Dean Borg

Correspondent

Dean Borg is an Iowa City based correspondent for Iowa Public Radio. He joined IPR in 2000, but his broadcast news career began at WOI Radio as an Iowa State University student.  Later in Cedar Rapids, he led a 32-person news, sports, weather and farm radio and television staff for The WMT Stations. His experience includes daily coverage of the Iowa General Assembly, news and documentary reports from South Vietnam and the Paris Peace Talks, moderating nationally televised presidential candidate debates, and interviewing every President since John F. Kennedy.

He holds journalism and political science degrees from Iowa State and The University of Iowa. ISU conferred its Distinguished Achievement Citation to him, the highest award given to alumni.  He is also the winner of lifetime achievement awards from The Iowa Broadcast News Association and the Northwest Broadcast News Association.

Dean's favorite public radio program is Car Talk.

Ways to Connect

John Pemble / IPR

Former Iowa lawmakers are expressing dismay at the partisanship on display at the statehouse, although they say Iowa reflects a national trend.  Former Speaker of the Iowa House, Republican Brent Siegrist says the legislature has become much more partisan than during his time there.

"There's still 150 well-meaning people up there. Even when you disagree with them, they're there to do the job that they think they're sent to do, but it is more divided and more ideologically rigid than when I was there, and I think that takes a toll."

Iowa State University

Iowa’s Board of Regents is selecting a former Iowa State University administrator to return as interim president.  The Regents are meeting Monday to name Ben Allen interim president.

Allen served four years as ISU’s provost before the Regents appointed him president of University of Northern Iowa in 2006.  He led that campus until retiring in 2013.

John Pemble/IPR file photo

Iowa lawmakers are quickly moving several high profile bills to Governor Terry Branstad's desk. During this hour of River to River, Iowa Public Radio’s Dean Borg talks with statehouse reporters about what’s happened so far this session and the live wire politics surrounding what still remains.

Iowa Public Radio’s Joyce Russell, James Lynch of the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Bill Petroski of the Des Moines Register, and Kay Henderson of Radio Iowa join the conversation. 

Dean Borg / IPR

Mount Vernon's Cornell College is celebrating its largest cash gift in its history, and is immediately investing it in a science center.  The $20-million gift comes from 1965 alumna, Jean Russell, now a St. Louis medical doctor.

Jonathan Brand, Cornell's President says, "Thanks to Jean we were able to hit our $32-million goal for the science center in under two years."  The science project is a new four-story, 45,600 foot building and renovation of the current West Science Center and Law House to house STEM studies.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Iowa Republican lawmakers would like to rewrite Iowa’s public employee collective bargaining law. Their plans are laid out in companion bills, Senate File 213 and House File 291.

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad proposes changing how the state provides health insurance for state employees.  In his Condition of the State message earlier this month, he proposed replacing more than 400 existing plans with one statewide contract.

“Just a few adverse health outcomes can destroy the budget of a city, county or school district,” Branstad said. “By replacing this system with one, comprehensive health-care contract, we can spread the risk and dramatically reduce costs.”

It’s a statement that is confusing to educators.

Dean Borg/IPR

Iowa City’s council members readily agreed there is currently no problem with immigrants, some of them University of Iowa students.

Dean Borg/IPR

Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett announced a news conference today that he’s not seeking a third term heading Iowa’s second largest city.

Corbett has been the subject of much speculation that he would run for governor in 2018.  In response to a question about that today, he said he’s making that decision in phases.

“So I’m taking the first step today, announcing that I’m not running for re-election in 2017,” he said. “And then I’ll take additional steps sometime next year.”

John Pemble/IPR file photo

The bipartisan women’s group grooming women for political office is adjusting its goal of having Iowa’s legislature 50 percent women three years from now.

Women will hold only about a quarter of the 150 seats when the Iowa General Assembly convenes next month.

Mary Ellen Miller, the executive director of the group calling itself 50-50 in 2020, says it now appears that goal is out of reach.

Iowa State University

Iowa’s Board of Regents is vowing to clarify travel policies at the three state universities, and Iowa State University may be closing its flight service.

