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Archives for December 28, 2015

Miracle-GroB. Showcases the Beauty of the Golden State by Certifying Their …

MARYSVILLE, Ohio, Dec. 28, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Miracle-Gro®, is proud to celebrate “Life Starts Here” with its 2016 Rose Parade float entry. The company is saluting California’s high quality locally grown floral industry and “nature’s pollinators” that keep the beauty of magnificent crops so abundant throughout the state.

Over 85% of the fresh flowers and foliage that adorn Miracle-Gro’s float will come from within the State of California, which qualifies this floral masterpiece for the prestigious “California Grown Certification”. The float’s sensational display of California grown flowers represents all farming regions of California. Featured throughout this inspiring floral exhibit are drought tolerant landscaping plants from California including cacti, succulents, flax and agaves.

“We are proud that Miracle-Gro is the first major brand to use materials that support and celebrate California farmers and local growers at the Tournament of Roses,” said John Sass, Vice President and General Manager of Miracle-Gro. “This year’s float not only reminds of us of the Rose Parade’s origins, it puts a focus on sustainable flowers that inspire consumers to dig in and discover their own piece of earth.”

“Miracle-Gro’s commitment to focus on the important movement toward California Grown and sustainable flowers is a celebration of what makes California special,” said Kasey Cronquist, CCFC CEO and Ambassador. “This is an honorable effort by a nationally recognized consumer brand to bring back the true meaning and tradition of the Tournament of Roses Parade and to support the farmers that contribute $1.7 million to California’s economy every day.”

Meet the Californians Supporting CA GROWN Float Initiative
Joining Miracle-Gro in Pasadena, California is TV personality Ty Pennington who returns for the second year. Ty will be onsite prior to the parade to help decorate the float alongside more than 400 volunteers as well as riding the float on New Year’s Day. Joining Ty on the float this year will be the company’s “Miracle-Groers.” These Miracle-Groers consist of two California farmers and three community gardeners from across the state who were selected due to their passion for gardening and commitment to sharing their love of the outdoors with others. Miracle-Gro is the first major brand to use flowers from the personal gardens of consumers for a Rose Parade float. All Miracle-Groers and California farms participating this year have been critical to completing the 85% required minimum required to be California Grown certified.

Bonnie Jo Manion (Based in San Diego Region) is a garden writer, speaker and photographer that has been gardening for 15 years. Bonnie loves the creative aspect of gardening as she views it as an art form, and enjoys working with her hands in dirt and soil and making something that others can enjoy.

Mud Baron (Based in Pasadena – Los Angeles Region) is volunteer lead at the Muir Ranch gardens located on the campus of John Muir High School in Pasadena. The two acre urban farm grows more than 1,000 produce items per month.

Susan Phillips (Based in Clovis – Fresno Region) started a creative blog to inspire and be inspired with her home gardening, sewing, crafting and cooking projects. As a CA Grown program supporter in Northern California, she regularly plants snapdragons, cabbage, onion, and kale in her home garden.

Harry Van Wingerden (Based in Santa Barbara Region) owns and operates Myriad Flowers International with his wife, which brings over 35 years of growing experience where they specialize in Hydroponic Roses, Pompon Chrysanthemums and a wide variety of field cut flowers.

Mel Resendiz (Based in FallBrook – San Diego Region) runs Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers alongside his family, which offers an extensive selection of Protea, Pincushions, Banksia, Kangaroo Paws, Leucadendron, Filler Flowers and Foliages, as well as many hybrid varieties.

The magnitude of flowers and foliage that adorn the Miracle-Gro float come from nearby California flower fields. The float has approximately 15 California farms involved this year. On December 31, the Buy California Marketing Committee (BCMA) and the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC) will recognize Miracle-Gro with a certification ceremony for their commitment to California’s flower farmers held at Fiesta Float Barn where the Rose Parade floats are being housed and built prior to Parade Day.

For more information please go to and check out the #CAGROWN, #RoseParade and #LifeStartsHere hashtags and follow @MiracleGro to watch the Tournament of Roses conversation on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

About ScottsMiracle-Gro
With approximately $3 billion in worldwide sales, The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company is the world’s largest marketer of branded consumer products for lawn and garden care. The Company’s brands are the most recognized in the industry. In the U.S., the Company’s Scotts®, Miracle-Gro® and Ortho® brands are market-leading in their categories, as is the consumer Roundup® brand, which is marketed in North America and most of Europe exclusively by Scotts and owned by Monsanto. In the U.S., we operate Scotts LawnService®, the second largest residential lawn care service business.  In Europe, the Company’s brands include Weedol®, Pathclear®, Evergreen®, Levington®, Miracle-Gro®, KB®, Fertiligène® and Substral®.  In 2015, the Company ranked on Forbes 100 Most Reputable Companies in America. For additional information, visit us at

About the Pasadena Tournament of Roses®
The Tournament of Roses is a volunteer organization that annually hosts the Rose Parade®, the Rose Bowl Game® and a variety of associated events.  Nine hundred thirty-five volunteer members act as ambassadors of the organization and contribute upwards of 80,000 hours of manpower each year.  The 127th Rose Parade presented by Honda and themed “Find Your Adventure,” will take place Friday, January 1, 2016, followed by the 102nd Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual.  Learn more at and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

About the California Cut Flower Commission
The California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC) is a state agency created in 1990 by the Legislature to advocate and promote California cut flowers and foliage farmers. For more information about California Grown flowers, visit

About the Buy California Marketing Agreement and the “California Grown” Program
The Buy California Marketing Agreement (BCMA) is a joint effort of agricultural industry groups representing the products of California’s farms and ranches. Working as an advisory board to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, BCMA brings together industry and government resources to increase the awareness, consumption and value of California agricultural products, helping the state’s consumers enjoy the best of the California lifestyle. For more information, visit


For media inquiries:
Kim Markus
The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company 
Annika Tunberg	
Zeno Group for The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company

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At Tucson’s Canyon Ranch spa, stressed guests learn to stroll instead of run

I hate yoga. With a passion. I once gave it four months — three days a week of namastes, shivasanas and warrior poses. At the end of this trial period, my downward dog still looked every bit as much as a dead one as it did at the beginning. And the last five minutes of class — corpse pose, where you lie there doing nothing — were excruciating. My quads quivered and my calves cramped and I wasn’t supposed to move.

