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Civic Skinny

Des Moines workers balance work and life. Hogs top domesticated animal list in Iowa. Water quality in Iowa lakes is a concern.


The citizens of Des Moines have some of the best work/life balance in the country, according to a study by With the 32-hour work week proposed recently by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and mentioned under hushed tones by office workers who are slacking off at water coolers, work/life balance is on the minds of many workers.

The study analyzed a range of metrics, split into four different categories — mental health, affordability, remote work and commute time. Mental health accounts for 40%, affordability 30%, remote work 20% and commute time 10%. With 100 large U.S. cities involved, the Midwest dominated the top 10, taking seven of the spots. Des Moines snuck its way into the top 10, taking 10th, five spots below where it placed in last year’s study.

Des Moines’ low cost of living helped it in this study, ranking second in the affordability metric among all cities. According to the study, Des Moines’ cost of living is 14% lower than the national average. Des Moines ranked seventh in average commute time, with an average drive to work at 19.5 minutes. The 34.4 acres of green space in Des Moines ranked 15th in the subcategory. And, with 93.7% of the city’s population having health insurance, that placed Des Moines at 16th in the best coverage rate category. Minneapolis took the top spot in the survey. …

Using data from the 2022 USDA Ag Census and PEP data, Researcher John Johnson from the Marquette Law School Lubar Center created a map showing the most common domesticated animals by county in 2022. Eleven species were included in the map. Importantly, two of them were humans (who domesticated themselves) and hogs.

Six of Iowa’s most populated counties are home to more humans than other domesticated animals: Polk, Warren, Marion, Mills, Woodbury and Linn. According to the map, the most common domesticated animals in 68 Iowa counties are hogs. Chickens are tops in 12 counties, cattle in seven and turkeys in six. …

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National Puppy Day occurred on March 23. While dogs don’t outnumber pigs in our state, they are better to cuddle with. Camp Bow Wow, a franchise dog boarding company, compiled data on the most popular dog names in Iowa, and you won’t find Rover, Spot or Duke in the top five. Luna was listed as No. 1, followed by Winston, Jack, Piper and Molly. …

Afterschool Alliance, a nonprofit organization that focuses on afterschool programs, announced its list of ambassadors for its Afterschool Ambassador Program: Legacy of Leadership. Linda Phillips, the After School Program Manager at the 21 Century Community Center Learning Center and Metro Kids, was included in the list of 15 names chosen from around the country.

“I’ve seen firsthand the many ways these programs help students and families overcome challenges. That’s especially important now,” Phillips said. “Many of our students have ground to make up and afterschool programs can help them do that.”

Each ambassador organizes a major event for Lights On Afterschool, the Alliance’s annual rally for after school, set to take place on or around Oct. 24. …

The American Legion Post 374, located in Highland Park at 3712 Second Ave., was preparing to host families at their “Sunday Funday” event on Nov. 19 with kid-friendly bingo and crafts. The Legionnaires who were working heard a loud roar. When they turned their heads to look at the north wall of the building, they saw a Dodge Ram truck poking inside. Nobody was hurt, but after the vehicle was towed away, a large hole remained in Post 374’s wall.

The accident brought the Legion’s activities and fundraisers such as Friday night bingo games, wedding receptions and quinceañeras to a halt. A number of scheduled rentals had to be relocated due to the accident. 

With the repairs to the building complete, the Legion can now return to normalcy with hopes to rebuild their finances. 

Highland Park Commander Jim McLallen hopes that, through their events, they’ll be able to regain the revenue they lost to repairs and the pause in activities.

“These events and others support required funding, and Post 374 is getting back onto its feet now that we don’t have a big hole in our wall,” McLallen said. “We invite anyone to come and have a fun night at bingo or consider renting our hall. We thank all who have supported us in the past and hope to see you all again soon — and bring a friend.” …

You might want to table that trip to your local river, stream or lake. According to a recent report from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, at least 721 water body segments in Iowa do not meet water quality standards for recreation, public water supplies and the protection of aquatic life. 

The DNR created an interactive map showing the bodies of water in Iowa — colored red for category five and yellow for category four — that are considered impaired. 

If there is any good news in the report, it is that the number of impaired bodies of water decreased from the 2022 study. ♦

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