News

Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War

A group of Civil War patriots is re-marking U.S. Highway-6 in honor of soldiers who served in the Union Army. 

Running from Council Bluffs to Davenport, old U.S. Highway-6 was named the "Grand Army of the Republic Highway" in 1947. Many of the road signs proclaiming the highway's tribute have vanished. Now more than 150 years since the Civil War, Iowans are working to save the memory. Dan Rittel is with the group Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.

Photo by Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

The world’s three largest seed companies are in talks about possible mergers. That could result in a broader definition of what it means to be an agricultural business and would create a new landscape for farmers buying seeds, fertilizer, and even machinery.

"They’re selling the seed, the chemicals, the fertilizer," says Chad Hart, Extension economist and associate professor at Iowa State University. "We may even see some combination where we see some ag machinery companies merging with some seed companies or some fertilizer companies."

Liz West / Flickr

Memorial Day Weekend is upon us and peonies are starting to bloom across the state.

Cindy Haynes, Associate Professor of Horticulture at Iowa State University, says you shouldn’t be worried if your peonies haven’t opened yet. If your peonies haven’t started blooming by the first week of June, she says you should double check that your plants are in the right conditions, with shallow soil and lots of sun.

UNI School of Music

In 2014, the inaugural Midwest International Piano Competition brought some of the world’s best young pianists to the Great Hall of UNI’s Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center. As a prelude to the 2016 competition, Iowa Public Radio’s Performance Iowa will be airing selections performed by the three 2014 Senior Division finalists on Saturday, June 4 at 6 A.M. and 8 P.M., and again on Sunday, June 5 at 7 P.M.

Senate Candidates Debate Water Quality

May 27, 2016
Iowa Public Television

The four candidates competing to be the Iowa Democratic Party's nominee for the U.S. Senate are offering different views on how best to resolve water quality concerns.  The four Democrats appeared on Iowa Public Television for an hour last night in the only statewide forum that will be televised before the June 7th Primary. They were asked about the Des Moines Water Works lawsuit challenging how farm chemical run-off is handled in three northwest Iowa counties. Former Iowa Ag Secretary Patty Judge says water quality "has to be addressed now" throughout the country.

KCCI.com

The three candidates hoping to clinch the Democratic Party’s nomination in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District debated in Des Moines Thursday night.

Hardly any differences surfaced on the policy positions held by Mike Sherzan, Jim Mowrer and Desmund Adams. But Adams says this primary isn’t about issues, but rather about beating the Republican incumbent, Congressman David Young.

Flickr / Alan Light

This Memorial Day weekend is expected to be the most heavily-traveled since 2005.  

AAA estimates 38 million people across the county will travel at least 50 miles.

Gail Weinholzer of the Iowa AAA says gas prices in the state are roughly 40 cents lower than they were a year ago, and historically there has been a strong correlation between low gas prices and the number of drivers.

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," Iowa City-based tenor saxophonist and composer Jeff Miguel unveils the latest installment of his group, the Jeff Miguel Quartet. 

Lend an ear to the podcast below to hear Java Blend host Ben Kieffer chat with Miguel, as he plays tunes off his debut record, Perseverance. 

MacNider

June and July are overflowing with arts events and anniversary celebrations. This month’s Iowa Arts Showcase features:

·         Salisbury House Executive Director, Kit Curran, and Curator/Historian, Megan Stout Sibbel, detailing upcoming performances of Shakespeare’s King Lear and an art show exhibiting works by 14 local artists

·         The Charles H. MacNider Art Museum’s Associate Curator & Registrar, Mara Linskey-Deegan, and Board of Directors member, Barb MacGregor, outlining the happenings in celebration of the MacNider’s 50th anniversary

Photo by Amy Mayer

After several boom years while the rest of the economy struggled, farming is entering its third straight year on the bust side of the cycle. Corn, soybean and other commodity prices are low while expenses like seed, fertilizer and land remain stubbornly high.

