Rob Dillard

Correspondent

Rob Dillard is a Des Moines based correspondent for Iowa Public Radio. He joined IPR in 2001 as host of Morning Edition and moved to reporting in 2007.  He has been on special assignment for IPR since early 2011 reporting the ongoing series “Being in Iowa.” It has taken him around the state shining light on small segments of the population, including Muslims, military veterans, Latinos and the physically disabled. The series has won awards from the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) and Northwest Broadcast News Association (NBNA).

Rob has extensive experience in radio, newspaper and media relations dating back more than 30 years. He has also taught news writing at Central College in Pella. Rob earned his bachelor’s degree in mass communications at the University of Iowa.

Rob’s favorite public radio program is Morning Edition.

Ways To Connect

Clay Masters, Iowa Public Radio

Two views of the Iowa economy released Tuesday show steady growth, but not at the rate of recent months.

The surveys come from the Iowa Business Council and Creighton University’s Mid-America Business Conditions Index.

The overall economic outlook for the third-quarter of 2015 from the Council is off 12 points from last month and nine points from a year ago.

Donegal Racing

Iowa-owned thoroughbred Keen Ice pulled off the upset of the horse-racing season over the weekend.          

The three-year-old raced past Triple-Crown winner American Pharoah down the stretch to win the Travers Stakes by three-quarters of a length Saturday.

The president of Donegal Racing, Jerry Crawford, says the win lifts Keen Ice into the upper echelon of horse racing.

“As of today we’re ranked as the second best three-year-old in North America in a new poll that came out today," he says. "And the sixth best horse overall of any age or sex in North America.”

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

An associate professor at Simpson College is spreading the word about the many types of religious beliefs found in Iowa. She's trying to defuse tensions among faiths that occasionally lead to violence and, during the last session of the Iowa Legislature, resulted in lawmakers boycotting a prayer from a Wiccan priestess.  

Maeve Callan is first-generation Irish-American, and raised Catholic until she was around 15. That’s when she started reading European history and learning about the Holocaust, which left her struggling with a difficult question.

Iowa Public Television

The founder of the taxpayers rights group Iowans for Tax Relief has died.

 

David Stanley of Muscatine formed the group that would become an influential player in Republican politics in 1978.

 

He had been a member of the Iowa House of Representatives for 16 years beginning in 1958, and he unsuccessfully ran twice for U.S. Senate, losing to Harold Hughes in 1968 and to John Culver in 1974.

 

His wife of 67 years, Jean, died earlier this month.

 

David Stanley died Wednesday. He was 86-years old.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

One of the so-called "Lost Boys of Sudan" is living in Storm Lake, but his heart remains in his homeland. He is dedicated to drawing attention to and raising money for children orphaned by civil war.

http://www.roaringlion.info

Prominent Des Moines arts patron and philanthropist Melva Bucksbaum has died.

She established the popular Bucksbaum Distinguished Lecture Series at Drake University in memory of her late husband, Martin, the founder of General Growth Properties.

Since 1997, the series has drawn top names in politics, media and the arts, including NPR’s Nina Totenberg and former President Jimmy Carter.

The first Bucksbaum lecture was delivered by Melva’s nephew, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman.

Melva Bucksbaum died Sunday in Aspen, Colorado. She was 82 years old.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham touted his 33-year military career as one reason he should be elected commander-in chief during a stop at the Iowa State Fair Monday.

He told a crowd at the Register’s soapbox American troops were withdrawn from Iraq way too soon.

“Thirty-five-hundred soldiers on the ground is not enough we need about 10,000," he says. "We need a couple of aviation battalions to take the fight to ISIL. We’re going to need embedders and trainers at the battalion level. We’re going to need air controllers to drop bombs on the right people."

John Pemble/IPR

Two more Republican presidential hopefuls spoke to Iowa State Fair crowds this morning.  Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker took on members of a Wisconsin labor union, while former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina chose to use nearly all of her allotted 20-minutes taking questions from the crowd.

During Walker’s speech on the Des Moines Register Soapbox stage, members of a Wisconsin labor union began heckling the Wisconsin Governor who’s known for stripping bargaining rights from state employees. Walker told the protesters he’s not intimidated by them.

