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IEDA awards $20 million in Workforce Housing Tax Credits, Reaches cap for FY15

News

April 2nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) today (Thursday), announced that it has awarded approximately $20 million in Workforce Housing tax credits, reaching the cap for FY15. The IEDA opened the application for the Workforce Housing Tax Credit Program (WHTC), established by House File 2448, on February 1, 2015. The program makes state tax incentives available to developers building or rehabilitating housing in Iowa. Included among the FY2015 Funded Projects was the Linden Place Apartments in Council Bluffs, which received $509,030 in tax credits.

To be eligible for the program, projects must meet one of four criteria: Housing development located on a grayfield or brownfield site; Repair or rehabilitation of dilapidated housing stock; Upper story housing development; New construction in a greenfield (a community with demonstrated workforce housing needs).

With the funding available in FY15, IEDA was able to award 37 projects around the state. The tax credits are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis to eligible projects. Additional tax credits are expected to be available in FY16. Applications may continue to be submitted through Iowagrants.gov.

IEDA will continue to review applications in the order in which they are received. Applications already in the queue will be placed on a waiting list that will be revisited once additional tax credits become available.

Special City Election in Griswold May 5th

News

April 2nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Cass County Auditor and Election Commissioner Dale Sunderman reports a Special City Election will be held in the City of Griswold on May 5th. Voters will decide whether or not the Mayor’s term will change from four-years, to two-years.

The polling precinct will be the Griswold Community Building, 601 2nd Street. Questions regarding the reason for the public measure may be directed to the City of Griswold.

(A SAMPLE of the ballot can be found below):

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Bullying prevention among bills still alive in Legislature

News

April 2nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Key issues like bullying prevention and broadband Internet expansion remain alive in the Legislature as a procedural deadline looms, but other measure are likely dead. Lawmakers from the Democratic-controlled Senate and Republican-majority House lamented the bills that failed to advance Thursday.

For Democrats those bills included efforts to provide more leave benefits to parents of adopted children and to increase the minimum wage. Republicans sought changes to bargaining rules for teacher unions and tried to require women to get ultrasounds before having abortions.

Under legislative rules, Friday is the deadline for many bills to get full approval from one chamber and committee-level approval in the other chamber. Lawmakers were set to complete their work for the week Thursday, and most will not report back to the Capitol until Monday.

Iowa born Rev. Robert Schuller dies

News

April 2nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The Reverend Robert H. Schuller, who grew up in northwest Iowa, has died at the age of 88. Schuller gained worldwide fame through his “Hour of Power” television show broadcast from the massive Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California. In an interview several years ago with the Archive of American Television, Schuller discussed his childhood — he was born in 1926 near Alton, Iowa. “I was born in a little house at the dead end of a dirt road that had no name and no number. And you can go anywhere from nowhere,” Schuller said. He was the youngest of four children.

“We were part of a Dutch colony in Sioux County, northwest Iowa, and the entire county was made up of Dutch people,” Schuller recalled. “I got the impression that the whole world was the world I knew — people all went to church on Sunday and everybody respected the name Jesus Christ.” Schuller and his wife, Arvella, both grew up in northwest Iowa. They spent time at a church in suburban Chicago before moving to Orange County, California in 1955. By the 1970s, Schuller had the most-watched religious show on television and in 1980, he opened the $17 million Crystal Cathedral. Schuller said he was only five years old when his uncle, a Princeton grad and a missionary to China, returned to Iowa and told Schuller he would grow up to be a preacher.

“I didn’t have any problem with that, he was a hero in our home. To have somebody from an Iowa farm home who would go to Princeton, a prestigious university and seminary, and then go to China…he was a hero,” Schuller said. His uncle advised the young Schuller that it would take him 20 years to reach his goal of becoming a preacher. “When I look back on it, that was very important because at a tender age, I set a 20 year goal. So, I’ve never been afraid of setting long goals. When I finally graduated from college and seminary, I had a goal to build a kind of church that would really impact the world,” Schuller said.

In the last decade, the Crystal Cathedral ministry fell on hard times. Reverend Schuller retired in 2006 and the church filed for bankruptcy in 2010. Robert Schuller died today (Thursday) from esophageal cancer at a care facility in California.

(Radio Iowa)

Hundreds of complaints roll in about bogus discount travel vouchers

News

April 2nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Some Iowans who bought discount travel vouchers for far-away vacations this spring won’t be flying anywhere. A wedding and event planner based in Omaha-Council Bluffs was selling the vouchers for thousands of dollars less than the retail price of airfares but now airlines are refusing to honor them. Jim Hegerty, with the Better Business Bureau, says people are understandably very upset with Creative Creations.

“It’s a pretty unprecedented event for the BBB,” Hegerty says. “In the last 10 days, we received more complaints on this company alone than we received on all companies combined last month. We’re up around 900 complaints from consumers all over the United States.” Hegerty says the company is now under investigation to determine if there was any fraud or criminal intent.

