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Archives for January 29, 2016

Former Zee Zee Gardens undergoing renovations

Zee Zee Gardens, the longtime neighborhood bar at the Perkins Road Overpass, is undergoing extensive renovations and may get a new name.

Christopher Sitton, a project manager with Arkel Constructors, said work should be complete by the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade weekend, which is March 12. “More than likely, the bar will change names,” Sitton said.

According to a building permit issued by the city-parish, the 1,430-square-foot building is slated to get about $300,000 in renovations. The work will involve putting in a full-service kitchen, making improvements to the building façade, building a ramp and steps to the bar and landscaping. “It will be a total renovation, but we’re keeping the historical values in tact,” Sitton said. That allows for the use of state and federal historic building tax credits to help cover some of the renovation costs, he said.

Zee Zee served food in the 1990s, but the kitchen had been closed for several years. The bar closed at the end of November, according to the Zee Zee Gardens’ Facebook page.

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FUNCAST: Things to do Jan. 29-Feb. 7 – The News

Friday, Jan. 29

Beginning Birding  Explore some of the prime birding areas of Lovers Key State Park with a park ranger. Learn how to identify the birds you see and where to go in the park for great birding. A limited number of binoculars will be provided. 10-11:30 a.m. Free after park admission. Lovers Key State Park, 8700 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach. Reservations  required.  463-4588.

Ghost Walk The history of the unusual Koreshan Unity community comes to life as actors in period costumes portray its founding with moonlight and candlelit pathways. Learn the before, during and after story of the Koreshan Settlement and enjoy treats made from Koreshan recipes at the restored bakery.  6:45 p.m., 7 p.m., 7:15 p.m., 7:30 p.m., 7:45 p.m., 8 p.m.  Koreshan State Historic Site, 3800 Corkscrew Road, Estero. Reservations required. 992-0311.

Lecture Series- Dr. Kenneth Meyer  Meyer, from the Avian Research and Conservation Institute in Gainesville, is conducting a tracking study on five reddish egret individuals he tagged at ‘Ding’ Darling refuge. The reddish egret (Egretta rufescens), known for its erratic  dancing when it forages, is the rarest and least studied wading bird in the U.S.1-2 p.m. Free. J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, 1 Wildlife Drive, Sanibel.

Sunset Music Cruise in Fort Myers Pure Florida will offer a 90-minute excursion along the Caloosahatchee River, accompanied by live music performed by Jon Dunnicliff . 4:30  p.m. The Marina at Edison Ford, 2360 West 1st St. Fort Myers. Reservations required. 919-2965

Sunset Music Cruise in Naples  Pure Florida will offer a 90-minute excursions along the Gordon River and Naples coastline, while listening to live music by “Golden Note” Jennifer Gilmore. 4:30 p.m. Tin City, 1200 5th Ave. S., Naples. Reservations required. 919-2965.

Yappy Hour  All dogs and their handlers are invited to join a pet/owner lookalike contest. T-shirts will be available for sale and attendees can meet and visit with GCHS adoptable dogs. Vendors will promote their businesses and Fathoms Restaurant and Bar, with The French Press Café will provide live music, beer and wine.  5-7 p.m. Cape Harbour, 575 Cape Harbour Drive, Cape Coral.

Wings Over Water Festival – Presentation  Explore the history of Harns Marsh; learn about its water control features; and discover the flora and fauna.  David E. Lindsay will discuss the future plans/development for Harns Marsh and the West Marsh. 8 a.m. Free, reservations preferred. Harns Marsh, 38th St. W., Lehigh Acres. 368-0044


Art in the Park Vendors will  have paintings, jewelry, candles and many other crafts.Noon-3 p.m. Palmira Renaissance Center Club, 28191 Matteotti View, Bonita Springs.  444-1180.

Ballpark Festival of Beers Featuring more than 80 craft beers from local, regional and national breweries. Patrons will enjoy music and the opportunity to have unlimited samples of craft beers from around the globe. Food  available from the Lobster Lady Seafood Market Bistro, Stevie Tomato’s Sports Page, Papa Murphy’s Pizza, The Poutine Queen, and Rosatti’s Italian Restaurant. 6-9 p.m. $30 for unlimited 4 oz. samples of craft beers. CenturyLink Sports Complex/Hammond Stadium, 14100 Six Mile Cypress Parkway, Fort Myers.

Boating Safety Peace River Sail and Power Squadron will  conduct a boating safety equipment demonstration with individual instruction in safe use of hand-held flares, aerial pyrotechnic devises, and fire extinguisher training, viewing of required and suggested boating safety equipment with Squadron Vessel Safety Examiners. The FWC and Punta Gorda Police Department Marine Patrol will answer questions.  10 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Free. Peace River riverfront at 802 West Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda.

Bluegrass Jamboree with BBQ Bugtussle Ramblers, Banyan Bluegrass and Cypress Hollow. Noon-5 p.m. $10 advance/ $15 door. Cape Coral Historical Museum, 544 Cultural Park Blvd., Cape Coral.  772-7037 or order tickets on line at

Bonita Springs National Art Festival  More than 200 artists display their work at one of the most highly regarded and nationally ranked Art Festivals in the country. Fine art abounds with paintings, glass, jewelry, clay works, photography, sculpture, wood and more.10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. $5 donation. Riverside Park, 26740 Pine Ave., Bonita Springs.   495-8989.

Guided Beach Walk Join a naturalist walk through maritime forest and coastal strand. Meet at Learning Center. 9-10 a.m. Free after park admission. Barefoot Beach Preserve, 503 Barefoot Beach Blvd., Bonita Springs.

Palmira Art in the Park Noon-3 p.m. Palmira Renaissance Center Club, 28191 Matteotti View Bonita Springs.

Share the Love for the Kids Home Tour  Featuring six homes and three gardens. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. $25/30. Punta Gorda Isles Civic Association, 2001 Shreve St., Punta Gorda.  309-838-3242

Winterfest Fundraiser for the De LaSalle Academy Scholarship Fund featuring sledding, bounce houses, obstacle course, sticky wall, carnival games, food and beverages, vendors, entertainment. Ride with the Whispering Pines Clydesdales. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sherman Soccer Complex, 13260 Griffin Drive, Fort Myers.  F


•Cast Iron Cafe A pinch of history at the Cast Iron Cafe where Koreshan bread recipes are prepared on historic Dutch oven and wood-burning stove. 11 a.m. Sundays. Free with park admission. Koreshan State Historic Site, 3800 Corkscrew Road, Estero.

Fort Myers Drum Circle  Bring your drum, percussion instruments and a chair. Extra drums are available for those who have never drummed. Music, dancing, poi spinning, chalk drawing and hula hooping.  7-9:30 p.m. Centennial Park, Edwards Drive, Fort Myers.

Gumbo Fest Music with Dwayne Dopsie and The Zydeco Hellraisers also featuring The Porch dogs. The Restaurants on board for Gumbo and festival foods are: Capt’n Fishbones, Lobster Lady, Cajun Bowl, Beef Depot, JambaLiars (a group of Nature Park supporters) and Tequera.  11 a.m.-6 p.m. Free admission. Shell Factory And Nature Park, 2787 N. Tamiami Trail, North Fort Myers.


Beachcombing Shelling Join a naturalist to learn why and what you find on the beach. 10-11 a.m.  Mondays through April  Free with park admission. Barefoot Beach Preserve, 503 Barefoot Beach Blvd., Bonita Springs.

Caribbean Cruise In  Live music, food, drinks, and prize giveaways. Make a donation to charity  to Celebrate “Car Show Jerry” and enter to win a grand prize. 5-7 p.m. Free. Parrot Key Caribbean, 2500 Main St., Fort Myers Beach.  463-3257

Estero River Kayak Tour Stately live oaks and native palm trees create a canopy over the peaceful river.  9-11 a.m. and 2-4 p.m. daily. $45, all equipment included. College of Life Foundation, 10600 Chevrolet Way, #302, Estero.  Reservations required. 992-2184.

 Life along the Shore Explore the shoreline of the San Carlos Bay ecosystem and learn more about the shorebirds, shells, animals and plants native to this diverse preserve. Wear comfortable clothing, shoes that can get wet, water, bug spray, binoculars and camera. 9:30 to 11 a.m. Mondays through March (except for holidays). Free; $2 per hour parking. Bunche Beach Preserve, 18201 John Morris Road, Fort Myers.  533-7275

Kayak eco-tours  Tour the mangrove-fringed barrier islands in Estero Bay. Learn  how the Calusa Indians called this rich estuarine environment their home prior to the arrival of Spanish explorers. See marine life and bird rookeries.   9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Mondays. $45 per person includes all equipment and  admission to the newly renovated historic home and museum on the property. Mound House – A Cultural and Environmental Learning Center, 451 Connecticut St., Fort Myers Beach.  Reservations required: or  765-0865

Life along the Shore: Explore the shoreline of the San Carlos Bay ecosystem and learn more about the shorebirds, shells, animals and plants native to this diverse preserve. 9:30 to 11 a.m. Mondays through March (except for holidays). Bunche Beach Preserve, 18201 John Morris Road, Fort Myers (parking $2 per hour). Information on guided walks call Lee County Parks Recreation’s Andrew Payne, 432-2154; general information about Lee County Parks Recreation, 533-7275 or

Monday Night Film Series Our popular film series returns for another 28 showing of the more interesting and talked-about films of the year. Films are followed by discussions and receptions. 7 p.m. $10. BIG ARTS Center, 900 Dunlop Road, Sanibel.

