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Archives for December 25, 2014

Council, P&Z Explore Impediments to Development

The first idea was suggested by PZ member Joe Minicozzi twenty minutes into a joint meeting of the board and Asheville City Council. It took about another hour for others at the table to come up with the idea themselves.

The unprecedented meeting appears to have been called to bat around ideas on how to deal with a backlog of construction projects that could be strengthening the economy downtown. Cathy Ball, who changes hats to head up departments just as fast as managers and department heads can leave, spoke this time on behalf of the city’s planning department. An executive search for a permanent director to replace Judy Daniel, who retired in May, is currently underway.

Those who spoke indicated construction was booming, and Ball agreed. She showed bar charts that showed the volume of new project proposals had actually decreased, in some categories seriously, compared to last year. The backlog, she said, was due to projects spending a couple of years or more in the approval process.

Ball had several suggestions, but the one that caught on best was “staffing up.” Mayor Esther Manheimer and Councilwoman Gwen Wisler expressed their wishes to follow through with that in a heartbeat and not wait for the next budget cycle, which will start in the public eye with council’s retreat in January.

Administratively, the Planning Department has been subject to a number of recent restructurings. One major change was transferring Jeff Staudinger, who works with government-subsidized housing programs, into the Economic Development Department. Another was pulling Assistant Planning Director Shannon Tuch out of the department to head up development “services.” The Development Services Department not too long ago was aggregated into a one-stop permitting center in the Taj Magraj at 161 Charlotte Street. The move delighted developers, but there is still room for improvement.

For example, a Mayor’s Development Task Force, which met four times and presented their findings “hot off the press” at the joint meeting, found developers would like to be able to submit plans electronically and pay by credit card. One of the higher-ranked complaints was worded, “too many rounds of submitting, receiving comments, responding to and making changes, and on and on and on and on.” Ball said sometimes developers must submit 24 sets of plans, and then resubmit them, perhaps more than once.

During the recession, when the city allowed certain employees to telecommute, it also transitioned the DSD to a four-day schedule to help employees contain transportation costs while the city managed its utility bills. Unfortunately, not being able to work with the city on Fridays was one of the most repeated complaints heard by the task force.

DSD staff would be very interested in identifying low-cost remedies for a general breakdown in interdepartmental communications. The consolidation has yet to remedy persisting stories about one inspector telling a builder to do something one way only to have the next guy tell him he has to rip it out. Another recurring annoyance was trepidation on the part of staff to pass off ideas for fear their supervisors would override their discretion once it was out of the gate. As an aside, Ball quoted members of staff explaining high numbers of redos to developers with, “We tell you what to fix, but you don’t.”

In response to stakeholder complaints, staff is working on extending digital services and working on informing developers about what’s new. A Business Process and Technology Specific Task Force is now in the works to listen to and search out state-of-the-art fixes for developers’ hang-ups. Ball said one goal would be to get planning and development documents in an updatable, searchable electronic format.

PZ board member Kristy Carter expressed dismay that the city had no staff assigned for long-term planning. Form-based codes are in the hopper not only for pilot-project Haywood Road, but for the French Broad riverfront and Charlotte Street. Council has committed staff to broad-based planning for its urban corridors, and planners would like to change zoning codes to concentrate development in potential Smart Growth nodes, like the Patton Avenue Kmart and UNCA areas. A sense of floundering was attribute do the absence of a permanent planning director.

Ball told council twice about PZ members communicating frustrations to her over recurring issues with the UDO. As an example, she said almost everybody who wants to build downtown needs to apply for alternative compliance because “it is impossible to meet the code for landscaping.” PZ member Laura Hudson added to the list “unfortunate retaining walls.” Rather than starting with a demand for scrapping inoperable portions of the code, Ball politely suggested the city might create shortcuts for legitimately jumping around the “impossible” hoops.

Another thing that isn’t working is Level II reviews. PZ has been in charge of them, but approval is a matter of technical compliance. Carter described the reviews as beyond the persuasive scope of the advisory board. PZ member Holly Shriner added that, on the flipside, city staff felt it unfair that they should sit through meetings unable to interject their expertise. Ball is therefore trying to match the responsibility with defined roles.

