Pat Blank

All Things Considered Host

Pat Blank has been with Iowa Public Radio for 24 years. She was hired as a reporter and eventually was chosen to host Morning Edition at the Cedar Falls studios in 1986.  She has been host of All Things Considered since 1995. She is a nationally award winning reporter who has also worked in commercial radio and television. Pat has served as a part-time instructor at Wartburg College and at the University of Northern Iowa where she teaches journalism classes.  She is on the Board of Control for UNI’s student run radio station KULT. She is currently serving a second term on the  Iowa Archives of Broadcasting National Advisory Board.

Pat has a bachelor’s degree in radio-television broadcasting from the University of Northern Iowa.

Pat's favorite public radio program is This American Life.

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News
4:25 pm
Thu February 26, 2015

Disconnect

Flickr

A new report by Iowa’s largest utility companies shows hundreds of households are behind on paying their energy bills.  A federal program called LIHEAP provides protection from having the power shut off between November 1st and March 31st. Iowa’s Director Jerry McKim says he’s concerned about those who are not part of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, but there is protection.

“The law says if you haven’t had a payment agreement that you broke in the last 12 months, the utility must, not might, offer you a minimum of 12 months to pay off your past due balance.”

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News
3:10 pm
Tue February 17, 2015

Working from "Home"

Rayce Evenson is an Air Force veteran who works at Rockwell Collins
Photo by Mark Tade

The Branstad Administration’s Home Base Iowa is helping military veterans find new jobs across the state.  The program launched last May is adding both prospective employers and employees at a good pace.

Home Base Iowa is on a mission to provide educational and employment opportunities to veterans already here or because of the downsizing of the Department of Defense, those who may be considering Iowa as a place to live and work.

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Business and Economy
6:09 pm
Wed February 4, 2015

Wasendorf Fallout

Russell Wasendorf, Sr. former CEO of Peregrine Financial Group in Cedar Falls
Waterloo Courier

U.S.Bank in Cedar Falls has been ordered to pay $18 million to defrauded customers of a failed brokerage firm. The settlement is the result of a lawsuit filed by The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission against Peregrine Financial Group.  The suit claimed the bank should have known CEO Russell Wasendorf Sr. was stealing customer funds because the account was treated like a regular checking account. The suit alleges the bank allowed Wasendorf to transfer of millions of dollars to pay for his private jet, his restaurant, and even his divorce settlement.

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News
2:23 pm
Tue February 3, 2015

New Focus in Cousins Case

Evansdale Police Chief Kent Smock announces a new focus in the unsloved murders of two cousins
IPR's Pat Blank

The unsolved murders of two Northeast Iowa cousins took a new turn today. Flanked by members of more than a dozen law enforcement agencies, Evansdale Police Chief Kent Smock says they’re focusing their attention on the place where the remains of 8-year old Elizabeth Collins and 10-year old Lyric Cook Morrissey were found more than two years ago. Smock says "Seven Bridges is an extremely remote area and in order to get there, you have to know how to get there. We're asking that everyone think about anyone they know who is familiar with Seven Bridges Wildlife area."

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
6:24 pm
Fri January 30, 2015

Deere Downturn: Is Ethanol to Blame?

Credit Flickr

Agricultural equipment manufacturing companies across the Midwest are downsizing their work force. After nearly one thousand layoffs last October, another round will sideline an additional thousand workers. Deere and Company has announced 910 layoffs. Black Hawk Engineering in Cedar Falls will idle 40 workers, and Unverferth Manufacturing near Shell Rock will sideline 48 employees.

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Business and Economy
5:53 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

Need for Speed

President Obama visited Cedar Falls Utilities Wednesday to see firsthand some of the fastest broadband connections in the world
IPR's Pat Blank

20 years ago, when the folks at Cedar Falls Utilities developed their own broadband internet system, they had no idea that the President of the United States would use it as a model for the rest of the country. Mr. Obama visited Cedar Falls Wednesday.  Here is his speech.

