Q: Since early spring, I’ve had problems with raccoons that poop on my deck. It happens several times a week, and I’m pretty sure the culprits are a trio of young raccoons that wander about the neighborhood at night. 

I’m careful to keep the deck free of anything that might attract them — no food or water dishes, not even a bag of trash. There’s a motion detector light, but that only brightens their path. 

What can I do?

— Emily, Moline

 

A: Duane Gissel, a horticulturist with Iowa State University’s Scott County Extension, said if raccoons get in the habit of defecating in an area, they will continue to do their business there until discouraged. He suggested hanging a rag soaked in ammonia on the deck to run them off.

If that doesn’t work, there are wildlife control firms in the Quad-Cities that could trap the animals.

 

Q: Is there any motor vehicle restriction on what people can hang from their rear-view mirror? Some motorists seem to hang all types of junk.

— John, Davenport

A: John, I read your question with interest since I long have been someone who hangs items from the mirror. Whether it’s legal depends on where you live.

In Iowa, there is no law that governs items hanging from the mirror, according to Lt. Mike Venema of the Davenport Police Department. Drivers can legally hang whatever suits their fancy.

In Illinois, however, the state vehicle code says “No person shall drive a motor vehicle with any objects placed or suspended between the driver and the front windshield, rear window, side wings or side windows immediately adjacent to each side of the driver which materially obstructs the driver’s view.”

What does that mean? Sgt. Fred Mincks of the Moline Police Department says a driver probably could hang a small air freshener or parking permit from the rear-view mirror, but larger items are off limits.

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Q: Once or twice a week, at night, I drop off and pick up my son and other boys at Williams Intermediate School on Division Street in Davenport. It is very dangerous, as it is so very dark there. I was wondering why there is no street light. With the traffic and poor lighting, it is tough to find the entrance. Heaven forbid a driver would not be able to see a pedestrian crossing from the school to the east side of Division. I am certain a few parents would gladly pay a few dollars each month to take care of this problem.

— Steve, Davenport

A: Helen Boyd, a public works project technician with the city of Davenport, checked out the area and agrees with your point of view. 

Since there are no residences along the stretch, she believes the city can order additional lighting without petitions and will be recommending three additional lights: One across the street from the northerly entrance to the parking lot of Williams, one at the entrance to the bus/student drop-off/pick-up lane south of the school and one at the exit of the bus/student drop-off/pick-up lane. 

She will be preparing a motion for the lights at the next public safety meeting next week.