Words were multiplied, and the meeting lacked focus until Councilman Jan Davis spoke up. “I’m concerned about what we’ve just been through. A comprehensive plan is OK, but it isn’t a magic book,” he said. “We’ve given the message to staff to fast-track, but I’m not sure we know what we want to fast-track.” He thought staffing-up could wait for the budget process, as business was about to slow for the holidays. The greatest problem, he urged, was to address was the bottlenecking in Development Services. He felt staff was doing an adequate job of identifying needs and amending the UDO for the near term.

Article source: http://www.thetribunepapers.com/2014/12/24/council-pz-explore-impediments-to-development/

Longtime Yacolt couple takes over town watering hole

There’s nothing easy about taking over a restaurant. Especially when your background is in landscaping and manufacturing production.

But for Cindy and Richard Dietel, the new owners of the Red Fir Inn in downtown Yacolt, taking over a local institution was something they’d wanted to do for years.

“We’d been looking at it for about four years,” says Cindy, a former landscaper and long-time Yacolt area resident. “When the former owner first put it up for sale a couple years ago, we wanted to buy it then.”

Still, the couple bided their time and continued to work in their respective careers, with Cindy doing landscaping and Richard commuting to Portland for his manufacturing production management job.

Eventually, though, the prospect of owning one of Yacolt’s only watering holes won out. Cindy applied for a job at the Red Fir Inn and, for nearly eight months, learned as much as she could from the Red Fir’s former owner, Dave Ayers.

“I did it all,” Cindy says. “Bartending, cooking and serving. Finally, we said, ‘This is a great place. We have to do this.’”

In October, the couple called Ayers’ realtor and negotiated a deal. By Dec. 1, the business was theirs. The newly renamed bar and restaurant is now called BackRoads Food Spirits.

“We wanted to name it BackRoads because there are no main roads into Yacolt,” Richard says. “It’s only back roads.”

Even the “Spirits” part of the name has meaning: The town’s name, Yacolt, comes from a Klickitat word meaning “a haunted place.” There are various legends explaining why this region is haunted, but the most popular tale attributes the name to an old Native American legend that says a group of children collecting berries near present-day Yacolt were stolen by evil spirits and never seen again.

Cindy says she’d love to write the town’s ghost story into a book and then keep the book out for patrons to add their own spooky ghost stories.

“But that’s in the future,” Richard says, smiling at his wife of 27 years.

First, the couple has to settle into their new roles as the BackRoads’ proprietors.

“It’s only been three weeks. And we’re very tired,” Cindy says. “But we’re having a good time.”

Because the Red Fir Inn had a loyal following, the couple didn’t want to change too much, at least not right away. They kept long-time employees Ernest, Shari and Sandy, but also added their daughter, Jessica, to the staff.

“People were used to (the employees),” Richard says. “And a lot of people worried that we’d get rid of them when we bought the place.”

Likewise, the couple kept a lot of the Red Fir’s menu intact, but added a breakfast menu and would like to add a few more items for health-conscious customers.

“We’d like to upgrade everything,” Richard says. “The menu, the interior. We don’t want to completely change things, just upgrade them.”

For example, the couple has added three big-screen televisions so customers can watch their favorite sports programs; they’ve replaced the white bread with cinnamon bread for the daily French toast; they’ve improved the restaurant’s pizza crust recipe; and they’ve made the pool tables free for customers during the daytime hours, until 4 p.m.

“We just want to make things fresher, better,” Cindy says. “I’d like to see more healthy foods on the menu, maybe get away from so many fried foods.”

In the months leading up to their purchase, the Dietels talked to friends and neighbors, as well as Red Fir regulars about what they’d like to see at the restaurant/bar. For residents in the Yacolt/Amboy area, the Red Fir was one of two taverns in the remote region, and had been in business for more than 50 years. People wanted to have a place to gather, to meet up for dinner and a drink and to celebrate without having to drive for half an hour. And the Dietels were happy to oblige.

“We saw a need for a place where people could be social,” Richard says. “A place where the younger generation could go and stay closer to home.”

