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Archives for May 12, 2013

Marion celebrates Arbor Day, recognized as a Tree City USA

A beautiful spring day offered the perfect opportunity for residents of Marion and visitors to celebrate Arbor Day as proclaimed by Mayor David Helms.

The group gathered at Riverbend Park on the Marion Riverwalk to learn about trees and the “greening” of Marion followed by the planting of a native white oak, the national tree, along the park’s walking trail.

The program was led by Kevin Sigmon, arborist for Abingdon and forester for Appalachian Power Company. He was joined by Charles Conner and Cameron Wolfe with the Marion Tree Commission, Paul Revell, urban and community forestry coordinator with the Virginia Department of Forestry, Marion Mayor David Helms and William Huber, local architect.

Also participating were members of VFW Post 4667 as an honor guard, leading the Pledge of Allegiance, and Sharon Buchanan leading the group in “America the Beautiful.” Friends of Smyth-Bland Regional Library provided refreshments while Blue Ridge Job Corps students presented programs and a display from previous Arbor Day celebrations, especially honoring Evelyn Lawrence and “The Crying Tree.” Art was on display by members of Appalachian Spirit Gallery and Frank Detweiler offered “Reflections on Genesis” about God’s garden and dedicated it to the town.

In announcing that Marion was chosen again for the Tree USA award, Revell said he was “really thrilled to hear about all the good work you’ve done” in Marion. It was noted that Marion is only the second city in Virginia (along with Abingdon) west of Roanoke to receive this award.

Huber praised Marion for the many aspects of “greening” the town is undergoing such as planting trees downtown last year, working on the pedestrian area as part of the project, herb gardens on Strother Street, renovating the old school/library for the Wayne Henderson Music School, and planning green space behind the courthouse upon completion of renovation as well as all the residents planting gardens and landscaping, showing their pride in their community.

Marion is in the heart of the most biologically diverse area in North America, said Connor, with its hardwood forest fall foliage among the most unique in the world. He and Sigmon also offered ideas for trees to use in landscaping such as maples, crabapples, redbuds and dogwood.

Sigmon said property owners should always take power lines into consideration when planting trees and choose types that won’t grow tall enough to impact power lines. Trees are the number-one cause of power outages, he said, by falling on lines. He suggested pagoda dogwood, witch hazel, and fringe trees such as Old Man’s Beard as appropriate for landscaping under power lines. “Right Tree, Right Place” is the motto, he said.

A special award was presented by Marion Tree Commission member Cameron Wolfe to the daughters of Dallas Brown in honor of him being chosen posthumously for the Dr. Jeffrey Kirwan Award of Excellence. Accepting were Terri Brown of Knoxville, Tenn., Dr. Jennifer Quesinberry of Marion, and Diana Blackburn of Damascus.

Brown was a teacher, coach and mentor, serving the Smyth County school system for 36 years. He was past president of the Kiwanis Club of Marion, an active member of the Holston Hills Country Club, member of Francis Marion VFW Post 4667, and a founding member of the Grassroots Conservancy of Smyth County. In retirement, Brown worked with volunteers and BRJC students during development of the Marion Riverwalk.

“I just think it is fantastic for Dad,” said Quesinberry. “He would have been honored. He was dedicated to plant life and making the community greener and bringing people together.”

“It was a very kind thing they did for Dad,” said Blackburn. “He would have approved that kind of tree for sure (referring to the native white oak planted in the park).”

“It was a wonderful way to honor Daddy, especially with a big strong oak because he was a strong personality,” said Terri Brown.

The program concluded with the planting of the tree in which many of the participants had a hand by tossing in a shovelful of dirt. Sigmon described the aspects of the oak, saying it could reach 60-80 feet, was planted in the right spot away from power lines with enough room to spread upwards and outwards with the roots. He advised watering with 10 gallons of water per week in hot, dry weather and also explained the advantages of mulching the right way.

A little bit of effort produces long-term benefits when planting trees, Sigmon said. He suggested meeting for another Arbor Day celebration in 2033 under the canopy of leaves on this newly planted oak tree.

Linda Burchette may be reached at or 783-5121.

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Church group volunteers seek service projects

— A group of 1,600 volunteers will come to Belleville for one day in July to do service projects as part of their annual national youth church conference in St. Louis.

The city is asking Belleville residents for ideas — from building a community garden to painting a concession stand — for volunteers from the Christian Missionary Alliance Church.

