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.

Ways To Connect

Going Going Gone

Jul 30, 2013
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A new report out Tuesday shows millions of wetland acres and highly erodible grassland and prairie are being plowed under and planted into row crops. This in turn causes intense soil erosion especially in a wet spring like this year. The four year, multi state study was conducted by Environmental Working Group. http://www.ewg.org/research/going-going-gone.

Corn Crew

Jul 22, 2013
Pat Blank

A Midwest summertime tradition is in full swing: corn detasseling.  Every summer, seed corn companies hire thousands of seasonal workers to remove the top of the corn plant to produce hybrid varieties.  The minimum age in Iowa to do the work is 14. Those as young as 12 can detassel in Illinois and Nebraska.  Many crew leaders who started in their teens are now in their 50s and 60s.  Workers say even though it's often hot in the cornfield and the work is tedious, they return year after year because they are paid good money by the companies.

Veterinary Camp

Jul 17, 2013
Pat Blank

There are numerous opportunities this summer for young people to attend day camps, anything from sports to how to be Annie in a Broadway show. The Iowa Veterinary Medical Association offers hands-on opportunities for teens to see what it takes to be a vet. IPR's Pat Blank has the story from the Dallas County Fair in Adel.

PAGBRAI

Jul 17, 2013
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PAGBRAI, the Paddlers Annual Great Boat Rides Across Iowa makes its maiden voyage Friday. The inaugural float will shove off for three days of Winnebago River traveling in North Central Iowa. It will run from Leland to Mason City. This is part of a documentary movie production, entitled "River Riders ", which will premiere at the Iowa Independent Film Festival in October. PAGBRAI organizer Gregory Schmidt talks with Iowa Public Radio's Pat Blank.

Detasseling Delay

Jul 10, 2013
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The wet spring has delayed the growth of corn used for seed by Iowa companies including the largest, DuPont Pioneer. That, in turn, has pushed back the schedule of hundreds of part time workers who make money in the fields by removing the top of the plant known as the tassel.  Production manager for the Reinbeck facility, Colby Entriken says ,"we're hoping to start pulling tassels next week which is about a week behind schedule.

Whitewater Challenge

Jun 27, 2013
Justin DeVore

Water has been a challenge this spring for many Iowa communities as excessive rainfall sends residents heading for higher ground. This weekend, Charles City officials, in the north central part of the state, are hoping thousands will run toward the Cedar River instead of away from it. It's the site of the second Whitewater Challenge where kayakers and other paddlers play in the water for fun and sport.

Pat Blank

Cousins and long-time business partners Jeff and Mark Nelson have immersed  themselves in aquaculture. They're growing fish in a part of the country where pork is king. They've converted a former hog confinement building into a farm-raised fish venture called Iowa's First.  They have eighteen, ten thousand gallon tanks filled with hybrid bass which they ship to restaurants all over the country. The Nelsons are also experimenting with growing shrimp.

Soybean planting slow

Jun 18, 2013
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Spring planting could linger into the summer for many Iowa soybean farmers. The state's trading partners and commodity markets are keeping a close eye on what happens here and it could impact the economy down the road. Grant Kimberley is the market development director for the Iowa Soybean Association. He tells Iowa Public Radio's Pat Blank, this year has been a challenge.

Iowa Army National Guard

The Iowa National Guard will face furloughs next  month due to the federal government sequester. Approximately 11 hundred full-time guard members, called federal technicians, will be idle one day each week without pay from July 8th through September 30th. Guard spokesman Colonel Greg Hapgood says the last time they dealt with furloughs was in the mid 1990s.

Hapgood says the furloughs will not affect active guard and reserve members. Those who will be impacted do everything from accounting to aircraft maintenance.

KWWL TV

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

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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

freefoto.com

A landmark $240 million verdict against a Texas company who employed mentally disabled workers at an Iowa turkey processing plant will be reduced to about $1.6 million because of a law capping their damages. The 32 men faced decades of verbal and physical abuse at work and at home.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Henry's Turkey Service have agreed in legal briefs that each plaintiff can recover $50,000 - compared to the $7.5 million a jury awarded them on May 1st.

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

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.

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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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. 

Matching Marrow

Mar 28, 2013
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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.

Retrieving Freedom

Feb 21, 2013
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.

Ruud named to lead UNI

Feb 7, 2013
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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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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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.

Flu shot scramble

Jan 10, 2013

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.

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.

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.

Deer numbers down

Nov 29, 2012

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

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.

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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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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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."

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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