TGIM- Fort Myers Film Festival Watch short indie films submitted to the Fort Myers Film Festival and help decide whether it makes the grade for final the annual festival held April 7-10. 6:30-9 p.m. $10. Sidney Berne Davis Art Center, 2301 First St., Fort Myers.

 Feb. 2

Beach walk and Estuary tour Take a leisurely one-mile walk over the estuary and along the beach with a park naturalist. Find out what washes ashore on the beach during the night and learn about coastal wildlife. 10-11:30 a.m. Lovers Key State Park, 8700 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach. Reservations required.  463-4588

Calusa Blueway Gatherings  The History of Mound Key will be presented by Peggy Phillips from the College of Life Foundation as the third talk in a series of free Calusa Blueway-related programs. 6:30 to 8 p.m.  Wa-Ke Hatchee Recreation Center, 16760 Bass Road, Fort Myers. 432-2154. or

Caloosa Carvers Demonstration Wood-carving demonstrations featuring several replica artifacts from the Calusa culture. 9:30 a.m.-noon. Free. Mound House – A Cultural and Environmental Learning Center, 451 Connecticut St., Fort Myers Beach.

Chautauqua Institution Lunch and Learn: Islam and the Problem of Monotheism  Anouar Majid discusses canonical roots of Islamic violence, followed by a facilitated discussion by Drs. Jim and Marcia Maloni. Noon-2 p.m. $22. Hodges University, Naples Campus, 2647 Professional Way, Naples. Registration required today. or  598-6143 to register.

Garden Tour and Propagation Demonstration Learn what grows well in South West Florida and get ideas for your existing or future Yard. Knowledgeable Master Gardeners will give you a guided tour of the Demonstration gardens and a gardening demonstration to follow. 9 a.m. Free.  University of Florida, IFAS Extension Collier County, 14700 Immokalee Road, Naples. Registration required. or 252-4800

History of Fishing Fort Myers Beach From the ancient Calusa Indians, 18th century Cuban fishing ranchos and pioneer settlers, to commercial and recreational anglers, fishermen come to fish the incredibly rich waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Estero Bay.  11 a.m. and 2 p.m. $5. Mound House – A Cultural and Environmental Learning Center, 451 Connecticut St., Fort Myers Beac.

Tuesday Art Talks: A Secret History of Art A 1.5-hour multimedia journey into art history from the perspective of artist Berry van Boekel.  He will lead you on a journey to explore the events that create the art we appreciate today. 7-9 p.m. $10. Center for Performing Arts — Moe Auditorium Film Center, 10150 Bonita Beach Road SE, Bonita Springs.  495-8989


All About Manatees Learn about the biological characteristics and habitats of the Florida manatee. Discover where manatees live, what they eat and the challenges they face in the shallow coastal waters of Florida.  ADA-accessible paths. 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily. Free with paid parking.  Manatee Park, 10901 Palm Beach Blvd., North Fort Myers. 533-7275.

Bike Night Nevermind Awesome Bar and Eaterypairs with Six Bends Harley-Davidson for Bike Night with QA session with fit professionals, riding academy professionals and motorcycle technicians. Music, vendors, beverages and more. 6-9 p.m. Nevermind-Awesome Bar and Eatery, 927 Cape Coral Parkway E., Cape Coral.

“Ding” Darling Film Series Vanishing of the Bees Honeybees pollinate one third of the food we eat, and they are threatened by  Colony Collapse Disorder. The film chronicles the fight and potential solutions to keeping honeybees in our lives.2:30-4 p.m. Free. J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, 1 Wildlife Drive, Sanibel.

Exploring Ethnobotany: Learn the historical importance of Florida native plants as food, shelter, medicine and clothing to humans, past and present. Discover how these indigenous plants have been used by the Calusa and early settlers.  9:30 to 11 a.m. Wednesdays, through March (except for holidays).  Free. Matanzas Pass Preserve, 199 Bay Road, Fort Myers Beach. 533-7275

PB J Animal Rescue Quarter Auction $2 paddle rental. 6:30-9 p.m. Mugs-N-Jugs, 5512 8th St. West, Lehigh Acres.

State days Buffalo-Rochester Western NY. Starts at noon. Wear your favorite team colors and come out for a day of fun. Food and drink specials, giveaways, trivia, live music. Bootleggers Waterfront Barbeque, 2200 Main St., Fort Myers Beach.  463-3043.


Cape Coral Quarter Auction Benefits Elks charities. 6-8:30 p.m. $3 paddle rental. Elks Lodge, 4631 SE 10th Place, Cape Coral.

Cirque Italia Travelling water circus with aerialist, acrobats and Jet skis. 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday;  2:30, 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 and 5:30 p.m. Sunday. JetBlue Park, 11500 Fenway South Drive, Fort Myers. (941) 704-8572.

Educational Garden Workshop Series Edible Landscaping with John Dawson, Master Gardener, Manatee County. Saving money never looked and tasted so good. Sponsored by University of Florida, IFAS Extension Collier County. 10 a.m. $10.  Unity of Naples Church, 2000 Unity Way, off Davis Blvd., east of County Barn Road, Naples. 252-4800

Southwest Florida Symphony Series Symphonic Folklore: Mendelssohn, De Falla, Copland 7:30-9:30 p.m. $25. Shell Point Retirement Community – Village Church, 15100 Shell Point Blvd., Fort Myers. 454-2067

Walk on the Wild Side  Take a mile-long guided hike along our Black Island Trail with a park ranger to learn about the fascinating vegetation and wildlife that reside in this maritime hammock. 10-11:30 a.m. Lovers Key State Park, 8700 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach. Reservations required.  463-4588

Feb. 5

Art Walk Galleries, exhibitions, and performances open to the public with other features and specials. 6-10 p.m. Free. Fort Myers River District, Downtown Fort Myers.

Bonita Springs Shell Club Show/Sale Shell creations of flowers, critters, jewelry, dolls, etc. All profits donated to beach-related environmental organizations including Turtle Time. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Brookdale Senior Living Center, 26850 S. Bay Drive, Bonita Springs.

“Ding” Lecture Series- Ellen Prager Author of “Sex, Drugs and Sea Slime: The Oceans Oddest Creatures and Why They Matter Hidden”  the marine scientist  introduces a cast of fascinating and bizarre creatures that make the salty depths their home. A book signing will follow both lectures. 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Free. J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, 1 Wildlife Drive Sanibel.

Garden Bros Circus A last chance to see elephants live, “Motorcycle Madness”,  clowns, aerialists, and cirque artists. 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. $25-32. Germain Arena, 11000 Everblades Parkway, Estero.

Ghost Walk  The history of the unusual Koreshan Unity community comes to life as actors in period costumes portray its founding with moonlight and candlelit pathways.  Learn the before, during and after story of the Koreshan Settlement and enjoy treats made from Koreshan recipes at the restored bakery.  6:45 p.m., 7 p.m., 7:15 p.m., 7:30 p.m., 7:45 p.m., 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday.  Koreshan State Historic Site, 3800 Corkscrew Road, Estero. Reservations required. 992-0311.

SWFL Critical Mass ride Every first Friday of the month SWFL Critical Mass meets at the lot next to the downtown Publix  to bicycle  through downtown Fort Myers and many of the historic neighborhoods surrounding the Edison home  for 11 miles with a small break at the halfway point. Publix, 2160 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers.

Southwest Florida Symphony-POPS II  Lights, Camera, Orchestra: Hollywood’s Greatest Hits. 8-10 p.m. Barbara B Mann Performing Arts Hall, 13350 FSW Parkway, Fort Myers.


Wind Across the Everglades Hollywood came to Everglades City in 1957 with a star cast to film  the story of plume hunters in the early 1900s. Burl Ives, Gypsy Rose Lee, and Christopher Plummer took leading roles. Local talent included Totch Brown (who sang as “One-Note”) and Cory Mary Osceola. See if you recognize any of the extras in the crowd scenes and enjoy an Old-Fashioned Movie hosted by the Everglades Society for Historic Preservation. 5:30 p.m. Free. Jinkins Fellowship Hall behind the Everglades Community Church, 101 Copeland Ave. Reservations required. email or phone Marya at 695-2905.


