Dean Borg

Correspondent

Dean Borg is an Iowa City based correspondent for Iowa Public Radio. He joined IPR in 2000, but his broadcast news career began at WOI Radio as an Iowa State University student.  Later in Cedar Rapids, he led a 32-person news, sports, weather and farm radio and television staff for The WMT Stations. His experience includes daily coverage of the Iowa General Assembly, news and documentary reports from South Vietnam and the Paris Peace Talks, moderating nationally televised presidential candidate debates, and interviewing every President since John F. Kennedy.

He holds journalism and political science degrees from Iowa State and The University of Iowa. ISU conferred its Distinguished Achievement Citation to him, the highest award given to alumni.  He is also the winner of lifetime achievement awards from The Iowa Broadcast News Association and the Northwest Broadcast News Association.

Dean's favorite public radio program is Car Talk.

Dean Borg / IPR

Glenn Van Wyk is clearing debris spit out by the July 19th tornado after ripping through the nearby Vermeer factory and leveling three of his farmstead’s buildings. But he hasn’t yet decided what to do about flattened corn fields littered with steel sheets and other parts of the Vermeer buildings.

Van Wyk estimates about 40-acres is damaged. Maybe a total loss. He and his wife, Denise, farm 160 acres outside Pella, less than a quarter mile from the Vermeer plant’s Global Pavilion.

Dean Borg/IPR

Iowa’s corn and soybean crops are in mostly good shape this week, despite recent weather extremes.

Monday’s U.S. Department of Agriculture update rates 84 percent of Iowa’s corn acreage in good to excellent condition.

It’s about the same for soybeans.

Heavy rains and some hail battered some central Iowa fields during the past week.

But the section of the state most needing rain -- south-central and south-east counties -- slipped further into drought.

The USDA calls nearly two-thirds of southeast Iowa’s fields short to very short of moisture. 

Dean Borg/IPR

Today – June 1 -- is the date the U.S. Department of Agriculture begins computing federal prevented planting insurance payments to farmers who still have unplanted corn fields.

Most of those unplanted fields, intended for corn, are in North Iowa, in the Mason City-Forest City region.

“Every day, we’ve been rained out,” said Wayne Johnson, who farms in the area. 

He’s completed corn planting, and is still planting soybeans, steering through muddy fields and planting where he can.

Dean Borg/IPR

North Iowa farm fields, intended for growing corn this summer, aren’t yet planted. Hundreds of acres—mostly in the northern tier of counties adjacent to the Minnesota border—have ponds from April snows and several inches of early May rain.

Earlier this week, USDA’s crop update said three-quarters of North Iowa’s intended corn acreage is unplanted.  That contrasts with the southern two-thirds of the state where 79 percent is planted.  Corn plants are emerging in 26 percent of the state’s acreage.

Statewide, one-third of the soybean acreage is planted.

Dean Borg/IPR

Former Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett is asking a district court judge to restore his candidacy for governor.  A three-judge panel Tuesday ruled decided Corbett’s nomination papers were eight signatures short of what is needed to put him on the Republican June primary election ballot.

Corbett contends his nomination papers had more than enough valid signatures, and that what he calls the “Republican establishment” backing incumbent Gov. Reynolds is blocking his candidacy.

Dean Borg/IPR file photo

Cedar Rapids’ largest employer is moving its executive headquarters to Florida. Rockwell-Collins is being acquired by United Technology Corporation, and renamed Collins Aerospace Systems.

That announcement was made last year, and since then there’s been speculation - and fears - that the company’s headquarters would be moved away from Cedar Rapids.

Confirming those fears, U-T-C says Rockwell-Collins’ executive headquarters are moving to Palm Beach County, Florida. The company’s avionics and mission systems are remaining in Cedar Rapids.

John Pemble / IPR

Updated at 4pm to add the committee's vote.

Republicans and Democrats split their votes Monday as a House local government subcommittee approved by a 3-to-2 vote the first step in blocking a controversial plan for constructing a $21-million health services building in Cedar Rapids.  

The plan was developed by the Democratic-dominated Linn County Board of Supervisors, and is drawing fire from the Republican-controlled legislature.

Linn County isn’t constructing the building, but will eventually own it.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

 

The so-called “Unity Commission” formed by the Democratic National Committee is recommending historic changes in the way Democrats conduct the Iowa Caucuses.

The state party would be required to let people who cannot attend the neighborhood meetings on Caucus Night cast their presidential preference vote.

