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Make a grand entrance: simple ideas to refresh your entryway

(BPT) – Most people enter their home through the garage or backdoor, forgetting how the front entrance looks to neighbors and guests. Your front door is often the first thing others notice about your home. That’s why it’s key to make a positive first impression.

How to create an inviting entrance

Transform your home’s curb appeal with a new front door. With so many new entry door systems to choose from, ranging from single doors, to double-door options, to those accented with decorative glass, or transoms and sidelights, it’s easy to find one that fits your budget and your style. Pella offers stylish wood, fiberglass or steel options. Choose from ENERGY STAR-qualified design options to create a distinctive look, whether you’re building a new home, remodeling, or simply replacing an old door.

Pick a standout color for your front door

Sticking with your door? A fresh coat of paint will do wonders. Try a bold color to brighten a neutral color scheme. Pick a color that coordinates with your home’s exterior, but dare to be bold with color contrast to add eye appeal.

Update your hardware

Why stop with a fresh coat of paint? Refresh old doors with new hardware. Choose handles and door knockers that complement your home’s exterior design. Pella offers hardware in a variety of finishes, to instantly upgrade exterior doors.

Replace broken or damaged items

Replace broken light fixtures, burned out bulbs and worn out weather-stripping on exterior doors. Pitch that faded wreath, worn out mat, and dead plants, and instead, add a bright new welcome mat and eye-catching seasonal decorations.

Clean up, accent with contrast

Use a little elbow grease and ammonia-free, vinegar-based glass cleaner to wash the windows. Wipe down window and door frames and sweep sills with a dry paint brush or vacuum to remove dirt. See for tips on cleaning windows and doors.

Fill flower boxes or containers with boldly-colored plants to accent your front door. If you’ve painted your door red, plant red and white or red and purple flowers to create a designer look. Or if you’re keen on green doors, try purple or orange flowers for contrast.

Illuminate your walkway

Make it easy for others to see the way to your front door at night. Transform and illuminate walkways with easy-to-install solar lights. Stake them in the ground positioned so solar cells get enough southern exposure for sunlight to recharge nightlights during the day.

Trim bushes, create great container gardens

Landscaping should accent your home, not dominate it. Keep bushes below the bottom sill of your windows to improve your view. Trim or replace overgrown shrubs and trees. Keep plant material trimmed several feet away from your home to minimize damage from wind or insects, and help eliminate a place for prowlers to lurk. Keep your porch and steps clear of clutter and create container gardens to accent your entry. Fill decorative containers with plants that accent your home’s color scheme, front door and landscape design.

Visit Pella Windows and Doors on Pinterest and Houzz for more design inspiration and to connect with your local Pella representative for ideas on how to transform the look and comfort of your home inside and out.

America’s Immigration Problems Won’t Solve Themselves

Some have argued that the recent primary defeat of Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) means House Republicans should not take up any immigration reform legislation. The problem with that argument is the nation’s immigration problems aren’t going to disappear. In fact, continued inaction will make matters worse.

First, America still does not possess a means for individuals to fill lower-skilled jobs with legal visas in year-round industries like construction, landscaping, hotels and restaurants. As a result, illegal immigration has continued, albeit at lower levels due to the post-2007 economic slowdown, and appears to be increasing.

The influx of child migrants at the border is one manifestation of the lack of economic-based visas. Parents who first came to the country to work have found that increased border security means once making it to the United States it is not advisable to travel back and forth, as people did many years ago. Having established economic footholds superior to those in their home countries many have sent for their children to join them, with gang violence an additional push factor driving young people from Central America.

Second, America’s policies on hiring skilled foreign nationals remain problematic. Despite its imperfections, H-1B temporary visas are generally the only practical way to hire a skilled foreign national to work long-term in the United States, yet the annual quota on those visas has been exhausted before the end of the fiscal year for the past 12 years. This has often caused employers to either lose skilled individuals to foreign-based competitors or to hire the individuals themselves outside the country. Either way it means more investment and innovation takes place outside the United States.

