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Iowans shopping at Amazon.com have a surprise in store when they go online today.  

Starting January 1, the retail giant will be collecting sales tax for the first time on purchases in Iowa, as they do in 30 other states.   

Department of Management Director Dave Roederer says it will be good for state coffers and for other retailers.

“It is leveling the playing field for the main street merchants,” Roederer said.  “Main Street merchants are required to collect sales tax.  The online was not.  So that levels that out.”

John Pemble/IPR file photo

The two Des Moines-area police officers shot and killed in ambush attacks in November were among 21 killed in such attacks on law enforcement officers last year.  Des Moines Sgt. Anthony Beminio and Urbandale Officer Justin Martin were shot and killed in separate incidents less than two miles apart while in their patrol cars early on November 2.

Kettlestone-Waukee

The state is awash in billions of dollars’ worth of construction projects that are transforming city downtowns and suburban areas. Among the largest and most anticipated is the 15,000 acre Kettlestone development in the Des Moines suburb of Waukee. 

Courtesy of Asphate

Paintings, symphonies, and sculptures have long been considered art forms, but the last century has given way to newer forms of expression that many consider to be artistic.

"Art is something that captures a lot of what we all agree upon is important or beautiful, but what makes it art is something that takes it into that realm of someone's imagination," says Todd Behrens, curator of the Sioux City Art Museum.

The entire uniformed division of the Des Moines Police Department will be equipped with body cameras next year. The more than 300 cameras are being purchased with the help of a grant from the Department of Justice, as well as community donations.

The DMPD says the cameras will aid with evidence gathering and help the community gain a better understanding of police work.

"The public will get a really raw inside look inside look at some of the things that we do and how we do things, and why we do things. Some of the things we have to put up with," says Sgt. Paul Parizek. 

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is making a change to its Conservation Reserve Program. It’s aimed at freeing up more land for beginning farmers.

Michael Leland/IPR file photo

This year is ending as one of the deadliest for Iowa bicyclists in more than a decade.  The Iowa Bicycle Coalition says 11 cyclists died while riding this year.  Iowa hasn’t had that many cycling fatalities since 2005, and it’s the most since 2010, when eight cyclists died while riding.  The Coalition’s executive director, Mark Wyatt, says he fears this year is not an anomaly.

MCAD Library

Frank Lloyd Wright once said, “Every great architect is — necessarily — a great poet. He must be a great original interpreter of his time, his day, his age.”

On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer hosts a discussion on architecture in Iowa. He’s joined by Iowa State University College of Design associate professors Dan Naegele and Cameron Campbell. They explain how building design in Iowa has changed over the decades, what is says about us, and the art of the field.

Paul Sabin Photo

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," host Ben Kieffer chats with Iowa music legend  and visual artist Tony Brown. 

Listen to and download the free podcast below to hear Brown impressive command of a wide-range of styles from old school Blues to R&B, Soul, Ska, Reggae, Jazz, Rock, Fold, Funk and Latin flavors. Plus, here incredible stories of Brown's childhood in Waterloo, as well as his experiences abroad. 

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

A federal court has sided with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in a case that environmental groups had hoped would hasten water clean-up efforts.

 

The Gulf Restoration Network and environmental groups from states that border the Mississippi River argued the EPA needs to enforce numerical standards for water quality. In other words, the agency should establish maximum allowable levels of nitrogen and phosphorus, and then have a means to penalize states that exceed those amounts.

SmartSign/flickr

Lifetime handicapped parking permits will soon be a thing of the past, thanks to a new state law cracking down on abuse of the permits.    

Starting January 1st, the bright blue placards for the permanently disabled will be good for only five years, after which they will need to be renewed.  

Acting Department of Transportation Director Mark Lowe says there are approximately 530,000 lifetime permits in circulation.

He says that includes some abuse.

Charity Nebbe/IPR

Wintry weather brings the risk of blowing and drifting snow to Iowa's roads.

A partnership between the Iowa Department of Transportation and farmland owners to reduce that risk is raising its public profile this year.

For about 20 years, standing corn has helped create a barrier to contain the blowing and drifting snow, preventing it from reaching the highways where it can create slippery surfaces and dangerous driving conditions. Craig Bargfrede, winter operations administrator for the DOT, says it works just as well as temporary snow fences and is a lot cheaper.

Amy Mayer/IPR

In a hog barn near Odebolt, veterinarian Paul Thomas's approach sends pigs scurrying. He watches for unusual behavior. As he walks the length of the barn, Thomas notices one of the two-month-old hogs nestled against the railing at the edge of its pen and reaches over to gently pet the pig's back. The pig shakes its head and drowsily gets up.

 

"He's just sleepy," Thomas says, and by the time he's spoken the words, the pig has trotted off to join its pen-mates.

 

Tony Webster / Flickr

In his Condition of the State, then-Governor Tom Vilsack declared that 2004 would be "The Year of the Arts, Culture and Recreation in Iowa." 

He continued, "Studies show that creativity spurs economic growth; breakthroughs in understanding are essential to the task of building a world of opportunity. Creative thinking, the hallmark of Iowa's success, will lead us to a more dynamic future."

Michael Leland / Iowa Public Radio

Humans have been making monuments and memorializing events, people, and tragedies for a long time. Do we think about memorials different today than we used to? 

According to David Schmitz, who is Executive Director with the Dubuque Museum of Art, the answer is yes.  Schmidtz has worked cataloging memorials and monuments in the state. 

