10:47 a.m. – West Des Moines eight-year-old launches project to help refugee kids
An eight-year-old from West Des Moines is running his own hygiene drive out of his family’s dining room.
Gavin Anderson plans to donate the supplies to refugee kids his age.
They no longer eat in the dining room because it’s completely full of donations. There are baskets full of toothpaste, toothbrushes and all other sorts of hygiene products. His “toilet paper tower” almost reaches his dining room ceiling.
Gavin started this drive after his school did a similar project, but he told his mom, Kate, he wanted to do more for kids in need. “I loved it. I’ve always wanted to instill giving into my kids. So when he came to me I’m like, let’s do this. Let’s run with it. So here we are, and it exploded, which is phenomenal. I’m so excited because that just means we can donate to more kiddos.”
Gavin now has more than 4,000 supplies to donate. He got his mom’s help to partner with Des Moines Refugee Support to fill local refugee students’ backpacks at the end of July.
Gavin says he wants to do this every year.
10 a.m. – 16 additional COVID-19 deaths reported in Iowa this week, as hospitalizations creep up
Weekly COVID-19 numbers for Iowa
(from June 25 10 a.m. to July 2 10 a.m.)
597 new cases
16 new deaths
72 hospitalized (46 last week)
2,958,777 number doses administered
1,491,694 (45.5%) IA residents fully vaccinated@IowaPublicRadio
— Natalie Krebs (@natalie_krebs) July 2, 2021
6 a.m. – UI basketball star Jordan Bohannon signs autographs on day one under new NCAA rules
A University of Iowa men’s basketball star wasted no time welcoming a new era of college sports, when athletes can make money from endorsements and social media.
Iowa point guard Jordan Bohannon spent time at a Windsor Heights fireworks stand signing autographs Thursday on the first day the NCAA adopted new name, image and likeness rules. He says players across the country are beginning to explore how to capitalize off of big money in college sports.
The “name, image, and likeness” era of college sports is here!
Specifically, it’s at a fireworks stand in Windsor Heights.@JordanBo_3 @IowaBoomin pic.twitter.com/j11W0baaUq
— Grant Gerlock (@ggerlock) July 2, 2021
“It’s in uncharted waters right now, so not a lot of people know how to handle everything or what’s going on. But the idea of athletes just getting their basic rights and being able to monetize off their name, image or likeness is huge.”
Besides signing autographs for Boomin Iowa fireworks, Bohannon is selling his own t-shirts.
He predicts the NCAA rules could fare well for recruiting in Iowa, because the universities don’t directly compete with major professional teams.
2:49 p.m. – Lakes and waterways expected to be crowded for holiday
State parks and lakes have been busy in the first holidays since things reopened after the pandemic, and that is expected to continue once again for the Fourth of July.
DNR boating law administrator, Susan Stocker, says some people will already take off Thursday — and says the campgrounds, parks and waterways will be full, as everyone wants to get out and celebrate.
Stocker says you should do a thorough check of your boat before heading out — including a count to be sure there is a life jacket for everyone. “A lot of people like to use the logic that they can swim. Wearing a life jacket is the only thing that’s gonna save your life,” according to Stocker. “Unfortunately, approximately 86 percent of all drownings are people who are not wearing a life jacket.” Stocker says an accident can happen quickly and you can be thrown from a boat.
“You’re not going to be able to have a life jacket on, and another thing about water…the life jacket goes in one direction and the boat goes in the other direction, and you are not going to be able to find it. So the only way to protect yourself is to be able to wear it before anything happens,” she says.
Stocker says one thing you don’t need if you are driving a boat is alcohol. “Operating a boat and alcohol don’t mix. People don’t realize and understand that the stressors of the wind, the sun, the glare off the water — all enhance the effects of alcohol. So, the alcohol needs to stay home and make sure everybody is safe,” Stocker says.
