Iowa towns

WIKICOMMONS / American007

Iowa City is considering whether to formally declare itself as a "sanctuary city." There’s no legal definition for the term, but it generally means a municipality has implemented policies limiting its cooperation with federal immigration authorities

The city council and staff will discuss adopting such policies, as well as the formal title, at 5:00 pm this afternoon during a work session.

Mayor Jim Throgmorton says he’s not in favor of Iowa City formally clearing itself a sanctuary city.

The entire uniformed division of the Des Moines Police Department will be equipped with body cameras next year. The more than 300 cameras are being purchased with the help of a grant from the Department of Justice, as well as community donations.

The DMPD says the cameras will aid with evidence gathering and help the community gain a better understanding of police work.

"The public will get a really raw inside look inside look at some of the things that we do and how we do things, and why we do things. Some of the things we have to put up with," says Sgt. Paul Parizek. 

City of Dubuque

A suspicious package caused the Dubuque Regional Airport to evacuate some passengers from the terminal this morning.

Transportation Security Administration spokesperson David Dailey says the item was found at a checkpoint during passenger and baggage screening.

“Sometimes routine things that people bring through can often look funny on the x-ray and so out of an abundance of caution we needed to clear the area before we continued with the resolution process of this item,” he says.

Jerry Slykhuis Facebook page

A longtime Cedar Falls High School basketball coach and his wife have been killed in a car accident in Kansas. The Kansas Highway Patrol confirms that 73-year old Jerry Slykhuis and his wife Jane were killed Tuesday when a truck ran a stop sign and hit their SUV on U.S. 54 near the town of Liberal.

Former player and now Tigers head coach Ryan Schultz says Slykhuis will be remembered for his accomplishments both on and off the court.

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

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.

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.

Flickr / Johnny_Spasm

A post office in Des Moines has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration after two employees developed heat-related illnesses while delivering mail this summer.

In one incident a mail carrier ended up in the emergency room, and in another case, a carrier became so sick she was home from work, recovering for three days. OSHA says the supervisor of the latter employee had initially told the carrier to keep delivering mail on her 11-mile route in 93-degree heat, despite the fact she felt ill.  

Sarah Boden/IPR

The Cedar River is now below the “major flood stage” level in Cedar Rapids. The city is breathing a sigh of relief as it recovers from the second-worst flood in its history. 

Public Works Director Jen Winter reports that Cedar Rapids is recovering "very quickly," and crews have begun to remove flood barriers near the city's bridges. The entire evacuation zone will reopen at 7:00 am Saturday morning. 

City Manager Jeff Pomeranz attributes the relative lack of damage to the commitment of and preparation by city workers.

Dean Borg/IPR File

The lessons learned from the historic flood of 2008 are helping Iowa mitigate damage from this year’s flooding in northern and eastern parts of the state.

Jeff Olson is the Public Safety Director for the City of Cedar Falls. On Wednesday's Talk of Iowa, Olson told host Charity Nebbe the city recorded its second-highest water levels in this year's flooding.

After the 2008 flood, the city wrote a plan that Olson says, "tells us exactly what we need to do," when the Cedar River peaks. 

Flickr / reader of the pack

If it’s not safe for people to be at home due to flooding, then it’s also not safe for pets. That’s why Cedar Rapids Animal Care and Control is sheltering four-legged companions who can’t accompany the humans who are evacuating their homes.

Animal Care and Control Program Manager Diane Webber says the agency’s old building was completely flooded in 2008. The city agency's new facility is designed to accommodate more animals during times of crisis.

Iowa Department of Homeland Security & Emergency Management

Despite the flooding of several rivers in eastern Iowa, all of Iowa’s interstate highways are open. So far only secondary roads have flooded, but that may change later this week.

As water flows down river, the Iowa Department of Transportation is keeping a close eye on Interstate 80. This highway crosses Iowa, and the country, east-to-west.

WIKICOMMONS / Bobak Ha'Eri

Sioux City municipal employees are at work Monday, but next year, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day will be a paid holiday. A new contract negotiated by AFSCME for 400 city staff takes effect in 2017, and one provision included the civil rights leader's birthday. 

Sioux City's NAACP chapter says its been raising the issue of the federal holiday not being a city holiday for decades. 

Flickr / Jason Mrachina

There were 21 homicides in Des Moines in 2015. This is nearly double the number of homicides from 2014, which saw 11.