Rather than restorative and empowering, yoga stressed me out, while crushing both my self-confidence and triceps.

In March I took myself to Canyon Ranch in Tucson, not only for the 80-degree weather, but also to get over my aversion to the practice, which was part of a larger plan to learn to relax and rest. Eleven weeks prior, I was, out of the blue and at age 39, diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer.

By the time Bob, one of Canyon Ranch’s drivers, met me at the Tucson airport, I had lost 18 pounds, endured three of six rounds of chemotherapy, couldn’t relax and had trouble sleeping. Cancer hadn’t changed my Type A personality. Doing nothing was still more difficult for me than a downward dog.

It’s entirely possible chronic overdoing and its associated stress have nothing to do with my MS or cancer, but because Tucson was warm and Canyon Ranch has a rolling 150-acre cellphone-free campus (with the exception of designated areas) full of aromatic gardens, tranquil fountains, meditation spaces and hummingbirds, what was the harm of trying it?

The “Muscle Melt” massage is one of many options at Canyon Ranch. (Canyon Ranch Resort)

Did I mention the biggest building on Canyon Ranch’s campus is an 80,000-square-foot spa with 26 massage rooms, one spa suite, four facial rooms, two rooms for body treatments, nine separate gyms and a yoga pavilion?

One could argue that such an outsize spa is necessary to combat the effects of the wellness resort’s 50-plus daily class options and activities, including DJ Dance Party; Wallyball; Don’t Worry, Bead Happy; a photography hike; Stretch Express; a drumming circle; a golf clinic: putting; indoor cycling and cooking classes. Also about one dozen yoga classes.

I won’t make that argument, though, because Canyon Ranch does not encourage excess or extremes, whether with exercise, alcohol or food.

Its daily happy hour serves mocktails, salt is only available upon request and menus list the number of calories and amount of carbohydrates, protein, fat, fiber and sodium in every choice. But guests are free to, and sometimes do, leave campus for dinner and drinks. The dinner menu at Canyon Ranch can include tuna tartare, Moroccan stew and butternut squash risotto topped with fresh Alaskan salmon. At lunch there are fresh-baked cookies.

Guests stay in casitas, small Spanish-style bungalows, and a bellhop put me in the wrong one. But I was already unpacked and had tested the Italian Mascioni sheets by the time the error was discovered, so I stayed where I was, and proceeded to jump into ranch life. Or rather, because I was here to try to slow down, I strolled into ranch life.

From the back seat of the golf cart that brought me to my casita I had noticed a sign for the start of a two-mile walk. An hour or so before sunset, the light was straight out of a Georgia O’Keeffe painting — blinding and pure. With the walk’s start only a couple hundred feet from my front door, near the resort’s tennis courts, I decided it was the perfect way to enjoy the evening. Also, two miles was just about the distance I could cover before my dinner reservation (which, I learned, had to be made early in the stay unless I wanted to eat at 5:30 or 8:30 every night).

The trail soon passed through a gate into a riparian area. This is still part of Canyon Ranch, but its landscaping has been left to Mother Nature. Unlike the cholla and barrel cacti in the main campus, the ones here still have their thorns.

Interior of the Canyon Ranch Wellness Center. (Canyon Ranch Resort)

While signs around the main campus point you toward a spiritual wellness center, a labyrinth, restaurants, a golf performance center, an aquatic center and a spa, a sign at this gate warns about mountain lions. They often hunt between dusk and dawn, it says, and if you encounter one you should most definitely not run. Instead, “Face lion. Back away slowly. Be large. Shout. If attacked, fight back.”

(Later, I ask a concierge whether mountain lions are truly an issue. She says she’s not aware a guest has ever spotted one, but because the big cats do live in the Santa Catalina Mountains, less than three miles north of the ranch, the resort is required to post a warning.)

Never leaving the ranch’s larger footprint, sometimes crossing paved roads and almost always in view of homes, this walk is far from wild. Still, a roadrunner darts across the trail in front of me. Strolling, rather than speed walking, I notice a mohawked bird perched on a spindly branch at the top of a wizened palo verde tree. The bird is the size of a robin and the shade of an eggplant, if eggplants were opalescent. I name the bird Mr. T and think about him — the bird, not the real Mr. T — until dinner.

Opting against joining the captain’s table, I sit by myself at a banquette and write in my journal and read, which feels appropriate. The dining room, although full, is as quiet as a library, except for the clinking of forks on plates and ice cubes hitting the sides of water glasses. Couples murmur to each other, but mostly the silence seems rooted in country club manners and everyone enjoying their food.

Although there’s a “Yoga for a Good Night’s Rest” class that evening, I decide, purely in the spirit of not overcommitting, to wait until Day 2 to start my yoga rehabilitation.

“Grab two blankets; one will be for your head, the other will be to cover yourself,” says the instructor when I do walk into a yoga class the following afternoon. “If you fall asleep, that’s great. We’ll wrap you up.” Hmmm. This is not the yoga I’m accustomed to. And I am quite tired from a morning tennis clinic, Pilates and the fact I didn’t fall asleep until nearly 2 a.m. the night before. How have I not heard of restorative yoga?

Over the next 45 minutes, we do only four poses, all of which involve lying on our backs on the floor: easy breathing pose, twist to the right, twist to the left and then legs up the wall. We’re in each pose for five to eight minutes. When it’s time to move into the next pose the instructor gently rings twice what I surmise is a triangle. I surmise because I can’t summon the energy to actually open my eyes to verify.

I fall asleep while twisting to the right and also in the pose where my butt is against a wall and my legs are up at a 90-degree angle. When the triangle rings for the last time, I feel a twinge of sadness. I am restored and my self-confidence is intact. As soon as I’m in one of the areas on campus where phone use is permitted, I text my boyfriend. “Day 2 and I’ve already found a yoga class I like!” I know that technically this type of yoga is called restorative yoga, but I re-christen it. “Nap yoga is my new favorite thing!”

To prove that aliens haven’t taken over my body and mind, the next morning I fall into Type A habits and go on the ranch’s most difficult hike: 10 miles at a pace of upwards of 3 mph.