"We've got to figure out what that process is," says Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price. "Our goal is to make sure that with the changes we make to this we don't lose the spirit of our caucuses."

Joyce Russell, IPR

Iowa’s Racing and Gaming Commission, voting 3-2, Thursday rejected three applications for establishing casino gambling in downtown Cedar Rapids.

The action mirrors a similar rejection of a single application in 2014. That vote was 4-1.

Commissioners again cited the damaging effect that market studies predict a Cedar Rapids casino would have on existing Eastern Iowa casinos. The commissioners said Iowa’s casino gambling market is saturated and revenues are not increasing.

Dean Borg/IPR

Iowa’s corn and soybean crops are now racing the fall weather. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s weekly update says all of the state’s corn acreage is mature, but most of it is still in the field.

Only 23 percent of the corn crop is harvested. That’s two weeks behind average, and the smallest percentage at this stage of the season since 2009.

It’s the same for soybeans, the latest in the last eight years, with more than a one third of the Iowa’s soybean crop still in the field.

The USDA’s report says yields are running better than expected.

MadMaxMarchHere / Wikimedia Commons

Four finalists to be the next president of Iowa State University were on the Ames campus this week for interviews and meetings with faculty, staff and community members. Now, the search committee will review the feedback from the public forums and meet with the Board of Regents. A final decision is expected on October 23rd. The next president will replace Steven Leath who is now president of at Auburn University in Alabama. 

Dean Borg/IPR

Casino operators and supporters from Eastern Iowa communities where the casinos are located don’t want Iowa’s Racing and Gaming Commission to license new competition in Cedar Rapids.

During a Tuesday public hearing on three requests to establish gambling in downtown Cedar Rapids, casino representatives from Waterloo, Bettendorf, Dubuque, Riverside, and Tama all said another casino would cannibalize business from their operations. They contend Iowa’s gaming market is saturated.

Jon S/Flickr

The owners of the Dubuque Telegraph-Herald newspaper are expanding their holdings of community newspapers. Woodward Communications, which publishes Dubuque’s daily newspaper as well as weekly newspapers in Dyersville, Manchester and Cascade, is acquiring West  Branch Communications, co-owned by Jake Krob of Mount Vernon and Stuart Clark of West Branch.  The sale includes several publications.

Dean Borg/IPR

The U. S. Department of Agriculture’s latest estimate for corn and soybean yields was disappointing for Iowa farmers, and concerning for Iowa’s cash-strapped state government budget.

Grain traders and market analysts had been expecting the yield estimates to be lowered because of persistent dry weather.  But, USDA increased projected fall harvest for corn and soybeans Tuesday by about one-half bushel per acre. That sent grains markets sliding.

Dean Borg/IPR

The Iowa Board of Regents hopes to persuade Iowa legislators to substantially increase state appropriations to the three state universities, but is developing its own plan for halting what regents contend is underfunding.

Referring to the Legislature, Regent Larry McKibben, a former state senator now heading a regents committee on tuition said, “I’m not going to sit around and worry about what they’re going to do in January. I’m going to lead a project that makes change.”  McKibben says he considers the current regents board a “change agent.”  He said he doesn’t know the outcome.

rockwell collins
Dean Borg / IPR

Cedar Rapids' largest employer—avionics manufacturer Rockwell Collins—is being sold in what's being called the biggest deal in aerospace manufacturing history.

Connecticut-based United Technologies Corp. (UTC) is buying Rockwell Collins for $30 billion. They will form a new company called Collins Aerospace Systems.

United Technologies CEO Greg Hayes says the combination will allow for more innovation and lower costs.

Dean Borg/IPR

Iowa’s ethanol industry says it can help augment the nation’s fuel supplies, alleviating possible supply problems resulting from flooding of Texas and Gulf Coast oil refineries.

Gasoline prices in Iowa are up about 17 cents over the past week.  Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw says ethanol pump prices are holding steady.

Dean Borg/IPR

The first renters are now moving into Forest City’s first market-rate housing to be constructed in the North Iowa community in more than 25 years. The project helps ease the housing shortage squeezing workers away from jobs in many communities such as Forest City.

The Westown Place three-story building results from the community’s economic development organization taking over when private developers passed over the community’s request for proposals to build.

