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Archives for June 30, 2013

Manchaca club practices sustainable living

Diana Heinig, founder of the Chaparral Park Sustainable Living Club, practices sustainable living methods on her property which include practices such as gardening, native landscaping, drought tree care, water harvesting and beekeeping. (photos by Kim Kilsenbeck)



Like-minded people getting together — that is exactly how the Chaparral Park Sustainable Living Club came to be.

Their like-mindedness includes sustainable living practices such as gardening, native landscaping, drought tree care, water harvesting and beekeeping.

“Our main purpose is to share ideas, learn and help each other,” said Diana Heinig, the club’s organizer.

Heinig said the club, which started about a year ago, has about 40 to 50 members. Most hail from the Chaparral Park and surrounding neighborhoods in the northeast section of Hays County.

But Heinig said members also come from other neighborhoods along FM 1626. While she would welcome people from anywhere in Hays County, Heinig said she hopes hearing about her club will inspire other neighborhoods to form their own.

Each month, Heinig organizes a speaker, sometimes from the neighborhood, to share information on a selected topic. The club is casual, according to Heinig. People may come to all the meetings, or just the ones that really interest them.

“It’s also a social club in some ways,” Heinig said. “We just enjoy getting together.”

Learning about sustainable practices like gardening and landscaping on your own can be daunting, says Heinig. That’s where clubs like this one help ease people into it.

“We each bring our own ideas and suggestions to the club,” said Heinig. “And we all ask questions. It’s about sharing our knowledge.”

Heinig’s yard is a veritable array of sustainable landscaping, trees and gardens; she favors salvia, lantana, cactuses, esperanza, agave and grasses for landscaping.

“Two plants that do well are the Jerusalem Sage and the Wooly Butterfly Bush,” she said.

For small trees and bushes, Heinig said she likes desert willows, mountain laurels and American Beautyberry.

Her winter garden was full of red leaf lettuce. So much, Heinig said, she’s invited neighbors and club members to pick some for themselves. One of the ideas tossed around in the Sustainable Living Club is to have each member grow certain vegetables and then everyone can share.

Heinig has spent many hours outside planting, landscaping and creating a space to enjoy the outdoors and the wildlife that call her backyard home.

She had her yard designated a Certified Backyard Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. As part of the deal, she provides water, shelter and food for animals. Examples of food include native plants, seeds, fruits, nuts, berries and nectar.

She also raises chickens.

A guest speaker from the Travis County Master Gardener Association is scheduled to discuss drought resistant landscaping design at the March meeting.

For more information about joining the Chaparral Park Sustainable Living Club, or starting your own, contact Diana Heinig at

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About The Tribune-Review – Tribune

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Friday – June 28, 2013

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Wednesday – June 26, 2013

By Les Harvath

Published: Saturday, June 29, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Updated 7 hours ago

For several generations, since tanks were introduced on the battlefields of World War I, kids, especially boys, have played with them as they grew up. But Belle Vernon Area High School senior-to-be Jonathan Baker has gone one better, or perhaps 33 tons better.

For Baker’s soon-to-be-completed Eagle Scout project, he has taken on a World War II era Sherman tank that, due to aging, exposure to decades of weather and vandalism, is in dire need of repair.

Situated on a concrete slab in the center of the World War II memorial in Monessen, a long-neglected Sherman tank is undergoing a long-awaited and much-needed facelift.

Exploring several possibilities for his project, “this one stood out,� Baker said, referring to turning the tank into an attraction instead of an eyesore. “I have five great-great uncles who were in World War II and, even though this is not the memorial dedicated to all Monessen residents who were veterans, this is a World War II memorial and I thought it would be a fitting tribute to them and everyone who fought in the war.�

With his plans in hand, Baker, a member of Scout Troop 1543 in Belle Vernon, attended a Monessen city council work session to present his proposal. One day later council gave Baker the go-ahead.

“Jonathan came to council and said he was looking at the tank for his Eagle Scout project,â€� Monessen City Administrator John Harhai said. “That tank has been here 50 years and, even though refurbishing was necessary, was not high on the list of the city’s priorities. We liked what Jonathan had to say and we are working with him. He is repainting the entire tank and redoing the surrounding area, including shrubbery.