Vans carrying hikers seeking different levels of challenge leave the campus every morning. Shorter walks that don’t require driving to a trailhead start and end at the ranch every morning, too. These go through the neighborhoods around campus and often include part of the two-mile loop I did my first evening.

I am not certain how I’ll do with 10 miles, but what better way to find out than with two guides, both armed with fruit, energy bars, chilled water — and first aid kits — for me and my fellow hikers?

Several hours later, I am fine and standing with eight other guests on a rocky outcrop in the Coronado National Forest, munching on a banana and enjoying sweeping vistas of Tucson and the rugged mountains surrounding it.

Sabino Canyon is only a couple of miles from Canyon Ranch and has phenomenal hiking, but the fitness staff likes to give guests variety. The drive to the trailhead on Mount Lemmon is about 40 minutes and our van is the only car there. The day of my arrival at the ranch, I borrowed one of its hybrid bikes — free for guests — and rode through an upscale neighborhood to the Sabino Canyon visitor center. Hundreds of cars crowded that parking lot.

Back at the ranch by early afternoon, it’s time for something I dread even more than yoga. A 50-minute Sacred Body spiritual wellness service. Acupuncture is about as out there as I get, medically speaking, but a friend gifted me this session ($230). “It will change your life,” she promised.

Canyon Ranch, whether in Tucson or Lenox, Mass., is best known for its outdoor activities and fitness classes, but the spa’s definition of wellness is wide: services and staff, including four board-certified physicians who practice integrative medicine, treat the body, mind and spirit. Some guests use doctors here as their primary care physicians.

Besides knowing Sacred Body addresses the mind and spirit, I know nothing else when I walk in Stephanie Ludwig’s door.

Ludwig, who has a doctorate in psychology, a master’s in transpersonal studies and another in divinity, starts with easy questions: How would I rate my level of satisfaction with my body on a scale of 1 to 10? Are there things about my body I’d like to change but haven’t been able to? How much do I care about what other people think of my body? What am I currently doing for my body that is beneficial? Harmful?

She’s engaged me hook, line and sinker from the beginning. As fundamental as these questions are, no one has ever asked them of me before, and I have never asked them of myself.

When she asks me what my body would like to do if it had 10 minutes all to itself, without thinking, and with a fully formed vision of how it would feel and look and where in my house it would happen, I reply, “Nap in a hammock.” I have no idea where this answer comes from. I haven’t been in a hammock since I was a kid.

The session ends sooner than I’d like, but her questions give me enough to meditate on for some time. (This is good because even telephone sessions with her are $230 for 50 minutes.) Also, I can’t stop picturing myself in a hammock.

Two months later, I’m still thinking about those questions, and a hammock. More importantly, I’m still doing yoga. I go to a nap yoga class twice a week.

Instructors back home are a little harder than the ones in Arizona, though. We do six poses instead of four. Also, the scenery out the studio windows isn’t so inspiring than at Canyon Ranch. And the cookies aren’t nearly as good. Seriously.

Dina Mishev is a freelance writer living in Wyoming and is the editor of Inspirato and of Jackson Hole magazine.

More from Travel:

Travel Guide

Ski Guide

Caribbean Guide

Canyon Ranch — Tucson

8600 E. Rockcliff Rd.


There is a three-night minimum stay. Deluxe rooms start at $3,540 per person (double occupancy) and $4290 (single occupancy); this includes all meals and most activities, lectures and classes.

Sabino Canyon Recreation Area

5700 N. Sabino Canyon Rd.


Hike, picnic or look for Sonoran Desert wildlife in this section of the Coronado National Forest a short bike ride or drive from Canyon Ranch. $5 parking fee.


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$1 million gift to SC Botanical Garden will boost Children’s Garden

The director of the South Carolina Botanical Garden hopes a recent $1 million gift is the start of a fundraising wave to improve the state resource on the south side of the Clemson University campus.

Mike and Lynn McBride of Simpsonville and their children are giving the money to expand the Children’s Garden, which is next to the Hunt Cabin near the duck pond. The gift will pay for finishing the Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant canopy walk in the Children’s Garden, build a duck dock at the pond and provide more programming at the garden.

The McBride family is challenging others to raise an additional $1 million by May 30 to turn the Botanical Garden into a showcase in the Upstate.

“This is the biggest single gift in the garden’s history – it really does set us up to kick off the bulk of our fundraising for the Children’s Garden,” said Patrick McMillan, garden director and host of the ETV “Expeditions with Patrick McMillan” nature program. “That is a service we feel strongly has to be provided. We need to have a place that invites and engages all children to go outside.”

The garden is two years removed from catastrophic flooding that wiped out much of the grounds near the Children’s Garden site. More than 70 different construction and landscaping projects were undertaken to restore the grounds and improve the surrounding topography to prevent any further such events.

“The improvements are operating exactly as they should,” McMillan said. “We had three floods this year, but we didn’t have one instance of any flood damage that took more than three hours to fix.”

The South Carolina Botanical Garden is a diverse 295 acres of natural landscapes, according to its web site. It is home to an official American Hosta Society Display Garden, a 70-acre arboretum, miles of nature trails and streams, a butterfly garden, wildflower meadow and many specialty gardens, the web site said, along with more than 300 varieties of camellias, as well as an extensive collection of hollies, hydrangeas, magnolias and native plants.

The McBrides – Mike; his wife, Lynn; and their children McCain, Michael II, Erin McBride Fredericks and Katherine Wallace Harris – have family ties to Clemson and the garden.

“We are making this gift because of my love for Clemson and the education and experiences I had while here as a student,” said Mike McBride, a member of the Class of 1981. “Lynn spent a lot of time in the Botanical Garden as a child when she lived in Clemson. Her parents, Joe (Class of 1962) and Sue Wallace, took her to visit the duck pond and garden as a child.

“Where much is given, much is expected. The Children’s Garden will be an amazing place for children and their families for generations.”

Want to learn more? Visit

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Family surprises North Carolina Olive Garden waitress with a $1000 tip

  • Kathryn Irwin, 24, has been working as a waitress for the Olive Garden in Morehead City, North Carolina for the past three years
  • She served a family of six at the restaurant Sunday who left a $1,000 tip on a $75 tab 
  • The family also wrote ‘God bless you’ on the receipt for the waitress
  • She didn’t get a chance to thank the family in person, but she wants to ‘hug them’ and ‘let them know how grateful’ she is for the huge tip 

Regina F. Graham For



An Olive Garden waitress in North Carolina received a generous gift from a family eating lunch at the restaurant.

