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Archives for October 30, 2015

Land use must consider water supply, speakers say

Drew Beckwith, water policy manager for Boulder-based Western Resource Advocates, said, “On the Front Range, we talk a lot about sprawl,” with the poster child being the huge Highlands Ranch development near Denver. “We can’t keep doing that if we want to have a Colorado that we want to live in.”

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Foresters plan for clean up of Reffue Park ball field

By Art Bushue

Clinton Forestry Board

CLINTON – Motivated by the Village Strategic Plan’s vision of providing “an attractive, ‘small town’” atmosphere for our citizens, in early 2014, the Park Board and village foresters jointly initiated a project to upgrade the Herb Reffue Park ball field by removing the long existing scrub trees along the north and east boundaries.

Next spring, following this project’s two-year preparatory tree removal activities, Park and Forestry Board officials will solicit landscaping ideas from the public, review submissions, and then determine the project’s following actions.


Photo courtesy of Art Bushue

On Oct. 16, Popanz Tree Service’s crew removed the undesirable trees of the north/south tree line along Reffue Park’s ball field to provide contemporary, attractive landscaping of this area. Clinton’s DPW will soon provide the final touches to this project by removing shrubbery, leveling the terrain, and mowing as was done on the ball field’s northern boundary in 2014.

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Twelve seeking 6 Luzerne County Council seats up for grabs Tuesday – Wilkes Barre Times










Stephen A. Urban

Stephen J. Urban

Walsh Waitkus


Six Luzerne County Council seats — a majority of the 11-member body — will be filled by voters as the county faces a myriad of major issues, from the potential selection of a new county manager to the push to erase the county’s remaining $13.1 million deficit and get back in the black.

The fate of the entire home rule system also may hinge on the next council regime’s performance because only one more year will remain before voters are free to change the county government structure, which can happen after home rule’s fifth anniversary in January 2017.

Home rule replaced three elected commissioners and several row officers with elected council members and appointed manager.

The council approves the budget and larger contracts, appoints outside county board members, implements codes and other legislative initiatives and confirms the eight division heads.

The county manager also is hired by the council, with seven of 11 votes required for the manager’s termination. Council members have initiated the search process in light of county Manager Robert Lawton’s decision to reactivate his job search for positions in other states.

Council members are paid $8,000 annually.

Voters can select six out of 12 contenders from any political party in Tuesday’s general.

Two outspoken incumbents — James Bobeck and Rick Morelli — are not running.

The remaining four in expiring seats are seeking another term: Edward Brominski, Tim McGinley, Stephen A. Urban and Stephen J. Urban.

The six new members will serve with Kathy Dobash, Harry Haas, Linda McClosky Houck, Eileen Sorokas and Rick Williams.

Democratic voters nominated Jane Walsh Waitkus, John Gadomski and Anthony J. Rostock in addition to Brominski, McGinley and Stephen A. Urban.

Republicans nominated Marc Dixon, Ray Gustave, Eugene Kelleher, Mark Rabo, Robert Schnee and Stephen J. Urban.

Here is background on the candidates and what they believe they can contribute to council based on information they have presented, including statements nine made at a recent public forum that was not attended by Brominski, Gadomski or Rostock:

Brominski, 75, Swoyersville, has a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Wilkes University and a master’s degree in secondary education from the University of Scranton.

He was a school teacher for 15 years, Swoyersville mayor for five years, county commissioner for four years, county assessor’s office director for eight years and also worked in pharmaceutical sales and insurance sales management.

Brominski said he brings experience in management and government to council, isn’t afraid to speak his mind and publicly presents feedback and ideas from many citizens who count on him to be their voice.

Dixon, 45, Wright Township, graduated from Kearns High School in Salt Lake City, Utah, and has worked as director of business development for Kodak Alaris in the Americas for 11 years, overseeing 50 accounts with a total revenue of more than $30 million.

He said his strong work ethic, proven track record in the business world and experience making difficult decisions and reaching consensus in his profession will benefit the council. He also has traveled extensively for his job, exposing him to improvements and ideas in other areas that he may suggest here.

Dixon identified improving the quality of life as the reason he’s running and said “out-of-the-box thinking” is needed to boost the tax base and avoid tax increases.

Gadomski, 61, Wyoming, is a graduate of Wyoming Area High School and studied at Penn State University. He has worked as a union carpenter for more than 42 years and is active with the Keystone Mountain Lakes Regional Council of Carpenters, Local 645, of Northeastern Pennsylvania. He also served on the county Industrial Development Authority for several years.

Gadomski said he has extensive experience working with others in his professional career and was “pivotal” in the push to build an arena in Wilkes-Barre Township. He said he is accustomed to making decisions to complete projects on time and under budget and would apply those skills to his work on council. He also believes the council needs to be more inclusive and unified.

He may not be permitted to serve in January if he is elected because the home rule charter says county authority members must wait one year after leaving their seats to take office as elected county officials, officials said. Gadomski resigned from the Industrial Development Authority in April.

Gustave, 69, West Wyoming, graduated from Wilkes University and retired from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2007 after 37 years of federal service that included work overseeing multi-million dollar contracts and submitting research budgets to Congress.

A US Air Force and Vietnam veteran, Gustave also managed day-to-day operations in West Wyoming as borough manager for nearly two years.

Gustave said the county has a “spending problem,” not a revenue one. He said he knows how to cut budgets, citing his work reducing the budget from $160 million to $85 million by the time he retired from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and getting West Wyoming back on track financially as a manager there. He regularly attends and provides input at county meetings but said he needs a “seat at the table” to make changes.

Kelleher, 71, Dallas Township, graduated from Wilkes University and worked as a high school math teacher for 35 years and in the financial services industry for eight years. He also served two years on the initial county council.

Kelleher said he wants to focus on issues and solve problems on the council, noting council members can “agree to disagree without being disagreeable.”

He said he wants to push for more payments-in-lieu-of-taxes from tax-exempt organizations and implement other recommendations in a new outside financial recovery plan in an attempt to avoid tax hikes.

McGinley, 68, Kingston, has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Wilkes University, a master’s degree in secondary education from the University of Scranton and has completed continuing graduate studies in chemistry and educational leadership at both of those universities in addition to Lehigh University, Penn State University and Temple University.

He was employed for more than 30 years in the public school system, where he was a high-school chemistry teacher, athletic director, wrestling coach and school administrator. He most recently served as administration director for the Commission on Economic Opportunity in Wilkes-Barre.

McGinley said council members must “get together and work out our differences” and set and meet goals to advance the county and address the deficit and other budgetary issues. He said he has invested extensive time researching and understanding county government and thoroughly analyzes issues before making decisions, noting he supported a debt restructuring that will save the county $3 million to $4 million annually.

Rabo, 38, Hazleton, is a Hazleton Area High School graduate and studied international business oversees for more than a year. He has worked in construction for more than a decade and has owned his own construction company, Bida Associates, for nine years.

Rabo said he is passionate about the need to tackle blight and encourage development that will stimulate the local economy. He said he understands the challenges of running a business and is running because he cares about the county’s future.

He has attended numerous local, county and state meetings the last three years and said he listens to all viewpoints and extensively researches issues and proposals before forming opinions.

Like Gadomski, Rabo may be unable to serve in January if he is elected because he served on the county Redevelopment Authority until May. However, he said his attorney agrees with his assertion the charter restriction is unconstitutional and unenforceable.

Rostock, 65, of Yatesville, has an associate’s degree in business administration from Keystone College, a bachelor’s degree in social studies from Mansfield University and a reading specialist degree from the University of Scranton.

He worked at the Luzerne Intermediate Unit 18 for more than three decades and owned A.J. Rostock Landscaping for 25 years. He is a Yatesville councilman and former Pittston Area School Board member.

Rostock said he understands the need for “pinching pennies” through his work operating a small business and believes council would benefit from his experience overseeing budgets and negotiating contracts. He said the “gridlock” on county council must stop.

Schnee, 56, of Sugarloaf Township, is a Hazleton High School graduate and has worked at the Hazleton City Authority for 26 years.

Schnee said he would provide experience dealing with contracts and budgets over $90 million as a Hazleton Area School Board member from 1993-99. He also is president of the local steel workers’ union.

He stressed he understands financial struggles because he came from a family of “humble means” and said he worked as a school board member to make decisions that were fair to taxpayers and the “working person.” Schnee said he wouldn’t “take anybody’s job off them” but would examine the feasibility of cutting positions vacated through retirements and will consider all ideas, whether they are from a council majority or minority.

Stephen A. Urban, 61, Wilkes-Barre, has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from King’s College and master’s degrees in public administration from Golden Gate University in California and in national security and strategic studies from the U.S. Naval War College.

A retired Army lieutenant colonel, Urban served 24 years of active duty, is a veteran of the Persian Gulf War and Vietnam War and was an elected county commissioner from 2000 through 2011.

Urban said he wants to continue to “fight for the people” because he deeply cares about them. He said he has a “wealth of experience” in county government and has demonstrated he will push for accountability and increased funding for the county. He believes council members should engage in “heated arguments and debate” instead of focusing on civility.

Stephen J. Urban, 41, Wilkes-Barre, attended Penn State University and Luzerne County Community College and works in the information technology field, including nine years of employment at Commonwealth Telephone and a current position as IT support coordinator with a major food distributor.

Urban said he asks tough questions and expects answers because he wants to stop the county from “going down a fiscal path that needs to be changed.”

He said he will continue to push for Lawton’s termination because he believes many county government problems stem from a “lack of leadership” from the manager. Urban said he has sharpened his “sense of frugality and efficiency” working in corporate environments and has tried to bring that approach to county government.

Walsh Waitkus, 67, of Dorrance Township, has a bachelor’s degree from Misericordia University and master’s degrees in education from the University of the District of Columbia and in English literature from the University of Scranton.

She was formerly the owner/broker/CEO of Walsh Real Estate Corp., Pittston, works as a professor and director of the Teaching and Learning Resource Center at Penn State Hazleton and had served four years as a Laflin Borough Council member in the past.

Walsh Waitkus said she has experience meeting budgets and listening to public input as a former business owner and municipal councilwoman. She said she is a “really good” negotiator and communicator and would work hard to “build bridges” with council colleagues because she believes it is important for council members to “get along and work as a team.”

By Jennifer Learn-Andes

[email protected]

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.

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November in Brevard gardens

With November’s arrival, we will experience hints of the cooler temperatures and lower humidity that are coming. This is a great time of the year to work in the yard because the weather is so enjoyable. In addition to some gardening activities, I would like to let everyone know about a new class being offered next year.

Beginning in February, there will be a Florida-Friendly Landscaping Class series. This series will last for six consecutive Thursdays beginning Feb. 4. The class will be from 9 a.m. until noon and cover two topics each morning. The cost of the class is $60. For more information on the topics to be covered and to register, call 321-633-1702, ext. 224, and talk to Diana.

Here are some suggestions of gardening activities that you can do in your yard this month.

Good news: You will probably only need to mow every other week.

Water only as needed, which may be just once a week (if that), because of the shorter days and cooler temperatures.

Check your vegetable plants daily to make sure they are healthy. Keep an eye out for caterpillars and pick them off as needed.

Give vegetable plants some granular fertilizer monthly. In addition, spray a liquid seaweed product on the foliage (both sides with a fine mist sprayer) every week.

Do not prune deciduous fruit trees, shrubs and vines until they have shed all of their leaves. Check out the Fruitscape site ( for detailed information on pruning for the various fruit crops.

If your fruit trees (or any tree for that matter) have grown a lot this year, now is a good time to increase the mulched area below them so that it extends out to the drip line, which is at the ends of the branches. For citrus trees though, just make sure that the mulch is kept at least 6 inches away from the trunk.

Vegetables that can be planted in November include: beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, collards, kale, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, mustard, onions (short-day varieties such as bulbing, bunching and multipliers) English peas, radish, spinach, strawberries and turnips.

Perennial plants that are overgrown can be divided and replanted so they can become established before the cold weather arrives.

Keep poinsettias and Christmas cactus in the dark all night to initiate blooms.

Some flowers that can be planted this month include: alyssum, calendula, cleome, dianthus, dusty miller, geraniums, flowering tobacco, lobelia, pansy, petunia, phlox, snapdragon, stock, viola, sweet peas, nasturtium and ornamental cabbage.

Start raking leaves and using them as mulch.

