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Archives for November 15, 2016

Lowe’s employees fix up landscaping at Southgate historical house

After completing renovations inside the Southgate Historical Foundation Historical House and Museum in the late fall of 2015, Southgate Lowe’s, at the direction of store manager Dave Schmaltzel store landscape designer Tamera Chatfield completed a relandscaping project this past summer and early fall on the grounds of the foundation’s house and huseum.

The two-story white house fronts the main road at 14400 Dix Toledo, and sits just north of the Southgate City Hall complex.

The project included the removal of old shrubs, adding new plantings, new landscape bricks, new mulch, and the construction of a butterfly garden. Chatfield supervised the project, as she and other store volunteers worked in very hot and dry weather conditions, digging out older plants and replacing them with new, easy-care plants.

“Lowe’s is truly a great corporate neighbor,” said Southgate Historical Foundation Chairman James Dallos, who also is the city’s treasurer. “We are very grateful to Lowe’s and to store manager Schmaltzel.

Lowe’s donated the cost of all the materials and labor for the project. Volunteers from the store worked on their own time. A major goal of the historical foundation is to continue making improvements to the building, including a new roof, insulation, new windows, new siding, and a new sign out front.

The foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit charitable organization, unfunded by the city, with a 15-member board of directors. It holds various fundraisers throughout the year, while seeking donations and benefactor contributions. It leases the building from the city.

Fundraising activities include an annual Daddy-Daughter Dance in the spring, the annual Southgate Historical Foundation Heritage Cup Golf Tournament in early June, and the annual Southgate Historical Foundation Classic Car Show on Labor Day Weekend. The golf tournament funds the foundation’s scholarship program.

The historical house was built in 1926 for the Grahl family and originally was on Cochran Street, behind Mexican Gardens restaurant. The restaurant’s owner, the late Hector Puente, purchased the house and donated it to the city. City leaders held fundraisers to pay for the move of the house in 1993 to its present location.

The other Lowe’s employees who help with the work included Amad Akhtar, Jesse Saylor, Jesse Grzechowski, Tracey Sampson, Alex Van, Jennifer Dostert, Jennifer Stubbe, Chris Neimi and Drew Dulecki.

SOURCE: Southgate Historical Society

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NTCC sees fruits of sustainable farming



Goats play at the NTCC farm. 

Posted: Tuesday, November 15, 2016 3:30 am

NTCC sees fruits of sustainable farming

By Rene McCracken
NTCC Director of Agriculture


Sorghum, pumpkins and peas….oh my! Fall is not just a perfect time of year for me, but our goats at Northeast Texas Community College are enjoying the harvest as well. This is just one of the sustainable practices we love demonstrating at our NTCC Small Farm.  Working with nature and incorporating livestock into the garden is not only sustainable, but we cut out most of our labor and fuel/equipment costs. Our mixed breed of goats work hard to prune our muscadine vineyard and glean the fields, while fertilizing organically for the spring crops to come. The best part — they love doing it!

Northeast’s Sustainable 12-acre Farm is located directly across for the main campus just outside of Mount Pleasant, TX and is dedicated to becoming a true living example to demonstrate sustainable farming practices for all small farmers in east Texas. The farm is a hands-on laboratory for NTCC students, and a much-loved field trip destination for area schools to become experienced and inspired in sustainable farming practices.

Gardens, vineyard, crops, landscaping, egg and pork production – along with the goats – are just some of the projects featured on this sustainable farm.  Whether you are just beginning your education, transitioning to a new career or just want to gain skills to improve your small farm – classes at NTCC’s Ag Program can help to get you reach your goals.

Once their training is complete, students have the bright future of being in high demand.  According to a recent USDA Agriculture Report, “During the next five years, U.S. college graduates will find good employment opportunities if they have expertise in food, agriculture, renewable natural resources or the environment.  Between 2015 and 2020, we expect to see 57,900 average annual opening for graduates with a bachelor’s or higher degrees in those areas.” 

We are currently enrolling students for our spring semester that will begin January 17.  If you would like more information on courses, degree plans or would like to take a short workshop with us, contact Rene’ McCracken at 903-434-8267 or  You can also keep up with the latest happenings by following us on Facebook at NTCC Ag Department.  Another option is for you to join us for our Spring Registration Luncheon November 17 beginning at 12:35 p.m. at the Elizabeth Hoggatt Whatley Ag Complex.  Ag advisors will be on-hand to guide you as you register for classes in our computer lab.  Lunch will be provided as well.  Don’t miss this opportunity to be a part of a “growing” field!

