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Archives for February 2016

WAFA eagle sculpture proposal seeks dollars


LE MARS — A request for money to aid in funding a project in the Westmar Park was brought to the Le Mars City Council at its Feb. 16 meeting.

Janice Kooiker, executive director of the Westmar University Alumni Friends Association, or WAFA, spoke to council members on behalf of the group.

A commissioned sculpture of an eagle in stainless steel and metal is currently being worked on by Terry Utesch, a local metal artist.

“The WAFA board and staff looked for ideas, and had a conversation with Brad Eppling to discuss pros and cons,” Kooiker said.

“In his words, it needs to be something that’s durable and easily maintained,” she said.

“Last summer ideas became options when Terry Utesch shared his dream of creating a large flying eagle,” Kooiker said.

Options moved closer to reality recently when Steve and Barbara Wernli Collins stepped forward as underwriters in the amount of $10,000 for the eagle sculpture itself, Kooiker told council members.

The flying eagle will have a 16-foot wing span and will be over 6 feet from beak to tail, approximately two times life size, according to information provided by WAFA.

The proposed location will be on the former Westmar campus, north and west of Veterans Park, where a Westmar gazebo formerly stood. The eagle is expected to be complete by late summer of 2016 and installed with lighting and landscaping completed by October 2016.

The Collins’ would like the eagle sculpture itself as an honor to Jacob Wernli, the great-grandfather of Barbara and an important figure in the early history of Le Mars and Westmar College, Kooiker said.

Wernli came to Le Mars in 1875 and for a quarter of a century was an important figure in the community as a business man, a land developer and an educator. He established a book and stationary business in Le Mars. He also platted the Wernli Edition in south Le Mars bordering both sides of Central Avenue South in the current 1200 and 1300 blocks.

In 1887 he established the Northwestern Normal School and Business College which later became the Le Mars Normal School, then Western Union College and later Westmar College. In 1893 he became the Superintendent of Schools for Plymouth County. He died in 1901.

Additional funding of approximately $15,000 will be required to construct a permanent base to position the eagle 15 feet above the ground, for professional landscaping in the area, for electrical connections to light the sculpture at night and to establish a fund for ongoing maintenance.

“Gus Pech has provided an estimate of construction costs of $24,000 for the base,” Kooiker said. “It would include frost-free piers, vertical metal supports and a stamped concrete plaza area with lighting.

WAFA is asking the city to contribute $10,000 from the LOST Fund account to complete this project.

“We know there is interest from WAFA board members and alumni, and several donations have already come in,” Kooiker said. “We would like to have participation from the city initially as this will be to the city’s advantage as well.”

In a letter to the council from WAFA, the group said, “This will be a dramatic and durable piece which will bring visitors to Le Mars to enjoy it for many years. It will appeal to a wide variety of people and will be appropriate to feature in tourism media across the state. It would also have the support and interest of alumni, faculty, staff and administration of the former college as they return to the area.”

Le Mars mayor pro-tem Rex Knapp thanked Kooiker for coming to the council meeting.

He clarifying that WAFA was asking for $10,000 from the city on top of the $10,000 already committed.

“Yes,” Kooiker said.

Council member Ken Nelson said his only concern was that instead of using LOST dollars, money from the Hotel/Motel Sales Tax dollars may be a better option.

“We approached them as well and their funds are all going to the convention center,” Kooiker said.

Knapp said he would like to give the public an opportunity to comment on the proposal, pointing out it was doing that with the Hotel/Motel allocation recommendations that had also been presented at the Feb. 16 council meeting.

Council member John Rexwinkel said he commended the group on its efforts.

“I like the cost-sharing on these projects,” Clark Goodchild, council member added.

The Westmar Park is located on the former Westmar campus property, which the city owns.

The item will be on the March 1 council agenda.

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Urban Decay’s latest collection has the Gwen Stefani stamp of approval

It’s no surprise that Urban Decay founding partner Wende Zomnir is a stickler not just for rich colors but also product performance — both reasons why the line of humanely tested eyeliners, mascaras and lipsticks have amassed a cult-like following.

With experience at a department store makeup counter in her hometown of Fort Worth, Texas, to working closely with No Doubt co-founder Gwen Stefani in developing the singer’s eyeshadow collection, Zomnir has revolutionized the way millions of American women think about makeup.

In a sleeveless tank that reads “Look Me in the Eyeliner and Say That,” Zomnir, 48, hardly exudes the look of the hard-charging, button-down industry titan.

“You’re going to think I’m crazy for rearranging these chairs,” she said to a visitor at the cosmetic brand’s headquarters in an industrial complex in Newport Beach, obviously annoyed that the seats in a conference room didn’t match.

At work, she is known for pushing the team to great heights while still leaving time for pranks and hijinks.

On April Fool’s Day, she ordered a new dress code that required a staff predominantly dressed in casual clothing to wear shirts, slacks and cardigans. The male employees who consistently wore sports caps would no longer be allowed to wear a hat.

