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Archives for May 8, 2013

Senate GOP debuts far-reaching tax overhaul

RALEIGH A far-reaching proposal by Republicans in the state Senate would slow government spending and affect the wallet of every North Carolinian as it slashes income tax rates and raises the cost of food, prescription drugs and more than 100 tax-exempt services.

Senate leader Phil Berger outlined the forthcoming legislation Tuesday, calling it a $1 billion tax cut that is the largest in state history.

“This is a huge change in the way North Carolina taxes its citizens, the way North Carolina generates its revenue to fund services that government provides,” said Berger, an Eden Republican and the Senate president pro tem.

It shifts the tax burden to consumption rather than income, a move that will disproportionately affect low-income taxpayers and families. A married couple with two children making $30,000 a year would pay an estimated $1,000 more in taxes each year, according to a calculator on a political website designed to support the plan. By contrast, a single taxpayer making $200,000 would get a $6,000 break.

Under the proposal: The state’s 7.75 percent personal income tax rate for the top bracket would gradually drop to 4.5 percent over three years, and likewise the 6.9 percent corporate income tax would fall to 6 percent. The estate tax, paid by only the wealthiest taxpayers in 2010, would be eliminated, and the business franchise tax would see a 10 percent reduction.

To offset the cuts, the state would apply a lower sales tax at 6.5 percent to roughly 130 services currently exempted, or essentially any service taxed by at least one state.

The list of nearly 170 types of services is based on a 2007 survey from the Federation of Tax Administrators, an industry professional group, and includes carwashes, landscaping, car repairs and professional services offered by attorneys, accountants, veterinarians and physicians. All together, the broader sales tax would generate about $2 billion in new revenue.

In addition, the plan would apply the 6.5 percent state sales tax to prescription drugs and food, which aren’t taxed at the state level. Nonprofits would also lose their ability to get a state sales tax refund on purchased goods and services. Social Security would face a state tax for residents who also draw other income. The proposal would eliminate many of the $9.2 billion in existing tax loopholes, but other exemptions would remain.

At the bottom line, the plan does not raise as much money at it cuts, leading to a $250 million reduction in state revenue in the first year and $1 billion less after three years. McCrory asked for a revenue-neutral tax plan in his budget; his spokeswoman declined to comment on the specifics of the Senate plan.

Uncertainties ahead

Scott Norris, a manager at Brown’s Alignment and Brake Service in Raleigh, is worried about charging sales tax on the labor his mechanics perform, saying his customers will pay the extra cost.

“My concern would be that it’s a shell game, they give it to you in one place and take it from you in another,” he said. ”

Berger touted the plan as fair to all taxpayers and a tax cut for the “vast majority.”

The plan represents a retreat for Senate Republicans who earlier this year announced intentions to eliminate personal and corporate income taxes, a proposal also floated by Gov. Pat McCrory while campaigning. And it is clouded with questions because the actual legislation remains unfinished as the legislative session enters its waning weeks.

Even in its more limited form, the measure faces an uncertain future with McCrory and House GOP leaders not completely on board with the Senate’s ideas. But Berger is confident the N.C. General Assembly will pass a tax overhaul this session.

“Our current tax system cannot be fixed by nibbling around the edges,” Berger said in announcing the plan

Change was overdue

The plan’s supporters said the overhaul is necessary to revamp an antiquated tax code and entice businesses to relocate to the state and create jobs. They noted the state’s 9.2 percent jobless rate in March multiple times.

North Carolina’s personal income tax rate for the top bracket is the highest in the Southeast, and the corporate tax rate is highest among neighboring states. The proposed cuts would make North Carolina more competitive with border states but not surpass them in all categories.

“The best way to fight poverty is with a job,” said Sen. Bob Rucho, a Charlotte Republican helping to push the effort. “What this is all about is creating economic opportunity and growth.”

Democrats agree the tax code needs to be updated. But they criticized the Senate plan, saying it represents a tax break for the wealthy and a tax hike for lower-income families.

“This plan actually amounts to the largest tax increase in North Carolina history on the middle class and working families,” Senate Democratic leader Martin Nesbitt said in a statement. “This plan takes those struggling the most and makes life a little harder.”

