Page 1

Vol. 4, No. 1

Spring 2014

Park& SportsTurf MINNESOTA



Former Metropolitan Stadium Turf Manager Dick Ericson Inducted into 2014 MLB Groundskeepers Hall of Fame


“Spring is in Sight!”



PRESIDENT BEN WALLIN NationalSports Center


For those who don't know me, I am Ben Wallin, MPSTMA President. I grew up in Nisswa, a small town north of Brainerd. I now live in Andover with my wife, Stephanie and our two boys, Ethan (6), and Levi (18 months). I currently am the Assistant Superintendent at the National Sports Center (NSC) in Blaine. We have more than 40 sports fields to maintain, including a stadium field that won the 2012 MPSTMA / Turfco Field of the Year. Additionally, the NSC has an indoor soccer field, velodrome cycling track, 18 hole championship golf course, and the Schwans Super Rink featuring eight sheets of ice of which four are Olympicsized. Enough about that. I hope you have made plans to attend our March 11 Spring Workshop at the University of Northwestern. If not, register on-line at More information about the workshop can be found on the following pages. In January, I attended the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) national conference in San Antonio, Tex. If you have been on the fence about going to the national conference, I strongly recommend going. This is a good way to connect with not only the local guys that you would be going with but networking with attendees from around the world dealing with some of the same issues in their cities, parks, sports fields, or even organizations. Next year’s national conference takes place Jan. 15-18 in Denver, Colo. I know there are expenses with the travel, lodging, meals and registration; but I would like to say that it is worth it when you listen to a keynote speaker like Rick Riggsby who will have you chanting IMPACT one minute, then close to tears, then back to feeling good about yourself at the end --had to be there. The seminars were very good, too. I will not go into detail but when you're taking a class, and most of the classmates are field managers of the best sports parks in the USA and Europe, you pay a little more attention to the topics. The trade show portion is smaller than the Northern Green Expo but it offered a lot of new products along with products that have been around and are still very useful in the industry. Hopefully, you can put it in your plans and your budget to attend in the near future. Once again, hope to see you at the Spring Workshop on March 11!


Until next time,


Ben Wallin

Ben Wallin President Minnesota Park and Sports Turf Managers Association

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MPSTMA Spring Workshop Set March 11 At University of Northwestern in St. Paul The MPSTMA Spring Workshop is set for Tues., March 11 at the University of Northwestern in St. Paul. Spring Workshop hosts Jeff Hintz, Nick Germann and Tim Kelson look forward to the event. Education, vendor tabletop displays and special recognition to Dick Ericson, former turf manager at the former Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington are planned for the workshop. Speakers on hand will be: Larry Thompson, Facility Management Safety Program, University of Minnesota; Tim VanLoo, CSFM, Iowa State University; Ben Boeding, CSFM, City of Eagan, and Patrick McGuiness, Attorney, Zlimen & McGuiness. Pre-registration open on-line until March 10. Go to Walk-ups are always welcome to all MPSTMA events!

AGENDA 7:00 - 8:00

Registration, vendor time, coffee and donuts

8:00 - 8:10

Welcome from the University of Northwestern

8:10 - 8:30

The CSFM Test: Difficulty and Other Things to Expect Ben Boeding, CSFM, City of Eagan

8:30- 9:30

Management Practices to Reduce Winter Injury & Promote Spring Recovery Dr. Lindsay Hoffman, University of Minnesota

9:30 - 10:30

Vendor introductions, coffee break, vendor time

TRACK 1 10:30 - 11:30 Liability and Your Facility Patrick D. McGuiness, Attorney Zlimen & McGuiness

TRACK 2 10:30 - 11:30 Personal Safety in the Turfgrass Industry Larry Thompson, University of Minnesota

11:30 - 12:30


12:30 - 1:00

Dick Ericson, recognized as MPSTMA Honorary Member

1:00 - 2:00

Bridging the Generation Gap in the Turf Industry Tim VanLoo, Iowa State University

