Axios Des Moines

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Hello there, Friday Jr.

๐Ÿ˜Ž Weather: Partly sunny with a high of 50ยฐ.

๐ŸŽ‚ Happy birthday to our Axios Des Moines member Basil Madsen!

Today's Smart Brevityโ„ข count is 632 words โ€” a 2-minute read.

1 big thing: Iowa's future is Latino

The majority of the Denison High School cheerleading squad is Latino. The school is 60% Latino and the town itself is 50% Latino. Photo: Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Iowa's young Latinos are the state's fastest-growing demographic and could help support our aging state, according to a report by Iowa Latinx Project.

Why it matters: The obstacles young Latinos face today could hinder their potential success if they're not addressed.

By the numbers: Iowa Latinos' median age is 24. The white population is 42, according to the report.

  • 42% of Iowa's Latinos were born here.
  • There are nearly 5,000 Latino-owned businesses in the state with the majority in construction.

Zoom in: While the majority of Latino kids live in two-parent households where at least one parent works, they were likely earning less in comparison to neighboring white families and dealt with the subsequent social and economic barriers.

Yes, but: Iowa Latinos fared better in smaller towns with more established communities that provide bilingual resources.

  • Places like Marshalltown and West Liberty could set an example for the rest of the state, says Dawn Martinez Oropeza, executive director of Al ร‰xito, which advocates for Latino youth.

What they're saying: Racial disparities in household incomes, home ownership and high school graduation rates were nearly non-existent in Marshall County until the pandemic, according to new numbers from Iowa Latinx Project.

  • Integration was the key. There was Latino representation on elected boards and Spanish-speaking realtors and bankers helping with home purchases and loans.

What's next: Iowa Latinx Project is seeking a consulting firm to help the group determine actionable steps to take with their data.

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2. ISU's gene research breakthrough

Ravindra Singh led a research team that identified a gene breakthrough in the study of spinal muscular atrophy, an often-fatal disease that affects 1 in 10,000 newborns. Photo: Christopher Gannon, courtesy of ISU

Researchers at Iowa State University have created a short version of a gene used to study spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).

Why it matters: It'll facilitate quicker, cheaper and less fragmented research of the common genetic disorder in kids, the university's news service reports.

Catch up fast: SMA affects voluntary muscle movement.

  • A missing or mutated gene causes the disease and, in severe cases, leaves children with an average two-year lifespan.

Driving the news: ISU professor Ravindra Singh led an eight-year project to create the truncated version of the gene, with its results recently published in academic journal Nucleic Acids Research.

State of play: Isolated segments have been used in studies for decades but ISU's breakthrough โ€” which Singh's team calls a "super minigene" โ€” represents the entire gene.

  • Now scientists can make mutations and quickly see what happens everywhere in the gene sequence, Singh told ISU's news service.

The intrigue: His work was also instrumental in the first federally approved treatment for SMA.

3. The Ear: Your local news roundup

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

๐ŸŒท Pella is using wooden tulips alongside real blooms for Tulip Time, due to the warm winter causing flower beds to bloom early. (WHO-13)

๐Ÿ“š Bleeding Heartland author Laura Belin is being sued over her site's coverage of a book banning dispute in 2022. (Des Moines Register)

๐Ÿšฆ DSM police chief Dana Wingert is among supporters of a bill that would tighten traffic camera regulations. (Iowa Capital Dispatch)

๐Ÿšจ A gun carried by a man who allegedly tried to escape police went off when he tripped outside the Harding Hills Hy-Vee. There were no injuries. (WHO-13)

๐Ÿ• Upside-down pizza is now available at Pepp's Pizzaria in Grimes. (Des Moines Register)

๐Ÿƒ As the Legislature considers restricting consumable hemp products, an Iowa Senate committee approved adding a "sin tax" (25%) to the products. (Iowa Capital Dispatch)

4. Where's Jason?

Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

Hit reply and correctly guess Jason's location and we'll add you to a drawing for a free Axios shirt!

  • Check back tomorrow for the answer and a story about this spot.

๐Ÿ‘• Flashback: Axios DSM reader Heidi Wessels won last week's contest.

5. ๐Ÿ“ธ 1 pic to go: Sheโ€™s a big dill

DSM Mayor Connie Boesen (right) wins again. Photo: Courtesy of Catch DSM

DSM Mayor Connie Boesen's pickleball team won against one headed by Greg Edwards of Catch DSM yesterday in a promotional match for the ongoing National Senior Games Week.

State of play: Edwards filled in for Polk County Supervisor's Chairperson Angela Connolly, who was initially scheduled in the matchup.

  • The score was 11-7.

๐Ÿ‘‘ Linh is late to the game and discussing "Spare" with her book club tonight.

๐Ÿ“ Jason thinks he should try pickleball.

This newsletter was copy edited by Lucia Maher.