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7AM Newscast 12-07-2011

News, Podcasts

December 7th, 2011 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson


Corps to decrease flow from dam on Missouri River


December 7th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The Army Corps of Engineers is preparing to decrease the flow from Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota to increase flood control storage on the Missouri River, which had record flooding this year.The corps plans to gradually decrease the release starting Thursday. Officials say the current release rate of 40,000 cubic feet per second will be decreased by 3,000 cfs each day until Dec. 14, when the flows will be set at 20,000 cfs for the winter.The corps had initially planned to decrease the flow last week, but extended the high release to add additional storage for the runoff season next spring. The Missouri River had a summer of flooding because of heavy rain and melting snow.

Latest Postal Service budget cutting plan tied to proposed shut downs of Iowa facilities


December 7th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

A U.S. Postal Service proposal filed this week to end next-day delivery of First Class mail is tied to plans to close hundreds of mail processing facilities around the country including four in Iowa. Postal Service spokesman Richard Watkins says there’s been a dramatic drop in mail volume in recent years – especially First Class mail. The shift has contributed to the Postal Service’s five-point-one billion-dollars ($5.1 billion) in debt this year alone.

“As you begin to dispatch less than full pallets and ship less than full truck loads, that’s when it gets really expensive,” Watkins said. The Postal Regulatory Commission likely won’t issue an opinion on the proposed changes for several months. The processing centers being considered for closure in Iowa are located in Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Carroll and Creston. Facilities in Fort Dodge and Sioux City have already closed. And the Postal Service earlier announced plans to close up to 175 Post Offices in the state. Watkins notes First Class mail volume has dropped 27-percent in just three years.

“In 2005, for example, only five-percent of people paid their bills online. Now, that figure is 60-percent. So, there’s been a huge shift in the way our customers nationwide are using the mail,” Watkins said. The Postal Service is also turning to Congress in hopes of changing policies that would save the agency billions of dollars. One would eliminate a requirement to pre-fund future retiree health benefits. Another change, which Watkins says many customers support, would eliminate mail delivery on Saturdays. 

 He notes independent opinion surveys of both residential and commercial mailers have found nearly 70-percent would accept a five-day delivery week as a way to keep postal rates down. Watkins said, since 2006, the U.S. Postal Service has cut jobs and consolidated services to save about 12-billion dollars ($12 billion) — but much more still need to be done.

(Pat Curtis/Radio Iowa)

Nishna Valley Family YMCA in Atlantic confirms it was hit in cyber attack


December 7th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Last week we told you about a cyber attack targeting local businesses and in some cases individuals who conduct a substantial amount of Automated Clearing House, or ACH, transactions from their computers. ACH is an electronic network for financial transactions, that processes large volumes of both credit and debit transactions which are originated in batches. Atlantic Police Chief Steve Green said at the time, that there was one confirmed victim of the attacks, and another suspected of being attacked.

Today, the Nishna Valley Family YMCA in Atlantic is set to announce its computer systems have been breached by a cyber virus aimed at the organization’s financial information. We contacted YMCA Executive Director Dan Haynes last week who confirmed the Y’s computers had been hit by a key-logging virus, but he would not disclose the amount of money they lost as a result of the breach. That is expected to become clearer today, during a press conference slated for 10-a.m.

In a letter sent to YMCA members, Haynes and the YMCA Board said authorities are continuing to investigate the financial breach of information, which has affected the Y’s General Fund. At this point, investigators with the FBI, Iowa DCI and Atlantic Police do not believe the virus sought to obtain members’ banking information, but it is possible that the information was compromised. Any person or business who has made automatic payments to the Y, according to the letter, needs to take necessary precautions.

That would include closely monitoring your bank account and notifying your financial institution, local law enforcement and the Iowa Attorney General’s Office, if you see any unauthorized activity.  Experts also recommend you contact the three U.S. credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian or Trans Union), to find  out if there have been changes to your credit report.

