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Stevens County Times

Home 2018 Improvement SPRING

Spring Home Improvement

2 Saturday, April 14, 2018 

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PHOTOS For photos of the cabin, see T3

Prior to the cabin, we traveled all over the country.

INTERIOR Family’s cabin interior is mission style, see T4


We decided we needed a place of our own.

The Kirwin family in the cabin. From left, Morgan, Brenna, Jessica, Collin and Jason. Jason made the fireplace and his family helped.


Rae Yost / SCT 2018 Spring Home Improvement

Kirwins make a home on the lake away,” Jason said. “Previously, we had property up by International Falls and I think that impacted our decision to go closer.” The family doesn’t need to spend nearly two hours in a vehicle traveling to the lake on weekends.

“We can be here every night of the week if we want,” Jessica said. They don’t spend part of the weekend mowing lawn or doing other chores because those tasks can be done during the week.


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Mesa Verde and historic sites such as West Point. At first Morgan, 18, “was kind of sad. I was looking forward to more traveling across the U.S. In the end, I like it.” The Kirwins also traded in trips of several hundred miles in an RV for a three-mile oneway trip from their home to the cabin on Perkins Lake, also known as Pomme de Terre Lake. “It was very much so deliberate,” Jessica said of the proximity of their home place to the cabin. “Jason had looked at lake property all over.” “All of them are about one and half hours


By Rae Yost Stevens County Times 2018 Spring Home Improvement ason and Jessica Kirwin traded their recreational vehicle for a lake cabin. “Prior to the cabin, we traveled all over the country,” Jessica said. “We decided we needed a place of our own,” Jason said. Although the Kirwins and their three children, Morgan, Brenna and Collin, enjoyed the traveling, they’ve found they also like time at the cabin. The family has traveled to many National Parks including

The Stevens County Times 

Spring Home Improvement

Saturday, April 14, 2018 3

Photos by Rae Yost / SCT 2018 Spring Home Improvement

Left: The living room on the main floor of the Kirwin cabin. The fireplace is a focal point of the room along with the large west windows. The windows provide a view of the lake from the living room. Above: The cabin’s kitchen. The Kirwins wanted a mission style look in the cupboards and a design that was functional for entertaining.

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The kitchen cabinets in the Kirwin cabin. The tone and the design flow with the ceiling and the flooring throughout the cabin.

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Jason Kirwin made the coffee table that sits in the main living room area of the cabin.

The fireplace is a feature of the main floor in the cabin. Jason Kirwin made the mission style mantle on the fireplace.

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Family cabin’s interior is mission style By Rae Yost Stevens County Times 2018 Spring Home Improvement hen Jessica and Jason Kirwin decided to build their cabin on Perkins Lake, also known as Pomme de Terre Lake, they had several features as priorities for it. “Two bathrooms,” Jessica said. “A huge patio.”


“A big room to entertain lots of people,” Jason said. “Energy efficient, low maintenance,” Jessica said. And their son Collin knew of another priority, “A fireplace.” The Kirwins incorporated those features in a roughly 32 by 38 foot cabin on a roughly 50 by 84 foot lot. “It’s not a big cabin,” Jason

said. The Kirwins, as does any lake construction, needed to meet impervious surface requirements which affects the size of a cabin. Impervious surface requirements measure the amount of drainage created by a structure versuses the amount of property. While it may not be the largest cabin it’s not cramped.

One of their daughter Morgan’s favorite features is walking down the stairs from the second level and “how it opens up into this beautiful kitchen area.” The kitchen has mission style cupboards made by Dewayne Melberg. An large island can be used for cooking and dining. The island has room one three

sides for stools. “I like the fridge and the stove,” Collin said. The kitchen appliances are stainless steel. The kitchen opens into sliding doors to the outdoor patio and into a large living space anchored by the fireplace.




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Building Materials Photos by Rae Yost / SCT 2018 Spring Home Improvement

A small hallway on the upper floor of the Kirwin cabin opens up to a large bedroom. The Kirwins said the large bedroom will contain bunkbeds for kids.

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Raths Brothers Construction Morris 320-585-5112 320-585-6029 The flooring and woodwork were chosen as missionstyle decor. The color scheme and flooring are the same throughout the cabin’s upper floor.

