Ongoing Coverage:

Pat Blank

All Things Considered Host

Pat Blank has been with Iowa Public Radio for 24 years. She was hired as a reporter and eventually was chosen to host Morning Edition at the Cedar Falls studios in 1986.  She has been host of All Things Considered since 1995. She is a nationally award winning reporter who has also worked in commercial radio and television. Pat has served as a part-time instructor at Wartburg College and at the University of Northern Iowa where she teaches journalism classes.  She is on the Board of Control for UNI’s student run radio station KULT. She is currently serving a second term on the  Iowa Archives of Broadcasting National Advisory Board.

Pat has a bachelor’s degree in radio-television broadcasting from the University of Northern Iowa.

Pat's favorite public radio program is This American Life.

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Business and Economy
7:30 pm
Thu May 9, 2013

Postville, Iowa then and now

The name of the kosher meat packing plant was changed from Agri-Processors to Agri-Star when it reopened under new ownership
Credit 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

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News
3:20 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

Hail pummels Northeast Iowa

It's not a ping pong ball, it's a hail stone in Cedar Falls on Monday morning.
Credit Paige Fevold Hill

It took less than an hour for a line of thunderstorms moving across Northeast Iowa Monday morning to cause thousands of dollars in damage. Hail the size of ping pong balls was the source of the devastation.

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Health
7:19 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

More than a good night's sleep

86-year-old Justina Chananie is taking part in the research
Pat Blank

A group of residents at a Cedar Falls assisted living facility are taking part in research that could allow aging adults to stay in their home longer while monitoring their health. The research involves video game technology in their apartment and sensors in their bed.

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News
5:02 pm
Fri April 19, 2013

Iowa native-opera singer in Boston suburb shutdown

Katharine Goeldner
Credit Courtesy photo

Katharine Goeldner, a native of Sigourney who's performed several times with Orchestra Iowa is in a Boston suburb as a manhunt continues for one of the two men believed responsible for the bombings at the Boston Marathon. She is singing at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, but traveled to the Boston area to take her daughter on a college visit to Tufts University. She tells IPR's Pat Blank what it's been like not being able to travel as they had planned. 

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Health
9:47 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

Matching Marrow

Melody Eckstein (left) is currently undergoing a bone marrow transplant at UI Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City.
Credit Courtesy photo

A diagnosis of leukemia or lymphoma often means  several rounds of chemotherapy.  Sometimes, a bone marrow transplant is the best option for a cure. The bone marrow donation process has evolved and is less frightening and invasive than it once was. Bone marrow registry events were held in several locations throughout Iowa this month. IPR's Pat Blank has the story of two Iowa women whose lives have been changed because a stranger decided to add their name to the list.  For more information about bone marrow donation check out the Be The Match website.

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Business/Economy
3:19 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

Retrieving Freedom

Army veteran Chad Johnson and his dog Copper
Pat Blank

A unique project in Northeast Iowa combines Wartburg College students with service dogs-in-training who will eventually be paired with military veterans or children with special needs.  The dogs can profoundly assist physically and emotionally wounded soldiers and give hope to families who need a boost to help cope with a child with challenges. The non-profit organization Retrieving Freedom is supplying the dogs. Their website is retrievingfreedom.org.

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Education
5:47 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

Ruud named to lead UNI

William Ruud, the new President of UNI
Credit IPR's Dean Borg

The State Board of Regents today announced the selection of William N. Ruud (ROOD), as the 10th president of the University of Northern Iowa. Ruud currently serves as president of Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania.

Ruud will assume the duties of UNI president on June 1 and will be paid an annual salary of $340,000. The date for an official welcoming on the UNI campus will be announced later.  Ruud was one of two finalists for the job. The other was Indiana University-Purdue University Chancellor Emeritus Michael Wartell.

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Business/Economy
5:10 pm
Thu January 31, 2013

Former CEO Wasendorf sentenced to 50 years

Credit Courtesy photo

A  federal judge has sentenced 64- year- old Russell  Wasendorf, Sr. to 50 years in prison.  Last July, following an attempted suicide, Wasendorf  admitted to stealing more than 215 million dollars in customer funds from his Cedar Falls brokerage firm Peregrine Financial Group.

In a plea agreement in September, he pleaded guilty to charges of mail fraud, embezzlement and making false statements. 50 years is the maximum punishment for those offenses. There is no parole in the federal court system. He was sentenced by Chief Judge Linda Reade.

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Arts & Culture
1:46 pm
Mon January 21, 2013

Civil Rights Activist Grace Lee Boggs in Iowa

Grace Lee Boggs at one of her rare speaking engagements. She doesn't travel often because of limited mobility at age 97.
Credit Courtesy photo

Asian-American civil rights activist Grace Lee Boggs has traveled from her home in Detroit to

speak at Grinnell College as part of the campus celebration of Martin Luther King's birthday. She tells Iowa Public Radio's Pat Blank, she wasn't a fan of the idea when it was first proposed.  At 97, Boggs continues to be active with a program known as Detroit Summer.  It's a project that's been underway for several years involving the city's young people with activities such as gardening and renovating inner city buildings.

