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Archives for January 22, 2014

Euharlee council considers revamped marketing plan

In its first work session of 2014, the Euharlee City Council heard newly-elected mayor Dennis Thayer’s ideas for improving the town’s image, including proposals for rebranding, amending the city’s mission statement, outsourcing landscaping, amending the city’s organizational chart and developing a strategic plan.

“I think it’s time to update how the city looks; how the city presents itself,” Thayer said. “We have the covered bridge and there’s no reason to change that, but our signage, website, stationary, you name it, needs to be updated.”

Thayer suggested the city send a request for proposals (RFP) to marketing firms to get an idea of the cost involved and what type of rebranding they had in mind. Council member Craig Guyton said he was all for requesting an RFP as long as “we incorporate what we already have,” referring to the city seal with the covered bridge.

Council member Joseph “Jo-Jo” Turner seemed skeptical of the idea.

“I’m not really sure where you’re going with this rebranding,” he said. “Are we going to be a tourist city or a modern city, a Georgia Power city. I just don’t see where you are going with this.”

Thayer said to look no further than down the road, saying there were five signs at a nearby intersection.

“Every one of them is different,” he said. “I agree with you that the historic aspect of the city should be kept but I think we should explore what we can do to better market the city to bring people here. We may get 10 proposals back and every one of them are horrible, but it doesn’t cost anything to find out.”

After learning that the RFPs would not cost the city, the council warmed to the idea.

“Well, it’s not going to cost anything and if the rabbit gets to running too far, we can always shoot him,” council member Steve Worthington said.

Euharlee museum director Katie Gobbi presented a proposal to create a Christmas village for next year’s holiday season.

“The majority of these proposed events would occur between Dec. 5 and 7,” she said, “and create a consolidated marketing effort during the holiday season.”

Among the ideas suggested were enhanced decoration of the historic city buildings, a tree-lighting ceremony, outdoor film screenings of popular holiday films, photographs with Santa Claus and a holiday arts and crafts fair with local artisans selling Christmas-themed wares.

“I’m thinking it should have an old-timey feel to it,” Gobbi said. “Maybe having carolers in period costume, school bands and concessions.”

Worthington expressed his concern that the new event might overshadow the Festival of Trees, a 12-year institution in Euharlee featuring the festival parade where participants ride horses or decorated vehicles like golf carts, bicycles, motorcycles, floats and trailers.

The festival got its name from the tradition of putting decorated trees and wreaths on the auction block on the final night with proceeds going to local charities.

“We don’t want the Christmas Village idea to overshadow the festival,” Gobbi said. “We hope that it will enhance the festival.”

In other business, council:

• honored former Mayor Kathy Foulk and council member Sammy Carden with plaques honoring them for their service to the city.

• adopted a resolution congratulating Johnny Mitchell’s Smokehouse restaurant for being named the 2013 Small Business of the Year by the Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce.

• heard a first reading of the synthetic marijuana ordinance.

• discussed adoption of international building codes.

• tabled discussion of a revamped city mission statement.

• decided to further explore the possibility of outsourcing landscaping and maintenance of three city parks to private firms.

• discussed revamping the city organizational chart.

• discussed hiring a grant writer for the city.

The Euharlee City Council will meet in regular session on Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. at city hall.

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SPRUCING UP – Landscaping and signage improvements were mentioned as …

SPRUCING UP – Landscaping and signage improvements were mentioned as possibilities for the 22nd Street Light Rail Station.


The future of the 22nd Street corridor in Bayonne, and the broader midtown section, is the focus of a committee recently formed by the city to generate ideas for the area’s growth, according to Mayor Mark Smith.

The committee first met on Jan. 9 to consider planning concepts for the neighborhood around the 22nd Street Light Rail Station. The gathering brought together current and former public officials, businessmen and women, developers, planners, and leaders from the world of academia.

