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Huw Loaring/flickr

Officials in Cedar Rapids are evaluating Iowa’s new fireworks law that debuted in the just-completed 4th of July season, after many residents weighed in against it.  

“Out of Cedar Rapids we've had more complaints on fireworks than we had on potholes or even on the speed cameras combined,” said Mayor Ron Corbett.  “That's how many people complained about the fireworks.”

Demonstration Gardens Offer Ideas for Iowans

Jul 14, 2017
US Army Garrison / flick

If you’re having trouble getting something to grow or just looking to gather new planting ideas for your garden, Iowa State University’s Extension and Outreach is a great local resource. This summer they are offering six opportunities across the state for Iowans to learn about gardening techniques and to ask questions about the plants in their gardens.

Russell/IPR

Governor Reynolds’s challenger for the Republican nomination for governor has harsh words for how statehouse Republicans are managing shortfalls in the state budget.  

After tax receipts fell short of projections, Republican lawmakers dipped into cash reserves to balance the budget this year.

Gov. Reynolds is expected to spend even more emergency funds to cover the shortfall, and may have to call lawmakers back into special session.

GOP gubernatorial candidate, Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett, says the shortfall was predictable and preventable.

Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

One of the smelliest varieties of corpse flowers will be blooming in about 10 days at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. The Titan arum comes from Sumatra and is exceptionally rare.

While there have been other types of corpse flowers in Iowa, the Botanical Garden says it believes this is state’s first Titan arum to bloom. The plant has evolved to smell like the flesh of a rotting mammal.

doug ommen
Iowa Insurance Division

The Iowa Insurance Division announced Thursday it will hold public hearings on its "stopgap" plan to prop up the state's individual insurance market in 2018. Iowa Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen proposed the plan in June. 

Ommen says he’s working with federal officials to fix some issues in the stopgap plan as they move toward approval.

"We're needing to work very very quickly to move through a process that was designed to take years in order to get approved," Ommen says. 

Flickr / Marc Treble

The Iowa Supreme Court’s “Access to Justice Commission” has released a report that outlines steps to remove barriers to civil justice for low-income and disadvantaged Iowans.

At the beginning of the report, the commission notes the Iowa State Bar Association says that nearly half of all Iowans have difficulty affording a lawyer for basic legal needs.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Backers of three separate casino proposals made their pleas before the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission Thursday, which will decide later this year whether to approve a new casino for Cedar Rapids.   

The commission turned down a Cedar Rapids proposal in 2014, citing concerns about market saturation and cannibalizing other Iowa casinos.

Developers argued before the board on Thursday that, long-term, a casino for Cedar Rapids would not harm revenues for other gaming operations.    

Charity Nebbe

The Civil War is the deadliest war in American history, with hundreds of thousands of casualties suffered by both the Union and Confederate sides.

In Some of Our Yesterdays, a memoir posthumously unearthed by the family of Charles Seton Lindsay, the Civil War experience is vividly told by Lindsay, who fought for the Union as a teenager after enlisting against his family's wishes. He recalls the horrors of battle he witnessed in Williamsburg, Virginia.

You would be hard-pressed to find a person with any knowledge of music who didn’t know of Mozart’s history as a child prodigy. But far fewer know that another young and well-known musician was also a genius. His name was Felix Mendelssohn.

Mendelssohn’s musical talent blossomed at an early age. He began taking piano lessons from his mother when he was six, and at seven was tutored by Marie Bigot in Paris. The great writer Goethe may have been the first to compare Mendelssohn to Mozart when speaking with Mendelssohn’s other teacher, Zelter:

Joyce Russell/IPR

Cedar Rapids Mayor and GOP gubernatorial candidate Ron Corbett reports a successful initial fundraising effort since announcing his candidacy three weeks ago.  

At a Des Moines news conference, Corbett said he has raised more than $1 million, including $800,000 in cash and additional thousands in commitments, without taking money from political action committees.

Governor Reynolds has reported having $1 million in her campaign war chest.  

Corbett said that was raised over the course of a year with Gov. Branstad’s help.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio / Iowa Public Radio

The aquatic center at the downtown YMCA in Des Moines is nearing completion after a long delay. The project was slowed by fundraising challenges.

Concrete is in place for the Olympic-size pool adjacent to the Y, but construction dust still fills the air. The eight-lane, 50-meter pool is costing around $10 million to build. YMCA of Greater Des Moines CEO Dave Schwartz says raising the money has required patience.

“I’ve been on board just a year now, and we’ve made great progress," he says. "We feel really comfortable where we’re at, and we’re excited to get it open.”

Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

Amid the new controversy about email, this time involving Donald Trump Jr. and Russian officials, the White House has gone on the defensive.

During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Dennis Goldford, professor of political science at Drake University and Wayne Moyer, professor of political science at Grinnell College.

Goldford says that it’s going to be interesting to continue to watch this investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S. election unfold given President Trump’s treatment of family versus his staff.

CLIC Sargent / Flickr

No one wants to wind up in the hospital, but it's not just the threat of a health crisis that makes us dread a visit. The environment - the stark, sterile, cold, and clinical atmosphere isn't the most pleasant. Hospitals everywhere are trying to change that. 

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Rodney Dieser, a professor of leisure, youth and human services at the University of Northern Iowa about his research into how the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN has approached making their space more welcoming for families and less stressful for staff. 

Iowa Regional Autism Assistance Program's logo
Iowa Regional Autism Assistance Program / University of Iowa Health Care

The Regional Autism Assistance Program (RAP) is one of ten programs to recently lose all of its state funding from the Iowa Department of Public Health. For RAP, the $384,552 cut is about 70 percent of its budget.

Advocates worry the budget cut could lead to the loss of the program’s family navigators. They’re stationed throughout the state and connect families to services when children are diagnosed with autism.

Appalachian dreamer / Flickr

When John Criss died in 2015 he bequeathed 5.7 million dollars to his hometown Sac City, but with a stipulation: all of the money must be spent on the beautification of the town.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe explores Criss' legacy and the future of Sac City with three of the trustees to his estate. She also talks with economist Neil Harl and estate planning lawyer Gordon Fischer about the dos and don’ts of planning an estate. 

AMY MAYER/IPR FILE PHOTO

Sen. Chuck Grassley says he hasn’t decided whether he’ll vote for or against a healthcare bill that would allow insurance companies to limit what they’d pay for certain services.

The Senate Obamacare repeal bill proposes allowing states to redefine which services insurance companies are required to cover. The concern is this could result in dollar limits for things like hospitalizations or prescription drugs.

Grassley says senators are still submitting amendments, so he’s not ready to take a position until he’s seen the final bill.

woman in hijab
Jerry Seon / Pexels

A self-defense class for Muslim women will debut in Iowa City on Tuesday. These women are often targeted as their religious covering identifies them as Muslim. 

The Iowa chapter for the Council on American-Islamic Relations is sponsoring the class. Executive director Miriam Amer says Muslim women wearing headscarves, or hijabs, have been targeted in the U.S. in recent months. 

pills in a bottle
nosheep / Pixabay

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows per-capita opioid prescriptions decreased in the U.S. from 2010 to 2015. But in one-third of Iowa's counties, prescriptions increased over the same time period.

The CDC encourages doctors to reduce opioid prescribing when treating pain because these medications are associated with abuse and overdose rates. The opioid-related hospitalizations and deaths in Iowa have been on the rise. 

Sarah Boden / Iowa Public Radio

Sen. Joni Ernst held a town hall meeting in Harlan before heading back to Washington from the July 4 recess. Most of the questions she fielded focused on the Senate Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said if the slim Republican majority can’t come together, a bipartisan solution might be next. Some of the town hall's attendees favored compromise.

But while speaking with reporters, Ernst didn’t seem receptive to that idea quite yet.

Heartland Financial

Dubuque-based Heartland Financial is adding to its bank holdings. It’s completing a deal to buy a Colorado chain of banks.

Heartland is acquiring Citywide Banks of Colorado in a deal valued at around $211 million. Citywide is headquartered in the Denver suburb of Aurora. Heartland CEO Lynn Fuller says the purchase will make his company more competitive in the rapidly growing Colorado market.

“We’ll be the third largest community bank in the Denver area," he says. "And we’ll be the 11th largest bank in Colorado.”

