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South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley Visits Iowa, Condemns Critical Race Theory

Daily Digest

Friday, June 25

4:26 p.m. – Untreated wastewater flowing into Des Moines River tributary after overnight flash flooding

A flood-damaged sewer pipe in Eldon in southeast Iowa is causing thousands of gallons of untreated wastewater to flow into a tributary of the Des Moines River.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources estimates that 10,000 to 15,000 gallons of sewage a day are going into a creek on the western side of the city.

Heavy rains last Thursday night caused flash flooding in Eldon that washed out the sewer pipeline.

A DNR staffer said engineers must wait for river levels to recede before making a permanent fix.

3:36 p.m. – U.S. Supreme Court sides with oil refineries over renewable fuel and ag groups

The U.S. Supreme Court Friday sided with three small oil refineries seeking exemptions from requirements to blend renewable fuels into their gasoline. The decision overturns an appellate court ruling from last year.

The case looks at details around when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can grant waivers to oil refineries and count them out of the federal biofuels mandate, which drives demand for corn-based ethanol.

Last year, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the refineries can qualify for an exemption only if they’ve been continuously exempt already.

But the Supreme Court saw things differently. In a 6-3 decision, the high court ruled refineries can seek to extend an exemption - even if an earlier exemption lapsed at some point. The majority said it’s like a student asking their professor for an extension for a big paper after it’s due.

Renewable fuels and agriculture groups say they are disappointed. But the groups also say they’re counting on the EPA to grant fewer small refinery waiver under President Biden than President Trump.

3:28 p.m. – Analysis finds that lower income areas in Iowa are more likely to have nitrate-contaminated water

A newly published analysis has found that Iowa communities whose drinking water is contaminated with nitrates are more likely to be lower income.

The study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that among the areas with the highest rates of nitrate pollution, 85 percent are considered lower income.

In Iowa, nitrate largely stems from farm practices, like the overuse of fertilizer and manure. The pollutant has been linked to higher rates of certain cancers and birth defects, even at levels well below the current federal standard.

Anne Schechinger, of EWG, authored the report.

“We know since this…this nitrate in drinking water problem is getting worse, that voluntary conservation is not enough to fix this problem. We really need farmers that are you know required to stop pollution from going off their farm fields.”

Nitrate removal is very expensive, and while some larger water systems may be able to afford treatment, many smaller, rural systems cannot.

12 p.m. - Bill named for Iowa Marine who died by suicide headed to Biden’s desk

A bill named in honor of a Davenport veteran who died by suicide has passed the U.S. Senate unanimously last night and is headed to the president’s desk.

The bill cleared the U.S. House in May and outlines steps to improve mental health care options for veterans who live in rural areas. Iowa Congresswoman Cindy Axne of West Des Moines is the lead sponsor of the bill, named in honor of Sergeant Brandon Ketchum, a retired Marine.

“Despite receiving therapy and addiction treatment after returning from his tours, Brandon had a hard time adjusting to civilian life,” Axne said, “and when he sought in-patient hospitalization in 2016 from an Iowa VA, the treatment rooms were full and he was turned down for the care he needed. Hours later, Sergeant Ketchum took his own life.”

The three Republicans from Iowa who serve in the House joined Axne, a Democrat, as co-sponsors of the bill.

“Veterans put their lives on the line and serve our nation with honor and when they come home, they should be able to receive the care that they need,” Axne said, “regardless of zip code.”

Republican Congresswoman Ashley Hinson of Marion said “not every war wound is visible” and many veterans struggle with mental health challenges when they return home.

“No veteran should ever experience what Sergeant Ketchum did in taking his own life because he couldn’t get the services that he needed,” Hinson said.

The bill would create three new programs within the Veterans Administration to give veterans who live in rural areas access to a team of mental health experts. It also requires a report from the VA on what resources may be needed to improve mental health care for veterans who are rural residents.

Republican Congressman Randy Feenstra of Hull said Ketchum’s heartbreaking death shows there’s a lack of adequate care for veterans’ “unseen wounds.” Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks, a Republican from Ottumwa who is a veteran, said Sergeant Ketchum’s death is tragic and shows the country “must do better for our veterans.”

Entry via O. Kay Henderson for Radio Iowa

10 a.m. - Number Of COVID-19 Hospitalizations In Iowa Has Hit A Record Low Since The Start Of The Pandemic

7 a.m. – At Iowa GOP’s annual Lincoln Dinner, Nikki Haley calls for boycott of Beijing Olympics

Former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley told Iowa Republicans the U.S. should back out of the 2022 Winter Olympics to protest human rights abuses in China.

Haley was the main speaker at the Iowa GOP’s annual Lincoln Dinner Thursday night in West Des Moines.

Haley defended the Trump administration’s tariffs on Chinese products, and said the U.S. should boycott the Olympics in Beijing to pressure China to end the mistreatment of Muslim minorities.

“In this next Olympics, if we don’t boycott, cause problems, get with other countries and really rally, this will be China showing the entire world that it’s the new super power of the entire world.”

At the event, Haley endorsed the re-elections of Gov. Kim Reynolds and U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, although neither has officially announced they’re running.

Haley is one of several possible Republican presidential candidates making trips to Iowa, which holds the first caucus in the party’s nomination process.

6:04 a.m. - Iowa county now named for Black dean, not slave-owning VP

Iowa’s most liberal county is no longer named for a slave-owning U.S. vice president and instead will honor a trailblazing local Black academic.

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors voted Thursday to cut ties with its two-century namesake, former Vice President Richard Mentor Johnson, a lifelong slave owner from Kentucky who took credit for killing a Shawnee chief during an 1805 battle.

The Wisconsin Territorial Legislature named the county after Johnson in 1837, when he was serving under President Martin Van Buren, years before Iowa became state. Johnson had no personal ties to the county.

Supervisors decided the county is now named for the late historian and university administrator Lulu Merle Johnson, a native of Gravity, Iowa, whose father was born into slavery. She was one of the only African American women enrolled at the University of Iowa in 1925 and earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in history by 1930 despite facing open discrimination. She later served as a University of Iowa professor and became the first African American woman to earn a doctorate from the university in 1941, writing a dissertation related to slavery. Over the next three decades, she worked as a professor and academic at historically Black colleges and became a dean at Cheyney University in Pennsylvania. She died in 1995.

Johnson County, home to the university and some fast-growing suburbs, is a liberal outlier in increasingly Republican-leaning Iowa. Joe Biden got nearly 71 percent of the county vote in 2020, despite losing the state to Donald Trump by 8 percentage points.

Supervisors had started the process of changing eponyms last year, after protests against racial injustice across the U.S. The resolution passed Thursday said that Richard Mentor Johnson “does not embody the values, ideals and morals of the people of Johnson County,” who oppose slavery and are committed to racial justice.

It said that Lulu Merle Johnson was an “inspirational woman whose story of accomplishment in the face of adversity is one of which the citizens of Johnson County can be proud for generations to come.”

“Today was touching and I am so happy,” said Supervisor Royceann Porter, the only Black person on the five-member panel.

Entry via the Associated Press

6 a.m. – South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley visits Iowa, condemns Critical Race Theory

In a speech to Iowa Republicans Thursday night, former ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said the GOP should focus on cultural issues to win the 2022 mid-term elections, including how Americans talk about racism.

Speaking at the annual Lincoln Dinner held by the Iowa Republican Party, Nikki Haley condemned Critical Race Theory, which examines how race impacts legal and political systems. She told party members the idea that America is a racist country should not be taught in school.

Haley, whose parents came to the United States from India, says her own political success in South Carolina shows the nation is a work in progress.

“They claim America is racist. Take it from me — the first female and minority governor of South Carolina — they are wrong.”