It was a joke.

Creating a workplace that promotes employee-friendly practices was vital, she said. The headquarters hosts a yoga class every Tuesday and is also pet-friendly, allowing employees to bring their dogs in on Fridays.

Zomnir hired a landscaping company to eliminate a lawn in front of the company’s human resources building so an eco-friendly garden could be installed. Employees can take home what’s grown there, including pomegranates, thyme, lemons and oregano.

“I’m here because I love these people,” Zomnir said of the staff. “What’s rewarding for me is that we’re responsible for helping employees have a job so they can pay for their lifestyle.”

The makeup line’s story started 20 years ago, when the beauty market at the time was populated with pink, red and beige.

Sandy Lerner, co-founder of Cisco Systems, wanted an alternative to the standard colors, so her business manager, David Soward, introduced her to Zomnir, who began mixing nail polish in her Laguna Beach bungalow.

The line started with 10 lipsticks and 12 nail enamels with unconventional names like Oil Slick and Acid Rain.

Around that time of experimenting with makeup colors, Zomnir was working at home when she heard the song “Just a Girl” on the radio.

The single, sung by Stefani and No Doubt, helped the band break into mainstream music.

“I just remember thinking that girl is so cool,” Zomnir said of Stefani. “She was edgy but pretty and was pushing the envelope. She was the first girl to really front a rock guy’s band.”

Zomnir would meet Stefani on a few occasions, but at the time, Urban Decay did not have the financial backing to bring in a rock star to collaborate on a special makeup collection.

Fast forward 20 years: Zomnir and the Urban Decay product development team spent hours at Stefani’s house talking makeup and finalizing details about the limited collection that is currently for sale until spring season.

“It was great,” Zomnir said of the products that were launched in December. “She was really involved. It really reflects her and it fits with the brand but is still clearly Gwen.”

Stefani went so far as to direct the packaging design — black-and-white graphic prints with antique gold accents — for the limited-edition collection of lip pencils, brow boxes, eyeshadow palettes and lipsticks.

The special launch followed the July release of the cosmetic line’s highly coveted new Naked Smoky eyeshadow palette at the Urban Decay flagship store at Fashion Island in Newport Beach.

The fourth installment of Naked features nine new shades, three of which are able to be mixed with metallics. They sold out online but have since been restocked.

The beauty line’s loyal fan base has praised Urban Decay’s products, particularly its eye makeup.

“The makeup glides right on and there is nothing like it,” said Irvine resident Colleen Voronel, 41, who was shopping on a recent Friday afternoon for eyeliner and eye pencils at the Fashion Island store.

“I love their shadows,” said Latisha McDonald, 30, of Westminster. “It’s a shadow that lasts through the day, and the color you see on the palette is the color that you will see on your eyes, unlike some of the other “prestige” brands. And I have noticed they tend to make more bold colors that not everyone else does.”

Zomnir, a wife and mother of two boys ages 10 and 13, said she finds inspiration for new colors and ideas everywhere, from reading forecasting books on textiles to attending museum shows, including a street art exhibition at the Orange County Museum of Art in Newport Beach.

The beauty brand that was launched in 1996, was later acquired by L’Oreal in 2012. Today, the makeup is sold online and in shops such as Sephora, Ulta and Macy’s and retailers in Canada, the UK, France, Italy and Singapore.

The headquarters’ walls are covered with photos of inspiration, clothing and accessories. Purple became the chosen color of the brand as Zomnir said she found the shade to be the color of rebellion that takes two different juxtapositions.

“It’s an anomaly of a color,” she said. “You can’t mix two colors to get purple. It’s feminine and edgy.”

It’s a description, she said, that pushes her in keeping Urban Decay unique over the years and in the future.

She expressed big aspirations for the company’s next 20 years.

“World domination,” she said with a laugh. “No, it’s really about keeping that force behind Urban Decay going and to create beauty with an edge that at the same time is feminine.”

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During ‘spring-like’ weekend, homeowners get ideas at 2016 Home, Garden and Landscape Show

WAUKESHA — Spring was in full bloom this weekend at the Waukesha Expo Center! With temperatures in the 50s this weekend, many were thinking spring, and beginning to brainstorm ideas for outdoor decorating.

The Home, Garden and Landscape Show took place at the Waukesha Expo Center from Friday, February 26th through Sunday, February 28th.

The show provided homeowners the opportunity to give their home improvement plans a jump start by browsing and brainstorming ideas — as more than 100 booth spaces were filled by local home improvement professionals.

Carpetland USA Flooring Center was the lead sponsor of the 2016 Home, Garden and Landscape Show.

Special appearances this weekend included Sharon Morrissey, gardening and horticulture expert on Sunday morning, Tom Feiza, Mr. Fix-It on Saturday afternoon and LeRoy Butler, former Green Bay Packers player on Saturday morning.


Home, Garden and Landscape Show

Home, Garden and Landscape Show

The show offered ideas for outdoor decorating — and indoor decorating for the whole house.