“This is the future of the United States,� Harhai added, referring to Baker and Scouts like him. “These are the children you want to work with, and I wish we had more young people who are willing to take on responsibilities such as Jonathan has. This is an excellent project, one which will obviously benefit our community. He came in with a solid plan and knows what he wants to accomplish.�

In presenting his plans, Baker fielded questions regarding the overall project, landscaping, and color he would paint the impressive tank, a decommissioned military vehicle. He located the original serial number through a military data base website and will replace military markings of the tank, including a white star on the front and numbers on the sides of the 19-feet-4-inches long, 8-feet-7-inches wide, 29-feet high, 450 horsepower weapon, armed with a 75 mm gun, two .30 caliber Browning machine guns, and one .50 caliber Browning machine gun and a crew of five.

More than 50,000 Sherman tanks, named in honor of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s subordinate, William Tecumseh Sherman, were produced between 1942 and 1945, and was the most commonly used American tank in World War II They were used in all combat theaters (National WWII Museum in New Orleans website). “Sherman tanks,â€� wrote Stephen E. Ambrose in “D-Day June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II,â€� were “the first vehicles on Omaha Beach (on D- Day).â€�

Baker has been involved with scouting since the second grade, joining with friends and following in the footsteps of his father, Jeff, who is Scoutmaster of Troop 1543.

Dennis Lynn, assistant Scoutmaster of Troop 1543, has known and worked with Baker for five years.

“Jonathan has a high energy level and a positive attitude,� Lynn noted. “He exhibits a lot of scouting spirit and is very motivated. He helps with younger Scouts and tries to keep their excitement levels up and keep them interested in their activities. He helps keep the Scouts focused on tasks at hand.�

Once Baker, who plays the clarinet in the Belle Vernon Area Symphonic Band and will be clarinet section leader in the Belle Vernon Area marching band, decided on his project, he reviewed some of his plans with Lynn.

“Everything went well,� Lynn added. “His ideas were organized; he had back-up plans and a very logical approach to what he is doing.�

To obtain necessary materials for the project, Baker contacted veterans’ organizations in Monessen and surrounding communities, receiving primer and paint, which will cover any paint markings from vandals to restore the tank to its original green color. In addition to restoring the tank, Baker, along with members of his Scout troop, is rebuilding a stone wall and redoing landscaping at the memorial site.

“Everyone I contacted has been very supportive and positive about the project,â€� Baker said, noting that the project will be completed in time for the city’s July 4 celebration.

However, Baker did not merely settle for refurbishing the tank and bringing it back to life.

“I’ve heard a lot about the Sherman tank and I researched it and discovered it obviously has an impressive history,â€� he added. “It’s one thing to work on a project, but if you know something about the subject it adds a personal connection, and is more fun in the long run.â€�

Les Harvath is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

  1. Valley residents big winners at Senior Games

  2. Grebb Summer Basketball League begins its 5th year

  3. CalU gets $100K grant from Scaife Foundation

  4. Fountain honors hospital officer

  5. Historic World War I tank in Belle Vernon gets facelift

  6. New Charleroi-Monessen bridge open for good on Saturday

  7. Monessen woman cited after dog bites Valley Independent delivery person

  8. Monessen shooting victim facing drug charges

  9. Two men charged in theft of tires, rims from North Belle Vernon shop

  10. Progress Council gets highway update

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Working Strategies: Finding your level doing interim work during a job search

There was a time when people who lost jobs, at least in the white collar world, were told not to work at anything “lower status” while waiting for the next professional opportunity, lest it hurt their career. The idea seemed to be that if you settled for something too “low,” you’d never be taken seriously again.

I’ve heard so many versions of this idea over the years, my head hurts. Coming from a blue-collar family, I might have missed the memo that one’s career should be more important than one’s mortgage payment.

In any case, I think that most people who held this view have had to let it go during this last recession, which could be one good thing to come out of that economic free fall.

Now the issue isn’t so much whether one should take interim work, but how to manage it without wreaking havoc on the broader job search. Lining up the interim job is another puzzle for most people: The first job search is hard enough; now there should be a second search?

Yes, there probably should be. Even if you’re working, now is a good time to change your mental default setting from, “I probably wouldn’t take interim work if I lost my job” to “I almost certainly would.”

The more we lock our brains into the expectation that we can and will find work under any and all circumstances, the more resiliency we’re likely to build in.

With this world view, you start to see potential sidelines everywhere, just as a good driver is unconsciously scoping the road for potential

problems and escape routes.

Whether or not you’d like to take an interim job while you orchestrate your “real” job search, or you’d like to be ready in case you need one later, you’ll find it easier going if you follow some basic steps.

1. Think about logistics. An interim job usually pays less than your regular work. Hence, it shouldn’t involve a long or difficult commute. Unless you live in a rural setting, consider five miles from your home to be your optimum hunting grounds.