City of Dubuque

A suspicious package caused the Dubuque Regional Airport to evacuate some passengers from the terminal this morning.

Transportation Security Administration spokesperson David Dailey says the item was found at a checkpoint during passenger and baggage screening.

“Sometimes routine things that people bring through can often look funny on the x-ray and so out of an abundance of caution we needed to clear the area before we continued with the resolution process of this item,” he says.

Andrea Joynt

This week’s Symphonies of Iowa encore broadcast features the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra’s “Symphonic Fantasies” concert. The program showcases works by Iowa composer Amy Dunker, Rachmaninoff, and Berlioz and spotlights Russian piano virtuoso Natasha Paremski.

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

With farmers coming off a third straight year of lower incomes, 2017 may require more belt-tightening for many.

Persistently low prices for major commodity crops including corn and soybeans may inch up slightly in the New Year. But farmers may find they still need to adjust their strategies to ride out the slump.

Andrea Mahoney / Briarwood Healthcare Center

The Alzheimer's Foundation of America says music, when used appropriately, can shift a patient's mood, help with managing stress and agitation, stimulate positive interactions, facilitate cognitive function and help with motor movements. Now, researchers at the University of Iowa are studying the extent of that effect. Alaine Reschke-Hernandez, a music therapist, and Dr.

When you think of the state of Iowa, you might not initially find yourself thinking about its music scene or rich musical culture. But there is a growing diversity of sound in the state and a “special sauce” that makes the music that’s made here unique.

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Dave Zollo, Iowa City based artist and founder of Trailer Records; Luke Tweedy, owner of Flat Black Studios and Tim Hankewich of Orchestra Iowa about music in Iowa.

Voters in parts of Scott County have until tomorrow to cast their ballot in the special election for state senate seat in District 45.  The seat in western Davenport and all of the city of Buffalo has been vacant since September, after the death of longtime Senator Joe Seng.

Scott County Auditor Roxanna Moritz acknowledges that while two days after Christmas isn't the most opportune time to head to the polls, she encourages people to still turn in a ballot.

"People have fought for us to have the right to vote," says Mortiz. "Don't become apathetic." 

Learning to read music helps students in math and having a health outlet for creativity is part of what encourages innovative thinking.

Do students in Iowa have enough access to things like music lessons and art classes? Should arts education be a part of the Iowa Core in terms of curriculum? Some arts educators, including David Law, Executive Director of the Iowa Alliance for Arts Education, say "yes." There's been an unsuccessful push to make arts a part of the Iowa Core for the last decade.

Katherine Perkins/IPR

Just off of 2nd Avenue in Cedar Rapids sits an unassuming little carriage house. In a tiny studio apartment that used to be the hayloft, is where the most iconic American painting was created. Artist Grant Wood lived as well as worked in the space from 1924 - 1935, and he created all of his masterpieces there, including "American Gothic," "Young Corn," and "Woman with Plants."

Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe toured the studio with Katherine Kunau, associate curator of the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art.

In this special, outdoor episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," Iowa music greats David Zollo and William Elliott Whitmore join together to perform at IPR's second annual Great Iowa Potluck. 

Download the free podcast below to hear host Ben Kieffer chat with the pair about their storied music careers, their Iowa upbringings, and their new project Middle Western. 

Michael Leland/IPR

The below-normal temperatures across Iowa the last week or so have done a good job freezing many of the state’s smaller lakes and ponds.

Iowa DNR Fisheries Chief Joe Larscheid says that means the ice should be thick enough for activities like skating or fishing, especially in the northern part of the state.

“We’ve got a good solid five to ten inches across Iowa, the more north you go, the better the ice. Up north I don’t see any problems,” he says.  “If ice just recently formed in southern Iowa, that would be the places to be careful of."

FLICKR / WILLIAM PATRICK BUTLER

Opponents of the privatization of Iowa’s Medicaid system say recent revelations show the program should not be run by for-profit companies. A Des Moines Register report this week revealed the three companies in charge of Iowa Medicaid say they are facing dramatic losses.

When private companies took over Iowa’s Medicaid system in April, many wondered if they could make a profit. The companies claimed profits would come as a result of better management, but now they say underfunding is threatening the program’s stability and that state payments are insufficient.

Zach Boyden-Holmes / The Des Moines Register

An act of kindness may make someone smile or brighten a day. It might help a person through a difficult time, provide comfort and care in a time of crisis, or even change a life or lives.

This edition of Talk of Iowa highlights acts of kindness and compassion remembered by Iowans. Featured this hour:

scion_cho / Flickr

Never go to bed angry, the old saying goes, or that bad feeling will harden into resentment. Now scientists have found evidence to support the idea that negative emotional memories are harder to reverse after a night’s sleep.

The study published recently in the journal Nature Communications found a link between sleep and the consolidation of emotional memories. Dr. Eric Dyken of the University of Iowa Sleep Disorder Center explains:

Luther College

The internationally acclaimed conductor of the Nordic Choir at Luther College has died.

Weston Noble led one of the nation’s most admired a cappella groups for 57 years beginning in 1948. His annual tours took students to Moscow’s Bolshoi Hall, Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall in New York City, and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. An assistant professor of music at Luther, Andrew Last, is a 1997 graduate of the school. He says the first time he stood before Noble, he was too emotional to sing.

Kari Bedford

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," Illinois singer-songwriter Ben Bedford tells  host Ben Kieffer about the his background in history has shaped his songwriting. 

Listen in to the podcast below to hear tunes from Bedford's new album, "The Pilot and the Flying Machine.

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