Courtesy of Bill Close

For many students who attended Peet Junior High in Cedar Falls, Bill Close was one of those teachers who was larger than life, just like the art he worked on with his students.

For nearly a quarter century, he designed mega sculptures that he enlisted his art students to help build as a part of his art class.

"The ladies in the cafeteria asked us to make some posters for National School Lunch Week. When I proposed the colored posters for school lunch week, their eyes kind of rolled,” he says about his students at the time.

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," Iowa City singer-songwriter Elizabeth Moen shows off her dynamic vocals and heartfelt songwriting at The Java House in downtown Iowa City. 

Download the podcast below to hear Java Blend host Ben Kieffer chat with Liz about her writing process, the family she has found in the Iowa City music scene, and the new tracks Liz is working on. 

Ben Easter Photography

Iowa Public Radio’s 2016 Opera in October series continues with a performance from the Des Moines Metro Opera’s 44th Festival opera season. This broadcast features Jules Massenet’s Manon on Saturday, October 8th at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, October 9th at 3:00 p.m.

Sarah Boden/IPR

The Cedar River is now below the “major flood stage” level in Cedar Rapids. The city is breathing a sigh of relief as it recovers from the second-worst flood in its history. 

Public Works Director Jen Winter reports that Cedar Rapids is recovering "very quickly," and crews have begun to remove flood barriers near the city's bridges. The entire evacuation zone will reopen at 7:00 am Saturday morning. 

City Manager Jeff Pomeranz attributes the relative lack of damage to the commitment of and preparation by city workers.

Dean Borg / Iowa Public Radio

The Cedar River in Cedar Rapids is expected to go below major flood stage sometime today. Perhaps you volunteered your time in one of the flood-stricken communities this past week filling bags with sand? Hundreds of volunteers moved somewhere between 9 and 20 million pounds of sand – all bagged, schlepped and stacked to form barriers to protect property from the flood waters this past week.

But what happens to all that sand when the flood waters recede?

There’s a great deal of history to be found on most university campuses, but not just in the buildings and the libraries - the trees also have a story to tell.

On this horticulture day edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with horticulturist Bill Graves about the Heritage Tree Program at Iowa State University. Also, he and horticulturist Richard Jauron answer listener questions.

Cedar Rapids City Manager Twitter feed

What Cedar Rapids City Manager Jeff Pomeranz called an “amazing and harrowing experience” this morning is now largely behind the city, though much flood cleanup work lies ahead.

The Cedar River level was 15.5 feet at 10 this morning – below major flood stage for the first time since last week, and down almost seven feet from Tuesday’s crest. 

Luther College Archives / Flickr

Last weekend, the National Museum of African American History and Culture opened its doors with these words from President Obama.

"As Americans, we rightfully passed on the tales of the giants that built this country, who led armies into battle, who waged seminal debates in the halls of Congress and the corridors of power. But too often, we ignored or forgot the stories of millions upon millions of others, who built this nation just as surely."

John Pemble

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with U.S. Senator Charles Grassley, as the senator faces an election for what could be his seventh term in the Senate.

This week, Congress overwhelmingly rejected President Obama's veto of legislation allowing relatives of the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks to sue Saudi Arabia.

Courtesy of Gaelynn Lea

In March a singer, songwriter, and fiddler from Duluth, Minnesota won NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert contest. Now, Gaelynn Lea is embarking on her first solo tour and bringing her music to Iowa.

(stephan) / flickr

In 2011, investigative journalist Suki Kim posed as a missionary and taught English to the teenage sons of North Korea’s ruling class. In 2014, she published Without You There is No Us, an account of the time she had spent there, an account she risked her life to retrieve. Now, she’s coming to speak in Iowa City on October 9th from 2-4pm in C20 Pomerantz Center, sponsored by the Iowa City Book Festival. 

Kim says though she grew up in South Korea, and had visited in North Korea in 2002, she wasn't prepared for the oppression she found there.

