet new people.

Finding a hobby may take some trial and error, as adults may find activities that once appealed to them no longer do, while other pursuits may require more time than men and women can reasonably devote. Adults looking for a hobby can consider the following strategies as they begin their pursuits.

• Think back to childhood. A childhood passion may provide the perfect starting point as adults look for hobbies. For example, adults who enjoyed painting as children may find they still know their way around a canvas and palette.

• Ask around. Adults who want to find a hobby to foster social connections can ask friends, family, neighbors, or coworkers to recommend activities. This can help men and women make connections in their communities and/or reconnect with friends or family members with whom they have fallen out of touch.

• Think small. Because there is often some trial and error in finding a rewarding hobby, it makes sense to avoid making too big a commitment right off the bat. Before buying lots of expensive equipment or materials or making a large time commitment, give yourself some time to try a hobby on for size. The first activity you try might not necessarily take, and walking away won't sting as much if you had not committed much time or money.

• Consider coaching or mentoring. Athletes who still have a passion for their favorite sports but can no longer meet the physical demands such sports require can stay involved by coaching youth sports. The same can be said for professionals passionate about their work who choose to mentor. These activities might not be traditional hobbies, but they offer a great way for adults to pursue their passions on their own time.

Hobbies can enrich our lives and provide respites from the daily grind. Finding a hobby that fits might take some time and some trial and error, but such efforts will ultimately prove worth it if adults find activities they are passionate about.


Bee Branch Healthy Homes Program Improves Six Housing Units and Assists Over 50 Families in 2017

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In 2017, the Bee Branch Healthy Homes (BBHH) Resiliency Program improved six housing units and assisted over 50 low- to moderate-income families. Construction contracts for the six housing units were signed and completed between September 8 and December 31, and costs of the improvements totaled approximately $143,600. An additional 21 properties are currently under contract for improvements.

Since launching the program in November 2016, the City has received approximately 360 inquiries and more than 140 applications for assistance. To date, 79 of those applications have been approved and the remainder are in the program's verification process. Once an application is approved, a BBHH inspector visits the location and assesses the home or property for onsite repairs and renovations that will improve environmental health and address safety issues related to flooding.

Eligible construction activities include repairing damage caused from flooding and improvements that eliminate water infiltration and make the structure more resilient. In 2017, construction contracts included interior drain tile and sump pump installation, foundation waterproofing, gutter and downspout improvements, exterior drain tile, soil and sidewalk modification, furnace and water heater replacement, basement window repairs, ventilation improvements, radon mitigation, and more. An interactive map featuring information and photos of the completed projects is available at

The BBHH program also provides participants with home advocacy services. Through a comprehensive assessment, home advocates provide education and referrals to increase understanding of the resources and services that are available to support development, employment, education, health, and neighborhood revitalization. Home advocates strive to inform, motivate, empower, and educate residents and homeowners on how to break the links among unhealthy housing, unhealthy families, and unhealthy neighborhoods.

The BBHH home advocates have met with 58 families. As of December 2017, they were still providing services to 38 of those families. The most common referrals have included weatherization, education, home maintenance, financial services, food assistance, and health insurance.

Three local general contractors and several other subcontractors have done work for the BBHH program. Moving forward, the City expects to bid one or more packages of four to 10 units each month. To sign up to receive email and/or text alerts when a BBHH project is available for bid, contractors may call (563) 690-6168 or visit and subscribe to Housing and Community Development bid postings.

The BBHH Resiliency Program includes $8.4 million in the form of five-year forgivable loans. The program is available to owner-occupied homes, single-unit rentals, and small, multi-family residential units located in the BBHH eligibility area and meet the income requirements established by HUD guidelines. For more information, visit

The BBHH Resiliency Program is being funded through the $96.9 million U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC) Grant awarded to the State of Iowa's Iowa Watershed Approach (IWA), a collaboration of numerous agencies, universities, non-profits, and municipalities.

Iowa Watershed Approach (IWA)
Through the Iowa Watershed Approach (IWA), Iowans will work together to address factors that contribute to floods and nutrient flows. This adaptive model, supported by HUD dollars through the NDRC, will leverage the principles of Iowa's innovative Nutrient Reduction Strategy to make our communities more resilient to flooding and help improve water quality. The Bee Branch Watershed is one of nine distinct watersheds across Iowa serving as project sites for the IWA.


Community Health Needs Assessment Seeks Community Input

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All persons within Dubuque County are invited to participate in the survey to help identify and develop the 2018 Community Health Needs Assessment and Health Improvement Plan (CHNA HIP) goals. The last CHNA HIP was adopted in 2015 and can be found at

The information from this survey will help direct the community's attention to the areas of greatest need. This short survey will take less than ten minutes to complete and can be found at the following link between January 10th and January 21st:

CHNA HIP committee represents:

Dubuque County Health Department - Patrice Lambert
City of Dubuque Health Services Department - Mary Rose Corrigan
Mercy Medical Center - Dubuque and Dyersville - Joe Norris
UnityPoint Health - Jonathan Wilke
Visiting Nurse Association - Stacey Killian
Crescent Community Health Center - Angela Petsche

The findings of this report will contribute to a community health improvement plan.

If you have an interest in participating on a task force, please contact Patrice Lambert at (563) 557-7396.


Birds need extra assistance in winter

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Cold weather can be particularly taxing on many of the birds individuals discover in their backyards throughout the year. Although some species migrate to warmer climates each winter, many stay put and attempt to ride out winter in their normal habitats. Birds that tend to stay put include finches, sparrows, titmice, jays, woodpeckers, chickadees, and cardinals.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology says that, in much of North America, winter days can be windy and cold for birds, and nights are even more challenging. In winter, birds no longer have berries and lush vegetation to consume and insects have died or gone underground. Since finding food can be especially difficult, and shelter may be scarce, many birds can benefit from a little help from their human friends.

Wild Birds Unlimited says shelter for birds is hard to come by in winter. Trees have shed their leaves, and evergreens may not be as abundant or protective. As a result, birds frequently seek man-made structures that can provide refuge from the elements.

People can provide shelters for birds, which may include traditional birdhouses, windbreaks and snow shields. Even a brush pile can simulate the natural shelters of trees and shrubs that birds prefer. Roost boxes are another option and one that can accommodate small flocks that will group together and share their body heat.

Use leaves and branches to provide natural camouflage and help attract birds to the shelter. Offer yarn, fabric scraps, cotton, and other insulating materials that birds can use to help make their shelters more

Birds require high-calorie and high-fat foods in the winter so they can keep up their metabolism to generate warmth. Also, since birds' feeding habits vary depending on the type of bird, it may be necessary to place feeders at varying heights to maximize access.

Feeders should be located out of the wind and in an area that offers safe refuge from predators. The National Wildlife Federation also says individuals should put out sizable feeders and/or use multiple feeders to provide ample food during snow and ice storms. Feeders should be checked regularly and kept full.

Consistency is also important because birds will grow accustomed to being supplemented with food and may depend on such supplements to survive.

Bird Watcher's Digest suggests a variety of foods for birds. Black-oil sunflower seeds, peanuts, suet, cracked corn, millet, thistle seed, safflower, and various fruits can help many birds thrive. It's also suggested to include mealworms, which can be purchased at bait stores or pet stores. These larvae of beetles can be presented in a shallow dish with slippery sides so the worms cannot crawl out.

Birds typically need extra support to survive harsh winters. Offering food and shelter during these bleak months can help.



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Beloved radio personality and murder expert Sheridan Whiteside has fallen at the home of the Stanley's in Mesalia, Ohio. Having injured his hip, Mr. Whiteside is expected to make a full recovery but must remain at the Stanley's home for the duration of his rehabilitation on doctor's orders. Mr. Whiteside's jet-setting lifestyle may be curbed for a short time, but you can be sure his friends from across the globe will keep his isolation in the Midwest winter freeze exciting. We have heard that "get-well" messages have been pouring into the Stanley's house from around the world. The glamorous Lorraine Sheldon, has sent her regards all the way from England. Beverly Carlton, the dashing leading man, and the comedic gem Banjo have also chimed in from the coasts with their get well wishes. According to rumor, all three are planning to visit the invalid Whiteside during the Christmas holidays. The sleepy town of Mesalia, Ohio and indeed the Stanley's themselves are in for a memorable holiday season as the creme-de-la-creme of the entertainment industry and scintillating minds from all the corners of the world descend upon them in person and proclamation. Not to mention the Machiavellian Sheridan Whiteside himself.

The Grand Opera House production of The Man Who Came To Dinner will feature a cast of talented local performers, led by Guest Artist Michael Wanzie from Orlando, Florida as Sheridan Whiteside.

