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It wasn’t Santa and his reindeer….

News

December 25th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Authorities across the Midwest were investigating reports Thursday of a brief, bright light streaking across the early morning sky. The Omaha World-Herald and Associated Press report the quick-hit light show around 1:30-a.m. Thursday was seen in western Iowa and eastern Nebraska, including the Omaha area and around Columbus and Waverly, NE.

The streaking light reportedly was seen from parts of Kansas and points north to locations east of the Omaha area as far away as Illinois. No explanation was immediately forthcoming.

Tuesday night, the body of a Russian rocket that burned up as it entered the Earth’s atmosphere set off a wave of excitement on social media and fueled speculation over what caused the flash of light in the western U.S.

U.S. Strategic Command spokeswoman Julie Ziegenhorn said the fireball that seen over Arizona, Nevada and California was an SL-4 rocket body booster from Russia that launched Monday.

 

Heating fuel costs down

News

December 25th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

As the state heads into the heart of winter, the cost of heating fuels remain low. Iowa Department of Agriculture fuels analyst, Harold Hommes says the most common heating fuel — natural gas — was one-dollar, 65 cents last week and is still one-dollar, 75 cents in the latest survey. “I don’t know the last time I saw it that far under two dollars, it’s been a decade or so, and nat gas has been especially hard hit,” Hommes says.

He says propane prices have also been flat. The latest report had propane averaging 99 cents a gallon. Propane prices can sometimes move up as heaters turn on. “We haven’t seen the usual winter bump, but I think that’s because there’s ample supplies in place. And now I think some of the retailers and wholesalers are concerned about moving that propane,” according to Hommes. Hommes says the low prices are something that’s not isolated to heating fuels.

He says it’s an overall soft commodity market, whether it be ag commodities of livestock, grains, or mines and minerals, energy. “It just seems like the commodity markets are going through a fairly soft period in a pretty significant way. These are pretty serious price levels that we just haven’t seen in some time on the energy front,” Hommes says. The soft energy market is good news Iowans when it comes to heating homes and businesses, as they lead to lower monthly bills.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa DOT goes paperless with construction contracts

News

December 25th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Department of Transportation pays hundreds of millions of dollars to the contractors working on Iowa’s roads and bridges. D-O-T director Paul Trombino says his agency is managing all the “paperwork” for the projects — without paper. “All of our contract documents are done electronically, including signatures with the industry,” he says. Trambino calls the “paperless” project “Doc Express”.

“It’s really grown,” Trombino says. “We actually have a lot of states that are really looking to copy our process with this electronic document and we’re really sort of leading that edge from a national perspective.” The Iowa D-O-T has a five-year, three-point-two BILLION dollar construction budget, with designs for hundreds of projects. Contractors and subcontractors are logging onto the D-O-T’s “Doc Express” website to submit all the information about the projects. There’s an instructional video to explain the process.

An electronic record is created for all contracts and any changes that are made. Officials say “Doc Express” helps avoid having paperwork lost or damaged on the worksite, plus contractors AND state officials can easily sort the electronic documents to quickly find what they need. “Doc Express” is configured for use on smart phones, tablets or laptops, so contractors can refer to documents and make adjustments in the field.

(Radio Iowa)

Accident in Council Bluffs? Take down the info. & exchange it – P-D too busy

News

December 24th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

(Update from 9:25-p.m.: Bluffs Police said at that time they were getting caught-up on reports and responding to accidents as usual.)

The Council Bluffs Police Department Thursday evening issued a statement say “Due to a large number of crashes this evening, [they] will only be responding to crashes blocking the roadway or injury crashes. If anyone is involved in a minor property damage crash, please move to a safe location and exchange information. Contact police after the storm has been cleaned up.”

“Remember that crashes need to be reported to the agency where the crash occurred. We anticipate responding to all crashes later in the evening. Thank you for your assistance. Information to exchange: Names, addresses, drivers’ license number, vehicle make, model, license plate, and insurance information.”

Harlan Police report, 12/24/15

News

December 24th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The Harlan Police Department today (Thursday), released a report on recent arrests. Officials say on Dec. 18th, officers with the Harlan P-D arrested 29-year old Erik Romero, of Harlan, following a traffic stop. Romero was transported to the Shelby County Jail where he was charged with driving while barred. And, on Dec. 17th, Harlan Police arrested 53-year old Dale Noll, of Harlan, at his residence. Noll was taken into custody on an active Shelby County warrant for violation of probation.

Harlan Police also investigated accidents that took place on Dec. 3rd and 21st, neither of which resulted in injury. Drivers involved in the separate collisions included: Betty Specht, of Westphalia & Jeremy Walker, of Harlan; Faye Jacobsen, of Harlan, & Jamie Lee, of Avoca. Damage from the crashes amounted to $4,500 altogether. Only one of the drivers was cited: Betty Specht, of Westphalia, was cited following the Dec. 3rd crash at Chatburn Ave and College Place, for failure to stop in an assured clear distance.

