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Archives for December 7, 2017

What should Murfreesboro’s ‘Bridge Over Broad’ be called?


The Murfreesboro City Council wants public input to rename a “Bridge Over Broad” scheduled to open Dec. 17.
Scott Broden/DNJ

Murfreesboro officials want suggestions on renaming the soon to open “Bridge Over Broad.”

City Councilman Rick LaLance proposed the name be “First Responders Memorial Bridge” during a Thursday night meeting and recommended discussing options during a work shop.

More: Murfreesboro traffic: Councilman says bypass roads will help congestion

Murfreesboro City Manager Rob Lyons told LaLance the local government could ask the public to suggest naming ideas for the bridge.

“We’re glad to help you with it,” said Lyons, who noted that public feedback will help the officials decide on a name. “Bridge Over Broad is kind of a place holder. First Responders Memorial Bridge is a terrific idea.”

Lyons told the council that the Tennessee Department of Transportation reports that the bridge that links Old Fort Parkway (state Route 96) to Memorial Boulevard (U.S. Highway 231) over Broad (U.S. Highway 41) is scheduled to open for traffic Dec. 17.

City Councilman Eddie Smotherman also said LaLance had a great idea.

“Open it up for the public and have some public input, as well,” said Smotherman, who quipped that the city could even consider putting a sign up by the bridge with the headline, “Name this bridge.”

Mayor Shane McFarland suggested the city use the same approach with the bridge as the government is doing in accepting feedback on naming a future west-side park that will open in the Blackman community between Burnt Knob, Blackman and Vaughn roads and Veterans Parkway off Interstate 840.

Initial bridge contract called for completion by spring 2016


Murfreesboro City Councilman Rick LaLance talks about bypass road planning such as Bridge Over Broad to help future commuters avoid many stops at traffic signals.
Scott Broden/DNJ

TDOT Chief Engineer Paul Degges recently said commuters should be able to drive on the bridge prior to Christmas while crews are still working on landscaping and other parts of the $22.8 million construction project. 

TDOT forecasts that the intersection will have 72,740 vehicle trips per day by 2034, which is an increase of 14,080 from the 2014 count of 58,660. 

The state awarded an initial $17.6 million contract to Brentwood-based Bell Associates Construction to start the bridge project in January 2014. The initial work was supposed to be completed by spring 2016.

The state adjusted the contract after discovering more work was needed to adjust the design and relocate the utility lines without taking out space needed for the existing businesses, said Degges, who noted that about 75 percent of TDOT projects are completed on the original advertised schedule. 

Although most of the work Bell does with subcontractors will be completed to open the bridge before Christmas, the company will be fined for not having all the project completed by Dec. 15, Degges said. 

Council hires architect for fire station by Blackman High

In addition to discussing renaming options for Bridge Over Broad, the council approved three requests from Fire Recuse Chief Mark Foulks:

  • Hire Johnson + Bailey Architect to design $2.7 million fire station at 3920 Blaze Drive by Blackman High;
  • Accept donation of trailer valued at $350,000 as a portable office from Bridgestone-Firestone for Fire Rescue Department use as an incident command center for emergencies;
  • Agree to $13,500 10-year lease for a rehab emergency support trailer from the Tennessee Federation of Fire Chaplains.

The council also awarded a $411,420 contract to Neel-Schaffer to design better-timed traffic signals with fiber optic lines at 14 intersections along Northfield-Rutherford Boulevard. The city won a $3.4 million TDOT Congestion Mitigation Air Quality grant to fund all but $21,000 of local funding to pay for the Rutherford-Northfield project.

More: $3.5M project to improve traffic light timing for Bridge Over Broad, Rutherford-Northfield

Reach Scott Broden at and on Twitter @ScottBroden.

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Moxi Works Adds HomeDiary to Cloud Open Platform

Moxi Works has added FloorPlanOnline’s HomeDiary, a homeowner management platform that includes a free 3D space planner, to its Moxi Cloud open platform, the company recently announced.

“There has been a lot of discussion recently about staying in touch with your client base, or sphere of influence,” says Mike McHenry, vice president of Channels and Partnerships at Moxi Works. “After all, it is somewhere between 6-10 times more expensive to get a new client than keep an existing one. But tools have been lacking that create compelling reasons for homeowners to use and engage, as they are mostly singular or one-time use tools. This is where we see HomeDiary filling a vital gap for the agent and their clients.”

“Our goal is to make documenting your home quick and easy, and to enable every home in America to have 3D floor plan, just like what you see on TV,” says Kris Cone, CEO of HomeDiary. “Plus, the HomeDiary platform allows agents to leverage that great content created for the listing to be a useful asset for the buyer just by claiming the home from the tour, something no other tour company can do.”

HomeDiary PRO helps REALTORS® stay connected to their client base throughout the whole homeownership lifecycle. Through the Moxi integration, PRO not only provides marketing tools for the listing side of the transaction, such as completely hands-free, automated, single-property websites and the free use of the advanced 3D floor plan engine; it also enables agents to stay relevant with their client base as they live in their home with the included HomeDiary sponsorship for an unlimited number of clients. The HomeDiary PRO system is extremely affordable—priced at less than the daily cost of a cup of coffee.

As a digital record of a home, HomeDiary is where homeowners can log projects, photos, improvements, and documents for easy reference to create a digital record of the home.

HomeDiary’s 2D and 3D space planner allows homeowners to draw a room or an entire floor plan if desired. They can plan furniture layouts, virtually change flooring, plan patio and landscaping ideas, and play with paint color palettes. Homeowners can even experiment with what an open concept might look like before they pick up a hammer. It enables any home to have a 3D floor plan visualizer, similar to what you see on those popular home improvement shows.

HomeDiary PRO helps agents provide a simple documentation tool to their client base and add another reason to reach out to their sphere. According to HomeDiary research, some 75 percent of homeowners have no system to document their home for insurance purposes. This creates an issue if disaster strikes. Homeowners are at risk of losing thousands of dollars in value if a fire, flood, hurricane or tornado strikes and there is no record of what was in the home. HomeDiary can help the homeowner reduce that risk in a fast and easy way.

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Blue Zones leader advocates ‘smart growth’ to reduce traffic in cities

Dan Burden, the director of inspiration and innovation for Blue Zones, a nonprofit that advocates for progressive street design changes around the world, came to the beach cities this week with a difficult pill to swallow.

When cities increased density and reduced traffic lanes, they actually improved the flow of traffic, he said.

“We’ve been over building our cities for our cars, and we’ve ended up with some results that we’d like to change,” Burden said.

On Monday, Burden joined Paul Zykofsky, associate director of the Local Government Commission Team and author of “building livable communities,” for a community design workshop in Manhattan Beach to help spur the local dialogue on what the future should look like.

“People don’t like change even when change is inevitable,” Zykofsky said. “There are issues that cities have to address, but change is going to happen.”

The event, hosted by the Beach Cities Health District, capped a whirlwind day for the pair, who also met with civic leaders from each of the beach cities.

Burden knows all too well the opposition to some of their ideas as city leaders throughout North America have invited him to consult on creating what he terms “complete streets” that are safer, more efficient and spur economic growth.

In one city in Florida, he was met with a community split 50-50 on a particular design project.

“I said, ‘Then I cannot help you, but I can teach you to help yourself,” Burden said.

And that, in essence, is what he’s been doing for the past 40 years.

Burden said cities brought speeds down in several fast-moving commercial districts by reducing traffic lanes and adding bike lanes, landscaping and curb enhancements. It took shorter periods for pedestrians to cross the street, so cars had more “green light time,” and the commercial district flourished, Burden said.

Street design changes in Lancaster, California, for instance, were credited with bringing $600 million in economic growth to the downtown core, he said. West Palm Beach, Florida; Hamburg, New York; and Avon, Colorado, each also represent success stories, according to Burden.

Yet building consensus is never easy, as Zykofsky readily acknowledged.

“For many years any kind of development was a bad word, especially in built-out communities,” Zykofsky said. “But instead of stopping development, what we need to think about is what is our values and our vision and how do we make sure that the development that does come to our communities adds quality and livability.”

Locally, several recent projects were either part of a Blue Zones initiative, which the beach cities of Manhattan, Hermosa and Redondo Beach joined in 2010, or otherwise aligned with those principles: The bike path on Harbor Drive, angled parking on Herondo Street, roundabouts and road diets on Vista Del Mar. Some, obviously, more popular than others.

Mixed-use zoning, recently opposed by the Redondo Beach City Council, is supported by Zykofsky and Burden as progressive since it reduces vehicular trips by placing shopping and restaurants within walking distance.

In 40 years on working toward building consensus among communities, Burden said he’s learned not to try to change opinions, but give people the tools to make the best decisions for themselves.

“I found out we were using the wrong public engagement strategies. That people would just argue and not build anything,” he said. “If we get good information then we can make smart decisions together.”

How then, did he suggest a community move forward?

“Find your local champion,” he said. “Who are the people in your neighborhood who can really motivate and get everyone behind coming up with an idea and keep that moving forward?

“We cannot do that by asking our elected leaders to put their whole career at stake, nor our best government officials,” he continues. “We need people who will become the champions of things really needed in their community.”

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Weather outside may get frightful

This weekend will likely see many breaking out the winter gear as cold air and the season’s first major snow accumulation is on the way. 

Today, snow flurries are expected across the northern portion of Ashtabula County, with the most snow expected to fall between Erie, Pennsylvania and Buffalo, New York, according to the National Weather Service in Cleveland.

“Northeast Ohio is on the fringes of the snow bands,” said Kirk Lombardy, a meteorologist with the NWS in Cleveland. “As we get into the weekend, an Alberta Clipper system will affect all of northern Ohio, bringing four or five inches of snow.”

But that’s not all.

Lake effect snow is right behind the clipper and with it, more snow for the snow belt, he said.

In addition, temperatures will drop below freezing during the day and into the teens at night, according to the NWS forecast.

At Kelly’s Gardens and Landscaping in Saybrook Township, co-owner Chris Mramor said she expects brisk Christmas tree and wreath sales, as snow often gets people in the Christmas mood.

“We have been busy for this early in the season, but I think we will be even busier,” she said. 

A big snow event is something the Ohio Department of Transportation prepares for weeks in advance, said Justin Chesnic, ODOT spokesperson.

“We will pre-treat the roads and we will have our snowplows out on all state and U.S. roads,” he said. “We have 25 crews ready to work around the clock.”

Ashtabula City Manager Jim Timonere said the equipment is ready and the salt dome has been stocked. 

“We have been out twice this year just to salt the roads when we dropped below freezing with rain and the little snow we did get to date,” he said. “A reminder to residents — parking bans will be in place if accumulations are over three inches. The goal is to hit all streets within 24 hours after the snow stops. We have not started third shift yet, but we will be on call if and when it comes.”

Amir Garakouei, superintendent of the Ashtabula County Highway Department, said his crews are always ready to battle snow.

“We got the forecast and our guys are ready,” he said. 

The Ohio State Highway Patrol reminds motorists to be safe especially while driving in winter weather.

“Slow down and give yourself lots of room from the vehicle in front of you,” said Sgt. Chris Thayne of the OHP Ashtabula Post. “Don’t be in a hurry. Give yourself plenty of time.”

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Nebraska Statewide Arboretum awards planting, education and landscaping efforts – Omaha World

Whenever Chris Peters posts new content, you’ll get an email delivered to your inbox with a link.

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Most insects in the garden are harmless

Predators are insects that hunt for a living. They catch, kill and eat other insects. In general, predators are as large as, or larger than, their prey. Predators are typically general feeders. Hover fly larvae feed on aphids, mealy bugs, scale and other soft-bodied insects, as do ladybugs and lacewings. Others like assassin bugs, spiders and praying mantids are more generalists, eating anything that comes their way. Non-insect predators in the garden include bats, birds, lizards, snakes and toads.

Parasitoids are another kind of desirable natural pest control. They are different from parasites in several important ways. Most importantly, a parasitoid always kills its host, while a parasite usually weakens its host but rarely kills it. Parasitoids tend to be highly host-specific. They choose one species as a host or, in some cases, a group of related species on which to raise their young. Most parasitoids are tiny wasps that don’t sting humans. Many help control assorted caterpillars.

The next type of beneficial insect is the decomposer group. Without these lowly little critters, we would be quite literally over our heads in dead bodies. A decomposer’s job begins when some other organism’s life ends. Within that dead organism’s body, essential nutrients are tightly locked into various chemical compounds. Decomposers break down the more complicated compounds into a simpler form usable to themselves and to other life forms by eating and digesting dead and waste materials. Carbon, nitrogen and other raw elements that are essential to all life are released back into the air, water and soil through the waste products of this group. The humble earthworm is a decomposer deluxe. Other decomposers are the larval stages of love bugs, lightning bugs and crane flies.

