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Archives for March 2, 2015

It’s difficult to predict a career path in these times

Throughout my life, I have always been quickly absorbed in new technology, trends and concepts. This has given me many career ideas, and essentially driven me to my current role. Though I’ve never had specific focus on any particular career path, trying to experience everything seems to be part of my personality, and has helped define my individual career path.

Having held entry level jobs in family and fast food restaurants, and youth sports during high school, I learned the importance of process, safety, quality, customer service and work ethic. Playing on soccer, baseball and basketball teams, I learned the value teamwork has on success, and how everyone has an important role in coaching, communication and resilience. Being highly interested in architectural design, I finished high school working at a home improvement retailer, learning structural design and material cost estimation, while building on customer relations and sales techniques.

After high school, I attended college for a semester to see what all the hype was about, and decided I wasn’t ready for it. I began working in manufacturing, and eventually went back to school, focusing on print journalism and mass communication at UW-Milwaukee. I became a sports writer for the college newspaper, continuing to work in manufacturing, while holding additional summer jobs at a moving company, library and landscaping company.

Following graduation, I completed several freelance writing roles, and began working through a temp agency at Rockline Industries, which got my foot in the door to eventually work as a technical writer. In this role, I was able to apply my interview and writing skills. I utilized the tuition reimbursement program to get certifications in desktop publishing and web design from Lakeshore Technical College. This expanded my ability to provide quality products to the organization through graphic design tools and techniques. During this time, I was pushed by my manager to become a facilitator of lean manufacturing concepts, where I found a passion for training design and delivery.

This passion led me into human resources, where I continued to learn about the fast-paced, unpredictably vast horizon of adult learning design and delivery as a training and development coordinator. While in this role, I earned a master trainer certification from UWM’s School of Continuing Education, again through the employee development program.

Three years ago, I was promoted to manage training for Sheboygan operations, and am halfway through a master’s of science in administrative leadership at UW-Milwaukee for human resources and workforce development. In addition to educational costs being balanced through educational reimbursement, I have had the opportunity to immediately apply my learning and continue to build on experience within the organization and community.

As part of my growth and development, I have become engaged in various community groups, such as Coastal Connections, the Sheboygan County Chamber of Commerce Business Education Partnership and the Sheboygan County Lean Users Group. These opportunities continue to provide new perspectives, networking opportunities and ideas that I can apply directly into my role at Rockline.

Understanding that the careers of today may not be the careers of the future, we are challenged, as a society and community, to creatively define and redefine careers and the development pathways to support them and create value in our daily roles. There is no one path that can be defined or prescribed over the course of a career or lifetime. However, the earlier that exposure to career development opportunities is present, the sooner a potential pathway can be customized.

High school is a perfect place for this to happen. The career development tools that exist today, such as, Inspire Sheboygan County and Career Cruising, LTC’s Youth Apprenticeship program, Junior Achievement and the Red Raider Manufacturing pathway, are great opportunities for students to learn more about careers and where true interest lies.

For me, trying to predict a specific career was unrealistic, and the best direction sometimes is no direction. Unlike others, who know exactly what their calling is and how to get there, there was no way I could have ever identified my career path. However, having a foundation of self-reliance, ability to set goals and awareness of limitations and personal paradigms has helped to develop a customized career pathway. Accepting that I am where I am supposed to be is important to understand my next challenge.

All of my experiences have been important to curve my current and future potential. These experiences have given me the ability to embrace new challenges, helping to define and redefine transferrable skills and abilities around leadership, accountability, communication, flexibility, teamwork and dependability.

The dynamic of adult learning is something I look forward to as a daily challenge to provide support and development for individual and organizational needs. The unpredictable situations and scenarios that come with adult learning keep me actively engaged in teamwork and partnerships to create and design innovative tools, systems and programs that will define the future.

Paul V. Griffin is operations support coordinator at Rockline Industries. A native of Sheboygan, Griffin has worked at Rockline Industries for nine years. He supports continuous learning initiatives for the company’s Wisconsin manufacturing operations.

