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Sioux City scam callers focus on jury duty

News

February 24th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) – Scam calls are being made to some Sioux City residents in an effort to scare them into paying ‘fines.”  Sioux City police say the caller tells the person that he or she has missed jury duty and must pay a fine of $450 or face arrest.  The caller doesn’t say what agency he represents. The caller is described as very persistent and is someone who speaks with a strong Southern accent. There may be more than one caller involved.

Officials said in a news release that the Sioux City Police Department and Woodbury County Sheriff’s Office “never call citizens and solicit for money owed over the phone, and we warn people to not become victimized to these crimes.”

Nearly Half of Iowa Renters Overburdened by Housing Costs

News

February 24th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa – Affordable housing can be key to helping working families gain and keep financial stability, but for many across Iowa the costs of rent and utilities are taking more than their share of the monthly budget.

The Center for Enterprise Development analyzed the latest data, and senior research manager Kasey Wiedrich said they found that nearly half of renters in the state are what’s called “housing cost-burdened.” “In Iowa it’s almost 45 percent of renters are spending more than 30 percent of their income on their housing costs,” she said. For homeowners in the state, the rate is significantly lower, with about 22 percent considered housing cost-burdened.

Wiedrich said the high cost of housing doesn’t allow for families on the edge to save for emergencies, a factor that is a major contributor to the “liquid-asset poverty rate.” In Iowa, that rate is 26 percent. “With liquid asset poverty,” she said, “we’re looking at the rate of households that don’t have enough liquid savings – cash in the bank, savings accounts, even retirement accounts that people could fairly easily tap into – so that they could make it for three months at the poverty level if their income went away.”

The group’s latest “Assets and Opportunities Scorecard” also shows how Iowa is faring in areas such as jobs, health care and education. The scorecard is online at assetsandopportunity.org.

(Iowa News Service)

U-of-I researcher: Netflix could be the next Big Brother

News

February 24th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A popular subscription service many Iowans use to watch movies and T-V shows on-demand or on D-V-D is collecting a wealth of data about our viewing habits, according to a University of Iowa researcher. Tim Havens, a U-of-I communication studies professor, says he’s been studying Netflix for months and he finds it remarkable how much information the service is amassing. “They do know an awful lot about us,” Havens says. “They know, not just what we watch and how we rate it, but they know when we pause, they know how long we pause, they know when we rewind and watch things over and over and collect all of that data. It’s really important to realize you’re being surveilled while you watch Netflix.”

Unlike the familiar Nielson ratings for broadcast television, Netflix doesn’t make any of its ratings public. Havens says some of that data is being used to make original programming available only to Netflix subscribers, like “House of Cards” or “Orange is the New Black.” Still, he has concerns about how the numbers are crunched, since they’re kept private. “When they run these algorithms that say ‘House of Cards’ is a good series to put on, who are they actually looking at? I don’t think they’re looking at all of their viewers,” Havens says. “Are they screening out certain viewers who they know, for instance, might be black, and they’re not interested in reaching black viewers so they focus primarily on 18-to-34-year-old men because they know those are the people who spend the most money.”

Havens says the policies of Netflix are troubling as he sees the “potential for a Big Brother scenario” to develop. Still, the way that data is mined and used is considered a benefit to many subscribers, as Netflix can recommend other movies and T-V shows you like, based on how you rate what you’ve watched. Havens says those recommendations are proving to be right about 90-percent of the time. Havens says, “If we watch a film on Netflix and we rate it in a particular way, that tells them a certain amount about what we think, but if we pause it, if we rewind, if we watch half of it and then stop, that’s really important data for them to have so they can recommend to another person who they think has similar viewing habits whether they may or may not like the film.”

Netflix will sometimes release an entire season of a new program all at once, leading to what some people call “binge-watching,” where they’ll spend a whole weekend doing little else but burning through all of those episodes. Havens says he prefers the term “marathon viewing,” which he says isn’t really a new phenomenon.  “If you think about cable and even in the broadcast era, there have always been these marathons,” Havens says. “So all of these channels have run marathons for years. In a sense, it’s sort of the same idea. The difference is, the audience actually gets to choose when they want to watch all of those episodes.”

Havens, by the way, is not a Netflix subscriber.

(Radio Iowa)

Council Bluffs man arrested on drug charge in Montgomery Co.

