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Good, Bad & The Ugly

August 16, 2012
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The good

The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden was recently awarded a $980,000 Vision Iowa grant to transform the Des Moines Botanical Center into the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. The Vision Iowa Board voted unanimously in support of the funding at its Aug. 8 board meeting. This grant is a significant contribution to the Phase One capital campaign goal of $11.6 million and comes at a key point, as the non-profit prepares to take on the Botanical Center operations as of Jan. 1. A ground breaking for the expansion is slated for spring of 2013, and the Phase One transformations are anticipated to be complete in the summer of 2014. Enhancements include embracing Des Moines’ landscape using the entire 14-acre parcel of land along the Des Moines River in order for visitors to experience “the seasonal evolutions of the gardens,” according to Stephanie Jutila, president and CEO of the Garden.

Chalk up a win for fast drivers. The city of Windsor Heights recently requested placing a speed camera on the city’s portion of Interstate-235, but last week the Iowa DOT denied that request. With the cameras becoming more controversial, the DOT is taking a hard look at the community’s request before giving the OK, and officials are focusing on an extra auxiliary lane project from 63rd to 73rd Street. More than a dozen communities have inquired about camera enforcement during the last few months. The cameras have proponents on both sides, as some believe they will help reduce accidents, while opponents believe it’s just a cash grab for cities.

The bad

Des Moines and Iowa have both made several lists for quality of life reasons, but we’re apparently not the best place for one demographic — female business owners. According to a recent study by American Express, Iowa ranked last in the economic impact of a female-owned business. The study named the lack of mentors for women and the fact that the state’s largest industries are highly male-dominated as factors. Iowa currently offers only one program that provides assistance to female business owners.

Iowa is falling short on its legislative work to combat cancer, according to a new report by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), particularly in the area of tobacco prevention. The report found that Iowa measured up to benchmarks in only one of the seven issues examined: smoke-free laws. The areas where we are falling short are: Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program Funding, Colorectal Screening Coverage Laws, Tobacco Prevention Funding, Tobacco Taxes, State Tanning Bed Bans for Minors and Access to Palliative Care. The poor grade that Iowa received in the category of tobacco prevention funding is due to the fact that the state funds tobacco prevention and control efforts at less than one quarter the amount that the Center for Disease Control recommends. Tobacco kills more than 4,000 Iowans each year, according to the CDC, and the program was cut by 65 percent by the 2011 General Assembly.

The ugly

Time to start hoarding food. According to the United Nations’ monthly Food Price Index released last week, food prices have risen 6 percent in July. Both grain and corn prices hit record highs during the past month. With food being a major export for the U.S, the drought will have effects on prices all across the world. Corn prices rose 23 percent in July alone, which should worry everyone, as it’s hard to find something without corn or its byproducts in the ingredients. As farmers stop using the higher-priced corn for feed, grain prices are also expected to rise immensely. It looks like a few hours of daily labor in your garden is going to save you quite a bit in the long run… if the weather would encourage the growth of something other than weeds. CV

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