The BackRoads Food Spirits restaurant is now open every day at 7 a.m. for breakfast and the couple added a happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. with deeply discounted bar and menu items. There is a weekly Ladies Night on Thursday nights, a popular Taco Night on Wednesdays, and DJ Common100 (Christopher Carroll) spinning tunes on Friday nights from 9 p.m. to midnight. The restaurant is hosting a Christmas dinner on the afternoon of Dec. 25 and a New Year’s Eve bash on Dec. 31. And the Dietels have reached out to other local businesses, like the Moulton Falls Winery, to exchange ideas, direct customers to each other’s place of business and bolster the Yacolt economy.

“We want to be a part of the community and to support other local businesses,” Richard says.

The new BackRoads Food Spirits is located in the same location as the former Red Fir Inn, at 303 N. Amboy Ave., in Yacolt. The restaurant serves food from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. daily, including a breakfast menu available from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., and is open to families until 9 p.m. and customers 21 years and older until 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Happy Hour is from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., daily.

For more information, or to view the restaurant’s menu items and prices, visit the BackRoads’ Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Backroadsfoodandspirits.

Article source: http://www.thereflector.com/news/article_86c5c3da-8b03-11e4-b105-176d964d330f.html

Redondo Beach: State of the City

The Beach Reporter has challenged the beach cities mayors to convey our thoughts and ideas for 2015. Attempting to predict the future is always a daunting task, but I can say that Redondo Beach is on the verge of greatness! We enjoy a city that has an exceptional school system, police and fire departments that keep us safe, and a public works department that strives to keep us clean and functioning. Daily, I speak with countless citizens who are extremely happy with life in Redondo Beach. Most of the people in all of our wonderful beach cities are happy and friendly. Of course, that’s why we choose to live here.


I can predict, without reservations, that 2015 will be one of the single most pivotal years in the history of Redondo Beach.

A city with a harbor as its focal point, not a power plant

Our most prominent issue is the AES power plant. After years of controversy, we have the opportunity of a lifetime to have a city free of a polluting eyesore we all know as the power plant. Can you visualize the beautiful views without the power plant looming over the horizon! Can you imagine living in a city that has a focal point of a harbor on our oceanfront and not a power plant? I know I can.

AES has suspended their application for a new power plant, contingent upon the passage of Measure B. This has saved us taxpaying citizens, hundreds of thousands of dollars, in attorney’s fees alone. Keep in mind if Measure B fails, we may be stuck with the plant or some new industrial development for longer than I want to think about.

Now you, the citizens of Redondo Beach, have the ability to control your destiny by simply getting out there and casting your vote. The March 3, 2014 election will include Measure B, known as the “The Harbor Village Initiative.” Passage of this measure will allow the zoning changes necessary for AES to remove the plant and develop their property. The tallest building will be approximately 20 feet lower than at the intersection of PCH and Herondo. Some of you may be wondering, “Is the plan perfect?” Perhaps not, but one never sees complete perfection on a proposed project of this size. But it’s pretty darn close. After all is said and done, AES does own this property and it’s their right to receive a return on their investment. Incidentally, I did ask them to donate the land to the city, but they politely declined.

The Harbor Village plan affects every citizen in our city. Time spent discussing AES, money spent fighting AES, or simply coffee shop banter has been extremely draining on the entire community. Whether you live at our northern or southern borders, or are just up the hill from the plant, you have that rare opportunity to directly affect change for the positive. This is not some distant vision. If Measure B passes, you can expect a power plant free city before 2020.

A city you’re proud to show off to visitors

I’m also excited about our opportunity to rebuild and revitalize “The Waterfront.” Currently an extensive environmental review is being conducted and we are in an exclusive negotiating agreement with CenterCal, a local company based in El Segundo. CenterCal proposes to invest more than $250 million in our pier and harbor, an amount you and I couldn’t begin to cover without them.

My family and I are constantly at the pier and harbor. It’s a tremendous asset to our community with many fine places to enjoy a meal, a sunset or to simply hang out. Unfortunately, many in our community don’t visit our harbor. I am known for asking townspeople the following question: “When your family or friends from out of the area visit you, where do you take them to dinner?” It’s disturbing as the mayor of this fine city and as a resident that the common answer is not the pier. You take them to Manhattan or Hermosa Beach. Yes, I love our neighbors to the north but we need to visit our hometown more. I’d love to hear the answer, “We go to the pier and the harbor when family and friends visit.” Let’s be proud of our backyard!

