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The Newtown Bee’s

Home& Garden 2018

A SUPPLEMENT TO THE NEWTOWN BEE • APRIL 13, 2018


2 - Home & Garden

The Newtown Bee - April 13, 2018

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Home & Garden - 3

April 13, 2018 - The Newtown Bee

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4 - Home & Garden

The Newtown Bee - April 13, 2018

Naturally cut salt lamps can come in a variety of sizes and colors to suit any room. When plugged in they help the salt’s natural hygroscopic properties work and remove pollutants in the air. —Bee Photos, Silber

Decorative salt bowls not only heat up when plugged in, but they can heat the contents inside the bowl.

The Newtown Salt Spa has a variety of specially cut salt lamps that are perfect for nurseries and children’s rooms. Pictured from left are salt lamps shaped like a dolphin, elephant, frog, bear, fish, and squirrel.

Treat Yourself To The Wonders Of A Salt Spa At Home By Alissa Silber

In a world full of pollutants circulating in the air we breathe, salt spas offer people the ability immerse themselves in a calm, clean environment rid of toxins. But what if that refreshing atmosphere did not have to end once the spa session was over? Now, more than ever, it is easy to integrate salt products at home and inhale pure, invigorating air everywhere you go. Newtown resident Katherine Hansen discovered the many benefits of salt when visiting the Wieliczka Salt Mine just outside of Krakow, Poland, with her mother in 2015. While taking in the crisp, salty air inside the mine, she felt a positive difference in her physical health in that it alleviated her persistent headache and made it easier to breathe. She knew she wanted to provide this type of haven for people back home to experience, too, so she opened the Newtown Salt Spa in June of last year. For those looking to bring the salt experience home with them, she has

acquired an extensive collection of salt products, including naturally cut and animal-shaped salt lamps, salt bowls that warm the contents inside, salt nightlights, and salt dome foot warmers. Each of these items, when plugged in, help the salt’s natural hygroscopic properties work and attract moisture in the air. “The moisture is what carries the allergens, the pollens, and all the little pollutants in the air,” Ms Hansen explained. How It Works

As the salt lamp heats up, it takes in moisture from the air and absorbs the toxins. It then releases the clean water, allowing it to be evaporated back into the air. “People come in all the time and say, ‘My salt lamp is dripping’ but that’s a good thing, that means it’s real,” Ms Hansen said. She recommends putting a plate underneath any salt lamps that drip, to catch any excess water, and wiping down the salt with a lint-free cloth to remove

the impurities that stick to its surface. “Not only does [salt] help with pollutants, but it also helps with the electronics,” Ms Hansen said. “As the salt heats up, it releases negative ions into the air. All of your electronics — your vacuum, your TV, cellphone — they all release positive ions.” The negative ions are known to neutralize the air and combat the positive ions, which is why she keeps her large salt lamp near her television, so the positive ions do not travel far. Although there are currently no specific studies on this topic, Ms Hansen says, “This is based on how people feel and how people accept it as a different form of helping their environment.” Best Locations In The Home Since salt lamps come in a variety of sizes, the best way to make the most of salt’s benefits is to place it in an appropriately sized room. Ms Hansen says that small salt lamps, ranging from 3 to 5 pounds, are best suited for areas like an office, that are 8

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feet by 8 feet; while lamps 12 to 15 pounds can be used in average sized rooms of 12 feet by 12 feet. For larger rooms of 17 feet by 17 feet or more, a lamp over 50 pounds should be used. Proximity is also a factor, which is why there are USB Port salt lamps that can be plugged in when working on the computer, so the positive ions do not go far. Not only do salt lamp products come in a variety of shapes, but they also come in different shades. The color of the lamp effects the type of light that it emits. Ms Hansen says a predominantly white salt lamp will replicate a bulb through a lampshade, while a lamp with orange hues will give a more campfire-style light. No matter the salt’s color, shape, or size, everyone can breathe a sigh of relief and take in the benefits of salt at home. For more information about incorporating salt products in the home, visit newtownsaltspa.com or call Ms Hansen at 203-4912212.

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Home & Garden - 5

April 13, 2018 - The Newtown Bee

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6 - Home & Garden

The Newtown Bee - April 13, 2018

Connecticut’s New NAHB Chairman Deconstructs, Examines 2018 Living Trends

By Kendra Bobowick Modern-day housing trends reveal a scenario where “family members of different ages and generations are more apt to live in one home under one roof,” said Greg Ugalde, a Connecticut resident who was recently elected National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) first vice chairman. Locally, he is president and chief legal officer with the home building and development firm T&M Building Co., Inc, of Torrington. “Previously, you would have circumstance where someone chose to live as a family, but now it’s a rule rather than an exception,” he told Newtown Bee’s Home & Garden during a recent interview. Either the parents of one spouse or another may live with their children, or high school and college students “stay living at home much longer,” he said. In a place like Connecticut where homes can be expensive, including in Newtown, younger people who would have either found a place to rent or even buy, now face deterrents. Although lower loan interest rates may be appealing, Mr Ugalde noted “a piece that’s missing,” saying, “You don’t see [a house’s] appreciated value come into play.” Ten to 15 years ago a person could buy a home and, in a few years, see appreciated value. The decision “would be worthwhile to take a risk of buying a home,” he said. As that started to “level off,” homeowners “might find values slipping,” he said. A larger down payment helps in such a case, he said. “But, buying a home is still an investment, and the American Dream is still intact,” he said. Prospective first-time buyers often are under student loan debt or credit card debt, Mr Ugalde said. But remaining at home with their parents longer offers a “longer period of time to afford a mortgage and take on home ownership,” he said. Tying into the trend is the tendency for couples to start a family later. “Your home-buying decisions are on a different time frame,” he said. “Younger generation may start later. Debt, lending, appreciation, the factors are influencing the home buying market and new construction.” Also, “people are more cautious about where they settle down,” Mr Ugalde said. “The American Dream is very much what people want to do,” he said, but it may be more of a commitment than people are prepared to take “because of job security, the market, home values, interest rates…they may rent for a while before they purchase and start a family.” Building Trends

Regarding building trends, he said, “We see a different first-time buyer and customer structure; there is a large variety of buyers.” Duplexes may go into areas that once had single-family construction. The buyers

When making choices about spending money on their homes, Greg Ugalde has found that many opt for kitchen upgrades that could include center islands. He said a nice kitchen “is a must” in today’s market. Home images provided by Andrew Ugalde, director of construction and part of the firm’s legal team.

Greg Ugalde, a Burlington resident who was recently elected National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) first vice chairman. Locally, he is president and chief legal officer with the Torrington home building and development firm T&M Building Co.

could be two friends who share the homes that way, he said Connecticut has “a lot of [buying] demand,” Mr Ugalde said, and the market is “getting back to a little closer to normal. Now, you’re seeing a lot of demand, a lot of renters, and a lot of family members under one roof.” He said, “We do have some strong remodeling numbers, renovating and adding on; that’s an easy way to stay and do something in an existing home.” Mr Ugalde said Connecticut is “currently not a confident state. We do not have confidence in the market as builders or as consumers.” Even when getting homes ready for resale, the market is “very conservative,” he said. “People are careful with chances they are willing to take. You end up with more careful decisions when building a home or buying new, or deciding to downsize,” he said. “How you’re going to settle in the market is definitely affected by the Connecticut economy.” When making choices regarding what goes into their home, people are “no longer

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Larger common areas and open floor plans are a popular trend.

totally influenced by McMansion syndrome, where you needed enormous houses. People have more modest expectations,” he said. “People like open floor plans with common areas to spend time together.” He said, “You see a lot of open kitchen plans with center islands … A nice kitchen is a must in today’s market, from countertops to appliances, and that carries over into baths.” Both kitchens and bathrooms “demand a lot of buyers’ attention.” Space is allocated to master baths, he said. “It’s not uncommon to cut down on the number of tubs and create large shower-type areas.” Closet and storage space is also at a premium. “There is always a need for storage.” Outdoor living has also become “a focus,” Mr Ugalde said. Whether a porch, deck, or patio, homeowners are “finding ways to spend time together outside, from fireplaces to heaters to cooking.” Should buyers step into the real estate market? “There is not a better time to buy than now,” he said. While borrowers will always need to mind the interest rates, he said, “The real key is, if people need to move real estate, need to move or buy, you’ll never get a better deal. Also, if you had a home to sell, even if can’t sell for as much as you

think you should be able to get, you are still going to get enough to make up on the buying end. Things will even out.” Background

Mr Ugalde’s company T&M Building Co., Inc, is one of the largest home builders in the state. Since its founding in 1962, T&M has built more than 3,500 new homes in more than 40 Connecticut communities. He is also the founder and owner of GFU Investments LLC, a builder/developer minority-owned business that focuses on urban development. A Burlington resident, Mr Ugalde has been active in the NAHB leadership structure at the local, state, and national levels throughout his career. A life director, he has served on the NAHB Board of Directors for 15 years and has been a member of the NAHB Executive Board for the past decade. The National Association of Home Builders is a Washington-based trade association representing more than 140,000 members involved in home building, remodeling, multifamily construction, property management, subcontracting, design, housing finance, building product manufacturing and other aspects of residential and light commercial construction.