Kathryn Irwin, 24, has been working at the restaurant located in Morehead City for the past three years. 

This past Sunday started out as a regular day for Irwin, but suddenly changed when she was shocked to find that a family of six left a $1,000 tip on a $75 bill. 

Irwin, who works at the restaurant full-time, didn’t even notice the tip at first because she went to help her other co-workers since the eatery was short-staffed.  

Kathryn Irwin (above), 24, has been working at an Olive Garden restaurant located in Morehead City for the past three years

Kathryn Irwin (above), 24, has been working at an Olive Garden restaurant located in Morehead City for the past three years

This past Sunday started out as a regular day for Irwin, but suddenly changed when she was shocked to find that a family of six left a $1,000 tip on a $75 bill

This past Sunday started out as a regular day for Irwin, but suddenly changed when she was shocked to find that a family of six left a $1,000 tip on a $75 bill

‘When I did eventually open it and I saw it, I was in disbelief,’ she told WCTI. ‘I couldn’t even believe it. I was trying to figure out if they made some type of error.’ 

The suggested tip was $15.14 on the bill, which was $75.70, which the family paid $30 of it on a gift card. Before Irwin could say thank you for the generous gift, the family left the restaurant. The message ‘God bless you!’ was also written above the tip amount.

‘I’m just amazed, you know,’ Irwin told WCTI. ‘You hear about generous tips around the holidays. 

‘I’ve never personally had it happen to me, so I just want to make sure I do the right thing and again I just want them to know how thankful I am.’ 

Irwin, who works at the restaurant full-time, didn't even notice the tip at first because she went to help her other co-workers since the eatery was short staffed

Irwin, who works at the restaurant full-time, didn’t even notice the tip at first because she went to help her other co-workers since the eatery was short staffed

She said that she was 'in disbelief' when she first opened it. Irwin said: 'I couldn't even believe it. I was trying to figure out if they made some type of error'

She said that she was ‘in disbelief’ when she first opened it. Irwin said: ‘I couldn’t even believe it. I was trying to figure out if they made some type of error’

Irwin, who has plans to go to college, said that she used part of the money to pay for an elderly couple’s dinner, ABC News reported.

She also said that she’s donated some of it to a number of Salvation Army kettles in the mall. 

‘As far as other plans, my car is a little bit on the older side, so there’s some room to fix things up now,’ Irwin told ABC News. 

‘But most importantly, I want to start college soon. The tip couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.’ 

Irwin, who has plans to go to college, said that she used part of the money to pay for an elderly couple's dinner and has donated some of it to a number of Salvation Army kettles in the mall

Irwin, who has plans to go to college, said that she used part of the money to pay for an elderly couple’s dinner and has donated some of it to a number of Salvation Army kettles in the mall


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Tips on caring for Christmas plants

One of the nicest gifts to receive for the holidays is a blooming plant. To keep it in the best condition and blooming as long as possible, certain guidelines need to be followed. Some general ones are below with more specific ones for each plant to follow.

Watering: Plants should be checked daily and watered when dry just below the soil surface. Punch holes in foil wrap if necessary. Be sure to discard drainage water, rather than leaving the plant sit in it, so that excess soluble salts are not reabsorbed.

Light: All plants need light to keep them in good condition. Flowering plants usually have the highest light requirements. The brightest window in your house will probably face south or southwest and should be ideal, especially during the winter months. Plants placed in poor light will become yellow and have spindly shoots.

Temperature: The best temperatures for most flowering plants are cooler than most of our homes and buildings. A hot, dry atmosphere probably does more to shorten bloom time than any other factor. A location which runs about 65 degrees during the day and around 50 to 55 degrees at night would be good for holding most flowering plants. It may be beneficial to move your plants to a cooler location such as another room or basement during the night. Rapid and severe temperature fluctuations should be avoided.

Drafts: Avoid exposing a flowering plant to a draft. Air movement from an air conditioner, window, door, fan, fireplace, or radiator will cause rapid water loss from the foliage and flowers.

General maintenance: Remove faded blooms, yellow leaves, and damaged stems to maintain a nice appearance of the plant. To maintain their uniform shape over a long period of time, rotate the plants occasionally to expose all sides to the light source. After one year, a growing plant may need to be shifted to a larger container. While in flower, newly purchased plants will not require fertilization. If the plant is retained for growth after bloom, fertilizer must be applied. Follow label directions for concentrations and application rates during the periods of active plant growth.

Amaryllis: For best results, plant the bulbs in at least a 6-inch pot. Place an inch or more of broken pottery or pebbles in the bottom to ensure adequate drainage. Use completely artificial potting mix or a potting soil composed of one part soil, one part perlite, and one part peat moss. Plant the bulb with half to three-quarters of the bulb above the soil line. Plan to grow at 60 degrees at night and 10 to 15 degrees warmer during the day. Water well and place the bulb in a sunny window. Keep the plant on the dry side until the flower shoot appears, then continue watering. Once the flower fades, fertilize and water to encourage a heavy crop of leaves. Remove the withered flower stalk promptly. The pots may be sunk into the soil in a flower bed after the danger of frost is past in the spring. Give full sun and water well. It is best to encourage the plant to continue growth rather than to employ the old practice of letting it go dormant by withholding water during its natural rest period of October through December.

Christmas cactus:  Although a member of the cactus family, the Christmas cactus should not be kept dry. Keep the soil moist to promote flowering. Place the plants in full sunlight during the daytime. Night temperatures should be 60 to 65 degrees. This cactus can be grown outdoors during the summer in cool, shaded areas. Fertilizer should be applied during periods of active growth. To have a plant in bloom for Christmas, on Sept. 1 begin exposing the plant to short days. Keep it in total darkness for 12 to 14 hours each night until buds form. The temperature should be below 65 degrees during this period. Buds will not form at temperatures above 70 degrees, even with long nights. At 55 degrees, flowering occurs regardless of day length. Bud drop results when the temperature is too high or light intensity too low.