So farmers managing the sophisticated businesses that Midwest crop farms have become are spending more time considering business school basics.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

When U.S. Sen Chuck Grassley decided not to schedule confirmation hearings for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, the Democratic primary contest for Iowa's U.S. Senate seat became one to watch. Before the vote on June 7th, we’re airing interviews with all four candidates on that ballot. 

Rob Hogg is an attorney and state senator; he’s been serving at the Iowa statehouse since 2003.  On Monday, he spoke with IPR’s Ben Kieffer on River to River and began by distinguishing his fundraising from his opponents.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

A class of fifth graders at Saint Anthony Catholic School in Des Moines are reaching a milestone. The students are coming to the end of six years of taking all of their coursework in Spanish. 

The 10- and 11-year olds are native English speakers. They have been completely immersed in a second language since kindergarten. Eleven-year-old Tyler Faris wasn’t quite sure what to expect when he began learning in Spanish at the age of five.

“I felt kind of nervous because it was a whole different language and I barely knew English,” he says.

Old feed mills no longer in operation often sit vacant, but that’s not so for one old mill in Ames. A group of artists and entrepreneurs are planning to transform a building that formerly served as a Doboy feed mill and warehouse into an art gallery, workshop space and coffee shop.

“The person who previously owned it had an auto shop in the warehouse,” explains co-founder Lyndsay Nissen. “When it went on the market, we had to jump on it.”

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Last Saturday at the Iowa Republican Convention, Republican Party of Iowa Chair Jeff Kaufmann enthused that support was building for Trump.

“Every time I speak, I’m seeing more and more and more unity. Which means, bottom line is, we’re going to really, for all practical purposes, be able to start the Hillary vs. Trump contest long before we actually go into Cleveland.”

WIKICOMMONS / Farragutful

An eastern Iowa town of 2,800 people is investing in its future by reviving the past.

Wilton was recently awarded a $500,000 federal grant to restore its downtown.

That's money it plans to match through tax increment financing and funds from local businesses. 

Becky Allgood of the Wilton Development Corporation says she hopes that renovating the facades of 18 downtown buildings to their original 19th century aesthetic will draw new businesses to the community. Soon, structures will display features like original brickwork and iron columns. 

OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE PHOTO BY LAWRENCE JACKSON

Now that the election is well underway, it's prime season for the campaigns to consider their vice president picks. According to presidential historian Tim Walch, there are three things campaigns look for in a candidate.

Temperament – "You don’t want somebody who is going to blow up or be difficult with the president," he says. "They have to keep in mind that they are there to assist the president."

Gretchen Dehner

It was a great night of Midwest soul at the Des Moines Social Club, as we welcomed two great bands to the Kum & Go Theatre: from Minneapolis, Sonny Knight & The Lakers, and Des Moines' own The Maytags!

A retired truck driver, Sonny Knight joined forces with The Lakers and toured nonstop, earning rave reviews for their performances at the Monterey Jazz Festival and the Rochester Jazz Festival. The band released a live double-LP, Do It Live, in 2015 and will release  their first studio album this year.

IPR file photos

Two of the four Democrats running for U.S. Senate spoke at the South Side Democrat Federal Candidate Forum in Des Moines Tuesday night. State Sen. Rob Hogg and former state Sen. Tom Fiegen addressed a wide range of issues, including the environment and criminal justice. 

Both candidates agreed on the need for sentencing reform. Fiegen also spoke about decriminalizing marijuana, doing away with for-profit prisons, and advocates for fewer prosecutors being appointed to the federal bench. 

Dean Borg/IPR

Jason Schroeder is praising a new prosthetic leg with a motorized, flexing ankle that distinguishes it from others that he has used.

“I have quite the collection,” explains the 45-year-old Schroeder, of Colona, Illinois. “One for every occasion. Water skiing, snow skiing, running."

Schroeder had to make the amputation decision in 2005 after a rail car crushed his left foot.

“So we went in,” he said, “decided to amputate the leg, about nine inches below the knee.”