Clay Masters / IPR

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton campaigned in Iowa Des Moines today, the same day early voting for the November election began in Iowa, and a day after her main opponent, Republican Donald Trump, campaigned in Council Bluffs.

Clinton spoke to hundreds of supporters on at Cowles Commons plaza in downtown Des Moines, asking them if they were ready to go to the polls.

“Well, luckily in Iowa you can start today, lots of folks don’t have that opportunity across the country,” she said.

On Friday, September 30th, Midwestern bluegrass group The Matchsellers will perform on IPR Studio One's "Java Blend." 

Stop by The Java House in downtown Iowa City at 2 P.M. to hear Java Blend host Ben Kieffer chat with the duo and listen to tunes off the group's new album, Songs We Made Up. 

Dean Borg/IPR

Cedar Rapids is taking another step toward flood recovery, with city leaders announcing the flood evacuation area would open at noon tomorrow for what City Manager Jeff Pomeranz said are, “flood-related recovery activities.”  They’re asking people who don’t have homes or businesses in the area to stay away to allow work to be done as easily as possible.

John Pemble / IPR

Iowa voters can start casting their ballots by mail today. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have been campaigning in this state this week like it’s their last chance. Because with many voters it may be. Hillary Clinton campaigns in Des Moines today while Donald Trump was in Council Bluffs on Wednesday.

Iowa’s Secretary of State says he expects more than 35% of Iowa ballots to be cast early starting today. Republicans here have seen a slight increase in voters requesting absentee ballots since 2012, while Democrats have seen a big drop off.

Trump Visits Iowa Ahead Of Early Voting

Sep 28, 2016
Jack Williams for IPR

Donald Trump’s latest Iowa visit took him to Council Bluffs this afternoon, on the eve of the start of early voting in Iowa.  His visit was his latest stop in a state where he leads or is tied in most pre-election polls. 

A crowd of hundreds of enthusiastic supporters greeted Trump at the Mid-America Center. Just a few days removed from his first debate with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, Trump touted is political inexperience as a positive.  

Nick Wiebe / Wikimedia Commons

Even before her involvement with the Black Panther Party in the 1970s, Angela Davis has been advocating for change. She grew up in segregated Birmingham, Alabama where family friends were victims of the 16th Street Baptist Church. Her experience of being on the FBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted List galvanized her as an activist. Today, she is a Distinguished Professor Emerita at the University of California Santa Cruz and the author of many books.

Colleen P

A new poll shows Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton tied in Iowa, with both having 38 percent support among likely voters. That’s a bit of good news for Clinton since two recent polls have shown Trump leading in Iowa by several points.

Dean Borg/IPR File

The lessons learned from the historic flood of 2008 are helping Iowa mitigate damage from this year’s flooding in northern and eastern parts of the state.

Jeff Olson is the Public Safety Director for the City of Cedar Falls. On Wednesday's Talk of Iowa, Olson told host Charity Nebbe the city recorded its second-highest water levels in this year's flooding.

After the 2008 flood, the city wrote a plan that Olson says, "tells us exactly what we need to do," when the Cedar River peaks. 

University of Iowa sports information office

The University of Iowa quarterback who led the Hawkeyes to two Rose Bowl victories and who finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting has died. 

Randy Duncan was born in Osage, but played high school football for Des Moines Roosevelt.

He was an All-American at Iowa in 1959 and the first pick in the NFL draft, going to the Green Bay Packers.

He did not sign with Green Bay, which was then led by Vince Lombardi.

Instead, he played two years in the Canadian Football League.

But he gave up professional football for a career as a lawyer in Des Moines.

Dean Borg/IPR

Cedar Rapids officials are allowing some people to return to their homes and businesses, while reminding others that the flooding danger has not completely passed.

As of this morning, the Cedar River level stood at 20.7 feet.  That’s down about a foot from yesterday’s crest, but still nearly nine feet above flood stage.