   The President is traveling around the country in advance of his State of the Union address next Tuesday to spotlight his priorities for his final two years in office.  Fast and affordable internet access is among those priorities. 

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News
5:00 am
Mon January 12, 2015

Hydrant Help

Residents can help keep hydrants free of snow by shoveling about three feet in each direction

Firefighters across the state are asking residents to help clear snow away from water hydrants so they can be ready to be used if needed. Cedar Falls Battalion Chief John Bostwick says being able to access the hydrant could cut down on the damage to the structure and may even save lives.

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News
3:14 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

Amazing Space

A cutting edge solar system is proposed for a building at the Indian Creek Nature Center in Cedar Rapids
Indian Creek Natute Center

Indian Creek Nature Center in Cedar Rapids will soon become home to one of the very few buildings in America to be NetZero. Executive Director, John Myers says,"becoming NetZero energy is a key component to achieving the Living Building Challenge. Our long-term partner Alliant Energy, will help us demonstrate renewable technologies and educate the public on responsible energy use."  http://www.indiancreeknaturecenter.org/amazingspace

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
6:13 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

Biodiesel Boost

Credit Iowa Biodiesel

  The U.S. House this week overwhelmingly passed a package of tax incentives retroactively for 2014. Among the incentives was the reinstatement of the $1 per gallon biodiesel blenders tax credit that expired on Dec.31, 2013.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
6:45 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

Diesel Dilemma

Diesel prices are nearly a dollar more expensive than gasoline

  Drivers of diesel-powered vehicles may be wondering why they aren't enjoying the same low prices as those who fill up with gasoline. 

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
3:00 pm
Wed November 26, 2014

Deere Tractor & Engine Museum to open in Waterloo

The John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum in Waterloo opens to the public on Tuesday, December 2nd.
Credit Deere and Company

The John Deere Tractor and Engine Museum in Waterloo opens to the public next Tuesday, Dec. 2.

Project  Manager Dawn Hendershot says it took four years to plan and renovate the structure which features 19 tractors from different eras and more than two dozen “hands-on “ interactive exhibits. She says “they’ll get to see examples of tractors, the engine design and manufacturing and how the tractors here have had a global impact.”

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
11:17 am
Wed November 26, 2014

Deere Decline

Credit IPR's Pat Blank

Quad Cities based Deere and Company is reporting fourth-quarter earnings and revenue that beat expectations.

The agricultural and construction equipment manufacturer says earnings per share were $1.83 on revenue of $8.9 billion. That topped predictions of $1.57 on $7.75 billion in sales. 

But when compared with the previous year, the company's earnings and revenue both declined.  Deere officials say they don’t expect that trend to improve in 2015.

Deere expects sales to decline in  both its agriculture and turf equipment lines.

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News
6:14 pm
Tue November 25, 2014

Baby It's Cold INSIDE

Many Iowans are still struggling to pay off last winter's utility bills.

The U.S Energy Administration this week predicted Midwesterners could enjoy utility bills as much as 38 percent lower than last winter. While that sounds good, the man who oversees a low income heating assistance program believes the numbers are flawed.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:39 am
Tue November 11, 2014

Premium Processing

Iowa Premium Beef CEO Jeffrey Johnson stands outside the new 200, 000-square- foot beef processing plant in Tama
IPR's Pat Blank

Central Iowa is about to get a much needed economic shot in the arm as a long awaited beef processing plant opens its doors providing hundreds of new jobs. 

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2014 Elections
12:49 am
Wed November 5, 2014

Iowa's Open 1st District Goes Republican

Republican Rod Blum will represent Iowa's 1st District in the U.S. House.
courtesy of Rod Blum campaign

Republican Rod Blum, a Dubuque businessman, defeated Democrat Pat Murphy for Iowa’s 1st Congressional District in a tight race that was separated by a little more than 5,000 votes. 

