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    The Signs of the Big Bend Are a Sign of the Times – Texas Monthly - May 24, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    This time last year, which seems like a long time ago, I found myself at the automotive shop. Things seemed kind of tense. There arent many places to get vehicles inspected in the Big Bend, which puts pressure on the few existing spots to do lots of them. Inspections cost a flat $7 statewide. I imagine that the volume of inspections could consistently pull a mechanic from concentrating on more lucrative or in-depth jobs. A business owner might become kind of testy about that situation. Maybe thats the reason behind all the signs.

    There were eight signs, at my furtive count. One was handwritten and inside the office: Do not touch anything on this desk. The others were mounted on the exterior of the building. They were printed on metal and retained idiosyncrasies. Reading them, I thought about someones reasons for opening an auto shop. That persons probably good with engines, a natural problem solver who appreciates the satisfaction of making a fine machine run sweet. Heres someone who just wants to work on cars. Too bad people get in the way.

    Reserved parking . . . unauthorized vehicles towed away

    Now more than ever Texans are connecting over shared stories. Enjoy your unlimited access to our site. To have TexasMonthly magazine delivered to your home, becomeasubscriber today.

    Customer are required to wait in waiting room, if you choose to wait here, while your vehicle is being serviced. No Exceptions.

    Be Considerate. It is greatly appreciated when your children accompany you here, that you keep them respectful of our business and possessions.

    Warning. Customers becoming irate and/or violent will warrant us contacting the Police.

    Work performed here will be paid for in full before you are allowed to take your vehicle.

    Keep Out. Customers are not permitted to enter shop area.

    Minimum computer diagnostics charge is $32.50

    I had rebelled and sat outside, though meekly, and out of the way. It occurred to me that there was a lot going on at this place that I didnt know anything about. I should holster my curiosity about whatever past arguments had necessitated visits by police. I should censor my questions about what had been ruined on the desk and by whom. Just then, a red vehicle pulled up, the sort of angular, sporty, kit-made car you dont see too often, and parked in the driveway where parking is not allowed. A slender woman with maroon-dyed hair, form-fitting jeans, and Jackie Onassis sunglasses climbed out. A mans voice called out from inside the service bay.

    Now, you caint park there.

    I know, sweetie, I just gotta ask you a question, she replied, and strode into the bay where customers cannot go.

    They talked inaudibly a few moments and she edged back outside.

    Hows he doin? the voice asked. She turned to face him.

    Hes decided that hes not going to be here much longer.

    Well, I know.

    Her mouth turned upside down. Her chin puckered. Hes giving everything away. I mean, he gave me this for my birthday, and she gestured at the odd car.


    Hes giving it all away, giving all of it away. And with that, she got back in the vehicle, reversed, and drove off.

    Oh, those signs, I thought. Theyre trying to impose order, but people dont listen. People are going to do what people dopark where they want, walk where they want. Put a Slurpee on the desk. Let their toddler paw the gumball machine. Theyre going to get sick, give everything away, and die. The signs wont keep the chaos outside the garage doors, not really, regardless of how much structure is in place and how many rules are given. A mechanic in coveralls stuck his head outside the bay. Maam, he said to me. Trucks ready.

    The Diesel Fried Chicken sign that once topped a tire shop in Van Horn.

    Michael Roch

    Signs are put there so that youll pay attention, and sometimes I have done just that, so much so that I remember them years later. As a child riding in the back seat of my parents car, driving past the Park Cities Baptist Church, in Dallas, reliably produced a delicious dread in me, for the clock face in the churchs impressive steeple read Night Cometh. That progression of time and the insolence and frailty of us silly people were not lost on me. A reckoning will happen, whether it takes place after church or in the auto shop.

    Mostly I recall the signs that were funny. Some years back, we rolled past a church in Cleburne where the weeks homily outside read A dusty bible leads to a dirty mind. At least, I thought it was funny at the time. Maybe it isnt. Not long ago a sign appeared on the chain-link fence of one of Marfas cemeteries: Enter at Your Own Risk. It cracked me up when I initially saw it this spring, but the inexorable march of COVID-19 has redrawn the boundaries of context. It will be funny again someday. I hope.

    Still, some pleasure remains. Occasionally Ive encountered signs that are an enduring mystery. In Marfa, theres an adobe ruin with a strident message in red spray paint: KEEP OUT SNAKES. Ive never been sure whether the sign intends to warn people of snakes or whether it cautions snakes to steer clear. Either way, Ive seen neither snakes nor people there, so I guess its working. About twenty years ago, when I was a reporter at the Big Bend Sentinel newspaper, I took an ad for a woman in town who had left a very unhappy marriage in Houston for a new life in Marfa, where shed found a wealth of supportive friends. Cellphones werent yet common. She didnt want her former husband to be able to reach her any longer, but she did want to hear from her pals, so she bought a large display ad in the paper, which is a sort of sign: This is Elizabeth. My new unlisted phone number is, followed by the number itself. Makes perfect sense, right?

    Billboards are among the signs Texans most commonly encounter. While legislation prohibits these signs in certain rural areas, about 35,000 billboards dot the states urban areas.

    I, and everyone I know, routinely scan the local grocery store bulletin board for vital information. The board is prominently located at the stores entrance, and its often so packed with various notices that the array must be rearranged to fit in anything new. In normal times, these signs are intriguing for their range: a Christian concert coming up, a cheerleader bake sale on Saturday, lawn mowing services. You can tell much from the handwriting. The seller of chiweenie puppies has the scratchy hand of an older person with arthritis and composed their sign with a ballpoint pen on a stray index card. Very common sensey, this person.

    A previous incarnation of this grocery used to post a note at each cash register listing all those folks who had written a check with insufficient funds. Often, the names on those lists were visible to both the cashiers and the customers in line. Its the mark of a small town that, chances were, you knew some folks on that list or perhaps, in a pre-ATM, check-heavy era, an ill-timed dance between the end of the month and the end of your money meant your name mightve been there too. No judgment, especially these days. It happens.

    Most signs do not turn out to be permanently relevant. Marfas local watering hole used to be called Lucys Tavern, and Lucy had rules. The signs in her bar read No dogs and No spitting, and breakers of these commandments risked being permanently eighty-sixed from the place. Its amusing that in the current chapter of this bar, now called the Lost Horse Saloon, dogs commonly outnumber human patrons, and spittoons are at the ready for your spitting pleasure.

    My favorite sign of all time was anchored atop a tire shop in Van Horn. It was the symbol of being close to home because it sat at the turnoff from Interstate 10 toward Marfa. This sign was simple, black block letters on a white background. DIESEL FRIED CHICKEN. Im unaware of a time in which the tire shop ever sold fried chicken. Having visited their bathroom many years ago on the way back from a softball tournament, I can attest that it was no place youd want to eat chicken, even if it were fried in diesel.

    Earlier this year, on a visit to New York City, I walked with my husband and an old Marfa friend through SoHo, dense with brunch-goers. A sidewalk table with photos for sale stopped us cold. All the images were of the Diesel Fried Chicken sign, or of the Prada Marfa art installation, which is poorly named, since its actually located outside Valentine. Hey, we told the sidewalk seller. This is where we live, but the fried chicken signs not there anymore. He was not impressed. He didnt even think it was a weird coincidence that we knew this sign so well. My buddy bought it, he said breezily. Hes putting it in a bar in Austin. Oh, rats. I had liked it where it was.

    Signs, of course, dont have to contain language to convey information. Javelinas coming into town at night indicate wintertime, the bristly, piggy beasts lured from the grassland to Marfa lawns by windfall acorns and pecans. Vultures are a harbinger in this country. Seeing them kettle overhead in March means theyve returned from their winter vacation in Mexico and spring is almost here. Some things we know in an old way. Its easy to forget that the instincts to see and to know lie sleeping inside. But theyre present. When my friend Tigie was sick for the last time, eight years ago, a change in her cough and something about the way her eyes gazed at me told me something big was coming. And it came.

    Lately I awaken with a bellyful of leaden dread. To push away those awful signsthe masks, the emptied schoolyard and streetsI look outward and try to remember to breathe. There is some normalcy, and for that Im grateful. The black-chinned hummingbird buzzes at the feeder. The peach trees boughs are populated with tight green fruit. My red mare sighs and smacks her lips. With breath, theres optimism.

    The most interesting signs, arguably, are these totems that carry meaning so weighty that they vibrate within the chest. Once, about a decade ago, five of us were hiking in Big Bend National Park. Snowfall began halfway up the Lost Mine Trail, transforming the familiar into the unfamiliar. Stipa grass grew hoary and bearded with snowflakes and icy crystals. Snow filled the pockets between the agaves spiny points. Greens turned greener. The shadows deepened. The park held few visitors that January day; we had seen no other hikers. The snow intensified the beauty around us, the isolation, our rare good fortune to be there together. For all we knew, we were alone for mile upon undulating, craggy, snowy mile.

    Our giddiness couldnt stave off the chill, however, and the snow fell big-flaked and wet, a hazy curtain. We turned and stomped intently back down the mountain. Twenty paces on, we saw them: a mountain lions rounded prints, a long line of them, coming up the trail where wed been not a half-minute before. The tracks were as wide as the span of a mans hand and so fresh the snow had not started to fill the cups of the lions paws. Its tail had faintly brushed the snow. We gawped at one another, at the impenetrable woods. Several moments passed. There was no bird chatter, no sound at all. And I thought: This is how awe feels. This is being alive.

    This article originally appeared in the June 2020 issue of Texas Monthlywith the headline A Consideration of Signs. Subscribe today.

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    The Signs of the Big Bend Are a Sign of the Times - Texas Monthly

    This Week in Lincolnville: Learning to adapt – - May 24, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    The Lincolnville Beach parking lot is as familiar as my own driveway. I know its every crack, fissure, and knicked granite curb. I instinctively step over the hole in the asphalt that opens up every year up by the sea wall, and know to walk gingerly on the rough concrete that leads to the stone steps.

    This morning I began picking up litter on that parking lot for the 28th year. And while the cracks and fissures, and that ever-open hole greet me, so much has changed.

    For one, Di Lords Beach Store. Last winter Di, a familiar face to those of us who live at this end of town, closed the store shes run for the past many years, and before that at the old Hillside Market. The building had been sold to Owen Weyers, who had plans to open it back up in April.

    Due to our changed circumstances, the store, with a new face as well as new owners, finally opened this past weekend with a take-out window right on the sidewalk, curbside service only.

    Across the bridge a large For Sale sign covers up the Chez Michel billboard, and this years its definite: Michel Hetuin and Lillian Amborn have closed their restaurant after 30 years.

    And across the road a sandwich board in front of the Whales Tooth Pub says Sorry Were Closed.

    The Lobster Pound, the traditional Mothers Day destination for so many people, still wears its winter attire: stacked-up picnic tables, the bare armature of the tent at the back, and the Thanks for a Great Season message on its board.

    Even Dwight Wass Lincolnville Fine Art Gallery has a message for us: Summahs Coming Stay Safe.

    Rick McLaughlins Lobster Shack on Ferry Road did open a couple of weeks ago with take out service only. Now that the weathers finally turned a bit warmer diners can comfortably sit outdoors at the picnic tables. At certain times Ricks parking lot and tables are full.

    Theres no feel of anticipation, of activity building, of kitchens being stocked, tables set out. The community bulletin board on the bathroom kiosk is eerily empty, except for a handful of dog-eared, storm-battered business cards hanging from rusty tacks. Normally, the board is a tangle of announcements: summer camps, Paint your house?, lawn mowing services, music lessons, stuff for sale. Its all I could do to keep the mess manageable, checking up on it every morning.

    Today I picked up a few push pins on the ground, leaving them in a corner of the board. Maybe someone will come along with an announcement to post.

    Even the litter is sparse. I pick up a candy cane, intact in its cellophane wrapper, obviously dropped at last Decembers tree lighting.

