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Updated: Jan 6


It’ll be looking a lot like Christmas soon, when City facilities will begin displaying 500 poinsettias. For years, the flowers have been nurturing in the City’s aging greenhouse, at 2501 Murray Street. But Colt Stephens, the City’s horticulture technician, above, is eagerly awaiting the completion in fall 2023 of a new energy-efficient greenhouse. It’ll be located near the City’s $12.4 million animal shelter—also under construction—on Harriet Street east of Southeast 14th Street. The city greenhouse annually grows over 230,000 flowers and plants for public spaces such as rights-of-ways, street corners, parkways, and land owned by nonprofit groups and the school district. The city’s parks department oversees greenhouse operations. The new greenhouse will include 14,256 square feet of production space and 3,456 square feet for offices, volunteer space, storage, and restrooms. GTG Construction of Johnston, a firm that has built several commercial greenhouses, was awarded the $4.4 million contract. The existing greenhouse, designed as an economic structure, has limped along well past its lifetime. For example, the roof, made of two layers of plastic sheet, requires frequent recoating and replacement. The new greenhouse design has a glass roof and will use natural ventilation, as well as shade curtains for light and thermal control. Colt expects that the roof will allow quieter, less-oppressive conditions for the army of volunteers who descend on the greenhouse. “When the temperature inside gets over 85 degrees,” Colts says about the current facility, “we have to send the volunteers home. The new facility will be a much nicer growing environment, too.” Volunteers play an integral role in operations since the greenhouse has just two full-time employees and one part-time employee. In pre-COVID years, about 500 volunteers donated more than 2,000 hours annually that included growing:

  • 1,250 plants for the Environmental Education Program

  • 5,850 native plants for parks, neighborhood groups, and recreation programs

  • 10,000 plants for cemetery operations

  • 40,600 plants for the Neighborhood Flower Program

  • 47,755 plants for Fleur Drive and Water Works Park and

  • 48,000 plants for Parks & Recreation complexes, community recreations centers, and downtown planter program

Jim Hoff, the City’s facilities manager, expects the new all-electric greenhouse to meet LEED Gold certification. In addition, when the adjacent solar field is up and running (out of bid now; estimated early 2024 completion), the new facility will be the City’s first net-zero building. The 200-kilowatt solar array is expected to produce enough energy to meet 100 percent of the greenhouse’s energy demand. After completion, the production area could be expanded as funding allows by replacing existing fixed benches with new rolling benches. Those will increase the indoor production area over the current area.


This fall, 15 volunteers contributed 101 hours to save the City of Des Moines $43,000. How? By assembling a new playground for Evergreen Park at 2000 Evergreen Avenue. Lee Wheelock, Des Moines Parks and Recreation park planner, reports that as a general rule, installing standard playground equipment runs around 30% of the equipment cost. Because of the volunteer-supplied value, the City ordered a larger playground structure and stayed within budget.

More volunteers are needed in 2023! To learn how, email

Evergreen was the only City park playground added in 2022. But 2023 has the makings of a banner year. The highlight is the renovation of Union Park’s historic Rocket Slide and safety surfacing upgrades. Daniel Calvert, the City’s planning and development administrator, reports these playgrounds, spraygrounds, basketball courts, and futsal courts also should be completed in 2023:

  • Brook Run Park: ADA equipment and safety surfacing upgrades

  • Burke Park: new sprayground, plus playground upgrades and new safety surfaces

  • Chesterfield and MacRae parks: completion of playgrounds and spraygrounds

  • Chesterfield and Stone parks: Futsal Kick It Forward Mini-Pitch Systems and lighting

  • Evelyn K. Davis Park: two new basketball courts and lighting

  • Evergreen and Tower parks: lighting systems for Futsal Kick It Forward Mini-Pitch Systems (installed in 2022)

  • Frisbee, McHenry, and Sheridan parks: new playgrounds

Also, the City has striped all 52 municipal tennis courts for pickleball. The first dedicated pickleball courts, in Stone Park, are tentatively scheduled for opening in early 2025.


Sheena Rose, above left, designer of seven DART bus shelters in the Sixth Avenue Corridor, was in Des Moines this fall to celebrate the completed shelters plus a ginormous palette: a DART bus wrap commissioned by the Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation. Standing beside Sheena is her mother, Elaine Rose of Barbados.

Learn more about Sheena and her Des Moines projects. MEREDITH TRAIL REOPENING NOW SCHEDULED FOR DECEMBER 5

The reopening of the Meredith Trail along the Raccoon River (Ninth Street to Third Street) has been closed on both sides of the river for most of 2022 to raise protective levees. It is now scheduled to reopen on December 5.


