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The Newtown Bee’s



2 - Home & Garden

The Newtown Bee - June 19, 2020




June 19, 2020- The Newtown Bee

Home & Garden - 3

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The Newtown Bee - June 19, 2020

Boost Your Home’s Curb Appeal

Repainting, replacing, or removing shutters is another way to boost a home’s appearance. —photo courtesy Mark Svanda

By Kendra Bobowick Professionals share their ideas — both inexpensive and eye-catching — to boost a home’s curb appeal. Based on his home improvement experience, Mark Svanda Painting LLC founder and owner Mark Svanda offered several easy solutions, including a suggestion to change the front door color and “Go bold!” adding, “Seasonal wreaths on freshly painted doors are nice.” Updating door hardware can help make a good impression as guests open the door to step inside, and refinished thresholds are also welcoming, he said. Svanda suggested, “Change the garage door color to match siding color,” noting, “...More often than not, garage doors are painted to match trim. It’s a much softer look if the doors match the siding.” He tells homeowners to consider shutters, and whether they benefit the home’s appearance. Just because they’re there doesn’t mean they have to stay — and if they’re not? Maybe they should be. Think about adding or losing them, depending on what looks best, he said. Or simply “change the color of existing shutters,” Svanda said. Additional upgrades can include new light fixtures or a lamp post for interest, he said. Cleaning up the exterior of a house with a gentle power wash, gutter, and window cleaning is also beneficial. Homeowners looking to sell or seeking a fresh look can “refinish the front porch area, replace a mailbox, or install flower boxes and add potted plants along the steps or walkway,” Svanda said, and add lattices, too.

A bold front door stands out. —photo courtesy Mark Svanda

He also recommends replacing trim moldings around windows, too; the updated look is thicker, wider trim. Learn more at marksvanda.com. Real estate expert Kathy Hamilton, with Newtown’s Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, New England Properties office, said, “One of the most economical ways to improve your property” can cost nothing more than “sweat equity and time.” “Buyers start to evaluate your property as soon as they drive up,” Hamilton said. “Clean up your yard and gardens.” The most important task inside, she stressed, is to declutter. Even closets and cabinets can be tidied, she said. For residents preparing to move, she said, “Start packing away items — designate a single space for packing. This shows buyers that you are ready to move.” Depersonalizing spaces “helps buyers imagine their personal items in your space,” she said. Contacting a realtor six months to a year ahead for advice is also beneficial, Hamilton said. “It takes longer than you think to get ready! Also, most realtors have contacts to help you organize, donate and pack — we are a great resource!” Visit bhhsneproperties.com for more information. Mark Svanda Painting LLC founder and owner Mark Svanda suggests bold and eye-catching front door paint. —photo courtesy Mark Svanda

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Home & Garden - 5

June 19, 2020- The Newtown Bee


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6 - Home & Garden

The Newtown Bee - June 19, 2020

Grab The Sunscreen And Floaties—

It Is Time To Bask In The Saltwater Pool Of Your Dreams

Newtown Pools, 124 South Main Street, installs above-ground and inground saltwater pools, pictured, as well as converts traditional chlorine —photo courtesy Pat McDougall pools to saltwater pools.

By Alissa Silber There is nothing more satisfying than jumping into a crystal-clear pool on a hot summer day, especially if the water you are diving into is saltwater. Newtown Pools owner Pat McDougall says not only do saltwater pools require less time and maintenance than traditional chlorine pools, but the water has health-related benefits. Saltwater pools are gentler on people’s skin and eyes and do not turn hair green like some traditional chlorine pools can. Also, because homeowners are in less contact with potentially hazardous chemicals, it reduces the risk of injuries from chlorine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states, “Pool chemical injuries led to an estimated 4,535 US emergency department visits annually during 2008 to 2017,” according to information published in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Of those thousands of preventable injuries, more than one-third were children or teens being affected, the CDC adds. While saltwater pools still have chlorine to kill the germs in the pool, McDougall says the saltwater pool system makes a “natural form of chlorine.” He explained, “The [salt]water goes into the filter, and where the transition is made from salt to chlorine in an electrolytic cell that has a low-voltage charge. When the salted water hits the low-voltage charge, it separates salt and transfers it into a form of natural chlorine.” The cycle is repeated for the desired amount of chlorine to sanitize the pool and have chlorine be pumped out at a consistent rate. Doing so helps avoid high spikes of chlorine levels. The electrolytic cell is fed power and

