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13 hours ago

Axios Des Moines

โ˜• Hi, there. Can we change Thirsty Thursday to Thermos Thursday?

๐Ÿ”ฎ A red state: Gov. Kim Reynolds' seat is expected to be safe this election year as Iowa continues to lean further right, according to Sabato's Crystal Ball.

Today's Smart Brevityโ„ข count is 905 words โ€” a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Iowa's history-making Olympian

Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc skate on Oct. 29, 2021 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Photo: Matthew Stockman - International Skating Union/International Skating Union via Getty Images

Cedar Rapids native Timothy LeDuc will be the first-ever openly nonbinary winter Olympian.

Why it matters: It's a particularly significant milestone for pairs figure skating, which heavily relies on gender stereotypes for choreography and scoring.

Driving the news: LeDuc, who uses they/them pronouns, is Iowa's sole Olympian heading to Beijing next week.

  • The 31-year-old will compete in pairs, alongside their partner, Ashley Cain-Gribble, after winning the U.S. Figure Skating Championships pairs title earlier this month.

Background: At age 18, LeDuc woke up their parents in the middle of the night at their Cedar Rapids home and came out as gay.

  • LeDuc, who grew up in a Christian, conservative household, said the news was difficult for their family and church members at first.
  • Some family members went so far as bringing in people who "basically tried to perform an exorcism," LeDuc told NBC Sports.

Figure skating was a solace for LeDuc at the time and they went on to perform and place in major competitions, including junior bronze in the 2011 U.S. Championships.

  • Then in 2018, LeDuc came out again. This time, at 28, they publicly shared they identify as nonbinary.
  • "Through a lot of introspection, through seeking authenticity I found I exist outside of the binary, so I don't align perfectly with manhood or womanhood," LeDuc told NBC.

Between the lines: With Cain-Gribble as a partner, the two devoted themselves to breaking the gender normative roles of a man and woman playing romantic roles.

  • That was best seen in their stunning 2019 free skate championship performance, where they took first in a piece called "Two Pillars of Equality."

What's next: Cheer on LeDuc and Cain-Gribble when the 2022 Olympic Winter Games start Feb. 4.

2. Anti-maskers prompt nature center security

Jester Park Nature Center opened in 2018. Photo courtesy of Polk County Conservation

Jester Park Nature Center will likely hire security officers after several tense confrontations between staff and individuals who refuse to comply with its mask policy, Polk County Conservation director Rich Leopold told Axios yesterday.

Threat level: Jester Park, one of Iowa's leading nature centers, has even considered closing on weekends to avoid clashes between staff and rabble-rousers, according to a county memo.

The latest: A woman with three kids wanted to attend the center's "Critter Club" earlier this month but refused to comply with the county's requirement to mask indoors.

  • She left after a center official threatened to call a deputy.

Reality check: Very few of the thousands of annual visitors to the Granger site cause problems, Leopold said.

  • Yes, but: The center often relies on volunteers during weekends, and the county doesn't want to subject them to these situations, he said.

What's next: The county will likely hire a third-party company to provide up to six hours of security on Fridays and Saturdays, Leopold said.

Employment for you

๐Ÿ’ผ A new career happens today with our Job Board.

1. Digital campaign specialist at Meredith Corporation.

2. Operations director at The Iowa Clinic.

3. Regional sales director-ESG & sustainability at Workiva.

Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.

Hiring? Post a Job.

3. Tweet du jour: ๐Ÿ˜ vs. ๐Ÿ˜

Screenshot of @Rep_BobbyK's Twitter feed

Christian leader and Republican kingmaker Bob Vander Plaats chided Rep. Bobby Kaufmann on Twitter Wednesday after the conservative lawmaker made headlines for giving the double bird at the Statehouse this week.

Catch up fast: "When it comes to these gun-grabbing, freedom-hating, over-regulating, civil liberty-violating tyrants โ€” here's my message," Kaufmann said before punctuating his speech with the gesture during a conservative rally at the rotunda Tuesday, WHO-13 reports.

Yes, but: Plaats, a nationally known Evangelical leader, tweeted that Kaufmann's colorful performance "... is not leadership."

  • And to that, Kaufmann basically responded: ๐Ÿ–•.
4. The Ear: Shuck you

๐Ÿ› CeeLo Green sings todayโ€™s nsfw earworm, in recognition of Rep. Kaufmannโ€™s birds. Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

๐Ÿคณ๐Ÿพ Drop it: Iowa legislation is advancing to require hands-free phones while driving. (Iowa Capital Dispatch)

๐Ÿผ Stranger danger: An unknown man bottle-fed a baby in a neonatal unit at MercyOne medical center. DSM police are trying to identify him. (KCCI-TV)

๐Ÿ‘จโ€โš–๏ธ Still going: A judge rejected Polk's motion to dismiss a lawsuit former HR director Jim Nahas filed against four of the county's five supervisors for extortion, libel and wrongful termination. (Axios)

๐Ÿšฟ Water friends: WDM agreed last night to begin negotiations that could create a regional water utility with DSM and multiple other cities. (Iowa Capital Dispatch)

5. DSM wants to resume park adoptions
Expand chart
Data: Des Moines Parks and Recreation; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

The Des Moines City Council is discussing whether to add another volunteer coordinator to the city's Parks and Recreation Department.

Why it matters: Volunteerism has picked up since the start of the pandemic and the city is missing out on thousands of hours each year in free help.

Driving the news: New adoptions of parks and trails in a program popular among volunteer groups are suspended because the city's current two coordinators are booked, Parks director Ben Page told the council.

By the numbers: The position would cost about $100K for salary, benefits and supplies.

  • But it would generate an estimated 10,000 extra volunteer hours a year. That's about the equivalent of five staffers, Page said.

What's next: Budget proposals are in the works and multiple council members voiced support this week to add the gig.

  • A final decision will be made in the coming weeks.
6. The best thing Linh ate: Everything Hashbrowns

Everything Hashbrowns 1/2 order ($8.25) and a side of sausage gravy ($2.50). Photo: Linh Ta/Axios

Since high school, the Everything Hashbrowns dish at Waveland has been one of my favorite breakfast meals of all time.

  • The side of creamy sausage gravy makes it all better.

What makes it great: The hashbrowns are crisped to perfection, giving you that crunchy outer layer and soft underbelly goodness.

  • Each bite is jam-packed with flavor and textures, like bits of salty ham, cooked peppers, onions, tomatoes and earthy mushrooms.
  • And I don't care what you say โ€” American cheese always melts perfectly, giving it a bit of creamy, dairy depth.

๐Ÿ‘€ And now that Jason Momoa is back on the market โ€” maybe you'll see him there?

Visit: 6am-2pm, Mon.-Sat.; 8am-2pm, Sun.; 4708 University Ave., Des Moines.

๐Ÿ‘ This is the only hand gesture we'd give our lovely subscribers.