Haley is likely to compete for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024. Other possible candidates are headed to Iowa next month including former Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

6 a.m. – Immigration hearing for Iowa Falls man who worked as interpreter for the military postponed

The Iowa Falls man who worked as an interpreter for the U.S. military in Afghanistan has been told his hearing is now postponed.

Zalmay “Zee” Niazy was denied asylum in the United States this past May. His hearing in immigration court was originally planned for this upcoming Monday, but Niazy says he found out Thursday morning it has been postponed due to COVID-19.

He says the wait is frustrating, but he is still keeping up his fight.

Thursday, June 24

3:07 p.m. – Iowa Board of Regents discuss tuition hikes for state universities

The Iowa Board of Regents held its first meeting Thursday on proposed tuition hikes for all three state universities.

The increases for in-state students range from $115 a year at the University of Northern Iowa to more than $280 a year at the University of Iowa and Iowa State.

The price hikes are needed after state lawmakers declined to increase funding for the schools during this year’s legislative session.

Speaking at the meeting, UI undergraduate student body president Regan Smock said it’s vital that state lawmakers invest more in higher education. “The burden of financing Iowa’s colleges and universities should not be placed squarely on the shoulders of young people hoping for a better future. This must become a priority for the state of Iowa.”

The Regents are slated to take a final vote on the proposed increases at a meeting on July 28.

12:10 p.m. - Survivors of clergy abuse call for action from the Church, following a report from Iowa AG’s office

Survivors of clergy abuse within the Catholic Church in Iowa are speaking out Thursday after the Iowa Attorney General’s office published its investigation findings. They expect more action from the Church to help with the healing process.

The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) has responded to the Attorney General’s investigation into decades of clergy abuse in the state.

Michael McDonnell is SNAP’s communication manager and a survivor himself. He says he appreciates the investigation into the abuse allegations, but there are still a few red flags. The report found there were allegations against three current clergy members, which all fell outside the criminal statute of limitations. SNAP wants those names disclosed.

“They have an obligation to do that,” McDonnell says. “It is so important because knowledge is key, knowledge is awareness. This type of information, often more times than not, brings forward other victims who may have been sitting in silence for a very, very long time.”

The Bishops in Iowa said they would study the report, but SNAP wants more immediate action.

7 a.m. - Iowa unemployment rate up slightly to 3.9 percent in May

Iowa’s unemployment rate bumped up to 3.9 percent in May, even as more Iowans worked at jobs, a state agency reported Wednesday.

Iowa Workforce Development said the rate was up slightly from the 3.8 percent unemployment rate in April.

The total number of Iowa residents working rose to 1.58 million in May and the state’s labor force participation rate increased to 66.4 percent. The number of unemployed residents also increased by an estimated 1,300 people.

Iowa was tied with Wisconsin for the nation’s 10th lowest unemployment rate.

The U.S. unemployment rate for May was 5.8 percent.

Entry via the Associated Press

Wednesday, June 23

3:43 p.m. – UI football program racial discrimination allegations impact recruiting

Allegations of racial discrimination in the University of Iowa football program are a factor for some recruits considering joining the team.

Former players have brought a federal civil rights suit against Hawkeye coaches and administrators, claiming a culture of harassment and a pattern of mistreatment against Black players. Iowa wide receiver Tyrone Tracy says recruits have brought up the complaints in their conversations with him. “The parents that are worried about it…they don’t want to send their son into an environment that’s…not how they want it to be, racially. They don’t want to send them into something that they wouldn’t want to send themselves into.”

Head coach Kirk Ferentz told reporters Tuesday that the program is making progress and proactively brings up the subject with potential players. The lawsuit against the program is slated to go to trial in 2023.

3:27 p.m. – Iowa Attorney General’s office releases findings of its review of clergy abuse within the state’s Catholic Church

The investigation focused on 50 complaints the Attorney General’s office received as well as records that involved 70 Catholic priests. The office expressed its sympathies for the victims whose sexual abuse occurred as far back as the 1930s.

