Wednesday, January 1st. Happy New Year!

Winneshiek County Public Health has run out of flu vaccine for the general public. Nancy Sacquitne notified media this(Tues) afternoon of the shortage. Sacquitne says there is still vaccine available for children through age 18 who meet qualifications. Call Public Health at 382-4662 with inquiries. Sacquitne suggests you check with healthcare providers or pharmacies to see if flu vaccine is available.

The robbery of Maynard Savings Bank and subsequent shootings of a Police Chief and State Trooper will be featured this weekend on MSNBC. “Heist: Terror In The Heartland” is scheduled to air at 10 p.m. Sunday on the cable channel. Following the October 2012 robbery, a chase by law enforcement led to the shootings of Sumner Police Chief Dennis Cain and State Trooper Mark Domino, and ended with the arrests of 19-year old William Clayton of Osage and 25-year old Jeremiah Mumford of New Hampton. The two are now serving concurrent 50 & 75 year prison terms. They’ll be eligible for parole in 35 years.

Housekeeping chores will be the order of the day when the Allamakee and Fayette County Boards meet Thursday. Appointments to boards, committees and commissions occupy most of the agendas. Allamakee Supervisors will also allow public comment as part of their agenda. The Allamakee Supervisors meet at 9a.m. Thursday, while Fayette County Supervisors meet at 1:30.  Winneshiek County Supervisors met this past Monday and will meet next on January 6th.

Effective January 1st, teen drivers in Iowa will need to have 12 months instructional time behind the wheel before receiving an intermediate license instead of only 6 months. Mark Lowe, D-O-T Director of the Motor Vehicle Division, says the second aspect of the new law also limits the number of passengers in the car:

                             audio…DOT one friend at a time

The new law also limits a young driver with a minor school license to one un-related minor passenger when driving without adult supervision. Unlike the intermediate license, this restriction applies as long as the young driver holds a minor school license.

There’s about $100,000 in grants waiting for organizations, projects or programs that contribute in a significant way to the people of Winneshiek County. Brenda Luzum says the Winneshiek County Foundation will award that much this year, but qualified tax-exempt and local non-profit organizations such as governmental agencies, schools and churches need to apply soon. The deadline is midnight, January 10th. Luzum says the applications are available online at winneshiekccf.org and must be completed through the Foundation’s new online portal. Paper copies will not be accepted.

A Democratic candidate for Governor is proposing a significant jump in the minimum wage. Jim Boyd reports:

                              audio: Hatch vcr 2

The plan also expresses strong opposition to privatizing State, county and local government services.

Businesses planning for Springtime in Decorah should include plans for Women’s Weekend Out. The weekend of April 4th and 5th has become a favorite of women from all over the Midwest. It’s coordinated by the Winneshiek County Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, and designed to provide hassle-free and fun options. There’s no registration fee. Local businesses sponsor the event and provide shopping deals, classes, in-store specials, parties, shows and music. Last year’s Women’s Weekend Out attracted nearly 350 women who pre-registered, and hundreds more who participated. 52% of last year’s attendees were non-Decorah residents, 30% required an overnight stay and 56% were first-time attendees. Weekend details are available at the Visitors Center at 507 West Water Street, downtown Decorah, and also on-line at visitdecorah.com.

Gathering tax information may not be a splashy way to bring in the New Year, but it’s a good idea to start getting organized for tax time. Christopher Miller is with the I-R-S office that covers the State of Iowa. He says, if you don’t already have a filing system, start one….

                                audio….year-end tax stuff

Miller also reminds taxpayers who are over age 70 that a tax-free transfer of their regular IRA distribution to charity deduction ends at the end of the year.

 

 

Tuesday, Dec. 31st HAPPY NEW YEAR!

