Friday, April 29, 2016

What to consider when adding a sunroom to your home - By JT Construction

Many people dream of having a beautiful sunroom in their homes but just don’t know where to start. They know they want more space, great lighting, and a feeling of being in nature. If this describes you, here’s what to consider when thinking about adding a sunroom to your home in Maine. 
  • Adjust your dreams to reality. Determine a budget, to get an idea of what you can get for the money you’re willing to spend, and build your design around your finances. Sometimes it’s better to aim low than to end up with a half-finished project. When you’re sure your design is perfectly balanced between your possibilities and fantasies, you’re ready to go.
  • Find a good contractor. Contractors will make or break your dreams, literally. We here at JT Construction would be happy to provide you with a free quote.
  • Don’t skimp on the quality of the materials. It’s always  a better option to spend a bit more if it gets you better quality since good materials make all the difference in a sunroom. For example, double-glazed glass offers durability, insulation, and glare reduction, and if you decide on the one with additional coating, you will spend more, but ensure minimizing the impact of ultraviolet rays and heat. But, not all of the materials need to be the most expensive to be the best choice. By spending more on glass, you can save by choosing vinyl for support beams instead of wood- it costs less, needs less maintenance and has great strength and insulation properties.
  • Think ahead. If you want to use the sunroom throughout the year, opt for a small gas wall heater, which could be used to warm up the room in the winter months. If you have an opposite situation and think that your sunroom could get too hot in the summer, you could install ceiling fans or add operative skylights. It’s important to customize your plans according to weather conditions in your environment, to avoid any unpleasant surprises along the way.
In the end, don’t let the cost or the work discourage you. Benefits of adding a sunroom to your house are many, and you won’t regret it for a moment. It will be your favorite place in the house for you and your family.

home and garden - Extend the life of your small engines - By Chris McDonald of Windham Powersports

No matter how you take care of your lawn, you most likely have a tool with a small engine to help keep it looking stellar.

Your “tools” include anything which you use to maintain your yard and landscape like push mowers, riding mowers, chainsaws, weed whackers, hedge trimmers, yard edger, post hole diggers and more. Proper maintenance of these machines will extend the life and improve the efficiency of your tools!

There are seven tips for maintaining your small engines:
(1)   Always consult your owners manual
(2)   A clean air filter is a healthy air filter
(3)   Your oil should be checked and changed on a regular basis
(4)   Always use a clean /fresh fuel filter
(5)   Use degreaser on your engine’s oil spots and stains
(6)   Keep the cooling fins clean and clear of debris
(7)   Fuel caps have air breather holes which should be clear

Additional items to check and verify:
(1)   Sharpen or replace blades
(2)   Verify condition of drive belts (Cracks and stretching)
(3)   Spark plug clean/replace
(4)   Control cable inspection

These are the items that should be checked on a regular basis, you can consult your owners’ manual for exact times to check and or change. There are also small engine shops which offer services to complete these lists for you at a reasonable fee. If these steps are followed on a regular basis your equipment will last for a very long time.

Home and garden - Lyme disease prevention begins with education - By Bob Maurais

Mainely Ticks recommends that you:

·         Create a “Tick Safe” zone by cutting lawns and removing leaf litter. 

·         Keep children’s play areas 8 to10 feet from wooded edges, stone walls and tall grass.

·         Wear light-colored, long-sleeved shirts, pants and socks when outside. 

·         Apply 0.5 percent permethrin spray (repels both ticks and mosquitoes and works six weeks even through multiple washings) to your work or play clothes.  Treat exposed skin with controlled release 20 percent to 30 percent DEET repellent.  

·         Finally, and most importantly, perform a tick check on yourself, your family and your pets daily, especially during the months of May, June, and July when the nymph tick is most prevalent.  When performing the tick check, use the sensitivity of your fingers as well as your eyes. Nymph ticks are so tiny that you might mistake one for a small freckle…if you use your hands to feel, especially in the scalp, you are more apt to find and remove ticks in a timely fashion.  By performing a daily tick check, you greatly reduce your chances of contracting Lyme disease and co-infections.

