IPR News Stories

dakota access pipeline
Carl Wycoff / flickr

Two Iowa women are claiming responsibility for damaging the Dakota Access Pipeline multiple times while it was under construction.

Jessica Reznicek and Ruby Montoya say they started a "peaceful direct action campaign" on the night of the 2016 presidential election. They say they burned heavy equipment in Buena Vista County. In the following months, they say they used welding equipment to damage valves along the pipeline throughout Iowa and part of South Dakota. 

Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

The corpse flower at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Gardens still hasn’t bloomed and last week's scorching temperatures might be to blame.

This variety of corpse flower, Titan arum, comes from Sumatra, an Indonesian island known for its rugged, tropical terrain. For this reason, you’d think the plant fared well during last week’s scorching temperatures.

Michael Leland/IPR

This year’s RAGBRAI route includes six pass-through towns that have never before participated in the annual, week-long bike ride across Iowa. Those communities are Thornton, Lawler, Castalia, Postville, Waterville and Harpers Ferry. 

Lawler city council member John Ezer says he's excited that more than 10,000 RAGBRAI riders are biking through to his northeastern Iowa town on Thursday. Ezer calls it an opportunity for his community of fewer than 420 people to show off their businesses and nonprofits.

Dean Borg/IPR

The first renters are now moving into Forest City’s first market-rate housing to be constructed in the North Iowa community in more than 25 years. The project helps ease the housing shortage squeezing workers away from jobs in many communities such as Forest City.

The Westown Place three-story building results from the community’s economic development organization taking over when private developers passed over the community’s request for proposals to build.

Amy Mayer/IPR

 

On a cloudy summer day, Iowa farmer Wendy Johnson lifts the corner of a mobile chicken tractor, a lightweight plastic frame covered in wire mesh that has corralled her month-old meat chickens for a few days, and frees several dozen birds to peck the surrounding area at will. Soon, she’ll sell these chickens to customers at local markets in eastern Iowa.

mcgregor damage
Courtesy of Carrie Nolan

Residents of McGregor in northeast Iowa are cleaning up after an EF-1 tornado (peak winds 110mph) devastated the downtown area Wednesday night.

No major injuries were reported. Some historic buildings have been severely damaged or destroyed, and there were piles of bricks and glass in the street.

McGregor resident Anne Kruse was at a meeting downtown when a window blew in. After the tornado passed, she says she went outside and it was "absolute chaos."

Alex Hanson/flickr

President Trump today nominated former Morningside College professor  and Sioux City radio talk show host Sam Clovis to the top science position at the United States Department of Agriculture.     

Appointees to Undersecretary for Research, Education and Economics have traditionally held advanced degrees in science or medicine.   

Clovis holds an undergraduate degree in political science, an MBA, and a doctorate in public administration.    

He was an advisor to President Trump’s Iowa campaign, and has been an advisor at the USDA since January.        

Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

The corpse flower is blooming! The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden will be open until 11:00 pm for visitors to catch a whiff of the Titan arum, arguably the stinkiest variety of corpse flower.

The Botanical Garden's Titan arum is the first variety of this type of corpse flower to bloom in Iowa. Its odor of rotting mammal attracts carrion beetles, which act as pollinators. 

Botanical Garden spokeswoman Kelly Reilly says Titan arum should unfurl and be in full bloom sometime tonight.

Steven Strooh/Flickr

The most recent billings report from the American Institute of Architects indicates it could be a busy year for construction activity. It shows the state's architectural firms have plenty of design work.

The AIA Architecture Billings Index provides a glimpse at construction spending nine months to a year down the road. The executive director of the local chapter, Jessica Reinert, says the index for the Midwest and Iowa shows a steady increase in design requests since the start of 2017. She says this has put a strain on architectural firms.

Sarah Boden/IPR File

The bench trial in the case questioning the constitutionality of new abortion restrictions in Iowa ended yesterday, but it will be more than a month before the district court rules.

The case challenges a new law that requires a woman have an ultrasound three days before terminating her pregnancy. This rule not only mandates a delay, but also forces a woman to attend two separate medical appointments.