The waterfront project will not happen overnight. There will be numerous commission meetings, state regulatory meetings, contract negotiations and of course, more citizens’ input. But we need to stay the course, work with all parties and someday we will have a place where every resident and visitor can enjoy.

A city with top-notch representation

We have an election on March 3, 2015. Council members Matt Kilroy in District 5 and Pat Aust in District 3 will be termed out. Although it’s difficult to predict the future, one thing I know is that the city will miss the leadership and commitment of these fine individuals. Until, I’m equally happy we have so many quality people running to serve on the City Council. Things must be going pretty well in our city when only one candidate runs in District 5. I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate and welcome Laura Emdee, currently a member of our school board, as our upcoming council member from District 5. I know she will bring the same leadership and problem-solving skills that made her so effective on the school board. There are many candidates for the District 3 seat. All are qualified, concerned citizens and I truly hope we have a huge voter turnout. In addition, as further proof the citizens are happy with Redondo Beach government, both City Clerk Eleanor Manzano and City Treasurer Steve Diels are running for re-election unopposed.

A city with employees who are true public servants

I am tremendously proud of the men and women who work so hard every day to preserve and improve our quality of life in Redondo Beach—our city employees. One of the many fun parts of serving as mayor is working with our employees. I have been around a long time, had a few jobs and ran a business. I have never encountered such a fine group of people in my career. They are not mere “employees.” They are sincere people who are friendly, work extremely hard and treat the public with respect. Next time you see one of your public servants, please remember to say hello and thank you.

After some tough times during the recession, a person only needs to visit City Hall or take a cursory look at our local papers to see the improvements that have been made in our management/labor relations throughout the past year. Although challenges certainly remain, it is my fervent hope and prediction that those improvements will continue throughout the upcoming year.

A city that’s a gateway to the rest of the South Bay

The infamous wall dividing Redondo and Hermosa started to come down in November as part of a $4.6 million project to reconstruct and revitalize the area near the corner of Herondo Street and Harbor Drive. New additions will include a welcome plaza parkette with public art, a protected bi-directional bike lane, and a wealth of open space, complete with landscaping and lighting. Some of the existing parking will remain in order to accommodate beachgoers. Several upgrades will be made to the road surfaces, the current street lighting and the pedestrian crossings. The Harbor/Herondo Gateway Improvement project is slated for completion in May. I believe everyone in the South Bay will agree that this is very cool.

It is an honor and a privilege to serve as your mayor. This position is akin to becoming a parent for the first time. Everyone has an opinion, everyone gives advice and everyone thinks they know exactly what the job will entail. It’s a position that is both rewarding and demanding. As a new parent, the 2 a.m. feedings, sleepless nights with a sick child and even the “terrible twos” are challenging. But important milestones like a child’s first word, watching them take their first step, and the first time they tell you they love you are so rewarding, they make all the demands pale in comparison. Similarly our city has recently faced the demands of steering through the Great Recession, significant differences of opinion on how best to rebuild and revitalize our waterfront, and strong disagreements on the best strategy for removing the power plant. But we are on the cusp of historic, once-in-a-generation changes that will make the future better for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren, which will make these recent challenges seem minor in comparison.

If we focus on the opportunities before us, ignore the voices of constant negativity, let the residents decide at the ballot box and then honor the voters’ decisions, we will make 2015 a truly historic year.

From my family to yours, please have a Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous new year! Take some time to enjoy the treasures of our truly wonderful city.

Article source: http://tbrnews.com/news/redondo_beach/redondo-beach-state-of-the-city/article_8d119e34-8a37-11e4-a55f-779d52b11b2a.html

Steve and Cookie’s wins Press’ Bailey Award

Bailey Award

2014 Bailey Award winner Cookie Till, of Longport, poses inside Steve and Cookie’s by the Bay in Margate, Tuesday Dec. 23, 2014. The Press of Atlantic City’s Bailey Award is given to recognize a local for-profit or individual who consistently gives back to the community.