Even some Republicans expressed reservations. Rep. Tom Murry, a Morrisville Republican and pharmacist, said the prescription drug tax would “increase the cost of health care.”

Like many House members, Murry said tax reform is needed, but he stopped short of endorsing the Senate’s plan. “This is a top priority,” he said. “It’s overdue.”

(Raleigh) News Observer staff writer Dan Kane contributed.

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Revitalization plans aired during meeting – Dawson Community News

Conceptual plans to revitalize downtown Dawsonville were released during a town hall meeting last week.

A project of the Dawsonville Downtown Development Authority, the plan focuses on revitalizing the historic district, enhancing the gateways that lead in and out of downtown and improving connectivity, the vision plan is based on data collected through one-on-one interviews, focus groups and surveys.

Several local business leaders and community volunteers make up the project’s steering committee, which is working with researchers from the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government to develop a strategic improvement plan for the city.

Information gathered shows the community believes the city needs additional sidewalks for better walkability and connectivity, more restaurants, retail and greenspace, a truck route for tractor-trailors and improvements to the facades of existing buildings.

While parts of the conceptual plan are long-term ideas, improving the visualization of the downtown area by planting trees and creating grassy knolls along sidewalks and roadways are easily obtainable, according to City Councilman Chris Gaines.

“I talked to several people [after the town hall meeting] and they all liked what they saw with the trees and the landscaping,” he said. “Making visual improvements like planting trees shows that we’re working and that we’re an active city and I think that’s important for businesses that are looking to invest here and for residents to see a thriving and an active downtown.

“No matter how small it is, it’s a step forward.”

Among the group’s long-term goals are hidden power lines, specifically around the town’s historic courthouse, a truck route that would reduce tractor trailer traffic through the downtown square and visual improvements to the city’s existing businesses.

“The long-term goals like removing the power lines … that to me isn’t something that’s an immediate need. Plus it’s cost prohibiting,” Gaines said. “It’s still important, but it’s not a make or break. Dahlonega did it and it makes a visual impact. Again that’s long term and not a critical thing.”

A long-range revitalization plan was developed for the city of Dawsonville years ago.

But according to authority members, it was eventually dismissed due to an unrealistic idea of Dawsonville’s true identity.

The new plan identifies Dawsonville’s assets, including its unique history of racing and moonshine, and includes goals and strategies that can be implemented in one to three years.

Gaines said the ultimate goal is to create a safe and vibrant downtown area.


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Native Plant Salvage offers class on sustainable landscaping

“Naturescaping for Water Wildlife” will be offered 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., May 11 at the First United Methodist Church, 1224 Legion Way SE, Olympia.

A classroom session will be followed by a field trip to three unique, local private gardens; bus transportation will be provided.
Professional landscape designer Linda Andrews and Erica Guttman of WSU’s Native Plant Salvage Project will lead the class.

Topics include how to make a landscaping plan; design ideas for outdoor living spaces; managing drainage, slopes and other trouble spots; how to reduce unnecessary lawn; how to create habitat for birds and butterflies; and selecting water-wise plants for all four seasons.

The class is free, but advance registration is required as space is limited. For details and registration call 360-867-2166 or email Register online at The class is co-sponsored by Thurston County Stream Team.

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Dalton Gardens deer survey mailed

Dalton Gardens deer survey mailed

Dalton Gardens deer survey mailed

A deer walks through a Dalton Gardens yard while foraging for food Nov. 4, 2011.

Posted: Wednesday, May 8, 2013 12:00 am

Updated: 12:12 am, Wed May 8, 2013.

Dalton Gardens deer survey mailed

By DAVID COLE/Staff writer

The Coeur d’ Alene Press


DALTON GARDENS – The city of Dalton Gardens wants to know what its residents think about deer.

A survey was sent out last week to all 832 households, and included questions like, “Have you noticed an increase in the number of deer in Dalton Gardens in the last three years?”

Or, “Have you or anyone you know had a deer-vehicle collision in Dalton Gardens?”

In a letter that accompanied the survey, Mayor Dan Franklin said, “While this survey is voluntary, your input is valuable to our decision-making process and we encourage you to return it to City Hall.”

The survey asks if residents believe deer are causing damage to crops, gardens and landscaping; if they are spreading noxious weeds and diseases to humans and livestock; and if they are attracting predators.

It also asks if deer add something positive to the community, such as being enjoyable to watch; are an important part of the wildlife community; and if they are “being forced from Canfield Mountain and other areas and now are our responsibility to care for them.”

The city also asks if residents are feeding them.

Franklin said results from the survey will be used in conjunction with data collected by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game about deer populations to help guide future decisions relating to the animal in the city.

The deer population is a long-standing issue in Dalton Gardens. The homes, which typically sit on one-acre parcels, have ample gardens, trees and lawns.

Earlier this year a poacher or poachers shot and killed eight deer in the city, including three does carrying fawns.

Households divided on the issue can request additional surveys.

“We value your privacy, and with that in mind your name or address will not be on the survey,” Franklin said. “Your privacy will be protected to the maximum extent allowable by law.”

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Wednesday, May 8, 2013 12:00 am.

Updated: 12:12 am.

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May is Public Gardens Appreciation Month in Santa Barbara, California

As part of National Public Gardens Day on May 10 and throughout the month of May,  many of Santa Barbara’s garden treasures will offer discounts and activities, including a series of 10 free public Garden Talks featuring some of Santa Barbara’s most notable garden experts, listed below.

People, Plants, Parks and Gardens
Thurday, May 9, 7:00pm, Faulkner Gallery, Santa Barbara Public Library
Susan Chamberlin, Virginia Hayes
Learn the story behind Santa Barbara’s rich horticultural history. Landscape historian and author Susan Chamberlin will share how cultural context and water, or the lack of it, shaped Santa Barbara’s unique landscape over the years. Virginia Hayes, Curator of Ganna Walska Lotusland and author, will talk about influential horticulturists and the plants they introduced to the Santa Barbara area.

Saturday, May 11, 10:00am – 12:30pm, Louise Lowry Davis Center, 1232 De la Vina
Presented by the UCCE Master Gardeners of Santa Barbara County Join Master Gardeners Steven Lewis and Katy Renner for an informative talk on preparing and selecting plants for your herb garden, unusual herbs, and tips for growing, harvesting, cooking and baking with your herbs. Learn simple steps for preparing your compost, how to incorporate com post into your garden bed preparation and some composting tips for culinary herb gardens.

Saturday, May 11, 1:00pm, 2411 Stanwood Drive/Route 192, corner of Mission Ridge Road. (Parking is allowed in the grass/dirt lot; do not parkat the Fire Station)
Presented by City of Santa Barbara Water Conservation Program and City Fire Department.
Join Jennifer Voss of Gardefacts Landscape Design and Care, and award-winning landscape designer Arianna Jansma for a tour of this firewise and water-wise garden. Learn how you can incorporate smart, beautiful firewise landscaping into your garden.

The Good, Bad Beautiful!
Tuesday, May 14, 7:00pm, Chase Palm Park Center, 236 E. Cabrillo Blvd
Presented by Dan Bifano and the Santa Barbara Rose Society
Everything you want and need to know about growing beautiful roses in Santa Barbara from noted rosarian Dan Bifano. Learn why Santa Barbara is the perfect place to grow roses, what locations are best for growing roses in your garden, proper preparation of a rose garden, organic rose gardening, and design tips such as height and bloom repeat.

Sat, May 18, 10:00am
12:00n, Louise Lowry Davis Center, 1232 De la Vina S treet
Presented by City of Santa Barbara Water Conservation Program and Parks and Recreation Department
Professionals will walk you through 3 gardens showcasing different approaches to water wise landscaping which can be incorporated into any front yard. The Water Wise Garden replaces turf with a diverse selection of water wise plants to add dimension and color to a front yard. The Subsurface Irrigation Lawn demonstrates how turf can be more efficiently watered with an irrigation system that delivers water right to the roots, significantly reducing evaporation and runoff. The Ocean Friendly Garden converted turfgrass to a native rain garden that receives water from a re- directed downspout.