Their contact information is as follows:

Equifax, 1-800-685-1111 or www.equifax.com       Experian, 1-888-397-3742 or www.experian.com

and, TransUnion, LLC, 1-800-888-4213 or www.transunion.com

In addition, you may be eligible for a free credit report by calling 1-877-322-8228 or by accessing annualcreditreport.com

Authorities say they believe the cyber thieves were only interested in company ACH information, which is the reason the Nishna Valley YMCA notified its members by mail, that if they have conducted ACH transactions with the YMCA, such as automatic payment processing through monthly drafts…the bank routing number on that account and the name on the account could potentially have been compromised.

It won’t be know how long the attack affected the YMCA’s computers for several months, while the investigation is underway, or what data was compromised. The Y does have a security system in place to protect personal information, but as Police Chief Green said last week, the virus is virtually undetectable even with the best anti-virus software and firewalls. If you have any questions about the ACH cyber attack on the YMCA’s computers, call Dan Haynes at 712-243-3934.

Atlantic City Council to consider AMU budget & hold public hearing on sale of land


December 6th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic City Council is set to consider a resolution during their meeting Wednesday evening, to approve the 2012 Budget for Atlantic Municipal Utilities. The proposed budget for the Electric and Water Departments for Calendar Year 2012 totals nearly $10.8-million, which is an increase of nearly $665,000 or 6.6% over the current year re-estimate.

The increased cost is being offset with increases in AMU’s electric rates of 10-14% that went into effect last month. City Administrator Doug Harris says AMU’s proposed budget calls for a $360,000 transfer to the City, in lieu of paying property taxes…something Harris says is a common practice, as a private utility would pay property taxes, and be subject to a franchise fee of up to 5%. AMU’s contribution amounts to about 3.3% of their revenues, which is designed to offset AMU’s utility charges to the City. 

In other business, the City Council in Atlantic will act on a motion to direct staff to advertise the sale of nearly 13-acres of City-owned land adjacent to the old Delong Building, by means of a public auction. The Council Finance Committee is recommending a public hearing be held and consideration be given to selling the two parcels, which total 12.93-acres. The City has advertised for bids on the agricultural lease of the two parcels, and may act Wednesday on awarding the three-year agricultural lease, during their meeting. 

And, the Council will act on a Resolution amending City policy, for the expenditure of public funds for observances which include events such as the Christmas Party for City Employees. Monies for the event have come, in the past, from pop machine profits and donations. Under State Code, those types of expenditures should be included in the City’s policy that authorizes those types of observances. Harris will recommend to the Council expenditures be allowed for the Christmas Party, with a limit not to exceed $400.

The City Council meeting begins at 5:30-p.m. Wednesday, December 7th.

CAM School Board discusses Online Charter School


December 6th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Members of the CAM Community School District’s Board of Education met Monday night in Anita, to hear a report from Superintendent Steve Pelzer about an opportunity to become involved with a company which provides students a free, online learning experience. Pelzer told KJAN News the district has been involved in discussions over the past week or so, with a national, full-time online K-12 learning company, talking about a possible partnership that would create a free, online K-12 full-time learning school in Iowa.

Pelzer says Monday night’s meeting was an opportunity to share with the board what he’s learned about the company, Connections Education, based in Baltimore, Maryland. He says a representative from Connections is scheduled to appear before the board during another special meeting Thursday, Dec. 8th, at the High School Media Center in Anita. During the 6:30-p.m. session , the Connections Rep will present additional information on their program. Pelzer says the board was interested enough during the previous meeting to hear more about the school. He says Connections Education is part of Pearson Learning. The company has already partnered with Departments of Education or Schools in more than 20 states.

He says an online K-12 School is a brand new, and interesting concept in Iowa, and something that may be worth pursuing in the future. A school district in eastern Iowa is exploring a similar online program, but with a different company. Pelzer says if CAM went with Connections Education, it would likely result in a completely new school in the district, and it would benefit CAM students, by allowing them access to certain classes online that they would otherwise not be able to take. Students would take the classes from home. Pelzer says the company wants to involve parents in the process.