Tickets for The Man Who Came To Dinner are $20 for Adults and $12 for children under 18 and can be purchased in person at the Box Office located at 135 W. 8th Street in Dubuque, or by calling (563) 588-1305. Box Office hours are Monday through Friday from Noon until 4:00pm. Tickets can also be purchased on our website at

The Man Who Came To Dinner, by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman and directed by Amy Ressler, is scheduled to run:
Friday, February 23 7:30pm
Saturday, February 24 7:30pm
Sunday, February 25 2:00pm
Friday, March 2 7:30pm
Saturday, March 3 7:30pm
Sunday, March 4 2:00pm

Ticket Prices: Adults $20 & Under 18 $12


Art in the Park: Snow Sculpting Event

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In partnership with the Dubuque Museum of Art, the City of Dubuque Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs will sponsor Art in the Park Snow Sculpting Event, a snow sculpting competition and a community snow sculpting event on Saturday, Feb. 10, from noon to 4 p.m. at Washington Park, 700 Locust St. The public is invited to attend the free events which are being offered as part of the Dubuque Museum of Art's Second Saturdays event series.

The snow sculpting event will feature three teams including a Dubuque team that participated in last year's U.S. National Snow Sculpting Competition. Each team will begin with a six feet square by eight feet high block of manufactured snow. They will begin carving on Wednesday, Feb. 7, and will have until noon on Sunday, Feb 10, to complete their sculpture. The public will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite sculpture for a People's Choice Award, and the juried selection will be announced at the event at 3:45 p.m.

The community snow sculpting portion of the event offers the public an opportunity to sculpt as well, either as a team or individually. Community teams or individuals of any age interested in creating snow sculptures of their own will have access to a limited number of designated blocks. Tools will be provided. Those interested in carving snow should wear clothing appropriate for the weather.

Additional free activities will be offered inside the museum as part of the Dubuque Museum of Art's Second Saturday activities. Light refreshments will be available on museum grounds. In the event of inclement weather, please contact the Dubuque Museum of Art at 563-557-1851 or call 563-580-2485 for event schedule changes.

The event is supported through in-kind contributions from Sundown Mountain, Spahn & Rose Lumber Company, JaMar Pattern, Inc., and McCoy Trucking, and is a sanctioned WinterFun, Inc. contest.

For additional information, visit or or contact City of Dubuque Arts and Cultural Affairs Coordinator Debra Alleyne at 563-690-6059 or


Resolve to put down devices and reduce screen time

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Electronic devices have infiltrated nearly every aspect of daily life. And thanks to the portability of today's smartphones and tablets, many people are rarely without access to the internet or other digital applications. 

A 2016 Nielsen Company audience report found that adults in the United States devoted about 10 hours and 39 minutes each day to consuming media. The analytics firm Flurry says users are spending nearly half of that time on mobile devices, particularly using mobile apps. Active Healthy Kids Canada reported in 2014 that children between the ages of three and five spent an average of two hours per day in front of screens, while the statistics group eMarketer estimates that adults in Canada spent an average of nine hours and 41 minutes a day using media in 2016.

The Canadian Paediatric Society states that exposure to digital media is a concern and can affect children and families. Exposure to screens can be habit-forming, and early overexposure increases the likelihood of overuse later in life.

Reducing screen time has become a mantra in many households across North America and may also be something adults hope to do in the future. The following are some ways to cut down on screen time.

• Keep a journal. A journal can help men and women log their screen time over the course of a few weeks. Jot down time spent watching TV, using a computer, using mobile devices, or playing video games. Some people may be surprised to learn just how much time they're spending staring at screens, and that realization may be just what they need to make changes.

• Use a standard alarm clock. By not using their smartphones as alarm clocks, people can avoid the temptation to begin looking at social media or emails even before they've wiped the sleep from their eyes.

• Make a list of goals. Rather than reaching for a phone, Digital Detox experts suggest keeping a list of goals and experiences in one's pocket that they can refer to when they're tempted to look at their screens. Then they can engage in a real-world experience instead of simply looking at their phones.

• Schedule media hours. Set aside blocks of time when media use is allowed, and resist the urge to activate devices throughout the rest of the day.

• Put away the phone or tablet. Simply moving a device out of sight may reduce the temptation to send a text or hop onto an app.

• Remove superfluous apps. Delete apps that take up too much of your time. Having to go the extra step to view Facebook on a web browser, for example, may reduce the likelihood that you will do so.

• Go screen-free. Resolve to leave home without a phone for a few hours to enjoy unencumbered screen-free time.

Electronic devices can be addictive. But over time and with some concerted effort, men, women and children can cut back on screen time.


Applications Available for Property Tax Exemptions in Urban Revitalization Areas

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The City of Dubuque is currently accepting applications from property owners of Dubuque's urban revitalization areas who may qualify for tax cuts based on improvements that increase the assessed value of the property. 

The Dubuque Urban Revitalization Program, based on Chapter 404 of the Code of Iowa, focuses on the revitalization of properties in Dubuque's older neighborhoods and offers a property tax exemption for new improvements made to qualified residential properties and limited commercial properties. Qualified residential properties include single-family homes, duplexes, and apartment buildings located within urban revitalization areas designated by the City Council. A building containing office or retail space may be eligible if the primary building use is 75 percent residential.

New improvements must increase the assessed value of the building by at least 10 percent for single-family and 15 percent for multi-family properties. Owners who upgrade their residential properties may receive a 10-year exemption from the property tax liability that would normally accompany numerous property improvements.

Owners of commercial property in the Washington Neighborhood Urban Revitalization District may be eligible for a three-year exemption. For purposes of property tax assessment, the city assessor makes a distinction between improvements that add to the home's value and home maintenance.

Written applications for tax exemptions must be completed and returned to the City of Dubuque Housing and Community Development Department, 350 W. Sixth St., Suite 312, Dubuque, IA 52001 by 5 p.m. by Feb. 1, 2018.

Applications are available at
or at the housing and community development office.

For more information on types of taxable improvements, contact the city assessor's office at 563-589-4416 or e-mail For more information about the Dubuque Urban Revitalization Program or the tax exemption application, contact the City of Dubuque Housing and Community Development Department at 563-589-4212 or email


Nearly One-in-Five Iowa Patients Experience Medical Errors

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Clive, Iowa - January 8, 2018 - Although a vast majority of Iowans have positive experiences with the healthcare system in Iowa, nearly one-in-five Iowa adults (18.8 percent) report having experienced a medical error either personally, or with someone close to them during the past five years.

This finding comes from a new Iowa survey released today by Heartland Health Research Institute of Clive, Iowa. The first of its kind in Iowa, this statewide survey - The Iowa Patient Safety Study - Iowans' Views on Medical Errors(c) - was conducted from May 11 to June 6, 2017. A total of 1,010 Iowa adults age 18 and over took part.

Of the 18.8% of Iowans who experienced an error, 60 percent were not told by the responsible healthcare provider that an error had occurred. The survey finds that hospitals are the most frequent site of medical errors (59 percent), while 30 percent of errors occurred in a doctor's office or clinic, four percent in nursing homes and seven percent at some other location.

Other key highlights for all Iowans surveyed, whether they experienced a medical error or not, include:

• Nearly 90 percent of Iowans "Strongly agree" that providers should be required to tell patients of any medical error.

• Eighty percent of Iowans "Strongly agree" that Iowa hospitals should be required to report all medical errors to a state agency, and 74 percent "Strongly agree" that Iowa doctors should be required to report all medical errors to a state agency.

• Ninety-three percent of Iowans "Somewhat agree" (30 percent) or "Strongly agree" (63 percent) the public should have access to medical error information for each hospital and doctor.

• Sixty-one percent of Iowans with no medical error history are likely to believe their personal doctor would tell them if a medical error occurred, but only 41 percent of Iowans who have experienced a medical error believe this is true.

• Iowans believe medical errors are primarily caused by overworked medical staff, lack of care coordination and poor communication.

• About a quarter of Iowans (24 percent) believe there are fewer errors today than five years ago, whereas 18 percent believe there are more errors now. About one-third of Iowans felt the frequency of errors has not changed in five years.

Iowans who have experienced a medical error in the past five years reported:

• The most common type of medical errors were mistakes made during a test, surgery or treatment, as well as misdiagnosis.

• When experiencing a medical error, six-in-10 respondents believe a serious health consequence resulted and nearly one-third reported serious financial consequences resulted.

• Ninety percent of those experiencing a medical error believe the medical error was preventable.

• Sixty-two percent of those who experienced a medical error reported the error, while one-third did not report the error. Almost two-thirds of those who did not report said they simply didn't think reporting the error would do any good.

• Almost 90 percent of Iowans who reported the medical error did so because they wanted to prevent the same error from happening to someone else. Only 25 percent said they reported the error to receive compensation for the harm.

• Of those experiencing medical errors, 35 percent of Iowans indicated that a medical error was made in his/her own care, while 57 percent reported that error was made in the care of someone else in whose care they were closely involved

"The prevalence of medical errors in our country remains a public health crisis, and the findings of this study clearly demonstrate that Iowa is not immune from this serious problem. Iowans strongly feel that medical errors must not be hidden from the public and should be reported, both to the patient and to an appropriate regulatory agency," says David P. Lind, President of Heartland Health Research Institute. "Quality of healthcare will only improve when leadership, organizational culture and patient engagement are fully aligned. When seeking healthcare, patients deserve truthful, timely and transparent information about medical errors."


