Sarah Boden

Reporter

Sarah Boden is a Des Moines-based reporter for Iowa Public Radio. Before coming to Iowa, she was a freelance reporter and radio producer in the Twin Cities. In addition to IPR, Sarah's work has appeared on NPR, WBUR's "Here and Now" and Harvest Public Media.

Sarah's favorite public radio program is On The Media. 

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FLICKR / WILLIAM PATRICK BUTLER

Opponents of the privatization of Iowa’s Medicaid system say recent revelations show the program should not be run by for-profit companies. A Des Moines Register report this week revealed the three companies in charge of Iowa Medicaid say they are facing dramatic losses.

When private companies took over Iowa’s Medicaid system in April, many wondered if they could make a profit. The companies claimed profits would come as a result of better management, but now they say underfunding is threatening the program’s stability and that state payments are insufficient.

Iowa Secretary of State's Office

Iowa’s longest-serving precinct election official has been honored for more than a half century of service. Mildred Davis was presented with the National Association of Secretaries of State Medallion Award on Monday by Iowa Sec. of State Paul Pate for serving as a prescient election official for the past 56 years.

The 93-year-old from Sioux City says she’s worked national, state and local elections rarely missing an opportunity to serve.              

Five new industrial sites have been certified through the Iowa Certified Site Program, a program that its creators hope will bring economic growth to rural Iowa. These new sites, located in Forest City, Clinton, Grinnell, Waterloo and Osage, are now “project-ready” and claim to be "relatively risk-free” for new developments such as data centers or food manufacturers. 

"Economic development has become more and more competitive, and more and more sophisticated," says Gov. Terry Branstad. "Companies are not willing to wait, they want to be able to move quickly." 

JIMMY CENTERS / OFFICE OF GOVERNOR TERRY BRANSTAD

Some spending reductions are to be expected in the upcoming budget, according to Gov. Terry Branstad. Due to lower revenue estimates, Iowa will likely have to cut about $100 million.

Despite this challenge, Branstad says he won’t consider an across-the-board cut.

"Instead I’m going to work with the legislature and make recommendations," says Branstad at his weekly news conference today. "I want to protect K-12 school aid from reductions, and property tax credits, I don’t want to see those reduced."

FLICKR / JASON MRACHINA

The number of homicides in the City of Des Moines hit a two-decade high last year. But one year later, it appears 2015 is an anomaly and not the start of a trend.

Last year Des Moines saw 21 homicides and this year has had 13 so far, which Sgt. Paul Parizek of the Des Moines Police Department says it about average for a city the size of Des Moines. 

"When we look at numbers," says Parizek about 2015, "it seems to be just a weird situation."

Sarah Boden/IPR

A group of landowners whose property was seized through eminent domain for the purpose of the Dakota Access pipeline had their day in court on this morning. The landowners contend the Iowa Utilities Board focused too much on the economic benefits of a pipeline when it granted Dakota Access a construction permit and use of eminent domain.

Instead, they say, the focus should have been on the potential service a crude oil pipeline provides to Iowans, which they say is negligible. So the landowners posit the IUB lacked valid reasons grant the pipeline permit.

FLICKR / JENNIFER MORROW

All three of the for-profit healthcare companies that have been managing Iowa’s Medicaid system are falling short of a contract requirement intended to protect segments of the Medicaid population from having to travel out-of-county for services. 

FLICKR / JOE HALL

The Des Moines woman accused of voting twice for Donald Trump has entered a plea of not guilty."

In October, 55-year-old Terri Rote was charged with voting twice at separate early voting locations. She told Iowa Public Radio she voted twice because she was concerned her first vote for Trump would be changed to one for Hillary Clinton, and that “the polls are rigged.”

Court documents reveal little information behind Rote’s plea, besides that she requests a speedy trial, which is set for February 6.

Sarah Boden/IPR File

Wind turbines cover rural Iowa, offering corn and soybean farmers an additional source of income. But how do those giant spinning blades affect crops?

So far Agronomist Gene Takle of Iowa State University says his multiple studies haven’t found that turbines effect crop yield. But that doesn’t mean they don’t impact the conditions on a field.