The teenagers will be in St. Louis from July 9-13 for the LIFE 2013 youth conference. As part of the conference’s “Big Day of Serving” component, each attendee will do at least three hours of volunteer work in the St. Louis area.

Matthew Cesare said the idea is to do as much as possible on one day to impact a city and make a visual difference. Cesare was contracted by Group Cares, which organizes “Big Day of Serving” events nationwide, to help the Christian alliance plan the service work.

“When they said they wanted to make it an integral part of the conference, I thought of all the things we could do in the St. Louis metro area,” Cesare said.

The city of Belleville was chosen as the destination for volunteer work on one of the days, July 11.

So far, the city has worked with various community groups to compile a list of service projects for the volunteers. They hope to finalize projects by the end of May.

But the ideas so far — mostly beautification work — only utilize about 400 of the available volunteers, said Peggy Hartmann, an assistant in the city’s human resources department.

Hartmann said city officials can easily come up with projects for the volunteers, but they want input from residents on what needs to be done in neighborhoods throughout the city.

One such example is an idea generated from the Pleasant Hill Neighborhood Watch through the Belleville Neighborhood Partnership program.

Donna Mauno, a Belleville Neighborhood Partnership leader for the zone that encompasses the Pleasant Hill area, said residents wanted to do a project that was geared toward helping the nearby senior center.

So on July 11, the Pleasant Hill group has asked for 50 of the youth church volunteers to help them install a walking trail around the perimeter of Gass Park, 110 N. 10th St.

The group will also build a community garden in the middle of the park, Mauno said.

The Rev. Rob Dyer, of the First United Presbyterian Church in Belleville, said it is a gratifying thing to help make connections within the community, such as bringing volunteers to assist the Pleasant Hill group.

“When 1,600 people descend on your town, that tends to leave a footprint,” Dyer said.

Dyer’s church was volunteering for another “Big Day of Serving” event in North St. Louis in April when Dyer heard that Cesare was looking for another city as a destination for the July conference.

“He said he was still looking for a project for the third day and I said, ‘Come to Belleville!'” Dyer said.

Residents in Belleville already have a “volunteer mentality,” Dyer said, so events like the “Big Day of Serving” act as rally points for the community.

“The potential is there and the people are there,” Dyer said. “What we have to do is just to tap into it, organize it, harness it.”

Amanda Guinn, a member of Dyer’s church and the program director for Belleville AmeriCorps, has been working with city officials to organize project ideas.

Guinn agrees that the city already has a collaborative spirit, and that draws volunteers from other cities to Belleville.

In August 2012, for instance, The Mission Continues and 400 volunteers worked for a day to remodel South Side Park. And, after this July, Guinn hopes Belleville residents gear up for the city’s bicentennial in 2014.

“The city wants to do 200 service projects during the 200th anniversary year,” Guinn said. “We see (the July event) as a kickoff project to inspire people into service.”

Guinn encourages residents to be creative when thinking of projects, but some parameters are that the teens should be able to complete the task in about three hours. And, safety is a concern, so the teens are not allowed to use power tools or climb labbers, for example.

The teens will be traveling in buses that carry about 45 passengers each, so the projects should be designed to utilize at least that many people.

Other ideas on the books include:

* One group of 50 teens will be cleaning up trash from the lake and other areas of Bellevue Park.

* About 150 volunteers will be at Bicentennial Park clearing a 1.6-mile cross-country trail and doing landscaping for the entranceway.

*A bus of volunteers also could be dropped off and then break into smaller groups to do different projects in the vicinity.

Contact reporter Jacqueline Lee at or 239-2655. Follow her on Twitter at

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Natchez CVB budget spent on convention center debt, marketing, personnel

NATCHEZ — The Natchez Convention and Visitors Bureau’s total budget is approximately $1.3 million, of which the majority is spent on marketing, paying off the Natchez Convention Center debt, personnel and contracts.

The CVB’s budget is funded mainly by the city’s 3-percent lodging tax, 1.5-percent restaurant tax and the $2 hotel and bed-and-breakfast occupancy, or heads on beds, tax.

All of the $2 occupancy tax money — approximately $310,500 for this fiscal year — must be used only by the CVB for marketing purposes.

The CVB keeps 2 percent of the 3-percent lodging tax, and the remaining 1 percent goes toward paying of the convention center debt.

The CVB, however, does not keep the 3-percent tax for the Natchez Grand Hotel. Two percent goes toward paying the tax increment financing bond set up by the city and county in 2006 as an incentive for the hotel’s developers, and 1 percent goes toward the convention center debt.

