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Constructing A New Career

Aug 26, 2016
Pat Blank/IPR

      Iowa’s Workforce Development is nearing the end of a pilot project that adds a new interactive tool to the job search.  Earlier this week, Iowa Public Radio’s Pat Blank climbed aboard the so-called construction equipment simulator.

It’s hard to miss the brightly painted red and blue semi-trailer parked along University Avenue in Waterloo. It looks like it should be hauling a car to a NASCAR Race, but its mission is much more simple. Get drivers along the busy highway to take notice and pull in for a pit stop. It caught the attention Eric Wallsteadt and his two kids.

Iowa Public Radio/Sarah Boden

A federal report released last year shows in 2014, for-profit companies managing part of Iowa’s three billion dollar Medicaid program made far fewer faulty payments than the state-run portion of the program.  

Governor Branstad says that shows fraud and abuse will go down, now that for-profit companies are in charge of most of Iowa’s Medicaid patients.      

Rob Dillard

The next recipient of the state’s highest award for an individual will be Des Moines philanthropist John Pappajohn.

At a luncheon to honor entrepreneurs, Governor Terry Branstad announced Pappajohn would receive the Iowa Award.

Pappajohn is known for his financial support of start-up companies and for the arts as seen in the downtown Des Moines sculpture park that bears his name.

Flickr / Ka!zen

An anti-human trafficking panel will be held at Des Moines University on Friday. It aims to educate the public on recognizing and combating the enslavement of people for the purposes of forced labor or sex work.

One panelist is Cathy O'Keefe, director of the Quad Cities-based Family Resource's "Braking Traffik" program. She says no community is immune to the crime as it affects all ages, races and ethnicities. 

Winneshiek County Sheriff's Office

Mudslides and flooding of near-historic levels in northeast Iowa have washed out roads, and prompted both evacuations and school cancelations.

Winneshiek County saw the greatest amount of rainfall overnight. Some areas received more than seven or eight inches.

Winneshiek Co. Sheriff Dan Marx says he's planning for more flooding this evening, as the National Weather Service anticipates another quarter-to-half inch of rainfall.

Dakota Access LLC

The Iowa Utilities Board will hear arguments on Thursday morning regarding an emergency motion from a group of 15 landowners who want to keep the Bakken Oil pipeline off their properties. The group's attorney Bill Hannigan contends that condemnation hearings for turning over private land to pipeline company Dakota Access LLC have been faster than what was reasonable for the landowners to anticipate. 

Dean Borg/IPR

Republican Vice-presidential nominee, Mike Pence, was on the attack during a Monday rally in Cedar Rapids.

“Hillary Clinton should shut down the Clinton Foundation right now,” Pence told a crowd of about 200 people. “How in the world can they say they will shut down the Clinton Foundation if she’s elected President of the United States?”

Pence portrayed that as allowing “foreign contributors and major corporations to make down payments on access to the Clinton Administration.”

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee plans to examine proposed mergers among agricultural chemical and seed companies in a September hearing.

 

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

A fading tradition is preserved at West Point Military Academy; a live color guard and bugler raise and lower the Stars and Stripes every day. Iowa's largest military installation plays a recording, and the flag flies day and night because it is lighted. 

Greg Hapgood is Public Affairs Officer for the Iowa National Guard. "Here at Camp Dodge we have reveille at 7 a.m. each morning and at 5 p.m. each night we have what's called retreat," says Hapgood. "So reveille is the raising of the flag. Retreat is the lowering of the flag." 

Joyce Russell/IPR

A now five-year effort to beef up science and technology education in Iowa schools is paying off, according to a study by Iowa’s three Regents universities. The program is known by the acronym "STEM," which stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. 

Backers say boosting STEM fields will help Iowa companies find employees for good-paying jobs in advanced manufacturing, information technology, and other fields. STEM Advisory Council Director Jeff Weld says the results so far are encouraging. 

Joyce Russell/IPR

Gov. Terry Branstad confirmed on Monday that the for-profit companies now managing Iowa’s multi-billion dollar Medicaid program did not follow the rules in the first two months of operation. But the governor also says the state issued no warnings or fees, in spite of complaints of late payments to health care providers and delayed care to patients.  

Amy Mayer/IPR

On a trip to the Midwest last week, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack offered some advice to the next presidential administration. As the candidates tour the country and remain largely silent on agriculture and food issues, the Agriculture Department’s purview remains important.

 

Amy Mayer/IPR

On a hot, July day in Boone County, farmer Brett Heineman shuttled a semi from one of his family's fields to the local co-op. He and his uncle were harvesting the first crop of oats on this farm in decades.

Before, corn and soybeans almost completely covered the landscape -- today, they account for 95 percent of crop acres in Iowa -- most Corn Belt farmers also grew oats or alfalfa. Now, the Heinemans are among the farmers taking a closer look at re-integrating the small grain into their operations.

Kim Weaver is the Democratic candidate for Congress in Iowa’s 4th congressional district, challenging seven term incumbent Republican Steve King.     

Weaver is a state employee from Sheldon.    If elected, she would be Iowa’s first female member of the U.S. House.

Before a small crowd of fairgoers, Weaver called for a higher minimum wage, help for student debt, better mental health services for veterans, and immigration reform.   She says even the Farm Bureau agrees with her on immigration.

Dakota Access LLC

A pipeline company says a group of landowners challenging its use of eminent domain was too late in filing a motion asking the Polk County District County to temporarily stop pipeline construction. Therefore, Dakota Access LLC says the landowners’ motion should be tossed.

