Axios Des Moines

Newsletter branding image

Good morning, Tuesday!

😎 Weather: Mostly sunny with a high of 70°.

🎂 Happy birthday to our Axios Des Moines member Eileen Gannon!

Situational awareness: Tyson is closing down its meatpacking plant in Perry on June 28. It employs more than 1,200 people — the largest employer in town.

Today's Smart Brevity™ count is 743 words — a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: Emergency rent is almost gone

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Federal emergency rent assistance awarded to Polk County is about to run out.

Why it matters: Overwhelming need has nearly exhausted the grant months faster than projected.

  • More evictions and disruptions to families are likely in coming months as a result, Anne Bacon, director of IMPACT — the nonprofit group hired to distribute Polk's allocations — tells Axios.

State of play: Almost 15,000 households have received rent assistance from Polk County's distributions.

  • IMPACT recently began informing people that the money will be exhausted in the coming weeks.

Catch up fast: The Emergency Rental Assistance Program gave more than $46 billion to eligible renters during the pandemic through bills approved under both President Trump and Biden.

What we're watching: Federal rules allowed Polk County to reserve about $10.5 million to expand access to affordable housing rather than using it for rent assistance.

  • A county task force will make recommendations to supervisors in coming months about how to use the money before a December 2025 deadline.
  • Projects could include acquiring and rehabbing buildings.

Share this story

2. DMPS loses thousands of students to open enrollment

A chart showing the out- vs in-migration of DMPS students at school buildings. The out- vs. in-migration is starting to narrow since 2021-22. Chart: DMPS and RSP

Des Moines Public Schools lost a net total of 2,351 students to open enrollment between the 2021-22 and 2023-24 school years, according to a January report by the district.

Why it matters: The loss hurts the district's budget, contributing to cuts and staff reductions.

State of play: Most open enrollments are occurring around the district's borders on the northwest and east sides, according to the report.

  • Those areas are close to neighboring suburban school districts, including Johnston, Saydel, Urbandale, Southeast Polk and Carlisle, says spokesperson Phil Roeder.

Zoom in: At the high school level, East had the most open enrollments out — 377 in the current school year. Families there also dealt with several traumatic events, including a fatal shooting and a deadly hit-and-run that killed a student in 2022.

  • In comparison, Roosevelt had the least — 151 students.

Reality check: The highest open enrollment occurred in 2021-22 when DMPS was still virtual in comparison to neighboring districts. Student migrations have narrowed since.

Between the lines: When the Legislature loosened the state's open enrollment rules in 2021, education advocates warned that urban districts like DMPS would have greater concentrations of low-income, students of color, as higher-income families left for suburban districts.

3. 🚗 Mapped: Our cheap charges

Average EV charging station prices, January 2024
Data: Stable Auto; Note: Does not include Tesla charging stations; Map: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

It costs an average of $0.29 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to charge an electric car at a public charging station in Iowa, according to data from Stable Auto, an EV charger software developer.

  • That's compared to the national average of $0.45.

The big picture: Charging an electric vehicle costs three times as much at a public charging site in West Virginia ($0.54) than in Nebraska ($0.17).

4. The Ear: You've been corned so you pepper beware!

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

⛽️ Maverik CEO Chuck Maggelet is retiring and his soon-to-be ex-wife, Crystal Maggelet, is stepping in. He oversaw Maverik's purchase of Kum & Go last year and says the leadership change will not impact operations. (CSP)

🏝 Buy your own Iowa island on the Mississippi River near Muscatine for $1.5 million. (Des Moines Register)

⚽️ Norwalk's new $300 million sports complex will open in June. It features synthetic fields, a golf simulator and an AmazonGo store. (KCCI)

🏊‍♀️ Waukee released new designs for a proposed outdoor waterpark, including slides and a lazy river. (Des Moines Register)

⭐️ Today's headline maker, Eric Doll of WDM, won one of our pepper plants. (More on that below!)

Sponsored job listings

Take your career to the next level

💼 Check out who's hiring on our Job Board.

  1. Director, Public Policy at DuckDuckGo.
  2. Senior Project Manager at Resource Management Concepts.
  3. Senior Director, Global Content & Programming at HIMSS.

Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.

Hiring? Use code FIRST50 for $50 off your first job post.

5. 🌽 1 fun thing to go: Pepper plant winners

Aji charapita pepper seeds are sold by Missouri-based Rare Seeds. Photos: Jason Clayworth/Axios

Axios DSM readers submitted just over 65 corn puns or headlines for our news roundup "The Ear" for a chance to win one of two aji charapita pepper plants Jason is giving away.

Driving the news: WDM resident Eric Doll won a plant for the headline, "You've been corned so you pepper beware."

  • Chris Andersen of Nevada also won with his take on the Jason Bourne movies: "Corn Supremacy."
  • Runners up were "ch-ear squad: Grow! Fight! Win!" from Laura Knispel of Grimes and "Silking it for all its worth," from Cedric Fevrier of DSM.

👑 The intrigue: Christine Marchand of Cumming submitted more than 100 puns in recent years.

Bottom line: If you wanna dethrone the Ear queen, you've got a lot of work ahead of you.

Got a cleaver Ear pun? Hit reply. We'll give it some corn-sideration.

👀 Linh is trying to figure out where Brock Purdy's wedding party went. Plymouth Church and Krause Gateway Center? (And where was the reception?)

⬆️ Jason thinks it's Purdy rude that he wasn't invited!

This newsletter was copy edited by Lucia Maher.