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Archives for July 10, 2013

Thirty-six Hours in Newport, a City Waiting to Happen

Megan James and Corin Hirsch. Photo courtesy of Daniel Gauvin.

Tell someone in Vermont that you’re headed to Newport for a few days and their reaction is likely to be something along the lines of “Newport … Vermont?”

Yes, Newport, Vt. The state’s northernmost city, better known for its economic struggles than its leisurely pursuits, has been generating mostly positive news of late: about eager developers, new restaurants and a gleaming indoor water park at nearby Jay Peak Resort that attracts tourists all year round.

Chief promoter of this land of plenty is Bill Stenger, president and CEO of Jay. He’s been utilizing the federal EB-5 program — which gives green cards to foreigners who invest at least $500,000 in economically depressed rural regions across the U.S. — to attract $600 million of development projects to the area.

The expectation of enterprise — in a place that desperately needs it — has already rebranded Newport as a burg on the verge of a radical transformation, a city waiting to happen.

“Today, we’re looking at a community that has a lot of qualities to it, a lot of business opportunity,” says Stenger. “With patient capital and a diverse range of jobs, we’re going to really thrive.”

Stenger’s indoor water park is up and running, but Newport is waiting on Walmart; AnC Bio, a South Korean company that manufactures artificial human organs; a German window manufacturer; a hotel and conference center; and an expanded airport. Those developments are expected to create more than 5000 jobs, from high-level tech positions to dishwasher and construction gigs. In a city with fewer than 5000 residents, that’s a game changer.

Meanwhile, the nonprofit Newport City Renaissance Corporation is working to make downtown attractive to tourists and locals.

Is Newport ready to be a destination? We packed our bags and drove north to find out.

Jay Peak Resort. Photo by Megan James.

The view from 3800 feet

Newport State Airport sits next to the grassy Coventry landfill and across the street from the farm where Phish played their muddy 2004 “farewell” concert. Built in the 1940s for military purposes, the airport sees approximately 20 flights a day — in good weather. It’s also the international headquarters of Lakeview Aviation, whose proprietor, Daniel Gauvin, runs a flight school, rents aircrafts and gives aerial tours to tourists like us for $160 a pop. We decided to climb on board.

The son of Canadian immigrants, Gauvin grew up on a dairy farm in Newport. Before he got his pilot license in 2003, he ran his own farm in the area. “Farming’s a tough life,” he told us. “I just got tired of giving blood and getting nothing in return.”

Daniel Gauvin. Photo by Megan James.

From the air, Newport looks like an idyllic settlement jutting out into shimmering Lake Memphremagog, a patchwork of churches, bridges and houses surrounded by water. Much of it was built in the late 1800s, during the lumber boom, when Newport was a major stop on the railroad line between Boston and Montréal.

In the ’30s and ’40s, Newport’s International Club had the largest dance floor in New England. Up to 2000 Vermonters could boogie simultaneously to Louis Armstrong, Glenn Miller and Louis Prima, who all gigged there.

Newport today is not so glittery. Like many North Country towns, the city has been in slow decline since the 1950s, when the mills began to close. A handful of ski clothing manufacturers stayed until the 1990s, but after they left, Newport hit rock bottom — aided, Stenger says, by increasingly restrictive tax and travel policies along the Canadian border.

Unemployment rose, businesses on Main Street shut down and rents dropped so low that the city began to attract a disproportionate number of the state’s welfare recipients. The 2010 census found that the median income was $33,526; one in five Newport residents was living in poverty.

There’s a different plan for Newport’s future. From his four-seat 1967 Piper Cherokee 140, Gauvin swooped over the sites of the proposed developments: over the hillside where the new AnC Bio plant will be built; the field where a 150,000-square-foot Walmart has been proposed; the waterfront strip mall that will become Newport’s first hotel and conference center; the old hospital being converted into 80 market-ready apartments.

“The Northeast Kingdom has always been a high unemployment area,” Gauvin said as he soared over town. To oppose the development, he added, “would be selfish.”

He assessed the sky. “We’re gonna do a little cloud surfing,” Gauvin said, and pointed the plane toward Jay Peak, which is 30 minutes away by car. The mountain’s dramatic ski slopes are visible from Newport, but from the air, the resort looked like the Emerald City, only made of wood and steel. We noticed numerous large construction sites dotting the landscape. The roof of the water park reflected the clouds as if it were a giant mirror.

Within 45 minutes, we were safely back in the terminal, with its worn couch and popcorn machine. Patricia Sears was there, too. She’s head of the Newport City Renaissance Corporation, a nonprofit working to revitalize Newport’s Main Street, and has been collaborating with Gauvin for the past six years on plans to expand the airport. Thanks to grants from the Federal Aviation Administration and a $20 million investment from Stenger, within a few years Newport could have a larger terminal, some foreign-trade-zone warehouses and a longer runway. Next month, Glover’s Parker Pie is opening up a restaurant in the terminal, which will have a killer view of the two 4000-foot runways. Plans are under way to extend one of them 1000 feet to accommodate charter flights to and from Jay Peak.

“It’s a monster up there,” said Gauvin. “You gotta feed it.”

Sears worked in international community development for 12 years in Washington, D.C., before moving to Lowell 10 years ago with her husband, an Orleans County native. After many years of dealing with spotty internet connections in Africa and Nepal, she was humbled to find her new home in the Northeast Kingdom wasn’t much more technologically advanced. So she began writing grants “out of necessity” for amenities she missed. The area got its first fiber-optic internet services in 2006.

Sears is hopeful but realistic about the pace of change in Newport. At the airport, she predicted, “I don’t expect scheduled flights for another 10 years.”

We piled into her Subaru and headed downtown.


Newport Natural Market Café. Photo by Corin Hirsch.

Food is fuel

Seven minutes later, we arrived at the Newport Natural Market and Café, which Steve Breault has co-owned for the last three of its 30 years. It’s a buzzing local-food emporium where customers shop for groceries, comb the salad bar and sip coffee at café tables. The deli sells sandwiches made with local breads and cheeses, and we sampled two for lunch: I got a creamy, hot turkey Reuben on rye; Megan went for a grilled cheese sandwich spiked with Michelle’s Spicy Kimchi, made in Craftsbury Common.

“We caught the Newport’s-gonna-be-great bug,” said Breault, explaining why he and his partner left Florida to come north to “retire.” A few doors down from the market, in a space that was once the town’s department store, he’s upping the ante: Breault and others are opening the Northeast Kingdom Tasting Center, an indoor local-foods market, at the end of this month.

Inside the cavernous space, Breault showed off the poured-cement bar that will anchor Brown Dog Bistro, his newest venture. “Our first priority will be Northeast Kingdom products,” he said, as well as a few from southern Québec. That means local trout, duck, eggs and meat from nearby purveyors such as West Glover’s Tangletown Farm, which will also sell from an adjacent meat butchery.

The bistro might also have lines running directly to the basement, where Eleanor Leger, co-owner of Eden Ice Cider, will soon move her cider-making operation. She’ll sell her ciders, along with local cheeses, in a retail shop just inside the tasting center’s main door.

In the back of the space, bakers Cinta Aherns and Jocelyn Bourassa will turn out muffins, breads and pastries. It’s a big step up from their tiny storefront on Main Street, which won’t be around much longer. Next year, the block it now occupies is slated for demolition. That will make room for the Renaissance Block, which will house a brewpub, restaurants and some retail stores.

Newport’s food movement has a slogan: “Newport: Fresh by Nature.” It also has a promotional event, “Taste of Newport,” dreamed up by the Newport City Renaissance Corporation to acquaint locals and visitors with the city’s burgeoning food scene. As participants walk from restaurant to restaurant in the compact downtown, they sample signature dishes designed to offer glimpses into the region’s tight-knit farm-to-table culture. We missed the second “Taste of Newport” by a week.


Ruth Sproull and her Maltipoo, Phillip. Photo by Megan James.

Destination: Newport

Our Swedish-inspired bed-and-breakfast was an easy walk from Main Street. Owner Ruth Sproull and her Maltipoo, Phillip, greeted us at the door of the charming red and yellow house. Then Sproull instructed us to take off our shoes.

Sproull is American, but her inn, Little Gnesta, has a distinctly Scandinavian feel due to the crisp, minimalist interior design — almost everything is white, silver or earth toned. Our room was spacious and clean, the bathroom stocked with Newport-made Mountain Country Soap, including a patchouli-scented Aging Hippie hand and body wash.

Sproull, a spritely woman with short, bleach-blond hair, counts herself among Newport’s unlikely but energetic new residents — and she’s one of several women who have bought houses on Prospect Street over the last few years. Originally from California, Sproull has had many professions — bakery owner, advertising copywriter and founder of Wisconsin’s first online newspaper. When she decided she wanted to start an “eco” bed-and-breakfast, she scoured the country for a suitable town.

“I knew what I wanted to do and I looked around for a place to do it,” Sproull said. When she visited Newport, she intuited that it was on the brink of something big. “Somehow in my life I’ve always been ahead of the curve,” she said.

But Sproull also liked the fact that Newport wanted to control its growth. “It puts the brakes on sprawl and reverses it,” she said, trying to explain Newport’s “form-based code” — a municipal planning strategy that considers the look, structure and design of new development rather than solely its function, enabling greater zoning flexibility.

The Northern Star. Photo by Megan James.

Speaking of planning, we’d booked a cocktail cruise for that evening. Turns out the Northern Star, which once plied the waters of Lake Champlain, is now doing the same on Memphremagog, a 31-mile-long lake that straddles the U.S.-Canadian border.

When bad weather canceled the cruise, we decided to rent a kayak so we could see the city from the water. Chris McFarland, proprietor of Clyde River Recreation, hooked us up with a two-seater in Gardner Park. He also told us about growing up in Newport in the ’70s. “My old man owned a bar at a boat marina,” he recalled. “There were pizza joints on Main Street.”

By the time McFarland finished high school, however, things were bleak. “There were no jobs here,” he said. He moved to New Hampshire to find work — fiber-optic switch testing and landscaping — before moving back to the area six years ago to start his outdoor recreation company in nearby West Charleston.

Paddling on Lake Memphremagog. Photo by Megan James.

McFarland is optimistic about the redevelopment plans for Newport. “If it creates jobs, hopefully everything else will follow,” he said. He supports a proposed Walmart Supercenter, which will be the largest in the state. Like many of his neighbors, McFarland currently drives an hour and a half to Littleton, N.H., to shop.

Won’t a giant Walmart imperil the Pick Shovel, downtown Newport’s sprawling general store? McFarland doesn’t think so. “Unfortunately, if you don’t like the color of the underwear there, you’re out of luck,” he quipped.

It was the first of many Pick Shovel underwear references we’d hear in arguments for and against a new Walmart.

No sooner had we launched on Memphremagog, equipped with whistles — a Coast Guard requirement when boating on international waters — than it started to pour. We took shelter under some birch trees behind Vista Foods, a supermarket whose loading dock faces the lake.

It turned out to be the very spot where Newport’s developers plan to build a hotel and convention center in 2014, a project that Stenger told us will have a “stadium kitchen” to show off Vermont-made foods. Tony Pomerleau is the landlord of the Waterfront Plaza, which lines the southeastern edge of the lake. He’s letting the current tenants — the supermarket, Rite Aid and a few small stores — ride out their leases until then.


Out on the town

After drying ourselves off back at Little Gnesta, we headed out to sample the city’s food and nightlife — our hopes were high for the former; we were pretty skeptical about the latter. Newport has a dense urban center, so it took us only four minutes to reach our first stop: Lago Trattoria.

Owner Frank Richardi opened his bistro in 2001, long before Newport was on the upswing. “We looked at Newport and thought, in 20 years, this place is really going to take off,” Richardi told me last year. “It was one of the last areas of New England that hadn’t been overbuilt.”

With a four-sided bar and an encyclopedic menu, Lago is a bustling spot. The actor Donald Sutherland — who has a home just over the border in southern Québec — is a regular customer, a waitress told us, confiding that he loves the lamb chops. We ordered a few, and they were scrumptious: charred and glistening on the outside, succulent on the inside. Also praiseworthy was Richardi’s buttery lobster ravioli, seasoned with the herbs grown on the restaurant’s back deck.

We saved room, though, as we had planned a night of “app surfing.” From Lago, we moved on to Le Belvedere, an elegant, 2-year-old tapas place. Inside, comfy leather chairs face the lake. As luck would have it, it was sushi night, and we nibbled nigori as the last wisps of pink faded from the sky over Memphremagog.

Sunset meant it was time to check out Newport’s bar scene. Our pilot, Dan Gauvin, had recommended Jasper’s Tavern, one of the city’s longtime watering holes. Inside, we were surprised to find Eden Cider’s Eleanor Leger sitting at a table with her Illinois distributor, their table littered with small, crushed plastic cups. “I was a Jell-O shot virgin,” joked Leger, who had apparently just downed one.

