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Archives for November 24, 2015

Winter is the time for garden tool cleaning, maintenance

The trees have shed their leaves, the perennials have gone dormant and the garden beds have been dressed for the winter as we celebrate the season’s harvest and blessings. But, it’s not time for gardeners to put their feet up just yet! Winter is a great time for cleaning and maintaining lawn and garden tools. Join us at the Garden Tool Show-and-Tell at Satoyama Homestead to see how, with some common household items, you can invest in some up-keep now to save time and effort next gardening season.

All tools should be cleaned and disinfected before storing for the winter. Remove dirt and disinfect with a bleach or rubbing alcohol solution. Stuck-on debris and rust can be removed with wire brushes, steel wool or emery paper.

Sharpen digging and cutting blades with a file or honing stone (yes, you can sharpen shovels, spades and trowels). Apply penetrating oil to metal surfaces to preserve the edge and seal out moisture. Re-purpose used motor oil by adding some to a five gallon bucket mostly full of sand, an instant garden tool polisher. For servicing serrated and other specialty blades, locate a professional sharpening service in your area.

Disassemble, lubricate and tighten pruning tools. A quick cellphone photo of the disassembly process can come in handy during reassembly! Lubricate moving parts as you reassemble.

Service power equipment according to manufacturer’s instructions. A common recommendation is to remove fuel from the engine, or add a fuel stabilizer. Inspect and inventory all tools to take advantage of off-season sales and replace or upgrade for next year.

Proper tool maintenance can prolong the life of your favorite lawn and garden tools, allowing you to work smarter (not harder), create clean landscaping cuts and prevent the spread of disease. The Garden Tool Show-and-Tell on Saturday, Dec. 5 from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at Satoyama Homestead will feature a tool maintenance demonstration with information for creating your own tool servicing plan. We invite you to bring your favorite or unusual yard and garden tools to demonstrate to the community, and get some unique gift ideas for the gardeners on your shopping list!

The Garden Tool Show-and-Tell is part of the Satoyama Presents! series in support of sustainable, residential-scale agriculture and horticulture. Admission is free; donations are gratefully accepted. For more information about the workshop or the series, please visit

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Tax increase approved for downtown Mt. Pleasant businesses

Businesses in downtown Mt. Pleasant will pay about a 30 percent increase in a special assessment next year to fund development and improvements in the downtown area.

After months of debate, the city commission approved the increase Monday, intending to raise the downtown development board’s budget by about $30,000 – from $85,000 to $115,000 for the two-year special assessment.

The city will pay additional funds to bring the budget to about $260,000 for the next two years. The intention of the special assessment is to provide increased clean-up efforts in downtown while also marketing it to the public.

Mt. Pleasant attorney Damian Fisher said he supported the assessment, but cautioned the commission to keep restrictions low to allow business owners they need for their businesses.

“I support this project,” Fisher said. “The art and craft of community building is a delicate act. What makes downtown downtown is the freedom and entrepreneurial spirit of business owners. You don’t get that on Mission or in (Union Township).”

The assessment was originally devised last summer and early fall, after a joint meeting between the city and downtown development board. The resulting proposal was blocked at the last city commission meeting, and set for further discussion.

Last Thursday, the city commission and DDB held a joint meeting to analyze the line items in the roll.

Items discussed included parking lot maintenance and snow removal at $29,280, along with radio at $4,670, landscaping at $14,950, and lighting and electrical for $23,020.

At the joint meeting, Mayor Jim Holton said the sidewalks are in need of cleaning.

Local business owner Richard Swindlehurst said at multiple public meetings that he cleans his own sidewalks, and the city needs to be held accountable for the quality of the work.

“Who is going to check to make sure the work is done well?” he said. “I’ve taken gum off sidewalks, and it takes time. If we’re going to hire someone, I want to make sure it’s done right.”

The increased assessment passed with only Commissioner Jon Joslin voting against.

Commissioner Tony Kulick vowed to spend the money well.

“We did have a long discussion about this,” he said. “The burden is on us to be good stewards of the funding. It’s time to start spreading the dollars throughout the district.”

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Village Seeking Resident Feedback on Two Key Initiatives

Over the last four years, Pinehurst residents have continually identified maintaining the quality of its residential neighborhoods as one of the top priorities for the village.

Historically, though, that has never come with specifics, so the village is again turning to its residents through its online Open Village Hall program to see what they think should be done to improve its various neighborhoods.

That is one of two topics the village recently launched. The other topic asks residents whether they think the village should assume additional landscape maintenance responsibilities for some portions of the N.C. 211 right-of-way beyond the village limits.

