Sarah Boden

Reporter

Sarah Boden is a Des Moines-based reporter for Iowa Public Radio. Before coming to Iowa, she was a freelance reporter and radio producer in the Twin Cities. In addition to IPR, Sarah's work has appeared on NPR, WBUR's "Here and Now" and Harvest Public Media.

Sarah's favorite public radio program is On The Media. 

Ways to Connect

Michael Leland/IPR

A group of canoes and kayaks will travel down the Des Moines River on Saturday in protest of the Bakken Pipeline. 

Organizer Angie Carter expects at least 40 people to show up for the flotilla.

She describes the aquatic protest as a family-friendly way to encourage the Army Corps of Engineers to deny the pipeline permission to begin construction and issue an environmental impact statement.

The Iowa Supreme Court was unable to decide Friday when someone is entitled to counsel, though a drunk driver's conviction stands. A three-three-one ruling from the high court leaves the door open for future constitutional challenges. 

In September 2014, 29-year-old John A. Senn was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving in Des Moines on Court Avenue. Senn was taken to the Des Moines police station where he refused to take a breathalyzer test until he spoke with his attorney.

A New Jersey man and his companies have agreed to pay $45,000 to the state of Iowa in the settlement of an alleged psychic mail scam.

Timothy Clements owns both TCA Mailing Inc. and T. Clements & Associates Inc. The state of Iowa suspects these companies marketed to and billed at least one Iowan in a psychic services scam.

Jon Pemble/IPR file photo

Iowa's senior U.S. senator says his proposed gun-control amendment failed to reach the 60-vote mark Monday because of disagreements over the Second Amendment right to bear arms. 

"Don't forget (the Second Amendment) is just as important as the fundamental rights of the First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, Fifth Amendment," says Sen. Chuck Grassley. "You can't compromise people's constitutional rights." 

Iowa’s public safety commissioner is urging Iowans to contact law enforcement if they see something suspicious in light of the recent mass shooting in Orlando.

"When people are committing serious offense, they don't usually do it on the spur of the moment," says Commissioner Roxann Ryan. "They usually are making preparatory plans, they are conducting surveillance, they are collecting weaponry, they are practicing, doing trial runs, they are identifying victims or vulnerabilities."  

John Pemple/IPR file photo

Sen. Chuck Grassley says he doesn’t see any reason to increase gun control measures, following this weekend’s mass shooting in Florida.

Deceased shooter Omar Mateen used guns to kill 49 people and wound 53 others at an Orlando nightclub.

Grassley says that’s no reason to increase firearm regulations. Rather he thinks the focus should center on what he calls “radical Islamists.”

FLICKR / TOBIAS LEEGER

A new statewide council wants to find ways to prevent Iowa kids from missing too much school.

The Chronic Absenteeism Advisory Council is made up of 30 members from the Branstad Administration, the legislature, Iowa schools, and non-profits.

Jean Kresse of United Ways of Iowa will sit on the council. She says this is an issue for many children, especially from low-income families.

Rob Dillard/IPR

Former Lt. Gov. Patty Judge is the Democrats’ choice to take on U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley in the general election in November. It was one of several primaries that will help decide who will represent Iowa in Washington next year.

At her campaign headquarters in Des Moines last night, Judge made it clear to supporters what her campaign strategy would be. Iowans can expect to see plenty of campaign signs between now and November that are a play on Patty Judge’s last name.

An Iowa father testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday morning  in favor of curbing synthetic drug use. 

Mike Rozga of Indianola says his son David died by suicide after a suffering severe hallucinations in reaction to synthetic marijuana.

He says law enforcement and prosecutors don’t have the tools they need for combating synthetic drugs, which are often sold commercially.

Dakota Access can soon begin construction on a crude oil pipeline that will cut through 18 Iowa counties.

In a two-to-one vote, Iowa Utilities Board gave the OK to start construction.

That's despite the fact Dakota Access is waiting for project approval from the Army Corps of Engineers on 65 sites along the Iowa route.

Flickr / frankieleon

Iowans should not be concerned about local transmission of the Zika virus.