  • Discuss


Tuesday, November 15, 2016 3:30 am.

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Citizens to keep tab on Rani Bagh projects

Save Rani Bagh Botanical Garden Foundation is trying to ensure that the green cover remains intact after the revamp and that the heritage character is preserved.

After facing flak for its poor handling of the penguin project at Byculla Zoo, the BMC has roped in citizens to oversee the works going on in other parts of the Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan, popularly known as Rani Bagh.

The BMC has roped in members of the Save Rani Bagh Botanical Garden Foundation to inspect the ongoing work of the entry plaza and landscaping of internal gardens.

According to members of the foundation, many of their suggestions have also been accepted by the BMC. “Over the last few months, we have been involved in overseeing work done by the BMC at the entrance and the internal pathways and gardens. Our main aim is to protect the botanical garden. This is a heritage garden and its heritage character must be preserved. We are happy that the BMC has incorporated our suggestions. For instance, we had asked them avoid putting concrete on internal pathways. So they have agreed and the pathways will now remain permeable areas,” said Hutokshi Rustomfram, trustee of the Foundation.

Members of the Foundation visit Rani Bagh at least twice a week to keep a check on the work and track progress. “We are not involved with the animal enclosures in any way. We just want to ensure that the animal enclosures do not encroach into the botanical garden. Even our small suggestions like leaving some trees in the parking area have been implemented by the BMC,” Rustomfram said.

The idea to rope in citizens and activists to ensure that the work is in tune with green and heritage norms was pitched by Deputy Municipal Commissioner Sudhir Naik, who is spearheading the zoo revamp project. According to officials, Naik holds regular meetings with members of the Foundation at the zoo and hears out their suggestions.

While the penguin project has been marred by controversy and allegations of corruption, BMC officials say the other works are on track and will be ready on time.

Elaborating on the role of the citizen activists, a senior civic official said, “We have asked these citizens to help us. They can come anytime and inspect any work. Their suggestions were valid and constructive, and so we have incorporated them. We have allowed them to access all the work at the entry plaza and the landscaping of internal gardens and pathways. Collaborating with them has helped us a lot.”

When the BMC first proposed to build a zoo at the spot in 2007, Rustofram, Katie Bagli, Shubhada Nikharge, Hutoxi Arethna and Dr Sheila Tanna formed the Save Rani Bagh Committee.

The BMC released the plan to build a new zoo in the 53-acre land at a cost of Rs 433 crore. Using the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the group collected documents and information to support their cause. They finally moved the Bombay High Court to save the botanical garden from being overtaken by construction.

Nikharge, one of the foundation’s trustees, pointed out that Rani Bagh was a large botanical garden with a small zoo and not the other way around. “We want it to remain that way. Our only concern is that the new animal enclosures must not eat into the botanical gardens. The garden occupies 63 per cent of Rani Bagh while the zoo is just 18 per cent and the remaining are internal pathways. The existing footprint of the enclosures must not increase,” Nikharge said.

“The BMC had originally planned a red and yellow coloured booking office, which would have looked gaudy, so we asked them to choose a colour in sync with the character, to which they agreed,” Nikharge added.


♦ Not concretising internal pathways, thus leaving more area permeable inside the botanical garden

♦ Installing small fences inside the garden in tune with the heritage character of the area

♦ Leaving more green space in the parking area to save old trees

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Seasonal gardening tips: flowers, lawns and falling leaves

Perennial flowers

When to cut back and mulch perennials can generate disputing opinions and can be specific to the perennial. The general recommendation is to wait on mulching until the plants are dormant, and that is likely when the top of the soil is frozen, similar in time to mulching strawberries (early December). Should the plants be pruned back in early winter? Preferably not if the stems or leaves are still green. Waiting until February would be better. However, we can’t expect gardeners to do everything perfectly, and many will go about tidy cultural practices out of convenience, especially if they are snow birds. Once a perennial is all brown, it is ready for mulch.