Home & Garden - 7

April 13, 2018 - The Newtown Bee

BBB: What To Know Before Hiring Home Renovations Contractors CROMWELL — As consumers start planning spring home repair and renovation projects, a little research can go a long way toward getting the job done properly by a qualified contractor, according to Connecticut Better Business Bureau. Consumers across the country file complaints about substandard work, unethical business practices, and damage to property caused by unethical home improvement contractors. “The majority of Connecticut contractors are ethical and their customers are pleased with the final product,” according to Connecticut BBB spokesman Howard Schwartz. “Consumers can protect themselves from rogue and incompetent builders by following some timehonored procedures.” Horror stories include contractors who take a deposit and disappear, or start work and let a project drag on for months after the expected completion date. Some of the problematic operators come from out of state, may not be licensed, registered, insured, or sufficiently competent to do the work properly. If a project is botched, a legitimate contractor may be reluctant to fix or complete someone else’s work because there may be hidden problems, and they don’t want to be liable if they inadvertently damage property due to shoddy workmanship by an unreliable contractor. It is essential to obtain multiple estimates before signing a contract. When you get multiple in-house bids, you can learn a great deal about the proposed project, such as what type of work is needed, the quality of the building materials, how long the job may take and the

total cost. The details may vary from one bid to another, but if one estimate is substantially lower than the others, you should ask why. BBB has some tips to help you find the best businesses to do the job and avoid problems with unethical contractors before hiring anyone: *Check bbb.org — BBB’s business profiles can tell you how long the contractor has been in business, as well as provide contact information, verified customer reviews, complaint details and how the business responded. *Be wary of certain sales pitches — Don’t be lured into signing a contract if someone offers you a “today only” special. That is a sales tactic designed to get you to sign a contract or put down a deposit, without giving you the opportunity to do your research. *Obtain references from recent customers — Home renovations are big ticket items, so you may want to speak with

Handshakes with customer after contract signature

other property owners who had work done recently, and ask what they did or did not like about a particular contractor. *Get everything in writing — All verbal promises should be contained in the contract, as well as a detailed description of the work, the cost of materials and start and completion dates. Contracts also should include specifics about the deposit and payment schedule and guarantees for the quality of work and materials. *The contract should specify required permits — Renovation work often requires permits from the town or municipality. The business should commit itself to obtaining those permits as part of the job. If they’d rather not go for permits, it

might be a warning sign that they may have a poor reputation at city hall. *Compare apples to apples — Choosing a prospective contractor is simpler if you ask for quotes based on the number of hours needed and the same quality of materials. *Avoid putting down a large deposit — A typical payment schedule should follow the “Rule of Thirds.” The first payment is given when signing the contract and helps pay for materials, the second payment when work begins, and the final payment when the job is finished and you are satisfied with the quality of work. Ask the builder to walk you through the work to explain what has been done.

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8 - Home & Garden

The Newtown Bee - April 13, 2018

Greg’s Driveway—

Paving The Way For Area Homeowners, Businesses

Gregory Iwanicki is the proprietor of Greg’s Driveway, a Newtown contracting firm that offers driveway and masonry services. —Bee Photos, Gorosko An asphalt driveway adorned with a Belgian block apron and liners, which was installed by Greg’s Driveway, is seen at a home on West Street. By Andrew Gorosko

Newtown resident Gregory Iwanicki, doing business as Greg’s Driveway, says he has adopted a formula for success during his 23 years in the asphalt and masonry installation/ repair business. Simply stated, it is: “Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell, and advertise,” he said with a smile. To that effect, while driving through town, motorists may spot the contractor’s many lawn signs that are posted at the firm’s job sites during and after the firm’s driveway projects. Industriousness has paid off for Mr Iwanicki, he explained, with income he has earned through Greg’s Driveway helping to put his four daughters through college. His daughters had attended Newtown schools before college. The contracting firm offers a range of services to both residential and commercial customers, including asphalt paving and repairs, masonry, asphalt seal coating, and hot-rubber crack repairs, he said on a recent tour of town

during which he pointed out many jobs which his firm has done. Before his current occupation, Mr Iwanicki worked elsewhere in the fields of seafood distribution and auto sales. Mr Iwanicki and his family moved to Newtown in 1992. His firm, which employs subcontractors on jobs, started out with the seal coating of driveways to preserve those paved surfaces, he said. The business then expanded into the other related work, he said. Of his method, Mr Iwanicki explained, “I do it, job by job...I work and supervise.” Through his close attention to detail from start to finish on each job that the company does, he is able to control the quality of the work, Mr Iwanicki said. If customers should report any problems with the work, he returns to the job site to resolve issues, he added. About half of the firm’s work involves asphalt paving/ patching, with one quarter being driveway seal coating, and the other quarter covering masonry/drainage, he said. The

masonry includes the construction of stone walls made both with and without mortar. The firm also offers paint striping for commercial parking lots. Mr Iwanicki estimates that about half of his work is done within Newtown, with the other jobs performed throughout western Connecticut. He said that much of his work comes to him through word-of-mouth recommendations that are made by satisfied customers to potential customers. As he drove through various Newtown neighborhoods, he pointed to the many asphalt/masonry projects that Greg’s Driveway has constructed. “It’s like driving down memory lane,” he said. The work seen included asphalt driveways with granite Belgian blocks used for driveway aprons and for driveway liners. Also seen were fieldstone walls made both with and without mortar. Mr Iwanicki explained that he works seven days a week to meet the demand for the services offered by his firm.

A handsome retaining wall constructed of multicolored stone by Greg’s Driveway adds visual interest at a residential property in the Cornfield Ridge subdivision, off West Street.

Greg’s Driveway installed this drain in a residential driveway to resolve a stormwater drainage problem.

A set of variably-sized paving stones was used by Greg’s Driveway to create a durable patio at a local residential property.

A retaining wall made of Connecticut fieldstone, which was made by Greg’s Driveway, borders a driveway at a home on North Branch Road.


Home & Garden - 9

April 13, 2018 - The Newtown Bee

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10 - Home & Garden

The Newtown Bee - April 13, 2018

Popularity Of Outdoor Fireplaces Continues To Heat Up

A 2016 survey by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) put outdoor fireplaces in the top ten trends for residential landscape architecture — making it into the top three most popular outdoor design elements. Two years later, the trend is still hot, according to Nyree Piecks, co-owner, with her husband Brian, of House of Warmth Stove & Fireplace Shop in New Milford. By Shannon Hicks

Spring is an easy time to see why outdoor fireplaces and fire pits are so popular. With the return of extended daylight, most people begin spending more time outdoors. This is the time of year, says on expert, that people start looking with envy toward others who have the option of heating up an outdoor space. “Once the snow leaves the ground and the weather starts to get warm, when people want to spend time outdoors, is when we see business pick up,” said Nyree Piecks. The co-owner, with her husband Brian, of House of Warmth Stove & Fireplace Shop in New Milford, Ms Piecks said outdoor fireplaces are “absolutely increasing in popularity.” A 2016 survey by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) also put outdoor fireplaces in the top ten trends for residential landscape architecture. The top three most popular outdoor design elements include fire pits/ fireplaces, lighting, and wireless/internet connectivity (65.86 percent). Two years later, the trend is still hot. Writing for realtor.com (“5 Top Landscape Design Trends That’ll Take Your Yard to a Whole New Level,” January 30, 2018), Judy Dutton recently explored the results of a National Association of Landscape Professionals forecast. At the top of the list? Outdoor fireplaces. Nyree Piecks believes local homeowners are building gas fire pits and fire tables because people are taking their entertaining outdoors. “They want a living space outside,” she told The Newtown Bee. “They want to enjoy what they have at their own personal houses.” Ms Piecks is able to offer suggestions to customers based on her own experience. “We have a couple different things,” she said of her own home. “We have a gas fire table at our house, we have an outdoor kitchen, and we have an outdoor fireplace as well.” The favorite for the Pieckses is the gas fire pit or fire table, she said. “When you’re doing a traditional indoor fireplace, you have to deal with the smoke,” she explained. “With gas fire tables, they kind of build them into an actual, regular dining table or a square table, that’s a little lower, so you can sit around them and enjoy a cocktail, or have your dinner out there, and they’re set a little lower, and you don’t have to worry about the smoke coming around and hitting you in the face.” With warmer weather (reportedly…) returning, now is the time to begin seriously planning for that outdoor setting. Ms Piecks says the process of designing,

Outdoor fireplaces can be built into functional furnishings that typically serve as a centerpiece to a home patio or deck, and can be integrated into tables and other fixtures made from a variety of materials in a variety of shapes, sizes, and price points.

An outdoor fireplace is even more than additional exterior living space. As shown by this graphic, there are multiple returns on the investment of adding the outdoor environment to a home. —Outdoor Lifestyles by Hearth & Home Technologies graphic

and then purchasing all of the necessary parts for an outdoor fireplace — or hiring someone to do any or all of that work — can take up to a month. “Basically you’re creating a full outdoor addition to your home,” she cautions. Costs will range greatly. Fire pits and fire tables were averaging $899 and up in the fall, she said. “If we’re looking at a built-in grill, and there’s such a wide range, for the grill head itself you’re probably looking at $1,500 and up,” said Ms Piecks. “For a full kitchen, plan for $4,000 and up. “And really,” she added, “the sky’s the limit on all of these. There are some people who want everything available. And if you can dream it — we’ve had customers looking for pizza ovens, stoves, sinks, and so much more that’s available now — they want it.”

