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University of Iowa Press

Julianne Couch should have been happy staying in her native Kansas City, or even her adopted Laramie, WY.  But after a drive through Eastern Iowa, she and her husband couldn't resist the charms of a small Mississippi River town in Jackson County.

Amy Mayer/IPR

 

Peggy Fogle and her dog, Abe, walk among rows of aronia berry bushes on the family property outside Carlisle. Plants on the ends of rows are smaller from years of being nibbled by deer and rabbits. But on nearly nine acres, filling four separate fields, the bushes are reaching maturity, eight years after Fogle and her husband decided to put in their first ones.

PeteLinforth/Pixabay.com

A new study by the United Way says 31-percent of Iowa households are struggling to afford their basic needs.

The finding is part of a United Way-sponsored ALICE report. It stands for Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed.

The report says 12-percent of Iowans live in poverty and 19-percent cannot afford the basic cost of living in their areas, forcing them to make concessions in areas like food and health care.

Deann Cook of the United Ways of Iowa says many of those struggling are in service sector jobs.

Wikimedia Commons

Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down one of the biggest cases on abortion in a quarter century. The court also issued several other rulings, including a case about affirmative action in college admissions, and another regarding when people convicted of domestic violence can own a gun. What does it all mean for you, and how will these cases reverberate around Iowa and around the nation?

Linn County’s Board of Supervisors wants more information before deciding whether to raise the minimum wage in Cedar Rapids and surrounding communities.

That’s after the supervisors study committee recommended $8.25-an-hour, a dollar more than state law requires, but a dollar less than neighboring Johnson County.

Cedar Rapids mayor, Republican Ron Corbett, says the committee’s $8.25 recommendation is palatable, but warned that delays invited power struggles. But supervisors chairman, Democrat Ben Rogers, says ‘not so fast’.

Joyce Russell/IPR

The YMCA of Greater Des Moines has landed a new high-profile administrator, naming former Democratic Governor Chet Culver as its new president.    

Culver will oversee fundraising as the Y strives to complete delayed capital projects, including an Olympic-size swimming pool at the downtown branch.    

Culver says he’s long been interested in athletics and wellness.  

Officials at the Y say his contacts in the community will be invaluable.  

Tony Webster, Portland, Oregon / Wikimedia Commons

A landmark piece of legislation that assures public access to government documents turns 50 on July 4th. President Lyndon Johnson signed the legislation in 1966, without so much as a statement, just avoiding a pocket veto. That reluctance set the stage for a love/hate relationship between presidential administrations and the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley says Vermont's GMO-labeling law will almost certainly go into effect before the senate can vote on a nationwide bill. 

Starting Friday, all products sold in Vermont must have labels disclosing which ingredients are genetically modified. 

Because many products are sold nationwide, this state law is becoming the de facto national standard. 

The food and agriculture industries want a national law overriding Vermont’s legislation. But Grassley, an opponent of the Vermont law, says it’s unlikely the senate will vote on a bill until this fall.

John Frantzen

Tune in at 5PM to hear the Quad City Symphony premiere a work written for them by Maquoketa native John Frantzen  - broadcast on the nationally syndicated show, Performance Today with Fred Child. The piece is called "Beyond a Wild Dream," and Frantzen wrote it for the QCSO's 100th anniversary season; music director Mark Russell Smith conducted. Frantzen has won many awards for his music, has been performed at Carnegie Hall and by the Philadelphia Orchestra, and has written a piece you want to hear - tonight!

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

You can't miss Dan Hartzer in his red fox hunting jacket, black top hat, and over-the-knee boots. After 65 years of playing trumpet, he is Iowa's only racetrack bugler, helping to preserve a racing tradition as iconic as the winner's circle or a photo finish.

"I have a microphone on the end of my horn but I play the bugle call, Call to Post," he says. "That tells everyone that the horses are coming onto the track, the horses are out there to be viewed and place their bets on them."

Joyce Russell/IPR

Republican State Auditor Mary Mosiman warns that an $800 million state budget surplus has now fallen to about $80 million because of big property tax cuts and a new teacher leadership program.   

She warns against new multi-year commitments, now that state tax receipts have dwindled. 

Mosiman says when lawmakers passed the big programs, the state could afford them.

“It’s taxpayer money and we need to do something with it,” Mosiman says.  “So they put it to use with the multiyear commitments being education and property tax reform.” 

Jeff Fasano

This week’s Symphonies of Iowa broadcast features the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra’s “Season Finale – All Tchaikovsky” concert. The orchestra performs three monumental works by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

Southern Iowa Gets Drier

Jun 27, 2016
U.S. Drought Monitor

Farm fields in central and southeast Iowa remain abnormally dry. Despite weekend rainfalls totaling two-to-three inches in eastern Iowa near Cedar Rapids, some of the state’s driest areas got only about a half-inch. 

Iowa State University Regional Agronomist Megan Anderson’s monitors a 10-county region from Independence to Washington.  That part of Iowa includes counties the National Drought Monitor has listed as abnormally dry or in moderate drought.  She says things are “precarious”.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Governor Branstad is unhappy with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down a Texas abortion law.    

The case dealt with the same issues the Iowa Supreme Court considered when it upheld Iowa’s telemed abortion program.   

