Pat Blank

All Things Considered Host

Pat Blank has been with Iowa Public Radio for 27 years. She was hired as a reporter and eventually was chosen to host Morning Edition at the Cedar Falls studios in 1986.  She has been host of All Things Considered since 1995. She is a nationally award-winning reporter who has also worked in commercial radio and television. Pat has served as a part-time instructor at Wartburg College and at the University of Northern Iowa, where she teaches journalism classes.  She is on the Board of Control for UNI’s student run radio station, KULT. She is currently serving a second term on the  Iowa Archives of Broadcasting National Advisory Board. Most recently, Pat was honored by receiving the Jack Shelley Award for Broadcast Excellence, in 2014.

Pat has a bachelor’s degree in radio-television broadcasting from the University of Northern Iowa.

Pat's favorite public radio program is This American Life.

Images provided by Hansen and Hinson campaigns.

A local political analyst predicts the GOP primary race in Iowa’s 1st Congressional District is likely to be lopsided. Two candidates are hoping to face Democrat Rep. Abby Finkenauer in November.

Small businessman and cattle rancher Thomas Hansen said he’s been interested in politics for decades.

Flickr

Iowa restaurants, barber shops and retail establishments are slowly coming back to life following an executive order from the governor.

That’s not the case for the state’s bars and casinos which will remain closed at least through May 27.

Iowa Racing and Gaming administrator Brian Ohorilko told IPR’s Pat Blank on All Things Considered Friday that when the venues are allowed to open their doors, things will be different inside.

Pat Blank / IPR

Iowa farmers have hit a bit of a speed bump with widespread frost and colder temperatures.

Iowa State University Extension Field Agronomist Paul Kassel said he hasn’t had any reports of damage but the cooler weather has put a damper on growing progress.

We’re kinda losing out here on leveraging our early planting. We like to plant early to kind of extend the growing season and increase the amount of time during the summer months when we can fill the kernel and the pods that’s probably the overall bigger concern,” said Kassel.   

City of Cedar Falls

A lack of pedestrians and reduced vehicle traffic is allowing construction projects in several downtown areas around the state to move more quickly.  

In Iowa City, Public Works Director Ron Knoche said his crews are able to tackle a maintenance project on one of the few river bridges in the district.

Iowa State Patrol

You can add increased speeding to problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Iowa State Patrol Public Information Officer Sgt. Alex Dinkla said traffic on Iowa's roads and interstates is down 40 percent.

He told IPR's Pat Blank on All Things Considered Thursday that some people are driving "way too fast" because the patrol has seen citations for speeds of more than 100 mph increase by 52 percent over the four-year average.

Dinkla said for the month of March, 103 tickets were issued for speeding in excess of 100 mph.

Michael Leland / IPR

Iowa schools are closed for the rest of the school year, and many businesses remain closed through April 30 by order of the governor as the state works to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. We'll be posting updates from Gov. Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Public Health and other news as it becomes available here for the week of April 19-25.

Lindsey Moon / IPR File

Iowa schools and many businesses remain closed through April 30 by order of the governor as the state works to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. We'll be posting updates from Gov. Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Public Health and other news as it becomes available here for the week of April 12-18. 

IPR/Pat Blank

It will likely take a year or more for two of Iowa’s five medical cannabis dispensaries to re-open. Dispensaries in Council Bluffs and Davenport closed without notice on March 30.

Owen Parker manages the office of medical CBD for the Iowa Department of Public Health. He said the facilities managed by the Have A Heart company are permanently closed.

"There’s no management agreement where transfers or anything like that that can be done. The licenses, once they’re closed, are rescinded. It just starts from scratch however many licenses need to be filled.” said Parker.   

Midwest Dairy

When COVID-19 forced the shuttering of schools and food service establishments, it caused a disruption in the supply chain for dairy farmers, including those in Iowa.

Farmer Relations Manager for Midwest Dairy, Mitch Schulte explained suddenly there was little or no demand for things like individual cartons of milk and 25-pound bags of shredded cheese.

He said this oversupply has producers looking for a home for their products.

Purina

Pet food manufacturing facilities in Iowa and across the country are considered a critical essential resource by Homeland Security, so they continue to operate.

The Purina Company has factories in Clinton, Davenport and Fort Dodge and employs more than one thousand people.

Scott Lewis/Flickr

Curbside delivery of materials like paint and lumber is allowing some Iowa contractors to continue working on construction projects despite COVID-19.

Executive Officer of the Home Builders Association of Iowa, Jay Iverson, said most are doing their best to comply with social distancing.

Subcontractors and those working on a project are asked to leave the premises while deliveries are being made," he said.

Iowa National Guard

Iowa National Guard soldiers from the 1133rd  transportation company based in Mason City and Iowa City are on the road this week delivering medical personal protective equipment.

Guard spokesperson Col. Michael Wunn said the group dropped off supplies in ten counties Tuesday and were expected to visit distribution sites in 21 more counties Wednesday.

"The National Guard has a unique role to play because it’s both a state entity and a federal entity and so we have unique capabilities with our equipment and the trained personnel that we have,” he said.

