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Federal indictment returned in Neola bank robbery


November 25th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – A Council Bluffs man has been indicted on one count of bank robbery in federal court in Des Moines. Documents filed Tuesday say Jesse Daniel Specht took by force, violence and intimidation money from Farmers & Merchants State Bank in Neola on Oct. 14. Specht was arrested five days later in Omaha.

The bank was robbed by a man wearing a mask who told employees and customers to get down on the floor before he ran away with an undisclosed amount of cash.

Consider an Iowa grown Christmas Tree this season

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 25th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey is encouraging Iowans to consider choosing a fresh, Iowa grown Christmas tree to decorate their home this holiday season. Northey says “Selecting a fresh Christmas tree can be part of a great family tradition and is an opportunity to connect with an Iowa farmer and support the local economy. Iowa is fortunate to have more than 100 Christmas tree farms in all parts of the state, so everyone has the opportunity to get their own fresh tree to help celebrate.”

A directory of tree farms across Iowa is available on the Iowa Christmas Tree Grower’s website at www.IowaChristmasTrees.com. On the site there is a “Find a Farm” link on the top left-hand corner of the page. Besides the location of the farms, the directory also includes a phone number and hours of operation for each farm to assist in planning.

These farms devote over 1,500 acres to Christmas tree production in Iowa and as a result harvest approximately 39,500 Christmas trees each year. The result is a $1 million dollar industry contributing to Iowa’s economy. It takes 6 to 12 years to grow a Christmas tree before it is ready to be sold. Most tree farms in Iowa are 3 to 8 acres in size and sell trees by choose and harvest method, where a customer comes to the farm cut their own tree.

A Blue Spruce Christmas Tree (Photo from ISU Extension)

A Blue Spruce Christmas Tree (Photo from ISU Extension)

Following are tips to keep in mind to make your trip to a Christmas tree farm more enjoyable:

· Be sure you know what size tree fits in your home, both height and width, before you leave. Trees always look smaller in the field and there is nothing worse than bringing a tree indoors only to find it’s too big.

· Wear comfortable clothes, sturdy shoes, and gloves that you aren’t afraid to get dirty.

· Make sure the tree you pick has a straight trunk and will fit properly in your tree stand.

· Fresh trees need water. Once you get your tree home remember to check the water daily. Trees can use up to a gallon of water daily.

· Make sure you unplug any tree lights before you leave home or go to bed.

· Remember – fresh cut Christmas trees are biodegradable! Recycle your tree after Christmas.

If you are not putting the tree up right away, store it in an unheated garage or some other area out of the wind and cold (freezing) temperatures. When bringing the tree into the house, cut off one inch at the base end and place the tree in a bucket of warm water.

Sioux City-area families host students for the holidays


November 25th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) – Several northwest Iowa colleges have turned to their communities to find families offering seats at their dinner tables for international students who can’t make it home for the holidays. The Sioux City Journal reports that students are frequently able to find a home away from home through a host-family program, a campus-sponsored dinner or local students offering a seat at their own table.

Briar Cliff University has offered the “Friend Family” program, which matches international students with a local family. Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa, also offers a host family program, so students can stay overnight with families while the university is closed for the holidays. Some students, including those who are not international students, stay on campus, organize their own festivities and share customs and cuisines.

Denison couple recognized for helping accident victim


November 25th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The Denison Police Department, today (Wednesday), issued a public THANK YOU  to a couple from Denison who aided and comforted an accident victim. Authorities say Mr. and Mrs. Larry Goering stopped to render aid during an accident that happened near the intersection of Highways 39/141 and 59.

Officers responding at around 10-a.m. Saturday discovered that an occupant of one of the vehicles in the accident had been injured. According to their report, the Goering’s stopped to render aid and were tending to the injured woman. The couple wrapped the woman in a blanket and were attempting to comfort her until help arrived.

Denison police say “It is people like Mr. and Mrs. Larry Goering that make Denison a great place to live. They had absolutely no obligation to stop at this scene and probably had other matters to attend to, but instead they stopped to help a complete stranger in their time of need.”

Icy weather forecast for southeast Nebraska, southwest Iowa


November 25th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – The National Weather Service says dangerous traveling conditions are likely to develop over southeast Nebraska and southwest Iowa on Thanksgiving Day.

On Wednesday the service issued a winter storm watch. The service says a mix of freezing rain and sleet will move across the area late Thursday morning into Thursday evening. Any accumulation of snow likely will occur north of Interstate 80.

The service says up to a quarter inch of ice could mount from the freezing rain.

(Podcast) KJAN 8-a.m. News, 11/25/2015

News, Podcasts

November 25th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

More area and State news from KJAN News Director Ric Hanson.


Make Your Holiday Shopping and Charitable Giving Safe and Successful With These Tips from BBB


November 25th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, and some retailers have already announced several of their deals. Though more and more stores are opening their doors to shoppers on Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday will remain one of the biggest shopping days of the year, both online and in stores. BBB offers advice for consumers who plan to shop on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and intend to make charitable donations on Giving Tuesday.

BBB President and CEO Jim Hegarty says “Falling between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday, on November 28th, can be a fun part of your holiday weekend. By staying local, you’ll support the small businesses that helped create the identity of your community. This annual event is a great way to show your support for these local shops.”

