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Marengo residents are urged to avoid area following fuel plant explosion

River to River, hosted by Ben Kieffer

Experts weigh in on the week’s news, including a rail workers deal and an explosion at an Iowa alternative fuel plant.

The Democratic National Committee’s early primary calendar does not include Iowa. Longtime columnist Art Cullen shares his misgivings about the decision to shake up Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status on this Newsbuzz edition of River to River. Host Ben Kieffer discusses Iowa’s next step in responding to the calendar, and talks with a Pleasant Hill locomotive engineer about a union contract deal that was decades in the making, but doesn’t address all of the workers' key issues.

Then, IPR Eastern Iowa reporter Zachary Oren Smith details an alternative fuel plant explosion Thursday in Marengo that left multiple people injured and forced residents to evacuate, University of Iowa Public Policy Director Pete Damiano gives tips on the health insurance open enrollment period, and IPR Health Reporter Natalie Krebs shares her reporting on the federal aid available to rural hospitals in the Midwest and why some hospitals don’t want to accept it.

Finally, we groove into the weekend with new music recommendations from Studio One’s Cece Mitchell.


  • Art Cullen, publisher and editor, Storm Lake Times Pilot
  • Ross Grooters, Locomotive Engineer, Co-Chair, Railroad Workers United
  • Zachary Oren Smith, IPR eastern Iowa reporter
  • Pete Damiano, director, University of Iowa Public Policy Center
  • Natalie Krebs, IPR health reporter
  • Cece Mitchell, Studio One Host
Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River
Samantha McIntosh is a talk show producer at Iowa Public Radio. Prior to IPR, Samantha worked as a reporter for radio stations in southeast and west central Iowa under M&H Broadcasting, and before that she was a weekend music host for GO 96.3 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Dani Gehr is a producer for River to River and Talk of Iowa. Dani came to Iowa from her hometown in the northwest suburbs of Chicago to attend Iowa State University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in journalism, international studies and French. Before coming to IPR, Dani covered local government in Story County for the Ames Tribune and Des Moines Register.
Natalie Dunlap is a rising junior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and minoring in gender, women's & sexuality studies. She is from Iowa City and in her free time enjoys getting coffee and reading downtown with friends.