    The curbs have already been scoured by the big brushes that clean up the winters sand and gravel, so there are only a few dozen butts for me to pick up. The rugosa roses, true to their reputation, hide a fair number of them under their tangle of thorns. As MDOTs (Dept. of Transportation) landscapers warned us years ago, rugosas are treacherous beach side plants. Theyre invasive and form such a jungle of thorny branches that any paper or plastic that blows around gets trapped in them.

    MDOT planted dozens of fancy hybrid roses that they promised would thrive in the salty air of the Beach. They didnt, and over the years the Beach gardeners have brought in cuttings of their own rugosas, which love the salt air. Theyre beautiful in bloom, which is most of the summer, and produce lovely, big orange rosehips in the fall. Prying litter out of the thorns is a small price to pay.

    However, if you must smoke and throw your butts on the ground, please, not into the middle of a rugosa rose bush!

    For the first time Im wearing plastic gloves, a concession to my family who insisted. I rarely wear work gloves for anything; my fingernails are a disgrace, but honestly, how can you pick anything up in gloves?

    Struggling to get a hold on a tiny piece of flotsam with those stupid gloves, I think of a local nurses description of working with Covid patients while wearing the proper gloves-gown-mask regalia of a critical care nurse. Claustrophobic, hot, no contact with the patient she said.

    I guess my interaction with cigarette butts pales by comparison. Ill learn. More adaptation.

    The ancient peony, growing by a little-used path down through the underbrush, is right on schedule, a good foot high and looking perky. I watch for it every spring, imagining the people who planted it a century ago on the path to their shore front cabana. Their summer home is todays Spouter Inn; the guys playing leap-frog in the photo hanging in the Beach kiosk represent those folks. The photo is one of dozens we (the Historical Society) found in an album from that house, people playing, swimming, wading on the same shore I walk every morning.

    Every morning, May to October.

    I have to do the math: our youngest son was 13 the summer I signed a contract with the town to pick up cigarette butts and all the other detritus left behind when people stop at the Beach. Though my name was on the agreement, I then hired our youngest son to do the job. Before that season was over Wally and I had taken over. It was easier than trying to get him out of bed and down to the Beach before the parking lot filled up.

    It became our summer morning routine together; he emptied the trash barrels, first three, then five when the Beach renovation project added the diagonal parking and sidewalk leading to Ferry Road, while I picked up the litter. It was a pleasant, companionable time, working together.

    Four years ago Wally spent most of May in Waldo Hospital, and I got a glimpse of my future, doing it all myself. Before long he was well enough to come down and keep me company every morning, and by the end of the summer he was doing the barrels again.

    But the next summer he was gone. And I had to adapt. Now Im three years into my own personal, new normal, and like everyone else am adapting to another the reality of living in a pandemic.

    Five boats are moored in the harbor this morning, but with no activity on the dock it looks quiet. Mike Hutchings has started putting out traps; his wife, Lynn, expects to be open Friday with lobsters for sale at their place on Beach Road M & L Seafood. Want lobsters for Memorial Day week-end? Thatll be the place to find them.


    The Board of Assessors meet remotely at 6 p.m. Monday, May 18. To join the meeting click here.

    The Budget Committee presents the school budget Tuesday, May 18 at 6 p.m. at a remote meeting.

    The Town Office will be closed Monday, May 25, Memorial Day.

    Still Another Reminder of What We Cant Do

    Mary Schulein reminds us that Saturday would have been the opening day of the 8th season of the Lincolnville Center Indoor Flea market, a fun event sponsored by the United Christian Church. Due to the present situation, the market has been suspended until further notice. I will miss these monthly gatherings and want to express my gratitude to all the vendors, volunteers, and donors who made the market happen and most of all, to all our neighbors and friends who have supported our efforts over these years. Thank you all! Stay well! Happy trails to you, until we meet again.

    But We Can Still Garden!

    Anyone interested in tending a garden bed along Rt. 1 at Lincolnville Beach this summer please contact Lee by email or phone, 236-0028. A couple of hours weekly, plant your favorite flowers, and enjoy the raves from locals and visitors. A sign identifying your plot is included. We'll be planting the barrels, under the welcome sign, and the boat on Friday, May 22at 10 a.m. in time for Memorial Day weekend. This is one activity that lets you get out and see people while still maintaining social distance.

    Starting to Re-connect

    Even though Maine has begun to officially, though tentatively reopen, with stores and as of today, restaurants welcoming the public back, everyone I know is wary. Maybe because Im old and most of my friends are old too, mingling with others feels risky to us. Thankfully, the weather seems to have turned for the better, meaning we can see one another outdoors, and that ought to help.

    Socially distant events, if theyre held outdoors, do feel safe. Walking with friends, sharing an outdoor meal, face to face even six feet apart conversations, these will make the summer bearable.

    Strange times were living in for sure.

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    This Week in Lincolnville: Learning to adapt -

    10 stories that will make you proud to be a Saint – St Kilda FC - May 24, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    From incredible acts of kindness and generosity, to the support of a former club favourite, these stories will make you proud to be a Saint.

    1. Saints fan puts community first

    When the world came to grinding halt in March, leaving nurses and doctors bracing for COVID-19, one generous Saints fan was ready to help.

    Passionate St Kilda member Grant Polkinghorn and his landscaping business (GMZ Gardens in Ballarat) advertised free lawn mowing services for 25 healthcare workers.

    1. Once a Saint, always a Saint

    Max Hudghton was a great club man during his decorated career at St Kilda, and nothing has changed in retirement.

    With many assistant coaches out of work due to footys shut down period, Max stepped in to provide regular labouring work for Saints Development Coach Ben McGlynn with his building company.

    The former Sydney and Hawthorn gun described Hudghton as an amazing support in an uncertain period, not just for providing meaningful work but through the friendship he offered.

    3. The open road

    Training in pairs with your Saints teammates was somewhat easy for those living locally in bayside Melbourne, but spare a thought for youngsters Doulton Langlands and Ben Paton.