John Pemble/IPR

Iowans with permits to carry handguns can now bring their weapons into the Iowa statehouse under a new state law that’s been in effect since July 1st.   

Statehouse security officers say so far enforcement has gone well.   

Only a few people have displayed their permits and been allowed to enter with a concealed pistol or revolver.   

Since shortly after the September 11 terror attacks, anyone entering the Iowa statehouse has been required to leave their guns or knives behind.  

Now with a permit to carry you can bring in a pistol or revolver.  

Joyce Russell/IPR

Governor Kim Reynolds said Tuesday she was not aware of instances of sexual harassment in the Iowa Senate during the years she served as a Republican state senator.       

A Polk County jury Tuesday awarded former Republican staffer Kirsten Anderson a more than $2 million judgment in her sexual harassment case describing vulgar, sexist language by male aides and lawmakers.

Anderson's testimony covered the years 2009 and 2010 when Reynolds represented Senate District 48.     

WIKICOMMONS / Iowahwyman

A nationally recognized gynecologist testified Tuesday at Polk County District Court. Dr. Dan Grossman of California is an expert witness in a trial that questions the constitutionality of new abortion restrictions.

Iowa’s new law requires a woman to have an ultrasound three days before an abortion. Grossman told the court, in some cases, he believes this requirement is "cruel" and "unacceptable."

Mad Cow Disease Detected In Alabama

Jul 18, 2017

A case of mad cow disease has been found in a cow in Alabama.

U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists confirmed Tuesday that an 11-year-old cow found in an Alabama livestock market suffered from the neurologic cattle disease, formally called bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The animal “at no time presented a risk to the food supply, or to human health in the United States,” according to the USDA.

Sarah Boden/IPR File

The medical director of Iowa’s largest abortion provider took the witness stand today in Polk County District Court. Dr. Jill Meadows of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and the ACLU of Iowa are suing the state, saying that new restrictions on abortion create an undue burden for women.

There’s currently an injunction on the new law which requires a woman to have an ultrasound three days before terminating her pregnancy. Meadows testified this will increase costs for patients because now women would be billed for two medical visits instead of one.

stacey walker
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

The Linn County Board of Supervisors says it will honor the goals of the Paris climate agreement, even though President Donald Trump announced the United States will exit the agreement.

The supervisors voted unanimously Monday to approve a resolution to commit to energy efficiency, energy conservation, and sustainability.

Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker says the board recognizes international cooperation is necessary in addressing a changing climate.

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

This summer's hot weather could bring down soybean yields for some farmers.

Iowa State University extension is alerting farmers that hot, dry conditions are what the disease charcoal rot waits for. Daren Mueller, an ISU extension plant pathologist, says once it attacks, there's little a farmer can do.

"At this point it's more of trying to scout and figure out what fields would have that pathogen in it to make decisions in future years," he says, "the next time you planted soybeans."

Sarah Boden/IPR File

A trial begins at the Polk County Courthouse this morning that questions the constitutionality of Iowa's three-day waiting period for abortions. Planned Parenthood of the Heartland says this new law creates an undue burden, especially for rural and low-income women.

Waiting periods before abortions are legal. What's not clear is how long the delay can be before it becomes unconstitutional. 

Iowa's law requires a woman not only to wait three days, but also to obtain an ultrasound 72-hours before her abortion. This means patients must attend two separate medical visits. 

Huw Loaring/flickr

Officials in Cedar Rapids are evaluating Iowa’s new fireworks law that debuted in the just-completed 4th of July season, after many residents weighed in against it.  

“Out of Cedar Rapids we've had more complaints on fireworks than we had on potholes or even on the speed cameras combined,” said Mayor Ron Corbett.  “That's how many people complained about the fireworks.”

This story is part of the special series United And Divided, which explores the links and rifts between rural and urban America.

Schools in rural school districts often don’t have the budget or the teachers to offer students all of the courses they would like to take. One rural district in a Missouri county decided to offer credit for online classes in an effort to give its students the educational opportunities it can’t otherwise afford.

Russell/IPR

Governor Reynolds’s challenger for the Republican nomination for governor has harsh words for how statehouse Republicans are managing shortfalls in the state budget.  

After tax receipts fell short of projections, Republican lawmakers dipped into cash reserves to balance the budget this year.

Gov. Reynolds is expected to spend even more emergency funds to cover the shortfall, and may have to call lawmakers back into special session.

GOP gubernatorial candidate, Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett, says the shortfall was predictable and preventable.

Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

One of the smelliest varieties of corpse flowers will be blooming in about 10 days at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. The Titan arum comes from Sumatra and is exceptionally rare.

While there have been other types of corpse flowers in Iowa, the Botanical Garden says it believes this is state’s first Titan arum to bloom. The plant has evolved to smell like the flesh of a rotting mammal.

doug ommen
Iowa Insurance Division

The Iowa Insurance Division announced Thursday it will hold public hearings on its "stopgap" plan to prop up the state's individual insurance market in 2018. Iowa Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen proposed the plan in June. 

Ommen says he’s working with federal officials to fix some issues in the stopgap plan as they move toward approval.

"We're needing to work very very quickly to move through a process that was designed to take years in order to get approved," Ommen says. 

Flickr / Marc Treble

The Iowa Supreme Court’s “Access to Justice Commission” has released a report that outlines steps to remove barriers to civil justice for low-income and disadvantaged Iowans.

At the beginning of the report, the commission notes the Iowa State Bar Association says that nearly half of all Iowans have difficulty affording a lawyer for basic legal needs.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Backers of three separate casino proposals made their pleas before the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission Thursday, which will decide later this year whether to approve a new casino for Cedar Rapids.   

The commission turned down a Cedar Rapids proposal in 2014, citing concerns about market saturation and cannibalizing other Iowa casinos.

Developers argued before the board on Thursday that, long-term, a casino for Cedar Rapids would not harm revenues for other gaming operations.    

Joyce Russell/IPR

Cedar Rapids Mayor and GOP gubernatorial candidate Ron Corbett reports a successful initial fundraising effort since announcing his candidacy three weeks ago.  

At a Des Moines news conference, Corbett said he has raised more than $1 million, including $800,000 in cash and additional thousands in commitments, without taking money from political action committees.

Governor Reynolds has reported having $1 million in her campaign war chest.  

Corbett said that was raised over the course of a year with Gov. Branstad’s help.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio / Iowa Public Radio

The aquatic center at the downtown YMCA in Des Moines is nearing completion after a long delay. The project was slowed by fundraising challenges.

Concrete is in place for the Olympic-size pool adjacent to the Y, but construction dust still fills the air. The eight-lane, 50-meter pool is costing around $10 million to build. YMCA of Greater Des Moines CEO Dave Schwartz says raising the money has required patience.

“I’ve been on board just a year now, and we’ve made great progress," he says. "We feel really comfortable where we’re at, and we’re excited to get it open.”

Iowa Regional Autism Assistance Program's logo
Iowa Regional Autism Assistance Program / University of Iowa Health Care

The Regional Autism Assistance Program (RAP) is one of ten programs to recently lose all of its state funding from the Iowa Department of Public Health. For RAP, the $384,552 cut is about 70 percent of its budget.

Advocates worry the budget cut could lead to the loss of the program’s family navigators. They’re stationed throughout the state and connect families to services when children are diagnosed with autism.

AMY MAYER/IPR FILE PHOTO

Sen. Chuck Grassley says he hasn’t decided whether he’ll vote for or against a healthcare bill that would allow insurance companies to limit what they’d pay for certain services.

The Senate Obamacare repeal bill proposes allowing states to redefine which services insurance companies are required to cover. The concern is this could result in dollar limits for things like hospitalizations or prescription drugs.

Grassley says senators are still submitting amendments, so he’s not ready to take a position until he’s seen the final bill.

woman in hijab
Jerry Seon / Pexels

A self-defense class for Muslim women will debut in Iowa City on Tuesday. These women are often targeted as their religious covering identifies them as Muslim. 

The Iowa chapter for the Council on American-Islamic Relations is sponsoring the class. Executive director Miriam Amer says Muslim women wearing headscarves, or hijabs, have been targeted in the U.S. in recent months. 

Pages