Sarah Boden/IPR

Republicans in the Iowa House say one of their top priorities in the next legislative session is supplemental state aid for Iowa school districts. That’s according to Speaker Linda Upmeyer, a Republican from Clear Lake, who met with reporters after her caucus discussed legislative priorities on Thursday.

Upmeyer says ideally, the amount of money Iowa schools will receive from the state will be set within the first 30 days of the 2017 legislative session.

Sarah Boden/IPR

The Cedar Rapids police officer who shot a black man during a traffic stop last month, leaving him paralyzed, will not be charged with a crime. Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden says a grand jury decided there wasn’t enough evidence to indict Officer Lucas Jones in the shooting of Jerime Mitchell.

Sarah Boden/IPR

Protesters gathered at the offices of the Iowa Utilities Board on Monday to celebrate the Army Corps of Engineers stopping pipeline construction in North Dakota. Iowa’s Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition also delivered a letter to the state utilities board, urging it to revoke the pipeline’s Iowa permit. 

The Army Corps’s decision to not allow the pipeline to cross a reservoir near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation is not a fatal blow to Dakota Access. The pipeline could be rerouted, and the Corps’s decision may be appealed.

Jessica Reznicek

An Iowa woman says she ended her two-week fast in protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline last night. Jessica Reznicek had a bowl of chicken soup after the Army Corps of Engineers denied an easement that puts completion of pipeline construction at an impasse.

The Army Corps has denied permission of pipeline construction for a section of the route in North Dakota. But it said the pipeline may be rerouted, so Reznicek is continuing her efforts to oppose Dakota Access, including a Wednesday sit-in at the utilities board.

Flickr / thenicole

All 902 plow trucks owned by the Iowa Department of Transportation now equipped with a new GPS system. It allows vehicles to gather all sorts of data, which the DOT will use for clearing Iowa’s roadways of snow and ice more efficiently. 

Craig Bargfrede heads DOT winter operations. This new system costs about $850,000, but Bargfrede says the upgrade will pay for itself in time and money savings. 

Emily Woodbury/IPR File

$34,113 a year. That's the average annual amount the I0wa Department of Corrections spends per inmate according to an audit of DOC institutions from 2011 to 2015. 

The audit also shows that the average annual cost per inmate rose by 15 percent since 2011, and during this same time period the total inmate population decreased by seven percent.

Steve Dick, financial manager for the DOC,  says when you have fewer prisoners the daily costs of running an institution are not as spread out. So expenses are divided by a smaller number of people. 

Flickr / Ryan J. Reilly

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, met with Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama this morning to discuss his nomination for U.S. Attorney General. Grassley’s committee will consider the appointment before the entire Senate votes.

In 1986, Sessions was rejected for a federal judgeship due to allegations of racially insensitive remarks, some of which he says were taken out of context, and others he denies. Grassley was on the Judiciary Committee at the time, and voted in favor of Sessions, though he says he couldn’t recall the hearing.

Today is the fifth annual Giving Tuesday. This day, which always follows Black Friday and Cyber Monday, promotes charitable donations with a heavy emphasis on social media. 

Brianne Fitzgerald of Volunteer Iowa says nonprofits can leverage the impact of Giving Tuesday by encouraging people to post the reason they donated to the organization on social media.     

Holiday Volunteering

Nov 24, 2016
United Way of Central Iowa

During the holidays many Iowans seek out volunteer opportunities, but some aren’t sure where to start. Some ideas include organizing a food or clothing drive at your place of work, or spending time with an elderly person who doesn’t have family nearby. 

For those new to volunteering,  Shirley Burgess of the United Way of Central Iowa recommends asking yourself which people in your community are you most interested in serving?

Flickr / Selena N. B. H.

The delicious foods of the holiday season can wreck havoc on a person's health.

One or two days of over indulgence isn’t going to ruin anyone. But beginning with Halloween candy, and then going to Thanksgiving turkey, Christmas cookies, cocktails on New Year’s Eve and then Super Bowl Sunday, and all the merriment in-between, a person can consume an astonishing number of calories this time of year.

Flickr / TumblingRun

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to boost the amount of ethanol blended into the nation’s fuel supply under new rules issued Wednesday.

The EPA finalized the rules governing ethanol production, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), for 2017, adding about 1.2 billion gallons in total renewable fuel. That’s an increase of about 6 percent year-over-year.