News

February 24th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Sheriff’s officials in Montgomery County say a Pottawattamie County man was arrested Sunday night. 30-year old Gordon Leroy Currin III, of Council Bluffs, was taken into custody at around 7:30-p.m. for Driving While Revoked for a drug-related charge. Currin was booked into the Montgomery County Jail and held on $300 bond pending at court appearance.

Red Oak woman arrested for violating protective order

News

February 24th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Police in Red Oak arrested a woman Sunday afternoon for Violating a Protective Order. 51-year old Patricia Ann Williams, of Red Oak, was taken into custody at around 1:45-p.m. at a residence on North 8th Street. Williams was booked into the Montgomery County Jail and held on $300 bond, pending an appearance before the magistrate.

Iowa early News Headlines: Mon., Feb. 24th 2014

News

February 24th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press…

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Governor Terry Branstad is seeking re-election, but his current focus is on the legislative session, not campaign rhetoric. Since lawmakers returned to the Capitol in January, the Republican Branstad has largely kept his attention on his legislative agenda and budget, which must be approved by lawmakers this spring. Even Branstad’s balloon-festooned re-election announcement last month was light on detailed campaign promises.

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) — A crowd of a couple hundred runners in red dresses, shorts, tights and wigs drew plenty of attention this weekend as they raised money for a good cause. The Quad-City Times reports the local Hash House Harriers group held the fun run Saturday to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project nonprofit.

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) — A western Iowa couple married for 79 years is being honored for having the longest marriage in the state. The Daily Nonpareil reports Alvin and Eula Blankenship’s marriage was celebrated at a reception Sunday. One-hundred-year-old Eula Blankenship says she and her 99-year-old husband have always loved to dance and travel.

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (AP) — Seth Tuttle scored 18 points, on 6-of-10 shooting, to lead Northern Iowa to a 72-59 win over Illinois State yesterday. Northern Iowa opened with a 10-0 run to build a lead that was never challenged, taking a 40-24 advantage into the break and then protecting it during the second half.

Atlantic School Board to hold continued budget discussions

News

February 23rd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Members of the Atlantic School District’s Board of Education will gather at the High School Monday evening for a budget-related work session. During their meeting in the High School Media Center at 7:30-p.m., the Board will hear first from the A-H-S Building Leadership Team (BLT), and during the Fiscal Year 2014-2015 Budget discussion, they’ll hear from Mary Babinet with Nolte, Cornman & Johnson, P-C, as well as District Technology Director Roger Warne.

Audubon City Council to act on several issues Monday

News

February 23rd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Audubon City Council will meet during a regular session Monday evening. On the agenda for their 7-p.m. meeting: Dave Lake, with Community Insurance, will discuss Insurance Renewal; The Council is also expected to: Act on a pending motion to fix a date, manner, and method, by which the City Clerk should post the Council’s Tentative Agenda; and, there will be a public hearing on a Resolution to acquire or condemn a property at 408 Market Street.

Following the public hearing, the Audubon City Council will take a roll call vote on a Resolution ordering the acquisition or condemnation, if necessary, of 408 Market Street, for the purpose of rehabilitating the site and removing any environmental hazards associated with the site.

The Council will also act on the setting of the date and time for a Special Meeting (work session-related), as March 3rd, beginning at 7-p.m. And, after reviewing the proposed Fiscal Year 2014-2015 Budget, the Council will act on a Resolution setting March 10th, 7-pm, as the date and time for a Public Hearing on the proposed budget.

Audubon woman arrested for Child Endangerment

News

February 23rd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Police in Audubon reported Sunday, the arrest last Tuesday of 40 year old Tiffany Michelle Kidd. Kidd, who is from Audubon, was taken into custody  on a warrant for Child Endangerment.  The warrant was issued as a result of an investigation into an incident that took place January 15th, 2014, at 208 Oak Street in Audubon.  Kidd was released on bond after her initial appearance with the magistrate.

NW Iowa county may go after unpaid court fines

News

February 23rd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) – Officials in northwest Iowa’s Woodbury County are considering creating a collections department to go after nearly $12 million in unpaid court fines.  The Sioux City Journal reports part of the money would go to the county, so improving collections would help Woodbury County’s budget.

Several other Iowa counties – including Linn, Polk and Plymouth counties – have already established successful collections programs for unpaid court fines. Usually the job is handled either by the county attorney or sheriff.  Woodbury County Attorney P.J. Jennings says he plans to propose creating a collections department later this year.

The Linn County Sheriff’s office has had a collections program in place since 2003. Major Doug Riniker oversees the effort and says the office collected $807,000 in 2012-13.