DJ Speedo — an aging hippie with a long, gray beard and tie-dyed shirt — spun requests from his laptop as he sat on small stage festooned with a paper full moon and twinkling lights, leftover decorations from a recent semiformal dance.

Speedo, who told us he is a two-time world champion line dancer, is one of two regular DJs at Jasper’s. He became our nightlife guide: When Jasper’s closed, he advised, we should check out the Pub Grub.

It wasn’t hard to find. We spotted a sea of smokers loitering in a parking lot on the backside of Main Street. They milled in and out of a low door, above which was tacked a piece of paper printed with the name of the bar. We ducked into the dim, low-ceilinged dive. The dance floor was teeming with teenagers bumping and grinding to Shakira. We were at least a decade older than everyone, but when Speedo showed up, the kids hugged him warmly. “Most of them are banned from all of the other bars in town,” he said, chuckling as we leaned against a pool table. “In fact, even the bartender is banned.”

In the bathroom, Megan met a gaggle of college-age girls taking selfies in the mirror. When she told them she’d come from Jasper’s, they informed her that that’s where old people go. The girls said they prefer to drive 45 minutes to Lyndonville when they want to go out. “This place is usually dead,” a girl named Augusta told Megan. “But it’s some guy’s birthday today.”


St. Mary Star of the Sea. Photo by Megan James.

Culture shock

The next morning, we regaled innkeeper Sproull with our late-night adventures. She was surprised we’d found enough downtown activity to stay out until midnight. To atone, we trekked up Prospect Street, which winds along a steep hill to St. Mary Star of the Sea, an imposing 1918 granite church with two soaring towers and the city’s best view of Memphremagog. The old convent next door was recently leased to Rural Edge, an organization providing transitional housing. The Catholic school beside it sits empty and abandoned.

Looking for a little culture, we strolled back to Main Street and popped into the MAC Center for the Arts, where we found handmade pottery and furniture, paintings, kimonos, and handspun wool. Jim McKimm founded the cooperative gallery six years ago with a $10,000 grant from the Vermont Community Foundation. Since then, 50 artists have joined.

One of them, Isobel Marks, was working the gallery that day. Originally from Montréal, Marks and her husband got their green cards 15 years ago and relocated to the area. “We wanted to be close to Newport,” said Marks, noting she made a small investment in the tasting center. “I believe in it so much.”

She’s not the only new Newport cheerleader we met that day. Paul Dreher, Newport’s zoning administrator, grew up here before leaving for architecture school and a career in New York City. In 2008, he returned to his hometown and, when the previous city planner left unexpectedly, Dreher got the job. Now, he’s the father of a newborn baby and passionate about all things Newport.

Dreher’s first task as city planner was to write Newport’s ballyhooed form-based code, versions of which he’s now working on for South Burlington and Huntington. “A form-based code stops sprawl in its tracks,” he said, echoing Sproull as we walked through Newport’s streets together. In 2009, the American Institute of Architects chose Newport as a Regional/Urban Design Assistance Team location. A handful of architects visited the city over three days, charting its assets and generating ideas for how to improve livability — which included revamping the planning code.

Dreher recounted the story of a dollar-store chain that recently wanted to open a branch in Newport. “We told them, ‘Fine, but the front of the store has to look like this, and the doors need to be this far apart.’” The company chose to go elsewhere.

Paul Dreher and Jennifer Bernier at the Summer Street Community Garden. Photo by Corin Hirsch.

We walked to the Summer Street neighborhood to look at one of Newport’s simplest yet most effective innovations: its first urban community garden. We found it in a depressed clearing ringed by rental units.

As recently as three years ago, Summer Street was known as a high-crime area, and residents hung out at all hours in the parking lot at its center. When Dreher suggested that the city try and turn that lot into a community garden, resident Jennifer Bernier was skeptical. “You’re insane!” she told Dreher, even though it bothered her that some people had begun referring to her neighborhood as “the ghetto.”

The city secured a municipal planning grant to cover some of the $15,000 cost, and donations from other local businesses — for things such as seeds, a shed and gardening supplies — flowed in. Two summers ago, the parking lot was removed and a 5000-square-foot garden took its place, filled with semicircular raised beds containing kale, carrots, lettuce and tomatoes.

“Foot traffic went down. Crime went down,” said Dreher. Residents started lending a hand in the garden and taking home fresh produce. Before the community garden, Newport was considered one of only two “food deserts” — urban neighborhoods lacking access to affordable fresh food — in Vermont, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Vermont’s other food desert is Winooski and the Old North End.

A Valentine radish. Photo by Corin Hirsch.

Bernier, who now coordinates, volunteers and spends much of her time at the garden, said she wouldn’t let her children play outside before. “Now we have barbecues, and the older people come out of their houses to sit,” she said. Bernier reprimands teenagers who cross though the garden without offering to help.

Newport now has six more gardens in reclaimed spaces throughout the city, and Bernier oversees them all. Last year those gardens produced 1700 pounds of vegetables. Some of the food also goes to Newport’s dynamic farm-to-school program, which operates a popular mobile truck called the Lunch Box van.

As we were leaving, Bernier picked a fuchsia-colored Valentine radish, brushed it off and handed it to me. It was tangy and exquisitely earthy. “We planted these three weeks ago,” she said proudly. “They grow incredibly quickly.”


Mike Cyr and family. Photo by Megan James.

Old Newport
The sense of a shifting tide in Newport is palpable. We felt it everywhere we went — in a new community center and gallery called the 99, where owner Diane Peel was setting up for a neighborhood movie night; at the East Side Restaurant Pub, a waterfront local favorite we found bustling on a Friday afternoon; and around the breakfast table at our BB, where tourists oohed and ahhed about the area’s natural beauty. Everyone wanted to talk about the new Newport.

But not everyone buys the hype.

Near the end of our stay, a man across the street from Little Gnesta noticed my camera and called out to me. “Come take our picture!” he shouted.

Mike Cyr, a tattoed barrel of a guy with a bandana cinched tightly around his head, lives in nearby Brownington. He was in Newport with his family visiting his ailing mother, who was about to move out of her home. After snapping a few family photos, I asked Cyr, who owns a roofing business, what he thinks about the development plans for Newport.

“I personally don’t think it’s gonna do any good,” he said. “I lived here for 30 years, and I haven’t seen it change once. They built that big state office building, but that didn’t help.” The Hebard State Office Building was constructed, along with a waterfront boardwalk, in the ’90s.

The Pick Shovel. Photo by Corin Hirsch.