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Wallin Elected MPSTMA President; Germann, Boeding and Ringus also Gain Spots on Board Ben Wallin, National Sports Center in Blaine, was elected president of the MPSTMA at the Jan. 9, 2014 MPSTMA Annual Meeting. Out-going president Rick Beane, City of St. Louis Park, handed the president’s gavel to Wallin. Beane will serve as past-president. Winning the Vice President vote was Nick Germann, University of Northwestern, who beat Jerry Jacobsen, The Blake Schools. Ben Boeding, City of Eagan, who edged 34-year member Lowell Luebeck, City of Plymouth, by one vote for General Member Representative. Gary Ringus, Property Props, won another close race by three votes over Al Hentges, Kromer Co. for the Commercial Representative position. Paul Griffin ran unopposed for the open MTGF Representative. Griffin is currently Vice President of the Minnesota Turf and Grounds Foundation.

NEW MPSTMA PRESIDENT BEN WALLIN, right, accepts the President’s Gavel from out-going president Rick Beane, City of St. Louis Park. Wallin is an Assistant Superintendent at the National Sports Center in Blaine.

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Companies, Booths, Attendance All Up At MNLA/MTGF Northern Green Expo Overflowing crowds in many seminar rooms was a common sight at the 2014 Northern Green Expo (NGE) at the Minneapolis Convention Center in early January. Total attendance for the three day conference was 6,271. The keynote address by John Kennedy (pictured below) was wellreceived and provided an energetic boost to attendees and exhibitors. The MTGF celebrated 20 years of funding turf and grounds research at the University of Minnesota. The MTGF has donated more than $1,000,000 to help fund research projects that directly impact the green industry in Minnesota and turf and grounds professionals. Compared to 2013, more companies bought more booths to fill the Trade Show hall. Vendors generally seemed pleased with the Trade show traffic, especially on Thursday.

The NGE will return to the Minneapolis Convention Center on Jan. 14-16, 2015. In these following figures, attendees were asked to "check all that apply" and consequently the percentages add up to greater than 100. Industry Segment Breakdown at NGE


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Arborist ............................................................... 8.5% Cemetery ............................................................. 2.4% Florist .................................................................. 2.5% Flower Grower .................................................... 5.3% Garden Center ..................................................... 16.6% Gardening Services ............................................. 12.5% Golf Course ......................................................... 14.0% Hardscape Installer ............................................ 20.3% Irrigation Contractor .......................................... 8.9% Landscape Contractor ........................................ 26.0% Landscape Designer ........................................... 20.5% Landscape Management ..................................... 16.5% Non-Profit ........................................................... 1.8% Nursery Grower ................................................... 14.5% Parks/Recreation ................................................ 13.4% School Grounds .................................................. 4.7% Sod Grower ........................................................ 1.4% Sports Turf .......................................................... 7.9% Student ................................................................ 3.1% Tree Care Services ............................................... 7.3% Other ................................................................... 4.8%

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Minnesota ........................................................... 86.86% Wisconsin ........................................................... 4.96% Iowa ..................................................................... 1.98% North Dakota ...................................................... 1.00% South Dakota ....................................................... 1% Other ................................................................... 4.54%