Bird tours at Lakes Park  Experienced Bird Patrol guides take you to see birds in native vegetation. 8-9 a.m. Free after parking. Meet at Shelter A7.  Lakes Regional Park, 7330 Gladiolus Drive, Fort Myers.

Cruise and Discover Matlacha Island  Guests will be taken on a Taste of Matlacha Walking Tour, guided by True Tours, learning about the island’s unique history while sampling signature delicacies, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. $64. Departs The Marina at Edison Ford, 2360 West 1st St., Fort Myers.

Edison Antique Car Show  Edison Ford Winter Estates’ annual antique car show featuring Ford models with more than 100 cars on the Ford Lawn, along the Calooshatchee River as a tribute to Henry Ford, the pioneer of the automobile industry. Live entertainment,  food and tours of gardens and  buildings at Edison Ford Winter Estates. This family event is free for Edison Ford members; $20 for non-members.  10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Edison Ford Winter Estates, 2350 McGregor Blvd, Fort Myers. 334-7419 or

Mardi Gras Trolley Unlimited trolley rides through the South Cape Hospitality Zone.  Visit all locations to be entered to win a Mardi Gras basket. 7 to 11 p.m.  $10/15. $2.50 specialty drink at each location. South Cape Hospitality and Entertainment Association, 1217 Cape Coral Parkway E., Cape Coral.  900-4028

Palms of Edisonia American Business Women’s Association Bingo 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Elks Lodge, 4631 SE 10th Place, Cape Coral.  Carolyn Graves, 770-1929 or email

Paws People SWFL Hearts For Paws Festival Car show with local rescues and adoptable pets, information and more. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Free/$15 car registration. Jersey Mike’s Subs, 6810 Shoppes at Plantation Drive,  Fort Myers.    

Singles Mingle/Lock and Key  Raffle prizes, live entertainment, and food drink specials. 7-9 p.m. Miromar Outlets, 10801 Corkscrew Road, Estero.

World Wetlands Day Morning activities  at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary include a backcountry tour and boardwalk tours (hourly from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.). A meditation session  is at 9:30 a.m. A fashion and merchandise show is in the nature store from 1 to 1:30 p.m. Throughout the day, festival-goers will enjoy a farmer’s market of local produce and products, children’s discovery stations, art exhibits and live music. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Regular admission of $14;  $6 for college students; $4, ages 6 to 18. Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, 375 Sanctuary Road,  Naples. 348-9151


CAPA Jazz Blues Festival  Dr. Tom Smith, jazz trumpeter and FSW faculty member, leads The FSW Jazz Ensemble, the Jazz Buccaneers; other performers include Steve Uscher’s Tropical Jazz Group, Dan Heck Trio, Mudbone, Dan Miller Quintet and Lew DelGatto. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Free. Mercato Mall, 9123 Strada Place, Naples.

Car Cruise-In See all the favorite makes and models of classic, exotic and custom cars. 8 a.m. Miromar Outlets, 10801 Corkscrew Road, Estero.

Fort Myers Drum Circle  Bring your drum, percussion instruments and a chair. Extra drums are available for those who have never drummed. Music, dancing, poi spinning, chalk drawing and hula hooping.  7-9:30 p.m. Sundays. Centennial Park, Edwards Drive, Fort Myers.

Estero Concert Series Dedicated  to victims of WWII 4-6 p.m. Koreshan State Historic Site, 3800 Corkscrew Road, Estero. Limited to 90 people,  tickets cost $40 and includes park entrance.  Art Hall at the Koreshan State Park, 3800 Corkscrew Road, Estero. Reservations  recommended.  596-8404 or emailing

Super Bowl Sunday Party  Super bowl party includes unlimited burgers and dogs for the whole game. 5 p.m. Off The Hook Comedy Club, 2500 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Suite 1100, Naples.

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Modern landscaping and outdoor living

When I heard that Arizona landscape architect Steve Martino is speaking at Modernism Week, I got all excited.

In my humble opinion, Steve is one of the most innovative designers in the west and has mastered the blending of desert plants with modern elements for the rich and famous. His work combines the colors and walls of Mexico’s Luis Barragan with new and different materials accented by the most architectural species of the arid Southwest. His palette is perfectly tailored to homes in our valley at a time when local modern architecture is trending toward the monochromatic. We need more natural desert and colorful inspiration like this that opens minds to a more festive approach to design..

“Martino is a plant guy,” says Paul Ortega, a local desert designer working hard to develop a stronger Landscape and Outdoor Living program for Modernism Week. “His plant palette is much the same as ours so his plant choices, and their relationship to constructed modern elements is totally doable here.”

To zero in on Martino’s presentation and to buy tickets for all the other tours, lectures, parties and events in the Landscape + Outdoor Living section, log on to

A late addition to the lineup is the Rancho Mirage Garden Tour which includes landscapes both large and small. The gem of this tour is a rare opportunity to visit an iconic estate in Thunderbird, neighboring the Gerald R. Ford house. But the real epiphany appears when you cross Hwy 111 to the curious Blue Skies Village mobile home park to explore small space modern design. The community was created by Bing Crosby to house their visiting golf friends who came to the desert in their vintage Airstream trailers. Today this rediscovered trailer park is small scale modern at its finest.

“We always look for homes that offer a contemporary interpretation of vintage modern landscapes with ideas everyone can use,” Paul explains. “The introduction of so many new materials as well as plants and structures is expanding every year. To see them used in real world small scale landscapes helps everyone understand all their options.”

At Blue Skies is an eye popping transformation of a vintage double wide into an exciting new home featuring all the bells and whistles. The use of galvanized siding and fencing is eye popping with big color trim and accents that makes the whole composition pop. There are literally dozens of really affordable and doable ideas packed into this tiny mobile home lot. Perhaps the most interesting is that the planting is naturalistic desert style, which demonstrates how effectively it makes the architecture sing without using lines and grids and Spartan spaces.

Ortega has also been coordinating with Wendy Proud, of Mountain States Wholesale Nursery, the grower that supplies so many of our desert garden centers. Along south Palm Canyon they will be working to set up a temporary streetside landscaping in front of the old Robinsons’ building that later became The Alley. Here large specimens will stand out to demonstrate the many outstanding large species of cactus, succulents and desert plants.

Six years ago Ortega joined William Kopelk in starting the modern home garden tours which are no small feat to organize. The effort to find good gardens with quality architecture and landscaping is hard in a valley where so much is hidden within pricey enclaves. His dogged determination and long term devotion to the creation of sustainable landscapes for our valley gives Paul a great eye for finding those gardens that inspire us. “My dream is to get the interest of Sunset Magazine because they have all the data of midcentury design history. Their books and magazines are the most important archive there is on the real look and aims of midcentury designers.”

Modernism Week also includes a wide range of tours in the various Palm Springs neighborhoods. These enclaves are where many of the midcentury architects did some of their best work and contemporary owners have restored and relandscaped these homes to give them a sharp 21st century feel.

Modernism Week runs from February 11 to 21 with each day filled to capacity with tours, lectures and parties for those who love modern design and everything that goes with it. Thanks to Paul’s efforts this year, the landscape and outdoor living activities are better than ever, offering instruction and inspiration on design of outdoor spaces and how to use plants to make them the best places ever to relax and enjoy our beautiful desert days.

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Nine tips for beginner gardeners

Discover your inner green thumb with these expert tips for gardens and indoor plants.

1. Start slow

You won’t learn to cook starting with the toughest recipe in the book. Ease yourself into gardening with some easy-care indoor plants or vegetables.

“Indoor plants are a great way for beginner gardeners to get used to caring for plants away from outdoor weather extremes,” says Courtney Stevens, buyer at The Greenery Garden Centre and exhibitor at the 2016 Melbourne International Flower  Garden Show.

Vegetables and herbs such as baby spinach, loose leaf lettuce, spring onions and basil are all easy and quick to grow from seed or seedlings.  

“For beginner (and potentially impatient) gardeners, it’s so rewarding to be able to start picking produce within a matter of weeks,” says Angie Thomas, expert horticulturist at Yates.

Using natural products will ensure your produce remains healthy and fit for consumption.

“Follow organic gardening methods, which basically means you don’t use chemical sprays or fertilisers in your garden and instead choose organic fertilisers and garden products,” says Cath Manuel, founder of Soil to Supper.

A wise idea for beginners is to keep plants in an easy to access spot you’ll look at regularly.

“If you see a plant every day, you are much more likely to notice problems and successes early and you will also learn about the cycles of gardening,” says author and gardener Cheralyn Darcey.