The CVB gets 1 percent of the 1.5-percent food tax, and the remaining half-percent goes toward paying off the Natchez Convention Center’s debt.

The CVB has budgeted approximately $280,000 in tax money to come in this fiscal year to pay off the convention center debt, which totals approximately $10 million. The $12 million bond was issued in 1999 to build and furnish the convention center, as well as renovate the Natchez Community Center and City Auditorium.

All of the $2 tax money is allocated for marketing, per the legislation that created the tax. The CVB has a marketing advisory committee made up of tourism and related industry professionals that meet quarterly and decide how the spend the marketing dollars, Natchez Tourism Director Connie Taunton said.

Advertising and promotion

Taunton said she and Carol Ann Riley of Riley Creative, the CVB’s advertising agency of record, present recommendations for publications, websites and other ways to market the city at those meetings.

The committee, Taunton said, also contributes marketing ideas, and the final say comes from the Natchez Convention and Promotion Commission, or the CVB board.

The advertising and marketing efforts are typically outlined ahead of time in the CVB’s annual marketing plan, Taunton said.

Each department within the CVB, which would include the manager of tourist services, director of sales, marketing assistant and the CVB media/film liaison, makes notes throughout the year about what they would like to see happen with the next year’s marketing efforts.

“They all submit a rough draft of what they would like to do, and we present it to the marketing advisory committee and then make whatever adjustments are necessary (based on the committee’s feedback),” Taunton said.

The draft plan is then submitted to the CVB board, finalized then sent to the Natchez Board of Aldermen for approval, Taunton said.

The CVB’s target market, Taunton said, is a 250-mile radius. She said the CVB decides in which markets and publications to advertise based on research on where visitors come from and the reach of publications.

“We do research on the circulation of the publications and through feedback from other people who have advertised of what kind of return on investment they have had,” she said.

Taunton and Riley also attend a summit each year with the Mississippi Division of Tourism and meet with advertisers.

“We have one-on-one meetings with people in advertising,” Taunton said. “It’s eight-minute meetings with each advertiser in a day-long session.”

Throughout the year, other advertising opportunities usually arise, Taunton said, whether the state has purchased ad space and offers it to its city partners at a discounted rate or another publication is running a discount.

“Whenever we buy … we do some of the same research,” she said. “We call and talk to them and see if we can get some editorials as well as advertising, and what the overall return on investment will be.”

The publications the CVB consistently advertise with include “Southern Living,” “Reader’s Digest,” “AAA Southern Traveler” and travel websites, Taunton said.

The “Southern Living” 2×4 ad runs six times a year in the back of the magazine in the travel planner section and costs approximately $7,000. Despite the fact that it is in the back of the magazine, Taunton said the ad is worth it.

“A lot of loyal ‘Southern Living’ readers look at that travel section,” she said. “We would love to do a half-page or a full-page ad, but you’re talking about $100,000 almost.”

Approximately $7,500 each year is spent on gifts and souvenirs that are given to special guests at CVB meetings and events.

For example, Taunton said, the CVB partnered with Natchez Inc. to give legislators gifts at the annual Natchez Day at the Capitol.

“Last year I think we gave them umbrellas, and this year we gave them an accessory or shaving kit bag that matched the hang-up bag the state was giving them,” she said.

The items that are used for gifts are chosen, Taunton said, based on what other cities are doing.

“Those things we decide based on what some of the other cities are doing at the conferences we go to,” she said.

The gifts and souvenirs have the Natchez logo on them, Taunton said, and help get the city’s name out there.

“All of our competitors are out there doing the same thing,” she said. “We would look bad if we showed up to a show, and they all had stuff to hand out and give away, and we had nothing.”

Souvenir items that are purchased to give away and are not used are often resold in the visitor center logo shop, Taunton said.

Salaries and contracts

Approximately $370,000 is spent on salaries for nine full-time and six contract employees, as well as contracts for grass-cutting, landscaping and advertising services from Carol Ann Riley of Riley Creative.

Riley’s compensation averages $2,000-$3,000 each month, depending on the work she does for the CVB, Taunton said. When Riley places an ad for the CVB, Taunton said, she pays for the ad then rebills the CVB. If Riley designs an ad or does other creative work for CVB marketing and advertising, her fee is $50 an hour, Taunton said.

Approximately $27,600 is budgeted for retirement, $21,500 for employee insurance, $14,260 for FICA and $3,200 for Medicare.

