IPR News Stories

Kirkwood Community College

Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids is experiencing a surge in the number of students enrolled in its high school completion programs. The school is putting out a call for volunteer tutors to help manage the load.

The overall number of students served by the programs has increased by 4.6 percent in the past year. This includes higher enrollments of those seeking high school equivalency diplomas and ESL students. The director of the programs, Marcel Kielkucki, says most are trying to improve their standing in a strong economy.

Joyce Russell/IPR

A statehouse committee was briefed today on a controversial Republican proposal to save the state millions of dollars in health care costs for indigent, disabled, and elderly people.   

Under the plan, needy patients could no longer get care paid for right away, while waiting to be approved for government help.  

Currently, Medicaid will pay for three months of retroactive coverage.   

DHS Administrator Wendy Rickman briefed the legislature’s Administrative Rules Review Committee on the proposal.  

Jon Pemble/IPR file

Iowa’s senior senator, Republican Chuck Grassley, says he hasn’t heard any discord from his colleagues about President Trump cutting a deal with congressional Democrats to increase the debt ceiling for the next three months.

This surprise move gives Democrats leverage for future negotiations and some speculate Trump was signaling displeasure with Republicans. But Grassley isn’t hearing grumbling.

Wikimedia Commons

The chairman of the Pottawattamie County Republican Party is urging GOP members to attend a lecture this week by a controversial speaker who will warn of the threat international Muslim extremist groups pose in the Midwest. 

But the county’s GOP Central Committee voted against sponsoring the event, and a Muslim advocacy group is speaking out against it.

County GOP Chairman Jeff Jorgensen invited John Guandolo, a speaker sponsored by the Global Faith Institute in Omaha.  

Sarah Boden/IPR File

Southeast Iowa’s Des Moines County is considering applying for federal funding, know as the Title X program, to create a clinic to provide sexual and reproductive healthcare to low-income people, including to those who don't qualify for Medicaid services.

Amy Mayer/IPR

Iowa State University is announcing the largest single gift to one of its colleges. The College of Business will be renamed in honor of the donors.

“Jerry and Debbie Ivy are the reason we’re here today,” interim ISU president Ben Allen, a former dean of the business school, told a nearly packed lecture hall Monday morning. “It’s because of their extraordinary generosity that we are announcing a $50 million commitment to name the College of Business.”

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

Voters head to the polls across Iowa Tuesday to elect local school boards and many candidates are running for office for the first time. 

Last spring, the Ready to Run campaign training program sponsored by the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Woman and Politics at Iowa State University attracted 172 people, more than double the next-highest enrollment. Iowa State political science professor Dianne Bystrom says some of them will be on local school board ballots.

Grocery Store Restaurants Shake Up Food Service Landscape

Sep 8, 2017

Imagine going to the grocery store for dinner, not to pick up a rotisserie chicken to take home, but to actually eat at the store. As online grocery shopping grows, many supermarkets are adding sit-down restaurants --  and the trend is changing how food retail and food service work together.

Kyle Riggs, who manages Market Grille, the restaurant at a Hy-Vee grocery store in Columbia, Missouri, says most people don’t expect to find this level of food service next to the produce aisle.

“And then when they walk in here, they’re just amazed at the full wine wall with the ladder that slides,” he says. “We have 20 beers on tap and a lot of high-end alcohol, whiskeys and things like that, and great food.”

AMERICAN RED CROSS

A significant number of Iowans have reached out to the state’s chapter of the American Red Cross to volunteer in the wake of Hurricane Harvey; and with Hurricane Irma heading towards Florida the emergency assistance organization says there's certainly a need.

This week more than 70 people attended volunteer information sessions at the American Red Cross Serving Greater Iowa. Regional Communications Officer Mark Tauscheck says in a normal week only a few people reach out to the organization about volunteering.

Dean Borg/IPR

The Iowa Board of Regents hopes to persuade Iowa legislators to substantially increase state appropriations to the three state universities, but is developing its own plan for halting what regents contend is underfunding.