The last time the city saw at least 20 homicides in a single year was in 1995. Back then gang activity was a major factor, but in 2015 that's not the case and the Des Moines Police Department says it's unclear why the number of homicides was higher in 2015. 

Rachel Knickmeyer/Flickr

If you receive a parking violation in Cedar Rapids during the next month, it could benefit a needy family or a homeless person. Cedar Rapids is now dismissing parking fines in exchange for gifts to homeless shelters and family service centers.

Downtown Parking Board Director, Doug Neumann, says the gifts should match the fine.

Wikimedia Commons

Time changes everything, and in Iowa, that’s glaringly apparent in many of the state’s communities with populations of less than 5,000 people. So the story goes, small towns are dying. But according to Iowa State Professor Terry Besser, that’s not exactly true. She has been monitoring Iowa’s rural communities  for more than two decades, trying to put her finger on what it is that keeps towns alive… and what contributes to the rural blight.

Lindsey Moon / Iowa Public Radio

Iowa-based magician Nate Staniforth wants to bring wonder back to the modern world. He’s been practicing magic since he was about 10 years old and is on a mission to encourage people to embrace the unknown.

“Whatever happens at a magic show is tapping into something that fundamentally human,” he says. “If you perform at a kid’s party, it’s the adults in the back that are watching most closely. I think that’s because it reminds us of something we’ve lost… a sense of wonder, maybe.”

Sioux City Schools

Latino activists in Sioux City are gathering signatures to protest Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s appearance at West High School next Tuesday evening. They plan to present a petition to the Superintendent of Schools in Sioux City saying Trump should not be allowed to use school property.

Fewer students than usual attended classes at West High School in Iowa City today because of an alleged threat. West High principal Gregg Shoultz says they received a report Friday of a post on Snapchat that included a picture of a gun and text about the high school.  He says officials met with the student who allegedly made made the threat, but the student never confirmed it. Shoultz says although there is no threat, many students opted to stay home today.

Flickr / Phil Roeder

Des Moines’s downtown skyline looks a little bit different now. The old riverfront YMCA came to a fiery end when it was imploded early Sunday morning. 

Courtesy of the Clinton Lumber Kings

Joyce Wilkerson has been going to as many Clinton Lumber Kings games as she can since the early 1990’s. She keeps coming back because she loves the stadium, the fans and the team. “There’s no time in baseball; I love that.”

Sculpt Siouxland

Someone has stolen a bronze statue from downtown Sioux City. The city’s Art Center discovered "Goddess of the Grapes" was gone on Tuesday from it's 4th Street location, after doing an inventory of all the public art sculptures it maintains.

The roughly 20-inch statue depicts a young woman holding grapes, standing on her toes and reaching towards the sky. "Goddess of the Grapes" is owned by the nonprofit Sculpt Siouxland and maintained by the Sioux City Art Center.

City of Des Moines Parks and Recreation

Iowans looking to remember the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks can take a walk around Gray’s Lake in Des Moines. In the fourth year of the collaboration, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, iHeartMedia and the United States Air Force have created a “Tribute Trail” of approximately 2,977 American flags.

"Each [flag] honors one victim lost at the 9/11 attacks," says Jen Fletcher of Des Moines’s Parks and Recreation. "It's a very stunning visual...It's a place that people can go and just have a moment to honor those people that were lost that day."

Phil Roeder / Flickr

My hometown is Des Moines, an underrated city with cheap rent, cheaper booze and a trippy sculpture garden. I like Des Moines, though it’s a place that’s easy to dismiss.

Barney Sherman

In 2009, Michael Gilbertson - a young man from Dubuque who has become one of America's leading composers - wanted to raise funds for his alma mater, the Northeast Iowa School of Music.

Need for Speed

Jan 14, 2015
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. 

Photo by John Pemble

The board of the state's largest water utility has voted unanimously to sue three northern Iowa counties, holding them responsible for the high nitrate levels in rivers the utility uses for source water. Des Moines Water Works CEO and General Manager Bill Stowe says there have been significant peaks in nitrate levels throughout the last three years.

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.

http://www.davidfinckelandwuhan.com/

Iowa's orchestras, choirs, bands, & operas are awesome, but let's not forget our chamber music! Tune in 7AM Saturday or 8PM Sunday to hear two recent highlight from the Ames Town & Gown Chamber Music Association, now in its 65th season.

maplegirlie / flickr

In Des Moines, Pit Bulls, American Staffordshire terriers and Staffordshire terriers are defined as vicious breeds, even if they have no aggressive history.

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