Anita Goerig, director of marketing for O&G Industries Masonary Division, absolutely agrees with the idea that people want more outdoor time. “It extends their living space,” she said. “Who doesn’t enjoy the great outdoors, especially in New England?” Outdoor fireplaces can be as simple, she said, as a fire pit with pavers — “They’re a lot less expensive than an outdoor fireplace made of natural stone,” she mentioned — or as elaborate as something with walls and a roof, and living room furniture. “Consumers like both,” she said. “It’s exciting to sit outside with the candles lit and glowing, and enjoying that outdoor space.” Ms Goerig also feels the popularity of outdoor fireplaces is still on the rise. “We’re finding a lot of people, their

families are extending,” she said. “So by extending their usable outside space, they can welcome people in outdoor spaces that weren’t there before. It provides another extension to their home. “It’s definitely growing, yes,” she concurred. The materials selected for the fireplace and its surround, along with the scope of the project, are going to vary greatly. Material options can include brick, stone, stucco, and others. Landscapingnetwork.com, an independent resource for residential landscapers, says costs will also be determined by whether the heating source is prefab or custom built, and freestanding vs integrated into a wall or building. A small chimenea, according to the network, can be as inexpensive as $150 and as pricey as $500. Prefab fireplaces can run $1,500-$9,000; fireplace kits, $2,000-$7,000; unfinished contractor models, which the network says is offered by just a handful of companies, can run anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000; and the custom-built fireplaces can reach as high as $20,000. The fuel source — wood or gas — will also add to the ongoing cost of the outdoor area, as well as the initial installation costs. Ms Goerig says building an outdoor fireplace is similar to buying a home. “It can be any size, so those price points are going to vary, greatly,” she said. For those who can afford any type of expansion into the outdoors, however, the investment pays off, according to Ms Goerig. “Once done, you have created a warm space that you can enjoy nearly all year long,” she said.


Home & Garden - 11

April 13, 2018 - The Newtown Bee

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12 - Home & Garden

The Newtown Bee - April 13, 2018

Finding Eco-Friendly Ways To Deal With Those Pesky, By Eliza Hallabeck

Instead of reaching for a bottle or spray can of commercial pesticides when tiny “chew” holes are discovered or creeping critters are crawling on beloved vegetable plants, local gardeners hope residents will opt for more environmentally responsible ways to deal with those pesky garden pests. “The big overriding principle is that everything is connected… You just have to be careful of what you are doing because you are affecting other things that you did not mean to [affect],” said Mary Gaudet-Wilson of the Protect Our Pollinators (POP) group. Harmful chemicals, she explained, interfere with an ecosystem that has evolved to work conjointly. Grabbing pesticides to control any kind of pest can have unintended consequences. Ms Gaudet-Wilson likened using products like Roundup on weeds to using “too big of a hammer.” “Instead of reaching for a bottle of Roundup, reach for a bottle of vinegar if you have little plants coming up on your walkway,” Ms Gaudet-Wilson said. Ms Gaudet-Wilson said “going as organic as you can” is the solution. “The more native plants you can plant, the better off you are,” she said, adding that native plants are less prone to unwanted insects and diseases. Master Gardener and Victory Garden Committee member Gail Friedman said there are a few tricks used at the local community garden to deal with returning groundhogs. Ms Friedman took over running The Victory Garden last year. She also offered some of the ways she deals with “pests” in her own garden. Last school year Reed Intermediate School sixth grade students in Dawn Ford and Julie Shull’s cluster tried valiantly to find solutions to keep groundhogs at bay at The Victory Garden. Ms Friedman said some improvement was noticed after those efforts, but, for the most part, she said the solution is to remain vigilant. “There is no easy answer,” Ms Friedman said. “[The answer] is to just stay on top of it.” The groundhogs particularly like a shed near The Victory Garden. Ms Friedman said the committee hopes to install a skirt around the base to prohibit the groundhogs from going under the shed. Poles are also used to show other areas where groundhogs make “little homes.” “We stay vigilant, that is about the best we can do,” she added. At her home, Ms Friedman said she has been working to replace more of flora with native plants that are more deer resistant. “There is just so many things that we can plant,” Ms Friedman said. At home, most of the damage in her garden is from deer. When trying to repel deer, Ms Friedman said, one theo-

Reed Intermediate School sixth graders worked in The Victory Garden last school year studying ways to help rid the community garden of groundhogs. —Bee file photo

Poison ivy is an invasive plant in local gardens.

ry is to have three different repellent techniques at the ready. The first step is to use a repellent like Milorganite, then to set up a large object like a wheelbarrow that will discourage deer, then to use something like wind chimes. Ms Friedman said people rotate through the three types of repellents as the deer become “wise” to them. Ms Friedman added removing plants the deer like to eat “does help somewhat.” She said to fence in vegetables, because “otherwise you are just feeding the wildlife... yet even with fencing people are still coping.” When dealing with harmful bacteria and insects, Ms Friedman said to remember that “90 percent of insects are beneficial.” People may be put off by swarms of ladybugs, but Ms Friedman said they eat aphids. “We work a lot on educating people on the proper use of insecticides,” Ms Friedman said. Gardeners, she said, should use biological options and only resort to using chemicals when all other interventions

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fail. Even when chemicals are used, Ms Friedman said to use something that is not harmful to beneficial insects. Ms Friedman said the University of Connecticut Master Gardener program will help people diagnose gardening issues. “There is just a lot of information that is available for free... We encourage people to bring us their problems,” said Ms Friedman about the program. The UConn Master Gardener Fairfield County Extension Center is located in Bethel at 67 Stony Hill Road. People with questions can call 203-207-8440 or e-mail fairfield@uconn.edu, according to its website, extension.uconn.edu/ extension-centers/fairfield.php. For those with an infested plant, Ms Friedman suggested cleaning the plant and its area. Catching pests in the larva stage is best, and people can bring plants to the UConn Master Gardener Fairfield County Extension Center for diagnosis. Poison Ivy ‘Solution’ Co-president and treasurer of the Horticulture Club of Newtown Tammara

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McMahon-Schriefer said her home garden includes both perennial flowers and vegetables. She moved to Brookfield last year, and her home includes an “ancient apple field” and a walled in garden. When she first moved, the garden was overgrown from roughly 15 years of neglect. Invasive plants like poison ivy and myrtle had taken over, she said. For her, the biggest “pest” is poison ivy. She said it is a scourge to everyone. She echoed Ms Gaudet-Wilson’s concern over people using Roundup to control things like poison ivy. That, Ms McMahon-Schriefer said, is one of the worst things to do. “What really works fantastically is a vinegar solution,” said Ms McMahonSchriefer, who oversees three rows at The Victory Garden. Ms McMahon-Schriefer said when dealing with poison ivy, people can buy a gallon jug of regular white vinegar, heat it up gallon jug with 1 cup of salt until the salt dissolves. Then she said to let it cool a bit before adding a few drops (about a teaspoon) of all-natural soap, like Mrs Meyers soap. Next, she said to pour the solution into the sprayer, mix it up, and “spray on a very sunny day.” It has to be dry, and the spray should be applied to the poison ivy. She said the spray should be applied more than once “if you have a real thicket like I did.” Once the leaves are killed, which is where most of the contagion is in the plant, it can be pulled up by the roots. Ms McMahonSchriefer said pulling the plant up by the roots is crucial. She also recommended wearing appropriate clothing. “It’s a natural way to get rid of a very invasive pest in your garden,” she said. Another notable pest Ms McMahonSchriefer said she sees in her garden is the Colorado or squash beetle. She described it as a yellow and black striped bug that produces hard snappy eggs that are clustered on the backs of squash or pumpkin leaves. “So if you see a bug, you know you will have eggs on the back of the leaves,” Ms McMahon-Schriefer said, adding that the beetles fly. “They will suck the life out of a plant in no time.” The bugs can be collected and squashed. Ms McMahon-Schriefer said the eggs can be removed with the simple trick of using a lint roller on the back of the leaf. Ms McMahon-Schriefer promised, “it pulls them off the leaf without damaging the leaf.” Another way to deal with unwanted larvae, Ms McMahon-Schriefer said, is to rely on ladybugs. They eat larvae, she explained. While some people may consider ladybugs to be pests because they cluster in homes in the spring, Ms McMahon-Schriefer said to leave them alone. They will leave on their own. “They should never kill a lady bug,

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Home & Garden - 13

April 13, 2018 - The Newtown Bee

Annoying Garden Pests never ever. It is like killing a bumble bee,” said Ms McMahon-Schriefer. Defending Your Tomatoes For residents who may be dealing with tomato hornworms, Ms McMahonSchriefer had a quick solution. Gardeners will know they have tomato hornworms when they see tiny dark green round “things” on a tomato plant or on the ground near the plant. These are the telltale signs of the caterpillar, she said. Getting out a magnifying glass to look at the plant will confirm the find. “You will find him… They are not something you should spray or kill. Take it, remove it, and put it somewhere else,” Ms McMahon-Schriefer said. A more invasive caterpillar to keep an eye out for is the white moth caterpillar, Ms McMahon-Schriefer said. They look like little flitting butterflies, but they are little tiny green caterpillars that will eat holes in cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, kale, and cabbage. Ms McMahon-Schriefer said to cover the plants with these critters with a frost cloth, a thin white cloth that lets light and water through, and it will remove the pests. She also said gardeners can place the cloths on the plants when they are first planted. While it may be unsightly to have a white cloth over the plant, she said “it is not the worst thing.” She has also found that wolf spiders eat white moth caterpillars. These spiders live in the ground, and they are good creatures to have, despite how offputting they may be. “They are not to be afraid of, [but] they are terrifying to look at,” Ms McMahon-Schriefer warned. “It’s not that people don’t know which bugs are good or bad, it’s that people may be bothered by them and not understand the value or the loss of them.”