Using fireworks is governed by local jurisdictions — but Stocker says one rule is to keep them off the boat. “You certainly do not ever want to light fireworks on a boat at all. Wait until onshore, maybe at the campsite…to make sure it is safe because you do have the gas and vapors and fumes,” Stocker says. She says those gas vapors and fumes can catch the boat on fire or cause an explosion if the fireworks are lit.
Stocker says state conservation officers will be out looking for violations and helping keep everyone safer during the holiday.
Entry via Radio Iowa
2:15 p.m. – FEMA reviewing response efforts to emergency preparedness exercise at Quad Cities-area nuclear power plant
FEMA is reviewing state and local response efforts during an emergency preparedness exercise at a Quad Cities-area nuclear power plant.
The drills conducted for the Cordova, Ill. facility on June 29 are part of regular, planned tests to prepare first responders and local agencies. Because of the facility location, Clinton and Scott Counties are involved in the response.
Tom Morgan with FEMA Region Seven outlined some of the standards officials must meet.
“How do we assess the accident? The nuclear power plant itself does assessment of radiological materials that have been released. The state and or local agencies are also responsible to do an independent assessment of that, and so we can get a good picture of what is actually out there, potentially affecting the public.”
FEMA is still evaluating the outcomes of the drills. A final report will be available within 90 days.
2:05 p.m. – Axne votes in favor of $715 billion transportation bill
U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne was the only member of Iowa’s congressional delegation to support a transportation bill that passed the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday.
The $715 billion package would increase funding for Amtrak and electric car chargers. It would also provide around $21 million for specific Iowa projects, including an extension of Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway in southeast Des Moines.
Although the bill is focused on transportation, Axne says lawmakers should keep pushing for a larger package to include housing, biofuels and childcare.
“This piece should not influence, in my book, a larger infrastructure deal because this is really your standard baseline infrastructure.”
Iowa’s Republican Representatives, Ashley Hinson, Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Randy Feenstra, all voted no on the measure.
The House bill now goes to the Senate, where it could influence efforts to build a bipartisan infrastructure plan.
1:31 p.m. – Expert says there’s an ‘incredible association’ between blood clots and COVID-19
A leading expert on blood clots says people with COVID-19 are at an increased risk for the potentially life-threatening condition.
Rachel Rosovsky is a hematologist and an assistant professor at the Harvard Medical School. She says there’s an incredible association between blood clots and COVID-19.
She says the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has also been tied to several extremely rare cases of blood clots, but that the risk of getting the clots or seriously ill from the virus is far greater.
“People get COVID not only just blood clots, but there can be some post sequelae from the COVID itself. So I really encourage people to, to get the vaccine and not, not delay that.”
She recommends those quarantining at home with COVID-19 take extra precautions to prevent clots. “So if you are at home, you know, even if you are quarantined to try and do leg exercises, try to get up and walk around. And again, the hydration is key.”
Rosovsky made her comments on IPR’s Talk of Iowa.
8:30 a.m. – Iowa woman sentenced to 8 years for vandalizing pipeline
A woman was sentenced Wednesday to eight years in prison for damaging valves and setting fire to construction equipment along an oil pipeline that crosses Iowa and three other states.
Thirty-nine-year-old Jessica Rae Reznicek also was ordered to pay nearly $3.2 million in restitution and serve three years of supervised release after her prison term for conspiracy to damage an energy facility ends, the U.S. attorney’s office said in a news release.
Her co-defendant, Ruby Montoya, is scheduled to be sentenced at a later date, the release said.
Prosecutors said the Des Moines women caused the damage at different times from 2016 into 2017. In one instance in August 2016, machinery was found extensively damaged by fire at three oil pipeline construction sites in central Iowa near Newton, Reasnor and Oskaloosa.
Before their arrest, they released a statement claiming they burned construction machinery, cut through pipe valves with a torch and set fires with gasoline, rags and tires along the Dakota Access pipeline route. The $3.8 billion pipeline crosses North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois.
“As this investigation and punishment show, any crime of terrorism will be aggressively investigated and prosecuted by the federal government.,” said acting U.S. Attorney Westphal in a written statement.