Sarah Boden/IPR

A panel of local, state and federal law enforcement officials met in Urbandale Wednesday morning at the Westside Conservative Club meeting to discuss changes and challenges faced by law enforcement. One topic that weighed heavily in the conversation was recent fatal attacks against law enforcement both here in Iowa and nationwide. 

Chief Mike Venema of the Clive Police Department says his officers know police work comes with risk. But this year's unprovoked attacks have changed how he feels about his job.

Sarah Boden/IPR

The days surrounding Thanksgiving, especially the following Sunday, are the busiest travel days of the year for the Des Moines International Airport. The Transportation Safety Administration says the DSM airport sees 3,000-3,500 travelers on a routine day, but around Thanksgiving those numbers will be up to 4,500. 

The type of flyers are different as well. Airport Executive Director Kevin Foley says usually it’s about a 50-50 split between business and leisure travelers, though around Thanksgiving 90 percent of travelers are not frequent flyers. 

Iowa’s largest LGBTQ organization has selected a new executive director.

Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel will become the head of One Iowa, beginning in January. He grew up in Pomeroy and now lives in Bondurant.

Hoffman-Zinnel says he isn’t looking to make any rash changes, but one top priority is legislation that bans youth gay-conversion therapy. Many teens are forced into treatment to change their sexuality or gender.

Flickr / "George" Larcher

Sunday is Transgender Day of Remembrance, and people in central Iowa will gather at 6:00 pm at the steps of the state capitol for a vigil to remember those in the global trans community who have been lost to violence in 2016. 

Sophia Stone of Transformations Iowa, a support group for transgender and non-binary people, says Sunday’s vigil will honor people who have been murdered because of their gender non-conforming identities.

Food Bank of Iowa

The Food Bank of Iowa is stocking up for winter with its annual Combat Hunger food drive, which is hosted the Thursday and Friday before Thanksgiving. 

Leading up to Combat Hunger, businesses and schools in the Des Moines metro host their own food or fund drives. Then donations are turned over to the Food Bank of Iowa.

James Carr/Flickr

The parents of an Iowa man who drowned while in custody of the Missouri Highway Patrol will receive a $9 million settlement.

On May 31, 2014, 20-year-old Brandon Ellingson was on a weekend trip to the Lake of Ozarks in Missouri, when he was taken into custody under suspicion of boating while intoxicated.

Officer Anthony Piercy hand cuffed Ellingson and took him aboard his patrol boat. At some point Ellingson fell overboard and drowned.

Sarah Boden/IPR

Supporters of a Cedar Rapids man who was shot by a police officer and is now paralyzed, spoke at Tuesday night’s city council meeting. The group then peacefully protested outside of Coe College, not far from where 37-year-old Jerime “Danky” Mitchell was shot on November 1.

Activists want institutional changes implemented to improve how Cedar Rapids police officers interact with the community, especially black residents. They’re also demanding the release of the dash camera video of the shooting of Danky Mitchell. 

Protesters say they’re planning to gather Tuesday afternoon at the 4:00 pm city council meeting in Cedar Rapids. They’re demanding information related to this month's shooting of Jerime "Danky" Mitchell , who is now paralyzed from the neck down after being shot by Cedar Rapids Police Officer Lucas Jones.

The confrontation started as an early traffic stop. It’s not known how or why the situation escalated to Jones firing his weapon.

Sarah Boden/IPR

Some 200 peaceful protesters took to the streets in Des Moines on Thursday evening after gathering on the steps of the state capitol. This “Not My President” protest is one of many taking place nationwide since Tuesday's election.

The event began as a rally and progressed to a march. Demonstrators walked from the capitol building, through Des Moines’s East Village, to city hall before the parade circled back.

JOHN PEMBLE/IPR FILE

Over a million people voted in the judicial retention elections of three Iowa Supreme Court justices. Chief Justice Mark Cady, Justice Brent Appel and Justice Daryl Hecht were each retained with more than 64 percent of the vote.

Though almost half of registered Iowa voters participated in the election, the number who cast their ballots for or against retention of the justices was nearly half-a-million fewer than the number of Iowans who voted in the presidential race. 

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