Roses normally need a light fall pruning and a more thorough spring pruning. Regarding winter protection, many old-fashioned, shrub and ramblers are reliably hardy and need little or no winter protection. The hybrid tea floribunda, grandiflora and climbing hybrid tea roses may be injured during severe winters. For this reason, some protection is necessary to ensure their survival. Planting in protected locations reduces the need for special winter protection.

The best form of winter protection is to mound up each plant at its base with loose, friable (crumbly) soil that drains well. This soil should be mounded up around the base of the canes to a height of 10-12 inches. Don’t scrape up soil from between the plants or roots may be injured. Bring it from another spot in the garden.

Loose compost or aged sawdust may be used in place of soil for winter protection. Don’t use leaves, grass clippings, manure or materials that would remain wet or rot around the canes and promote disease. Evergreen branches or straw placed over the mounds will give additional protection.


Lawns and leaves

If you’ve ignored your lawn all October, you might still need a final mowing, but lawns are in their low care time. The one exception is removal of leaves. If they sit too long then they smother the grass, especially if wet. Many people mow the leaves, effectively chopping them up where they’ll sift into the canopy. To do this, you may need to mow them several times; try blowing the leaves so you mow over them again and again.

If collecting whole leaves, consider storing them for later use as mulch. I like the convenience of raking them around trees in a thick layer. Keeping them from blowing away can be added by placing sticks and other trimmings on top of them. The rains and winter snow will eventually pack them into a layer that doesn’t blow. This isn’t the tidiest look, so better for a back area or distantly viewed location.

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Tips on putting the garden to bed

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Each year about now I suddenly realize that I should have already finished putting my garden to bed. This year I had a good excuse: I’d gone to France to hike and was away for three weeks.

But in other years my excuse has been the weather, or finishing a book that I was writing. You get it — I can be a bit of a procrastinator. Most of us are. But if you haven’t finished cleaning up your gardens yet, now is the time to get to work. Winter is just around the corner.

First, and most important to me, is to clean up the vegetable garden and get rid of weeds. I mulch heavily with newspapers and mulch hay, but there are still weeds present. Last week I raked off any newspapers my hungry earthworms had not eaten and the rotting mulch hay on top. Then I dug out my weeds and lugged them away. Because of the mulch, weeding was not too timeconsuming.

I did have some deep-rooted weeds, mainly dock (Rumex spp.). The roots of this weed can easily go a foot deep in the first year. So I couldn’t just pull them, even with my favorite weeding tool in hand, the CobraHead weeder. They are a job for a garden fork. I push down on it with my foot and the four tines go down a foot in the soil. I pull back and it loosens the soil and lifts the roots a little. Then I am able to tug it out, roots and all. Later, I will cover the beds with chopped leaves.

A buddy of mine called recently from Maine asking what to do with the leaves in their flower beds. Should he rake them out now or in the spring? I know a gardener who rakes all her leaves out onto the lawn, runs them over with the lawn mower, bags them up while nice and dry, and then stores them on the barn until spring. She cuts all her perennials down in the fall, too. Then, once the plants have all appeared in the spring, she mulches with the same leaves that were there in the fall.

That method works fine and the added organic matter from all those chopped leaves have built up her soil beautifully over the years. The chopped leaves hold in moisture and keep down weeds. But it’s a lot of work.

My approach is the Lazy- Boy way. I leave the leaves in place now — and in the spring, too, unless they are choking out small plants or covering something special. As a matter of aesthetics, if you don’t like the look of leaves, rake them up. Otherwise, leave them be and they will break down over time.

I will try to cut down most flowers before the snow flies. I leave some things with seeds for birds — sunflowers and black-eyed susans, for example. Instead of using hand pruners, I use a special serrated “root knife” that, unfortunately, is no longer commercially available. When I lose the last of my root knives, I’ll just use a steak knife — or find another manufacturer of the root knife, which has a nice curve to it. Why a knife? Cutting down hundreds of stems is tiring on the hands if using pruners.

You could also use a string trimmer or even a lawn mower to cut everything down. I have one long flower bed that I call my “Darwin bed.” It is full of tall flowers that can compete with the weeds — and each other. Asters, goldenrod, Joe-Pye weed, tall phlox, turtlehead and more compete for space. If a plant doesn’t survive, something else will fill up the space. In the fall I usually just run over it with my riding lawn mower, making it neat and tidy for a few minutes in the spring.

