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August 11, 2010

Wednesday, August 11 - Dubuque and Davenport

Tour of the National Mississippi River Museum

I started my day today with a tour of the National Mississippi River Museum in Dubuque, a tremendous facility that showcases the river’s ecology and history. The museum has been in the works for some time, and it turned out beautifully.

After looking through the exhibits on the first floor, I went upstairs to the new IMAX theater to watch an educational movie about sharks. The movie was shown in 4D, meaning that the seats actually shook as a Great White swam by, and at certain points the audience was sprayed with water! It was an incredible experience, and a great asset for Dubuque. As I was leaving at about 9:30am, visitors were already pouring through the doors. Many thanks to all the people who worked so hard to take this incredible museum from a vision to reality!

Tour the Millwork District Streetscape Project

The Millwork District in Dubuque is an extremely interesting place. Years ago, the buildings here were manufacturing facilities, where people made doors, windows and a variety of other things. After a long day, the workers would filter out and walk back to their homes in the city, maybe stopping to do some shopping along the way. Today, the large brick buildings sit mostly empty. But given the lack of housing inside the city, coupled with a new influx of information technology workers, a group of Dubuque citizens are looking to convert the old brick warehouses into lofts and revitalize the neighborhood.

I took a walk through the Millwork District and met with some of the planners, and I think they are on to something. The historical feel of the place and the beautiful old buildings strike me as just the type of place an urban professional person would want to live.

Earlier this year, I helped secure a $5.6 million Complete Streets grant to ensure that the District, as it is redeveloped, includes areas that can be easily used by pedestrians, bicyclists, mobility-challenged people and families. I think revitalizing the Millwork District could be a wonderful thing for Dubuque, and I look forward to helping get it done.

Tour of the St. Ambrose Health Science Building

After spending the morning in Dubuque, I headed down to Davenport to meet up with Dr. Tom Frieden, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dr. Frieden and I took a tour of the Health Science Building at St. Ambrose. We met with students who were working towards becoming physical therapists, took a look at new equipment, and met with Sr. Joan Lescinski, the University President. It is a fantastic new facility, and will help make St. Ambrose a leader in training the next generation of health professionals, which our country greatly needs. The students I met with were bright and engaging, and I am glad that they have such a wonderful environment in which to learn.

Towards the end of the tour, Dr. Frieden and I had the chance to address the St. Ambrose faculty. All in all, I left with a very good impression of St. Ambrose and the wonderful work they do there.

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