2. Invest in the basics

“Gardening is more about having fun than fancy tools but you will need some basics to get started,” says Johanna Seton, vice president of marketing at hipages.

For compact gardens, it’s worth investing in a watering can, gloves, hand trowel and small shovel, and for larger gardens, a wheelbarrow, rake and secateurs.

“Make sure you try the tools before you buy – they need to be comfortable in the hand,” Seton says. 

Manuel recommends keeping a stash of takeaway containers filled with organic fertilisers (contents clearly marked on container), organic liquid plant food, a bag of quality organic potting mix (“don’t buy the cheap stuff”), a few pots or containers to plant in, and packets of organic seeds.  

“These goodies will be on hand if you find yourself heading outside when you have a few moments [to garden] or need time to relax.”

Plant stands by Ivy Muse. Styling by Alana Langan. Photo by Annette O’Brien

3. Plant in healthy soil

“Healthy soil is the best thing you can do for your garden and your plants,” Manuel says.

“Start by adding compost or aged manure to your soil, give it a good watering and cover in a natural mulch.”

Stevens says mulch is an often overlooked but important element of any modern garden.

“Mulch is something beginner gardeners may not know too much about, but it plays an important part in water conservation,” Stevens says.

“Apply a good layer of mulch to bedded areas in spring and autumn as it stops soil drying out, keeps it moist and can dramatically reduce watering.”

4. Choose plants wisely

“Choosing a plant is like choosing a pet. Different plants require different amounts of care and it’s important to find a plant that suits your lifestyle,” says Charlie Lawler, Director of Loose Leaf.

Selecting the “right” plant also depends on the climate and the amount of light available.

“If you live in a cool climate, choose plants to suit cooler temperatures, or for warmer regions of subtropical or tropical climates choose tropical-style plants,” Manuel says.

Until you’re a seasoned green thumb, it’s best to opt for low-maintenance species.

“Devil’s ivy is one of our favourites– a beautiful romantic-looking vine that’s very hardy and evergreen,” says Alana Langan, co-founder of Ivy Muse.

“As well as looking amazing, it’s known for its air purifying qualities [and it’s a] great communicator too – its leaves begin to curl when it really needs water so its a great choice for those who are learning the ropes.”

Native species are also an ideal option for beginners.

“Not only will they require less care and water, but you will be helping to sustain local wildlife like insects and birds,” Seton says.

5. Water with care

One of the most common mistakes made with house plants is over watering.

“A lot of indoor plants like to be allowed to dry out between waters,” Lawler says.

According to Langan, the easiest way to check whether a plant needs water is to use your finger.

“Place your finger in the soil at the base of the plant (up to the second knuckle is good) and then remove,” Langan says.

“If it feels dry, it needs water. If there’s soil stuck to your finger and it feels wet, it’s fine for another day or two.”

Plant stands by Ivy Muse. Styling by Alana Langan. Photo by Annette O’Brien

6. Location is everything

Choosing an appropriate location for your plants is vital to their survival.

“When picking the appropriate plant for different rooms in your house, it’s good to think of your home as a series of microclimates and to pick plants based on this,” Lawler says.

“For example, a hot north-facing windowed room in Australia might resemble similar condition to a dry arid region, therefore [it’s best to] pick a plant that suits those conditions [such as] a cactus or succulent.”

Be mindful not to move indoor plants too often, and ensure they’re kept away from any drafts.

“Generally indoor plants do no cope well with extreme changes in condition,” Lawler says.

“Particularly in summer, it’s advised to keep plants away from direct air conditioning air flow and in winter avoid having plants in cool drafts or to close to direct heaters.”

Some outdoor pots such as terracotta styles are also susceptible to overheating during the warmer weather. To avoid this issue, it’s recommend to water plants both morning and evening to prevent them from drying out.

“If this isn’t an option, you can always line the pots with plastic or an empty compost bag with holes to keep the moisture in for longer,” says Mehmet Dereboylu, Owner of Westlake Nursery.

7. Get social

Fast track your gardening education with help from a nearby community group.

“Learn all the tricks and tips from the old hands while you make new mates ­and before you know it you will have green fingers just like them,” Seton says.

A quick chat to the neighbours about their endeavours can also save hours of time in the long run.

“Begin with what is already working in your area and you might get a bit of mentoring from your neighbours as well, not to mention making new friends,” Darcey says.

8. Don’t hold back

If all these tips already have you feeling exhausted already, don’t despair.

“Don’t forgo having plants in your home simply because you’re be afraid you’ll ‘kill them’,” Langan says.

“If you’re getting your plant care wrong (too much water, too much sun) the plant will tell you – you just have to pay attention and learn what works best for it.”

Plant stands by Ivy Muse. Styling by Alana Langan. Photo by Annette O’Brien

9…But if you’re really struggling, call in a pro

If you need some advice or are feeling a little out of your depth, you can always call on the experts.

“We all have failures, bad seasons, bad years,” Darcey says. 

“There is no such thing as a brown thumb; you just haven’t gotten those hands out into the garden enough to turn green.”

Try a landscaper or specialised service like a tree surgeon if issues with your garden persist.

“They will not only have the expertise but all the right equipment for your job,” Seton says. 

Find out now!

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Agromin gardening tips: February rain brings growing opportunities for Southern California gardeners

With February being the rainiest month of the year in southern California, even an average rainfall (with or without El Nino) will give gardeners an excellent opportunity to plant and prepare their gardens for spring, says Agromin, an Oxnard and Huntington Beach-based manufacturer of earth-friendly compost products made from organic material collected from more than 50 California cities. Residents can obtain Agromin soil products in bulk or in bags at Rainbow Environmental Services (gate seven) in Huntington Beach and in bulk at South Coast Supply in Huntington Beach and Los Alamitos.

Add Color: By February, flowers are looking worse for wear, especially if temperatures dip below freezing. Remove dead flowers from existing plants and add already-blooming annuals such as pansies, violas, primrose, snapdragons and calendulas to keep flower gardens looking fresh.

Still Time To Plant Bare Root Deciduous Fruit Trees: Roots of these trees are typically wrapped in bags or boxes at nurseries. Peek at the root system before buying to make sure it is healthy and plentiful. If the root system looks sparse, pick another tree. If the trees show signs of new growth, remove any newly forming leaves before planting so as not to break the tree’s dormancy.

Scatter Wildflowers: Buy packages of mixed wildflowers from the nursery or online and scatter the seeds onto garden bare spots. Ideally, distribute the seeds just prior to a rainy day. Apply seeds multiple times. Popular wildflowers include California poppy, African daisy, purple coneflower, baby’s breath, snapdragon, flax and lupine. Flowers will appear in spring.

Take Care of Houseplants: Like their outdoor counterparts, houseplants often take the winter off when it comes to growth. Make sure they have plenty of sunlight and don’t overwater them. Dust off leaves and trim back in preparation for spring.

Weed Weekly: After every rain, plants grow including weeds. Remove weeds every week. The process is easier to do when the ground is wet. Once the weeds are removed, add a two-inch layer of mulch on top of the soil to keep weeds from reappearing.

Fertilize Citrus And Avocado Trees: Citrus and avocado trees need an application of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium fertilizer at least twice a year. In late February or early March, add specially formulated fertilizer for citrus and avocado trees. Follow the directions carefully. The amount you apply depends on the size and age of the tree. First, thoroughly water around the tree, rake fertilizer into the top one to two inches of soil and then water again.

Clear Leaves and Debris From Rain Gutters: Falling leaves and other debris can quickly clog rain gutters. Keep them clear. Consider installing a rainwater collection system (a do-it-yourself version or a manufactured variety) to store rainwater from gutters for future watering needs. Make sure the collection system is covered as to not attract mosquitos.

For more gardening tips, go to

This article was released by Agromin.

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Spring-flowering bulbs, cool-season weeds: This week’s gardening tips

This week’s gardening tips: The foliage on spring-flowering bulbs is growing. The leaves are hardy and will not be bothered by freezes. The flowers are more susceptible to cold damage.

Open flowers should be cut if temperatures in the low 20s are predicted. Place the cut flowers in vases and enjoy them indoors.

Apply a lawn weed killer now to control cool-season weeds. Do not use weed and feed (weed killer combined with a fertilizer). It’s far too early to fertilize warm season grasses.

Apply lawn weed killers during a mild spell when daytime highs are above 60 degrees, and follow label directions carefully. During cold winter weather, the water coming out of the faucet can be very chilly.

When filling up your watering can, don’t just turn on the cold tap. Turn on both cold and hot water and adjust the temperature coming out of the faucet until it feels tepid or barely warm. This is healthier for tropical houseplants and will prevent the spotting of African violet foliage.

Foxgloves, columbines, delphiniums and hollyhocks are short-lived perennials that are commonly used as cool-season annuals in Louisiana.

