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Archives for August 2, 2013

Number of adopted spots in borough climb




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GP Landscaping in Naugatuck has adopted the area in front of the Naugatuck Recycling Center on Rubber Avenue as part of the borough’s Adopt-A-Spot program. –LUKE MARSHALL

GP Landscaping in Naugatuck has adopted the area in front of the Naugatuck Recycling Center on Rubber Avenue as part of the borough’s Adopt-A-Spot program. –LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — The Blight and Beautification Council’s Adopt-A-Spot program is celebrating its two year anniversary with the adoption of more spots.

There have been about a dozen spots adopted to date, according to Linda Ramos, who heads the Adopt-A-Spot program. The way the program works is an organization or company adopts a spot in the borough, cleans it up and maintains the area.

One of the more recently adopted spots was at Baummer Pond on Mill Street, which was adopted by the Rotary Club.

“I feel when you get an organization like Rotary to be involved, that says something about your progress,” Ramos said.

While Ramos enjoys the help that large organizations such as Rotary can provide, she knows that most of the adopted spots rely on local businesses or organizations.  

This is why she is pleased to have a borough-based business take on the largest spot that the program has ever offered.

Gordon Ploof III of GP Landscaping in Naugatuck has adopted the space in front of Naugatuck’s Recycling Center along Rubber Avenue.

“It’s the biggest spot anyone has adopted so far,” Ramos said. “It’s like having five spots in one area.”

Ploof said, “I thought [adopting a spot] would be a cool idea. Something I could do a nice job on. I could do something for the community I live and work in.”

Ramos said before Ploof adopted the area, it was not pleasant to the eye. It was overgrown, some of the rose bushes were dead, and the fence was covered with weeds, Ramos said.

Ramos said she knew Ploof was the right person to take on the job once she met him.

“When I met him I said, ‘I have the perfect spot for you,’ and he agreed,” Ramos said.

Sunflowers grow along Water Street in Naugatuck. The area was adopted by Christ the King Church as part of the borough’s Adopt-A-Spot program. –LUKE MARSHALL

Sunflowers grow along Water Street in Naugatuck. The area was adopted by Christ the King Church as part of the borough’s Adopt-A-Spot program. –LUKE MARSHALL

Ploof said he liked the spot when he saw it.

“I think it is a good spot. A spot that needs a lot of help,” Ploof said.

Aside from helping out in the community, Ploof said he decided to adopt the spot because it would be a difficult one for organizations to beatify.

“Lots of other organizations adopt spots and that one would be a lot harder for them to take on. Being a landscaping company I can take of it,” Ploof said.

Ploof dived right in. Thus far, he’s removed the dead rose bushes and pruned the living ones. He removed the vines from the fence, weed whacked the area and did a basic cleaning.

Ploof plans to add plantings, plant grass by the road and mulch the area. None of his plans are set in stone. However, he does have some ideas of how he wants the finished project to look, which includes raised beds with flowers.

“I want to make it a whole landscape design example,” Ploof said.

Any organization or business that wants to adopt a spot or more information on the program can email Ramos at

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Foot tour gauges downtown needs

A couple dozen people took a quick stroll around downtown Kalispell on Wednesday, looking for ways to make it a friendlier place for bicyclists and pedestrians. 

Ideas didn’t take long to surface during the “walking audit.”

Several people rode their bikes to Depot Park where the walk started. Randy Kenyon, a member of the Kalispell City Council and someone who regularly pedals around downtown, was one of them. They all had to find a spare bench or tree to chain their bikes to before setting off on the eight-block walk.

Jennifer Young, recreation superintendent for Kalispell Parks and Recreation, apologized for the park’s lack of a bike rack. It went missing some time ago and has never been replaced. 

“The rack got stolen,” she said.

An almost complete lack of bike racks downtown was just one observation that participants raised as a possible improvement as they walked along Center Street, First Avenue West and Main Street.

Drinking fountains were nonexistent as the sun beat down. Trash cans were scarce in places. Sketchy bike lanes on Main Street and First Avenue East start and stop in strange places and are not clearly marked as bike lanes. 

Drivers use the bike lanes on Main Street as right turn lanes, so it might be best that they aren’t used much by bicyclists. “They’re only for the hard-core bikers. And they’re all dead,” one participant said about the bike lanes over the roar of passing traffic.

Downtown’s bike routes might need to be reinvented, especially with city officials trying to pull out the railroad tracks and build a new linear park through the railroad corridor just north of downtown. 

Like Kalispell’s often spotty network of sidewalks, the existing bike routes don’t run all the way through downtown, let alone connect to other trails in and around the city or to neighborhoods, schools, parks, shopping areas and other places someone might want to go without hopping in a vehicle.

Maybe it would be best to run bike routes along First Avenues East and West and other periphery roads. 

Whatever the route, Kalispell needs functioning and clearly marked bike lanes so bicyclists don’t ride through town switching between bike lanes, sidewalks and busy streets and putting themselves and other people at risk, another participant said.

Sidewalks peter out around Kalispell Center Mall, a major downtown anchor. And crosswalks leading to the mall need some fresh white paint before they fade out of sight into the gray asphalt of Center Street.

