IPR News Stories

Amy Mayer/IPR

A southeast Iowa lawmaker whose district includes a turkey processing business is warning that avian flu could result in layoffs, and a decline in state tax receipts.   

Republican Representative David Heaton of Mount Pleasant says that uncertainty is one reason why Republicans are holding the line on state spending.   

Heaton is concerned about the 500 employees at West Liberty Foods.

“Those jobs are now under threat by this outbreak,” Heaton says.  “My people are scared of what is going to happen to their jobs and their families.”

John Pemble/IPR

A state program that was formed after the abuse of mentally disabled men housed in a bunkhouse in Atalissa would be eliminated under a Republican social services budget bill making its way through the legislature.  

 In 2009, the federal government sued a Texas company for paying the men as little as 65 dollars a month for working in a West Liberty processing plant, and lodging them in substandard conditions.      

Riverside Democrat Sally Stutsman says the state took steps to prevent similar abuse in the future.

Photo by Jacob Grace for Harvest Public Media

Wearing latex gloves and digging through a sloppy patch of cow poop on his farm in central Missouri, farmer Ralph Voss spotted his target.

“Okay, here we go!” he said excitedly, plucking out a shiny insect the size of a sunflower seed – a dung beetle.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

Short poems, essays and pieces of fiction are going on display at 13 libraries across the state. It's a project designed to connect the public to literature from a collective of artists known as Grin City.

John Pemble/IPR

A Republican lawmaker who negotiated an agreement with the Governor to delay the closings of the mental health institutes in Mount Pleasant and Clarinda is defending the plan against Democratic critics.

Representative David Heaton of Mount Pleasant says without the compromise, the Governor would have used his veto power to force the closings on June 30th

Under the compromise, the facilities will stay open through December 15th, and then later reopen as private facilities.   

Photo by Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Once a regular dining option, a mix of cultural and economic factors pushed lamb off the American dinner table. To put the meat back on the menu, ranchers and retailers are being encouraged to reach out to a more diverse set of consumers, specifically American Muslims and Latinos.

USDA/Flickr

Susanne Byerly can laugh now, four years later, talking about how she and her husband were trying to eat healthy food when they bought ground turkey for their spaghetti dinner.

Byerly, along with her husband, Jerry, and their two-year-old, Jack, were on vacation with extended family in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. While buying supplies at a local grocery store, they decided to swap ground beef for poultry because they were watching their weight.

John Pemble / IPR

Week after week it’s looked like no compromise was in sight between the state’s Democratic-controlled Senate and Republican majority House over K-12 funding, but a tentative agreement looks promising that lawmakers have figured out how much to fund schools for the coming year. IPR's Clay Masters checks in with Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell to preview the week ahead at the Iowa capitol. 

Food Companies Face Water Risk

May 9, 2015
Photo by Amy Mayer / Iowa Public Radio

America’s biggest food production companies face a growing threat of water scarcity, according to a new report from Ceres, an environmental sustainability group.

The report cites pollution as one of the primary culprits.

Farming can be a major contributor to water pollution through runoff from chemicals and manure. Because food companies depend on clean water, they have an incentive to help farmers keep water in mind.

John Pemble / IPR

Republican presidential candidate, Carly Fiorina, spent an hour-and-a-half speaking to about 75 people in a downtown Cedar Rapids coffee house Thursday morning.  She promises to restore what she calls "possibilities," in Americans' lives.

“And we knew, we knew that our lives were defined by possibilities, and our children and our grandchildren’s lives would be filled with even greater possibilities. And yet, people don’t know that anymore. And when we lose the sense of limitless possibilities that has always defined this nation, we are losing the core of who we are.”

Flickr / Joshua Smith

Just because an infant is extremely premature, it doesn't mean he or she can't survive. That's according to new New England Journal of Medicine study from University of Iowa researchers, which suggests some babies as young as 22 weeks premature are viable.

Researchers complied data from thousands premature births at 24 academic hospitals nationwide. The mortality rate for babies under 1000 grams birth weight, bit over 2 lbs, was as high as 50 percent in hospitals, and as low as 10 percent in others.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

Five years after it was initially confirmed in Iowa, the Emerald Ash Borer is on the door step of Des Moines, the state's largest city. The pest has finally entered Polk County and Rick Fredericksen has the story.

Infested ash trees have been discovered in West Des Moines and Urbandale. For Des Moines property owners, now is time for treatment. But Iowa State University entomologist Mark Shour urges caution to avoid high pressure tactics.  

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

Tears were shed for Vietnam Veterans Recognition Day in Des Moines yesterday, as the 867th name was unveiled on the monument honoring Iowa’s war dead. Rick Fredericksen reports. 

It took six years before Douglas Peterson died of his combat injuries. His mother wept, his father sat peacefully; the family had driven in from Fairfield for the emotional ceremony. Sister Karen said Doug’s name is where it belongs, with his brothers.