Renee Hardman, far right, Broadlawns Medical Center vice president of human resources, hugs Jacquita Suykes following October 27 graduation ceremonies for the Training and Education for Adults seeking a Career in Healthcare (TEACH) program. Jacquita, who landed a job in the Broadlawns emergency room, was named the class Natural Leader. She intends to complete additional classes to qualify as a registered nurse.

Throughout its six years, the Broadlawns program has graduated 50 cohorts who completed the eight-week certified nursing assistant (CNA) program and earned six DMACC credits Learn more about complete basic and advanced certified nursing assistant (CNA) programs.

Chris Kuhl, Des Moines engineering department, and Dale Hadsall, Jasper Construction Services general superintendent, try out the new tables and benches outside Zanzibar’s Coffee at 28th and Ingersoll. PHOTO: Lauren Kollauf


A year ago, local restaurateur Tony Lemmo rang me up to suggest that the Ingersoll Avenue reconstruction create ample usable space for a couple of chairs and benches outside his favorite coffee shop, Zanzibar’s Coffee Adventure. So, with a green light from Zanzibar’s owner, Julie McGuire, a plan was set in motion to juggle the space outside her coffee shop at 2723 Ingersoll. Chris Kuhl, the City engineer in charge of the Ingersoll project, and Jeff Wiggins, the City’s transportation planner, confirmed that the timing was good and changes could be made. Yes, space for two tables with benches. Check.

With the City’s okay, others were looped in, including Lauren Kollauf, The Avenues of Ingersoll and Grand executive director; Scott Almeida of Kirkham Michael, Ingersoll design project manager; Confluence landscaping subcontractor Jim Host; and Dale Hadsall, Jasper Construction Services general superintendent. Two tables and four benches were ordered in May. Julie and her staff provided temporary tables and chairs until the concrete fixtures were installed in late October.

Lauren hinted at more outdoor seating on the Ingersoll corridor in the upcoming reconstruction phases.


Twelve Des Moines Fire Department recruits were sworn

Braulio Flores and his wife, Kaylee, pose for photos at the graduation ceremony.

in Friday afternoon, the first graduating class of certified firefighter paramedics who began careers in other departments. Jacob Dicks, foreground, who joined the force from Kansas City, Kansas, was among those sworn in. In the background are Joseph Michell from Urbandale and Jack Magnussen from the Ankeny force. The newly minted Des Moines firefighters previously served in surrounding communities, Fort Dodge, Cedar Rapids, and departments in Kansas and Kentucky.

A typical class lasts 12 to 18 months; this 99th graduating class completed training in just 81 days.

Training never stops! The next graduation will be in January 2023. And there’s a new class of 25 already selected to start training in January.


This summer, the Des Moines Public Library hit it out of the park with its 2022 All Summer Long program, open to kids from newborn to 18 years. Each child received a free book of their choice for registering. Ashley Molzen, the library’s community engagement supervisor, reports that Library staff hosted 327 free educational programs for kids and 52 teen programs around the City. Also:

  • 686 new library cards were distributed

  • 831 hours of teen service were volunteered to support youth programming

  • 8,085 new books were distributed to build personal home libraries

  • 10,393 youths attended summer programs and

  • 14,424 hours of reading logged by participants

Graphic novels and teen fiction books were very popular. “Kids loved any of our ‘I survived... titles, Ashley says. One popular title: I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic, 1912 by Lauren Tarshis. Teens also loved Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia.

“All of our libraries and their surrounding communities showed up in a huge way to earn prizes by reading and attending our programs all summer,” Ashley says. “The Forest Avenue Library signed up four times as many kids in 2022 as they did in 2018 by going out into the community, and that is certainly worth noting!”

To assist new visitors, the library recently translated its Simple Steps to Success handout for early literacy into 11 languages. Here are the details.

Based on this summer’s successes, the Des Moines City Council enthusiastically voted to award Library staff $1 million in ARPA funding to expand early literacy programs.


It’s pretty well known that Europeans take their coffee seriously. And it’s not just about the java—the European coffee culture is rapidly moving away from the single-use containers that we Americans toss in the trash without a thought. According to one study, the average coffee drinker throws away 200 cups annually. Or another way: 600 billion coffee containers are dumped in the trash annually. That’s a mountain of trash!

And that garbage is expensive. Daniel Bosman, the owner of Daisy Chain Coffee in the East Village, reports the cost of a case (1,000 count) of 16-ounce cups has jumped from $80 to $147, and lids from $50 to $96. That’s about 25 cents tossed in the trash with each cup—not including disposal costs. Yikes!

So far, only a handful of Des Moines-area coffee shops promote reusable containers or provide a discount for customers toting a container. Horizon Line is one exception. In August 2019, Horizon Line switched to reusable glass jars or mugs for all coffee sales.

A British company, Circular & Co. makes the 12 oz insulated travel mug, above, from six disposal paper cups—about 40 percent of the total content.