Walkers encountered mysterious, shin-threatening fire hydrants sprouting from the middle of sidewalks on First Avenue West. 

They briefly marveled at the decayed appearance of city-owned parking lots with their crumbling asphalt and dead landscaping and walked through a gauntlet of parking signs that pop out of the sidewalks along Main Street.

The goal of the walking audit is to start creating a conceptual plan to improve the usefulness and safety of pedestrian routes downtown. Such an event raises awareness and gets people thinking about problems and solutions. 

“It’s all about accessibility, safety and connectivity,” Parks and Recreation Director Mike Baker said about sidewalks and bike paths in Kalispell and the work that lies ahead.

Some of the desired improvements that get identified in the conceptual plan might take years or even decades to plan and implement. Pam Carbonari, coordinator of the Kalispell Business Improvement District and Kalispell Downtown Association, is hoping some inexpensive improvements can be fit into budgets and help make things better in the meanwhile.

“The crosswalks are in dire need of being painted,” Carbonari said. “We’re missing bike racks and a water fountain downtown. The whole way we walked on First Avenue West there was no trash can. Maybe there’s a way of striping the lanes differently on First Avenue East or West to actually create a bike lane. I think a lot of things we could see in this downtown core would make it a little more pedestrian friendly and take care of some of the issues.”  

Reporter Tom Lotshaw may be reached at 758-4483 or by email at

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GAINESVILLE – The North Central Texas College Horticulture department will be offering two new degree plans starting this fall.

One will be a marketable skills award in Landscape Design, while the second is a certificate in Sustainable Horticulture.

“A marketable skills award is kind of like a certificate in that it kind of pinpoints and targets a few classes that are absolutely necessary for the industry,” NCTC Horticulture instructor Ashley Hartman explained. “From that, students can kind of stair-step into certificates or an Associate’s degree.”

The certificate in Sustainable Horticulture may be the only program of its nature in the entire state of Texas, according to Hartman.

“Being able to meet the needs of that industry and kind of train those that are entering the ‘green’ industry is really important,” she said. “The whole premise of sustainability is just kind of to take care of our Earth and our land so it can take care of us, not only now but for future generations.”

The program will feature five different classes including Introduction to Sustainable Ag, Greenhouse Management, Naturalistic Gardening, Food Crops and Small Farming.

“What we are planning to do is offer that class at several small farms and the farmers themselves will teach the class,” Hartman said. “Students will be able to go through an entire growing season with the farmers. Everything from planting the seeds, tending the crops, harvesting them and then preparing them for market.”

The marketable skills award in Landscape Design includes three classes.

The first is Landscape Design where students learn how to sketch out their landscaping ideas.

“I’ve had students take just that class in the past and then start their own businesses because it’s such a thorough class,” Hartman said. “There are not only students who want to enter the workforce in that class, but also hobbyists. So folks who just love to landscape and would like to take a class to know what they are doing in their own yards.”

There is also a second-semester class in Advanced Landscape Design, which utilizes computer applications.

“Students take what they learned in the basic class and apply it using CAD programs,” Hartman explained.

The third class is in Landscape Irrigation.

“Students learn all about drip irrigation and sprinkler systems, how to install them and how to plan for them so they can go on and receive their state certification,” Hartman said.

The instructor said that students do not have to take the classes in any certain order. Also, there are no prerequisites and no testing that has to be done to enter the program.

For more information on the Horticulture program at NCTC, contact Hartman at 940-668-7731 Ext. 4488 or by email at

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Sprucing up: Students perform landscaping at Sandyvale – The Tribune

August 1, 2013

Sprucing up: Students perform landscaping at Sandyvale

Kelly Urban
The Tribune-Democrat

Thu Aug 01, 2013, 11:37 PM EDT

Middle school students were busy getting their hands dirty on Thursday for a good cause.

Eighty youth and advisers from the Youth Conference Ministries – The Great Escape were at Sandyvale Memorial Gardens in Hornerstown to offer their services by doing landscaping projects.

YCM worked at Sandyvale last summer and returned again this year as part of its ministry of community service.

Students from the congregations of six churches from Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania have been spending the week in town participating in various activities and staying at Pitt-Johnstown.

“There is always something to do here, and it’s a wonderful opportunity for us to work with these young people,” said Diana Kabo, secretary for Sandyvale Memorial Gardens. “They did such a great job last year and we’re happy to have them back, so it’s a win-win for everybody.”

The students were placed in groups with some doing weeding and mulching work throughout the site and others widening and edging the red and yellow twig dogwood shrub areas along the river wall.

As in the students’ previous visit, Sandyvale scheduled a short Hometown Roots, Stories of the Laurel Highlands educational and historical presentation to launch the work session.

The story was presented by Barbara Zabrowski, who spoke about the network of abolitionists who operated in the Johnstown area for the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. She also spoke about Sandyvale’s recent designation from the National Park Service as part of the Network to Freedom.

Darius Goettler, 12, is participating in the conference for the second year.

“We’re here helping Jesus by working in nature,” said the resident of Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County. “I enjoy the activities we do and the worship and songs. I love to be involved.”

The conference wraps up on Saturday.

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