Those are some of the results of an audit of Iowa State University President Steve Leath’s use of university aircraft for business and personal use.

After a closed session with Leath this afternoon in which the board reviewed an audit report of all flights in university-owned aircraft, Regents President Bruce Rastetter reaffirmed the board’s support for Leath.

Iowa Board of Regents

The Iowa Board of Regents has selected Mark Nook to be the 11th president of the University of Northern Iowa.  Nook is a native of Holstein, and received his undergraduate degree from Iowa State.  Since 2014, he has been the chancellor of Montana State University-Billings, which has a student body about one-third the size of UNI’s 12,000 student population. 

Michael Leland/IPR

Sunny, dry weather is speeding Iowa’s corn and soybean harvest that has been running up to a week behind the traditional pace.

That’s especially true in North Iowa where persistent, heavy rains are leaving standing water in grain fields.

Michael Leland/IPR

Iowa’s corn and soybean harvest continues behind last year, and the five-year average.

Today’s USDA update says statewide, 71-percent of the corn crop is harvested.  Central and southeast Iowa harvest work is a bit more advanced.

In Eastern Iowa, Randy Toenjes blames wet fields and too much corn, too fast.

John Pemble / IPR file photo

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate is expecting early voting totals to be about the same as in past presidential elections, about 43-percent of Iowans voting before Election Day.

But Pate says he’s especially interested in the turn-out and voting preferences of millennial voters. 

Dean Borg/IPR file photo

The Iowa Board of Regents has authorized an extensive audit of  the use of ISU-owned aircraft.  The board opened its meeting in Cedar Falls today by receiving a preliminary audit report of the three state universities’ travel policies. 

Michael Leland/IPR

Farmers in northeast Iowa are destroying several thousand acres of corn and soybeans in fields flooded by torrential September rains. Most of the corn and soybeans in those fields will be destroyed this fall to prevent the seeds from sprouting next spring.

Brian Lang, a Decorah-based Iowa State University Extension Agronomist, estimates ten-thousand crop acres were under water a month ago.

Michael Leland/IPR

Muddy fields are slowing Iowa’s corn and soybean harvest. The U-S-D-A’s weekly crop update says 94-percent of the corn acreage is mature.  That’s three days head of average for this date.

Corn harvest is a week behind average, with only 19-percent out of the field.

In Winnebago County, where rain during this crop year is nearly double the normal amount, rivers and drainage ditches are overflowing and not allowing field tile to drain cropland.

Michael Leland/IPR

Warmer and drier weather during the past week is allowing grain harvesting equipment back in Iowa’s corn and soybean fields. But today’s USDA progress update says many farmers are encountering muddy fields and some standing water.

Ten percent of Iowa’s corn acreage has been harvested.  That’s about the same as last year, but nine days behind the five-year average for the first week in October.

In Linn County, Brad Stoner is among those just beginning today at his farm near Marion.

Dean Borg/IPR

The Cedar River crested in downtown Cedar Rapids this morning, a foot lower than predicted but still 10 feet above flood stage. 

The river level was at 22 feet late this morning, and will begin slowly falling by late today. 

“It’s not over,” said City Manager Jeff Pomeranz at a news conference this morning.

City officials are monitoring nearly 10 miles of temporary, sand-filled Hesco barriers and earthen levees, looking for weak spots and for possible breaches. 

“We’re very confident this temporary system will work,” said Pomeranz.

Photo courtesy Brandon Pollock, Waterloo Courier

Updated at 10:15pm Thursday.

Sandbagging continues in communities along the Shell Rock and Cedar Rivers in northeast Iowa  after portions of Butler and Floyd county were hit with as much as a foot of rain last night. To the southeast, people in Cedar Rapids have begun building sandbag levees to protect an area devastated in 2008.

In Butler County, Sheriff Jason Johnson says volunteers who want to assist with cleanup are welcome, but sightseers are not.

Dean Borg/IPR

Results from a sexual violence survey of University of Iowa students are guiding administrators in strengthening an anti-violence plan for the Iowa City campus.