A Global Collection
Wednesday, May 22, 7:00 pm, Chase Palm Park Center, 236 E. Cabrillo Blvd.
Bob Muller, presented by the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden
Gain a greater appreciation of the variety, origin, and horticultural aesthetics of the trees of Santa Barbara’s urban forest. Noted author and Director of Research at Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Bob Muller, will talk about the trees of Santa Barbara’s streets and parks – a legacy from the several plantsmen who contributed so much to the horticultural ambiance of our community.

Thursday, May 23, 7:00pm, Faulkner Gallery, Santa Barbara Public Library
Grant Castleberg and Billy Goodnick, presented by the City of Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation Department
Become a better garden designer by learning the fundamental visual concepts behind Alice Keck Park Memorial Garden, the jewel in the crown of Santa Barbara’s park system. Grant Castleberg, noted Landscape Architect who designed the park in 1976, will be joined by author and Landscape Architect Billy Goodnick for an evening of “Alice.” Grant will share some of Alice’s history and original design concepts and Billy will take you on a slide tour of Alice’s most beautiful planting combinations. Learn the how and why of Alice’s magic so you can take these ideas home to your own garden.

Sat, May 25, 10:00am – 12:00p, Louise Lowry Davis Center
Presented by the UCCE Master Gardeners of Santa Barbara County
Join avid gardeners and beekeepers Barbara Hughes and Kathy Southard to learn about the history of beekeeping, the life of the honey bee, plants that bees love, and how to get started in beekeeping.

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Do-It-Yourself gardening, landscaping series offered

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Jerry Kluver, host of “Get Growing,” will offer tips for choosing the right plants for gardening and landscaping projects Saturday, May 18. The program, as well as two others, are offered through a partnership between Rock Renew and ISU Extension. (Submitted Photo)

Rock Renew and Iowa State University Extension will be hosting a series of do-it-yourself workshops this Saturday and next Saturday. The programs will be focused on how to garden and landscape like the pros.

The series consists of three sessions. The first, slated for 10 a.m. to noon this Saturday, May 11, will focus on hardscape. The second, which will take place 9 to 11 a.m. next Saturday, May 18, will focus on raised gardens.

Both sessions will provide how-to instruction, as well as tips on selection and products to enhance a property’s curb appeal. In the 1 to 2:30 p.m. session next Saturday, “Get Growing” host Jerry Kluver will present a session on landscaping and plant selection.

Participants will also receive special offers for products demonstrated during the sessions. Space is limited for the program. For more information, or to register, visit online, or call (641) 792-6432.


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Organic Garden Manure Sale May 11

Get Daily discounts and offers on sporting events, plays, concerts, museums and other events around town

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Top gardening tips on how to grow healthy plants while saving water

A sunflower

Tuesday, May 7, 2013
12:59 PM

WITH summer hopefully just around the corner, gardeners will be digging in and planning what to grow for the year ahead.

Affinity Water is offering tips to help you get your gardens in shape to grow healthy plants, while saving money by avoiding unnecessary over watering.

Mike Pocock, water resources manager, said: ”Following the heavy rainfall over the last year, groundwater levels in our chalk aquifers are above average and we do not anticipate any restrictions for 2013.

“However we continue to ask our customers to use water wisely. Not only is this good for the environment, but it will also save them energy and money.

“It’s important to choose plants that thrive in dry conditions, such as lavender, marigolds and cornflowers so look for the full sun symbol on the plant labels when buying new plants as this indicates their tolerance to dry conditions. Try to make the most of moisture by adding a layer of tree bark, gravel or compost to keep the sun off the soil; this will help retain the moisture in the soil.”

Here’s some more of Affinity Water’s top tips to help you become a water efficient gardener:

• Move containers, hanging baskets and pots into shady areas where possible

• Reset your lawn mower blades to 4cm to encourage dense bushy growth, which traps early morning dew and reduces evaporation

• Water your pots and hanging baskets either early in the morning or during the evening to reduce evaporation in the midday sun.

• A water butt is a great way to make the most of rain water, and using one will also save you money if you are a metered customer.

• When you are watering try use a watering can filled from a water butt.

