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 producer in Minnesota.

In addition to IPR, Sarah's work has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend All Things Considered and WBUR's Here and Now.

Her reporting has won multiple awards, including a regional Edward R. Murrow for her story on a legal challenge to Iowa's felon voting ban.

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

Ways to Connect

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. 

Pat Blank/IPR

Iowa’s congressional incumbents all won reelection Tuesday, as the delegation remains at three Republicans and one Democrat. 

Republican 1st District Rep. Rod Blum of Dubuque defeated former Cedar Rapids council member Monica Vernon, capturing 54 percent of the vote across 20 counties in northeast Iowa.

Once the race was called in his favor, Blum told a raucous crowd in Dubuque that’s he is going back to Capitol Hill finish what he started when he voted against then-House Speaker John Boehner.

Sign on the side of County Road E41 in Story County, Iowa.
Flickr / Carl Wycoff

Iowa is generally considered a swing state, but polling indicates that Iowans will likely be reelecting U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley and deliver the state’s six electoral votes to presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Jeff Kaufmann, Chair of the Iowa Republican Party, adds it’s also possible the state’s two most moderate districts will reelect their freshman Republican congressman, and the state Senate could very well flip to a GOP majority. Since it's unlikely Republicans will lose control of the House, the Iowa General Assembly and the governorship may soon be controlled by the GOP. 

NSHEPARD / FLICKR

Polls open Tuesday at 7:00 am and close at 9:00 pm, making Iowa the state with the second-longest polling hours nationwide. Voters who are in line by 9:00 pm, but haven’t voted yet, will still be able to register and submit a ballot.

Secretary of State Paul Pate says Iowans have a big window for voting. But that doesn’t mean people should wait until the last minute, especially for those opting for same-day registration.

FLICKR / JOE HALL

Today is the final day for Iowans to vote early and skip the long lines Election Day. Some counties also are likely on Monday to begin tallying the over half-million ballots already cast. Those results are kept internal and won't be released until tomorrow, after 9:00 pm when polling is complete.

Secretary of State Paul Pate encourages anyone who’s not yet mailed in their absentee ballot to drop it off in-person at their county courthouse. All ballots must be postmarked by today.

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