Bulbs that can be planted include: Agapanthus, African iris, amaryllis (these make great Christmas gifts), Aztec lily (Sprekelia formosissima), calla, crinum, Kaffir lily (Clivia), day lily (Hemerocallis spp.), narcissus, Elephant ears (Alocasia, Colocasia, Xanthosoma), hurricane lily (Lycoris), society garlic (Tulbaghia violacea), snowflake (Leucojum spp.), shell ginger (Alpinia zerumbet), Marcia – walking iris (Neomarcia gracilis), Watsonia, Iris (Iris spp.) grow native iris or Louisiana iris and their hybrids (German or Japanese iris usually do not grow well here), rain lily (Zephyranthes) and spider lily (Hymenocallis spp.).

Herbs for the November garden include: chives, garlic chives, fennel, rosemary, sage, salad burnet, dill, oregano, parsley, lemon balm, lavenders (sweet, Spanish and French are your best bet), Mexican tarragon, chervil (this is a winter annual so grow it now,) cilantro, sage and thyme.

Vegetables that can be sown now for transplanting in December include; beets, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, lettuce (crisp, butter head, leaf and romaine), Chinese cabbage, collards, English peas, kale, kohlrabi, leek, mustard, English peas and onions (short-day varieties again).

At farmers markets

Here are some of the fresh produce that could be available at produce stands or farmers markets in November: avocado, broccoli, cabbage, canistel, carambola, carrots, cauliflower, celery, Chinese cabbage, cucumbers, eggplant; endive/escarole, grapefruit, honeydew, oranges, passion fruit; peppers, pummelo, radishes, squash, strawberries, sweet corn, tangerines and tangelos and tomatoes.

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Conceptual planning produces a beautiful site

How is it that landscape architects are proficient in the largest-scale community-planning projects and at the same time be qualified to create intimate residential garden spaces? Don’t confuse these: the former involves laying out the roads, buildings and amenities for a new community, including lake locations, bridges and entry features, while the latter includes buffer identification, defining play areas and cut gardens, among other appropriate residential site uses.

Master land planning is the creation of a new community. The work yields the needed number of units and product types, and includes creative road alignments and the best possible set-asides for preserve areas. If you live in a gated community and you’ve noticed long lake views strategically placed along your spine road, then you have experienced great master planning.

Through the magic of landscape architecture, these projects are essentially the same.


Conceptual planning is sometimes called “blob” planning, because it includes a site plan with large areas defined as blobs. It’s a way of understanding how a site works by exploring relationships among different parts of a site. In the case of a new community, blobs might represent single family or multifamily neighborhoods, golf corridors, recreation centers and lakes. On the residential scale, blob examples are vegetable gardens, open play space, buffer plantings, detail entry plantings and the like.

Clients, particularly homeowner association clients, are sometimes frustrated by conceptual planning. They want to talk plants! But without a tool to organize a site, there is neither design control nor cost control. Planting design is the final step. Plant combining is part of the design process that draws so much focus but is always the last step. It’s conceptual planning that gives structure.

Compare two residences, for example.

In the first, one senses a clear sequence of spaces, a delicate consideration and handling of focal points and a judicious use of appropriate plant material. The plant palette is quite limited; plants are in large beds, strategically and thoughtfully located.

In short, obviously someone though about this garden. It shows clarity of purpose. One feels a sense of calm.

The second example? Another large residence where the plantings have been treated, not as a garden, but as landscaping. It’s an odious word, rarely used by your Design Pundit. This client doesn’t have a garden. He has a bunch of plants that start at the home’s perimeter and work outward in a layer-like fashion. This places the building as the center-most important part of the composition, a condition that is not always true or desirable.

Sadly, the total cost of both projects is similar. On one hand, it’s a frenetic site with some plants, poorly chosen, adding nothing whatsoever to the experience of the site and carrying a higher maintenance cost. On the other, a wondrous and intriguing garden filled with low-maintenance plants.

Compare any of our gated communities with, say, Marco Island, Golden Gate, Lehigh Acres or Cape Coral, all disorganized, messy, places with awkward internal movement, costly services and very limited recreational opportunities.

Any gated community has the same or greater yields with much more comfortable living. These communities have more preserved lands, more wildlife with protected bike paths. And this isn’t magic. It’s just good design.


When you approach your home — taking a simple example — after a long day at work, perhaps you want to visually appreciate a particularly meaningful plant combination or collection. But where is the focal point?

Your conceptual planning efforts answers this: you know how the site works. You know that you need tall plants to hide your neighbor’s purple house. You know that as you turn into the driveway, your gaze sweeps from one point to another. You know countless other facts.