Did you know?

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Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a federal holiday in the United States that is celebrated annually on the third Monday of January. The day commemorates and celebrates the life of the esteemed civil rights leader who was tragically assassinated in 1968 at the age of 39. Dr. King championed racial justice and equality, inspiring others in his moving species and leading by example while promoting nonviolent resistance. Dr. King was not afraid to sacrifice his own freedom in an effort to secure freedoms for others, going to jail 29 times on charges related to his work as a civil rights leader.

After Dr. King's death, U.S. Congressmen John Conyers (D-MI) and Edward Brooke (R-MA) introduced a bill to make the famed orator's birthday a national holiday. But holidays honoring private citizens such as Dr. King contradicted a longstanding tradition, and the bill failed to pass when it was first up for vote in 1979. Despite opposition from prominent politicians, including North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms, who opposed naming a federal holiday after Dr. King because of the latter's opposition to the Vietnam War, the bill was eventually signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1983. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is now observed in all 50 states.


What consumers can do after a data breach

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As the summer of 2017 drew to a close, news broke of a data breach at the credit monitoring agency Equifax. Reports suggested the breach might have compromised the sensitive personal information of as many as 143 million Americans, or roughly half the adult population of the United States.

In the digital age, consumers are more vulnerable to such breaches than ever before. Data stolen as part of the Equifax breach included names, social security numbers and birthdates, among other personal information. Consumers concerned about data breaches can take certain steps to determine if they have been compromised while also taking measures to safeguard themselves against future breaches.

When breaches happen
News of the Equifax breach understandably inspired panic among consumers, and future data breaches will be no different. Hackers who gain access to consumers' personal information can steal identities, file false tax returns, take out loans in unsuspecting consumers' names, and commit a host of other crimes that can negatively affect consumers' credit ratings and compromise their ability to secure loans in the future.

When a breach happens, consumers should do the following.

• Contact the agency that was affected. After acknowledging it had been breached, Equifax set up a website ( where consumers could find out if their information had been compromised by the breach. When using such websites, consumers should make sure they are using secure connections, as they will be asked to enter personal information.

• Examine credit reports. Even if individuals' personal information was not compromised, they can monitor their credit reports for suspicious activity. Many credit card companies now provide monthly credit report updates to cardholders. Individuals should monitor these to see if any new accounts have been opened without their knowledge. If ratings suddenly plummet despite relative inactivity from consumers, they should contact one of the major reporting agencies for a thorough report. Such reports are typically free once per year.

Future breaches
Breaches are seemingly inevitable in the digital age. Concerned consumers can take steps to protect themselves against future breaches.

• Continue monitoring credit reports. Individuals should take advantage of the monthly credit rating reports offered by their credit card companies even if no breaches have been reported. Hackers may sell consumers' information, which thieves can then sit on for years before ultimately using to commit financial fraud. Routine monitoring can help consumers instantly address any suspicious activity before things spiral out of control.

• Place a fraud alert on all accounts. Fraud alerts warn creditors that individuals may have been compromised by past data breaches, forcing them to verify that credit or loan applicants are legitimate before they can open any new accounts or take out any loans.

• File taxes as early as possible. Criminals with access to consumers' personal information can file false tax returns and steal their refunds before consumers even realize they have been victimized. File early, before thieves have had a chance to file false returns.

Consumer data breaches can affect every facet of consumers' lives. Knowing what to do when such breaches occur and how to reduce their risk of being victimized can help consumers when the next breach occurs.


Maintain indoor air quality all year long

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Winter can be dreary for people confined to indoors as temperatures drop, and poor air quality in a home can add to that dreariness while adversely affecting individuals' health. Air quality tends to suffer most in winter, but there are ways to ensure the air inside a home stays healthy all year long.

• Inspect and address any sources of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide, or CO, is an invisible, odorless gas that can contribute to poor indoor air quality and a host of health problems if it goes undetected in a home. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, potential sources of CO in a home include improperly vented natural gas appliances, such as stoves and water heaters, gas-powered tools that are used indoors, clogged chimneys, or blocked heating exhaust vents. Men and women can periodically inspect potential sources of CO and address any issues they find while also making sure all CO detectors are properly installed and functioning optimally.

• Inspect HVAC ducts. Ductwork is used to deliver warm or cool air in homes with heating and air conditioning systems. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notes that much of the dirt in air ducts adheres to the duct surfaces without ever entering living spaces. However, the EPA notes that homeowners should consider having their ducts cleaned if an inspection uncovers substantial visible mold growth. In addition, the EPA recommends homeowners consider cleaning if ducts are infested with vermin or clogged with excessive amounts of dust or debris.

• Avoid chemical cleaning products. Chemical cleaning products may be great at disinfecting dishes, countertops and other areas in the home, but such items may be toxic and adversely affect indoor air quality. For example, chemicals such as bleach and ammonia, which are used in many commercial cleaning products, can linger in the air, irritating the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs.

Homeowners concerned about the quality of air in their homes also can avoid scented products, such as air fresheners and scented detergents, which the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health notes may release volatile organic compounds into the air.

• Inspect bathrooms for mold growth. Mold can grow on surfaces that are routinely wet, and that makes poorly ventilated bathrooms common sources for home mold infestations. Mold can adversely affect indoor air quality when mold spores are released, potentially triggering allergic reactions, asthma attacks and respiratory conditions. After bathing in bathrooms without vents, men and women can open windows so the room dries before mold can grow. In bathrooms with vents, make sure vents are running during baths and showers and afterward until ceilings, walls and floors appear dry.

Poor indoor air quality can be easily addressed to ensure individuals stay healthy throughout the year.


Valentine’s Day jewelry buying guide

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Jewelry is a popular gift come Valentine's Day. The National Retail Federation says 20 percent of Valentine's Day consumers are expected to buy jewelry this year, spending a total of $4.3 billion. 

Many people find buying jewelry for a loved one a little daunting because jewelry is such a personal item. Much like their favorite fragrances, men and women may have signature jewelry pieces and prefer some styles more than others.

Buying jewelry can be complicated for the uninformed. Because jewelry can be expensive, it pays for consumers to do their homework. With a little research and some knowledge from professional jewelers, shoppers can find pieces that turn out to be real Valentine's Day winners.

Discover his or her style
Consumers may need to have a little Sherlock Holmes in them when buying jewelry for a loved one. Pay attention to the pieces a loved one wears each day or on special occasions. Listen and take notes when others ask your loved one about jewelry. For those who like a direct approach, ask a significant other to point out appealing items in a magazine. This can help consumers determine if a loved one likes classic styles, modern pieces, certain metal types, or particular gemstones.

Prestige brands aren't necessarily better
Don't be afraid to walk into a local jeweler and ask the staff's opinion. Well-known stores spend a lot of time and money to craft their reputations, and that effort often gets extended to the consumer by way of price markups. Local jewelers can have high-quality merchandise and guide shoppers in the right direction for a greater value. Use the Jewelry Information Center to find reputable stores.

Purchase loose stones
It is easier to cover up flaws or draw attention away from imperfections in a stone by setting it in metal. Therefore, shopping for stones and settings separately may help shoppers determine if they are getting the right value for the money. Synthetic stones - which are grown in a laboratory - can be much more affordable because of their greater availability. Shoppers should ask for certificates that guarantee authenticity and indicate where the stones originated.

Keep proportion in mind
Bulky jewelry may look awkward on people with slight frames, while smaller pieces may get lost on taller or fuller-figured persons. Work with the jeweler on scale, even noting a loved one's figure if necessary.

Set a budget and stick to it
Have a budget in mind before visiting a jewelry store. Going in blindly may leave consumers spending more than they initially intended. Many jewelers are willing to negotiate or may sell affordable pieces that mimic desired items in style and appearance.

Understand the exchange policy
Even with the best intentions and thorough research, a gift of jewelry may not hit the mark. Before buying a piece, consumers should make sure they can exchange the piece later on if it isn't the right style.

Jewelry is a popular Valentine's Day gift, but shopping for jewelry can be difficult. But careful consumers can find the right piece with a little due diligence.


Money Smart Kid essay contest offers students a chance to win $1,000

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DES MOINES, IOWA - Students in grades seven through eleven can now enter the 12th annual Money Smart Kid essay contest and compete for the chance to win $1,000 to help boost their college savings. The statewide essay contest is sponsored by the Iowa Bankers Association.

Eligible students can enter the contest by writing an essay of 400 words or fewer, addressing the following: Please write a brief newspaper article describing the potential devastating effects of a natural disaster (fire, flood, hurricane, etc.) on a family's financial situation. Please select only one type of natural disaster for the focus of your article. Be sure to include tips and resources for readers to help prepare them for a potential future unexpected crisis.

Essays are due by March 16, 2018. The student with the winning essay will be selected as Iowa's Money Smart Kid for 2018 and receive $1,000 towards a college savings funded by the Iowa Bankers Association.