Other expenses

The CVB pays the city approximately $60,000 each year to rent office space at the Natchez Visitor and Reception Center.

Approximately $30,000 is budgeted for repairs and maintenance at the visitor center and approximately $15,000 for grounds maintenance.

Approximately $55,000 is budgeted for electricity, $21,000 for telephone service, $10,000 for gas and $5,400 for water.

The National Park Service pays approximately 52 percent of operational costs for the visitor center, Taunton said, which includes utilities, property maintenance and a maintenance staff member. NPS share of the costs averages approximately $7,000-$10,000 a month.

The CVB spends approximately $45,000 for security services at the visitor center, which is reimbursed to the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

The CVB budgets approximately $40,000 for the purchase of logo shop goods, which are resold in the shop.

Other expenses include:

-$18,000 for professional fees, which include annual audit services, legal fees and similar expenses.

-$15,000 for rentals, which includes any equipment that has to be rented for events. For example, Taunton said, the CVB may have to rent chairs for an event or a pressure washer for outdoor cleaning at the visitor center.

-$12,000 for operating supplies, which include coffee, light bulbs and other similar items.

-$12,000 for additional advertising, which includes required legal ads, weekly newspaper ads and similar advertising.






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NRHS prepares for Service Learning Day – Richmond

Talk about it

    Next week New Richmond High School students will take to the streets to participate in Service Learning Day.

    The annual event started several years ago and has been gaining momentum ever since.

    This year, on Friday, May 17, high school students will leave their classrooms and fan out across the community for a day of service. The entire high school student body, staff and volunteers will make up the more than 1,000 people participating in various projects around the New Richmond area. Projects will range from painting at The Centre, work at the community gardens and landscaping at one of the schools to planting prairie plants in Star Prairie Township, a car wash and hosting a carnival.

    Identified as one of the largest service projects in the state, Service Learning Day’s goal is to provide at least one day for students to give back to their community.

    Students, who will be broken into small groups, will be sporting T-shirts so the public can identify the workers. At least one adult volunteer will head each group.

    There are three main goals of Service Learning Day:

    • Teach students the importance of service to others.

    • Incorporate classroom learning standards into real world situations.

    • Create connections between adults and youth.

    Service Learning Day was started as a way to help implement the Search Institute’s 40 developmental assets. Search Institute asserts that the more assets a young person has, the higher the likelihood of a positive future.

    Interacting with the public and working together to benefit the community is a major goal of the Search Institute.

    A few of the 40 assets include:

    • Family support

    • Caring neighborhood

    • Community youth values

    • Service to others

    • Adult role models

    For a full list of the Search Institute’s 40 developmental assets, visit www.searchinsti sets/lists.

    Anyone is able to participate in Service Learning Day. For more information, contact Trish Moberg by calling 715-243-1786 or email

    new richmond schools, education

    More from around the web

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    Five Tyler gardens on display at Master Gardeners tour – Tyler Morning Telegraph

    Smith County Master Gardeners will have its ninth annual Spring Garden Tour from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 1.

    The five gardens that were chosen for this year’s tour are all within the city of Tyler.

    “The tour is a unique opportunity to view five private gardens and landscapes,” Jean Smith, tour co-chairman, said. “This year’s gardens showcase a varietyof landscaping styles and methods — ranging from a woodland setting to an intimate garden planned for the wheelchair gardener.”

    The five gardens are: Breedlove Garden, 1216 E. Dulse St.; Gary Garden, 3601 Flagstone Drive; Rentfro Garden, 3811 Long Leaf Drive; Bourns Garden, 3819 Broadmoore Court; and Anderson Garden, 2880 Brighton Creek Circle.

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    Community Calendar for the Midlands, May 12


    MOTHER’S DAY BRUNCH: 11 am.-2 p.m. Sunday at the Seibels House and Garden, 1601 Richland St. Brunch buffet includes classic breakfast foods and pastries, salads and light fare. After brunch take a stroll through the gardens and either a tour of any of Historic Columbia Foundations historic house museums or a spot on the Second Sunday Stroll guided walking tour of Cottontown at 2 p.m. (meet at the North Columbia Fire Station No. 7, 2622 N. Main St. Tickets for brunch are $30; HCF members, $25; children, $5. Brunch reservations required; call (803) 252-1770, ext. 24 or email

    “BAMBINO”: 3 p.m. Sunday at Drayton Hall Theatre, 1214 College St. Richard Maltz baseball opera in one act, revisits the relentless calamities inflicted on the Boston Red Sox, directed by Ellen Douglass Schlaefer. $15; USC faculty and staff, seniors, military, $10; students, $5. (803) 777-5369