One annoyance in her garden has been a bacteria that attacks pumpkins and squash. Ms McMahon-Schriefer she researched the fungal infection that forms in the soil after discovering it. “It is very bad,” she said, adding that the only way to stop the problem is to remove the plant and burn it. It should not be composted, as that will spread the infection to a new area. The unintended loss of beneficial bugs “would probably have such a huge reduction in the produce around here,” Ms McMahon-Schriefer said. Instead she recommended building up the environment in a garden to sustain it forever. Ladybugs, for instance, rarely leave a location that will support them. They will regenerate season after season, she said. The Horticulture Club of Newtown is also looking for volunteers to help with its rows at The Victory Garden this year. Those interested can contact Ms McMahon-Schriefer though the clubs’swebsite, newtownhorticultureclub.blogspot. com, where the club also posts information about gardening, like a 2010 post about gardening. Help And Guidance Protect Our Pollinators (POP) offers information on its website, propollinators.org. Holly Kocet, a member of both POP and the Garden Club of Newtown, also shared handouts POP has developed to share information about how to deal with different unwanted garden guests and ways to reduce pesticide use. Ms Kocet also serves on the Newtown Conservation Commission and is a master gardener. Safe methods for controlling grubs, the larvae of Japanese beetles, include mowing a lawn to be at least two inches in height to discourage egg laying, aerat-

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A tomato hornworm covered in parasitic wasp cocoons should not be removed or killed as the larvae will turn into beneficial insects. A hornworm without the white cocoons can be removed and/or squashed.

ing the lawn to encourage deep root growth, watering lawns less often encourages root growth and decreases the attraction for the beetles, according to a handout. According to POP, fewer than ten percent of insects are what people may consider as harmful, meaning more than 90 percent of insects are either beneficial or do no harm. ‘It is important to understand that pest insects have to be numerous to be a problem in our gardens,” a POP handout on beneficial insects and biological control reads. “Pesticides, especially insecticides, kill beneficial insects along with pests. Beneficial insects are nature’s way of controlling pest insects. Without them, stronger pesticides will be needed to control the ‘super bugs’ created as pests become resilient to these chemicals.” Some of the most beneficial insects to have in a garden, according to POP,

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14 - Home & Garden

The Newtown Bee - April 13, 2018

Decker Family Renting Top-Branded

By John Voket

DANBURY — One thing is for certain: homeowners looking to tackle home improvements or maintenance inside or out most often find those projects go easier and are more successful when using the right tool for the job. But the high cost of commercial-grade tools often drives DIY-ers to purchase less-expensive tools and equipment, that can often lead to frustration, or a finished product that is inferior in more ways than one. That is why the Decker family suggests Newtown Bee Home & Garden readers looking for the best tools to complete home improvements and landscape work take the 10 or 15 minute drive to their newest location just off Exit 8 in Danbury. The company, which offers hundreds of professionalgrade tools, appliances, and equipment from companies including Hilti, Honda, Toro, BillyGoat, CAT, Bobcat, Genie, and Stihl, recently opened its newest location at 24 Finance Drive. Managed by brothers Michael, Scott, and Sean Decker, the Danbury rental center represents the latest addition to the family’s growing number of locations, which are in Hawthorne and Bedford Hills, N.Y. During a recent visit, Michael Becker spent time walking through and around the busy complex pointing to

Managed by the Decker brothers Michael (pictured), Scott, and Sean, the family’s newest Danbury rental center at 24 Finance Drive offers a wide variety of tool and equipment rentals by the day, week, or month that Newtown homeowners, landscapers, contractors, or craftsmen might need to complete various spring and summer projects. —Bee Photos, Voket

some of the most handy tools and equipment that Newtown homeowners, landscapers, contractors, or craftsmen might need to complete various types of typical spring and summer projects. “We range from things like pressure washers and Sawzalls to large equipment like excavators and boom lifts,” Mr Becker explained. “We also rent a lot of home and garden stuff, compaction equipment for people doing patios and walkways.”

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While the company sells a limited amount of accessories such as saw blades and sanding pads, and occasionally a piece or two of used equipment, Mr Decker said 98 percent of their business is handling rentals, and the maintenance and cleaning of their own equipment. For homeowners planning to do their own spring lawn prep, Mr Decker offers high-end aerators, dethatchers, brush cutters, and seeders, along with a variety of tillers that can handle anything from a small backyard garden to a modest-sized farm. “All this stuff is on the high side of cost and quality, but most people only tend to use them once a year or at most a few times a year,” Mr Decker said. “So why buy when you can rent one of the best products in the marketplace for a fraction of the money?” The top-of-the-line Toro-brand aerator available to rent from Decker for about $100 a day could run someone $3,200 if they were looking to buy their own, he said. “If you care about your lawn, and a golf course does it, using this kind of equipment on your own lawn makes sense,” Mr Decker said, adding that even preparing small lawns is a snap with the right commercial-grade equipment. “When you’re looking at paining your house, I highly recommend renting one of our commercial paint sprayers,” he said. “For $80 a day you can rent a paint sprayer here that

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Home & Garden - 15

April 13, 2018 - The Newtown Bee

Home, Landscape Gear By The Day

Whether spring projects involve indoor work like painting, framing, and floor sanding — or outdoor work like trench digging, log splitting, and surface leveling, Decker Tool Rental offers hundreds of professional-grade tools and equipment from companies including Hilti, Honda, Toro, BillyGoat, CAT, Bobcat, Genie, and Stihl. The Decker family recently opened its third and newest location in Danbury, just a short ride from Newtown off Interstate 84’s Exit 8 at 24 Finance Drive. —Bee Photos, Voket

you’d otherwise be looking at buying for as much as $1,200 or $1,300 bucks — and really, how often would you use it if you owned it?” Homeowners and those looking to try and take on a project around their property will never be left to figure out how to use any tool or machine provided by his company, Mr Decker assured. “We are really good at teaching people about what they’re getting into, and we give them a thorough rundown on the operation of anything we supply,” he said. “If you are renting something you never used before, we aren’t going to let you leave here without knowing everything you need to know to make it work for you.” Whether prepping hardwood or cement floors, Decker has the grinding, sanding, or finishing equipment for one room, or an entire home, basement, or garage. “A lot of people don’t realize is with that really expensive epoxy paint you may use on a garage or basement floor, the company won’t warranty the product unless you’ve prepped the floor properly for the epoxy to grip and hold,” Mr Decker said. “You can’t just slop that stuff

down on an untreated or previously painted floor; you have to do the work so the paint goes on right and lasts.” From edgers to string trimmers to hedge trimmers, Mr Decker said his company has a selection of equipment for any size property. They also rent augers and other posthole digging gear, along with all kinds of drills, jack hammers, concrete breaking, sawing, and cutting equipment, as well as various-sized cement mixers, pressure washers, and generators. “About 30 to 50 percent of our business is renting direct to property and homeowners,” Mr Decker said. “We do a lot of day rentals for carpet cleaning, as well as strippers for wood floors.” Stepping out into the yard at Decker Tool Rental, Mr Decker points to some of the larger ride-on equipment, including trenchers, bucket loaders, excavators, wood chippers, stump grinders, log-splitters, skidders, and rollers. “We deal with a lot of homeowners who are putting down process stone or asphalt millings down to resurface or patch driveways, and for those that aren’t paved,

these rollers are perfect to rent once the snow is gone to roll out rough spots in unpaved driveways,” Mr Decker said. “You can take most of the larger stuff if you have a trailer, or we’ll deliver it and give customers a run-down on operating any of our machines.” Mr Decker also stocks a wide variety of exterior and interior scaffolding, as well as power lifts for painting or changing bulbs on high elevated ceilings. Reach the Decker brothers at the new Danbury Decker Tool Rental location by calling 203-826-7559 — or visit deckertoolrental.com.

