Des Moines

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Sen. Chuck Grassley wants a "more targeted" COVID relief package

Sen. Chuck Grassley wants a more targeted stimulus that would forgo lost revenue for states.

Feb 18, 2021 - News

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Linh Ta, author of Des Moines
Sep 30, 2021 - Axios Des Moines

Sip on elegant cocktails at The New Northwestern in Des Moines

People hanging out at The New Northwestern during a soft opening Tuesday. Photo: Linh Ta/Axios

Step back into an elegant time while sipping on a modern cocktail at The New Northwestern Cocktail & Wine Bar.

  • Jeff Link, a well-known Democratic political consultant, and Lucca owner Steve Logsdon are the brains behind the bar that's inspired by Des Moines' railway history.

I stopped by the historic site of the former Northwestern Hotel to give you a sneak preview.

Sep 29, 2021 - Axios Des Moines

Polk County supervisors sued for extortion

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Polk County's former HR director Jim Nahas is accusing four of the county's five supervisors of extortion, libel and wrongful termination in a lawsuit made public in court records Tuesday.

Why it matters: Nahas isn't the first to allege in recent months that the highest ranks of the county's government are troubled with sexual harassment, threats and verbal abuse.

  • And his lawsuit, filed Monday, suggests the problems are more widespread.
Linh Ta, author of Des Moines
Sep 29, 2021 - Axios Des Moines

Meet Tally, Hy-Vee's new autonomous robot

Tally, an autonomous robot, hangs out at the Ankeny Hy-Vee. Photo courtesy of Simbe Robotics

Hy-Vee is piloting an autonomous robot at five of its stores, including Ankeny and Altoona.

Why it matters: You may run into Tally while grabbing groceries. (Don't worry, it's polite.)

How it works: Tally scans store aisles two to four times a day, capturing high-quality images of shelves.

  • Those images go through an algorithm software that notifies Hy-Vee about low inventory, misplaced products or mispriced items.
  • If Tally sees a customer in the aisle, it'll loiter and wait for its turn. If the aisle is busy, Tally will move on.
  • When it's done, the robot docks itself at a charging station, similar to a Roomba.

Between the lines: The information Tally gathers helps stores more accurately forecast sales and cuts labor spent tracking inventory, said Brad Bogolea, CEO of Simbe Robotics, which produces the robot.

💭 Our thought bubble: It gives a whole new meaning to a helpful smile in every aisle.

Sep 29, 2021 - Axios Des Moines

Building the future of Iowa's affordable housing with a 3D printer

A 3D-printed home under construction in Richmond, Virginia. Photo courtesy of Zach Mannheimer

Homes built with a 3D printer could alleviate Iowa's affordable housing gaps and help rejuvenate rural areas, Zach Mannheimer of 3D housing company Alquist told Axios.

Driving the news: Mannheimer's company is planning to build a 3D-printed home in Stanton, Iowa, next year.

Why it matters: Central Iowa is facing a shortage of tens of thousands of new housing units over the next few decades, according to a DSM study from 2018.

  • A lack of affordable digs jeopardizes employment growth, the study found.
Sep 28, 2021 - Axios Des Moines

Des Moines computer vision technology company raises $20M

Roboflow's computer vision technology can help alert people to raccoons in their yards. Photo courtesy of Roboflow

A Des Moines company bringing machine learning — and most notably the sense of sight— to computer software raised $20 million this month.

  • San Francisco-based venture capital firm, Craft Ventures, led Roboflow's Series A funding.

What they do: Roboflow's technology allows users to "train" computer programs to recognize and identify information, which can help software teams can create better image collections.

Why it matters: Computer vision has the potential to transform multiple industries.

  • Pill recognition in pharmaceutical manufacturing, weed and disease detection in agriculture and even raccoon detection in yards are among its current uses.

What's next: The company has 11 employees and recently posted job openings for nine more, co-founder Brad Dwyer told us.

  • Upcoming work will make software development a more collaborative process so businesses can easily create specialized computer systems, he said.
Sep 28, 2021 - Axios Des Moines

Iowa Department of Natural Resources launches urban lumber program

A table made with urban lumber harvested in Iowa. Photo courtesy of the Iowa DNR/Habitat for Humanity

Lumber from Des Moines-metro trees is now for sale in the area.

What's happening: The Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity is partnering with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for a pilot urban lumber program.

Why it matters: The program aims to maximize the use of local trees to minimize waste.

  • Urban lumber can reduce costs, create jobs and improve ecosystems while simultaneously adding diversity and sustainability to U.S. wood supplies, according to the USDA.

State of play: Commercially sold lumber generally comes from outside Iowa, while urban trees are often used for mulch or firewood, Iowa forestry specialist Aron Flickinger tells us.

  • Urban wood isn't graded, so it's not typically used for home construction. However, you can find it in cabinetry, flooring, trim and furniture.

Of note: The lumber program is in pilot stages so, for now, there isn't a directory of urban cutters who will donate your tree to the program.

Where to get it: Habitat for Humanity Restore, 2200 E. Euclid Ave, DSM, and 4033 NW Urbandale Dr., Urbandale.

  • Monday-Saturday, from 9am to 6pm.
Sep 27, 2021 - Axios Des Moines

Des Moines eyes creating a directory for vacant buildings

Des Moines has demolished 64 homes since 2019. More than three dozen others are ready for demolition and legal action against 124 others is in progress. Photo courtesy of the city of DSM

A vacant buildings directory might be part of an upcoming Des Moines property improvement initiative.

Why it matters: Vacant buildings can be dangerous, diminish nearby property values and have been linked with an increase in crime.

Linh Ta, author of Des Moines
Sep 27, 2021 - Axios Des Moines

Slipknot's Knotfest plagued by long lines for food and water

A crowd of people outside a non-alcoholic beverage tent on Saturday at Knotfest. Photo courtesy of Chelbi Coughlin

Knotfest was one of Iowa's largest music events of the year, but attendees reported long waits for essentials like food and water.

  • Refillable water bottles and outside drinks were not allowed inside.

State of play: 30,000 metal fans descended upon the National Balloon Classic field just outside Indianola on Saturday.

Linh Ta, author of Des Moines
Sep 27, 2021 - Axios Des Moines

Conservative online trolls target Chuck Grassley

Screenshot via Instagram

Sen. Chuck Grassley's seat is considered safe this upcoming election.

  • But that doesn't mean he's safe from conservative internet trolls.
  • In fact, it may actually expose him to more criticism from within his own party, said Matthew Record, a political science professor at Drake University.

State of play: Grassley has always faced an onslaught of criticism from Democrats online, but people within his own party are trolling him for acknowledging President Biden's election win and supporting the president's infrastructure bill.

Linh Ta, author of Des Moines
Sep 24, 2021 - Axios Des Moines

Slipknot returns to Iowa for Knotfest

Knotfest — Slipknot's giant metal music festival — is drawing in 30,000 fans from around the world to the National Balloon Classic field just outside Indianola this Saturday.

  • To put it into perspective: Wells Fargo Arena's capacity is 16,000. Indianola's population? 15,000.

Why it matters: Iowa is a seemingly odd location when you consider Slipknot has drawn masses of fans, aka "maggots," to festivals in Japan, Colombia and France.

  • But Slipknot is Des Moines born and raised. And growing up in the Midwest makes you metal.
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