“When it gets nice out, people start coming and talking,” Dave Aldrian with MCR Group said.

The MCR Group offers designs to fit anyone’s needs — from simple landscaping to large-scale projects.

Home, Garden and Landscape Show

Home, Garden and Landscape Show

“It`s a large-scale construction project. It`s not just landscaping or planting. It`s full-blown engineered construction projects,” Aldrian said.

It’s nearly March, and that means summer is just months away. So for many, it’s time to get the planning underway so they can enjoy their homes this summer.

“Now is a good time. It`s a very good time,” Aldrian said.

Home, Garden and Landscape Show

Home, Garden and Landscape Show

That’s why Liz Shanahan drove all the way from Kenosha. She’s looking to improve her backyard.

“The people that we bought the house from, they did half the landscaping and I want to finish it and add stuff they didn`t add already,” Shanahan said.

Home, Garden and Landscape Show

Home, Garden and Landscape Show

Shanahan is a new homeowner with big dreams.

“I just want to make my little section of Kenosha more awesome,” Shanahan said.

Shanahan said the warmer weather we saw this weekend in southeastern Wisconsin has her excited for spring and summer.

“I mean, you can`t beat the weather in Wisconsin this time of year,” Shanahan said.

Home, Garden and Landscape Show

Home, Garden and Landscape Show

Show directors said the warm weekend brought tons of people out to the show, and contractors believe the milder weather may have some thinking about getting started on outdoor projects sooner.

“Oh yeah — and all the work I have to do!” Marc Schneider said.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Home, Garden and Landscape Show and upcoming events at the Waukesha Expo Center.

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Flower Show offers model trains, climbing walls, passport station – and flowers

In a conference room at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Sam Lemheney unfurled a floor plan of the PHS Philadelphia Flower Show.

He pointed out where, starting Saturday, visitors would enter the hall of the Convention Center, through a “Big Timber Lodge,” with screens showcasing the year’s theme, “Explore America,” a celebration of the National Park Service’s centennial. He dragged a finger up to the Find Your Park Pavilion, a ranger station. He mentioned a climbing wall, a model-train display, a butterfly habitat, a beer garden, a wine-tasting bar, and an expo of camping and hiking gear.

“The words Flower Show sometimes scare people off, because they think it’s more of your grandmother’s show,” said Lemheney, the designer who came to PHS by way of Disney in 2004. “But I can tell you that my experience is of creating an entertainment menu. It’s using plants and flowers, honestly, as the star of the show, but this is really an entertainment experience.”

It raises the question: When is the Flower Show no longer a flower show? Is horticulture still the point of the event?

Whereas the showstoppers once were the scent of hyacinths and the massive floral arch at the entrance, PHS can’t necessarily count on flowers alone to bring in the more diverse crowd it needs to make the weeklong show sustainable. That includes not just your grandmother, but also millennials, families with kids, and men. (Typically, 87 percent of Flower Show visitors are female.)

So this year’s attractions – mixed in with florist- and landscaper-designed homages to parks from Acadia to Arches – include an Adventure Moments stage featuring ranger presentations and live streams of Yellowstone geysers and Denali sled dogs. There’s also a Junior Ranger Guide: Young visitors can complete activities around the show floor, then claim a Junior Ranger Badge. And, there’s the added-cost railway garden, winding through miniature park landscapes.

In particular, a space called Base Camp – with a beer garden, a stage for live music, an inflatable climbing wall, and dining and shopping opportunities – is directly targeting the 75,000 twenty- and thirtysomethings added to PHS’ mailing list via its summerlong beer-forward Pop-Up Gardens.

At a news conference, flanked by rangers and the Park Service’s Buddy Bison mascot, Lemheney answered the most-asked question about this year’s show: “Yes, there will be geysers.”

For those starting to wonder, there will also be flowers.

Lots and lots

Barb King of Valley Forge Flowers, which provides cut flowers for the central display, promised at least 15,000 stems. That includes hanging chandeliers and towering arrangements of meadow flowers and wildflowers.

“Our biggest request from people is ‘Can we have more flowers?’ so we’re giving it to them: lots of flowers, lots of color,” she said. But, “not your typical flower that you see at every flower shop or supermarket.”

And then there’s the competitive Hamilton Horticourt, which will showcase more than 5,000 specimens, from succulents to tulips to orchids. And the Design Gallery, filled with balcony gardens, window boxes, and tablescapes; the demonstrations and lectures in the Gardener’s Studio and Designer’s Studio; and terrarium building in the Make and Take Studio. There are garden clubs specializing in ferns, cacti, and rhododendrons, and the new addition of a display by a Japanese flower exporter.

As for the major exhibits – which correspond to landscapes ranging from desert to forest to open fields – how actual flowers fit into the equation was a puzzle for exhibitors to solve or ignore, each according to his or her preference.

This year’s guest designers are the California-based landscape designer Walter Hood (his tribute to Muir Woods will include fern undergrowth below a towering structure evocative of a redwood forest) and Susan Dolan, the National Park Service landscape manager (she’ll produce a rustic amphitheater).

