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Archives for December 8, 2015

Ann Arbor council members not bending to requests to call off deer cull

The controversy over the Ann Arbor City Council’s decision to hire sharpshooters to kill 100 deer in city parks this winter continued to play out inside city hall Monday night.

Members of a group called FAWN, standing for Friends of Ann Arbor Wildlife and Nature, showed up to the City Council’s meeting to protest the planned cull, which was approved 10-1 last month and could start in January.

Members of the group, which is distancing itself from a recall effort led by another group called Save the Deer Ann Arbor, are calling for a one-year moratorium on culling to allow time for closer evaluation of nonlethal methods.

“News of the lethal cull has polarized Ann Arbor as never before, and heated words have been exchanged,” said Jennifer Robertson, a University of Michigan anthropology professor and one of the FAWN members who addressed council.

“Most troubling to me on ethical grounds is the council’s support of gun violence as a first resort — a violent quick fix,” Robertson told council members.

“Moreover, the efficacy of killing off deer has not been established. What is clear is that culling is not actually a quick fix but a perennial fix, as it does not get to the root of the perceived problem. We do not know the specifics of the so-called deer problem because a grounded, systematic, professional, scientific survey has never been commissioned or conducted here in Ann Arbor.”

Council members continued to defend their position in favor of a deer cull, arguing a reduction in the population is necessary to restore ecological balance and prevent damage to the city’s natural areas and residents’ landscaping and gardens. An aerial survey earlier this year counted 168 deer in areas in and around the city.

Ann Arbor City Council members hear from a representative of Friends of Ann Arbor Wildlife and Nature on Dec. 7, 2015. Council Member Julie Grand, D-3rd Ward, said she doesn’t see the cull planned for this winter being stopped at this point.

“We’ve heard those requests coming through email, and my response to the constituents is that we had a year-long public process, we voted on this issue, we have a plan, and we will evaluate that plan at regular intervals,” she said. “So, I think the initial decisions have been made, and there will be discussions in the future, and we’ll have more data to have those discussions.”

As for the argument that there’s not enough scientific evidence to support a deer cull in Ann Arbor, council members disagree.

“I think we have some reports at the county and city level that have actually demonstrated real damage to our natural areas,” Grand said, adding there also have been studies done in other communities showing damage caused by deer.

“And I don’t believe their deer are that much different than our deer, so I believe the damage to our natural areas is real.”

Council Member Kirk Westphal, D-2nd Ward, said he’s happy with the amount of research and the public process that was done.

“I’m glad that some of these folks were part of that public process. Others chose not to be,” he said. “And I think it’s a closed matter at this point.”

Lisa Abrams, another FAWN member who addressed the council, said her group has about 75 members. About a dozen or so showed up Monday night.

Abrams cited a May 2015 report from the city’s administration on the city’s findings about the deer population in Ann Arbor.

“Anecdotal information about species and environmental destruction in the city’s natural areas has been furnished to the city,” the report states. “These residents question if the city is consciously favoring one species over many others and why the city is not being more vigorous in protecting its investment in natural areas and parks (over 1,200 acres) from deer.”

Abrams noted the report recommended developing a process to measure the environmental impact of the deer on the city’s natural areas.

“Was this done? No,” Abrams told council members, going on to cite an August 2014 report from the city’s administration that stated: “City parks, including city golf courses, have not had vegetation damage by deer.”

Abrams reminded council members they directed the city’s administration to develop a community-supported deer management plan. Pointing to the lack of community consensus on culling, she said that criteria hasn’t been met. A survey done by the city found 43 percent of residents are against using lethal methods.

Abrams noted the city’s survey of residents also showed only 22 percent of residents consider deer a nuisance. About 41 percent of survey respondents said they enjoy seeing and having deer around, while another 33 percent said they enjoy seeing a few deer but worry about the problems they may cause.

Abrams further argued the survey shows a majority of residents haven’t tried fencing or repellents or deer-resistant plantings to keep deer away from their properties. She said that should be tried first before resulting to killing.

“There is no factual basis for this decision,” she said. “And with 81 percent of residents expressing their No. 1 concern is public safety, and the city administrator report recommends development of a formal plan in partnership with local stakeholders, you have not lived up to your words and you have let us down.”

