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Planning outdoor landscaping is one of the more overwhelming outdoor projects. If you're wondering where to start, Lisa Orgler, a lecturer in the horticulture department at Iowa State University says to think about your open spaces first. 

WIKICOMMONS / Uyvsdi

The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska will likely vote later this summer on changes to its membership policy. The tribe has a reservation that straddles the Iowa-Nebraska border.

Currently to enroll, someone must be at least a quarter Native American, and have somewhere in their ancestry a Winnebago relative. The proposed change would require all new members be at least one-eighth Winnebago and one-eighth of any other tribe.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

An unassuming laboratory in a basement corner room of the Black Engineering Building at Iowa State has a lofty goal: to make humans better at what they do. Researchers at the ATHENA Lab are working to improve human performance.

Louis/flickr

Budget writers at the capitol have found a way to squeeze a few million dollars out of the education budget, in order to boost appropriations for the Regents universities. 

Even so, education advocates are calling funding for the schools woefully inadequate. 

Under the budget that now goes to the full House for debate, funding for the three universities will go up by a total of about $6 million, less than a third of their request. 

That amounts to a raise of less than one percent for the University of Iowa and one-point-two percent for Iowa State.

Al Ravenna, World Telegram & Sun

Thurgood Marshall is a familiar name to most, and his work as a Supreme Court Justice is known to many. But his enormous success as an attorney fighting for civil rights is not as prominent in our minds. Author Wil Haygood says that part of his life and legacy laid the groundwork for his Supreme court appointment. 

Peter Dutton/Flickr

Iowa’s largest public school district is testing its water for lead contamination. There are no state requirements for schools to routinely test their water supplies, but following reports of high levels of lead in school drinking water supplies around the country, Des Moines Public Schools decided they’d test all of their school buildings. Phil Roeder with the district says the average age of its schools is 65 years. He says all of the buildings have been renovated at some point.

Terry Ballard / Flickr

Gleaning the wisdom of those who have come before us is a practice as old as time, but in quoting the geniuses of the past, we often misattribute their wisdom. Pat O'Connor, author of Woe is I, says that a few people in particular get a disproportionate number of quips attributed to them.

"People who are known to be wits, and if they're famous, often an anonymous quote will be pinned on them," says O'Connor. "For example, Twain is often credited with saying, 'Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.' Well no, he didn't say that."

Photo by John Pemble

A piece of Iowa's past swallowed up a big portion of a front yard in Des Moines early Wednesday morning. A large sinkhole that’s estimated to be more than 30 feet deep, and roughly 20 feet across collapsed a yard on the city's south side. 

State officials say the sinkhole likely formed due to the abandoned coal mines under the city.

By refusing to schedule a hearing for President Barack Obama's nominee Merrick Garland, U.S. Senator Charles Grassley has started a conversation about the importance and composition of the United States Supreme Court. E.J. Dionne, a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post, says the controversy is an example of how the court has become increasingly politicized. 

Dean Borg/IPR

Iowa’s Department of Natural Resources is giving University of Iowa a unique air quality permit that will provide the UI flexibility in using renewable fuels as an alternative to coal.

The ‘Plant-wide Applicability Permit’ enables the UI to average air quality across the 437 emission sources on the campus, instead of reporting individually.

DNR Director Charles Gipp says the permit -- one-of-a-kind in Iowa -- allows the UI to try new, renewable energy sources without violating air quality standards.

Paul Starnes

While it wasn't written about the Vietnam War, the song "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" by The Animals became an iconic song at the time, and now signifies the era.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with Craig Werner and Doug Bradley, co-authors of the new book, We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The Soundtrack of the Vietnam Warwhere they explore the role of music in connecting veterans both during combat and after they returned home. 

Catherine / Flickr

While spring cleaning can be a good time to declutter your home, it can also serve an essential function for your health. Spring is the ideal time to check everything from smoke detectors to fire extinguishers to air filters. Home improvement expert Bill McAnally suggests checking your filters to ensure they're clean, as particles can not only affect your pulmonary health but pose a fire hazard.

Joyce Russell/IPR

It will be another year before Iowa schools will be required to offer mandatory summer school for third graders not reading at grade level, under a preliminary education budget unveiled at the capitol today.

Lawmakers of both parties say there’s not enough money to start the program as scheduled in 2017.   

Under the proposed budget, schools will now have until 2018 to offer summer help to struggling third graders and to require children to repeat the grade if they don’t attend.      

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Supreme Court Nominee Merrick Garland had their much anticipated breakfast meeting Tuesday morning in the Senate Dining Room. The Iowa Republican describes the conversation as “very pleasant," though he still won’t hold confirmation hearings for Garland.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources/flickr

A bill to appropriate historic levels of funding for water quality passed the Iowa House last night by a vote of 65 to 33. 

Democrats argued it may not be enough to keep the federal government from taking over enforcement of clean water in the state.     

The bill was approved after six hours of private meetings and two hours of public debate. 

Visions Photography

This week’s Symphonies of Iowa broadcast features Orchestra Iowa’s “Stirring Fantasies” concert. It features music composed by Vaughan Williams, Tchaikovsky, and Bizet.