As was the case with the previous three years, the 2015 annual community survey indicated that residents place a high priority on village efforts at maintaining the quality of neighborhoods.

The program asks for input and “creative suggestions” on projects or services the village can provide to help improve neighborhoods. That input will be used to help determine which ideas are funded in the fiscal year 2017 Strategic Operating Plan and at what level.

“We are very data driven,” Village Manager Jeff Sanborn said. “We want to to help gain some clarity about how our residents prioritize what our investment should be.”

The council will be discussing the 2017 plan during its annual retreat Dec. 3 and 4 at Village Hall.

In addition to protecting the quality of neighborhoods, residents have consistently identified enforcement of codes and ordinances as a top priority, which could also impact residential area.

The village recently completed a study that has led to implementing changes to make the code enforcement process friendlier and having uniform compliance deadlines among the various ordinances and municipal codes. The village will now issue “friendly” reminders to residents when a violation is reported before initiating a formal enforcement action.

As of Tuesday, the village had received 57 responses from its Open Village Hall process. Priorities identified by residents include installing more sidewalks, better code enforcement, more street lighting, improving the maintenance of roads, providing more bike lanes and paths, providing greenways, increasing the police presence in neighborhoods, improving stormwater management, providing small parks and open space.

Residents can offer input on the residential neighborhoods topic through 5 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 2.

On the issue of N.C. 211, village staff supplements the N.C. Department of Transportation’s (NCDOT) landscape maintenance efforts in the highway right of way from the Traffic Circle to the intersection of Taylortown’s Main Street near the new Harris Teeter shopping center. That entire right of way on both sides of N.C. 211 is within the village limits.

The stretch of highway from the Main Street to the main entrance gate of Pinewild Country Club is outside of the village limits and is maintained completely by the NCDOT. Some Pinehurst residents have indicated that the village should also help maintain this right of way, but that would place an additional financial burden on the village.

A group of residents from the Donald Ross Drive area, where some homes back up to the highway, appealed to the Village Council in October to help find ways to reduce the noise and screen the unsightly views. Many trees that had provided natural screening and also acted somewhat as a sound barrier were removed when the highway was expanded last year.

Those residents told the council at its Oct. 27 meeting that the noise from the highway and construction activity at the new PineCroft shopping center where the super-sized Harris Teeter is located are taking a toll on the neighborhood.

But the concerns go beyond impacts to that neighborhood, stretching farther west to the Pinewild gate.

In addition to beefing up landscaping along that stretch, especially to screen homes close to the highway, concerns have also been raised about the NCDOT’s normal maintenance, which includes mowing it only three or four times a year, Sanborn said.

“We are trying to convince the DOT to raise the level of service,” he said of the stretch of highway out to the Pinewild entrance. “Some aren’t happy with the appearance during the intervening time (between mowings).”

The council agreed at the Oct. 27 that the village should work with the residents of the Donald Ross Drive area — who have offered to help cover some of the costs of additional landscaping — and the NCDOT.

Sanborn reported at the meeting that NCDOT officials recognize that there are areas along N.C. 211 west of the village limits where additional landscaping is needed and that they are reviewing the situation to see if additional funding could be allocated.

While residents in the Donald Ross Drive area have expressed their concerns, Sanborn said the village needs to see if others in the village “feel that this is something worth investing more in that area.”

The village had received 64 responses on that issue as of Tuesday. It shows that 32.8 percent are dissatisfied and 15.6 percent were very dissatisfied with the current landscaping/appearance along the stretch maintained by NCDOT from Main Street in Taylortown to the entrance of Pinewild. Another 17.2 percent were very satisfied and 15.6 percent just satisfied, and 18.8 were neutral.

On the question of whether the village should spend more money, 37.5 percent said this area should be maintained to the same standards as the rest of the highway up to the Traffic Circle, while 3.1 percent said only small improvements are needed. Thirty-four percent said they would like to see that stretch look better but that is NCDOT’s responsibility, and 23.4 percent said it looks fine the way it is now.

The deadline for residents to offer feedback on the N.C. 211 issue is 5 p.m. Dec. 18.

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Palm Beach Gardens residents divided over Shady Lakes Drive extension

A brush fire near two schools this summer was the initial spark for renewed conversation extending a quiet, dead-end street, but it’s not the only reason.

Children at a day camp at Timber Trace Elementary School were evacuated when the brush fire started in a wooded area north of 117th Court North in July. Watson B. Duncan Middle School is on the same stretch of road.