A third problem is the low annual quota on employment-based green cards (for permanent residence) and the per country limits within those quotas. That has meant immigrants from India and China in particular can wait 10 years or potentially much longer for a green card. That leaves many highly skilled individuals wondering whether America is the best place to fulfill their career ambitions.

A fourth problem is the lack of an entrepreneur visa to allow individuals with good ideas and the ability to attract capital to gain a temporary visa or permanent residence after creating jobs in America.

The above list of problems in our immigration system is not all inclusive. Would the House and Senate bills currently pending solve all these problems? Surprisingly, they would solve a number of the problems and make a start on others, according to a new analysis from the National Foundation for American Policy.

S. 744, the Senate immigration bill, contains a new year-round visa for low-skilled work and with a set of rules that appear usable, if not ideal, for both employers and employees. While apparent AFL-CIO insistence kept the first year’s supply of new visas at only 20,000, maintaining a similar structure but with a much higher number could make a significant dent in illegal immigration.

On high skill immigration, the best approach for growth, innovation and the U.S. economy would combine the best features of the House and Senate bills. That would mean 1) selecting the less-restrictive House approach to H-1B visas, after changing the requirement that foreign nationals should, in effect, be paid more than their U.S. counterparts; 2) adopting the Senate approach to employment-based green cards, since that provides more green cards and will eliminate the current backlog; and 3) taking the best elements of the House and Senate measures on immigrant entrepreneur visas, particularly the provision in S. 744 to permit a renewable temporary status for a foreign-born entrepreneur.

S. 744 passed the U.S. Senate in June 2013, at nearly the same time the House Judiciary Committee passed H.R. 2131, the SKILLS Visa Act. Neither S. 744, H.R. 2131, nor any House immigration bill has moved to the House floor. Eric Cantor’s primary election loss has some calling for an end to immigration reform legislation for the foreseeable future. That would be a mistake. The nation’s immigration problems are unlikely to solve themselves.

Masterfully Planned: Whether starting small or dreaming big, a master plan is … – Press-Register

Photos by Jean Allsopp

David N. Brush compares planning an outdoor space to dining out. You can jump right in with the main course, or you can start small with an appetizer and gradually make your way to dessert.

“Either way, over time, it all ties together,” says Brush, owner of David N. Brush Landscaping Architecture. “One of the best things you can do is develop a master plan and dream big. I think of it like the menu of a restaurant that shows all the courses. You can do just an appetizer, or you can have all seven courses.”
He says a master plan should be one of the first steps in creating an outdoor space. Then it can be implemented all at once or over time, as budget allows.

While the plants play a large role in the design, it’s not the only thing to consider, he adds. Brush collaborates with clients to see just how they will use the space. Then he looks at the architecture of the home and neighborhood to pull in plants and materials to create a space that is a natural extension of the home.

“It doesn’t feel like an add-on,” says Cherie Stine, who sought Brush’s expertise when redoing her tiny Mt Laurel backyard. “It’s almost like creating another room to your house to relax, to entertain, to sort of be part of the house.”

The following homeowners all had different goals when it came to their outdoor spaces. By working with the families, their landscapers and contractors, Brush was able to incorporate their ideas and create spaces that fit the owners’ vision as well as their environment.

Going with the Flow
Rachel and Tyler Stone wanted an outdoor space that family and friends would want to spend time in, especially as their children got older.

When they moved in, the yard had a pool and a trampoline but not much else. The historic Hollywood home had a large backyard, though, with lots of possibilities.

“What they had was a liner pool that was really in disrepair,” Brush says. “They had an awesome yard, though. It was just disconnected.”

The yard could be divided into two distinct areas: the upper level off the back porch of the main house and the pool below. Brush broke down the space even further, creating outdoor areas for the family to enjoy with the pool and spa as the main attraction.