Bailey Award

2014 Bailey Award winner Cookie Till, of Longport, poses inside Steve and Cookie’s by the Bay in Margate, Tuesday Dec. 23, 2014. The Press of Atlantic City’s Bailey Award is given to recognize a local for-profit or individual who consistently gives back to the community.

Bailey Award

2014 Bailey Award winner Cookie Till, of Longport, poses inside Steve and Cookie’s by the Bay in Margate, Tuesday Dec. 23, 2014. The Press of Atlantic City’s Bailey Award is given to recognize a local for-profit or individual who consistently gives back to the community.

Bailey Award

2014 Bailey Award winner Cookie Till, of Longport, poses inside Steve and Cookie’s by the Bay in Margate, Tuesday Dec. 23, 2014. The Press of Atlantic City’s Bailey Award is given to recognize a local for-profit or individual who consistently gives back to the community.

Bailey Award

2014 Bailey Award winner Cookie Till, of Longport, poses inside Steve and Cookie’s by the Bay in Margate, Tuesday Dec. 23, 2014. The Press of Atlantic City’s Bailey Award is given to recognize a local for-profit or individual who consistently gives back to the community.

Bailey Award

2014 Bailey Award winner Cookie Till, of Longport, poses inside Steve and Cookie’s by the Bay in Margate, Tuesday Dec. 23, 2014. The Press of Atlantic City’s Bailey Award is given to recognize a local for-profit or individual who consistently gives back to the community.



Posted: Wednesday, December 24, 2014 3:39 pm

Steve and Cookie’s wins Press’ Bailey Award

By JACKLYN MCQUARRIE
Staff Writer

The Press of Atlantic City


No man is a failure who has friends. — “It’s a Wonderful Life”

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      Wednesday, December 24, 2014 3:39 pm.

      Article source: http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/communities/margate_ventnor_longport/steve-and-cookie-s-wins-press-bailey-award/article_eb7140c6-8bac-11e4-babe-078987937221.html

      Highland Gardens stops growing

      Highland Gardens closing

      Bob and Claire Lees, owners of Highland Gardens on Route 107 in Salem, will be closing their doors for good after 20 years in business.



      Posted: Wednesday, December 24, 2014 3:00 am

      Highland Gardens stops growing

      By Paul Halloran / Item Staff

      Itemlive.com

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      0 comments

      It’s been a good run for Bob Lees and his family at Highland Gardens in Salem, but the store will close for good today — other than a one-week liquidation sale in January.

      A developer who is buying the property from Lees plans a commercial development on the site, located on the northbound side of Highland Avenue (Route 107), according to Lees, who started the business in 1995.

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          Wednesday, December 24, 2014 3:00 am.


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          Lynn,



          Salem,



          Highland Gardens

          Article source: http://www.itemlive.com/news/highland-gardens-stops-growing/article_9d90b5e4-8b11-11e4-9165-d788ad499fc5.html

          Holiday Hope: Flowery Branch church helps cancer survivor combat hunger

          Laura Ramey’s Southern accent — punctuated with “honeys” and “bless yous” — practically invites you to sit a spell while enjoying some sweet iced tea.

          It’s difficult to imagine someone so soft-spoken, with such a positive outlook on life, has lived through some nearly unimaginable difficulties and horrors that would knock down many.

          Dropping out of school in the eighth grade. Getting married for the first time at 15. A second husband stabbed to death. Divorcing a third husband. Battling both breast and ovarian cancers.

          “By the grace of God, I’m still here,” the Alto resident said. “Because if it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be here.”

          Originally from Rabun County — “it was a nice place to grow up,” Ramey said — she was bullied in school and said she finally got to the point she no longer wanted to attend.

          “It was awful,” she said. “So this young man came along and I thought that would be great, just to go ahead and get married. At that young age, you don’t know much about anything.”

          She had a son and a daughter, but after nine years Ramey and her first husband were divorced. She remarried about a year later.

          “My second husband was really a great marriage,” she said. “We didn’t have any children, and he was killed, believe it or not, one week before Christmas in 1983.

          “After he was killed, I spent another year by myself and then I remarried. He and I were married for close to 20 years, and we got a divorce.”

