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Double-check before you double-click on Black Friday ‘deals’


November 26th, 2021 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – Iowans are warned to be extra cautious before buying anything online or even in-person on this Black Friday. Consumer protection expert Michael Domke says if you’re shopping in brick-and-mortar stores, you need to read the ads carefully and be aware of each particular merchant’s guidelines on returns, among other things. “There are laws that require certain disclaimers in advertisements and those are typically buried in that fine print,” Domke says, “and in that fine print is where you’re going to find the duration of the sale, whether there’s any terms and conditions, and return policies.”

Online scammers will certainly be out in force on this big shopping day, looking to get your money by offering fake ads for popular items.  “They’re advertising either an item that is typically out of stock,” he says, “a really hot item for the season, and it’s a fictitious website.” Domke says you should be very careful when clicking on coupons or other deals in your phone’s text messages or in social media feeds. “They try to lure more information out of you,” Domke says. “It may be the situation where once you click on it, the malware is going to suddenly infect the device that you’re using and give them access to your personal or banking information.”

It’s buyer beware once you’ve left established websites or stores, he says, as fake items can also being listed on places like Amazon, eBay or Walmart. Take a look at the seller and check reviews before putting down any cash. As always, if a deal seems too good to be true, double-check that link before you double-click.

Distracted driver blamed for Union County accident, Thursday


November 26th, 2021 by Ric Hanson

(Rural Creston, Iowa) – No injuries were reported following a collision on Highway 34, southwest of Creston, Thursday afternoon. According to the Union County Sheriff’s Office, a 2011 Chrysler 300C driven by 89-year-old Tommie R. Stoner, of Afton, and a 2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee, driven by 33-year-old Maggie E. Stuart, of Creston, were both eastbound on Highway 34 at around 2:54-p.m., near mile marker 86, when Stuart was following to close and failed to pay attention to the speed of the Chrysler, which was ahead of her.

The SUV struck the rear of the car, causing a total of $6,000 damage. Both drivers pulled-off onto the south shoulder of the road following the crash. No citations were issued.

Finding workers and securing repeat customers key for small scale meat locker start-ups

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 26th, 2021 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – After disruption in the meat supply at the start of the pandemic, the federal government will spend half a billion to expand meat and poultry processing and another 150 million specifically for small meat lockers. In Iowa, officials are reviewing 72 applications for grants from a 750-thousand dollar state fund for expanding meat lockers. Iowa State University economist Chad Hart grew up in southwest Missouri where his parents ran a small meat locker for several decades and he says running a meat locker is hard work.

“You’re not only doing that physical work, but maintaining that customer base has been difficult, so when you think about it, we saw these small town locker plants disappear due to one — the physicality of the work — and two — the economics that drove larger and larger facilities to be built.” Finding people capable of doing the work in a meat locker will be difficult, according to Hart.

“It is a very labor intensive business, especially when you’re doing it on a small scale and that can be difficult for folks, especially as we’ve transitioned to labor that is specialized and less — let’s call it brute force hard labor, which is what small town meat processing was,” Hart says. “I remember with my parents’ locker plant, you’re talking about horsing around sides of meat.”

A side of beef is usually between four-hundred and five-hundred pounds. A whole pig routinely weighs between 150 and two-hundred pounds. The other conundrum for meat lockers is building a customer base willing to pay more for locally raised and processed meat — since meat from the four large corporate processors will cost less per pound.  “If you’re just competing on the commodity scale and working against your Cargills and your JBSes, you’re never going to be able to beat them on the low-cost scale,” Hart says, “so you have to offer something more.” Hart says securing repeat customers is key for meat lockers.

“The problem’s going to be that just like smaller plants disappeared in the past, it’s likely a lot of these that are started up under these grants will likely to disappear going into the future unless they can figure out to specialize themselves within that local market to help drive demand for their services, reaching out to their cattle producers and hog producers in that area and saying: ‘Hey, bring your animals to us. Allow us to process them,'” Hart says. “…And can we benefit from the local food movement to truly drive that business?”

Hart made his comments during a recent appearance on Iowa Press on Iowa P-B-S.

