Weekend Festival Raises $148,000 For Iowa’s At-risk Children and Families

Families enjoyed a weekend of fun and helping others at Children & Families of Iowa’s (CFI) Kidsfest, presented by Veridian Credit Union, raising $148,000 for programs that help at-risk families.

Held at the Iowa State Fairgrounds Varied Industries Building, attendees enjoyed child-friendly exhibitors and activities. Exciting attractions included two new stage shows featuring ventriloquist Lisa Laird and friends from Pockets Full of Fun; and “The Weather Dude” Nick Walker. Also new this year was the addition of two private parties, one with the Snow Queen and Ice Princess and another with Superheroes.

“We are incredibly grateful for the community’s continued support of Kidsfest,” says Amy Stapp-Arpy, Children & Families of Iowa’s Chief Development Officer and Vice President of Development and Communications. “The support from our sponsors, exhibitors and attendees help us provide crucial funding for some of Iowa’s most at-risk children and families.”

Support from those who attended the event will help individuals like Tori* find hope for a better life. If you saw Tori today, you would see a bright, ambitious, determined 17-year-old girl who is excited to see what the future holds. But it wasn’t always that way. Tori had to work hard to overcome trauma.

Tori’s childhood memories are filled with violence and neglect. Her parents were addicted to drugs, and verbally and physically abusive to her and to each other. When Tori was 11 years old, her parents were arrested, and she was removed from their home and placed in foster care. Fortunately there was a CFI family service center close to her foster home near Fort Dodge where Tori started meeting with a CFI pediatric therapist.

CFI helped Tori overcome the negative image she had of herself, and on processing the trauma she experienced growing up. When she was fifteen years old, Tori was adopted by her foster family, who provided her with the loving, safe home she had spent her life looking for. “Counseling has helped shape me into the person I am today: self-reliant, smart, semi-confident, brave and loved,” says Tori.

*Name has been changed to protect client confidentiality.

Last year, CFI helped more than 25,600 individuals throughout Iowa with many family-centered services. Thanks to community support, including Kidsfest sponsors, exhibitors and attendees, CFI will be able to use funds raised to help support the programs that help families in crisis.

Many sponsors were key to making this event a success. We appreciate the support of our presenting sponsor Veridian Credit Union; our media sponsors KCCI TV 8, Cumulus Media, and Register Media; and our supporting sponsors Fareway, GuideOne Insurance, Iowa School of Beauty, United Healthcare and Wells Fargo.

Next year’s Kidsfest is scheduled for March 4-6, 2016. For more information, please visit CFI’s website at www.cfiowa.org or like Children & Families of Iowa’s Kidsfest, presented by Veridian Credi Union on Facebook.

Polk County Locations For Automated Traffic Enforcement Vehicles

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015: 900 NE 46th Ave
7100 SE Vandalia
Wednesday, March 18th, 2015: 3100 NE 46th Ave
3200 NE 62nd Ave
Thursday, March 19th, 2015: 1300 NW 66th Ave
4700 NW Morningstar Dr
Friday, March 20th, 2015:: 4700 NE 29th St
2700 NE 56th St

*Although every effort will be made to adhere to these locations, they are subject to change without notice.

Photo Credit:
“Red-light-camera-springfield-ohio” by Derek Jensen (Tysto) – Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Red-light-camera-springfield-ohio.jpg#/media/File:Red-light-camera-springfield-ohio.jpg

Orchard Place Reports 12th Annual Spelling Bee Results

Des Moines, IA (PRWEB) March 17, 2015

Orchard Place, mental health experts for Iowa’s children raised nearly $75,000 at its 12th annual Spelling Bee, presented by Nationwide and held at Wooly’s on March 5th. This event has raised more than $895,000 in 12 years. Funds raised go directly to support summer programming for Iowa children with mental health issues served by Orchard Place.

“Community support has clearly made this one of the most successful fundraisers in Central Iowa,” said Orchard Place Director of Development Nancy Bobo. “We are so grateful for our corporate sponsors, the 15 teams who took part, and the fundraising efforts that team members completed to make this event a success.

Their costumes, raucous cheering and other shenanigans made for an evening of hilarity.”
The Orchard Place Spelling Bee is a one of a kind event where contestants literally pay for mistakes, bribe judges, and can win without spelling one word correct (if they have sufficient bribery funds to pay off the judges.) The fun was enhanced by prizes and appetizers donated by 38 Des Moines Businesses.