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16 - Home & Garden

The Newtown Bee - April 13, 2018

Garden Wilting, Flowers Faded? Don’t Call For Help, Call For Kelp! By John Voket

DANBURY — On the morning of March 10, Ryan Smith found himself tucked among tabletops crammed with composting, pollinators, and farm financing pamphlets alongside dozens of other vendors purveying products or services to organic farming and gardening enthusiasts at NOFA-CT’s 36th Winter Conference. From the exhibit floor at Western Connecticut State University, Mr Smith told The Newtown Bee’s Home & Garden that he drove all the way to from Waldoboro, Maine, to Danbury that chilly March morning to talk with anybody who would listen to his spiel about seaweed. If a lawn or landscape is lackluster, or one’s backyard garden is under performing, Mr Smith said homeowners and groundskeepers probably don’t need help — as much as they may simply need some kelp. Robert Kourik (garden.org) cited several university studies proving seaweed can produce dramatic results: geraniums generating more flowers per plant; grapes reportedly sweeter; gladiolus corms growing larger; cucumber yields increasing 40 percent — and studies found fruits treated with kelp suffered less often from softening and rotting. Improved yields after seaweed treatments were also measured in potatoes, sweet corn, peppers, tomatoes, apples, strawberries, okra, and oranges, Mr Kourik wrote. Actually brown algae — or as Mr Smith described more precisely as ascophyllum nodosum — is plentiful from the seasides of Norway to vast stretches along the northern Maine and Canada coasts. The Mainer said he ventured south to the NOFA conference to talk about kelp’s potential to enhance everything from window box planters and backyard gardens to commercial plantations producing fruits and veggies around the globe. Representing North American Kelp (noamkelp.com), Mr Smith brought a variety of containers full of kelp granules, liquid extracts, and soluble powders, along with volumes of scientific information he was able to break down into relatively simple points. Mr Smith said his company is a “sustainable wild crafter of a species of kelp in Maine called rock weed or ascophyllum nodosum, and we harvest it from small barges from the eastern part of Casco Bay.” Some 28 years ago, marine engineer Robert Morse — a co-founder of Maine’s Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association — opened his family-owned North American Kelp. Mr Smith’s said his company harvests and processes several types of kelp year-round from the same cold, clean Maine waters that have been providing world-famous seafood for centuries before processing for a global list of private home and commercial consumers.

Containing about one percent nitrogen, a trace of phosphorus, and two percent potash, magnesium, sulfur, and numerous trace elements, processed kelp tends to flow easily and can be readily applied with most dry fertilizer applicators after being harvested from the coastal shores of Maine, southeastern Canada, or Norway. —Island Institute photo

So What Do I Do With All This Kelp?? Looking for good resources on kelp? In his book Seaweed and Plant Growth Dr Taze “Tee” Leonard Senn of Clemson University’s Department of Horticulture explains the powers of seaweed as a fertilizer and root stimulator. One of the leading seaweed researchers in the world, Dr Senn was reportedly inspired to leave a family rooted in dairy farming by Norwegian Per Bye Ohrstrom, after meeting that pioneering international authority on seaweed. As the planet and our own neighborhoods experienced escalating environmental problems with air, water, and soil pollution, Dr Senn spent more than four decades defending and promoting kelp as a nonpoisonous and nonpollutant alternative to man-made chemical fertilizers. In his book, Dr Senn states that “when seaweed extracts are used at the recommended times and rates it will supply the amounts of iron, zinc, copper, molybdenum, cobalt, boron, manganese, and magnesium that most crops require” So what are you going to do with all that kelp-based plant or yard additive you’re about to order? Seaweed products company Maxicrop tells users that kelp can be used for: *Soaking Seeds and Bulbs — soak overnight in solution of one capful to one gallon of water. After planting, water with solution of one capful to one gallon of water. *Seedlings — Water with solution of

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one capful to one gallon of water each week. *Cuttings and Rootings — Stand in heavy solution overnight using two capfuls to one gallon of water. Water with solution of one capful to one gallon of water. *Vegetables, Fruits, Outdoor Plants, Flowers and Potted Plants — Water with solution of one capful to one gallon of water every week. *Lawn — Spray solution of two capfuls to one gallon of water (to cover 1,000 feet) per month (minimum five applications per season). *Indoor Plants — Water with solution of one capful to one gallon of water every week. Ryan Smith, a recent CT NOFA exhibitor at the organization’s Winter Conference at Western Connecticut State University told The Newtown Bee’s Home & Garden that he and his team at North American Kelp harvests, processes, and delivers kelp products directly to consumers. He said supplying direct helps buyers bypass additional importer or “middle man” costs — generally saving 10 to 30 percent on kelp products. Mr Smith invited Home & Garden readers to learn more by visitingnoamkelp.com/technical/handbook.html, calling 888-662-5357, or contacting the company by e-mail: nak@noamkelp.com. Be sure to say you learned about them thanks to CT NOFA.

‘Kelp-tic’ Roots Texas-based Ravenscroftlandscaping.us blogs about Celtic and Norse farmers putting kelp and other seaweed on their fields for centuries. And the site identifies kelp as having a long history of use around the world in coastal areas to help promote crop production, as well as for food and a multitude of other applications. To that point — a report produced in collaboration by the Universities of Maine and New Hampshire Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program chronicles Chinese usage of seaweed for medicinal purposes as early as 3000 BCE. And in Iceland, where seaweed has been eaten for centuries, the university paper cites the country’s oldest law book referring to the “rights and concessions involved before one might collect and/or eat fresh sol (Palmaria palmata) on a neighbor’s land.” Mr Smith at the NOFA conference said that any kelp-based nutrients can be added to fertilizer, compost piles, or used alone when applied to turfgrass, plants, flowers, vegetables, and trees. Containing about one percent (1%) nitrogen, a trace of phosphorus, and two percent (2%) potash, magnesium, sulfur, and numerous trace elements, processed kelp tends to flow easily and can be readily applied with most dry fertilizer applicators. For home gardeners and landscapers, Mr Smith told Home & Garden kelp has distinct properties for vegetables. “The nutrients not only stimulate the lateral root development underground,” he said, “but axillary bud growth up on top.” Experts at Lawn-Care-Academy.com identify kelp among a family of organic biostimulants that aid in plant growth and metabolism, increase root mass, and increase soil microorganisms. And almost any plant will benefit from those biostimulants, the site says. Lawn Care Academy also notes that while organic biostimulants are not a fertilizer replacement — integrating them can considerably cut down other fertilizer use. Stress Tolerance Landscape-America.com says biostimullants like those in kelp are defined more by what they do than by what they are — and cites a Virginia Tech study that evaluated a number of biostimulants for use on turfgrasses. Of the various materials examined in the 2009 Virginia Tech study, the most promising was seaweed extract. These products seemed to exert beneficial influences either through hormonal effects or by raising antioxidant levels in the plants. While they stimulate growth, the site says stress tolerance is perhaps their most important benefit. Seaweed contains various hormones, vita-

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Home & Garden - 17

April 13, 2018 - The Newtown Bee

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Kelp not only grows huge tendrils under water as illustrated in this Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies photo, but several other university studies have proven that seaweed treated plants can produce dramatic results in commercial and home gardens. Geraniums generate more flowers per plant; grapes become sweeter; gladiolus corms grow larger; cucumber yields increase as much as 40 percent, and studies found fruits treated with kelp suffered less often from softening and rotting. Improved yields after seaweed treatments were also measured in potatoes, sweet corn, peppers, apples, strawberries, okra, oranges, and tomatoes like the ones pictured below. —North American Kelp image

mins, amino acids, mineral nutrients and other components that provide a stimulating influence, particularly for turfgrasses growing under environmental stresses, the study found. Mr Smith told Home & Garden that kelp “is really taking off, because the nutrients in kelp reduce plant stress from a diverse number of conditions and threats, from drought to frost and insect attacks.” “Regardless of your stance on climate change, and in the face of new invasive insects, I would say kelp is an ‘adaptogen’ — it’s going to help your plant adapt to stresses in the new emerging climatic reality, and thrive in less than ideal conditions,” said Mr Smith. “Kelp acts as a vaccine,” he added, “to help your lawn and plants strengthen their immune systems against most stresses above ground and even underground fungal attacks.” Robust Leaves & Fruit Lisa Lapaso at Lisa’s Landscape and Design in Austin, Texas (lisalapaso.com), says aside from being a proven supplement to fertilizer, kelp is organic, natural, comes from a sustainable source, and its production is done without harming the environment. She says with its natural balance of macro- and micronutrients, “liquid seaweed” uses the same kelp species to produce food supplements, food ingredients, enhancers, and cosmetics. That means it is not only safe for your veggie beds and herb gardens, but Ms Lapaso says kelp is inexpensive and provides complete nutrition for lawns, flowers, and veggies. Even more particularly, Ms Lapaso notes that kelp contains carbohydrates and man-