    With the duo returning to their respective family homes in North East Victoria, they would meet three times a week, completing a two hour round trip to ensure they stayed connected with one another and up to date with the Saints training program.

    4. Stepping up to the plate

    When giant Saints fan Brett Stirling heard about the number of St Kilda staff out of work, he knew it was time to help.

    The leader of the Saints Pride Group and a 20 year member, Stirling organised work for around 30 staff through his recruiting agency.

    From AFLW players, to the finance team, there was a host of familiar faces completing shifts in the warehouse at Australia Post and Startrack Express.

    With player wages slashed in half, Nick Hind and Jonathon Marsh were among five young Saints who took up the opportunity while still completing their daily training program.

    5. Whatever you need

    He was the proud leader of St Kilda on the field and continues to be one off of it. When Nick Riewoldt found out about the Saints pledge campaign, his offer was immediate what can I do to help?

    The former skipper got to work with current captain Jarryn Geary, with the pair hosting a special live stream event which raised thousands of dollars for the club through the commitment of Saints members.

    Click here to re-watch 'A Night with the Saints', featuring guests Lenny Hayes, Eric Bana and Matt Finnis

    6. Saints hit 44,000 members

    More than 1000 new members have signed on since the season was postponed, helping the club surpass the 2019 tally despite only one match being played and crowds expected to be not allowed for a significant part of the season.

    7. Under Lonies wing

    Jack Lonie doesnt have the biggest wings in the world, but that hasnt stopped him extending one over a Saints young gun.

    The highly respected Lonie welcomed in Hunter Clark as his new housemate over the off-season and the pair could often be found training together during shutdown period.

    Jack Billings, another junior veteran, rolled out the welcome mat for Ben Paton, who has lived with the midfielder for the past three years.

    8. The club first mentality

    The Saints membership team were humbled by one member who phoned the club to reluctantly seek a refund given his loss of income, only to phone back two days later to reinstate his membership after an unexpected cheque arrived as part of the Governments support package.

    9. Please sir, can I have some more?

    St Kilda players have hit the phones over the past two weeks to contact members and thank them for their support. Soon after, the staff member organising it received a text from a high profile Saint. They'd completed their list and wanted another list of members to call.

    10. Pay it forward

    On top of pledging heir own membership, at least 50 members have offered to pay for someones who is unable to due to the financial impact of COVID19.

    You can play a vital role in shaping our future by joining Saints Pledge and committing to support the club through this time.

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    10 stories that will make you proud to be a Saint - St Kilda FC

    The Recorder – Demers Landscaping celebrates 50 years in business – The Recorder - May 14, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    MONTAGUE Since starting in 1970 as a lawn-mowing service, Demers Landscaping has grown into a family-run company that bills itself as an expert in all things outdoors, from excavation to gardening. The company celebrated its 50th anniversary this week.

    The company, operated out of 136 Turnpike Road, was started by Ed Demers, who still owns it, working with his brothers Rusty and Paul. Eds son Justin, who is now 36, started working with his father when he was 8, he said. Justin took over most operations about five years ago. Ed has mostly retired, but often consults on business decisions.

    Ive been learning my whole life from him, Justin Demers said. He taught me everything I know about landscaping and excavation.

    The company expanded its offerings and its service area gradually over the last 20 years, mostly in its efforts to maintain relationships with existing customers by meeting their new needs, Demers said. The company doesnt advertise much, he said, and instead relies on repeat business. As customers asked for more services, the company would add them to its toolbox to keep its position as a one-stop landscaping service.

    Thats how we grew, Demers explained. Once you do something for one person, you now have the availability to do the same for other customers as well.

    Demers Landscaping now does practically every piece of designing and maintaining the outdoor part of a home, Demers said the initial clearing of the house site, utility hookups, retaining walls, mulching, lawns, flower boxes, blacktop, patios and fire pits, to list some. This winter the company started plowing driveways, too.

    Customers range from Athol to western Franklin County, and from Northampton to as far north as Brattleboro, Vt., Demers said. Because the business is so reliant on repeat customers, he said the company will often move with a customer who is moving to a new house.

    Business usually picks up in early spring, as customers start calling about spring clean ups, Demers said, and the company starts rehiring its seasonal workers. By early May, business is typically in full swing.

    But this year has been slower than usual. Calls for maintenance are still coming in, but the big installations and expansion projects that usually fill the companys summer calendar are not, Demers said. He suspects customers are probably uncomfortable spending the money, considering the uncertainty of how much longer the coronavirus pandemic could last.

    Meanwhile, some seasonal workers are unsure about starting work again.

    People are a little nervous about coming back because of the virus, he said. But its still early in the year.

    Contact Demers Landscaping by phone at 413-863-3652 or by email at

    Reach Max Marcus at or 413-930-4231.

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    The Recorder - Demers Landscaping celebrates 50 years in business - The Recorder

    ‘Spare a thought for your neighbour’, communities are told – Spalding Today - April 11, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Households in the Deepings and Bourne are being encouraged to look out for their neighbours, especially those living near NHS and other workers involved in the fight against coronavirus.

    People are being asked to be considerate of those at the forefront of keeping the area, and Lincolnshire, moving as they work daily to ensure that important services are maintained.

    The appeal comes from South Kesteven District Council (SKDC) whose staff have responded to the emergency by setting up a community information hub that is staffed between 8am and 7pm, seven days a week.

    Coun Annie Mason, SKDC cabinet member for communities, said: "This is a very challenging time and we are simply asking people to think of how they can make small gestures that show how much the work of others is appreciated.

    "I have been very impressed with how people have followed government advice by keeping social contact to an absolute minimum and adhering to social distancing guidance.

    "But there are things that people can do to help others, particularly for those working long hours or unsociable shifts.

    "This could be as simple as going to fetch some shopping or a prescription."

    Among those the Government considers to be "key workers" include those employed in health and social care, from medical consultants to cleaners

    But the category also includes supermarket staff and others in the food supply chain, police, fire and rescue, utilities staff making sure that electricity, oil, gas and water supplies are maintained, transport workers who make sure supplies get to where they are needed and teachers.