The Money Smart Kid will serve as an ambassador during Money Smart Week Iowa, which will be April 21-28 in several communities across the state.

For more information and the Money Smart Kid application, visit

About Money Smart Week
Money Smart Week Iowa 2018 is an economic outreach program from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Throughout Money Smart Week, community groups, financial institutions, government agencies, educational organizations and financial experts from across the state host dozens of free educational events to help Iowans of all ages learn to better manage their personal finances.



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Keep Iowa Beautiful (KIB) has announced the winners of the 8th Keep Iowa Beautiful Photography Contest aimed at raising awareness of Iowa's natural and environmental beauty. KIB wants to learn what resonates with Iowans based on the photographs they share through this annual photography contest.

FIRST PLACE: Justin Rogers of West Des Moines. "Fiery Sunset" in Warren County. 1st place winner awarded $50 and a one year subscription to The Iowan magazine.

SECOND PLACE: Dale Hlavacek of Des Moines. "Sunrise at the State Capitol" in Des Moines. 2nd place winner awarded $35 and a one year subscription to The Iowan magazine.

THIRD PLACE: Robert Felderman of Dubuque. "Spring Planting" in Dubuque County. 3rd place awarded $25 and a one year subscription to The Iowan magazine.

HONORABLE MENTION: Mark Iwig of Johnston. "Grand Finale at Yankee Doodle Pops" at the State Capitol. Awarded a one subscription to The Iowan Magazine.

HONORABLE MENTION: Carrie Bonham of Ankeny. "Old Barn" near Prairie City. Awarded a one year subscription to the Iowan Magazine.

HONORABLE MENTION: Carissa Nelson of Mount Pleasant. "Fall at the Lake" near Salem. Awarded a one year subscription to The Iowan Magazine.

HONORABLE MENTION: Justin Rogers of Ankeny. "Loess Hills Sunrise" in Harrison County.

"This is a great way for Iowans to share what they like about rural and urban Iowa," said Gerry Schnepf, KIB Executive Director. "This photo contest offers both amateur and experienced photographers an opportunity to tell Iowa's story in a fun, engaging way."

The photos will be featured in KIB's quarterly newsletter and on the KIB website during the year:

Over 90 entries were received.



Dubuque Museum of Art Presents Charles Thwaites: An American Journey

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The Dubuque Museum of Art (DuMA) today announced the opening of a major traveling retrospective of artist Charles Thwaites, a leading figure in 20th century American art who also made important contributions to the Dubuque arts community.

Opening January 19, Charles Thwaites: An American Journey will include more than 40 original paintings, drawings and prints by a master of realist and abstract painting largely forgotten since his death in 2002.

During the 1930s and 40s, Thwaites, a Wisconsin artist who created many commissioned portraits and post office murals, was one of the most recognized artists in America, exhibiting his paintings in prestigious galleries and museums across the U.S.

Thwaites briefly lived in Dubuque in 1928, serving as director of the Dubuque Little Institute and teaching at the Dubuque Art Association (forerunner to the DuMA) while finishing his art degree.

The DuMA will be only the second venue to host Charles Thwaites: An American Journey after the Museum of Wisconsin Art (MoWA) in West Bend, Wisconsin, which organized the exhibit and is home to the artist's estate.

"We are excited to introduce Charles Thwaites' work to a new audience and generation," said DuMA Executive Director David Schmitz. "Great artists are relentlessly curious and are always pushing the boundaries of form and technique. Charles Thwaites belongs in the conversation about great Regionalist artists."

Thwaites began regular visits to New Mexico and moved to Taos permanently in 1954. The move marked a fresh chapter and a significant artistic shift for Thwaites, particularly as the realist style he had mastered was falling out of favor. During the 1960s and 70s, Thwaites produced purely abstract work and became a member of the "Taos Moderns" group, which included artist Georgia O'Keeffe.

"It's exceptionally rare for any artist to be so successful in one style and make a smooth, almost effortless, transition to another," noted Graeme Reid, director of collections and exhibitions at MoWA. "Whether it was realism or abstraction, Charles Thwaites could do both with confidence and originality."

When he died in 2002, his name had faded from both the Southwestern and Wisconsin art scenes, rendering him a forgotten man in both New Mexico and his home state.

The exhibit at DuMA will include a rare self-portrait of Thwaites, originally donated by the artist to the Dubuque Art Association. The painting was recently conserved by Faye Wrubel, formerly conservator of paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago, thanks to donations to DuMA's Conservation Corner.

Charles Thwaites: An American Journey is sponsored in part by the Dubuque Mosaic Lodge No. 125 and American Trust & Savings Bank.

Related Programs
A number of public programs and events are planned in conjunction with the exhibition:

Exhibition Opening & Member Preview
Friday, January 19, 5-8 pm

Gallery Talk - Charles Thwaites: An American Journey with Graeme Reid, Director of Collections and Exhibitions, Museum of Wisconsin Art
Sunday, March 18, 1 pm

Lunch & Learn - Charles Thwaites: An American Journey Exhibition
Wednesday, March 21, 12:15 pm
Gallery tour with Associate Curator Stacy Peterson and Educator Margaret Buhr

Additional programs are in the works and will be announced via DuMA's websiteand Facebook page.

*Print-quality images are available upon request and may be reproduced with permission of MoWA. Please contact DuMA Marketing and Events Manager Kay Schroeder.

About the Dubuque Museum of Art

The Dubuque Museum of Art (DuMA), founded in 1874 and accredited by the American Alliance of Museums in 2004, is Iowa's oldest cultural institution. Named a national affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution in 2016, DuMA's mission is to excite, engage and serve diverse communities within the Tri-State area through our collections, exhibitions and educational programs. We connect generations of people to their cultural heritage and exceptional art.

DuMA is located across from Washington Park in historic downtown Dubuque at 7th and Locust Streets. Museum hours are Tuesday-Friday 10:00 A.M.-5:00 P.M., Saturday & Sunday 1:00 P.M.-4:00 P.M. The museum is closed on Mondays. Daily admission rates are: $6 Adults, $5 Seniors, and $3 College/University Students. The museum is free on Thursdays, and those 18 and younger receive free admission every day, thanks to Prudential Financial. Website:


City Awarded Grant for Eagle Point Park Restoration

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The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) has awarded the City of Dubuque a grant of $320,000 from the State Revolving Fund, commonly referred to as SRF.

The grant money will be used for additional implementation of the Environmental Restoration Management Plan at Eagle Point Park, a 164-acre community park that opened in 1909 on Dubuque's northeast side. Eagle Point Park is owned by the City of Dubuque and managed by the City of Dubuque Leisure Services Department's Park Division. The park overlooks the Mississippi River, providing a spectacular view of Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

This project is part of an ongoing environmental restoration effort for Eagle Point Park that contributes to Dubuque's mission of creating a sustainable future. It involves implementation of the Eagle Point Park Environmental Restoration Management Plan that was completed under an IDNR Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) grant awarded in 2015. Adopted by the City Council in 2017, the management plan addresses the park's recreational and natural spaces that suffer the effects of severe erosion, invasive vegetation, and degraded natural habitats on the rolling, rugged terrain. Some implementation of that plan will commence using funds from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund as well as funds from the previous REAP grant and a second REAP grant of $200,000 awarded in 2017. All of this environmental work must be done within the context of the park's rich cultural history.

The SRF-sponsored project involves design, engineering, permitting, and construction of low-impact development and green infrastructure best management practices for managing stormwater to improve water quality. The SRF project will use practices including rain gardens, infiltration basins, permeable surfaces, soil quality restoration, conversion to native vegetation, runoff diverters, stabilizing headcuts, and retrofitting existing stormwater basins. In combination, these green infrastructure best management practices provide an effective strategy for reducing erosion and improving water quality downstream in the watersheds of Bee Branch Creek and the Mississippi River. They are will also provide new nature-based recreation opportunities for visitors, create habitat for wildlife, and foster sustainability.


Tame stress and improve health

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Stress can affect people of any age. While small amounts of stress may stimulate adrenaline responses and help people power through difficult projects or solve problems, chronic stress can impact the mind and body in harmful ways. 

WebMD defines stress as any change in the environment that requires the body to react and adjust in response. The body may react to stress physically, emotionally and/or mentally. Positive stress, called eustress, can take the form of getting a new job with greater responsibilities. However, it's the bad stress - distress - that can cause tension and other negative consequences.

Money, health and relationships are some of the common contributors to stress in the United States. Seventy-seven percent of Americans regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress, and 73 percent experience psychological symptoms from stress. Statistics Canada indicated that, in 2014, the most recent year for which data is available, 23 percent of Canadians ages 15 and older (6.7 million people) reported that most days were "quite a bit" or "extremely" stressful.

Stress can have many implications. When the body is stressed, muscles tense up and chronic stress can cause the muscles in the body to stay taut and tense for long periods of time, says the American Psychological Association. This may lead to tension headaches and musculoskeletal disorders.