Angelina McAlister, a stay-at-home mom of six, nodded her head in agreement, though she admitted she’s looking forward to the Walmart. “Pick Shovel has a lot, but not if you’re on a budget,” she said. McAlister is skeptical about those promised new jobs — she said they aren’t likely to go to people who, like her, have lived in Newport all their lives, but instead to more educated newcomers. “What we need is more training for the people here,” McAlister added.

A lot of the folks she was talking about are employed at the Pick Shovel. The massive, block-long complex opened in 1977 as a tiny hardware store owned by Tim Hamblett. Over time, he and his family gradually patched on departments — clothing, an ice cream window, a sugaring operation, even a pet shop with tarantulas and iguanas. When Newport’s Ames Department Store closed about 10 years ago, Pick Shovel also became the go-to place for small appliances. Its retail space now covers an entire block and 36,000 square feet. Another 40,000 square feet nearby is given over to warehouse space.

You have to check out the Pick Shovel, the locals had been telling us since we arrived in Newport. So, at the end of our visit, we finally did.

In one doorway, two employees were assembling a basketball hoop for a customer. Within earshot, a woman debated vacuum cleaners. Another young employee handed out free popcorn. It was a scene that hovered somewhere between small-town general store and, well, big-box retailer.

Underwear section at the Pick Shovel. Photo by Corin Hirsch.

Upstairs, we located the infamous underwear wall pegged with white Hanes Hi-Cut briefs and some sports bras. “The great debate is that no one can find underwear,” observed Greg Hamblett, Tim’s son, who runs the store with his brother, Chris. It’s clear that he’s heard all the arguments for and against greater selection in Newport. “We have underwear. Yes, it may not be Walmart pricing. At least we’re trying.”

Hamblett and his family seem somewhat anxious about Walmart’s arrival, especially as it will be sited in neighboring Derby and will possibly draw off the southward flow of Québécois consumers that usually come to Newport.

“Nobody wants more competition, but that’s the nature of business,” he reasoned. “I shop at Walmart; everyone shops at Walmart. If we’re decent retailers, we’ll figure out how to zig and zag if we need to.”

The bigger issue, Hamblett pointed out, is that Newport needs to grow, and if that includes a Walmart, so be it — as long the city retains its character. “We live in little Northeast Kingdom, Vermont, for a reason,” he said. “I think it would be a shame if we turned into South Burlington.”

C.H. M.J.

The original print version of this article was headlined “Promise Land”

Article source:

Documents Reveal How the NSA Cracked the Kryptos Sculpture Years Before …

The Kryptos Sculpture. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

It took more than eight years for a CIA analyst and a California computer scientist to crack three of the four coded messages on the CIA’s famed Kryptos sculpture in the late ’90s.

Little did either of them know that a small group of cryptanalysts inside the NSA had beat them to it, and deciphered the same three sections of Kryptos years earlier — and they did it in less than a month, according to new documents obtained from the NSA.

These days the NSA is best known for its broad, indiscriminate spying on Americans and foreigners. But the Kryptos crack shows how some of the agency’s smartest geeks once blew off steam in the relatively quiet days between the end of the Cold War and the September 11 attacks.

The popular story of Kryptos has long held that CIA analyst David Stein was the first to crack three of the cryptographic sculpture’s four puzzles in 1998.

Stein decrypted the coded messages after spending some 400 hours’ worth of lunch hours working through the puzzles using only paper and pencil. Many people, on and off the CIA campus in Langley, Virginia, had tried to break the coded puzzle, but only Stein, a member of the agency’s Directorate of Intelligence, succeeded. Stein’s work on the code was kept secret, however. In 1999, he wrote a fascinating account of how he cracked three of the sculpture’s four coded messages, but it was only published in an internal CIA newsletter that remained classified until years later.

The secrecy over Stein’s achievement allowed California computer scientist Jim Gillogly to steal the spotlight a year later in 1999, when he announced that he’d also cracked the same three messages, only he used a Pentium II to do it.

But new documents released by the National Security Agency show how the Defense Department’s spy agency beat Stein and Gillogly to the punch years earlier.

An internal NSA memo discussing the agency’s success at cracking three of the sculpture’s four puzzles. Courtesy of Elonka Dunin

It’s a story that has largely remained buried in the NSA archives until Elonka Dunin unearthed it in a recent FOIA request. Dunin is the premier expert on Kryptos who oversees a Google Group dedicated to cracking the code and also maintains a website dedicated to the sculpture.

Although a Baltimore Sun story about Kryptos in 2000 disclosed that the NSA had cracked three sections of the puzzle, many of the details behind the efforts were not revealed.

It all began in 1988 when the CIA Fine Arts Commission commissioned local artist James Sanborn to create a cryptographic sculpture for a courtyard on the CIA campus. Sanborn completed the two-part sculpture in 1990, which included stones laid out in International Morse code near the front entrance of the CIA campus, and a 12-foot-high, verdigrised copper, granite and petrified wood sculpture. The latter, which is the more famous part of Kryptos, was inscribed with four encrypted messages composed from some 1,800 letters carved out of the copper plate.

One of the memos notes that the layout of the two-part sculpture was “a landscaping scheme designed to recall the natural stone out-cropping that existed on the site before the Agency, and that will endure as do mountains.” The placement of the sculpture “in a geologic context reinforces the text’s ‘hidden-ness’ as if it were a fossil or an image frozen in time.”

In 1991, while on a trip to the CIA, a group of NSA cryptanalysis “interns” diligently scribbled all the letters from the sculpture onto sheets of paper and brought them back to the NSA so curious analysts there could take a crack at it. In December 1991 a group of NSA analysts met in a conference room at the NSA to discuss the sculpture and what methods of decryption they might apply, including classified methods used internally by the NSA.

A memo about this meeting indicates that “any discussion of ‘in-house’ techniques or applications (being classified) are not mentioned in this text as it is to be unclassified.” The memo also included a note to participants not to discuss their efforts to crack the puzzle in public, as some of the methods they used might be classified, as well as a message at the bottom of the memo indicating that “these notes were prepared at NO expense to the US Government.”

After that initial NSA meeting, however, nothing further was done on the puzzle. Over the next year, the CIA tried to crack the sculpture on its own, but with no success.

The sculpture remained unsolved until 1992, when Adm. William O. Studeman, the CIA’s then-deputy director and a former NSA director, issued a formal challenge to his former colleagues at the NSA to solve the CIA’s new courtyard puzzle. The NSA’s director at the time, Vice Admiral Mike McConnell, announced the challenge during an internal ceremony at the NSA, and a small cadre of cryptanalysts from the agency’s Z Group — the internal name for the cryptanalysts division — “enthusiastically responded.”