None of the complaints against Catholic clergy fell within the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution. The report ultimately concluded that although there is a painful history of abuse and cover-ups within the Catholic Church in Iowa, the Dioceses have become more responsive to victims’ claims.

It also found over the past 20 years, the Dioceses have implemented reforms “in good faith” to address and avoid future instances of abuse.

The Catholic bishops of Iowa have released a joint statement saying they will study the Attorney General’s report for more suggestions on how to improve.

1:35 p.m. - Reynolds announces that state will put $30 million in federal aid into education initiatives

Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Wednesday that the state is putting a total of $30 million in federal relief money into three new education initiatives.

$20 million will help the Iowa Department of Education and the University of Iowa form a center focused on addressing children’s mental health needs in schools.

Education Department Director Ann Lebo says the center will be up and running this summer. “This past year, many of our schools saw increases in anxiety and depression among their students. Addressing these growing needs and ensuring students feel connected and supported is crucial to their overall wellbeing and academic achievement.”

$7 million will go to the Council Bluffs school district to expand early childhood education. And $3 million will go to Waterloo schools to help close achievement gaps.

Reynolds didn’t say whether she plans to ask state lawmakers to provide funds for these projects when federal pandemic relief money runs out.

“We’ll evaluate, but that’s the whole purpose of doing that, to kind of test run and see where we can get the biggest value and, most importantly, have the biggest impact on our kids in this state so that we set them up to be successful.”

11:05 a.m. - More Latino Iowans are getting into the construction business

The housing market is experiencing a boom right now, and some entrepreneurs are looking at it as an opportunity to grow their own businesses.

Victor Oyervides is a retail specialist for the community and economic development program within Iowa State University extension and outreach. He says he has seen many Latinos signing up as subcontractors because bigger companies are reducing their personnel.

“They want to start up their business, and they would have their own business but work under the contracts of the bigger construction company. They would send business to the smaller Latino/x construction companies.”

Although construction costs are higher than in the past, Oyervides and his colleagues expect those expenses to even out.

Last year, Latino-owned construction firms in the U.S. increased 32 percent.

8:30 a.m. - Iowa eye clinic: 500,000 patient files may have been stolen

The records of roughly 500,000 patients of an eye clinic with locations throughout Iowa may have been stolen as part of a ransomware attack on the business earlier this year.

Wolfe Eye Clinic said Tuesday its computer network was attacked on Feb. 8 by hackers who demanded a ransom to unlock access to its systems, but the company didn’t pay the hackers. The company plans to notify affected patients that their information may have been stolen and offer them a year of credit monitoring and identity theft protection services.

Wolfe Eye Clinic’s Chief Financial Officer Luke Bland said a team of specialists was hired to investigate after the hacking, and that revealed last month that patient records may have been compromised.

“Unfortunately, these types of cyber incidents have become all-too-common for health care providers of all sizes nationwide,” Bland said.

The company has set up a website and call center to respond to the hacking. Affected patients can call 1-833-909-3906 to get more information.

Wolfe Eye Clinic is based in Marshalltown, Iowa and it has locations in 40 cities across the state.

Entry via the Associated Press

8 a.m. - Grassley, Ernst vote to block US Senate debate of election bill

Iowa’s U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst have joined their fellow Republicans to block debate of a bill that would require automatic voter registration nationwide and at least 15 days of early voting in each election.

Democrats have argued their bill is a necessary response to election law changes being made in GOP-led state legislatures in Iowa and other states. Ernst, a former county auditor who oversaw Montgomery County elections, calls the bill a “DC power grab.” “I trust the county auditors in Iowa at the local level — Democrats, Republicans and the occasional independent — much more than I trust a bunch of DC politicians and bureaucrats who want to run our local elections,” Ernst said.

Grassley said he voted against debating the plan because it would “strip states of key election management decisions.” The 100-member Senate is evenly divided and all 50 Republicans in the Senate voted against allowing debate. Sixty votes are needed before a bill can be debated.