The “visioning” meeting launched a discussion about possible development goals, opportunities, and strategies for the future of the area bounded by 30th Street to the north, 17th Street to the south, Avenue C to the west, and Avenue F to the east.

The discussion was led by Dr. Colette Santasieri, director of strategic initiatives in the Office of Research and Development at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, and Dr. Arnold Bloch, senior project manager with the firm of Fitzgerald and Halliday Inc., based in Hartford, Conn., and with offices in Cherry Hill and New York City. Santasieri and Bloch participated through a grant received by the city from the American Planning Association, an independent, not-for-profit educational organization that provides leadership in the development of communities. Bayonne was one of the New Jersey municipalities chosen to receive planning assistance with the help of volunteer professionals from within the state.

Santasieri said that the meeting offered participants the opportunity to exchange various perspectives on the assets and challenges facing the area. During the meeting, a consensus emerged that the area is very convenient and “walkable.” Participants expressed an interest in having a more visible and attractive 22nd Street Light Rail Station that would provide a more prominent, defining center for the neighborhood. The suggestions included possible landscaping improvements.

The group also called for a gradual redevelopment of Broadway, concentrating on improving two-block areas at a time. Participants discussed the possible use of banners, signs, and storefront designs to provide a branding, or identity, for the area. They also suggested improving the variety of shops, restaurants, and entertainment.

Traditionally, 22nd Street has been identified with Bayonne’s oil industry, a spokesman said. The group concluded that there is a need to move the corridor beyond its industrial past by developing a more modern look for the neighborhood.

The city’s assets have to be emphasized, according to Santasieri, who is preparing a vision plan for the area. The document will be presented to city officials in a few weeks.

“I would like to thank everyone who contributed to this meeting,” said Smith. “The event produced useful and imaginative ideas that will help continue the progress Bayonne has made in recent years. We can look forward to an exciting future in the area around the 22nd Street Light Rail Station and in our entire community.”

In a related matter, the following week the City Council approved an administration proposal to investigate the possible redevelopment of a section of Broadway. That measure authorized the Bayonne Planning Board to conduct a study to review the area bounded by 497-519 Broadway, West 23rd Street, Del Monte Drive, and West 24th Street, which has several vacancies and for-rent buildings.

Joseph Passantino may be reached at

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McCrory promises raises for teachers – Asheville Citizen

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While the path remains clear for state regulators to issue the first permits for fracking exploration as of March 2015, McCrory said he will press President Barack Obama’s administration to ease rules that prevent seismic testing off the Atlantic coast to measure potential natural gas and oil deposits. State environment Secretary John Skvarla said the administration also will keep working toward an “all of the above” policy to promote other energy forms.

Medicaid reform

Along with potential energy and education legislation, the governor said he expects a Medicaid reform bill to top his legislative agenda. But McCrory may have to accept less on Medicaid from lawmakers and medical providers cool to earlier ideas from Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Aldona Wos to turn Medicaid services over to managed-care organizations.

Medicaid reform, McCrory said, “may be the toughest battle.”

His administration is also reviewing whether some agencies like the Department of Health and Human Services are too large and unwieldy. The department, which is projected to spend more than $18 billion in federal and state funds this year, covers a wide range of activities, from pre-kindergarten and Medicaid and adult care homes to public health emergencies. DHHS also has been marked by repeated shortfalls and mistakes dating before McCrory’s arrival in Raleigh.

“It’s an amazing hodgepodge of responsibilities that I think makes management extremely difficult,” McCrory said. State Budget Director Art Pope is leading the government efficiency initiative reviewing DHHS and other agencies.

While Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, praised McCrory’s agenda for this year, Democratic leaders later Tuesday were skeptical about McCrory’s agenda — not surprising given they saw little good coming from the governor in 2013.

“Teachers, students, and working families have seen Gov. McCrory’s true priorities, and until we see a meaningful plan that supports education and grows the middle class, the governor’s words will remain hollow,” Senate Minority Leader Martin Nesbitt, D-Buncombe, said in a prepared statement.