It was resurfaced with Gunite, which is a mixture of cement and sand, and a plaster finish, giving the water a natural look instead of the chlorine blue the liner created. They added a chill pad, or a shallow shelf in the pool for lounging, which could double as a baby pool, Brush says.

The cement deck surrounding the pool was replaced with natural stone from Crab Orchard, Tenn. “Each one is like a piece of art,” Brush says of the pavers. “We’re seeing this used more and more.”

The pool deck was extended allowing for lounge chairs on one side and a dining area on the other.
Natural stone steps lead up to the other section of this backyard. Located off the back porch of the house and in front of the separate guest house, Brush says it now serves as an adult gathering space with a sitting area and fire pit. The space overlooks the pool, giving parents an unobstructed view below.

The plants are mainly evergreens. Potted flowers add pops of color throughout the different spaces.

While the Stones’ have accomplished much of their goals for their outdoor living area, Brush says future plans include an outdoor kitchen by the pool, as well as a game area near the guest house.

Making the Connection
While the Stones wanted a yard centered around water, Lori and Mike Ermert wanted theirs to be focused on fire.

The avid Alabama fans wanted a space where they could watch football games outdoors while staying warm in the cooler months, so Brush helped them bring the indoors outside with a pavilion and outdoor fireplace. As with all projects, he says it was important that the Ermerts’ outdoor space be an extension of their Vestavia Hills house and its architecture.

“It was important that this tie back to the house,” he says. “We wanted matching material. Inside they have stone, so we took that material and mimicked it on the entertainment center and chimney.”

The brick surrounding the fire place and the retaining wall are covered in the same veneer as the house, so even though the space is detached from the house it still flows from the indoors out.

Custom-made cabinets were inset above the fireplace to house the flat-screen TV. Lori selected the clay chimney pot that tops the chimney.

Brush says when he started the project, many of the trees and shrubs were pushed up against the house. He relocated some and added color with trees such as Japanese maples, loropetalums and forest pansy redbuds.
“I like to pick shrubs that bloom different times of the year,” he says. “You can find red- or purple-leafed trees to bring in contrast.”

As with many of Brush’s projects, the family built in room for future growth. Stone pavers are positioned in the grass to lead to a future project, and the area behind the pavilion is sodded for future use.

Maximizing the Space
At about 1,200 square feet, Cherie Stine was certain she couldn’t have what she really wanted in her Mt Laurel backyard: a swimming pool and spa.

 “It’s really small, like a postage stamp, really,” she says of the backyard. “I’m still amazed with what he did with such a small space.”

Brush designed a space that Stine says she never could have imagined.

She wanted her back yard to have an Alys Beach, Mediterranean feel, yet also fit in with the craftsman style of Mt Laurel. Since Brush is also a resident of Mt Laurel, Stine says she was confident he would make her vision work.

Instead of a full-sized pool, Brush designed a small dipping pool and hot tub. He brought in stone that matched the house and feel of the neighborhood for the retaining wall surrounding the dipping pool.
Stine says even though it was a small space, it was rather high maintenance before the makeover. Brush replaced the grass with pebbles and stone pavers. Indigenous plants behind the retaining wall bring in some greenery.

“Even with the pebbles and the stonework, there is still a lot of green,” Stine says. “It’s a lot lower maintenance, too.”

Her backyard is now complete with chaise lounges that Brush says really topped off the look and feel of the space. The Restoration Hardware chairs are made with reclaimed wood and are topped with neutral-colored cushions.

“Furniture can really give so much personality,” Brush says. “These are rustic. They’re really perfect for the space.”


• Cluster potted flowers on a patio or deck as a budget-friendly way to add a pop of color.
• Pick trees and shrubs that bloom and change color different times of the year for an ever-changing palette.
• Let the house breathe. Often plants are shoved up against the house, Brush says. Allow room for the plant to grow, he advises.
• Seek a professional’s help in developing a master plan that can be implemented all at once or over time.
• If budget allows, opt for larger, fuller trees to give the space a more polished, natural look immediately.
• Use natural materials. “If you want it to look and feel like stone, get stone,” Brush says.

Landscaping Architect: David N. Brush Landscape Architecture |

Stone Residence
Pool and hardscape: Hollywood Pools |

Ermert Residence
Construction: Blackjack Horticulture |

Stine Residence
Dipping pool and spa: Hollywood Pools
Concrete weir and bracket: Fusoform |
Landscape contractor: Blackjack Horticulture
Masonry: Alcahtara Stone | 205-396-9765
Millwork: Southern Botanical |

Revealed: finalists in Cambridge Uni landscaping contest

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Fairview fifth-graders leave permanent mark on school – Tribune

Graduating fifth-graders at Fairview Elementary School have left their mark in a big way before moving up to the middle school this fall.

The class last week dedicated a permanent brick sign that was erected in the school’s entryway along Dorseyville Road.

“It makes us feel proud,� said Emily Fera, 11. “This is our school and we designed it and we all put something into it.�

Staff and students hosted a ceremony to unveil the sign with surrounding landscaping that was the result of a project-based learning assignment. Principal Becky Stephan said teachers John Anderson and Mike Frank provided resources to the fifth-grade class but then were hands-off during the research and presentations.

“The children researched online and called nurseries to seek out information and they came up with plans for a design,� Stephan said.

The class was split into 12 groups that presented ideas to a group of four judges.

Students worked together to determine what flowers should be planted and drafted the composition.

“I’m very impressed with the teamwork,â€� Anderson said. “The winner was selected because it had a variety of bloom time. Based on the design, we should have blooms from spring through fall.â€�

The winning landscape includes butterfly flowers and other small foliage to beautify the school’s front lawn.

“It was a unique project,� said Jackson Romero. “Everyone shared ideas.�

Classmate Zane Gavazzi, 12, said there was a lot of thought about the project, including how tall the flowers should grow, how long they would bloom and whether they would be low-maintenance and deer-resistant.

Sammi Dunlap, 11, said she enjoyed the work because it allowed students to be creative.

“It was all up to the students deciding what we wanted to do,� said Jack Penland.

Students who weren’t part of the chosen design team still can take ownership in the gift. The class raised $1,600 by collecting coins at home, Anderson said.

“It wasn’t just asking people for money,â€� he said. “They were supposed to help with chores or donate money that they had of their own.â€�

Total cost of the sign and landscaping was about $16,000; the balance was paid with anonymous donations.

District Assistant Superintendant David McCommons was on hand for the big reveal last week. He thanked the students for their hard work and wished them well as they move on.

“This sign will always represent Fairview as being a wonderful home to you students,� he said.

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or

Agriculture thriving in county

Withstanding the drought that continues to batter farming statewide, Sonoma County’s agricultural sector continued to grow in 2013, resulting in an annual yield of crops and products valued at more than $848 million, the county announced Tuesday.

Buoyed by the strength of its $605 million grape industry, the value of the county’s farm products rose 4.4 percent last year, according to the annual Sonoma County Crop Report.

The county’s overall agricultural production reflects a recovering economy, as well as the resilience of farmers who continue to adapt to market trends, government regulation and shifting environmental conditions, county officials said.

“Agriculture continues to be the backbone of this county,” 5th District Supervisor Efren Carrillo said.

One of the most telling bumps was a 21 percent rise in the value of local nursery products, a category that includes ornamental plants and cut flowers. Although a fraction of the size of the county’s wine industry, the sector is “a bellwether of the economy,” Agricultural Commissioner Tony Linegar said. Rising home sales and new construction is resulting in an increase in sales of plants used for landscaping, he said.

“This is a good reflection of the direction our economy is going,” Linegar said.