KIRWINS From Page 2

And Perkins Lake was familiar to them. Jason grew up water skiing with his grandpa on the lake. They also have friends who live on the lake. The friendships and the community relationship that are developed by those who live on the lake are important attractionsof lake living, they said. But so are the other

features, “I like to fish from the dock,” Brenna said. Collin likes the fire pit. “I’ve had a lot of fun,” Brenna said. “I hope we never sell it.” Selling wouldn’t likely be part of any future plan for the Kirwins. The couple envisions the lake cabin as a place for their children and grandchildren to gather in the future. Change can be hard, Jason said. But this change has been a good one, the family said.


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The room is spacious enough to hold two large couches and a mission style coffee table built by Jason. And a black bearskin rug sits on the floor in front of the fireplace. The floor throughout the main level is stamped concrete with a darker wood-colored finish. The fireplace is made of stone. It features an mission style mantle made by Jason. Windows on the west wall are also mission style and they are large. Jessica’s brother works for the company in Wisconsin that manufactures the windows. His advice helped them pick attractive, functional windows that are extremely energy efficience, the couple said. The ceilings throughout are ninefoot ceilings with a light wood finish. “It’s fair to say it has a rustic look,” Jason said. The main floor also includes the master bedroom with a walk in closet and connecting door to the main bathroom. A free-standing tub

Spring Home Improvement

and an enclosed shower are in the bathroom. The tub was a must, Jessica said. The laundry room is adjacent to the kitchen and near the front entry. There is a storage closet beside the laundry. The second floor includes a large bedroom area with one east window. It’s designed for bunkbeds and space for lots of kids and family. Another couch sits in an alcove and a guest bedroom is on the west side of the second floor. The floor plan includes several closets and storage areas on each level. What can’t be seen may be as important as what is seen in the cabin. “The whole (cabin) has spray foam insulation,” Jason said. He didn’t realize how valuable that insulation was until the winter. “It’s stormy outside and it’s calm (and warm) in here,” Jason said. Construction was a process led by Melberg and Tom Classen Construction. Melberg and Claussen put up the structure but then, the Kirwins and Melberg completed the work. The family built the patio and the fireplace and Jason installed the brick on the

Photos by Rae Yost / SCT 2018 Spring Home Improvement

Windows on the west wall face the lake in the Kirwin cabin. cabin’s exterior. Morgan, who had originally been disappointed that the family gave up their recreational vehicle traveling for a cabin, said helping to work on the cabin made it more fun to make the change.

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Saturday, April 14, 2018 5

“We did a lot of stuff ourselves,” she said. The Kirwins started construction in 2017 and plan to finish fully decorating it in time for Morgan’s high school graduation party in May. Guests will be staying at the cabin, Jessica said.


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The faucet and handle for the tub in the main bathroom of the cabin.


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Rae Yost / SCT 2018 Spring Home Improvement

Don and Janet Kellen built their new one-level home in 2016 and 2017. The home is near the couple’s prior home which was built in 1978.

Kellens build home for their needs Tall east windows in a large living room in Janet and Don Kellen’s home in rural Beardsley give the couple a view they wouldn’t trade for another. The Kellens’ east window opens to a farm field and the prairie, and they can see for several miles. “I love tall windows,” Janet said. Those east windows in

the living room are several feet in height. “Look how far you can see,” Don said of the view. The couple can see the sun rise from those windows and even see the city of Graceville, which is about 10 miles away. While those windows offer a large view, they are not the only big windows in the home built in 2016 and 2017. There are large windows in a smaller living room including a window that faces east. “You can watch the moon go

around,” Don said of the windows in the two living areas. The master bedroom and the two guest bedrooms along with the kitchen also have large windows. The windows and a front porch area on the front of the house along with a planned backyard patio all connect the Kellens to nature and their farmland. The new house was built when one of their sons returned to the area and wanted to farm. When the

son’s rental house was going to be sold, the couple seriously began talking about building a new home. Their son and his family would be moving into the house the Kellens built in 1978. The new home was built next to the orginal Kellen farmplace where Don grew up. It’s also across the road from where the couple built a the 1978 house. The couple had worked with Hooters Lumber in Chokio when it built an addition to the 1978 house in the 1990s. The

Kellens worked with Hooters and several other local contractors when they decided to build the new house in 2016. “We pretty much kept the business local,” Don said. The house is on acres the couple had rented for many years. The landlord didn’t want to sell only a few acres but instead, offered to sell the entire 160 acres the couple had rented for many years, which suprised and delighted them.


