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New scam uses old trick with new tech, don’t be fooled!


November 16th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Iowans are being warned to steer clear of a new scam involving a familiar con. An elderly man in the region was recently tricked out of several hundred dollars after a caller told him he’d won a big lottery jackpot. Jim Hegarty, with the Better Business Bureau, says the man was told he first had to pick up a “Green Dot MoneyPak” card to claim his winnings. Hegarty says, “They’re asking for the numbers off of the card and once you give them those numbers, they can go online and reload their cash cards and they’ve got your money.” The Green Dot MoneyPaks are basically debit cards that can be used for purchases or to add money to pre-paid cards. The victim in this case was an 89-year-old man in Mitchell, South Dakota. Hegarty says people should be very wary if they’re told they’ve won a prize but have to pay a fee for it up-front.

“No legitimate lottery is ever going to ask you to pay in advance,” he says. “The bottom line is, if it involves wiring money through Western Union, if it involves loading up one of these Green Dot MoneyPaks, it’s absolutely a scam.” This scam is reportedly operating out of Jamaica. Hegarty says the Better Business Bureau recently teamed up with Western Union to be on the lookout for possible scams of this sort.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa home sales, prices up in October


November 16th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Home sales in Iowa were up 13-percent in October compared to the same month a year ago, the Iowa Association of Realtors reported Thursday. Davenport real estate agent Don Marple was recently elected the group’s president. He credits low interest rates for the increase in activity. “I’ve seen interest rates anywhere from around 2.75 percent for a 15-year fixed program, up to 3.5 percent for a 30-year fixed program,” Marple said. “When I started in this business in 1976, it was 8.9 percent. We’ve seen highs and we’ve seen lows, this is the best.” There were 2,998 home sales in Iowa last month, up from 2,646 in October 2011. On average, homes sold last month were on the market 96 days, six days fewer than a year ago.

“That means the homes are on the market less time and they’re selling quicker. And because they’re selling quicker, they’re bringing more dollars. More people are getting in the market now because they see the prices are rising,” Marple said. The median home sales price climbed 5.4 percent to $126,500 in October, up from $120,000 last year. The rise in home sales and prices in October followed a slight slowdown in September. Marple notes sales, pending sales, and median sales price are all are on track to end the year ahead of 2011 figures.

(Radio Iowa)

Economic index jumps for Midwest, Western states


November 15th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — An index of economic conditions in 10 Midwest and Western states has jumped for a third straight month, but the looming “fiscal cliff” and other factors have shaken confidence in the region’s economy for the coming months. The overall Rural Mainstreet index released Thursday rose to 57.5 in November from October’s 56.6. Any score above 50 on the 100-point scale suggests a growing economy.

The survey of bankers covers rural areas of Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. The confidence index, which reflects expectations for the economy six months out, sank to 45.6 from October’s 50.7.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss attributes the lack of confidence to the looming “fiscal cliff,” and the lack of a federal farm and energy bills.

Ribbon Cutting for Atlantic Wastewater Treatment Plant


November 15th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held today (Thursday) in Atlantic, for the new, nearly $12.3-million wastewater treatment plant. City Administrator Doug Harris said plans to replace the old wastewater treatment plant began in 2006.

Wastewater Treatment Plant Supervisor Mark Farrier talks about the new facility at a ribbon-cutting ceremony held Thu., Nov. 15th 2012 (Ric Hanson-photo)

The City elected to replace the plant, rather than offer a piece-meal approach to repairs, after it was determined the current, nearly 70-year old facility could not handle a significant storm water run-off, and, because the D-N-R had required the city to build a million-gallon retention basin, or lagoon.

Mayor Dave Jones said the decision to build a new waste water treatment plant didn’t not come easy, but it became clear after much discussion, that building a new storm water detention pond wasn’t the solution to run-off into the river, and because the aging plant wasn’t capable of meeting the demands of the future. Doug Harris said the timing of the project was important, because of the grant funds that became available from the State The City received an “I-Jobs” forgivable loan award in the form of a $2-million grant, and a State Revolving Fund low-interest loan.

The citizens and businesses also are helping to pay for the plant through increased sewer and water bills. Phase One of the plant was completed in May 2012. Phase Two was essentially completed in September. The plant is fully functional. Harris said the project helped to stimulate the local economy, with construction crews staying in town, and through the use local contractors who aided in the completion of the project.

Wastewater Superintendent Mark Farrier was hired to run the plant. Farrier said the facility is a major leap forward from the old plant, and is fully contained so that no effluent is discharged in the nearby river. He said the plant can handle higher storm water flows without putting the City in violation of DNR and EPA rules and regulations. Peak flow capacity for the facility is 15-million gallons per day.

In addition to the hiring of Fox Engineering Associates, Incorporated as the designers of the plant, the City had approved Hawkins Construction Company, from Omaha, as company responsible for its construction.