Ryan Meechan, co-owner and office manager at Emerisa Gardens in west Santa Rosa, said commercial landscapers have been extremely busy, primarily with replacement landscaping, in part to incorporate drought-tolerant plants.

“Definitely, there was an increase in 2013,” in terms of overall business, Meechan said.

“I think it’s more re-landscaping, than new ones,” agreed Mike Umehara, co-owner of Momiji Nursery in Santa Rosa, which features Japanese maple trees propagated right on the property.

Santa Rosa landscape designer Steve White, of Mason White Landscape Architecture, said the boom in nursery products reflects the “pent-up demand” that developed during the recession.

“People have unleashed their wallets, and business is booming, drought or no drought,” White said.

Some people are re-investing in landscaping at homes they’ve owned for a while, including those seeking water-thrifty plants, he said. Others are just beautifying where they couldn’t afford to landscape before, though often with an eye toward drought-tolerance and xeriscaping, he said.

The nursery products category, valued at $29.9 million last year — up 20.8 percent from 2012 — includes vineyard stock, as well. Increased vine sales last year resulted from a clear turnaround in the grape industry, where growers from 2009 to 2011 were “dying for contracts,” said Jeff Wheeler, viticulturist at Novavine nursery outside Santa Rosa.

“I think people were getting better prices for their grapes, and people were actually able to sign contracts a lot easier and sign longer-term contracts,” Wheeler said.

The wine grape industry accounted for more than 70 percent of the county’s 2013 crop value, thanks in part to a paradoxical upside to the drought, Linegar said. Though record-dry weather is worrisome overall, dry spring conditions were optimal for vineyard bloom and, thus, grape production, he said. Apple orchards benefited, too.

In addition, the amount of bearing vineyard acreage increased 1.5 percent last year to nearly 59,800 acres, resulting in a new harvest record of more than 270,000 tons of grapes, Linegar said. The average price rose 2.4 percent, to $2,236 a ton.

After dismal harvests in 2010 and 2011, “growers feel like they can reinvest in the land here,” Karissa Kruse, president of the Sonoma County Winegrowers, told the board. “This is kind of an exciting time, a rebirth.”

“Thank God for the wine grapes,” Sonoma County Farm Bureau Executive Director Tim Tesconi said after the meeting. “They really are the driving force.”

School park, more cops topics of council

Mayor Drew Hastings met recently with Hillsboro City Schools officials to take the first step in what might result in portion of the old high school property on West Main Street becoming a park.

Also, the city is on the verge of hiring three new police officers, according to Todd Wilkin, the safety and service director.

Hastings told Hillsboro City Council on Monday that he and Wilkin met recently with Supt. Jim Smith and school board president Terry Britton to gauge the school’s interest in working with the city toward utilizing the green space and other areas of the old high school property to create a venue for all residents to enjoy.

“They were open to ideas,” said Hastings, describing the meeting as a “feeling out” session for both sides.

If such a park came to fruition, it would not replace the uptown park that Hastings has proposed for Gov. Trimble Place. The two parks would serve different purposes, he and some council members agreed.

Council member Ann Morris suggested that a park at the high school could serve more as a venue for kids, while council member Tracy Aranyos added that “the whole area” could be transformed into a venue for activities for young people, including turning the site of the former Highland Enterprise Lumber Company into a skate board park.

A fire in 2012 destroyed most of the buildings on that site and left a concrete foundation which has been unused since the property was cleared of debris from the blaze.

Hastings also updated council on the status of the Colony Theatre. Ownership of the theater has reverted back to the city, and Hastings had recently suggested that the large auditorium could be torn down to create additional city parking, while the façade and lobby would be preserved.

But the mayor said Monday that a recent discussion with an architect has caused him to reconsider. The architect has offered to do, for free, a cost analysis to repair the theater, said Hastings.

“If the Colony can be saved for $240,000 rather than $400,000, maybe we save it,” said Hastings, who added that it constitutes the only entertainment facility in the uptown area.