A Fayette man has died as a result of unjuries sustained Saturday evening when he was struck by a vehicle operated by a Decorah woman. Fayette County authorities say 72-year old Clark David Phelps of Fayette was walking across Highway 150 in Fayette when he was hit by the vehicle driven by 32-year old Trisha Kay Ryan of Decorah. Phelps was taken to Palmer Hospital and then transferred to the University of Iowa Hospital in Iowa City by life flight. He died Monday at the hospital. Fayette County Sheriff’s authorities say Ryan was not at fault in the accident. No charges were filed.

The Decorah woman who was arrested on meth charges last Friday night remains in the Winneshiek County Jail on a $20,000 bond. 51-year old Amy Downing has been charged with manufacturing meth and possessing pre-cursors….both felonies.  It’s the second time in 15 days she’s been arrested on methamphetamine charges.

Fayette County authorities have arrested an Oelwein man on burglary charges as a result of a Christmas Day incident. 51-year old Troy Edwards was arrested and he was reported by a hunter who suspected he was involved in a possible robbery. The incident occurred at a residence outside Fayette. Authorities have charged Edwards with 3rd degree burglary, possession of burglary tools and trespassing.

It’s the time for looking back and looking ahead as we approach a new year. Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey was doing just that recently and says, in spite of the ups and downs, 2013 was a pretty good year for Iowa agriculture:

                       audio: Northey

Northey says his number one wish for 2014 is for Congress to move quickly and approve a new farm bill.

3 of the 6 entities participating in the Decorah Metronet have been utilizing the technology since late last Summer. Decorah Community Schools, the City of Decorah and Winneshiek County were the first to officially use the fiber network, while Luther College, Winneshiek Medical Center and Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission are likely to be on it in the near future.  According to Decorah’s City Manager, Chad Bird, a potential for additional use of the metronet by other entities exists because bandspace is available. At last week’s meeting of the Metronet board, work continues on rental agreements with Hawkeye Telecommunications and the Iowa Communications Network. Bird says they also continued discussion on repairs to a damaged fiber optic line in Freeport. The Decorah Metronet consists of 144 strands of fiber encircling the city.

The Iowa Dept. of Human Services says about 16-thousand Iowans who applied for Obamacare on the Federal website need to take a second step:

                           audio:  obamacare apply at iowa

Amy Lorenzen McCoy says that’s because the Federal website hasn’t been sending enough data through to the state to determine eligibility. She says you need to apply at dhsservices.iowa.gov or call 855-889-7985 to re-apply. And she says that they will gather information to get the health insurance started by January 31, and that hopefully if will be retroactive to the first of the year. But since they don’t know if you’re qualified or not, there is not guarantee you will be covered for any medical needs after the first of the year.

New guidelines out from the Iowa Dept. of Education may jeopardize how some existing special education programs throughout the state are funded.  Specifically, the department is talking about partnerships between public school districts and private facilities for students with special needs.   The department issued to school districts guidelines Dec. 20, stating how schools can and cannot spend their special education and general education dollars when it comes to re-imbursing private third-party facilities.

Iowa Congressman Tom Latham has one more year in Washington following his announcement this month that he would not seek re-election. He says one of the major problems in Washington is the bureaucracy:

                  audio  Latham on angst

Lathem says the bureaucracy has in effect become the fourth branch of government, and Congress needs to take action to reign it in.

Monday, Dec. 30

A Decorah woman who was arrested on meth charges December 12th was arrested again late Friday by law enforcement agents. 51-year old Amy Downing of 2474 Dogwood Road has been charged with manufacturing meth and possessing pre-cursors, all felonies. She, along with Richard Aswegan Jr., had been arrested earlier for conspiring to make meth at the same location. Decorah police and Sheriff’s Deputies conducted the latest search just before midnight Friday. Downing is in custody at the Winneshiek County Jail.

The name of the Christmas Day fire victim in Caledonia has been confirmed. According to her neighbor and her sister, Sandy Tyson died as a result of her mobile home fire last Wednesday afternoon. The La Crosse Tribune reports Tyson, said to be in her 60s, was the only victim, although a second mobile home adjacent to  Tyson’s was also destroyed. The fire was reported around 1 pm Christmas Day.

The head of the Iowa DNR says the state’s deer herd numbers are getting under control, but Chuck Gipp says it’s doubtful the pheasant population will return because of weather and habitat issues. However, says Gipp, it’s interesting to see several species of wildlife, such as fox and coyotes, returning:

                       audio: Gipp 29  eagles coming back”

Gipp says the return of many species is due to changes in habitat, the environment and decreased use of threatening chemicals.

An article in the Gazette last week stated that about 7% of Clayton County residents had permits to carry concealed weapons. Winneshiek County Sheriff Leon Bohr says the county is not far behind. He says 1290 concealed/carry permits have been issued to Winneshiek County residents. That figures out to 6.1%. Sheriff Bohr says those numbers do not include law enforcement professionals. Bohr says he currently is issuing about 30 new permits a month since the initial surge. Concealed/carry permits, which can be obtained only at the Sheriff’s office, must be renewed every 5 years.

The Winneshiek County Supervisors meet this morning, with the public invited to comment at 10:30. Last week, Supervisors Chair John Logsdon said the public would be welcome to become part of the budget process with questions and comments this morning. County Engineer Lee Bjerke will also present his 5-year plan for county roads and bridges beginning at 9:30.

The countdown to 2014 has already begun for some. In Decorah, the Parks and Recreation Dept. is working on tomorrow night’s Annual New Year’s Eve Bash at the Regents Center at Luther College. It’s the 18th Annual event, and is free again thanks to the sponsorship of Bank of the West. Parks and Rec Superintendent Erica Randall, who took the job earlier this year after graduating from Luther, says the event focuses on the family, using racquetball courts, the main and north gyms, swimming pool, turf room and for the first time, a movie room. The Bash runs from 6:30-11p.m. New Year’s Eve.

Sunday, Dec. 29

A little over 2 days from now people will be celebrating the New Year. In Decorah, several locations are presenting music and a party atmosphere, but one of Decorah longer-running traditions is the family-oriented New Year’s Eve Bash put on by Decorah Parks and Recreation Department. This year’s event is again at Luther College’s Regents Center, running from 6:30-11p.m. The event is free and geared to parents and grandparents with children who’ll be able to enjoy swimming, racquetball, volleyball, basketball, pickleball, tennis, badminton and other games. The event is sponsored by Bank of the West.

You have until the end of January to comment on the proposed EPA rule that would reduce the amount of ethanol to be blended into gasoline in the coming year. Iowa Congressman Tom Latham says it’s just another example of the EPA’s over-reach into the private sector, like what has already happened in the cattle industry:

                Audio…Latham on epa   20

Latham says the encroachment has come in incremental steps, and in many cases exceeds Congressional intent and legal authority.

Iowa’s 42 ethanol plants produced 3.7 Billion gallons during 2013, matching production levels in the preceeding two years. Iowa continues to be the number one ethanol-producing state, and accounts for about 28% of national ethanol production.

Several research studies have looked at the short-term effects of positive or violent video games and media showing immediate influences on behavior. But researchers at Iowa State wanted to know the long-term effects. They led a first-of-its-kind international study, comparing cultural differences from seven different countries as well:

                     audio….positive video games

Sara Prot, lead author and researcher at ISU says that over time, students who played violent games became less likely to show empathy and behave in positive ways. But long-term effects of students to played positive “pro-social” games showed more helpful, caring and cooperative behaviors.  Cultural difference did not affect the outcome.   The study took place over two years, with the help of researchers in Australia, China, Croatia, Germany, Japan, Romania and the U.S.

Saturday, Dec. 28

West Union’s City Administrator has died at the age of 48. Robert Vagts, who became City Administrator there in March of 2010, was born in Decorah and raised in Ossian. He spent 24 years in the airline industry before coming to West Union, working for American West, Northwest and Frontier. During his time in West Union, a notable project was the $10 million downtown renovation.  Vagts funeral will be Saturday morning at 11 at Ossian Lutheran Church.

The Decorah man injured in a Tuesday afternoon accident on Clay Hill Road remains in fair condition at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, according to a hospital spokesperson. 43-year old Robert Sims sustained a broken arm and wrist, as well as a broken leg when he went into the ditch and hit several trees mid-afternoon Tuesday.

Deer harvest numbers in Iowa are down, as are the number of hunting licenses, according to the State DNR Director. Chuck Gipp says the reduction was planned but not universally supported:

                           audio   27     …needs to be”

Gipp says his department is paying special attention to two diseases affecting the deer herd…..Chronic Wasting Disease and E.D.H., Episodic Hemmoragic Disease.

Apartment development projects around the state may have been dealt a setback because of problems with a program designed to help them along.  Jim Boyd reports:

                       audio:    market rate housing”

In the past few years, developers have applied to sell more than $11 million in credits for 18 projects around the state. Officials with the Iowa Economic Development Authority say reaching the cap hasn’t been a problem in the past.

Authorities still have not identified the woman who died in a mobile home fire in Caledonia Christmas Day.  A fire destroyed the woman’s home in the Eastside Mobile Home Park in Caledonia Wednesday around 1 p.m.  The fire also destroyed an adjacent mobile home but the occupants of that residence were able to escape without injury.

December is typically a big month for car sales, and Bruce Anderson of the Iowa Auto Dealers Association says this month is proving that point, as sales have been strong. He says, for the year, vehicle sales are up 8% nationally. Anderson notes, the improving economy is prompting renewed interest in leasing vehicles:

                   audiio:  car sales

Anderson says vehicle sales in Iowa are up about 5% over last year, and sales were strong then. He also says pick-up truck sales are very hot in Iowa. He says one factor may be some looming changes in Federal tax law related to vehicle depreciation.

Delaware County officials continue to search for a Manchester man who was last seen on December 19th as he was going to run errands. Sheriff John LaClaire says 55-year olf Brian “Farmer” Burns was seen by his brother waiting for a ride. Burns was last seen wearing a brown Carhart jacket, jeans and a baseball cap. He’s 6 feet tall, 240 pounds with a full beard.Burns doesn’t have a cell phone or use a computer so law enforcement officials are having a hard time tracing the man. 

 

Friday, Dec. 27

The Decorah man who was injured in a Tuesday afternoon accident remains in fair condition today at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester. 43-year old Robert Sims sustained a broken arm and wrist, and a broken leg in the accident on Clay Hill Road around 3:15 p.m.  Sims lost control of his truck on the ice-covered gravel road, went into the ditch and hit several trees. Sims had to be extricated from the wreckage by jaws equipment.

A Christmas Day fire has taken the life of a Caledonia woman. The fire destroyed her mobile home in the Eastside Mobile Home Park yesterday afternoon around 1 p.m. The fire also spread to an adjacent mobile home and consumed that as well, but the occupants escaped without injury. The name of the victim has not been released as of yet. Nearly 30 firefighters were at the scene for almost 4 hours. An investigation by the Minnesota Fire Marshal’s office is underway.

The Federal wind energy production tax credit is scheduled to sunset at the end of the year. MidAmerican Energy CEO Mark Fehrman says loss of the incentives could be a real setback to the entire renewable energy industry:

                        audio:   tax credit   9 sec.

Those production tax credits were originally scheduled to end last year, but intense lobbying convinced Congress to pass a year-long extension.  That time runs out at the next Tuesday.

Christmas Day is past. The next related event is taking down the tree. The City of Decorah is again accepting Christmas trees and wreaths, with certain conditions, at its disposal site at the Street Dept. location on Railroad Avenue from now through January. All garland, tinsel, ornaments, lights, wire etc. must be removed from the tree, and no wreaths with wire are accepted. Flocked trees are not accepted as well.  Meanwhile, Winneshiek County Recycling is accepting artificial trees, even with wire and lights attached, according to Manager Terry Buenzow:

                        audio  Buenzow

The County Recycling Center is located in Freeport.

It’s budget time in Winneshiek County, and the public is invited to participate in the process along the way. Supervisor’s chair John Logsdon says those with an interest are welcome to discuss budget-related topics at a public session set for Monday morning at 10:30. The session will take place at the County Courthouse. Logsdon says the Davenport Consultant who is involved with Human Resources and Collective Bargaining is also due to come to Decorah to meet with Supervisors January 6th. He says, due to circumstances, Paul Greuf did last Monday’s session with Supervisors by phone.

With flu activity on the rise across the state, doctors are urging residents to protect themselves by getting vaccinated. Iowa’s State Epidemiologist Patricia Quinlisk says several strains are circulating, but what they’re seeing most is the H1N1 virus that first emerged in 2009:

                          audio:  Quinlisk 19

The H1N1 strain is among those covered with this year’s vaccine. It’s recommended for everyone 6 months and older. Doctors say it’s especially important for those who have regular contact with high-risk populations: pregnant women, those with chronic health problems, young children and the elderly.

 

Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013 Merry Christmas!

An Elma man was hospitalized following a 2-vehicle head-on collision Monday evening. 59-year old Roger Paulus was taken to Mercy Hospital after his pickup collided with a car driven by 31-year old Eric Thraenert of New Hampton. The vehicles hit on 100th Street near Alta Vista just before 6 p.m. when Thraenert failed to yield to Paulus on the crest of a hill. The Iowa State Patrol reported the accident. Howard and Chickasaw Sheriff’s offices assisted.

Fans of Christmas at Luther have one more opportunity to enjoy the Emmy-nominated 2012 performance tonight(Tues). “Christmas at Luther: Tidings of Comfort and Joy” will be re-broadcast on PBS stations around Iowa at 7 tonight.

Sen. Chuck Grassley has joined 39 Republicans and 3 Democrat Senators in requesting OSHA to stop unlawful regulations on small family farms.  Prior to 2011, Congress had exempted small, family-run farms with 10 or fewer employees from OSHA regulations. But in 2011, OSHA asserted that on-farm grain storage and handling was not part of farm operations. The Senators request says OSHA is creating an artificial distinction that would subject nearly all farms to OSHA regulations without allowing Congressional review and public comment, in defiance of the law.

The first of the year will bring changes to how long you can renew your Iowa Driver’s License. The Dept. of Transportation is starting up a program aimed at allowing renewals for an 8-year period. Spokesman Mark Lowe says it won’t happen all at once:

               audio   Drivers License

Lowe says the goal is to even out renewals on a yearly basis, which should reduce wait times at Driver’s License stations when it comes time to renew.

Bremer County Sheriff’s deputies yesterday(Mon)morning were dispatched to a residence near Tripoli to investigate the  death of 70-year old David Carmichael. The Waterloo Courier says Carmichael was pronounced dead at the scene, but no foul play is suspected. Carmichael was well-known among snowmobile enthusiasts, inducted into the International Snowmobile Hall of Fame in 2005. He also was an officer in the Iowa State Snowmobile Association and was one of its founders

 

 

Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013

A Decorah native and UNI graduate is one of two educators from Northeast Iowa who have been honored with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science teaching. Josie Burg, who formerly taught at the Downtown School in Des Moines will receive a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation. Friday, a fourth-grade teacher at Shell Rock Elementary learned he was also one of 102 educators nation-wide to receive the Presidential award. Mason Kuhn, a Charles City native, will also receive a $10,000 award.

Today is the last day to sign up for healthcare insurance in Iowa, if you want it to take effect January 1st. Not so in Minnesota. The current CEO of MNsure says their deadline for signing up is being extended to Dec. 31st. It means people will be able to sign up in the Gopher state right up until the day before the insurance takes effect. Jason Soland, a Farm Bureau Insurance agent in Decorah, says it’s important to know that sign-ups in Iowa will continue along with the rest of the Country until March 31st.

Terry Buenzow, Manager of Winneshiek County Recycling, says their latest project makes sens on several levels. He says they’re installing two solar panels to provide lights for the public, and also provide a better monitoring system and flow control. Buenzow says it’s logical to take advantage of alternative energy as a recycler. He says he hopes to install an informational LED sign later. Buenzow is asking for public input to create the best recycling system possible.

Winter weather affected driving conditions over a large part of the area Friday and Saturday. Fayette County authorities say a single rollover accident happened just north of Arlington early Saturday evening. The sheriff’s office reports Lauren Foxwell of Arlington hit a patch of ice causing her car to go in the ditch and roll. The vehicle was a total loss, but Foxwell was uninjured.

Triple-A Iowa/Minnesota estimates nearly 86-million Americans will take a Christmas road trip.  Spokesperson Gail Weinholzer says because of increased demand for fuel, prices have popped up a little. The average is Iowa is 3.05, and today in Decorah, unleaded regular with ethanol is 2.99 a gallon. Prices are lower than last Christmas, according to Weinholzer:

                                …United States is paying”.

Weinholzer predicts prices could inch up a little more in the coming days.

 

Time is running out to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list, but experts says it’s critical to protect your personal information in the midst of the last-minute rush. Michell Corey of the Better Business Bureau says the recent data breach that impacted 40 million Target customers should serve as a wake-up call. Corey says your should go online to your bank and check your credit card or checking account statements for unauthorized charges. A Rochester woman who was caught up in the Target breach says the first thing she noticed was a small entry of $4.58 on her statement, a charge made on a day she wasn’t in town. She called the store to correct the charge and found she was one of millions who had been charged.

 

 

Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013

Fans of Christmas at Luther will have two opportunities to enjoy the Emmy-nominated 2012 performance this week. “Christmas at Luther: Tidings of Comfort and Joy” will be re-broadcast on PBS stations around Iowa. The performance will be broadcast today at 4:30 and again Christmas Eve at 7p.m. Times are uniform across the state.

There’s no shortage of stories about staggering college student debt, but an I-S-U consumer finance expert says there’s another angle that doesn’t always get a lot of attention. Professor Tahira Hira (ta HEAR uh   HEAR uh) says at some point, everyone has to borrow, and doing so to pay for a higher education is a good investment:

                    audio   “student debt”

She says the nation’s student debt picture is murky, but that extreme cases may skew the data. She says in some cases students do take on too much debt, but others don’t take on enough debt to build a good credit rating.

It’s been a good month for the Humane Society of Northeast Iowa. Thursday, they received news of a $10,000 cash grant from Petco and Ellen Degeneres. The same day they were awarded a $6,660 grant from Best Friends Animal Society and Petsmart Charities. HSNEI says this latest grant is for spaying and neutering 185 stray cats in 9 neighborhoods in Cresco to reduce the feral cat population. 

You’re invited to help plan Vesterheim Museums next exhibition. It’s called, “Favorite Things”, and will be on view January 23rd to April 27th. Vesterheim says it has many more objects than can be displayed at one time. When visitors come to the museum they see about 10% of the collection of over 24,000 objects. Favorite Things is an opportunity to let museum staff and the public choose the pieces to be spotlighted. The public will be able to vote on their favorites of 50 items nominated last August. You can go to the website, favoritethings.vesterheim.org and rate each one. Voting ends January 10th.

New Year’s Eve brings another Decorah Park-Rec bash at the Luther College Regents Center. Bank of the West is again sponsoring the event, which is family-oriented. Open indoor swimming, track, tennis, racquetball, volleyball, basketball and pickleball will be available for all ages, as well as games and music. A concession stand allows you to purchase pizza, pop and other food items. The Decorah Park-Rec office says they welcome volunteers to supervise all or part of the evening. The bash runs from 6:30-11 p.m. 

A new survey of bankers suggests the economy will grow at a healthy pace in rural parts of 10 midwest and western states in the months ahead. But Creighton University Economist Ernie Goss says his main street survey shows there are some cloulds on the horizon…and a lot of them deal with falling commodity prices. Goss says they’ll lead to more caution by producers about spending their money.

 

 

 

Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013

Slippery conditions forced school cancellations and interfered with morning commutes today. Winneshiek County Law Enforcement agencies were called to assist drivers in the ditch much of the early morning. Frankville Road between Highwaty 9 and 51 was closed for a few hours because at least 5 vehicles and one semi went into the ditch. According to reports, drivers lost control when they went from the treated roadway in Winneshiek County to untreated surfaces in Allamakee County. After Frankville Road was re-opened around 10 a.m., another 3 vehicles went into the ditch.

Winneshiek County authorities have arrested a Burr Oak man on theft charges relating to last July’s burglary at the Silver Springs Golf Course near Ossian. Sheriff’s deputies and the Iowa State Patrol arrested Mark Leonard Schroeder of Burr Oak. He’s being held in the Winneshiek County Jail on a bond of $25,000. The Silver Springs burglary is an on-going investigation. Anyone with information relating to the case is asked to contact Deputy Tim Felton or Deputy Dan Mark at the Winneshiek County Sheriff’s Office in Decorah.

Iowa’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate took a drop to 4.4% in November. That’s down 2/10 from October. The 4.4 is the lowest rate in 5 years.  Total non-farm employment added 2200 jobs last month:

                   audio: Katie Homer

Katie Homer with Iowa Workforce reports the comparable rate for November of last year was 4.9%

The Humane Society of Northeast Iowa has received a nice shot in the arm from Petco and the Ellen Degeneres Show. The agency received notice it was awarded $10,000 from its Holiday Wishes program. The grant was awarded for the story, “Jake’s Unchained Second Chance at Life”. That’s a story written by Kim Powell, Humane Society of NE Iowa President. She wrote the story about a dog named Jake that was found wandering the outskirts of Decorah this past April.  Petco and the Ellen Show co-sponsored the Holiday Wishes awards grants. The Humane Society of NE Iowa was one of 33, out of 4500 entries, to be selected for a grant. The prize money put the campaign to build a new adoption center over $509,000 on its way to its goal of $600,000.  Construction of the animal shelter is to begin next Spring.

If you’re planning on enrolling in the Affordable Care Act for you health insurance to start January 1st, you’ll need to act soon. Brian Huinker of Midwest Benefits in Decorah explains:

                     audio: Huinker :13  “feb. 1st”.

Huinker says enrollment usually must be done by the 15th of the month prior to taking effect. He says, in general, people from the area who’ve enrolled are saving money.

The Winneshiek County Sheriff’s Department is urging citizens to be careful of scams again. The latest episode is that a county resident was called and told he’d be arrested on an “overdue payday loan”, saying he owed $8400 in cash plus additional fees. One of the callers represented himself as “Attorney Rick Harris”, but when the resident questioned them and refused to provide any information, the two male callers hung up.

Attorney General Tom Miller is urging Iowans who used debit or credit cards at any Target store from Nov. 27th through December 15th to be aware of a massive data breach that may impact 40 million retail customers.

                         audio: Miller

Miller says the breach affected retail box-stores nationwide. If you purchased items with any type of card, credit or debit, including Visa, Mastercard or Target card, to check your account for any suspicious activity or purchases. Miller says the breach ended on Dec. 15th, but debit cards linked to personal checking accounts could see fraudulent activity. Online purchases are not affected.