Michael Petrie of Swarthmore, who runs the landscape design company Handmade Gardens, is mostly omitting flowers from his display this year. His tribute to Olympic National Park will be a tiny house set amid a lush green landscape of trees, ferns, and shrubs trucked in from the West Coast. Even the $7,000 freight bill, he decided, was more affordable than the energy- and labor-intensive process of forcing plants to leaf and bloom off season.

Traditionally, exhibitors would accomplish the work of forcing in their own greenhouses. But Petrie doesn’t have one. He said most landscape firms and garden centers don’t these days.

“In the old days, almost all the big exhibitors had greenhouses,” he said. “That’s not true anymore. Someone changed the game and no one was paying attention.” As a result, “it’s become more and more difficult for the major exhibits to produce good horticulture.”

That’s not to say that they’re not still trying.

Stoney Bank Nurseries in Glen Mills is forcing more than 100 varieties of plants for its representation of Yellowstone National Park after a wildfire, showcasing a blanket of wildflowers and grasses below pine saplings, charred logs, and wafting geothermal steam.

Tom Morris, of J. Downend Landscaping in Crum Lynne, contracted with Stoney Bank to supply flowers he’ll mix in with boulders and evergreens for a rendition of Acadia National Park.

“We used a Plants of Acadia National Park book,” he said, “Right now, we’re 95 percent true to the list.” But he’s also cheating the theme a bit, sneaking in a colorful flower garden inspired by ones he’s seen near Acadia on Mount Desert Island in Maine. It’s a way to make the design relatable to show visitors who might be potential clients – in spite of a theme that made that a challenge.

Toughest task

Perhaps no one had a more difficult task of incorporating flowers than Eric Schellack, design lead at Robertson’s Flowers in Wyndmoor. His assignment: Arches National Park, a desert of red rock vistas and geological formations. He decided to create a series of sculptural plant “postcards,” using materials shipped from all over the world. He even got a vendor from Montana to FedEx him tumbleweeds.

Amid these feats of horticulture and design, PHS is casting a wide net with its dining options (from a DIY trail-mix bar to a Stella Artois “glamping” pub), programming (country-music night to a bridal fair, a kids’ jamboree and a dog-friendly Fido Friday), and lectures (the history of the park service to organic gardening).

With the new attraction and theme, Lemheney hopes to expand on what’s come to be more of a girls’-day-out event, and match or improve on last year’s attendance of 250,000 people.

The show usually brings in about $1 million to support PHS’ year-round activities, and nets the city $8 million in taxes.

The National Park Service is hoping the Flower Show also will be powerful marketing for the represented parks, which are prevented by law from advertising for themselves. And maybe, in turn, the parks will help market the show – especially among those more reluctant demographics.


PHS Philadelphia Flower Show

March 5-13, at the Convention Center, 12th and Arch Streets, 215-988-8899,

Tickets at the gate: adults $34; students $22; children 2-16 $17.

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Japanese garden road trip: Former San Antonio quarry is a tea garden (photos)

Japanese gardens can rise from any land, flat or hilly, undeveloped or re-purposed. The Portland Japanese Garden‘s elevated perch above the International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park was once a zoo.

In Texas, a Japanese-inspired garden was built in 1917 adjacent to an abandoned limestone quarry and cement kilns.

The Japanese Tea Garden in San Antonio’s large Brackenridge Park was a stop on The Oregonian’s road trip series to spotlight members of the Portland-based North American Japanese Garden Association while the Portland Japanese Garden closed for six months to start its $33.5 million expansion.

The 53-year-old Portland garden, considered one of the most authentic outside of Japan, will reopen Tuesday, March 1, while construction continues through April 2017. The grand opening is projected for Spring 2017.

The recently renovated San Antonio garden has large koi ponds surrounded by landscaping that is mostly not traditional to Japanese gardens. Still, it’s a pleasurable walk around what’s called a sunken garden with a 60-foot-tall waterfall.

The Texas garden’s story starts in the early 1900s with generous land donations to the city from the owners of the San Antonio Water Works Co. and Pearl Brewery. The rest of the story follows a path that is as up and down as the wavering walkways that follow the curves of the garden’s slopes.

San Antonio’s Japanese Tea Garden was shaped between July 1917 and May 1918 by prison labor who created a towering stone pagoda with a roof made of palm leaves on the upper level, and trails, stone arched bridges and an island surrounding a large “lily pond” on the lower level.

At the time, residents donated bulbs and exotic plants were provided by the city nursery, according to the garden’s website.

The Jingu family lived and worked in the garden, and operated a tea house from 1926 to 1942, before all members the of the Japanese-American family were evicted because of anti-Japanese sentiment during World War II.

As popular as Japanese gardens were at the turn of the last century, they instantly lost favor after the U.S. entered the war. The creator of the Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden in Pasadena, California, was sent to an internment camp.

In San Antonio, a Chinese-American family took over the tea concession and the sign on the torii entrance gate was changed to “Chinese Garden” to prevent vandalism as experienced by other cities’ Japanese tea gardens during the war.

In 1984, the area was rededicated as the Japanese Tea Garden in a ceremony attended by the Jingu children, some of whom were born in the garden, and representatives of the Japanese government, according to the park’s website.

In the last decade, more than $2 million from the City of San Antonio, Friends of the Parks and the San Antonio Parks Foundation was poured into renovating and upgrading the Japanese garden, which has been listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

Like at the Lan Su Chinese Garden in downtown Portland, ponds were drained and koi were moved to a “foster pond” while new, water-saving linings, filters and pumps were installed in San Antonio.

Palm trees, begonias and other plants, shrubbery and trees rarely seen in Japanese gardens were added the garden and flower beds.

The Japanese Tea Garden is free to enter and is open from dawn to dusk daily at 3853 N. St. Mary’s St., San Antonio (210-212-4814).

–Janet Eastman

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VIDEO, PHOTOS: Adams Lawn and Garden Show brings signs of spring

Jerry Husted said he has been visiting the Adams Annual Lawn and Garden Show for “too many years to count.”

Still, each year when the menagerie of patios, walkways, ponds and plant life sculpted by Adams Landscaping debuts in late February, it brings “new surprises,” the Poughkeepsie resident said.

“It’s absolutely beautiful,” he said Sunday while looking at the various displays at the Adams Fairacre Farms Poughkeepsie location. “I’ve been coming here for as long as I can remember. We’ve recently started going to the show in Wappinger, as well.”

This year’s display in Poughkeepsie features a replica of the Mid-Hudson Bridge, complete with floating hot air balloon lanterns to simulate the annual Hudson Valley Hot-Air Balloon Festival. One display honored the Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site, in honor of the centennial of the National Parks Service on Aug. 25.

Husted said he did a double-take when he saw the landmark overpass.

Adams Fairacre Farms in Poughkeepsie held its AnnualTulips line the gardens at Adams Fairacre Farms inBuy PhotoThe American Flag hangs from a replica of the Mid-HudsonBuy PhotoA tribute to the Franklin D. Roosevelt National HistoricBuy PhotoThis is one of more than five displays featured atBuy PhotoThese flowers are among the more than 5,041 individualBuy PhotoPink Daisies were on display at the Annual Lawn andLandscapers at Adams Fairacre Farms in PoughkeepsieBuy PhotoJessica Barry and Emma look at tulips at Adams FairacreBuy Photo

“The detail is amazing,” he said. “You can see the little lights along the suspension.”

The show, open from Feb. 27 to March 6, is a chance for landscapers to show off their creativity and for green thumbs to find inspiration when they plant their gardens in the spring, which will officially begin March 20 this year. There are also shows at Adams’ other locations. The display in Newburgh is likewise open Feb. 27 to March 6, while displays in Wappinger and Kingston will be open March 4-13.

The shows themselves have been going for more than 30 years, store manager Mark Griffin said.

“It gets bigger and bigger every year,” Griffin said. “It started with one store where we had a landscaping department that was basically idle during the winter months. Many landscapers are essentially laid off during the winter. But these were talented people that we saw were valuable and we wanted to keep them with us. It just became a natural thing. And they are getting better and better every year. What made it harder was when we started doing this show at two stores.”

All in all, all four store displays measure 18,000 square feet — or about a third of the size of a football field. Mark Adams Greenhouses grows 8,000 plants for the shows. That’s a total of 1,400 trees and shrubs, 5,041 individual potted plants (tulips, daffodils, mini roses, ferns, etc.). That ultimately translates to 1,037 flowering plants and 15,784 individual bulbs and 745 cubic yards of mulch.

You can find a time lapse video of Adams landscapers putting together 2015’s display here:

If you think it’s a lot of work, just ask Bron Bialy, one of the designers and architects of two of Adams’ greenhouses, including the Poughkeepsie location.

“The planning essentially starts right after Christmas,” he said.

But the work does not stop once the bulbs have been planted. In Poughkeepsie, some flowers have to be monitored constantly and under different temperature settings.

“You have to keep an eye on the flowers,” he said. “The tulips, for instance will bloom and their petals will drop if they get too hot.”

While it might be a lot of work, he said it is very rewarding to see visitors react to the finished product. Bialy said he has met people who have traveled from New Jersey to see the shows each year.

“It definitely lifts everybody’s spirits,” he said. “It reminds them that spring is not too far away.”

Amanda J. Purcell:; 845-437-4807; Twitter: @amandajpurcell

If you go

The Poughkeepsie and Newburgh shows are going on from now until March 6. 

The Kingston and Wappinger shows are going on from March 4 to 13. 

