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Archives for March 25, 2015

Pflugerville presents first steps in downtown revitalization


March 25, 2015


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Editor’s note: The Manteca City Council has promised to take action on April 7 when they meet to put in place tougher water conservation measures. After Councilman Mike Morowit said he’d like to see suggestions from the public, the Bulletin asked readers to share their thoughts about water conservation. If you have any suggestions send them to with “save water” in the subject line.


In Arizona, they had a moratorium for water meters. There was a long waiting list of people applying for one and the only way they would get one was if someone didn’t pay their water bill. In that case they pulled the meter and gave it to the next person on the waiting list who had been trucking water in to their home. The non-payer would then be living with a water truck. This was in Flagstaff and when the wind blew, you would feel sandblasted. There weren’t many people with lawns or flowers. In fact, we missed the colors of California. We would come back here and all of us were pointing at the beautiful colors of the gardens in California. Take heed and if you think it can’t happen, think again. 

I would beg for the water cops! It makes me sick to see what is left of my yard, and the extent we go to keep our water use to a minimum. I grew up in a family of four and a 14-foot well. We had a garden until we were hit with a drought and then we took showers with buckets and used dishwater to keep our most treasured plants alive. Just because it is always available when you turn on the faucet today doesn’t mean it will be there tomorrow. 

My neighbors have perfect lawns, nice and green. Yesterday (Monday) one was watering on his off day and his lawn mower was in the middle of it! The water was running across the sidewalk. I read that you saw all this kind of activity on a short round of errands you made the other day and we found the same. Washing sidewalks! How dumb is that?

Also, what about sloped lawns? Make the contractors put in retaining walls on elevated yards. Keep the water on the yard. The runoff from watering always crosses the sidewalks. With drought friendly yards, the dirt will also migrate into the gutters and will cause problems trying to keep drains flowing free. Retaining walls are a must! 

Santa Monica set a great example for Southern California. They had contaminated wells from oil wells and had to buy their water. They didn’t like the high costs of that so they started requiring all buildings to have rain barrels to collect the roof water for irrigating their yards. They had beautiful gardens and yards and saved a lot of runoff keeping them nice. Why waste drinking water? People like to point fingers at L.A. for ‘stealing’ our water, but the reality is, they get their water from other sources mostly and they have some cities that really can show us what we should be doing. We need to put our heads together and see what works. Disneyland had to drain the river in their big water ride and they sent it all into storage in a Fountain Valley water treatment plant until they made repairs, then the water treatment plant piped it back to them. 

A real irritation is seeing more new homes being built. We already have water problems facing the population we have now, and the city leaders encourage growth. But then, this is the same government that wring their hands over the issue, hire consultants, plant more landscaping, fail to monitor their own sprinklers, fail to water at the designated times. The rest of us are supposed to be the ones that should be looking to them for a solution. Maybe the Manteca Bulletin’s voice is more successful than our local leaders.

Like I said, let’s put our heads together and brainstorm this problem. If the City of Manteca can’t figure it out, let’s help!


• • •

Ideas: From making water bills easier to read to a waste tip line

Here are my thoughts on ways the city can take action to save water. I like the idea of “water cops”. They will not catch all offenders but should put a dent into the waste.

I think having a dedicated “tip” line would be helpful. I do not want to go up and ring a doorbell and say it is not your day to water, it is the middle of the day, or the water is in the gutters or you are washing the sidewalk.

The shopping centers like Target have a lot of grass around their property. Take out the grass and leave the trees and add bark, rock or drought tolerant shrubs. There are lots of places around town with small and large grassy areas that do make the areas more attractive but is time to change the way we use water.

I like the ideas of new homes having no grass or when a house is sold the lawn comes out and replaced with drought tolerant plants. 

The utility bill should be more understandable. It would be nice to know what a family of 4 is using in gallons not cubic feet. And then what is a reasonable amount to use per person so we have a better idea of our usage.

Paula Stallings

• • •

Think long term water shortage along with 10 suggestions

First and foremost, the water shortage needs to be seen in light of a longer term drought. We cannot assume next year’s rainfall amounts will exceed normal. Any action needs to be done with this in mind.