More Iowa volunteers are need so Red Cross can continue mission


November 15th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Hundreds of Iowans with power companies and relief agencies are still on the East Coast helping residents recover from Hurricane Sandy. More than three-dozen volunteers with the American Red Cross chapter based in Omaha-Council Bluffs are deployed mostly in New York and New Jersey. The chapter’s CEO Tina Labellarte just returned from two weeks in the disaster zone and says more volunteers from Iowa are needed. Labellarte says, “Back here at home, there are new people saying, for the first time, ‘I want to do that and I want to be a Red Cross volunteer,’ so the next time there’s a big event or if this one continues, they’ll be able to go, too.” In our region, she says there are about three-thousand trained Red Cross volunteers who are ready to serve when called.

“Not all of those are in a position to be able to travel,” Labellarte says. “Right now, we have about 40 people from this area who are in New Jersey. We have to replenish the troops constantly. We need at least hundreds of people to come forward and I suspect that we’ll see a good response.” Labellarte says disasters like Hurricane Sandy show how many volunteers the Red Cross needs to provide important services at every level.

“Answer the phone, make coffee, set up cots, help selecting supplies, driving a forklift,” Labellarte says. “Everybody starts in the same place. They start with their local chapter. You go for orientation and training and learn about what kinds of courses, what kinds of experience you need to have to progress, to be able to go out.” The Red Cross’ office in Omaha will offer an orientation/training session next Monday, from 4:30 to 6 PM, while another session will be held at the Council Bluffs chapter office on December 19th. Check with your nearest chapter via www.redcross.org

(Radio Iowa)

Shelby Co. Hurricane Relief Team Arrives Home


November 15th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

A five-member team of local responders from Shelby County dispatched to assist with Super Storm Sandy, arrived home this week, after having spent more than three weeks riding out the storm in Farmingdale, NY.

Shelby County Emergency Response Team (the day they left for NY) – Jason Wickizer photo.

Two teams were sent out during the storm to insure that water and food were on the ground ready for use when the sun rose the day after the storm hit. Shelby County Emergency Management officials report the teams served millions of meals, and thousands of gallons of drinking water. Prior to coming home, the team paid a visit to “Ground Zero,” the site of the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

The team, comprised of Jason Wickizer, Shelby County Emergency Medical Services Coordinator, Chad Kroger, Jordan Sanders, Andrea Systad and Ryne Nelson, worked long hours under stressful conditions. They worked a total of 256 hours over a 16 day assignment, or approximately 16 hours per day. Many of those hours went by without a break, with the team being on their feet the entire time. In addition to riding out winds of 75- to 85-miles per hour during the height of the storm, the team worked as the snow fell the following week.

Officials say the experience they gained in Incident Command and Disaster Response will be used to assist in training other responders locally. The crew also made many new friends and contacts during their stint.

They left Des Moines on October 28th enroute to New York, and returned to Harlan, Tuesday. Many of those same team members assisted in fighting wild fires in the western U-S in early August and September, and had just returned to Iowa before being mobilized for deployment to the east coast.



Western IA Workshop Focuses on New Approaches to Soil and Water Management

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 15th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Agribusiness agronomists and farmers who want information on new practices to improve soil and water quality have an opportunity in December to learn from Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and Outreach specialists. Soil and water management workshops will be held Friday, Dec. 21st at St. Bernard Parish in Breda, Iowa. A second opportunity will be on Wednesday, Feb. 27th at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, Prairie City, Iowa. Both programs runs from 8:30-11:30 a.m.

Topics covered will include the science assessment of the statewide nutrient reduction program; the new corn suitability rating (CSR2); and approaches to make cover crops work. Featured speakers include Matt Helmers, ISU agricultural engineer; Sarah Carlson, Practical Farmers of Iowa; and Lee Burras, ISU soil science professor.

Certified crop advisors can earn 2.5 soil and water credits. Advance registration for the course $35. Registration at the door is $45. Registration is limited to 30 participants. Register on-line at www.aep.iastate.edu/swm. To register by fax or mail contact your local ISU County Extension office for a brochure.

Shelby County to discontinue Fire Danger updates


November 15th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Shelby County Emergency Management Agency says it will discontinue the biweekly local Fire Danger updates. EMA officials say the decision was made after a general consensus of the majority of the Fire Chiefs of Shelby County recommended the move.

Field work in the County is complete, and although the quantity of fuel which would make control of fires difficult is greatly diminished, officials say the area remains very dry, and anyone planning a large burn is encouraged to contact the Emergency Management Agency and their local Fire Chief. 

Iowa using online auction for unclaimed property


November 15th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) – Iowa’s unclaimed property, including rocks, people’s ashes and baseball cards, will be offered in an online auction beginning Nov. 26.  Iowa Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald says that 100 lots are being prepared for the eBay auction.  The state has acquired the property from abandoned safe deposit boxes and other sources after a period of time spelled out by Iowa law.

Fitzgerald says the state has returned more than $154 million worth of unclaimed property over the years. He says last year his office took possession of an estimated $27 million in unclaimed property.

8AM Newscast 11-15-2012

News, Podcasts

November 15th, 2012 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson