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Linh Ta
3 hours ago - News

Iowa schools grapple with staff shortages

A woman's blouse and blazer with an apple button.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It's the middle of the year, but staff shortages are still hampering Iowa schools' from performing their daily operations at 100%.

  • And this year's politicized debates about classrooms aren't helping with morale and retaining workers, said Mike Beranek, president of the Iowa State Education Association.

Why it matters: Staff shortages, especially in classrooms, hurt student learning. Teachers and teacher aides don't have time for individualized lesson plans and they're managing larger class sizes.

Prairie Meadows missing out on sports betting profits

A $100 bill with a football helmet on Ben Franklin.
Photo illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Photo: Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Prairie Meadows is getting sidelined from the profits linked with new customers who place sports bets, Garrick Mallory, an assistant director for the casino, told Axios.

  • It's in part due to a provision in a 2019 Iowa law that states sports betting this year does not require in-person sign-ups.

Why it matters: Out-of-state gaming operators get a larger share of the revenue, which is siphoned from the nonprofit Altoona casino, Mallory said.

Linh Ta
Oct 15, 2021 - News

Haunted houses face lumber, microchip shortages

An actor with a bird mask from Slaughterhouse haunted attraction
An actor from the Slaughterhouse Haunted Attraction in Des Moines. Photo courtesy of Slaughterhouse

Here's a frighteningly real scenario: Operators of haunted houses, which heavily rely on now-scarce construction materials, had to pay premium prices to build their attractions or they weren't able to open at all.

State of play: High-lumber prices stalled construction for Zombie Hollow in Winterset this past spring. The operator told KCCI that they faced quadruple the typical costs.

  • Meanwhile, padding material that Merlyn Linn uses for Linn's Haunted House jumped from a couple bucks to $28 a piece, he told Axios.
  • And immersive attractions that rely on microchips and computers for motion-sensor lights, sound and animatronics struggled sourcing materials, said Ian Miller, owner of The Slaughterhouse Haunted Attraction.
Jason Clayworth
Oct 15, 2021 - News

Ask Axios: What can and can't I recycle?

An illustration of a hanger shaped like a recycling sign.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Recycling etiquette is at the top of some of your minds after our story last week about Des Moines homeowners who lost their recycling privileges this year.

  • We turned to Des Moines Public Works director Jonathan Gano and sanitation administrator Jo Ferrell to answer your questions.

Des Moines neighbors oppose Ruby Rose Ridge development project

A photo of empty lots in Des Moines.
The Ruby Rose Ridge development near East 50th Court and Northeast 23rd Avenue in Des Moines. Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

Plans for a 65-unit housing development on Des Moines' far northeast side will go before the City Council Monday.

Why it matters: It would create more homes in an undeveloped area near Altoona and Pleasant Hill, but some nearby residents oppose the project.

Jason Clayworth
Oct 14, 2021 - News

Iowa's health report card

Illustration of a wrench turn a red cross
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Iowa lost ground on 95 of the more than 250 measures used to track our progress meeting health goals as part of a five-year statewide initiative, according to a recent report.

  • Yes, but: We improved in 138 measures. (23 haven't changed.)

Why it matters: The initiative is part of a public health benchmark that sets the state's agenda for helping Iowans live longer, healthier and more productive lives.

  • Its results influence how state resources and grants are allocated.

One hot Des Moines lot: A Foster Drive find

A photo of an empty lot in Des Moines.
Photo courtesy of Ted Thoms/Lost Planet Development

🧞 ️Unleash your inner design genie and let your imagination run wild with this vacant lot in Des Moines' Linden Heights neighborhood.

  • It's nested in a wooded area overlooking Water Works Park.
690 Foster Dr., Des Moines — $385,000

Specs: Just over ½ acre, adjacent to the Bill Riley Trail, six-year tax abatement.

Flashback: Until a few months ago, the lot spanned nearly 1.5 acres and had a home on the property.

  • Owner Ted Thoms told us the house needed some work, plus his family wanted to build their own place.
  • They ended up dividing the area, and put the other lot up for sale.

Cool bonus: Thoms and his company, Lost Planet Development, shared drawings of some homes that may work on the property.

  • There's room for a 7,000-square-foot home, he said.

New Des Moines eats: Proudfoot & Bird

A photo inside Proudfoot & Bird restaurant.
Proudfoot & Bird includes marble tables, gold ceiling inlay and a circular bar. Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

Proudfoot & Bird opened this week on the first floor of Hotel Fort Des Moines and we're super excited to give it a try.

  • It's in the spot where Django was previously located, 1000 Walnut St.

State of play: The hotel closed in 2015 as part of a $50 million renovation.

  • The restaurant is the first piece to reopen.

The lunch menu: A few of the small plates included butternut squash soup ($12), truffle parmesan fries ($8), shishito peppers ($8)

Main dishes: Handmade "pasta du jour" ($15), grilled pimento cheese sandwich ($12) and a burger with applewood bacon and local cheddar ($16).

Weekdays: 11am-2pm and 4-10pm (until 11pm on Fridays).

  • Weekends: Saturday: 10:30am-2pm and 4-11pm; Sunday 10:30am-2pm and 4-9pm.

Fun fact: The restaurant's name honors the hotel's original architects, Willis Proudfoot and George Bird.

A photo of Hotel Fort Des Moines.
Hotel Fort Des Moines’ $50 million renovation is nearly complete. Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios