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Jackpot fever hits for Powerball and Mega Millions

News

May 17th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Powerball jackpot has pushed to an estimated 550-million dollars after no winning tickets were sold for Wednesday’s drawing. Iowa Lottery spokesperson, Mary Neubauer, says a number that big grabs everyone’s attention. “When the jackpot gets to this level, it just becomes that thing that everybody’s talking about. Everybody wants a shot at it, so now we see not only regular players buying tickets, but occasional players and first-time players jumping in,” Neubauer says. A record Powerball jackpot of 587-million dollars was won in November. Neubauer says the switch from a one-dollar to a two-dollar ticket for Powerball has helped create bigger jackpots more often.

“It’s all designed to keep delivering those big jackpots, but also the chance to win other sizable prizes as well,” according to Neubauer. “So, we’re always looking at ways to maybe tweak the game and change the game to make it better, because over time people don’t want the same old thing, they want the opportunity to try for something that is maybe a little different or new, so we’re always looking at that to see what we can do.” Another thing that’s helped push the jackpots up is the addition of California — the country’s most populated state — to the game. Neubauer says there’s a mistaken view that a bigger state has better odds of having the winning numbers.

“I’ve heard some people saying ‘Oh well now that that California is in we don’t stand a chance, nobody else is ever going to win,’ but in fact the odds in Powerball haven’t change. The odds of winning the jackpot are still the same now that were before California is in,” Neubauer says. “And it goes back to that concept of why Powerball started in the first place. With with more states playing the game, the jackpot grows more quickly, and gets bigger faster. And that’s ultimately what people want from Powerball.” Not only is the Powerball jackpot growing, the Mega Millions jackpot is an estimated 190-million dollars for tonight’s (Friday) drawing at 10 o’clock. Iowa is one of the state’s that sells both games and Neubauer says the results are showing they aren’t competing against each other.

She says the old saying that “a rising tide floats all boats” is what they are seeing with the Powerball and Mega Millions jackpots. If you beat all the odds and picked the winning numbers for both games, you’d win and estimated combined jackpot of just over 746-million dollars. Neubauer cautions that you should be reasonable. “It just takes one ticket to win, you don’t have to buy two, five, 10, you just have to buy one to get in on the fun. Don’t count on winning, just do it for fun,” she advises. Neubauer says the fun is dreaming what you might do with the money if you do win. The Mega Millions drawing is tonight. The next Powerball drawing is 9:59 p-m on Saturday. In Iowa, you can buy a ticket for Saturday’s drawing up until 8:59 p-m that day.

(Radio Iowa)

Severe storms still possible Sunday

News, Weather

May 17th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The National Weather Service is still cautioning residents about the likelihood of severe storms this weekend. Scattered thunderstorms are possible across northern Iowa today before ending this evening. A few storms may produce locally heavy rainfall. Saturday will be mild and dry with highs in the 80s. Thunderstorm chances return by Saturday night with a few severe storms possible.

The greatest threat for severe weather arrives on Sunday as low pressure lifts into eastern Nebraska and west central Iowa. Severe storms are likely to occur across the state, especially during the afternoon and evening. A few storms may produce very large hail and tornadoes along with a damaging wind threat.

Stay up to date and informed with future forecast regarding the severe weather potential on Sunday! Thunderstorm chances will continue on Monday with a few severe storms possible again.

Missing Council Bluffs boy found

News

May 17th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Police in Council Bluff reported late Thursday night, that a boy who went missing earlier that afternoon, was found in Council Bluffs.

Ricky Lee Komor, Jr.

11-year old Ricky Lee Komor, Jr.,  was taken into custody and brought to a local hospital for a welfare check, only. He was not injured.

Authorities says the boy left his home around 4 p.m. Thursday and made a comment about possibly harming himself. Police said Komor had also told his friends about trying to walk to Carter Lake to find his father.

Big spike in gas prices in Iowa

News

May 17th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Gas prices in Iowa have increased around 20-cents a gallon in the last 24 hours. Gail Weinholzer, spokesperson for Triple-A (AAA) Iowa, said Thursday that unleaded regular fuel is averaging $3.76 a gallon statewide. “That is 16-cents more than the national average and 23-cents higher than this day last year,” Weinholzer says. Iowa normally has gas prices well below the national average. The sudden rise in gasoline prices across the Upper Midwest is blamed on the closing of two refineries for major repairs.