McCrory said he wanted more dialogue with political opponents — as long as they offer solutions for fixing complex problems. “One area that we all need to improve on is dialogue and conversation, and not political sound bites against each other,” he said.

But cooperation is unlikely given it’s an election year. Last year also was marked by weekly protests by critics of the Republican agenda and more than 900 arrests at the Legislative Building. Laws written by Republicans on elections and public schools are being challenged in court.

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Seven Local Projects Receive Clean Water Funding

Seven projects that use education to protect clean water will receive grants from the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD) in 2014. 

The MCWD’s Cynthia Krieg Watershed Stewardship Grant program awards $100,000 in grants each year to local communities, schools, civic groups, non-profit groups and others for projects that help people understand the importance of protecting our water resources and learn what they can do to keep their local lakes, streams and wetlands clean.

Projects selected for funding span the entire district. 

They include new, hands-on water quality curricula for students and campers in the western metro, a guide for shoreline gardening on Lake Minnetonka, wetland buffer landscaping and an educational kiosk at the planned bandstand at Steiger Lake in Victoria, informative short videos about runoff produced by Minneapolis community members and a program connecting interested organizations with opportunities to participate in clean water projects across the watershed.

You can learn more about the Cynthia Krieg Watershed Stewardship Grant program here.

Project Summaries:

The Lake Minnetonka Guide to Shoreline Gardening” – reGEN Land Design ($25,000)

Creates a practical guide for combining native and horticultural plant species to create resilient shoreline gardens that add value to properties along Lake Minnetonka. Shoreline gardens add beauty and stabilize soils to protect water quality and deter geese, among other benefits. The guide re-frames common messages about “shoreline restoration” to appeal to gardeners, helping reach a new audience of potential water stewards. 


Camp Tanadoona’s Water Quality Initiative” – CampFire MN ($18,650)

Allows Camp Tanadoona in Excelsior to hire a Water Quality Specialist who will develop a curriculum for campers and train fellow staff  and counselors to integrate it into the camp’s year-round programming. This curriculum will reach 2,500 people each year through the camp’s year-round program. 


A Bandstand” – Community Involvement Endowment ($15,500)

Installs wetland buffer landscaping around a soon-to-be-built bandstand to protect water quality of Steiger Lake in Victoria.  Educational kiosks at the site will focus on wetland preservation, clean-water landscaping and how public/ private partnerships can help preserve water quality during new development endeavors. 


Linking Master Water Stewards with Congregations, Neighborhoods and City Environmental Commissions for Hands-On Projects” – Alliance for Sustainability  ($14,624.55)

Connects community volunteers who are certified Master Water Stewards with congregations, neighborhoods and citizen groups to lead and participate in clean water projects throughout the District. 


Outdoor Learning Center Construction and Stewardship Project – Phase I” – Minnetonka Preschool and Early Childhood Family Education  ($12,300)

Constructs an Outdoor Learning Center (OLC) for young children and their parents. The center will focus on water quality and other environmental issues. This grant will fund clean-water landscaping around the center, including the planting of native plants and removal of invasive plants.


Community-Based Viral Videos” – Houchin Brothers Entertainment ($7,000)

Produces two short, light-hearted videos about stormwater runoff — one about the hydrologic cycle and another about how surface water becomes polluted. Community members from a handful of Minneapolis neighborhoods will help create the videos during workshops and use their networks and social media to share the outcomes to a wider audience.


Water Quality and Non-Point Pollution around Minnetonka School District” – Scenic Heights Elementary 4/5 Navigators ($6,925.45)

Uses the scientific process to teach students in Minnetonka how to measure non-point pollution in stormwater runoff and assess local water quality. Students will synthesize and communicate their results and recommendations to community members and peers. 