The Mayo Clinic advises that stress can cause fatigue, changes in sex drive, stomach upset, and difficulty sleeping. Stress also affects mood, potentially resulting in lack of motivation or focus, anxiety, sadness, and/or angry outbursts.

Healthline links chronic stress to behaviors such as overeating, not eating enough, alcohol or drug abuse, and social withdrawal.

Reducing stress is a priority for many people. Although it is not an easy undertaking, slowly removing stressors from one's life and taking steps toward changing one's responses to stressful situations can help. There are many stress-management strategies, and not every one is right for all individuals. However, the following techniques may be helpful.

• Exercise: Regular physical activity can help reduce stress.

• Meditation: Mindful meditation, deep breathing, yoga, and tai chi are ways to focus the brain away from stressful situations.

• Socialization: Talking and spending time with friends or family can relieve stress.

• Hobbies: Crafts, hobbies and other engaging activities can direct attention away from stress.

• Talk therapy: Seeing a therapist may help some people work through stress and discover additional techniques to change how they respond to stress.

• Situation changes: Changing a job, residence or a condition that removes a source of stress may be handy.

Many people suffer from stress, which can be very harmful if not dealt with healthily and readily.


Live comfortably on less

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Many people look toward retirement with mixed feelings. There is the anticipation and excitement of no longer having to stick to a set schedule. However, there may be some trepidation about living without a steady income.

Bloomberg financial experts found the number of Americans aged 65 and older without a disability that weren't in the labor force rose to 800,000 in the fourth quarter of 2016. This has become a long-standing trend of Baby Boomers leaving the workforce and entering retirement. Yet, a Statistics Canada study of people between the ages 60 and 64 who had left long-term employment found 43 percent of them were working again, most within a year of leaving their job. Although boredom may have compelled many of those people to reenter the workforce, some may have started working again to make ends meet. Researchers found the higher the earnings in one's late 40s, the more likely a retiree is to go back to work.

While retirees may need to alter their spending habits, it is possible to live happily on less. Here are some ways to do just that.

• Accurately assess home expenses. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling says the cost of home-related expenses accounts for roughly 45 percent of spending for retirees. Individuals can add up exactly how much their homes are costing them and then decide if downsizing is a practical solution. Downsizing has a host of benefits, not the least of which is reducing housing-related expenses.

• Invest in health care. Unexpected health care costs can quickly deplete individuals' finances. That's why it is essential to have a solid insurance plan in place. Health care planning also may include thinking ahead to long-term care, such as assisted living and nursing homes. One may have to make concessions elsewhere, but investing in health care can assuage concerns men and women might have about the cost of living in their golden years.

• Use alternative transportation. Cars can be expensive. A budget-friendly alternative to driving is to use public transportation or transportation services provided to seniors free or for nominal fees.

• Take advantage of senior discounts. Many restaurants, stores and service centers offer discounts to seniors. The starting age for discounts may vary from store to store, so always ask before cashing out.

• Shop for food differently. Bulk buys may have been appropriate for men and women when there were kids running around, but empty-nesters can cut back on food expenses. Shopping sales and making more meals at home can help seniors save money. The market research firm NPD Group found that in-home meals cost roughly one-third of what it costs to eat the same food at a restaurant. Save dining out for special occasions.

Retirees can make changes to save money without negatively affecting their quality of life.


Flu-fighting tips to keep you and others healthy

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Sniffles, sore throat, fever, and aches and pains may accompany a number of illnesses, but during the wintertime such symptoms are typically indicative of influenza. 

Throughout much of North America, flu season peaks between December and February. But flu season can occur anywhere from October to March, advises the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The flu is contagious and can sideline people for extended periods of time. The CDC says that each year one in five Americans gets the flu.

Taking steps to fend off the flu can help men and women and the people they routinely come in contact with.

Food can be used to fend of the flu. Common foods that many people already have in their pantries can be powerful flu-fighters. Garlic, for example, contains compounds that have direct antiviral effects and may help destroy the flu before it affects the body. Raw garlic is best. In addition to garlic, citrus fruits, ginger, yogurt, and dark leafy greens can boost immunity and fight the flu, according to Mother Nature's Network. The British Journal of Nutrition notes that dark chocolate supports T-helper cells, which increase the immune system's ability to defend against infection.

A study published in the American Journal of Therapeutics showed that carnosine, a compound found in chicken soup, can help strengthen the body's immune system and help fight off the flu in its early stages.

Flu shot and medications
Annual flu shots administered in advance of flu season can help protect people and their families from getting the flu. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says that, in select situations, antiviral medications - which are usually prescribed to treat the flu and lessen symptoms - can reduce the chance of illness in people exposed to influenza.

Many over-the-counter medicines can alleviate symptoms of the flu, but cannot fend it off.

Stop germ proliferation
Germs can be spread easily between persons through direct contact and indirect contact with surfaces sick individuals have touched. Doctors recommend staying home for at least 24 hours after a flu-induced fever has dissipated. Well individuals should avoid contact with sick people.

Frequent hand-washing with soap and water can stop germs from spreading. When soap and water is not available, alcohol-based hand sanitizers can help. People also should avoid touching their eyes, noses and mouths after being in public places or around someone who is ill.

Rest and restore
Those who feel symptoms coming on should begin drinking more liquids to keep the respiratory system hydrated and make mucus less viscous. Remember to get adequate sleep, as a tired body cannot effectively fight the flu virus.

People of all ages should take steps to protect themselves from the flu.


The tradition of the Epiphany

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While some may think the holiday season ends once New Year's Day comes and goes, for Christians, the season continues into January with the feast of the Epiphany.

The Epiphany occurs 12 days after Christmas, which falls on January 6 (or January 19 for some Orthodox churches that celebrate Christmas on January 7). The Epiphany celebrates the Three Kings, also known as the Three Wise Men, who visited Jesus shortly after his birth.
The Epiphany is celebrated by Catholics and Orthodox Christians. Among Hispanics, the day is known as El Día de los Reyes.

Many traditions are included in Epiphany celebrations. According to the Center for Christian Ethics at Baylor University, three historical traditions of the Epiphany include baking a "Kings' Cake," marking a door lintel with the Magi's blessing, and participating in worship with lighted candles. Some families also exchange gifts on the Epiphany to commemorate the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh that the Three Wise Men presented to Jesus upon arriving at the manger.

Chalking doors
Celebrants of the Epiphany can mark their own doors, also called "chalking the doors." This tradition is a centuries-old practice that serves as a request of Christ to bless the homes marked so that all those who dwell inside remain blessed throughout the year. The marking includes the first digits of the year, followed by the initials of the Magi - Caspar, Malchior and Balthazar - followed by the last digits of the year. For 2018 the formula should read: 20+C+M+B+18. Others believe the letters represent the abbreviation of the Latin phrase "Christus mansionem benedicat," or "May Christ bless the house.

King cakes
King cakes vary by region. In Spain, local bakers make a special ring-shaped roll. In France, it is a flat almond cake with a toy crown cooked inside. In Mexico, bakers put a figure of Baby Jesus inside a cake. The person who finds the figure is awarded the honor of baking or providing the cake for the following year and hosting the Epiphany celebration.

Lighting candles
Individuals are urged to keep candles lit on the Epiphany. This is to symbolize how Jesus' presence on Earth was comparable to light entering a darkened world.

The arrival of the New Year beckons an important religious celebration that extends the magic of the Christmas season.



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By Pamela Shaw
Social Security District Manager in Dubuque IA

2018 is here! It's the New Year. There's no better time to tell you about the new features we have in my Social Security. They not only save you time, but also put you in control of your retirement future.

There are a growing number of states (and the District of Columbia) where, if you're a resident, you can request a replacement Social Security card online. Our new online version of the Application for a Replacement Social Security Card can make getting a replacement easy and stress free. It allows people to apply for a replacement card through my Social Security without traveling to a field office or card center, as long as you're not requesting a name change or any other change to your card. We are working to add this capability to every state.

Your personal my Social Security account is secure and gives you ready access to your earnings records, Social Security benefit estimates, and printable Statements. Those who already receive benefits can view their payment history, current status, and manage their benefits.

Social Security has also made replacing your annual Benefit Statement even easier. The Benefit Statement (known as the SSA-1099 or the SSA-1042S) shows the amount of benefits you received the previous year and is needed for filing taxes. Now you have the ability to download it using our online services. There's no need to visit a field office. A replacement SSA-1099 or SSA-1042S is available after February 1 for the previous tax year.

If you don't have a my Social Security account, creating a secure account is very easy to do and usually takes less than 15 minutes.

Putting you in control of your future is a key part of securing today and tomorrow. With my Social Security, we give you the power to steer your future in the direction you deserve.


Dubuque Receives HUD Grant for Family Self-Sufficiency Program

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The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently awarded the City of Dubuque $133,507 for use in its Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program. FSS is a federal program designed to support low-income families assisted through the Housing Choice Voucher program who want to become financially self-sufficient.

