News

Michael Saechang

For groups trying to affect firearms policy, what are their priorities, challenges, strategies for the future? Where is money and lobbying efforts going? What do Americans think about access to guns, and what do those view say about their own politics? In this River to River program as part of our continuing Guns in Iowa series, host Ben Kieffer gets two looks at the national gun debate.  

desks
alamosbasement/flickr

Early voting is underway on a $191.5 million bond question for the Iowa City Community School District.

It is considered the largest K-12 bond in state history, and it is supposed to fund the district’s "Facilities Master Plan."

Kate Moreland is a parent who has been advocating for the bond. She says she is excited for all the schools to be made accessible for students with disabilities, and for the installation of air conditioning.

Drake University

The Metro Arts Alliance of Greater Des Moines is ending operations after nearly 42 years, citing a lack of grant funding. 

The alliance is perhaps best known for arts education programming and the annual Jazz in July series, which celebrated its 35th year this summer.

Executive Direct Angela Ossian wouldn't say whether the drop in funding was from government or private sources, or both.

Photo Courtesy of Amber Causey

Amber Causey is a distinguished Army veteran with a master's degree in criminal justice and she is a mother. She's competing for Ms. Veteran America 2017 in October and is hoping to go to law school. She's also a survivor of human trafficking. 

She says after her mom was incarcerated when she was 13, a lot about her life changed. She moved in with her dad, who was abusive, and ended up running away from home and dropping out of high school. 

Amy Mayer/IPR

Some astronomers and enthusiasts have been waiting years for today’s solar eclipse.  Almost all of Iowa experienced a partial eclipse, and the path of the total eclipse was further south and west. There is a small portion, a few hundred acres, of extreme southeast Iowa in that path.  

Iowa State University Professor of Astrophysics Steve Kawaler joins the conversation to talk about the eclipse. He describes the experience of a total eclipse.

Romeo Durscher / NASA

It is indeed dark during the day as a total solar eclipse makes its way from Oregon to South Carolina. Eleven states are in the path of total darkness. Follow the astronomical phenomenon's journey across America along with NPR journalists and others experiencing the eclipse.

Loading...

FLICKR / TAKESHI KUBOKI

The path of totality for today’s solar eclipse all but misses Iowa, except for a sliver of Fremont County, the state’s most southwestern county. 

Less than 600 square acres of Iowa will experience total darkness. Part of this area includes the Lower Hamburg Bend Wildlife Management Area.

Matt Moles works at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources State Parks Bureau. At 1:05 pm, he says, eclipse watchers at the wildlife area will experience 32 seconds of total darkness.

Courtesy of StoryCorps

Anders Haglund is not your average 12-year-old. He’s observant, insightful, and, according to his mom Jenna, unfazed by the pressures of middle school.

Anders and Jenna stopped by the StoryCorps mobile booth in Des Moines to talk about personal integrity, the social hierarchy of middle school, and what they each hope his future holds.

Story Corps is a national initiative to record and collect stories of everyday people.

Finding Joy After the Loss of a Child

Aug 18, 2017
Dr. Richard Deming, Chuck Cutler, and Diane Cutler / Courtesy of StoryCorps

Charlie Cutler of West Des Moines is remembered by friends and family for his infectious smile and cheery disposition. In 2016, Charlie died after a three year battle with cancer. He was 26 years old.

His parents, Diane and Chuck, and his oncologist, Dr. Richard Deming, medical director of Mercy Cancer Center in Des Moines and founder of Above and Beyond Cancer, came to the StoryCorps mobile booth in Des Moines to describe how they honor Charlie's legacy after his death.

The city of Des Moines could set a record for the number of homicides this year. Sergeant Paul Parizek with the Des Moines Police Department says if another homicide happens, it will be the most the city has seen in over a decade.

“Right now we are at 21, and in 2015, that was the mark we hit for the whole year, and that was the highest we’d hit since 1995. So, with so much time remaining in the year, there’s a very real possibility we’ll hit that,” says Parizek.

“We’ve had as low as 5 in a year. We tend to hover around the 7, 8, 9 range.”

Image courtesy of magdus

During the dry periods of summer, many gardeners across the state are unsure how to keep their gardens full of life during the lack of rainfall. Luckily, there are multiple flowers that can still thrive without much water, as Iowa Master Gardener Coordinator Denny Schrock explains.

courtesy Iowans for Sam Clovis

As President Donald Trump continues to fill political appointments, his nomination for the top science job at the U.S. Department of Agriculture is raising unique concerns.

Trump has chosen Iowan Sam Clovis to be undersecretary of agriculture for research, education and economics. Clovis served as a fighter pilot in the Air Force, has a doctorate in public administration, and taught economics at Morningside College in Sioux City.

Sioux City is also where he gained a following as a conservative talk show host.

Iowa DNR

Next week as classes begin, Northwood Kensett secondary principal Keith Fritz will include something in his fall assembly speech that’s not heard often in Iowa schools.

“I mention, in addition to ‘we have the right to search your lockers, guys, we’re going to have a great year this year,” he says. "Those of you who hunt, federal firearms regulations prohibit you from having those on campus.’ And that’s all it takes, they just comply.” 

joni ernst
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Sen. Joni Ernst says she wants the federal government to continue making payments for Obamacare subsidies to health insurance companies.

President Trump has repeatedly threatened to stop making "cost-sharing reduction" payments.

That uncertainty has led the only health insurance company left on Iowa’s exchange to propose a nearly 57 percent rate hike for 2018. Medica originally requested a 43 percent increase. 