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City of Madison to participate in EPA green assistance program

The Environmental Protection Agency has chosen the city of Madison as one of the state capitals to receive assistance through the “Greening America’s Capitals” program this year, meaning the city can expect bike path improvements and further development in city parks.

This past fall, the EPA sent requests for letters of interest in their Greening America’s Capitals program. This program has provided assistance to 14 U.S. capital cities that are all trying to be more environmentally conscious, a statement from the EPA said.

Greening America’s Capitals is an EPA program that helps state capitals develop environmentally friendly neighborhoods that incorporate innovative green infrastructure strategies, the statement said.

By implementing green infrastructure strategies, communities can choose to more effectively maintain healthy waters, provide multiple other environmental benefits and support sustainable communities, the statement said.

“At the scale of a city or county, green infrastructure refers to the patchwork of natural areas that provides habitat, flood protection, cleaner air and cleaner water,” the statement said. “At the scale of a neighborhood, green infrastructure refers to storm water management systems that mimic nature by soaking up and storing water.”

With help from this program, the Triangle Neighborhood near West Washington Avenue, Regent Street and South Park Street will be receiving assistance to make it easier for residents to access transit to get to green spaces and Monona Bay. This program could also help improve water quality in the bay, the statement said.

Bill Fruhling, principal planner at the city’s planning division, said the program should help neighborhoods find ways to work together to improve their infrastructure.

“This program can really start a dialogue about how to integrate the Triangle Neighborhood with its surroundings because one of the issues with that area is that it is surrounded on three sides by major roads,” Fruhling said.

Fruhling said through the program, the city can explore how to connect the neighborhood to other parts of the community like Monona Bay and Brittingham Park. 

The Triangle Neighborhood could see bike path and street improvements with help from the program and the addition of more trees and rain gardens to better manage rainwater accumulation, Fruhling said.

Mayor Paul Soglin said the city should welcome help from the program.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to deal with environmental issues particularly pertaining to landscaping and water run off,” Soglin said. “This is a great opportunity to increase urban green spaces and potentially trap rainwater in rain gardens.”

Starting next week, the EPA will begin working with the city to put together a detailed project description and hire a team of qualified consultants that are regionally based near Madison, the EPA said.

The statement said the project will offer a workshop in early summer, and will then offer a report detailing possible projects and potential costs. The resulting projects should take between six and nine months.

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Naperville OKs prospective Riverwalk extension

The Naperville City Council on Tuesday night approved the extension of the city’s popular Riverwalk another 1,300 feet south to Martin Avenue — from a planning standpoint, at least.

Six of eight council members voted in favor of changing Riverwalk planning documents to allow the boundaries to extend another long block south. Boundaries set in 1993 limited the path to its current 1.75-mile length.

“I’m willing to support the land planning part of this,” council member Grant Wehrli said. “This is a natural extension.”

But council members said they are not eager to get the project going anytime soon because of concerns about its cost. The extension is estimated to cost roughly $3 million for design and construction.

Lengthening the path had been included in the city’s capital improvements plan, where it had been scheduled for potential design beginning in spring 2016 with construction possibly beginning in spring 2018. But council members asked for the project to be deferred far into the future to avoid borrowing funds to support its completion.

“I’m not willing to borrow money to extend the Riverwalk,” said council member Steve Chirico, who voted against the extension along with council member Doug Krause.

Bill Novack, director of transportation, engineering and development, said the estimated cost of the extension is high, but it’s comparable to the price tags for work on other segments of the Riverwalk. The 900-foot section between Main and Eagle streets was redone for about $2.2 million, he said.

The proposed Riverwalk extension would be built on the west side of the DuPage River and could include a bridge, rain gardens over a drainage area, shoreline restoration, landscaping improvements and new plazas at Hillside Road and Martin Avenue, said Jeff Havel, chairman of the Riverwalk Commission. Bicycles would not be allowed on the extension, continuing a policy in place along the rest of the Riverwalk.