2. Consider your schedule. It doesn’t make sense to pay more money for day care than you’ll make at this job. When assessing potential work hours, look for time that you can give to the job without having it cost you money elsewhere. You’ll also need to allocate 15 to 20 hours a week to finding your main job. For these reasons, optimum interim job schedules often include early mornings or evenings.

3. Assess your marketable skills. Are you physically fit? Good on the telephone? Knowledgeable about tools or certain processes? Familiar with your area roads and neighborhoods? Write it all down. Remember: You’re not going to do this work forever, and you won’t be paid top dollar. So don’t limit your list to the things you’re very good at or enjoy doing. If you can tolerate it and do it well enough to fill the bill for an employer, it goes on the list.

4. Choose your interim job goal. A broad category such as customer service will work. Less helpful is a handful of ideas, such as “landscaping or call center work or night security.” Such disparate ideas make it difficult to build a credible resume, and can sound unfocused in conversations.

5. Make an interim job r
. This short, to-the-point document highlights what you can do for a particular group of employers, and downplays everything else. So a marketing executive seeking retail work will use the top of the resume to showcase strengths in serving the public and making sales, with only a line or two toward the bottom of the page devoted to the last marketing job. The goal isn’t to “trick” the employer, but to demonstrate you have the skills they need.

6. Talk with employers. This kind of search is best done person-to-person, so start a list of potential employers and the managers to talk with. As a rule, this is more easily done with small companies, or those that are locally managed than with the big-box groups that rely on electronic processes. Once employed, you’ll find smaller employers are also more flexible about schedules.

7. Stay cheerful! Even if an interim job feels like a major detour, you’ll be glad later that you did it. Cash flow, structure, human contact and a sense of self-reliance tend to trump bruised pride related to working “below one’s level.”

Amy Lindgren owns a career consulting firm in St. Paul. She can be reached at

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Brandywine Valley Water Garden tour set

BERWYN — State Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-19th of West Whiteland, recently joined volunteers from the Brandywine Valley Water Garden Tour to announce that this year’s tour will take place on Saturday, July 27 and Sunday, July 28.

“Last year, the Brandywine Valley Water Garden Tour raised almost $15,000 for the Chester County Food Bank. This year we know we can build on that success,” Dinniman said. “The tour is a great event that supports a great cause. I want to thank all of the volunteers and residents who open up their homes to share with us their picturesque ponds, winding streams and lush gardens.”

In its 10th year, the tour offers an opportunity to visit homes of local residents and neighbors who have created beautiful waterscapes in their backyards.

Proceeds from the tour will benefit the Chester County Food Bank and Gleaning Program, which supports local food banks and provides fresh, healthy foodstuffs to those in need.

The two-day, self-guided tour has grown significantly over the years to include more than 50 water features and gardens throughout Chester County. Purchase of a ticket includes a map with a listing of locations so participants can plan their own routes. In addition, this year a bus tour is being offered.

With the purchase of a ticket, participants are also welcome to attend the opening night barbecue featuring live entertainment, a silent auction and raffle at Turpin Landscaping in Wagontown on the evening of July 27. All of the proceeds from the tour and barbecue go to the Chester County Food Bank.

Dinniman, said he was impressed by the amount volunteers who have gotten involved in the highly successful community partnership.

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What’s a good warm weather plant? John Humphries on what you should be …

How often have you been tempted when holidaying in a much warmer climate to nip off a piece of exotic plant material in the hope of propagating a garden ablaze with red bougainvillea on your return home?

I doubt whether you’d get it through customs today let alone a strip search by security!

Gone are the days when you could walk in with a cactus under one arm and the dried skull of a Mexican steer sticking out of a carrier bag as I did once.

The cactus has long since succumbed to our Welsh weather although the skull with two holes drilled in its forehead still adorns the wall of my garden shed.

Despite all this global warming stuff, I suggest it’s best to stick with warm-weather plants with a track record for surviving our variable weather.

Admittedly, we haven’t had it yet but July is usually the month when the weather most suits drought-resistant plants, not necessarily due to a lack of rain but also because it’s the period in summer when garden maintenance is most likely to be replaced by garden appreciation.

Dry weather plants on sunny, well drained sites respond wonderfully to baking sunshine while all around look limp and exhausted without regular watering.

In moderate rainfall areas, gardens most suitable for such plants are well-drained flat or gently sloping screes, or if that’s not possible raised free-draining beds above a layer of drainage material.