Left on their own, NSA employees had shown little passion for cracking the ciphers, but once a formal challenge was on the table from the CIA, it was hard to resist. The group was so intent on cracking the code that they formed an informal task force in November 1992, according to the recently released documents, which include a number of internal NSA memos describing how they cracked the ciphers.

Working from the transcription obtained by interns a year earlier, they quickly determined, using computer diagnostic tools, that the sculpture consisted of four parts — using at least three different ciphers — and a cryptographic table based on an encryption method developed in the 16th century by a Frenchman named Blaise de Vigenere that was key to helping them solve parts of the puzzle.

They were sure to note that subsequent analysis and solutions of the code “did not require any computer power” but were done by hand.

They quickly discovered that the encrypted sections included intentional spelling errors made by artist James Sanborn, and misaligned characters set higher on a line of text than characters around them.

Then “within two days of receiving the information tasking from Chief, Z,” they had solved parts one through three of the puzzle. They spent another day on the fourth section, but very quickly “a decision was made to stop any further work” on it. “Given the suspected cryptography, the last section is too short to solve without diverting a great deal of effort from operational problems,” they wrote in the memo.

NSA memo discussing how the cryptanalysts achieved their first breakthrough in deciphering the sculpture. Courtesy of Elonka Dunin

In the end, it was just three analysts who solved the codes, one tackling each section of the puzzle. Although the names are redacted in the documents released by the NSA, Dennis McDaniels was identified as one of the crackers in the Baltimore Sun article. Ken Miller was also identified as another member of the group, though someone knowledgeable about the project told Wired that he didn’t decipher any of the sections but worked closely with the group to write up their notes.

In June 1993, after the three parts were cracked, an internal letter announcing the feat was sent to Admiral McConnell at the NSA, marked “For Official Use Only” and informing him that the deed was done. It was returned with a request to forward the note to Admiral Studeman at the CIA, no doubt with an air of glee and arrogance that the NSA had beat the CIA at cracking its own puzzle. Another scribbled note on the memo read, “Great Story!”

The documents describe their efforts through “many wrong turns” to arrive at the solutions.

The first part of the sculpture used a periodic polyalphabetic substitution cipher using 10 alphabets, and when decrypted was a poetic phrase that Sanborn had composed himself: “Between subtle shading and the absence of light lies the nuance of iqlusion” (“iqlusion” was an intentional misspelling of illusion).

Part two used a periodic polyalphabetic substitution cipher using 8 alphabets. When decrypted, the passage hinted at something buried:

It was totally invisible. How’s that possible? They used the Earth’s magnetic field. x The information was gathered and transmitted underground to an unknown location. x Does Langley know about this? They should: It’s buried out there somewhere. x Who knows the exact location? Only WW. This was his last message. x Thirty-eight degrees fifty-seven minutes six point five seconds north, seventy-seven degrees eight minutes forty-four seconds west. ID by rows.

The cryptanalysts correctly guessed that WW referred to William Webster, which Wired confirmed in 2005 during an interview with artist Sanborn. “The coordinates,” the memo noted, “refer to the location of or a location within the Central Intelligence Agency.” But the significance of the I.D. by Rows? That remained “undetermined,” the NSA’s puzzle crackers wrote.

In fact, Sanborn had made an error in the puzzle and inadvertently introduced a typo in the section. The mistake involved an “x” that he intentionally deleted from the end of a line in section two for aesthetic reasons, to keep the sculpture visually balanced. The “x” was supposed to signify a period or section break at the end of a phrase, but Sanborn removed it thinking it wouldn’t affect the way the puzzle was deciphered. It turned out the “x” made all the difference, however.

Instead of “ID by rows” it actually should have been deciphered to read “layer two,” though code breakers wouldn’t discover this until years after the NSA cryptanalysts had their crack at the code.

Part three used a keyed columnar transposition cipher, which the cryptanalysts partly diagnosed solely by “eyeballing” the text.

“The most likely explanation for this is a transposition system,” they write, “perhaps a keyed columnar transposition. In such a system, the plain text is inscribed horizontally into a matrix, normally a rectangle, and then the latter are extracted vertically, according to a pre-determined sequence.”

When decrypted, it was a paraphrased page taken from the diary of archaeologist Howard Carter describing the opening of a door in King Tut’s tomb on Nov. 26, 1922.

Slowly, desperately slowly, the remains of passage debris that encumbered the lower part of the doorway was removed. With trembling hands I made a tiny breach in the upper left-hand corner. And then, widening the hole a little, I inserted the candle and peered in. The hot air escaping from the chamber caused the flame to flicker, but presently details of the room within emerged from the mist. x Can you see anything? q

According to a former Defense Department cryptanalyst who spoke with Wired, McDaniels was responsible for cracking section three and did it in just six hours lying on his living room couch with paper and pencil after coming home exhausted one day from playing volleyball. McDaniels is now retired from the NSA and declined to speak with Wired about his work on the sculpture. But the source told Wired that McDaniels had been out all day playing volleyball and came home around 10pm.

“He plopped down on the couch in the living room, picked up his draft notes for K3,” the source said. “He had tinkered with it before but could never get into it. He knew it was just basic transposition, so he started with the letter Q and [the letter U after it] and found there were five instances of the letter U, and he just tried all five of those. Then he had to try every other vowel that came after and he finally found something that broke it. By then it was about 4am and he was done.”

Unfortunately the fourth section stymied the NSA code breakers, as it has continued to do other cryptanalysts for 23 years. The documents noted that “although ideas abound” for deciphering it, the final 97 characters of the sculpture “continue to elude solution.”


They speculated that this section might employ a combination of the techniques used in other sections. “First the message is encrypted using some set of alphabets,” they write, “as was done in the first and third breakthroughs, and then the cipher is put through a transposition, such as that used in the second breakthrough.” But even with that they were never able to solve it.

In 2010, Sanborn, surprised that the final section had remained unsolved for so long, and perhaps feeling guilty about an error he had made in the sculpture that misled puzzle-solvers for years, decided to disclose six of the 97 letters in the last section. The six letters — NYPVTT — are the 64th through 69th letters of the final section and when deciphered spell out the word “BERLIN.”

The clue has yet to be the breakthrough that code crackers had hoped it would be, however, and the last section still remains unsolved.

Even when that final section is solved, however, sleuths still won’t know what the sculpture means. The deciphered text contains a riddle, which will require them to be on the CIA grounds in order to solve it.