    Coun Mason said: "We are asking our residents to be extra considerate when they are involved in an activity that could impact your neighbour."

    "Whilst at home, many of us are completing DIY tasks, getting around to doing the gardening or having occasional bonfires to dispose of the waste.

    "This can be good for our mental and physical wellbeing, but please be mindful that there may be key workers living locally who are working very hard, often through the night, and may need to sleep or work from home during the day.

    "For example, do noisy garden jobs like mowing the lawn at tea time, rather than early in the morning.

    "When you are working in your garden, playing music, using power tools or involved in any other activity that could impact your neighbour, please think about them."

    Deepings and Bourne have access to new community information hub

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    'Spare a thought for your neighbour', communities are told - Spalding Today

    Local News: Wartrace mowing contract awarded to high bidder (4/3/20) – Shelbyville Times-Gazette - April 8, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Wartrace aldermen were bound and determined to award the towns mowing contract to Roberts Lawn and Landscaping Service and so they did, despite the fact that the company was not the lowest bidder.

    Alderwoman Patsy Gregory was even willing to visit the sins of the father upon the son, Chas Floyd, who was the low bidder.

    I have a little background that I maybe shouldnt share but Im going to share it anyway, Gergory said. His (Chas Floyds) father, as far as I know, is named Travis Floyd. Im not going to say a son is always like his father, but he was brought up in this kind of environment. He (Travis) lived out close to my father. He (Travis Floyd) stole everything you could think of from my father, including gas out of the Jeep, a weed-eater, it just goes on and on. Ive heard his mother or his stepmother doesnt have much confidence in him (Chas).

    Roberts Lawn and Landscaping Service is owned by Robert Dye, who was Wartrace fire chief. Dyes company held the towns lawn mowing contract for many years. Alderwoman Gregory was joined in her support of Dye by newly appointed aldermen Allan Tabit and Brian Ross.

    When asked what the repercussions might be from not taking the low bid, Mayor Drake said it would show bad faith on the part of the town. Why would anybody bid? she said, if the winning bidder was already chosen before the bids were submitted.

    Ross initially spoke in favor of Roberts Lawn and Landscaping Service because, he said, the company is based in Wartrace. His motivation was in promoting a business from within Wartrace rather than Shelbyville. Mayor Drake corrected that, however, pointing out that Chas Floyds business is also based in Wartrace.

    Alderman Allan Tabit, alleged that Chas. Floyds bid was not acceptable. My understanding is he does not have workers compensation insurance, which tells me he has no employees, Tabit said. Mayor Drake clarified that allegation as well. He does have workmans compensation and he does have employees, she said. He was planning on doing this by himself without his employees.

    Did he even come out and look at what his job would be? said alderwoman Gregory.

    Yes, he did, Drake replied.

    One person cannot do that job, Gregory said.

    I totally agree, Tabit said.

    My personal feeling is, weve got somebody we know is reliable, has the equipment, has people to do it, Tabit said in support of Roberts Lawn and Landscaping Service. I can understand giving somebody a chance but I dont think its beneficial to us to try and figure out whether he (Chas Floyd) is going to do the job and then later have to reconsider.

    The board had deferred taking a vote on the contract at their March 23 meeting, questioning whether it is legal to not take the low bid. Mayor Cindy Drake contacted the towns legal counsel, Ginger Bobo Shofner, to find out. She (attorney Shofner) said she cant tell you what to do, but she did say she would highly, highly advise against bypassing the low bidder.

    Four of the five aldermen, however, rejected their attorney's advice and voted to award the mowing contract to Dye. Alderwoman Sonia Miller abstained from the vote.

    Originally posted here:
    Local News: Wartrace mowing contract awarded to high bidder (4/3/20) - Shelbyville Times-Gazette

    The industry’s latest on coronavirus – Lawn & Landscape - April 8, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    For continuous coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacton the industry, visit ourcoronavirus page.

    As global concern over the coronavirus grows, landscaping companies should prepare for how to handle a possible outbreak in their area and urge employees who are sick to stay home.

    Companies are continually updating their clients on what the coronavirus will mean for your business, plus events and policies are changing by the moment. Follow along with our rolling updates here:

    BRIGHTVIEW'S HEALTH MEASURES (posted April 7): BrightView Holdings, a commercial landscaping services company in the United States, recently posted details of the companys response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

    A presentation outlining the measures BrightView has taken to protect the health and safety of its team members and customers, as well as real and potential business impacts resulting from COVID-19, can be found on the companys investor website. The presentation includes landscapings designation as an essential service as defined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

    LAURELROCK COMPANY (posted April 7): Company President Burt DeMarche has decided, while landscape companies remain an essential business in Connecticut, LaurelRock will suspend non-essential services for the next two weeks to protect their employees, clients, and community to help flatten the curve.

    The LaurelRock leadership team has had a coronavirus action plan in place since March 16 to continue working on behalf of their clients safely.

    We appreciate the understanding and support that we have received from our clients and other professionals in our decision to temporarily suspend non-essential services to protect the health and welfare of our greater community, clients, and our employees," DeMarche said. "We are doing our part to stop the spread of COVID-19, and we urgently request that others in our industry do the same. Please stay home and stay safe.

    WALKER MOWERS (posted April 2): Walker Mowers released a video titled "Standing United Together." Click here to watch it.

    LAWN LOVE: Lawn Love, an on-demand lawn care provider, conducted a survey and found 90% of its contractors are operating as they usually do while 5% have slowed down and 5% have stopped. You can read the full article here.

    BRIGGS & STRATTON (posted March 31): Briggs & Stratton announced it will continue to implement preventative measures for the safety of its employees and customers. In light of the pandemic, the company is reducing manufacturing activity at several of its facilities and has shut down other plants. For more information, click here.