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News
5:00 am
Thu October 30, 2014

Train Track Trespassing

Iowa Northern Railroad trains cover hundreds of miles in Iowa
Iowa Northern Railroad

Many types of wildlife migrate and feed along the edges of freshly harvested fields near railroad tracks setting up a recipe for disaster if hunters can’t resist the temptation to stay off the property. Iowa railroad officials, including the Iowa Northern Railroad’s Mark Vaughn say their trains often carry unusual and oversized freight such as windmill components and tractors from the Deere Assembly plant in Waterloo.  He says this could be dangerous if someone is walking nearby.He says “ our locomotives and railcars typically overhang the track by at least three feet on either side and the

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News
5:42 pm
Fri October 24, 2014

25 Mile March

U.S. Army veteran John Lame and Iowa National Guardsman Chad Madison are organizing what they hope will be an annual event to raise awareness about solider suicide. Lame says their effort is based on a program in Minnesota called The Next Objective held each October 23rd.

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2014 Elections
2:54 pm
Wed October 22, 2014

Rand Rallies Republicans

U.S Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky appeared at a rally for Republican First District Congressional candidate Rod Blum (seated) on the UNI campus Wednesday.
IPR's Pat Blank

U-S Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky is in Iowa today in support of GOP candidates up and down the ticket. Speaking at the University of Northern Iowa on behalf of First District Congressional candidate Rod Blum, Paul said he believes Republicans will do well in the upcoming election,” in Kentucky where I’m from, the Democratic candidate for the U-S Senate can’t remember who she voted for for President, and then you come to Iowa and everybody comes here for the Democrat but they can’t remember his name either, I really wish Bruce Bailey well, I really do.”


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News
3:25 pm
Wed October 15, 2014

Cedar Falls is Google's eCity of the Year

Operations Manager for Google's Council Bluffs Data Center, Chris Russell announces Cedar Falls as the 2014 eCity of Iowa on Wednesday.
Credit IPR's Pat Blank

  Cedar Falls has been named the 2014 eCity for the state of Iowa. The award comes from Google and the independent research firm IPSOS. The recognition means the brick and mortar business community in Cedar Falls also embraces connecting online with their customers. They also use the web to find new ways to market their products. Chris Russell is Operations Manager for Goggle's Council Bluffs Data Center. He says, " the point of all this is that it's not always Des Moines that wins.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
3:12 pm
Fri October 10, 2014

Don't Blame the Farmers

  An Iowa energy expert says farmers are often unfairly blamed when propane supplies are low and prices are high. Farmers use LP to dry their corn before it's stored to avoid spoilage. Harold Hommes with the State Department of Agriculture says  farm use is only part of the picture. He says international customers also draw down supplies, " we now export around 400 thousand barrels a day and probably will for the foreseeable future.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
6:11 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

Less Pain for Propane

Credit IPR's Pat Blank

   State agriculture and energy officials are working together in the event that there's high demand for liquid propane this harvest season. Iowa Propane Gas Association Executive Director Deb Grooms says customers were asked to top off their tanks this summer. She says farmers got the same message from Ag Secretary Bill Northey.

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News
7:23 am
Wed October 8, 2014

First District Face-off

Composite images of Democrat Pat Murphy and Republican Rod Blum
Photos provided by candidate's campaigns

The candidates battling for an open First District Congressional seat are meeting for their first debate tonight. Iowa Public Radio's Pat Blank has a profile of the race.

Democrat Pat Murphy and Republican Rod Blum are well known in the Dubuque area. Blum is a businessman and Murphy is a long time state lawmaker.  But the first district also includes Cedar Rapids, Waterloo and many other towns west of the Mississippi.  Each candidate is using a different method to introduce himself to voters. Blum tells constituents he feels an obligation to run.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Tue October 7, 2014

Produce Premium

Any leftover pumpkins from this commercial grower near Shell Rock can be donated to a registered food bank for a tax credit
Credit IPR's Pat Blank

Iowa farmers and gardeners harvesting a bumper crop of produce can now get a tax credit when they make a donation to their local food bank.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
1:51 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