During a news conference organized by the Republican National Committee, Iowa GOP Chair Jeff Kaumann said the bill shows Democrats “are desperate” about the 2022 election.

“Bottom line is this: this federalizes elections even though the vast majority of Americans and Iowans do not want it,” Kaufmann said. “…This is undoing many things that states have done to make voting more secure.”

Iowa Democratic Party chair Ross Wilburn tweeted that the bill would “protect the sacred right to vote” everywhere and “don’t be fooled by the GOP spin.” Wilburn said the election bill Governor Reynolds signed this year rigs Iowa’s voting system in Republicans’ favor.

Entry via O. Kay Henderson for Radio Iowa

6 a.m. - Des Moines Water Works extends voluntary water restrictions

Voluntary water restrictions will continue for Des Moines Water Works customers as the drought continues to take a toll on the city’s water supply.

Water Works CEO Ted Corrigan told the utility’s board Tuesday that recent rains have helped reduce demand, but they have not replenished the Raccoon River, the city’s main water source. Corrigan said the Raccoon is flowing at about a tenth of its normal rate.

The current Stage One restrictions ask customers to cut back on watering their lawns by at least 25 percent.

6 a.m. – U Iowa football coach says allowing compensation for student athletes is positive, but there are many unknowns

Iowa’s head football coach says the prospect of student athletes being compensated for their work is a positive one. But he acknowledges there are legal and logistical unknowns around the changes.

Kirk Ferentz wagers that no one really knows how compensating college players will affect programs like Iowa football. But he says overall, the shift is positive.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court gave student athletes a narrow win, overturning an NCAA rule that limited education-related compensation for players. The ruling seemed to open the door for future lawsuits.

Ferentz said he’ll be leaning on experts to navigate future changes to how players are compensated.

“It also appears most of us are going to be partnering up with experts. So some smart people on the outside have seen this coming and they’ve…maybe capitalized on an opportunity.”

A bill allowing players to profit off their name, image and likeness died this past session as lawmakers wait for further guidance from the courts.

Tuesday, June 22

3:48 p.m. – District court judge rules Iowa’s 24-hour abortion waiting period unconstitutional

Republicans in the Iowa Legislature passed a law last summer requiring people seeking an abortion to have a separate medical appointment at least 24 hours before the procedure. A Johnson County judge has ruled that unconstitutional, because the Iowa Supreme Court struck down a 72-hour waiting period in 2018. The judge has permanently blocked the 24-hour abortion waiting period from being enforced in Iowa.

Jamie Burch Elliott, with Planned Parenthood North Central States, says the court decision ensures there aren’t more obstacles in place for Iowans seeking abortion services. “Abortion access is still available in Iowa, abortion remains safe and legal. And there are no additional restrictions or new restrictions to accessing an abortion in the state.”

In a statement, Gov. Kim Reynolds says she’ll appeal this decision to the Iowa Supreme Court. The Iowa Supreme Court has shifted to a majority appointed by Reynolds in recent years. Some Republican lawmakers have said they hope the court will reverse its 2018 opinion that said abortion rights have strong legal protections under the Iowa Constitution.

11:29 a.m. – Grassley says Senate committee will look at cattle market issues

The Senate Agriculture Committee will take a look at issues with cattle markets Wednesday. U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley says cattle producers are facing hard times with markets that don’t have enough competition.

Four big meatpackers control 80 percent of the slaughter. Grassley says cattle producers aren’t getting a fair price and are losing money on their cattle.

“The system is clearly broken. When there's a high demand for beef at the grocery stores and consumers are paying a high price. But the cattle producers are barely, barely making ends meet.”

Grassley says he hopes legislation comes from the hearing. He says the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing next month to address the lack of competition in the cattle industry.

Earlier this year, he introduced legislation to require meatpackers to buy at least half of the beef cattle they slaughter weekly from the market where buyers and sellers negotiate prices.