While the pathway will not be extended in the near future, Novack said potential developers of any adjacent sites now will know an extension is in the city’s land plans.

The idea of extending the Riverwalk south first came up about a year and a half ago during council discussions of a McDonald’s proposed for the southeast corner of Hillside and Washington Street. The McDonald’s was rejected, but Novack said there have been some informal proposals for the site from businesses including Dunkin’ Donuts.

Plans to extend the Riverwalk behind the corner also could make the site desirable to businesses that cater to recreational uses along the path, Novack said.

Supporters said the Riverwalk extension will help increase pedestrian connectivity between downtown, Knoch Park, Edward Hospital and homes to the south.

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Taking the spade work out of vegetable growing

PA Photo/Thinkstockphotos

Expert vegetable grower Charles Dowding tells Hannah Stephenson about his very welcome no-dig approach to gardening

Each autumn, there’s a collective, nationwide groan as gardeners think about the endless digging they’ll be doing over winter to improve their soil’s condition for the following year.

But Charles Dowding, renowned market gardener and expert vegetable grower, can offer them some good news.

Over the years, he has conducted many experiments comparing the effect on plant growth of digging with not digging and has found that a ‘no-dig’ approach is the way to go. It not only saves time and exertion on digging, but also on weeding, because far fewer weeds grow on undisturbed soil.

He insists that growth and quality are improved by simply covering beds with 2.5-5cm (1-2in) of compost over the surface.

“The usual recommendation is to dig or even double dig the soil for growing vegetables,” he says. “Because this is repeated so many times, most gardeners accept the task without wondering if it is really necessary. In fact, there is no need to dig at all.”

Initial clearance of weedy and grassy ground can mostly be achieved with mulches (such as cardboard and compost) and some digging out of woody plants, then you can maintain the plot by weeding regularly. Surface compost weathers to a soft mulch over winter and can be directly sown or planted into, he adds.

“Soil does not need to be mixed, stirred, scraped or tickled. Only large lumps of organic matter on top require some knocking around with a fork or rake to create an even surface, mostly in winter and spring.”

Dowding has run an experiment since 2007 to understand the effect on soil of digging and not digging, comparing growth of the same vegetables growing side by side in dug and undug beds.

“In the absence of digging, I have found that harvests are as high, sometimes higher, while some extra quality of growth on undug soil may be apparent.

“Soil in the undug beds, with compost on its surface, is well-drained, retains more moisture in dry springs and grows fewer weeds and stronger vegetables, especially at the start of the season,” he explains in his new book Veg Journal, which offers month-by-month no-dig advice.

A key point in the no-dig approach is that undug soil is firm, which is not the same as compacted; roots have freedom to travel and are well-anchored at the same time.

“Fertility is enhanced by an increase of undisturbed soil life, which mobilises nutrients and helps plant roots to access them,” he continues. “This is most noticeable in early spring, when growth on undug soil is generally faster by comparison with dug soil, whose fertility, in terms of soil life, is still recovering from the winter digging.”

In experiments he found that during spring and early summer, many vegetables on the dug beds, especially radish, onions and spinach, started growing more slowly, and that in the undug beds the leaves of spinach and lettuce were thicker and glossier, the radish roots were shinier and the onions had a deeper colour.

He says that firm soil is often wrongly labelled as ‘compacted’, yet soil which has been mechanically loosened and fluffed up is not stable, which is why you have to walk on planks after digging heavy soil to avoid compaction.

Compacted soil is squishy when wet, rock-like when dry, contains few or no worm channels, is hard to crumble in your hand and may smell sulphurous because of lack of oxygen. It usually happens in the top 15-20cm (6-8in) of the surface and if it does, he advises adding plenty of organic matter.

He concludes: “My advice is simple: disturb your soil as little as possible.”

:: Charles Dowding’s Veg Journal is published by Frances Lincoln on February 6, priced £14.99

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