Another fall task involves improving the soil. I recently had my soil tested by Logan Labs. Their basic test gives a lot of information: pH, percentage of organic matter, mineral contents, trace mineral levels and more. As a member of the Bionutrient Food Association, I was able to get recommended levels of minerals and trace minerals for top quality production, and what (and how much) to add. Of course, each state offers soil testing through their Cooperative Extension service.

My soil is excellent, but needs a little tweaking. Boron, for example, is a little low, as are my potassium levels. I will make some additions this fall so that the added minerals can be incorporated into the soil over the fall, winter and spring. Green sand, a bagged supplement, is a good source of potassium.

The key to any soil addition is to remember that if adding a little is good, adding more is not. Even useful additions to the soil need to be done in carefully measured quantities. I will mix the minerals I add to the soil with a measured amount of compost, making it easier to distribute small quantities over my garden.

So, for example, I need to add half a pound of calcium borate per 1,000 square feet of garden space — or about a pound for my 1,700 feet of vegetable garden. By mixing it in with compost, I can distribute that better.

My blueberries — and yours — need a little agricultural sulfur added every year to keep the soil acidity good for them. Blueberries produce much better if the soil is very acidic — around 4.5 to 5.0. My recent soil test showed that in my garden beds the soil is 6.6, or just slightly acidic and perfect for vegetables. So I add sulfur each year to the blueberries to keep it acidic enough to produce well.

If I have the time (and the right weather) I will also weed around my blueberry bushes before adding sulfur. Blueberries have fibrous roots near the surface, so I’ll need to be careful. After weeding and adding sulfur, I will mulch heavily with chipped branches to keep down the weeds.

There is lots more to do, of course, so I better stop writing and head outside to the garden while the weather is nice.

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Mobile Web – Lifestyle – 5 garden tips for the week starting Nov. 12

More tomatoes

In autumn, tomatoes often grow beautifully but stop producing. Here’s a way to get one more crop from them this season. First, stop watering the tomatoes and trim back the tops of the plants a few inches (not much). Then “root-prune” them by inserting a shovel its full length down one side of each plant near the trunk. This shock treatment will stimulate them to form more fruit. Water only if and when the plants wilt; and if frost comes before they ripen completely, harvest green tomatoes for cooking, or let them ripen on the counter inside.

Water less

If you haven’t already done this, reduce automatic sprinkler settings for watering fruit trees, roses, landscape beds and even lawns. With the weather cooling, plants don’t need as much moisture. By early next month for most of us, automatic sprinklers can safely be turned off practically until spring. No sense wasting our precious water — or your precious money to pay for unneeded irrigation.

Winter harvest

Plant your winter garden soon, if you haven’t gotten around to it yet. Winter veggies include beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, Chinese peas, garlic, leeks, lettuces, onions, peas, radishes, snap peas, spinach, Swiss chard and turnips. To be sure the ground is loose, friable and fertile, add aged steer manure or other organic soil amendments as needed before planting. Replant favorites as you harvest them, anytime through early February.

Color your world

For garden color from now until spring, take time to plant annuals and hardy perennials. Ornamental cabbages, calendulas, candytuft, cyclamen, dianthus, forget-me-nots, larkspur, pansies, Iceland poppies, primroses and snapdragons, stocks and violas will sport their stuff quickly and continue through spring. Also put in bulbs, such as anemones, crocus, daffodils, hyacinths and tulips. These won’t flower so quickly or as long, but you’ll be glad you planted them when they show up next spring.

Decorating idea

Take time to enjoy the astonishing reds, yellows, oranges and purples of autumn leaf colors in Liquidambars, Boston ivy and even grape vines. Take pictures to make a collage, or prepare and photograph an autumn-leaf screen saver for your computer. Or do it the old-fashioned way by pressing the prettiest leaves between layers of wax paper. Remember that? Wax paper folded in half over a wooden dowel at the fold, leaves inserted in between the top and bottom of the wax paper, towel, press it with a hot iron to seal the wax, then tie yarn or string to the dowel ends to hang it up.

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Ilkley garden designer celebrates most successful year (From Ilkley …

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Designing the garden for your future

It has been said, “When you are 16, you wonder how an old man of 30 manages to drag himself around. When you get to be 30, you feel that 60 is as old as Methuselah. When you get to be 60, you think that the ‘aged’ are those in their 90s.”  