communicates with a control panel, which sends the voltage charge as a message telling the cell when to work. “The control panel will tell you when you’re low on salt and when you’re overproducing chlorine,” McDougall said. The control panel does not show other water properties in the pool, so the water will still need to undergo testing every few weeks for specifics such as pH level and alkalinity. Money Saver

Existing traditional chlorine pools can easily be converted into saltwater pools, McDougall said. In fact, it is becoming a common request among homeowners. While it may be an initial investment to purchase the cell, control panel and first dose of bagged salt granules, it is more cost effective in the long run compared to a traditional chlorine pool. “For a typical cell, if the pool is maintained properly, it may need cleaning occasionally…” McDougall explained. “The cell traditionally lasts five to seven years. They can be replaced, and the panel will still operate.” He added, “The cell wears out over time, but the savings on chlorine over that time — from not having to buy chlorine — is huge. You’re going to spend a few hundred dollars to replace the cell, which is a little more than you’d spend on a year of chlorine.” To help the longevity of the cell, it should be winterized during the off season and cleaned only if necessary. Since salt has the potential to corrode metal components or other items, such as pool ladders, McDougall recommends adding sacrificial anodes to the pool to minimize/prevent corrosion.

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Home & Garden - 7

June 19, 2020- The Newtown Bee

The Chaudhary family in Newtown had an in-ground saltwater pool installed last summer, pictured, after previously having an above-ground traditional chlorine pool. The family is happy with their switch and is looking forward to enjoying the pool more this coming season. —photo courtesy Jennifer Chaudhary How Salty Is It?

A common misconception people have about saltwater pools is that they assume the amount of salt in the pool is equivalent to the ratio of salt in seawater. In reality, a saltwater pool has about a tenth of that amount and has “as much salt that’s in a teardrop or perspiration,” McDougall said. But not just any salt can be used for a saltwater pool. McDougall says saltwater pools need “a high-purity salt, similar to that of a water softener, but it’s a higher purity level than that… You can’t use the water softener salt in a pool effectively, it will wear out the cell much faster.” Local Family Review

Newtown residents Jennifer and Neil Chaudhary joked with The Newtown Bee, via e-mail on March 8, that after completing their saltwater pool installa-

tion in August 2019, “it still has that new pool smell.” The couple and their two children — ages 11 and 13 years old — are eager to open up their in-ground pool this spring. “We had an above ground chlorine [pool] for a brief time, then switched it over to saltwater, because saltwater is just so much easier to maintain,” the Chaudhary’s explained. Even after using it for just a quarter of a season last year, the family noticed a difference in the quality of the water they were swimming in. “The feel of the water is amazing,” they said. “It almost feels ‘soft.’” All that is left for their new pool is to finish the landscaping around it and use it to continue to spend quality time with their friends and family.

The Hayward Aqua Rite Salt Chlorine generator unit has a squareshaped control panel and cell to enable proper sanitization of pools and spas. —photo courtesy Pat McDougall


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8 - Home & Garden

The Newtown Bee - June 19, 2020

Local Landscaper Trying To Salvage By Eliza Hallabeck After Hurricane Sandy in 2012, resident and local business owner Larry Whippie “seemed to be online early every morning

researching sawmills,” his wife and business co-owner Linda Whippie recalled recently. With the sawmill that was eventually

added to the Whippies’ Taunton Hill Landscape Co Inc in Newtown, Mr Whippie is now aiming to salvage as many ash logs as possible. “Eventually they will all be gone. So we are trying to save as much of the wood as possible to get it to people who can do things with it,” Mr Whippie said in a phone interview recently.

