Oct 13, 2021

Axios Des Moines

It's Wednesday.

📣 Situational awareness: Natural gas bills are expected to increase by as much as 96% this winter season, MidAmerican Energy warned yesterday.

Today's Smart Brevity™ count is 897 words, a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Lead levels in Iowa children
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Reproduced from JAMA Pediatrics; Map: Axios Visuals

An estimated 76% of Iowa children under six years old had lead detected in their blood, according to a newly released study conducted between 2018 and 2020.

  • It's among the highest proportion in the nation, behind Nebraska (83%), Missouri (82%) and Michigan (78%). The national rate was about 51%.

Why it matters: There's no blood lead level that has been identified as safe in children, according to the CDC. Even low-level exposures can negatively affect IQ, behavior and academic achievement.

Driving the news: The study, published last month by JAMA Pediatrics, is believed to be the first national analysis into the association of lead exposure with individual- and community-level factors, Axios' Marisa Fernandez writes.

  • Researchers analyzed blood lead tests that Quest Diagnostics administered to 1.14 million U.S. children between October 2018 and February 2020.

By the numbers: The study shows 3.6% of Iowa children had blood lead levels of five micrograms per deciliter or greater, a standard the CDC uses to help identify elevated cases.

  • According to the IDPH, nearly 2,240 children under age six had elevated lead levels in 2019.

Between the lines: Children from predominantly Black or Hispanic ZIP codes were disproportionately affected, compared to those in predominantly white ZIP codes.

  • Kids from areas with pre-1950s housing had significantly higher levels.

What they're doing: The CDC recommends states adopt statewide screening plans.

But despite Iowa law, more than 23% of kids entering kindergarten last year had no record of a blood lead test, according to the IDPH.

  • Children living in rural areas had the highest likelihood of not having been tested.

Full story: Majority of Iowa children under age 6 have lead in their blood

2. Townhomes to replace troubled bar

High Dive bar at 508 Indianola Road in Des Moines. Photo: Linh Ta/Axios

A local developer is building luxury townhomes in Des Moines' southside with plans to get rid of a local bar that has troubled police.

What's happening: Adam Sieren, owner of Premier Construction Services, told Axios he's building at least 18 townhomes in the area by High Dive bar along Indianola Rd. and SW 7th St. He plans on demolishing the bar’s property before the end of the year.

  • "The area's got to go," Sieren said.

State of play: A shooting at High Dive just last weekend injured two people, leaving a woman in critical condition.

  • It's not the first time police responded to problems at the bar. Officers have been called to High Dive more than 80 times this year. 19 of those calls were for fights and six were for shots fired, KCCI reports.
  • Gun violence has long been prevalent at the location, including when it was W Ultra Lounge and The 508 Nightclub.

Of note: High Dive's owner didn't respond to a call for comment about the construction plans.

A rendering of row townhomes by Premier Construction Services. Photo courtesy of Adam Sieren

Details: The planned townhomes are three-story units with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, spanning 1,600 square feet. Prices start around $420K.

  • Expect high-end amenities like a skyline view of downtown, heated two-car garages, LED lights and smart home capabilities.

What's next: Sieren said he plans on selling units this year, with buyers moving in starting early spring 2022.

A rendering of row townhomes by Premier Construction Services. Photo courtesy of Adam Sieren
3. 🌽 The Ear: The ear-ly edition

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

👨🏻‍⚖️ A DSM activist was found guilty of felony theft for allegedly throwing a police radio and taking an intelligence bulletin from an officer's pocket during a BLM protest in 2020. (Des Moines Register)

⛽️ Gasoline prices are expected to increase in coming days. (Radio Iowa)

🌟 The family of a Waukee boy who beat cancer last year launched a new nonprofit, Kid Cancer Crushers. Proceeds will go to cancer research and other organizations that assist children. (WOI-TV)

🏆 Michael Renner of Clive came up with today's corn pun.

  • Think you can do better? Hit reply and give it your corn-iest shot.
4. What Trump's endorsement means for Grassley

Former President Donald Trump (left) smiles at Sen. Chuck Grassley during a Des Moines rally Oct. 09, 2021. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump made headlines in Des Moines last weekend for endorsing Sen. Chuck Grassley.

  • We asked Drake University political science professor Dennis Goldford: Is it all show or does something actually come from it?

For Grassley, accepting the endorsement is a prudent move that ensures Trump supporters will go to the polls this midterm, rather than stay home, Goldford said.

Take to heart what Grassley said himself on Saturday at the rally:

  • "... I'm smart enough to accept that endorsement," and noted Trump's 91% favorability rate among Iowa Republicans.

Associating with the former president could disappoint moderate conservatives who like Grassley's conventional style and general side-stepping of today's culture wars.

  • But they'll still vote for him, Goldford said.

Meanwhile, endorsing Grassley is a win-win situation for Trump.

  • Grassley could likely win Iowa regardless of the endorsement, Goldford said, but now the former president can say he helped the senator — giving the appearance of power.

The bottom line: Iowa is more red than purple these days, but it's not staunchly Republican.

  • Being with Trump is being pragmatic, Goldford said.
  • "He knows how to make sure that the flood wall is up in case it rains really hard," he said.
5. Pic du jour: Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

Meredith Middle School students enjoy paletas on Oct. 7. Photo courtesy of DMPS

Meredith Middle School students played fútbol and enjoyed paletas during a lawn party held by their teacher, Johanys Alvarez.

  • The party was held to commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month, which goes from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.

🗣 Have thoughts on DSM's $12 million plan to build a new North Side Community Recreation Center?

  • Give input Thursday, from 5:30-7pm at the Forest Avenue Library, 1326 Forest Ave.

Refer friends to our newsletter and snag some swag.

  • That cozy fleece jacket could sure feel nice this time of year.