Early planting is key to success here. These plants are generally planted in the fall, but excellent results can still be obtained if transplants are planted into the garden in February for bloom sometime in April through early June.

After flowering, foxgloves, columbine and delphiniums should be pulled up and composted. Hollyhocks are almost always infected with rust by the time they finish flowering, and should be disposed of in the trash rather than composting.


Love to read about gorgeous gardens? Sign up for’s weekly home and garden newsletter, and you’ll get Dan Gill’s latest tips as well as stories about gorgeous local landscapes. It’s easy and free. Just click here. And while you’re at it, head over to the New Orleans Homes and Gardens page on Facebook.

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Commissioner Curt Smith Updates Brevard Citizens On County Commission Agenda Items

By  //  January 28, 2016

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January 26, 2016 meeting

Curt Smith was elected to the Brevard County Commission in November of 2014 with 63 percent of the vote. He ran as a fiscal conservative coming from the private sector with 40 years of small business, entrepreneurial experience.

Curt Smith was elected to the Brevard County Commission in November of 2014 with 63 percent of the vote. He ran as a fiscal conservative coming from the private sector with 40 years of small business, entrepreneurial experience.

Resolution Approved 3-2 Limiting County Commissioners, Public To Place Agenda Items Dealing With Economic Development


BREVARD COUNTY FLORIDA – As many of you know, there has been an ongoing discussion in recent months regarding our County’s lack of funding for road maintenance and construction.

At the January 14 Workshop I proposed, and the Commission agreed, to come to the next Board Meeting with lists of possible solutions to fund road maintenance.

There seems to be two sides to this issue: The first is that the County has a spending problem, and the second is that the County has a revenue problem.

From my viewpoint, both sides make legitimate arguments. However, if we do not find common ground and come to a compromise from both ends, the issue will continue to drag on, be divisive, and nothing will be resolved.

I have been asking my fellow Commissioners to commit to writing their ideas, and it is for this reason that I came to Tuesday’s Board Meeting prepared with a list of 13 budget items to analyze and consider.

My intent was to start a discussion that would help lead us closer to resolving this dilemma.

It was decided that the Commission would hold off on making any decisions on this topic until we hold another Workshop on the issue on March 31.

Brevard County Commission Rejects Plan To Increase Gas Tax To Pay For Road RepairsRelated Story:
Brevard County Commission Rejects Plan To Increase Gas Tax To Pay For Road Repairs

Our workshops are intended to be a place where the Commissioners can discuss options and processes in a public forum, rather than a debate with the public, although public comments and opinions are always welcomed and encouraged.

Later in the meeting, Commissioner Robin Fisher handed out a resolution that prompts the County Manager not to place any items on a Board Meeting agenda in the future if the items are related to funding, defunding, or dissolution of redevelopment agencies and similar entities unless at least 3 out of the 5 Commissioners vote to do so.

The proposal passed by a 3-2 vote, with myself and Commissioner Infantini voting against. I wanted the issue tabled for two weeks to let the emotions on both sides settle down.


At Tuesday’s Board Meeting it was requested that we authorize the termination of the county contracts with Green Leaf Landscaping and Irrigation.

In adopting the current fiscal year budget, the Board approved a program change to the Sheriff’s budget as a cost savings measure, which increased oversight of Facility lawn maintenance.

As part of this initiative, the Sheriff’s Office will be utilizing inmates and community service workers to perform landscape maintenance for sites such as courthouses, government centers, County service complexes, animal shelters, and other county facilities.

The inmates and community service workers will begin taking over all lawn maintenance to include mowing, shrub maintenance, edging, trimming/pruning, weeding, irrigation inspection, parking lot maintenance, and general debris removal on March 1, 2016.

The Board approved this measure unanimously, which will result in a County savings of approximately $100,000 for the remainder of 2016, and approximately $183,000 every year after.


It was requested that the Board approve a contract to transfer responsibility of the Palm Bay Aquatic Center, Palm Bay Senior Center andPalm Bay Regional Park to the City of Palm Bay. The transition would ultimately save the County a total of approximately $1.5 million for the first 5 years, and $960,929 every year after.

Brevard County staff and City of Palm Bay Parks Recreation representatives have held numerous meetings in the past to discuss and negotiate the contractual language to facilitate a seamless transition, contingent upon both Board and City Council approval.

The Board unanimously approved these agreements on Tuesday, which means that the City of Palm Bay can officially begin taking over operation and maintenance of the Regional Park, Senior Center, and Aquatic Center.


In the Central and Northern Regions of the Indian River Lagoon (IRL), record setting algae blooms have caused the loss of over 40,000 acres of seagrass, and the unusual mortality of hundreds of manatees, bottlenose dolphins, and pelicans.

One major contributing factor to the catastrophic decline is the extensive amount of organic muck deposits created by decades of runoff, erosion, and nutrient loading.

Muck sediments can negatively impact navigation, damage seagrass beds, and can also create anoxic bottom conditions that are detrimental to Lagoon organisms.

Brevard County has embarked on an aggressive restoration strategy for the lagoon to reduce excess nutrient inputs, remove the legacy load of muck, restore the filtration systems (oysters, clams, and wetlands), and ensure that sound research is the basis of the effort.

As part of this restoration strategy, removal of the muck is critical to overall success. Brevard County muck removal projects are already underway in multiple areas throughout the county.

On Tuesday the Board voted 4-0, with Commissioner Infantini abstaining from the vote due to a conflict of interest, to approve a $10,000,000 grant from the Department of Environmental Protection that will help offset some of the costs of the muck removal project.

The funding was specifically appropriated by the Florida State Legislature to further muck removal efforts within the IRL system in Brevard County.

$1,500,000 of the funding is to be provided to the IRL Research Institute at the Florida Institute of Technology for the purpose of scientific assessment to determine environmental benefits from the project.

CLICK HERE to view the agenda, minutes, or video of past Board of County Commissioners Meetings


Tuesday, February 9, 2016
• 9 a.m. – Commission Chambers, 2725 Judge Fran Jamieson Way, Viera, FL 32940

Tuesday, February 16, 2016
• 9 a.m. – Commission Chambers, 2725 Judge Fran Jamieson Way, Viera, FL 32940

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
• 9 a.m. – Commission Chambers, 2725 Judge Fran Jamieson Way, Viera, FL 32940

ABOUT CURT SMITH, Brevard County District 4 Commissioner

Smith was elected to the Brevard County Commission in November of 2014 with 63 percent of the vote. He ran as a fiscal conservative coming from the private sector with 40 years of small business, entrepreneurial experience. This was his first venture into the world of politics.

Curt Smith

Curt Smith

Smith and his wife Linda owned and operated a Maaco Autopainting franchise in Melbourne for almost 27 years before retiring at the end of 2013. He grew up in a little town in southern New Jersey on the Delaware River called Pennsville. This is where he developed his deep love of nature and for being on and in the water of the river he loved. He also credits this area, just south of Philadelphia, with his deep love of God and country. The Delaware Valley is often called the cradle of Liberty.

Smith has always been civic minded. Some of his many associations in Brevard County include Board of Directors of Friends of Sally’s House and Prevent as well as supporting Brevard Little League Teams, Habitat for Humanity, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, Candlelighters, Animal Services, and supporting efforts to restore the Indian River Lagoon.

Curt and his wife Linda have been residents of Melbourne since 1986. They have one daughter and three grandchildren.

To contact Curt Smith e-mail or call 321-633-2044.

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WATCH: Mayor Summey delivers North Charleston State of the City Address

Welcome to 2016 North Charleston State of the City address.  The following will be presented to you by the true future of North Charleston, our youth.  We are happy to partner, as you will see, with our high schools and these students, but first a word about 2015.

Last year was like no other that we’ve ever faced.  The national media descended on North Charleston in response to the actions of shooting of Walter Scott.  This murder took away a father and son from the Scott family, and had the prospects of dividing the community.  A quick arrest of the officer and a charge of murder were made, and a rebuilding of trust immediately commenced.  In the months following, a settlement was reached with the estate of Walter Scott without the need for a lawsuit.  The incident now solely lies in the hands of the judicial system.

Instead of a splintered city, the result was a stronger community with forward looking efforts to ensure a lasting bond between the police department and people it serves and protects.

An immediate result was to finish equipping our police force with body cameras, a process we begun before this tragedy occurred, as well as immediately asking the Justice Department to assist us with a plan to further bolster our police department’s already in place community outreach.  I am proud that Police Chief Eddie Driggers keeps an open mind and heart towards the community and I believe that he has built a more responsive, yet gentler department than what we had at the beginning of 2015.

Looking forward to 2016, we must find a way to instill into our youth that violence isn’t a problem solver.  This is my plea to the community, churches, parents, grandparents, and siblings to help us impart a different attitude into the minds of these young people.

The tragedy at Mother Emmanuel Church has forever shaped our region. Let us never forget Senator Clementa Pinckney and his parishioners, but let us reflect upon the unity it brought.  When an act so vile instilled harmony in the Lowcountry, it says a lot about the folks that call this place home.

From the tragedy, I was happy to be a part of the charge to remove the Confederate Battle Flag from the State house grounds.  I commend the state lawmakers for finally doing the right thing.

From these significant events of 2015, let us continue to be one community. Together, all of our futures are brighter.

Now, I turn it over to our talented and capable presenters.

Riverfront Park, Quarters K, Be More Tea, World Record

Riverfront Park is cool. So cool, that it hosted Lipton’s Be More Tea Festival, which featured national acts of The Roots, Passion Pit, Walk the Moon and others.  What else cool happened at Rvierfront Park that day?  How about Lipton breaking the Guinness World Record for the Largest Iced Tea.

The coolness doesn’t stop at Riverfront Park. Matador Network, the world’s largest independent travel magazine, named North Charleston one of the coolest towns in the United States.  How cool is that? Okay, have we said cool enough? Cool.

CARTA Intermodal facility

The North Charleston Regional Intermodal Transportation Facility is proposed for existing Amtrak station on Gaynor Avenue.  This past Spring, the City of North Charleston decided to partner with CARTA to assume the project management role for the design and construction phase and ownership of the facility.  The 14,217 square-foot transportation hub would provide connections between local CARTA bus service, Amtrak, and Southeastern Stages intercity buses.  The $14.5 million, world-class facility will provide a gateway to the Lowcountry.  A display room will celebrate the history of the station and as a catalyst to spur cultural tourism in the Liberty Hill neighborhood.

MUSC Children’s outpatient and Rivers Ave redevelopment

In a key investment to drive redevelopment of Rivers Avenue, the City purchased the 20 acre lot at the corner of Mall Drive and Rivers in order for The Medical University of South Carolina to place its Children’s Outpatient Center on the site.  Initially, MUSC will only need a portion of the 20 acres, so the city will transfer the property as the need expands.

There are high hopes for the redevelopment of the commercial corridor along Rivers Avenue. We’re seeing nodes of investment that have been undertaken or are planned.  Shipwatch Square soon should have a released RFP, the development with MUSC at Mall Drive, new construction and a remodel at Remount Road, and Trident Tech ongoing education investment, including the Aeronautical training center.  On top of that, if the region and CARTA adopts a bus rapid transit line, it would only make sense for that to travel down Rivers Avenue, another catalyst for the corridor. The combination of these projects, we’re betting big on a renewed Rivers Avenue.

Shipwatch Square

The City is currently working on a Development Request for Proposal for the Shipwatch Square site.  Although we have had a number of parties interested in the property, we have yet to see a development team come to us with a specific commitment from a major retail grocery store.  In order to create more exposure for the City’s desire to develop this site we have elected to prepare the RFP to expand the potential pool of capital and entice development partners whom we may not have worked with previously.  The City is committed to achieving a thriving mixed use development on the property to include a grocery store, additional retail, new housing stock and possibly office uses. This RFP should be on the street by the end of the First Quarter.


The North Charleston Coliseum and Performing Arts Center, along with the Charleston Area Convention Center remain key attractions and ongoing asset to the City.

The North Charleston Coliseum, Charleston Area Convention Center and Performing Arts Center are tremendous attractions. In 2015 the three venues once again drew 1.5 million visitors.  According to the College of Charleston’s Office of Tourism Analysis, $54.4 million in direct local spending was attributable to the complex, a 1.3% increase over 2014. And using conservative estimates, the total economic output impact of the complex was $91.5 million, which included $30.1 million in wages earned locally, again an increase over 2014.

Some of the top events were Kevin Hart, Miranda Lambert, the Best of Broadway Series, Shovels Rope, Beck, Bob Dylan, the Cooper River Bridge Run Expo, Antiques Road Show, among many, many other nationally recognized events.

Enhancements to keep the complex up to date continued in 2015 with new carpeting, paintings, and furnishings in the PAC and Convention Center. The update was the first since the facilities opened in the 90s.

An even larger update will be unveiled in 2016, with the opening of the Coliseum Terrace. This is an identical expansion to the Montague Terrace on the opposite side of the Coliseum.  With both the Montague and Coliseum Terraces open to handle concessions and other facility needs, the concourses will be opened for a better flow of traffic, greatly improving the patron experience.


Wescott continues to bustle along, during its peaking employing over 75 spanning as much as 18 hours per day.  Our municipal golf course has a much greater reach into the community than your average golf course.  Wescott is home to collegiate and high school golf teams, offers specialized golf instruction to wounded warriors and veterans assimilating back into society, hosts numerous charity fundraisers every year, as well as events targeting youth participation, like PGA Sports Academy and the National School Challenge Cup.

Wescott’s First Tee affiliation continues to be one of the highest ranked programs in the southeast with the highlight being autistic golfer Ricky Martin who heads a class of 4 ACE level students. ACE is the highest level attainable in the First Tee and Wescott hosts the only ACE program in South Carolina.

From the course to the clubhouse, Wescott’s chef once again one the “Taste of Charleston Black Expo” competition.

We’re proud to be home to the finest municipal golf facility in the Lowcountry.

Economic Development

WabCo, a supplier of tech that improves the safety and efficiency of commercial vehicles, announced a move and expansion within North Charleston in 2015. They’ll be creating 50 additional jobs, but just as important, they will be the first of many businesses to locate within the Whitfield Industrial Park along Patriot Blvd.  Located in the upper Dorchester Road corridor, this park puts jobs close to where people live, complementing the City’s work near where you live mentality.

Emergency Preparedness

Back in July 2015, the City posted an informational piece titled “Are you prepared for a Flood Disaster.”  Little did we know that the resources provided would so important come October.  Early that month, South Carolina and North Charleston was faced with over 20 inches of rain in only a couple of days.

Several areas of the city, including some that experienced no pervious flooding, were confronted with up to three feet of water in their home.  During the flooding, the Fire and Police departments assisted with rescue and evacuation efforts.  Together, 90 residents and 20 pets were evacuated over a 52 hour period.

Knowing that these displaced citizens were in a time of need, the city mobilized to offer as much support as possible for the residents.  The city immediately opened shelters, while many departments began coordinating a recovery effort.  We wanted to get residents back in their homes as quickly as possible, disaster assessment teams went house to house in affected areas to ensure the structures were safe to reenter and for those without power, safe to reenergize.  In total, 246 assessments were completed.  Contractors were mustered to offer free assistance and FEMA set up a disaster site at the city’s public works facility.  It was great to see the community and city rally to provide the level of support that was offered to all affected by this one thousand year event.

Fire Museum

When the Fire Museum opened in 2007, a mission was set forth to not only display a priceless collection of antique fire trucks to historical enthusiast, but to use fire service artifacts, presented in a fun, interactive manner to educate, especially students, about fire safety.  Mission accomplished again in 2015.  The attendance increase of 15% to 35,000 guests came from a number of efforts, including summer camps, school groups, and community organizations, and even through birthday parties, private functions, and events like Fire Prevention Week Family Fun Day in conjunction with the Fire Department.  Don’t miss out on the fun and educational opportunity for your students and kids, find out more at the newly redesigned


The City saw an impressive 25% dip in overall building construction valuation from 2014 to 2015 totaling, the total remained well over half a million dollars at $515,000,000.  The major decrease were in the commercial upfits and renovations category, however, we saw a slight increase in new commercial projects, moving from $120 million to $124 million.

Several large scale construction projects came to a close in 2014, driving down the valuation, but with continued large scale expansion and location of businesses in Palmetto Commerce Park, such as Mercedes-Benz Vans, we expect this number to increase once again in 2016.

To list a few of the new commercial projects from around North Charleston, we had Boeing’s Paint facility, Roper St. Francis administrative complex, Lineage Logistics, Leeds Office Park, WalMart neighborhood markets a several new Sunoco stations.

On the residential side, we saw a 29% increase from 2014 to 2015 with valuation increasing to over $51,000,000.


The Planning and Zoning Department’s mission is to monitor growth and development within the city and work to provide communities and businesses with information to help sustain the local economy.  The premise of zoning is that certain land uses may exist harmoniously in proximity to one another.  Additionally, to sustain long-term growth in key parts of our city, the Planning and Zoning Department reviews demographic trends, capacity for growth, reviews the US Census statistics and works on information to assist everyone’s needs.

