Axios Des Moines

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πŸ‘— Hiya, Tuesday. On this day in 1932, renowned fashion designer Roy Halston Frowick was born in Des Moines.

⛅️ Weather: Early morning showers before becoming gradually sunny. High of 70Β°.

πŸŽ‚ Happy birthday to our Axios Des Moines member Daniel Montgomery!

Today's Smart Brevityβ„’ count is 785 words β€” a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: Coaching healthier farmers

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

The top athletes in the country get their own team of health care providers, but one local farm co-op wants that same level of care for Iowa farmers.

Why it matters: Like athletes, farmers are working physically demanding jobs that require specific nutrition, mental wellness and rest.

  • But working in more rural environments often means there are barriers to that type of health care.

Driving the news: Des Moines-based Landus hired its first-ever "senior director of training and performance" last month to oversee the new initiative.

  • Dehra Harris is a medical educator who also worked with the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team.

State of play: Farmers have increased heart attack risks, which can be attributed to higher stress, less health care access and putting off needed changes, according to Southern Illinois University.

  • Suicide rates are also nearly twice as high among farmers, according to the CDC. They're facing stressors beyond their control, like weather, commodity prices and changing global markets, IPR reports.

How it works: A Google search for simple health tips won't help Iowa farmers, Harris tells Axios.

  • Her job is to listen and identify their immediate and big-picture health needs. That includes how to get a nutritional meal while working all day or adequate rest, even after birthing a calf at 3am.
  • She plans to travel and provide custom care plans for farms in the co-op. Eventually, Harris wants to hire her own health team, including a dietician and strength and conditioning specialist, similar to what a professional sports team would use.

What they're saying: Kelsi Hosch, who works for her family's farms in Plainfield and Cascade, says hiring and retaining workers in the small towns can be difficult because of health care access. She's hopeful the new program can help.

The bottom line: "Being rural shouldn't limit the choices that are really impacting your health," Harris says.

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2. Gray's Lake bids rejected

Some sections of the current paddlecraft dock at Gray's Lake were irreparable and removed after being damaged by ice in early 2022. Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

All bids for a Gray's Lake marina replacement project were recently rejected by the city of Des Moines after the lowest offer was more than $863,000 above estimates.

Why it matters: The project is needed to fully restore water recreation at one of the metro's busiest parks.

Catch up quick: Portions of the current marina were severely damaged by ice in 2022, resulting in thousands fewer users as well as less watercraft rentals in the last few seasons.

  • A project to rebuild the marina, create a new viewing deck and improve trails was projected to begin this year and finish in 2025.

Driving the news: Only two businesses responded to DSM's recent request for competitive bids and the lowest was 45% more than the city engineer's $1.9 million estimate.

  • City Council voted this month to explore "value engineering options."

Zoom in: The project will now be bid in two parts. The first bid, in June, will include a parking lot and trail repairs with a fall construction start.

  • The second contract could allow for more affordable materials or construction options for the dock, city engineer Steve Naber tells Axios.

Between the lines: Project costs are a growing concern as DSM approaches its self-imposed debt limit and navigates new laws that restrict revenue growth.

Yes, but: The Gray's Lake project is still expected to retain the same approximate timeline despite the rebidding, Naber says.

A rendering of the Gray's Lake Marina.
A new paddlecraft marina at Gray's Lake would be located closer to the park's concession stand and the Christine Hensley Terrace. Rendering: Courtesy of the city of DSM

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3. The Ear: Your news roundup

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

⛔️ A temporary restraining order barring DSM Art Center from demolishing "Greenwood Pond: Double Site" has been extended until April 29. (Business Record)

πŸ€’ Respiratory illnesses have Blank Children's Hospital at capacity. (Des Moines Register)

πŸ’΅ The Ankeny school board approved a nearly $1 drop to its tax rate, totaling $16.05 for every $1K of a home's value. (Des Moines Register)

4. Charted: The cicadas are coming ... in 2031

Data: USDA and University of Connecticut; Graphic: Jared Whalen, Will Chase and Kavya Beheraj/Axios

If you were feeling left out of the Midwest's upcoming cicada emergence, don't worry β€” just wait six years for Des Moines' turn.

Driving the news: In 2031, Brood III, also known as the "Iowan Brood," will emerge upon central and eastern Iowa in all its six-legged glory.

  • These cicadas have a 17-year lifespan and are known for swarming out of the ground en masse and crowding our trees and shrubs.

What's next: If the entomologist inside you can't wait that long, travel to southeast Iowa this summer for the special emergence of two broods.

5. 🌎 1 pic to go: Earth Day cleanup

Photo: Linh Ta/Axios

Linh here. For Earth Day yesterday, I helped pick up trash over by Indianola and Carlisle, near the bike trail.

State of play: Country dumping is definitely real and prevalent! We found countless Busch Light cans, a box spring, a GameCube and a car's rear axle.

The bottom line: Spring cleanup is this week in Indianola! Take advantage of it.

πŸ‘‹ Same place, same time tomorrow.

This newsletter was copy edited by Lucia Maher.