Axios Des Moines

Picture of the Des Moines skyline with DSM written across it.

May 24, 2021

Hey, Monday. Guess what?

  • Highs in the low 80s and no rain.

🛹 If the Dew Tour inspired you to catch some air, good news — the Lauridsen Skatepark opens for public use on Friday.

Today's Smart Brevity count is 920 words, a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Paid to live in the city

Illustration of a key in a lock featuring a keyring with a dollar sign
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

DSM employees who live in and work for the city would be eligible for $15K in housing grants or $2K in rent assistance under a plan that goes before the City Council tonight.

Why it matters: Most city employees don't live in DSM, which critics say fuels a disconnect with the community that can negatively influence services.

  • A lack of police residency has been a specific focus for some civil rights advocates who argue it leads to racial profiling and higher minority arrest rates. (Fewer than one in five DSM officers live in the city.)

Flashback: The DSM Civil and Human Rights Commission recommended city employee housing incentives in a 2019 report about how to make our city more equitable.

  • The incentives also aim to keep money within the city and grow tax revenue.

Details: City Manager Scott Sanders would develop and administer the incentive policy for DSM's roughly 1,800 employees.

  • Cost estimates and program restrictions haven't been announced yet but Sanders' office last week provided Axios with a statement summarizing the proposed incentives.

Be smart: Some local governments have used similar incentives for years, including San Antonio, Texas, and Little Rock, Arkansas.

  • They work but are oftentimes limited by what municipalities can afford, according to Governing, a California-based publication.

What's next: Today’s virtual City Council meeting begins at 4:30pm.

2. Ankeny's mysterious booms

Illustration of a sound icon with question marks coming out getting progressively larger.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Ankeny residents are turning to Facebook to discuss the mysterious "boom" noises many report to have heard around town.

  • The most recent Facebook post about a "boom" was May 13 near SE Wanda Dr. and Magazine Rd. that was so loud, residents said their windows shook.

Why it matters: Loud noises are a part of urban living, but residents have been extra vigilant since Ankeny police discovered a live pipe bomb near a polling site March 2.

  • The FBI has asked the public for information about any sporadic, loud or explosive noises they heard in the city last year.

The state of play: Ankeny police are investigating the recent noise reports, Sgt. Corey Schneden said.

  • Schneden declined to share further details, but asked residents to continue reporting strange noises.

3. A new way to walk through a cemetery

A photo of Woodland Cemetery in Des Moines.
Henry Tolliver served in the United States Colored Infantry and is buried at Woodland Cemetery. Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

Woodland Cemetery visitors may now use their phones to watch short videos about some of the people whose names are memorialized on headstones.

  • So far there are about 70 QR codes that link to videos recounting the lives of DSM pioneers.

Why it matters: The project helps document and preserve history.

Details: DSM filmmaker Kristine Bartley launched the Woodland History Quest project last year with a grant from the Iowa Arts Council.

  • Each video is between 20 seconds and 3 1/2 minutes.
  • DSM Parks and Recreation will also add the videos to their YouTube channel in coming weeks.

One example is the history of George Hanawalt, a doctor who treated some of the hundreds injured in DSM in "the great train wreck of 1877."

  • Many of those injured were circus performers en route to a show, and Barnum & Bailey Circus later came back to Des Moines to host a benefit performance to thank Hanawalt for his help.
  • The circus gave all the proceeds from the show (today’s equivalent of approximately $376,000) to Hanawalt in gratitude.
  • He used them to build a medical center that later became Methodist Hospital.

💬 Jason's thought bubble: This innovative way to educate and remember our dead transforms the cemetery into an interactive, outdoor museum-like attraction.

What's next: A celebration for the opening of the Woodland History Quest is being held at 9:30am Saturday, at 2019 Woodland Ave.

  • Bartley continues to work on the project and told Jason she welcomes contributors. If you're interested, you can reach her at [email protected] or 515-720-5361.

4. The ear: Ear today, corn tomorrow

Illustration of an animated ear of corn, walking past a cornfield.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios
  • Iowa High School State Track & Field Championships wrapped up Saturday and here’s a good recap with results. (Des Moines Register)
  • Substances that could be used to make bombs were found inside an incarcerated person's cell at Anamosa State Penitentiary. It's the same prison where two workers were murdered earlier this year. (KCCI-TV)
  • A DSM landlord was fined $50K for violating fair housing provisions. (City of DSM)

(Thanks for sending us today's corny pun, Nina Lentini of New Haven, Conn.)

5. The best thing Linh ate

The Smorgasbord from Cheese Bar.
Photo: Linh Ta/Axios

Cheese Bar off Ingersoll Ave. has some of the highest quality charcuterie I've eaten in Des Moines and because of their frequent meat-and-cheese rotation — it's typically never the same.

My friends and I ordered the "Smorgasbord" ($35), which serves 3-5 people, and were stuffed from just that and some wine.

My highlights:

  • The brie was a perfect milky and tangy base for the mustard and jelly.
  • Prosciutto from La Quercia was paper-thin, melt-in-your-mouth good.
  • Taco-flavored pickles were a fun talker and actually delicious.

Open: 11am to 9pm, Tues.-Sat.; 2925 Ingersoll Ave., Des Moines

6. 🧺 Your DSM park picnic guide

A photo of Riverview Park in Des Moines.
The grand opening celebration of Des Moines’ Riverview Park renovation is June 4. Photo courtesy of DSM Parks and Recreation

With some nice weather on the way, it's the perfect time to enjoy a picnic at one of our city's 76 parks.

  • Here are a few suggestions we think are worthy of your time:

Riverview: 710 Corning Ave. (The former location of an amusement park.)

  • A new 6,000-seat outdoor concert venue is reason enough to check this place out. There's also a new playground and a scenic walking loop that connects to area trails.
  • The official grand opening celebration of the $4 million park rehab is June 4 at 6pm.

McHenry: 1012 Oak Park Ave. (Named after Capt. Harrison Cummins McHenry, the first Iowa officer killed in WWI).

  • Multiple open air shelters with sweeping views of downtown, trail connections and a playground.

Pete Crivaro: 1105 E. Railroad Ave. (Named in honor of one of our former mayors "known for his tirades at City Council meetings.")

  • It connects with downtown via the John Pat Dorrian Trail and has charcoal grills, open shelters and disc golf.

Make plans with this searchable DSM parks directory.

7. Pic du Jour: Getting air

Sakura Yosozumi on her skateboard at the Dew Tour in Des Moines.
Sakura Yosozumi competes in the Dew Tour's Women's Park Finals on Sunday. Photo courtesy of Dew Tour

Sakura Yosozumi, 19, of Japan won the Dew Tour Women's Park Finals on Sunday.

  • "This was just an amazing 40 seconds of skating," the announcers said. Watch here.

Our take: Through rain delays, Des Moines still shredded this weekend — showing a new side of itself both to the world and its own residents.

🎓 Turn up "Pomp and Circumstance": This is the last week of school for most DSM seniors.

  • Commencement schedules are here.

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