1. Yes, hire water cops and give them enforcement power

2. Only one warning — unless the violation is overly blatant and severe

3. Make fines increase in severity for repeat offenders

4. Eliminate the requirement for lawns for new homes

5. Have a staffer assigned to drought resistant yard landscaping to help homeowners and business owners

6. Give tax credits or some other incentive for people removing lawns and going to rock or drought resistant landscaping

7. An immediate 25% mandatory reduction. Special allowances could be applied for and reviewed by a city/citizen panel

8. No new swimming pools, or at least a cap on monthly new pool permits

9. Prepare a list of water saving tips for all homeowners and businesses, in every water bill mailing, and in the Bulletin

10. Mandate that farmers take steps to conserve water in their orchards by converting to drip lines better sprinklers — rather than flooding and widespread sprinklers.

John Vonhof

• • •

I enjoy your articles and found the one in Tuesday’s paper just another way to show how businesses are not being aware (or simply don’t care) of the severe water conditions of this state.

While going for a walk around the Del Webb Woodbridge community yesterday (Monday) they were watering the baseball field lawn on a non-watering day (1st base violation #1) 

Time was approximately 4 to 4:30 p.m. (2nd base violation #2)

Water flowing onto sidewalks and streets (3rd base violation #3)

So let’s see, if I have the violations correct that would be a triple play on March 25. Guess things come in 3’s!

P. S. Maybe they are just making sure the baseball field is nice and green for baseball opening day Saturday, April 4, (hey got to give the community a little plug for the upcoming event!)

Nancy McAlister

• • •

Three businesses have water running into street

This morning (Tuesday) on the way to work, I passed three businesses owned by Cardoza Enterprises. All three had water running in the street at the corners of Cottage Louise, Main Louise, and Union Louise. Such a waste!

JoEllen Broderick

• • •

Manteca needs to stop building new homes

There is a drought, yes, but we are not out of water. The same amount of water God put here at creation is still here. The aspect of “water cops” is reminiscent of Nazi Germany in the 30s and 40s. Neighbors turning in neighbors because the water runs in the gutter, this is ludicrous. 

Police departments are over-worked “taking a bite out of crime,” you know theft, murder, abuse, etc. The biggies! Laugh if you will but this is how socialism raises its ugly head and creeps into our lives. 

Water to the farmer first, no farmer, no food, no people, no need to save water!

Then water to families, businesses, entertainment, etc. 

Stop building new homes! New homes means new water allocations, and if there is enough water allocations to allow new homes it stands to reason there is enough water to “allocate” to existing homes and businesses.

Reduce the size of government by using the laws already on the books. Use common sense! Stop making new laws and resurrect and obey those already written. 

 Do unto others as you would have them do to you and love your neighbor as yourself!

Take responsibility and turn the spigot off, for goodness sake.

In the words of Walter Shirer in the epigraph of his book, “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (1959) “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Sandra L. Van Deventer

• • •

I disagree with the need for water cops as this city currently has forced water conservation on residents while they add more new homes to put further stress on our depleting water table. The Bulletin tells us of annexation plans of a large plot of land that is intended to add 356 new homes to our drought problem. I agree that a lot of residents have a flagrant disregard for the water rules. Meanwhile the council is inking more deals with developers for thousands of new homes is also a gross disregard for the on-going droughts we experience in California.

In order to justify more homes, this council has to explore ways of saving more water in new home construction. This council refuses to encumber developers, for they place taxes before water conservation. They are afraid developers will move out of Manteca. My question to them is, where could they build that would be as profitable as Manteca? The developers run this city, this is evident in the council giving in to a lying developer’s request to deviate from a previous construction plan recently. This is evident in issuing permits to build more homes, while our water table is declining rapidly. The low water table indicates we have surpassed the amount of water that this valley will support. Over population will spell disaster for this valley sooner than one thinks.

I have suggested a change in new homes many times to this council to save water. They haven’t even bothered to explore this. Instant on demand tankless water heaters is the recommended change. I also suggested running plumbing through insulated walls to retain the residual heat, instead of cold concrete which chills hot water in a short time. This is the root cause of long waits to receive water at the demand point. This council has turned a deaf ear to this water saving suggestion. Instant on demand water heaters has worked effectively for years in Europe. On the average, this unit lasts 20 years and is low maintenance.