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Health
6:34 pm
Thu January 10, 2013

Flu shot scramble

News anchors are getting flu shots as Americans hope to get last minute protection

Reports of widespread flu on the East Coast and news anchors getting vaccinated on morning television has sent some Iowans scrambling to get a last minute flu shot. Iowa Department of Public Health medical director, Patricia Quinlisk says the state is reporting about a 4% increase in cases compared to last year.

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Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
6:28 pm
Mon January 7, 2013

Mitas makes tires around the clock

Mitas workers roll the first tire off the line in January 2012
Credit 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.

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Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
6:30 pm
Tue December 11, 2012

Robotic dairies becoming more common in Iowa

An ankle bracelet gathers information as cows are milked
IPR's Pat Blank

A Northeast Iowa dairy is the latest to invest in a mechanical employee to help with the milking chores. The farmers are hoping the device will enable them to stay competitive in an industry that’s losing producers at an alarming rate. Kevin and Cherish Kueker installed a robot in June. They’ve joined with a neighbor to milk 95 cows and raise calves. Each animal is fitted with an ankle bracelet with a computer chip. In the seven minutes it takes to milk the cow, the chip reveals a detailed history.

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Environment
10:48 pm
Thu November 29, 2012

Deer numbers down

Republican U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley was in a car that hit a deer last month and that was the beginning of a series of tweets to see if other Iowans have had similar experiences this fall. Senator Grassley says in addition to the vehicle crash, he began noticing a significant amount of dead deer along the highway.

Department of Natural Resources deer biologist Tom Litchfield admits there are certain pockets in the state where there are high concentrations of deer, but for the most part

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Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
6:03 pm
Wed November 21, 2012

Oh Christmas Tree

Kris Kringle's Tree Farm owner Danny Moulds stands among the thousands of trees lost to the drought
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.

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Business/Economy
6:20 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

Help for idled Hostess workers

Credit Pat Blank

A blue and white “Now Hiring” sign hangs on the front of the Wonder Bread bakery in downtown Waterloo.  It’s an outdated sign because not only is the company not adding workers, last Friday it laid off everyone who worked there.  Parent company Hostess has filed for bankruptcy idling nearly 19 thousand workers across the country. A federal judge is considering the case and has agreed to mediation.

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Education
5:04 pm
Wed November 14, 2012

"Argo" Rescue in Iran Remembered by Waverly Woman

Former Iranian hostage Kathryn Koob lives in Waverly
Credit Courtesy photo

The highly acclaimed movie “Argo” is finishing its run through Iowa theaters this week. Directed by Ben Affleck “Argo” depicts the rescue of six U.S. Embassy workers from Iran during the 1979 hostage crisis.

A Waverly woman, Kathryn Koob has a unique prospective of those events because she was one of two women who did not escape and was held by the Revolutionary Guard for 444 days.

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Business/Economy
3:46 pm
Tue November 6, 2012

Iowa utility crews in NY brace for second storm

Alliant Energy crews from Iowa and Wisconsin work to restore power in New York state.
Credit Courtesy photo

Hundreds of Iowa utility workers are on the East Coast helping restore power to the thousands knocked offline by Super Storm Sandy. Just as progress is being made, another storm threatens to undo much of the work already accomplished. Lead Safety Consultant for Alliant Energy in Cedar Rapids, Kent Sodawasser says crew members are struggling with downed trees.  Sodawasser says he was humbled today when a man wearing a red, white and blue tie shook his hand and said, "Thanks for putting my power back on, now I don't have to watch over my generator and I can go and vote."

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Politics
7:18 pm
Fri November 2, 2012

GOP Vice Presidential hopeful Paul Ryan visits UNI

A crowd of nearly one thousand gathers Friday at UNI's West Gym

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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Politics
5:57 pm
Tue October 30, 2012

First District Rematch

Democrat Bruce Braley and Republican Ben Lange meet for a 2010 debate at Waverly's Wartburg College. The two face a rematch in a race for a newly re-drawn First District.
Credit IPR's Pat Blank

The race for Iowa’s First Congressional District is a re-match of two years ago with Democratic incumbent Bruce Braley facing Republican challenger Ben Lange.  In 2010, Lange lost to Braley by just two percentage points. 

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Business/Economy
5:51 pm
Mon October 29, 2012

Iowa Utility Crews Head to the East Coast

Credit Courtesy photo

Utility crews from throughout the country including several from Iowa are on their way to the East Coast to be on the scene for anticipated power outages from the Hurricane Sandy.   More than 100 Alliant Energy employees left Cedar Rapids for the journey yesterday including Kent Sodawasser who joins Iowa Public Radio’s Pat Blank by phone from Pennsylvania. Kent Sodawasser is Lead Safety Consultant for Alliant Energy. We hope to check in with the crew again as the storm progresses this week.