Recently cut elm wood is shown at Taunton Hill Landscape Co Inc

Stacks of wood piled with spacers are shown at Taunton Hill Landscape Co Inc

An ash shelf cut and finished by Taunton Hill Landscape Co Inc

With ash trees being decimated by emerald ash borer beetles, which eat the trees from within, Mr Whippie explained it is a matter of time until all of the trees and lumber are gone. But in 2012, as Mrs Whippie described, Mr Whippie kept reading and watching blogs of sawmill operators. “It was bothering him to think of all that beautiful wood that was going to become firewood or mulch,” Mrs Whippie remembered in a recent e-mail. “Finally in 2013, a TimberKing bandsaw was added to the list of equipment by Taunton Hill Landscape Co.” Mr Whippie said he has “always been involved in the landscape business,” and woodworking has “just always been something I have enjoyed doing.” “He began accumulating logs and milling as much as he could on the weekends,” Mrs Whippie said. “Then the wood is stacked with stickers to space it, the ends painted to slow down moisture loss, and air dried.” It took three years until the company had dried wood to sell, according to Mrs Whippie. To speed up the drying process, Taunton Hill Landscape Co Inc is hoping to purchase a kiln this year, according to the owners. “At first we focused on white pine because we had so much of it,” Mrs Whippie recalls of the wood that was first worked on in the sawmill. “Fortunately just a simple ad in The Newtown Bee classifieds has yielded us some regular customers for animal fencing and raised vegetable gardens.” Since the sawmill is an offshoot of the landscaping business, Mr Whippie said they frequently have different types of wood these days. The sawmill is used “almost every day,” said Mr Whippie, adding that he was cut-

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Home & Garden - 9

June 19, 2020- The Newtown Bee

Ash Wood Before It Disappears ting wood on March 23, when there was snow and sleet in the area. The landscape business is still the primary business, he added. Mr Whippie said he cuts different types of wood collected through the landscape business, like apple, dogwood, and mulberry. “They are all very different,” he said. Both Whippies frequent the Elephant’s Trunk Country Flea Market in New Milford, where Mr Whippie is known as “The Wood Guy.” At first, he said, they brought pieces of cut wood to sell at the flea market, then they started bringing finished wood coated with polyurethane. They also brought finished creations. More and more people began purchasing the finished pieces. Mr Whippie said he started trying to reclaim as much ash wood as possible this past winter, after a friend inspired him by sharing their concern that ash trees and lumber will disappear. Now, Mr Whippie said he can take ash wood from others and he works with some tree companies to transport trees to the sawmill, as he cannot move the trees himself. He hopes to save as many ash logs as possible by cutting them to be used to create other things in the future, like flooring. Once he cuts the logs, he stockpiles the wood and seals it to keep it from cracking. People can contact him if they have ash trees that can be cut down. If people reach out to him and want to keep some of the wood for themselves, Mr Whippie said, “We can arrange something.” “I personally would love to give them wood back. I think they would love to do something with it,” Mr Whippie said. “It’s up to what people want.” According to Mrs Whippie, a lot of wood is being cut to firewood length or dropped

The sawmill at Taunton Hill Landscape Co Inc is being used by Larry Whippie to save as much ash wood as possible from use as firewood or mulch.

off at transfer stations where town employees are not allowed to use a “loader to put it onto someone’s truck or trailer.” Instead, she said, people can contact Taunton Hill Landscape Co Inc for this “urban wood salvage” effort.

“Local people can feel free to call if they have ash, elm, or anything interesting that we could perhaps use toward this,” Mrs Whippie said. “[Mr Whippie] can stop by and let them know if he is able to take the wood. A general criterion for wood such as

ash is that the tree be down and a minimum diameter of 12 feet and a trunk of 8 feet or more that is fairly straight.” For more information about Taunton Hill Landscape Co Inc and its other services, see its website tauntonhilllandscape.com.