Editor’s note:

This is the second in a series of stories written by student journalists from Sheboygan County about their fellow students’ career plans. The series is a joint project between Sheboygan Press Media and INSPIRE Sheboygan County to highlight the different ways area schools are preparing kids to achieve their career goals and support students as they explore career options.

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Science center, performance venue and ‘media powerhouse’ proposed for old …

Today, the Aspen Daily News completes its initial look at the five proposals that have been submitted to bring a new use to the former Aspen Art Museum building, known as the Old Power House.

Aspen City Council tonight will hear presentations from the Aspen Power Plant, which would bring a brewery, television studio and shared work space to the building; and the Gathering Place, which would convert the building into an adaptable community space and new home for Taster’s Pizza. Those applications were examined in Saturday’s Daily News.

On Tuesday, the council will tackle applications from the Aspen Science Center, GrassRoots TV and the Red Brick, which are examined below.

After hearing the presentations and asking questions this week, council is expected to score the applications by March 10, and potentially pick the next tenant for the city-owned space. The council could also choose not to move forward with any of the proposals.

To see the complete proposals, visit

Aspen Science Center pitches $1.5m campus

Hands-on exhibits and programs for everyone from preschoolers to adults, a discovery park, a solar telescope, and partnerships with other science and arts groups are among the offerings in the Aspen Science Center’s proposal to occupy the city of Aspen’s Old Power House building.

Aspen Science Center (ASC), a nonprofit that was founded in 2005, says it wants to transform the old grounds of the Aspen Art Museum into “a world-class informal learning center for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.” The initial start-up costs for installing exhibits and programs in astronomy, biology, chemistry, computers, electronics, geology, mechanics and physics; staff costs; and modifications and improvements to interior and exterior spaces would be just over $1.5 million, according to the proposal.

“ASC assumes that the city of Aspen will make renovations to bring the … building up to modern commercial standards, including repair or replacement of the roof, installation of a modern HVAC system and other mechanicals, needed plumbing repairs, installation of an elevator to meet [federal disability] standards, necessary upgrades to the electrical service, and any needed upgrades to toilet facilities,” the proposal says.

Of the roughly $1.5 million price tag, the proposal cites an estimated $400,000 to: remove several non-load-bearing walls; the reconfiguring or replacement of interior walls to make way for classrooms, offices and a science store; installation of ethernet or fiber-optic cables; the purchase of office equipment and furniture; refinishing floors and installing carpet; and purchasing or renting interactive displays for galleries. Money spent outside the building would go toward landscaping, improving the existing stage and amphitheater, and buying and installing displays for a science park.

Procuring and installing interior and exterior exhibits are estimated at $1 million, with consulting expenses coming in at $125,000.

There would be halls inside with human-scale exhibits “that are materials-rich, in intimate environments that encourage open-ended exploration and interactive play experiences.”

If chosen, ASC in its first year projects expenses of about $576,000 and revenue of $582,000. Revenue would be derived in part from entry fees that range from $8 a day for adults (or $50 for a yearly adult membership) to $4 a day for ages 6 to 21 (an annual pass for those ages would be $25). There would be a mixture of volunteers and full- and part-time employees, including an education program coordinator, exhibit maintainer and designer, and other staff.

“Expenses will be funded, as are the current ASC programs, primarily from individual donations, and foundation, corporation and government grants,” the proposal says.

Touting its fundraising prowess, ASC says it has raised $925,000 in pledges from 12 supporters five weeks into a recently started campaign.

The nonprofit lists a host of other groups it has either already paired with or hopes to, including Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Aspen Center for Physics, The Aspen Institute, the local school district, and the Aspen Music Festival and School. The proposal envisions school groups visiting from the Roaring Fork Valley and beyond as a part of the ASC outreach; family science nights; and science camps lasting anywhere from a few hours to a few days.