Entry via the Associated Press
7 a.m. – Iowa health care workers wonder about the future of telehealth after Reynolds ends requirement for pay parity
Thursday marks the first day that Iowa health care providers will no longer be required to receive the same reimbursement rates for medically necessary telemedicine visits as they would for in person visits.
The requirement was part of Gov. Kim Reynolds public health disaster proclamation.
It doesn’t affect visits covered by Medicare, and it won’t affect mental health visits, which are guaranteed payment parity under a new state law.
Doug Van Daele is a doctor with the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. He says virtual visits still remain at much higher numbers than they were pre-pandemic.
“I would get emails from people who would say, I didn’t think this telemedicine was going to work. But now it’s clear, I’m going to be doing telemedicine long after this pandemic is over, because the patients love it so much.”
Van Daele also says some patients still face barriers to the service.
“I still have a fair number of patients in my practice, who still have flip phones, and they just simply, they don’t have broadband at home that they can use for their, with their computer to be able to access it.”
Van Daele says UIHC is working with private insurers to make sure patients continue to have telemedicine options.
6 a.m. – Permitless carry law goes into effect in Iowa
Starting Thursday, Iowans no longer have to get a permit to purchase or carry a handgun.
Iowans who want to purchase a handgun from a federally licensed gun seller will still have to get a background check.
Iowans no longer need a permit or a background check to buy a handgun in a private sale. But sellers can get charged with a felony if they give a gun to someone they “know or reasonably should know” is prohibited from having a gun.
Black Hawk County Sheriff Tony Thompson says he is concerned some Iowans will mistake the new law to mean that everyone is allowed to carry a handgun.
“If you have committed domestic violence and been convicted of that, if you have been convicted of a felony, if you have been adjudicated mentally ill, there are still restrictors that legally would prohibit you from being able to carry a weapon.”
Thompson says he hopes Iowans will continue to apply for permits through their sheriff’s office even though it’s now optional.
5:23 p.m. – Following NCAA ruling, Iowa college athletes can earn money from their own fame
Some Iowa college athletes are poised to begin profiting from their own name, image and likeness, after the NCAA ruled Wednesday that players could earn money from their own fame.
Student athletes have long been governed by strict rules prohibiting what benefits they can receive, even as some coaches, administrators and pundits earn fortunes off their efforts.
University of Iowa football wide receiver Tyrone Tracy told IPR last week that players’ extended families stand to benefit from the landmark change as well.
“This is like, literally, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a lot of people. Because a lot of people don’t come from a lot of money from back home. This money can help their family back home. Some people don’t understand that. But, yeah, you’ve got to just look at the big picture.”
At least one Iowa athlete is already signing deals: basketball player Jordan Bohannon has joined a paid video chat service and is hosting an autograph signing event Thursday.
4:00 p.m. – Nonprofit launches new program to include healthcare coverage for meat-processing workers
Proteus Inc. has provided healthcare to agriculture workers for decades. And the organization found during the time of COVID-19, even more people were in need of its services. That’s why Proteus leadership decided to launch a new program that offers healthcare to meat processing workers. Daniel Zinnel is the CEO of Proteus. “It just goes to show that there are people who are looking out for those in need, but we’re all impacted by farmworkers and meat processing workers every single day. And so, even though we don’t think about them, often, we should think about them every day.”
The program is starting small near the end of the summer with only 100 clients at the Midwest Premier Foods facilities in Polk County. But Zinnel says he hopes to expand to bigger name companies in the coming years.
Initial funding for the launch is close to $150,000, funded in part by the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines.
3:44 p.m. – New coalition will advocate for criminal justice reform in Black Hawk County
Activists in Black Hawk County are banding together to advocate for criminal justice reform in one of the state’s most diverse communities.
A University of Iowa analysis found the county is helping drive the state’s disproportionate incarceration of Black residents.
Members of the recently-formed Black Hawk Racial Justice Consortium hope to prompt conversations about the role of local prosecutors and the impacts of cash bail.
“I feel like, as long as people of color have this anvil of the criminal justice system tied around their ankles, it’s very hard for them to make progress in other areas like jobs and housing and so forth,” said Allen Hays, an organizer of the coalition.