    CAROLINA WIND SYMPHONY: 7:30 p.m. Monday at Riverland Hills Baptist Church, 201 Lake Murray Blvd., Irmo. Concert program will feature the first South Carolina performance of John Mackey’s “Sheltering Sky”; the premiere performance of “Castlerigg Stone Circle” by Larry Shackley, who dedicated the composition to the bands of Irmo and the late Bruce Dinkins, longtime Irmo High School band director; other pieces will be “O Waly Waly,” “Down a Country Lane,” “In the Shining of the Stars” and “Courtly Airs and Dances.” Free.


    SCOTTISH COUNTRY DANCING: 7 p.m. Tuesdays at Eastminster Presbyterian Church, 3200 Trenholm Road. Good exercise and fun. (803) 345-0158 or email

    BEGINNER’S SQUARE AND ROUND DANCE LESSONS: 7-8:30 p.m. Tuesdays at Yellow Rock Hall, 2211 Platt Springs Road, West Columbia. $20 per month. (803) 740-1344;

    COLUMBIA CHORAL SOCIETY SPRING CONCERT: 7 p.m. Tuesday at St. Peter’s Catholic Church, 1529 Assembly St. The Ridge View High School Advanced Chorus will team up with the CCS in celebrating the 100th birthday of Benjamin Britten. Tickets are $12; seniors age 55 and older, $10; students, $5. (803) 933-9060;


    COLUMBIA GREEN 2013 FESTIVAL OF GARDENS: 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Thursday. Event will feature nine diverse gardens and landscapes throughout the Kings Grant neighborhood. New gardens, old gardens and evolving spaces will highlight the tour. Advance tickets are $40; $30 for members; day of the tour, $45/$35. A 3:30-5 p.m. garden party with artists and refreshments included in the ticket price. Proceeds will provide major funding for Columbia Green’s mission of promoting the beautification of the Columbia area through gardening, landscaping, horticulture, education and conservation.

    ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS: The City of Columbia is accepting applications for two vacancies on the Accomodations Tax Advisory Committee. The tax is charged to patrons who stay in hotels and motels. The two applications must be from the hospitality industry and reside and/or work within Columbia city limits. Applications are due by 5 p.m. Thursday. (803) 545-4268;

    INSTITUTE OF REAL ESTATE MANAGEMENT GOLF TOURNAMENT: 11 a.m. Thursday at Golden Hills Golf Country Club, 100 Scotland Drive, Lexington. Captain’s choice format, $75 per person; four-member team, $300; includes beer, non-alcoholic beverages, snacks and box lunch on course. Proceeds will benefit the Ronald McDonald House, SC IREM Chapter 72 and the SC IREM Foundation Educational Scholarship Fund. (803) 744-7513; email

    OLDER AMERICANS MONTH CELEBRATION: Lunch and Learn, the Palmetto Senior Care program, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Thursday at the Lourie Center, 1650 Park Circle (Maxcy Gregg Park). Joe Taylor, community education coordinator at Palmetto Health will share information about the adult day healthcare center where members receive any necessary medical care while enjoying the companionship and social interaction with other seniors and staff. (803) 779-1971;

    “THE ART OF GIVING: WILLS OF FAMOUS WOMEN”: 2 p.m. Thursday at the Columbia Museum of Art, 1515 Main St. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Doris Duke were extremely private women in life. Yet after their deaths, their wills became public documents. Join Michael E.S. McCarthy of U.S. Trust for coffee and pastries as he reviews the anatomy of a will using those famous examples. Free; call (803) 799-2810 or email to reserve a spot.

    RHYTHM AND BLOOMS, MUSIC AND ART IN THE GARDEN: Mississippi Kites (country, blues and early rock and roll), 6-9 p.m. Thursday at Riverbanks Botanical Garden, 1300 Botanical Parkway, West Columbia. New this year, guests will have an opportunity to visit with and watch local artists dig into their work. Cash bar and food will be available for purchase. $5; members, free with valid membership card and picture ID.

    FIVE AFTER FIVE CONCERT: Bryson Jennings, 6:30-10 p.m. Thursday at the fountain in Five Points. Free and family activities such as bubbles and decorating Saluda Avenue with sidewalk chalk for children.