Council Member Chuck Warpehoski, D-5th Ward, said he still thinks the city is taking a scientifically sound approach to resolve a real problem.

“If your doctor tells you you have melanoma, you don’t say, ‘Well, maybe we need to watch and wait and do a moratorium on removing it.’ There’s adequate data about what melanoma does in a body,” he said. “Just because we don’t have site-specific vegetative counts based on deer population doesn’t mean the data of deer overpopulation on other ecosystems is invalid.

“We can look at a lot of other Great Lakes ecosystems and various data about deer overpopulation impacts, we can take field observations about changes in deer grazing habitat. Applying research in other areas to the Ann Arbor area is a scientific approach,” he said, adding there have been field observations by people he trusts who have identified damage caused by deer.

“There’s always going to be some deer grazing of oak saplings. That’s normal,” Warpehoski said. “But when the local chapter of the Michigan Botanical Club sees that their members are seeing a decrease in floral diversity, that’s evidence that something is out of whack.”

Robertson encouraged council members to look at the research on male deer reproductive control by Uma Ramakrishnan, an environmental science professor at Juniata College in Pennsylvania. Ramakrishnan was chief deer research biologist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station from 2000 to 2005.

Robertson, who said she has lived in Ann Arbor for 25 years and in Ann Arbor Hills since 1998, encouraged council to stop the cull and organize a committee of urban animal management experts and trained surveyors to conduct a comprehensive study and consult with scientists who are innovating in nonlethal methods.

She said Ramakrishnan’s findings on the sterilization of large or dominant bucks deserves consideration.

“Her method does not involve either castration or hormone treatments,” she said. “Rather, she has developed a method that involves darting and tranquilizing the buck, tagging it, and injecting a scarring agent that effectively plugs the duct behind the testes through which the sperm pass en route to the urethra. In her publications, she notes the many advantages of a nonlethal focus on male deer.”

She added, “In another of Dr. Ramakrishnan’s studies, she has shown that thus far the one thing that prevents 100 percent of deer damage is fencing. Woven-wire fence are the most effective, but others are, too.

“So, in addition to exploring new nonlethal strategies such as buck sterilization, I would encourage the City Council to review fencing regulations in Ann Arbor, with a view to trying that approach first. I would also encourage the council to actively invest in educating residents on strategies of coexisting with urban animals, and deer are but one type living in our midst. More knowledge is always a good thing.”

Absent additional council action, city staff is going to continue to implement the policy council has approved, said Tom Crawford, interim city administrator.

Sabra Sanzotta, organizer for Save the Deer Ann Arbor, said last week she was planning to try to recall several council members who voted for the cull. She already filed recall petition language against Westphal and hopes to find residents in other wards to file petitions against their council members.

Sanzotta said Monday night that several individuals contacted her privately, saying they would like to consider filing recall petitions in their wards, but when she saw them at their Sunday meeting, FAWN’s executive committee had decided not to engage in the recall effort. She said that was very disappointing, but she’s still working on lining up people to file more recall petitions.

Ryan Stanton covers the city beat for The Ann Arbor News. Reach him at

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Finding the right landscape professional

Keeping a well-groomed, beautiful yard can be a burden during a drought, but it doesn’t have to be. The right landscape professional can help turn your withering yard into a sanctuary that is water-conscious, low maintenance, and provides noticeable cost-savings when the water bill arrives.

In California, the water used to irrigate landscaping accounts for more than 50 percent of total residential water consumption. Landscape professionals influence water use by advising which plants should be used and by managing irrigation systems.

Homeowners and businesses frequently hire landscape professionals to assist with planning their yards and gardens. A landscape professional might be hired to design and install a new landscape, to renovate an existing landscape, or to provide maintenance services. Regardless of their role, it is important to ensure that the professional has the skills needed to effectively perform their duties for the region in which they are working.

In California, any landscape construction that totals more than $500 for labor and materials must be conducted by a licensed contractor. You can find licensed landscape contractors through the Contractor State License Board under classification C-27. The California Landscape Contractors Association is a trade organization of licensed landscape and landscape-related contractors, and is a great place to start when looking for a licensed contractor.