The coalition includes members of the county NAACP, the county’s Black Lives Matter group and the Iowa Justice Action Network. The group has been organizing letter writing campaigns to lobby the Black Hawk County Attorney, who is up for re-election in 2022.
12:38 p.m. – One inmate accused of killing Anamosa State Penitentiary staffers waives right to jury trial
One of the inmates accused of killing two staffers at the Anamosa State Penitentiary has waived his right to a jury trial.
Michael Dutcher voluntarily waived his right at a hearing Tuesday. Instead, a judge will decide the case during a bench trial, which is scheduled for August 3.
The other man accused of the murders, Thomas Woodard, is slated to go to trial before a jury September 21.
Investigators say the men used prison-issued tools to kill a nurse and a correctional officer during a failed escape attempt from the prison.
12:21 p.m. – Iowa Supreme Court rules that state can bar Planned Parenthood from receiving sex education funding
The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled in a 6-to-1 decision that the state may bar Planned Parenthood from receiving funding for sex education programs. The court has reversed a lower court ruling that found the law unconstitutional.
The Iowa Supreme Court is upholding a law passed in 2019 that says organizations that provide abortions aren’t allowed to receive funding through two grants focused on teen pregnancy and STI prevention.
The opinion reads, “Because an abortion provider lacks a freestanding constitutional right to provide abortions, any conditions premised on providing abortions cannot be considered unconstitutional.”
Planned Parenthood is currently teaching these programs — using a state-provided curriculum — in more than 30 schools and 15 youth organizations. The president and CEO of the regional Planned Parenthood says the court decision is a major setback for public health.
Gov. Kim Reynolds says the decision sends a strong statement that taxpayer dollars shouldn’t fund abortion.
12:19 p.m. – Iowa Supreme Court rules in favor of former Gov. Branstad in discrimination case
The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled in favor of former Gov. Terry Branstad in a lawsuit in which he was found to have discriminated against a workers’ compensation commissioner because he is gay.
The decision overturns a $1.5 million verdict in favor of Chris Godfrey, who claimed he was mistreated after refusing to resign. The court also ordered for the case to be dismissed.
According to the majority opinion, there was not enough evidence to prove that Branstad knew Godfrey’s sexual orientation.
But Godfrey’s attorney, Roxanne Conlin, says that was for the jury to decide. “It is just not the role of the Iowa Supreme Court to reverse the findings of fact of a jury.”
Wednesday’s ruling marks the third Supreme Court decision related to the nearly decade-long case.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Gov. Kim Reynolds called the ruling a “total victory for the rule of law and Iowa taxpayers.”
6:31 a.m. – UPS moving into new $10.2 million facility at eastern Iowa airport
A new, $10.2 million cargo facility at the Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids has officially opened.
United Parcel Service has signed a 10-year lease on the nearly 40,000 square facility and will use it to sort and distribute UPS packages.
UPS has been operating at the Cedar Rapids airport since 1983. It will be moving out of a facility that’s about one-fifth the size of the new cargo handling area.
Construction on the new facility on the west side of the Eastern Iowa Airport began in 2019 and was financed with state and federal grants as well as money from the Cedar Rapids airport’s commission.
Entry via Radio Iowa
6:04 a.m. – Iowa Lottery thrives in pandemic smashing sales, proceeds records
The Iowa Lottery has broken several records already, with one month remaining in the fiscal year.
Lottery CEO, Matt Strawn, says the amount of money turned over to the state set one of the records. “Through May, the Iowa Lottery produced nearly $95 million in proceeds. This represents a 30 percent increase in year-over-year proceeds performance,” Strawn says.
Strawn says the proceeds are well past the record $92.8 million for a full 12-month fiscal year. “These record proceeds are the result of Lottery sales that have surpassed $400 million for the first time in the Lottery’s 36 years,” according to Strawn. “Through the first 11 months of the fiscal year, Iowa Lottery sales totaled $417,183,750. This represents a 24.5 percent increase in year-over-year lottery sales performance. This also eclipses the previous 12-month record for lottery sales — which was $390.8 million in FY 19.”
