Tag: 041917

Safe Digging Tips For Spring

April is National Safe Digging Month, and as weather in Iowa continues to become more ideal for outdoor projects, Black Hills Energy is emphasizing the company’s top priority – safety – by providing important guidelines for safe digging.
Call Before You Dig by contacting Iowa One-Call at 811 or schedule online at www.iowaonecall.com. Then wait 48 hours (excluding Saturday, Sunday and legal holidays) before any digging begins. It’s free, it’s safe and it’s the law. Failure to call before digging could result in penalties or injuries.
“Public safety and the well-being of work crews and our employees is always our principle focus at all times,” said Wes Ashton, director of operations for Black Hills Energy in Iowa. “Whether your project is big or small, safe digging is critical to avoid hitting a utility line that could result in an outage to your neighborhood or an injury.”
Most important, whether you’re a homeowner planting a shrub or a contractor using a backhoe, always “Call Before You Dig.” Utility specialists will mark the approximate location of buried utility lines at your site with color-coded paint or flags – at no charge to you. This uniform temporary marking guide provides understanding of underground facilities to prevent accidents, damage or service interruption by workers. Yellow, for example, marks gas lines.
Spray-paint a white line around your planned excavation site. “White-lining” helps the line locator understand your plans and reduces the chance for project delays, should the line locator need to return to mark additional areas.
Always hand-dig near gas facilities. Whether using a shovel or heavy equipment, use care around natural gas facilities. Just a nick on a pipeline over time can create a weak spot that could develop into a leak.
Project delays? If you don’t dig within ten days of having the lines marked, contact Iowa One-Call again. Line locators will return to re-mark the lines at no charge.
“Underground utility lines may be out of sight, but they should never be out of mind,” Ashton said. “Please do the right thing and always Call Before You Dig.”

DASH for the STASH at Hawkins Memorial Library

Local residents are encouraged to compete in the 2017 DASH for the STASH, an investor education and protection program and contest taking place April 22 through 29, 2017 at Hawkins Memorial Library. Winners will be chosen in a random drawing of eligible participants who logged the correct answer for all four posters. The winner will receive a contribution to an existing or new Individual Retirement Account (IRA).
The DASH for the STASH contest is played much like a scavenger hunt. Individuals collect information about saving and investing and leave answers to quiz questions. To enter the contest, individuals visit a participating library or other location where a set of four investor education topic posters (and one rules poster) are displayed. Contestants read each poster and then access the quiz question for each poster.
New in 2017 and running independently of the poster version of the contest held at participating locations, there will be a national online DASH for the STASH contest. The national online version runs for seven months from April 1st through October 31st and operates in a video game format. National participants will have the opportunity to compete in an online version of the DASH for a chance to win one of seven $150 IRA contributions. For more information, visit http://www.iinvest.org/programs/dash-for-the-stash/#online.

Simply Put – April 19, 2017

By Mike Whittlesey
When a controversial issue or significant event occurs, sometimes it is difficult for those closest to it to step back and look at the bigger picture.
Consider the Cedar Valley Nature Trail bridge that crosses Wolf Creek in La Porte City. The bridge was closed in September 2015, blocking the path trail users take on their way to and from Gilbertville.
As an avid user and supporter of the Cedar Valley Nature Trail, let me be clear: the sooner access can be restored to the trail, the better. In a perfect world, open access to the trail would never be threatened by aging infrastructure and the ongoing demands of regular trail maintenance.
But we don’t live in a perfect world.
What once was a new recreational trail system in 1984, now offers evidence that portions of the pathway have not been aging gracefully over the past 30 years.
It would be easy to look outside our community for a solution to the problem. True, it’s not our bridge. The responsibility for maintaining it falls under Black Hawk County jurisdiction.
“So let them pay for it,” some might say. A most excellent suggestion, if it were only that easy. Where should the County go to get this funding? Not from the Conservation budget, which is limited to $25,000 annually for trail maintenance. Not from the Board of Supervisors, whose only likely commitment will be $77,000 for an engineering study. Not from the state either, as hope for bridge funding has plummeted, much like state revenue estimates. How about the Black Hawk County Gaming Association? Nope, they’ve already pledged more than a million dollars to County Conservation for the long overdue upgrades to the Hartman Nature Center.
Taking a step back from the trees reveals the forest of complications the Conservation Board must navigate to restore the Cedar Valley Nature Trail. First, it’s important to remember that recreational trails are not essential services. When lots are drawn for who gets funded by the taxpayers, Conservation, by default, often gets a shorter stick.
Second, when it comes to fixing trail bridges, La Porte City’s bridge is one of nine along the Cedar Valley Nature Trail in need of some type of repair. Clearly, without a consistent funding mechanism in place, maintenance of recreational trails in the county will continue to be rough going, as Conservation officials are seemingly in a constant scramble to find the money for needed repairs.
Recently, Vern Fish, former Executive Director of County Conservation, wrote a guest editorial for the Waterloo Courier. In it, he wrote about the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund, created in 2010 when Iowa voters showed their support for it by a nearly 63% majority.
Haven’t heard of the Trust? That’s because its funding is dependent upon an increase in the state’s sales tax. The next time the sales tax is raised, the first three-eighths of one cent, by law, goes to fund the Trust. For the past seven years, the Trust, which would help pay for soil and water conservation, watershed protection, trails, lake restoration and more, has sat empty, awaiting the legislative action needed to fund it.
This year, legislation has been introduced that would raise the sales tax one-eighth of a cent each year for three years to begin funding the Trust. The increase in sales tax would be offset by an identical reduction of income taxes, minimizing the tax burden on Iowans. For more information about the Trust, logon to www.iowaswaterandlandlegacy.org/resources/.
In the meantime, when it comes to open access on the Cedar Valley Nature Trail, who will speak for La Porte City? If $600,000 is too much to pay for realigning the trail around the defective bridge, the initial plan developed by County Conservation and subsequently criticized by a group of trail enthusiasts based in Waterloo and Cedar Falls, where is the $1.5 – $2.5 million needed to repair the bridge going to be found? In the words of Vern Fish, “It is time to ‘Fund the Trust’ and fulfill the mandate that the citizens of Iowa approved in 2010.”
On the other hand, area residents who believe it’s strictly the county’s problem to solve should be prepared to wait several years for something to happen.
 

