Feb. 2, 2020

Feb. 2, 2020

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Q: Does the University of Northern Iowa still offer free tax help?

A: Yes. According to the university: “UNIBusiness offers free tax help to low- to moderate-income people who cannot prepare their own tax returns. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program was established by the Internal Revenue Service to help those who may find it difficult to pay for tax preparation services. Certified volunteers receive training to help prepare basic tax returns in communities across the country. The UNI accounting department staffs a site to serve members of the Cedar Valley community.” Call (800) 244-7431 to make an appointment and learn what you need to bring along.

Q: How did Elvis Presley die? When and where?

A: Presley died at his Graceland estate in 1977, age 42. The cause of death was officially ruled a heart attack.

Q: Why doesn’t the city enforce the snow emergency parking laws?

A: It does. We have found in the past that many residents don’t understand that snow emergency parking regulations in Waterloo only apply on designated and signed snow emergency routes.

Q: I think the DOT is responsible for shoveling our streets. My driveway was piled up at the end. Who do I contact there to come and fix my driveway?

A: Property owners are responsible for cleaning the snow left by a plow at the end of their driveway. If you live on a state or U.S. Highway and believe a snow plow has damaged your property please call the local maintenance shop. In Waterloo the number for the DOT maintenance shop is (319) 233-3055.

Q: Does the EPA have anything to say about all the brine and salt the city puts on the streets that ends up in the river?

A: Even though the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t have any regulations on this, Iowa Department of Transportation officials said they try to use the minimal amount of salt and/or brine necessary to keep the highways safe. Brine and solid rock salt are used because they initiate a chemical reaction that melts snow and ice when used on pavement that has a temperature above 20 degrees. The Iowa DOT’s use of brine has increased for three reasons. First, it tends to stay where it’s put, while rock salt can bounce around and end up off the roadway. Second, to work properly, solid rock salt needs water to begin the chemical reaction. By pre-blending the rock salt and water, that chemical reaction can begin more quickly. Third, pre-blending the salt with water helps use significantly less salt.

Q: Who can I call with opposition to another casino in Iowa?

A: The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission determines whether to issue casino licenses. The phone number at the agency is (515) 281-7352. If you are opposed to a specific casino being licensed you could attend the meeting where it is being discussed to make oral comments or you can provide written comments through the IRGC website or in the mail.

Calls 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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