    NCLC CANCELED (SORT OF):The National Association of Landscape Professionalsinitially canceled the National Collegiate Landscape Competition as a result of the travel and health concerns. You can read more about thatcancellation here. However, NALP has converted the competition into a virtual education opportunity to be held April 7-8 from 1-4 p.m. EST each day. You can read more about that here.

    STATE-BY-STATE UPDATES: NALP will also be keeping tabs on each state's stance on whether landscaping is to be considered essential or non-essential businesses during a shutdown. Read more about that here.

    CATERPILLAR: (Story posted March 26)At this time, Caterpillar is continuing to run the majority of its U.S. domestic operations and plans to continue operations in other parts of the world, as permitted by local authorities. However, due to uncertain economic conditions resulting in weaker demand, potential supply constraints and the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and related government actions, Caterpillar is temporarily suspending operations at certain facilities.The companywill continue to monitor the situation and may suspend operations at additional facilities as the situation warrants.

    SYNGENTA: Syngenta released the following statement: "As we adapt to the unprecedented challenges posed by the quickly evolving coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, we want to assure you that Syngenta continues to take steps to ensure we are operating safely. Syngentas priority is the health and safety of our employees, families, customers and partners. We continue to assess the situation daily and take actions in an abundance of caution to maintain business continuity while focusing on the safety and health of our customers and employees." The full statement can be viewed here.

    IRRIGATION ASSOCIATION: Meanwhile, the Irrigation Association released a statement that says "understands and supports the aggressive preventive measures being taken across the globe as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic." A majority of its staff in Fairfax, Virginia, has moved to remote work as a result. You can read more from theassociation's website here.

    SOME GENERAL GOOD TIPS: NALP has also established guidelines to assist business owners.These tips include complying with all federal, state and local advisories; actively urging employees who are sick to stay home; and thoroughly disinfecting personal protective equipment.

    While the Centers of Disease Control assessed that for most people the immediate risk of being exposed to the virus is low, businesses should start preparing for more employee absences.

    The NALP suggests cross-training personnel in the event that a key member of the team is absent for an extended period of time. Its also important to note that the Coronavirus is a reportable illness with OSHA.

    Its also recommended that companies begin reviewing policies and procedures, along with preparing to alter business practices if needed.

    According to the CDC, Oregon has 75 reported cases, while neighboring state Washington has reported 1,012 cases and 52 deaths.

    For Ben Bowen, head landscape designer with Ross NW Watergardens in Portland, his company has already begun putting preventative measures in place.

    Right now, its still business as usual for us. We had a discussion with all of our teammates, Bowen said. We made sure everyone understood the symptoms, and we told them we expect them to stay home if they have any of them.

    Bowen added that at Ross NW Watergardens, employees have a pool of paid time off that they can utilize for sick, personal and vacation days.

    Usually, our employees will come to work if they have a minor cold, he said. However, we made sure they know to stay home, and if they have to take off for this it wont impact their normal pool of paid time off.

    Bowen noted some companies may not be able to offer the same courtesy to their employees.

    For states that dont have mandated paid time off, there could be a problem, he said. There can be a little hostility toward those who are perceived to be spreading the virus.

    According to Bowen, Ross NW Watergardens has already begun to be negatively impacted by the growing panic over the Coronavirus.

    I just got an email from a client who was very motivated to do a backyard project with us, he explained. He loved all the ideas but told me with things being so uncertain he could not invest the money into the project at this time. In the design/build industry were seeing people worried about the economy.

    Bowen said he expects the maintenance and manufacturing sectors of the industry to be affected as well, especially in areas that quarantine.

    If we were to see something like what is going on in Italy, then crews could be idle for weeks, he said. Manufacturing disruptions could increase wait time for parts and equipment.

    While everyone is being cautious, Bowen said that employees are staying calm in the meantime.

    The tone is really that were not worried for ourselves but realize there are people in the community who are especially vulnerable. We want to protect those people by being, he said.

    Bob Grover, president of Pacific Landscape Management, also in Portland, said that while the health risks are undeniable, he is more concerned about the economic impact.S

    My biggest concern over the Coronavirus is the potential impact on the economy, he said. We are hearing of all the things being cancelled or postponed. The impact that the Coronoavirus has on the travel, hotel and convention industries will have ripple effects into the overall economy.

    Grover added that beginning late last week, Pacific Landscape Management began researching and formulating a plan.

    We want people to practice good hygiene, he said. That means washing your hands when you get to work, when you go home and throughout the day. Also, coughing or sneezing into your elbow. We told employees dont come to work if you feel sick. If you do come sick, and we feel that youre coughing, or feverish, we will send you home.

    Grover said he believes that in states without mandated sick leave employees will show up to work even if they have some of the symptoms.

    The good thing about Oregon is were a very progressive state and its required that all employees have sick leave, he said. So, its not as big of an issue here in Oregon as it might be in other states.

    At Pacific Landscape Management some employees have scheduled travel plans that may be cancelled and others may choose to cancel trips in highly affected areas.

    We told employees that they have the choice to self-select out and not go if they are not comfortable, he said. We want everybody to take their personal health into their own hands. We want to encourage people to do that and not feel like there will be any retributions.

    Read the original:
    The industry's latest on coronavirus - Lawn & Landscape

    Home improvement ideas that can increase the value of your home – Wales247 - February 28, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Today, selling a home has been made easy because of the many platforms out there willing to help you through the transition. However, there are many challenges along the way, and that can see you get a poor deal based on the condition of your home. Luckily, with renovations here and there, you can quickly go on with the process without any worries about your homes value.

    Without saying much, here are some simple ideas you can consider to help boost the value of your current home.

    When it comes to finding a new home, the first thing that every other buyer considers is security. As a homeowner, you need to ask yourself, is the home safe to live in? With the rising cases of house break-ins, the level of home security is paramount. You must, therefore, consider everything that means security, from the door locks to alarm systems.

    Today, almost every home has a door alarm system. These systems require you to key in a code to allow access to the facility. The idea is to help prevent unwanted parties from accessing your premises. CCTV system is also another thing you can consider. You can have the cameras installed both inside and outside your home to help record everything that goes around when you are in or outside your home. You can as well consider adding fire alarms to your home as they are essential. Choosing these additions may seem expensive in the first place, but they are worth the investment when you are considering appreciating the value of your home.