Whatever type of dry garden, it should be clear of over-hanging branches, south facing, and the soil neutral or alkaline which is most suited to many dry-weather plants.

If planted in summer, it should be remembered that although they are adapted to dry conditions they need regular watering until established.

Of all the dry, hot climate imports, the Yucca, a native of arid North and South American regions, if given a site with good all year round drainage and sandy or peaty soil, usually succeeds in producing a tall stem covered in creamy-white flowers.

Despite the Yucca’s desert appearance, it is hardy except in severe winters and on cool soils.

A large number of drought-tolerant plants are distinguished by grey foliage, some like lad’s love (Artemisa) with silver filigree leaves, Cotton lavender (Santolina), and Anthemis tinctoria with masses of lemon yellow daisy flowers now so familiar it’s easy to assume they are all natives.

For poor soil in a dry, sunny location, rock or sun roses are ideal.

Mention rock roses and most gardeners think of Cistus but the group also includes Helianthemum which is smaller and spreading with a wide range of colours and suitable for rockeries and border edges.

All rock roses are natives of south-western Europe and North Africa where they are seen growing freely on walls and in rocky outcrops and although some thrive well enough in any garden soil, they prefer it to be sandy and are much more likely to suffer during winter in rich soil.

Fleshy-leaved plants are also drought-resistant because they conserve moisture.

Sedum is probably the best known and while it does not flower until late summer/autumn, the clumps of thick, grey-green leaves are a valuable addition to the border from spring onwards.


* Trim conifer hedges taking care not to cut back into old wood which will not re-generate

* Plant autumn-flowering bulbs

* After harvesting, prune fruited raspberry canes down to ground level

* Onions, garlic, shallots are ready to harvest when foliage turns yellow

* Pick courgettes and beans regularly to encourage more to form

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Secret Garden Party Creator Jo Vidler Shares Her Top Career Tips

Jo Vidler is the director of one of the UK’s most successful festivals: ‘Secret Garden Party.’ Set on Abbot’s Ripton estate in Cambridgeshire: a 220 acre landscaped garden surrounded by a river and lake, each year over 26,000 ‘gardeners’ flock to the four-day extravaganza.

Jo is the brains behind the creative side, championing ingenuity and invention. Think actors and acrobats, circus performers and moving statues interacting with ‘gardeners’ embracing fancy-dress. Then there’s the music – this year Faithless, Django Django, Bastille, Goldie, 2ManyDJs and Regina Spektor to name a few perform.

In the midst of organsing ‘a party like no other,’ we caught up with Jo to talk networking, mentors and working with men.

Tell us a bit about your background?
Growing up I was always organising events at school. I took a gap year when I finished and ended up working in Ibiza putting on club nights and fashion shows. I come from quite a creative family. My grandfather managed the comedic group ‘The Crazy Gang’ and my great grandmother was in lots of shows and I’ve always loved theatre. I’m a real extrovert, basically a silly person! However, I realised early on that I wasn’t the best performer and what I preferred was coming up with the creative ideas and transporting people to a different reality. So I decided to study a BA in arts and events at Bournemouth University.

How did that lead to what sounds like a dream job?

During my summer holidays at university I started working with an events company called ‘Continental Drift.’ My boss was really eccentric and basically introduced me to everyone. We used to do all the festivals and I met all these amazing people. I got chatting to Tim Harvey and Charlie Dolman at Lovebox and we all got on really well. I was travelling around Australia with my boyfriend when Charlie phoned me saying they needed a production manager for a festival called Secret Garden Party they were planning.  At that stage it was basically just a big party in a field. They wanted me come on board and do the things I had always talked to them about doing – basically incorporating all these different art forms and elements to create an amazing event. I jumped at the opportunity, flew back to London that week and got straight to work. It’s grown from there.

Who are your mentors?

My parents never stopped me from doing anything I wanted to do which was amazing. My Dad always told me if you want something you’ve got to go and get it. They’re really proud of me and even come to watch the show I produce each year on the lake at SGP. Another mentor I’ve started to look to is Marian Goodell. We’re working together on ideas for the Burning Man Festival which is hugely exciting.

Is it quite a male-dominated industry?

When I first started it was mainly men. But it was just something I got on with. Of course there were times when it got a bit boyish and I had to close my ears but in general I enjoy the boys’ banter. Nowadays, thankfully more and more women have begun to move higher and higher up the ranks across the entertainment industry as a whole. It’s really important to me. Our company is now very much 50/50 because of the type of events we do. If it wasn’t we’d just get a one-sided view so it’s really important that we have a balance of male and female views.