The Texas law required abortion clinics to be near hospitals, so doctors performing abortions can admit patients if there are complications.

It also required abortion clinics to meet certain building, equipment and staffing regulations.

Branstad says states should be able to protect the wellbeing of their citizens.

Brian Gibbs

A young black bear was struck by a glass-delivery truck and killed on Friday evening in far northeast Iowa.

The incident occurred on Highway 76, near the Yellow River Forest in Allamakee County.

"It's a heavily-wooded area," says Kevin Baskins of the Iowa DOT. "You obviously have the Mississippi River bordering it on the east side, and so there's a lot of pretty decent habitat for bears if they do wander into that neck of the woods."

A Stalk to Stand On

Jun 27, 2016

With tomato season fast approaching it's time to talk about how to train those unruly veggies.

Ben Stanton talks with Iowa State Assistant Professor and Vegetable Extension Specialist Ajay Nair about the best way to keep your precious plants upright, and alternative support setups for larger-scale systems. They also discuss the importance of pruning, and how to spot the difference between determinate and indeterminate plants.

"When we prune our plants, the fruits are bigger and the plants are more productive in terms of yield and performance," Nair said.

shawncolvin.com

Colvin & Earle is a collaboration between veteran singer-songwriters Shawn Colvin and Steve Earle.  The two first met early on in their careers, and in 2014 they toured together for the first time.  That led to this new album, comprised of original songs plus some well-chosen covers.  As the artists' press materials for Colvin & Earle explain:   "This new way of working is different for both of them.  (Earle) is splitting the writing duties and supplying slouching harmonies in several tracks.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

A piece of public art is now maneuvering along the streets of Des Moines. Iowa Public Radio’s Rob Dillard tells us for the fourth time a DART bus has become a rolling canvas.

The opening day of the Des Moines Art Festival provided the stage for the unveiling of a work called “Where’s the Ball?” It’s the creation of local artist Larassa Kabel and features depictions of her two dogs. She says it’s the first time she’s used a city bus as a medium.

“It kind of represents what art is, which is a gift artists give that nobody asked for,” she says.

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.

Just a week before a Vermont law kicks-in requiring labels on food containing genetically modified ingredients, U.S. Senate agriculture leaders announced a deal Thursday that takes the power out of states' hands and sets a mandatory national system for GM disclosures on food products.

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, the chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, unveiled the plan that had been negotiated for weeks with U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan.

U.S. Coast Guard

Operation Dry Water is set to begin Friday as state, federal, and local law enforcement continue to focus on the state’s boating while intoxicated laws and draw public attention to the hazards of boating under the influence.

Iowa Department of Natural Resources Boating Law Administrator Susan Stocker says the campaign of focused enforcement will take place June 24-26 and consists of increased patrols, check points, and administration of breath tests. 

 When Martha Argerich plays piano, says Alex Ross, her “rivals become mere fans” and critics find their “well of superlatives running dry.” She combines qualities "seldom contained in one person":   "brain-teasing technical agility" meets "an unaffected interpreter whose native language is music....

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.

There’s rarely seen public animosity within Iowa’s congressional delegation.

2nd District Congressman David Loebsack, the only Democrat in the delegation, is calling 4th District Republican Congressman Steve King an “embarrassment to Iowa”.

It concerns King’s statements after introducing an amendment that would block plans for replacing former President Andrew Jackson’s image on the $20 bill with one of African American civil rights activist Harriet Tubman.

Greater Des Moines Partnership

Supporters of the arts and city leaders in Des Moines are unveiling plans for a walking tour of public installations in the downtown area. 

The Art Route will pass by 87 pieces of art and stretch 6.6 miles from the west end of downtown to the State Capitol.

The chief communications officer for the Greater Des Moines Partnership, Tiffany Tauscheck, calls the Art Route one-of-a-kind in the nation.

Nancy Pelosi / Flickr

Early Wednesday, John Lewis, a Democratic representative from Georgia, asked his colleagues to join him on the floor of the United States House of Representatives and began to speak.

Using an u

nusual spelling of a word or a fancy French saying may seem like an easy way to sound elegant, but in reality the roots of the words or sayings are not what you think they are. 

On this episode of Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe talks with English language expert Patricia O’Conner about pretentious spellings and pronunciations. O'Conner is the author of Woe is I and writes on grammar blog, Grammarphobia

Dan Boyce / Rocky Mountain PBS for Harvest Public Media

Meat consumers in the U.S. enjoy relatively low prices and an array of choices, but there is a high human price tag. The more than 500,000 men and women who work in slaughterhouses and meat processing plants have some of the most dangerous factory jobs in America.

"If you recall the publication of The Jungle back in 1906 - the meat packing industry is similar to that to this day," says Peggy Lowe of Harvest Public Media, referring to the conditions in the plant and circumstances of the factory workers. 

Jennifer Loeb

We use the metaphors “climbing a mountain” and “reaching the highest peak” as a way to describe the biggest challenges in our lives.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Iowans who have summited the highest peaks in the world, pushing themselves to the limit, stepping out of their comfort zone, and in Jesup native Jennifer Loeb's case, finding a greater sense of purpose.

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