Landscape professionals can also differentiate themselves by obtaining specialty certifications to indicate that they are proficient in specific fields such as water management or sustainable landscaping. The Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper professional certification program is offered by the Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership to landscape professionals in Sonoma and Marin counties. QWEL is an EPA WaterSense professional certification program in irrigation auditing. Mendocino County does not have an equivalent certification program, but it is still worth seeking out landscapers who are familiar with water saving techniques.

Professional certification programs provide landscape professionals with education and instruction on plant science, local water supply systems, principles of proper plant selection for the local climate, irrigation system design and maintenance, and irrigation system programming and operation.

Certified professionals are well positioned to provide landscape services to homeowners and businesses that want to cut outdoor water use. Such services can include auditing an existing irrigation system, removing turf, converting to a drip irrigation, and optimizing irrigation system performance with proper programming throughout the year.

With California in its fourth year of drought, it is increasingly important that residents act collectively to decrease outdoor water usage. Whether you hire a landscape professional or are a home gardener, the resources listed below are intended to support environmentally-friendly landscaping and to aid in the protection and conservation of the Russian River Watershed:

· Russian River-Friendly Landscape Guidelines:

· Sonoma County Master Gardeners:

· Mendocino County Master Gardeners:

· Water Wise Gardening:

· Qualified Water Efficient Landscapers:

This article was authored by Gregory Plumb of the Sonoma County Water Agency, on behalf of RRWA. RRWA ( is an association of local public agencies in the Russian River Watershed that have come together to coordinate regional programs for clean water, fisheries restoration, and watershed enhancement.

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‘Caring for Crape Myrtles’ — popular landscape plants

Lake County Extension Office’s “Saturday in the Garden” “Caring for Crape Myrtles”

The University of Florida/Lake County Extension Office’s next “Saturday in the Garden,” a speaker series featuring Florida-friendly landscaping, will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at the agricultural center, 1951 Woodlea Road in Tavares.

Brooke Moffis, residential horticulture agent, will present this month’s program, “Caring for Crape Myrtles.”

Crape myrtle might well be the most widely planted ornamental in Florida. It is a fast-growing plant favored for its long-lasting, colorful blooms, attractive peeling bark and ease of maintenance.

Topics will include proper pruning, fertilization and care of crape myrtles, as well as the newest cultivars as crape myrtles come in a variety of sizes and color.

Participants are welcome to visit the Discovery Gardens next to the center following the class. The outdoor learning center is on 3.5 acres, which features a variety of themed gardens.

The fee for the class is $5 for adults. To register, visit by 2 p.m. Friday .

For more information, call 352-343-4101.


Marc Minno, a biologist and author, along with mothing enthusiast, Cheri Pierce, will present “Mothing” from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday at B.B. Brown’s Gardens at the Florida Scrub-Jay Trail, 11490 Monte Vista Road in Clermont.

Participants should bring a lawn chair to view the numerous colorful species of moths.

A $2 donation is suggested.

Reservations are required by calling 352-429-5566 or email

Be a Santa to a Senior

Home Instead Senior Care’s Be a Santa to a Senior program, which provides a list of local seniors who may not receive any Christmas presents, is collecting gifts.

There are two trees filled with ornaments at Via Port Florida mall (formerly Lake Square Mall), 10401 U.S. Highway 441 in Leesburg. Each ornament will represent a senior’s first name along with their gift requests, such as slippers, socks or pharmacy gift card.

Donors selecting one of the ornaments should purchase and return unwrapped gifts to the mall by Dec. 16.

Volunteers will wrap and distribute the gifts to seniors.

Club luncheon meeting

The Bertha Hereford Hall Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution will have its Christmas luncheon meeting at 10:30 a.m. Friday at Leesburg Community Building, 109 E. Dixie Ave., in Venetian Gardens. Jerry Peacock will present “Women in American History.”

Details: Peggy Sloan, 352-429-2630.

Long-term care seminar

Representatives from Bankers Life and Casualty Company will present a free seminar on long-term care seminar for adults older than 65 at 10 a.m. Wednesday at W.T. Bland Public Library, 1995 N. Donnelly St., Mount Dora.

Refreshments will be served. There will be a drawing for $25.

Holiday concert

The Lake Concert Band, under the direction of John Landers, will present a free holiday concert from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the Mount Dora Community Building, 520 N. Baker St.

Landers who has composed several pieces including “Fanfare and Carols for Christmas” will be performed during the concert.

The city of Mount Dora and Lake Cares Food Pantry are presenting the event.

Monetary donations and nonperishable food items will be accepted to benefit Lake Cares Food Pantry.

Food, film, cars

Leesburg will have Food Truck-N-Flick Night from 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday in Towne Square, 510 W. Main St., downtown. There also will be a classic cruise-in and car show along Main Street.

Nathan Leslie will perform from 5 to 7 p.m.

Participants also can see a free movie at 7:15 on a 24-foot-high outdoor movie screen. The Free Movie Nights film will be “Arthur Christmas,” an animated film about a scramble to deliver a missing gift.

Families are encouraged to bring a blanket or lawn chairs to watch the movie.


Medicare help

Trained volunteer counselors with Florida’s Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders are available to answer Medicare questions and help seniors sort through plan choices. The counselors can give you unbiased guidance in browsing plans and can help you look up information and compare plans.

SHINE volunteers also conduct educational presentations about Medicare Part D changes.

For more information or to schedule a presentation call the SHINE help line at 1-800-963-5337 or go to

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Gardening with Malcolm Campbell

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Gardening Tips for December – Stephenville Empire

Posted Dec. 8, 2015 at 10:17 AM
Updated at 10:19 AM

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Gardeners give tips for green-thumb gifts – Herald

When I asked master gardeners what holiday gifts make their green thumbs happy, they said tools, books and practical stuff they can use in the garden.

So, struggling elves, here are some of their top picks:

Tools are always welcome, particularly quality tools we career tightwads may hesitate to buy for ourselves.

Look for stainless steel blades on tools like shovels. Ergonomic designs are a plus since they let us work smarter with less stress on our bodies.

Trowels and hand pruners are always good choices. Everyone needs them and appreciates a spare.

I know of no gardener who doesn’t have lust in their heart for a hori-hori knife. This Japanese knife with a beveled, serrated blade can be used to plant, dig, cut, trim and transplant.

Other favorites are cobra-head weeders, loppers with extending handles, yard carts and garden kneelers. Personally, I love the Haws watering can I got 10 years ago. It’s handsome, functional and long-lasting.

For someone who loves all things vintage, consider an antique – or at least not-new – tool.

I have some oldies-but-goodies in my collection. A few came from my dad, but some were scrounged at yard sales, antique shops and barn sales.

Stumped as to what someone needs? Just ask. We love getting what we need. Every gardener has a secret wish list.

Where do you find quality tools? Local garden centers often have a good selection and online offerings abound. Favorite sites include Lee Valley, A.M. Leonard and Gardener’s Supply.

Sturdy gloves and gardening aprons with lots of pockets also get high marks as gifts from our master gardeners.

And they appreciate gift certificates that let them peruse a catalog, website, or garden center to pick just the seeds, tools and plants they want.

Grab a gift certificate at a local nursery or get one online at a dozen different sites from Johnny’s Seeds to Botanical Interests or any of the sites I’ve already mentioned.

Gift certificates to public gardens are welcome as well. Longwood Gardens, Monticello, Hillwood and others offer tickets and membership options online. Click. Order. Ho, ho, ho.

Books are perennial favorites (couldn’t resist the pun.) Among the ones we love are the “Vegetable Gardener’s Bible,” “Square Foot Gardening” and “The Well-Tended Perennial Garden.”

Anything by Rodale or the American Horticultural Society is good in my book (there I go again.)

A magazine subscription is a gift that gives all year long. Popular in gardening circles are Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Life.

Consider giving the gift of time to a busy gardener. A handmade gift certificate for an hour of weeding or planting costs little and means so much.

Also appreciated are practical gifts of mulch, soil, compost or manure.

Nothing says, “I care,” like a truckload of poop.

Did I get your creative gift-giving juices flowing? I hope so. Making it merry for a gardener is all about giving them something they want or need or simply the gift of your time.

Give yourself a gift this holiday by becoming a master gardener. You will learn, teach, share and give back in a vibrant community of gardeners.

To learn more, send me an email at

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THE WATCHDOGS: To make way for DePaul arena, taxpayers paid $8 million to move … – Chicago Sun

After 126 years, the stately Harriet Rees House was left standing all by itself, surrounded by vacant lots ripe for another expansion of McCormick Place, Chicago’s sprawling convention center.