    There is nothing that feels fantastic than stepping into a house full of fresh paint. The paint helps create a new feeling about your home. With time, the old paint in your home may have started to fade and peeled off and hence calling for some retouching. When repainting, its recommended that you go with plain and simple colors. White and cream do work magic when it comes to winning peoples attention. When considering some painting, you can choose to have a professional do the heavy lifting for you. A professional painter can help you with color matching to avoid unnecessary surprises.

    When it comes to searching for a new home to live in, among the first things you ought to consider is the ventilation and drainage system. Having proper functioning systems gives you peace of mind. Therefore, you must include your current HVAC and drainage systems in your checklist. According to HVAC and plumbing experts from, it would help if you brought in professionals to do the inspections for you. With the help of a pro, its much easier to point out the simple complications in your home. Things such as underground leakages, if not rectified in time, can see you lose a considerable sum of money.

    Another benefit that comes with hiring professionals is that they can help you with upgrading your HVAC system. An HVAC system is an essential aspect of a given home. Currently, with the ever-growing energy bills, it would help if you swapped your old system with the modern energy-efficient systems. Todays systems are designed to operate only when needed. They are usually fitted with a thermostat and which means that they can be programmed to operate only when the temperatures hit a specific range.

    Often, many homeowners invest heavily in a homes interior and forget that the exterior is also crucial. Dont be like the others, as this can see potential buyers lose interest in your home. If your space allows, having a lawn or a backyard garden is the secret to attracting potential buyers. You can add some grass and flowers around your compound to help improve on the appearance. There are many options when it comes to adding a lawn, and lawn mowing service providers can assist you to come up with an ideal setting.

    Adding a garden shouldnt drill a hole in your wallet as its much more affordable to achieve. When you choose to go down this road, you must have in mind that your garden needs maintenance. Therefore, if you dont have the time to attend to it, its essential to hire the services of a professional to help with the task. With such an arrangement in place, it means that your lawn will always stand out from the crowd and attract any passerby.

    What is the state of your homes floor? Do you have any broken tiles or worn out carpets? If the answer is yes, how do you feel about it? The chances are that you feel awful whenever you step on the affected areas. The same applies to any potential home buyer out there. Having a home with broken floors can turn them off quickly.

    Whenever the idea to upgrade your floor comes along, dont forget the hidden areas such as the kitchen and bathrooms, as its the case with most homeowners. You can consider adding a hardwood floor as its the new trend. Although choosing the idea may seem like an expensive idea, its worth the investment as you help create a setting that every other buyer will admire.

    Whether you are looking forward to selling your home or live in it for a long time, performing home improvements is a vital task. Explained in this piece are some of the necessary home improvement ideas that you can consider for your home. Some of these upgrades are easy to accomplish by yourself, while others need the help of a professional. Read through the entire piece to figure out which idea in the list you should adopt.

    Read more from the original source:
    Home improvement ideas that can increase the value of your home - Wales247

    Connecting with others through service – Catholic Star Herald - February 28, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Edward Nowak, a junior at Rowan University in Glassboro, is pictured with Rebekah Hardy, campus minister, and Father John Rossi, pastor of Saint Bridget University Parish.

    The Call to Stewardship is a periodic series profiling individuals and families throughout the Diocese of Camden who have shown an inspiring response to the call to Christian stewardship highlighted in 1 Peter 4:10 As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of Gods varied grace.

    It was the beginning of a new school year at RowanUniversity in Glassboro. The air was still summer-hot, and the grass was highin the yard that fronts the Newman Center near the heart of the campus. EdwardNowak arrived early to see if there was something he could do to help as newcampus minister Rebekah Hardy prepared for the nights get-together, a movienight on the lawn. As Hardy tells the story, she was under a lot of stress,trying to pull together an event that would draw a crowd.

    Edward, she says, jumped in to help, immediately.

    Edward took charge of mowing the lawn that day, and Hardysfears that they might not be ready when the other students arrived disappeared.And, as she soon learned, that was a normal day for Edward, taking care of lotsof details that others might take for granted.

    Hes always ready to jump in and help in any way thatsneeded, by planning the music for Mass, or by making dinner for the group. Hejust helps without asking, she said.

    Father John Rossi, pastor of Saint Bridget UniversityParish, agrees that Edward is always ready to lend a hand. The Newman Center,which is affiliated with Saint Bridgets, is within walking distance of thechurch. There are about 15-20 students who are a regular part of Newman Centeractivities, and many more at student Masses. The church is where student Massesare celebrated on Sunday evenings at 6 p.m., and as the liturgical coordinatorand secretary for the executive board of the Newman Center, Edward plays a bigrole in lining up all of the details that need to be put in place to make theliturgy run smoothly.

    You dont have to ask him, Father Rossi says. Hes alwaysready to step up and serve.

    Of course, Edwards story really began way before college,in a home where faith was part of the air he and his twin brother, Nick,breathed every day. Their dad and mom, Edward and Mary, made sure that thefamily always made it to Mass, and as their parents grew in the faith, the boysfollowed suit, becoming extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist in highschool, and going with their mom to daily Mass when possible. Along the way,Edward explains, the influence of hisparents faith turned into actually seeking it out for myself.

    Catholic school also had a big impact on Edward, especiallyin high school at the Christian Brothers Academy in Lincroft, N.J. It was therethat he learned how much an individuals success in life depends on the help ofothers. I made connections there that are lasting and deep, he says. He waswell-prepared to enter public university and find a way to make connectionswith other students who want to find God in their college experience.

    For Edward, now a junior majoring in mechanical engineering,service to the Catholic community at Rowan is part of claiming the faith as myown. He lines up the lectors. Eucharistic ministers, altar servers andmusicians that serve at each Mass, and he heads up the music ministry, oftenplaying, singing and sometimes composing the music for the Mass. Currently,hes arranging an a capella Mass setting, hoping to be have it ready before theend of the school year this May.

