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Civic Skinny

Why have some events returned, but not others? Dunshee resigns. Cowboy dies. Catholics return.

6/30/2021

No state high school baseball tournament this year at Principal Park? You read that correctly. But will the Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) bring the tournament back to the Iowa Cubs home stadium in 2022? The answer is a definite… maybe.

According to the IHSAA, conflicting dates with new Minor League Baseball schedules were listed as the reason for the change. But they haven’t said where the 2022 IHSAA state baseball tournaments will be held.  

“With the updated MiLB schedules, the Cubs were put at home for when we had (the) 2021 tournament scheduled,” says Chris Cuellar, IHSAA communications director, via email. “Alternative dates or formats of the tournament to keep it at Principal Park weren’t going to work with our regular season and postseason schedule. Also: Our contract was up.”  

The baseball tournament location for 2022 is uncertain. 

“We’re open to options,” Cuellar said. “Definitely won’t have anything set until next school year.”

Prep Iowa

The bottom line? No agreement or guarantee exists that the state baseball tournament will return to Principal Park in 2022, but maybe. 

The 2021 IHSAA State Baseball Tournament is scheduled for July 26-31 with the two smallest classes playing in Carroll Merchants Park from July 26-29, and the two largest classes in Iowa City at the University of Iowa’s Duane Banks Field from July 28-31. This is the first time since 2004 that the tournament will not be held at Principal Park, a one-year plan that was approved by the IHSAA Board of Control.

Carroll is no stranger to the tournament, hosting in 1970, 1973 and 1995. Merchants Park stadium has more than 1,200 permanent seats and was renovated in 2011.

Iowa City will host the tournament for its first time. Duane Banks Field, the on-campus home of the Iowa Hawkeyes, seats 2,300 spectators at 100 percent capacity and was renovated in 2015. 

In comparison, Principal Park seats 11,500 fans with 4,088 club seats and 45 luxury suites. …

The controversial Des Moines soccer stadium and commercial development spearheaded by the Krauses on the old Dico tire plant site south of downtown — which the company says will cost $535 million in buildings alone — received a boost recently when American Equity Investment Life Insurance Co. announced a $5 million donation to the project. Look for another large donation to be announced soon. …

Congratulation to Iowa’s Junior Freestyle wrestling team for winning the National Duals for the first time since 2005. The 24-athlete line-up consists of wrestlers who have won 17 individual state titles; eight have signed on with Division I schools to compete in college. Wrestling is back in Iowa.

In more high school wrestling news, Mickey Griffith, a 2020 wrestling state champion and 2021 state runner-up, announced his commitment, not to a college, but to stay at Des Moines Lincoln High School for his senior year. While that may sound odd, premier high school athletes have made transferring to other high schools with championship teams commonplace, which further fuels the recruiting problem in Iowa’s high schools. With Des Moines public schools not producing many state wrestling champions, this is a win for Lincoln and the entire district. Griffith, and his family, showed where their loyalties are. College coaches should take note. …

Phil Dunshee has resigned as the executive director of the Johnston Economic Development Corporation (JEDCO), a public-private partnership with the City of Johnston that has been funded by private businesses and $30,000 in taxpayer money designated by the city council. The council hired its own economic development manager, Adam Plagge, in 2016, and he has focused primarily on development of the Merle Hay Gateway Area and Town Center. The dual-lead is unique but becoming more common in suburban communities. 

Dunshee, who served as a senior policy advisor for Gov. Terry Branstad and also as the deputy director for the Iowa Department of Economic Development, is currently the president of Enterprise Iowa, a project management firm based in Johnston that he founded. He plans to continue in that role. The JEDCO board is considering its options. …

Events have opened back up around the metro. Grimes held its Governors Days. Bondurant celebrated Summerfest. Johnston hosted Green Days. Des Moines rocked its Arts Festival. Drake brought back its Relays, albeit with social distancing and masks. Farmers markets are in full swing, including downtown Des Moines. The Iowa State Fair is a go.

