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Cass County Sheriff warns of robo call scam on prescription drugs

News

February 7th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Sheriff’s Office is making the public aware of a new twist on an old scam that’s going around. Sheriff Darby McLaren says his office has received a report of an automated call telling about the negative effects of a prescription drug. The voice gives you the option to press “1” to be taken off the call list, and when you do, the automated operator requests your social security number, date of birth, and name. The Sheriff says if you receive such a call, simply hang up. Do not give your information to the caller, regardless of whether is is a human or computer.

AMU defends proposed billing fee increase to the City of Atlantic

News

February 7th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The General Manager of the Atlantic Municipal Utilities (AMU) and Mayor of Atlantic sat down during a press conference Thursday afternoon, to clarify statements made by City Administrator Doug Harris during Wednesday night’s City Council meeting, with regard to an increase in the fees charged to the City for the sewer billing rate.

AMU Gen. Mgr. Steve Tjepkes (left) and Atlantic Mayor Dave Jones (right) discuss the fee AMU charges the City for sewer billing. (Ric Hanson photo)

Steve Tjepkes refuted the claim by Harris that the 90-cent rate adjustment is attributable to AMU’s new billing system, which was unveiled in December. He said their old billing system had been in-place for over 30-years, and the cost of implementing the new billing system was made by offsetting cost savings. The maintenance, or ongoing cost of the new system he says, costs the same as the old. He said neither the rate increase or the charges they have proposed to the City, was a result of the new billing system. Tjepkes said over the last several years, AMU has charged the City 10-cents per bill, per month, to maintain more than 3,100 sewer accounts and billing processes. He said that rate doesn’t even cover a third of today’s postage rates.

The proposed increase from 10-cents to $1.00, he says is based on the actual cost to AMU to service those accounts. If the fee increase is approved, the annual cost to the City would jump from $3,730 per year to $37,300 per year. Ultimately, the increase will be passed along to AMU’s electric and water customers. Tjepkes said the fee increase he discussed with Harris was a proposal, and not an ultimatum.

Mayor Dave Jones said his reaction, that AMU had “Gone overboard” on the rate increase and should re-calculate their costs, was based on the information presented by Harris, and the shock of going from 10-cents, to a dollar per billing.  He said after discussions were held this (Thursday) morning, he feels the dollar amount is “reasonable,” that the City couldn’t do it any cheaper, and it is “just the cost of doing business.”

Jones said the matter will be placed before the City’s Personnel and Finance Committee for discussion, before anything is agreed to as far as billing costs. If the increase is approved, it would be billed in July, retro-active to January 1st. Jones said it’s likely the proposed increase would be passed along, and on top of a sewer rate increase already planned for later this year.

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The text of the Press Release from AMU is as follows…

“In the last several years, AMU has charged the city $.10 a bill per month to maintain their sewer accounts and billing processes. As most people can understand, $.10 doesn’t even cover a third of today’s postage. The services provided by AMU to the City of Atlantic include the labor costs of setting up and maintaining over 3,100 sewer accounts, processing new and final billing account adjustments each monthly, billing the monthly service, the collection of the accounts and the accounting for the funds billed and collected. In addition to the labor costs, there is the cost of the physical bills, envelopes, postage and printing costs.

The increase in the sewer billing rate from $.10 to $1.00 is based on the actual cost to AMU to service these accounts. AMU isn’t asking the city to cover the full third of the cost of billing the sewer services. However, in fairness to AMU’s customer, the Utility Board doesn’t feel that AMU should continue to build the full cost of the sewer billing into their electric and water rates.

There was a statement made that the rate adjustment is a result of AMU’s new billing system. AMU’s billing system had been in place for over 30 years and the cost of implementing the new billing system was made by offsetting cost savings. The maintenance of the new system is the same as it has been in the past. So, neither the recent AMU rate increase nor the increase in what AMU charges the city for processing their sewer billing is related to the new billing system.

Prior to suggesting the change, AMU checked with other municipal utilities of similar size to research how they are handling billing. Though no utility is the same, their proposed rate is more in line with how other utilities handle billing for their cities.

AMU would be happy to continue to process the sewer billing for the city, but if the city chooses to do it themselves that would be their choice.”

Corps says Missouri River remains at low levels

News

February 7th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Dry weather continues throughout the area that feeds into the Missouri River, so water levels will remain low. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers predicts that runoff into the river above Sioux City, Iowa, will be 80 percent of normal this year. So the Corps is expected to keep the amount of water it’s releasing out of Gavins Point dam on the South Dakota-Nebraska border at 14,000 cubic feet per second throughout February. Around mid-March, the amount of water will be increased to about 25,000 cubic feet per second to help support barge traffic on the river.

But that will provide only enough water for a minimal channel 8-feet-deep and 200-feet-wide. A normal navigation channel is 9-feet-deep and 300-feet-wide. So barges may not be able to carry full loads.

Legislative Coffees Scheduled for Cass County

News

February 7th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Officials with PRIDE (the Progressive Rural Iowa Development Enterprise) say three legislative coffees have been scheduled to take place in Cass County during the 2013 session. PRIDE President Kenner Baxter says coffees “Are opportunities to have face-to-face dialogue with our Iowa legislators.”  Redistricting means the addition of Senators Hubert Houser and Jake Chapman to Cass County and the return of Representatives Clel Baudler and Jack Drake.