    S.C. BOOK FESTIVAL: Special ticketed events include writing classes, 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Friday at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, $30 each; an opening night reception 7-10 p.m. Friday at the Hollings Special Collections library, 1322 Greene St. (enter through the Thomas Cooper Library), $65.

    “REVIEW REVUE”: 6 p.m. Friday, second level, Richland Mall, 3400 Forest Drive. Fundraising gala to benefit the Columbia Children’s Theatre S.T.A.R. program, a newly formed philanthropic group. Refreshments, cash bar, silent auction and surprise guests. Tickets are $15 and may be purchased at or by calling (803) 691-4548

    MUSIC AT SANDHILL SPONSORED BY GROW FINANCIAL FEDERAL CREDIT UNION: 6-9 p.m. Friday at Town Center Common, Village at Sandhill. Free rides, games and balloon artist Nick Propst at 6 p.m. Concert will begin at 7 p.m. with beach/party band Right to Party.

    “ARSENIC AND OLD LACE”: 7:30 p.m. Fridays-Sundays, May 17-26 at Village Square Theatre, 105 Caughman Road, Lexington. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $17; seniors age 60 and older, students and military, $15; age 12 and younger, $13. (803) 359-1436;

    SENSATIONAL EPICS DANCE CONCERT: 7:30-11 p.m. Friday at the Lourie Center, 1650 Park Circle (Maxcy Gregg Park). Age 21 and older, open seating, casual dress; BYOB and snacks; sodas and snacks will be available for sale. Advance tickets, $15; at the door, $20 (doors open at 6:30 p.m.). Reserved tables available with the purchase of six or more tickets. (803) 779-1971


    SEE SPOT RUN: 5K run/walk to benefit the Humane Society, 7:30 a.m. Saturday starting at Earlewood Park (Parkside and Earlewood drives). 1K-9 fun walk begins at 9 a.m.; $10. Separate starting corrals for runners, runners with dogs, walkers and walkers with dogs; pets should be on leashes. Register at, $30; race day registration opens at 6:30 a.m. and will cost $35.

    PET PAWTY: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday at the Red Bank Horse Arena, 1159 Nazareth Road, Lexington. Pet-friendly fundraiser and pet food drive to benefit seniors and their pets, sponsored by the Lexington County Recreation and Aging Commission. Registration for the Pet Walk begins at 8:30 a.m. Other activities include pet contests, entertainment, agility dog demonstrations, food, vendors, Cow-A- Dunga Bingo, pet portraits and caricatures, children’s activities and a Blessing of the Animals. People admission is a cash donation or pet food items (no bags larger than five pounds, please). Pet admission is $5 per pet. (803) 356-5111;

    IRMO FARMERS MARKET: 9 a.m.-noon the first and third Saturdays monthly at Irmo Town Park on Carlisle Street. Yoga for children and an outdoor exercise class for families. (803) 315-4648; email or

    NATURE DISCOVERY: 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Congaree National Park, 100 National Park Road, Hopkins. Walk with a park volunteer to look and listen for animals in the forest. Free. (803) 776-4396;

    VICTORIAN LADIES TEA PARTY FOR GIRL SCOUTS: 10 a.m.-noon or 12:30-2:30 p.m. Saturday at the Historic Columbia Foundation’s Seibels House Garden. Girls will learn about Victorian customs, crafts, table manners and etiquette. $8; adults, $5. Reservations required. (803) 252-1770, ext 36 or email

    FAMILY HEALTH FESTIVAL: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday at North Hope Park, 904 N. Main St., Sumter. Free event for children and families, featuring health exhibitors, games, prizes, food and activities for all ages. Sponsored by Palmetto Healthy Start. (888) 788-4367

    COLUMBIA GREEN 2013 FESTIVAL OF GARDENS: 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Saturday. Event will feature nine diverse gardens and landscapes throughout the Kings Grant neighborhood. New gardens, old gardens and evolving spaces will highlight the tour. Advance tickets are $40; $30 for members; day of the tour, $45/$35. A 3:30-5 p.m. garden party with artists and refreshments included in the ticket price. Proceeds will provide major funding for Columbia Green’s mission of promoting the beautification of the Columbia area through gardening, landscaping, horticulture, education and conservation.

    S.C. BOOK FESTIVAL: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; noon-4 p.m. May 19 at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, 1101 Lincoln St. Presentations by national and local authors, book signings, antiquarian book fair, book sales and appraisals, self-publishing information, storytelling and performances for children, summer reading station for children; free admission. The Literary Vine, 7:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday at the Richland Library main branch, 1401 Assembly St., $40; Richland Library Friends, $30.