As such, it seems reasonable to state that most major central Iowa events have returned for 2021. The outliers — major events that aren’t back to business as usual yet — include two of the area’s favorite summer events: 80/35 and Yankee Doodle Pops.

CITYVIEW asked, and each organization offered responses that boiled down to 1) lack of time for planning such large events, 2) concerns about fundraising, and 3) keeping everyone as safe as possible. 

The good news is that both events plan to return in 2022, and in the meantime, the Des Moines Symphony’s 27th annual Yankee Doodle Pops will air for free on PBS — Friday, July 2 at 8:30 p.m. and Sunday, July 4 at 6 p.m., and Iowa Public Radio’s broadcast of the Symphony’s Yankee Doodle Pops will air on IPR Classical signals Sunday, July 4 at noon and again on Monday, July 5 at 11 a.m. Meanwhile, The Des Moines Music Coalition has announced a new one-day event. The Riverview Music Festival will be held at Des Moines’ Riverview Park on Sept. 4. …

Joe Tripp and Simon Goheen are partnering on a NYC-style diner at 66th and University in Windsor Heights. The new eatery is scheduled to open by the end of year. Tripp is a three-time James Beard semifinalist; Goheen’s cafe, Simon’s, won CITYVIEW’s most recent Best Of Des Moines voting in the category of “Best Local Restaurant… Period.” …

The AAU Junior Olympics, one of the top events that comes to town for local hotels and restaurants, will return in 2023. …

Starting July 25, the Sunday and holy day Mass obligation will be restored in the Des Moines Diocese of the Catholic Church. Bishop William Joensen made the announcement via a letter to parishioners on June 18, stating, “It was a profoundly sobering decision to suspend public Masses and the Sunday obligation over a year ago, and throughout this pandemic I know we have all longed for a more ordinary rhythm in our life of faith and communal worship.” The bishop says restoring Masses is “in response to a much improved public health situation, and the widespread accessibility of effective vaccines against COVID-19.” July 25 is the Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, in case you were wondering. …

Muff Koehn, one of Iowa’s greatest cowboys and horsemen, died in June at age 94. Two of his horses drew him to his final resting place in Elkader. …

Des Moines artist Jordan Weber has been awarded the first Harvard LOEB/Harvard ArtLab Joint Fellowship. He will be moving to Cambridge/Boston for 10 months to research and prototype at MIT and Harvard. That will then be implemented at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation in St. Louis in 2022. …

State Senator Brad Zaun told those in attendance at a Rotary Club meeting at Hyperion Field Club in Johnston on June 15 that he is proud of the work that the Republicans accomplished in the Senate this past year to reduce taxes. The goal for the next session, he says, is to eliminate all personal state income tax. He said it would be accomplished through an increase in sales tax. When Zaun was asked if that would be enough to offset the difference, an attendee blurted out, “Depends how much sales tax you want to pay.” 

If Senate File 139 — a bill proposed by Zaun during the last session — is a hint at what the future Republican plan could look like, then expect a push toward eliminating the state’s income tax while increasing its sales tax to 11% or so. In case you are curious, Zaun has also previously introduced a bill (Senate File 8) that would establish daylight saving time as Iowa’s official time throughout the year. … 

An inquisitive reader asked how many restaurants actually closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “We estimate about 750,” says Jessica Dunker in an email to CITYVIEW. “There is not yet a definitive data source, but based on our info, we think this is close. That is somewhere between 12-15%.” …

Weatherman Chris Gloninger will lead KCCI’s Storm Team 8 as its new Chief Meteorologist starting July 6. Gloninger is a Certified Broadcast Meteorologist, and he will return to the Midwest after five years in Boston. The news followed an announcement earlier this year by Kurtis Gertz that he plans to leave the station to pursue other interests. …

More money out west? Maybe, at least by one measurement. Dallas County households earned $21,000 per year more than their Polk County counterparts — $88,000 vs. $67,000, according to a recent study that can be found at smartasset.com/mortgage/cost-of-living-calculator#iowa/purchasing-power. ♦

This issue of Civic Skinny was written by CITYVIEW staff. 

Michael Gartner will return to writing Civic Skinny next month.

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