John Pemble/IPR

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush made a morning stop at the Iowa State Fair Friday.

He touched on a wide-range of issues before a large crowd of several hundred at the Des Moines Register soapbox.

“I believe we’re on the verge of the greatest time to be alive if we’re strong, rebuild our military, show support for our veterans, bring back competency in government, and grow our economy at a far faster rate,” he says.

The brother and son of presidents, Bush says he’s tired of the divide in American politics.

John Pemble/IPR

  The parade of presidential candidates at the Iowa State Fair began Thursday morning with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.

The Republican winner of the 2008 Iowa Caucuses is mounting another campaign after taking a break to be a commentator for Fox News.

Before a crowd of a couple hundred people at the Des Moines Register soapbox, Huckabee made the case for why he wants to be president.

Photo by John Pemble

One of the lesser known Democratic candidates for president took the stage at the Iowa State Fair Thursday afternoon.

Former Virginia Senator Jim Webb served in the Marines Corps during the Viet Nam War and he was Secretary of the Navy during the Reagan administration.

He says this military background has prepared him to be the Nation’s Commander-in-Chief.

Photo by John Pemble

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee was the first in a long line of presidential candidates to take the microphone at the Des Moines Register’s State Fair soapbox Thursday morning.

The surprise winner of the Iowa Republican Caucus in 2008 is building this campaign around what he calls “truly major changes” to the nation’s income tax system.

“Like get the Fair Tax passed and quit punishing people for their work." he says. "And once and for all get rid of the criminal enterprise known as the Internal Revenue Service. Let’s be rid of them.”

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

 About 20 inner-city Des Moines middle school students spent the past week learning about flight at a special summer camp sponsored by Iowa State University. It was part of an effort to bring science and art together into one educational package. 

On a breezy morning outside the Grubb Y-M-C-A on Des Moines’s near north side, the project leader of the DAVinCI Flight Camp, Chris Whitmer, is giving some final instructions before takeoff.

“Before you throw, one last check, does it balance?" he asks the students. "You might want to wait until the wind goes a little bit down.”

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

  The high-tech industry is not known for its diverse workforce. The field is made up of fewer than 25 percent women. At major tech companies in Silicon Valley, the numbers of blacks and Latinos hover between two-and-three percent. The Technology Association of Iowa is hoping to develop ways to attract more minorities to the I-T field. 

Tony Kioko is accustomed to walking into a session at a technology conference and seeing no one who looks like him.

“I’ve had several instances where I’m the only African-American in the room,” he says.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

  The future of Iowa’s economy is front-and-center this summer during a series of week-long camps for young entrepreneurs. Middle school students polish their elevator pitches and sell their newly designed products at the weekly Farmers Market in the Valley Junction shopping area of West Des Moines. Twelve-year-old Logan Kempf shows her handmade jewelry to a potential customer.

“Those will then be put into a bracelet or a necklace with the wire and the clippers and it will be customized just for you,” she explains.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

 The six members of the band known as Chaotic Inquisition are in rehearsal.

They are polishing an original tune for a studio recording session and a concert, which will conclude the two weeks of Girls Rock Des Moines. The camp aims to build confidence in young women ages ten-to-16, and to encourage more of them to pursue music. The founder and executive director of the camp, Rae Fehring, says she was struck by an observation she made while lingering in a store testing instruments.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

Examples of public art are appearing across Iowa in parks, on street corners, and in the lobbies of office buildings. Sculptor Bounnak Thammavong has been commissioned to create a piece that will be seen by thousands of travelers passing through the Des Moines International Airport.

On a late spring afternoon, Thammavong melts aluminum using a welding torch in his garage-turned-studio behind his house in Swisher.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

It didn’t take the Iowa State University athletic department long to name a replacement for outgoing head basketball coach Fred Hoiberg.

A week after Hoiberg officially left to take the helm of the NBA’s Chicago Bulls, Murray State head coach Steve Prohm was introduced as the new leader of the Cyclones.

The 40-year-old Prohm has been coaching at the Kentucky school for nine years, the last four as head coach.

So he says a move to a new community will take an adjustment.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

Twenty-one months of construction on a public space in downtown Des Moines is nearing completion.

