Axios Des Moines

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

November 17, 2022

👋 Bienvenido, Thursday.

🐻 What should Des Moines' mascot be? Answer our survey here and we'll bring our favorite answer to life.

Today's Smart Brevity™ count is 779 words, a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: Slower speeds in low-income areas

Reproduced from an analysis by The Markup of AT&T, CenturyLink, Verizon, and U.S. Census data; Note: "Slow" internet defined as less than 25 Mbps download speed; Income determined by median household income of area in which customers live; Chart: Axios Visuals

A new investigation by The Markup reveals rampant disparities when it comes to internet service in marginalized communities in major cities in the U.S., including Des Moines.

Driving the news: People in lower-income, historically redlined neighborhoods are routinely paying the same price for slower internet service as people in upper-income areas pay for high-speed internet, the analysis found.

Why it matters: Digital discrimination puts populations already harmed by historic and systemic inequalities at further risk of being adversely impacted, particularly when it comes to accessing remote learning and job opportunities.

Zoom in: In Des Moines — where CenturyLink provides services — nearly twice as many households in low-income neighborhoods are offered slower internet packages than in wealthier communities, the investigation shows.

  • 40% of lower-income neighborhoods in Des Moines were given worse internet plans compared to 28% in higher-income areas.
  • Meanwhile, about 46% of neighborhoods with more people of color were offered slower internet speeds compared with 27% of areas with mostly white residents.

The other side: Mark Molzen, a spokesperson for CenturyLink's parent company Lumen, told Axios Denver, the company "do[es] not engage in discriminatory practices like redlining" and called The Markup's report "deeply flawed."

  • He didn't specify how the analysis is erroneous, however, and did not respond to Axios Denver's request for clarification.
  • Molzen said CenturyLink is "committed to helping close the digital divide" and offers a $30 monthly discount on internet service for qualifying lower-income households.

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2. ⛷Snowsports... in July

A photo of snow tubing.

A scene from Sleepy Hollow Sports Park when it was privately owned. Photo courtesy of Catch Des Moines

Sleepy Hollow Sports Park's currently closed tubing hill will reopen in July as a year-round snowsports complex, Polk County Conservation officials announced Wednesday during a presentation before county supervisors.

  • A synthetic snow-substitute known as Snowflex will allow tubing, snowboarding and skiing for at least 44 weeks a year.

Why it matters: The project will boost the useability of the 76-acre park and make it a significant outdoor recreational attraction, county officials said.

Catch up fast: Sleepy Hollow, near the Iowa State Fairgrounds in DSM, was for decades privately owned and operated.

  • In warmer months, parts of the park are used to host events like Renaissance fairs and concerts — Taylor Swift played there in 2006.
  • Polk County Conservation purchased the property for $3.5 million last year.

What's happening: A roughly $1.7 million redevelopment will begin in coming months, focused primarily on resurfacing the tubing hill and building a new pedestrian lift, conservation director Rich Leopold said.

  • It'll reopen as the largest all-year snowsports hill in the country, Jeff Condon, the department's leisure services manager, said.

Of note: Wolfe Mountain in Branson, Mo., currently advertises as having the nation's largest synthetic tubing run.

  • Sleepy Hollow's will be about 600 feet, roughly 50% longer, Condon said.

What's next: A lodge at the park will be renovated or rebuilt with a design phase likely beginning next year.

  • Camp sites will also be improved and likely expanded in coming phases, Leopold said.

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3. Charted: You butter believe it

Data: Instacart; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios; Illustrations: Aïda Amer/Axios
Data: Instacart; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios; Illustrations: Aïda Amer/Axios

Here's some spreadable news: Iowa is the third biggest butter buyer in the country, trailing margarine-ally behind Vermont and West Virginia.

Driving the news: Iowa Instacart users purchased an average of 10.1 ounces of butter per order, or a little over two sticks, according to 2021 data from the grocery delivery service.

Why it "slathers": Butter is the real gold of this world and we sure know it. Look at our butter cow or deep-fried butter.

What's next: If you're looking for an easy, buttery treat to bring to Thanksgiving, here's one of Linh's favorites — brown-edged cookies.

4. The Ear: Some buttery little grits

Illustration of a neon sign depicting an ear of corn, reading "The Ear."

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🍹 Beer Can Alley and The Exchange in Court Avenue are closing their doors as the city considers the building's alcohol permit. (Des Moines Register)

🚲 The Iowa Bicycle Coalition is lobbying for a law requiring hands-free cell phone use to mitigate distracted driving. (KCCI)

🍲 A new, modern American restaurant is opening at Kinship Brewing. Jacob Demars of R/I Restaurant and Marlene's will be the executive chef. (dsm Magazine)

🚨 Sarah Harrelson was arrested in DSM last month on charges that she sold meth to an undercover officer.

  • She's the mother of Xavior Harrelson, a 10-year-old boy who went missing last year and was found months later dead in a field. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

👰🏻‍♂️ U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley voted Wednesday to block a bill codifying federal protections for same-sex marriages. Sen. Joni Ernst, also a Republican, voted to advance the bill for debate. (Des Moines Register)

Now hiring: New job openings

🔥 Hot and fresh local job listings.

  1. State Advocacy Manager at AARP Iowa.
  2. Technology Expert: Visual Collaboration & Meetings at Gartner.
  3. Director, Marketing Insights at Cricket Health.

Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.

Hiring? Post a job.

5. ☃️ Where's Jason?

A photo in the Des Moines metro.

Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

Hit reply to this email and correctly identify where Jason is in the DSM-metro to be added to a drawing for some free Axios swag.

  • Look for the answer — and a story about this spot — in tomorrow's newsletter.

😵‍💫 The largest Costco in Iowa is officially opening its doors in Ankeny today at 8am.

  • 😎 Linh's favorite buy: Kirkland tequila.
  • 😋 Jason's: A 62-ounce canister of M&M's

This newsletter was edited by Ross Terrell and copy edited by Lucia Maher.