8 a.m. - Negotiations continue with ‘threat actor’ who hacked DMACC computer networks

The president of Des Moines Area Community College says the institution’s insurance company continues to negotiate with hackers who shut down DMACC’s computer networks June 2.

Rob Denson says it does not appear any accounts were compromised.

“Our insurance company is talking to the threat actor. We’re not a part of that discussion at this point,” Denson says. “They want to make sure they don’t tell us anything that we might share that could impact the status of any negotiations, but again we’ve not seen anything or been told of anything that’s of any real significance.”

Denson has confirmed it was a ransomware attack, but DMACC did not pay a ransom and has relied upon its insurer to handle the details.

“They brought in all kinds of attorneys, consultants that have worked with us and have been through many, many of these,” Denson said. “We had passwords and some emails that we believe were impacted. We’ve just reset all of those.”

Experts have gone through over 6000 DMACC computers, searching for malicious software, but Denson says none was found. Denson made his comments during taping of the “Iowa Press” program that airs this Friday night on Iowa PBS.

DMACC canceled online classes June 3 and wound up closing the entire campus June 4 due to the security breach. In-person classes resumed five days later, but online classes didn’t start back up until last week.

-via O. Kay Henderson for Radio Iowa

5:30 a.m. - Tuition increase proposed for the three state universities

The Board of Regents will consider a proposal for tuition increases at the three state universities in a meeting Thursday.

The board staff is proposing a 3.5 percent increase in undergrad resident tuition at the University of Iowa and Iowa State University — with a 1.5 percent increase at the University of Northern Iowa. The proposal also raises mandatory fees by $53 at the U-I, $36 at ISU, and holds fees the same at UNI.

The proposal would increase out-of-state tuition by the same as in-state at the U-I, raise it $906 at ISU and $273 at UNI.

The Board of Regents requested an increase of $18 million and a restoration of $8 million dollars from the Iowa Legislature this year — but lawmakers held the line with no increase in funding.

Via Dar Danielson for Radio Iowa

Monday, June 21

10:04 a.m. - Tornadoes reported in Pella and other cities Sunday

At least one — and as many as four — tornadoes touched down in Iowa Sunday night, though the damage is limited to a few farmsteads, and no one is reported hurt.

Meteorologist Allan Curtis, at the National Weather Service in Johnston, says a survey team is headed out this morning to assess the damage in parts of Marion and Mahaska counties. “There was at least a brief tornado that touched down just to the northwest of Pella proper,” Curtis says. “Fortunately, it does not look like there were any injuries or any true, significant damage. Obviously, any damage to buildings or to people’s personal property is unfortunate.”

There are scattered reports of hail across much of Iowa’s eastern half, including a report of ping pong ball-sized hail near Wellman and egg-sized hail near Afton. “In a lot of cases, you’d almost call it a stereotypical early summer thunderstorm-severe weather event for the state,” Curtis says. “It’s not unusual for us, obviously, to see hail upwards of two-plus inches at times.”

After several weeks of dry weather, large areas of the state got rain over the weekend, including reports of between two and four inches of rain in southeast Iowa. Even with that much precipitation, there were no reports of flash flooding as the dry soil was able to soak it in.

“The good news is, we got some rain across the state and of course, the bad news goes hand in hand with it on occasion with the tornado here in Pella,” Curtis says. “I know east of us in eastern Iowa, there was another one or two tornadoes that our sister station in the Quad Cities is going to go survey.”

There were unconfirmed reports of possible tornadoes last night near Dubuque, Fort Madison, and Washington. The storms leave behind much cooler weather. After record highs in the upper 90s and low hundreds last week, forecasters say highs today statewide will only be in the 60s and 70s, though warmer weather is expected to return on Tuesday.

Entry via Matt Kelley for Radio Iowa

6 a.m. – Number of travelers at DSM airport increases, but isn’t yet at pre-pandemic levels

The number of travelers at Iowa airports is rebounding from the impact of the pandemic, but is not yet back to normal.