Iowa Lt. Gov.'s office

Yesterday in Clear Lake, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced that she will wait until September to decide whether or not to call a special session for the Iowa Legislature to discuss and act on the looming budget problems the state is facing. 

corbett
Dean Borg / IPR

Cedar Rapids mayor, Ron Corbett, says Iowa has “come to the close of the Branstad era.” He’s asking Republicans to nominate him for Governor.

In announcing his candidacy, Corbett is officially opposing Governor Kim Reynolds who is a protege' of the Branstad administration. Terry Branstad resigned a month ago to become U.S. Ambassador to China

Corbett acknowledged the transition during a Tuesday evening picnic in downtown Cedar Rapids, saying, “It’s time to elect new leaders, with new ideas, that have a new game plan for the State of Iowa.”

Dean Borg/IPR

Robert Donley, Executive Director for Iowa’s Board of Regents during the past nine years, says he’s leaving the state university system facing major financing challenges.

Donley lists "predictable and appropriate funding" as the major challenge.

Christopher Gannon/Iowa State University

Iowa State University, responding to a growing shortage of registered nurses, has hired Dr. Virginia Wangerin to direct a new nursing education program.  The program will enroll nurses holding associate degrees and graduate them with Bachelor of Nursing degrees.

It will be administered by ISU’s Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, headed by Dr. Ruth MacDonald.

“We were approached by DMACC (Des Moines Area Community College),” said MacDonald.  “There’s increasing demand for the BSN credential.”

Dean Borg/IPR file photo

Iowa farmers had only two days suitable for field work during the past week, and grain traders are taking notice by bidding up prices.

The USDA’s Monday afternoon crop update says corn planting – 92% of Iowa’s acreage planted -- is only three days behind last year’s pace.

But cool temperatures and continuing rain are affecting the corn plants.  USDA is rating one-quarter of Iowa’s corn acreage as fair-to-very-poor condition.

Amy Mayer/IPR file

The USDA’s weekly crop update says just over half of Iowa’s expected corn acreage is planted, with about 52 percent in the ground. 

Robert Lynch, who farms north of Fort Dodge, was among many Iowa corn growers working around the clock this past weekend, taking advantage of good weather.

“We pushed pretty hard and we got it put in late last night,” he said. “We planted 18, 20 hours yesterday, just trying to keep ahead. It was 12:30…1:00 this morning before we got the last field done.”

Dean Borg/IPR

Iowa’s Board of Regents has elected Dr. Michael Richards as the new board president.  He’s a 1970 University of Iowa Medical School graduate now living in West Des Moines.

Richards is a physician and former Unity Point health care executive. He was appointed to the board a year ago this month.  Richards lists setting tuition and getting a new president at Iowa State as the most immediate issues. 

John Pemble / IPR

Former Iowa lawmakers are expressing dismay at the partisanship on display at the statehouse, although they say Iowa reflects a national trend.  Former Speaker of the Iowa House, Republican Brent Siegrist says the legislature has become much more partisan than during his time there.

"There's still 150 well-meaning people up there. Even when you disagree with them, they're there to do the job that they think they're sent to do, but it is more divided and more ideologically rigid than when I was there, and I think that takes a toll."

Iowa State University

Iowa’s Board of Regents is selecting a former Iowa State University administrator to return as interim president.  The Regents are meeting Monday to name Ben Allen interim president.

Allen served four years as ISU’s provost before the Regents appointed him president of University of Northern Iowa in 2006.  He led that campus until retiring in 2013.

John Pemble/IPR file photo

Iowa lawmakers are quickly moving several high profile bills to Governor Terry Branstad's desk. During this hour of River to River, Iowa Public Radio’s Dean Borg talks with statehouse reporters about what’s happened so far this session and the live wire politics surrounding what still remains.

Iowa Public Radio’s Joyce Russell, James Lynch of the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Bill Petroski of the Des Moines Register, and Kay Henderson of Radio Iowa join the conversation. 

Dean Borg / IPR

Mount Vernon's Cornell College is celebrating its largest cash gift in its history, and is immediately investing it in a science center.  The $20-million gift comes from 1965 alumna, Jean Russell, now a St. Louis medical doctor.

Jonathan Brand, Cornell's President says, "Thanks to Jean we were able to hit our $32-million goal for the science center in under two years."  The science project is a new four-story, 45,600 foot building and renovation of the current West Science Center and Law House to house STEM studies.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Iowa Republican lawmakers would like to rewrite Iowa’s public employee collective bargaining law. Their plans are laid out in companion bills, Senate File 213 and House File 291.

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