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Politics
3:16 pm
Tue October 16, 2012

Bosnian Embassy Official Visits Iowa

Tamir Waser is Political Section Chief of the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo
Pat Blank IPR

The trial for a former Bosnian Serb leader began today in The Hague with him defending against allegations of genocide and crimes against humanity in the Bosnian war in 1992-1995.  At the same time an American,  Tamir Waser who serves at the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo, is traveling in Iowa stopping in Waterloo and Des Moines. Both cities have large Bosnian populations.   He talks with Iowa Public Radio’s Pat Blank

Politics
5:26 pm
Wed October 10, 2012

Bruce Braley and Ben Lange debate on IPR

GOP candidate Ben Lange and First District Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley shake hands before the first debate of the campaign
Pat Blank IPR

The candidates in the race for Iowa’s first congressional district met for their first debate of the campaign Wednesday afternoon. Iowa Public Radio’s Pat Blank reports the two are far apart on most issues..

Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
4:24 pm
Wed September 26, 2012

Cows eating candy?

Prices for corn-based livestock feed have jumped nearly 20 percent. So some farmers are using leftover or off grade items like partially melted candy bars, from local food processors, to supplement.

Gummy bears, chocolate, ice cream, and chewing gum:  sounds like a junk food binge, but those products are actually helping some Iowa cattle producers stretch their dollars. Prices for corn-based livestock feed have jumped nearly 20 percent. So some farmers are using leftover or off grade items like partially melted candy bars, from local food processors, to supplement.

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Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
4:12 pm
Fri September 21, 2012

Unverferth adds jobs in a drought year

One of the hundreds of grain carts made annually by Unverferth Manufacturing near Shell Rock
Pat Blank

Farm equipment maker Unverferth Manufacturing Incorporated is taking a leap of faith by adding jobs with the help of a 600 thousand dollar boost from the Iowa Economic Development Authority.

The Shell Rock plant is Butler County’s largest employer with 425 current jobs. The state money will be used to build a  6 million dollar expansion and create 75 jobs over three years.

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Business/Economy
2:19 pm
Mon September 17, 2012

Giant Wind Towers For Massive Wind Power

One of the largest wind towers in North America under construction in a farm field in Notheast Iowa
Dean Borg

      With the wind energy tax credit about to expire at the end of this year….power companies are using favorable fall weather to install more towers across Iowa’s landscape.

      Cranes are working in an Eastern Iowa cornfield near Mechanicsville to build what will be the tallest wind generator in North America.                  

 Two towers….one concrete and the other steel…..and the generators are being built by Acciona (AX-SEE-OH-NA) which has a plant in West Branch, Iowa.

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Education
5:47 pm
Wed September 12, 2012

2013 Iowa Teacher of the Year

2013 Iowa Teacher of the Year Tania Johnson with Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds
Dean Borg

Governor Terry Branstad has named veteran Cedar Rapids educator Tania Johnson  the 2013 Iowa Teacher of the Year.

Johnson spent most of her 22-year teaching career in Cedar Rapids kindergarten classrooms before she accepted a teacher leadership position with her school district this fall.

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Health
2:28 pm
Thu September 6, 2012

Twice Blessed

This sign greeted Brad, Christina, Ava and Aidan when they arrived at their home in Clive after Ava spent nearly four months at the Mayo Clinic.
Christina DeShaw

This past Monday, a central Iowa couple was able to bring their twin babies home for the first time. One baby, the boy, was born healthy, but his sister has a serious heart defect that kept her hospitalized for nearly four months. In January, at 18 weeks of pregnancy Brad Weitl and Christina DeShaw discovered that one of their twins had hypoplastic left heart syndrome, in which the left side of the heart is severely underdeveloped. This was Ava, her brother Aidan’s heart was fine. After the diagnosis, Christina got on the internet to gather information about what to do next.

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Agriculture
5:57 pm
Wed August 22, 2012

Drought Does Not Discriminate

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley stands in his soybean field near New Hartford, Iowa. In a non drought year, the beans would be waist high.

In May of 2008, an EF5 tornado hit Parkersburg and New Hartford in Northeast Iowa. Two weeks later. the entire town of New Hartford was evacuated because of flooding. In both cases, property owned by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley and his family was spared. This summer’s natural disaster however is different.  Although the Grassleys' farmland in Butler County will still produce a crop, the yields are greatly reduced. Iowa Public Radio's Pat Blank walked with Senator Grassley through his corn and soybean fields on Wednesday afternoon.

Health
7:12 pm
Thu August 9, 2012

Unraveling the mystery of SCAD

Tracy Hjelle and her husband John at their home in Decorah. Tracy is recovering from a life threatening heart condition known as SCAD.
Pat Blank

A northeast Iowa woman is part of a study that’s helping unravel a rare heart condition that strikes young, otherwise healthy people. 42- year- old Tracy Hjelle (YELL-ee)  is the picture of health, she’s athletic and is in great shape, that’s because she’s the pitching coach for the Luther College softball team, but her world turned upside down on a Sunday morning in April as she and the team were preparing to leave Decorah for a game in Wisconsin.

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Education
2:32 pm
Fri August 3, 2012

UNI President Allen Announces Retirement

University of Northern Iowa President Ben Allen has announced plans to retire "no later than July 1, 2013."  Iowa Public Radio's Pat Blank reports.

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