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8AM Newscast 12-04-2012

News, Podcasts

December 4th, 2012 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson


Demonstration highlights importance of watering Christmas tree


December 4th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Department of Public Safety hosted an event Monday to highlight the importance of proper care of a live Christmas tree. The demonstration involved two burn cells, each outfitted with furniture and a Christmas tree that had been cut down three weeks ago. State Fire Marshal Ray Reynolds had firefighters place a small flame on each tree. “One (tree) we watered extensively, as you should. The other one, we gave it no water whatsoever,” Reynolds explained.

“The trees looked almost identical, but as you can see from the burn cell test – one tree is a Charlie Brown tree and the other is still luscious and green.” Reynolds described the fir as a “Charlie Brown tree” because the unwatered tree lost all of it’s needles in the fire. It was engulfed in flames in just a few seconds. The tree that was watered daily remained mostly intact as firefighters had a hard time even setting it on fire. Gary Harman is with the Walnut Ridge Tree Farm in Indianola.

“The water bowl should have water in it all the time,” Harman said. “Never let it go dry or let the butt of the tree out of water.” Reynolds is also encouraging Iowans who buy live Christmas trees to keep them away from candles and extension cords.

(Radio Iowa) (Video courtesy Radio Iowa) watch?feature=player_embedded&v=wVN–006mRE

NW Iowa man convicted of stalking, weapons charges


December 4th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) – A 25-year-old Sioux City man who’d been tracking his estranged wife has been convicted of interstate stalking and a weapons charge. Federal prosecutors say Ralph Rogers was convicted last week. The jury acquitted Rogers of kidnapping and another weapons charge. Rogers pleaded guilty in September to another weapons charge.  His sentencing has not been scheduled.

Prosecutors say Rogers had secretly placed a GPS device on his estranged wife’s car. Investigators say that when the tracking device showed that she’d stopped at a residence in South Sioux City, Neb., Rogers got a handgun and drove there.  Prosecutors say Rogers entered the home without permission and assaulted one of the people inside. Prosecutors say Rogers then took his estranged wife back to his home in Sioux City.

New statement billing look and payment options coming for AMU customers


December 4th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Customers of the Atlantic Municipal Utilities will see a new statement effective December 26th, that replaces the postcard-style billing we are used to seeing.

Sample of new AMU billing statement (Front view)

New statement (Sample) reverse view

AMU letter to customers explaining statement changes.

AMU officials announced the change during their Board of Trustees meeting Monday night. AMU General Manager Steve Tjepkes said letters will be going out to their customers explaining the change and options available for payment.

AMU says while the postcard billing statements have served them well for many years, it is becoming more cumbersome to maintain. The new statements (which resemble those of other utilities, such as Alliant Energy), are said to be less likely to get lost in the mail, because they are business envelope sized. Officials say the new statement is also: Easier to read; Have a more detailed level of information; Gives AMU the capability of adding multiple accounts to one billing statement; Will allow for better tracking of information and processing payments; and, better protects customer information.

Jennifer Saathoff, Board Secretary, said additional features being offered to their billing system in 2013 include customers’ being able to access their bill through AMU’s website to make a payment or check a detailed statement history, which is especially beneficial to the “Snow Bird”-type customer, who resides out of state during the Winter months. There will also be a feature to set-up recurring credit card payments and debit transactions.

All of those features will be rolled out sometime early next year.

Record High temperatures reported Monday across Iowa

News, Weather

December 4th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The National Weather Service says Iowa experienced unseasonably warm temperatures on Monday, as southwesterly winds increased ahead of an approaching cold front. Many locations broke their daily high temperatures, and several tied their records for the highest temperature ever recorded on that date, in December. Among the locations where the high was tied, was in Atlantic, where we hit 63-degrees at 11-a.m., here at the KJAN studios, the Official NWS reporting site for Atlantic. Our high tied the record first set 50-years ago (1962). Today’s predicted high of 58 would fall about 8-degrees shy of tying the record for December 4th.

High temperatures Monday ranged from 62-degrees in Omaha to 72 in Burlington. Des Moines topped out at 69-degrees, which tied the record set in 1984. The highest temperature ever recorded anywhere in Iowa during the month of December is 74-degrees in Thurman, on Dec. 6th, 1939, a day on which many areas of western Iowa established December warmth records that still stand today. On that date, Atlantic hit 69 degrees.