“It’s been a long time. It's closure. It's done. We're proud of him.” 

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

Forty years after his death, the name of an Iowa soldier was unveiled today on the state’s Vietnam War Monument. Iowa Public Radio’s Rick Fredericksen reports.

Fairfield native Douglas Peterson was severely wounded in 1969, but held on for six years of medical care and surgeries before those injuries took his life. His name was on "The Wall" in Washington, but the long paper trail complicated his inclusion here, until now. Peterson’s sister Karen spoke for the family.

Joyce Russell/IPR

The chairman of the Iowa Republican party today announced changes to the GOP’s straw poll held each presidential election cycle.  

It has gotten increasingly more expensive for candidates to compete in the Iowa Straw Poll, and some have dropped out after poor results.   

Jeff Kaufmann says he has answered objections from current and former candidates.   

Kaufmann says for this year’s event on August 8 in Boone, they’re eliminating bidding for space at the event which has cost campaigns as much as 35,000 dollars.

John Pemble/IPR

A tentative agreement on basic state aid for K-12 schools has been reached at the statehouse.

 A disagreement between the House and Senate has stood in the way of adjournment of the 2015 session. 

An aide says Republican House Speaker Kraig Paulsen and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal have reached a tentative deal, which will now be presented to rank and file legislators.     

Clay Masters / IPR

Recently announced Republican presidential candidate and former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina is campaigning in Iowa Thursday. She’s one of a number of GOP candidates who have officially announced they’re running for president this week to swing through the first-in-the-nation caucus state. 

Former Arkansas Governor and winner of the 2008 Iowa Republican caucuses Mike Huckabee wrapped up an early swing through the state on Wednesday night in a barn at Living History Farms in Urbandale.

Photo by John Pemble

Steven Kennedy regularly plays “Suite del Recuerdo” by Argentine composer Jose Luis Merlin during his concerts.  It’s one of the pieces he learned in 2006 while preparing his senior college recital. “I’ve kept it around because I still love it and it’s probably one that I get the most compliments from,” says Kennedy.

Seth J/flickr

A bill to make it easier for cellphone companies to put up new towers passed the Iowa House today on a largely party-line vote.  

The bill would create uniform statewide standards cities and counties would have to follow, including limiting the time they could take to approve a new tower.  

Boone Republican Chip Baltimore says dealing with different local rules slows things down for cellphone companies.

“It’s an attempt to expedite the application process,” Baltimore says, “and then also make sure that cities and counties are not second-guessing business decisions.”

Photo by Amy Mayer

The local food scene has exploded in recent years, which means there’s a lot more local produce on dinner tables. It also means that during the spring season as small farms start ramping back up, they have to work a bit harder to attract new customers.

Community Supported Agriculture, or CSAs, allow subscribers to connect directly with a farm, and remain a mainstay for local farmers looking to latch on to consistent revenue.

Clay Masters / IPR

Recently declared GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson spoke Tuesday at a lunch gathering of Iowa Republicans at the Embassy Club in downtown Des Moines.  This is the retired pediatric neurosurgeon's first visit to Iowa since announcing Monday he plans to seek the Republican nomination for president.

Carson is the only GOP African American presidential candidate. He grew up in poverty and was raised by a single mother in Detroit.

Photo by Joyce Russell/IPR

The head of Iowa’s top job creation agency was in the hot seat at the capitol Monday. Lawmakers and union representatives grilled Iowa Economic Development Authority Director Debi Durham about mass layoffs at the Iowa Fertilizer Company plant in Lee County.  But Durham says the  record-breaking incentives that attracted an Egyptian company to Iowa will not be scaled back.  

The pink slips last month took union workers and state lawmakers by surprise.  

Durham says she found out about them from Burlington Democrat and labor supporter Senator Tom Courtney.

Photo by John Pemble

Governor Branstad is asking the legislature for money to market Iowa’s Home Base Iowa program that provides incentives to attract retired military personnel to the state.      But budget-writers at the statehouse say in a tight budget year the new appropriation will be a heavy lift.   

At a statehouse news conference, Branstad announced that six more Iowa communities and schools have joined the program.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Niece of  slain civil rights leader speaks in Des Moines.

Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley, USN / Wikimedia Commons

The first lady is a wife, a diplomat and often a social activist. We care a great deal about her... and what she wears. 

Jack Shelley 1912-2010

Sep 15, 2010
Rick Fredericksen

A beloved Iowa journalist is being remembered today. Jack Shelley passed away last night at the age of 98. Shelley was there in the early days of radio and television and sent home riveting stories from WWII. We look back at the career of this pioneer broadcaster. Sounds from 1945-1953 in Guam, Belgium, Tokyo Bay and the state of Nevada. Major events related to the atomic bomb are closely linked to Shelley's news coverage. Old audio is from WHO's original recordings, on file at the Archives of Iowa Broadcasting.

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