October 22, 2014

Beware of bogus World Series tickets and Ebola email scams

With Game Two of the World Series tonight in Kansas City, many Iowans are planning road trips if they can snap up deals on tickets. Jim Hegarty, with the Better Business Bureau, says if you’re shopping at an online ticket broker, proceed with extreme caution.

“I would really make sure to check their reputation, look for reviews,” Hegarty says. “You can check the BBB to see if they’ve met our standards. Make sure the website has a secure payment processing system.” If you’re trying to buy Royals-Giants tickets through an online auction house, Hegarty says to make sure the seller is legit and has a long history of satisfied customers.

Iowans also need to watch for suspicious email about the Ebola outbreak. Hegarty says scammers are sending out mass emails that bill themselves as containing an important health update. “People are really curious, they want to know what’s going on and they’ll click on those,” he says, “and those can contain malware that can install some nasty stuff on your computer.”

Hegarty says Iowans who want to donate money for relief efforts in Ebola-stricken areas should only do so through reputable charities.


Website calls Iowa a top place to retire

Wanna-be retirees may dream of swaying palm trees and gentle ocean breezes but it turns out, they should be thinking about Iowa instead. Hawaii ranks as the number-one destination for retirees, according to a study being released by MoneyRates.com, but Iowa is second on the list.

The investment website rates the states based on several criteria like crime rates, economy, weather and senior population growth. Iowa did well in all categories, especially the low crime rate. Perceived retirement meccas like Florida and Arizona ranked 4th and 6th respectively behind Idaho at number 3 and Vermont was 5th.


Jackson County farmer finds entire field of beans stolen

A Jackson County farmer reported an entire field of soybeans was stolen.

A Jackson County farmer reported an entire field of soybeans was stolen.

In the days of the Old West, pioneers had to worry about cattle rustlers, but an Iowa farmer discovered this week someone rustled his entire crop.

The farmer from northeast Iowa’s Jackson County also has a field on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River and he says somebody ripped him off.

Matt Schuster of La Motte says he went to check on his 18 acres of soybeans near East Dubuque, Illinois, and found only bare ground. Roughly 1,600 bushels of beans vanished from the field. That’s about $18,000 worth.

Neighbors say they saw the combine but thought it was a hired hand at the wheel.

Multimillion dollar bridge between Iowa and Nebraska ready to open

After months of work, this bridge connecting Iowa and Nebraska is opening.

After months of work, this bridge connecting Iowa and Nebraska is opening.

A new bridge is opening today connecting southwest Iowa and southeast Nebraska. Officials say completion of the project not only eases travel for motorists but will encourage economic development between the states for years to come.

Scott Nixon, a construction engineer with the Iowa Department of Transportation, says it’s been a lengthy, expensive venture. “The total project with Nebraska costs and Iowa costs combined is about $115 million,” Nixon says. “The bridge itself was 61 million.”

Construction began in January of 2012 so it’s been just two months shy of three years to complete. The new route includes about 7 miles of newly-constructed 4-lane divided highway extending west of the U.S. Highway 34 interchange with Interstate 29 near Glenwood, Iowa, to U.S. Highway 75 between Plattsmouth and Bellevue, Nebraska.

The Nebraska Department of Roads completed the work on its side last year. The new bridge over the Missouri River includes a 500-foot steel section that spans the waterway. “Nebraska is paying for a portion of the bridge and Iowa is paying for a portion,” Nixon says. “It’s not a 50-50 split because there’s more bridge on the Iowa side than the Nebraska side.”

The bridge sits on 17 concrete and steel piers. “It was a challenge working in the river,” Nixon says. “The contractor started working on the river in early ’12 and they were still working in late 2013. It was over a year to get the river piers up.”

Estimates show the bridge will initially carry 2,000 vehicles a day, ramping up to 11,000 vehicles a day in the years to come. The bridge is expected to open around 3 P.M.

Photo courtesy of Nebraska Department of Roads.


Paranormal Summit set to convene Friday in western Iowa

They don’t like the term “ghostbusters,” but groups from Iowa and Nebraska who try to track down evidence of spirits floating among us will be taking part in an event in Omaha/Council Bluffs later this week. The gathering is the 4th Annual Paranormal Summit and it’s scheduled for Friday, one week before Halloween.

Sara Gray, a member of the Omaha Paranormal Society, is organizing the event. “We are going to have several presentations by local paranormal investigation teams,” Gray says. “After that, we have a psychic medium who’s going to be speaking and we’re going to go around campus and do an investigation.”

The summit will be held on the campus of the University of Nebraska-Omaha, which some believe is a hotbed for ghostly appearances. “All of campus is said to be haunted but the one that’s really been focused on in the past few years has been the Arts and Science Building,” Gray says. “Directly outside of the building about 50 years ago, a girl was shot and killed and the murder is still unresolved. Her ghost is said to still haunt the Arts and Science Building so that’s the focused area.”

Several teams are operating in Iowa and Nebraska which use a host of modern technology to try and find the answers to age-old questions about the existence of ethereal beings. “They’re going to present their most astounding evidence that they have gotten in the past few years,” Gray says. “It should be really interesting. Some of them are using new equipment so they might show off a little bit of that.”

The summit is open to anyone and begins at 6 P.M. Friday at the Milo Bail Student Center on the UNO campus. There is an admission charge.


Senator Grassley says Burger King protestors have the wrong focus

Senator Chuck Grassley

Senator Chuck Grassley

A protest is planned this afternoon outside a Burger King in Des Moines, demonstrating against the company’s proposal to move its headquarters to Canada. The list of speakers at the 4 P.M. event includes the heads of two unions, a local teachers’ association and the Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says the protesters should be focusing their efforts elsewhere. “They ought to be demonstrating to Congress to change the corporate tax laws, reduce the corporate tax rate so we’re competitive,” Grassley says, “and at the same time, any organization is going to have to be able to compete in the United States and expand their business or they won’t be in business.”

Burger King, which has more than 75 Iowa restaurants, is planning to acquire a successful Canadian donut shop chain and would move the fast-food company’s headquarters from Miami to Toronto. Grassley, a Republican, says the move is understandable, given America’s tax structure. He say the U.S. corporate tax rate is 35-percent while states add another four-percent — for a total of 39-percent.

“We’ve got to reduce the corporate tax rate to at least what the international average is of about 23%,” Grassley says. “Think how uncompetitive we are at 39, get it down to 23 so we can compete.” Drug store chain Walgreens came under fire in August after its leaders announced they were considering a plan to move the corporate headquarters overseas.

In an interview with Radio Iowa in August, Grassley called the United States’ tax system “unpatriotic” as U.S.-based companies have a very hard time competing in the global marketplace. Burger King is the latest corporation to weigh such a move.

“It’s another example of several other companies that are trying to be internationally competitive and do it in a way that compensates for the biggest corporate tax rate in the entire industrialized world,” according to Grassley. A former chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Grassley says U.S. corporations are storing up to two-trillion dollars in offshore accounts, money that could be used for “economic good” in the U.S.


Des Moines woman charged in fatal hit-and-run

DSM-PDA young woman from central Iowa is charged in a fatal weekend hit-and-run accident. Des Moines police were called to an eastside street on Saturday morning and found the body of 55-year-old Kenneth Wallace in the road.

Evidence indicated a hit and run, including a license plate. Officers traced the plate to a pickup truck and later, 20-year-old Ashley Brown of Des Moines, turned herself in and reportedly admitted to being the driver. She’s charged with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death and no insurance.