Grant Gerlock


Grant Gerlock started covering Des Moines and central Iowa for IPR in March 2019. Before that he covered food, agriculture and rural life for Harvest Public Media at NET in Lincoln, Nebraska, where his work was recognized with a Regional Murrow Award and awards from the Midwest Broadcast Journalists Association.

Grant has a master’s degree in mass communication from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and graduated from Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa. He grew up on a farm outside of Cumberland in southwest Iowa where he listened to public radio in the tractor.

Grant’s favorite public radio program is Fresh Air.

Ways to Connect

Clay Masters / IPR file

The Trump administration will add onto future ethanol requirements to make up for its waivers that allowed small oil refineries to mix less of the biofuel with gasoline. But the extra gallons may not ultimately make up for all the industry has lost.

Iowa Department of Transportation Director, Mark Lowe
Grant Gerlock / IPR

Iowans need to be sure they have an up-to-date driver’s license before new rules take effect at airports and federal buildings next year. Starting in October 2020, a Real ID will be required to pass through security lines.

The IDs have a yellow star in the corner and are issued by the state according to federal guidelines to prevent identity theft. Without a Real ID, the only way for passengers to go through security will be with a valid passport or military ID.

Brett Levin / Flickr

The Iowa Department of Education is holding events across the state taking input on the controversial practice of isolating students in so-called seclusion rooms. Much of the discussion at a meeting in Johnston Wednesday focused on how to define threatening behavior in the classroom.

Fast food workers demonstrate for higher pay in Des Moines on May 23, 2019.
Grant Gerlock / IPR

One out of every five working families in Iowa earns too little money to meet their basic needs without public support programs, according to a new analysis of the state’s cost of living by the Iowa Policy Project. That adds up to about 120,000 households failing to earn a livable income, including nearly two-thirds of single-parent families in the state.

Tuition at Iowa's public universities has been on a steady climb. Since 2009, the average cost of tuition and fees is up 40 percent. State funding has not recovered from cuts made during the Great Recession.
Rachel Radkowski / Flickr

At a welcome back event at Iowa State University in August, students filled the Great Hall in the Memorial Union. They walked past tables sponsored by campus clubs and local organizations offering every kind of free swag from can cozies to Frisbees to pizza. Many of the students were also aware of another offer that has been proposed by some Democratic candidates for president: free college tuition.

Census workers in Iowa will have a photo ID badge, said spokesperson Sam Fettig. Residents can also verify that a person works with the Census by calling the agency's Chicago office at 1-855-579-7998.
U.S. Census Bureau

Although the 2020 Census is months away, census workers are getting a head start by travelling the state to update the Census Bureau’s address list. Workers in Iowa and across the country are going to hundreds of neighborhoods looking for new housing developments and apartment buildings, or old ones that may have been torn down.

Chief Judge of the Southern District of Iowa, John Jarvey, said having a new courthouse will fix the security and accessibility problems of the current 90-year-old building.
Grant Gerlock / IPR

Construction is underway on a new federal courthouse in downtown Des Moines. Funding for the project was approved by Congress in 2016, and the groundbreaking held Wednesday morning follows years of disagreement on where it should be built.

Collin Richards speaks with one of his attorneys at his sentencing hearing on August 23, 2019.
Kylee Mullen / Ames Tribune

The man who admitted to stabbing and killing Iowa State University golfer Celia Barquin Arozamena has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Collin Richards pleaded guilty to the murder in June and was sentenced in court Friday.

Flickr / Phil Roeder

As students head back to the classroom, dozens of schools across the state are preparing to offer free lunch and breakfast. A federal program called the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) pays for meals at schools with high poverty rates. Last year 157 Iowa schools were enrolled. That number is expected to go up for 2019.

Flickr / Carl T. Bergstrom

The top finishers at Quarter Horse races this weekend will have to give up a hair or two to show they were racing clean. The new protocol at Prairie Meadows in Altoona is an attempt to rid the industry of performance enhancing drugs.

Workers at Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa, take the first bets at the casino's new sportsbook.
Grant Gerlock / IPR file

Iowa is officially open for business for sports betting. Several casinos across the state took their first wagers Thursday, making Iowa the 11th state in the U.S. to officially legalize gambling on sports.

The entrance to Lakeside Casino near Osceola, Iowa.
Grant Gerlock / IPR

Classic hits play over the speakers on the casino floor at Lakeside Casino near Osceola, in southern Iowa. Players sit at slot machines with names like Buffalo Grand, Lightning Link and Wild Cougar. The games erupt with lights and alarms.

Down an escalator and beyond the bar (and more slot machines) is the corner of the casino being renovated into a sportsbook, a betting parlor dedicated to wagering on sports.

Congressman Steve King speaks to the Westside Conservative Club in Urbandale, Iowa, on August 14, 2019.
Grant Gerlock / IPR

Iowa 4th District Rep. Steve King is facing a round of criticism following comments on abortion at a meeting Wednesday with a Des Moines-area conservative group. King asked how many people would be left in the world if abortion in cases of rape or incest was commonplace throughout history.

New York City mayer Bill de Blasio speaks at the Iowa State Fair.
John Pemble / IPR

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Democrats need to put forward a vision that voters can be passionate about in order to bring voters off of the sidelines in the 2020 presidential election. The candidate for the Democratic nomination spoke to voters at the Iowa State Fair Sunday and cautioned that taking a moderate approach against President Donald Trump could hurt turnout.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at the Des Moines Register's Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair.
John Pemble / IPR

Democrat Bernie Sanders laid out many of his familiar policy proposals at the Iowa State Fair Sunday. But this time he said his ideas are no longer on the political fringes, as they may have seemed to many voters when he campaigned four years-ago.

Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bennet addresses a crowd at the Iowa State Fair.
John Pemble / IPR

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet says the nation’s politics were “immobilized” by partisanship before Donald Trump was elected president. The Democratic candidate for president told voters at the Des Moines Register’s Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair that he would bridge the divide by taking steps to rein in the influence of money in American politics.

Bennet said he would look to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, reform the redistricting system to eliminate political gerrymandering and place a lifetime ban on members of Congress becoming lobbyists.

A one-cent local sales tax took effect in Des Moines in July. Now the issues is going back before voters in neighboring communities.
City of Des Moines

Residents in five Polk County cities will vote Tuesday on whether to raise their local sales tax by a penny. Urbandale, Grimes, Johnston, Clive and Bondurant will vote on the local option sales tax for the first time since it was approved in Des Moines and several suburbs in March.

MedPharm's Aliviar branded medical cannabis products were on display at the MedPharm manufacturing facility in Des Moines
Katarina Sostaric / IPR file

The state board that oversees Iowa’s medical cannabis industry has declined adding any new conditions to the list of approved uses in Iowa. The Medical Cannabidiol Board denied petitions to approve illnesses such as anxiety and schizophrenia at its meeting Friday. A decision whether to approve post-traumatic stress disorder was delayed until November.

Former DHS director, Jerry Foxhoven, said he was forced out because he questioned spending DHS money to pay a staffer for Governor Kim Reynolds.
Grant Gerlock / IPR

Former Iowa Department of Human Services Director Jerry Foxhoven is filing a whistleblower claim against Gov. Kim Reynolds in the first step toward a wrongful termination lawsuit against the state. Foxhoven claims he was fired for objecting to continue paying part of the salary of Reynolds' deputy chief of staff, Paige Thorson, from the DHS budget.

Iowa Racing and Gaming commissioner Julie Andres moves to approve a casino's sports betting license at a meeting in West Des Moines.
Grant Gerlock / IPR

Iowa casinos are making preparations to take their first wagers on sporting events starting at noon on Aug. 15. The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission approved the final rules for sports gambling at its meeting Tuesday. The commission also gave initial approval to 18 casinos that had applied for sports gambling licenses.

Storm damage varied among homes on the same street, and so has recovery. The collapsed porch and broken windows appear untouched on one home while the house next door now looks unscathed.
Grant Gerlock / IPR

Construction crews are still a regular presence on the north side of Marshalltown, where one year ago an EF-3 tornado carved a path through residential streets and the community’s downtown.

Casinos like the Isle of Capri are making plans to be ready for sports betting once the final rules are approved.
Dustin Oliver / Flickr

State regulators will vote later this month on rules allowing sports betting in Iowa, fulfilling a law passed this year by the legislature. If the guidelines are adopted by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, the first wagers could be made as soon as mid-August.

John Pemble/IPR file photo

State and federal attorneys want the Iowa Supreme Court to reverse a Tama County magistrate judge’s decision to dismiss a set of criminal charges because they occurred on tribal land. In oral arguments Wednesday, they argued a law passed by Congress last year does not entirely eliminate the state’s jurisdiction on the Meskwaki Settlement in eastern Iowa as the judge ruled.

John Pemble / IPR file photo

The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs is awarding more than $2.1 million in grants to support dozens of projects and organizations across the state, including everything from theatre performances to rural revitalization.

A one-cent local sales tax took effect in Des Moines in July. Now the issues is going back before voters in neighboring communities.
City of Des Moines

An additional one-cent sales tax will start showing up Monday on shoppers' receipts in Des Moines and several surrounding communities. Half of the revenue from the local option sales tax passed by voters in March is earmarked to lower property tax rates.

Kayla Lyon speaks during a subcommittee hearing on February 26, 2019.
John Pemble / IPR file photo

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has chosen a member of her own staff to head the state Department of Natural Resources. Kayla Lyon is the first woman appointed to lead the agency.

Kate Payne / IPR file

The Mississippi River is continuing to dip below flood stage in Iowa after setting new marks for the longest flood on record in communities from Dubuque to Keokuk. As the water recedes, local leaders are setting to the task of adding up all the damage left behind.

John Pemble/IPR file photo

A group of Iowa House Democrats is waiting to hear what comes next in a lawsuit aimed at rolling back changes to the process for choosing Iowa Supreme Court justices. The lawmakers are challenging new rules passed on the last day of the legislative session giving the governor more influence over the membership of the judicial nominating commission.

Megan Klindt and Donald Hendricks died when an engine fire spread throughout this bus in rural western Iowa.
Pottawattamie County Sheriff's Office

After reviewing the case of a school bus fire in western Iowa, a federal safety board is calling for changes to fire safety standards that date back to 1971. The National Transportation Safety Board said buses are overdue for an upgrade to protect students from fires, but also said school districts should follow stricter rules to ensure drivers are healthy enough to take action when there is an emergency.

Former Iowa governor and current ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, gives testimony at the Polk County Courthouse in Des Moines.
Des Moines Register pool photo

Former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad testified Friday that he did not discriminate against Christopher Godfrey when he asked him to resign as Iowa’s Workers’ Compensation Commissioner before his six-year term was up.

Godfrey is suing Branstad, claiming he was asked to leave the position in 2011 because he is gay and that, after he declined, Branstad retaliated by slashing his salary.