Winning teams included:

Grand Champion Spellers – O-BEE-Wan KenoBEEs – A Nationwide team who won the event after several fierce rounds of competition with the CGC team by spelling the word ‘epexegesis’. The force was clearly with them.

Best Costumes – The BEE-Railed Corporate Office Double-Loop, Corkscrew, Flying Zero-Gravity Coaster – Orchard Place’s Corporate Office team rode their unique roller coaster all the way to victory in the costume competition.

Most Bribe Money Raised by a Team – Team BEElieve, Orchard Place Child Guidance Center’s bribe-happy money-laden team raised more than $12,000 in bribery funds, taking home this coveted award this year.

Best Team Name – BEEva Las Vegas – This is a second-year win in this award competition for the Stelter Company team. They BEE leaving in Vegas what happened in Vegas.

Best Cheering Section – The ReferBEEs – A rowdy Nationwide team that coasted to victory in this competition with their cheering prowess again this year.
Hosted by ‘Queen Bee’ Wicker VanOrsdel, the event again topped expectations of producing a zany take on serious spelling bees of the past.

About Orchard Place:

Orchard Place is the oldest locally-based charity in Des Moines providing mental health treatment and expertise serving Iowa’s kids. Our inpatient, outpatient and community program serves nearly 10,000 children from birth to age 22 annually. Four operating divisions work under the Orchard Place umbrella of services: Child Guidance Center, Orchard Place Campus, PACE Juvenile Center and the Integrated Health Program. More information can be found at http://www.orchardplace.org

UNI selected as a ‘Best Graduate School’ by U.S. News & World Report

The University of Northern Iowa (UNI) is a top graduate school in education, according to the 2016 U.S. News & World Report Best Graduate Schools ranking.

Graduate degrees included in this ranking include the Master of Arts, Master of Arts in Education and Doctor of Education. According a a press release from UNI, nearly 32 percent of teachers and 37 percent of school administrators in Iowa are UNI graduates.

The College of Education is also a member of The Carnegie Project on the Educational Doctorate (CPED), a consortium of more than 80 colleges and schools of education that have committed resources to work together to undertake a critical examination of the Doctorate in Education (EdD).

UNI’s College of Business Administration was also recognized in the rankings, being named a best part-time MBA program. UNIBusiness is accredited by The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the gold standard of business school accreditation and a distinction earned by fewer than 5 percent of business schools worldwide.

Graduate schools are evaluated on standardized test scores of newly enrolled students, opinions from experts on each program’s quality, acceptance rates and other criteria.

“This award recognizes the excellent work of UNI’s graduate faculty and students,” said April Chatham-Carpenter, interim associate provost for academic affairs and interim dean of the Graduate College. “UNI’s nationally and internationally recognized faculty provide graduate students with personalized experiences to help them meet their individual goals and career aspirations. By participating in research, creative activity and community service, UNI graduate students are prepared to be leaders in the workplace and community and to make a difference in the lives of others.”

Full rankings and data can be found by clicking here.

Photo Credit:
UNI Campanile” by Original uploader was Madmaxmarchhare at en.wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia; transferred to Commons by User:Common Good using CommonsHelper.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Ames Ranked 5th Best College Town To Live In Forever

College Ranker has released the 50 best college towns to live in forever and has named Ames as the 5th best. This list highlights 50 college towns around the US that can provide a permanent home for college students after they have completed their collegiate experience. According to a PR Newswire press release, every city and town in America with a college or university was considered and weighed, and these 50 were chosen based on metrics and statistics involving strength of local schools, vibrancy of the local economy, and family friendliness.

The full ranking can be viewed by clicking here.

Mackenzi Flannery, the article’s author, had this to say: “Hundreds of cities and towns hope to retain their students after graduation and incorporate their newly acquired skills into the local economy. It’s a competitive environment for attracting college graduates, and these 50 college towns have well positioned themselves to retain their local college students for a lifetime.”

Photo Credit:
Ames Iowa Main Street” by Tim Kiser (w:User:Malepheasant) – Own work (self-made photograph). Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

West Des Moines Wine Boutique Franchise Announces Expansion Plans

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa, March 16, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — WineStyles Tasting Station®, a boutique concept dedicated to simplifying the wine and craft beer shopping experience, announced today aggressive expansion plans to grow its national footprint. The company currently has more than 20 locations across the country where customers can taste, learn and enjoy the best in wine, craft beer, artisanal cheeses, fine chocolates, gourmet foods, pizzettes and other small bites.