2014 Community Service Project Update At this time, the MPSTMA has three applicants for the 2014 Community Service Project. They are located in Maplewood, St. Peter and Kasson. The Community Service Project Committee will visit each site when the snow melts. The CSP Committee consists of: Mike McDonald, CSFM, TCF Bank Stadium; Paul Griffin, City of Woodbury; Dave Nozal, Tree Trust; Jon Almquist, The Toro Co.; Mike Brunelle, Town & Country Landscapes; Greg Hoag, City of Brooklyn Park, and Ben Boeding, CSFM, City of Eagan. This is a great way to learn hands-on, what it takes to properly prepare all areas of a ball field. Typical CSP needs: Seed, fertilizer, ag-lime, trucking (ex. delivering ag-lime, soil, etc.), skid loader, aerator, tractor, seeder, topdresser, fence products, bases, benches, utility carts and a laser grader. Volunteers: This is a great way to learn hands-on, what it takes to properly prepare all areas of a ball field. Please contact Mike McDonald, CSFM, at 612-625-5154 or any of the above committee members if you are interested in volunteering or have equipment or products available for this year’s project. The work day is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Half day shifts are welcome, too! Lunch is served. The 2014 CSP applicants: 1. East Twins Field, Maplewood Wish list: Rebuild Mound (needs to be moved a few inches), Level infield grass and ag surface, Level out a major drop-off behind second base towards outfield. Why: Mound project because alignment is off. The leveling of field is a safety issue because balls are starting to take bad hops. The drop-off is also a safety issue. The entire field is irrigated. 2. Saint Peter Public Schools North Intermediate Field, Saint Peter Wish list: We would like to level the field so water runoff doesn't wash the ag-lime away, replace an overused / undermaintained outfield / Phy. Ed field. Why: The outfield is almost void of any turf making it only slightly softer than the asphalt next to it. The other issue is the community is lacking youth baseball fields. As our field sits now, too much run-off from the building causes the ag-lime to wash away. The field was built in 1965. At times the city has maintained the infield during June and July. The school district maintains the turf. It has not had regular irrigation due to a lack of resources. 3. North Fields, Kasson Wish list: Fields must be re-graded, leveled and needs drainage installed. Why: The fields are full of ruts and collect water. Many players have been injured due to the low quality of the fields. The fields are about 6 years old. They are not irrigated and the only maintenance has been to Aerate them twice a year along with some seeding. SPRING 2014

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Minnesota Turf Manager Dick Ericson Inducted Into 2014 MLB Groundskeepers Hall of Fame Dick Ericson, retired from the Minnesota Twins, was recently inducted into the Major League Baseball Groundskeepers Hall of Fame. Ericson was honored on January 26, 2014 at the MLB Groundskeeper Meetings at Marlins Park in Miami, Florida. Lexington Park in St. Paul Ericson began his career as a teenager at Lexington Park in St. Paul, home of the American Association's St. Paul Saints. After serving in the Navy during the Korean War, Ericson returned to work at Nicollet Park in Minneapolis, home of the AAA Minneapolis Millers. As head groundskeeper, he moved with the team into brand-new Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington. Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington In 1961, he continued in his role at the Met as MLB brought the Minnesota Twins to the Twin Cities. From 1961 to 1981, he maintained the field for both the Twins and the Minnesota Vikings of the NFL. In 1982, Ericson moved with both teams to the Metrodome, where he served as superintendent until his retirement in 1995. In a career spanning six decades, Ericson helped host three

World Series and two MLB All-Star Games, as well as countless other events at both multi-use facilities. He was also elected the first president of the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) in 1981. The Hall of Fame honor came after a vote by the Association of Major League Baseball (MLB)

“The former superintendent at the Metrodome admits he tried to help the Minnesota Twins by adjusting the ventilation system during the late innings of close games in an attempt to get baseballs to carry farther. ‘I don't feel's your home-field advantage. Every stadium has got one.'’ Groundskeepers. To be considered for induction to the MLB Groundskeepers Hall of Fame, a candidate must have ceased to be employed full-time in the profession for at least five years and have made a significant contribution to groundskeeping and the sports turf industry at the Major League level. An individual’s impact on the community is also considered. Inductees to the MLB Groundskeepers Hall of Fame are honored on the Gary Vanden Berg trophy – named in honor of the late Vanden Berg, Gill’s successor in Milwaukee. Previous inductees are Emil Bossard (Cleveland Indians), George Toma (Kansas City Royals) and Joe Mooney (Boston Red Sox). Ericson honored on January 26, 2014 at the MLB Groundskeeper Meetings at Marlins Park in Miami. In 1981, when a small group of turfgrass managers, including Ericson and Toma, believed sports turf could be improved through sharing of knowledge and exchange of ideas, the STMA was officially formed. The Metrodome in Minneapolis

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Ericson followed the Twins and Vikings to the Metrodome. Ericson, who worked at the Metrodome from the time the Twins began play there in 1982 until he retired in 1995, said he would turn on fans behind home plate and adjust the air conditioning. The former superintendent at the Metrodome admits he tried to help the Minnesota Twins by adjusting the ventilation system during the late innings of close games in an attempt to get baseballs to carry farther. "I don't feel guilty. ... It's your home-field advantage. Every stadium has got one.'' The Twins won the World Series in 1987 and 1991. (Editor’s Note: Dick Ericson will also be recognized as an Honorary Member of the Minnesota Park and Sports Turf Managers Association at the MPSTMA Spring Workshop on March 11.)