Morris questioned whether the city was in a position to manage the theater even if it is preserved.

“That’s the point I try to make,” answered Hastings, questioning whether a manager would have to be hired and whether it would be successful. “If we build it, will they come?” he asked.

Council member Bill Alexander asked if there might be lessons to be learned from the Murphy Theatre in Wilmington. Hastings said he has been in contact with the management at the Murphy, and “it’s hard for them to break even.” But he suggested that Murphy officials might come to Hillsboro to discuss ideas for the Colony.

Hastings said he would be willing to donate Bell’s Opera House, which he owns, to an entity that would renovate it, but said the cost to refurbish it would be $3 million to $4 million.

Hastings also provided council with responses to a recent survey the city conducted among uptown business owners and employees. The survey, which garnered more than 40 responses, explored several questions gauging opinions on economic develop, including:

• Save the Colony Theatre or spend money elsewhere? Save the Colony, 37%; Spend money elsewhere, 63%.

• Will an uptown plaza/park add value? Yes, great value, 34%; Yes, minimal value, 30%; No value, 36%.

• How important to maintain historic aspect of uptown? Very important, 59%; Somewhat important, 30%; Not important, 11%.

• Would you be willing to make a financial contribution? Yes, 56%; No, 30%; Maybe, 14%.

The survey also cited parking and the problem of owners not maintaining their property as “reasons why uptown Hillsboro is in the current deteriorated condition,” and concluded that restaurants, specialty shops such as boutiques and arts and crafts stores, a coffee shop, and men’s and women’s clothing stores would succeed in the uptown area.

Council president Lee Koogler was “under the weather,” according to council member Dick Donley, so Donley filled in as president pro tem Monday night. After reports by Hastings and Wilkin, Donley thanked them both for their efforts and the progress the city has made.

In his report, Wilkin said that civil service testing was administered to 22 candidates for Hillsboro Police Department jobs, with the field narrowed to the top 10, from which three will be hired.

Wilkin said that the street striping project was scheduled to begin Wednesday, weather permitting, and that a left turn lane on North High Street at Wendy’s, where SR 138 connects, would be extended, and a right turn lane is being added on North High onto Northview Drive.

He said that efforts have been “stepped up” to clean up the city, including buildings removed on North Elm Street which had been a problem. He said that water loops being added would increase water pressure for Woodland Drive Estates and Westover Drive, and that paving will start soon where the sewer replacement project was done.

Wilkin said that new signs indicating where free public parking exists have been erected, and he and Hastings both touted a kite flying event at Liberty Park scheduled for June 28, designed to bring attention to the park and to the YMCA. He said that five summer youth workers have been employed through a grant.

Wilkin also said that Randy Barr, longtime water and sewer supervisor, will take over the water, sewer and street manager duties, making the departments “more efficient” and better positioned to tackle pothole and signage issues.

Along those lines, council approved transferring $99,000 to the Street Fund to cover expenses for street paving, the repair of equipment and the purchase of an additional snow plow.

In other business, council:

• Approved a sign variance for the new location of the Dollar General store on North High Street.

• Approved increasing appropriations to the Drug Law Enforcement Fund to $2,000 for use in drug crime investigations, at the request of police chief Todd Whited.

• Heard the first reading of a new yard sale ordinance that would require such sales to be held during certain days each month, with council member Claudia Klein, chair of the Community Enhancement Committee, explaining that the wording of the ordinance was being tweaked.

• Heard local resident Jennifer Reed once again ask council to reconsider its noxious weed ordinance to accommodate “natural landscaping,” but heard council member Justin Harsha report that the Street and Safety Committee decided not to make any changes to the tall grass ordinance.

• Heard Hastings report on a recent meeting with the president of Ohio AEP in regard to possible economic development money for Hillsboro.

• And heard auditor Gary Lewis report that the city has a balance on hand of about $7.4 million.