Referring to the Legislature, Regent Larry McKibben, a former state senator now heading a regents committee on tuition said, “I’m not going to sit around and worry about what they’re going to do in January. I’m going to lead a project that makes change.”  McKibben says he considers the current regents board a “change agent.”  He said he doesn’t know the outcome.

Sarah Boden/IPR File

A study looking at the safety of telemedicine abortions in Iowa finds the complication rate is statistically identical when compared to in-person medication abortions.

Telemed abortions are medical abortions, meaning medication is used to induce miscarriages. Only instead of meeting in-person, a woman obtains that medication during a teleconference with her doctor.

joni ernst
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Senator Joni Ernst voted against a measure Thursday that lumped federal aid for hurricane victims with budget and debt ceiling extensions.

President Donald Trump made a deal to that effect Wednesday with Democratic leaders. It pairs about $15 billion in disaster aid with an agreement to keep the government until Dec. 8.

In a call with reporters Thursday, Ernst said combining those issues into one bill is "a bad way of doing business." 

Iowa State University news service

Iowa State University is using a $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to lead an initiative aimed at drawing more students of color into mathematics. Assistant math professor Michael Young will oversee the effort. He says few blacks and Hispanics are attracted to mathematics because they don’t see anyone who looks like them in the field.

“I went through college and graduate school, almost 10 years of schooling, and I never saw a black mathematician,” he says.

Young is looking to change what he sees in his own classroom.

Jon Pemble/IPR file

Iowa’s attorney general is joining 15 other states that are suing President Trump, in an attempt to preserve an Obama-era policy that protects nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children from being deported.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was created under an executive order. It allows undocumented immigrants without criminal records to live and work in the US for a two-year renewable period. 

Amy Mayer/IPR

Drones are gaining in popularity as industries from farming to retail to insurance find ways the unmanned flying vehicles can help make businesses more profitable. At Iowa State University, a team of engineers is trying to get ahead of likely complaints about drone noise.

Anupam Sharma, an aerospace engineering professor at Iowa State, takes inspiration from owls to design noise-reduction strategies for airplanes and wind turbines because owls are naturally nearly-silent fliers. Drones challenge Sharma’s team to think on a scale closer to the size of an owl.

Joyce Russell/IPR

When Iowans go to the polls next week for schoolboard elections, they should take note of some new requirements for proving you’re a valid voter.     

It’s part of the Voter ID bill the legislature approved this year. 

The new mandate to show identification at the polls doesn’t go into effect until next year, but in the meantime other verification will be required for some voters.  

Todd Bailey / Grand View University

Iowa business leaders and educators are expressing disappointment in the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program known as DACA. They see it as a blow to economic growth.

rockwell collins
Dean Borg / IPR

Cedar Rapids' largest employer—avionics manufacturer Rockwell Collins—is being sold in what's being called the biggest deal in aerospace manufacturing history.

Connecticut-based United Technologies Corp. (UTC) is buying Rockwell Collins for $30 billion. They will form a new company called Collins Aerospace Systems.

United Technologies CEO Greg Hayes says the combination will allow for more innovation and lower costs.

Sarah Boden/IPR

Iowa’s senior senator says President Trump’s expected announcement concerning an Obama-era immigration policy throws a contentious issue into "the lap of Congress" because the president "is found between a rock and a hard place."

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program allows undocumented immigrants who came to the country as kids to live and work legally in the US. Ten Republican attorneys general are threatening to sue the Trump Administration if the president doesn't end DACA.

When Congress gets back to work after the Labor Day holiday, re-upping the farm bill is one many hope can be done in a bipartisan manner. The current law, which funds a wide range of programs including food stamps, farmers subsidies, rural development and agricultural research, expires in 2018.

Traditionally, the farm bill has skirted the worst of partisan politics, but vacancies at the top of the Agriculture Department mean fewer leaders working on it this time around.