Some programs could involve the study of the science behind local events like the Food and Wine Classic, X Games, USA Pro Challenge bike race, fireworks displays and avalanches.

The nearest comparable science centers are in Denver, Durango, and Grand Junction, according to the proposal.

Powerhouse Center seeks to give 
performers a home

The Powerhouse Center proposal for the old art museum from the managers of the Red Brick Center for the Arts is focused on giving the community a new performing arts and rehearsal venue.

A grab-and-go cafe on the ground floor would give visitors to the building a place to grab lunch, but the majority of the downstairs space would be given to a stage and seating for around 160, in what was the museum’s main exhibition gallery.

Upstairs, a salon room and community room would be made available for rental to arts or other local groups. The plan would maintain the current upstairs offices, with a long-term tenant providing rental income. According to the proposal, Theatre Aspen is on board to rent the space and move out of its current offices in the Red Brick.

The Red Brick is uniquely suited to take the space over, given its current role managing a city-owned former school house building in Aspen’s West End that is home to numerous nonprofits and artist studios, the application says.

The Red Brick’s experience as an umbrella operator and manager of a multi-use, multi-tenant facility “sets us apart from other proposers who may not understand the intricacies of managing such a coordinated effort, nor the difficulties in navigating an old building’s idiosyncrasies,” the application says.

Founded in 1973 as the Aspen/Snowmass Council for the Arts, the Red Brick’s original purpose was to lobby city government for additional arts funding. In the 1990s, it acquired the school house building after a city vote, and continues to manage the space. It is both a nonprofit that supports the arts and hosts a community gallery in its hallways, and a building manager generating rental income from tenants.

Its application makes the case that Aspen’s history as an artistic and cultural hub is critical to its vitality and uniqueness as a community. Dedicating the Old Power House building to the arts would strengthen that vitality and uniqueness, the application says.

“The Powerhouse Center will leverage the relationship Aspen’s community has with our arts and culture to reinforce the sense of community by giving individuals, groups, organizations — anyone — an opportunity to present, perform, and gather,” the application says. “ … Broadway-quality performances, cabaret nights, local artists training, historical presentations, open-mic nights, intellectual forums recorded and broadcast nationally — these are just some of the memorable experiences that will occur within the intimate setting of The Powerhouse Center.”

Angie Callen, executive director of the Red Brick, is leading the project, and Harry Teague Architects is handling the design.

The proposal was born out of decades of frustration by myriad local performing arts organizations — such as Aspen Community Theater, Theatre Aspen, Hudson Reed Ensemble, Fringe Festival, and Theater Masters — that lack a dedicated, year-round performing and rehearsal space.

The Powerhouse Center’s business model is based on renting its facilities to groups such as these, as well as non-performing cultural nonprofits that could host presentations and events there. The application lists 17 groups that would contribute programming at the facility, and 15 more groups that have expressed interest. For example, the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies could move its popular Naturalist Nights and Potbelly Perspective series over to the Powerhouse Center, as they are outgrowing the current 70-person-capacity room where they are being held on the Hallam Lake campus.

“We also plan to outfit the facility with the wiring and hook-ups needed for GrassRoots or Aspen 82 to easily bring in equipment to record events and performances in high definition,” the application says.

The plan is the most natural among the five to engender collaboration, the proposal says.

“How will an event utilize a science center full of table top exhibits or a TV studio full of equipment? How often will a brewery want to give up a normal night of revenue in favor of a small community event? The community element to these proposals is forced, whereas ours is natural and intended,” the application says.

The proposal estimates a $1 to $2 million renovation and build out of the space, with a $350,000 contribution from the city. The Red Brick is hoping to secure a city loan to finance its portion of the work.

A first-year operations expense forecast projects $282,000 in revenue — with around $157,000 of that coming from performance, event and rehearsal space rentals. Theatre Aspen would provide $36,000 a year in rent for the upstairs office. First year expenses are projected at $264,000.

GrassRoots’ Aspen Media Powerhouse would be ‘where Aspen 
connects with itself’

GrassRoots TV has designed its Aspen Media Powerhouse (AMP) plan for the old art museum space to leverage both technology and human interaction to maximize the freedom of expression.

The 43-year-old nonprofit community access television station has outgrown its home in the Red Brick Center for the Arts, according to the application describing its proposal. If it were to make the move to the Old Power House building, it could better serve its mission of providing a forum for any and all who seek one. With more space, it could expand its offerings to include large public events, a research kitchen, new performance spaces and energy efficiency education.

According to the application delivered to city officials on Friday, the AMP would be a place “where Aspen connects with itself, providing a commons for collective impact; dedicated to the creation of media-based performance art, technology, science, community engagement and ideas; and an unbiased open forum, facilitating and encouraging freedom of expression and interaction with others.”

GrassRoots would transform the ground level of the building into an “archive lounge” where the station’s voluminous library of programming could be accessed and viewed; a “Spectrum Hall” events space suitable for 250 people with HD television cameras at the ready; the Studio X media laboratory where visitors could take advantage of video editing and other computer-based technology; and the “Utility Muffin Research Kitchen” that could be used for cooking shows, catering and classes.

The building’s upstairs would be used as GrassRoots’ primary studio.

“The AMP’s promise to the community, its patrons, its partners, is: envision your program, and the AMP will have the knowledge and resources to make it more amazing, interactive and memorable,” according to the application.

GrassRoots currently supports the production of 500 programs annually. That would at least double within two years, the application predicts, with the use of the Old Power House.

GrassRoots is proposing a four-phase build out of the space, totaling just under $3 million and taking up to three years.

The application estimates that the first phase, consisting of a renovation of the building, outfitting the upstairs studio and purchasing new field production equipment, would cost $1.4 million. The doors of the facility would then open, with the build out of the downstairs portion of the space taking place in three additional phases costing a total of $1.5 million: first, getting the Spectrum Hall performance and exhibition space ready to go, followed by adding recording technology, and finally, finishing the kitchen, media lab and archive lounge spaces.  

The renovation would focus on energy efficiency and GrassRoots would partner with a local solar power provider to build enough new panels to offset the building’s energy use.

The application adds that construction services for the project would be provided at cost by local firm Bowden Development, a current GrassRoots financial supporter.

The application emphasizes the space would be available for rent at reasonable rates for other community organizations. It repeatedly makes reference to science and other educational presentations that could take place there.

“Partnership with other organizations is imperative to the fulfillment of our mission,” says the application. “GrassRoots has always embraced public and non-commercial access to facilities, to increase their collective impact. … The programming priority will be for events with community benefits. While weddings/private parties are a revenue generator, the AMP will develop a contract for using the facility that reflects a night time curfew, use and cleaning of the facility and limits to the total number of persons per event.”

According to financial statements in the application, GrassRoots forecasts a 2015 budget with $463,000 in support and revenue, and $454,000 in expenses. The station gets about 50 percent of its funding through grants, underwriting and donations, and the other half is earned through video production and distributions services it provides.

An operating forecast shows both revenues and expenses essentially doubling over five years in the new facility.

“We will phase in new costs and services at a pace we are able to
support them monetarily and administratively,” the application says. “ … If costs are outpacing revenues, we trim the sails, like we did in the recession.”,

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It’s time to start thinking spring! Homeowners get ideas at Waukesha Home …

WAUKESHA (WITI) — It may not feel like it outside, but spring is right around the corner — and spring was in full bloom this past weekend at the Waukesha Home, Garden and Landscape Show.

Vaughn Werner was on the hunt for some answers Sunday, March 1st.

“That’s the reason why I’m here — to be educated,” Werner said.

Werner tore up his front yard, and he’s looking for a change. He says he usually does the planting himself — but not this year!

“I got smart in my old age and I decided have them design it and also have them put all the plants in,” Werner said.

He came to the right spot this weekend! At this year’s Waukesha Home, Garden and Landscape Show, there were more than 100 vendors who spent the weekend offering advice on how to make your house a home. Vendors say the frigid temperatures and snow on the ground have given many of us cabin fever!

“This is what gets us most excited in the industry is getting dirty, getting creative and making these dreams come true for people and their yards,” Ryan Risse with The MCR Group said.

Risse says people are looking for quality products and unique touches that match the homeowner’s hobbies and personalities.

“We a lot of times now are taking metal sculptures and other things to try and enhance and create focal points that make those things part of the outdoor yard space,” Risse said.

Like many others, the business of landscaping has evolved so much, they can now show homeowners a 3D tour of what their space can look like.

“When you start to work with these digital tours and these virtual walk-throughs with a design — there`s just more understanding of what`s going to happen and I think people appreciate that extra bit of knowledge,” Risse said.

Vaughn says this year’s Waukesha Home, Garden and Landscape Show gave him the inspiration he needed to plan his front yard re-do.

The Waukesha Home, Garden and Landscape Show continued through 3:00 p.m. Sunday.

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It’s official: Public Square renovation to launch Monday, March 9

CLEVELAND, Ohio – It’s happening. Contractors will begin work Monday, March 9, on a sweeping, $32 million renovation of Public Square, the historic and symbolic heart of the city.

The city and the nonprofit Downtown Cleveland Alliance issued a brief announcement Monday morning that construction fences would go up around the square in one week.

The announcement stated that during the renovation of Public Square, “Ontario Street and Superior Avenue within the square will be closed to all traffic. The surrounding Public Square roadways and Rockwell Avenue will offer access to bus traffic and local vehicular traffic only.”

The announcement also stated that during construction – which is scheduled from completion in time for the Republican National Convention in 2016 — the following changes remain in effect:

  •  Only RTA and necessary property access around Public Square (including valet, garage access, etc.).
  •  Bus stops, shelters and bus layover areas have been reorganized to accommodate full Public Square closure.
  •  All bus routes and transfers will remain within one block of Public Square.
  •  The HealthLine stop across from Tower City will remain open.

The brief announcement left questions unanswered, such as whether Cuyahoga County has agreed to issue bonds backed by tax increment financing on the non-school portion of increased real estate taxes from improvements made to the Higbee Building for the Horseshoe Casino. The city approved the tax increment financing last year.

It’s also unclear whether a ceremonial groundbreaking would be scheduled.

When reached for comment, Jeremy Paris, executive director of the nonprofit Group Plan Commission, charged by Mayor Frank Jackson and Cuyahoga County with managing enhancements to public spaces downtown, said that more information about the project would be available later in the week.

To date, the Group Plan Commission has announced raising $19 million for the project in cash and pledges from donors including the Cleveland and Gund foundations and the KeyBank Foundation.

Paris has said that the project expects to realize $7 million to $8 million from bonds issued through Cuyahoga County backed by the non-school tax increases on the Higbee Building.

The city of Cleveland has kicked in $5.1 million for relocation of underground utilities, an amount over and above the basic $32 million project cost.

Negotiations were also under way recently with private utilities including Dominion East Ohio, FirstEnergy and ATT, whose power, gas, electric and telecommunication lines crisscross the square below grade, over whether they would agree to help the project.

Designed by the nationally admired New York landscape architect, James Corner, co-designer of that city’s acclaimed High Line Park, the Public Square project will close two blocks of Ontario Street that run north-south through the 10-acre civic space.

Upon completion of the project, Superior Avenue will remain open to bus traffic, and other traffic will be routed counterclockwise around the square.

Traffic studies by the San Francisco consulting firm of Nelson Nygaard, still under way, are designed to show how vehicular traffic will be affected — and can be adjusted — at more than 30 downtown intersections in blocks around the square.