HUD announced last week it had awarded a total of $1,285,202 in grants to housing agencies across the state of Iowa through the FSS program. Dubuque's grant of $133,507 will allow the City's FSS coordinators to work with social service agencies, community colleges, businesses, and other local partners to help Housing Choice Voucher Program participants increase their education and/or gain skills that will enable them to obtain employment and advance in their current work.

The FSS program offers a variety of activities aimed at increasing participants' abilities in education, employment, parenting, and financial skills. Participants are paired up with an FSS coordinator who provides support and resources necessary to achieving goals. Program participants sign a five-year contract that requires the head of household to obtain employment and that no member of the FSS family is receiving cash welfare assistance at the end of the five-year term. An interest-bearing escrow account is established on behalf of FSS participants, with the amount based on increases in the family's earned income during the term of the FSS contract. If the family successfully completes its FSS contract, the family receives the escrow funds, which can be used for any purpose, including improving credit scores, paying educational expenses, or a down-payment on a home. Ninety-one percent of Dubuque FSS graduates are no longer on City of Dubuque housing assistance.

For more information about Dubuque's Family Self-Sufficiency program, contact the City of Dubuque Housing and Community Development Department at 563-589-4230 or visit


How to succeed with your New Year’s resolution

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While it's difficult to gauge just how many people make New Year's resolutions each year, various factors suggest millions of people resolve to improve their lives each January. Television segments devoted to healthy resolutions and discounted memberships are just two of many indicators suggesting resolutions are popular and potentially big business.

As popular as making resolutions may be, reports indicate that they're more popular to make than commit to. For example, a 2015 report from U.S. News & World Report indicated that 80 percent of resolutions fail. So how can men and women become part of the minority who see their resolutions through to fruition? The following strategies may help.

• Plan on being patient. Men and women who expect immediate results may be in for some disappointment, and that can compromise their future efforts. Recognize that resolutions rarely produce overnight results, and that commitments to losing weight and saving more money take time. If necessary, set small goals that can serve as markers on your way to achieving the larger goal.

• Be as specific as possible. In addition to being patient, being specific when deciding on a resolution can increase the likelihood that the successful pursuit of that resolution will have as positive an impact on your life as possible. For example, a nonspecific resolution to lose weight may be successful if you only shed a single pound. But men and women who resolve to lose weight typically want to lose more than one pound. By resolving to lose a predetermined and specific number of pounds, you might be more likely to commit to your goal, and more encouraged the closer you get to achieving that goal.

• Don't be shy. Sharing your resolution with others is a great way to generate support for your pursuit. And that support can motivate you if you hit a rough patch and keep you on track as you progress toward your goal. By sharing your resolution with others, you're also indirectly inviting others who might have set similar goals in the past to offer incite and/or advice, which can prove invaluable.

• Expect setbacks. Just like it's important to be patient, it's equally important to recognize there will be setbacks. Men and women who resolve to save more money and have set specific monthly savings goals should not allow one monthly shortfall to derail all of their efforts. An unforeseen expense such as an automotive or home repair might compromise your ability to meet your monthly savings goal. Such setbacks are inevitable regardless of your resolution, so don't be discouraged when they happen. Just commit to getting back on track in time to meet your next goal.

Successful New Year's resolutions might be hard to come by. But there are ways to stay the course and see resolutions through to realization.


Healthy resolutions for the year ahead

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Many people see the dawn of a new year as the perfect time to implement changes that they hope will have positive impacts on their lives in the year ahead. New Year's resolutions have a way of falling by the wayside as the year progresses, but sticking with the following healthy resolutions can have lasting impacts on the lives of men and women.

• Read more. Many adults wish they had more time to read, but busy schedules filled with commitments to work and family can make it hard to pick up a book every day. But perhaps more men and women would find time to read if they knew doing so could add years to their lives. In an analysis of 12 years of data from the University of Michigan's Health and Retirement Study, researchers at the Yale School of Public Health found that people who read books for as little as 30 minutes a day over several years lived an average of two years longer than people who did not read at all.

• Sleep more. More time to sleep might seem like an unattainable goal for many men and women. But the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute notes that ongoing sleep deficiency can increase a person's risk for chronic health problems, including heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends adults age 18 and older get between seven and eight hours of sleep per night.

• Turn off your devices. As recently as 15 years ago, many adults made it through their days without smartphones, tablets, e-readers, and other devices that are so prevalent today. While it might seem impossible to live without such devices in the 21st century, turning them off can have profound impacts on people's quality of life. A 2013 survey of more than 1,000 people conducted by the resilience platform meQuilibrium found that 73 percent of respondents felt their devices contributed to stress in their lives. The American Psychological Association notes that stress can negatively affect the musculoskeletal system, the respiratory system and the nervous system and potentially increase a person's risk for heart disease and gastrointestinal problems. 

• Work less. Working fewer hours may help many professionals cut back on their stress, as the APA notes that 65 percent of Americans cited work as their primary source of stress. But working fewer hours may also make men and women more productive. A recent experiment funded by the Swedish government compared nurses at a retirement home who worked six-hour days on eight-hour salaries to a control group that worked the more traditional eight-hour workday. Nurses in the experimental group reported having more energy in their spare time and at work, which allowed them to do 64 percent more activities with facility residents. Nurses in the experimental group also took half as much sick time as those in the control group. As a result, the study's authors ultimately concluded that productivity can increase with fewer hours worked. 

Committing to healthy New Year's resolutions can have profound and unexpected consequences that can greatly improve one's quality of life.


Red Cross Seeks Nominations of Everyday Heroes

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Search for Northeast Iowa's citizen-heroes underway

Do you know someone who has performed an extraordinary act of courage or dedicated countless hours to a special cause? The Northeast Iowa Chapter of the American Red Cross is looking for honorable and selfless citizens who have demonstrated heroism in their community. Our Everyday Heroes could be a first responder, a neighbor, a teacher, a friend or even a stranger who did something above and beyond in service to others.

An Everyday Hero is someone who has made a difference in any of the following categories: Animal Rescue, Education, Fire & Rescue, Good Samaritan (youth), Good Samaritan (adult), Health Care, Law Enforcement, Military, Professional Responder, Volunteer Community Impact or Workplace Safety.

The Everyday Heroes of Northeast Iowa breakfast will be held at the Holiday Inn in downtown Dubuque on Thursday, March 15 at 7:00 a.m. The event is the area's major fundraiser for the Red Cross.

Nominations for the Iowa hero are being accepted through the Red Cross Iowa Region website. Nominate an Everyday Hero

Everyday Heroes nominations will be accepted through January 22nd.

About the American Red Cross: ?The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross 


Steps to save energy this winter

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Conserving energy is not just an eco-friendly endeavor, but a potentially lucrative one as well. Homeowners and apartment dwellers alike who attempt to conserve energy may do so to promote the long-term health of the planet, but such efforts also greatly reduce energy bills.

Thanks to air conditioning systems, energy bills might spike in summer. But winter utility bills also can be costly, especially in homes that have not been winterized or audited to ensure energy is not being wasted. Winterizing a home involves taking steps to conserve resources and save a little money along the way.

A home's windows can be a great place to start when winterizing a home. If the residents of a home feel cold when sitting near certain windows even though the windows are closed, the windows likely have drafts. Feel around the edges of the window and frame to determine if any cold air is coming in. If so, seal the leaks immediately. Unsealed leaks can make air inside homes cold, prompting many to turn up the temperatures on their thermostats, which can lead to the unnecessary consumption of energy and contribute to high energy bills.

Air conditioners
Homeowners who cool their homes with window air conditioning units may benefit by removing these units from windows before the arrival of winter. Window units left in windows may be allowing cold air into a home, leading to more energy consumption and higher energy bills. If removing the units is too difficult or impossible, purchase window unit covers that can be wrapped around the outside of the unit to prevent cold air from entering the home.

Water heater
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating water accounts for roughly 18 percent of the energy consumed in a typical home. The DOE recommends setting water heater temperatures to 120 F. Doing so will save energy and money while still providing plenty of warm water when residents need to bathe.

Homeowners who have fireplaces in their homes should make sure dampers are closed whenever fires are not burning. Open dampers are akin to open windows, allowing plenty of cold air to enter a home. The DOE recommends opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox when using the fireplace. Doing so can reduce heat loss and allow homeowners to lower their thermostats while the fireplace is being used.

Homeowners who take steps to conserve energy in winter can save money while protecting the planet.


Safeguard roofs against snow damage

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Snow may delight young children itching for a day off from school. But for many homeowners, the sight of snow means their time will soon be spent clearing paths and plowing driveways rather than building snowmen and sledding with friends. 

The sight of falling snow also may inspire some homeowners to think about the roofs of their homes. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety warns that it is important to understand the risk of roof collapse due to the weight of snow on the roof. Roof structures that are in good condition can support roughly 20 pounds per square foot. IIBHS says this equates to around four feet of new snow before a roof will become stressed.

Total snowfall is not the only factor to consider. Homeowners also must check the type of snow that has fallen. According to House Logic, six inches of wet snow is equal to the weight of about 38 inches of dry snow. That means it may take much less sodden snow to weigh down a roof.