Strawn says prize payouts increased along with sales. “Through May, players won prizes totaling $265,864,725. This pace has already surpassed the record $241.9 million in prizes that were paid to players in FY 19,” Strawn says.
Strawn says the pandemic is behind the massive increase in sales. “When Iowans found lottery tickets as a safe local entertainment option as they spent considerably more time at home. We, of course, anticipate that as consumer behavior continues to normalize — Iowa Lottery sales in the coming years and in the immediate future — will return to more modest growth,” he says.
The increase in sales was driven by the sale of scratch tickets — which has surpassed $300 million through May.
Entry via Radio Iowa
3:41 p.m. – Iowa’s first Black female mayor dies
The first Black female mayor elected in the state of Iowa has died. Former Clinton Mayor LaMetta Wynn died in Lincoln, Nebraska last week at the age of 87.
Elected in 1995, Wynn went on to become Clinton’s longest-serving mayor, holding the office until 2007. She was also a nurse, a mother of 10, and a local school board member.
Current mayor Scott Maddasion says Wynn has left a lasting legacy in the Mississippi River city. “She’s a very, very strong leader, when it comes to the council, when it comes to the citizens, and just the community as a whole. So her legacy is going to stand here forever. She is always going to be in the conversation of really…what Clinton is about.”
Still, Iowa communities continue to fall far short of achieving race and gender parity in elected offices. Many city councils and county boards are overwhelmingly white, even in the state’s most racially diverse communities.
12 p.m. – CDC Study finds that disparities in learning access persist for students of color in Iowa
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released research findings about disparities in learning access among kindergarten through grade twelve students. It found that non-Hispanic white students in Iowa are more likely to have access to full-time, in-person schooling.
The study looked at students with access to different modes of learning from January to April of this year. It found that students of color in Iowa, on average, have around seven percent less access to full-time, in-person school than white students. The study went on to say this kind of disparity may lead to future educational disparities between white students and students of color. It concluded Hispanic students in the United States have overall the lowest percentage of access to full-time, in-person school.
Some evidence suggested that families of color were more concerned with COVID-19 spread in schools. The CDC recommends schools should focus on providing safe, in-person school options to increase equitable access in learning. That includes increasing COVID-19 vaccination rates in schools and other efforts to reduce community transmission.
8:30 a.m. – Rain helps improve crop conditions
The USDA crop report finds the rain last week was helpful – but more moisture is needed.
The report shows the amounts of rain varied widely, with northwest Iowa still reporting more than two-thirds of its topsoil moisture short to very short. Districts in the southern third of Iowa rated 60 percent or more of subsoil moisture at adequate to surplus levels.
The condition of the corn crop improved slightly — up to 60 percent in good to excellent condition compared to 56 percent last week. Soybean emergence is now complete — with 58 percent of the soybeans rated in good to excellent condition — a one-percent increase from last week.
Entry via Dar Danielson for Radio Iowa
6 a.m. – One arrested at Des Moines City Council meeting
According to a resolution passed Monday night, the Des Moines City Council is happy with efforts to eliminate racial bias in city services and law enforcement.
The vote of confidence came as social justice demonstrators at the meeting criticized the city’s work on racial inequality. They repeated demands for Chief Dana Wingert and City Manager Scott Sanders to be fired.
The resolution says the council has no intention of firing Sanders or Wingert and points to equity policies and police training as signs of progress.
“I think it’s high time in the Des Moines Police Department and others, zoning officers and everyone else that works for the city, it’s high time that we step up as a council and be supportive of what they’re trying to do,” said Council member Joe Gatto, who supports the measure, which passed unanimously.
But demonstrators at the meeting again demanded attention to issues like racial profiling and marijuana enforcement. Laural Clinton is part of the racial justice team with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. “It’s not always pretty when you complain, but it’s also not pretty when you’re not heard.”
