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Iowa City preps for big day

News, Sports

November 22nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – Officials in Iowa City are hoping to capitalize on the combination of the Iowa-Nebraska football game and the traditional post-Thanksgiving shopping frenzy to show off downtown.  The Iowa City Press-Citizen says city officials embarked on a marketing push around Friday’s activities that included social media and advertising in the Omaha market.

George Etre, a member of the Iowa City Downtown District marketing committee, says many downtown business owners are anticipating high foot traffic on Friday.  But Etre says the overall effectiveness and impact on downtown businesses is hard to predict.

The Hawkeyes are hosting nearby Nebraska for the first time in 13 years. You can catch the game Friday on KJAN, starting with the pre-game show at 9-a.m.  Kick-off is at 11.

Food banks report dip in donations, increase in demand

News

November 22nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Many Iowa food banks are struggling to keep their pantries stocked as there’s been an increase in demand for their services at the same donations have dropped off. Brian Barks is spokesperson for Food Bank for the Heartland in Omaha, which provides services to 16 counties in western Iowa and 77 counties in Nebraska.  “Right now, our inventory is as low as I’ve seen it leading up to Thanksgiving,” Barks said. “It’s just been a real tough struggle getting food in our doors. Unfortunately, what we’re having to do is spend a lot more money buying food in order to help those who need it.”

During the last fiscal year, the Food Bank for the Heartland purchased about 16-percent of its inventory. This year, 31-percent of the food they distribute is purchased. Compounding the problem is rising food prices. Barks notes one of their most distributed items is peanut butter. “What we’ve seen, year to date, is a 12-percent increase in the price of peanut butter. That speaks to the fact of how much more food we are having to purchase to keep our inventory at a reasonably adequate level,” Barks said. Although the economy and unemployment rate have been improving, charity providers are seeing more customers.

“What we are finding is there are a lot of people who have gotten back into the job market, but they’re not making the income that they were when they lost their job. So, they’re having to make up that gap somewhere,” Barks said. In 2011, the Food Bank for the Heartland distributed ten-million pounds of food. That marked a 10% increase from 2009.

(Radio Iowa)

ODCP director expecting to find more marijuana from Colorado in Iowa

News

November 22nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Law enforcement officers are expecting to see more marijuana trafficking in Iowa following the decriminalization of the drug in states like Colorado and Washington. Iowa Office of Drug Control Policy Director Steve Lukan says marijuana use in Iowa in on the rise, in part, because more shipments are arriving from out of state. “Any time you see increased access and increased supply, you’re going to see an increase in abuse as well. So, we have some real concerns about that trend,” Lukan said. A report released earlier this month shows marijuana manufacturing, distribution and use are increasing in Iowa. Just over 26-percent of all Iowans screened or admitted for drug treatment last year said marijuana was their primary substance of abuse.

In Colorado, it is now legal for anyone 21 or older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana. It’s also legally sold and taxed at state-licensed stores. “One of the things people are looking at real closely right now is how Colorado is going to rectify itself with the federal government,” Lukan said. “We do have the Controlled Substances Act at the federal level, which would still keep marijuana a Schedule One drug. I think there’s going to have to be some reconciliation between state law and the federal government on how that will proceed. That will answer a lot of those questions.”

State Representative Bruce Hunter, a Democrat from Des Moines, recently stated he would introduce a bill that would decriminalize pot possession as long as those caught with it aren’t selling it. Other Iowa lawmakers have expressed support for a medical marijuana measure. However, both bills would like face tough opposition in the legislature next year and Governor Branstad has said he would veto any bill that would legalize marijuana in any capacity.

(Radio Iowa)

Very few, intact “earthlodges” left in western Iowa

News

November 22nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The preservation of hundreds of historic homes in western Iowa has largely been left to amateurs and volunteers, but the National Park Service is now getting involved in protecting one historic site in Mills County. “The Davis Oriole Earthlodge Site” near Pacific Junction was declared a National Historic Landmark last month. It was discovered in the 1960s by “D.D.” Davis of Glenwood. Dennis Miller of Silver City knew Davis. “Mr. Davis was a renowned hunter and collector,” Miller says. “He spent a lot of time on Pony Creek.” The site used to be in a pasture, but that farm ground is now part of Pony Creek Park and the “earthlodge” that was built a thousand years ago is hidden under several feet of soil.

Miller says there are hundreds of similar “earthlodges” in western Iowa which were home to Native Americans between the years of 900 and 13-hundred. “I’ve discovered quite a few over the years,” he says. “There’s a lot of them right around the Glenwood area, mostly north and west of Glenwood on the bluffs overlooking the Missouri River flood plain and along Pony Creek.” According to Miller, “hundreds” of earthlodges have been recorded in the Loess Hills. “Quite a few of them excavated, some by the state, (some) by the Smithsonian,” Miller says. “In years past a lot of amateurs excavated sites. Most of the amateurs were like D.D. Davis or Paul Rowe…They didn’t sell the material. They just liked to collect it.”

Miller says it’s good to have National Park Service involved in coming up with a protection plan for the historic “earthlodge” that earned Historic Landmark status in October. “There’s hundreds of them been found, but a lot of them have been excavated (or) destroyed by roads and farming, so there’s very few intact sites left,” Miller says. The intact “earthlodge” near Pacific Junction that’s now a National Historic Landmark sits under a few feet of soil right now. “D.D.” Davis — the man who discovered that “earthlodge” — helped construct an above-ground replica in Glenwood several years ago. It was recently rebuilt and remains on display across the street from the Mills County Museum.

