IPR News Stories

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A qualified voter in a special schoolboard election in Washington County Tuesday was turned away at the polls, and election officials are promising better training in the future about Iowa’s new voter ID law.   

Susan McClellan arrived at the polling place in Wellman for the Mid-Prairie School Board election without her driver’s license.  

For this year, Iowa’s new voter ID law requires poll workers to ask for an ID, but to offer the voter the option of signing an oath of identification instead.

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.

child working with tutor
Katarina Sostaric/IPR

After a judge ordered the state of Iowa to change how schools determine if students qualify for special education, educators are grappling with how to follow the judge’s orders. And while some advocates hope this opens up special education to more students, some families are still going to great lengths to get special services for their kids.

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.

Amy Mayer/IPR

A major farm trade show is underway in Iowa, but the first day came to a soggy halt Tuesday.

The Farm Progress Show is billed as the largest outdoor farm show in the country. It’s held at the Central Iowa Expo in Boone County in even-numbered years, alternating with a site in Decatur, Illinois. It kicked off with a strong morning crowd.

John Peterson, a corn and soybean farmer from Jackson, Minnesota, came to check out the latest equipment.

Katie Peikes / IPR

An annual survey that tracks civility in the United States recently found the vast majority of people believe civility continues to be a problem in the country. 

But a project to revive civility is hoping to make a difference, by visiting several cities in Iowa to encourage people to have more civil conversations with each other.


chuck grassley
Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley said Tuesday President Trump’s announcement of a preliminary trade deal with Mexico and details for $12 billion in farmer aid shows he is “keeping his promises to rural America.”

Grassley said Iowa farmers have been feeling a lot of uncertainty as commodity prices drop and Trump’s trade war continues. But he says the preliminary trade deal with Mexico is encouraging, even though he doesn’t know the details yet.

Grassley was asked if there is any risk to announcing a deal with Mexico before Canada has agreed to anything.

Dean Borg/IPR

Iowa schools are increasingly having difficulty hiring the 9,000 drivers needed for the 7,500 buses and other school vehicles daily transporting K-12 students.

As of August 27th, nearly a week after classes began, Cedar Rapids Transportation Director, Scott Wing, has 19 vacancies, and says he would hire 30 drivers to provide an adequate pool of substitutes.

“We do have a shortage,” admits Max Christensen, directing transportation issues for Iowa’s Department of Education, “but I’ve been in the business 31 years, and I can’t think of a year when we didn’t have shortage.”

Rich Mason/flickr

Some Iowans who registered to vote this summer and received their voter registration cards in the mail are about to receive a second mailing with updated cards. 

That follows a court ruling directing the secretary of state not to distribute materials that say an ID is required to vote this year.    

Plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the law complained that the secretary of state’s office was distributing materials saying voter identification is required at the polls this year, when that’s not required until next year.    

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. 

Courtesy of Invenergy

A Chicago-based developer is bringing two wind farms to western Iowa as part of an effort to generate more clean energy in the region.


Iowa’s elementary and high school students will be taking brand new standardized tests this school year.   They will take the place of the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, otherwise known as the Iowa Assessments, that students have taken for decades.    

The new tests will help meet new state and federal requirements, but they’re still under development and that makes some educators nervous. 

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.

Courtesy of Bharatahs/Wikimedia Commons

Average temperatures this August in Iowa have recently been cooler than usual because of a more active air current called the jet stream.

Photo Courtesy of Andrew Fuller

During this Talk of Iowa interview, host Charity Nebbe talks with Andrew Fuller, the artist and founder of Guy Meets Cake. 

Fuller has recently been getting national attention for his newest macabre creations, "people pot pies," which are inspired by his love of Halloween and horror and his fascination with artistic hyperrealism. 

Harvest season isn’t far away for corn and soybean farmers, whose crops are worth less now than when they planted in the spring due to the United States’ trade war.

“We don't know what to think from one day to the next. It's hard to plan,” said Duane Hund, a farmer in Kansas’ Flint Hills.

Forty percent of farmers polled this summer by Farm Futures said President Donald Trump’s trade policy is permanently damaging U.S. agriculture. The scrambling of global markets is just beginning, Hund said, and pointed to the 1980 Russian grain embargo as an example.

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".

Wikimedia Commons

A recent complaint filed in federal court in Sioux City alleges agrochemical company Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup gave a man cancer.

Joyce Russell/IPR

A new state board held its inaugural meeting today charged with developing a statewide system for children’s mental health.   The Children’s State Board made up of educators, law enforcement, human services officials, and others is the result of an executive order earlier this year from Gov. Reynolds. 

Communities across the state are plagued with a shortage of crisis care, child psychiatrists, and psychiatric hospital beds for kids.  

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.

Katie Peikes/IPR

A retired police officer taught Sioux City Community School District staff what to do in an active shooter or violent situation – something that has been on the minds of many since a shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida left 17 students and staff members dead. 

Kate Payne/IPR file

Update at 4:37 p.m.

Officials say first degree murder charges have been filed against a Poweshiek County man in the disappearance and death of 20-year old Mollie Tibbetts.  A body authorities believe to be Tibbetts was found early this morning in a rural part of the county, south of her hometown of Brooklyn.  Rick Rahn with the state Department of Criminal Investigation said Tuesday afternoon they’re still working to confirm her identity.

Rahn says charges were filed against 24-year-old Cristhian Rivera after a long interview.

Consumers are buying more certified organic fruits and vegetables every year, and in the Midwest and Plains states, much of it is grown on small farms.

To comply with organic rules, some use livestock to provide natural fertilizer. Two separate studies in Iowa are trying to quantify the soil health, yield and, eventually, economic impact of grazing animals on the fields after vegetables are harvested.

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.

John Pemble / IPR

The Democrat who hopes to unseat Republican Congressman Steve King  in Iowa’s 4th Congressional District told state fairgoers Saturday that residents in the district are suffering from the Trump administration’s tariffs and they need someone fighting for them. Coming from a farming family, J.D. Scholten says he believes he can be that leader.

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

Human-caused climate change will trigger more intense rain and more frequent heat waves in the Midwest, according to a recent climate assessment.

John Pemble/IPR

The Republican candidate for Congress in Iowa’s 2nd district spoke from the Des Moines Register Soapbox Friday, calling the incumbent “a nice guy but part of the status quo.”

Iowa city physician Christopher Peters hopes to unseat six- term Democrat Dave Loebsack. 

Peters said he would have voted differently from Loebsack on a host of issues, from health care to banking reform. 

He brings his medical expertise to the campaign.

rebecca kiessling
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

A Polk County judge heard arguments Friday from a group trying to intervene in a legal challenge over Iowa’s law that bans most abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

The Michigan-based group, Save the 1, claims the law’s exceptions for victims of rape and incest are unconstitutional because they discriminate against people conceived in those situations.

david young
John Pemble / IPR

Republican Congressman David Young took the stage at the Des Moines Register Soapbox Thursday and told state fair-goers ongoing trade disputes and tariffs are making him nervous.

After his speech, Young (R-Van Meter) told reporters he has made it clear to the Trump Administration that he “doesn’t like” tariffs that are affecting Iowa pork and soybean producers.

“As a leverage tool, I understand what [Trump is] doing,” Young said. “But as policy, we cannot allow this to go on a whole lot longer and allow this to become pure policy and have it mired in that.”