Weinholzer says the two closed refineries are located near Chicago and are among the biggest in the U.S. One is owned by BP and the other by Exxon Mobile. The refineries are not expected to restart operations until after Memorial Day. “We probably won’t see price relief until the middle of June at the earliest and perhaps as late as the Fourth of July,” Weinholzer says. “Once a refinery restarts, it takes a while for them to ramp up production.” It’s not unusual for a refinery to schedule maintenance during the spring or fall switch to new blends of gas, according to Weinholzer.

“What is irregular is that two refineries would close for such an extended period of time,” Weinholzer says. “However, you have to keep in mind that they are owned by two different companies so they don’t sit down, put their calendars side by side, and decide when their respective refineries need to have their maintenance work done.” Because the refineries are both located in the Chicago area, the price spike in limited to Iowa and surrounding states.

“In fact, of the top 10 states in the country for average price, six to seven of them are in the Upper Midwest and Upper Great Lakes region,” Weinholzer says. She expects gas prices in Iowa will climb even higher by today (Friday). But, Weinholzer believes prices will remain below $4 a gallon.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa early News headlines: Fri., May 17th 2013

News

May 17th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

PLEASANT HILL, Iowa (AP) — A high school senior in central Iowa has been accused of lighting a smoke bomb in a school bathroom. Jason Boothroyd was arrested yesterday after firefighters were dispatched to Southeast Polk High School in Pleasant Hill, outside of Des Moines. The entire school was evacuated.

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — Officials are investigating what may have caused 45 students at a Sioux City elementary school to get sick with a gastrointestinal illness. A Sioux City school district spokeswoman says the students from Bryant Elementary either called in sick yesterday or were sent home early. Three staff members also called in sick. Siouxland District Health is investigating what may have caused the illness.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa lawmakers have reached a spending compromise for Iowa’s public universities and other education programs. The state House and Senate approved the $897 million higher education budget yesterday evening. It’s a compromise including enough money to freeze in-state tuition at the state universities. The legislation now goes to Governor Terry Branstad.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An effort to maintain a tax break for ethanol blended fuel has won state Senate approval. The Iowa Senate yesterday backed a bill that would extend a tax break for fuel that includes ethanol and gasoline for another year. Currently, ethanol blends are taxed at 20 cents a gallon and pure petroleum is taxed at 22 cents a gallon. Those numbers include a 1 cent environmental fee.

More details on Thursday accident in Atlantic

News

May 16th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic Police Department Thursday afternoon released additional details about an accident which occurred at around 9-a.m., Thursday. Officials say Beth McDermott and Belinda Morris, both of Atlantic, were transported to the Cass County Memorial Hospital following the crash on east 7th Street, between the Walmart and Super 8 Hotel. Both women’s injuries were not considered to be life threatening.

Authorities say Morris’ vehicle was traveling east on Highway 6 (7th Street), and had proceeded to turn left into the Super 8 driveway, when she was hit by the westbound McDermott vehicle. Morris was issued a citation for failure to yield when making a left turn. Damage from the crash amounted to $20,000.

(Update) – Improper installation caused lights to fall on AMS students

News

May 16th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Three students attending the Atlantic Middle School were injured Wednesday, when a light fixture in a recently renovated classroom fell. Superintendent Dr. Michael Amstine said he received word about the incident happening in the third floor classroom, at around 9-a.m. Wednesday, from AMS Principal Cam Smith. He said two students suffered from scratches, while another had a bump on the head. The trio were treated by the school nurse. One student was subsequently transported to the Cass County Memorial Hospital in Atlantic, for additional examination and treatment. The classroom and two others with similar light fixtures were evacuated while the general contractor and architect were contacted.

Amstine said an initial examination revealed the fixtures weren’t properly installed to specifications. He says the contractor made sure the problems were corrected Wednesday afternoon. Amstine says the contractor’s insurance is expected to handle any medical or property damages. The fixture that fell, was in four sections, and fell in a type of “Domino effect,” according to Amstine. He said it’s not the type of thing one expects to happen after an expensive renovation project has taken place.

The incident was a first for Amstine, as far as school renovation and construction projects are concerned. The Superintendent says he’s just glad no one was seriously injured, because the potential was there for it to “Have ended that way.”