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Ramblings of a passionate garden designer

gardens Hydrangea Patio (2)_edited-1.jpg

gardens Hydrangea Patio (2)_edited-1.jpg

A patio area is nestled amid hydrangeas and other plants in this outdoor garden.

gardens Shady Places_edited-1.jpg

gardens Shady Places_edited-1.jpg

This shady space is an outdoor living area, full of life, meant to be experienced and shared with friends and family.

garden Steve Windham.jpg

garden Steve Windham.jpg

Stephen Windham

Posted: Sunday, February 28, 2016 12:00 am

Ramblings of a passionate garden designer

By Stephen Windham
Special to News Record

Garden design is an art form I love. The pallet of materials, color and texture are limitless, so every creation is different.

Even more, it is alive. It changes with the seasons, then grows and evolves providing a matrix for life and emotions to mingle.

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Sunday, February 28, 2016 12:00 am.

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Three Democrats vie for Clark County commissioner nomination

Three Democrats are in a primary to be the party’s Clark County commission candidate on the November ballot, fighting for a chance to tip the balance of the Republican-controlled board that oversees a $159 million budget.

The Democrats on the March 15 primary include former Springfield Mayor Dale Henry, former Clark County Sheriff’s Deputy Darrell Jackson and former longtime Clark County Commissioner Roger Tackett.

The winner will face in November the Republican candidate Melanie Flax Wilt, who owns a local public relations company. Another seat is also on the November ballot — Republican New Carlisle City Councilman Lowell McGlothin will challenge Democratic County Commissioner David Herier.

Clark County commissioners are paid $65,620 annually and control a budget largely funded by a state dollars and a local sales tax, including a half-percent sales tax increase that was recently extended for another five years. The county has nearly 900 employees who provide wide-ranging public services from sheriff’s deputies to poll workers to road crews.

Big issues in the race are the sales tax extension, jobs, a proposed combined 9-1-1 dispatch center and a recent debate over Planned Parenthood funding.

Current Springfield city and Clark County commissioners support establishing a combined dispatch center, but both sides have yet to come up with a funding model that they all can agree on. City leaders have said they simply can’t afford to spend any more on 9-1-1 dispatching and hope the county can provide additional funding toward the project.

Several residents have come to recent county commission meetings asking to cut funding for Planned Parenthood. Two commissioners approved the funding, saying the money doesn’t pay for abortions and provides much-need education, and one opposed it.

Dale Henry

If Henry is elected, he would become the first black Clark County commissioner.

“In 2018, the county will be 200 years old and we have never in our history had a person of color to serve as a county commissioner or any other elected county-wide office,” Henry said.

But Henry’s not running for county commissioner to make history, he’s running because he said he’s uniquely qualified to hold the seat.

He served two terms as a Springfield city commissioner, including two years as mayor. Henry also has served as the deputy director for the Clark County Board of Elections, a member of the county elections board, a regional liaison for the Ohio Secretary of State and Clark County Democratic Party chairman.

“I’m proud of my record of public service in this community,” Henry said.

He previously challenged outgoing Clark County Commissioner John Detrick in 2004 and lost.

It’s time to move Clark County from surviving to thriving, Henry said.

“We’ve got more poverty in Clark County than a lot of people realize,” he said. “It’s time to make sure that we have a workforce that’s prepared for the types of jobs that we want to attract here in Clark County.”

His top priority, he said, is job creation and training.

“It’s got to be a collaboration between elected officials throughout the county and making sure that we do the research to find out what type of jobs that are going to pay the type of money that families are going to have a living wage on. We’ve got to start doing more to support the middle class and we need to be prepared for those jobs,” Henry said.

Other priorities include a combined dispatch center, the heroin epidemic and the Tremont City Barrel Fill, an industrial waste cleanup effort he has supported for years.

County leaders should continue to work with city officials to establish a joint 9-1-1 center before the state mandates equipment upgrades, Henry said. They should find a solution that’s fiscally responsible and works for everyone, he said, because it could make the community safer.

“At this point I’m not in a position to say the county should take on more. I think it should be reviewed again and decisions have to be made and I’m willing to step up and make whatever choice needs to be made in the best interest of all of the citizens of Clark County,” Henry said.

When asked about extending the half percent sales tax increase, Henry said it has improved the county’s financial condition. But he said it should be examined regularly, especially its impact on those who cannot afford it. He also said it shouldn’t be permanent.

Henry agreed with the current commission’s decision to continue funding Planned Parenthood. The money doesn’t pay for abortions, but for education.

Henry said voters should vote for him because of his experience and he’ll bring a new voice to the county.

“I’ve been in the mayor’s seat. We’ve had to make some hard decisions before and I’m up to the task,” Henry said. “It’s all about doing what’s best for the people in Springfield and in Clark County and every city, township and village. I’ve got a passion for neighborhoods and I want to make sure that continues.”

Darrell Jackson

Jackson is a retired Clark County Sheriff’s deputy who served for more than 26 years.

He negotiated union contracts for the the Clark County Deputies Association from 1990 to 2012. He is trained in labor negotiations through the State Employment Relations Board.

He currently works at the Clark County Juvenile Detention Center.