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10 - Home & Garden

The Newtown Bee - June 19, 2020

Joe Elliott got reacquainted with a number of his former Newtown friends and NHS classmates, while meeting many new clients, when he staffed his Mosquito Joe booth at the 2019 Newtown Day celebration. —photo courtesy Jodi Elliott

Newtown High School graduate Joe Elliott stands beside his mom, Jodi. Both are Mosquito Joe franchise owners, with Joe taking on the regional outfit that serves his old hometown as well as numerous other Northern Fairfield County communities.

Newtown High Grad ‘Mosquito Joe’ Elliott Working To Keep Local Properties Pest Free By John Voket As winter turned to spring, and the days grew longer and warmer, many folks around Newtown who were homebound and socially isolating started itching to get back outside. But many of them probably were not looking forward to the itch that comes with pesky bug bites. That’s where Joe Elliott and his Mosquito Joe of Northern Fairfield County team can come in handy.

Elliott — like the legion of Mosquito Joe franchise owners across the nation, including his mom, Jodi — stands ready to help protect commercial and residential properties from the kinds of bugs that make hanging around outside a little less enjoyable. Mosquito Joe of Northern Fairfield County provides mosquito control solutions for residential and commercial properties. He or one of his technicians visits your property to deliver convenient and effective control treat-

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ments to rid your yard of mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas. With one phone call to 203-491-5583, or an online query through Elliott’s website nfairfieldcounty.mosquitojoe.com, clients can book services that include: Mosquito Control — Sprays that surround your home with a protective barrier treatment that repels mosquitoes, keeping you and your family itch-free for weeks. Tick Control — Pet owners and parents alike are concerned with tick prevention. To help mitigate that concern, Mosquito Joe technicians create a tick barrier to prevent serious complications like Lyme Disease. Special Event Sprays — Whether celebrating a child’s birthday or entertaining friends, Elliott will make sure that party guests enjoy a bite-free environment. These are not one spray fits all situations, however. “We go to homes and businesses and do a thorough inspection so we can customize the right treatment specifically for their property,” Elliott recently told The Newtown Bee’s Home & Garden. “As we do our inspection we’re looking for standing water sources so we can not only treat to kill adult mosquitoes, but prevent them from breeding. “Our goal in doing a pre-service walk of the property is to seek out the ‘hot spots’ where mosquitoes will be loafing,” he added. “The most common areas to find mosquitoes during the day include the underside of the leaves of dense/shrubby plants, under decks, and in damp shady areas of the property. We do recommend that you keep your grass short during the mosquito season.” Since ticks, fleas, and mosquitoes are prevalent in all areas of Newtown, Elliott said he can offer clients a biweekly botanical treatment option, or synthetic applications that should be re-applied about every three weeks. Elliott uses two primary products in his mosquito treatment. “Our main barrier spray products use synthetic forms of pyrethrins called pyrethroids. Pyrethrins are a natural by-product of the Chrysanthemum flower,” he said. “Synthetic pyrethroids have a similar chemical structure as the pyrethrins and are used in numerous commercial products such as household insecticides, pet shampoos and sprays, and even lice shampoos. The products themselves are water-based, mixed in water and will not harm plants. “We also use a natural garlic spray, similar to the garlic in your kitchen but stronger and more potent,” he continued. “We use this product around ponds, vegetable gardens,