The fourth type of beneficial is more widely known and appreciated. Pollinators have long been recognized for their contributions to mankind’s welfare and comfort. Without pollinators, we would have no apples, almonds, pears, peaches, cherries, citrus, coffee, cucumbers, melons, squash and many other common fruits and vegetables. The best known “flower duster” is, of course, the European honey bee. However, Texas is home to more than 400 native bees, including carpenter bees and bumble bees, all considered beneficial.

Earth-Kind Landscaping uses research-proven techniques to provide maximum garden and landscape enjoyment while preserving and protecting the environment. The objective of Earth-Kind Landscaping is to combine the best of organic and traditional gardening and landscaping principles to create a horticultural system based on real-world effectiveness and environmental responsibility.

So before you start swatting, squashing or stomping, pause to consider the jobs the critters are doing. Just as in life, there are a lot more good guys than bad ones.

If you’d like to apply for the training to be a member of our Smith County Master Gardener volunteer team, we are still accepting applications. For more information, call 903-590-2980.

Greg Grant is the Smith County Horticulturist with the Texas AM AgriLife Extension Service. You can follow him on Facebook at “Greg Grant Gardens.” He writes a monthly blog titled “Greg’s Ramblings” at, and writes “In Greg’s Garden” for Texas Gardener magazine (

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6 plant-raising tips that helped out green thumbs in 2017

You can buy all the hygge-inducing throw pillows and blankets you can find, but what every living space really needs is something, well, living. It’s science—being around nature can make you happier and healthier. Enter: the house plant.

Indoor blooms serve a myriad of purposes: They’re nice to look at, add calming elements to any room, improve air quality, and, if you’re planting herbs or other edibles, you can even cook with them. The best news of all? Bringing nature into your home doesn’t need to be difficult.

If you’re new to gardening and plant parenting, fear not: There are so many ways to achieve botanical boss status—even if you weren’t born with a green thumb.

Check out the 6 best planting pointers from 2017

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How to Grow a Winter Kitchen Garden

Winter is a time of snowstorms, movie nights by the fire, and…fresh, homemade salsa? At least, it can be for those willing to give indoor vegetable gardening a shot. With a little gear and know-how, a wide variety of fresh produce can be successfully grown throughout the winter.

We spoke with Chad Knight, who teaches indoor gardening in Green Bay, Wisconsin—if they can grow in the winter up there, anyone can—to get his expert tips.

1. Choose Wisely

There are plenty of plants that can be grown indoors, including tomatoes, kale, radishes and more. Choose plants based on your taste and how much room you have to garden. Anyone with a spare windowsill can grow a few herbs. Those with more space can get creative. Maybe fill a bookshelf with rows of lettuce, or grow larger veggies in a tub beside your sofa. According to Knight, gardeners with a lot of space can go so far as turning a spare room into a greenhouse with a grow tent. But all you really need to get started are containers, soil, and a good lighting system to mimic the long growing days of summer.

Chili peppers growing on a windowsill. By Alina Kuptsova /

2. Contain Yourself

Herbs and leafy greens are good for beginners because they grow easily and have shallow roots, which means they can live in smaller containers. Lettuce, kale and spinach can be grown in pots or troughs, and many can yield for a prolonged period if only the outermost leaves are harvested.

If you want to grow deeper-rooting plants, such as carrots, you can save space if you buy a round variety such as Thumbelina, Atlas, or Parisian. Plants that get very bushy or leggy—like tomatoes or peppers—can be pruned, or miniature varieties can be selected. Keep in mind that tomatoes have to be staked in order to keep them upright and allow the fruit to ripen.

3. See the Light

Lighting is key to the success of your garden. No matter the season, a house is a dark habitat for produce. In northern winters, even window box gardens need a little extra light. According to Knight, herbs and leafy greens do fine with a few 50-watt grow light bulbs, but larger plants prefer high-intensity lighting systems, such as halide or high-pressure sodium bulbs. Such systems use more energy, but the light and heat they generate will help your plants flourish. These are typically placed in a light box designed to replicate the intense rays of full summer sun.

Be sure to tend to your indoor kitchen garden. By Natalia Bulatova /

4. Grow On

Perfecting your produce takes trial and error. Tend your garden like you would any other: Pay attention, remove dead or fallen leaves, consider fertilizing, and don’t overwater. Knight notes that indoor vegetables are particularly vulnerable to fungus, so he recommends using a fan to prevent condensation and to keep the air circulating, mimicking the breeze that blows over an outdoor garden. “Think about all the little cues that nature gives a plant,” Knight says. “You’re trying to bring the outdoors inside.”




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