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Q: What is the stairway used for in Traer? Has it ever been used for practical purposes or is it just decoration?

A: The winding staircase on Second Street in Traer is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was commissioned by E.E. Taylor, owner of the Star-Clipper newspaper, in 1894 after a fire destroyed the office, according to the town’s website. Taylor had the office rebuilt into a two-story structure with the news office on the second floor. He wanted an outdoor stairway because of the narrow space of the building.

Q: If side mirrors on a car are properly adjusted, should the driver be able to see their own vehicle reflected in those mirrors?

A: According to the Iowa Department of Transportation, “Adjust your rearview mirror and side mirrors. You should be able to see out the back window with the rearview mirror, and to the sides with the side mirrors. A good adjustment for the side mirrors is to set them so that when you lean forward slightly, you can see the side of your vehicle.”

Q: Can you print an address to contact the IRS to report someone who doesn’t report his income?

A: You can go to, click on “Tax Fraud and Abuse” and follow the directions or send a letter to the Internal Revenue Service, Fresno, CA 93888. It needs to include the name and address of the person being reported, a brief description of the alleged violation, including how you became aware of it, the years involved, the estimated dollar amount of any unreported income and your contact information.

Q: How old does an item have to be to be considered an antique?

A: Some customs laws and authorities say an item has to be at least 100 years old to be labeled “antique.” But plenty of people refer to newer items as antiques as well.

Q: How many Cabinet members does the U.S. president have?

A: According to the White House website, the Cabinet includes the vice president and the heads of 15 executive departments — Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, Veterans Affairs and Justice.

Q: What is the phone number and address for MSNBC on cable?

A: You can write to MSNBC at NBC News, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10112, or try calling (212) 664-4602.

Q: You have had several articles and editorials about the opioid epidemic. But why should we care if people want to be addicts?

A: Because the addiction epidemic comes with a great cost to our society as a whole — when we lose people to addiction, we lose productive workers and taxpayers, we have increased crime and increased cost for police, courts and prisons, we have abandoned children who must be cared for, we have a burden on the already strained health care system. If you care about the future of the United States as a whole, you should care about stemming this epidemic.

Questions are taken on a special Courier phone line at 234-3566. Questions are answered by Courier staff and staff at the Waterloo Public Library.


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