The reason the full-time program would be free, according to Pelzer, is that it would follow the state’s Open Enrollment laws, in that students from across the State would have the opportunity to meet all the timelines and qualifications for Open Enrollment to open enroll into an online academy. The fees would be funded by the respective resident school district.

Pelzer says no decisions have been made with regard to the program. He says the CAM District is only “Looking to explore possibilities that would benefit our district and benefit our kids.” Learn more about Connections Education at http://www.connectionseducation.com/connections-education/home.aspx

Drake receives “Friend of the Family Farmer” legislator award

Ag/Outdoor, News

December 6th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Farmers Union says Representative Jack Drake, from Griswold, was awarded the 2011 “Friend of the Family Farmer Legislator Award,” during the organization’s AnnualRep. Jack Drake, from Griswold Convention held over the weekend, in Ames. Drake, who represents House District 57, serves as chair of the House Agriculture Committee. He’s served in the Iowa House of Representatives since 1992. 

As the chair of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriation Subcommittee, the IFU says he was instrumental in ensuring the structure and funding was present for the Local Food and Farm Plan.  The groups says Drake’s knowledge of the need for expanded agricultural markets in Iowa aided tremendously in the passage of the bill’s language. Iowa Farmers Union President Chris Petersen said at the convention “The Iowa Farmers Union is proud to honor Representative Jack Drake’s contribution to Iowa’s rural communities and promotion of a healthier local food system this year.”

Nearly 100 Iowans gathered for the event, which was co-sponsored by Iowa State University’s Sustainable Agriculture Student Association. They discussed the state and federal policies that affect farm operations and rural communities.  The awards ceremony recognized nine individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary efforts in support of family farms, local food and the growth of sustainable agriculture in Iowa over the past year.

Cass County Board to act on livestock facility construction resolution


December 6th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Board of Supervisors will act Wednesday morning, on an annual Resolution pertaining to Livestock Facility Construction Evaluations. The Resolution needs to be approved in order for the County to submit to the DNR, its recommendations, if any, with regard to the approval or disapproval of a confinement feeding operation, based on the scoring that facility has received using the Master Matrix.

The Supervisors will also discuss maintenance and operation of the Southlawn Memory Gardens Cemetery, and possibly act on revisions to the County’s Indigent Burial and Cell Phone Policies. The Board is also scheduled to receive a report and Fiscal Year 2013 Funding Agreement from the Cass County Library Association.

Their meeting begins at 9-a.m Wednesday, in the Supervisor’s Board Room at the Courthouse in Atlantic.

8AM Newscast 12-06-2011

News, Podcasts

December 6th, 2011 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson


(update 8:50-a.m.) Missing trucker found dead has been Identified


December 6th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

A truck driver from Illinois missing since last Friday was found dead in his still running semi Monday evening, in Pottawattamie County. Sheriff’s Department spokesman Sgt. Dwayne Richie says 58-year old Terry Ross, of Monmouth, IL, was found by deputies after a fellow trucker located Ross’ semi along an Interstate 80 rest stop near Minden, which was under construction. Ross worked for Liberty Trucking, in Burlington, Iowa.

Riche told KJAN News the trucking company notified law enforcement agencies along Ross’ route that he hadn’t been responding to their calls. One of the agencies which was notified, was the Des Moines Police Department. Riche says an officer with the Des Moines P-D called the Sheriff’s Office to inform them of the situation.

He says Ross’ cell phone had been “pinged” and an approximate location was given of 385th Street in Pottawattamie County. The officer also gave a description of the truck. Riche says an officer was dispatched at 7:05-p.m., but was unable to locate the semi.

The semi was still covered in snow when it was discovered by Liberty Truck driver John Gatton, of Cole Valley, IL.  Gatton called 9-1-1 after he knocked on the cab of the running semi, and received no answer. Sgt. Riche says the cause of death remains under investigation, but no foul play is suspected.