Iowa towns

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Public safety officials have evacuated the Butler County town of New Hartford due to rising flood waters of Beaver Creek that runs just west of town.  All 650 residents have been asked to voluntarily leave much as they did almost exactly five years ago. Mitch Nordmeyer is the Butler County Emergency Management Director, he talks with Iowa Public Radio’s Pat Blank

Liam Kieffer

The deadly tornado earlier this week in Oklahoma recalls other recent tornado disasters in the Midwest. Today on River To River, host Ben Kieffer talks with survivors of the devastating tornado in Joplin, Missouri in 2011…and the twister that struck the Parkersburg/New Hartford area here in Iowa 5 years ago. Some experts join the conversation as well, to shed more light on the effect of the EF5 tornado that tore through Oklahoma.

Courtesy photo

Residents of Parkersburg and nearby towns that were hit by an EF5 tornado five years ago are remembering the events of that day as information pours in from Moore, Oklahoma.  Parkersburg City Clerk, Chris Luhring says he believes part of the healing process involves helping others when you can, " I think our goal for Moore, Oklahoma is to feel our love and support and our prayers for them, people here don’t do it for the credit, they’re just leaving in the middle of the night to help and to raise some funds." Seven people were killed in Parkersburg and two died in nearby Ne

Legend has it that in 1903, for several nights in a row the small town of Van Meter was terrorized by a giant bat-like creature. One-hundred ten years later, Talk of Iowa tries to uncover the truth with author Chad Lewis, a paranormal investigator and co-author of the new book "The Van Meter Visitor: A True and Mysterious Encounter with the Unknown."

Pat Blank

Five years ago, on May 12, 2008, Postville's kosher meat packing plant was the site the largest immigration raid in Iowa history. Iowa Public Radio's Pat Blank talks with some of those who were there then and who are still there now

Flickr / zamburak

On May 12, 2008 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement descended on Agriprocessors, a kosher meatpacking plant in Postville, IA.  The raid resulted in the deportation of over 300 individuals—the largest immigration raid in Iowa’s history.  River to River looks back on the raid to examine how its affected the community of Postville and the families who were torn apart five years ago.  Also, what can be learned from Postville that can inform understanding on comprehensive immigration reform?

Charity Nebbe / Iowa Public Radio

After two major flooding events for Iowa in 1993 and 2008, and a number of significant flooding events in-between, Iowans need to ask hard questions about how we have altered our environment.

Today on "Talk of Iowa" we talk about agricultural and urban flooding. We'll take a look at changes we've made to our landscape that has made it more prone to flooding.  We'll also discuss both the damage flooding can cause, and some innovative ways farmers, homeowners and city planners can prevent flooding or at least minimize the damage it can cause.

Durrie Bouscaren / Iowa Public Radio

Iowa City is testing new parking meters for their downtown shopping district, known as smart meters. They take credit cards and allow parkers to pay with their phones, and are slowly popping up in communities throughout Iowa.

But the hard part is often teaching people how to use them.

Durrie Bouscaren / Iowa Public Radio

Flash flood warnings have been issued across eastern Iowa, and communities are bracing themselves for heavy rain through the end of the week. 

In Solon, about 15 people scrambled to fill sand bags and load them onto volunteers’ pickup trucks Wednesday afternoon. Some were bound for their neighborhoods; others, to a daycare down the road.

Tom Trump drove a load of sandbags back to his subdivison on the south side of Solon, where a large pool of water was slowly creeping up to his neighbors’ basement windows.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

History is being preserved at Arnold’s Park in northern Iowa, where the state’s oldest roller coaster is undergoing a much-needed overhaul. We get the story, and take a ride, with Iowa Public Radio’s Rick Fredericksen.

Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre

On May 4, 2013 at 7 p.m. Iowa Public Radio’s Arias in April concludes with an encore broadcast of Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre’s 2012 production of The Merry Widow. Written in 1905 by Franz Lehár, The Merry Widow tells the comical story of the wealthy widow Hanna, wooed by Prince Danilo of the fictional country of Ponteverdo in an effort to save the country’s failing economy. Lehar’s score is full of luscious waltzes, including “Vilia” and “The Merry Widow Waltz.” Daniel Kleinknecht conducts. Orchestra Iowa musicians perform as the Opera Orchestra.

Julie Malake 2012

In 1998 the Environmental Protection Agency declared Nahant Marsh near Davenport a Superfund site. Fifteen years later the marsh is a beautiful, thriving wetland that attracts wildlife and visitors.  Charity Nebbe, talks with guests about the history and resurrection of Nahant Marsh and the challenges facing wetlands across the state of Iowa.

Greta Nettleton

Mrs. Dr. Rebecca Keck of Davenport, IA pulled her family out of poverty by selling her healing tonics in the 1870’s. She also became a pariah of the medical community.  On "Talk of Iowa" we'll explore this history as told in the new book “The Quack’s Daughter," with author and Keck's great-great granddaughter Greta Nettleton.

College Towns

Mar 14, 2013
Flickr / Sarah Cady

Recently Ames was ranked as the second best college town in the US by the American Institute of Economic Research's 2013 College Destination Index.   Iowa City came in close behind at fourth place.   What goes into making a great college town?  On "River to River" we talk about the attributes and special challenges of these communities.

Sandhya Dirks

We've been hearing about some of the challenges with diversity in the Iowa City School District. There are other districts in Iowa with diversity policies, some of them much smaller. Two and a half hours from Iowa City is the town of Postville.  