          It was around the end of her third marriage when Ramey was first diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2001. She didn’t have health insurance and just expected she wouldn’t survive.

          Her niece encouraged her to sign up for disability benefits. Ramey initially refused to do so, saying she enjoyed working. At the time, she was cleaning houses and also providing routine maintenance work for homeowners.

          “She said, ‘Well, cancer is a whole new thing,’” Ramey recalled her niece as saying. “She said, ‘It’s dangerous and it’s threatening and you may not be able to work.’ So I sat down and I said, ‘Lord, if you want me to have it, I will.’

          “So in three weeks I had my disability (benefits), and that’s unheard of. I know where it came from. It was a blessing from the good Lord.”

          She then began visiting The Longstreet Clinic in Gainesville, where she began chemotherapy shortly after her diagnosis. The treatment initially worked, but then stopped.

          “I looked like I was about ready to have three or four children,” she said. “My stomach was huge.”

          Ramey was diagnosed with second-stage ovarian cancer.

          “I had 20 pounds of ovarian cancer,” she said. “(I was) carrying 10 pounds on each ovary, and breast cancer, all at the same time.”

          After surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments, Ramey was declared cancer-free in 2002 and has been so ever since.

          “I feel good,” she said about her health nowadays. “I have bad days. I had back surgery in 2003 … that was more horrific than the hysterectomy and the cancer surgery.”

          Ramey has always enjoyed working, particularly outdoors with landscaping and gardening. But the combination of poor health and lack of education has been prohibitive in certain situations, particularly now that she is 63. To help her over the hurdles, she relies on her friendship with Kathy Prater, a Flowery Branch woman who works with a food ministry out of the city’s First United Methodist Church.

          “She has been such a blessing,” Ramey said. “They are wonderful people. They’ve taken such good care of us food-wise, and really morale-wise. They’re just such morale boosters. I can’t say enough good things about either one of them.”

          Through the church’s food ministry, families and individuals are given enough supplies to stock a pantry and refrigerator.

          “Once a month, we have a big giveaway,” Prater said. “Then we (help) some every week, every Friday. We have some that we’re doing twice a month. And then of course we always have the call-ins. People call the church or people call (my home).”

          An entire room in Prater’s home has been converted into a walk-in pantry. She also has two large freezers — those, along with the church’s refrigerator and three freezers, keep the ministry well-stocked to help many area residents.

          Monthly, recipients get four boxes complete with canned vegetables, soup, pasta, spaghetti sauce, oatmeal, milk, juice, cheese, bread — a variety of food items that can be found in any typical kitchen. Prater and other food ministry volunteers ensure the food provided suffices for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

          “Eggs are really great,” Prater said. “If you have nothing else, if you’ve got eggs and a piece of bread, you’re all right.”

          Ramey is one of those monthly recipients; she can’t remember how long she’s received monthly assistance from the food ministry.

          “She gives us bread and canned goods and frozen foods,” Ramey ticked off. “She just basically gives you a well-rounded amount of food, and it does last.”

          Today, Ramey still lives in her Alto home she shared with her much-loved second husband. She remains friends with her third husband, who lives with her as a roommate and helps take care of her.

          She enjoys playing with her four rescue dogs and spending time outside.

          “I love my flower gardens,” she said. “But it’s been so hard here lately for me to be able to really get motivated to do much. But I always have been a person who loves landscaping.”

          With her second husband dying a week before Christmas in 1983, this isn’t always a time of year Ramey wants to celebrate. But she does enjoy marking the holiday, especially with her children and grandchildren.

          “I used to love to put up a tree because for (my second husband), Christmas was special to him,” she said. “In the past few years, I’ve not put a tree up much anymore.

          “But I do like to take out my little Christmas Santa Clauses and things like that.” 

          Article source: http://www.gainesvilletimes.com/section/6/article/106801/

          Tim’s Tips: Take stock of gardening successes, failures

          Posted: Wednesday, December 24, 2014 3:00 am

          Tim’s Tips: Take stock of gardening successes, failures

          Tim’s Tips Tim Lamprey

          The Daily News of Newburyport

          The month of December is rapidly winding down, and all of us who garden will be settling in for “our long winter’s nap.”

