If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

Q: I will try again to get my question answered about empty U-Haul cardboard boxes. We recently moved and now have several empty U-Haul boxes. We understand we paid for these boxes when the company packed them for moving and that U-Haul will buy back the empty ones. Do you know if this is so? And, if so, is there a U-Haul business in Hutchinson where we can take these boxes? They are too nice to just throw away. We have the moving billing statement from the company.

We answered this question in December, but didn’t know it was referring to U-Haul boxes. So here is what you can do.

If you bought boxes from a local dealer, and the boxes are not used, you can sell the boxes back to the local dealer you bought them from, said Johanna West, at Budget Storage, a U-Haul dealer at 2511 E. 17th Ave.

However, if you bought the boxes somewhere else – let’s say you moved from Texas to Kansas – and bought the boxes before moving, then you can only sell the unused boxes to a U-Haul center in Wichita, or sell them at the location you purchased them from in Texas.

Clear as mud? I hope so. As for the used boxes, you can donate them to one of the Hutchinson centers, or to Wichita, but they will not buy them back.

The next question was translated to me by Ashley Booker, who was kind enough to take it from a reader visiting us last week.

Q: I have a tree with bark stripped out of it. The bark is stripped one half to an inch thick and about 15 feet up – the height of the tree.

What caused this? My wife searched for an answer and found it could be gray squirrels, but I have never seen gray squirrels in the area. Do we have an infestation of gray squirrels? Are they just like the armadillo and moving into Kansas?

Um. No.

You haven’t seen them. I haven’t seen them. Jeremy Lindahl, superintendent of horticulture and forestry, has not seen gray squirrels overtaking Hutch.

Squirrels – gray, brown, red – could maybe scrape patches off your tree. But more than likely, it was lightning, said Lindahl.

Meanwhile, my friend and Ask Hutch partner Kathy Hanks tells me her tree has the same issue. But, it was caused by ice from the November ice storm.

Lindahl added it is tough to give a diagnosis without seeing the tree but lightning could peel back the park.

No worries, your tree should make it through, said Lindahl.

“It will probably heal itself.”

Q: What part of the USD 309 budget did they take tax payer money from to sue the state of Kansas over school funding?

According to Ray Hemman, spokesman for Hutchinson schools, the portion of the budget the money came from was the Local Option Budget – or the dollars raised from local taxes about state aid.

Meanwhile, Hemman got this information from Lori Blakesley, executive director of fiscal management and business operations.

“Note that for each $1 the district has spent on the lawsuit through our Local Option Budget, our district taxpayers have received $5.52 in reduced taxes through equalization. If your 401K had that kind of a return over six years, I’m sure you’d be quite pleased,” Hemman said.

Blakesly’s information stated that Hutch won’t have the bill for the 2015-16 dues until June. She provided data for other years, however.

“There were only two years in which we incurred costs over and above the dues for being members of Schools for Fair Funding,” Hemman said in an email.

Here’s the data:

2009-10: $28,859 (all dues).

2010-11: $18,338 (all dues).

2011-12: $42,444 (all dues).

2012-13: $30,968 (dues); $424 (miscellaneous: turnpike toll, travel expenses, hotel); Total: $31,392.

2013-14: $31,299 (all dues).

2014-15: $30,912 (dues); $45 (office supplies for presentation) for a total of $30,957.

Hemman said in all, the district spent – from 2009-10 to 2014-15 – $183,289.

Hemman said when the district gets its June bill, officials believe the dues will be comparable to the past three years.

“Of note, equalization saved the district $695,501 in 2014-15 and $316,037 in 2015-16, saving our district taxpayers a total of $1,011,538,” he said.