    ART IN THE PARK: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday at the West Columbia Community Center, 754 B Ave., West Columbia. Free event will feature local artists displaying their works and a bake sale. Sponsored by the Guignard Neighborhood Association.

    BARK IN THE PARK: 2 p.m. Saturday at Congaree National Park, 100 National Park Road, Hopkins. Join a park ranger for a 2.4 mile, dog-friendly hike to learn how people and animals have interacted with the forest over time. The best behaved dog will take home an official “Bark Ranger” bandana. Free; limited to 10 participants; reservations required. (803) 776-4396;

    COLUMBIA CLASSIC CHEVY CLUB CRUISE-IN: 5-9 p.m. Saturday at Woodberry Plaza, 3254 Augusta Road, West Columbia.

    BLYTHEWOOD BEACH BASH: 5-10 p.m. Saturday at Cobblestone Park, 5 Links Crossing Drive, Blythewood. A night of beach music featuring The Sensational Epics and DJ Gene Lee; lawn chairs welcome. $15; couples, $25. Proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society. Questions? Email

    RHYTHM ON THE RIVER: The Blue Iguanas, 6-9 p.m. Saturday at the West Columbia Riverwalk Amphitheater, 120 Alexander Circle. Free admission, food and beverages available for purchase; no coolers, please.

    “A TASTE OF CAMDEN”: 6-10 p.m. Saturday at the Town Green, 1015 Market St. Participating restaurants nclude Choice, DeBruh’ls, Ginza, La Fiesta, New Horisons, Old Armory, Palmetto Tea Room Coffee Shoppe, Salud! and Sweet Carolina Cakes. There will be performances by the 2012 Kershaw County’s Got Talent finalists along with Jim Hayes, Josh McCaa and Landslide. Tickets for food and drink vendors will be available for purchase at the event. Rain location is the Jim Pat Watts Performing Arts Wing at the Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County, 810 Lyttleton St. . (803) 425-7676;

    “PLANETS FOR THE PEOPLE”: Sidewalk telescope viewing season finale, 6-10 p.m. Saturday at the Hunter Gatherer Brewery and Ale House on South Main Street. Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn and the moon will be visible. Free and open to the public. Sponsored by the State Museum and the Midlands Astronomy Club. (803) 898-4921;

    MUSICAL SALUTE TO VETERANS: 7 p.m. Saturday at Union United Methodist Church, 7582 Woodrow St., Irmo. 1940’s big band style concert will feature the Blue Serenade Orchestra and Southern Bronze Handbell Ensemble. Free Armed Forces Day event will also feature music of World War II, Korea and Vietnam, as well as patriotic selections.

    CONTRA DANCE: 7-10:30 p.m. Saturday in the Arsenal Hill Park Building, 1800 Lincoln St. (Lincoln and Laurel streets). Live music featuring BonneTerre; caller will be Dean Snipes. New dancers workshop, 7-7:30 p.m. No partner necessary; bring clean, soft-soled, non-marking shoes. $78; students with ID, $5. Sponsored by Columbia Traditional Music and Dance. (803) 760-5881;

    “ARSENIC AND OLD LACE”: 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Village Square Theatre, 105 Caughman Road, Lexington. (803) 359-1436;

    MOONLIGHT CREATURES: 8 p.m. Saturday at Congaree National Park, 100 National Park Road, Hopkins. Take a walk on the wild side during this special evening program. Free, reservations required. (803) 776-4396;


    S.C. BOOK FESTIVAL: Noon-4 p.m. May 19 at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, 1101 Lincoln St. Presentations by national and local authors, book signings, antiquarian book fair, book sales and appraisals, self-publishing information, storytelling, performances and summer reading station for children; free admission.

    WESTON LAKE WILDERNESS HIKE: 1:30 p.m. May 19 at Congaree National Park, 100 National Park Road, Hopkins. Take a 4.5 mile trek into Congaree’s Wilderness with a park ranger. Free. (803) 776-4396;

    WILD NEIGHBORS WALK: 2 p.m. May 19 at Sesquicentennial State Park, 9564 Two Notch Road. Ninety-minute program for age 5 and older is a casual stroll along Sesqui’s half-mile Jackson Creek Nature Trail. Participants will see furs, skulls, scat and more while learning about wildlife native to South Carolina. $5; age 15 and younger and seniors, $3. Adults must accompany children 15 and younger. Free for Park Passport Plus holders. Pre-registration required; deadline is Saturday. (803) 788-2706 or email