Let’s dwell on another waste this city is responsible for. They want to penalize residents for water running in the gutter, while allowing developers to slope lawns towards the sidewalk and gutter. Some residents want the council to band water sprinklers — these fall in the category of village idiots. I will conserve water when this council stops over populating this valley and listens to suggestions that will help our drought situation. I don’t understand how people want to resort to a bucket brigade to take a shower, while this council and city shows flagrant disregard for suggestions that could save this city and others many gallons of water that could remain in the water table. I don’t see why residents resort to these drastic measures to save water, so this city can add more new homes to add to the drought problem. 

Fleenor Richards


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Students helping with Danville High School master plan – Champaign/Urbana News


DANVILLE — When Danville High School students look around their campus, they see a lot of room for improvement.

For example, that dilapidated neighborhood that sits between the high school and the Wayland Young Sports Complex, senior Tristan Wolfe pointed out. Why not remove the blight — and safety issues that accompany it — and expand the complex to include baseball and softball fields, he suggested.

Behind the high school on the south side of the football field is a steep ramp that band members use to get and take xylophones, tubas and other equipment down to the field.

“We call it the Ramp of Death,” sophomore Sahra Donnelly said. “It’s full of potholes and cracks. People fall down.”

While you’re at it, why not plant some trees and landscaping to beautify the area, added sophomore Dakota French. Throw in a nearby coffee shop where kids can gather after school, and junior Maddison Turner will be happy.

Those and a number of other suggestions came Tuesday morning during the students’ urban geography class, which is taking part in a special project this semester.

The city of Danville, in collaboration with the school district, is developing a Danville High School Campus Master Plan, aimed at making the campus safer, more attractive and more user-friendly, and the advanced-placement class is assisting with the effort.

“We have something that’s unique: Our high school is in the heart of the community,” said Ross Hilleary, the project leader and a 2009 DHS graduate. “Some districts in the Big 12 conference decided to build new high schools along the interstate, which is nice because there’s a lot of room for them to grow.

“But we’re landlocked, so our challenge is how do we deal with that,” said Hilleary, an urban planner for the city and zoning and permit specialist. “We have to transition the property. And while the district has been acquiring property for the last 10 years or so, as of now the district and city don’t have a long-term plan for redevelopment. That’s something we’d like to focus on.”

The comprehensive plan will focus on zoning, proximity to services such as restaurants, transportation, parking, safety such as lighting, landscaping and other aesthetics, and branding, among other areas. He said having the plan will help city and school leaders prioritize projects and go after competitive federal grant funding that’s needed to make them a reality.

The plan requires public input, and who better to go to for suggestions than the folks who use it on a regular basis, Hilleary said. And last year, he added, Danville Area Transportation Study Director Jaclyn Marganski worked with the class on the East Main Street Corridor Study, which focuses on redeveloping an eastern stretch of the street, a main artery into town from the east.

“Last year’s project was very successful,” said Hilleary, who assisted Marganski.

For this study, Hilleary and urban planner Liila Bagby are working with the class one day a week from March to early May. In May, students will present a proposed master plan with their recommendations to the city council and school board.

The project fits right in with what the class has been studying, teacher Olivia Foor said.

“This lets them have hands-on experience,” she said. “They also feel ownership in the project because this is their school.”

On Tuesday, the planners passed out photocopies of aerial maps of the campus. Then, students charted their path to and from school and places they go after school, such as the track or Royal Donut shop a couple blocks away.

Next, students marked areas that need improvement — unpaved parking lots with steep egresses or dotted with potholes, vacant lots, lots filled junk and other debris, an intersection where traffic gets backed up, among other things. They also indicated areas that they would like to see redeveloped or improved — more restaurants and businesses, a quad, a fountain, a greenhouse, an artificial turf football field like the one at Urbana High School.

“Just seeing that field, it’s gorgeous,” said senior Bradley Taylor. “It’s something you could really be proud of.”

