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7AM Newscast 6-13-2012

News, Podcasts

June 13th, 2012 by admin

w/ Ric Hanson

Branstad wants state workers to share health costs

News

June 13th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Gov. Terry Branstad says he’ll propose during union negotiations that state employees pay 20 percent of their health care costs.   Branstad told The Des Moines Register on Tuesday that, “Everybody ought to have some skin in the game and ought to pay something toward health insurance.”   Iowa legislators and most state employees don’t share the cost of the insurance premiums.
 
Officials calculate that Branstad’s initiative could save the state almost $111 million a year.   State union leaders have said that not having to pay health care premiums is the employees’ trade-off for the lower pay in government jobs.

Iowa third in U.S. for per capita centenarians

News

June 13th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

More than 800 residents of Iowa are 100 years old or older and Iowa Department on Aging spokesperson Machelle Shaffer says that places the Hawkeye state third in the U.S. in terms of per capita number of centenarians.

photo from the 2011 Centenarian's recption

The Iowa Department of Aging will be honoring Iowans 100 years of age or older at a reception in Des Moines later this year. Shaffer says it’s interesting to hear from the centenarians about the secrets to a long life. “Nine times out of 10 they’ll say the same thing: ‘hard work.’ And a lot of it was hard work on a farm,” Shaffer says. “They talk about walking a lot and not having access to an automobile. So, that Midwestern/Iowa work ethic…is helping people live longer, healthier lives.” Centenarians are encouraged to contact the Iowa Department on Aging so they can be included on a registry and the invite list for 2012 Centenarian Honors Celebration reception. It’ll be held October 23 at the State Historical Building in Des Moines.

“We just want to encourage folks, if they know somebody who is 100 or will be turning 100 by the end of October, to give us a call at 1-800-532-3213,” Shaffer said. The reception on October 23 will be open to all of Iowa’s centenarians – both those new to the registry and those previously honored.

(Radio Iowa)

BBB warns about home improvement contractor

News

June 13th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Offficials with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Nebraska, South Dakota and southwest Iowa are warning consumers to be cautious if working with home improvement sales contractor Rick Warner. The BBB says it received a complaint from a consumer stating that she had signed three separate documents with a home improvement company located in Omaha, NE., to make repairs to her home and to replace a shed that had been damaged by hail. Rick Warner was the salesperson hired in August, 2011 as an independent sales contractor to handle arrangements and contracts with the company’s customers.

The consumer provided three documents to the BBB: a job summary and two contracts. According to the consumer, they were signed in the presence of Warner. Although the job summary included the provision of a new shed and specific home repairs needed, the home improvement company told the consumer that they do not sell sheds. The first contract, dated August 20, 2011 listed specific home repairs including windows and roofing. It also stated that the proceeds from the consumer’s insurance would be used for payment. A second contract, dated November 29, 2011 was a supplement for repairs to the home that were not covered by the consumer’s insurance. The consumer paid the company just over $3,887 for the contracts.

Because the replacement of a shed was not included in either contract, Warner said that he would provide the shed, and the consumer paid him a little more than $1,000 for it. To date, no shed has been delivered.Unfortunately, the consumer wasn’t the only one victimized by Warner. The company found out that Warner had charged $10,000 for building materials and was using the business’ name to acquire an additional $20,000. Warner was fired in November, 2011.
Previously, Rick Warner was known to the BBB in 1998 as president of Classic Renovations.  BBB records indicate that it went out of business in September, 2006 and the principals may have moved to Tennessee.  At this time, Warner’s whereabouts are unknown. There is currently a warrant for his arrest in Nebraska involving “Felony Theft by Deception.”

BBB President Jim Hegarty advises, “If you are considering home improvements, it’s important to find a contractor that you can trust. “Always check with the Better Business Bureau for the company’s Business Review to make sure they are reputable. This will help you avoid being victimized.” One tip is to remember the rule of thirds and follow it:  Pay one third at the start of the project, one third when work is 50 percent completed and one third after completion. Hegart says you should always make payments directly to a company, and never write a check made out to an individual for payment. Always make it out to the specific company that was hired. BBB has Business Reviews on more than 100,000 general contractors across North America, available for free at bbb.org/search.

Iowa early News Headlines – Wed., June 13th 2012

News

June 13th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa has a $2.6 billion plan to rebuild and upgrade the state’s highways over five years. The plan announced by the state Transportation Commission yesterday includes reconstruction along interstate highways in Sioux City, Council Bluffs and the Quad Cities. In the Des Moines area, the plan includes finishing widening Interstate 35 in West Des Moines and building new rest stops on I-35 near Ankeny.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The president of Kosovo is coming to Iowa. Governor Terry Branstad’s office says President Atifete Jahjaga (ah-tee-feh-tee YAH’-yah- gah) will visit Iowa today, tomorrow and Friday as part of a state partnership program with the U.S. Department of Defense.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A hearing is set for today in a legal battle over the release of more emails from the former superintendent of Iowa’s largest school district to a lover using the Des Moines district’s computers. Nancy Sebring says a small number of the emails yet to be released are personal. She has asked a Polk County judge to stop the release.

FREDERIKA, Iowa (AP) — The Bremer County Sheriff’s Office says it’s received several reports about a black bear wandering through northeast Iowa. Jade Bergmann says that she spotted a bear along Iowa Highway 188, a few miles from U.S. Highway 63 near Frederika. State biologists say multiple sightings in the area over the past few weeks may be of the same animal.