Clay Masters / IPR

There’s one issue both major presidential candidates seem to be in agreement on. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton say they’re opposed to President Obama’s multinational trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. In the swing state of Iowa, many agricultural groups are in favor of the TPP for new markets it will open for exports like Iowa pork.

John Pemble / IPR

Ten Iowans have been honored at the Iowa State Fair with governor’s Lifesaving Awards.  Two of those recipients are Craig Smith and Steve Neal from Mount Vernon.  Last March they were sitting next to their friend Adrain Ringold during a coffee club gathering. Ringold suddenly passed out and had no pulse.  Smith and Neal took him to the floor and began performing CPR.

Neal sang the classic disco hit “Stayin Alive” by the Bee Gees, while Smith began applying chest compressions.

Dakota Access

A group of landowners will ask the District Court in Polk County this afternoon to stop the Dakota Access pipeline from beginning construction on their properties. They aim to hold off the condemnation of their lands until they have their day in court to challenge the company’s use of eminent domain.

ROB DILLARD/IPR & John Pemble/IPR

The latest Quinnipiac University poll finds Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton leading GOP nominee Donald Trump by 47 percent to 44 percent in Iowa.

Since Clinton’s three-point lead is within the margin of error, the poll suggests the candidates are effectively tied. But the same survey also find that 97 percent of Iowa Democrats say they are supporting Clinton, and only 85 percent of Republicans say the same of Trump.

Flickr / Roger W

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is holding a rural LGBT summit Thursday at Drake University.

Ashlee Davis is the director of the event, which is the 15th the USDA has held in the rural and southern U.S.. Davis says some there’s a widely-held myth that LGBT people don’t live in rural American, but data from the most recent U.S. Census shows that's not the case.

Amy Mayer/IPR

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says it is expanding its support of new farmers and ranchers.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack met with more than a dozen young, beginning and military veteran farmers at Iowa State University in Ames. He listened to their start-up stories and announced another $18 million in grants to help new farmers get going. Vilsack says he has tried to connect government policy with on-the-ground needs for farmers.

John Pemble / IPR

A new work of art about the bond between horses and humans is at the Iowa State Fair in the century-old horse barn. Most of the 400 stalls are occupied by horses waiting for competitions, some with their human companions camping next to them, providing company and care.  At stall 406 is something different: a white fiberglass horse head hanging on a wooden mount illuminated by several work lights.

 

Sarah Boden/IPR

About 30 protesters gathered outside the Iowa Utilities Board offices on Tuesday morning. They want the IUB to install a Public Liaison Officer, who would address all complaints made about Dakota Access Pipeline construction and enforce the IUB rules.

A formal motion with this request was filed with the IUB jointly by the Science and Environmental Health Network and the Sierra Club’s Iowa chapter, alleging the current complaint process is in effective.

Pat Blank/IPR

The consistently high rate of suicide in the military has Republican U.S. Senator Joni Ernst on a mission to better address mental health care through the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. Ernst, Senator Chuck Grassley and Congressman Dave Loebsack have asked for an Inspector General’s investigation into the death last month of U.S. Marine Corps veteran Brandon Ketchum of Davenport.  Ernst says Ketchum had reportedly been struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, but was turned away when he asked to be admitted to a psychiatric ward.

John Pemble/IPR file photo

Iowa's senior US senator says the proposed mergers of major agricultural seed and chemical companies should get coordinated review from multiple federal agencies.

Chuck Grassley chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and often presses government agencies to make sure proposed mergers will not stymie competition. Right now, he says the Department of Justice is looking at the proposed Dow-DuPont merger. The Federal Trade Commission is reviewing ChemChina's bid to take over Syngenta.

Rob Dillard/IPR

It has become a hot word in the board rooms of health professionals and urban planners. Walkability – a measure of how friendly an area is to walkers. For an increasing number of cities and towns, making it easier to move around on foot has become a way to attract residents. 

A small group is conducting a walking audit of downtown Des Moines. It's heading toward Second Avenue, and then it will turn north with the idea of crossing the interstate.

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

Iowa’s corn and soybean crops are moving into final maturity with most of the acreage listed in good-to-excellent condition. Today’s report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture has both crops listed as 83 percent good to excellent.

In North Iowa’s Winnebago County, farmer Riley Lewis is anticipating a big harvest.

Sarah Boden/IPR

Rep. Dave Loebsack of Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District says he wants to make sure Social Security remains intact for future generations. 

While stumping Monday at Des Moines Register’s soapbox, Loebsack, Iowa's only Democrat in Congress, told a crowd of about 70 people that after his father died, Social Security survivor benefits made it possible for him to attend college.

"There are some who are saying we've got to privatize it. 'We've got to turn that trust fund over to Wall Street, and to those investors.' Well folks, I don't think that's a good idea," Loebsack. 

SARAH BODEN/IPR

Democrat Jim Mowrer of Des Moines went on the offensive at the Des Moines Register’s State Fair soapbox Monday. The Iraq War Veteran is challenging Rep. David Young in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District.

Mowrer cited a recent failed amendment that would have prohibited federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT employees. Young was one of several GOP lawmakers to switch their votes, defeating the measure.

 

ISU Department of Housing

Students at Iowa’s three public universities begin moving into residence halls this week and in some cases, there’s more demand for housing than there are rooms.  Iowa State University says it had to turn away many returning students who wanted on-campus housing to make sure it had enough room for freshmen students, who move in on Tuesday. When the housing application period opened up last spring, a limited number of spots for returning students filled quickly and the remaining students were wait-listed.

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