If you spend time outdoors, you are apt to pick up a tick from time to time. Don’t panic if you do.  Medical experts differ on the time it takes for a tick to infect a host, but all agree that the longer the tick is attached, the greater your chances of contracting tick-borne diseases.  Here’s how to remove a tick:

Using a pair of fine pointed tweezers, grasp the tick as close as possible to the skin. Pull straight out with a steady motion. A tick’s mouthpart is barbed like a fish-hook. It may take up to one minute applying steady pressure for the tick to let go. Avoid squishing the tick or pulling side-to side. Once removed:
  • Wash the site thoroughly with soap and water, disinfect with antiseptic. 
  • Record the date  the tick was removed on a calendar. 
  • Watch for early signs and symptoms of Lyme disease, which may include an expanding red rash, flu-like symptoms, and/or joint pain and swelling. Approximately 40 percent to 70 percent of Lyme disease victims develop a rash within two days to four weeks. If untreated, more severe symptoms may develop, sometimes months to years later.
  • Contact your physician if you positively identify the attached tick as a deer tick.
For additional information, visit

Understanding the importance of hardscaping - By Ryan Additon of Northeast Landscape Design

Hardscaping is the backbone of your yard. It creates an impression of strength and integrity when you pull up to it, a presence, if you may.  Hardscaping unifies the home with its surrounding environment. We live in a state scraped down by the glaciers. The glaciers carved out ponds, rivers and lakes, dispersing huge boulders and sediments. Most of us have those deposits right in our own backyards, so why not incorporate them into our own personal landscape design?

Northeast Landscape Design always starts the design process by stepping back and taking in the surroundings.  Whether we need to retain a particular area on the lawn or build pathways to and from certain entrance points or disperse water away from the homestead, environmental features are all key factors.

Next we look at incorporating the stone features in a way where the design just looks natural, like it has always been there. We try to incorporate stone which is indigenous to our land to homogenize the entire project. We place smaller stone boulders in planting beds to give the effect of planting around ledge popping out of the ground. Without a good hardscape design, gardens will lack luster, pathways won’t make sense, and disorder will rule.
Benefits for adding hardscaping to your landscape.

-Increased property value. You can increase your property value by 10 to15 percent with a professionally landscaped yard, or a return on your money spent by 75 to 100 percent when you sell. defines spaces. A retaining wall can level out a certain part of your yard or create a place for your BBQ grill and seating area. Hardscaping can create an area for your bonfires, and can direct traffic to areas you want your guest to go.
-Expands your living space. Adding a patio enlarges your home’s footprint for those enjoyable summer evenings. 

-Reduces maintenance. The less grass you have the more time you have enjoying you yard.

- Beautification. When landscapes look nice it makes you feel good.

Home and Garden - Peas, peas, peas - pointers to go from garden to table - By Harrison Wood

Now for the vegetable garden. Some plants can take our cool mornings, even frosts, so before it gets to hot and you lose out, it's time to hurry up and get busy. Off to the vegetable garden where we can start all those tasty early things.

If you remember, last fall we added all the leaves to the garden and turned them in, if you didn't, then off to the compost, adding lots of it all over. Adding a great deal of compost each year is important, You're not only adding some valuable nutrients in small amounts, especially the trace elements, you're adding a lot of beneficial bacteria that you need to keep the soil alive and active. Good bacteria is necessary so that the nutrients that we add to the garden in the form of fertilizer are not tied up and wasted, as such the plants aren't able to use them.

While you're at it take the time to sweeten the Ph of our  native Maine soil, by adding some lime, pelletized works fast, or powdered, but never hydrated, that's for other projects. By keeping our soils on the sweeter side, those nutrients that become tied up in an acidic soil are available for the vegetables to use. Without this step every couple of years all is wasted.

At the same time I trudge across the garden spreading my trusty 5-10-5. If I can't get it, I'll use 10-10-10 as an alternative, organic is even that much better, but never do I use fertilizer that is intended for lawn areas, to many nutrients designed just to grow nothing, but leaves. If you didn't add rock phosphate over the last couple of years, add it now. This is an important slow release organic source of phosphorus that gives us a wonderful root system.