    Speaking about faith in his younger years, he says, I tookit for granted. Today, at 21, faith and connection to community are the way hebalances what might appear to be an impossible schedule.

    Father Rossi explains the close connection between theparish at Saint Bridgets and the students of the Newman Center fellowship.Often after the Sunday evening Mass, parishioners will host a dinner for thestudents, a nice reminder of home-cooked meals and a way to help the studentsfeel part of the larger parish community. And on All Souls Day this pastNovember, the parish and students gathered at the local cemetery.

    Father Rossi describes a moving scene, where Edward playedAmazing Grace on the bagpipes while those gathered prayed for the souls ofthe departed.

    As Father Rossi sees it, faith and prayer are the catalyststo good stewardship: Prayer is key to understanding what God has given us.Hopefully, what develops is a spirit of thanksgiving.

    He adds, God made each person unique, and each person hasgifts and talents. Stewardship is when a person has a prayer life and iswilling to share. Thats what Edward does.

    More plans are shaping up for service this spring, as Edwardand fellow Newman Center students are working on ideas to engage in serviceprojects in the area. It will likely involve another busy itinerary for a youngman who seems to always keep moving.

    But Edward says that he likes the whole idea of having agood impact on whoever you can share with. And that, he says, can happen whenpeople meet and make connections through faith.

    The mission of theOffice of Stewardship is to help the disciples of Christ who live in theDiocese of Camden to live out Christian charity in a sacrificial way that wemight understand the grace that comes from giving back from our blessings sothat in all things God may be glorified. For more information, contact DeaconRussell Davis at 856-583-6102.

    See the original post:
    Connecting with others through service - Catholic Star Herald

    Five tips on how to get more lawn care customers – Total Landscape Care - February 28, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Photo: Pixabay

    Itll soon be time to ramp up lawn care for spring, summer and fall, so now is the perfect time to drum up more business for your lawn care company. But attracting new customers isnt always easy especially when homeowners think they can handle all their lawn maintenance chores themselves, or when theyre simply reluctant to spend their hard-earned money on their lawn.

    Figuring out how to get new lawn care customers requires focusing on your business network, your reputation, your advertising campaign and your business metrics.Provide the best service you can, offer package deals to entice new customers, harness technology to see where youre going wrong and collaborate with other local business owners to generate new referrals. Soon, youll have so many customers youll need to expand to handle them all.

    For small lawn care companies, reputation is everything. Like other contractors, small lawn care businesses can suffer from bad word of mouth, especially when homeowners are already inclined to distrust contractors.

    Besides, good recommendations from existing customers represent the easiest and cheapest way to increase business. However, satisfied customers are much more likely than dissatisfied ones to keep quiet about their experience. They post fewer online reviews and speak less about your company to their friends unless, of course, the friends happen to ask, Hey, who does your lawn?

    Boost your reputation by soliciting feedback from customers. Offer customers a simple form for comments, negative or positive. Positive comments can be shared online to boost your reputation. Negative comments and complaints can be mined for data to help you improve your business. Offer points, discounts or other bonuses to customers who refer others, and make it easy for them to do so. Prioritize great customer service and work to offer the best lawn care you can.

    Fertilization, aeration, dethatching, mulching and tree trimming, rather than mowing, tend to be your money makers in the lawn care industry. The trouble is, many homeowners want a nice lawn, but not if it costs a lot. Paying to have your lawn mowed is one thing it removes a strenuous, time-consuming and often unpleasant chore from the homeowners honey-do list but many homeowners will simply fertilize their own grass, or skip fertilization and other less regular maintenance chores altogether.

    Take some of the sticker shock out of lawn fertilization. Offer package discounts for homeowners who sign up for lawn fertilization, aeration and dethatching package. Youll get more customers willing to shell out for the extra service, and thatll be more money in your pocket.

    How well is your business performing? Are you quoting the right price for jobs, or do you sometimes find that you under-quoted a job because its taking much longer than you thought? Are your routes organized for maximum efficiency so crews spend as little time as possible on the road between jobs? How many jobs a day do your crews perform?

    Use field service software to collect data on how long it takes you to do jobs, how efficient your routes are, how many jobs youre doing a day and more. Make adjustments as needed to minimize costs and maximize revenue and profit.

    If you want to bring in more money, partner up with other small contractors in your area to establish a system of referrals that can benefit everyone. Develop relationships with independently owned hardware stores, plumbers, landscapers, construction companies and other small businesses that interact with homeowners on a regular basis. Business networks can strengthen all of the small businesses in your community because they provide a forum for sharing business ideas, as well as customer referrals.

    For example, lets say one of your customers has a patch of exceptionally overgrown grass on their lawn. Recommend a local plumber from your business network to check the customers leach field for leaks. Maybe that plumber will recommend you to one of his customers who needs someone to take care of his elderly mothers lawn. It doesnt cost you anything to be part of a network, but it can give you access to many more potential customers than you might otherwise come into contact with.

    Social media marketing and organic search engine results are two powerful new media ways of promoting your business, but people still watch TV, read newspapers and notice billboards on the highway. Investing in organic search engine optimization (SEO) will help your business appear at the top of search results when customers search for local lawn care companies.

    Social media marketing will put your advertisements and content into customers social media feeds, and its free apart from paid advertising posts. Traditional media advertising will bring your company to the awareness of older and less tech-savvy customers the exact market that may be most likely to need a lawn care company.

    Bringing in new business for your lawn care company can be a challenge, but its one that you can definitely rise to. With a strong business network, a comprehensive advertising campaign, a solid grasp of your business metrics and a stellar reputation, your business can grow as fast as the lawns you care for.

    EDITORS NOTE:This article was written by Jackie Carrillo. Carrillo is a content coordinator and contributor who creates quality articles for topics like technology, home life, business management, gardening and landscaping and education. She studied business management and is continually building positive relationships with other publishers and the internet community.


    Five tips on how to get more lawn care customers - Total Landscape Care

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