Council member Joe Gatto, his daughter, Maria Taylor; and granddaughters Gianna, left, and Gemma, were on hand for lighting of the tree north of the Brenton Skating Plaza.


The 21st annual East Village Holiday Promenade kicked off November 18 with carolers, tree lighting, a Santa visit, and the official opening of the Brenton Skating Plaza.

This year’s events stretch over five Friday evenings—all with open shops and free on-street parking from 5 to 9 pm. The December 16 promenade wraps up with a MidAmerican Energy winter fireworks spectacular.

More details here.



Beggar’s Afternoon: Capitol Park Neighborhood hosted a Sunday afternoon celebration on October 30 in Burke Park with a Dia de Los Muertos flavor. Carver Elementary fifth grader

Josslyn Avon, left, was traditionally costumed by her mother, Nicole Avon. The activities drew about 150 neighbors. . . . Beggar’s Night street closures: Union Park Neighborhood closed Thompson Avenue east of East 14th for Beggar’s Night crowds. In the Westwood neighborhood, 51st Street was closed south of Grand for the ghosts, goblins, parents, and grandparents. Street closure expenses were less than $100. . . . Sunday afternoon meeting: In a departure from evening meetings, the Waveland Park Neighborhood Association held its annual meeting on Sunday afternoon, October 23, at the Waveland Golf Course, allowing families to bring kids. Waveland Golf pizza and a live band—Abbie & and The Sawyers—helped draw a crowd. . . . Neighborhoods merge: This month, three neighborhoods—Magnolia Park, South Park, and Fort Des Moines—merged into the South Central DSM Neighborhood Association.


I wish I had a dollar for every friend on edge about attending family gatherings this year—events that may most assuredly devolve into heated discussions around that nasty “P”word, as in politics.

Charlotte Lamb, my mother-in-law, once related that she knew it was time to gather up the family from the Lamb reunion in Grinnell when the brothers, uncles, and cousins raised their voices and got into it. Again.

Yep. Back in the day, it was all about Ford vs. Chevy.

Oh, wouldn’t we all wish for a throw-back argument over cars? Or even red vs. green tractors? Anything but that P word.

Enjoy holiday gatherings—as best you can.

Fresh eyes: Thanks to copyeditor Ira Lacher for his keen skills.

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Vision Zero is a national program with local impact and a universal aim: to eliminate deaths and serious injuries to motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians. More than 40 U.S. cities have embraced Vision Zero planning, and so has Des Moines. Our city’s overarching goal for Vision Zero is: “Des Moines' residents, regardless of how they get around, want transportation that is usable and safe for everyone.”

Four open houses are scheduled later this month as part of the City’s Vision Zero planning. Each is scheduled for 4 to 7 p.m. Just stop by when it fits your schedule—and you don’t have to stay for the full three hours. Here are the dates and locations:

  • Tuesday, Sept. 20 at the Pioneer Columbus Community Center, Irving E. Stone Park, 2100 Southeast Fifth Street

  • Wednesday, Sept. 21 at the East Side Library, 2559 Hubbell Avenue

  • Thursday, Sept. 22 at the South Side Library, 1111 Porter Avenue

  • Thursday, Sept 29 at the Franklin Library, 5000 Franklin Avenue


On the first day of school a few weeks ago, 12 Afghan youths walked into the Hoover High School principal’s office to enroll. They spoke a remote tribal language that didn’t register with any of the district’s translators. So began Qynne Kelly’s first full year as Hoover’s principal.

Qynne, a seven-year Des Moines Public Schools veteran, is proud to hold the reins of the most diverse high school in Iowa. “Diversity is our strength,” Qynne boasts.

If you had any doubt about diversity within Hoover, after noting the bold, colorful flags of 40 nations lining the hallways, consider that its 1,000 students speak 44 home and/or family languages or tribal dialects, including Burmese, Chin, Dinka, Karen, Karenni, Nuer, Swahili, and Vietnamese.

In recent weeks, Qynne has bounced around the Hoover attendance area, meeting residents from the six or so surrounding neighborhood associations, including her own Chautauqua Park Neighborhood. “I’m meeting people who haven’t been in schools since the 1970s or 1980s,” Qynne says.

That’s because, she notes, “A lot has changed at our schools. We are shifting the narrative to what a school is today.” Qynne strives for Hoover to become a resource for the entire community. The school’s new vision statement reads: “We are an inclusive school shaping a thriving northwest side.”

This is a far cry from your grandpa’s school. Consider the Huskie Zone in one room, where students can:

• grab grocery items at a Food Bank of Iowa pantry

• browse through a clothing closet (students and family attire)

• schedule an on-site Primary Health Care (PCH) medical appointment

• receive on-site dental care at the Smiles Squad on Wednesdays. Referrals for additional

dental care, up to a root canal, takes place at the Kurtz Building on SW Porter

• pick up personal hygiene items

Qynne stresses that these and other services remove barricades to learning. “Teaching and learning is a high expectation at Hoover,” Qynne says. “But we’re here to be partners.”