It is best to remember that, with luck, we will all become elderly one day.  Even if you are young, and are just now starting your garden, a little forethought into designing your garden for your golden years may be much-appreciated by your future self.  

The design and future maintenance of tall plantings is important to consider.  Try to keep the mature height to one-story level or below of any plantings that might need to be pruned or hedged.  That way, you will not have to climb a ladder to keep plantings maintained.  I did not plan my garden well in this regard, and I am beginning to realize what a mistake I made. 

Used to be, it was easy for me to jaunt up to the top of a ladder, swinging pruners, electric hedge shears, chainsaw, or any other sharp tool that might cause bodily harm.  Now, however, my hedges and climbing plants are getting trimmed shorter and shorter each year, as I realize that it might not be in my best interest to take on such risk.

Thorny plants are another consideration.  As skin gets thinner and more tender, scratches are more likely to tear the skin, causing scars and possible infection.  I wish I would have thought of that before I planted so many plants with thorns and prickles, such as roses, pyracantha, barberry, hollies, and flowering quince (Chaenomeles).

Curiosities such as the Wingthorn rose (Rosa sericea ptericantha) are interesting to have, but may not be the best choice for someone with skin that easily tears or bleeds.

Weed maintenance is always a consideration, but even more so, as bending over for long periods of time becomes harder on your back. 

If weed removal is a top priority for you, try to plant ground covers that will shade out weed seeds, or keep a deep mulch applied.  Of course, applying mulch is back breaking work, too.  Perhaps failing eyesight will allow you to look past small areas of imperfection.

Pathways also need to be considered. If you find your footing is unstable on a gravel or flagstone pathway, you may want to consider replacing it before you fall.  There is no perfect path material, however.  Footing is sure on concrete, but should you fall, it is hard and unforgiving. A pathway made from a thick layer of mulch will need to be replenished regularly.  Grass is soft, but will need to be mown, and can be slippery when wet.  

Gardens are made for enjoyment. To enjoy your garden for as long as possible, think about  your garden’s design, its plants, pathways, and maintenance, and what each will mean for you in the future.

For more information, call 903-675-6130, e-mail, or visit

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Designer backyards that make the outdoors impossible to resist

Outdoor rooms are as popular as ever, and the line between indoors and out is becoming blurrier by the year. In these inspiring gardens, created by the winners of the 2016 Landscapes of Distinction Awards as judged by Landscaping New Zealand, there’s an outdoor version of every room in the house. See which ideas you could apply to your own home, to make your backyard infinitely more inviting.

1. Together yet alone

Christchurch-based Goom Landscapes has coined the term ‘lifescapes’ to sum up what its landscape designers try to achieve in every project – outdoor rooms that extend your living space, enhance a home’s functionality and style, and add value in the process. This project took out not only Best Design of the Year in Landscaping New Zealand‘s 2016 Landscapes of Distinction Awards, but also Landscape of the Year. 

Design elements of the house are repeated in the garden, linking the two spaces together – the wide pavers echo the dimensions of the house, for example. And in case you missed it, there’s a spa built into the patio. Entertaining couldn’t be easier now that the family has this barbecue area out the back, complete with seating for guests and plenty of bench space for drinks and nibbles during a gathering.

Design elements of the house are repeated in the garden, linking the two spaces together – the wide pavers echo the dimensions of the house, for example. Photo: Landscaping New Zealand

An inviting backyard is sure to entice children out of the house … just don’t be surprised if their screens come with them.


2. Nature’s elements

Design  Landscape Ltd Pumpkin Hill

Natural materials such as wood and stone have been used skilfully by Design Garden Landscapes in its Pumpkin Hill project, which won the Landscape Construction award for projects over NZ$60,000. Natural stone makes the outdoor dining area a highlight, and the same stonework has been used on the built-in barbecue.

Browse more NZ swimming pools

Natural rock features help the outdoor areas blend into their surrounds, and overcome some of the challenges that come with a steep slope.