As always, retailers will compete feverishly to get shoppers to visit their stores and their websites! The National Retail Federation (NRF) “expects sales in November and December (excluding autos, gas and restaurant sales) to increase a solid 3.7 percent to $630.5 billion – significantly higher than the 10-year average of 2.5 percent. Holiday sales in 2015 are expected to represent approximately 19 percent of the retail industry’s annual sales of $3.2 trillion. Additionally, NRF is forecasting online sales to increase between 6 and 8 percent to as much as $105 billion.”

BBB Tips for shopping on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or Small Business Saturday to help ensure a satisfactory experience:

  • Beware of pop-up shops that show up around the holidays, as these stores can disappear before you know it. Also, before you decide to purchase products online, visit bbbinc.org to check out a business. Make sure the website you’re browsing is reputable.
  • When making an online purchase, look for the SSL encryption. You can recognize it by the “s” in https:// of the URL or the lock symbol; both ensure that the information you’re about to give out is encrypted for your safety.
  • When shopping online and in stores, be sure to make purchases with your credit card, not a debit card. Credit cards give you significant protection against fraud, and even if your information falls into the wrong hands, you’ll be more likely to get all of your money back with your credit card company. If using a debit card, once the funds are drawn, they’re gone.
  • Gift cards can be tricky purchases when bought online. Sometimes, gift cards purchased from a third-party seller can turn out to be used or missing the correct amount of funds. If you’re interested in buying a gift card, order it from a verified store or seller.
  • Be sure to review all refund policies and warranty information. In the event that something goes wrong with your purchase, you’ll also want to have proof of your transaction. Save all receipts, email confirmations, or invoices you receive from retailers and if shopping online, be sure to screenshot the final confirmation screen as proof.
  • When you’ve finished shopping both in store and online, you should remain vigilant. Stay updated on your accounts and statements, as well as any orders you completed online. Make sure only the charges you’ve approved appear on your statement, and if you see something suspicious, contact your financial institution.

Charities will also be seeking to capitalize on the holiday spirit by promoting “Giving Tuesday” on Dec. 1st as an opportune time to make donations. For many Americans, giving to charities is almost as important during the holidays as celebrating with family. As a result, mailboxes often are stuffed with charitable solicitations as well as catalogs this time of year. Whether you celebrate or not, giving before Jan. 1st means your gifts will be deductible on your 2015 tax return.

Giving Tuesday is an idea that began three years ago with the 92nd Street Y in New York. Since then, it has grown to include more than 27,000 partners nationwide. Last year, more than $26.1 million was given online through Blackbaud, a company that processes online donations of charities listed on the Giving Tuesday website.

BBB tips to increase your confidence that your donation will be used wisely:

  • If you are unfamiliar with an organization, don’t hesitate to ask the charity for written information about its programs and finances.
  • Don’t succumb to pressure to give money on the spot. A charity that can use your money today will welcome it just as much tomorrow. Watch out for appeals that bring tears to your eyes, but tell you nothing about how your donation will be used.
  • Before making online donations, determine whether the charity’s website is secure and that it has a privacy policy concerning the use of your name, email address or other personal facts. (Secure site URLs begin with https://.)
  • When considering support for a cause-related marketing campaign, find the answers to these questions: What portion of the purchase price will benefit the charity? What is the duration of the campaign? What is the maximum or minimum total contribution? If the information is not on the item, check the organization’s website.
  • Before donating used items, make sure they are in good shape to reuse. Donating junk puts an undue burden on the charity and could do more harm than good. You may want to consider selling the item and donating the proceeds to a charity.
  • Seek professional advice if you are in doubt about the deductibility of contributions.

Other helpful tips for making donations are posted on give.org. The IRS website at irs.gov has information on the deductibility of donations on tax returns.

(Podcast) KJAN Morning News & funeral report, 11/25/2015

News, Podcasts

November 25th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The area’s top news at 7:06-a.m., w/KJAN News Director Ric Hanson


State Senators to tour Glenwood Resource Center


November 25th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Iowa Senator Rob Hogg of Cedar Rapids, the chair of the Senate Government Oversight Committee, and Senate Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs will take  a private tour the Glenwood Resource Center on Monday, November 30th.

Senator Hogg said he looks forward to “Learning how the people working here help Iowa individuals and their families.” The Glenwood Resource Center provides residential services for individuals who have struggled to be successful in their local communities. It also provides in-home support for residents transitioning back to their communities. The Center helps community-based providers by providing assessments, training and other technical support.

Mike Gronstal says “All of the services at Glenwood have the goal of helping individuals become successful in their own communities. In times of trouble, Iowa families in more than half of our state’s counties count on Glenwood for services unavailable elsewhere.”

The two senators are touring Glenwood in the aftermath of Governor Branstad’s unilateral decisions to close the Iowa Juvenile Home and mental health institutes in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant. Iowa’s Governor is also fighting to hand over the administration of Medicaid services to four out-of-state, for-profit companies.

Hogg said “Many family advocates and health care providers believe Governor Branstad’s hasty decisions are weakening Iowa’s safety net. Glenwood is an important part of the safety net. When hit by very serious health care challenges, Iowa families often depend on the services provided by the professionals working at Glenwood.”

3 Harlan residents charged w/Criminal Mischief


November 25th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Police in Harlan say three residents were charged with Criminal Mischief in the 5th Degree, after officers were called Nov. 12th to the 1000 block of 7th Street for Christmas decorations that were damaged by three persons. As a result of the investigation, 31-year old Andrew Smith, 35-year old Emily Labenz, and 25-year old Paige Lee,  all of Harlan, were charged.