John Pemble

The penny sales tax that funds school infrastructure projects is set to expire in 2029.

On this edition of River to River, Iowa Public Radio Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell hosts a discussion on the history and the future of the penny sales tax. She's joined by the Superintendent of Des Moines Public Schools, Thomas Ahart, as well as Sen. Herman Quirmbach (D) and Rep. Matt Windschitl (R). 

Pat Blank/IPR file photo

April’s winds might have created a bad hair month for many Iowans, but they’ve been beneficial to the state’s farmers who need the soil to be dry enough to plant their crops.

State Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey says only a handful of producers have had a chance to plant corn, however, because the soil is still too cold for seeds to germinate.   He says if the weekend is as warm as the weather forecast suggests, everything will kick into high gear.

Iowa Governor's Office

A restoration project honoring a former governor and Civil War veteran will receive the first grant from the Iowa History Fund, which was set up as part of Governor Branstad’s longest serving governor observance.  

The $6500 grant will complete fundraising to restore the mausoleum at Woodland Cemetery of Samuel Merrill. 

Photo by John Pemble

The split Iowa Legislature has taken another step toward adjournment by agreeing to state budget targets. Details for the budget of about $7.3 billion remain pretty vague at this point. Here’s what IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell says are the important details to watch this week:

Courtesy of DMMO

The final opera in the Des Moines Metro Opera’s 43rd Festival Season, Janáček’s Jenůfa, airs as part of Iowa Public Radio’s Arias in April  broadcast series. IPR will broadcast Jenůfa on Saturday, April 16 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, April 17 at 11:00 p.m.

Photo by Amy Mayer

On a cold windy morning, Kelly Nissen feeds the cows at the Iowa State University Beef Nutrition Farm north of Ames. Far from just tossing hay, he weighs out specific rations and carefully delivers them to numbered feed bunks.

"When you're feeding, you’re always double-checking yourself to make sure it's going in the right lot," Nissen says.

 

Cedar Ridge Distillery

Beer manufacturers and wholesalers are trying to stop a bill in the legislature that would benefit Iowa’s burgeoning distillery industry.  

The bill would put makers of spirits on a more even playing field with breweries and wineries.   

Under the bill, distilleries could sell spirits by the glass in their tasting rooms and increase the daily sales limit.   Wineries and brewers can sell by the glass and bottle with no sales or production limits.    

Robert Couse-Baker / Flickr

Iowa State University alum Vanessa McLean first documented her experience with sexual assault in her movie "I Am" in July of last year. Unexpectedly, she says, baring her soul for audiences was a catalyst.

"My healing took off after I was open about my experiences and it's something so powerful about saying that has been on your heart and mind all of your life," she says.

So she expanded her efforts and made a second film, "We Are Survivors," allowing for eight more sexual assault survivors to share their stories.

King and Bertrand campaign websites

Iowa’s Fourth District Congressman is questioning the motives driving the Republican challenging him in the June primary.

Steve King is seeking an eighth term in Congress, and until this year, has never been challenged by another Republican in seeking re-election.

This year, Sioux City State Senator Rick Bertrand is challenging King, and is receiving financial backing from Iowa Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter in June’s Republican primary election.

Kate Dugas / Flickr

It's almost time to start planting seedlings into the soil.

"This is an exciting time of year," says Ajay Nair, assistant professor of horticulture at Iowa State University. "One of the crops that comes to mind is potatoes. Sometime in the first week of April, or the second week of April, is the time to plant potatoes... Other crops that can go out are the cool season vegetables like broccoli and peas." 

In his new book American Character: A History of the Epic Struggle Between Individual Liberty and the Common Good, Colin Woodard explores our relationship with our sense of individuality and our need for community.

He says the gridlock in our current political system highlights the tension.

IMAGENS EVANGELICAS

Law enforcement and groups that fight human trafficking in Iowa can now better coordinate their efforts to combat the enslavement of people for the purposes of forced labor or sex work.  Gov. Terry Branstad signed a bill Thursday to establish an anti-human trafficking office within the Iowa Department of Public Safety.

Nat Lockwood / Flickr

In Iowa, around 42 percent of all teens hold jobs outside their home – that’s just about 74,000 Iowans, more than any other border state except for South Dakota. Most teens in Iowa work in retail. After that, they typically find employment in the food service industry. According to the Iowa Food and Beverage Association, 1/3 of Iowans find their first jobs in a restaurant. 

Sheryl Cline is a high school guidance counselor at Linn-Marr High School. She says this is the time of year when a lot of students start thinking about summer work.  

Social Security Administration

Iowa now is one of seven states, plus the District of Columbia, where people can replace a lost Social Security card online.

Social Security Administration spokesman B. J. Jarrett says in order to serve the public, the SSA needs to take advantage of emerging technologies.

"We want to be able to provide services and provide benefits to folks the way they want to receive them," says Jarrett. "A lot of folks, and not just young people, but a lot of middle aged and older folks, are online now. So we want to meet them where they're at." 

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