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Iowans are encouraged to plan now for retirement


April 13th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Iowans who may be green in their careers are being nudged to start planning now for their golden years. Iowa Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart is encouraging people, especially younger Iowans, to begin plotting ways to fulfill their financial needs for the decades ahead. “We often say we spend a lot of time planning a summer vacation and yet we don’t plan very much for a 20-year vacation,” Gerhart says. “We just want people to think ahead and make some steps today to plan for that retirement.”

Diversifying investments in several areas is a safer financial bet, he says, as opposed to simply hoping Social Security will provide for us. “We do not want people to rely solely on that,” Gerhart says. “Having other sources of predictable retirement income will help insure you have a dignified retirement. We want people to look at how they’re going to have their assets spread across different asset classes, different streams of income. Start planning today because this is going to be a 20 to 30 maybe 40-year retirement for some folks.”

Talk to family members and friends about their financial advisors and insurance agents and consider hiring one of your own who can offer advice on the opportunities and risks. “For a lot of folks, sitting down with a good advisor or agent can be very helpful,” Gerhart says. “Make sure that he or she is licensed and supervised either by the Iowa Insurance Division or FINRA. You can do some research online. We also think just having a little bit of education can go a long way toward having a good conversation with that advisor.”

One key is to prepare for the long haul, not quarter-by-quarter. A little planning, he says, can go a long way. “This is not a sprint, it’s a marathon,” Gerhart says. “You’re going to have to do this over a long term. Never make an investment decision based on what the stock market’s doing today or next week. Warren Buffett always says, ‘I don’t know what it’s going to do this year or next year, even, but I know over time, it’s probably going to do pretty well.’ Having a long-term diversified strategy makes the most sense.”

This is National Retirement Planning Week. Gerhart recommends a website for all sorts of resources, tools and tips: www.RetireOnYourTerms.org.

(Radio Iowa)

(Podcast) KJAN 8-a.m. News, 4/13/2016

News, Podcasts

April 13th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Area and State news from KJAN News Director Ric Hanson.


Atlantic Parks & Rec Board to act on using Hotel-Motel tax for CAT grant application


April 13th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic Parks and Recreation Department’s Board of Directors will meet in a special session today (Wednesday), beginning at Noon, in the Council’s Chambers at City Hall. The only item on their agenda, is action on the use of Hotel/Motel Tax Fund money to make up a portion of the matching funds needed for a Vision Iowa CAT grant.

Parks and Rec Director Roger Herring told the City’s Personnel and Finance Committee during their meeting Tuesday evening, they’ve managed to raise $125,000 in committed funds to match 50-percent of the $180,000 needed to apply for a $360,000 CAT grant. 25-percent of the match can come in the form of in-kind contributions, such as labor, supplies and volunteer time.

Herring said there is a “Laundry list” of in-kind contributions committed so far, including those from Trees Forever and AMU. He and Assistant Parks Director Seth Staashelm, sat down and tried to figure out the best way to show the Vision Iowa Board in the City’s grant application, that there was enough in-kind support to warrant consideration of the full grant amount requested. He said they came up with the idea of asking the Parks and Rec Board for permission to commit $46,500 from the Hotel/Motel Tax, toward the match.

Atlantic Parks & Rec Direcor Roger Herring address the Personnel & Finance Committee. Atlantic Mayor Dave Jones is on the right.

Atlantic Parks & Rec Direcor Roger Herring address the Personnel & Finance Committee. Atlantic Mayor Dave Jones is on the right.

In addition, Herring said there is $19,000 of in-kind commitment from AMU and $5,000 for seeding from the Parks and Rec Department for seeding of the campground area. The  $360,000 Vision Iowa CAT grant, if approved in its entirety, would be used for improvements to the campground portion of the Schildberg Recreation Area, in Atlantic.

Herring said he spoke with Atlantic City Administrator John Lund about the possibility of using Hotel/Motel Tax funds, which are designated for the City’s Parks and Recreational improvements. He said the Hotel-Motel tax is “A replenishing type of fund because it generates between 30-and 36 thousand dollars a year for the Parks Department. We have money in there that we have not expended, we’ll be getting more coming in, and we really won’t be expending anything out of that if we were to take the $46,500 out of there, we won’t be tapping that for another six-to eight-months. And then it’d be a two-year process anyway…that won’t put a stress or strain on our budget [over their 5-year plan].”)

Herring asked for and received permission from, the Personnel and Finance Committee, for him to approach the Parks Board for their approval in using the Hotel-Motel Tax for the grant application, which must be submitted by this Friday.