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By Rae Yost Stevens County Times 2018 Spring Home Improvement

The Stevens County Times 

2018 Spring Home Improvement

Saturday, April 14, 2018 7

RINKENBERGER OPERATES 1932 SAWMILL By Rae Yost Stevens County Times 2018 Spring Home Improvement


hen he saw the advertisement for the sale of 1932 Enterprise bell saw, Doug Rinkenberger figured he might like to buy it. He did buy—despite not knowing how to operate a big, heavy saw with 48-inch and 54-inch blades that could saw through lumber logs and thick wood. But, after applying common sense, safety and watching some Youtube videos on the internet, Rinkenberger learned how to operate the big saw. He only uses the 48-inch blade because it fits his needs. The 54-inch blade is too large for his purposes. About three years later, Rinkenberger’s saw is part of Skidrow Sawmil on the farm of his parents, Joe and Harriet Rinkenberger, in Horton Township, southeast of Morris. He’s sawed many of pieces of wood in a business he calls more of a hobby than business. “The sawmill probably cuts something five days a week. It’s not 10-hour days,” Rinkenberger, who is semi-retired, said. Rinkenberger bought the bell saw and its equipment from Dave Dixon of Buffalo, who had operated the sawmill with his dad John, who bought it new in 1932. “Imagine how many times this has been rolled back and forth over 80

Some people ask me if I will cut their tree down. We don’t cut trees down, we cut them up. DOUG RINKENBERGER

Rae Yost/SCT 2018 Spring Home Improvement

Doug Rinkenberger points at a spot where a worm may have been busy inside a tree log years ago. years,” Rinkenberger said of the saw’s carriage that moves the saw as it cuts through a log or piece of wood. Sawmills have their roots in cutting wood from lumber logs, including logging in

northern Minnesota. Skidrow Sawmill takes its name from the early days of the railroad, Rinkenberger said. Based on documentaries he’s watched, the word skidrow came from when the first trees were cut

for lumber so buildings could be constructed along the railroad. “The first street is town was called skid road,” Rinkenberger said.

Skid road morphed into skidrow which eventually came to stand for the poor or very poor side of towns and cities with bums and those

down on their luck, he said. Skidrow first was known as the area near the sawmill and,


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Photos by Rae Yost/SCT 2018 Spring Home Improvement

Items made by Doug Rinkeberger at his Skidrow Sawmill. The snowman is a newer venture. A curved piece of wood was transformed into the back of a bench made by Doug Rinkenberger.

From Page 7

sometimes, logs would skid into the street, Rinkenberger said. As the town grew, people with money moved away from the noise and dirt of the sawmill. Residents who stayed lived in skidrow, Rinkenberger said. Rinkenberger figures the name Skidrow Sawmill sticks in people’s mind and, often, it gets a laugh from people. The name may be funny and the job may be

a hobby but does require serious attention. “Doug takes a lot of safety precautions,” said Gene Pasche, a neighbor who frequently helps Rinkenberger. “What’s that they say? ‘Wood doesn’t fly the same way twice,’” Rinkeberger said. Precautions include safety glasses and safety plexiglass, plus making sure helpers are in the correct spots. The sawmill doesn’t saw wood for lumber. “There isn’t any money in that. You can’t compete with the big outfits,” Rinkenberger said.

But it does saw wood that Rinkenberger makes into benches, picnic tables, signs and other items. People also bring a piece of wood they want cut or ask him to saw a downed tree they want to use for woodworking. “Some people ask me if I will cut their tree down. We don’t cut trees down, we cut them up,” Rinkenberger said. He wants the trees after they have been cut down because cutting trees down is a job for a licensed and bonded crew.

SAWMILL: Page 10


Doug Rinkenberger’s son Matt used wood burning to make this sign.


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Photos by Rae Yost / SCT 2018 Spring Home Improvement

Above: One of two guest bedrooms in the Kellen home. The bedroom set was the set used by Janet’s father when he was young. Top Left: Janet Kellen’s dining room set is French Provincial. Her husband Don bought it for her more than 30 years ago and it’s a favorite piece of furniture. She uses the dining room set as a decor guide to colors in her new home in rural Beardsley. Lower Left: The Kellen home has hardwood floors and open floor plan. This is the main living room with windows that face east.

KELLENS From Page 6

The house sits near the 750 to 800 pine trees the Kellens have planted over the past 40-plus years. Don took it on as a challenge when his dad told

him a pine tree wouldn’t grow on the property, and planted one tree. One tree became 40 planted in a year and now, it’s the 750 to 800 pine trees planted on the original farm site and on the property of the home the couple built in 1978.

KELLENS: Page 11

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2018 Spring Home Improvement

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Photos by Rae Yost/SCT 2018 Spring Home Improvement

This log waits to be cut at Skidrow Sawmill. Doug Rinkenberger said the log weighs about 3,000. He will use a skid steer to move the log into the sawmill.

Doug Rinkberger, background and Gene Pasche saw a log at Skidrow Sawmill.

SAWMILL From Page 8

Pasche said of cutting trees, “That’s work,” while operating the sawmill, “Is fun.” The sawmill sits inside a shed Rinkenberger built from highline poles. The sawmill operates with a PTO shaft driven by a repurposed used combine engine. The sawmill is in a good location because not only does Joe help with the sawmill but Doug’s mom Harriet serves lunch at 10 a.m. and again at 4 p.m. on weekdays. Whoever shows up for lunch may get asked to help in the sawmill, Rinkenberger said. Rinkenberger said he’s grateful for the support of his parents, friends and family. While Pasche and

Rinkenberger’s dad often help at the sawmill, Rinkenberger’s sons Matt and Doug Jr. also help. Matt has been woodburning letters and designs onto wooden signs and other items. Doug Jr. helps with physical labor, especially with heavier logs. And Gerry and Tammy Thorstad of GT Benches and Signs in Chokio let Rinkenberger use their shop to build his benches, tables, picnic tables and other items during the winter. Pascke and Rinkenberger figure the sawmill has been used to cut at least 10 variety of trees. “He’s learned over the years,” Pasche said. At first Rinkenberger didn’t see much value in a curved or distorted piece of wood, Pasche said. Now, he sees a bench,

or the back of a bench or another use for that wood, Pasche said. Cut wood and readyto-be-cut wood are stored inside a barn built in 1948. Ironically, that barn was one reason Rinkenberger bought the sawmill. He planned to use the sawmill to cut wood to fix a hole in the barn roof. Rinkenberger smiled when he said the barn roof still isn’t fixed yet. But, then, he’s bought fishing licenses for the past two years and hasn’t used them either. Instead he’s been cutting wood that may turn into a sign, a bench, a table, a flower stand, a standup planter, a picnic table or another item or decoration in someone’s backyard or home. Those interested in having a tree cut

into wood for an item they plan to make, or buying an item made by Rinkenberger or in getting pieces of wood from him, should call and make an appointment, Rinkenberg said. His number is 320-287-2153.

Doug Rinkenberger makes picnic tables, benches and outdoor planters. He also made the shed located behind the planter box.

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Spring Home Improvement

KELLENS From Page 9

The trees have attracted birds, squirrels and other wildlife. And for Janet, the beauty of nature needed to brought indoors. “I like the colors in nature,” Janet said. The floors of the one-story house are colored slightly brown or tan. The kitchen cupboards and wooden door frames and baseboards are slighly darker in shade. Although the tans and browns of nature were the key, another inspiration was the color of the French Provincial dining room table set Janet has owned for at least 35 years. “He worked on a commercial fishing crew during the winter to buy me this set,” Janet said. She also has a matching bedroom set in the master bedroom. She loves the two sets including the design and the color. Janet knew the dining set and bedroom set were going to be included in the new house. “We bought no new furniture when we moved,” Don said. “That was intentional.” Kitchen stools and a few other items may be new but the couple liked the furniture it had and didn’t want to