What are your tips for leading a team?

I manage people in a way that makes them feel positive and want to work hard. Everything I do is collaborative. That means sometimes it takes a bit longer to reach a decision but I respect everyone’s opinion. I also make sure that if someone has an idea they feel they have ownership of it.

What three things do you look for in someone when recruiting?

Everyone I employ has to love and believe in what they’re doing. They have to be themselves, express their personality and have a kind heart. Creativity is important but it’s not always the most important thing. You’ve just got to be hard-working and dedicated to the task.

What habits do you have that make you successful?

My job isn’t a job, it’s my lifestyle. I’m always thinking of crazy ideas. We’ve now got a business development manager who I’ll phone and he’ll be ‘calm down, we need to do a feasibity plan.’ But I never stop planning ways that people can have fun.

What advice would you give to someone that wants your job?

There is no set way of getting to where I am. I worked my way up and did lots of networking along the way. I made sure I always worked really hard and people knew they could rely on me. I think the best piece of advice is that – you’ve got to work hard and prove your dedication.

What makes Secret Garden Party such a success?

The mixture of art forms and allowing people to do whatever they want works really well. People love the interaction and freedom Secret Garden Party gives them.

What are you most looking forward to at this year’s festival?

The show on the lake is going to be immense. I can’t tell you anything about it but let’s just say you have to see the lake show. The theme this year is Superstition so I’m really also excited about those moments where I’m walking around and suddenly see something amazing and I’ll be like ‘did that really just happen?’

Any festival tips we should know?

My number one tip is you’ve got to get involved. This really does just happen at Secret Garden Party. Once you walk through the gates you’ll want to interact. Everyone is there for the same reason – to have fun and incredible. experiences. My practical tips are to take an airbed and don’t forget the baby wipes!

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Tios for creating your own butterfly , hummingbird garden

A garden enhanced by butterflies and hummingbirds is one of nature’s great treats.

Kathy Varn, manager and horticulturist at Taylor’s Landscape Supply in greater Bluffton, said anyone can create their own butterfly or hummingbird garden with a little planning.

“Ideally, butterflies like morning to mid-afternoon sun, not the hot afternoon sun,” Varn said. “The soil needs to consist of some sand as they like to puddle and get the nutrients from the sand.”

Varn said plants with vibrant colors such as reds, oranges, pinks and yellows are desirable. Popular plants include phlox, lantana, verbena, milkweed, black eyed-Susan, daylilies, yarrow, marigolds, impatiens, zinnias and hibiscus, Varn said.

Another plant that is butterfly and hummingbird friendly is the purple-blue plumbago. Even though the milkweed plant is not as showy as other plants, it has it’s appeal.

“More than anything, the nectar in the milkweed that it puts out is what the butterflies love,” Varn said.

Master gardener Sue Roderus, past president of the Sun City Avant-Gardener’s club, was active in planning the Community Hummingbird Butterfly Garden. She said certain host plants attract certain butterflies, so choose accordingly.

“The host plants are those that the female butterfly lays eggs on and the caterpillar eats. They are specific to every butterfly, so learn which plant is the host plant of the butterfly you are trying to attract,” she said. Some of her favorites include milkweed for attracting monarch and queen butterflies; passion vine for attracting gulf fritillary and zebra longwing; and cloudless sulfur, toothache tree and citrus for attracting giant swallowtails.

Herbs also can attract butterflies. Roderus prefers parsley, dill and fennel to attract black swallowtails.

Adult butterflies require food, or nectar, and the best environment for nectar plants is in full sun, as butterflies feed mostly in the middle of the day.

Butterflies and hummingbirds can cross over and enjoy each other’s plants, but in general, hummingbird gardens have their own requirements, Roderus said.

“Mostly, (hummingbird plants) should be tubular or trumpet flowers. Some of my favorites are salvias, bee balm, honeysuckle, butterfly bush, trumpet vine and fuchsia,” Roderus said.

Here are a few other tips for attracting butterflies and humminbirds.

  • Provide a source of water and a mix of sun and shade.

  • Select plants with small, tubular flowers with flat rims that are fragrant. Plants with long periods of available bloom are best. Groupings of the same plant are preferable as butterflies find plants by sight and smell.

  • Indigenous plants are best, and hybrid doesn’t always mean ideal. Roderus said hybrids sometimes produce less nectar than the native varieties.

  • Avoid using insecticides on butterfly or hummingbird plants.

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