Just over 92,000 people boarded flights at the Des Moines International Airport last month. That’s about 70 percent of the number of passengers compared to 2019.

But airport spokesperson Kayla Kovarna says those numbers are likely to improve this month as airlines add flights to more destinations.

“Not only do we have more aircraft operating here in the month of June than we had last month, but we're also seeing up gauges in aircraft, which means bigger aircraft with more seats.”

Kovarna says travelers should keep in mind that Des Moines and other airports are still under a federal mask requirement that is set to last into September. She says airlines are also requiring masks on flights to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

According to the TSA, the number of people passing through airport checkpoints across the country so far in June is averaging about 70 percent of 2019 levels.

6 a.m. – First 515 Manifestival highlights entrepreneurs and artists from Black, brown, and LGBTQ communities

Entrepreneurs and artists lined the streets of downtown Des Moines Saturday to celebrate Juneteenth and Pride Month.

They were taking part in the first 515 Manifestival, which highlighted entrepreneurs and artists from Black, brown and LGBTQ communities.

Alexandra St. James Gray practiced singing before her performance at the festival.

“As a proud person living out, it's about visibility, St. James Gray says. “And so what I want is for Black and brown queer children to see somebody like me and know that you can be whomever you wish, you can live however you want.” Since the festival was part of Juneteenth celebrations, St. James said the songs she chose to perform emphasize Black history in music.

Personal trainer Mikal Settle stood in his festival booth, surrounded by work out equipment. He says it means so much to be part of the holiday now that it’s federally recognized.

“Years from now, you'll be able to look back on and be like, man, I was a part of this day, the first day of the national holiday, you know what I mean? So it's something that it means a lot to me right now, but I’m probably able to look back on this five, ten years from now and be like, man.”

Settle says he grew up in the inner city of Des Moines and is taking this opportunity to show other Black and brown children they have options for their futures.

Organizers say this is the first, but not the only, 515 Manifestival.

6 a.m. – Annual report ranks Iowa ninth in country for child well-being

An annual report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation has found the well-being of Iowa’s children has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The annual Kids Count report ranks states on economic well-being, education and health, as well as family and community. This year Iowa ranked ninth overall.

Anne Discher is the executive director of Common Good Iowa, which worked on the state’s data. She says that high ranking is deceptive, as Iowa still has a lot of work to do. “In 2019, there were 92,000 kids in Iowa that lived in households with an income below the poverty line. And you know, for a family of three, that's around $32,000 a year. And that is that is families living with very low income. “

She also says more than one in ten households with children report being food insecure.

“The data is much higher for many groups of color in our community. Thirty percent of Black households with children, 18 percent of Latino households, 21 percent of households identifying as multiracial, or have some other race reported that they sometimes or often did not have enough food to eat.”

The report recommends permanently expanding the federal child tax credit and strengthening state and local policies affecting families.

Sunday, June 20

10 a.m. – Latino Center of Iowa hosts state’s first Latino film festival in Des Moines

A local band, Son Peruchos, kicked off the state’s first Latino film festival in Des Moines Friday night.

The following nights feature movies from local Iowa filmmakers and six international films from South America and Spain. The Latino Center of Iowa hosted the event in partnership with the Chicago Latino Film Festival.

The in-person and virtual festival features both local films as well as international films from Spain and South America.

Adriana Hernandez took her family to the festival. Her step-children are white, and she says she really wants them to learn more about her heritage.

“I think it's important that they get a taste of it, and that they learn to appreciate it. And they learn to appreciate the differences that we all Hispanic people have between one another, but also the one thing that brings us together.”

The Latino Center of Iowa hosted and organized the festival in partnership with the Chicago Latino Film Festival. It plans to continue hosting Latino film festivals in the coming years. The festival wraps up this Sunday at Des Moines’ new Riverview Park Amphitheater.