And to listen. At the Hoover Hub in another room, students can drop in “for whatever you need.” Suggestions welcome! One example: Raise the Bar, a women’s weightlifting program, emerged as a new Hoover club.

Qynne believes transportation remains one of the biggest hurdles for the Hoover students and families. This one is hard to fix. “Kids can ride the DART bus for 75 cents, but it’s free after 4:30—an hour after classes dismiss. It’s amazing how a 75-cent difference is important to some families.”


In 2001, granite plaques representing each of Iowa’s 99 counties were installed along Locust Street sidewalks in the East Village. Over the decades, some of those plaques broke, cracked or heaved. So the City’s Engineering Department staff are working on detailed plans to make sidewalk improvements in 2023.

But when inventorying the counties, staff discovered that three—Cedar, Greene, and Washington—had disappeared. Relax; there’s no hidden consolidation agenda at work. It’s just that those plaques become collateral damage to a flurry of East Village developments. Yes, the missing counties will be replaced as City staff reduce tripping hazards in this busy corridor leading to the Iowa State Capitol. Other scheduled improvements include removing fencing around tree boxes, often damaged by snow-removal equipment, and a streetscape lighting upgrade.


Could there have been a better message for the September 5 Labor Day Parade than the “Work Hard & Be Nice to People” message on Tony Garner’s T-shirt? Tony and his daughters Joplin, left, and Paisley were among hundreds lining East Grand Avenue to scoop up candy tossed by union members.

Greg Gregorio, a LiuNA Local #177 member, and his wife, Elizabeth, left, toss candy while riding on the back of a flatbed trailer.


The new Crisis Advocacy Response Effort (CARE) team has been busy responding to local mental health issues since responding to its first 911 calls on July 5. In August alone, the team logged 499 trips with a mental health component.

The team has had several success stories, including those described by Kari Osborn, one of two registered nurses on the team, which also consists of three crisis advocates with mental health experience.

“The CARE team and DMPD were dispatched to a call resulting from a domestic situation,” Kari told me. “One of the clients did not feel safe and was in an abusive situation. Phil Sullivan from our team transported the client to a safe shelter for the evening. Kaitlyn Humpal [also CARE team] and I initiated resources for the clients to help them move forward.

“The CARE team spent a good amount of time with the client, figuring out the logistics of their situation,” Kari reported. “That freed up officers, after they dealt with the domestic situation, to help the community in other ways.”

Kari also recalled when the team went out to a client who had called the police, stating they had no food in the house. After contacting Easter Seals and the Iowa Department of Human Services, Kaitlyn went to a food pantry to set up the client with food for a few days until other resources could kick in. “By the time Kirk Storm [also CARE team] and I left the residence, Easter Seals was already at the apartment, getting things set up for them,” Kari reports.

“From my own perspective, the CARE team is so versatile and takes the time needed for people struggling with mental health issues,” she continues. “Once we are out at a scene, we focus on that situation and help figure out a solution.”

The team is funded by Des Moines, Polk County, and Broadlawns Medical Center. Dawn Marie Hooker at Broadlawns is the CARE supervisor. Sgt. Lorna Garcia is the Mobile Crisis Response Team and CARE liaison, and leads the DMPD mental health response teams.

A call to the CARE Crisis Advocate, stationed with DMPD dispatchers, doesn’t have to involve police officers. This has saved a lot of time for officers and or Mobile Crisis team from responding when nothing has happened that merits an in-person response. “This way,” Sgt. Garcia says, “a caller can vent and be heard by the CARE member in dispatch when the need for anything more is not required.”

CARE does more than respond to calls with mental health aspects; for example, Sgt. Garcia reported that the team routinely handles calls for welfare checks (shorthand for checking on the well-being of a resident). “DMPD dispatch receives numerous requests for welfare checks every day,” she adds. “CARE has gone out on many of these welfare checks instead of dispatching two police officers, which is a better use of resources.”


Racheal Duang holds a housewarming basket given to her family as part of a Sept. 10 Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity home dedication. It was a big day for Rachel and her daughters Nyaguich, 6; Apiew, 12; and Mer, 14.

I first met Racheal Duang in February 2020 while I was part of a Central Presbyterian Church Habitat for Humanity volunteer crew. Racheal was painting in the same house, logging time for her 200 hours of Habitat sweat equity, part of Habitat’s homeowner's program.

Since then, I learned that Racheal, a native of South Sudan, works full-time as a paralegal for Iowa Movement for Justice. Racheal’s certification from the U.S. Department of Justice Recognition and Accreditation allows her to provide legal immigration services through a recognized nonprofit.

Racheal is a valued resource in our community, where she combines her legal training with fluency in English, Spanish, and Arabic. She also translates for four east African languages: Nuer, Dinka, Anyuak, and Shilluk.

By year’s end, Habitat expects to move 30 families into their first homes (new and renovated).

Alan Graham, right, founder and CEO, fields questions from Polk County supervisor Matt McCoy, Joppa board member Curt Carlson, Joppa founders Jacki and Joe Stevens, and City Council member Linda Westergaard.


A delegation from Des Moines spent a busy day in Austin, Texas, last week touring the Community First! Village in that state capital. Community First! provides affordable, permanent housing and a supportive community for men and women transitioning from chronic homelessness. Joppa organized the tour as a potential pilot project for a similar Des Moines area village.

The initiative started with one gently used RV in 2004, and the first permanent community housing opened in 2015. There are now 325 former homeless in the 51-acre community, which plans to grow to 500 homes. Across the road, the nonprofit organization has acquired an additional 127 acres for future expansion. A typical neighbor is 56 years old and was homeless for 8.9 years. In 2021, community members earned $1.2 million in dignified income, including auto care, gardening, culinary, jewelry workshop, artwork sales, and a community bed and breakfast.

Seventy-five percent of the village operates on philanthropic income; the remainder from rent. There are no city or county subsidies. A micro-home (200 square feet; no restroom) rents for around $275/month. Rent for a slightly larger home (fully plumbed) averages $375/month. The village has an 88% retention rate.


The Union Park Neighborhood Association went all-in for music Sunday afternoon with its first Porchfest, a walking music festival. Organizers booked 17 bands to play on 16 front porches surrounding Union Park. Bluesman Heath Alan charmed the crowd with covers and original tunes on a Cherokee Avenue porch. Yep, you missed something fabulous. Next year.


At the YMCA Supportive Housing Campus, residents are treated to two annual celebrations: birthdays and anniversaries as a resident.

Because this 11-year-old building at 2 Southwest Ninth Street is considered permanent supportive housing, residency anniversaries are a common event. Among the 140 units, some residents have lived in Y housing for 30 years, including years at the former Riverfront YMCA men’s housing.

But the average stay now is 18 to 24 months, according to Katie Kamienski, executive director of housing, who adds that the waiting list for single-occupancy rooms, which rent for $540 per month, has 120 names. “There aren’t many YMCAs that have a facility like this,” Katie says. “The rooms can be whatever people want it to be.”

Eight former residents are in a “graduate” program, where they try living in apartments scattered around the metro area. They can return to the Ninth Street program for wraparound services—everything from laundry to the food pantry to counseling—for up to three years.

Side note: Decades ago, when I was a summer photo intern at The Des Moines Register, I rented a room at the Riverfront YMCA Men’s Housing for my first two weeks in the capital city.


Developers of the Sixth Avenue Flats report that all 42 units were leased within 60 days of taking the first applications. The new development just north of University Avenue prioritizes young adults aging out of the state’s foster care program. DMACC provides scholarships for former foster care youths so they can continue their education at the nearby Urban Campus or Southridge Campus. Expect news soon from Youth and Shelter Services (YSS) regarding a financial partner for its first-floor offices.


Dorie Hammer, Allan Cookson, David Graves, and Nate Manning relax beneath a canopy of oak trees in Des Moines Water Works Park on another fabulous, casual fall evening. The pop-up German-style Biergarten is to operate through October on Thursdays through Sundays. The biergarten is just east of the Lauridsen Stage and a short walk from the Ruan Connector to Gray’s Lake Park.

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Updated: Aug 10, 2022


In 1996, 11-year-old Lokus Ngo arrived with his Vietnamese family in Des Moines. After attending Roosevelt and Hoover high schools, he graduated from DMACC, became a tax preparer, and in 2017 organized the nonprofit Watchmen Community. With a crew of five to 10 volunteers, they pick up 50 or more bags of trash on a weekend. In 2021, Lokus and the Watchmen spent more than 600 hours picking up trash in Prospect Park.

This year, Des Moines Parks and Recreation recognized Lokus Ngo as 2021 Volunteer of the Year.

“When I go to Prospect Park,” says Lokus, who is president of the group, “I talk to people. I go there with a purpose. A few of them now help pick up trash after I talk to them for so long! The litter is actually getting better.”

Never heard of the Watchmen Group? Many haven’t.

This organization of 100, rooted in the Vietnamese community, has a goal of watching over humanity, protecting the environment and strengthening the community. “We just go out to make changes,” Lokus said recently, while we talked at his tax preparation office on Euclid Avenue.

Besides adopting Prospect Park, the Watchmen Group has a food pantry. “We help people cook food on Wednesday—about 80 meals a week,” Lokus related. “We have a 5,000-square-foot community garden on Hickman. And we teach self-defense and martial arts through our youth leadership program.

“We call it the Way of the Watchmen.”

Lokus, who still has family in Des Moines, is the type of person who, when he sees a problem, does everything in his power to try to find a solution,” says Rachel Haindfield, Des Moines Parks and Recreation field coordinator. “His optimism, perseverance, and caring personality make him a great partner and community leader.”

276 CUMULATIVE YEARS OF POLICE EXPERIENCE— AND A BUSHEL BASKET OF STORIES In the first six months of 2022, nine Des Moines Police Department senior officers with more than 276 years of experience quietly retired and walked out the door.

One of those was Lt. Larry Davey, who stepped down on June 30 as head of the 15-member Neighborhood Based Service Delivery (NBSD) unit, which includes neighborhood officers, mobile crisis officers, and youth services.

Before joining the force in 1989, Davey played bass for a couple of years with an Ohio-based touring Southern gospel band. He then spent 20 years as an Indianola fire medic.

When he joined the Des Moines force, Davey drove a 1990 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor. There were no in-car computers then. Instead, Davey relates, a Remington model 870 12-gauge shotgun was secured vertically in the front passenger seat.

“I started out with a raggedy used vest,” Davey recalls. “We had to buy our own vests and weapons. The Velcro on my used vest was about shot, and it didn’t fit very well.”

After working nights for a year, Davey was assigned to the Strategic Complement Against Thugs (SCAT) unit, an anti-gang squad formed in June 1990, when out-of-state highly organized gangs—Bloods, Vice Lords, Crips, and Black Gangster Disciples—gobbled up a lot of ink in The Des Moines Register. “They intimidated locals and fought turf wars with other rival gangs,” Davey recalls. “Our job was to interrupt gang activities.”

After two years with SCAT, Davey moved on to the Tactical Unit (now known as Metro

STAR), where he served as the medic on entry teams, dive master for underwater search and recovery, and led annual CPR and EMS in-service classes for officers. In 2004, around when drug prevention and meth labs made headlines, Davey was assigned to the Neighborhood Area Resource Coordinators (NARC) office. His career eventually led to the NBSD, where he succeeded Joe Gonzalez, who was injured in an off-duty accident.

All sorts of stories jump out from Davey’s 33 years with the force.

With the Tactical unit, part of Davey’s regular assignments was river patrol. In August 1998, he made headlines by rescuing a man floating in the Des Moines River. “Officer sees ‘swimmer,’ then saves him from drowning” grabbed plenty of eyeballs in the morning paper. A few years later, a driver who suffered a heart attack and crashed into Principal Financial’s corporate headquarters survived because Davey quickly responded and administered CPR.

But the best moment in Davey’s career never saw an inch of ink.

Des Moines Police have a long tradition of hosting a free pre-winter community car check-up. When he informed one woman her front tires had no tread and she needed to replace them before snow falls, she broke down; tires are not inexpensive. After hearing her story, Davey felt compelled to buy her two new tires. Lt. (now a captain) Dave Seybert thought the same thing, and they split the cost, at Scott’s Automotive. The officers were astonished when the bill seemed unusually less than expected.

“I questioned the low cost,” Davey says, “and Scott [proprietor Scott Weyer] told me that they wanted to have a part in this. All in all, we ended up splitting the cost three ways.”

Stories like that aren’t Davey’s alone—officers throughout the DMPD and across America do great things for citizens day in and day out, and no one ever knows. To accomplish many of those great things, officers reach into their pockets. “Not for the glory,” Davey notes, “but because that's who we are.”

SAVE THE DATE! On September 14th, we will be hosting our next Ice Cream Social at Waveland Golf Course Clubhouse. Be sure to mark your calendars! We'll be making more announcements, including special flavors for 2022. Stay tuned!


Need an uplift from the daily grind? If so, pedal on down to the Carl Voss Trail and bask in the glory of a 21/2-acre field of sunflowers in full bloom.

The sunflowers greet cyclists, runners, and walkers as they round a curve about a mile from Easter Lake.

Hey, I bet you’ll be smilin’.


In May, I attended the William G. Stowe Citizen Water Academy at Des Moines Water Works, spending four Thursday afternoons immersed in details of water management and the challenges Des Moines and Iowa water users face. The agenda included a visit to the Des Moines and Saylorville water treatment laboratories, water regionalization, and the challenges of nitrate and phosphorus runoff to our drinking water.

Chris Jones is a research engineer with the Iowa Institute of Hydraulic Research. Jones initially calculated in 2019 that Iowa’s 20 to 24 million hogs produce the equivalent daily waste of 83.7 million humans. He’s updated his original numbers based on newer USDA data. All told, Iowa’s hogs, beef cattle, dairy cattle, laying chickens, and turkeys produce the equivalent waste of 168 million people. Jones calls this the “fecal equivalent population” (FEP).

Sadly, the waste from concentrated animal feedlot operations (CAFOs) is not spread evenly across Iowa’s fields. We are in deep…something.

Learn about when you can attend the next Water Academy.


The City of Des Moines, Polk County Supervisors, and Operation Downtown have hired the Responsible Hospitality Institute (RHI) to develop a template for a safe and inclusive Court Avenue District.

RHI senior consultant Jocelyn Kane spent four days in Des Moines meeting with stakeholders, including Des Moines police, restaurant and bar owners, and downtown residents. Before completing her assessment and report, Jocelyn expects to make four or five additional trips to Des Moines to help redefine Court Avenue into a safe and vibrant hospitality zone while supporting a nighttime economy. A report is expected later this year.

Jocelyn welcomes input. Email her at


Melanie Navarro, 6, sits patiently while Jenny Masic paints her face as part of National Night Out activities at South Union Elementary School on Aug. 2.

Three Ward 4 neighborhood associations —Magnolia Park, South Park, and Fort Des Moines—drew more than 100 residents for the festivities at South Union. The three associations are working toward a merger this fall.

Twenty-seven of the City’s 52 recognized neighborhood associations participated in National Night Out gatherings sprinkled around the City.

National Night Out:


Kaiyona Russian, a Roosevelt senior-to-be, was recognized as a “natural leader” recently among nine graduates of the Training and Education for a Career in Healthcare (TECH) program at Broadlawns Medical Center.

Beaming beside Kaiyona is program director Dennis Henderson.

Graduates of the eight-week apprentice program, which started in 2016 and has had 16 graduating classes, complete basic and advanced certified nursing assistant (CNA) programs, and earn six college credits. And the bonus for this entire class: Broadlawns offered immediate part-time jobs to high school students, and full-time jobs to spring graduates. Kaiyona will work 4-hour shifts as a PRN (pro re nata or as needed).

Ivette Muhammad and Tim McCoy
Jarmain Merritt


In December, the City awarded Creative Visions a three-year, $1.4 million contract to establish a violence interruption program in Des Moines. Second- and third-year contracts are planned using American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding. Supervisor Tim McCoy and site director Ivette Muhammad have branded the local Cure Violence campaign as CV3 VIP for the three Creative Visions services: food pantry, crime-victims assistance, and violence interruption.

The group is not connected to the police department, Tim emphasizes. “The community can’t see us as a threat,” he says. “Our words mean everything. We're about encouraging the community to trust us and encouraging youth to change.”

Staff members, described as violence interrupters, are community members with trusted street credibility. Tim described them as individuals whose “nights matched their days. They can’t be someone who preaches anti-violence by day and be a gun toter at night. You can’t fake the funk.”

So far, the CV3 team has mediated 56 conflicts. In one instance, a team heard about a brewing conflict via an “inroad”—a resident who sensed something up between a 17-year-old and a 23-year-old. Both young men were intoxicated. One felt he had been disrespected in front of female friends. He was ready to pull out a gun when Tim arrived.

“I told them I was here with no fear,” Tim said, adding he told them: “You can pull that gun and shoot us both. But the thing I want you to realize is that there’s a camera on that pole recording everything. Does it make sense to gun down someone trying to help you?” They separated the two and started mediation.

In February, Chicago-based trainers from Cure Violence Global arrived in Des Moines for a two-week violence-interruption and management training. Jarmain Merritt, a Cure Violence trainer for four-plus years, said the Des Moines team rolled out “thinking like a management team. They surpassed all other communities in their pre-and post-tests.”

Jarmain checks in weekly and visits monthly. On July 15, he sat in a real-time intervention that erupted between two youths just beyond a street closure for a neighborhood street party. “The team did good work,” Jarmain remarked.

During a recent discussion over ice cream at Smokey Row, Tim and Ivette recalled the winter training as intense. “We did a lot of training about reflective listening,” Tim said. “Don’t offer opinions; slow down the conversation; be non-judgmental. Then, we played back what we just heard.”

Since that training, Tim and Ivette have recruited three team members to work in the zones with the highest probability of gun violence. The target area is bound by Hickman Road on the north, Second Avenue on the east, I-235 on the south, and 27th Street on the west.

Ivette described one of the challenges they face as rolling hot spots. “We have ‘cliques,’ not really organized gangs,” Ivette said, describing them as self-guided and very mobile. “We have 13-year-old shot-callers,” she added with a shake of her head. “Children are the targets of shooters. It’s easier for these kids to get a gun than it is to find a Wi-Fi hot spot.”