Hilleary and Bagby said they’re enjoying working with students, who aren’t afraid to speak their mind or limit their ideas. Adults tend to be more conservative and budget-conscious.

Students are happy to get a chance to give input.

“I feel we’re taking responsibility for our generation and trying to do something positive rather than negative for our community,” said sophomore Shadia Harper.

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A sign it’s spring: Hundreds expected for Saturday’s annual yard, garden expo

BAD AXE — Ready, set, grow.

The 13th annual Spring Into Gardening Conference and Yard and Garden Expo is set for Saturday at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Bad Axe, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“You get to see right here something that’s available — you don’t have to go down state or across the state to see these products,” said Carol Holtrop, event coordinator.

The expo opens at 9 a.m. and costs $1 to attend. Twenty-one vendors and counting, locally and from outside the state, plan to showcase all things garden — from landscaping, flowers and ironwork for the yard, to jams, soaps and even massages to limber up from a hard day in the dirt.

“We have quite a few garden-related activities,” Holtrop said.

The Spring Into Gardening Conference is $60 to attend for those registered after March 6. The price includes catered lunch and refreshments, door prizes, goodie bag, entry into the expo and five classes:

• 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. — “A balanced backyard”: Elly Maxwell, a Dow Gardens entomologist, teaches of maximizing benefits from predator and parasitoid insects and recognizing beneficial insects and tactics to preserve their populations.

“Not every bug that’s in your yard is a bad one,” Holtrop said. “(Ladybugs) are annoying, but they do their work of eating insects you don’t want.”

• 10:30 a.m. to 11:40 a.m. — “Prune like a pro”: Stacey Hirvela of Spring Meadows Nursery in Grand Haven teaches concepts for pruning most any plant. The class covers more of ideas than techniques and tools.

• 11:35 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. — “Pollinator Gardens”: Elly Maxwell shows how to attract, identify and appreciate pollinators common to Michigan gardens, like butterflies, birds and — a nuisance to many — bees.

“But we do need them for pollination, which is necessary to have crops,” Holtrop said. “There are lots out there that don’t want to sting.”

• 1:20 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. — “Hydrangeas demystified”: Here, Stacey Hirvela discusses six main types of hydrangeas, how they differ and how to care for the shrub and maintain that sky blue color.

• 2:50 p.m. to 4 p.m. — Tom Conklin and Joyce Latta of Walnut Hill Farm in Bangor cover “Hardy rose gardening with herbs.” Though homeowners often believe roses to be difficult to grow successfully, this class shows how to select for hardiness to give blooms from early June to Thanksgiving. Also, see why some roses thrive without winter protection while others parish in Michigan winters.

“You can have these in your yard and appreciate the beauty of the rose and not have to work that hard to keep them,” Holtrop said.

The classes are limited to 125 participants, but Holtrop says there are still spots available. For more information, call Carol Holtrop at 989-553-2992 or e-mail at Registration also is scheduled for 8 to 8:30 a.m. Saturday. For a vendor list, brochure and flier, go to and click “Huron County Master Gardener” at the top left.

Past events have drawn 300 to 400 people, Holtrop said.

“It’s early enough in the year that you can still think and plan,” she said. “We know the curiosity is out there and the problems are out there. We’re happy to answer questions.”

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Vicki’s Country Gardens: Best Landscaping – Twin Falls Times

PAUL | Vicki Serr knows gardening. And her customers appreciate that.

The feeling is mutual.

“I enjoy my customers as much as any part of this business,” Serr said.

Readers chose Vicki’s Country Gardens as best nursery and best landscaping business in Mini-Cassia.

Serr, a native of Fairfield, has been here 45 years.

“I started working at local nurseries when my kids were old enough,” she said. And she fell in love with the business of growing plants.

“I’m still amazed that something so spectacular can come from a little seed,” she said.

Serr worked at various nurseries for 12 years before she decided to start her own.

“It’s hard work — I’m not going to say it’s not,” Serr said. “But it’s good work.”

Serr said she likes to try new plants. “It’s in my big plan to know what will grow here and what won’t grow.

“I try to be as honest as I can with my customers,” she said. If a customer wants to try growing something that may not make it here, she will tell them.