Poinsettia: Keep the plant out of hot or cold drafts. Check watering daily and do not allow pot to stand in water or root rot may develop. Give the plant plenty of light. Keep the room temperature between 65 and 70 degrees. If conditions are not too favorable for poinsettias, the plants may drop the decorative bracts and lower leaves. Poinsettias require high light intensity, thus the plant should be placed in a sunny window. Poinsettias can be brought back into flower, but the procedure is more involved than many people want to bother with. Most varieties respond to the following technique: After the colorful bracts have faded and fallen, cut the plant back to within six inches of the soil or, if it is a large, multi-branched plant to within six inches of the main stem. When all danger of frost is past, place the plant outdoors in a protected but sunny area. Fertilize and water through the summer. In late July or August, cut the stems back leaving three or four leaves per stem. Cuttings may be taken and rooted at this time for September potting. Before frost, bring the plant into the home and put it in a room with temperatures around 65 to 70 degrees. Keep it in a bright location. From the last week of September until early December, the plant should be exposed to only natural daylight. Any amount of light during the natural dark hours at this time of the year, even the light from a lamp, will delay flowering. During this period, cover the plant at night or place it in a closet or room without lights from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m.

Spring flowering bulbs: Tulips, hyacinths, narcissi, crocuses and grape hyacinths are often sold in pots during winter and spring. These plants should be purchased in the bud stage for extended flowering in the home. Follow these suggestions for taking care of them: Keep the plants in a cool place, around 60 to 65 degrees. Select a bright location. However, direct sunlight may hasten flower development and shorten the flower life. After flowering, remove the spent blooms. When flowering is finished, reduce the water and allow the plants to mature and the leaves to dry gradually. Cut off the dry foliage and remove the soil from around the bulbs. Store the bulbs in a cool, dry place until fall. Then plant them in the flower border or bulb garden during the fall.

Tess Swartz is a Master Gardener with Penn State Extension — Beaver County.

References: Cooperative Extension – University of New Hampshire; Penn State University – Rick Bates Department of Horticulture.

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Author Q&A with Phillip Watson on ‘Garden Magic’

Lexington native and QVC garden expert Phillip Watson has long held a reputation as one of America’s leading landscape designers, and his new book, “Garden Magic,” reads like a reference volume of some of his favorite projects on lavish properties around the country.

Watson calls the book “a spiritual journey down the garden path,” and adds his own “observations, epiphanies and revelations” to stunning color images of sweeping garden views, most of which he photographed himself.

This self-published work, Watson’s second book, will be available at www.QVC. com Jan. 19.

Please tell me about your background. 

I grew up in Holmes County —  Lexington, specifically — which is the birthplace of the 4-H Club. My childhood revolved around Cub Scouts, my menagerie of animals, and my garden. Early on, I took an interest in how plants grew and quickly decided which ones I liked best. My favorite flower, the German or bearded iris, was noticed when I was still in a stroller. As my mother pushed me down the sidewalk, we passed my great-aunt’s house, and a long stalk of blue iris leaned into our path. Mom recently recalled that I pointed to it and said “pretty!” It became a family tradition to have our Easter pictures taken in front of our own iris bed.

From my great-aunts and grandmother, I learned how to root cuttings, germinate seeds and divide daylilies. The first plants I rooted were coleus, which I kept pinching to make full. This, in a way, was the beginning of my love of clipped topiaries and parterres. From those humble starts, my world would eventually explode into a bigger and more beautiful place.

After moving to the seemingly large city of Jackson when I was 16, my life drastically changed. No big garden, no menagerie and relatively few friends. Once again I turned to my garden for solace and found it. This one was smaller so I decided to create more details. And, as before, the centerpiece was a large petrified stump that had been found on our Holmes County farm. The anonymity of Murrah High School passed when I transferred to Jackson Prep for my senior year and became part of its first graduating class in 1971. Things were looking better, and the prospect of heading off to college was exciting!

Why did you choose to study horticulture? 

I went off to Mississippi State, excited but somewhat clueless. My mother took me aside about halfway through that freshman year when she realized I had no direction or a declared major. “Why not study horticulture?” she implored. “It’s what you love.” And, so it was. I worked in the MSU greenhouses for most of my collegiate years and was especially entranced by the mist house where plant cuttings were rooted. I soon secured a small corner where I could propagate rare plants just for myself. What a treat!

Could you share the highlights of your career history?   

After graduating with my degree in horticulture in 1976, I moved to Atlanta and took a job with Tom Woodham and Ryan Gainey, who owned The Potted Plant. I learned much about interior plant maintenance and years later found myself in Manhattan with a thriving interior plant maintenance/rooftop garden design business. However, the city life wasn’t for me, and after four years I set sail once more.

My watershed year was 1981, when I shed New York City and bought a nursery in Fredericksburg, Virginia, where I finally had my own greenhouses and a mist house! For 23 years I would enjoy The Old Dominion. I still return frequently as a member of The Garden Advisory Panel for Stratford Hall, Robert E. Lee’s birthplace.

Currently, I live and garden in West Chester, Pennsylvania, where I have been a garden expert on QVC for 18 years. I present new and exciting plant offers for Cottage Farms, a Mobile area nursery.

“Garden Magic” is your second book. Please tell me about how it is structured, why you decided to write it and how long it was in the making.

My garden design clients reside primarily in Greenwich, Connecticut. “Garden Magic,” my second and largest book, contains many of their gardens which I created. Styles range from cottage environs, elaborate Versailles-type parterres, bountiful flower borders, elegant and tasty edibles, pools and water features of all sorts, and much more. “Garden Magic” is meant to inspire rather than to instruct. However, hints and clues provide abundant fodder for gardeners who are adventuresome and open to artistic stimulation. This book took about three years to finish.

The writing and the striking photography in the book are yours

how did you hone these skills?  

“Garden Magic’s” premise is this: “Magic isn’t so much what you create. It is what you notice.” The images I chose show fog, “God Light”  inspired by the French landscape painter, Theodore Rousseau, a rainbow over a salt marsh, a clutch of robin’s eggs, shadow play, and a delicious tomato sandwich — all of which express more to the viewer than the face value of the subjects.

I tried to select the things that we noticed as children. When a child rushes into the house and says, “come look!”, it’s usually worth it to do so. My mother did listen to me when I asked her to come and see the first spider lilies of the season.