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nitol, a natural organic chelating agent. It is easily absorbed by the plants and it is great for both foliar and soil feeding. She says by stimulating the metabolic processes adding kelp enables the plant to explore leaf-locked nutrients — since trace elements from the soil to the leaf tissue may become immobilized there. Besides the growth hormones that boost rate of seed germination, kelp-based products can increase cell growth and stimulate more vigorous and stronger roots. That increases chlorophyll retention enhancing photosynthesis and addressing the sallow look of nutrientdeprived leaves. Kelp applications can also help the reduction of premature fruit dropping, Ms Lapaso says — that means more fruit for canning and cooking. And speaking of canning, kelp is also said to increase the shelf life of the fruit if used on the tree within about ten days before picking. Soluble kelp products available from Mr Smith and North American Kelp include 25- and 44-pound units, which currently ship direct to customers across North America and 26 other nations around the globe. Read the Virginia Tech kelp study by visiting vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/bitstream/ handle/10919/55755/2906-1339. pdf?sequence=1

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18 - Home & Garden

The Newtown Bee - April 13, 2018

Window Safety Involves Fall Prevention, Emergency Evacuation Readiness WASHINGTON, DC — Windows let in light and fresh air, and can provide breathtaking views, but they also are vital to safety. The National Safety Council and its Window Safety Task Force celebrated Window Safety Week April 1-7, but 365 days a year, the agency believes everyone can learn more about window safety, especially when young children are in the home. Window Safety Week coincides with the arrival of spring, when homeowners naturally want to open the windows and let in fresh air. Its goal is twofold: For families to understand the role of windows in escaping a fire or other emergency — and to learn to safeguard against accidental window falls. The Window Safety Task Force of the National Safety Council observes Window Safety Week each year during the first full week of April. The agency invites homeowners to its website to review its window safety brochure, its window safety checklist (included below), and kids’ activity book, and share them with everyone in the household so they are aware of their role in window safety. Windows have saved many lives when used as emergency escape routes. Larger, egress windows can take on an even greater role by preventing families from being trapped in a basement and by more easily allowing rescue crews to enter the home. The NSC says every dwelling resident and homeowner should ask themselves how prepared are they to escape a fire? In that sudden situation, residents involved will likely have little time to think, which is why it is essential to develop and test an escape plan at least twice a year with everyone in the home. As part of your home escape plan: *Make sure windows are not nailed or painted shut. *Do not install air conditioners in windows that may be needed for escape. *Make sure at least one window in each bedroom meets escape and rescue requirements. *Window guards, security bars, grilles, or grates render windows useless in an emergency unless they have

Preventing Window Falls

According to SafeKids.org, children are twice as likely to sustain a fall-related injury at home than at a childcare facility. And across the country these incidents account for about eight deaths and 3,300 injuries among children 5 and younger each year.

a release mechanism; update them if necessary. *Develop an emergency escape plan and practice it during the day and at night. *Keep emergency escape ladders in second- or thirdstory bedrooms and teach everyone in the home how to use them.

According to SafeKids.org, children are twice as likely to sustain a fall-related injury at home than at a childcare facility. While window falls occur more frequently in urban areas, across the country these incidents account for about eight deaths and 3,300 injuries among children 5 and younger each year “It only takes seconds for a preventable window fall to occur,” said Amy Artuso, program manager at NSC. “To avoid these needless tragedies, it is very important for parents and caregivers to take steps to prevent home falls.” Homeowners are asked to take a few minutes to consider what they can do to help keep loved ones safe around windows — and commit these rules to memory: *Remember that insect screens cannot support a child’s weight. *Never leave children unattended around open windows, with or without a screen. *Windows within a child’s reach should remain closed. *Don’t place furniture under windows; children can climb and potentially fall from an open window. *Keep children’s play areas away from windows, balconies, or patio doors. While April 1-7 was officially Window Safety Week this year, the NSC encourages everyone to practice window safety year-round as lives depend on it. Formed in 1997, the Window Safety Task Force works year-round in conjunction with NSC, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Safe Kids Worldwide, the International Code Council and other safety advocates to promote window safety awareness. Members include representatives from the American Architectural Manufacturers Association, the Window and Door Manufacturers Association, the Screen Manufacturers Association and other organizations.

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Home & Garden - 19

April 13, 2018 - The Newtown Bee

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Window Safety Checklist Fires and falls of all kinds are among the leading causes of injury and death in young children. While some falls occur from windows, it is important to realize that in the event of a fire, a window can also save a child’s life. This is why windows play a critical role in home safety. 1. Has your family determined an emergency fire escape plan? __ YES __ NO Determine your family’s emergency escape plan and practice it regularly. In the plan, include two avenues of escape from every room. Remember children may have to rely on a window to escape a fire. Help them learn to safely use a window under these circumstances. Make sure you have identified a safe meeting place outside. 2. Do you keep windows shut when children are around? __ YES __ NO You should keep your windows closed and locked when children are around. When opening windows for ventilation, open windows that children cannot reach. Also, set and enforce rules about keeping children’s play away from windows and/or patio doors. Falling through the glass can be fatal or cause a serious injury. 3. Do you leave, or have you left, windows open because you thought the insect screen provided a safeguard from a fall? __ YES __ NO Don’t rely on insect screens to prevent a fall. Insect screens are designed to provide ventilation while keeping insects out; they are not designed to, nor will they prevent a child’s fall from a window. 4. Is there furniture placed under or near windows in your home? __ YES __ NO Keep furniture — or anything children can climb — away from windows. Children may use such objects as a climbing aid. 5. Do any windows in your home have guards, security bars, grilles, or grates? __ YES __ NO These windows are useless in an emergency if the devices on them do not have a functioning release mechanism. Time is critical when escaping a fire. Consult your local fire department or building code official to determine proper window guard placement. 6. Inspect your home’s windows carefully. Are any windows in your home painted or nailed shut? __ YES __ NO Never paint or nail windows shut. You must be able to open them to escape in an emergency. 7. Do you have any window unit air conditioners in bedroom windows or other windows in your home that may be needed for escape or rescue in an emergency? __ YES __ NO Do not install window unit air conditioners in windows that may be needed for escape or rescue in an emergency. The air conditioning unit could block or impede escape through the window. Always be sure that you have at least one window in each sleeping and living area that meets escape and rescue requirements. 8. Did you know that strategic landscaping may lessen the extent of injury sustained in the event a fall does occur? __ YES __ NO Plant shrubs and soft edging like wood chips or grass under windows to cushion potential falls. The surface can greatly affect the degree of injury sustained from a fall.

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20 - Home & Garden

The Newtown Bee - April 13, 2018

New England’s Historic Walls Are Just A

A closeup look of a rock in a Newtown stone wall shows that lichen has been growing on it for years and two small black beetles have used it to crawl on. By Alissa Silber

When walking in the woods around Newtown, it is common to come across large stretches of man-made stone walls mingling in with untouched elements of nature. It may seem unpractical to have these stone walls placed seemingly at random, but their presence provides a glimpse into what that land may have looked like decades, or even more than a century, ago. Dr Robert Thorson, a professor of geology at the University of Connecticut, estimated in his 2002 award-winning book Stone By Stone: The Magnificent History in New England’s Stone Walls that at one point there were 240,000 miles of

stone walls in Connecticut alone. “Probably half of those are gone, but nobody really knows, because we are just getting to the process of starting to map them to some detail,” Dr Thorson told The Newtown Bee. Most of the historic stone walls in Connecticut, he said, were built in the 50-plus years between the Revolutionary War and the completion of the Erie Canal. These landforms are scattered everywhere throughout the area and are both vital artifacts and habitats. “The most important thing when you see a stone wall in the woods is that it conveys that human beings were there

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and that they are gone,” Dr Thorson said. “They show the importance of human beings altering the environment and that we live amidst ruins.” Stone walls were commonly made by farmers when they were clearing their land. As they dug up the rocks, they would place them on the edge of their fields to avoid having piles of rubble. The boulders of various sizes would be stacked on top of each other and would eventually build a high boundary line. This type accumulation of stone, Dr Thorson said, was commonly referred to as a “rubble wall.” Two other common types of historic stone walls in New England are the “single wall” that has two or three boulders at the bottom with more stacked on top of each other; and the “double wall,” which are typically built with flat stones that slant in towards each other with two sides to the wall. Growing up in the upper-Midwest and living in Alaska, Dr Thorson had never seen any of these kinds of stone walls. He was shocked to come to New England and see them everywhere. “When I saw my first stone wall in the woods I thought, ‘What is that thing?’ Most people know because they’ve grown up around them,” he said. As a trained scientist, he was inspired to learn more about these historic formations and after much research went on to co-found the Stone Wall Initiative in 2003 with his wife Kristine Thorson. The Stone Wall Initiative is a free electronic resource for those interested in learning more about these landmarks.