Sunnyside Park gates closed for the season

Ag/Outdoor, News

December 24th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The gates to Sunnyside Park in Atlantic have closed for the season. Atlantic Parks and Recreation Department Director Roger Herring said the gates were closed as of 4-p.m. today (Thursday), and will remain closed through the Winter, due to slippery and snow-packed roads. Herring advises you to plan an alternate route around the park if you are traveling in the area.

Iowa police: Officer fired gun while practicing ‘quick draw’

News

December 24th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Des Moines police say an officer accidentally fired his gun while practicing his “quick draw.” A police report says Officer Brady Pratt “unknowingly” had his finger on the trigger when he drew his gun from his holster, and he fired a round Wednesday inside an office at the Des Moines airport. The bullet hit a ceiling tile above a door before it landed in a ceiling tile in the hallway. No one was hurt.

The 23-year-old officer reported the incident to his supervisor. Sgt. Paul Parizek, a spokesman for the department, says the incident will be reviewed and discipline is possible. The Des Moines Register reports Pratt joined the department in 2013.

Iowa State Patrol mum on use of force that injured suspect

News

December 24th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A trooper used force at the end of a pursuit that left an unarmed suspect injured, but the Iowa State Patrol is withholding the video and other details. The trooper responded to a June 21 pursuit of Shanne Arre, who fled when police tried to stop him for speeding in northwest Iowa’s Plymouth County.

Arre wrecked his car, fled on foot and was arrested. He’s scheduled to face trial Jan. 12 for operating while intoxicated and eluding. The Iowa State Patrol released an unsigned “use of force” report in response to an Associated Press request. The report says a trooper used force after Arre showed “passive resistance.”

The report categorized the force as a “rifle drawn,” saying it was effective and left Arre with a visible injury. The patrol refused to elaborate.

 

Weather officials: Snow expected through this evening in parts of Nebraska, Iowa

News

December 24th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Several inches of snow are expected in parts of Nebraska and Iowa on Christmas Eve. The National Weather Service says snow will fall this (Thursday) afternoon in eastern Nebraska and western and central Iowa. Up to 6 inches is expected in Lincoln and Omaha as well as neighboring Council Bluffs. Additional snow is expected Friday in parts of northwest Nebraska.

Officials warn drivers that freezing rain will create slippery roads and worsen travel visibility. The weather is a stark contrast to other parts of the country. In the South, spring-like storms mixed with unseasonably warm weather have been linked to at least seven deaths. From Alabama to New York, much of the country had unusually warm temperatures in the 70s on Christmas Eve.

Only a few days remain to make donations for the 2015 tax year

News

December 24th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

It may be the “season of giving,” but the days left in December are dwindling and Iowans who need to make charitable contributions before the new year arrives to help their tax picture need to get moving. I-R-S spokesman Christopher Miller says if you plan to make a year-end gift to charity, several important tax laws have changed in recent years. First, you need proof you made the donation.

“Get a written record of the transaction,” Miller says.Logo_of_the_Internal_Revenue_Service.svg “That can be a cancelled check, a bank or credit card statement, or a letter or reciept from the organization. That receipt or bank record allows you to prove the donation if a question ever does arise with the IRS.” Many Iowans will make an effort during December to sort through some of the things that have collected in their houses and closets during the past year, from linens to electronics to furniture.

“If you’re making a donation of clothing or items from around the house, which a lot of us do,” Miller says, “that needs to be in good used condition or better in order to qualify for a deduction.” Donors need written acknowledgement from the charity for all gifts worth $250 or more. It must include, among other things, a description of the items contributed. Some Iowans will decide they have an extra vehicle in the garage or perhaps a watercraft in storage that they just don’t use or need anymore.

“Special rules apply for donating a car or a boat,” Miller says. “You’re generally going to be limited in the deduction for how much that item sells for. The organizations that accept cars or boats are aware of these new rules and they’ll be ready to give you this information.” For payroll deductions, the taxpayer needs to keep a pay stub, a Form W-2 wage statement or other proof from the employer showing the total amount withheld for charity, along with the pledge card showing the charity’s name.

Contributions are deductible in the year they’re made, so, donations charged to a credit card before the end of 2015 count for 2015, even if the credit card bill isn’t paid until 2016. Also, checks count for 2015 as long as they are mailed in 2015. Only taxpayers who itemize their deductions on Form 1040 Schedule A can claim deductions for charitable contributions. That deduction is not available to Iowans who choose the standard deduction, including anyone who uses the short form, like Form 1040-A or 1040-E-Z.

Find more tips at www.irs.gov.

(Radio Iowa)