flowering shrubs and flowers so not to harm aquatic life and pollinators. All of our products are EPA-registered.” Elliott also offers two options for customers who would like an all-natural solution. “Our first option consists of garlic and only repels mosquitoes; it does not eliminate them. The second option consists of a blend of essential oils and will eliminate mosquitoes on contact, but becomes a repellent once dry,” he said. “Both of these all-natural services need to be applied more often to be effective, typically every 14 days.” Consumers should know that these all-natural solutions will leave a strong odor — either of garlic or essential oils — in your yard for one to two hours after application. Using a combination of power and manual backpack sprayers, along with granule applications, and even natural garlic, Elliott said he and his Mosquito Joe workers craft the right solutions in quantities that are just right for each particular property. They also do whatever it takes to be sure both the property owner and their neighbors are aware Mosquito Joe is in the area by posting notification flags around the immediate treatment area, and reminding clients a day ahead of their arrival. The only thing that might delay an application is Mother Nature herself. “We don’t work when it’s raining, or in windy conditions,” Elliott said, and he bases his Mosquito Joe treatment rates on the total square footage of the area that requires treating. He said customers should expect the company’s first visit and application to take the longest, while follow-ups tend to be completed more quickly — a typical treatment will average about 15-30 minutes, although larger yards may take longer to treat. “Most people are really happy because they see the results almost immediately,” Elliott said. After graduating from Newtown High School in 2015, Elliott moved with his mom to Massachusetts where she opened her own Mosquito Joe franchise. “But I wanted to get back to Newtown, so we decided to open another franchise here, which we did in the middle of the season in 2019,” he said. “Right now we’re working five to six days a week, but I’m perfectly willing to come out on Sundays if that’s what the customer prefers.” Elliott said his prime service time is now, between Memorial and Independence days, and he will continue doing regular treatments and follow-ups through October.

Home & Garden - 11

June 19, 2020- The Newtown Bee

Game On In Your Backyard With Courts And Rinks At Home

By Andy Hutchison Lots of children — adults, too — enjoy going outside to shoot hoops or play any number of sports in the backyard. How about the convenience of a state-of-the-art court just steps away from your living room couch? Backyard professional-grade (as in, no natural-driveway-slope-grade) courts are an option for those serious about getting the professional, or at least town park basketball, tennis, or other sports-playing experience. Ian Marucci, owner of Connecticut’s Sport Court, says his company has built hundreds of courts throughout Connecticut in 14 years. The average cost of a complete court system — including site work, surfacing, and instillation of hoops and fencing for a standard 30-by-50-foot multi-sport court — is about $30,000 to $40,000, and that number can go up depending on the yard and landscaping necessary to retrofit the court. Site access can dictate how much is spent. “Can you get a truck right to the site or do you need a temporary road?” Marucci queried. “Obviously, the flatter the yard, the easier it is, but there are always ways with retaining walls and such you can get any piece of property to a level place.” “Depending on your property, the site work is usually the largest cost associated with the project. The more work that needs to be completed to prepare your space, the larger the cost will be. This is why two seemingly identical 30-by-30-foot courts can vary in price, as it depends on the property on which they are being built,” according to a June 23, 2019, sportprousa.com article “Understanding the Cost of a Backyard Sport Court,” by Shannon Grizil. Another consideration for someone looking to add a court to their yard is town regulations concerning setbacks and environmental easements that must be followed. Newtown residents have to consider septic systems, Marucci said. “You can’t build on top of a septic system,” he said. A traditional multi-sport court can be used for basketball as well as other sports such as Futsal, volleyball, and roller hockey. Speaking of hockey, the court can be converted into a seasonal ice hockey rink with addition of boards if the homeowner floods the surface and gets the necessary sub-freezing temperatures to make ice. Sport Court works with Stamford-based Pro Rinks, which handles the chiller system end of the projects. These rinks, which can include NHL-style boards and even