Since the website’s launch, Dr Thorson has worked as the site’s coordinator periodically updating it with the latest discoveries and news on New England’s historic stone walls. In addition to Stone By Stone, Dr Thorson has written Exploring Stone Walls: A Field Guide to New England’s Stone Walls, published in 2005, for those looking to do hands-on learning; and co-wrote the children’s book Stone Wall Secrets with Kristine; it was illustrated by Gustav Moore.. He also shares his knowledge of the subject with young minds looking to learn more about stone walls and recently spoke at the Catherine Violet Hubbard Foundation’s Sunday at the Sanctuary event in March about how historic stone walls help wildlife. At the event, he explained how many small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and insects hide from predators and find shelter in stone walls. There are creatures small enough hide in the cracks of the rocks and travel through the openings to get to the other side. Larger animals, like cats and foxes, can even scamper across the top of the wall to get to places faster. Not only do stone walls help native wildlife, but they can also have an effect on the landscape they are built upon. “They diversify the woodlands,” Dr Thorson said. It creates a dry place where there was not one before, it makes shade, and can help produce heat and cold. Historic stone walls are also great hosts for the slow-growing plant lichen. The

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Home & Garden - 21

April 13, 2018 - The Newtown Bee

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Sections of historic stone walls, like the one pictured here in Newtown’s Orchard Hill Nature Center, typically have various cracks and openings where small animals can scurry through. —Bee Photos, Silber

matter is part-algae and part-fungus, and it develops on stone after it has been extracted from the ground. It can be a variety of colors, commonly a gray or green shade when dried. “If you have brand-new stone it is not going to have any lichens on it because they have been rubbed off or been harvested out of the dirt,” Dr Thorson said. “It takes a while for [lichen] to crust and grow and thicken to develop well. You can roughly gage the age of a wall in the last century by looking at the lichen cover.” Lichenometry is a study where scien-

tists measure the growth rate of lichens to date certain artifacts like stone walls. Some lichen can grow one millimeter per year (one centimeter per decade). “If you see a wall without lichen, it is probably young,” Dr Thorson said. “But if you see one totally covered with moss and lichens that seems really weathered, it is probably centuries old.” Discover more about New England’s historic stone walls at stonewall.uconn.edu or by picking up a copy of Exploring Stone Walls: A Field Guide to New England’s Stone Walls to assist in handson discoveries.

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22 - Home & Garden

The Newtown Bee - April 13, 2018

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Ways Newtown Residents Can Improve Their Homes’ Energy Efficiency

By elizA hAllABeck

The the gas and electricity utility Eversource offers local utility consumers in Newtown a range of ways residents can make their home more high-performing and energy efficient. Ahead of Connecticut Clean Energy Day, recognized on February 15, the company released three ways Connecticut residents can make their home more energy efficient. It also hosts a blog on its website, eversource. com, written by Enoch Lenge that offers a range of ideas. There are a few ways to make a home high-performing, according to Eversource. High-performance homes are airtight, comfortable, and healthy. Eversource recommends assessing three areas to get started: Make sure the home is air-tight with proper insulation; keep on top of home energy maintenance; and opt for top-quality indoor climate and air. According to Eversource, sealing cracks and gaps in walls, attics, and crawl spaces as well as around wires, pipes, windows, and door frames will help solve leaking are by keeping the warm inside air from escaping. It also suggests making sure to properly insulate those same walls, attics, crawl spaces, and around ducts. While monitoring energy maintenance, Eversource recommends noting how a heating system performed over the winter and how it performs over the summer months. Heating and cooling systems should be serviced annually by qualified professionals. Clean or change air filters every three months, or more often if there are pets or a smoker living in the home, according to

Eversource, which also suggested upgrading to a Wi-Fi controlled thermostat that can automatically adjust temperatures. According to Eversource, proper ventilation and air sealing are where to start when striving for top quality indoor climate and air. Sealing not only keeps pollen and dust at bay, it also moderates the humidity levels and temperature swings in a home, according to Eversource. Proper ventilation and air flow also reduces the chance for mold growth. A recent post on Eversource’s blog, Connecticut News, offer ways those selling homes to increase its value by upgrading appliances and adding energy-saving measures. It recommends upgrading to Energy Star-certified appliances; sealing around windows and doorways to keep air from escaping; replacing old bulbs with LED bulbs; and signing up for Home Energy Solutions-Core Services, which assess a home and offer recommended upgrades or contractor services. Residents can schedule a Home Energy Solutions visit by calling 877947-3873. Another recent blog post focuses on finding energy saving opportunities in a home’s kitchen. It recommends using Energy Star kitchen lighting options, installing an Energy Star kitchen range hood to control moisture and remove odors, installing an Energy Star refrigerator, and cleaning refrigerator coils, which can be covered in dust resulting in restricted airflow. More Connecticut News blog posts are available online at eversource.com/content/ct-c/ about/news-room/connecticut/connecticutnews.

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Home & Garden - 23

April 13, 2018 - The Newtown Bee

Why a Rain Garden? Every time it rains, water runs off impervious surfaces such as roofs, driveways, roads, and parking lots, collecting pollutants along the way. This runoff has been cited by the United States Environmental Protection Agency as a major source of pollution into adjacent waterways. By building a rain garden at your home, you can reduce the amount of pollutants that leave your yard and enter nearby lakes, streams and ponds. A rain garden is a depression about 6 inches deep that collects stormwater

runoff from a roof, driveway, or yard and allows it to infiltrate into the ground. Rain gardens are typically planted with native shrubs and perennials, and can serve as colorful, landscaped features in your yard. The University of Connecticut Center for Land Use Education and Research’s (CLEAR) NEMO Program — part of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources’ Department of Extension offers a comprehensive guide to establishing a rain garden at http://nemo. uconn.edu/raingardens/index.htm

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Home Maintenance Tips From A Local ‘Handyman’

Spring season is upon us and it is time to prepare your home for the onset of moderate temperatures and beautiful flowers blooming everywhere says Raymond Sass, owner of Newtown’s Handyman Connection Although this is one of the most beautiful seasons, Mr Sass says spring brings reminders that important home and property maintenance may be due. As the worst of winter weather is over, Mr Sass says homeowners should consider following the essential maintenance tasks that will ensure their home is in the best shape possible all year round. Here are some tips from Handyman Connection of Newton: *Inspect the Wood Trim: Use a screwdriver to probe the wood trim around windows, doors, railings, and decks to check for any damage or cracks. Make repairs now before the spring rains do more damage to the exposed wood. *Check Outside Faucets: Check outside hose faucets for freeze damage and dry rot. Testing them now will mean they will be ready for spring and summer watering needs. *Inspect roof and gutters: Use a ladder or binoculars to check for any missing

or damaged shingles and check gutters for any debris that could be clogging them to ensure that there is no water damage or leaking during the rainy season. *Update Exterior: The mild weather of spring makes it ideal for completing major exterior projects, such as repainting your exterior walls or repairing fencing. This will not only enhance your curb appeal, it will also help boost your home’s resale value in the future. *Check Your Deck: This is a great time to check for loose or rotted boards, peeling stain or paint, and any damage to railings or steps. Since new pressuretreated wood has to “cure” for at least 30 days before it can be stained or painted, making repairs early means the new wood can be stained or painted before summer. By implementing these routine maintenance tips, home and property owners can identify opportunities for improvement that can protect them from future damages. To set up a free consultation and receive a free estimate with Handyman Connection at fairfield-county.handymanconnection.com/request-free-estimate, or call 203-304-9300.

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Free Design Center Tool Launched For Architects, Engineers, Specifiers WETHERSFIELD — The Connecticut Ready Mixed Concrete Association (CRMCA) is making free concrete project design and technical assistance available with just a click through the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association’s (NRMCA) Build With Strength Concrete Design Center. The NRMCA’s Concrete Design Center can assist professionals and DIY-ers in choosing the right concrete solution for a wide variety of projects, from multifamily residential/mixed use to industrial and health care facilities. Connecticut Concrete Promotion Council’s Executive Director Dominic Di Cenzo said the association has an arsenal of tools to assist Connecticut construction specifiers and those involved with the design and engineering of multistory buildings, commercial office buildings and infrastructure. “The Design Center is a free tool that allows architects and engineers to submit projects to verify various project specifications such as structural design, noise reduction, fire resistance, and sustainability,” he said. “The NRMCA’s Concrete Design Center is staffed with an expert team of engineers and architects who are available to run cost analyses of projects using concrete versus alternative construction materials. They will also help specifiers select the most appropriate concrete system for concrete frame and post-tension systems, voided slab systems, insulating concrete forming (ICF), and tilt-up concrete

wall constructions.” Don Penepent, of Tilcon Connecticut and co-chair of the CRMCA’s Education Committee, recommends design, architecture, and engineering firms take advantage of the Build with Strength Concrete Design Center. “The Design Center is free concrete project design and technical assistance available through the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association’s Build with Strength website,” he said. “The Design Center can assist design professionals in choosing the right concrete solution for a wide variety of projects, from multifamily residential/mixed use, to industrial and health care facilities.” Build with Strength is a coalition of architects, builders, engineers, emergency services personnel, and policymakers supported by the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association. Their mission is to educate the building and design communities and policymakers on the benefits of ready mixed concrete, and encourage its use as the building material of choice for low- to mid-rise structures. According to the association, no other material can replicate concrete’s advantages in terms of strength, durability, safety, ease of use, and long-term value. For more information on the Build with Strength Concrete Design Center visit buildwithstrength.com/designcenter — or visit ctconstruction.org for more information on educational and certification programs.