Although fewer than ten-percent of the UI’s enrollment responded to the Speak Out Iowa survey in Fall, 2015, administrators say they’re using the results to engage the campus community in creating a safer environment.

Dean Borg/IPR

Linn County’s minimum wage increases to $8.25 an hour on January 1, and a dollar-an-hour more on each of the following two New Year’s Days. But municipalities may not follow, including Cedar Rapids, Iowa’s second-largest city.

On a 4-1 vote, Linn’s Board of Supervisors approved the third reading of the ordinance incrementally raising the wage floor to three dollars above current Iowa law by 2019.

Dean Borg/IPR

Fall enrollment at Iowa State University’s is up 1.9 percent over last fall’s record.  With 36,660 students this year, ISU is again the largest of the state’s three public universities. 

The University of Iowa is reporting enrollment of 33,334 this fall, also up from last year’s figure. 

At the University of Northern Iowa, total enrollment for the fall semester at 11,905 -- 95 short of its goal of 12,000 students.  This includes 2,000 freshmen, the largest UNI freshman class since 2008.

Iowa Women's Archives, Shirley Briggs Papers

The University of Iowa is proposing naming a new residence hall in honor of an African American graduate who couldn’t live in the dorms because she is black.

Elizabeth Catlett received a Masters of Fine Arts degree from the UI in 1940.

While attending as a graduate student, Catlett lived off campus.   The UI’s dormitories weren’t open to African American students until Betty Jean Arnett desegregated Currier Hall in 1945.

Catlett went on to be a renowned artist, and now supports a scholarship for African American or Latino students majoring in printmaking.

Linn County supervisors have approved the first reading of an ordinance raising the minimum wage above state law.  It’s an action that involves Cedar Rapids, Iowa’s second-largest city.

Linn’s ordinance hikes the wage minimum by a dollar an hour to $8.25 on January 1, 2017.  There would also be increased on the two following New Year’s Days, to $10.25 in 2019.

Supervisor John Harris objected to the built-in future increases, and voted no.

Linn County Auditor Joel Miller chided the supervisors for having no plan to enforce the ordinance.

Dean Borg/IPR

Republican Vice-presidential nominee, Mike Pence, was on the attack during a Monday rally in Cedar Rapids.

“Hillary Clinton should shut down the Clinton Foundation right now,” Pence told a crowd of about 200 people. “How in the world can they say they will shut down the Clinton Foundation if she’s elected President of the United States?”

Pence portrayed that as allowing “foreign contributors and major corporations to make down payments on access to the Clinton Administration.”

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

Iowa’s corn and soybean crops are moving into final maturity with most of the acreage listed in good-to-excellent condition. Today’s report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture has both crops listed as 83 percent good to excellent.

In North Iowa’s Winnebago County, farmer Riley Lewis is anticipating a big harvest.

Iowa Dept of Transportation

The Ames Cy-Ride bus driver who had been accused of hit-and-run in the death of an Iowa State University student is pleading guilty to a lesser charge.

Twenty-three year old Benjamin Clague of Gilbert is admitting he failed to report an accident.  That’s a simple misdemeanor.

Prosecution and defense attorneys are agreeing to recommend a 30-day jail sentence and a one-hundred-dollar fine.

U.S. Drought Monitor

Iowa’s corn and soybean crops are, for the most part, benefiting from summer heat and timely rains.

Monday’s USDA weekly crop update says statewide corn maturity is five-days ahead of last year, and nearly two-weeks ahead of average. More than a third of the corn acreage is at the dough-stage of maturity.                       

Iowa State University agronomist, Paul Kassel, is based in Spencer, and monitors corn and soybeans in ten northwest and north-central counties.

Disney ABC Television Group / Flickr

Dianne Bystrom, an Iowa State University researcher who has been studying Hillary Clinton for more than 20-years, says the Democratic presidential candidate must walk a fine line in Thursday night’s acceptance speech.

“Certainly she must come across that she can be commander-in-chief. That she’s got that experience as Secretary of State. But I think this time around-- One of the things she avoided doing in two-thousand-eight that she seems more amenable to this year is talking about herself  as not only a mom, but a grandmother.”

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