About 30 of the nation’s governors are expected in Des Moines next week for the National Governors Association annual meeting. Banners and flags are being hung around the state’s capitol city and the statehouse itself is being spruced up with last-minute paint touch-ups and brass polishing as well as a deep-down cleaning. Elizabeth Buck, Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack’s deputy chief of staff, says it’s part of a big effort to put Iowa’s best foot forward. “You’ll see that all over Des Moines. If you drive downtown, you see flags from all 55 states (and U.S. territories) are flying and the NGA banners are now coming up,” Buck says. A reception will be held at the new Science Center of Iowa in downtown Des Moines and workers are laying the sod to complete the landscaping there. The Iowa State Fairgrounds are being groomed, too, for a “mini-fair” planned for the visitors. Hundreds of thousands of dollars has been raised to put on the show.Buck and others solicited donations from businesses in Iowa and all across the nation. She says the only Iowa taxpayer-dollars being used is a one-hundred-thousand dollar outlay to cover security costs. As Radio Iowa reported earlier, each governor will be given a hand-sewn quilt. In addition, just like a national convention or Oscar party, each person attending the event will get a gift bag. Gift bags for the governors and their guests will showcase the best products Iowa has to offer, according to Buck. There’ll be Jolly Time popcorn in the gift bags, as well as a John Deere cap — an item that’s now hip, thanks to Iowa-native-turned-Hollywood star Ashton Kutcher. “Just lots of great items from all across the state,” Buck says. “I think the attendees will leave just amazed at our hospitality.” This is the 97th annual meeting for the National Governors Association and Buck says most of those meetings have been held in the nation’s big cities, so it’s a big deal that Des Moines is hosting this event.”It just puts us at that same level as some of these big cities around the country,” Buck says. The four-day, bipartisan meeting of the nation’s governors starts Friday, July 15th and ends the 18th. Officials have not yet released a list of which governors will attend, but several governors who are mulling the idea of running for president in 2008 plan to be here.
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