“This is a hard area to grow things,” Serr said. “I want a happy customer who can trust me.”

Vicki’s Country Gardens is a full-service business, she said.

If a customer wants three squash seeds, she will sell them three squash seeds for a few cents rather than a prepackaged envelope of squash seeds for a few bucks.

Vicki’s specializes in hanging baskets and vegetable starts. “And we have the biggest selection of bulk seed around,” she said.

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Tips: How to know if your spring cleaning products are safe

Do you know what ingredients are in the cleaning products you buy? Probably not, as there are no federal governmental regulations requiring companies to disclose their contents. But harsh chemicals can take their toll on the indoor air quality of your home, are harmful to the environment and may irritate eyes and skin.

So how can you learn more about the cleaning products you plan to purchase? Luckily, certain retailers are making it easier for consumers to make informed decisions. For example, in 2011 Whole Foods Market introduced the Eco-Scale Rating System, which are the first household cleaner standards offered by a retailer.

This season, don’t just spring clean your home; take stock of your cleaners and clean up your entire act. By opting for green cleaning products, you can help make your home a safer, healthier place. Here’s how:

Do an audit: Take a look at the cleaning products you currently own. Just because a brand or product is well known does not make it a healthy option. A quick Internet search can reveal the safety attributes of a product’s ingredients — so long as the manufacturer has chosen to disclose ingredients. Toss anything problematic and make a shopping list of what you need to replace.

Full disclosure: Avoid cleaning products that don’t disclose what ingredients they use. Look for brands that make it easy for you to know what ingredients are being used in the product you’re purchasing.

Be informed: Know what ingredients to avoid entirely. Harsh ingredients like formaldehyde and chlorine can still be found in cleaning products today. Don’t know where to start? Take a look at the list of more than 40 ingredients that aren’t allowed in Whole Foods Market’s cleaning products, including chlorine, formaldehyde, phosphates, phthalates and triclosan.

Lock-up: No matter the contents of your cleaners, it’s good practice to keep them stored in a safe place, such as a locked cabinet. Young children and pets should not be able to access your cleaning products supply.

Do it yourself: A quick and easy way to know exactly what’s in your cleaning products is to make them yourself. Only a few inexpensive ingredients are needed to make your own all-purpose cleaner. Simply mix one part water with one part vinegar, add a few drops of your favorite pure essential oil, and you have an all-purpose spray. Baking soda is another great cleaner that has a mild scrubbing power and helps combat odors.

Don’t have the time to make your own cleaner? The Eco-Scale Rating system evaluates products for environmental impact, safety, efficacy, source, labeling and animal testing. Go to to learn more.

If you’re using conventional cleaning supplies, you may be exposing your family to harmful ingredients. By learning more about the products you use, you can green your spring cleaning, for a healthier home.

Copyright © 2015, Daily Press

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Gardening Tips: How To Prepare Your Yard For Spring

Even though we recently experienced even more snow, we are now into the first full week of spring.  Despite the snow, it is time to start thinking about getting your yard ready for the warmer weather.

Sally and her husband Tom Currie of Westerville love snow, but they are now ready for spring weather to stick around.   “We’ve enjoyed the snow, but we’re ready for some color and some nice spring smells,” Sallie explains.  The couple has picked up some colorful pansies, a pussy willow and, of course, a buckeye tree from Straders Garden Center in Dublin.

While the weather may still seem chilly, Alfred Barnett, General Manager of Straders, says now is the time to get your yard and garden ready, including doing any pruning of your shade trees.  However, he cautions that you can begin pruning ornamentals, but not too heavy, because you could cut the flower off.

“Get your pruning done early so that your new growth can take over and fill in some of the areas that you’ve had to prune,” Barnett adds.

Late March is also the time to consider doing any reseeding of your lawn and adding fertilizer. However, you want to make sure you use the correct fertilizer.

Barnett says if you put down a regular crabgrass killer on top of your new seed, it will kill that seed. He recommends asking an expert before you lay down seeds.

Also, make sure you rack up your grass and fluff it up a bit before doing any reseeding.  This lets oxygen in and promotes growth and also lets any seed you plant reach the dirt.

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