Rob Dillard / Iowa Public Radio

Nurses and their supporters rallied in Des Moines to call for higher wages and the right to form a labor union.

Dozens of hospital workers marched to a spot across the street from Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines in support of a $15 per hour minimum wage. The pastor at Trinity Las Americas Methodist Church on the north side of the city, Alejandro Alfaro-Santiz, was among the leaders of the rally.

“Did you know that Iowa is No. 50 in pay for nurses?" he asks. "That’s not right. We have to change that, right?”

Iowa Labor Collection, State Historical Society of Iowa

More than 1,200 interviews documenting Iowa’s labor history are set to be digitized and will be available online sometime next year, making the Iowa Labor Collection one of the most comprehensive labor oral history achieves in the nation. 

mcgregor damage
Courtesy of Carrie Nolan

After a tornado wrecked McGregor’s historic downtown area in July, most local businesses have recovered and are looking forward to the fall tourism season.

Kristie Austin is executive director of the McGregor-Marquette Chamber of Commerce. She says McGregor is ready for the fall tourism season, and it will be very important for local businesses.

"The two business buildings that were severely damaged and were basically lost have been cleaned up, and a lot of the other buildings that have had roof or other structural things, they’re getting that fixed," Austin says.

Mike Mozart/flickr

Alternative nicotine products purchased online in Iowa are now subject to sales taxes for the first time under a new law that went into effect July 1st.  

Up to now, electronic cigarettes and vaping products could only legally be sold in Iowa stores and vending machines.     

Now online companies must acquire permits, restrict sales to those 18 or older, and collect state and local option sales taxes.  

So far only a handful of online sellers have acquired permits.

American Red Cross

About 50 American Red Cross volunteers from Iowa are helping with the response to Hurricane Harvey. Many are working 12-hour days and will remain in Texas for the next two or three weeks.

Volunteer Michael Gee of Iowa City is a 31-year-old Navy hospital corpsman, and this is his first Red Cross deployment. Currently he's helping organize shelters in Austin for volunteers and refugees.

Col. Greg Hapgood, Iowa Army National Guard

The Iowa Army National Guard is joining the flood recovery effort in Houston. It is sending troops and helicopters to southeast Texas.

The Guard is deploying 11 soldiers and two Chinook helicopters to the Houston area. Spokesman Col. Greg Hapgood says the copters will be used to move supplies and equipment around the flood-ravaged city.

“It’s a medium lift, heavy lift aircraft," he says. "It will lift about 20,000 pounds, so there’s a lot of utility in a place like Houston for this type of airframe.”

Dean Borg/IPR

Iowa’s ethanol industry says it can help augment the nation’s fuel supplies, alleviating possible supply problems resulting from flooding of Texas and Gulf Coast oil refineries.

Gasoline prices in Iowa are up about 17 cents over the past week.  Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw says ethanol pump prices are holding steady.

Sidney, Nebraska, has prospered while many rural cities have struggled. For decades, the city has been home to Cabela’s, a major outdoor retail chain.

As Cabela’s completes a deal in which it will be bought by a rival, however, the future of Sidney’s economic engine is in doubt. As in other rural cities that have faced the loss or closure of major industry, the question is how the community will move on and grow in the 21st Century.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Minnesota Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar gave the Mary Louise Smith Chair in Women and Politics address last night to a crowd of over 800 at the Iowa State University Memorial Union. 

The chair has been awarded to prominent women of both parties each year since 1995.      

Klobuchar became the first female U.S. Senator from Minnesota in 2006 and is mentioned as a possible Democratic presidential candidate.  

Klobuchar had practical advice for women considering public office, including running for student government.

First, she said, start with your friends.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The rate of obesity in Iowa is on the decline. New numbers suggest, however, many Iowans still struggle with weight.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are reporting the obesity rate in Iowa for 2016 is at 32 percent. That’s down a tick from 32.1 the previous year. A community health consultant with the Iowa Department of Public Health, Erin Olson, is encouraged by the downward movement but says there’s still concern.

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