In realized and planned developments, 290 single family and 56 apartment units received certificates of occupancy.  However, 1520 apartment units are at some stage of development with an additional 1200 units contemplated, but with no plans submitted. (include map)

On the commercial side, the Planning Department reviewed 370 site plans throughout the year. Significant planned developments that are underway include:

Trident Technical College’s new Aeronautical Training Center.  The training center will be located on the Trident campus off Mabeline Road.

Daimler Manufacturing is expanding its operation on Palmetto Commerce Parkway, investing $500 million and creating 1300 jobs.  The new expansion areas will include three new buildings and a new marshalling yard.

Clemson University Restoration Institute Graduate Center building addition is underway.  Contractors have begun site preparation work for its new 14,000 square foot building addition to be located on Supply Street on the former Navy Base.

WABCO has been approved for the construction of a 146,000 sq. ft. warehouse building to be located on Patriot Boulevard, investing $17 million.  The investment is expected to create more than 50 new jobs and help sustain approximately 175 existing jobs.

The Centre Pointe area by Tanger Outlets continues to grow with the addition of the following restaurants:  Zaxby’s, Mellow Mushroom, and Community Pizza, all of which are currently under construction.  The new Field and Stream retail business also opened its doors this fall and construction is currently underway for the Conn’s Home Plus and La-Z-Boy stores.

Atlas Commerce Center warehouse is currently under construction.  This 68,618 sq. ft. warehouse building will be located on Palmetto Commerce Parkway.

Faber Plaza Office development is currently under construction.  This five-story, 123,426 sq. ft. office building will be located on Leeds Avenue in front of the existing Cummins Manufacturing Plant.

Boeing continues to expand its operation with a number of projects underway to include the new towpath, flightline improvements, a new parking lot, landscaping, Decorative Paint Facility, and various other site improvement projects.

A new Solar Energy Facility to be named the Jerry Zucker Solar Park is currently under site plan review.  The 3.29-acre site is located on Leeds Avenue. 2,014 solar panels are to be installed, which will generate 500 kilowatts of electricity.

These projects are no doubt significant, but the hundreds of small commercial projects, undertaken by small businesses and individuals should not but overlooked.  Small business remains the backbone of our community.

Public Works

Forty years after opening its first Public Works facility, in 2015, North Charleston unveiled a new, state of the art complex to streamline services from a central location within the city.  The $42 million multi-building campus, spread across 38 acres and houses public works functions.

Adequate work space, better equipment, and a centralized location are just a few of the reasons that the new Public Works complex is improving the department, and in turn, better services are rendered to the citizens and businesses of North Charleston.

Evidence of the improved efficiency can be seen in Fleet Maintenance division, which processes and completes over 6,000 work orders annually, nearly 4-times the volume in parts and labor than just 5-years ago.  Technological capabilities at the new facility offer less downtime for a vehicle and allows for a much greater efficiency in both reactive and proactive repairs to the fleet.

Construction for the Northside Drive Extension was completed in 2015.  The roadway project includes the extension of Ingleside drive to Northside Drive with a connection to Weber Drive and also connects to Palmetto Commerce Parkway.  The overall goal of this roadway project is to alleviate traffic congestion by connecting Highway 78 to Palmetto Commerce Parkway and Northside Drive and Ashley Phosphate.

The Sanitation Department is responsible for removal of residential trash and garbage and managed 56,159 tons of material including 28.69 tons of e-waste during 2015. The Department discontinued collecting yard debris in plastic bags and now collects this material in paper bags which saves considerable funds and is environmentally friendly.  A route study was conducted in 2015 and new routes went into effect in January 2016.  The route study affected approximately 6000 residents and will allow the Sanitation Department to better serve the City and helps in measuring job performance and efficiency.


Over the past 12 months the Procurement department processed over 9000 Purchase Orders and 38 bid packages totaling an overall spend in excess of $67,000,000.00.

In addition to procuring items needed for the City, the Purchasing Department is also responsible for the disposal of all excess and outdated equipment used by City Personnel.  Utilizing GovDeals, Inc. to provide the auctioneer services for the sale of these items has brought in over $185,000.00 in additional revenue for the City.

Code Enforcement

Code Enforcement is responsible for the enforcement of the Health and Sanitation Ordinances for the City of North Charleston. They work to educate and encourage the citizens of North Charleston to maintain a neat and clean appearance of the property where they live.  They continue Continues to reach out to the community by attending Neighborhood Council meetings and awarding Most Improved Yard of the Month.

To ensure vacant buildings don’t become a public nuisance, Code Enforcement oversaw the demolition of 25 structures, bringing the total number of demolitions to 1,446 since Mayor Summey took office.

To keep the city clean, Code continued working individuals through the Community Service program.  In 2,000 service hours, over 2,100 bags of trash and debris were collected in right of ways, sidewalks and properties cleaned in neighborhoods.


The North Charleston Fire Department maintained Accredited Agency Status by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) that was first received in 2013 with a unanimous vote from the full commission in October 2015. The Fire departments is one of around 200 agencies worldwide with this accreditation, which is a benchmark of excellence.

Year after year, the fire department achieves a record call volume. 2015 was no different.  More than 22,000 emergency calls were answered, an increase of more than 20%.  That included 260 structure fires and more than 13,000 of the 2015 calls involved assisting EMS with medical calls.

In August 2015, the Fire Department took delivery of 2 new engines to maintain a proper equipment replacement schedule.

In 2015 the City completed construction of the city’s largest fire station.  The 18,000 square foot, two-story fire station houses three fire companies and combines two previously separate stations that were both in need of replacement.  The new Station 2 includes five bays for active and reserve apparatus, a training classroom, offices for the city’s arson investigators and special operations staff as well as crew living quarters.  Its location on Carner Avenue, adjacent to the Academic Magnet High School and Chicora Elementary is an ideal location to provide service to residents and also opportunities for better community engagement.

Cultural Arts

A key to a well-rounded city is a robust Cultural Arts Department.  This is no doubt the case in North Charleston, unmistakable by the number. A variety of free and fee based activities in every art discipline were offered throughout 2015 and included a total of 343 performances, 71 art exhibitions, and 1,125 classes/workshops/camps that touched the lives of nearly 98,000 program participants.

Program Highlights, yet only a small snippet of the department’s undertakings include,

The department presented a special exhibition at North Charleston Hall in September October organized in conjunction with the 2nd Annual Slave Dwelling Project Conference, whose mission is to convene attendees from around the United States and abroad to exchange ideas, resources, and share perspectives and solutions for preserving extant African American slave dwellings for future generations.

The department was excited to kick off a new season of Children’s Theatre at a new venue in 2015. Schools, daycares, and families can now enjoy performances at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center. This new venue allows for nearly twice as many patrons to enjoy high-quality entertainment for a minimal fee of $2 per child.

In November, Cultural Arts received a new director, Kyle Lahm, the former Coordinator on Education, Youth, and Family. Along with a fresh perspective, Kyle brings with her a number of additional programs and events for Cultural Arts to manage, including the Charleston Marathon and the City’s St. Paddy’s Day Block Party, she’s also a violinist with her finger on the pulse of the Charleston area’s creative community.


Like Cultural Arts, we believe our recreation programs are essential to raising the quality of life and general welfare of our residents. To complement our greenspaces and facilities around the city, activities and athletics are offered to each segment of our population, from youth to senior.  Notably, the Recreation Department, year after year, is named a Playful City USA by KaBoom, a national nonprofit dedicated to promoting play for America’s children.

In what could be one of our most impactful programs, aquatics continues to provide highlight after highlight.  During 2015 our 4 city pools hosted over 15,000 swimmers for open/lap swim and provided nearly 50 jobs for area teenagers in the summer.  Included in those numbers are 1000s of elementary students who utilize our facilities for free swim lesson over the course of the school year.  In addition, 600 residents, from 6 months to 65 years old, took swim lessons.  And in athletics, Danny Jones sees swimmers every day from Academic Magnet and Stall High School swim teams, as well as championship winning area swim clubs and the Special Olympics swimmers.

We held 4 sessions of swim lessons in the summer totaling over 600 residents served from the ages of 6 months to 65 years old.

Looking to the future, the City signed an agreement with Dorchester School District Two to build a Natatorium that will bring the highest level of aquatics available anywhere in our state to our residents.

Another key focus for our recreation department is of course our youth.  In 2015, 2 afterschool program sites were added, bringing the total to 13.  450 children participate daily.  In November, CBS’s Hidden Heroes highlighted the program. Some of the youth highlights include:

  • 800 participants in Summer Camp
  • 3,000 participates at the Children’s Festival
  • 240 bikes distributed, which were assembled by Police Officers
  • 3,000 participates at Winter Wonderland, a Holiday event for preschoolers
  • 4,000 youth athletic participates, along with 500 volunteer coaches

North Charleston has long been a powerhouse in Dixie Youth baseball, evidenced again this year with both our Dixie Pre-Majors and Dixie Majors bringing the World Series titles back to North Charleston.  With their championships, North Charleston become the winningest city in Dixie Baseball history.