Hegerty says, “So many people purchased these vouchers that they were unable to manage them and ultimately, the people that purchased them were unable to redeem them for the travel that they’d all planned to do this spring.” Hegerty says it’s still not clear just how many people bought the travel vouchers, but there are likely many hundreds more who have yet to come forward.

“The company reached a tipping point at which it became very, very problematic,” Hegerty says. “Clearly, we’ve had 900 complaints in 10 days. The dollar value associated with those complaints is probably north of $600,000 and rising every day.” An attorney for Creative Creations says it is not likely there will be any refunds. He says, simply, the company’s business model failed.

(Radio Iowa)

Buffett says US economy continues steady improvement

News

April 2nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – Investor Warren Buffett says the economy continues to grow steadily, but too many people continue to miss out on the American dream. Buffett told CNN Thursday that he doesn’t see any real sign of weakness in the economy. Buffett looks at reports from the more than 80 businesses his Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate owns for insight.

But Buffett reiterated his concerns about income inequality in this country while the super-rich continue to thrive. He said that America should be able to do more to help people who are struggling do better. Buffett is always looking for potential investments for his company. He says that these days he doesn’t see many stocks he’d consider cheap, but he doesn’t believe there is a bubble in stock prices either.

Georgia man testifies in his 2nd Iowa murder trial

News

April 2nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

BOONE, Iowa (AP) – A Georgia man accused in his former roommate’s 2009 slaying has testified in his own defense, repeating that he killed the man in order to protect himself. The defense rested its case Thursday in the trial of 55-year-old John Green, who is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 58-year-old Mark Koster, of Sac City. The case now goes to jurors for deliberation.

Previous testimony and a videotaped police interview aired in court revealed that Green admitted to killing Koster. The Fort Dodge Messenger reports that as Green explained what happened prior to Koster’s death, he maintained that he killed Koster out of self-defense. Koster was declared missing in 2010, and his remains were later found buried in his Sac City home after new owners began renovations.

Bridge out in Shelby County

News

April 2nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Shelby County Emergency Manager Bob Seivert reports a section of Yellowwood Road just south of 600th Street is closed due to a bridge being out. Emergency responders and residents in the area should adjust their travel and response plans accordingly.Yellowwood Rd Closed Bridge Out 4-2-15 (click on the image below to enlarge)

It’s National Donate Life month

News

April 2nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Several events are scheduled across Iowa this April as part of “National Donate Life Month.” Iowa Donor Network spokesman, Tony Hakes, says the events will focus on everyone involved in organ donation and transplants.  “The entire month is set aside for everyone in America really to reflect about donation, to honor donors and donor families, a change for recipients to thank their families. And we just do that by partnering with hospitals, medical examiners, E-M-S services, law enforcement, pretty much all these professional partners throughout the state,” Hakes says. He says the publicity about the need for donors has helped them make progress.

“At the end of last year we reached a five-year low on the number of people waiting for a transplant in Iowa. And it looks like we’ve got more people signing up, registering as donors each month, each year,” Hakes says. “So, it’s definitely helped, it’s definitely saved lives, impacted lives, enhanced lives.” While more people are signing up to donate, there’s still a waiting list for those needing a transplant.

“Well in Iowa it’s anywhere from 550 to 600, and of course, one is too many. But Iowa is a pretty good place to have transplants and get listed,”according to Hakes. “Nationally, there’s anywhere from 120 to 125-thousand waiting at any given time.” He says they’d like to continue improving on the progress made in getting more people to donate. “We really feel that this is a solvable problem and we just need everyone to register as a donor — make sure their family knows and understands their wishes — and we think that we can take that wait list down to zero,” Hakes says. Hakes says it doesn’t take long for you to sign up.

“Registering as a donor in Iowa is incredibly easy. Pretty much you can mark yes on your driver’s license and just make sure your family knows and understands your wishes. You doe those two things and you are all set,” Hakes explains. “If someone doesn’t want to wait until they renew their license — or they maybe don’t have a license or I-D — they can go to Iowa Donor Network o-r-g (www.ioadonornetwork.org) and register on-line. Again, once you register on-line, you are good and you don’t have to do anything else other than let your family know your wishes.” Hake says being an organ donor can allow you to have a big impact on a lot of people.

“One person can save up to eight people’s lives through organ donations, and enhance up to 50 to maybe even 100 through tissue donation, when you start talking about donating skin, bones, ligaments veins, tendons, those types of things,” Hakes says. The Iowa Donor Network helped transplant 216 life-saving organs in 2014, and recovered tissue from 982 donors.

(Radio Iowa)

Glenwood man injured when gust of wind hits his motorcycle

News

April 2nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Severe winds Wednesday blew a motorcycle off the road, injured the driver. The Mills County Sheriff’s Office says David Barrett, of Glenwood,was transported by LifeNet helicopter to the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. Authorities say Barrett was traveling north on 195th Street, north of Paddock Avenue, when his 2004 Harley Davidson motorcycle was hit by a strong southerly gust of wind as Barrett was trying to round a curve, causing the cycle to leave the road. The accident happened at around 4-p.m.