As part of its national initiative, the West Des Moines-based company aims to grow the business to nearly 50 stores over the next several years. The brand is seeking qualified candidates in new cities such as Cedar Rapids, Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa; and Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham; N.C. Additionally, WineStyles plans to expand its presence in existing markets and is targeting communities in the Greater Chicago Area;Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas; Des Moines, Iowa; Omaha, Neb.; Houston; Greensboro, N.C.; and Northern Virginiafor future development.

“We’re embarking on an aggressive growth strategy to capitalize on the rising consumer interest in fine wines, craft beer and specialty food pairings,” said Bryan McGinness, CEO of WineStyles Tasting Station. “WineStyles’ dedicated system of franchisees has established a loyal customer following at our existing stores and we see great potential to continue to bring our unique shopping experience to more cities across the U.S.”

The company’s expansion plans are part of the brand revitalization strategy under the new franchisor ownership team, in which existing WineStyles franchisees Bryan and Andrea McGinness purchased the company and spearheaded the shift from its traditional retail outlets to the WineStyles Tasting Station concept. Last fall, the brand unveiled its new store design at the opening of its flagship location in Coralville, Iowa.

With an expanded product and service offering, WineStyles Tasting Station offers a unique retail experience and warm ambiance that is reminiscent of an old-world wine cellar. Wines are categorized by style and taste, rather than by varietal or region, which helps to simplify the shopping experience. The selection includes a rotation of unique labels and hard-to-find wines from both small and large vineyards from around the world. Each bottle is accompanied by a description listing the wine’s characteristics, flavors and suggested food pairings.

Additionally, most WineStyles Tasting Stations feature craft beers on tap and a full wine bar, as well as small plates of artisanal cheese pairings, handmade chocolate truffles and other gourmet items. Furthermore, its stores offer a variety of gifts and wine accessories including customizable gift baskets, monthly wine, beer, and cheese clubs, and a frequent buyer program. WineStyles Tasting Station’s stores also feature weekly wine and beer tastings, private event opportunities, as well as education classes.

To fuel WineStyles Tasting Station’s growth across the country, the company is seeking passionate entrepreneurs with retail experience. WineStyles Tasting Stations will be developed through single-unit and area developer agreements. Depending on the real estate site selected, franchisees can expect the total cost of investment for one store to be approximately $229,000 – $380,500. The initial franchise fee is $25,000. For more information on franchising and conversion opportunities, visit www.winefranchise.com or call 866-WINECLUB.

Opinion: Secret Service Incident Highlights Double Standard

Imagine the following scenario: You’re driving along one fine evening, pretty thoroughly drunk, and ram your car through police tape and into a barricade.  Suppose further that the barricade you’ve smashed into is in front of the White House. For good measure, let’s add that the police tape you broke was marking off an active crime scene — anongoing bomb investigation, which you’ve now dangerously disrupted.

The cops quickly approach your car. What are your chances of avoiding arrest, or worse?

Oh wait, I forgot to mention that you’re a Secret Service agent. So it turns out you don’t get shot, or tased, or roughed up, or slapped in jail, or even detained. You just go home.

Precisely this scenario unfolded on March 4, with two seemingly intoxicated Secret Service agents crashing into a barricade at the east entrance to the White House grounds, nearly running over a suspicious object that agents on the scene were in the course of investigating as a possible bomb.

Officers on duty wanted to arrest the two or give them sobriety tests, but were instructed by a supervisor to let them go. They’ve been placed in “non-supervisory, non-operational” (but presumably paid) positions pending further investigation. What are the odds that this would have happened to you or me?

Predictably, the incident has led to renewed calls for major reforms of the Secret Service. But the double standard — leniency for the elite in-group, severity for the rest of us — is inherent in the system and cannot be corrected by mere reforms.

Implicit in the idea of a governmental police force, from the Secret Service down to your local beat cop, is inequality of rights. Police by definition are supposed to have rights that other people don’t have: Rights to stop, search, or incarcerate peaceful people, and to use deadly force against those who resist.

But as long as this double standard is inherent in the police system as such, all attempts to reform the system are destined to fail, whether in Staten Island, in Ferguson, or in the Secret Service. So long as power corrupts, and attracts the corruptible, any system characterized by inequality of rights renders abuse inevitable. Reforms that target only the symptoms (abuses) and not their root cause (unequal rights) will achieve, at best, only limited success.

The right to use force in defense of oneself or others is a basic and universal human right. But the rights that police claim for themselves go beyond this. Tossing someone in jail for smoking a joint, or shooting them when they resist being thus kidnapped, cannot plausibly be construed as defense.

And anything a cop is allowed to do that an ordinary citizen is not — carry a gun, perform arrests, and so on — violates the basic equality of rights enshrined in the Declaration of Independence (“all men are created equal”) and the Constitution (“equal protection of the laws”).

If we do not wish to perpetuate a two-tiered system of justice, any purported right must either be extended to all or denied to all.

There’s nothing wrong with a group of people choosing careers specializing in rights-protection. But it makes no more sense to give such people special rights, rights denied the rest of us, than it does to give professional bakers the right to prevent you from baking bread in your kitchen. A free society cannot recognize special rights enjoyed by some and denied to others.

So long as we permit the double standard inherent in a system of government police, abuses will continue, and reforms will founder.

Dairy Queen Celebrates 75th Anniversary With Free Cone Day

Donations will be accepted for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals®

On, Monday, March 16, the Dairy Queen system kicks off its 75th anniversary with a Free Cone Day where participating Dairy Queen and DQ Grill & Chill® locations will serve fans a free small vanilla soft-serve cone with the signature curl on top (limit one per customer).

“This is all about connecting with our fans and not just about telling them, but showing them how much we appreciate their loyalty. After all, our fans have been supporting us for 75 years, so we thought it would be fun to bring the celebration to them,” said Barry Westrum, executive vice president of Marketing for American Dairy Queen Corporation (ADQ). “We think this is a great day for our fans and our system. We can’t wait.”

“The DQ® system holds a very special place in the hearts of our fans and we appreciate that. So we are renaming our anniversary to a ‘fanniversary’ in their honor,” said Westrum. “But Free Cone Day is just the beginning. We will surprise and delight our fans year-round with food and treat innovations that they have come to expect from us. We’re extending the celebration beyond Free Cone Day because it’s about more than just one day. It’s about the people that have been making the Dairy Queen brand a part of their lives for almost a century.”

During Free Cone Day, the DQ system is also requesting donations for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals®, which raises funds to help save and improve the lives of kids treated at 170 children’s hospitals across the U.S. and Canada. Over the last 30 years, the Dairy Queen system has raised more than $100 million for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in local communities.

For more information about the Dairy Queen system, visit DairyQueen.com. Connect with the DQ system on Twitter using #LOVEmyDQ and at twitter.com/dairyqueen. Visit the DQ Facebook fan page, which has more than 9.8 million friends and become a friend at facebook.com/dairyqueen.

About ADQ:

American Dairy Queen Corporation (ADQ), which is headquartered in Minneapolis, Minn., develops, licenses and services a system of more than 6,400 Dairy Queen® stores in the United States, Canada and 25 other countries. ADQ is part of the Berkshire Hathaway family of companies led by Warren Buffett, the legendary investor and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. For more information, visit DairyQueen.com.

About Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals:

Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals® raises funds and awareness for 170 member hospitals that provide 32 million treatments each year to kids across the U.S. and Canada. Donations stay local to fund critical treatments and healthcare services, pediatric medical equipment and charitable care. Since 1983, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals has raised more than $5 billion, most of it $1 at a time through the charity’s Miracle Balloon icon. Its various fundraising partners and programs support the nonprofit’s mission to save and improve the lives of as many children as possible. Find out why children’s hospitals need community support, identify your member hospital and learn how you can Put Your Money Where the Miracles Are, at CMNHospitals.org and facebook.com/CMNHospitals.

Workiva Announces Fourth Quarter and Fiscal Year 2014 Financial Results

Workiva Inc. (NYSE: WK), headquartered in Ames and creator of the Wdesk cloud-based productivity platform for business data collaboration and reporting, released their financial results for its fourth quarter and fiscal year ended December 31, 2014 on Wednesday.

“We are pleased to report strong revenue growth for the fourth quarter and full year 2014 and to begin a new chapter as a publicly traded company,” said Matthew Rizai, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Workiva. “Our results demonstrate increasing demand for our Wdesk platform, which is transforming the way companies collect, manage, report and analyze critical business data. We are excited about the breadth of growth opportunities for Workiva, and we are confident in our ability to continue penetrating our large and growing addressable market,” Rizai added. “Our IPO represents a significant milestone for Workiva and provides us with additional resources to execute on our growth initiatives.”

From the Press Release:

Full Year 2014 Financial Highlights

Revenue: Total revenue for the year ended December 31, 2014 was $112.7 million, an increase of 32% compared with $85.2 million in the prior year. Subscription and support revenue was $91.3 million, an increase of 40% on a year-over-year basis. Professional services revenue was $21.4 million, an increase of 7% on a year-over-year basis.

Gross Profit: GAAP gross profit for the year ended December 31, 2014 was $78.8 million compared with $60.5 million in the prior year, and GAAP gross margin was 69.9%. Non-GAAP gross profit for the year ended December 31, 2014 was $79.7 million, an increase of 31% compared with the prior year, and non-GAAP gross margin was 70.7%.

Loss from Operations: GAAP loss from operations for the year ended December 31, 2014 was $38.6 million compared with a loss of $29.3 million in the prior year. Non-GAAP loss from operations for the year ended December 31, 2014 was $31.2 million compared with a loss of $25.9 million in the prior year.

Net Loss: GAAP net loss for the year ended December 31, 2014 was $41.2 million compared with a net loss of $29.5 million in the prior year. GAAP net loss per share for the year ended December 31, 2014 was $1.28 based on 32.2 million weighted-average shares outstanding compared with a loss per share of $0.94 based on 31.4 million weighted-average shares outstanding in the prior year.

Non-GAAP net loss for the year ended December 31, 2014 was $33.8 million compared with a net loss of $26.2 million in the prior year. Non-GAAP net loss per share for the year ended December 31, 2014 was $1.05 based on 32.2 million weighted-average shares outstanding compared with a non-GAAP net loss per share of $0.83 based on 31.4 million weighted-average shares in the prior year.

Balance Sheet: As of December 31, 2014, Workiva had cash and cash equivalents of $101.1 million, compared with $20.3 million as of September 30, 2014 and cash, equivalents and marketable securities of $18.0 million as of December 31, 2013. Debt, including capital lease and financing obligations, totaled $24.9 million as of December 31, 2014.

Cash Flow: Net cash used in operating activities was $3.5 million in 2014, compared to cash used in operating activities of $10.5 million in 2013.

Customers: Workiva had 2,261 customers as of December 31, 2014, a net increase of 334 customers from 1,927 as of December 31, 2013.

Revenue Retention Rate: As of December 31, 2014, Workiva’s revenue retention rate (excluding add-on revenue) was 97.0%, and the revenue retention rate (including add-on revenue) was 104.1%. Add-on revenue includes the change in both seats purchased and seat pricing for existing customers.

Initial Public Offering: Workiva successfully completed its initial public offering of 7.2 million shares of common stock at $14.00 per share on December 12, 2014, generating proceeds of $90.4 million to the Company net of underwriting and other offering expenses.

Click here to read full financial information.

About Workiva

Workiva created Wdesk, a cloud-based platform for enterprises to collect, manage, report and analyze business data in real time. Wdesk includes a productivity suite for business data collaboration and reporting that is used by thousands of corporations, including more than 65 percent of the Fortune 500. Wdesk proprietary word processing, spreadsheet and presentation applications are fully integrated and built upon the Workiva data management engine. Wdesk is designed to help reduce enterprise risk and increase productivity with synchronized data, controlled collaboration, granular permissions and a full audit trail. This gives users confidence to make decisions with real-time data. Workiva employs more than 950 people with offices in 15 cities and is headquartered in Ames, Iowa. For more information, visit www.workiva.com.


Cedar Rapids Announces New Retail Development Partnership

The City of Cedar Rapids announced on Thursday that it will work with analytics firm Buxton to strengthen its retail economic development program citywide. Buxton’s household-level customer analytics will identify the top 20 retailers and restaurants most likely to thrive in Cedar Rapids and provide insights into development opportunities.

According to a press release, “while retail economic development programs have traditionally relied on basic demographic information, Cedar Rapids will utilize customer insights that go beyond demographics, presenting a convincing case to retailers seeking growth opportunities. Buxton’s proprietary web-based real estate platform SCOUT® will give local leaders the ability to analyze retail matches and provide market intelligence to existing local businesses.”

Cedar Rapids is committed to offering residents quality shopping and dining opportunities,” said Jasmine Almoayed, economic development liaison for the City of Cedar Rapids. “By partnering with Buxton, we will have the market intelligence needed to attract new businesses and help our existing businesses thrive.”

“The City of Cedar Rapids is taking a proactive approach to retail development,” said Ryon Stewart, director of Buxton’s public sector division. “Buxton is pleased to provide the analytics needed to evaluate new development and redevelopment opportunities in this vibrant community.”

Buxton has worked with more than 650 cities nationwide to implement retail development strategies. Client cities include Pasadena, California; Bloomington, Illinois; Fayetteville, North Carolina and many others.