Metropolitan Stadium was First Modern Park to be Abandoned Metropolitan Stadium opened on April 24, 1956 at a cost of $8.5 million. The major league tenants were the Minnesota Twins Baseball Club, Minnesota Vikings Football Club and the Minnesota Kicks Soccer Club. The transition from baseball to football at the facility was fairly simple as the gridiron was in the middle of the baseball field, running from the third base line to the outfield in right-center field. Metropolitan Stadium was built on a farm in 1956 for the American Association Minneapolis Millers. It originally consisted of a curved The major league tenants at Metropolitan Stadium were the Minnesota Twins Baseball Club, triple-decker grandstand that Minnesota Vikings Football Club and the Minnesota Kicks Soccer Club. ran from first base to third base. The owner of the New York Giants (the parent team of the Millers) was quoted as saying that the Met "is the finest minor league park in the country, and there are not two in the majors that are better." Met Stadium was located in Bloomington between: 1st base (W) Cedar Avenue South; right field (E) East 83rd Street; Left field (S) 24th Avenue South; 3rd base (N) 83rd Street (renamed to Killebrew Drive). In 1961, the Washington Senators moved in and became the Minnesota Twins. Permanent bleachers were added along the left field line, a temporary bleacher was installed in left field and the first and second decks were extended down the right field line. In 1965, the Met played host to the 1965 Major League Baseball All-Star Game and a concert by The Beetles. The Vikings replaced the temporary left field bleacher with a double-decked left field pavilion in 1965. In 1970, a bomb scare delayed the August 25 TwinsRed Sox game as 17,967 fans filed calmly into the outfield and parking lots. In 1977, the Minnesota Kicks Soccer Club began playing games at Metropolitan Stadium and people filled the stands because of a winning soccer team. In 1982, the Twins and Vikings moved into the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis. Met Stadium then became the first modern park to be abandoned. Three years later, the stadium was demolished to make way for the Mall of America. A commemorative home plate is placed at the Mall of America near the original spot at Metropolitan Stadium. SPRING 2014


5 Biggest Employee Handbook Mistakes By Patrick D. McGuiness Zlimen & McGuiness, PLLC

Employee handbooks are a great way of explaining company policies and procedures. They can provide employees with an overview of the company, the working practices & environment. A good handbook can also provide a business with a layer of legal protection by setting clear standards and expectations which employees must comply with. In short, a good handbook is essential to running a good business. On the other hand, a poorly done employee handbook can cause a lot of harm. Business managers and owners tend to want very rigid policies in place that address almost every fathomable situation. Having policies in place that are too specific can make it hard for employers to be flexible in dealing with real situations. Policies that are too broad can have the opposite effect and make it hard for businesses to hold employees accountable. These seem like two sides to the same coin, and in a way they are. How do you strike the perfect balance when writing an employee handbook? A good way to start is by knowing the possible pitfalls surrounding employee handbooks. Below are five common mistakes companies make in relation to employee handbooks. 5. An Overly Detailed Discipline Policy

“If the employee was terminated according to the policies or procedures in the handbook, but up to that point, the employee had never been disciplined according to the handbook, the employee could use that as a part of their argument should they decide to sue the company.” 3. Not Following the Policies in the Handbook