shatterproof glass, can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. An ideal pickleball court is slightly bigger than the 30-by-50-foot court size, and tennis courts, at 60 by 120 feet, are substantially larger and can cost in the neighborhood of $300,000. Courts can be surrounded with what Marucci refers to as rebounder net — a tight netting that serves as a fence and also allows balls to bounce back. The netting can be used for one-person games of baseball or lacrosse pitch/throw and catch, or kicking a soccer ball as well, he said. Marucci compares the options to what a homeowner might encounter when adding an addition with high-end finishings requiring more money than basic work. In addition to courts, Sport Court installs batting cages, which can cost $5,000 to $10,000 — up to about $15,000 for a decked-out cage, including artificial turf. The standard cage is 12 feet wide by 70 feet long, but cages can be shortened to accommodate space restrictions. Cages may also be incorporated into courts. “It’s important to understand all that goes into building a home sport court. There are numerous factors that affect the overall cost of this unique construction project and knowing the basic components will help you be better prepared for the costs associated,” according to Grizil’s article. For those interested in enhancing their backyard sports-playing experience but who want to spend less or who do not have the space for a new court, Sport Court will customize driveways by painting lines, Marucci said. Something to keep in mind is future use of backyard sports spaces for children as they grow. “When you design a sports or play space, consider how that space can be transformed over the years to continue to meet your family’s changing needs,” according to installitdirect.com. “Removable sports court surfaces, courts that can be used for multiple purposes, or large areas of artificial grass that do double duty as sports fields are examples of backyard game spaces that can keep up with your growing kids.” The website suggests that portable games and surfaces are usually less expensive, can be stored when not in use, and are easy to change out for something else if children switch from baseball to football or outgrow their trampoline, for example, but that “permanent structures and surfaces are usually more attractive and are often safer.”

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12 - Home & Garden

The Newtown Bee - June 19, 2020

When Faced With Clearing Out An Entire House,

An attic after it was recently cleaned out by Joe’s Junk Removal & More.

An attic before it was recently cleaned out by Joe’s Junk Removal & More.

By Eliza Hallabeck While some may never need to face the daunting task of clearing out an entire house, the responsibility may fall on the shoulders of others. Cleaning out a home that once belonged to a loved one may feel like facing a mountain. When that happens, there are people who can help; people like Joe Chater, who owns Joe’s Junk Removal & More, based in Meridan. No matter the reason, Chater said people facing cleaning out an entire home should start by going through it to see what they want to keep. Then, he said, “call a person like me to come and remove [the rest].” His company is contacted more for general clean outs, and he does full estate clean outs about three times a month, he said.

Chater said he has been in the business for 22 years. While most things have not changed, he said people are going through harder times lately. He has helped both people who have lost their homes and people who are cleaning out a house after the death of a family member. For people who are losing their “houses to banks,” Chater said, “I charge them a reasonable price so they can get what they need and they can get some of their money back from the banks.” Cleaning out a home can cause family members to argue, he said. By contacting someone to help with the task of cleaning out the house though, those arguments can be mitigated. To help people who are cleaning out an entire house, Chater said, “I talk to them. I


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Home & Garden - 13

June 19, 2020- The Newtown Bee

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A work area that was recently cleared out by Joe’s Junk Removal & More.

explain what I look to do, what is the best situation for them, and some people have us take the stuff and donate it.” Chater said many items can be donated, and he works with charities that ask him to salvage things like silverware that people have a need for. “I don’t want to throw anything out that I can donate,” he said. Sometimes he finds antiques, dressers, tools, and more items that he said he can bring to Goodwill stores and centers and Savers. “Not everybody has money in this economy now,” Chater said, adding that these efforts help people to save money. He first started in the business after a friend told him it was a good business to be in, he said about his transition from working in the restaurant business. His friend also shared

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how people in the business can help people in different ways. “It breaks my heart sometimes,” he said, of helping those who have lost a loved one. “That’s why there are companies like me to come out and help you with anything you need to take care of in that type of situation.” To anyone facing cleaning out a home, Chater said, “Always think about what you do before you do it, before you get rid of sentimental things. Keep the things that give you good memories of your family.” Joe’s Junk Removal & More offers single and multiple-item pickups along with whole house and estate clean outs. Dumpster rentals, yard debris and storm cleanup, and other services are also available. To learn more about Joe’s Junk Removal & More’s services, see its website at junkremovalandmore.com.

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14 - Home & Garden

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The Newtown Bee - June 19, 2020


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June 19, 2020- The Newtown Bee

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