I stumbled across a statistical tidbit the other day that probably will surprise many people. U.S. Census Bureau figures show that between 1900 and 2000, the state that grew the least in population, on a percentage basis, was Iowa. Read that again. No state had smaller population growth between 1900 and 2000, as a percentage, than Iowa. Not North Dakota.
Rachel Fratzke led her Mercy Iowa City nursing staff in a meditation session to start the work day Monday morning. A nurse manager, she had the nurses do deep breathing exercises and think about when they first wanted to be a nurse, or how they felt about passing their certifying board exams.
Typically, in the days leading up to the start of a new session of the Iowa Legislature, the attention is on lawmakers’ goals and priorities — and on the pledges they make to work together for the good of the people of Iowa. This year, however, Republican leaders who control the Iowa Senate announced a controversial decision that erases more than a century of openness — evicting journalists from the floor of the Senate chamber. This ill-conceived action makes Iowa an outlier among the legislatures in the 50 states. You could count on one hand those that do not allow journalists on the floor of their legislative chambers. Nowhere in their decision do Senate leaders pretend this change will better inform the people of Iowa about the important work the Senate does.
Four Iowa legislators and two conservation advocates want funding for the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund – which has stayed empty since it was approved by voters in 2010. They shared their sentiments with IowaWatch as the state of Iowa ended the fiscal year 2021 with a surplus of $1.24 billion — the largest surplus in state history.
There’s discussion already about that surplus as lawmakers return to the Statehouse Jan. 10.
Will funding the trust fund be a priority in 2022? Lawmakers from both major parties say natural resources deserve attention but they are unsure given interest in tax cuts. Sen. Sarah Trone Garriott, D-District 22, sees the excess surplus dollars as an opportunity to support Iowa’s 83 state parks and recreation areas, but is concerned with the current projection of how the Iowa Legislature will use the surplus.
“We saw in the last two years with a pandemic how our state parks have been such an important resource for Iowans.
Something came out of Colorado last week besides images of the destruction from a rapidly developing wildfire that roared through the area between Denver and Boulder. The fires consumed upwards of 1,000 homes in the suburban subdivisions of the Rockies’ eastern foothills in just a few hours. Besides the stunning devastation, the wild weather brought important insight, too. Even people who live a thousand miles away should reflect on what occurred — because the significance of the day’s events needs to be a wake-up call for all Americans. The people who lived through the nightmare give us important context.
In 2020 and 2021, IowaWatch focused on the state parks system, sending reporters to visit more than 50 of the parks. We learned a lot during those visits as well as finding some beautiful spots. Here’s a quiz over a handful of these parks and some of their history. 1. Question: What Iowa State Park features an old dam circa 1936 spanning across the Cedar River?
Minnesota and its government officials delivered an important lesson recently on how to provide justice — and their lesson should be taken to heart by their neighbors in Iowa. The contrast is jarring between the way government handled the deaths of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minn., and Autumn Steele in Burlington, Iowa. One was shot to death while trying to evade arrest. The other was the unintended victim of a fatal shooting. Iowans should be uncomfortable with the questions that grow naturally out of these contrasts.
In 2021, Kelli Greenland and her two children used food pantries more often than they ever have. As the year closes, the Des Moines mom is filled with uncertainty. Greenland said she visits one or two food pantries weekly to keep her children, Ethan, 8, and Skylynn, almost 6, fed. There seems to be less meat available these days, Greenland said. She sometimes has trouble finding dairy-free options for Skylynn, who is lactose intolerant.
Wanting to know their new state after moving to Iowa in 2014, Dave and Karen Miglin and their two children went to the Field of Dreams movie site outside of Dyersville in northeast Iowa.
Dave Miglin had moved from Atlanta ahead of the family the previous year for his job as media and digital vice president for Strategic America in West Des Moines. Sitting at Iowa’s famous baseball field in a farm field, his son, Evan, was asking questions. “He was, like, curious to know what I was going to see next,” Miglin, 53, said. With support from the Solutions Journalism Network
“Next” became visits to every incorporated town and city in Iowa over five years. Iowa had 955 incorporated towns when he started his quest.
When I walked out the door at the Des Moines Register for the final time on Dec. 12, 2014, there was an unfinished piece of work tucked away in a box of assorted stuff I carried. The folder contained a few dozen newspaper clippings, press releases and notes to myself I had collected. There was a common thread in all of this: They dealt with events across Iowa to raise money or provide other assistance for people in times of need. I had hoped for several years to travel to a few of these events and then weave all of this raw material into a column for the front of the Sunday Register opinion section that I edited. But retirement caught up with me.