It is important to have some form of discipline policy in place for employees. Identify what types of actions are subject to discipline and what the general consequences will be for those actions. Do NOT have an extremely detailed list of what the consequences are for each specific infraction or number of infractions. Doing this removes the employers’ ability to be flexible in a given situation and take into account other factors which aren’t addressed or weren’t contemplated by the handbook. For example, some handbooks have policies which specify that a verbal warning will be the initial disciplinary step for a policy violation. However, this policy does not make sense if the first violation is a serious one such as an act of violence. Employers should have the flexibility to address each situation in a manner which is fitting. To create the most flexibility, an employer should specify at the beginning of the handbook that ANY violation a company policy, whether or not stated in the handbook, has the potential to lead to discipline, up to and including termination. 4. Not Controlling Overtime I cannot stress enough how important it is for a business to monitor and control overtime hours of employees. Not only for business reasons such as keeping control of labor costs, but also for legal reasons. Overtime policies should be written so that they limit unauthorized overtime. First, the handbook should define when the company’s “workweek” is. It does not need to be Sunday through Saturday and can be any seven day period such as 12:00 midnight Wednesday through 11:59pm on Tuesday. The 10 MPSTMA NEWS

“workweek” can be changed periodically, but not as a mechanism to avoid the accrual of overtime hours. Second, the overtime policy should require that employees receive permission to work overtime hours. If an employee then fails to obtain permission for overtime, the company will still be required to pay the overtime, but they will then have a documented violation of the policy and can discipline the employee accordingly.

Often, a business owner will come to my law firm seeking a “standard employee handbook” that they can use. Somehow, there is the notion that such a standard document exists and should be readily available to business owners at a low cost. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Employee handbooks should be carefully and uniquely drafted to reflect the policies and procedures used by a particular business. Simply having an employee handbook that doesn’t reflect a company’s policies is almost worse than having no handbook at all. If the company does not follow the policies they have laid out, then they can lose their ability to enforce them at a later date. Specifically, this often comes up when an employee is terminated. If the employee was terminated according to the policies or procedures in the handbook, but up to that point, the employee had never been disciplined according to the handbook, the employee could use that as a part of their argument should they decide to sue the company. This is just one example of why it can be harmful to a company to not follow their own policies. 2. Not Reviewing the Handbook on a Regular Basis Like many areas of law, employment law changes often. It would be impossible and unnecessary to make an updated employee handbook each time there is a law change.

(Continued on Page 11) SPRING 2014

Employee Handbook(Continued from Page 10)

However, handbooks should be reviewed regularly so that important changes to the law can be incorporated. Just because a policy is listed in the employee handbook does not mean that the policy is legal. Regular review can ensure that the handbook is compliant and serves the company’s interests. It is also important to review the employee handbook on a regular basis so that it conforms to any policy changes the company has made. As always, having the handbook correctly represent the policies and procedures of the company is important so if a company finds that they are not using a certain section of their existing handbook, perhaps it would be a good time to figure out a way that the policies in that section can be changed so that they are used. 1. Not Having an Employee Handbook Despite all of the employee handbook issues and problems discussed so far, having an employee handbook is still a very good idea. Without a handbook, there is nothing which a business can point to and say “here is what our policy is.” In the event of a dispute between a company and an employee, it becomes a battle of words and accusations with judges often finding on the side of an employee who appears sympathetic. Putting employee policies in writing is a great way to protect the company’s interests.

Another great thing about employee handbooks is that they can be a great resource. It can summarize information for employees and can also be a guide for people in charge of implementing the policies found in the handbook. It should also give direction about where to go with any concerns an employee may have about the workplace. To be effective, handbooks cannot be “one size fits all.” When your customer is considering project at their home, there is not a standard solution for everyone, there are many considerations such as how the space will be used, square footage of the property, energy considerations, and so on. The same applies for employee handbooks. The handbook should be a document which accurately reflects a company’s culture, policies and procedures and each handbook should be unique. If you do not have an employee handbook, now may be a good time to create one. If you have a handbook but have not reviewed it regularly, consider updating it. Either way, the issues discussed above should assist you in avoiding some common handbook mistakes so that your company’s handbook can be most effective. * * * (Editor’s Note: This article provides general information on business matters and should not be relied upon as legal advice. A qualified attorney must analyze all relevant facts and apply the applicable law to any matter before legal advice can be given. For more information regarding employee handbooks or other legal matters, please contact Zlimen & McGuiness, PLLC at 651-206-3203 or