Flickr / Takeshi Kuboki

Don’t look at the sun during Monday’s eclipse.

That’s the message from Dr. Michael Abramoff, an ophthalmologist and retinal specialist at the University of Iowa. He warns that during every total solar eclipse, about five or 10 people permanently damage their eyes.

John Pemble/IPR

Gun rights activists are renewing their call to allow firearms at the Iowa State Fair, after a violent incident on the fairgrounds Tuesday night.   

A man was stabbed and critically injured in a fight involving four young men on the southwest corner of the fairgrounds.    

On social media, the Iowa Firearms Coalition is urging the state legislature to end the ban.

"If the Iowa State Fair can't stop violent crime during the fair they should allow lawful citizens to adequately protect themselves,"  the organization wrote on Twitter.

Student Voice

A group of students is gathering in Des Moines to talk about the future of education. They want to be part of the conversation about educational priorities.          

A nonprofit called the Iowa Student Learning Institute is behind the meeting among students, community leaders and legislators. Ian Coon co-founded the institute when he was in high school. Now a sophomore at Wartburg College, Coon says students need to be included when talk turns to education.

Photo courtesy of Black Valley Films

The Iowa State Fair is known worldwide as a showcase for all things food-related. This year, that includes a new documentary about a controversial topic: genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Food Evolution was commissioned by the non-profit, International Food Technologists and it seeks to "follow the science" to get the truth about GMOs. The science led the filmmakers to produce something that comes down squarely in favor of what they say is a technique that's misunderstood and often vilified.

Wikimedia

One part of Iowa’s new comprehensive gun rights law that went into effect in July may end up in court. Under the new statute, a gunowner can sue any local government that tries to keep firearms out of public buildings.  

Dozens of counties with courthouse weapons bans are potential targets. 

Jackson County Chief Deputy Steve Schroeder says they lived through a nightmare a few years back at their courthouse in Maquoketa. 

police car
Diego Parra / Pixabay

The Marion Police Department is teaming up with University of Iowa researchers to improve policing strategies, pending approval by the Marion City Council.

Criminologists from the UI Public Policy Center will be embedded with the police department to promote "Intelligence Led Policing." 

Marion Police Chief Joe McHale says the partnership will help the department analyze information including locations and types of criminal activity.

Flickr / Phil Roeder

The ability of a police officer to spot someone carrying a concealed weapon or bomb is only slightly better than chance, according to a new study from Iowa State University.

Lead author Dawn Sweet directs ISU’s Body Language and Facial Expressions Lab. She says the study's findings don't show that police officers are bad at their jobs, rather it's that they lack the right training or tools to spot people who are concealing potential threats.

W.W. Norton & Co.

This hour, host Charity Nebbe speaks live with two Iowa writers, Inara Verzemnieks and Elizabeth Dinschel.

Inc. 5000

Twenty-eight Iowa companies are on the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing privately owned firms nationwide. Most are located in urban areas, although a few small town enterprises landed spots.

Inc. magazine lists West Des Moines-based Ivy Lane Corporation as the fastest growing company in the state. Revenue for the owner of 35 Valvoline oil change stores has grown by 693 percent over the past three years to put it at 658 on the list.

Grape Tree Medical Staffing in the small, lakes-region town of Milford landed a few spots behind at 665.

Ben Kieffer

The number of permits to carry weapons has risen dramatically in Iowa.

According to numbers collected by the Iowa Department of Public Safety, Iowa has issued more than 375,000 weapons permits since 2011. This doesn’t include professionals who are who required to carry weapons such as a police or corrections officer.

Stephane Gallois for Vanity Fair

“For much of the concert, the audience had to remember to breathe…the exhilaration didn’t let up for a second until her hands came off the keyboard.”

Evan Nesterak

In this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Wenfang Tang, Stanley Hua Hsia Professor of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Iowa about China's ability to influence the conflict between the U.S. and North Korea. Then, Dave Andersen, assistant professor of political science at Iowa State University discusses the political fallout from President Trump's contradictory statements about the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

joni ernst
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

At a town hall Tuesday in Washington, Iowa, Sen. Joni Ernst took several questions about the so-far unsuccessful Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Some questioners asked Sen. Ernst to support "Medicare for all," while others said they want no government involvement in health insurance.

Ernst says bipartisan groups of lawmakers are working on healthcare solutions after "repeal and replace" legislation failed several times in the Senate this year.

FaceMePLS / Flickr

There's been some new and alarming research about the increasing number of suicides and cases of depression among teens. Are cell phones and social media contributing to the problem? During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Jean Twenge, who is author of the forthcoming book IGen: Why Today's Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood. 

JOHN PEMBLE/IPR FILE

Gov. Kim Reynolds says she has called the graphic designer who created the three proposed images for Iowa’s new license plate. Iowa Department of Transportation employee Christina Andersen's work has been mocked and criticized on social media as bland or terrible.

"The severity of the words chosen in these comments ranges from stinging to an absolute gut punch that leaves me short of breath and tears flowing uncontrollably," wrote Andersen on her personal Facebook page last week.

Flickr / Max Goldberg

Iowa’s governor says proposed undergraduate tuition increases at the University of Iowa and Iowa State University are too much. 

The schools in Iowa City and Ames are suggesting they raise costs by at least 7 percent annually for the next five years. These increases would mean that by 2022, tuition at UI and ISU would be more than 40 percent higher compared to what students currently pay.

The state Board of Regents asked the schools to look at tuition costs after the state cut funding by more than $30 million due to a statewide budget shortfall. 

Pages