It's Friday, and it's gonna be a hot weekend. Temps near 90.

🏊🏼‍♀️ Situational awareness: To entice more workers and keep pools open, DSM Parks this week increased salaries for some seasonal employees.

  • Pool attendant hourly max pay is now $12, up from $10.13.

Today's Smart Brevity count is 902 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Pandemic PSAs and politics

Gov. Kim Reynolds. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

A state audit yesterday concluded that a $500K COVID-19 awareness campaign featuring Gov. Kim Reynolds violated state law. But that's only a partial account of Iowa's spending on public service announcements during the pandemic.

  • Iowa spent a total $1.2 million, according to records Axios obtained this week through a public request.

Catch up quick: State Auditor Rob Sand, a Democrat, released findings Thursday from his special investigative audit into the Republican governor's "Step Up, Stop the Spread" campaign.

  • Sand concluded that at least $152,585 of federal virus aid was misspent because it was used for Reynolds' self-promotion.
  • The governor's team immediately responded, saying Sand is wrong.

The bottom line: Politics are in play.

  • Read our full analysis about that, here.

Of note: Polk County has allocated about $290K for pandemic PSAs.

  • That includes guest spots by sitting supervisors.
  • Another $100K was allocated by supervisors this week and will be partially put toward public prizes or vaccine incentives.

Be smart: Sand's audit doesn't mention it, but U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, a Democrat, was also featured in the campaign.

2. Our restaurant resiliency

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Iowa's restaurants survived better than what was projected early in the pandemic, some initial reviews indicate.

Why it matters: Restaurants carry significant economic influence in our communities and help shape our cultural and personal connections.

By the numbers: The Iowa Restaurant Association last year estimated that 20%, roughly 1,000 restaurants, would permanently shutter because of the crisis.

  • It's now projected to be closer to 750, Jessica Dunker, the group's president, told Jason yesterday.
  • 626 full-service food establishments closed between March 1, 2020 and May 25, according to Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals data requested by Axios.

Yes, but: The actual loss is lower because the state tracks licenses by location.

  • Restaurants like Kathmandu that moved to a new place in Windsor Heights are among those on the list because its old spot closed.

The big picture: More than 110K eating and drinking establishments closed in the U.S. due to the pandemic, according to the National Restaurant Association.

The bottom line: State and federal assistance as well as some restaurant regulatory changes helped Iowa's eateries "hobble through," Dunker said.

3. Getting around Water Works trail closure

The trail closed sign over in Water Works Park. Photo: Linh Ta/Axios

If you were hoping to bike downtown and go through Water Works Park — you'll have to wait until the end of July because of a major trail closure.

Why it matters: Frequent flooding has caused structural damage to the trail, specifically at the railroad underpass.

Where it's at: The Bill Riley Trail, starting from the wooden bridge in Water Works up to the intersection where you can head toward Ingersoll and Ashworth Pool.

The problem: The city didn't provide an official detour, saying they couldn't offer a safe alternative that was accessible to everyone.

  • It's also happening all at once, meaning the whole thing will be closed for two months.

The state of play: A project to repair the trail was originally scheduled for the winter, but securing construction permits took longer than expected, said Jen Fletcher of Des Moines Parks and Rec.

  • Delaying it further could result in additional damage, a more expensive fix and a longer closure.

Yes, but: Once it's done, that section of trail should hopefully flood less, resulting in fewer closures.

We crowdsourced some alternatives if you're going west to east, or the other way.

  • Ingersoll Avenue is always available, but be aware that construction makes it challenging to pass for less-experienced cyclists.
  • For an easier route, ride on Ingersoll to Woodland Avenue or High Street, where there's less traffic but some hills.
  • For minimal traffic but more climb, head through Waterbury, cross the pedestrian bridge by Roosevelt and ride north to Kingman Boulevard. Connect with Cottage Grove and then head down MLK or ride through Sherman Hill. See our map here.

4. We've got your weekend planned

The new outdoor concert venue at Riverview Park, 710 Corning Ave. Photo courtesy of DSM Parks and Recreation

🎶 Check out our new outdoor concert venue: Riverview Park's grand opening celebration. Tonight at 6pm, with live music starting at 7:30pm.

🕺Go vintage: Two dozen vendors will sell clothing from styles of years past at the return of the Heartland Bazaar Vintage Clothing Market. Saturday, 10am-6pm.

🗑 Get trashy: MWA is offering free landfill tours. Saturday, 3-5pm.

🍺 Raise a glass and help earn some cash: Kelly's Little Nipper bar hosts its inaugural Summer Fest, a live music benefit for the Boys and Girls Club of Central Iowa. Saturday, noon-10pm.

💆 Calm yourself down: Free yoga at Cowles Commons starts, continuing through Aug. 29. Sunday, 9am.

5. We took on the Chicken Heat challenge

The Original Nashville Hot Chicken from Chicken Heat. Photo: Linh Ta/Axios

When a restaurant claims their dish is spicy, let's admit, it's typically "Iowa spicy" — a good temperament, but doesn't shake the boat.

  • So we were intrigued when Axios Des Moines reader Ernest Niño-Murcia challenged us to see how hot we could go at Chicken Heat, Des Moines' newest food truck.

What we learned: These sandwiches are legit hot. If you're the type to brag about your heat tolerance, these will test you.

  • All of them come with a pillow brioche bun, coleslaw, a secret "heat sauce" and pickles.
  • We also were the first to try "The Challenge" — the truck's off-the-menu seriously spicy sandwich. You get a T-shirt if you dare to finish it.

How hot were they? The mildest sandwich brought our mighty Jason Clayworth to tears.

Jason Clayworth with his eyes watering.
Jason Clayworth after eating the Original Nashville Spicy Chicken. Photo: Linh Ta/Axios

Read our thoughts on each sandwich and learn how you can take on "The Challenge" here.

A way to save 💰: Just a reminder that DSM Parks offers free outdoor flicks on Thursdays in July. Plus, they've got a large portable screen similar to the new one launching at Valley West Mall Sunday.

Have a good weekend.

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