Kate Payne


Kate Payne is an Iowa City-based reporter for Iowa Public Radio. Before she came to the Midwest she was a reporter and fill-in host for WFSU, the NPR member station in Tallahassee, Florida. Kate has won awards for her political and feature reporting and her sound editing.

Kate is a proud North Florida native, an avid reader and loves experimenting in the kitchen.

Feel free to send story tips and Iowa road trip ideas to kpayne@iowapublicradio.org.

Kate's favorite public radio program is Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!

Michael Coghlan via flickr creative commons / https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikecogh/8035396680/

Linn County officials and non-profit organizations want to help former inmates re-enter society. An upcoming expungement clinic is aimed at helping Iowans work past their criminal records.

Army Corps of Engineers Rock Island District / http://www.mvr.usace.army.mil/Missions/Navigation/Lock-and-Dam-Information/Peoria-Lock-and-Dam/

Congress is allocating billions of dollars to expand the work of the Army Corps of Engineers, as past of a larger funding package that includes the Departments of Defense, Labor, and Health and Human Services. But adequate funding to replace the aging locks and dams on the Mississippi River is not part of the deal. 

Kate Payne / IPR

Federal agencies and local leaders are committing to work together to expand water quality monitoring on the Mississippi River. Representatives from the U.S. Geological Survey, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Transportation signed the agreement Wednesday with a coalition of mayors from up and down the Mississippi.

Gage Skidmore via flickr creative commons / https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/17649805888/

The chair of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee says he’ll hold a full and fair hearing on allegations of sexual assault by a nominee to the Supreme Court, scheduled for this coming Monday. The committee's past handling of similiar reports had sweeping political consequences. 

neverything via flickr creative commons / https://www.flickr.com/photos/neverything/

State investigators say heavy rains were in a factor in a manure spill at a dairy farm in eastern Iowa. Some researchers say a changing climate could increase the risk for similar incidents. 

John Pemble/IPR file

The University of Iowa is settling a lawsuit alleging it violated open meetings laws during a 2015 search for its current president. 

Vladimir Kulikov / Wikimedia Commons

Iowa’s governor is defending budget cuts to the state’s university system as some schools lose ground in national rankings. 

Kate Payne / IPR

Cedar Rapids officials have adopted a plan to fund permanent flood protection in the city. Ten years after historic floods battered the city, its leaders want taxpayers to help protect it from the next disaster. 

North Scott Junior High via facebook

Students and staff at an eastern Iowa school are still recovering after an attempted shooting last month. While North Scott Community School District officials are rethinking campus safety plans following the incident, a lack of funding may limit potential changes. 

Wikimedia Commons

Conservationists say they’ve made progress in the 10 years since historic floods hit eastern Iowa. Now they're calling for even more investment in flood protection. 

Wapsipinicon Mill via facebook / https://www.facebook.com/wapsi.mill/

The flooding Wapsipinicon River rose to 16.86 feet in Independence on Wednesday. Floodwater streamed into some businesses and parking lots and marrooned some cars in the northeast Iowa City.

Kate Payne / IPR

The city of Cedar Rapids is preparing for another flood. The Cedar River is forecast to crest at 16.5 feet this week, after days of rainfall saturated eastern Iowa.

Kate Payne / IPR

Across the country, construction firms say they’re having a hard time finding skilled workers. In eastern Iowa, a coalition of companies and educators is trying to grow the next generation of builders by teaching them early.

The Crisis Center of Johnson County / https://www.jccrisiscenter.org/

Residents across eastern Iowa are cleaning up, after severe weather pelted the area Tuesday night. The storm brought hail, flooding rains, and winds upwards of 80 miles per hour, knocking out power to thousands, downing trees and flattening some crops.

Kate Payne / IPR

An eastern Iowa school district has adopted stricter volunteer policies and more frequent background checks, after the superintendent allowed a convicted sex offender to volunteer in the district.

Kate Payne / IPR

Early results from a survey of the Iowa River show mussel populations are lower than researchers hoped. Scientists are monitoring the animals to better understand water quality in the river. 

