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Attorney general to distribute $43 million to Iowans scammed in “buying clubs”

News

November 29th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller says the state is getting over 40 million dollars in settlements with companies that used “deceptive practices” to enroll consumers in discount and membership buying clubs. “People are cheated out of small amounts of money many, many times,” Miller says.  Miller argues most consumers had no idea they’d been signed up for the clubs after an unrelated transaction with a bank or retailer. Miller says the companies marketed the buying club memberships as free, 30-day trial offers.

“Forty-five days go by, you get the bill and there’s $8 on there,” Miller says. “You think: ‘Well, I don’t remember that, but it’s only $8.’ And again, they focus group it and see what the breaking point is of people not checking — large numbers of people, that is — might be $8 or $10, so you leave it on there and it’s on there for a few months, maybe a year.” Miller’s prosecuting team estimated Americans lost about two-billion dollars a year in these kind of “buying club” schemes.

“And Iowa’s one percent of the population, so we estimated that Iowans lost $20 million a year, so we sued Vertrue, the largest of these companies,” Miller says. After two trials in Polk County District Court, the State of Iowa won — and the court in 2011 ordered the company to pay 28 million dollars. The company appealed the case to the Iowa Supreme Court — which required posting a 32-million dollar bond. Miller says the company filed for bankruptcy before the Supreme Court issued its ruling this past summer.

“The Supreme Court then found for us on basically all the issues, increased the judgment to $40 million,” Miller says. “We won’t get the $40 (million), but we’ll get $32 million that’s on a bond through an insurance company and because we were successful on this case we were able to settle with the other (buying club) operators for another $11 million, so it’s about $43 million that we, over the next year, will be distributing to Iowans.” Companies like Vertrue run multiple discount clubs that offer credit monitoring, discounts on travel and even roadside assistance for a monthly fee.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa News Headlines: Fri., Nov. 29th 2013

News

November 29th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press…

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Iowa City schools soon will begin using a new scanning system to check the identification of visitors. The City Press-Citizen says the Iowa City Community School District has spent about $600 at each school to install the Raptor visitor management system.

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa judge increased a teenage girl’s bond to $500,000 after her murder case was moved to adult court. KCRG reports the 16-year-old girl’s bond was increased on Wednesday. Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden the change was warranted because of the severity of the crime. The Associated Press typically doesn’t identify juveniles charged with crimes.

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — A 22-year-old man convicted of shooting a Sioux City police officer has pleaded not guilty to federal robbery charges in a separate case. Jamal Dean entered his pleas Wednesday to robbery, conspiracy and other charges. Authorities say Dean, his brother, Levon Dean, and Sarah Berg of Sioux City were involved in the gunpoint robbery at a Sioux City home in April. A few days later Dean shot and wounded Sioux City Officer Kevin McCormick during a traffic stop.

CLEAR LAKE, Iowa (AP) — Firefighters donned rescue suits and ice cleats to help two deer that had been stranded on slippery Clear Lake in northern Iowa. The Clear Lake Fire Department was notified around 2:15 p.m. Wednesday that the animals were floundering about 400 yards from shore before being rescued.

8AM Newscast 11-28-2013

News, Podcasts

November 28th, 2013 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson

Play

Iowan who shot officer pleads not guilty in heist

News

November 28th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) – A 22-year-old man convicted of shooting a Sioux City police officer has pleaded not guilty to federal robbery charges in a separate case.  Jamal Dean entered his pleas on Wednesday to robbery, conspiracy and other charges. Authorities say Dean, his brother, Levon Dean, and Sarah Berg, of Sioux City, were involved in the gunpoint robbery at a Sioux City home in April.

A few days later Dean shot Sioux City Officer Kevin McCormick during a traffic stop. McCormick returned to work two weeks later. Dean was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison. Levon Dean and Berg also have pleaded not guilty. The trial for all three is scheduled to begin Feb. 3rd.

Lighting ceremony set for Friday in Harlan

News

November 28th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The City of Harlan is welcoming a return to an old tradition to the holiday season. The downtown square of Harlan will host a lighting ceremony on Friday evening to boost the holiday spirits. Shelby County Auditor Marsha Carter says the lighting ceremony has been a joint effort. The city of Harlan was looking at new Christmas lights and then the more conversations we had, we kind of threw it out to have the animated lights. It started out as wouldn’t it be fun? And everyone jumped on the idea. I made the comment in initial meetings, I have never seen a project where the county, the city and HMU and everyone involved was so excited about on project. It has been a lot of fun putting it together.”

Off Kilter Media out of Harlan is actually programming the lights for the ceremony on Friday along with crews from Harlan Municipal Utilities. The Hotel/Motel Tax Committee has also played a big role as they donated funding for the project. Carter says she hopes that this is the start to bring the old tradition back to Harlan. “We always referred to it as Christmas City a lot when we were kids and that’s what this is all about, to try and get the Christmas City idea back to Harlan.”