Photos by Rae Yost / SCT 2018 Spring Home Improvement

The only step in the Kellen home is a slight step from the garage to the laundry room. replace it when they moved. But they didn’t move everything they owned into the new house. The new home does not have a basement and is smaller than their prior home. Janet had been sorting and selling and getting rid of items before the move because she knew she’d have less space in the new house. Although she included a good-sized storage room and closets in the new house, the overall storage space is less. The couple intentionally built the one-story house with no basement. The house is designed for their age and the future, said Janet, 62, and Don, 69. Every door in the house is

a wide door. The only step in the house is a very, very small step from the garage into the laundry area. Other features related to their age include a walk-in shower with no step in the master bedroom. The shower floor is even with the bathroom floor. The shower floor is designed to direct water to the center drain. The shower wall has a small lip at the open entry which also keeps water from splashing to the bathroom floor. Janet said she splurged on a flat stove built in to the kitchen cupboards so she could have a high stove on the other side of the kitchen. She doesn’t need to bend to open the oven. The

A birch bark tree and a snowman picture decorate the guest bathroom in the Kellen home. Although it was April when the photo was taken, the decor still fit the conditions. The bird and the squirrel in the painting are significant because then the couple started planting trees more than 20 years ago, the birds and squirrels arrived on their farmland. kitchen also has cupboards with shelves on rollers. “(The house) is designed for old people, “ Don said with a laugh. That may be true but it’s also designed for them. And they aren’t yet finished with the interior or the exterior. Janet wanted to live in the house for a year or so before she decided where she want-

Saturday, April 14, 2018 11 ed to hang any items on the wall or add other decorative designs inside. She has added her decorative touches to the bathrooms and guest bedrooms but the rest of the house is a work in progress. The front entry includes a narrow, tallish table and a painting by her mother. Janet has her eye on possible locations for several other pictures and paintings. “I’m slow to make decisions,” she said with a smile. Perhaps on decorating but Janet was firm on her desires in the kitchen and with tray ceilings in the master bedroom and main living space. She had hoped for a cathedral ceiling in the larger living room and dining area but when she learned how those ceilings complicated duct work, she chose tray ceilings. Tray ceilings are an area of the ceiling that is slightly higher than the overall ceiling. “If the ceiling was flat all the way I think it would be (too tight),” Janet said. Accent lights along the entries into the hall to the laundry area and masterbedroom, the second living room and around the east windows in the larger living room are also a feature that gives the main floor a nice feel and glow in the evenings, the couple said.




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Soil and Water can help with a rain garden By Rae Yost Stevens County Times 2018 Spring Home Improvement A rain garden won’t make it rain but it will help filter rain water that drains into a city’s storm sewer or water that drains into a ditch or drainage tile. Rain gardens are designed to “collect storm water run-off for about 24 hours and let it drain into the storm sewer and, eventually, into the river system,” said John Lembcke of the Stevens County Soil and Water Conservation District. The rain garden filters out some the pollutants in storm water, he said. “We don’t water standing for more than 24 hours,” Lembcke said. Water that stands in a garden or any spot for more than 24 hours can become a breeding ground for mosquitoes Lembcke said. SWCD installs about 10 rain gardens each summer, Lembke said. “Our biggest summer it was 17,” he said. “The majority of the

time we collect storm water off of the house,” Lembke said. Tile is installed to drain water from the house to the rain garden. “We can (drain water) from a driveway or anyplace else that is a good source of rain water,” Lembcke said. Rain gardens are not installed in areas of lawns that collect water, Lembcke said. “If this part of your lawn always holds water it’s not a spot for rain garden,” he said. It will take too long to drain water from such areas of a lawn, Lembcke said. While rain gardens are a benefit to a watershed and river system because they help filter water, property owners benefit because wet basements will be drier and a garden can bloom from the spring through the fall. The SWCD recommends property owners choose native plants that bloom throughout the year, Lembcke said. “You get color throughout the years. And it helps

Planting during the construction of a rain garden. bees with pollination to have something they are attracted to,” Lembcke said.

The SWCD has access to funds that can help property owners pay for the cost of a rain garden.

Stevens County Soil and Water Conservation photo

Lembcke said available funds could pay for as much as 75 percent of the cost which leaves


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25 percent of the cost to property owners. The amount of money available can change from year to year and it may not always be as high as 75 percent of the cost, Lembcke said. If a property owner works with the SWCD rain garden program, he must pay his share of the cost and follow the other requirements of the program.