Cass County Family Crisis Support Center to stay open despite funding cuts

News

May 16th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Small domestic abuse shelters throughout Iowa are scrambling to remain open amid changes by state officials that will mean a loss of funding. The state attorney general’s office last week notified 12 shelters…including the Family Crisis Support Network in Atlantic, which serves six counties in the area…that they no longer will receive state money. It’s part of an effort to more effectively spend the dwindling funding that’s available. The state will instead, devote the money to eight larger shelters, which can deliver more extensive services to victims. Wendy Richter, Executive Director of the FCSN in Atlantic, says the loss of roughly $240,000 in several funding streams from the Crime Victim Assistance Division is “Very disappointing,” but no decisions have been made on the future of the facility because that is not dictated by the State.  She says because they own their own shelter, so the decision will be made locally as to its future. If they keep it up and running, it would not specifically be geared toward domestic violence, but for now, nothing will change.

Richter says the FCSN’s Board of Directors will be meeting several times in the next few weeks to determine what the best options are. She says some of the options include continuing serving in the current capacity, including what should be done with the outreach offices in Red Oak and Harlan. Council Bluffs had earlier been approved to cover the service area that the FCSN serves, so if the organization wishes to continue serving in its current capacity, they will be going against State guidelines. Richter says tremendous community support in the past has enabled the shelter to remain open, and for them to set aside funds to continue operations through the end of the current fiscal year.

She says they were able to put funds into a “Rainy day account,” and they are viewing the cuts from the State as a “Rainy day” situation. She says if possible, they would like to use their own funds, plus any local support that is received, to maintain the shelter aspect of the facility. The State says shelters are a huge expense, and not want victims of domestic violence need. Richter agrees, to an extent. She says shelter is the least utilized aspect of family crisis services, because “No Contact” orders allow people to stay in their own homes and stay protected. She says it’s not until the situation becomes serious, that people come into the shelter. Richter says “The need is there,” but it is the most expensive service they offer, “Just because of all the red tape that goes along with having a shelter.”

Janelle Melohn, of the attorney general’s office, says the changes are needed to more effectively help victims at a time when federal funding passed through the state government has repeatedly dropped.

Resume is still important in job search

News

May 16th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Iowa is about to send a new crop of job-hunting high school and college graduates into the marketplace, and some will find success much faster than others. Susan McBroom, a vocational rehabilitation counselor in Urbandale, says the quality of your resume will quickly determine your odds of going from a job-seeker to someone’s newest employee. McBroom discusses the most common resume error. “People are not matching the resume to the job that they’re applying for,” McBroom says. “It’s really important that they match their skill sets to the position they’re applying to. If they don’t know their skill set, there’s a resource called O’Net Online that they can find each job broken down to the specific skill set.”

The address for that website is: www.onetonline.org. While a one-page resume was once the rule, McBroom says a two-page resume is now standard, but she says don’t go beyond two pages. “It takes a recruiter about 15 seconds to look through a resume,” McBroom says. “What I tell new grads is to be sure that if you don’t have a long work history, put things in there that would be internships, big projects, things like that.”

About 90-percent of employers now hire electronically, so having an e-resume that can be attached to an email cover letter is a must. Resumes need to be kept simple, using plain lettering and nothing fancy. Despite the economic downturn of the past few years, McBroom is optimistic about the job market, adding, it’s excellent if you’re looking for positions in the medical field. “Anything in nursing, certified medical assistant, medication aid, psych aid, and the last two don’t require a four-year degree,” McBroom says. “The job market is getting better. The unemployment rate for ages 19 to 24 is about 12% but that does include new graduates so, it’s really important to have a perfect resume out there.”

Iowa’s jobless rate is about five-percent, well below the national jobless rate of about seven-and-a-half percent. Being aggressive is key. Many ads say “no calls” but she says to call anyway, a week after you send your resume, just to see if they got it or have any questions. While social media sites are popular, McBroom doesn’t recommend being on one unless it’s private and visible by only a limited number of people. If you’re on Facebook or Twitter, she says: “Be careful what you put out there. Employers do research social media. If possible, set your Facebook to private. Keep in mind, others may access information from it.”

(Radio Iowa)

Injury accident in Atlantic

News

May 16th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Atlantic Fire and Rescue and Medivac Ambulance have responded to the scene of a personal injury accident this morning near the Wal-Mart store. The Cass County Communications Center said the crash between a pickup and a van happened at around 8:55-a.m. on 7th Street, at the stop-lights in between the Wal-Mart and Atlantic Super 8 motel.

One person, described as a middle-aged female, suffered head injuries. She was not wearing a seat belt. Officials say her vehicle’s airbags did deploy upon impact. Additional details are currently not available.