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IA DPS warns of storm damage repair scams

News, Weather

April 30th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

As spring is upon us, the warmer weather and damage from severe storms draw scam artists to our state posing as local contractors willing to do home repair work, but Iowans need to beware. The Iowa Department of Public Safety says home repair scams are one of the most common scams targeting the elderly and other vulnerable victims. Scammers frequently offer services like blacktop or asphalt paving, tree trimming, brick glazing, lawn fertilizing and gutter and roof repairs, often following severe weather damage and other natural disasters.

Scam artists are more likely to use in-person, door-to-door solicitations, offering low prices and quick work, within an hour or two. Some scam artists provide “work and run” scams, where they perform low-quality work or partial work and then disappear. Others collect all money up front and never provide any work promised. Some scam artists are known to commit identity theft by requesting or looking at personal and financial documents while completing home repairs and then sell or use that information to defraud homeowners.

Homeowners also need to know what services are free. Some scammers request payment for free services like offering to disconnect and reconnect utilities, which is done for free by utility companies. Others offer, for a fee, to speed up the process for obtaining a building permit or obtaining insurance. Speeding up those processes is not possible, especially by a third party.

DPS offers some tips to protect you from scammers:

Avoid on-the-spot contracts and read through all contracts before signing. Do not let the contractor rush you into signing by saying that other consumers will take your place if you wait.
Before you enter into a contract, check with the Better Business Bureau, the Iowa Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division, and several references.
Avoid out-of-area business. Check the contractor’s registration with the Iowa Division of Labor and proof of liability insurance.
Get all prices in writing. Don’t pay a large amount in advance. Pay materials suppliers directly, when possible.
Negotiate any insurance repairs and payments directly with your insurance company, and don’t let the contractor negotiate the agreement for you.
Spell out, in writing, the scope of the work to be done and the quality (or brand) of materials to be used. Do not sign a contract that lets the contractor decide the scope and materials with your insurance company, or you may be forced to pay liquidated damages to cancel the contract if you don’t like their decisions.
Write down license plate numbers of salespeople, contractors and workers.
You have the right to cancel within THREE business days, and the right to a full refund within ten business days, of most door-to-door sales, or sales made at a place other than the seller’s normal place of business.
Shred all documents that contain any personal or financial information or Personal Identification Numbers (PINs).
If you believe you are a victim of a scam, call your local law enforcement. Contact the Iowa Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division, online or by calling (515) 281-5926.

Cass Co. teen faces drug charges in Audubon County


April 30th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A Cass County teen faces drug charges in Audubon County. Sheriff’s Officials say 19-year old Taber Charles Andersen, of Marne, was charged Tuesday night with Possession of Marijuana and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Andersen was taken into custody at around 9-p.m., following a traffic stop near Littlefield Drive and Eagle Avenue, in Audubon County. Andersen was being held in the Audubon County Jail on $1,000 bond.

Cracking down on mudders in Cass County


April 30th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Sheriff’s Office and other County officials are cracking down on persons who think it’s fun or funny, to take their pickup trucks out onto muddy county roads. In the process, the vehicles destroy the roads and in recent incidents, have resulted in the “Mudders,” those responsible for the damage, getting stuck. Cass County Engineer Charles Marker says he’s grateful the Sheriff’s Office is charging those responsible for tearing up the roads when they’ve been caught in the act, and says he hopes the financial penalties will serve as a warning to those who can least afford the cost of “Mudding.” mud

He said those individuals who are found to have been responsible have been ticketed, and the Secondary Roads Department has calculated the cost of repairing the roads, which he calls “A substantial amount.” Marker hopes that the judicial system will assess the monetary cost of road repairs to the culprits who are found guilty of damaging them. He says it takes three-to four-hours to repair the roads, and that takes time away from other, seasonal road work to repair roads caused by “Kids at play.”

He estimates it costs $400-to $500 to re-grade a Minimum Maintenance Road. In a recent incident, Marker says the mudders found themselves stuck on the roads they were damaging, and that’s how they were caught by Cass County Deputies. Another road was damaged by the Lewis Cemetery. The road had just been repaired by the County and the embankments shored-up. The same person who got stuck north of Atlantic is believed to be responsible for the damage near Lewis. Marker said that person is either a “Slow learner, or he’s got money. I don’t know which.”

Last November, when the Board was discussing ways to crack down on similar incidents, Marker mentioned that the Code of Iowa allows Counties to take action against persons who intentionally destroy County property. The charges, according to the Sheriff’s Department may include Failure to Maintain Control and 4th degree Criminal Mischief.

8AM Newscast 04-30-2014

News, Podcasts

April 30th, 2014 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson

(Podcast) 7-a.m. News & funeral announcements (4/30/2014)

News, Podcasts

April 30th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

With KJAN News Director Ric Hanson.

