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.

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.

Flickr

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."

IPR/Pat Blank

Advocates of a more comprehensive medical cannabis law in Iowa continue to push to make it a top legislative priority, and some who are enrolled in the program say it needs to be expanded.

On a typical morning at the Iowa Cannabis Company dispensary in Waterloo, staff members are taking phone calls, doing inventory and filling prescriptions. The Waterloo location is one of five licensed in the state and the second busiest.

Iowa DNR

A group of state, federal and local law enforcement officers will join forces Friday through Sunday to draw attention to the hazards of boating while intoxicated.

Iowa Department of Natural Resources Boating Law Administrator, Susan Stocker, says the effort called Operation Dry Water will use random check points on several of the state's lakes and rivers. She said they'll be especially looking for boaters who've had too much to drink.

IPR/Pat Blank

Ohio Congressman and Democratic candidate for president Tim Ryan stopped in Eastern Iowa Wednesday. At the University of Northern Iowa, Ryan said he thinks he’s meeting the challenge of setting himself apart from the more than 20 other candidates in the field.

“I think I best understand in that we are living in this age of anxiety, whether it’s economic anxiety or around health care, around what we see with immigration and the reality of it is the candidate that best understands that I think is going to be the candidate that the people are going to put forward," he said.

Flickr

Along with the vibrant colors and occasional loud bangs, fireworks produce a tremendous amount of smoke. 

Iowa air quality experts, including the DNR's Brian Hutchins, monitor the atmosphere to make sure the buildup of smoke does not exceed federal standards.

Hutchins said humid conditions add to the concern.

Dean Borg/IPR

Rail workers using specialized heavy equipment are clearing wreckage from an early Thursday morning Union Pacific derailment in Stanwood in east central Iowa.

The train was traveling on one of Iowa’s busiest rail lines, carrying coal eastward through the state.  Several coal cars derailed, stalling the train in the Cedar County town, and blocking Iowa Highway 38 northward.  Those cars have since been moved, resuming highway traffic on Iowa 38.

The Union Pacific railroad runs parallel to U.S. Highway 30, and the derailment is one block north.

Iowa DNR

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is sponsoring free fishing this weekend. State residents can try fishing without buying a license Friday through Sunday.

DNR Chief of Fisheries, Joe Larscheid, said there are a number of activities planned designed to help make memories.

Courtesy of Youth Art Team

One hundred fifty student artists from Waterloo and Cedar Falls have designed and painted a 3,000 square foot mural along the Cedar River.

Youth Art Team Director Heidi Fuchtman said the mural commemorates Waterloo’s civil rights history. The students conducted interviews of about a dozen local people. Student artists and volunteers together put in more than two thousand hours before anyone lifted a paintbrush. 

Iowa DNR

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has unveiled a new online hunting and fishing license system.

DNR Customer Service Supervisor Alex Cross said the new system called Go Outdoors Iowa also offers a free app with handy connections to a number of sources.

Pat Blank /IPR

As the spring planting season hits full speed, state public safety officials are asking motorists to check their own speed as they approach over-sized farm equipment on the road.

Iowa Highway Patrol Sgt. Nate Ludwig said traditional cars and trucks are no match for the agricultural machinery, which often weighs several tons. He said attempting to get around them could be dangerous.

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