Using cell phone bills to track delinquent taxpayers

News

June 13th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

State officials have a new way to track down delinquent taxpayers. A state law passed two years ago let the Iowa Department of Revenue access to cell phone customer lists, but the agency has only recently had the staff to analyze that information. Victoria Daniels of the Department of Revenue says the agency can subpoena other utility records, but cellphone accounts are especially helpful. “If you have DirectTV, you probably have an address and we could probably find you that way,” Daniels says. “The cellphone is really something that you can kind of have and remain anonymous, for the most part.” Officials estimate up to 20 percent of cell phone customers in Iowa owe back taxes to the state, but haven’t been traced because their name doesn’t appear on any other bills.

“There are just a lot of ways to hide if you really don’t want to be found,” Daniels says. According to the Legislative Services Agency, as much as one-point-seven million dollars ($1.7 million) in back-taxes may be owed by people who’ve been hard to locate, but now can be tracked down via cell phone records. The program is modeled on a Department of Human Services initiative to track down parents who owe child support.

(Radio Iowa)

Transportation commission approves 5 year plan

News

June 12th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Transportation Commission approved the annual update to its five-year transportation improvement plan during its meeting today (Tuesday). John Ranney is the director of the D-O-T’s office of program management. Ranney says “A major component of the program is the highway section, which includes investments to the primary highway system. And for the next five years, it is forecast that two-point-six-BILLION dollars will be available for highway right-of-way and construction activities.”

The highway portion includes construction on the interstate highways in the Quad Cities on the eastern side of the state, and Sioux City and Council Bluffs on the western side of the state. Dozens of other projects are set across the state as Ranney says the goal is to modernize the primary highway system. He explained  “As projects get completed, other projects are started. And another program objective that the commission does have is to add capacity and system enhancement projects.”  He says there were 10 projects added to this program covering 2013 to 2017, and there were four projects that were advanced in the program. The five-year plan also includes money for airports, rail crossings, trails and other transportation issues.

See the complete five-year plan at: http://www.iowadot.gov/program_management/five_year.html

(Radio Iowa)

Volunteers Needed to help sort waste in Iowa State Parks

Ag/Outdoor, News

June 12th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources Green Veterans AmeriCorps members will be leading volunteers in waste audits at Iowa’s state parks this summer. Volunteers are needed to assist with separating, weighing, documenting, and bagging recyclables for processing. The information collected will be used to determine the feasibility of onsite recycling in state parks.

Waste audits are planned locally, for Lake Manawa State Park, June 18th, from 9 a.m. – Noon, and at Lake Anita State Park, July 2nd, from 8:30 a.m. – Noon. Volunteers should wear clothing suitable for sorting waste and close-toed, comfortable shoes. Other safety equipment and instructions will be provided onsite. For more information or to pre-register contact Kaitlyn Vitko at Kaitlyn.Vitko@dnr.iowa.gov or 515-725-0153. Volunteers will meet at park campgrounds.

Waste audits are being performed at several state parks may help identify additional sustainability-related opportunities. Waste sorts are sponsored through partnerships with the DNR Land Quality Bureau, DNR Iowa Green Veterans AmeriCorps program, and Iowa Waste Exchange. For more information on the state park recycling study, contact Tom Anderson at 515-281-8623 or tom.anderson@dnr.iowa.gov.

50th Anniversary Celebration for Prairie Rose State Park to be held Saturday

Ag/Outdoor, News

June 12th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says a celebration will be held Saturday, June 16th, to mark the 50th anniversary of Prairie Rose State Park in Shelby County. The program will be held outside the park office and shop area at 2:30 PM. Refreshments will be provided and the Friends of Prairie Rose will sell commemorative t-shirts and have historic photos on display.

In an effort to preserve Iowa’s natural beauty and provided outdoor recreational facilities, plans for Prairie Rose and more than a dozen other state parks were initiated in the 1933 25-Year Conservation Plan. Actual construction of the dam did not begin until 1958 and the park was dedicated on June 16, 1962. Today, Prairie Rose provides the outdoor recreation it was intended for to more than 100,000 plus visitors each year. The park offers a wide variety of amenities including a campground, cabins, picnic areas and more than seven miles of multi-use trails. The 218-acre lake — popular for fishing, boating and swimming — is currently under renovation.

For more information about the event or Prairie Rose State Park, contact Park Manager Michelle Reinig at 712-773-2701 or michelle.reinig@dnr.iowa.gov<mailto:michelle.reinig@dnr.iowa.gov>

Homeownership contest announced

News

June 12th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Southwest Iowa Association of Realtors says over the last year, home sales have increased eight percent in Southwest Iowa, and to continue reaching that goal, the Iowa Finance Authority (IFA) and the Iowa Association of Realtors (IAR), have partnered with the Southwest Iowa lenders and Realtors to promote The Meaning of Homeownership Contest. The effort among lenders and Realtors is to show Iowans their support for homeownership and the importance of keeping homeownership on the rise.

The social media contest consists of Iowa mortgage lenders and Realtors® asking their clients what homeownership truly means to them. Participants will redefine homeownership by writing a short phrase or word on a memo board and snapping a photo for entry. The contestant with the most votes in the Facebook contest will win a $1,500 gift card. Council Bluffs area residents are encouraged to visit a participating contest location for their chance to win. A full list of current contest locations is available at Foursquare.com/IowaFinance http://www.foursquare.com/iowafinance.

Contest entries will be voted on by the public July 2-15 at Facebook.com/IowaFinance<http://www.facebook.com/iowafinance>. The entry with the most votes will receive a $1,500 gift card and the lender and Realtors or real estate agent with the most combined votes will each receive a $2,500 community betterment grant. More information about the contest is located at IowaFinanceAuthority.gov/Contest<http://www.iowafinanceauthority.gov/Contest>.