Two large, rectangular, park-like spaces will be created north and south of Superior Avenue, with an “event lawn” and corner gardens on the north side, and an outdoor cafe, programmable splash zone, speaker’s terrace and fresh landscaping around the 1894 Soldiers and Sailors Monument on the south side.

A butterfly-shaped perimeter path will join the north and south halves of the square, visually and physically unifying it with a special raised paving area that crosses Superior Avenue and will send a subtle signal to buses, and perhaps cars, to travel with care.

Corner envisions a more robust role for the square in the civic life of the city as a focal point for picnics, concerts, entertainment and play.

The construction involves ecologically friendly elements designed to increase green space and to soak up and store rainwater to prevent sudden surges that could cause sewage overflows in Lake Erie.

The start of construction has been awaited for months. The Group Plan Commission anticipated starting the project in November or December, and then February, while pushing the groundbreaking back several times.

Anthony Coyne, chairman of the Group Plan Commission, said in December that because the organization had expected to start construction in the square before Christmas, the nonprofit Downtown Cleveland Alliance moved its annual post-Thanksgiving Winterfest Celebration — traditionally including a Christmas tree lighting in Public Square — to Playhouse Square.

In preparation for construction, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority began on Sunday to reroute buses that make thousands of stops a day in the square, a transportation nerve center where bus lines converge near the Tower City Center hub for the city’s rapid transit rail lines.

Public Square was originally laid out in 1796 by city founder Moses Cleaveland and surveyors from the Connecticut Land Co.

Scholars say the plans specified that Ontario Street and Superior Avenue would crisscross the square, a configuration that remained in place until 1857-67, when the city closed the streets to create a central park.

The celebrated “Fence War” culminated in the reopening of the streets to traffic. Revised numerous times throughout the decades, the square was last renovated in the mid-1980s.

The square has played a key role in the history and psyche of the city as a setting for parades, holiday celebrations, orchestra concerts, political demonstrations and charity events.

In recent years, the main activity in the square on most days consists of transit users waiting for buses.

At the behest of the Downtown Cleveland Alliance, Corner submitted three plans for public consideration in late 2009.

One called for bridging the square with an elevated and landscaped pedestrian crossroads built over the intersection of Ontario Street and Superior Avenue.

Another called for framing the square with an elaborate lattice on which greenery would grow, and the third proposed removing Ontario Street and filling the two remaining rectangular spaces with trees symbolizing the “Forest City.”

A variation on that plan became the eventual option, but only after the city agreed with the findings of a Nelson Nygaard traffic analysis in 2012 that showed that Ontario Street could be closed without causing traffic mayhem.

The project then became a centerpiece of Mayor Jackson’s vision for physical renewal of the heart of the city as a way to encourage a boom in residential development that has caused a surge in the downtown population that echoes similar shifts in many other American cities.

The square’s renovation is also part of a widespread movement among American cities large and small that have enhanced parks and streetscapes in an effort to boost development and attract new residents.

“As Downtown continues to grow as a destination to live, work and play, improvements are being made to our infrastructure, streets and public spaces,” Joe Marinucci, president and CEO of the Downtown Cleveland Alliance, said Monday in a prepared statement. “These projects will continue the momentum we are currently experiencing and create a sustainable foundation for the future of Downtown Cleveland. We’re excited to see this momentum take physical shape in the renovation of Public Square.”

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Kildeer woman turns hobby into growing business

Jill Davis’ landscape business stems from a hobby and a passion. Over the past decade, she has slowly grown Jill Davis Design from her Kildeer home.

“I think I had it in my blood,” Davis said of her landscaping skills.

Her parents were invested gardeners who instilled the basic tricks of the trade. When she became a stay-at-home mom, it was only natural for Davis to lose herself in the acre of land framing her home in Kildeer.

Davis filled her days with trips to garden centers amassing a decadent collection of plants and shrubs. Before long her eyes became bigger than her garden and she ran out of room to plant, so she expanded her hobby into creating complementary gardens for friends.

When one of those friends suggested she channel her pastime into a business, a light bulb switched on and she was all in.

Prior to marriage and children, Davis was an industrial sales representative for Fortune 500 companies. She sold imaging technologies in the Midwest before expanding sales to Mexico, the Caribbean, West Indies, and Central and South America. She sold polymers, resins and coatings in the ink manufacturing marketplace.

She brought this experience to her business. “I love all aspects of developing a business,” Davis said. “Growing it, making it better, considering new markets.”

The role of businesswoman came natural. She mapped out a personal business plan.

“I had a meeting with myself and decided how I wanted my business to look and made a set of rules,” Davis said. “I told myself, ‘these are my policies and I’m going to follow them.'” She added, “this way I had a box to stay in.”

Working on her own has given Davis the freedom to create a unique strategy. She has cultivated her business much like she plants a garden.

In the beginning she made mistakes by using insufficient plants with too many variables. Now she designs with plants that will structurally work all year round.

She refers to herself as a coach taking time to understand each customer’s personal style — likes and dislikes, desired color palette, maintenance plan.

“I never jam a design down someone’s throat,” Davis said. “I coach the design out of my customers.” She then approves all designs with customers.

Davis designs for all seasons, but takes time off between January and March. During that time she travels to places like California and Arizona to study trends. She turns to artists like Daniel Burnham for design inspiration, and utilizes Twitter and YouTube to network with gardeners and landscapers all over the world.

“I try hard to be inspired by the best designers, but you always have to add your own style,” Davis said.

The majority of her business comes through referrals, she says, adding that she has established a social media presence with her Facebook and Houzz pages.

Last year Davis began giving lectures at the Garden Center in Hawthorn Woods and the Garden Club in Long Grove. She speaks about curb appeal, planting bulbs and an array of other topics.

She has served customers in Kildeer, Barrington, Lake Zurich, Hawthorn Woods and Arlington Heights.

During the summer — when business is at its peak — Davis has 3 or 4 employees assisting with the labor, tilling, mulching and installation of a watering system. She also has expert growers on board, as well as an arborist and horticulturist.

This year she has hired a professional landscaper who she says has the potential to take Jill Davis Design to new heights. She believes her custom work sets her apart.

“Every single plant and shrub I put into the design is approved (by the customer),” Davis said. “I like to design with contrast rather than bloom.”

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2015 Council Bluffs Home Improvement And Landscaping Show Friday

Over 125 vendors will be displaying the latest products to update your home and landscape, March 6-8, at the 13th Annual Council Bluffs Home Improvement and Landscaping Show at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Mid-America Center Council Bluffs

Over 125 vendors will be displaying the latest products to update your home and landscape, March 6-8, at the 13th Annual Council Bluffs Home Improvement and Landscaping Show at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

The show features a larger lineup of granite countertop displays, flooring, builders and lawn equipment. Exhibitors include: New Home Construction, Remodeling, Windows, Kitchens, Siding, Doors, Sunrooms, Decks, Geo Thermal, Solar, Insulation, Log Homes, Bathrooms, Manufactured Homes, Home Security, Granite, Real Estate, Water Systems, Building Supplies, Financing, Fencing, Wood-burning Stoves, Heating, Cooling, Plumbing, Flooring, Roofing, Foundation Repair, Lawn Care, Mowers, Garden Tractors, Bedding, Landscaping, Retaining Walls, and More!

Headlining the seminars at this year’s Home Show is Joey Green-“The Guru of Wacky Uses for Brand Name Products.” Green will perform all three days. Author and successful advertising copywriter, Green is a walking encyclopedia of quirky, yet ingenious household hints.

Joey Green got Barbara Walters to put a wet Pampers diaper on her head on The View, made Jay Leno shave with Jif Peanut Butter on The Tonight Show, conditioned Meredith Vieira’s hair with Cool Whip, got Katie Couric to clean her diamond ring with Efferdent, and showed Diane Sawyer how to polish furniture with Spam. He demonstrates his Wacky Uses for Brand Name Products Friday, March 6 at 6 pm, Saturday, March 7 at 12:30 and 4:30 pm, and Sunday, March 8 at 1:30 pm

Other seminars this year include kitchen and bath design, tips on painting like a pro, gardening tips and emerald ash borer.