“In part of the code that’s been deciphered, I refer to an act that took place when I was at the agency and a location that’s on the ground of the agency,” Sanborn told Wired in 2005. He may be referring to something he buried on the CIA grounds, though he won’t say for sure. The decrypted text gives latitude and longitude coordinates (38 57 6.5 N, 77 8 44 W), which Sanborn has said refer to “locations of the agency.” So sleuths will have to first decipher the code then find their way onto the CIA grounds and locate that place in order to finally discover what it all means.

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New life for Colwood development

The dormant Colwood development site once known as Aquattro is waking up, with a new owner planning to resume building next year under a new name.

Vancouver-based Seacliff Properties Ltd. hopes to rezone the property along the Esquimalt Lagoon, and the 19 remaining unsold condominium units will be heading to the market this fall, Ian Porter, company director of real estate, said Tuesday. “We believe in it long term. We are very, very comfortable holding it for the amount of time necessary to make it work.”

The property has been renamed Ocean Grove to reflect its waterfront location and views and the many trees on the 15-hectare site. The picturesque property slopes up from Esquimalt Lagoon to link with trails at Royal Roads University.

Ocean Grove’s location offers panoramic views of the Olympic Mountains and downtown Victoria. Its waterfront edges on the lagoon’s migratory bird sanctuary and is close to popular beaches.

Former developer Peter Daniel, who bought the site in 2007, took the project through Colwood’s approval processes. Its build out value was pegged at $350 million for 585 allowed units. Buildings were to include one-storey townhouses as well as three 12-storey towers.

But financing woes halted construction and a receiver was appointed in February 2010 to oversee the property. At that time, 88 units were completed. Three high-end condominium buildings, one townhouse project and a community clubhouse have been built. Each has some landscaping, but structures are surrounded by land filled with grasses and trees and a stream lined with bulrushes.

Two potential buyers for the property did appear, but deals were not concluded.

This year, Seacliff bought the unsold units for $6.69 million and the 10 hectares of undeveloped land for $10.2 million, under court-approved sales. It paid cash, meaning it is not linked to lenders, Porter said, adding “we can take our time to do the right thing.”

He estimated the built-out value for the development going forward is close to $250 million.

Construction depends on the market, not on a pre-determined time-line. This will be a multi-year process that could take five to 15 years, Porter said.

The unsold condo units are larger than many on the market these days, running between 1,200 and 2,500 square feet and featuring high-end amenities, such as marble counters in the bathrooms, Porter said. They were built to appeal to buyers at the peak of the housing market.

Prices have not been set for the units, which are expected to go up for sale in September or October.

As for the rezoning plan, consultation is continuing with existing condo owners and will include the nearby community. An application will go to Colwood council by September, Porter said. Ideally, the rezoning will be dealt with by early 2014.

Seacliff’s ideas will “build on the current plan,” Porter said. “It’s not going to be what I would call a radical change. It will be an evolutionary change.”

Plans are not firm yet but Seacliff favours a road design that would circulate within the site to provide better access for driving and walking, he said. The company will look at how buildings are oriented to create more open space by constructing narrower buildings that provide better views. That might mean asking for permission to build higher.

“We are very much looking at how we build this into a community,” said Porter. He would like to see a few thousand square feet developed into commercial space for a coffee shop, baked goods and a place where residents can pick up groceries such as milk.

Tennis courts, kayak storage and a swimming pool — which would use the site’s existing geothermal heating and cooling system — are being considered, he said.

Like the original plan, about 40 per cent of land will remain as green space.

Seacliff’s first building will be a condominium focused on local buyers seeking more affordable housing, Porter said. Designs and prices have not been determined, although he figures the average unit size would be about 900 square feet. Pre-sales could start late this year. It might be finished as early as summer 2014, depending on the pace of rezoning and the market.

Ocean Grove is being revived at the same time other developers are also putting up condominiums aimed at local buyers.

The $1-billion mixed-use Capital City Centre project is underway at Colwood Corners. Plans call for 12 high-rise towers, townhouses, and commercial, retail and offices.

© Copyright 2013

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Grandma’s Gardens & Landscape

What: Grandma’s Gardens Landscape; 8107 N. Ohio 48, Waynesville

Grandma’s Gardens Landscape is a full-service garden and landscape center encompassing 14 acres of land, two ponds and a goat-petting center. In 1979, co-owners, Doug and Paulette Rhinehart, transformed an old 1879 Clear Creek Twp. farm into an inviting destination for families, garden tours and especially active gardeners and homeowners interested in improving their gardens and landscapes.

The Garden Center recently hosted the Garden Centers of America Tour consisting of industry professionals visiting different garden centers around the country.

“It was quite an honor,” said Grandma’s Gardens’ advertising manager, Marybeth Taggart, who helped with the event. “These are people who are at the top of the field.”

Taggart was delighted to see a 77-year-old top female executive gleefully riding around on the miniature Sugar Pie Railway that is designed to ferry children and their parents to the pumpkin patch in October.

What the business does: Grandma’s Gardens Landscape is a four-season business that caters almost equally to retail and landscaping clients. In an effort to make the center convenient to shoppers, Rhinehart created a concrete pathway covered by a pink awning that leads customers from the separate shady and sunny Perennial areas to Grandpa’s Barn where seminars and classes are offered to the public. From here, the pathway meanders past a pond, the pygmy goat enclosure and through the shrub and tree section where modern sprinkler hoses drip reclaimed irrigation water from the pond onto wrapped root balls. Colorful signs and maps, designed by Rhinehart’s son, Jake, direct customers to specific areas like the fountain sales area and the Grandma’s Gift Parlor, a garden shop that offers everything from Vera Bradley purses to a large selection of miniature garden items. The Gift Parlor is also where Rhinehart sits down in front of a screen with landscape clients to show them plans for their property. He then takes them in a golf cart down the pathway outside to show them first-hand the suggested trees, flowers and decorative items.

What makes the business stand out: In addition to the longevity and knowledge of staff members, who have worked there 15 years on average, customers and landscape clients experience pleasing views and vignettes like flowers dangling from old tractors that are designed to give them ideas for their own gardens. The fish pond, pygmy goat enclosure and miniature train also make it a fun experience for children accompanying parents on a buying trip.

How the business started: Although it started as a small landscape business operating out of a garage, it quickly grew into a full-service retail and landscape company, thanks to some help from Rhinehart’s parents, Jim and Pat Rhinehart of Centerville.

“My dad was nice enough to let me use his garage for my business until I had a large pile of mulch dumped in the middle of the driveway,” said Rhinehart, whose favorite color, purple, forms a motif seen in the flower arrangements and colorful posters. “He helped me find the farm and Paulette and I moved into the old farmhouse. It was in pretty bad condition, but we lived upstairs for five years, while we fixed up the lower level and built the business.”