She also helped me enormously with improving my writing skills. Last year as we drove from Jackson to Memphis, she read my rough draft of the book to me. That is a memory that I will wrap around me for the rest of my days.

The variety of gardens and homes included in the book is impressive! How did you choose them are these some of your most satisfying design projects?

The gardens within “Garden Magic” are my favorites to date. The gardens themselves took three to 15 years to develop.  To create some of them I reached back to childhood memories in Lexington. For others I traveled the world, visited art museums, and hob-knobbed with the movers and shakers in the garden design field. Inspirations and garden designs come together in all sorts of configurations. The trick is to not have it look like a trick.

With each property featured in “Garden Magic,” you analyze the gardens and give suggestions for bringing out the best features of the grounds surrounding the homes. Since we can’t all be Phillip Watsons, are there some basic guidelines you can share with readers that can make a big impact on their gardens and backyards?  

My mentor of many years, Rosemary Verey of England, gave me the best advice: Design each garden vignette as if you were looking through the lens of a camera. Then, get a camera and learn to photograph your work. Pass the images along to garden writers at magazines and newspapers with brief explanations of each. Her advice was basic: If you don’t get your work published, you will only be a local success. I saw her sparkling career, her fabulous clients and creations, and I wanted to pattern my own career accordingly. Rosemary hit her creative stride when she was 80. I still had time!

Please tell me about your design process as you approach working with a client. 

My clients have been very kind and accepting of my work ethic. I develop a basic plan, and then they go inside and allow me to do what I was hired to do. I also spend the night with them! I find that more is gleaned over a glass of wine or a cup of coffee than through endless emails, blueprints and formal consultations. A garden is personal, and I set out to know my clients very well. How else would I know that the wife’s grandmother had a “Perle D’or” rose or that the husband really missed his childhood treehouse?

I design the basic shapes of my gardens while sitting in them at night. At that time, I simply see form and space. There are no textures or colors to seduce me and no shadows to fool me. This is when I “bake the cake.” The icing and floral decorations can wait until dawn.

Do you still have ties and family in Mississippi? Do you get back very often? 

I am back in Mississippi at least twice a year and enjoy seeing old Cub Scouts, 4-H associates, former teachers, and, of course, those rascals from my college days! Anyone who says that you can’t go home again was not born in Mississippi.

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Change sweeps into Savannah, toppling Democratic stronghold

To say conventional political wisdom in Savannah was upended by this month’s elections is like saying this city near the sea has only a passing fascination with St. Patrick’s Day festivities.

Edna Jackson, the city’s first black female leader, became the first incumbent mayor defeated here in 20 years, beaten by a conservative business owner. Two other black female contenders for the City Council were rejected by voters. They, too, fell to a pair of graying, white candidates.

+Change sweeps into Savannah, toppling Democratic stronghold photo

Greg Bluestein

Alicia Blakely, a defeated candidate for Savannah’s City Council, said Democrats squandered a golden opportunity to retain control of the city. … read more

Greg Bluestein

That’s a seismic electoral shift in a city with a population that’s 55 percent black — minority voters who typically overwhelmingly support Democrats in Georgia — and hadn’t elected a Republican-leaning mayor since 1991. Sea change, indeed.

If national elections are typically about the economy, Savannah contests have long revolved around public safety. And the incoming mayor, Eddie DeLoach, capitalized on concerns about crime to build a new coalition he hopes will endure.

“Maybe I’m Don Quixote tilting at windmills. But I feel like this is a time where the black community looked at a white candidate and said, ‘I’m willing to give that guy a chance,’ ” DeLoach said in an interview.

“I think it’s a break in tradition. If all things are equal, they’re going to vote for their candidate,” he continued. “But this is a turning point. And if we deliver like we should, we have an opportunity to continue to serve.”

Just a few months ago, Jackson seemed destined for a second term. She was known for repairing strained racial ties that surfaced during the administration of her predecessor, Otis Johnson. She fired an unpopular city manager and replaced a police chief convicted of commercial gambling and extortion charges.

She seemed to have mastered the Atlanta Way — the tried-and-tested model in the capital city of white business leaders and black community figures uniting behind an African-American candidate with strong appeal across the aisles.

Crime, crime and crime

That changed quickly. Crime rates that had leveled off during Jackson’s first three years in office soared in 2015. The number of homicides nearly doubled over the past year, making it Savannah’s bloodiest since 1991, and violent crime grew by more than 20 percent.

The nature of some of the crimes horrified the citizenry. In one jarring episode, two Savannah officers were injured in shootings a few miles from downtown. In another, a longtime councilwoman was mugged by two men while sitting on her front porch.

“I have the highest respect for Edna. But we really needed big changes,” said Phillip Sellers, who owns the Old City Walks touring company. “Public safety for me is the major challenge. And it came down to that.”

DeLoach pounced on those concerns. At the first debate, when asked to name the city’s top three challenges, he answered succinctly: crime, crime and crime. He vowed to fill the number of vacancies in the Police Department — at one point, the number had swelled to 100 openings — and pledged to hire 15 additional officers to a new violent crime unit.

His campaign — helmed by a 19-year-old who deferred her acceptance to Brown University — hoisted a billboard above Jackson’s re-election headquarters with a running ticker of the number of gunshots detected in the city. It served as a constant, raw reminder of the city’s public safety fears.

That a Republican won the contest is no small feat. The mayor’s race is a nonpartisan contest, but DeLoach, who built a tiny landscaping outfit into a national business, is a well-known Republican who was a reliably conservative voice on the Chatham County Commission from 1992 to 2000.

“It’s shocking. Talk about a contrast in a majority-black city,” said Bruce Mallard, a Savannah State University political scientist. “Even though it’s a nonpartisan race, Edna Jackson had all the trappings of a Democrat and DeLoach a Republican.”

The big broom extended to races down the ticket. Alderwoman Mary Osborne, the council member who was mugged, was soundly defeated by Bill Durrence. The retired photographer won 63 percent of the vote against Osborne, a longtime activist in the black community. And newcomer Brian Foster beat Alicia Blakely, who heads a chapter of a national civil rights chapter, for an open at-large seat on the council.

The shift cannot be blamed on a sleepy Democratic base. For weeks, party leaders rallied behind Jackson and other Democrats — and tried to make the most of missteps from DeLoach supporters who burned a Jackson sign in effigy and boasted of “taking our city back.”