If you haven't already ordered your seeds then it's off to the local farm supply to attack their seed racks. We're going to plant all sorts of early things that will say thank you for their cool spring start.

You want peas, radishes, carrots, onion sets, loose leaf lettuce, as well as Swiss chard and beets, all of which can go into the cool soil "now," without the worry of damaging frost. For the window boxes as well as your planters grab a few packs of pansies while you're there. They can all take the cool weather, even a bit of snow if they have to, heaven forbid we see more snow. Let it stay in Colorado.

Read the back of the seed packs carefully, some peas for example will need a string trellis to climb, so that we can eat pods and all, others we want to grow for just the peas themselves. There are some newer varieties that we can grow for not only there edible pods, but also their edible tendrils, the little terminal branches that hold the vines to their trellis, they can afford to lose a few so that you can add something special to your salads.

Carrots and onion sets are going to be in the same spots for most of the season, so keep that in mind when you choose their location. Carrots now come not only in a number of different sizes, they also come in a number of different colors, other than just orange. The carrots will need to be thinned after a while so that they don't crowd themselves out, so be prepared to pull some and send them to your salad, foliage and all wasting nothing. Early onions can be used for their bulbs as well as for their greens, add to your meal anytime you want something fresh. If you've never tasted a carrot fresh out of the soil, you've ever tasted a truly fresh carrot.
Radishes along with the leaf lettuces come and go quickly so do several smaller plantings about a week or so apart until the warmer weather arrives, then stop until the cooler weather of September arrives when they can once again enjoy the cool season, radishes especially deplore hot weather.

Swiss chard and beets also come in several colors, as a long season crop they are going to be with you all summer, the flavor will improve as the cool fall grows closer. Keep in mind that Swiss chard seeds are actually a small cluster of seeds so they will also require some thinning, like the others throwing away nothing as you add them to your salad.

Yes, it's a bit of work, but once you simply step outside your door to get something real fresh for the table, you'll agree that it's worth all the work. So off you go, get started.

WMS student Emily PeBenito serves as honorary page

AUGUSTA – Emily PeBenito, a student at Windham Middle School, recently served as an Honorary Page in the Maine Senate as the guest of Sen. Bill Diamond of Windham. She was invited by Sen. Diamond for earning student of the month at school.
Emily is pictured with Sen. Diamond at the Senate President’s rostrum following the senate session.

The Honorary Page program gives students an opportunity to participate in the process and interact with Legislators. Honorary Pages have the opportunity to see what it is like to work on the floor of the Senate and be part of a legislative session. Pages perform such duties as delivering messages to Senators and distributing Amendments and Supplements in the Chamber. Students from third grade through high school are invited to serve in the Senate Chamber as Honorary Pages when the Senate is in Session. For more information or to schedule a visit, call Sen. Diamond at (207) 287-1515.

Student of the week - Reese Merritt

The Windham Eagle student of the week is Reese Merritt, a 12-year-old at Jordan-Small Middle School. The seventh grader loves math. 

“The seventh grade team is pleased to nominate Reese Merritt.  Reese was nominated by many of his peers who agree he is kind, honest, trustworthy, accepting and considerate.  One peer wrote, ‘Reese was kind enough to let me hang out with him whenever I felt left out of the group. He never questions who you're with or why you're with them.’  In the classroom, Reese is a strong student, a great peer helper and focused on doing his best,” the JSMS team said.  

Reese doesn’t know what he wants to do when he is older. “Education is important because if you never learned, you would not get a job that you love. I know many kids want a specific job that requires a good education,” he said. He enjoys skiing, soccer, tennis, drawing as well as drama, chorus and band. 

Reese lives with his mom Desiree, dad Richard, 14-year-old dog Gretchen and a 12-year-old cat Kar-Nack.

Favorite subject:  Math
Favorite TV show:  Science Channel and the news
Favorite Animal:  Elephant
Favorite movie:  all of the Harry