Then, officials with the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, the government agency that owns McCormick Place, decided those vacant lots would become the new home for the DePaul University basketball team.

And the Rees House had to go.

Not quite 25 feet wide, the lot at 2110 S. Prairie Ave was the tiniest chunk of land McPier wanted for the arena and event center it’s building. But, based on size, that narrow parcel turned out to be the most expensive property the authority bought for the ongoing project.

McPier paid $450,000 for the land. But that was only a small portion of the total cost, records show. The agency — overseen by appointees of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and former Gov. Pat Quinn — spent more than $8 million to acquire the lot last year, the records show.

Most of that was spent on moving the three-story house and its coach house one block north, to a vacant lot at 2017 S. Prairie Ave., next door to another historic home, the William H. Reid House.

Moving the house has also involved 21 months of legal wrangling, which continues before a Cook County judge over the owner’s claims for repairs and months of lost rent.

Here’s a breakdown of the money taxpayers have spent to move a piece of Chicago’s history:

• $450,000 went to buy the Rees land from the family of Salvatore “Sam” Martorina, an architect convicted in the mid-1990s in a crackdown on slumlords. Martorina now has a city license to run an expediting company that helps contractors get building permits from City Hall.

• $1.88 million went to buy a vacant lot from Oscar Tatosian, the owner of Oscar Isberian Rugs, where the Rees House now sits.  Tatosian had bought the lot and the neighboring historic home, the Reid House, in 2002, paying $1.5 million for both properties, which he bought with the help of the law firm Neal Leroy — the firm McPier later hired to seize Tatosian’s land to give it to Martorina for the Rees House.

McPier’s settlement with Tatosian included $264,206 for his lawyer, Jack George, and George’s firm Schuyler Roche Chrisham. George spent decades as a partner at the law firm Daley George with the former mayor’s brother, Michael Daley.

McPier officials say they have no appraisals to determine the value of the land they seized from either Tatosian or Martorina.

• $5.8 million went to contractors, engineers and movers — all hired by Neal Leroy, on behalf of McPier — to relocate the 762-ton Rees House and its 187-ton coach house to Tatosian’s former property. Among the things that covered were a new foundation, repairs to the interior and exterior of the home, security, landscaping and “labor harmony,” which cost $206,004, according to bills from Bulley Andrews, the general contractor. The contractor didn’t return calls seeking comment.

As a protected landmark, the Rees House couldn’t be moved without permission from the Illinois attorney general’s office, City Hall and the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois.

The landmarks group agreed, according to its president, Bonnie McDonald, out of fear that opposing it might prompt McPier to file suit  to demolish the Rees House. The home is one of the few remaining mansions on Prairie Avenue, once home to such prominent Chicago families as the Armours and the Fields.

“It’s our responsibility legally to protect the property,’’ McDonald says. “This was a choice that MPEA made to identify the land for this project. The choice was made to pursue that property knowing that a house with historic value was on it . . . We negotiated with MPEA to save the building.”

McPier spokeswoman Mary Kay Marquisos says the site was “determined to be the most optimal location for the event center . . . very accessible for convention attendees and conveniently located near existing MPEA parking lots and public transportation.”

The event center, which includes the DePaul basketball arena, is across the street from McPier’s offices at 301 E. Cermak Rd. It’s part of a $540 million project that also includes a connecting hotel.

McPier and DePaul are to split the cost of the $140 million arena and event center. McPier will pay for the $400 million hotel, with the help of $55 million in tax-increment financing from Emanuel.

the Rees House was moved to this vacant lot on South Prairie Avenue.  Sun-Times file photo

The Rees House was moved to this vacant lot on South Prairie Avenue. Sun-Times file photo

McPier has spent more than $66 million buying land for the hotel and arena. That includes the cost of moving the Rees House.

The authority is funding the project with money it borrowed by issuing bonds that will be repaid with various taxes. The agency now owes a total of nearly $2.7 billion for bonds it’s issued since 1992 and anticipates spending about $11.5 billion, including interest, to repay them by the time they come due in 2053.

The Rees House was built by Harriet Rees, widow of real estate pioneer James H. Rees. She bought the lot for $15,000 and spent $20,000 in 1888 to build the Romanesque Revival structure, which was designed by the architecture firm of Cobb Frost, according to city records. Rees died four years later. Over the years, the home also has been used as a boarding house and a restaurant.