Otis Johnson, Jackson’s predecessor in City Hall, said the latter was “code speak” for white rule.

“Whether this group accepts the fact or not, Savannah is a majority African American city,” he wrote in an opinion piece in The Savannah Morning News endorsing Jackson for another term. “The face of Savannah has been black for the last 20 years.”

Blakely put the blame on some Democrats, including black ministers and activists, who were so fed up with Jackson that they endorsed the conservatives. She also accused Jackson, who declined to comment for this story, of tacitly endorsing her opponent. Her race should have been an “automatic win,” Blakely said, predicting that black voters will regret the vote.

“These are white men that came into the black community and asked for votes. You never heard of them, you never saw them,” said Blakely, who heads the local chapter of the National Action Network. “It’s pathetic. And it’s really sad that folks fell for the hokey-doke because they were so thirsty for change.”

Chance for ‘racial harmony’

DeLoach is mindful of the electoral fate of the last Republican to ride to office on a law-and-order platform.

John Rousakis, a beloved five-term mayor of Savannah, was undone by the rise of crack cocaine gangster Ricky Givens in the early 1990s. He was ousted by Susan Weiner — a Jewish Republican from New York — in a 1991 campaign that featured billboards with faux bullet holes and radio ads crackling with gunfire in the background.

“If it wasn’t for crack,” Rousakis said then, “I’d be getting ready to begin my sixth term in office.”

Weiner’s reign didn’t last long. With the help of Savannah’s white elite and burgeoning black community, she was defeated after a single term by Floyd Adams, who would become the city’s first African-American mayor.

Influential black leaders say DeLoach has a chance to be a transformational leader. Lorenzo McDonald, a 46-year-old real estate agent who formed an anti-crime group called Savannah Lives Matter, said DeLoach has the chance to set a new tone for the city.

“To say crime is out of hand is an understatement. And citizens were tired of it,” said McDonald, who stayed neutral in the race. “I believe this is an opportunity. If he can make the city safer, he can move in a direction of racial harmony.”

DeLoach has big plans for his first year, including a strategy to bring a “small-business” mind-set to government with a new approach to customer service, as well as living up to promises to beef up the police force. With the changes on the council, he counts about six or seven allies on the nine-member board when he takes office in January.

“There was a tipping point and voters realized, regardless of who it is, they want results,” DeLoach said. “I happened to be in the right place at the right time. We offered ideas that sounded good to folks, and they had not had the results they should have had.”

His challenge, though, may have only just begun.

“There were a lot of promises made about making government more efficient, reducing crime and increasing economic opportunity. Those promises were made with little details,” said Johnson, the former mayor who led the city from 2004 to 2012.

“They wanted it, they got it,” he said. “Now we’ll see what they do with it.”

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Students behind new course proposals


There may be no better way of determining student interest in new courses at Ridgefield High School than to invite the students to develop the concepts for the courses and suggest them themselves.

That seems to be the case for four proposed new courses at the high school — three-dimensional architecture for technology students, Advanced Placement music theory for choral students, history of fashion design, and introduction to sociology.

The Board of Education is expected to vote on whether to approve the new courses at its next meeting, Jan. 8.

“The great majority actually come from student requests or staff requests, which 99% of the time generate from the student requests,” said Dr. Stacey Gross, principal of Ridgefield High School.

Gross addressed the Board of Education on the new course proposals during a meeting at Town Hall Annex Dec. 14.

Letting students develop the concepts for the courses they want is good for the educational process.

“The students feel positive and reinforced,” Gross said. “They feel people have listened. It’s a positive place to move forward.”

It’s always exciting to introduce new courses.

“This is an exciting time for us, as we bring new ideas forward to you,” Gross told the school board members.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Karen Baldwin saluted Gross and her staff for the new ideas, and said the courses would reach a variety of students.

“We’re really excited about the work underway, about planning for the future and being responsible for the bigger picture, planning for the needs of all learners,” Baldwin said.

Course ideas also come from state graduation requirements, district grade requirements, and changes in the Advanced Placement curriculum, Gross said. It’s always good to see ideas come from the students themselves because courses are actually run only if enough students sign up. The school usually looks for anywhere from 18 to 22 students to run a course, she said.

“If students don’t register for a class, it doesn’t get run,” Gross said.

The only time courses disappear is if they no longer meet requirements or nobody signs up for them.

“The courses we present really reach a range of all students, at all different skills, all different challenge levels, to meet as many students as possible,” Gross said.

The courses

Fashion Design: Art, History, Life — Students are engaged in a hands-on environment that allows them to explore the design process, textiles, and the ever-growing fashion industry. They explore the history of apparel design and its transformation from function to style. They demonstrate knowledge in drawing, computer-aided design and garment construction.

Advanced Placement Music Theory — A yearlong course of introductory college music theory that covers theory, musicianship, musical materials, and procedures. Musicianship skills include dictation, sight-singing and keyboard harmony. Notational skills, speed, and fluency with basic materials are emphasized.

3-D Architecture — Students develop custom home designs using professional 3D software. Students create detailed interior and landscaping plans and introduce green-renewable energy concepts.

Introduction to Sociology — An elective for juniors and seniors. Challenges students to think critically about the society they live in, analyzing gender, crime, race, ethnicity, and religion. Helps build communication, critical thinking, creativity, and innovative use of technology.


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History, beer and rebuilds at Badger Motor Car Company

COLUMBUS — Darvin Frey is well aware of the gamble he has taken with his Badger Motor Car Co.

The 1920s-era building he bought a few months ago was built to make burial vaults and caskets and is nestled between the railroad tracks and Crawfish River. The 10,000-square-foot space is home to a 1925 Cadillac with a custom aluminum body, more than a dozen motorcycles and scores of other antiques that include matchbooks, toy trains, phonographs and signs.

George Hasey’s 1928 popcorn wagon that roamed the streets here for more than 50 years is prominently displayed along with a 1930 Model A pickup truck that is the midst of a rebuild and restoration in the middle of his antiques museum.

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One of the unique draws to the Badger Motor Car Company is the workshop in the middle of the museum. Visitors can watch as Darvin Frey works on his 1930 Model A pickup truck. When the project is completed, Frey will bring in another vehicle for restoration.