Antiques in the Orchard

Terry and Carole Chowning moved back to Clark Fork in 2006, purchasing the home that Carol spent her teenage years in, right across the highway from a small stretch of property that butts up against a trailing edge of Howe Mountain, an area that was home to the Whitedelph silver mine. An adit of the mine was visible on the face of the mountainside, but the rest of the property was marshy and overgrown, with thick underbrush and those ubiquitous cottonwood trees.  Nonetheless, Carole loved the view and the mountain, and eventually Terry bought it for her. That began a process of clearing and planting, and today that stretch of once overgrown land is home to Annie’s Orchard, the couple’s thriving business/retirement plan.

“Terry’s had a plan the whole time,” Carole laughed one day as she sat behind the counter of the newest addition to the orchard—the antique store. Focused and driven, Terry started the orchard by offering landscaping material, expanded it with a coffee stand, and then built a gorgeous “trading post” to house studio apartments and office space available for rent, along with the antique store.

Why antiques? “We had all this stuff,” Carole said, and added that both she and Terry have a deep appreciation for history and the everyday objects left to us from previous generations.

But back up to the landscaping business, which they call Majestic Landscaping, as it’s still growing as well. Today the couple offer dirt (organic garden soil and compost, blended garden soil, and peat moss), several types of sand, decorative bark and more types of rock than you can shake a stick at—plus a boom truck if you need some help placing a gorgeous hunk of some of the local belt rocks. You can also get cedar fencing and garden beds, and even firewood. There’s equipment to rent as well.

If the place doesn’t send you running home to work on your yard, grab a cup of coffee and visit the new antique store (they’ll sell on consignment, too, so stop by if you have antique items for sale), or just enjoy the peaceful beauty the pair have created out of a former wasteland. Hundred year old apple trees (supplemented by new trees when old ones die) dot the park-like setting, calling you to sit, put up your feet, and rest a spell before getting back home to carry out all your new landscaping ideas. 

Annie’s Orchard is located on Hwy. 200 just west of Clark Fork. You can visit them online and learn more at

Mobile app, ticketing program new to Parade of Homes – Springfield News

The Homebuilder’s Association of Greater Springfield celebrates 60 years since its charter in 1954, and for 60 years it’s been hosting an annual Parade of Homes.

“The parade is the first thing we did,” said Charlyce Ruth, chief executive officer for the HBA.

The annual Parade of Homes, June 20-22 and 27-29, is an open house event featuring constructed homes from area builders that have been landscaped and decorated using products from local businesses. Even if you aren’t in the market for a new home, Ruth said, it’s a great way to get ideas for your existing house.

Sixty years ago, the parade featured just one house, a collaboration by several builders. This year there will be 14 homes as builders scramble to finish exteriors and landscaping, delayed by rain.

The HBA Parade of Homes magazines for this summer’s event, June 20-22 and 27-29, are being delivered today and as a preview will be available at these locations: The Carpet Shoppe, Herrman Lumber Company, The Light House Gallery, Maschino’s or Meek’s. You can also find it online at

New this year are a ticketing system and a mobile maps app. Both are free.

The app — available through app stores on Apple and Android systems when you search for “parade craze,” or from a link on the HBA Springfield website — will give parade-goers a map to homes, more photos of the homes and a place to share comments, which are helpful to the builders.

Ruth said the HBA hopes the app will in particular help people find the homes. It’s been a problem, Ruth said, when people put the house address into their GPS and mobile maps systems for directions. But most new homes are on acreage or on a lot in a neighborhood that hasn’t been mapped yet.

“So they drive around aimlessly lost,” Ruth said.

Parade-goers can also reserve a ticket through the app. Or they can do it online from a link at Tickets must be secured and presented to visit the houses. If you haven’t reserved one before the parade, you can do it at the first house visited.

Reserving a ticket also enters visitors to a grill giveaway.