The Rees House last changed hands in 2001, when it was sold for $750,000 to Ignazio Martorina and his wife Paulette. He was the owner of a bookbinding company who, along with his son, was arrested in 1995 as part of a Daley administration crackdown on slumlords. The Martorinas were charged with misdemeanors, accused of recklessly allowing a 32-unit building at Grand and Ashland to fall into disrepair that resulted in more than 50 code violations. The elder Martorina was found innocent. Sam Martorina was found guilty and sentenced to 200 hours of community service.

Since then, Sam Martorina has become active in politics, giving a total of more than $10,000 to the campaigns of politicians including Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th) and Ald. Walter Burnett (27th).

Over the past decade, in addition to operating his business expediting permits at City Hall, Martorina has designed homes in the 11th Ward built by the politically connected Bertucci family.

The Martorina family obtained landmark protection for the Rees House from the Landmarks Preservation Council in 2007 and from City Hall in March 2012.

Six months after City Hall declared the Rees House a Chicago landmark, Chicago Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed revealed Emanuel’s plans to build an arena for DePaul near McCormick Place — a project the mayor announced in May 2013.

Neal Leroy — which McPier and other government agencies routinely hire when they need a law firm to acquire land — then began working to get the Rees House.

One of Neal Leroy’s attorneys, Meg George, whose father had been retained by Tatosian, filed an application with the city on Feb. 4, 2014, to rezone Tatosian’s land to accommodate the Rees House.

“Meg went in to get the zoning change,” Jack George says. “She was not involved in the condemnation case at all. That would not have been proper for me. I never had one meeting with her. I met with Michael Leroy” — a partner in Neal Leroy.

Neal Leroy filed suit in Cook County court on behalf of McPier on March 14, 2014, to acquire the Martorina and Tatosian properties.

On May 30, 2014, Cook County Circuit Judge Robert Lopez Cepero approved the settlement.

Martorina’s compensation included unspecified payments for helping obtain city permits to move his house, court records show.

Martorina “wanted to keep the property,” his attorney Leo Cinquino says. “It was important to his father. They had remodeled it . . . My client gets to keep the house and gets a nice property.”

Tatosian “wasn’t thrilled with all of the property being taken from him,” George says. “They only left us with a 23-foot-wide lot.”

Tatosian was living on the North Shore in 2002 when he paid $1.5 million to buy the Reid House, built in 1894, and the adjacent lot. He began restoring the house, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places a year after he bought it.

Oscar Tatosian.  File pnoto

Oscar Tatosian. File photo

Tatosian says he’s happy with the deal he made to give up the lot, which allowed the Rees House to be placed right on the lot line it shares with Tatosian’s historic home.

Tatosian also had to grant Martorina a permanent easement because Martorina can’t access the north side of the Rees House without crossing Tatosian’s property.

“It’s good for the city,” Tatosian says. “You can’t hold back progress. I admire what the mayor is doing for the city.

“Can you put a price on preserving the history of the city? I think it looks better, the street. I open my house every year for the Glessner House tour. I share it with people. It’s interesting history, interesting architecture. For me, it’s a stewardship.”

The Rees House — which Martorina’s family has leased to tenants —has occasionally been opened to the public for tours, though there’s nothing requiring public access to the home that cost taxpayers a fortune to move.


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Want to Support the Local Food Movement? Grow flowers for pollinators.

December 7, 2015

Want to Support the Local Food Movement? Grow flowers for pollinators.

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Our local bees and other pollinators (moths, wasps, butterflies) are critical to many foods grown locally, including apples, squash, and alfalfa (which is forage for beef and dairy herds).

According to an article by Eric Mader of the University of Minnesota, the United States alone grows more than one hundred crops that either need or benefit from pollinators. But even though the amount of cropland requiring insect pollination is at an all-time high, the number of managed honeybee colonies in the U.S. has dropped by 50 percent since 1945. Diseases, parasitic mites and Colony Collapse Disorder have created a honeybee crisis.

Before the honeybee was introduced from Europe in the 1600s, over 300 species of wild bees were native to Pennsylvania, including bumble bees, mason bees, mining bees, sweat bees and others. Many of these bees are more efficient crop pollinators than the non-native honeybee—especially for New World fruits and vegetables like pumpkin, tomato, cranberry, and blueberry.