• If you’re potting up or planting containers, use ones made from plastic, glazed terracotta or wood. These tend to lose less water than bare terracotta.

• When potting up your planters use a small amount of gel crystals. They absorb water and can help retain the moisture in the soil.

• Bury a short length of pipe into your pot; if you water into the tube the water goes directly to the roots where the plant needs it most.

• Use mulches like bark chips or gravel to retain moisture and keep weeds down.

For more water efficiency advice and discounted products, go to


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    "Dark Garden" at Fuller

    Get Daily discounts and offers on sporting events, plays, concerts, museums and other events around town

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    100 years of inspiration

    The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2012

    As the RHS Chelsea Flower show celebrates its centenary, a clutch of Chelsea medal-winners offer inspirational tips for practical gardeners

    So, what are we going to learn from this year’s internationally acclaimed horticultural show?

    While sustainability may be the watchword of this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show, with emphasis on biodiversity, wild planting areas and inviting eco-systems, so many of the designs simply wouldn’t be feasible in our own gardens.

    So, eminent designers ranging from Tom Stuart-Smith to Jekka McVicar are offering advice to gardeners based on their own experiences in a new centenary edition of Take Chelsea Home by Chris Young, which looks at how gardeners can adopt similar techniques to create beautiful spaces in their own residential plots.

    Here’s a few tips from the award-winners:

    :: Organic herb grower Jekka McVicar, who has won 14 gold medals at Chelsea, on planting a summer salad crop container: “Salad rocket, dill and mustard are all great salad herbs that can be easily raised from seed and grown in a container.

    “The trick is to choose a planter large enough to grow a crop for cutting; an ideal size is 23cm (9in) wide by 18cm (7in) high, or 5 litres/1 gallon, or larger. Fill with compost and water well, then sow the seeds and cover lightly with more compost.

    “Set the container in a sheltered warm spot that is shaded from the midday sun. Once you start cutting your salad, feed the plants every week with a balanced liquid fertiliser.”

    Landscape designer Tom Stuart-Smith, who has eight Chelsea golds under his belt, on layered planting: “The idea behind layered planting in the garden is to repeat the ecological patterns inherent in complex plant communities.

    “In an oak woodland, for example, there are various different levels: an upper canopy, often a middle canopy of medium-sized trees and saplings; a shrub layer, a herb layer, and then bulbs and corms at the bottom.

    “By adapting this natural pattern to a garden, it is possible to have different layers flowering at different times, usually with the lower layers flowering first.”

    :: Professor Nigel Dunnett, three-time Silver-Gilt winner and designer of this year’s Royal Bank of Canada Blue Water Roof Garden and one of the principal planting consultants for the London Olympic Park, on green roofs: “Garden sheds, porches, summerhouses, balconies, garages and small extensions all offer great potential for planting green roofs.

    “The most important consideration for such a roof is how much weight the chosen building will support. It must comfortably take the weight of a person if it is to be strong enough to have a green roof planted on it.

    “You can create a simple green roof by securing a pre-grown mat of sedums over a pond liner on the roof surface, but it is referable to plant individually into a generous layer of free-draining soil or potting compost on the roof. Many typical alpines such as dianthus and thyme are excellent for green roofs, as are low-growing species tulips.”

    Water specialist Andrew Ewing, who is working on this year’s Daily Telegraph garden with Christopher Bradley-Hole, on edging water: “The use of an appropriate material around your water feature can substantially enhance its overall design and effect.

    “For a minimal edging, say, between grass and water, stainless steel set upright produces a crisp line and can allow the water height to be almost level with the grass. Otherwise stone is a great edging material, whether cut clean in a modern style or left more naturalistic and jagged.

    “Consider also wildlife needs, in terms of how amphibians may enter or exit the water, and also the role and requirements of aquatic and marginal planting if desired. Such planting can ‘soften’ the edge of a water feature, directing attention on to the plants and water itself.”

    :: Take Chelsea Home by Chris Young is published by Mitchell Beazley, priced £20

    :: The RHS Chelsea Flower Show takes place from May 21-25, in the grounds of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea. For more information, visit

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