Spring Home Improvement

The Stevens County Times 

Saturday, April 14, 2018 13

A Perfect Piece by the Schmidgalls By Rae Yost Stevens County Times 2018 Spring Home Improvement Trevor and Jody Schmidgall spend a lot of time in their workshop at their home between Hancock and Morris. “It’s where we both like to spend our time,” Jody Schmidgall said. The couple transforms pieces of wood or an old library card catalog and other items into decorative, yet, functional pieces for homes. The couple opened The Perfect Piece in Morris in the back of the Just For Us retail building on Atlantic Avenue.. “It’s fun to take something that would be junk and make it look new again,” Schmidgall said. They find that junk in various locations. “We go to auctions and if people call and say they need a shed cleaned out, we will help them clean it out,” Schmidgall said. People will also call about furniture Photos by Rae Yost / Stevens County Times or other items they want Above: Jody Schmidgall of the The Perfect Piece in Morris. Schmidgall and her removed from a home.

husband Trevor create new pieces of home decor from items that may never

PERFECT PIECE: Page 14 have been used in the home before or that have been discarded by prior users.

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The Stevens County Times

Some of the items, including paint, available at The Perfect Piece. Photos by Rae Yost / SCT 2018 Spring Home Improvement


“Trevor is the builder,” Schmidgall said. “My husband is amazing. He has a creative eye. I’m the painter.” Schmidgall will write inspirational quotes on wood or paint flowers and other scenes. She also paints the items her husband has transformed such as the card catalog. The couple bought an old stove, “It was very ornate so we bought it.” Instead of revamping it as a stove, Trevor used various pieces of the stove for other furniture. But Schmidgall also has an eye for transforming pieces. “We had these two old windows. I said to Trev0r that he needed to make cabinets with those windows,” she said. The windows, along with reclaimed wood and shiplap, were transformed into just that. Schmidgall also suggested using old license plates as the front of drawers on another cabinet revamped by her husband. The Perfect Piece is filled with furniture, accessories and wall hangings made by the Schmidgalls. A painted industrial case that was probably used to store blueprints sits in one corner of the store. The Schmidgalls retained the industrial look but added some color and the cabinet would now look at home in a house. A shelf of industrial bins would now be “awesome in a boy’s room for holding Legos,” Schmidgall said. A scoop style piece of equipment attached to wood makes a great entry piece and can store keys, she said. Schmidgall pointed to a small chest with embossed stencils on the drawers. “This chest was just gross,” she said. “It looked like it was ready for the junk heap,” she said. But after a few hours of cleaning and painting, the chest has new life. “I’m always thinking of the next project,” Schmidgall said. That’s why items in the store will always be changing, she said. The Schmidgalls also own Meadowland Market in Morris. Operating a second business does take some work but Schmidgall said it doesn’t feel like work since they enjoy it so much.

This was an industrial cabinet that stored blueprints but now, it’s a cabinet for the home.

Spring Home Improvement

The Stevens County Times 

Saturday, April 14, 2018 15

RAIN GARDEN From Page 12

Stevens County Soil and Water Conservation District photos

Above: A completed rain garden. Right: A tile line dug to drain water from a house and send it to the rain garden. on my rough caculations, 1,500 to 1,800 square feet.” Lembcke stressed that although rain gardens are not high maintenance they do require weeding and other upkeep. They may

even require water during a dry summer, he said. The SWCD requires property owners to maintain their rain garden and even conducts spot checks, he said.

To learn more about the SWCD rain garden program, contact Lembcke at 320589-4886. The 2018 season is likely full but property owners can make plans for 2019.

! t s e B e th Simpy


A garden must be in place for 10 years. If the property is sold during that 10 years, the sale must include a stipulation that the rain garden must remain to complete the 10-year period, Lembcke said. Property owners can apply their own labor to their share of the cost. The SWCD works with a landscape architect who designs the project. The property owner has until construction starts to change his mind about installing a rain garden, Lembcke said. Once the construction starts, the project must be completed, he said. The largest cost of a rain garden project is labor, Lembcke said. Tiles are dug by hand and other work is labor intensive. “The majority of rain gardens are around 500 to 600 feet,” Lembcke said. “We’ve done some as large as, based

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WE HAUL IT ALL Demolition dumpsters available for your building, remodeling and clean-up projects. You can also bring in your demo, tree branches, and grass clippings to the Stevens County Demolition n site, Hwy 9 South, Morris. 001068404r1



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2018 Spring Home Improvement  

A collection of ideas for home improvement projectst.

2018 Spring Home Improvement  

A collection of ideas for home improvement projectst.