THE SEEDS HAVE AWOKEN, THE PETALS UNFOLDED, THE FLOWERS BLOSSOMED. IN THE SPIRIT OF SPRINGTIME, WE WOULD LIKE TO INVITE YOU TO VISIT AND TAKE A STROLL THROUGH SHAKESPEARE'S GARDEN AT HISTORIC BURR FARM.

annuals.perennials.trees & shrubs. decorative garden accessories.landscape design. installation. barn shop. gift certificates. Open: Mon - Sat • 8am-5pm ~ Sun • 9am-5pm

203-775-2214 located at the historic Burr Farm

25 Obtuse Road South Brookfield


24 - Home & Garden

The Newtown Bee - April 13, 2018

Know What’s Below—

Call 811 Before You Dig, April Is Safe Digging Month

HAMDEN — The efforts of Call Before You Dig, Inc (CBYD) are being backed by Governor Dannel Malloy, who has again proclaimed April “Call Before You Dig Month” in Connecticut. April is also National Safe Digging Month across the United States. The governor’s proclamation reminds Connecticut residents and companies that conduct excavation work using power or mechanized equipment that state law mandates that they notify Call Before You Dig by logging onto its website, cbyd.com, for an “e-ticket” available to the public or by calling 811 two full working days prior to starting any work. Doing so is required by law and the service is free. “The law requires individuals, contractors, utilities, and public agencies planning to excavate with mechanized equipment to notify CBYD at least two full working days prior to digging,” Gov Malloy said in his proclamation. “CBYD guards against the accidental digging up of buried facilities whenever excavation, whether by digging, blasting, or demolishing, is undertaken in order to protect the public, decrease utility service disruptions, and reduce the high cost of damage repairs.”

He went on to say that “CBYD has a proven record of reducing damage to underground facilities, protecting property and providing for the safety and welfare of both excavators and the general public”. Landscaping and construction projects resume in April every year, and they can bring the danger of exposure to hits on vital public utility lines. Digging without knowing what is below the surface risks causing property damage, injury and even death, according to representatives of Call Before You Dig, a nonprofit corporation that is responsible for operating a call center in Hamden to handle excavation notifications as well as making the public aware of the danger of digging blindly. The organization comprises a clearinghouse of owners and operators of underground utility facilities since 1974, including gas, electric, water, and communications companies to protect utilities and public safety. Anthony R. Willemain, the Call Before You Dig center manager, reiterated the message. “If you are digging with power or mechanized equipment, it is the law to Call Before You Dig. Even if you are excavating by hand, it is smart and safe to do so”Anyone planning digging or excavating must notify CBYD two (working) days in advance to

have the location of buried utility pipes and cable lines located and marked out, by visiting cbyd.com or calling 811 to avoid digging accidents, Mr Willemain said. CBYD’s mission is to “Provide communication and education to improve safety when excavating.” CBYD’s Vice President Derek J. Brown said that in the United States an underground utility line is damaged every six minutes because someone decided to dig without first calling 811. Examples of projects requiring a call to 811 would be digging for a new pool, a mailbox, landscaping and planting trees, or a deck. Digging only a few inches can pose the risk of striking an underground utility, so they must be marked and avoided. CBYD wants to make the public aware of the need for safety of the state’s utilities that residents use on a daily basis but generally take for granted. CBYD also provides guidelines in separate manuals for professional excavators and homeowners on its website. Homeowners or excavators can simply call 811 at no cost and the CBYD staff will guide people through the process to protect against a range of problems, from the inconvenience of disrupted utility service to the potential of explosions or electrocutions. CBYD has updated its website to be very

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user-friendly with a lot of new features, including a new Damage Reporting tool. DamageAccess is a web-based tool that allows anyone to report both damages to underground utility facilities and violations of safe excavating practices that did not result in asset damage. Each report must be approved by a supervisor from the reporting company to confirm the accuracy of the content before being submitted to PURA for its review. Completed reports must be received by PURA within 30 days of the incident occurrence. A user guide is available there for download to help new users through the process. Learn more about DamageAccess at cbyd. com/damage-reporting PURA, the State of Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, provides governmental oversight to the CBYD program. It playc the role of the enforcer for CBYD and excavators. If somebody violates the regulations, PURA will investigate it, bring violators in for a hearing and possibly prosecute them with fines. Compliance with this law not only ensures the safety of people and property; it also protects excavators and people digging from fines and lawsuits.

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Home & Garden - 25

April 13, 2018 - The Newtown Bee

Federal Consumer Agency Warns: Some Home Security Systems May Be Scams WASHINGTON, DC — Everyone wants to feel safe in their home, so when home security salespeople come knocking, their pitch can be convincing. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, and Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen urge you to use caution when you consider what security system sales agents have to offer. During the spring and summer months, home security or alarm companies hire traveling sales agents to go door-to-door, making unsolicited “cold calls” on homeowners. In some cases, the salespeople use high-pressure or deceptive sales tactics to get potential customers to buy expensive, and sometimes substandard, systems or equipment they do not need. Before you let anyone inside your home, ask for identification. Some state laws require door-to-door salespeople to tell you their name, the name of the business they represent, and the goods or services they wish to sell before asking you any questions or making any statements. Other states require salespeople to show you their “pocket card” license and a photo ID. Take a few minutes to look over their documentation. Unscrupulous door-to-door sales agents use a variety of approaches and pitches to get you to buy an alarm system and monitoring services. Here is what to look out for: They may make a time-limited offer, and claim that you need to act now. For example, they may try to get you to sign a contract by telling you that the equipment is “free.” More than likely, strings are attached. For example, to get your “free” alarm, you may have to sign a long-term and expensive system monitoring contract. They may pressure their way into your home and then refuse to leave. It is not impolite or rude to tell a salesperson you are not interested. It is much easier — and safer — to say “no” on the doorstep than to try to get the salesperson to leave once inside your home. If a salesperson continues to pressure you after you have asked them to leave, call the police. They may use scare tactics. For example, they may talk about a rash of supposed burglaries in your neighborhood. Some door-to-door sales agents target homeowners who have signs on their properties for security systems with other companies. In these cases: *The sales agents may state or imply that they are from your existing security company and that they are there to “upgrade”

or “replace” your current security system. Once inside your home, however, they may install a new security system and have you sign papers that include a costly contract for the monitoring service. *They may claim your security company has gone out of business, that they have taken over the accounts, and that you have to buy new equipment and sign new contracts. If this happens, call your current monitoring company to confirm. Normally, you would be notified of a change like this by mail or telephone, not by an unannounced visit by a representative from another company. Before you do business with anyone selling a home security or alarm system, whether they come to your door or you seek them out, the FTC and your state Attorney General urge you to ask potential contractors for the information listed below. Use the answers to check out the alarm company with the appropriate authorities: your state attorney general, local consumer protection agency, Better Business Bureau, and state licensing officials. If the salesperson is reluctant to give you this information, consider it a red flag and find another company to consider.

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Questions To Ask

The FTC advises anyone considering a home security system to get written estimates from several companies, and ask plenty of questions — a reputable company will not try to sell you anything before completing a professional assessment of your needs and the layout of your home. Finally, read the fine print. Once you have chosen a company, make sure the written contract includes all oral promises made by the salesperson. Understand that you can cancel the deal. The FTC’s Cooling-Off Rule gives you three business days to cancel the deal if you sign the contract in your home or at a location that is not the seller’s permanent place of business. You do not have to give a reason for canceling your purchase. You have a right to change your mind, even if the equipment has already been installed. The salesperson must give you two copies of a cancellation form (one to keep and one to send back) and a copy of your contract. The contract must be dated, show the name and address of the seller, and explain your right to cancel. You may have additional consumer protections under state law. Check with your state attorney general, local consumer protection agency, or Better Business Bureau.

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26 - Home & Garden

The Newtown Bee - April 13, 2018

Building Quality Pools Since 1984

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Home& Garden directory APPLIANCE REPAIR Advanced Appliances LLC ...............24

Custom Gunite Pools

BANKING Newtown Savings Bank ...................11 BOOK STORE Byrd’s Books .....................................19 BUILDING SUPPLIES/ WINDOWS/DOORS East Haven Builders Supply ...........19 ELECTRICAL WORK Ferrer’s Electric, LLC.......................22

Custom Vinyl Lined Pools

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Custom Gunite Spas

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GUTTERS & ROOFING, WINDOWS, DOORS Anthony Mason Custom Gutter & Roofing ............................16 Martin’s Aluminum Products ............4 HARDWARE/PAINT Newtown Hardware ...........................4 Stony Hill Hardware ........................24 HARDWOOD FLOOR DISTRIBUTOR Kellogg Hardwood Lumber ................5 HOME DECOR Alcher Interiors ..................................6 HOME IMPROVEMENTS Damaseno Construction, LLC .........20 Mark Svanda Painting .....................24 Superior Windowland, LLC .............14 KITCHEN & BATHROOM DESIGN & INSTALLATION Southeast Kitchen & Baths ...............2

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Home & Garden - 27

April 13, 2018 - The Newtown Bee

Bethel Power Equipment Sales ★ Service ★ Parts

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28 - Home & Garden

The Newtown Bee - April 13, 2018

Where Customer Service Never Expires

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Comp Desig lete Insta n &  ll Servi ation ces!

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Gift, Garden and Home 95 Stony Hill Road Bethel, CT

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Home & Garden Spring 2018  

Home & Garden Spring 2018

Home & Garden Spring 2018  

Home & Garden Spring 2018