Joyce Russell/IPR

Iowa motorists are being warned of possible penalties under a new state law designed to protect utility crews working along Iowa roadways.  

The electric utilities of Iowa have launched a Move Over Slow Down campaign to promote the law, which requires drivers to either change lanes or reduce their speed when passing utility vehicles.

The original law was enacted in 2002 covering emergency vehicles with flashing lights. It was revised this year to include utility crews.

Officials say drivers are speeding by much too close to the workers. 

No Easy Solution for Japanese Beetles

Jul 7, 2017
Matthew Beziat / flickr

The Japanese beetle has reached its peak population in places across Iowa. While some areas of the state have not seen the beetle’s appearance at all, isolated spots have seen early spurts of incredibly high numbers. Professor and Iowa State University Extension Entomologist Donald Lewis says that typically it’s toward the end of June that Japanese beetles emerge over a 3-4 week period. This year though, it seems they have all appeared at once.

Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration / Wikimedia Commons

A NASA space probe carrying an instrument developed at the University of Iowa will pass close to Jupiter Monday. The Juno spacecraft will come within 56-hundred miles of the iconic Great Red Spot on the planet. Scientists believe the spot is a 10-thousand-mile-wide storm that has been brewing for 350 years. A research scientist at the University of Iowa, Bill Kurth, says there are basic facts about the red spot, however, scientists don’t understand.

WIKICOMMONS / Concha García Hernández

New research from Iowa State University finds that men convicted of domestic violence are nearly 50 percent less likely to reoffend if they participate in an intervention that emphasizes emotional awareness.

Men convicted of domestic violence are often required to participate in a program that teaches their violence is the result of a desire to control women. It aims to stop violence by changing the way men think.

Iowa Department of Human Rights

A pioneering figure in Iowa politics has died.

Willie Stevenson Glanton. was the first black woman elected to the Iowa Legislature. It was in 1964, at a time when the American civil rights movement was gaining momentum. Glanton was raised in Hot Springs, Ark. During a 2011 interview with Iowa Public Radio, she recalled the influence her politically active parents had on her life.

danIIIr/flickr

The State Fire Marshal’s Office has issued fireworks licenses to 664 retail dealers in Iowa in the first year of a new law authorizing the sale and use of commercial-grade fireworks.

But officials say only about two-thirds of the required inspections were completed, due to a shortfall in time and resources.  

Department of Public Safety attorney Barbara Edmondson briefed state lawmakers on the Administrative Rules Review Committee on the new licensing program.  

Ann Sullivan-Larson

In 2011, after 73 years in business, the Electrolux factory in Webster City closed its doors. The closing was a major blow for the small town, but the people Webster City didn’t take the loss sitting down.

A new short documentary, "Made in Iowa," focuses on the growth of small businesses in Webster City following the factory closure.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with the man behind the documentary, the Webster City mayor, and a life long resident of Webster City.

Flickr / Mark Goebel

Sioux City may cut back the number of days people can set off fireworks within the city limits. Iowa legalized the use of fireworks this past legislative session, but some city leaders say people have taken it too far.

The current ordinance allows fireworks in Sioux City on private property from 1:00-10:00 p.m. from June 25 through July 3. On July 4, people can set off fireworks until 11 pm.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio / Iowa Public Radio

A Des Moines hip-hop artist is releasing a music video aimed at ending gun violence. The first public viewing came in front of the Governor, the Des Moines chief of police and community leaders.

Will Keeps had a hard upbringing on the south side of Chicago. In recent years, he has been promoting anti-violence through music. His latest effort is called “Droppin.”

“(from the video) Oh, oh, no more, oh, oh, no more.”

Keeps says he’s fed up with the uptick in gun violence across the country.

Wikimedia Commons

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has eliminated its Bureau of Forestry and a few other DNR jobs in response to a state budget cut.

Lawmakers approved a $1.2 million cut to the department earlier this year. 

DNR spokesman Alex Murphy says the forestry bureau is only losing its chief. He says the district foresters and other employees will remain at the department. 

"We've moved these employees under different areas and actually eliminated the bureau itself, although all the functions of the bureau exist, just in different bureaus or divisions," Murphy says.

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