3. Secluded splash

Natural Habitats - CLIFF TOP PARADISE

Bathing outdoors is the ultimate way to really relax, but only if you can get your gear off well out of sight. Auckland-based Natural Habitats created this swoon-worthy set-up as a private slice of paradise for the homeowners. They can escape for a soak in the tub …or take a shower while admiring the views. Could you steal any ideas from this bathing space and make them your own?

The design also manages to include an outdoor dining space. Natural Habitats won a silver award for this project, aptly named Cliff Top Paradise, in the garden management category for large residential projects, as well as a gold award for Landscape Construction.

4. Tropical escape

Natural Habitats - SUBURBAN RETREAT

You don’t have to have amazing views to create an amazing backyard, of course. Natural Habitats worked its magic on this Auckland backyard, creating a suburban retreat with a tropical vibe. Clear fencing makes the garden one with the outdoor living areas, and allows unimpeded views of the greenery from inside.

A fireplace makes this outdoor living room inviting, even on cool nights. Comfortable seating grouped for conversation is definitely an idea to emulate. This project took out a silver award for Landscape Construction, and a gold for Landscape Design.

5. Arm in arm

Southern Landmarx - Japanese Garden

The lessons from this impressive Southern Landmarx garden are twofold. First, think about your lifestyle and plan your backyard accordingly. If you really prefer one-on-one get-togethers to crowded parties, be true to that. This project, which won silver awards in the Landscape Horticulture and Landscape Construction categories, creates nooks for two as well as places to gather with a few friends. Second, don’t be afraid to steal ideas from other countries – this garden is positively Zen-like thanks to its Japanese influence.

6. Climate control

Southern Landmarx - Shotover Delta

Southern Landmarx won gold for this project, largely because the landscaping merges so beautifully with the home’s natural setting.

Protecting outdoor living and dining areas from the elements should come first in any project – exposure to rain, wind, heat or cold is the opposite of inviting. This dining area is protected from breezes on two sides, and its louvred roof gives homeowners a measure of control over the elements.

View popular garden designs on Houzz

See our photo gallery of beautiful decks

Find a landscape architect to help with your garden design

This article originally appeared on Houzz.

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Tonight in L.V.: Las Vegas Showcase House, Philip Fortenberry, ‘Comedy Daredevil,’ Sugarcane, Yellow Claw – Las Vegas Review


Nineteen of the best of our design community luminaries will unveil their plans for the first-ever Las Vegas Showcase House to be opened in January 2018. The designers have a year to take their room ideas from concept to reality transforming a Scotch 80s neighborhood home.

The mission is to re-establish our city as a hub of design and incubator for world-class architecture, interior design and landscaping by restoring a classic property — all to benefit the nonprofit Core Academy.

Follow the journey at The design team will be introduced at a preview kickoff party at the Design Center at World Market Center. When the house is completed, it will have an onsite cafe and a collection of boutique stores to display local designers’ work.

Piano prince Philip Fortenberry, who provided Liberace’s hands for Michael Douglas in HBO’s award-winning “Behind the Candelabra,” joins forces with vocalist Daniel Emmet and cellist Lindsey Springer for a concert at Cabaret Jazz in The Smith Center for the Performing Arts.

The farewell tour of For Today with Norma Jean and My Epic swings into Vinyl at The Hard Rock Hotel.

Thrills, chills, power drills, sledgehammers, chainsaws and a lawn mower are wielded by “America’s Got Talent” stunt stars Ryan Stock and AmberLynn when they officially open their show “Comedy Daredevil” at Hooters Casino Hotel.

Sushisamba owners and chef Timon Balloo officially open their much-anticipated restaurant Sugarcane at The Venetian.

The Jokesters Comedy Club officially opens at The D Las Vegas.

Santa Fe The Fat City Horns continues its new residency at Lounge at The Palms.

Party Favor brings his Party and “Destroy North American Tour” to Jewel at Aria.

Virgil Abloh makes the music at XS in Steve Wynn’s Encore.

Yellow Claw is at Surrender in Encore.

And I return to hosting duties at “Legends in Concert” at the Flamingo, with additional appearances Tuesday and Thursday.


DJ Steve Aoki hosts his debut Bowling for Brains fundraiser at Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas in The Linq Promenade.

We’ll review “A Choreographers’ Showcase,” the Nevada Ballet Theater collaboration with Cirque du Soleil presented for a second time this weekend at T.I., plus have a report of new restaurants on and off the Strip.

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