Frey, 46, who bought the building at 336 N. Spring St. in October and has spent thousands of dollars upgrading the property, has plans for a fabrication and restoration shop for old motorcycles, kayak and canoe rentals and maybe even a wood-fired pizza oven.

The biggest risk of the project, however, is in a corner of the museum filled with liquor bottles and a cooler jammed with craft beers. And while the small bar adds a unique business model and has proven to be a popular addition, Frey, an alcoholic with 10 years of sobriety, knows the consequences of a relapse.

The suggestion to add a bar to his museum came from an uncle well aware of his nephew’s destructive past.

“I thought that’s just not possible,” Frey said. “There’s no way, as an alcoholic, that I can serve beer. I’d wind up getting drunk again and wind up losing everything, so I just laughed it off. But he planted a seed for sure.”

Frey started drinking when he was 16 years old, worked menial jobs after graduating from Columbus High School in 1988 and was often unemployed. There were fights, stints in jail and stays in a psychiatric ward. His most recent trip to jail, a six-month sentence, came in 2005 after stealing a truck owned by the family of Dodge County Sheriff Todd Nehls.

Now, 10 years later, after starting his own landscaping and snow removal business and delving into a childhood fascination with all things old, Frey’s life appears to be on track. He married in 2008 and has three children, one of them a 2-month-old boy.

But knowing the bar would create traffic flow, revenue and new visitors to see his wide-ranging collection of antiques, Frey plunged forward with the idea. The first keg was tapped the first week of September. A few weeks later, he added hard liquor to the drink menu.

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Badger Motor Car Company in Columbus is located along the railroad tracks and near the Amtrak station in a building constructed in 1920 for a vault and casket company. The tow truck out front is a 1953 GMC that was used for years by a local mechanic in Columbus.

Frey sips cups of coffee brewed in a Keurig machine and occasionally has a non-alcoholic bottle of beer. His wife, Megan, herself in recovery and whom he met at an AA meeting, is studying for a master’s degree in counseling. She was initially skeptical about the bar but believes her husband has proven himself and is focused on his family and business, not the bottle.

“This has been his passion,” Megan said of her husband’s obsession with antiques and old vehicles. “When you have a goal and you have a reason for doing what you’re doing, it fills that hole. I think he knows the consequences.”

Darvin Frey says he works more than 100 hours a week building cars, organizing his antiques and caring for the property. Admission to the museum is free. For those who come to buy a drink, hang out and watch him work on his Model A just a few feet from the bar, only cash is accepted. There is no ATM or televisions. On weekdays, the business opens at 3 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m. The place is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

“What I really thought it would be originally was a few old guys sitting there, I’d get them a beer and then I’d come back and work on (the Model A) for a while and when they needed a beer again they would let me know,” Frey said. “But it’s just got a mind of its own, this place. I mean it packs them in at night like you wouldn’t believe.”

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Vintage motorcycles fill the basement of the Badger Motor Car Company, a bar and museum in Columbus. Darvin Frey, owner of the property, has plans for a motorcycle restoration shop. 

Historic homes and commercial buildings are prolific in this city that straddles the border of Dodge and Columbia counties. So, too, are antique shops, including the 78,000-square-foot Columbus Antique Mall. The Badger Motor Car Company fits right into the city’s persona and is named after a company that built automobiles in Columbus from 1910 to 1913. To Frey’s knowledge, only one of the cars exists — and it is in California.

“I would love to buy it,” Frey said. “You bet.”

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Darvin Frey’s Badger Motor Car Co. antiques museum is named after a Chicago company that made automobiles in Columbus from 1910 to 1913. Frey knows of only one car that remains from the company — and he says it is in California. “I would love to buy it. You bet,” he said.

Frey isn’t afraid to pull the trigger on purchases. Over the years, he and his father filled a 5,000-square-foot storage facility. When Frey went to look at a car in Oshkosh, he noticed a small aluminum car used on a children’s amusement ride. He offered $100 for the car and ended up buying nine more. One of them, now restored, is in his museum. He picked up an aluminum Christmas tree in a similar fashion and has background stories for virtually everything in his museum, located near the Amtrak station.

Visitors enter through an office furnished with original pieces from the Ibisch Burial Vaults Co. before entering the main showroom that is crammed with Frey’s collection plus tables, chairs and sofas.

“Just the way he put the thing together, he’s done a great job,” said Roger Hauge, Frey’s uncle.

“He’s always had talent for putting stuff together like this,” said his aunt, Bonnie Hauge. “He’s got a good eye.”

One of the most beloved and talked about pieces is a more-than-100-year-old gambling machine that resembles a merry-go-round and uses a crank to propel hand-sized carved wooden horses in a circle. The numbered horse closest to the finish line when all horses stop is declared the winner. The game, built by an amusement device company in Colorado, had been owned by the local American Legion, whose members for years took it to area picnics and carnivals.

“It’s a big hit. We just have a lot of fun with it,” Frey said. “It’s just a really, really unique handmade piece.”

Frey is particularly fond of the Ibisch family, which had a hand in the development of Columbus and built several commercial buildings and homes in the city.

Carl Ibisch built Frey’s building while his brother, Franz Ibisch, worked for a year in the 1930s in an upstairs room on a wooden model of a carriage for a contest sponsored by Fisher Body, a subsidiary of General Motors. Franz ultimately was awarded a scholarship to attend UW-Madison, was a World War II pilot and in later years a commercial aviator. Newspaper articles about the contest remain glued to the wall of Franz’s workroom.

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The flight suit of the late Franz Ibisch, a World War II pilot, is on display at Badger Motor Car Company. The Ibisch family built the building that houses the museum and bar in 1920.

Frey also has Franz’s flight suit from the war and the federal specifications needed to build the city’s Post Office, which was built by Carl Ibisch.

In the basement, Frey has a 10-foot-long wood and steel toboggan built by the Ibisch family. The sled is more than 90 years old, can hold seven people and is controlled with a Model T steering wheel.

Frey’s project is a salute to local history and opposite that of most bars filled with antiques that hang from the wall and ceiling.

“There’s no social aspect to a museum. People walk in, they spend a half an hour, they’re really quiet and they walk back out again,” Frey said. “We kind of started out with the idea that we would be a museum, and we added a bar.”

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