The first coffee takes place 10-a.m. Saturday, February 16th, at the Cumberland Fire Station. The next event will be held at the Marne Community Center beginning at 10-a.m., on Saturday, March 16th. The final gathering is at 10-a.m. Saturday, April 20th, at the Griswold Library. Also taking place that day is the community celebration to reopen the facility after its extensive remodel.

P.R.I.D.E. is the economic development organization that works on behalf of communities, businesses, and citizens from Cumberland, Lewis, and Marne for Southwest Iowa development. For additional information, or to join P.R.I.D.E., contact Kenner Baxter, president, at 781-2395, or Clarke Gerlock, vice-president, at 712-774-5476.

Iowa Democrat Braley announces 2014 US Senate bid

News

February 7th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Iowa Rep. Bruce Braley says he will run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin.  Braley said Thursday in an email to potential supporters that the decision is “a big responsibility” and he’s forming a fundraising committee to get started.   The Waterloo Democrat was elected to the House in 2006.

He has been eyeing a Senate run since 2010 and his announcement follows Harkin’s Jan. 26 announcement that he will not seek a sixth term. Braley had already said he was weighing a run, and he met last week in Washington with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and chairmen of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.   Among Republicans, Iowa Reps. Tom Latham and Steve King are considering Senate campaigns.

Shenandoah man flown from crash scene in Page County

News

February 7th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

A Shenandoah man suffered what were described as non-incapacitating injuries during a single-vehicle accident Wednesday afternoon, in Page County. According to the Sheriff’s Department, 48-year old Timothy Allen Lekey was flown by Mercy 3 Air Ambulance to Creighton Medical Center in Omaha following the crash, which happened at around 3:55-p.m.

Officials say Lekey was traveling north on Highway 59 just south of 170th Street, or about two-miles north of Shenandoah, when his 1993 Oldsmobile Cutless drifted off the road to the east. When Lekey overcorrected, the car drifted off the road to the west, and after Lekey overcorrected again, the car entered the east ditch. It then crossed 170th Street and came rest in the east ditch, just north of 170th.

Lekey was cited for Failure to Maintain Control. His car was declared a total loss.

8AM Newscast 02-07-2013

News, Podcasts

February 7th, 2013 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson

(Update 9:45-a.m.) – Atlantic’s Mayor not happy with AMU

News

February 7th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Officials with Atlantic Municipal Utilities have scheduled a press conference for this afternoon, to clear-up concerns and perhaps some misconceptions about an increase in the fee it bills the City for sending out its sanitary sewer bills. The meeting will take place at 3-p.m in AMU’s basement meeting room. At last night’s City Council meeting, Atlantic Mayor Dave Jones was not happy to hear from City Administrator Doug Harris, that AMU would be jacking up the rate the City pays for sending out its sanitary sewer bills by 10-times the rate it charged through the end of last year. Harris said the increase was retro-active to the beginning of the year.

He said AMU General Manager Steve Tjepkes reported that the AMU Board had approved increasing the billing fee for the City’s sewer bills, which are lumped together with the water and electric. AMU had been charging the City 10-cents per bill per month. That has now increased a dollar per month, which means the City’s annual cost will increase from $3,730, to $37,300.  Council Shaun Shouse said that’s a “Hard pill to swallow.”  Harris said the increase needs to be included in the budgetary process currently underway at City Hall.

Mayor Jones said he had a “hard time” buying AMU’s explanation for the increase, and that they’ve gone “Over-board.” Jones said AMU’s reason that their cost for the new billing system warrants an increase is no reason to “stick it to the City,” and that they should re-calculate the cost. Harris said AMU estimates if it charges the City one-third of the cost, it would amount to $1.60 per bill. He doubts the City could handle the billing by itself for the dollar increase AMU is passing along for their new billing software system.

He says by using their water meter reading, there are no additional costs associated with labor, but there are costs associated with the accounting process. The billing itself is pretty much automated. Harris said he doesn’t know how much AMU figures into the bill overhead and buildings, but if they allocated everything in thirds, it would amount to about $1.60 per bill. Councilman Dana Halder said it’s his understanding the new software AMU is using will better analyze their costs. Harris said that could result in a savings to the citizens, down the road.

In the interim, the City will either have to pay the extra dollar and increase the sewer rates, send out its own bills, or try and negotiate the fee with AMU for a reduction in costs.

7AM Newscast 02-07-2013

News, Podcasts

February 7th, 2013 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson

Audubon County authorities warn residents of ongoing scams

News

February 7th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Authorities in Audubon County are reminding citizens in the county and elsewhere, about ongoing scams which primarily target the elderly. Sheriff Todd Johnson and Audubon Police Chief David Simonsen say first and foremost, residents should be alert to red flags indicating someone is trying to defraud you or steal your identity. Those warning signs include asking you to wire money to claim a prize or to bail a relative out of jail, or revealing your personal and/or banking information over the phone.

The reason for the reminder: The “Grandparent Scam” has resurfaced. That’s where a person (usually someone who is elderly), receives a call from a person claiming to be a grandchild, who is in trouble….usually with the law. Other scams include those associated with so-called sweepstakes and lotteries. And, residents have been getting calls from people asking them for social security or banking information. The caller claims the information is needed for Medicare purposes. Scams can also be perpetrated over the internet or mail.

Johnson and Simonsen say most of these scams originate from overseas, in other countries. That makes it impossible to track the culprits or prosecute them. If you or your loves one may have been the target of any scam, contact your local law enforcement agency.