Jackson previously ran for the 79th Ohio House District seat and was defeated by Republican Kyle Koehler.

He decided to run for county commissioner this year because he said he wants to use his experience in law enforcement to lower the crime rate and battle heroin and the drug epidemic.

Jackson also wants to use his leadership and negotiating skills to encourage stable businesses to come to and remain in the community.

“My greatest strength is listening to people, understanding their concerns and solving problems. I’ve spent 20 to 23 years negotiating budgets and I understand them and I can help all of the county departments improve their budgeting practices as well,” Jackson said.

Jackson’s top priorities include the lowering crime, fighting the heroin epidemic, increasing drug treatment facilities in the area, creating jobs and focusing on the 9-1-1 combined dispatch center.

He said the No. 1 priority in the community is bringing good-paying jobs to Clark County, but officials must address the crime and the heroin problem to do that.

“We just can’t continue to ignore the (drug addiction and crime) problem … If you want to bring good paying jobs to the community we have to address those issues,” Jackson said. “If you see the crime rate in Clark County I think it holds back good paying jobs to this community.”

County leaders need to have conversations with current business owners about how they can help them stay in the community, he said, noting the stores that have left the area

“We’ve lost Target. We’ve lost Elder Beerman, Macy’s, JCPenney. Those are jobs. I don’t know much power I have on that, but at least I can go out and talk to them. What can we do? What are you looking for? It doesn’t hurt to sit down and talk and ask,” Jackson said. “There are three county commissioners and we have to sit down and try to come up with a plan as a group, not as one individual.”

He’s in favor of a county-wide dispatching center.

“It helps the community. Anytime we can save money for the taxpayers … I think we can save on equipment,” he said.

Jackson supported the county commissioners recent decision to extend the half-percent sales tax, but said officials need to develop a three-year plan to prevent the county from relying on revenue from the temporary tax.

When asked about the current board’s decision to continue funding Planned Parenthood, Jackson said the local clinic doesn’t perform abortions and provides much-needed education and services.

Jackson said voters should elect him because of his leadership and negotiating training and experience

“I bring bring fresh ideas. I would listen to leadership, other county commissioners, other department heads, other elected officials, the community and I would try to solve the problem. We have to address the issues that are facing Clark County,” Jackson said.

Roger Tackett

Tackett was a Clark County Commissioner for 28 years until he lost in 2010 to current Clark County Commissioner Rick Lohnes, a Republican.

“I really have the experience to continue doing the job as Clark County commissioner. I had proved that I was able to do that over a number of years and would like to continue that if the voters would give me that opportunity,” Tackett said.

He served for two years in the Vietnam war. In 1967, Tackett was critically wounded in Vietnam when sniper fire punctured his lung and paralyzed his legs.

Complications from his injuries caused him to miss a lot of meetings during his last year as a commissioner, he said, an issue during the 2010 election when he lost his commission seat. But he said he had surgery at Ohio State University, lost 40 pounds and is now healthier than he has been in a long time.

As a commissioner, Tackett said he helped establish Prime Ohio Industrial Park, which provided about 2,000 jobs; and KTK Industrial Park on Urbana Road, which is about 90 percent occupied.

The industrial park is named after Tackett and fellow former Clark County Commissioners Merle Grace Kearns and Lou Kerrigan.

He also noted that he was involved in establishing the indirect cost recovery program that helped the county recoup administrative costs for handling state and federal programs.

Tackett also said he lobbied for the hospital to be located in downtown Springfield despite initial push back about the move, and helped establish the Heritage Center, the ice skating rink and the new baseball stadium in Springfield.

When asked if he agreed with extending the sales tax increase, Tackett said he wouldn’t approve a tax without studying the county budget closely.

He said as commissioner, he’s shown the ability to work well with both Republicans and Democrats.

“It’s really important even when we disagree to have respect for each other. I would try to work to make sure that we were able to work together and we’re able to compromise where possible and even when we disagree, we treat each other with respect,” Tackett said.

Tackett said he also wants to help with efforts to clean up the Tremont City Barrel Fill, which contains about 1.5 million gallons of industrial waste not far from the city’s drinking water source.

He’s attended recent meetings held by local and state leaders and the Environmental Protection Agency.

“There’s a tremendous problem and we need to make sure our water safety in the future is protected,” Tackett said.

Tackett decided to run for county commissioner again because he wants to do more to help Clark County.

“I don’t enjoy retirement very well … Being a Marine throughout my life, I always want to try to help out my community, help to make my community a better place,” he said. “I would like to continue working for Clark County. That’s one of the things that makes me most happy. If the voters of Clark County will give me another opportunity I would like to continue to serve them as their Clark County commissioner.”

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Homeowners embrace outdoor living spaces

Chris Russo and his family love their home in Franklin. But they spend as much time as possible in their yard, gathered around the fire pit in their outdoor living area, often with friends and neighbors.

“Even when it’s winter, I could stay out here forever,” Russo said.