          However, here are a few things that you can do before you forget about gardening for a few months. 

          If you put up a Christmas tree, make sure that you check the water level in your tree stand each day. Initially, trees will take up a lot of water. It is not unusual for the tree to take up a gallon or two of water the first few days that it is in the house.

          Over time, the water uptake will slow down, but you still need to check the level each day. If the water level drops below the bottom of the tree, the tree will rapidly dry out.

          If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to make a few notes on how gardening went for you this past year.

          If you grew vegetables, make notes on what plants did well for you. For instance, if you grew a different variety of tomatoes, did it do as well as other varieties you have planted in the past?

          Did you start your plants at the correct time of the season? The yield you received will answer that question!

          Did you plant window boxes? What varieties of flowers did you use? Did they fill in nicely or were they sparse? Were they just right, or did they take over and force out other plants?

          Over time, you can review your yearly notes and you will find that gardening becomes easier because you are not making the same mistakes over and over again. If you garden, you will make mistakes. You learn from your mistakes and move on to doing things differently in the future. Kind of like life in general!

          If you are thinking about growing a few plants from seed indoors, don’t start the seeds too early. Most plants need only eight to 10 weeks to go from seed to plants big enough to put out in the garden. If you start the seeds too early, you will find that it may be too cold to put your plants outside. At that point, you are trying to keep the plants from getting too spindly before you can safely put the plants outside. Be patient, and start those seeds at the correct time.

          Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week. 

          ¢¢¢

          Tim Lamprey is the owner of Harbor Garden Center on Route 1 in Salisbury. His website is www.harborgardens.com. Do you have questions for Tim? Send them to ndn@newburyportnews.com, and he will answer them in upcoming columns.


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          Wednesday, December 24, 2014 3:00 am.

          Article source: http://www.newburyportnews.com/news/lifestyles/tim-s-tips-take-stock-of-gardening-successes-failures/article_e9593505-6e30-583d-b3b9-ffeaa6300f0d.html

          Tips: Give the gift of family history

          There’s no better time to begin learning about family roots, especially as you’re gathered together in celebration. And doing so is easier than ever.

          While researching family history or exploring ethnic roots was once a task-heavy chore, filled with hours of library visits, interviews or public records inquiries, now you can conveniently traverse the genealogical landscape thanks to new technology tools, such as mobile apps, social media and even affordable Ancestral DNA tests that enable you to find family stories you may not have known about.

          Liven up the holidays and connect with those who mean the most by sitting down and chatting about family history.

          Here are some pointers to get started:

          Start with what you know: Using a website like Ancestry.com, or the Ancestry app (available on iOS and Android), enter the information you know into your family tree. Upload photos to preserve memories. Don’t have all the facts? Don’t worry. This is just the start of your quest.

          Take a DNA test: DNA isn’t just for TV shows and professional detectives. You now can be your own detective. Get your ethnic breakdown by percentage, such as 50 percent Irish and 50 percent Native American, and find out who else may be related to you with tools such as AncestryDNA. On average, folks taking the test have 60 matches to fourth — or closer — cousins in their results.

          Chat with relatives at family gatherings: Over the holidays, dive into your family history with relatives. Consider gifting them family history resources like a DNA test. Record any interviews, particularly with the elderly, and take detailed notes. Ask everyone to bring photo albums and heirlooms. Any documents you create or collect you can attach to your online family tree for preservation.

          Look at the ancestry hints in your family tree: Ancestry provides hints about possible relatives to populate your family tree. These clues could give valuable insight into your family’s legacy and connect you with lost relatives.

          Share your findings: Whether it’s at the next family reunion, or as a belated holiday gift wrapped and framed, share your findings with your family for a better understanding of your collective heritage. Plenty of websites offer printing services, so consider the perfect stocking stuffer: a calendar, book, poster or other gift that will bring more meaning to the holidays. Encourage family to try the app and fill in their own family tree.

          For more researching tips, or to get started on your own search, visit http://www.Ancestry.com.

