February 22, 2024

✌️ Hi, Thursday and happy 2/22.

⛅️ Weather: Cloudy then sunny with a high of 61Β°.

πŸŽ‚ Happy birthday to our Axios Des Moines member Lizzy G!

🍨 Situational awareness: More than 700 items from Bauder's pharmacy and ice cream shop were listed for sale online yesterday.

  • The 100+-year-old Ingersoll Avenue business is currently closed and for sale but owner Kimberly Robertson declined to elaborate on its future, the Register reported this week.

Today's Smart Brevityβ„’ count is 903 words β€” a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: Iowa's cancer problem

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Iowa has the second highest rate of new cancer cases in the country for the second straight year, according to a new report by the Iowa Cancer Registry (ICR).

Why it matters: An estimated 6,100 Iowans are projected to die from cancer this year.

  • While multiple factors contribute to the state's dire number, a cancer risk that Iowans can control is alcohol consumption, per the report.

State of play: After Iowa's high ranking last year, ICR focused on trying to find out why, as well as any "modifiable" behaviors that can improve rates.

  • An outlier factor proved to be binge drinking rates β€” 23% of Iowans binge drink compared to 17% nationwide, according to a recent report by the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services.

Zoom in: All types of alcohol at any amount increase cancer risks, according to the report, though binge drinking poses the highest dangers.

  • Carcinogens from alcohol damage our DNA and also decrease our vitamin absorption, which is important for DNA repair.
  • Heavy drinkers are also five times more likely to develop oral or pharyngeal cancers β€” Iowa ranks second highest this year for new rates of these cancers.

Be smart: It's recommended that adults who drink consume at most two drinks a day for men and one for women.

The bottom line: Many factors can cause cancer, such as genetics, behavioral and environmental structures β€” but alcohol can compound those risks.

  • Any amount of alcohol reduction will likely reduce a person's risk of cancer, per the report.

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2. DSM may budget $3.5 million to maintain DART

Photo: Courtesy of DART

Des Moines will consider allocating an additional $3.5 million over the next two fiscal years to help DART avoid service cuts, DART spokesperson Sarah Welch tells Axios.

Why it matters: The public transit agency provides transportation for thousands of metro residents each day.

Catch up fast: Much of the agency's current $42.2 million operating budget is paid via property taxes, which DART's commission says is not a viable long-term funding mechanism.

  • Transit advocates have for years asked state lawmakers to allow more cities to use special taxes on things like hotel rooms or car rentals to help diversify DART's revenue sources.

Zoom in: DSM already has the max property tax allowed by law for the agency's services, which is roughly $10 million in the current fiscal year β€” the equivalent of about $104 for an owner of a $200,000 home.

  • One option if city leaders want to contribute more is to increase the city's franchise fee on gas and electricity.

State of play: DART hosted a series of public meetings in recent months about its looming budget crisis, with riders and transit advocates voicing opposition to possible cuts.

Meanwhile, some city leaders voiced concerns that DART "failed to deliver" on years of requests to revise its service and financial plans.

What's next: City Council holds a special full-day budget workshop today.

Of note: DSM's additional allocations are tentatively $1.5M in the fiscal year that begins in July and another $2 million the following year, Welch said.

  • DSM's extra money would reduce the magnitude of service cuts but reductions would still be required to balance budgets, she said.

Related: Des Moines transit unveils plans for a new $110 million campus

3. A freebie: Persimmon trees

Photo: Arghand/Xinhua via Getty Images

Free persimmon saplings are available to residents this spring as a new offering through Des Moines' annual Tiny Trees Giveaway Program.

Catch up fast: Persimmons are rare in Iowa but can still grow here, with some reaching up to 60 feet tall.

What's happening: The city is responding to citizen requests to incorporate fruit and nut trees into the Tiny Trees program, spokesperson Youssef Ghazali tells Axios.

  • The American hazelnut is also among the eight available species.

The intrigue: This year's Tiny orders began two weeks ago and, so far, persimmon and the eastern redbud are the most popular.

🌳 Get your shade on: DSM residents can order up to five trees through April 28.

  • Pickup day is May 11 at Polk County River Place.

🟠 1 fun thing to go: Jason planted a persimmon tree in his yard about four years ago but no fruit yet.

  • It apparently needs a mate to pollinate!

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4. The Ear: Your local news roundup

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🚨 Des Moines Police must turn in hundreds of documents regarding officers' use of force in 2020, following a judge's order. (Des Moines Register)

Lincoln football coach and social studies teacher Duane Matthess was placed on administrative leave for unknown reasons. (KCCI)

βœ‹ Des Moines Public School students and staff are sharing concerns about potential staff cuts, especially to the community school coordinator program. (WOI-TV)

πŸ€ Wells Fargo Arena was cited by state food inspectors for having what appeared to be rodent droppings at a concession stand. (Iowa Capital Dispatch)

A DSM photographer was arrested for allegedly using hidden cameras in changing rooms to capture images of children undressing.

  • The FBI is asking possible victims to come forward. (KCRG)

Your future begins here

πŸ’Ό Check out who's hiring on our Job Board.

  1. Director, Strategic Communications at Union for Reform Judaism.
  2. Managing Editor, Autos at U.S. News & World Report.
  3. Employee Development Specialist at Intralox.

Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.

Hiring? Use code FIRST50 for $50 off your first job post.

5. 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.

Things we're excited for:

🍦 Linh: Ice cream-stuffed Stanley's.

πŸ‘©β€πŸŒΎ Jason: Today's launch of the DSM Home + Garden Show. (Hurray for spring.)

This newsletter was edited by Everett Cook and copy edited by Lucia Maher.