    “MISS SAIGON”: 3 p.m. May 19, 26; 8 p.m. May 22-25 at Town Theatre, 1012 Sumter St. $25; seniors, 65 and older, active duty military and full time college students, $20; youth, age 17 and younger, $12. (803) 799-2510

    “ARSENIC AND OLD LACE”: 3 p.m. May 19, 26; 7:30 p.m. May 24, 25 at Village Square Theatre, 105 Caughman Road, Lexington. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. (803) 359-1436;

    THE LOURIE CENTER: Storytelling/oral history workshop led by Julia McKinney, 10-11 a.m. Thursdays, May 23-Aug. 1 (except July 4) at 1650 Park Circle (Maxcy Gregg Park). Lunch and learn, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. May 23, “Eat This, Not That,” Mary Katherine Benya, a gerontologist at USC will speak on restaurant and nutritional pitfalls, what to eat and what to avoid when dining out. West African drumming workshop, 1 p.m. May 23. Dick Moons of the Next Door Drummers will lead a rousing yet easy group drum lesson, followed by a drumming session. All skill levels are welcome. These programs are free and open to the public. (803) 779-1971;

    SUMTER IRIS FESTIVAL: 10 a.m.- 8 p.m. May 24-26 at Swan Lake-Iris Gardens, 822 W. Liberty St., Sumter. Concerts, parade, arts and craft show, flower show and contests. The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall will open with a special ceremony at 5:30 p.m. May 24; the wall will be open the same hours as the festival. (803) 468-0251;

    “ARSENIC AND OLD LACE”: 7:30 p.m. Friday-Sunday, May 24-26 at Village Square Theatre, 105 Caughman Road, Lexington. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $17; seniors age 60 and older, students and military, $15; age 12 and younger, $13. (803) 359-1436;

    RHYTHM ON THE RIVER: Randall Bramblett and Danielle Howle, 6-9 p.m. May 25 at the West Columbia Riverwalk Amphitheater, 120 Alexander Circle. Free admission, food and beverages available for purchase; no coolers, please.

    JAILBREAK 5K RUN/WALK: 8 a.m. May 25 at the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department, 421 Gibson Road, Lexington. Packet pick-up and late registration begin at 6:15 a.m. Entry fee is $25; $30 race day. Sponsored by the Lexington County Sheriff’s Foundation, proceeds will purchase equipment, materials, training and supplies for the department not otherwise provided for in the annual budget. Register at

    PALMETTO CONCERT BAND: Memorial Day concert, 4 p.m. May 26 at the Koger Center for the Arts, 1051 Greene St. Free.

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    May Gardening Tips

    Plant warm-season grasses, such as Bermuda, Buffalo, Zoysia and St. Augustine.

    Plant hot-weather annuals, such as lantana, moss rose, daisies, sunflowers and marigolds.

    Thin fruit on peaches, apricots, and plums to five to six inches apart on the branches.  The result will be larger, better quality fruit.  

    If flowers are spent, prune your spring-flowering shrubs and vines to shape them.

    Prune climbing roses and once-blooming antique roses to restore good shape and reduce overall height.

    Cut off old blossoms on spring-flowering annuals such as pansies and snapdragons to prolong the flowering season.

    Allow foliage of spring-flowering bulbs to mature and yellow before removing.

    Pinch back the terminal growth on newly planted annual and perennial plants.  This will result in shorter, more compact and well-branched plants with more flowers.

    Fertilize plants in containers and hanging baskets with a complete, balanced fertilizer, such as a 20-20-20. 

    Fertilize established lawns of warm-season turf grasses, such as Bermuda, Buffalo, St. Augustine, and Zoysia with a high nitrogen fertilizer, such as a 20-5-5.  If the blades of grass are yellowish but the veins of the blades remain green, an application of an iron fertilizer might also be necessary.

    Fertilize trees, shrubs, vines, and groundcovers, making sure NOT to use a “weed and feed” type fertilizer, which will damage these plants.  Be sure to water thoroughly after fertilizing all plants and follow label directions for application rates. 

    Turn the material in your compost pile to speed up decomposition.  Water when needed.

    Replenish old mulch or apply new mulch in flowerbeds and around shrubs to reduce weed growth and conserve water.

    Sow seeds of warm-season vegetables, such as southern peas, okra, peppers and tomatoes directly into the garden. 

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    Design Museum pop-up garden

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      Michael Bligh, garden designer. Source: Supplied

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