Practical Money Matters – April 19, 2017

By Nathaniel Sillin
Flipping Houses — It’s Not Like TV
Flipping a house can seem like a walk in the park when it’s wrapped into a few montages during a half-hour TV segment. Find a run-down property. Buy it. Take out a few walls, paint, replace carpets, upgrade the kitchen and voilà – you could make tens of thousands of dollars in just a short time. Reality is seldom so straightforward. Flipping a home can be risky, and there’s no guarantee you’ll profit.
Finding and buying the right house at the right price point can be difficult. The shows often start with the submission of a winning offer on a home. You may not realize that it takes a lot of work to determine what a potentially good flip looks like and find a property to match.
Experienced flippers have learned how to estimate costs and work backward. A rule of thumb in the industry is to take 70 percent of the potential selling price (what’s known as the after-repair value, or ARV), subtract the renovation costs and use that as the maximum buying price.
You’ll need a lot of background information, including comparable selling prices of similar homes, to figure out the right numbers. The ability to be honest with yourself while estimating the cost of parts and labor is also important.
For example, if you estimate that you could sell your renovated home for $200,000, you’d start at $140,000 (70 percent of a $200,000). If you calculate that the renovation costs will be $40,000, you’ll arrive at the maximum buying price of $100,000. The 30 percent margin that remains if everything goes according to plan isn’t entirely profit; you may still have expenses like closing costs or reimbursing your investors.
You need a lot of working capital. While paying cash for a home can expedite the sale and increase profits, it might not be an option for beginner flippers. However, traditional lenders don’t necessarily offer financing for flips, especially if you’re trying to fix up a dilapidated home. Even when they do, you might not be able to borrow enough to cover all your expenses.
Instead, some flippers turn to hard-money lenders, private individuals or companies that issue short-term loans backed by real assets (such as the home you’re buying). With either traditional or hard-money lenders, expect the financing costs to be higher than what you’d pay for a mortgage if you’re buying a home to live in.
Keeping an eye on your total budget is essential. If you borrow enough money to make the purchase but don’t have cash on hand to pay for the renovations and unexpected contingencies, you’ll be stuck before you even start.
In addition to the purchase price, you’ll need money for renovations, upgrades, inspections and permits. Also, consider the cost of ownership between the purchase and sale. Carrying costs, including utilities, financing, insurance and property maintenance, can add up each month.
You want to move fast. One thing you pick up from TV is that time is of the essence. In competitive markets, you’ll need to move quickly to evaluate a home and put in an offer before someone else buys it.
Successful flippers may have a real estate license or work with a real estate agent to get access to the multiple listing service (MLS), a directory of homes that are for sale. Others look for homes that are for sale by owner (FSBO) or use direct mail campaigns to reach out to prospective sellers.
Once you buy the home, there’s another race against time to complete the work and make a sale. Working with a trusted contractor and real estate attorney could expedite the project. Once you’ve developed a strong working relationship, you may even want to invite others to join your team and contribute their work in exchange for a cut of the profits.
Bottom line: Flipping homes can be profitable, particularly for those who have professional real estate experience, but don’t expect it to be easy money. Months of hard work can go into a flip without any guarantee of success.
 

Classifieds – April 19, 2017

ANNOUNCEMENT
SALVATION VS JELLY BEANS & DONUTS @ www.changewomen.org How to change a woman? @changewomen.org Romans, 13; 1-8 http://usadatamortgageservices.com/ (INCN)
FOR SALE
Angus bulls – Yearling & Aged Bulls. Golden Chute Ranch, Walker, Iowa Butch Neumeyer, 563-920-4320, 319-448-4118. (INCN)
HELP WANTED
Meyers’ Wholesale Turf, LLC has a position available for a Class A CDL Driver:
-Tractor/Trailer Flatbeds
-In-State Hauling
-Home each night
-Starting wage $17/hour, raises based on performance
Contact us at rjmeyersco1@msn.com or 319-475-5000 15-2-pd
Class A CDL Drivers/Tankers. Great Pay, Home Weekends, and Benefits! Potential of $60,000 plus per year! Contact Tony 608-935-0915 Ext 16 www.qlf.com (INCN)
OTR Flatbed, $1200 average weekly income! 46-50 CPM based on experience. Full benefits. Pets allowed. CDL-A, 1-year OTR experience, flatbed experience preferred. 888.928.1813 www.drivechief.com (INCN)
WANTED TO BUY
GUITAR WANTED! Local musician will pay up to $12,500 for pre-1975 Gibson, Fender, Martin and Gretsch guitars. Fender amplifiers also. Call toll free! 1-800-995-1217. (INCN)
FREON R12 WANTED: We PICK UP and pay CA$H for R12. Cylinders or case of cans. EPA certified. (312) 291-9169; sell@refrigerantfinders.com (INCN)

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