An old travel trailer that had earlier housed a pony on the farm remained there until Rhinehart found a buyer, who moved the structure to Lake St. Mary where it now serves as a summer cottage.

Thanks to Rhinehart’s mother, Pat, Grandma’s Gardens Landscape has a name that evokes childhood memories spent gathering flowers in the garden with precious grandmothers.

Customer comment: “Grandma’s Gardens has helped turn our 10-acre bean field into more than we could have ever imagined,” said Pat Bracci, a Springboro customer for the past eight years. “We have three seasons of color thanks to the Grandma’s garden team. The staff is knowledgeable and always eager to help. Can’t thank Doug and his team enough.

Contact information: Open 9 a.m. – 8 p.m., Monday – Friday, Sat. 9a.m. – 6 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.,; (937) 885-2740;

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Potted Desert Garden: Lessen Your Stress With These July Gardening Tips

It’s one of the hottest months! Here are some gardening tips for this blazing time of the year:

• Keep your water bill under control. Check your irrigation system for leaks!

• Keep your beauty growing! Be sure your tender annuals are getting enough water. (Yes, this advice seems like common sense, but it’s amazing how many plants don’t get the well-timed water they need. See below for rose-specific advice.)

• Do not assume: In the somewhat unlikely event of rain, remember that we’d need a half-inch to be safe in turning off the irrigation for any length of time.

• All plants, just like all of us, would love to be in afternoon shade.

Show Roses Special TLC

Here’s some additional information on roses in the desert from the Mesa East Valley Rose Society:

• Considering this almost-unprecedented heat, be careful to keep roses watered adequately. Water more frequently, and increase the quantity to compensate for the extremely high temperatures.

• Water the night before—or even one or two days before really high temperatures are forecast—so there is available soil moisture.

• After a day of extreme temperatures, water your roses in the evening. Make sure the surface soil is moist—and make sure the deeper soil in the root zone is moist as well. This will help cool the soil and assist the roses to recover. Roses with readily available soil moisture stand a better chance of surviving—and are better prepared for the next day’s high-stress temperatures.

• Be proactive and water ahead of roses showing stress. When we see roses stress from inadequate water, it is too late … some or all of the bush will likely die.

Marylee is the Desert’s Potted Garden Expert. Email her with comments and questions at
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Top tips for what to see at RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

Nearby is Tip Of The Iceberg, a clever rock garden made of recycled fridges filled with alpine plants and surrounded by a sea of glass chips.

Designed by John Esling and Caroline Tait, John assured me that the fridges were not brand new: “We polished them up!” he said, and showed me a fridge with stickers still on it that they couldn’t pull off.

Several of the show gardens are mixed in with the Conceptual Gardens, including Matthew Child’s Ecover Garden that won Best In Show. Its message is that water is life, and it is in the centre of the Ecover Inspire Zone that features Low Cost High Impact small gardens that are full of good ideas that can be used at home.

If you don’t turn right up Ditton Avenue, but follow the path that runs parallel with The Long Water canal, you can visit the RHS Butterfly Dome with Eden.

This is full of exotic plants as well as butterflies, and is particularly interesting for families, with things for children to do.

There are lots of demonstrations and talks in the nearby Celebrity Speakers Catwalk In Bloom Theatre, and the Growing Tastes marquee next to it, but if you want to escape the afternoon heat I would recommend the Floral Marquee on the other side of The Long Water.

While temperatures outside were in the high 20s yesterday it remained cool and sweetly scented.

As always it is a feast of colour with everybody’s favourite plants in eye-catching displays: lavender, lupins and lilies are among the most impressive, but one of the most interesting displays is Squire’s Legacy Of Jekyll (, which cleverly illustrated Gertrude Jekyll’s pioneering informal style.

It is quite an achievement in such a tiny space, and all with plants easily available to 21st century gardeners.

Also this side of the water is the Plant Heritage Marquee, officially opened by the Countess of Wessex yesterday, and lots of specialist nursery stalls selling a huge array of tempting plants.

My favourite garden? They are all well designed and beautifully planted but two along Ditton Avenue were particularly poignant: A Moveable Feast highlights the experience of Army families that find it hard to put down roots because they have to move continually. Old Army boots planted up brought home the message wittily.

Then there was Athanasia, a woodland garden designed by David Sarton in memory of horticultural photographer, wife and mother, Emma Peios, who died from leukaemia last year.

“Athanasia is a place for reflection, rest and a celebration of the beauty of nature,” says David in his publicity leaflet. And that’s really what gardening is all about.

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Tips for fire safety in summer

With an unusually dry rainy season behind us and months of warm weather ahead, thoughts naturally turn to the possibility of fire. It’s a topic well understood by Scott O’Brien, who owns Scott O’Brien Fire Safety with partner Bryan Matherly.

The Atascadero-based company has been in business for 13 years and services San Luis Obispo, Monterey and Santa Barbara Counties. It services fire extinguishers and handles installation and repair of fire sprinklers for residential customers. Commercial services include fire training and exit and emergency light services.

According to O’Brien, many homeowners have a false sense of security regarding fire extinguishers. Few realize that the majority of home extinguishers are disposable and need to be replaced annually. After a year, the powder in the extinguisher can settle and clump, the unit can leak and lose pressure, or parts in the valve and nozzle can corrode or deteriorate.

He suggests purchasing a commercial-grade rechargeable extinguisher that can be refilled every year by a company like O’Brien’s. In the long run, it is a more cost-efficient option. Rechargeable extinguishers cost $35 to $55, versus $25 to $35 for a disposable extinguisher. Refilling costs around $25, and the extinguisher can last 24 years or more.

Strategic placement of extinguishers is also important. O’Brien recommends keeping one wherever fire is likely, such as the kitchen, garage and near the water heater. “They should be no further than 15 feet away from a hazard area,” he said.

If you have a multi-level home, have at least one extinguisher on each level. It also makes sense to keep one outdoors during the summer in case of fires caused by yard equipment or barbecues. You can mount one outdoors yearround, although it will cut down on the longevity of the extinguisher.

Although extinguishers aren’t exactly decorator objects, it helps to keep them in plain sight. Burying one at the back of a cabinet or up high out of reach means you lose precious seconds retrieving it in an emergency. If you do put it in acabinet, make sure family members know where it is. A good way to do this is with a yearly fire drill where family members practice escape routes and brush up on how to use extinguishers.