Atlantic City Council will be asked to support Wickman Child Care Center


April 13th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic City Council will be asked during their meeting next week to approve a commitment of $15,000 per year in operational support of the Ann W. Wickman Child Development Center. The Center, which is owned by Southwest Iowa Family Services (SWIFS) and operated by the Nishna Valley YMCA in Atlantic, has been running in the red for the last five-years, losing $141,417, or an average of $28,283 per year.

Dan Haynes, Executive Director at the Nishna Valley YMCA, said during a meeting Tuesday evening of the City’s Personnel and Finance Committee, that the situation was discussed during separate meetings of parents, the Rotary Club, and employers. He said the deficit looming over the Center is just one of the challenges they are facing

Others include: staff turnover due to a lack of competitive wages with other businesses; limited space; No repair or replacement fund for the building; and they have a hard time raising money because of the existing SWIFS debt. Scheduling and serving meals is an issue as well, with some employees working part-time, as well as the full-time/part-time staff ratios.

Haynes said 85-percent of their budget is for staff. Grants don’t fund operational expenses, so they have to find other ways to try and stay afloat, including raising fees, establishing contracts with parents for set child care times and penalties for not showing up,  and asking the City and businesses for financial help. He said “The Y obviously can’t afford to do this any longer.”

YMCA Exec. Dir. Dan Haynes speaks to the City of Atlantic' Personnel & Finance Committee Tue. evening [Councilperson Ashley Hayes in the foreground] - (Ric Hanson Photo)

YMCA Exec. Dir. Dan Haynes speaks to the City of Atlantic’ Personnel & Finance Committee Tue. evening [Councilperson Ashley Hayes in the foreground] – (Ric Hanson Photo)

Haynes asked the Personnel and Finance Committee to consider a request for $15,000 per year in operational support. He mentioned he will also be asking the Cass County Board of Supervisors for $5,000 in additional support to help defray costs.

Atlantic Mayor Dave Jones was originally opposed to the idea of a City-supported daycare center when it first opened, simply because he was afraid of the impact it would have on local, in-home daycare providers. Kelsie Smith, with Child Care Resources and Referral of Southwest Iowa, said all of her family child care providers in the area are currently full. Jones acknowledged the Wickman Center has had a positive impact on the local economy.

Jones said if the City Council agrees to a $15,000 annual commitment for the child care center, it should be with the stipulation local businesses be asked to contribute matching funds. The City’s share could come out of the Local Option Sales Tax.

Elliott man arrested Tuesday on Cass County warrant


April 13th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Sheriff’s Deputies in Montgomery County, Tuesday, arrested a man in Elliott who was wanted on a Cass County Bench Warrant. 25-year old Timothy Alan Brown, of Elliott, was arrested at around 9:50-p.m. on the warrant charging him with Failure to Appear in Court on original charges of Carrying Weapons and two counts of Assault while displaying a dangerous weapon. Brown was being held in the Montgomery County Jail on $2,000 bond.

Chain-reaction collision in Mills County sends 1 person to the hospital


April 13th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

A chain-reaction accident in Mills County Tuesday evening resulted in one person being flown to a hospital in Omaha. The Iowa State Patrol says the accident happened at around 6:20-p.m. on Highway 34 at 288th Boulevard, as a 2007 Chevy pickup driven by 40-year old Jeremy Allen Marvel, of Glenwood, was stopped headed eastbound, and waiting to turn left at the intersection.

41-year old Julia Nelson, of Red Oak, who was traveling east in a 2014 VW Golf, took evasive action by braking and passing the pickup on the right. A 2003 Peterbilt semi, driven by 60-year old Keith Ratkovec, of Brainard, NE, was unable to stop, and struck the VW and pickup. The semi clipped the left rear of the VW, sending it into the south ditch. The semi continued east and hit the pickup, pushing it into the north ditch.

The Patrol says Jeremy Marvel, who was wearing his seat belt, was injured in the crash and transported by LifeNet helicopter to the University of Nebraska Medical Center, in Omaha. No other injuries were reported.

Carroll & Creston among 20 cities to receive new transit system buses


April 13th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Transportation Commission yesterday (Tuesday) approved over five-point-seven million dollars ($5.7 million) in funding for 54 new transit vehicles. The buses and minivans will replace older transit vehicles in 20 cities across the state, including Carroll and Creston.

Randy Barton is the Transit Programs Manager with the DOT. “Iowa, unfortunately, has an aged fleet,” Barton says. “The FTA designates a useful life based on mileage and age of vehicles and Iowa, last I saw, was second in the nation for oldest fleet vehicles.” Iowa trails only South Dakota on that list.