Since returning to in-person meetings, the Des Moines City Council has adopted stricter rules of conduct. Several people were removed from the room Monday night for interrupting the meeting. One person was later arrested.
4:56 p.m. – Iowa State University to test wireless broadband connectivity
Iowa State University will be a part of a test site of research and development to boost rural broadband connectivity in central Iowa.
The university hopes to bridge the rural/urban divide on internet access. It’ll turn Story, Boone and Marshall counties into a laboratory to research and test wireless technology.
ISU’s Hongwei Zhang is leading the project. He says one of the goals is to ensure farmers have better connectivity to the machines they operate. “They have hundreds of computers, controllers and sensors. They need to be connected to the cloud, right, computing to each other, so they can actually perform those essential tasks.”
Zhang says they’ll be deploying the technology over the next three years. The project got $16 million in funding from the National Science Foundation, a matching investment and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
8 a.m. – Beef processing plant with 750 jobs planned in SW Iowa
A newly formed corporation announced Friday it is planning to build a beef processing plant in southwest Iowa that would bring 750 jobs to the region.
Cattlemen’s Heritage officials said the plant would be built along Interstate 29 near the Mills-Pottawatomie County line, with construction scheduled to start next spring and end by late 2023, The Council Bluffs Nonpareil reported.
Officials said the $325 million plant would process 1,500 head a day and have an estimated annual economic impact of $1.1 billion. The jobs will pay an average of $55,000 a year plus benefits.
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig said during a news conference the plant will be a welcome addition to the state’s agribusiness infrastructure.
“There’s a significant opportunity to expand meat processing capacity around the state,” Naig said. “This facility will create additional market access for our producers, new jobs and economic activity in our rural communities.”
Ernie Goss, the Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics at Creighton University, said the project would be an “economic game changer” for Mills and Pottawattamie and surrounding counties.
Entry via the Associated Press
6 a.m. – As emergency declarations end, many will lose additional SNAP benefits
At the start of the pandemic, food stamp recipients began receiving more money each month due to state emergency declarations. With some states moving to end their emergency declarations, that extra help is going away.
A handful of states have allowed their COVID-19 emergency declarations to expire, including Kansas and Oklahoma. And for many who rely on SNAP — the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — that means their monthly allotments have gone down, in some cases significantly.
Melinda Craigs-Ingram is the SNAP outreach manager for the Northern Illinois Food Bank. She says the loss in aid is going to be a huge shock to families.
“The impact that we’ve experienced since COVID has not subsided, and if we can reference the last recession, it took about three to five years for it to recover, and I can anticipate it’ll be about the same timeframe that we’ll be looking at.”
Craigs-Ingram also says the cost of food has increased during the pandemic, and that monthly allotments won’t go as far now as they did a year ago.
“Our families can’t go back to $40 a month. They can’t go back to $16 a month. They can’t go back to $70 a month, because it’s not enough to sustain their families over a full calendar month.”
A five person household will lose an average of $240 per month when emergency declarations expire.
Entry via Harvest Public Media
6 a.m. – Iowa unlikely to meet July 4 vaccination goal
As demand for the COVID-19 vaccine continues to decline in Iowa, just 45 percent of the state’s total population has been fully vaccinated for the virus. Numbers range from just over a quarter of all residents in Davis County to more than half of all residents in Johnson County.
One expert says this means the state is unlikely to reach President Joe Biden’s July 4 goal of 70 percent. Ross McKinney is with the Association of American Medical Colleges. He says unvaccinated people remain at risk for getting seriously ill or dying from the virus, especially with the more contagious Delta variant circulating.
The Delta variant is much more contagious. It’s 50 percent more contagious than the variants that were there before, and it’s about 50 percent more likely to put you into the hospital.
McKinney says as the virus continues to circulate and mutate, the number needed for herd immunity will shift upward. “And as long as it keeps mutating, it’s going to keep changing what that magic number would be. And it’s always going to be getting worse, because the more contagious virus is going to be the one that spreads.”
He says it’s more important to focus on getting as many people vaccinated as possible.