(UPDATED) Shed fire in far northern/rural


November 25th, 2021 by Ric Hanson

(rural Atlantic, Iowa) – Firefighters from Elk Horn, Kimballton and Marne were dispatched Thursday night to a small shed fire located north of Interstate 80, at 144 Zinnia Road .  The call went out at around 5:48-p.m.  The structure was fully engulfed when firefighters arrived.

According to Josh Krause with the Marne Fire Department, the shed was nearly destroyed by the time the first crews arrived on the scene. A shed to the south of the burned building was beginning to show signs of smoke, but crews were able to protect it from further damage. He says the blaze apparently started with a brush pile nearby, north of the shed, which spread to the trees.

Atlantic Fire was called to bring a tanker truck to the scene, but told to disregard because Marne’s unit was on the scene. No injuries were reported. (Photo’s submitted)

Google view of the property

Trout stocked in ponds across Iowa

Ag/Outdoor, News, Sports

November 25th, 2021 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – The DNR’s annual trout stocking of ponds across the state is now complete. Northeast Iowa regional fisheries supervisor Mike Steuck says it’s a way to introduce trout fishing outside their normal habitat. He says they stocked 18 community ponds with the goal of getting people excited about trout fishing with the hope they will then try trout fishing in the northeast Iowa trout streams. They put between 1,500 and 2,000 trout into the ponds.

“They’re usually about two to the pound or a half a pound apiece and they’re ten to twelve inches in size. And then, of course, each pond gets a few of the broodstock that we don’t use for breeding anymore or spawning, gets stocked into each of the community trout fisheries as well. So, there’s some five to six-pound trout to be had,” he says. Steuck says the stock trout are not hard to catch. “They’re hungry and they readily bite on most lures and baits. We want them to be caught out of there before summer anyway when water temperatures rise up,” he explains.

Trout were stocked in 18 community ponds. (DNR photo)

The pond stocking of trout has become so popular that the DNR waits until after they are stock to announce the location. He says most are caught pretty quickly once people find their location. “We’ve had very, very few that we’ve seen hold over into the summer, but there are a few ponds out there that have some cooler water yet. There’s a few that have survived, but most of them are caught,” Steuck says.

Steuk says the goal is to raise interest in trout fishing — but it also can raise interest in fishing overall. “The neat thing about these ponds is you really don’t know what you are going to catch. You could catch the trout of course that we stock — but you could also catch largemouth bass or bluegill, or a channel catfish, a small pike. It’s a mixed bag catch a lot of times. Folks are doing pretty well,” according to Steuck.

You can go to the DNR’s website to find out more about the ponds which have been stocked.

SW Iowa town still struggling to recover from 2019 flooding


November 25th, 2021 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – Many Iowa communities are coping with population losses, but a southwest Iowa town that was devastated by flooding in 2019 isn’t giving up hope. Pacific Junction had fewer than 500 people before the floods, but just 84 people live there now. City Clerk Korrena Neppl says after the flood, some people had no option but to leave. She says there’s been “dramatic change,” especially as homes are torn down.

Neppl says, “You take a drive through Pacific Junction or just living here, you know, you see your neighbors’ houses going down and they’re never coming back.” The town is working to buy back and demolish more than 130 flood-damaged homes. Many of those lots will become green space, but Neppl says state funding will let them re-sell some lots to be built on in the future. Pacific Junction Mayor Andy Young says the flood caused destruction like the town’s never seen before.

“It was pretty devastating to drive through the town in a boat and you’re up at the heighth of your city hall,” Young says. “We had between nine to 11 feet of water, depending on what part of town you were in.” Mayor Young is a third generation resident of Pacific Junction and has stayed in town and rebuilt, but he reminisces about what it was like before the flood.

“The kids could go out and ride their bikes. Everybody looked after everybody’s kids, for the most part,” Young says. “It was small town Iowa where everybody kind of helped with watching the kids.” Young says his vision for the future is to bring a few businesses to town. He’d also like to sell some vacant lots so people can build on them and the town can grow. Neppl and Young made their comments on the Iowa Public Radio program “Talk of Iowa.”