AMU Board approves rate increases


December 4th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic Municipal Utilities’ Board of Trustees Monday evening approved published electric and water rate increases amounting to a 10-percent increase in water rates and a 7.5-percent increase in electric rates to make up for wholesale increases in the cost to obtain electricity and other related expenses. AMU’s residential customers will see an average $6.60 monthly increase for their combined electric and water bill. Commercial (Business) users of AMU’s electric and water service will see their average bill increase by about $24.45 per month. The new rates become effective with the February 1st, 2013 billing.

During a public hearing prior to the Boards’ vote, there were no spoken objections from the public with regard to the proposed rate increase. There was one letter written by two Atlantic citizens regarding the City’s Christmas lights being on overnight, past the time when most downtown businesses are closed. In the letter, Eleanor and Leslie Becker questioned why AMU doesn’t try to save the taxpayers money by turning the lights off when the business district is closed.

AMU General Manager Steve Tjepkes explained the way the lights are wired makes it difficult to shut them off. He said the Christmas lights are wired into the street lights, which are on a photo-electric cell. When conditions are dark enough, the street lights, and anything tied into them, such as the Christmas lights, will turn on together. Tjepkes said he wasn’t aware of that until he received the Beckers’ letter and looked into it.

Tjepkes estimates the Christmas lights are on about 50-days during the season, for about 14-hours per day. He says based on the cost of energy, the cost to provide electricity for the LED lights is about $500 per year. Tjepkes noted the new Christmas lights are more energy efficient than the old lights. He acknowledged that AMU could work to switch the lights to separate circuits from the street lights, which would save at best “A couple of hundred dollars per year,” but Board Chair Larry Turner pointed out the cost to switch those circuits would “Be very expensive.”

Iowa early News Headlines: Tue., Dec. 4th 2012


December 4th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A record number of Iowans cast their vote this year in the presidential election. More than 1.5 million people in Iowa voted in the 2012 election for president and vice president. That includes another record for early or absentee voting, which brought in more than 688,000 votes.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A judge has ordered a Des Moines teen convicted in his friend’s October shooting death to first go to a residential treatment facility for counseling. Sixteen-year-old Dontavius Sharkey then must undergo a 30-day evaluation to determine where he heads next. He will stay in the juvenile system until he’s 18 and be sentenced in adult court in 2014.

WEST UNION, Iowa (AP) — A former school district administrator in Iowa has avoided prison time for a theft scheme. Ex-Starmont district business manager Vicki Vanter has been ordered to serve up to five years of probation. She was arrested after an audit alleged she wasted $229,000 paying off personal expenses and improperly inflating her salary and benefits.

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa City landlord accused of spying on his tenants is scheduled to go on trial in February. Elwyn Miller faces nearly a dozen counts of invasion of property. He’s accused of spying on several nude female tenants in their bathrooms or bedrooms.

No School today (Tuesday) at Adair-Casey: Funeral for rural Exira boy


December 4th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

No classes will be held today (Tuesday) in the Adair-Casey Community School District. School officials say instead, the staff and classmates of Austin Vais are being given the chance to say goodbye to the 12-year old, who died following a single-vehicle rollover accident last Thursday afternoon, east of Exira. Funeral services for Vais will be held at 1-p.m., in the Adair-Casey High School. Austin began attending the Adair-Casey Elementary School at the beginning of the school year.

Counselors were brought in Friday to talk with the students about their classmates’ death on Friday. The boy was not wearing a seat belt when he lost control of the 2003 Ford F-150 on a gravel road. Vais was ejected as it rolled over after sliding sidways.  Sheriff’s officials have said it appears the boy had taken the truck for a drive while his father was away from home.

2 teens arrested for alcohol in possession


December 3rd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Clarinda Police arrested two individuals early Sunday morning for possession of alcohol under the legal age. Chief Keith Brothers says at around 3-a.m., officers arrested 18-year old’s Jordan Nicole Landess, of Clarinda and Scharely Dawn Reynolds, of Stanton. Landess and Reynolds were ticketed and cited to appear in Page County Magistrate Court at a later date. Their arrests occurred in a business parking lot located at 318 East Washington Street in Clarinda.

Data: Record turnout in Iowa for presidential race; Fremont County lowest turnout


December 3rd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A record number of Iowans cast their vote this year in the presidential election. The Quad-City Times  reported Monday that more than 1.5 million people in Iowa voted in the 2012 election for president and vice president. That includes another record for early or absentee voting, which brought in more than 688,000 votes. The data shows more people voted on Election Day for Republican challenger Mitt Romney’s ticket, but President Barack Obama had an early voting edge over the former Massachusetts governor.

Fayette County had the highest turnout in the state with more than 84 percent of registered voters casting a ballot. Fremont County had the lowest with just over 61 percent.