Unfortunately, research shows declining native bee numbers across the country, including the possible extinction of some species. While our native bees are not affected by the same disease and parasite problems as honeybees, they are facing unprecedented habitat loss.

Gardener’s can help both wild and honey bees by incorporating local plant species into residential landscaping. Penn State has a wonderful resource on what to plant. 

For more information and more ideas about other ways to support local pollinators, see the Penn State Extension Pollinator Certification Program

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Georgia DOT unveiling details, answering questions Tuesday for LaFayette Road …

LaFayette Road  in Fort Oglethorpe

LaFayette Road in Fort Oglethorpe

This is LaFayette Road in Fort Oglethorpe, looking south. The LaFayette Road corridor project, known as Gateway to Chickamauga Battlefield, runs a little less than a mile, from Battlefield Parkway (Ga. Highway 2) southward to Chickamauga Battlefield (Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park). (Catoosa News photo/Natasha Colbaugh)

Posted: Monday, December 7, 2015 3:41 pm

Updated: 4:38 pm, Mon Dec 7, 2015.

Georgia DOT unveiling more details, answering questions Tuesday for LaFayette Road project in Fort Oglethorpe

Press release

A public information open house to discuss the Georgia DOT’s proposed project for streetscape improvements along LaFayette Road corridor in Fort Oglethorope is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 8, from 5-7 p.m.

The meeting will be held at the Catoosa County Colonnade at 264 Catoosa Circle in Ringgold.

The open house will be informal and the public is invited to attend anytime between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Those who come to the open house will be able to speak individually with DOT officials, ask questions and get more details on the project.

The meeting site is accessible to people with disabilities. Accommodations for people with disabilities can be arranged with advance notice by calling Cherie Marsh at (678) 721-5257.

Catoosa County’s residents interested in learning more about the proposed project are encouraged to attend the meeting and express their thoughts and preferences.

“We would like to hear the viewpoints and concerns of all area residents,” said DeWayne Comer, district engineer at the Georgia DOT office in Cartersville.

The proposed plans call for streetscape improvements along the LaFayette Road corridor. The project extends along LaFayette Road from Harker Road to Battlefield Parkway (Ga. Highway 2).

The proposed section for LaFayette Road is a 60-foot-wide roadway consisting of two lanes in each direction separated by a raised median. The inside travel lanes would be 11-feet wide and the outside travel lanes would be 14 feet wide and utilized as shared use bicycle lanes. The raised median would be 10-feet wide and incorporate left turn lanes at selected locations. The shoulder section would be 14 feet wide with 2.5-foot curb and gutter, a 5-foot sidewalk and a 5½-foot landscape strip between the curb and sidewalk.

Existing driveways and curb cut ramps would be reconstructed to meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards. Pedestrian amenities would be proposed that include benches, trash receptacles, and pedestrian lighting. All amenities would be located in front of the sidewalk in the landscape strip.

Decorative crosswalks would be proposed at intersections with Harker Road, Forrest Road/West Forrest Avenue, Gilbert Drive, Battlefield Parkway (Ga. Highway 2), and at a mid-block crossing. The decorative crosswalk would be red concrete with a stamped brick pattern.

Landscaping would be proposed within the raised median and in the landscape strip provided behind the sidewalk. The landscaping would consist of trees, shrubbery, and mulching.

“The Georgia DOT strongly believes that since this project is intended to serve the people of Catoosa County, the ideas and preferences of these people are important,” Comer said. “This meeting will provide the public with an opportunity to review the proposed project, ask questions, and express their preferences.”

The open house will be informal and the public is invited to attend anytime between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. The meeting site is accessible to people with disabilities. Accommodations for people with disabilities can be arranged with advance notice by calling Cherie Marsh at (678) 721-5257.

Written statements will be accepted concerning this project until Dec. 13. Written statements may be submitted to: Mr. Glenn Bowman, P.E., State Environmental Administrator, Georgia Department of Transportation, 600 West Peachtree Street, NW – 16th Floor, Atlanta, GA 30308

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Monday, December 7, 2015 3:41 pm.

Updated: 4:38 pm.

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Fort Oglethorpe,

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