Caustic Cucumbers

Wild and burr cucumber varieties are having a very good year.
Credit Courtesy photo

Along with Iowa' s more traditional crops, two species of cucumber vines are having a bumper year.  You won't find them at the farmer's market though, because they're weeds. The light green vines can grow as long as 30 feet and will coil around anything they touch. They've been showing up in windbreaks in Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota.  Iowa State University Agronomy professor Bob Hartzler says the vines are very aggressive and will return year after year.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
3:34 pm
Fri September 26, 2014

Sprouts and Scholars

Davenport Central's backyard garden
Credit Courtesy photo

  The student organization Sprouts and Scholars at Davenport Central High School has planted an organic vegetable garden and is now harvesting their first crops.  They are enjoying a bumper crop of tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and onions. The group secured grants from both Hy-Vee and Lowe's to help offset the cost of the project. As they've discovered, part of the reward of having a garden is being able to share the bounty with others. So they've allowed the cafeteria staff to have the ingredients for salsa and soup and they recently presented Mayor Bill Gluba with a basket of tomatoes.

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News
5:00 am
Thu September 18, 2014

Trackin' Turtles

Turtle trackers (left to right) Nick Schemmel, Sam Berg, Buzzard, the turtle sniffing dog, Jeremy George, Anthony DiFronzo and Professor Jeff Tamplin (team member Joshua Otten not pictured)
IPR's Pat Blank

A group of University of Northern Iowa students and their professor have been spending alot of  time in the woods these days tracking an endangered species of turtle.  Of the 14 kinds of turtles in Iowa, half of them are protected including the wood turtle.  A grant from the U.S. Wildlife and Fisheries Division is funding the research. Biology professor Jeff Tamplin heads the effort. He looked for the wood turtle along streams and in marshes in Black Hawk and Butler counties for two years before finding the shell of a deceased one in 2003.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
6:14 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

Red Earth Green Earth

Red Earth Gardens was recently featured during a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day
IPR's Pat Blank

Members of the Meskwaki Nation near Tama have established a community-based farm operation.

The Red Earth Gardens spans 40 acres and boasts a wide variety of crops.  In the short two seasons they've been in operation, they've managed to grow numerous varieties of  fruits and vegetables. The tribe's extensive planning process includes a transition from row crop to certified organic by sometime next year.

Tribal members grow produce for the settlement but they also sell it to the nearby casino, at a roadside stand and at area farmer's markets.  

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:55 pm
Mon September 8, 2014

Plotting for a healthier school

Senior Agatha Fenech and Cedar Falls High School Associate Principal Troy Becker
Credit IPR's Pat Blank

Cedar Falls High School Senior Agatha Fenech will serve as a National Child Awareness Month Youth Ambassador. As one of 51 youth ambassadors, Fenech will receive funding and training to lead an initiative to raise awareness about the health and community benefits of locally grown produce. Fenech was selected through a competitive application process based on the quality of her project proposal and its potential to creative substantive, large scale change that benefits young people in Cedar Falls.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
3:24 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

Pheasant Frenzy

Iowa's pheasant population is the highest since 2008
Credit Audubon Society

    State wildlife officials say they're encouraged by a recent survey which shows Iowa pheasant numbers are the highest they've been in more than 6 years. Iowa DNR Biologist Todd Bogenschutz says the annual roadside count recorded a statewide average of 17 birds per 30 mile route compared to just 7 last year.

He says the numbers are surprising given the cool and wet spring, "I've got my fingers crossed, we've got good brood stock and I think think the hunters will be happy."

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:09 pm
Fri August 29, 2014

Grape Production Takes a Hit

Iowa has 101 wineries
Iowa Winegrowers Association

Iowa's grape harvest is underway in many parts of the state and the news from the field is not good. State Viticulturist Mike White says a cold and wet spring destroyed many of the vines and production statewide could be down between 30 and 40 percent. He says " there are some spots like Dubuque that seem to be fairing  better, but mostly the cold damage is there and the yield is low."

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