Cowles Commons – once known as Nollen Plaza – has been undergoing a 12-million-dollar renovation since September of 2013.

Des Moines Performing Arts, which operates the Civic Center across the street from the Commons, has been leading the project.

Its president and C-E-O Jeff Chelesvig says there were some structural design elements that slowed reconstruction.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

 Two runners are nearing the finish line on a goal to complete a full, 26-point-two mile marathon in each of Iowa’s 99 counties.

On the way to Corning in the southwest part of the state, 49-year-old Dennis Lee stops at a sandwich shop to load up for a long run into a strong head wind.

“I’ll have a foot-long sausage, egg and cheese on flat bread,” he orders

The temperature is unusually cold for early May, and there’s a threat of thunderstorms, so Lee knows he’ll need energy.

“Typically we burn about 35-hundred calories during the run,” he says.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

Short poems, essays and pieces of fiction are going on display at 13 libraries across the state. It's a project designed to connect the public to literature from a collective of artists known as Grin City.

Donegal Racing

An Iowa-based thoroughbred partnership is setting a bit of horse racing history this weekend at Churchill Downs in Louisville. Donegal Racing will have entries in all three of the track’s signature races, including the Kentucky Derby.

It’s only the second time in the 141-year history of Churchill Downs that one ownership group has qualified horses in the Kentucky Oaks, the Woodford Reserve and the Derby.

The 17 investors in Donegal will watch Keen Ice run the Derby. He’s the third horse owned by the group to reach the nation’s most prestigious race in six years.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

   Ceremonies were held across the state in recognition of Workers Memorial Day. April 28th is set aside each year to remember those who have died on the job. 

Thirty-nine Iowans lost their lives in the past year while at work. 

White crosses honored each of the dead. Bagpipes played and an honor guard fired a 21-gun salute. The president of the Iowa Federation of Labor – Ken Sagar – addressed family members of the workers.

“I do remember what it’s like to sit in one of those chairs," he recalls. "My wife’s brother passed a few years ago on the job.”

The Nepalese community living in Iowa is rallying to support people back home following a killer earthquake.  A fund drive for those hurt by the devastating trembler is underway.

A spokesman for the Iowa Nepalese Association estimates around 100 families from Nepal are living in the Des Moines area.

Bikram Shrestha of Waukee says the families have been in contact with close relatives back home and none were lost or killed.

He says the local Nepalese are raising money to help ease the suffering

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

  The founder of the advocacy group NextGen Climate made stops in Iowa on Earth Day to ask presidential hopefuls for their support of clean energy initiatives. The wealthy environmentalist plans to spend more time in the state during the 2016 election cycle.

Tom Steyer, a California hedge fund manager, is promising to continue work he started during last year’s Congressional campaigns.

The effort aims to get politicians and voters to pay more attention to environmental issues.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

  Iowa Writers Workshop graduate Tim Bascom was 16 years old when his parents decided to return to Ethiopia where they had served a previous mission. It was 1977. The country was in turmoil, emperor Haile Selassie booted from power, a Marxist revolution in progress. Bascom says he needed to document the experience of living through this revolt to understand how it shaped his young life.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

More than 100 students at Dowling Catholic High School in West Des Moines staged a walkout Wednesday afternoon to protest the school’s decision to deny a former substitute teacher full-time employment because he is openly gay.

School administrators sent a letter to parents this week saying they were not offering the teacher a contract “owing to a personal situation at odds with Church teaching.”

Dowling sophomore Grace Mumm helped organize the rally. She says the action will not lead to employment for Tyler McCubbin at Dowling. But she still thinks it delivers a message.

Jane Kettering, St. Ambrose University

    There is a Middle East Institute on the campus of St. Ambrose University in Davenport.

The immediate question that comes to mind is why a Catholic University in the middle of America has created an academic institute focused on the Arab world.

Photo Courtesy of Catie Parrish

Iowa State has become the first upset victim at the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The third-seeded Cyclones were stunned by 14th seeded University of Alabama at Birmingham this afternoon 60-59.

John Pemble, Iowa Public Radio

The 2015 Iowa Teacher of the Year is a middle school Spanish teacher from Ecuador, who is on a mission to introduce more multiculturalism into classrooms.

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