As part of the community outreach, the CV3 team created its own Detection, Respond, Intervene, and Prevent (DRIP) program:

  • Detection: Communication with inroads to identify troubles, gather details about shootings to prevent retaliations, and build trust and rapport.

  • Respond: Respond to a shooting within 72 hours. Did it happen because of a pre-existing beef? Is retaliation likely? Does anyone on the CV3 team have a relationship with the individuals?

  • Intervene: Distribute CV3 materials in all four zones, engage with businesses and agencies, and inform them on how they can get involved. CV3 also spends Thursday afternoons talking to Meyer Hall juveniles.

  • Prevent: Host events to increase community engagement, provide resources, and introduce at-risk individuals to new opportunities.

Going forward, Ivette and Tim would like to add an on-call hospital respondent, someone recognized and trusted by emergency room staff to work with families of shooting victims. Similar hospital violence interrupters have performed well in other Cure Violence communities.


Suman Hoque, owner of HoQ Restaurant in the East Village, did a land-rush business on this year’s RAGBRAI, serving up breakfast wraps to the ravenous riders. In Rockford alone, riders queued up for 850 wraps served in just three hours.

Suman reported a 45 percent uptick in business over previous rides that included 16,200 hand-cracked eggs, and 900 pounds of house-made breakfast sausage.

Suman started preparing for this year’s ride in January, when he began freezing in-house naan bread. Suman assembled a support crew of seven for the ride, including his mother-in-law serving as RV driver and cashier.

In meeting towns, a crew of eight served up Say Cheese gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches.

This is the fourth RAGBRAI for Say Cheese, reported co-owner Jake Whipple. The hungry riders consumed 775 pounds of Graziano cheddar cheese from Graziano Brothers and 1,000 loaves of South Union bread.

The crowd favorite: bacon and cheddar cheese.

“It was a fantastic week,” Jake added, “but the logistics of keeping everything refrigerated is huge. We kept the lines moving fast."

RAGBRAI first-timers Palm’s Caribbean Cuisine grilled its signature jerk chicken and jollof rice bowls—a West African dish—for a steady lunch crowd. The first 100 pounds of rice was gobbled up in three days, requiring a trip back to Des Moines for another 150 pounds.

“One guy from California came back every day and brought more of his friends,” Palm’s owner Amara Sama reported. “Another customer told us, ‘I didn’t know Iowans served this kind of food.’

“I told my team, ‘We are rookies and made the all-star team.’ ”

Say Cheese! and Palm’s Caribbean Cuisine operate from the Mickle Center Commercial Shared Use Kitchen in Sherman Hill.


Here are some numbers to share about summer activities in our City parks. * 42,564: Pools and aquatics centers attendance overall season, May–July (down from 59,708 in 2021 when all pools were staffed daily) * 3,494: Swimming lesson participants all season (up from 2,989 in 2021) * 523: pre-registered for Adult Recess, a new program at Captain Roy's (July 29 crowd of 600 estimated)

* 229: Registered youth football participants (up from 186 in 2021)

* 11,225: Number of plants (mums, pansies, chard, millet, dusty miller, red fountain grass) started in the City greenhouse for fall planting.

Union Park is currently available for the Adopt-A-Park Program. Parks and Recreation staff plan to expand its Adopt-a-Park/Adopt-a-Trail program in spring/summer 2023 with the hire of additional staff to support volunteers.


Des Moines Parks and Recreation offered free all-day camps to 200 children at Drake Park, Evelyn K. Davis Park, Martin Luther King Jr. Park, and Weeks Middle School Park. It was the first offering of daily park activities since the 1980s.

Activities varied daily, from arts and crafts to nature-based programs, and from financial literacy to sports. Parks & Rec staff partnered with Central Iowa Shelter & Services (CISS), which provided lunch each day at no cost to campers for the two five-week sessions.

Campers took field trips to Blank Park Zoo, Des Moines Art Center, Principal Park for an Iowa Cubs game, Science Center of Iowa, Jester Park, City spraygrounds, and more. Campers also participated in free swim lessons at Teachout and Nahas aquatic centers. One of many highlights was the collaboration with the After School Arts Program (ASAP), which merged a weeklong arts camp into the City camp at the Evelyn K. Davis and Martin Luther King Jr. parks. Youths in the surrounding neighborhoods were invited to join, and ASAP and Parks served over 1,100 children in two weeks. Arts camp activities camp included dance, drumming, fiber arts, mixed media, painting, and sculpting.

“With first-year expansion unknowns and staffing challenges,” says Parks & Rec assistant director Jenny Richmond, “this was beyond a win.”

Amaree Neguissie

Amaree Neguissie—who, amazingly, resembled Santa at the Evelyn K. Davis Park “Christmas in July” celebration—was the lead recreation supervisor for the summer program.

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