Iowa mom of bullied son gets probation for threats


April 30th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) – A western Iowa mother who posted comments about her bullied son possibly shooting up a school has been given a year of probation. Omaha television station KETV says Teri Pallat made a plea deal that includes community service. In December Pallat was arrested after posting a message on her Facebook page that talked about why “people shoot up schools.”

Pallat told the station that she regretted her comments but was only trying to draw attention to the bullying of her son, Collin, at Lewis Central High School in Council Bluffs. The school principal denied there was a problem.

Collin now attends another school, but he says he still gets bullied by Lewis Central students on social media.

Judge denies change of venue for doctor accused of child sexual abuse


April 30th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A district court judge in Council Bluffs says the trial for a physician accused of sexual abuse will stay in Pottawattamie County. The Omaha World-Herald reports Judge Richard Davidson  denied a motion by prosecutors to move the trial of Dr. Dennis Jones outside Council Bluffs. Earlier this month the Iowa Attorney General’s Office requested a change of venue in the case of Jones, a pediatrician accused of sexual abuse of a 5-year-old girl.

The A-G’s office said in court documents, that it would be hard to find a fair or impartial jury due to extensive media coverage and Jones’ 35 years as a doctor in the Pottawattamie County.  Judge Davidson rejected that argument in a court document filed last week.

Jones’ trial is scheduled to begin on Tuesday (May 65th). If convicted on the charge of second-degree sexual abuse, a Class B felony, he faces up to 50 years in prison.

Teacher pleads not guilty to illegal pharmacy acts


April 30th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A Special Education teacher at the Underwood Middle School has entered a plea of not guilty to charges of Pharmacy Prohibited Acts. The Omaha World-Herald reports 34-year old Samantha Telleen appeared in Pottawattamie County District Court on Monday. Telleen is accused of using stolen prescription pads to obtain pain medication. If convicted of the nine counts against her, the woman faces up to 90 years in prison and a maximum $90,000 fine.

Charges were dropped on April 4th against Telleen’s husband Heath, who teaches at the Underwood High School. Assistant Pottawattamie County Attorney Shelly Sedlak said an investigation revealed that Samantha Telleen, not her husband, took prescription pads from Underwood Family Practice.

Prosecutors say Samantha Telleen was given the key to the building last year to check mail and faxes while the owners were away.

IA/NE Border: Higher Healthcare Premiums West of Missouri River


April 30th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa – Some live just a stone’s throw away from each other, but how much people have to pay for basically the same health insurance policies varies widely across the banks of the Missouri River.
For the platinum level, Iowa border counties had higher average premiums, but Bailey noted that the silver and gold plans under the Affordable Care Act are the most common by far – and also the most important for low- and middle-income families.

Bailey said the differences in premiums can be attributed largely to the Medicaid expansion option under the Affordable Care Act. Nebraska has not expanded its program, while Iowa has decided to cover more of the working poor. That difference changes each state’s pool of people eligible for the marketplace.

“So now in Nebraska, you’ve included those lower-income – and on average, sicker – people in the pool, whereas in Iowa you now have taken them out of the pool and put them in their own program.”

In the last two legislative sessions, there have been efforts to expand Nebraska’s Medicaid program similarly to those in Iowa, but filibusters have kept the measure from getting to the Senate floor for a vote.

(Iowa News Service)

Republican lawmaker asks when will it be time to raise state gas tax


April 30th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A legislator who’s been pushing to raise the state gas tax made a passionate pitch on the topic Tuesday night, but the top Republican in the House used his authority to table the idea. Representative Josh Byrnes, a Republican from Osage, expressed his frustration during a speech on the House floor.  “You know I hear a lot of: ‘Now’s not the right time,'” Byrnes said. “…I guess I’m curious to know — when is the right time? Are we going to circle a date on the calendar next session and say: ‘That’s the day’?”

The state fuel tax hasn’t been hiked since 1989. Byrnes and other supporters say Iowa’s roads and bridges, especially in rural areas, are crumbling because the state’s road fund is woefully short to meet current demands.  “I’d like to know. When is the right time? Is the right time going to be a reaction?” Byrnes asked. “Is it going to be when we have something fall through a bridge and we have a failure or a death, God forbid?” Byrnes, who is chairman of the House Transportation Committee, could not get enough votes in his committee this year to pass a bill that would have raised the state fuel tax by a dime.

Byrnes crafted an alternative that called for lowering the state tax to 16 cents per gallon, but charging a five percent tax on retail fuel sales.  “The reason that we will not move a fuel tax this session is ’cause we’re in a re-election year and I think that’s disappointing,” Byrnes said. “I think it’s disappointing to Iowans. I think we’re letting Iowans down.” Republican House Speaker Kraig Paulsen of Hiawatha has often said over the past two years that Iowans aren’t asking him to raise the gas tax. Last night (Tuesday) Paulsen ruled the gas tax was not within the scope of the bill being debated. That meant the proposal from Byrnes was tabled and no vote was taken on his amendment.

(Radio Iowa)