The addition of outdoor living spaces is a growing trend. Homeowners are increasingly moving their living areas beyond the four walls of the house and extending them to the outdoors, said Phil Bates, a manager with Willow Branch Outdoor Living, a landscaping company headquartered in Brentwood. The company installed the Russos’ outdoor living area.

“People want to spend time at home now. Instead of traveling, they want to come home and relax,” he said.

As spring approaches, now is a good time to consider landscaping and outdoor living projects that can add value to a home and increase your family’s enjoyment, Bates said.

Shrinking yards

Willow Branch is participating in the Nashville Lawn and Garden Show, scheduled for March 3-6 at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds. The company charges around $5,000 for a patio and fire pit, up to more than $100,000 for larger projects.

Professionally designed outdoor living spaces are growing in popularity, even though yards are shrinking in many neighborhoods, Bates said. That may sound like a contradiction, but it isn’t. A well-designed outdoor space can help preserve privacy for you and your neighbors.

“People have big ideas to dress up a yard but have a smaller space to work in,” he said.

Artificial replaces natural

Landscaping doesn’t always include a traditional grassy lawn anymore. Instead, some homeowners are installing artificial turf.

“You’re not using any water, and it’s recycled material,” said Mike Burbridge, whose house in Franklin’s Westhaven subdivision has a small courtyard that doesn’t get a lot of sun.

Even though it’s made with old soda and water bottles, the turf looks like natural grass. It covers about half of his courtyard, he said.

“It looks gorgeous. People say, ‘You take such good care of your lawn,’ ” said Burbridge. “On my street alone, five people have copied it.”

His courtyard, which was professionally designed and landscaped, does feature natural plants, including evergreens and a weeping willow, as well as a fountain, a copper fire pit and a pergola.

Included in new homes

The Russos and Burbridge added their outdoor spaces after purchasing their homes, but many new homes come complete with areas for outdoor living.

“It’s a second living area, but outside the home,” said Jen Lucy, director of sales for the Jones Co., one of the region’s most active homebuilders.

All of the company’s homes feature a deck, and many buyers add covered patios and fire pits.

“It wasn’t popular in days gone by, but it is now. People are more outdoors oriented, more health conscious, more active,” Lucy said.

Chris Russo and his wife, Diana Russo, purchased their home when they relocated from Tampa, Florida, in 2014. Their outdoor living project added value to the property, but the real benefit is the time they spend with their son and daughter, Vincent and Victoria.

“I think of the value it brings my family, having that area for everyone to gather,” Chris Russo said. “It makes the backyard a focal point. It’s the kind of backyard people migrate to. It’s not unusual for us to light a fire and 10 people show up.”

If you go

Nashville Lawn and Garden Show

When: March 3-6

Where: Tennessee State Fairgrounds

Tickets: adults, $12; seniors, $11; under 12, $2; four-day pass, $20. Buy tickets at the door and online at

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Caskets, carpeting, cookies the feature at Home Expo

RACINE — What do caskets and urns, plumbers, chiropractors and Girl Scout cookies have in common?

Anyone? All of these products and service providers are at the 32 annual Journal Times’ Home Expo, which began on Saturday and continues Sunday.

Vevlon Days-Kimmons, 64, of Racine, said she stopped by the expo because she has “a couple of home improvement projects” she’s considering. Well, more than a couple. She said she would like new doors and storm doors, for starters.

“I also have a landscaping project in mind,” said Days-Kimmons, a retired Racine County Department of Human Services social worker. “I thought this would be a good place to get some ideas.”

Did she? Absolutely, she said. A new furnace also is on the horizon, and she said she learned there now are two ways to vent the furnace out of her home: straight out the side or by going up the chimney. The latter method, she said, is supposed to be a cost-saver.

“It’s been steady, traffic-wise,” said Donna Mueller, The Journal Times’ advertising director, about the expo.

‘Another type of planning’

This year’s expo features about 90 vendors, the same as last year’s event, Mueller said. This year, Strouf Funeral Home brought caskets and urns, along with specialty urns shaped like golf balls and fishing bobbers.

“You plan for your home, you plan for marriage,” Mueller said. “It’s another type of planning.”

The expo continues from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday at Festival Hall, 5 Fifth St. General admission costs $3, though the event is free for children 17 years old and younger. Parking is free in the parking lot.

Also featured at the expo are banks, a retirement home, a handyman service, cabinetry businesses, custom bath fitters, roofing, flooring and window companies. Racine Harley-Davidson, 1155 Oakes Road, Mount Pleasant, also set up a booth, showcasing a special highly customized motorcycle.

Jim Waligora, president of Springbrook Cabinetry in Brighton, said he participated in the Home Expo last year, as well, and traffic this year has been steady. Every year he has participated in the show, he’s gained business, he said.

Last year, he landed one job directly through his participation. But it was a $120,000 job, he said.

Two years ago, he landed one job, which resulted in two referrals.

“Over $70,000 from that chain of jobs,” Waligora said.

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