          Whether it’s confirming a family legend, discovering an old yearbook photo of a grandfather before he left for World War II, or meeting a family you never knew existed, it’s never been easier to create memories and family traditions during the holiday season.

          Copyright © 2014, Daily Press

          Article source: http://www.dailypress.com/features/home-garden/dp-fea-hg-tips-1225-20141224-story.html

          East L.A.’s First Community Garden is Underway




          Neighbors of the Eastmont Community Center are getting their hands dirty to promote health



          December 23, 2014




          Urban Development

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          2015 will come up fruits and veggies for the families that live around the Eastmont Community Center in East L.A.—the area’s first community garden is being installed this month.

          The 2,900-square-foot garden, which will be fully planted in January, is the sixth of eight planned under the Los Angeles Conservation Corps’ Little Green Fingers project, which is funded in part by grant maker First 5 LA. Other Little Green Fingers gardens are in West Athens, Koreatown, Pasadena, Sylmar, and Lancaster.

          The fresh idea, explains LACC marketing director Kea Duggan, is to fight childhood obesity by making healthy food ingredients available in neighborhoods filled with children under the age of five “where it’s easier to get a bag of Cheetos.”

          Although the Eastmont Community Center garden’s design was only recently approved (open planning meetings were held in October), organizers are already thinking beyond next spring’s yield, which will include plums, fava beans, lettuce, chard, carrots, beets, and herbs. “We don’t just build a garden and say ‘see ya later,’” says Duggan. The program will host classes on how to grow food and nutritious cooking for interested neighbors. To date, the center has received 15 applications from families interested in tending to the garden.

          The exact locations for the group’s next two gardens have yet to be determined, but Duggan says LACC may not look far from the newest plot. “I’m glad were in East L.A. now,” she said, “It’s one of the areas we are still looking at.”




          Photograph courtesy Los Angeles Conservation Corps




          Photograph courtesy Los Angeles Conservation Corps




          Photograph courtesy Los Angeles Conservation Corps




          Photograph courtesy Los Angeles Conservation Corps








          Article source: http://www.lamag.com/citythinkblog/east-l-s-first-community-garden-underway/

          Writtle student shortlisted for prestigious garden design award

          A Writtle College postgraduate has been shortlisted for a major student award for her garden design which aims to support those facing mental health issues.

          Jiyoung Kim, who is studying for an MA Garden Design, has been shortlisted for the Student Award from the Society of Garden Designers – the only professional association for garden designers in the UK.

          The 32-year-old, from South Korea, was shortlisted alongside five other students and will find out on January 30 whether she has won the accolade.

          She said: “I still cannot believe that I am a finalist for such a major award; it has certainly boosted my confidence and I will focus on my design work even harder than before.

          “My shortlisted design was a huge challenge for me as I approached a deep subject by touching on philosophy and contemplation, aiming to give comfort and to help people suffering from mental health issues.”

          Jiyoung’s garden design, called Deep Simplicity, represents the notion that underlying all of life’s chaos is a simple order based on Heidegger’s philosophy that humans should be aware of life and death.

          “Humans can regain the simple truth of life through deep thought and contemplation, even though we may lose our direction in life.

          “The infinity symbol within the design is to promote hope and order in people’s minds; a metaphor of infinite thoughts and coexistence with other living creatures.

          “This garden is proposed as a place for finding the true nature of existence, accomplished through experiences of walking and contemplating.”

          The judging panel included renowned garden designers Sarah Eberle and Philippa O’Brien as well as Arabella St. John Parker, from Homes Gardens magazine.

          The panel was looking for outstanding design skills and, importantly, a clear demonstration of an understanding of the brief provided for the project.

          The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony at the London’s Millennium Gloucester Hotel.

          Dr Saruhan Mosler, Jiyoung’s MA dissertation supervisor, congratulated her, saying: “We congratulate Jiyoung on her success with the project.

          “Jiyoung worked hard on this challenging subject that was also part of her MA Garden Design dissertation.

          “Competitions offer an excellent opportunity to students as they help them to build their portfolio and gain experience within the design industry.”

          Article source: http://www.braintreeandwithamtimes.co.uk/news/south_essex_news/11685835.Writtle_student_shortlisted_for_prestigious_garden_design_award/