Roof condition and the shape of the roof bear consideration as well. Popular Mechanics says the ideal pitched roof is smooth and steep so that the snow slides off. Closely spaced rafters improve the strength of the roof. A flat or slightly pitched roof may accumulate snow more readily.
Homeowners are urged to inspect roof rafters to see if they are cracked from previous snowstorms or damaged from insects or rot. Snapping or popping sounds while snow is on the roof is not a good sign.

House Logic also says that homeowners can tell if the snow load on the roof is too much by paying attention to interior doors. If such doors begin to stick, that may be a signal that there's enough weight on the center of the house to distort the door frames. Houses that had improper renovations or homes in which load-bearing walls were removed may be more susceptible to this problem.

Removing snow from a roof is not an easy job - and may be a task best left to professionals. The safest way to remove snow from the roof is to use a snow rake with an extension arm that enables users to push and pull off the snow while standing on the ground. One should not climb onto a snowy or icy roof to remove snow. Shovels, which can damage roof shingles, should never be used.

IIBHS says that hiring a professional roof contractor is one way to safely remove snow from the roof. Licensed and insured contractors will have the experience to get the job done correctly and safely. 

Roof snow removal is a priority for those who live in mountainous or extremely snowy areas. If unsafe amounts of snow are left on rooftops, leaks, damage and collapse may result.


Eagle Point Park Listed in National Register of Historic Places

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Eagle Point Park, 2601 Shiras Ave., has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) effective November 27, 2017. Eagle Point Park is now one of 18 National Register Districts located in the city of Dubuque, which has an additional 47 properties individually listed in the register.

The NRHP is the nation's official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation. Authorized under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Register is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect historic and archeological resources. Properties listed in the register include districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that are significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture. The National Register is administered by the National Park Service, which is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Listing in the National Register contributes to preserving historic properties in several ways. Listing bestows benefits such as recognition that a property is of significance to the nation, the state, or the community. It helps facilitate the planning and implementation of federal or federally assisted projects. Listing also extends eligibility for federal and state tax benefits and grants.

"The National Register of Historic Places designation recognizes the unrivaled historic, architectural, and cultural significance of Eagle Point Park to the city of Dubuque and state of Iowa," said City of Dubuque Leisure Services Manager Marie Ware. "The park's unique features and setting are something Dubuque residents treasure and visitors come back for. We are fortunate to have such an amazing park in our community and are grateful for the recognition bestowed by the National Park Service."

The idea for Eagle Point Park was conceived by city leaders in 1907 when Charles M. Robinson, a noted eastern park specialist, visited Dubuque. After touring scenic locations in the city, Robinson commented, "I have never seen a place where the Almighty has done more and mankind less, than Dubuque." In June of 1908, 100 acres were deeded to the city and became Eagle Point Park. Since the original purchase, 17 parcels have been purchased or donated, which brought the park to its present size of 164 acres. Streetcar traffic began to serve the park in 1912 and shortly after, the Riverfront Pavilion and Shiras Memorial Pavilion were constructed along the riverfront promenade.

The park took on a new look in the 1930s when the City received a $200,000 Works Progress Administration grant and hired noted landscape architect Alfred Caldwell. His love of Prairie School architecture is very recognizable in the park buildings and gardens. Caldwell's exceptional use of native construction materials, craftsmanship, and unique designs make the park one of the most beautiful in the Midwest.

After World War II, the open-air pavilions, a band shell, and other park amenities were added to Eagle Point Park. Since 1990, updated play structures, accessible restrooms, and landscape features were added.

More information on the National Register of Historic Places can be found at: The following is a link to view and download the Eagle Point Park Historic District National Register of Historic Places nomination:


Wintertime can be ‘snow’ much fun to discover

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Winter storms are on the way. While many people are anxious to see landscapes covered in white, others already are counting down the days to spring blooms. Weather can be awe-inspiring and interesting, and learning the secrets about snow is no exception.

Snow forms when water vapor in the atmosphere freezes into ice crystals. Snow falls as snowflakes, which come in a variety of shapes. However, according to Mental Floss, snow also can precipitate as graupel or sleet. Graupel are pellets of opaque ice particles that fall through freezing cloud droplets. They are not the same as sleet, which are drops of rain that freeze into small, translucent balls of ice.

Snowflakes are generally small and accumulate to form visible snow coverings. However, snowflakes can be large. The largest snowflake on record was reported to be 15 inches across and eight inches thick. According to "The Guinness Book of World Records," this giant snowflake was discovered at Fort Keogh, Montana, on January 28, 1887.

Although it appears white, snow is actually clear and colorless. The National Snow and Ice Data Center says the complex structure and many facets of snow crystals results in visible light being reflected. Light is absorbed uniformly over the wavelengths of visible light, which gives snow its white appearance.

Even though snow is more common in northern elevations and cold regions, snowfall is not exclusive to frigid climates. In the United States, snow has fallen in cities most often associated with sun and warmth, such as San Diego, Miami and Hawaii. The southern Italy town of Capracotta received 100 inches of snow in 18 hours on March 5, 2015. In spite of its location, Capracotta has been known to receive enormous one-day snowfalls.

While snow can fall even in warm climates, the world record holder for the most snow belongs to a northern area. Mt. Baker ski resort in Washington state experienced 1,140 inches in the 1998/1999 winter season. 

Snow can fall at temperatures well above freezing. According to, snow can still fall at temperatures as warm as 46 F. For snow to fall when temperatures are warm, humidity has to be very low. 
Even though there's a common perception that no two snowflakes are alike, this isn't completely accurate. A scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research found two identical snow crystals in 1988. Also, similar results have been produced in laboratories.

Snow is an interesting form of precipitation. It can be scarce or plentiful, form in the north or the south, and may feature tiny snowflakes or extremely large ones. Snow also may take on the color of its surrounding environment.


Winter Iowa Games Adds Iowa City Events

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AMES, Iowa - Iowa Games CEO/Executive Director and Hawkeye legend Chuck Long announced the Winter Iowa Games presented by Grinnell Mutual will be hosting five sports at the University of Iowa Field House in February 2018.

"We are excited to be hosting events in Iowa City this year," commented Long. "This is a great opportunity to connect Iowans with a wonderful community through competition in the Winter Iowa Games."

The 2018 Winter Iowa Games will feature 25 sports throughout January and February, with the majority of sports hosted in Dubuque, January 26-28. Following the main weekend, Cedar Rapids will host events February 10-11, followed by Iowa City, February 17-18.

Over the course of 6 weeks, athletes from across the state will compete in events in 16 Iowa communities.

Dubuque sports: alpine ski racing, youth basketball, cross country skiing, fitness walk, youth ice hockey, indoor soccer, martial arts, pickleball, swimming, table tennis, 5K road race, youth volleyball and zumba

Cedar Rapids sports: adult ice hockey and figure skating

Iowa City sports: adult basketball, dodgeball, spikeball, adult volleyball and wheelchair basketball

Other sports in the Winter Iowa Games include: archery NASP & 3D, fat bike race, horseshoes, indoor paddling, indoor triathlon, snowshoeing and trapshooting

For more information and online registration, visit


How to help veterans in need

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Millions of men and women serve in the military and make the sacrifices that such service requires. Risking their lives to serve their countries, veterans sometimes endure mental and physical trauma, returning home to face uphill battles as they deal with their injuries.

Many veterans in need are not just in need of medical attention. Learning that their efforts and sacrifices are recognized and appreciated by the ordinary citizens they protect can make a world of difference to veterans as they recover from their injuries. Men, women and children who want to help veterans in need can do so in various ways.

• Visit a veterans hospital. Contact a local veterans' hospital to inquire about their volunteer programs. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs notes that each year more than 75,000 volunteers spend more than 11 million hours in service to America's veterans. Visiting veterans at the hospital to hear their stories can lift their spirits and aid in their recoveries. In addition, veterans' hospitals may have volunteer opportunities that make it easier for hospitals to operate at optimal capacity.

• Help a neighbor. Unfortunately, many veterans return home with injuries that affect their ability to make it through a typical day without assistance. Disabled veterans may be unable to do their own grocery shopping or maintain their homes. If a neighbor or nearby veteran is facing such hurdles, offer to do his or her shopping or mow his or her lawn. Such tasks won't take much time but can make a world of difference to veterans.

• Offer professional services free of charge. Professionals who want to help veterans can offer their services free of charge. Accountants can offer to prepare veterans' tax returns for free, while attorneys can provide legal advice to veterans who need it. Contractors can help disabled veterans by offering to make alterations to their homes for free or at cost.

• Employ social media to help local veterans. Many people who want to help local veterans might not be able to do so more than one day per week. But some veterans may require daily assistance. Men and women can start a locally-based Facebook group for fellow members of their community who want to pitch in to help local veterans. Such a group can make it easier to share information and arrange help for veterans in need.