Greater Iowa City Area Home Builders

Some Iowa homeowners with recently completed remodeling projects are not being allowed to move back into their residence because of inspection delays.

Executive officer of the Greater Iowa City Area Home Builders Association, Karyl Bohnsack, says prior to COVID-19, demand for remodeling was booming. She said the problem now is that physical property inspections are limited.

Pat Blank / IPR

A two-year dream by a Waterloo barber to allow mobile barbering in Iowa is about to come true.

The Iowa House and Senate this week unanimously passed a bill that will let William Burt to take his Kut Kings van on the road.

IPR/Pat Blank

Lynn Bolin and her husband Dan operate New Day Dairy GuestBarn near Clarksville in Northeast Iowa. It’s a dairy that invites visitors to almost literally sleep with the cows.

“I grew up in the city and so when I married Dan, I was introduced to the farm life and when came back to the farm after living abroad and traveling around the world, we realized that we wanted to share  a piece of the farm with others," Lynn Bolin said.  "And so when we were building our new farm facility in 2015, this idea kinda came to be.”

  

IPR/Pat Blank

The University of Northern Iowa’s Chemistry and Biochemistry Department has been awarded a $25,000 grant by the Iowa Space Grant Consortium, supported by NASA.

Associate professor, Joshua Sebree said the money will be used to purchase special tools for a research trip to Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota.

Pat Blank / IPR

As part of the many service events being held around the country Monday, a group of volunteers in Northeast Iowa is hoping to set a record for packaging food items to assist a local food bank.

Mark Garcia / NASA

The first class of astronauts to graduate under NASA's Artemis program was honored at the agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston Friday. One of the graduates is Cedar Falls native Raja Chari.

Chari spent two years in training after attending the Air Force Academy and MIT. He says the Artemis program aims to send astronauts back to the moon and to Mars.

Iowa Turkey Federation

The recently announced new trade agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico has the state’s turkey producers feeling like they’ve hit the jackpot.

Iowa Turkey Federation Executive Director Gretta Irwin says Mexico is Iowa’s No. 1 customer followed by China.  In November, China announced that it was lifting an import ban that had been place since 2015.

NWS Des Moines

There’s a new type of National Weather Service winter weather alert.  Meteorologist Kurt Kotenberg of the Des Moines bureau said they’re adding snow squall warnings to the list.

Iowa Turkey Federation

The state’s turkey industry is expected to benefit greatly from China’s announcement last week that it’s lifting the ban on U.S. poultry imports.

Iowa Turkey Federation Executive Director Gretta Irwin explained after avian influenza devastated flocks in this country in 2015, China shut down imports.

UNI Foundation

A Cedar Falls couple is giving the University of Northern Iowa a multi-million dollar gift. David Takes is a member of the UNI Foundation Board of Trustees and a 1981 alumnus. Takes and his wife, Karen are donating $10 million to his alma mater. Their gift will support multiple programs and projects at UNI, including an endowment for business students, the school's mascot program and future capital improvements.

Flickr

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued an emergency declaration for Iowa and several other Midwest states in response to an extreme demand for propane.

CEO of the Iowa Propane Gas Association Deb Grooms said part of the problem is that farmers in all of these states are trying to complete their harvest at the same time.

Ken Atkinson

Saturday marks the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall that cut off West Berlin, which was governed by West Germany, from Soviet-backed East Berlin and East Germany. When the wall came down, it marked the beginning of the end of the Cold War, and the  eventual collapse of the Soviet Union.

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Long before sports gambling became legal in Iowa, those in charge of gambling treatment programs were making plans to handle an expected increase in calls for assistance.

Manager of the state’s gambling treatment program, Eric Preuss, explained regulators needed to take into account new players, especially younger ones.

Pat Blank / IPR

In October, 26-year-old Eric Furleigh opened the door to a fruit and vegetable storage and packing facility for the last time this year. He and his family operate Furleigh Farms near Clear Lake which is the aggregation center for a young program called Bounty Box.

IPR/Pat Blank

On a warm September Saturday, David Shindelar is giving a tour of his Grazing Goat Dairy in rural Chickasaw County.

Bushel Boy Farms

Minnesota-based Bushel Boy Farms is expanding its fresh produce business to Mason City. North Iowa Corridor Economic Development Corporation president Chad Schreck said the $35 million investment involves a 50-acre facility to grow and package tomatoes. He said the project will be built in three phases.

Pat Blank/IPR

Fifty-one year old Jean Schilling left her home in North Iowa right out of high school. She lived on the East Coast and then in Minnesota before moving back to Iowa to help take over her mother’s floral and greenhouse business.

Iowa DNR

High water and swift currents on Iowa rivers are prompting Department of Natural Resources officials to warn kayakers and canoers to find other options.

Todd Robertson is an outreach coordinator for river programs. He said the conditions are dangerous, especially for rookies.

"Make sure you know how to control your boat properly, that you’re an efficient paddler," he said. "The best way to do that is to stay off of moving water and start practicing on flat water. Right now with the way rivers are, flat water and lakes are the safest place to be."

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