Deputy State Epidemiologist Dr. Ann Garvey said Monday morning there is no indication that the types of mosquitoes spreading Zika are established in Iowa.

"Again, the real risk of Zika virus to Iowans is when they travel to those areas of when there is ongoing transmission," says Garvey. "Again, those areas are the Caribbean, Mexico, South and Central American. To date there's been no locally transmitted Zika virus anywhere in the continental U.S."

Flickr / JohnPaulRichards

Gov. Terry Branstad says a proclamation he signed that encourages Iowans to participate in a Bible reading marathon and to read the Bible on a daily basis, “Until the Lord comes,” is not an affront to religious liberty.

The ACLU of Iowa says it’s concerned that the proclamation endorses a particular religion.  The organization says it never announces an intention to file a lawsuit, but it is reviewing options in this case.

But Branstad says he’s "astounded" people are upset since he’s not forcing anyone to read the Bible or pray.

Flickr / leah

Iowans voting absentee in Tuesday’s Democratic and Republican primaries have the option of hand-delivering their ballots on Saturday.  Sec. of State Paul Pate says the auditor’s offices in all 99 counties will be open for eight hours.

"Absentee ballots seem to be a trend where people are using it at high and higher volumes," says Pate. "And when you start mailing it on a Saturday or Sunday, there's a good chance we may not receive it in time, so we want to make sure we get their vote counted." 

Iowa Public Radio / John Pemble

A person in Iowa can’t be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits if they lose their job because they’re in jail. That's according to a four-to-three decision from the state's supreme court.

In late 2013 medical assistant Sondra Irving of North Liberty spent nearly four weeks in jail, unable to post a bail of $17,500.

The charges were later dropped, but because Irving had been incarcerated for so long, she’d lost her job at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

FREEFOODPHOTOS.COM

Agriculture commodity groups should not be exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. That’s according to Sen. Chuck Grassley, who opposes House legislation that allows these groups to keep their documents and data private.

Commodity industries have checkoff programs that are tasked with research and promotion of their products, such as pork or eggs. Checkoffs are funded through mandatory fees from producers and are overseen by the USDA.             

KCCI.COM

Three Democrats are vying for their party’s nomination in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District. And while Desmund Adams, Jim Mowrer and Mike Sherzan each have a compelling biography, when it comes to policy the differences amongst the trio are nearly nonexistent.

Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District covers 16 counties in the southwest corner of the state. It includes both Des Moines and Council Bluffs, along with many rural communities.

Dakota Access map

The Iowa Utilities Board deliberated Wednesday on whether to allow Dakota Access to begin pipeline construction in areas where it does not need eminent domain or special permission from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Though board members indicated they were not opposed to Dakota Access starting construction, they worried they lacked the jurisdiction to grant permission, in light of current lawsuits pending in district court.

KCCI.com

The three candidates hoping to clinch the Democratic Party’s nomination in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District debated in Des Moines Thursday night.

Hardly any differences surfaced on the policy positions held by Mike Sherzan, Jim Mowrer and Desmund Adams. But Adams says this primary isn’t about issues, but rather about beating the Republican incumbent, Congressman David Young.

Flickr / Alan Light

This Memorial Day weekend is expected to be the most heavily-traveled since 2005.  

AAA estimates 38 million people across the county will travel at least 50 miles.

Gail Weinholzer of the Iowa AAA says gas prices in the state are roughly 40 cents lower than they were a year ago, and historically there has been a strong correlation between low gas prices and the number of drivers.

WIKICOMMONS / Farragutful

An eastern Iowa town of 2,800 people is investing in its future by reviving the past.

Wilton was recently awarded a $500,000 federal grant to restore its downtown.

That's money it plans to match through tax increment financing and funds from local businesses. 

Becky Allgood of the Wilton Development Corporation says she hopes that renovating the facades of 18 downtown buildings to their original 19th century aesthetic will draw new businesses to the community. Soon, structures will display features like original brickwork and iron columns. 