And finally, to round out our programs, our already robust senior activities will be greatly enhanced in the near future. Development of two senior centers will be soon underway, one on Dorchester Road next to Fire Station 5 and the other in the Northwood neighborhood.

Human Resources

Sure, Human Resources is best known for coordinating the hiring employees and they received 2,086 applications in 2015, but much more responsibility falls on the department.  Health and Wellness initiatives, such as maintaining the city gym, health screenings blood drives, nursing coaches, among others, keep the city’s employees focused on a healthy lifestyle.

New in 2015, Human Resources coordinated Civilian Response to Active Shooter Training Sessions to ensure employees are well equipped in if such a horrific situation should ever arise.


Being it’s 2016, our Information Systems department is truly a department we cannot do without.  That’s why a focus on cybersecurity is paramount. Upgrades to citywide email hosting and interconnectivity with outside of city hall facilities were made to include certain encryption and cloud hosting.  We’ve already told you too much. Shhhh… Just remember this: 01001110 01101111 01110010 01110100 01101000 00100000 01000011 01101000 01100001 01110010 01101100 01100101 01110011 01110100 01101111 01101110 00100000 01101001 01110011 00100000 01100001 01110111 01100101 01110011 01101111 01101101 01100101 (In Binary: North Charleston is awesome)


It’s number time, brought to you by the 27 consecutive year recipient of the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting, you guess it, the Finance Department.

Assessed value of taxable property throughout the City of North Charleston increased to $583 million, or over 3.6%.  The value of a mill is roughly $583,000, an increase of over 80% over the value just 10 years ago.  This is attributable to the continued excellent commercial and residential growth throughout the City and this same growth should add another $1,500,000 to property tax collections for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016.  The City’s property tax millage rate is 95 mills for the FYE June 30, 2015 2016, which has remained constant for the last 3 years.

General revenues increased 5.7%, over $8.3 million over the course of the fiscal year, likewise, expenditures increased $8.3 million, a 7.9% increase.  This was primarily driven by an increase in public safety personnel and capital related costs, along with the settlement of the lawsuit with the estate of Walter Scott.

Offsetting expenditures, the city received and managed 20 grants totaling $3.2 million in additional revenue not otherwise accessible.

In part to our many, many retail destinations and other retail establishments, for which we are grateful, North Charleston remained South Carolina’s gross retail sales leader for the 23rd consecutive year with sales totaling $6.86 billion from 2014, the latest year reported.


There are so many great things continuing to happen in the police department due in part to the men and women who serve and protect.  The department continues to develop relationships and trust with our youth through programs, such as its Cops Athletic Program or CAPS.  Last year, the Powder Puff Footballl League gained more school participation and was featured as a part of the annual Sertoma Football Classic.  The city has already been contacted by other public and private schools that want to take part in the league.  These young ladies say through the league they gained lessons in teamwork, cooperation relationship building and professional development.

The CAPS program also featured a soccer league, basketball and baseball leagues, and a spelling bee.  All designed to interact with our youth and foster teamwork and self-esteem among them.

Weeks before Christmas, officers pair with nearly 100 elementary and middle school students for the day which concludes with a shopping spree at WalMart.  Business partners and the volunteering of officers make this event special.

In May, members of the department joined forces with the Principal and staff of Dunston Elementary at a rally and march to bring awareness to gun violence among children.  This, following the shooting of 5 year old Tyreek Gadson, a student at Dunston.  Gadson was left paralyzed after he was shot outside of a family members’ home downtown.

Our Uniform Patrol officers continue to build relationships with the citizens we serve through their Community Roll Calls.  It’s a chance for residents to come out and meet the officers that work in their neighborhood.  And to enhance the departments already strong community involvement, the Police Department received a grant to hire 15 new Neighborhood Resource Officers, which will be tasked with building stronger community relationship through long-term assignments within a singular neighborhood.

What’s the last thing a person wants from a police officer? A ticket, of course, or is it.  Last summer, the police department partnered with local non-profit Metanoia to introduce Positive Ticketing.  If an officer saw a young person undertaking a positive act, they would be stopped and cited a positive ticket, which was redeemable for goodies at a corner store, movie tickets or other treats.  The ultimate goal of the campaign is to strengthen community-police partnerships and to encourage youth towards positive behavior. Chief Driggers said at the time of launch, “There are a lot of young people doing the right thing and positive ticketing is a way for us to say ‘thank you’.”

There are so many great things happening in the department and this is due in part to the men and women who set out each day to serve and protect the citizens of North Charleston and our visitors.


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Plan now for spring home improvements

By Stephanie Jadrnicek

The Journal

SENECA — From mold remediation and landscaping to home organization and plumbing, the 2016 Home Remodel Show has all the information a homeowner needs to know to start planning for spring home improvements.

Hosted by the Home Builders Association of Oconee County, the he 2016 Home Remodel Show has all the information a homeowner needs to know to start planning for spring home improvements.

Hosted by the Home Builders Association (HBA) of Oconee County, the event will take place on Friday from 1-6 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. at the Shaver Recreation Center in Seneca. In its 12th year, the home and remodel show continues to rebound after the recession.

HBA executive director Wendy Kennedy said the show had a very good turnout in the beginning, but when the market went south it became difficult to get a lot of the vendors to participate.

“Businesses were trying to figure out where the best place was to spend their dollars not knowing where the next job was coming from,” she said.

Originally the show filled up the Shaver Recreation Center and the Gignilliat Community Center. Kennedy said if the show continues to grow as it has and the market holds strong, the goal is to pack both locations again.

Zone 7 Landscape Center is one of the many businesses which will set up a booth at the home and remodel show. Located next to Home Depot in Seneca, the center has created its own niche in the landscaping market.

“We have a beautiful boutique nursery and we have three landscape designers,” Zone 7 owner Lance Yuda said. “We do the designs and then we build those landscapes for our customers. Most other businesses don’t do both.”

Zone 7 Landscape Center does everything from beginning to end. Its nursery grows the plants, its landscape designers draw the plans and its installation crews put those plans into place.

Yuda will offer a free presentation on Saturday at 2 p.m. at the home show. He said many people move to the Upstate from other parts of the country and wonder how to grow plants in the compacted red clay.

“Too often people try to use techniques they used in Michigan, New York or California, and those techniques don’t work  here,” he said. “Everybody’s got their own ideas of adding this or that to the soil, but in clay soil you have to be very careful. For example, if you add sand to clay soil you get concrete — so that’s the last thing you want to do.”

Understanding the difference between soil types and what amendments are helpful is key to growing plants in the Upstate, according to Yuda. Another important part of the equation is learning how to dig a proper hole.

“Most people plant trees like they’re planting a fence post — they dig these huge deep holes and that’s the exact wrong thing to do,” he said. “The main reason you’re going to kill a plant is if you planted it wrong — if you get that part right, you should be good to go.”

So Yuda’s free seminar will cover soil amendments and how to create a proper excavation for a tree or shrub.

Another business attending this year’s home show is Nano Cleaning Solutions. Co-owner Steve Jordan said Nano has a revolutionary technology from the University of Georgia that kills all mold, fungi, viruses, bacteria and blood-borne pathogens and removes allergens from an area.

“We can come in and change the air quality in minutes,” he said. “We just completed a job at city hall on Friday, we did the city gym and we’ve contracted with the city to do several buildings. After the home show, we’re going to do the Shaver Complex and Gignilliat Community Center.”

Nano’s also been working hand-in-hand with many of the Upstate’s real estate agents. Due to a wet winter, many home sales have fallen through because of minor issues with fungal growth.

Once the home inspectors found the issues, the homeowners were having a hard time finding someone who could solve the problem. That’s when Nano stepped into the picture.

“Not only do we treat it, but we offer a lifetime warranty. We also issue a certificate of treatment that’s transferable from seller to buyer,” Jordan said.

Multiple universities and medical labs have tested the technology, according to Jordan. He said their applicators can go into any hospital room and within five minutes the area is completely disinfected, even the micro-crevices because the electrostatic charge on the solution allows it to encapsulate and wrap every surface.

“It gets into all the tiny areas that conventional cleaning cannot get to with spraying or wiping,” he said. “Most technologies these days are evolutionary — they’re taking someone else’s idea and changing it by 10 percent to make it better. This is revolutionary.”

And since the solution is green, nontoxic and noncorrosive, people can reenter their home in 20 minutes after the application.

Yuda said Zone 7 didn’t participate in last year’s home show, but he personally attended the event.

“I walked around, and it was great. Lots of people and lots of new people moving to the area,” Yuda said. “So I made the decision that we couldn’t afford to not be in the show this year.” | (864) 973-6686

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