Postville made national news five years ago when the federal government raided the town's Hasidic owned meat packing plant and hundreds of undocumented workers were arrested.

Sarah McCammon / Iowa Public Radio

Northeast Iowa is known for the big, scenic hills that dot the Mississippi River Valley and beyond.  Many of those hills contain sandstone. They can be used in hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas.

But some residents are concerned that more sand mining would harm the area’s environment.

Iowa Public Radio’s Sarah McCammon looks at the current state of “frac” sand mining in Iowa…and the potential for more.

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There’s a lot of interest in expanding casino gambling in Iowa.        

Linn County’s referendum next Tuesday decides whether to allow a casino in Cedar Rapids.

There’s a similar initiative in Warren County for  Norwalk, at the southwest edge of Des Moines.

Neither have casinos now. But in the Quad-Cities - where there are three casinos along the Mississippi River - the City of Davenport is moving to purchase and operate one of them.

Coal Mining In Iowa

Feb 18, 2013
Madrid Historical Museum

The last of Iowa’s coal mines shut down in 1994, but in the early 20th century, coal mining was the number two industry in the state. Today on Talk of Iowa, we speak with a historian and a coal miner’s daughter about what it was like to work in Iowa’s coal mines, and how these mines shaped communities.

Fern Kupfer’s latest book is a memoir that transports readers to Long Island in the 1950s. Charity Nebbe talks with the Ames author as she reflects on past experiences in her life, including the period she discovered she was BRCA positive, a genetic marker for cancer.

IPR's Pat Blank

Mitas in Charles City started making radial farm tires last year and is now running two 12 hour shifts seven days a week.  The Czech-based company purchased a former Winnebago Industries building in 2009 and after 50 million dollars in renovations, opened for business in January of 2012.  Mitas makes tires for tractors, combines, and other farm implements. The Iowa Department of Economic Development awarded the company more than 900 thousand dollars to support 154 of the nearly 200 jobs that have been created.

Stephen Cummings / Flickr

2012 was another big year for news in Iowa.  The headlines ranged from pink slime and spaceships, to the presidential election and financial scandal.  Ben Kieffer counts down the top 10 news stories of the past year, plus some honorable mentions.

Clay Masters / IPR

In the wake of the discovery the bodies of two northeastern Iowa girls earlier this month, the talk of reinstating the death penalty is back at the state capitol. But proponents of capital punishment know they face a tough fight.

Iowa parents who have lost children due to kidnapping and murder met with Governor Branstad Monday morning to talk about reinstating the death penalty. Afterwards at a press conference, the parents told their stories.

Rick Fredericksen

It was almost 2 and a half years ago when flooding swamped Lake Delhi; the dam washed out, and the lake vanished down river. Today, efforts are underway to bring it back. The economic impact is mounting.

keepps / flickr

St. Nicholas Day takes place on December 6th.  It’s a day when the aforementioned saint brings gifts to good girls and boys.  Americans have a similar tradition, but instead of St. Nicholas a character named Santa Claus delivers the presents on Christmas Eve. Today on River to River, we speak with historian Bruce David Forbes of Morningside College and author of Christmas: A Candid History. We discuss how St. Nicholas crossed the Atlantic to become Santa Claus.  Also, we talk to a modern day Santa Claus of sorts, Mary Sauter, the “Angel of Albia.”

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12/6/12  4:30 PM UPDATE: 

The Black Hawk County Sheriff's Department says they're confident that two bodies discovered Wednesday by hunters in a Bremer County wildlife area are those of Elizabeth Collins and her cousin Lyric Cook-Morrissey. 

"We have no one else that’s missing in this area, we have two bodies that were found, smaller in stature, so we have nothing to think other than that at this time," Sheriff’s Captain Rick Abben said. 

Oh Christmas Tree

Nov 21, 2012
Pat Blank

Danny Moulds owns Kris Kringle’s Trees just north of Cedar Falls. He says the hot dry summer took a harsh toll on newly planted seedlings. He says he lost around 15 thousand Christmas  trees on his 46 acre farm.

Had those young trees survived they would have been ready for harvest in 2019. Because the drought was so widespread, Iowa Department of Natural Resources District Forester Mark Vitosh says it may be harder to find the more popular varieties in the future.

Yew Kwang / Flickr

When thinking of U.S. – China relations, small town Iowa rarely comes to mind. But a few Muscatine residents are working to change that, by building stronger cultural, educational, and corporate relations between the two countries. Host Ben Kieffer speaks with four Muscatine residents who recently returned from a trip to China.

Amy Mayer

Nearly one-third of Story County voters requested ballots for early voting. But as Iowa Public Radio’s Amy Mayer reports, many people remain loyal to in-person voting on Election Day.

Clay Masters / IPR

Both President Obama and Mitt Romney descended on Dubuque Saturday in the final days of their campaigns. Both candidates were promoting their own brand of change.

GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney flew into the Dubuque airport and greeted a crowd of more than 2,000 people in a hangar behind a sign that read “REAL CHANGE ON DAY ONE”.

Appearing with Romney was his wife Ann and NASCAR legend Richard Petty… who offered a race car driver’s perspective on the economy.

A crowd of nearly one thousand packed a gymnasium at the University of Northern Iowa Friday afternoon  to hear Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan tell them why he and Mitt Romney should lead the country.

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