(By Katie Peikes, Iowa Public Radio)

Officer-involved shooting Thursday in Algona


November 25th, 2021 by Ric Hanson

(Algona, Iowa) – Agents with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation were requested following an Officer-involved shooting that took place early Thanksgiving Day. Authorities say at 12:15 a.m., Thursday, Algona Police Officers responded to a disturbance at the Super 8 Motel. As a result of circumstances upon arrival, one officer discharged his firearm. A high-speed pursuit then ensued with the suspect. The pursuit ended with the driver losing control of his vehicle. No officers were injured as a result of the incident.

Per Algona policy, the involved Algona Police Officer has been placed on paid administrative leave. At the request Kossuth County Attorney, the Division of Criminal Investigation is conducting an independent investigation into this shooting. All investigative findings will be forwarded to the Kossuth County Attorney’s Office.

The Algona Police Department was assisted by the Kossuth County Sheriff Office, Kossuth County Attorney Office, Iowa State Patrol, and the Division of Criminal Investigations. This is an ongoing investigation. Additional information will be released later date.

(Podcast) KJAN News, 11/25/21

News, Podcasts

November 25th, 2021 by Ric Hanson

The 8:05-a.m. broadcast News from Ric Hanson.


Nursing home visits returning for some this Thanksgiving


November 25th, 2021 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – This holiday marks a return to visits in nursing homes for some who were not able to see family for the holidays last fall and winter as long-term care facilities kept visitors out to try to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks. AARP state director, Brad Anderson, says it’s a much better situation for many this Thanksgiving. “It’s remarkable because 12 months ago, we were handing out iPads, and people were celebrating Thanksgiving over Zoom in nursing homes. And we were seeing people from outside their windows, knocking on windows and trying to connect with them through panes of glass. And it was just heartbreaking,” Anderson says.

Anderson says Iowans need to do everything they can to prevent more nursing home lockdowns, and he says that starts with getting vaccinated. “The vaccine is the best gift of all this holiday season. And it’s allowing us to safely be with the people we love. And what more could you ask for?,” Anderson says.

Brad Anderson. (AARP photo)

The Iowa Department of Public Health reported Wednesday that there were COVID outbreaks in 27 of the state’s 430 long-term care facilities. One-third of the nursing homes in the state had COVID outbreaks at this time last year.

(By Katrina Sostaric, Iowa Public Radio)

Branstad says as US Ambassador, he was routinely chewed out by Chinese


November 25th, 2021 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – Former Governor Terry Branstad says as President Trump’s ambassador to China, he routinely accepted criticism of the United States from Community Party officials in a formal setting. Branstad says the process has a name in diplomatic circles. It’s called a demarche.  “A demarche is getting chewed out by the other country,” Branstad says. “…I represented the United States of America. I’m the highest official there, so the Chinese would call me in to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and they’d call me in to chew me out…and then I’d dutifully promise to deliver that message to the president.” Branstad was called to hear complaints about statements other Americans were making about China or if someone from Taiwan had visited the United States.

“When Uighurs are denied their religion or their culture in Xinjiang, China, or if the people of Hong Kong no longer have freedom of speech or assembly, that’s of concern to us. Unfortunately, the Chinese have a different viewpoint on that,” Branstad says.

Terry Branstad

“They look as what’s happening in Xinjiang or Hong Kong as their internal business and we have no business even asking about it.” Branstad, who held weekly news conference when he was governor, says as an ambassador, it was often frustrating to clear his own public statements through the U.S. State Department. “There were times when the Chinese said something that I wanted to counter and it’s 12 hours difference between Beijing and Washington, D.C., and then it would take two or three days to get it cleared,” Branstad says. “By that time, it might be too late.”

Branstad says he’s able to freely talk about much of his work in China, now but some of it must remain top secret. Branstad hosted China’s president twice in Iowa, once in 1985 when Xi Jinping was a lower-level community party official and then just before Xi became president of China. Xi uses the phrase “old friend” to describe Branstad and others, including President Biden. “The Chinese term ‘old friend’ is kind of a term of art for them. If they have known you for a long period of time and you’ve had a good relationship, they call you an ‘old friend,’ so Xi Jinping calls me an ‘old friend’…because we treated him very well and he feels real good about it,” Branstad says. “I think that’s a good thing, having that personal relationship.”

Branstad, who is 75, has set up an office on the Drake University campus and has been given the title of “ambassador in residence.” He is planning to host a conference and U.S. and Chinese relations next October.