IPR file photos

Two of the four Democrats running for U.S. Senate spoke at the South Side Democrat Federal Candidate Forum in Des Moines Tuesday night. State Sen. Rob Hogg and former state Sen. Tom Fiegen addressed a wide range of issues, including the environment and criminal justice. 

Both candidates agreed on the need for sentencing reform. Fiegen also spoke about decriminalizing marijuana, doing away with for-profit prisons, and advocates for fewer prosecutors being appointed to the federal bench. 

John Pemble/IPR file photo

Sen. Chuck Grassley and a bi-partisan group of senators are calling on Congress to pass legislation that reforms the way sexual assault cases are prosecuted in the military. 

The Military Justice Improvement Act would strip the decision of whether a serious crime goes to trial from the chain of command, and place it with trained military prosecutors.

Grassley says it’s clear the Defense Department can’t be trusted to prosecute cases, in light of new information that shows the Pentagon deceived Congress on how military sexual assaults are handled.

Paul Hudson/Flickr

The Iowa Utilities Board is holding public comment meetings starting today, regarding a proposed water rate increase that would affect roughly 63,000 customers in eastern Iowa.

Iowa-American Water Company wants to increase rates by approximately 13.7 percent. The Davenport-based water utility says it needs additional funds primarily to cover infrastructure updates and to supplement declining costumer use.

It estimates the average monthly residential bill will increase by $5.10 and the average monthly commercial bill to increase by $30.21.

Iowa Public Radio / Sarah Boden

A female eastern black rhino in Des Moines is expecting her first calf. 

Six-year-old Ayana at the Blank Park Zoo will likely give birth in late October or early November. Black rhinos are usually grey in color and have a prehensile front lip which they use to grab twigs and leaves. 

Blank Park’s Ryan Bickel says the zoo is very excited, since black rhinos are critically endangered and hunted in the wild for their horns.

Gov. Terry Branstad says he was encouraged by the unity and commitment he observed last Thursday night at the Lincoln Day Dinner, an annual fundraiser for the Iowa GOP.

Many Republican voters, both statewide and nationally, are struggling with whether to support Donald Trump, the party’s de facto nominee.  Though Branstad doesn’t support everything Trump stands for, he is endorsing the New York real estate mogul, citing national security, health insurance costs and debt.

WIKICOMMONS / Iowahwyman

The Polk County community stands to lose millions in taxes, revenue sharing, and charitable donations now that IRS wants to pull the tax exempt status of a Des Moines-area casino. 

Between Polk County’s lease and revenue sharing agreements with Prairie Meadows, the hotel, casino, and racetrack contributes roughly $26 million annually the county.

New reforms to Iowa sentencing code in the areas of child endangerment, non-violent drug offense, and robbery were signed into law on Thursday. Gov. Terry Branstad calls the legislation "a balanced approach" aimed at making Iowa’s criminal justice system more equitable.

Child Endangerment

People convicted of child endangerment resulting in death in Iowa now must serve 30 to 70 percent of their sentence before they can be paroled. Though the crime has the sentence of 50 years, offenders have been immediately eligible for parole.

Flickr / Andrew Higgins

A new law signed Wednesday allows Iowa to finance a statewide communication system of high tech radios for first responders.

Commissioner Roxann Ryan of the Iowa Department of Public Safety says Iowa is currently one of only a handful of states without an interoperable communication system. First responders elsewhere in the country have found the high tech radios especially helpful during natural disasters, when cell phones towers are damaged or networks are overloaded.

Iowa Public Radio / Amy Mayer

Sen. Chuck Grassley says the Republican Party has time to unite behind real estate mogul Donald Trump, the apparent GOP presidential nominee, before the November Election. That's in spite of the fact that several prominent Republicans have withheld their endorsements.

CLAY MASTERS / IPR

Gov. Terry Branstad says he’ll support the nominee of his party in the presidential race this November. He adds that he'll be the very first to admit that he underestimated real-estate mogul Donald Trump, the apparent Republican nominee.

"This summer, when he came to the Iowa State Fair, flew his helicopter around and all of this stuff. I thought, 'This is not going to last,'" says Branstad. "Well I was wrong, as have been most of the pundits and political people."

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