The Federal Transit Administration defines the “useful life” for a light-duty bus, for example, as four years or 120,000 miles. “We’ve got around 1,600 (transit) vehicles in Iowa and over 1,000 of them are beyond the FTA described useful life,” Barton says. The $5.7 million for new transit vehicles approved Tuesday comes from federal funding. Barton says Iowa needs much more to bring it’s transit fleet up to par.

“Just to replace Iowa’s vehicles that are beyond the FTA’s definition of useful life would take $159 million,” Barton says. He’s quick to point out, however, that the older transit vehicles being used around the state are still well-maintained and safe. “They can rehabilitate — put in new engines, transmissions, drivetrains, whatever — but, usually what happens is the body itself gets too old and you can’t repair a frame,” Barton says. “You have to remember we’re in Iowa, so there’s a lot of salt on the roads and (that leads to) a lot of corrosion.”

Iowa has public transit vehicles in operation in all 99 counties. Some of the cities that are receiving funds for purchase of new transit buses include; Fort Dodge, Mason City, Marshalltown, Carroll, Creston, Spencer, Sioux City, Davenport, Burlington, Waterloo, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, Decorah, and Des Moines.

(Radio Iowa) For more information, go to: www.iowadot.gov/transit/funding/FY2016TransitCapitalProgramsHandout.pdf

Iowa early News Headlines: Wed., 4/13/16


April 13th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A legislative budget group is considering a bill that would require Iowa’s cultural affairs agency to keep working on the preservation of old battle flags. The joint subcommittee that approves economic development funding reviewed a budget bill that would require the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs to spend $90,000 on its battle flag project in the next fiscal year. The bill includes a contingency that DCA could lose other funding if it doesn’t comply with the requirement.

ALBIA, IA (AP) — A group is calling for a southern Iowa county and city to cut ties with a monument that features crosses to honor the military and war veterans. Americans United for Separation of Church and State sent a letter last week to Monroe County Supervisors and Albia city officials accusing the county’s Welcome Home Soldier monument of violating the First Amendment. A voter-approved hotel and motel tax fund goes toward maintaining the monument grounds.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa had breakfast Tuesday with the man whose nomination to the Supreme Court he has vowed to block. The Senate Judiciary Committee chairman dodged reporters after his meeting with Judge Merrick Garland. Grassley’s office is promising a statement on the meeting later.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Republican-controlled House has passed a bill to fund water quality initiatives in Iowa, though it’s unclear if the Democratic-majority Senate will support it. The House voted 65-33 Monday night in support of the bill. The bill now heads to the Senate, where Senate Democrats plan to introduce their own water quality proposal soon.

IRS Scam calls surface again


April 12th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

With just days to go before the April 15th tax-filing deadline, numerous law enforcement agencies in Iowa are reporting a surge in the number of calls people are receiving from scammers claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service.

Among the law enforcement agencies to issue a warning about the scam calls, is the Atlantic Police Department. Police Chief Steve Green says scammers are expanding their efforts in the Atlantic and Cass County area, and are threatening their potential victims by saying there is a warrant for their arrest, and if you don’t pay delinquent taxes immediately, the police will pick you up and take you to jail.

In some cases, scammers give you a case number to speak with an agent, and ask you to call back for more information. These calls are not from the IRS and you should not give personal information of any kind over the phone. Be sure your elderly friends and relatives are aware of this scam, because the elderly are often targets for the scammers.

According to the IRS official website, the IRS will never:
Call to demand immediate payment over the phone, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you several bills.
Call or email you to verify your identity by asking for personal and financial information.
Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone or e-mail.
Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money or to verify your identity, here’s what you should do:
If you don’t owe taxes, or have no reason to think that you do:
Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
• Contact TIGTA (the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration) to report the call. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page. You can also call 800-366-4484.
• Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
If you know you owe, or think you may owe tax:
• Call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you.

Atlantic man arrested on drug and weapon charges


April 12th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Sheriff’s Office says an Atlantic man was arrested Monday on drugs and weapon charges. 30-year old Albert Alexander Johnson, of Atlantic, was arrested for being a Felon in Possession of Firearm/Ammo (a Class-D Felony), two felony counts of Drug Tax Stamp Violation, two counts of Possession with Intent to Deliver, one count of Prohibited Acts, one count of Possession without Prescription, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

Also arrested on drug charges, Monday, was 19-year old Olivia Lea Klenda, of Atlantic. She was charged with Prohibited Acts and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Johnson and Klenda were taken to the Cass County Jail, where Johnson remains held on $14,000 bond, and Klenda was released Tuesday )Today), on her own recognizance.

And, Cass County Sheriff’s deputies, Monday, arrested 23-year old Alexander Robert Brooks, of Atlantic, on a charge of Criminal Mischief 2nd Degree. Brooks was taken to the Cass County Jail where his release was pending.