Kate Payne / IPR

More than a thousand mourners crowded the BGM High School gymnasium in Brooklyn, Iowa Sunday to honor the life of Mollie Tibbetts. The 20-year-old University of Iowa student is being remembered as joyful, energetic and full of life. At an emotional funeral mass, family and friends urged mourners to live more energetically and passionately in her honor.

Kate Payne / IPR

The priest at a church once attended by a murdered Iowa woman is calling on his congregation to forgive her killer. Community members have called Mollie Tibbetts' death "gut-wrenching" and like "a hole in everybody's heart".

Kate Payne / IPR

People in Mollie Tibbetts’ hometown said Wednesday they’re heartbroken by the news of her death.

Early Tuesday, investigators found what they believe to be the remains of the 20-year-college student in a field southeast of Brooklyn, in Poweshiek County.

Twenty-four-year-old Cristhian Rivera has been charged with her murder. Investigators say he is an undocumented immigrant, but his attorney filed papers in court Wednesday disputing that.

Rusty Clayton is a life-long Brooklyn resident and owns a hardware store.

Kate Payne / IPR

Iowa law enforcement officers have charged an undocumented immigrant with first degree murder in the case of Mollie Tibbetts, who had been missing for more than a month. On Tuesday morning, 24-year-old Cristhian Bahena Rivera of rural Poweshiek County led investigators to a body covered in corn stalks in a cornfield southeast of Brooklyn, Iowa. The city of 1,400 is Tibbetts’ hometown and the last place where she was seen while jogging on the evening of July 18th. Investigators have not yet confirmed the identity of the remains, but they believe them to be that of Mollie Tibbetts.

Carl Wycoff via flickr creative commons

Some experts say Iowa farmers are largely exempt from a re-instated federal rule on water pollution. But the rule is still facing resistance from some ag groups.

Jeff Dzadon/Flickr

A recent analysis ranks Iowa as having the ninth worst infrastructure in the country.

The state’s rural county bridges may be what spurred the poor rating by content and analysis company 24/7 Wall St, according to Aaron Granquist, a project manager who’s overseeing the state’s upcoming infrastructure report card.

Girls on the Run of Eastern Iowa via facebook / https://www.facebook.com/GOTREasternIowa/

A girls empowerment organization in Eastern Iowa is offering sports hijabs to help Muslim girls stay active. 

Devlon Duthie via flickr creative commons

Iowa City is once again debating how to rein in a growing urban deer population. As the city has done in the past, local officials are considering hiring sharpshooters to cull the deer. But residents are divided on how to manage the deer, which some say are damaging gardens and spurring car crashes.

John Pemble



Corn dogs, baby ducks, and a butter cow to boot!


The Iowa State Fair is a time-honored tradition for many Iowans, and has gained a reputation for being one of the largest fairs in the nation.


Do you remember your first fair? 

Kate Payne / IPR

Farmers began phasing out the use of a particular pesticide long before a federal judge recently banned it. But chlorpyrifos could still have some long-term effects in Iowa.

Kate Payne / IPR

Investigators in Poweshiek County say they’re sparing no expense in the search for a missing University of Iowa student. And as the disappearance of 20 year old Mollie Tibbets approaches the one month mark, investigators have launched a website to field even more tips, findingmollie.iowa.gov.

Kate Payne / IPR

A group helping pay bills for Iowa families affected by an immigration raid is running out of money. Volunteers in the southeast Iowa city of Mount Pleasant have raised $120,000 since Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents detained 32 workers from a concrete plant in May. But organizers with the group IowaWINs, which stands for Iowa Welcomes its Immigrant Neighbors, say the money they've raised in the past four months will run out by the end of August.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

The Iowa congressman thought to be among the country's most vulnerable incumbents said he’s not worried about this year’s midterms. Multiple national analysts have singled out Iowa Congressman Rod Blum, R-IA, as a prime target for Democrats hoping to take back the U.S. House. The two-term Republican is facing Democrat Abby Finkenauer in a toss-up race for the 1st Congressional District in northeast Iowa.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/cwppra/ / Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection And Restoration Act

This year’s so-called "dead zone" off the coast of Louisiana is much smaller than expected. After monitoring farm runoff from the Midwest, that has some researchers surprised.