“This is our only way to truly track how many people are going to the parade homes,” Ruth said.

That way they can tell home builders how many people visited a house each day. And if it’s busy, parade-goers may not have time to talk to the builder. With the app, they can share feedback and comments, which is important to builders, Ruth said.

The HBA of Greater Springfield is a member of the National Association of Home Builders with headquarters in Washington, D.C. and is home to approximately 400 members, representing builders, developers, remodelers and associates in all areas of the residential construction and housing industries.

Parade of Homes

This year’s HBA Parade of Homes is 1-6 p.m. June 20-22 and 27-29.

Find and download a maps app, Parade Craze, at an Apple or Android app store to help you find the homes, or find a link at

Tickets are required for this year’s Parade of Homes. They are free and can be reserved through the app, through or at the first home visited.

For more information call 881-3711.

Updated concept plan unveiled at Rosemary Imagined

Floor-to-ceiling windows in the fifth-floor Sky Lounge of the Greenbridge development gave Rosemary Imagined meeting attendees a bird’s eye view of their beloved downtown — and from the windows, community members could point a finger right where they hope to see change.

On Monday, the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership and the town of Chapel Hill hosted a community review meeting to look over a revised draft plan for the downtown Rosemary Street corridor –– a stretch of Rosemary Street that goes from South Merritt Mill Road to Henderson Street.

The last meeting, another community review session, was held on April 10.

Megan Wooley, a housing and neighborhood services planner for the town, and Meg McGurk, the executive director of the Downtown Partnership, presented the revised Rosemary Street Vision and Implementation Plan to a room of roughly 40 members of the community.

The plan has been revised since the last meeting in April, after McGurk and Wooley held stakeholder meetings around the community and interacted with downtown residents.

The concept map included in the implementation plan identifies potential redevelopment sites downtown, locations of parks and green spaces and pedestrian and bicycle connections. 

One of the questions McGurk said she and Wooley have tried to consider is, “Is (the plan for Rosemary Street) reflecting what the community wants?”

Wooley pointed out a few areas that specifically changed since the community last gathered. 

The alley parallel to Lindsay Street in Northside raised questions from the community, she said.

“There are concerns about having an alley back there,” said Wooley. “There are concerns about loitering, trash, noise. We are instead proposing a green landscaped buffer. This would provide a buffer between the neighborhood and the commercial uses.”

Buffers of greenery and landscaping would be used in many other places in the redevelopment of Rosemary Street, Wooley said, especially in areas where neighborhoods and potential development sites are right next to each other.

Wooley also said there was interest in increasing the number of connections between Rosemary Street and Franklin Street. 

“People walk and they bike and they find the little ways to go, and we want to make those little ways to go safe, well-lit, well-signed so that people know they’re there,” she said.

According to the implementation plan, three proposed areas where connections could be made possible if they realigned North Roberson Street, Kenan Street and Mallette Street. These areas would begin as pedestrian walkways and in the long run could become car passageways.

“There’s the possibility of becoming car connection if the public wants it,” Wooley said.


The implementation plan broke the re-development of Rosemary Street up into 21 “visions” for the downtown corridor, organized based on themes that came out of the Chapel Hill 2020 comprehensive plan. 

The themes include: A Place for Everyone, Community Prosperity and Engagement, Getting Around, Good Places New Spaces, Nurturing Our Community and Town and Gown Collaboration

The plan lays out all 21 visions for downtown Rosemary Street, breaking them down by who will lead the vision’s implementation, who will partner with the leader, what the next steps will be and what some ideas are for seeing the vision to fruition.


Wooley said there is no rhyme nor reason to the numbers assigned to the Rosemary Imagined implementation plan’s “visions”. The numbers won’t affect what gets done when or what is most important to the team, she said.

“There’s no prioritization,” Wooley said. “The way it’s organized is based on the themes of the (Chapel Hill) 2020 plan. The numbers are kind of random within the themes.”