Many veterans return home from serving overseas in need of help. Offering such help can improve veterans' lives while letting them know their efforts and sacrifices are appreciated.


City Awarded Grant for Eagle Point Park Restoration

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The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) has awarded the City of Dubuque a grant of $200,000 from Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP).

The grant money will be used for Phase 2 Implementation of the Environmental Restoration Management Plan at Eagle Point Park, a 164-acre community park that opened in 1909 on Dubuque's northeast side. Eagle Point Park is owned by the City of Dubuque and managed by the Leisure Services Department's Park Division. The park overlooks the Mississippi River, providing a spectacular view of Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

This project is part of an ongoing environmental restoration effort for Eagle Point Park that contributes to Dubuque's mission of creating a sustainable future. It involves implementation of the Eagle Point Park Environmental Restoration Management Plan that was completed under a REAP grant awarded in 2015. Adopted by the City Council in 2017, the Management Plan addresses the park's recreational and natural spaces that suffer the effects of severe erosion, invasive vegetation, and degraded natural habitats on the rolling, rugged terrain. Some implementation of that plan will commence using funds from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund as well as funds from the previous REAP grant. All of this environmental work must be done within the context of the park's rich cultural history.

Implementation will improve sustainability by restoring and enhancing native plant communities and soil quality to provide new nature-based recreation opportunities for visitors, create habitat for wildlife, and foster sustainability. Phase 2 will enhance 33 acres of existing forest/woodland areas, representing 20 percent of the 164-acre regional park.

REAP invests in projects that enhance and protect the Iowa's natural and cultural resources. Fifteen percent of REAP is set aside for grants to cities for projects that help establish natural areas, encourage outdoor recreation and resource management.

In its 28 years, REAP has benefited every county in Iowa by supporting over 15,000 projects. REAP has funded these projects with $300 million in state investments, leveraging two to three times the amount in private, local, and federal dollars. Collectively, these projects have improved the quality of life for all Iowans with better soil and water quality; added outdoor recreation opportunities; sustained economic development; enhanced knowledge and understanding of our ecological and environmental assets, and preservation of our cultural and historic treasures.

REAP has benefited the City of Dubuque greatly since 1997, with over $2.7 million from 14 REAP grants invested in building off-road trails throughout the community and expanding the E.B. Lyons Interpretive Area at the Mines of Spain State Recreation Area. A complete list of these 14 City REAP Grant Awards for park and recreation projects is available at


The Dubuque Museum of Art's 43rd Annual Gala

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The Dubuque Museum of Art announced plans for its 43rd Annual Gala, Art Auction and Raffle, to be held on Friday, November 10, 2017 at the Hotel Julien Dubuque from 6-9 p.m.

This year's event is based on the theme "Night out in New York", a nod to a major exhibit of art by Iowan Grant Wood that will open at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City in February 2018.

Doors to the Gala and Auction open at 6 pm, with a cocktail hour from 6-7:30 pm. Guests will have the opportunity to bid on original works of art by more than 25 local and regional artists in a silent auction from 6-7:45 pm. The silent auction will feature gift packages from local retailers in addition to works of art.

A raffle drawing will be held at 8 pm. Raffle entrants will have the opportunity to take part in $15,000 in cash prizes, including a $10,000 grand prize and five $1,000 prizes. A limited number of raffle tickets remain available and may be purchased by phone (debit card purchases only) at 563-557-1851, by mail with cash or check, or at the Museum during regular hours. Raffle ticket purchasers need not be present at the event to win.

The live auction, which will include a number of works of art, dining experiences, and artful travel opportunities, will begin around 8 pm. Musician Casey Klein from Cedar Rapids, Iowa will perform live throughout the evening.

This year's emcee is Bobbi Earles, who is currently Executive Director of Alumni & Communications at Loras College in Dubuque. Earles was a news anchor and reporter for KWWL-TV from 1988 to 2002. The live auctioneer will be Mark Schenfeld, President of the Washington State-based Stokes Auction Group.

All proceeds from the event support the Dubuque Museum of Art and its education and community outreach programs.

Advance registration for the event is strongly encouraged and may be completed online at, by phone at 563-557-1851, or at the Museum during regular hours. Advance tickets are $60 per person and include admission, hors d'oeuvres buffet, and a hosted bar during the cocktail hour from 6-7:30 pm. Night of event tickets are $75.

This year's auction is generously sponsored by American Realty, American Trust, A.Y. McDonald Mfg. Co., Conlon Construction, Dubuque Bank & Trust, Dupaco, Honkamp Kreuger, Hotel Julien Dubuque, and U.S. Bank. Raffle sponsors include: Anonymous, Crescent Electric Supply, Dr. Paul Ellerbeck, Farber Bag, Nick Yiannias, Coldwell Banker / Dominic Goodmann, Meghan Hackett Memorium, and Tony Pfohl.

About the Dubuque Museum of Art
The Dubuque Museum of Art (DuMA), founded in 1874 and accredited by the American Alliance of Museums in 2004, is Iowa's oldest cultural institution. Named a national affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution in 2016, DuMA's mission is to excite, engage and serve diverse communities within the Tri-State area through our collections, exhibitions and educational programs. We connect generations of people to their cultural heritage and exceptional art.

DuMA is located across from Washington Park in historic downtown Dubuque at 7th and Locust Streets. Museum hours are Tuesday-Friday 10:00 A.M.-5:00 P.M., Saturday & Sunday 1:00 P.M.-4:00 P.M. The museum is closed on Mondays. Daily admission rates are: $6 Adults, $5 Seniors, and $3 College/University Students. The museum is free on Thursdays, and those 18 and younger receive free admission every day, thanks to Prudential Financial. Website:


Curb appeal pays off big time

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How attractive a home looks from the outside is often a good indication that a homeowner also takes pride in the interior. You can improve your home's curb appeal with a few minor landscaping upgrades.

Clean and repair - Weed gardens, flower beds and edging, cut back overgrown plants and shrubs that block windows or spill over walkways, trim trees and power-wash paths, sidewalks and porches.

Focus on the front porch - Place potted evergreens or other plants at the base of front steps, hang flowering baskets and replace worn welcome mats.

Block what's ugly - Hide unsightly air conditioning units, meter boxes, propane tanks, rusty sheds and more with plants or accessories.

Add Color - Edge sidewalks and tree bases and add brightly colored flowering annuals.

Rethink walkways - Carve a path to your front entry or seating area near your yard's most attractive spots, using gravel, wood chips or landscape blocks.

Refine foundations - Design landscaping beds closest to the front of your home to look interesting year-round. Combine various types of plants, rocks, mulch and shrubs with flowering annuals when perennials aren't blooming.

Plant a tree - Trees can add much value to your home. They can help prevent erosion, improve air quality and even reduce utility bills with the shade they provide.

Add a structure - Fences, pergolas, arbors and landscape blocks can define and complement different areas and promote year-round curb appeal.

Have a seat - Create a spot that invites people to sit out front. Place an attractive bench beneath a large tree or tuck a bistro table and chairs on a porch or amidst a densely flowered garden.

Light the way - Low-voltage outdoor lights can be used to define a walkway, spotlight a tree, highlight landscaping, showcase shrubs or accent an entry way.

Information courtesy of Menards


The Grand Opera House Announces Auditions for Gypsy

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The Grand Opera House will present Gypsy, music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by Arthur Laurents, suggested by the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee. Performances are on July 21, 22, 27, 28, 29, 2017 at 7:30PM and July 23 and 30, 2017 at 2:00PM. 

Loosely based on the memoirs of the queen of burlesque, Gypsy Rose Lee, Gypsy is the ultimate story about an aggressive stage mother. Hits include Let Me Entertain You, If Momma was Married, All I Need Is the Girl, Everything's Coming up Roses, You Gotta Have a Gimmick and Together Wherever We Go.

Director is Joe Klinebriel, Music Director is Kristen Eby, and Choreographer is Megan MacLeod.

1:00 PM Saturday, April 22, 2017
1:00 PM Sunday, April 23, 2017

Auditions will be held at the Grand's Rehearsal space in the Arcade Building, 880 Locust St., Suites 222 and 228. Please enter though the alley entrance located between Locust and Main. When you enter go up just past the first hallway and take the stairs on the left to the second floor. The rooms are right at the top of the stairs.

Seeking Actors, Singers and Dancers.

Actors wishing to audition but are unavailable to arrive at the start of the audition time should call the Grand Opera House business office at 563-588-4356 to give an approximate arrival time. Rehearsals will begin approximately June 1st. Those auditioning should be prepared to list all conflicts or potential conflicts between June 1 and July 30. Availability for evening dress rehearsals July 17-20 and all performances is mandatory. Rehearsals will typically run from 6:30-9:30.

Adult actors should prepare 32 bars of a musical theatre selection in the style of the show that best shows their vocal range. Young actors (ages 7-12) should be prepared to sing any song of their choice. Please bring sheet music; an accompanist will be provided. Actors will be asked to read non character specific scenes from the script. All auditioning should be prepared to participate in a dance/movement audition.