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Top 5 Red Flags to Budget Approval As a park supervisor or sports turf manager, a portion of your time is spent on budgets --whether you are managing your monthly numbers on expenditures, forecasting for the future or going through the annual preparation process. With so much time and energy focused on your budget, make certain that that when it is time to present your budget for approval you have a defensible plan. Five areas that can send up red flags 1. Half the story. There are few things more distressing to your employer than being told up front about only part of the costs involved in a proposed project. The surprise ending comes later, when more money is suddenly needed to keep things going. You lose credibility, and set yourself up for more scrutiny in the future. 2. Far from average. Asking for a budget increase by some percentage that is dramatically different from the rate at which the overall business/revenue is growing. For example, if the organization is growing at roughly 10 percent a year and you request a 200 percent budget increase, it sends up a ‘red flag.’ And it works the other way, too. A request for just an inflation adjustment when the rest of the organization is growing rapidly

also causes questions. Not that these necessarily mean that there is a problem, but they will cause a closer review of your proposed budget and may lead your employer to believe you are unaware of the current environment. 3. Out of alignment. With all the emphasis on business alignment these days, you’d think there would be nary an unaligned project proposed, but it still happens. Be cautious about proposing a project that focuses on a low-priority issue. The fact that you are not aware that it is a low priority for the institution suggests that you are out of touch. 4. Not all there. In addition to providing incomplete information about costs, budgets may fail to specify in enough detail considerations such as, which organizational goals the proposed project will support and how, exactly, it will support them. 5. Vague plans. Watch the use of obscure statistics as a rationale for a budget increase. For example, you may have read somewhere that sports turf managers are increasing their operational budgets by10 percent in the next year, so you request that same increase without knowing what you’ll spend it on. Again, this can cause your employer to question your business judgment. Source: Raghavan Rajaji,

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Benefits of Being a Certified Sports Field Manager Recognizing the importance of fostering and improving professionalism within the sports turf industry, the Sports Turf Managers Association developed the Certified Sports Field Manager certification program. The purpose of the program is to: Increase professionalism in the sports turf industry; Promote better and safer sports turf areas; establish credentials that signify a specific level of expertise; increase career opportunities and promote the sports turf manager and the profession; provide recognition for attaining a level of expertise and performance as professionals in the industry; stimulate and motivate improved performance and increased professionalism; and increase opportunities for education and training. Certification validates to your employer, to your peers and to the industry at-large that you have gone above and beyond the requirements of job performance and have demonstrated a superior level of competence. With this recognition can come increased compensation. During employment searches, those with the CSFM designation have a competitive edge over those who are not certified. In order to qualify to test for


MINNESOTA CERTIFIED SPORTS FIELD MANAGERS (CSFM). Pictured from the left: Mike McDonald, CSFM, TCF Bank Stadium; Ben Boeding, CSFM, City of Eagan; Roger Weinbrenner, CSFM, University of St. Thomas, and Steve Berg, CSFM, J & D Contractors (Ind.)

certification status, the individual must have a minimum of 40 points earned through a combination of education and experience. The CSFM exam covers agronomics, administration, pest management, and sports specific issues. Once certification is achieved, continuing education and industry service is required. Just as great sports accomplishments raise the bar for all competitors, excellence in field care raises the level of expectations for all sports turf

managers. The results are better fields and safer fields at all levels of sports competition. Minnesota has eight certified sports field managers. They are: Dale Getz, CSFM; Connie Rudolph, CSFM; Mike McDonald, CSFM; Boyd Montgomery, CSFM; Ben Boeding, CSFM; Roger Weinbrenner, CSFM; Steve Berg, CSFM, and Tom Rudberg, CSFM. Contact STMA at 1-800-323-3875 to start the process of certification.


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ABOUT THE COVER:AphotoofMetropolitanStadiuminBloomingtonwhenit playedhostfortheMinnesotaTwinsMLBclub.FormerTurfManagerforMet StadiumDickEricsonwasinductedintothe2014MLBGroundskeepersHall ofFame.SeerelatedstoriesonPages8-9.

TOWN & COUNTR COUNTRY Y FENCE The Best Name in Fence Since 1983


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A publication for Parks and Sports Turf maintenance.


A publication for Parks and Sports Turf maintenance.