Courtes of RunDSM

Last week, the city of Des Moines made headlines by painting over a mural created by area teens after it was reported as graffiti.  RunDSM, the program that curates the project, has reached an agreement with the city to re-paint the art and expedite the permit needed to ensure the mural isn’t mistaken for vandalism again.

Emily Lang, co-founder of RunDSM, says she's working with the city to obtain more space for student art moving forward. 

MellieRene4 / Flickr

When a child loves a book, they can love it with an intensity that few adults can match, and the books children connect with often stay with them their entire life.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe hosts a discussion on some of the best of modern children’s literature and how it’s influencing young people. She talks with Ernie Cox, chair of the Newbery Award Selection Committee and school librarian in the College Community District south of Cedar Rapids.

John Pemble/IPR file photo

Sen. Chuck Grassley and a bi-partisan group of senators are calling on Congress to pass legislation that reforms the way sexual assault cases are prosecuted in the military. 

The Military Justice Improvement Act would strip the decision of whether a serious crime goes to trial from the chain of command, and place it with trained military prosecutors.

Grassley says it’s clear the Defense Department can’t be trusted to prosecute cases, in light of new information that shows the Pentagon deceived Congress on how military sexual assaults are handled.

Lindsey Moon

As the weather warms up and school lets out it is time to start making your summer reading list. This hour on Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe talks with Jan Weismiller and Paul Ingram of Prairie Lights Books in Iowa City and Judy Stafford of The Book People in Sioux City about what should be on your reading list this summer.

Paul’s list:

The Dig by John Preston

Till My Baby Comes Home by Jean Ross Justice

Canary by Duane Swierczynski

LaRose by Louise Erdrich

Shelter by Jung Yun

downtowndavenport.com

This week’s Symphonies of Iowa broadcast features the Quad City Symphony Orchestra’s “Masterworks II: Bach, Brahms, and Shostakovich” concert. The program includes works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Johannes Brahms, and Dmitri Shostakovich, and features violinist Naha Greenholtz and cellist Hannah Holman.

IPR file photo by Amy Mayer

The country's top agriculture official is declining to comment on some of the largest proposed mergers the farm economy has ever seen.

Paul Hudson/Flickr

The Iowa Utilities Board is holding public comment meetings starting today, regarding a proposed water rate increase that would affect roughly 63,000 customers in eastern Iowa.

Iowa-American Water Company wants to increase rates by approximately 13.7 percent. The Davenport-based water utility says it needs additional funds primarily to cover infrastructure updates and to supplement declining costumer use.

It estimates the average monthly residential bill will increase by $5.10 and the average monthly commercial bill to increase by $30.21.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Senator Chuck Grassley, the longest serving member of Iowa’s congressional delegation, is up for reelection this November.  Four Democrats are running to be the party nominee to challenge him in November – and they face off in a primary election June 7th.   The Democratic race heated up a few months ago, after Grassley refused to hold a confirmation hearing for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee.  This week, we’re publishing interviews from all four Democrats on the primary ballot.  

courtesy of Paul Schaefer

 Four Democrats are on the June 7th primary ballot for the U-S Senate seat currently held by Republican Chuck Grassley.  He is the longest serving member of Iowa’s congressional delegation.  Grassley’s decision not to schedule confirmation hearings for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee has attracted more attention to the Democratic primary contest.  This week and next, we’re airing interviews from all four candidates on that ballot. 

Iowa Public Radio / Sarah Boden

A female eastern black rhino in Des Moines is expecting her first calf. 

Six-year-old Ayana at the Blank Park Zoo will likely give birth in late October or early November. Black rhinos are usually grey in color and have a prehensile front lip which they use to grab twigs and leaves. 

Blank Park’s Ryan Bickel says the zoo is very excited, since black rhinos are critically endangered and hunted in the wild for their horns.

Randy Darst

 How often in 2016 do you read a genuinely civil online disagreement between smart, informed people? Even better, about your own profession? This week, two notable composers,  Kurt Knecht  and Daniel Gilliam, had exactly that kind of exchange about classical radio. I regard composers as having inside knowledge of music, so I’m relieved to find that I agree with most of what they say.

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