The whole event starts on Friday at 5pm in downtown Harlan. Carter says “Santa will arrive on the Fire Engine. We plan to have Christmas Carolers up here. There will be coffee, hot chocolate and Christmas cookies. If everything works, weather wise, we are going to set up three fire pits out on the south side of the square to roast marshmallows. Santa will turn the lights on sometime between 5 and 5:15pm.”

Horse and buggy rides will be provided to families during the ceremony and some of the businesses around the square will be open later to get some holiday shopping completed. Carter says the lighting on the square will not be designated to one night either. She says  “The shows will be done every night through Christmas until 10pm. It will play so many songs and then shut off for a few minutes and start again. I wanted everyone to know we will do Christmas music through Christmas Day and then starting December 26th through New Year’s we will do a salute to the troops. So there will be military music playing.”

The festivities on the square Friday will wrap up around 7pm but the lights will stay on until 10.

(Joel McCall/KNOD)

All by yourself for Thanksgiving? Don’t be bummed. Get moving!

News

November 28th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Just because you’re alone on Thanksgiving doesn’t mean you have to be lonely. While many Iowans will be spending the day with family and friends, many others will be making alternative plans. Beverly Flaxington, a therapist and human behavior coach, says Iowans can stave off the holiday blues by finding positive ways to occupy their time — like volunteering. “For many people who are alone, for example, they go to a homeless shelter, they may go to a nursing home where people don’t have families themselves and visit people there,” Flaxington says. “They may belong to a church or a synagogue and be able to participate there.”

Flaxington says don’t let the Thanksgiving funk snowball, as everyone has to be alone at one point or another. Her best advice on how to get through the holiday season is to not let all the hype get larger than life.  “We create this painful cycle for ourselves, so it’s very important to catch that in action and make a decision that says, this too shall pass, I’m going to find something else I’d like to do today,” Flaxington says.

That could include going to a movie, reading a book or going shopping, either online or in person. While it’s pretty hard to avoid all of the holiday hoopla, don’t fall into self pity, get upset and catch a bad case of the blues. “It’s really taking those same facts and saying, ‘Yes, it’s Thanksgiving and I’m alone, but it’s any other day of the year. Tomorrow, I’m going to wake up and it won’t be Thanksgiving and I’m going to make different choices today,'” she says.

It’s not looking at the world through rose-colored glasses but instead, she says, filtering the same information in a new way to bring a more positive outlook. If you’re having an extreme case of the blues, Flaxington recommends talking about it with a doctor or a professional therapist.

(Radio Iowa)

7AM Newscast 11-28-2013

News, Podcasts

November 28th, 2013 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson

Play

Food safety important on Thanksgiving

News

November 28th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – Experts say practicing good food safety is important to a successful Thanksgiving. The Nebraska Regional Poison Center says taking proper precautions can help ensure that no one gets sick at your holiday gatherings.  It’s important to use a meat thermometer to make sure the turkey and any other meat dishes reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. That ensures any bacteria is killed.
Other tips include:

  •       Don’t leave perishable food out at room temperature for more than two hours.
  •       Refrigerate any leftover turkey and use it within four days.
  •      Make sure anyone helping in the kitchen washes their hands.
  •      The Poison Center can answer other food safety questions at 1-800-222-1222.

 

Red Oak woman arrested following accident investigation

News

November 28th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Sheriff’s officials in Montgomery County arrested the driver of an SUV that was involved in an accident Wednesday night. Deputies responded to a single-vehicle non-injury accident at 210th and T Avenue, at around 7-p.m.  Upon arrival, they found a 2002 Ford Escape driven by 42-year old Brenda Lyn Walter, of Red Oak.

Officials say following an investigation, the woman was arrested for OWI and on two-counts of Child Endangerment. Walter was being held in the Montgomery County Jail on $2,000 bond. A passenger in the SUV, James Castillo, was cited for Open Container, and littering.

2 arrests in Red Oak overnight

News

November 28th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Police in Red Oak say two separate arrests occurred late Wednesday night and early this (Thursday) morning. Officials say 53-year old Dennis Edward Elliott, of Red Oak, was arrested in the 400 block of East Coolbaugh Street at around 9:35-p.m. Wednesday, on an active Montgomery County warrant for Public Intoxication. Elliott was booked into the Montgomery County Law Enforcement Center.

Early this (Thursday) morning, 36-year old Tracey Lynn Ballinger, of Clarinda, was arrested in Red Oak in the 200 block of East Market Street. Ballinger was charged with OWI and Criminal Mischief in the 4th degree. Her bond was set at $1,000.