+Palm Beach Gardens residents divided over Shady Lakes Drive extension photo

A woman rides her bicycle the morning of Monday, Nov. 23, 2015, along a paved path near where Palm Beach Gardens … read more

The city then set aside $2.5 million in the 2015-2016 budget to connect Shady Lakes Drive to 117th Court North. The road is intended to provide easier access to City Park, the Palm Beach Gardens tennis center and multi-purpose fields.

Randy Kerr, who lives in the Shady Lakes neighborhood, has repeatedly asked city officials to reconsider extending Shady Lakes Drive to 117th Court North. He worries about the danger increased traffic could pose for the children such as his own who walk, ride their bikes or skateboard to school.

“Having traffic come to the schools from both ways is going to be a nightmare,” Kerr said.

Mayor Eric Jablin said the extension is warranted because of the development north of the corridor. The tennis center has expanded, and the city is building new all-purpose fields at City Park, he said.

“Not to mention the two schools over the years have really needed another way out for safety reasons,” Jablin said.

The brush fire, he said, was a “wake-up call.”

Palm Beach County School District spokeswoman Kathy Burstein said some of the right-of-way on 117th Court North is owned by the city and some of it is owned by the school district. When such situations arise, the district usually deeds the right-of-way to the municipality because of liability and maintenance concerns, she said.

JR Holt said she’d like to see a second way in and out for the middle school, where she volunteers and her grandson is in eighth grade. It’s both dangerous and inconvenient to have only one road to access the school, she said.

“I want him to be able to be evacuated in case of a fire in the school or in the vicinity,” Holt said, adding the proposed road could relieve traffic.

Kerr said he opposes any road, but an easement strictly for fire access could be a viable alternative. Police already drive through the area if there’s an issue. Instead of the connector road, the $2.5 million could be used to improve 117th Court North to allow better access to City Park and alleviate school traffic, he said.

City staff has been meeting with homeowner and property owner associations to consider their concerns in future decisions, spokeswoman Candice Temple said. Pedestrian and bicycle access next to the schools and parks are under consideration.

Kerr said he doesn’t want to lose the tranquility that drew his family to the neighborhood or the lush landscaping for which Palm Beach Gardens is known.

“They say they’re such a green city. I wish they’d keep more green space,” he said.

Have a Palm Beach Gardens issue you’d like to see The Post tackle, or a story idea? Contact Sarah Peters at 561-820-4715 or

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Gardening Tips and Highlights


When gardening in many places, I want interested gardeners to have access to plant names, so I place the plant tags next to the plants. Unfortunately, the tags wander off and come spring I would be at a loss as to what was starting to emerge in the garden. Then I had a good senior moment and started to take photos of the plants with the tags-so when the tags wondered off, I still have a record of the plant names. 

Your camera may be the best record-keeping tool you have at your disposal. Once a month take a picture of your garden from the same spot. 

When you review these images you will be able to evaluate your garden on: what is blooming; where additional blooming plants should be added; blank spots; where height, texture, or a new shape should be introduced to the garden; color, is it monochromatic or do you need to add more color, either with flowers or foliage.

  To view more, please log in or subscribe to the digital edition.


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Rice Park’s new design unveiled as fundraising begins –

This is a rendering of what Rice Park could look like if the St. Paul Parks Conservancy raises $1.35 million and the city pitches in some unknown amount of

The girl in the fountain will remain in St. Paul’s Rice Park, though Peppermint Patty is moving to a new garden perch.

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman joined members of the Rice Park Association and the St. Paul Parks and Recreation Department on Monday to kick off a $2.4 million fundraising campaign for a Rice Park makeover.

“We can make it even better,” Coleman said.

Calling the 1.6-acre park an anchor for downtown, Coleman said the city’s first public square is overdue for major improvements. The land was donated to the city by a wealthy benefactor in 1849, but Sen. Henry M. Rice probably never foresaw that the downtown population would swell to nearly 10,000 residents or that the park would draw heavy daily use.

The St. Paul Garden Club has been volunteering in the park since its inception 88 years ago, and members say its last major rehabilitation was in the 1970s. They say the electrical systems are outdated and the granite walkways need to be completely redone.

“The irrigation system was down more than it was up,” said Colleen FitzPatrick, a garden club volunteer who has been heavily involved in the planning. “The lighting was inadequate, making the park a security issue.”

The garden club raised $46,000 last year for concept designs, which were officially unveiled Monday.

The plaza area, where the fountain is located, will be reconfigured as an oval shape with refashioned entryways at all four corners of the park.

In addition to new trees, lighting and expanded garden areas, plans call for a new curved walkway from Washington to Market streets.