And you haven’t even thought about the types of plants to use. You know where to spend money (those focal points). You know where to plant a tall buffer, and many other things.

Michael Spencer, ASLA, has been practicing landscape architecture since 1979 and is president of MSA Design Inc. Contact him by email: or follow him on Twitter, His website is

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On Gardening: Avoiding the accidental landscape

As we await El Niño rains, the Monterey Bay area’s familiar rainy season is already late in starting, and we feel the pull of long-term perspectives on gardening.

Let’s consider landscaping with succulents plants, which are gaining appeal for their interesting foliage forms and colors, ease of cultivation and propagation and of course drought tolerance.

Many succulent plants can hold their own in the garden as specimens or aesthetic statements, but when we group several plants, they relate to one another in various ways and we have a landscape, either by design or by chance.

Landscaping by chance is often popular, but with a little planning, gardeners can succeed with more deliberate methods.

Designing with plants involves individual preferences and styles, which we always respect. There are, however, a few broad guidelines to consider.

The first of these is “taller plants in back,” which is about visibility. Take the time to learn the mature height of each plant. Visit for a list of popular succulent plants by height, from succulent expert Debra Lee Baldwin.

Another organizing guideline is to group plants by their watering needs. This technique, called hydrozoning, works with nature (always a good idea!) and makes garden maintenance easier.

Using this technique requires knowing the watering needs of the succulent plants in your landscape. All succulent plants need some water, particularly during their growth periods. They need much less during dormancy.

The two broad categories of succulent plants are the “winter dormant,” or plants that grow during the spring and summer, and the “summer dormant,” those that grow mostly during the fall through early spring. For lists of these plants, browse to, scroll down to “culture guide,” then click on “dormancy.”

The landscape designer also could group plants by county of origin. Such grouping is a step toward creating plant communities, which are combinations of plants that are found in natural settings. Such combinations reflect the plants’ common needs for soil, exposure, climate and other factors. Gardening in this way involves detailed cultivation methods. Grouping plants by country of origin is relatively easy, while respecting nature and developing an interesting landscape. The avid gardener can discover a plant’s country of origin from some books and plant labels, or by entering the plant’s botanical name in

Finally, consider combining succulent plants with grasses, which are another category of drought-tolerant plants. Grasses typically respond to severely dry conditions by going dormant, rather than by storing moisture, and grass-succulent combinations are seen in natural settings. The benefit of combining succulents and grasses is primarily in the aesthetic effect of contrasting the succulent’s fleshiness with the grass’s wispiness. To learn more about grasses, see the book, “The American Meadow Garden” (2009), by John Greenlee and Saxon Holt.

For more comprehensive guidance, Debra Lee Baldwin’s book, “Designing with Succulents” (2007), provides inspiring ideas for planning your own succulent garden area.

Preparing for long-term water shortages certainly includes defensive strategies, but your preparations can include landscaping with succulents as an absorbing and creative exercise.

Tom Karwin is president of the Friends of the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum and a Lifetime UC Master Gardener (Certified 1999–2009). Visit for links to information on this subject, and send comments or questions to

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Put your garden to bed with tips from Ron Krupp

Courtesy of VINS

Author Ron Krupp will discuss his new book, “The Woodchuck Returns to Gardening” at a talk in Quechee, Sunday.

Sunday, Nov. 1 at 3:30 p.m. — QUECHEE — The Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) will host a gardening discussion with Ron Krupp on Sunday, Nov. 1, from 2 to 3:30 p.m., at the VINS Nature Center. This event will focus on Mr. Krupp’s most recent book “The Woodchuck Returns to Gardening.”

Join Mr. Krupp for an enlightening conversation about his new book on putting the garden to rest among other timely garden topics. The presentation will  feature slides from the book including an introduction to the “Chuckster.” Bring your book and your gardening questions, and join a lively conversation. Following the discussion, Mr. Krupp will sign books at the VINS Nature Store. Copies of his books will be available including “The Woodchuck Returns to Gardening,” “The Woodchuck’s Guide to Gardening,” and “Lifting the Yoke.”

This talk is presented in partnership with the Upper Valley Food Co-op, who will be providing refreshments. Admission to the event is free. (Donations are appreciated.) For more info, visit our website,,

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