“Unless you practice it, when an accident happens and you’re under stress, you may not remember what to do,” he said.

Finally, don’t forget to change the batteries in your smoke alarm once a year. And keep in mind that the alarms only last 10 to 15 years. So while you’re up there, activate the test button to see if the unit is still working.

The small investment in time and money is worth it, according to O’Brien, who said that “having adequate fire protection is the cheapest insurance you can buy.”

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Thrifty tips for a summer garden makeover

WHITE_TAILED_DEER_11771629.JPGView full sizeBars of strong-smelling soap hung around the garden can help repel deer and other critters. 

Birds and Blooms, a bird and garden magazine, has rounded up some of the most useful objects for your garden that cost almost nothing. You probably have many of them in your basement or garage.

Use recycled cans, worn boots, damaged watering cans, old teapots and discarded sinks as containers for herbs, flowers and houseplants. Be sure to create drainage holes.

Paper bags can protect tender plants from frost. Set the bags upside down over tops of plants when there is a threat of frost, and put soil or rock over the edges of the bags to hold them in place.
Remove in the morning so plants can enjoy the sun.

Kitchen forks, knives and spoons make great garden tools. Use to separate flats, lift seedlings and tease apart root balls, suggests Birds and Blooms magazine.

Thick layers of newspaper kills grass and prevents weeds from growing in new garden beds.

Use tin cans with the tops and bottoms cut out to keep destructive cutworms from eating plants. Press the cans into the soil and plant seedlings inside.
Sprinkle coffee grounds at the base of plants to improve drainage in clay. Azaleas and blueberries love it.

Break a bar of soap in to several pieces and hang from string, old pantyhose or net bags from trees near places where deer feed. The strong deodorant smell may keep out deer and other pests, according to Birds and Blooms magazine.

Tie aluminum pie pans to a string and hang them from branches or fence. The annoying noise they make as they bang around and flash of reflected light may keep away deer, rabbits and other pests.

 Use packing peanuts in large pots to make them lighter and improve drainage.
Old pantyhose can be used to tie up floppy plants, or to line the bottom of pots so water gets out but dirt can’t.

For more garden bargains, go to birdsandblooms/gardening/summer/garden-bargains. 

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Medina’s Community Design Committee hosts garden tour

The Medina Community Design Committee hosted its first annual Garden Tour June 29.

The event, originally coordinated by the YWCA, was adopted by the CDC to show off historic and beautiful treasures in the City of Medina.

Jenni Kurilko, chairperson of the event, said the goal is to raise money to help preserve the architectural structures of Medina and help homeowners restoring homes to keep a cohesive look. This was her chance to remind Medina residents and all who appreciate beauty there are historic neighborhoods off public square.

She and her husband bought a home in the South Court Historic Neighborhood three years ago. Their home is about to celebrate its 150th birthday and they redesigned and added to the gardens.

“I’ve always liked old homes,” she said, “This house is so sturdy. Things aren’t made the way they used to be. I love the look of it. I love the history of it.”

Her home was the second stop on the garden tour. Her garden is actually a certified wildlife habitat providing food, shelter, water and a place for animals to raise their young. Her water garden attracts frogs, toads, dragonflies, herons and other wildlife. She also has Koi in one of her ponds.

When asked why she decided to participate in the event she said, “People are proud of their gardens and beautiful yards. We’re featuring some really interesting ones. It’s a nice, family day.”

The Casey family has featured its Spring Grove home gardens on several tours. The backyard was a grassy volleyball court for their nine children before it was transformed by Harold and Rosemary.

The garden features not only plants and flowers, but also a hand-built gazebo, various statuaries, waterfalls and birdhouses. Rosemary Casey said she and her husband spent 20 years working in their gardens and this will probably be the last year they participate in a tour.

Five homes participated in the tour along with the Friends of Spring Grove Cemetery and the sponsor of the event, A.I. Root. Paul Becks, secretary for the Community Design Committee, said the tour gives people a chance to see special places in their community they wouldn’t ordinarily explore.

“All the homes have something special to offer, but in most cases it’s not something you can see from the street,” said Becks. “People put a lot of time and effort in their gardens and no one gets to see them. We’re trying to pull back the curtain a bit to show the public the beauty these homes have to offer.”

“People are happy,” said Nancy Mattey, a trustee for the CDC. “People like to garden. It’s an uplifting event to do.”

See more Medina news at

(216) 986-2371 Twitter: @taraquinnsun

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Eye of the Day Garden Design Center Launches Sweepstakes to Give Away …

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LIKE Eye of the Day on Facebook for a chance to win Chocolats du CaliBressan

Santa Barbara, California (PRWEB) July 10, 2013

Eye of the Day Garden Design Center is launching a sweepstakes for lucky Facebook fans. Contestants must “Like” Eye of the Day’s Facebook page and then enter their name and email for a chance to win a box of chocolate from Chocolats du CaliBressan. Jean-Michel Carre is known as the French Chocolatier of the American Riviera. “Le CaliBressan,” was created in 1996 by Jean-Michel and his wife Jill while in France. They have been in Southern California almost 6 years. Winners will be chosen at random and contacted by e-mail. Bon Appetit!

Eye of the Day is located in southern Santa Barbara County, and features European garden décor. The headquarters boasts a wide selection of Italian and Greek terracotta planters and pottery, French Anduze pottery, and is also the largest stocking distributor of Gladding McBean glazed terracotta pottery.

The Carpinteria-based headquarters also offers a trade program designed for landscape, garden, and architectural design professionals, featuring a private website with information about manufacturers, specific lines, dimensions, and pricing for easy and convenient browsing.

Husband-and-wife owners, Brent and Suzi Freitas, established Eye of the Day in 1995 by first selling oak wine barrel planters. They gradually added a retail garden shop and expanded to include an assortment of items including benches, fountains, planters, statues and other landscape design accessories. Now, clients of the high-end design center include Tommy Bahama, Ralph Lauren, ABC Carpet Home and Eye of the Day is currently operating a Pop-Up store at the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, California and has also been featured on the DIY Network. The center also customizes items with finishes, glazes, antique treatments, fountain conversions, and more.

About Eye of the Day Garden Design Center

Eye of the Day Garden Design Center is a retail showroom that features more than an acre of high quality garden landscape products, including Italian terracotta pottery and fountains, Greek terracotta pottery, French Anduze pottery, and products from America’s premier concrete garden pottery and decoration manufacturers. Eye of the Day is a leading importer and distributor of fine European garden pottery, and caters to private consumers and landscape design and architecture firms around the world. To see what Eyeof the Day Garden Design Center can do for your business, visit

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