The walking path, which would effectively connect the St. Paul Hotel to the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, would be situated behind the stage area across from the fountain.

The fountain and its statue will remain in place, as will the nearby sculpture of St. Paul-born author F. Scott Fitzgerald, but the granite walking surfaces around them will be replaced, most likely with brickwork. An artistic lighting fixture will be added to illuminate the fountain at night.

The goal is to welcome residents, visitors and businesses to a central gathering spot.

“This really is our front yard,” said Amy Mino, executive director of Landmark Center and chair of the Rice Park Association.

The beloved St. Paul cartoonist Charles Schulz will live on in Rice Park through statues modeled after “Peanuts” characters, though Peppermint Patty and Marcie will be moved from their current location on the east side of the park to the southeast perennial gardens.

Walkway lighting at or around waist height is expected to improve security. Some changes will be less visible, such as improvements to irrigation and electrical systems.

To make the concept plans a reality, the Rice Park Association hopes to raise $1.35 million through private fundraising over the next 12 to 18 months, as well as another $1 million or more from the city.

Frederick Melo can be reached at 651-228-2172.

Follow him at

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Chico community rose garden breaks ground – Chico Enterprise

Marilyn Warrens smiles Monday at the site of the new community rose garden she’s been seeking for 10 years, during a ground-breaking at the area between the Chico Community Center and Big Chico Creek, off Vallombrosa Avenue.
Laura Urseny — Enterprise-Record

Chico Marilyn Warrens was more than ready when she was handed a shovel Monday and told where to dig.

“This is like a dream come true.”

Considering it took more than 10 years for Warrens to get to this point, she may have been pinching herself that the ground-breaking for the community rose garden was actually happening.

Warrens jabbed the shovel into the grass along with shovel-carrying board members from the Chico Area Recreation and Park District, which gave the rose garden the go-ahead.

Over the years, Warrens asked a number of agencies, organizations, communities and jurisdictions about building a rose garden for the community, volunteering to donate money to do it.

The CARD board said yes, and inside of two years, the garden is materializing.

It’s more than what Warrens had in mind, but still she called it a gift to the community.

Creekside Rose Garden and Event Center will be the name for what CARD used to call “the meadow,” the grassy area between the Community Center and Big Chico Creek on Vallombrosa Avenue.

For CARD, Warrens’ vision became more than a garden. The meadow is a popular place for weddings and other parties, and the idea of intertwining roses, a stage and places for seating and parties materialized.

CARD is getting calls about weddings in the center already.

At the ground-breaking, Warrens talked about the warm reception her idea got from CARD’s then-General Manager Steve Visconti.

But it was a long trek from that first conversation to Monday, one which included a number of CARD board meetings, committee meetings, trips to other communities’ rose gardens, and a lot of conversations. There were conversations with the city and the Bidwell Park and Playground Commission because the property is actually part of Bidwell Park.

There were discussions about irrigation and pest management, the kinds of roses and how to care for them.

CARD got help from the Melton Design Group in coming up with the garden’s design, and bids were to be opened Monday afternoon for the construction.

Current General Manager Ann Willmann emceed the groundbreaking along with board Chair Jan Sneed.

Willmann thanked Warrens and the Butte Rose Society for their “tireless work.” Members of the society along with most of CARD’s board were in attendance at the groundbreaking.

“We spent many hours around a table picking out roses and working out this plan,” Willmann said. About 107 varieties of roses, with more than 150 plants, will be the final plan for the center, which should be completed by spring 2016.

Willmann said more than 85 bushes have been donated by Mendon’s Nursery in Paradise, which is known for its wide rose selection.

Some details are still being worked out, Willmann said.

Before long, CARD will announce a way for individuals to donate money for a rose bush in a loved one’s name. Volunteers to help tend the roses will be needed in the future.

Of the project’s cost of $290,000, Warrens donated about $125,000.

“This garden will be for everyone,” Warrens said. “It really is for the entire city.

“Chico has been extremely kind to my family and this is a small way to say thank you,” Warrens told the crowd that gathered.

Warrens said of the roses selected for the garden, the pink and white striped Double Delight was her favorite, along with Gemini.

With their expertise in plant and grass management, the CARD staff will likely be planting the roses.

Willmann said the rose garden will be less water hungry than the grass there now.

Heavy equipment is ripping out the current lawn and will be grading and leveling the area. Concrete work will be done on the pathways, seating and stage, and then the irrigation system will be installed and the roses planted, said Willmann,

who is available at 895-4711 about further garden details.

Contact reporter Laura Urseny at 896-7756.

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