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

A lawsuit farmers have filed against seed giant Syngenta will proceed as a class action, potentially involving hundreds of thousands of corn growers nationwide.

U.S. District Court Judge John Lungstrum approved the motion to certify the Syngenta AG MIR 162 Corn Litigation as a class action Monday in Kansas City, Kansas.

ASK Studio

An area of north Des Moines that holds a nostalgic place in the hearts of many central Iowans is being remade into a site where future generations can build memories.

Riverview Park sat on an island near the Des Moines River and operated from 1915 until 1978.

Plans are now in place to convert it into an outdoor concert venue large enough for 10,000 people.

Des Moines Parks and Recreation Director Ben Page says in designing the project, it was important to celebrate the future while honoring the past.

Dean Borg/IPR

The Cedar River crested in downtown Cedar Rapids this morning, a foot lower than predicted but still 10 feet above flood stage. 

The river level was at 22 feet late this morning, and will begin slowly falling by late today. 

“It’s not over,” said City Manager Jeff Pomeranz at a news conference this morning.

City officials are monitoring nearly 10 miles of temporary, sand-filled Hesco barriers and earthen levees, looking for weak spots and for possible breaches. 

“We’re very confident this temporary system will work,” said Pomeranz.

Jason Weinberger

This week’s Symphonies of Iowa encore broadcast presents the wcfsymphony’s “Bach I” concert on Monday evening, October 3 at 7 p.m. It features music composed by the illustrious Johann Sebastian Bach.

Join the symphony for a musical journey into J.S. Bach’s incredible creativity with some of Baroque music’s most beloved works. Tune in on Monday, October 3 at 7 p.m. for this Symphonies of Iowa encore broadcast!


BACH – Suite No. 1

BACH – Sinfonia from Cantata, BWV 174

BACH – Brandenburg Concerto No. 1

Flickr / reader of the pack

If it’s not safe for people to be at home due to flooding, then it’s also not safe for pets. That’s why Cedar Rapids Animal Care and Control is sheltering four-legged companions who can’t accompany the humans who are evacuating their homes.

Animal Care and Control Program Manager Diane Webber says the agency’s old building was completely flooded in 2008. The city agency's new facility is designed to accommodate more animals during times of crisis.

Iowa Department of Homeland Security & Emergency Management

Despite the flooding of several rivers in eastern Iowa, all of Iowa’s interstate highways are open. So far only secondary roads have flooded, but that may change later this week.

As water flows down river, the Iowa Department of Transportation is keeping a close eye on Interstate 80. This highway crosses Iowa, and the country, east-to-west.

Rob Dillard

Iowa’s Secretary of State is reminding voters with disabilities there are methods in place to help them cast ballots. This applies to military veterans suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder, as well.

It’s estimated between six-and-ten percent of the 300,000 Iowans with disabilities vote. The percentage for the overall population may approach 70 for this year’s election.

Tai Tomasi is a staff attorney with Disability Rights Iowa. She’s also blind. She says technological advancements have improved her ability to go to the polls.

Photo courtesy of Julie Freed

Recent heavy rains have put the Cedar River and many streams at, or above, flood levels in what could be the worst flooding to hit the state since 2008. Communities are responding with sandbagging efforts and thousands of residents have evacuated their homes.

On the first segment of today's River to River, host Ben Kieffer checks in with those living and working in Charles City, Waterloo, Cedar Falls, and Cedar Rapids, including Molly Montag of Mason City Globe Gazette, Pat Kinney of the WCF Courier, Brian Morelli of The Gazette, and Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett.

Dean Borg/IPR

Cedar Rapids city leaders say they’ve done everything they possibly can to prepare for this week’s flooding, and that the next couple of days will be the most critical and dangerous period.

The Cedar River was at 20.8 feet late this afternoon, and is expected to crest at about 23 feet by tomorrow afternoon.  That would make this the second-highest to 2008’s historic flood of 31 feet.