Kevin Brown and Ed Nichols of Diamond Vogel in Council Bluffs, have over 70 years of experience in the paint business between them. They’ll be showing audiences some of the tricks they’ve learned over their careers to get great results. They will present “Painting Tips Techniques for Pro Results” Friday at 5 pm and Saturday at 6 pm.

Where do you start when you’re planning a new or updated kitchen? Jo Neddo helps clients plan and build their dream kitchen every day. Learn Neddo’s secrets for turning ideas into inspiration. She speaks on “Designing the Heart of Your Home: Kitchen Inspiration” Saturday at 2 pm and Sunday at 2:30 pm.

Diane Luxford, ASID, D-Lux Interiors, will bring audiences up to speed on what’s new in the ever-changing world of bathrooms. Diane has been an interior designer in the Omaha area for 38 years. Luxford will present “Trends in Bathroom Design” Friday at 7 pm only.

Melissa Burdick, Chief Horticulturalist at Lauritzen Gardens, will show audiences how to save money and help protect the environment by economizing in the garden. Burdick presents “Botanical Bank for Your Buck” Saturday, March 7 at 11 am. Burdick’s second presentation is her most popular, “Perennials You Should Be Using” Saturday at 3 pm.

Tivon Feely, DNR Forest Health Program Leader, will share “Are You Prepared for Emerald Ash Borer” Sunday at Noon.

Council Bluffs Home Improvement and Landscaping Show
Mid-America Center, Council Bluffs, Iowa
Hours: Friday, March 6: 3-9pm | Saturday, March 7: 10am-8pm | Sunday, March 8: 11am-4pm
Admission: Adults: $6, Kids 12 and under, Free | Friday Matinee: $4 (3-5 pm)

Detailed show information and discount coupons can be found at:

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Low Water Garden Design

Lately I have been getting a lot of questions from people wanting to reduce their water footprint.  We have rebates for irrigation timers (WBIC), low flush toilets and more but it is time that we really re-think our use of water in the landscape.  We are not living in the humid, wet east coast nor are we living in England, so we have to stop landscaping as if we are.  It is time for us to take our natural habitat into consideration and work within that framework.

If you take a hike into our mountains, how often do you see hills covered with grass, Iceberg roses, and Lily of the Nile?  Never… but that is what you see in many of the yards of Santa Clarita.  Our California rainfall could NEVER sustain that, even in a great year. 
I’m not saying you have to rip out all of you lawn, but take a step back and look at what lawn you actually use and if you need it.  If your kids or dogs use your lawn, fantastic but do they use all of it?  If not, it is time to start thinking about some of the beautiful plants that you can use along with seating and entertaining areas you can create.  There are many beautiful plants, pathways, and features you can utilize within your garden to replace that flat, boring expanse of lawn. 
Do you know that you can save water replacing your lawn even with high water more tropical plants? (Not suggesting you do)  That is because even those plants use less water than lawn.  There are many, many beautiful trees, shrubs, perennials, and ground covers that can give your garden a lush, colorful, beautiful look.  
Here are the steps to start this process:
1. Assess your needs
2. Look at your irrigation system (the more simple modifications you make the cheaper).
3. Get inspiration from books and online sources like, Pinterest and Google.
4. Decide what features you want to include.
5. Educate yourself on plant material. 
6. Plan, Plan, Plan before you plant, plant, plant.
Julie Molinare is a Certified Landscape Designer living in the Santa Clarita for over 15 years. Julie taught the Introduction to Landscape Design Class @ CSUN Tseng College of Extended Learning and is Owner/Designer of The Grass Is Always Greener Designs 661-917-3521 – make sure to visit the blog page for timely information and garden reminders.

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