Things to remember in spring | News, Sports, Jobs


Spring is nearly upon us. We are all thinking about home repairs, driveway repairs and yard projects. Homeowners should be cautious about who they hire to do this work. Spring and summer are prime times of the year for home repair frauds to occur. Unfortunately, and far too often, elderly residents are the target for these frauds. Home repair fraud artists will go door-to-door trying to get people to hire them. Persons, purporting to be legitimate contractors, will promise to do certain work and ask for advance payment on this work. Many times the work is not completed or completed very poorly.

The Iowa Attorney General’s Office offers these tips to defend against a home repair fraud.

Beware of high-pressure sales tactics such as “today-only” discounts, offers to use your home as a “display home” for replacement siding or windows, and “lifetime warranty” offers that only last for the life of the company. Always get several written estimates — shop around for the best deal before making such a large investment.

Check out a contractor before you sign a contract or pay any money. Request local references — and check them out. Contact the Attorney General’s Office to see if it has received complaints on the contractor at 515-281-5926 or 888-777-4590. Contact the Better Business Bureau at 515-243-8137 or www.bbb.org.

Get it in writing. Before any work begins, agree on a written contract detailing work to be completed, responsibility for permits, costs, and any other promises. Ask for a copy of the contractor’s liability insurance certificate. Put start and completion dates in writing, and consequences if the contractor fails to meet them. For example, the contract could be nullified if the contractor does not start on time. If you sign a contract at your home, in most cases you have three business days to cancel. Seek legal advice before signing a contract.

Avoid paying large sums in advance if you do not know the contractor. If you have to make a partial advance payment for materials, make your check out to the supplier and the contractor. Insist on a “mechanic’s lien waiver” in case the contractor fails to pay others for materials or labor.

Be very cautious of credit or financing arranged by a contractor. This is an area of serious abuse by some contractors in Iowa. Such loans may have high interest rates, steep up-front fees, hidden costs, and even costly brokers’ fees. Be wary of offers to incorporate credit-card debt or other debt into a second mortgage. Check first with your attorney or a local lender you can trust.

Additionally, with the warmer weather we will see more motorcycles out on the streets and highways. The Marshalltown Police Department offers the following information to help keep everyone safe in their travels so that motorcycle-riding season can be enjoyable and free from tragedy.

Use a modulating headlamp. Choose riding gear that increase your visibility in traffic and provides protection in a crash. Use bright colors and retro-reflective strips or decals, especially at night. While helmets are not legally required to ride in Iowa, helmets save lives.

You and your motorcycle are easily hidden in traffic, in motorists’ blind spots, or against a bright sky. Use good lane positioning to increase visibility.

Know your abilities and ride within your limits. Earn and maintain your motorcycle license. A rider refresher course can sharpen your skills and increase your riding enjoyment.

Allow space for motorists to see and react to you. Scan for changing traffic and roadway conditions. Allow space for emergency braking and crash avoidance.

Signal before changing lanes. Avoid weaving between lanes. Flash your brake light before slowing down and before stopping.

Being courteous, non-aggressive and cooperative can go a long way in reducing crashes.

Modulating motorcycle headlamps are legal and help make motorcycles more visible. Watch out at intersections and when making left turns. Motorcycles are everywhere. Look twice and save a life.

Motorcycles are vehicles with the same privileges as any vehicle on the roadway. Give the motorcyclist a full lane of travel.

Check your knowledge and habits. Take time to read the Iowa Driver’s Manual each time you renew your license. A driver refresher course can upgrade your skills and increase your driving enjoyment.

Traffic, wind, weather and road conditions affect the motorcyclist differently. Leave more following distance allowing room for the motorcyclist to maneuver and enough time for you to react.

A`lways signal before changing lanes. Check blind spots frequently and always check before changing lanes.

Being courteous, non-aggressive and cooperative can go a long way in reducing crashes.

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Michael Tupper is the chief of the

Marshalltown Police Department.

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