Friday News, November 27
Iowa State Economist Says Black Friday Sales Are Over-hyped
(Le Mars) -- Today marks the unofficial start to the holiday shopping season, and it is the biggest shopping day of the year, as shoppers stand in line waiting for doors to open to capitalize on the bargains. Today was once called the key in getting retailers on the way to positive sales for the Christmas season. However, an Iowa State University economist doesn't believe Black Friday has much of an impact upon the overall general economy. I-S-U economist Dave Swenson doesn't believe that's the case. Swenson says "Black Friday has been hyped much beyond its economic significance," He says the more important thing is how well retailers attract customers overall.
Swenson says Black Friday sales totals don't give a picture of what the holiday retail season will look like once the shopping is over.
Customers now don't have to wait for Black Friday deals, they can go on-line anytime searching for the best deal, and can get special offers and sale price sent directly to their phones. Swenson says the economic signs are all pointing to a holiday season that's about the same this year as it was for retailers last year.
Northey Suggests Choosing A Iowa Grown Christmas Tree
(Des Moines) -- In addition to shopping, many people take the time today to begin decorating their home for the upcoming Christmas holiday. Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey suggests people consider choosing a fresh, Iowa grown Christmas tree to decorate their home. Northey says, "selecting a fresh Christmas tree can be part of a great family tradition and is an opportunity to connect with an Iowa farmer and support the local economy. The Iowa Agriculture Secretary says "Iowa is fortunate to have more than 100 Christmas tree farms in all parts of the state, so everyone has the opportunity to get their own fresh tree to help celebrate". A directory of tree farms across Iowa is available on the Iowa Christmas Tree Grower's website at www.IowaChristmasTrees.com.
Inmates Help Restore Christmas Street Lights
FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) - Giant snowflakes have been refreshed and now grace light poles along six bridges in Fort Dodge.
The Messenger reports that 80 of the refurbished holiday decorations were installed Tuesday morning.
Inmates at the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility joined several local organizations in the effort. They used 6,000 feet of electrical cord and 7,200 LED light bulbs for their work, which included stripping off the old garland.
The workers welded any areas that needed repair, sandblasted the metal framework and then primed and painted before putting on the wiring and lights.
An anonymous donor paid for the supplies.
Judge Suggests One Private Company To Handle Medicare Be Removed
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - An administrative law judge has recommended Iowa throw out one of four contracts awarded to private companies set to take over the state's Medicaid program in January.
Judge Christie Scase says in a ruling Wednesday that Iowa should reverse its contract with Florida-based WellCare. The ruling is considered a "proposed decision." It's unclear how it will affect plans to let WellCare and three other companies run Iowa's $4.2 billion Medicaid program for the poor and disabled.
The ruling says WellCare should have disclosed information early to state officials about fraud or mismanagement involving former executives. WellCare officials said in a statement it will challenge the ruling.
Gov. Terry Branstad said in a statement Wednesday his office is working to ensure things remain on schedule.
Three Men Sentenced For Bank Fraud
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A former bank vice president and two accomplices have been sentenced for defrauding a bank in northern Iowa.
Sixty-two-year-old Richard Jones, of Emmetsburg, 68-year-old Michael Manning, of Milford, and 37-year-old Aric Manning, of Phoenix, were sentenced on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Sioux City.
Prosecutors say that from November 2003 to March 2010, Jones used his position at Iowa Trust and Savings Bank to forge customers' signatures on fraudulent loan documents and direct nearly $476,000 to the Mannings and two other people.
Jones was sentenced to 14 months in prison and told to pay more than $207,000 in restitution. Aric Manning was given a year and ordered to pay more than $58,000 in restitution. Michael Manning was sentenced to a day and ordered to pay nearly $27,500 in restitution.
Grassley Talks About Syrian Refugee Issue
(Washington) -- The latest great national debate involves the Syrian refugees. While half the nation would like to see the United States open its arms and welcome the people of Syria. Others, don't wish to be as welcoming for fear of terrorists will infiltrate the United States under the guise of a refugee. Republican Senator, Chuck Grassley addressed the controversial issue earlier this week during his weekly news conference with Iowa media. Grassley says Syrian refugees have to be handled differently than other refugees and immigrants.
Grassley says the U-S will take in other refugees from that region.