(Radio Iowa)

8AM Newscast 11-22-2012

News, Podcasts

November 22nd, 2012 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson

Thrill of the sale fuels Black Friday holiday

News

November 22nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

An Iowa State University expert says “Black Friday” has become a “holiday” unto itself and it’s difficult for on-line retailers to compete. Ron Prescott — a small business and retail specialist for Iowa State University Extension, says there’s just something about standing in line for a bargain. “Some of these door-buster deals are really, really good and you just have a difficult time — Amazon or whoever — has a difficult time in matching that experience and it does come down to, in some cases, the experience,” Prescott says. “There’s just people who love to shop on Black Friday.”

Prescott expects participation in “Black Friday” events will be up this year, because people are more bargain conscious. “More and more, as we’ve seen since 2009, people are really trying to stretch their dollar and they’re using more coupons and they’re doing more comparative analysis on the internet,” Prescott says. “And so there’s a lot of folks that, before they go out and buy a big-ticket item, they’re going to spend some time researching.”

Prescott has predicted Iowa retailers will see a four percent increase in holiday sales this year compared to last, but he also says the “holiday sales” period has expanded, as a National Retail Federation survey found over 22 percent of Americans began their holiday shopping in October. “Really, a lot of the Christmas shopping, a lot of that Christmas budget, has been already spent,” Prescott says. “Some of us bemoan the fact that Christmas is getting longer and longer, but the fact of it is that consumers appreciate that in the long run, so they can stretch their dollars.”

The National Retail Federation estimates the average shopper will spend almost 750-dollars ($750) this holiday season.

Economist seeing more “buy local” behavior in Iowa

News

November 22nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

An Iowa State University economist is seeing indications that Iowans are shifting more of their shopping to their local communities. However, David Swenson says the “buy local” concept will only succeed if it goes beyond customer awareness. “It also involves an understanding within the business community that if I buy my inputs from your business and you buy your inputs from my business – all of our businesses and all of our community will do better,” Swenson said.

The buy local movement is nothing new. Swenson remembers seeing a “buy local” sign on a business in his hometown back in the 1960s. Swenson notes the overwhelming evidence shows most consumer spending in Iowa continues to be in large shopping centers and on the Internet. “But, over the…at least five years, we’ve seen an increased emphasis of small business promotion, buy local behavior. That all leads me to conclude that, yes indeed, we’re having, in selected areas, more buy local behavior and more buy local awareness,” Swenson said.

The money spent at local businesses will multiply more rapidly, according to Swenson, when all of the business owners buy into the concept. “If you have a community where you have a rich relationship with other businesses and you tend to buy your inputs, your legal services, your bookkeeping services or any number of services from folks right there in town, you’re going to have a richer social relationship – therefore, you’re going to have a richer economic relationship over time,” Swenson said.

At least two-thirds of Iowa’s communities are losing population, so Swenson notes the buy local movement is struggling in many areas of the state. Swenson made his comments on the Iowa Public Radio program “Talk of Iowa.”

(Radio Iowa)

With new technology comes new ways to exploit it and rip you off

News

November 22nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

A professional computer hacker who works for several Iowa companies testing their security says as technology advances, Iowans are at greater risk for identity theft. Pablos Holman says one primary line of defense is having good email passwords that use a variety of characters, numbers and symbols, making them much harder to hack. “If I can get into your email, then I can go to almost any website and click on ‘I forgot my password’ and they’ll email it to you,” Holman says. “Email is kind of the gatekeeper for everything. Now, people are accessing email from their phones all the time and don’t realize that basically gives an attacker access to everything.”

Holman recommends using what’s known as a “password manager” that allows you to have a different password for each website you use. It will synchronize passwords between your work and home computer, pad and phone and stores all that information in the cloud. Paying for gasoline using a credit card at the pump is convenient, but Holman says that could also be opening you up to a high-tech hacker. “A newer RFID credit card, paypass cards and blink cards — it’s possible to read the credit card number off them wirelessly,” he says. “Attackers can put an extra reader next to the pump and when people come by with their cards, they just collect numbers that way.” Holman says it may be wise to invest in an RFID-blocking wallet or to leave those cards at home and take them with you only when necessary.

Iowans should use passcodes on their smart phones, to keep them safer, longer, in case they’re stolen. He suggests another security precaution for our phones. “I’ve been using a privacy screen protector on my phone,” he says. “It’s really cool because it makes it so whoever is near you can’t see your screen, it just looks black. If someone is looking over your shoulder as you’re texting or checking your email, the person sitting next to me can’t see my screen.” He says 70-percent of mobile phone users don’t password-protect their phones. Also, 43-percent of Americans surveyed admit to glancing at a stranger’s mobile device. That number zooms to 66-percent for those between the ages of 18 and 24.

(Radio Iowa)

Cass Supervisors approve Housing project agreements

News

November 22nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Board of Supervisors, Wednesday, approved sub-recipient agreements for two housing projects in Woodbine. The County acts as a flow-through agency for the federally funded Walnut Street upper story apartment rehabilitation and Normal Street duplex/tri-plex construction project, administered by SWIPCO (The Southwest Iowa Planning Council).

The Supervisors also voted to approve the allowance or disallowance of Homestead Credit and Military Service Exemption claims for Fiscal Year 2013 taxes collectible in F.Y. 2014, in accordance with Iowa Code. The action is merely a procedural matter that occurs annually. And having received an Application for Disabled Veteran’s Homestead Tax Credit, the Board voted to allow the credit as presented.

The Cass County Board of Supervisor’s next meeting will take place Friday, November 30th.

7AM Newscast 11-22-2012

News, Podcasts

November 22nd, 2012 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson