We Need To Do More To Guard Against Identity Theft

identity theftNorthwest Iowa — Most people think about protecting themselves from identity theft, but most don’t get around to doing anything to protect themselves.  A financial advisor says you can — and should — do more to protect yourself from identity theft.

Mike Cetera, with the banking industry website Bankrate-dot-com, says a new report shows 77-percent of Americans are afraid of identity theft, but many aren’t taking the actions needed to reduce the risks. Cetera says inexpensive “fixes” can help to prevent the crime.

A recent data breach involved the head of the C-I-A, whose personal email account was hacked, revealing a list of email addresses and Social Security numbers. As that case demonstrates, Cetera says it’s impossible to cover all of your bases.

If you’re planning to use your smart phone, laptop or tablet at a coffee shop or some other public place, he says to never use an unsecured wi-fi network. Cetera says it’s a good idea to check your credit report at least twice a year.

You can help protect yourself from I-D thieves by using different passwords for all of online accounts — and changing them frequently.

Sheldon Finishing 2015 With Above Normal Precip

rain drops car hood_sxcSheldon, Iowa — Northwest Iowa is finishing 2015 with above normal precipitation levels for the year.

In Sheldon, the official precipitation total for 2015 is more than 37 inches.  In a normal, or average, year the precipitation total would be 27.61 inches, ending the year almost 10 inches above normal in the precipitation category.

2013 and 2014 were slightly above average, with 29.94 inches in 2013, and 28.23 inches in 2014.  However, that was not enough to make up the deficit caused by the relatively dry years of 2011 and 2012, when we got just over 20 inches each year.

During 2011 and 2012 lawns were in constant need of watering, and water levels in Sheldon’s shallow wells were running low.  In both years, though,the heaviest rains of the year came in late spring or early summer, giving the corn and soybean crops the moisture boost needed to garner good yields.

With the above average precipitation in 2015, Sheldon City Manager Scott Wynja tells us that the City has been able to begin bringing their shallow wells back online, providing softer water to Sheldon residents.  2015’s above average precip should lead to abundant ground water for next season’s crops.

In case you’re wondering where the “normal” precipitation and temperature numbers come from, they’re based on a 30-year average, and are re-calculated every 10 years.

Sheldon’s Official Weather Data is collected and recorded at KIWA for the National Weather Service office in Sioux Falls.

Malfunction Causes Crash

Sanborn, Iowa — A Merrill woman and two passengers in her vehicle were taken to the hospital after an accident near Sanborn recently.
ISP patrol car zoom on logos
The Iowa State Patrol reports that 66-year-old Sherry Mastbergen of Merrill was driving a 1996 Ford Explorer northbound on Highway 59, two miles north of the Highway 18 and 59 junction east of Sanborn.

The report says that according to Mastbergen and witnesses to the accident, the driver side rear wheel of the Explorer came off and lodged under the vehicle. Mastbergen lost control and the SUV slid into the ditch.

As it entered the ditch, the officer says it rolled a couple times before coming to rest upright at the bottom of the ditch.

The Sanborn and Hartley Ambulances took Mastbergen and two passengers, Chloe Cover and Emma Ankerstjerne to Sanford Sheldon hospital.

Mastbergen’s Ford Explorer sustained $2000 in damages, which was enough to total the vehicle.

The Iowa State Patrol reports that Sanborn Fire Department and Rescue personnel assisted them at the scene.

Lewis & Clark Awards Pipeline Contract

Lewis&ClarkSheldon, Iowa — The Lewis & Clark Water System’s board of directors have awarded a $5.2 million contract to a Pipestone, Minnesota company for construction of the 6-1/2 mile segment of 24-inch steel pipe between Luverne and Magnolia in Minnesota.

Sheldon City Manager Scott Wynja says that actions taken by the state of Minnesota have helped move the project along, and he talks about what that will eventually mean to Sheldon, as well as other communities waiting to be connected to the Lewis & Clark system.

Wynja says that the Iowa Legislature has been approached and urged to adopt a funding mechanism similar to the one Minnesota is using to build this latest project.

He says that, while no pipeline is being extended in Iowa at this point, the completion of the most recent Minnesota project will indirectly benefit Sheldon.

Meanwhile, Wynja says recent precipitation has allowed the City of Sheldon to bring some of it’s shallow water wells back online.

Construction on the Luverne to Magnolia segment of the Lewis & Clark system is expected to begin this spring, and be completed by next fall.  Lewis & Clark is currently serving 12 of it’s 20 member cities and rural water systems.  Luverne is anticipated to begin receiving water sometime in January, which will bring the number of connected systems to 13.

Business Damaged In Fire

Calumet, Iowa — A business was damaged in a fire on Wednesday, December 30, 2015 in Calumet.
Calumet FD Fire truck
According to Calumet Fire Chief Mike Jensen, about 7:05 AM, the Calumet Fire Department was called to the report of a structure fire at 111 South Railway Avenue, the address of Huffman Equipment and Service, just off Main Street.

The chief says he discovered the fire himself and called it in when he saw smoke coming from the roof vents of the building.

Jensen says there were no injuries reported.

He says the Calumet Fire Department was assisted by the Sutherland Fire Department. He says they were called in for extra manpower.

He says the cause of the fire appeared to be electrical in nature. He says the fire was up in the ceiling, and they had to remove the ceiling and insulation to get at it.

Chief Jensen reports that there was only minor damage to the structure.

He says they used 200 gallons of water to fight the fire, and crews were on scene about two and a half hours.

Old Scam Making New Appearance

Mid-American-EnergySheldon, Iowa — Sheldon police have received calls in recent days from individuals and businesses reporting a telephone scam.

Police Chief Lyle Bolkema says the scammers purport to represent MidAmerican Energy, and they inform the person that they are late on their utility bill payment, and give their intended victim a time and date when their power will be turned off.  Bolkema says the scammer also gives them a telephone number to call.  Bolkema says when the victim calls that number, it goes directly to voice mail and the message stated that they have reached Mid American Energy.  If the victim leaves a message, the scammer calls them back and gives them instructions on how to get a money gram from Dollar General and where to send it so that their power won’t be turned off.  Bolkema says that one potential victim got as far as Dollar General to buy a money-gram, but was prevented from being victimized when the Dollar General clerk told them it was a scam.

We talked to Ashton Newman of MidAmerican Energy, and she says this scam has been reported to her company by multiple Sheldon area residents over the past couple of days.

Newman tells us how to recognize a scam.

She says the scammers generally ask for immediate payment, right over the phone.

Newman says MidAmerican employees NEVER ask for personal information over the phone.

She says customers who receive a call threatening immediate disconnection should hang up immediately and call MidAmerican Energy customer service at 1-888-427-5632.