Resources

By Jeff Milosevich

THERE’S ALWAYS SOMETHING HAPPENING AT THE LIBRARY! AND SUMMER IS POSSIBLY OUR BUSIEST TIME OF THE YEAR, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES TO OUR EVENTS SCHEDULE.

On Saturday, June 17, we’ll be kicking off our annual Summer Reading Challenge at Martin Road Park: kids, teens, and adults can all be signed up to participate in our reading challenge and be connected to the Beanstack app, which can be used to log everyone’s recreational reading throughout the season. Cool prizes are in store for those who log the most reading!

SUMMER READING: IT ALL STARTS ON JUNE 17, from 1:00 P.M. – 3:00 P.M. at Martin Road Park: Library staff will be providing onsite Summer Reading signup assistance at the park’s pavilion. There will be lawn games and a new book on the Story Trail for kids, food trucks, including tacos for lunch and ice cream for dessert, plus live music featuring a rousing singalong of Beatles covers! This year’s Summer Reading theme is “All Together Now,” emphasizing a sense of community as we all participate in a fun reading challenge together. If you want to find out more, you can visit the library’s website: fadl.org/summer

Along with encouraging patrons to log their reading on Beanstack, we’ll also host a variety of engaging events and activities for all age groups. fadl.org/upcoming-events

TINY ART: ON MAY 15, we unveiled another craft kit giveaway, providing “art kits” containing a “tiny” 5”x5” canvas, along with a “tiny” tripod easel and “tiny” assorted paints and paint brushes. These kits were distributed on a first-come/first-serve basis, so we can’t guarantee whether or not they’ll be available by the time you’re reading this. Our goal is to collect all the artwork from the community to curate an exhibition that will be on display through- out the library all summer long. We’ll host a special reception, scheduled for June 29 at 6:00 P.M., where we’ll celebrate everyone’s artistic talents. To find more info about “tiny art” and all upcoming art exhibitions, visit: fadl.org/art.

SUMMER CONCERT SERIES: Our ever-popular crowd-pleasing Summer Concert Series returns to our Library’s courtyard starting June 13. These free, all-ages concerts are made possible by the Friends of the Ferndale Library, allowing music lovers to catch an early evening outdoor performance by some of Michigan’s most talented songwriters. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own folding chairs, blankets, or any transportable seating apparatus, but you can also just sit on the grass or find a spot at one of our picnic tables. This year’s lineup includes Dani Darling (soul/funk/indie) on June 13, Chris Bathgate (folk/Americana/roots/ ambient) on July 18, and the Theatre Bizarre Orchestra (jazz) on August 22.

UPCOMING YOUTH EVENTS: June 24: Painting Workshop with Living Arts Detroit (ages 7- 12); June 28: Tie-Blankets for Shelter Animals (multigenerational); June 29: Life-Sized Candy Land (ages 2-5); July 10: Sadarri & Company theatre troupe’s Multicultural Storytelling (ages 2- 12); July 24: Acting for Kids with OpenSpot Theatre (ages 5-12); July 27: Make Your Own Animal Masks! (ages 5-8); July 28: Sharpie Tie-Dying Workshop for Teens (ages 13-18+); July 31: Zine-Making Program (ages 7 and up); August 1: Sloan-Longway: City Shapes (ages 4-7). Ongoing: Reading Rainbow, Middle School Board Game Club, Middle Grade Tabletop RPG, and Pokemon Club.

Meanwhile, we’ll continue to host storytimes, but we’re changing it up a little just for the summer-time: Baby Storytimes will be hosted on the first three Fridays of each month at 10:30 A.M. and then our new Family Storytime will be hosted on the first three Wednesdays of each month at 10:30 A.M. Find more info at: fadl.org/youth

Parents/caregivers can bring kids of all ages into the youth area to enjoy the latest seasonal decor, with lively cardboard cut-outs created by our youth librarians portraying fun new scenes featuring the friendly creatures of “Fern Forest.” We’ll also be planning another scavenger hunt where kids can scour every aisle of the Kids Corner to help retrieve a variety of hidden items that belong to one of the furry citizens of Fern Forest.

UPCOMING SUMMERTIME ADULT EVENTS: June 12: Movie Trivia Night at 215 West; June 22: Costumed Model/Figure Drawing (sketch work-shop); June 25, July 23, August 27: New Adult RPG Group – a new limited series of three monthly meet-ups where adults can play short-duration RPG games together.  July 17: the return of our popular “Chopped Challenge” take-home craft kit containing three “mystery ingredients” for our local foodies to use in creating a dish of their choosing. Ongoing: All of our book clubs will occur at their set times and dates, including the Ferndale Project Book Club, Graphic Novel Book Club, Science Fiction Book Club, and Film Club (find more info on our website).

GAMES & GARDENS: Stop by the Library to enhance your enjoyment of the outdoors this summer: use your Ferndale Library card to check out an array of games and sporting equipment from our Library of Things, including a croquet set, bocce ball set, pickleball set, and a bike repair stand! After that, stop by the Seed Library and check out a variety of herb, flower, or vegetable seed packets to plant in your garden! And speaking of gardening, mark your calendars for August 3, when Rachael Carter from Floraculture gives a presentation on starting your own herbal tea garden!

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more information at updates@ferndalelibrary

 

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By Jenn Goeddeke

ARE YOU ONE OF THE MANY AMERICANS WHO ARE CONSIDERING A HOME ENERGY CONVERSION, from fossil-fuel based electricity to solar power, either fully or partially? It may not always be easy to know where or how to start the process. Plenty of people aim to live a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle, but have real concerns regarding cost, convenience, effectiveness and the overall reliability of a transition. You may wonder: What exactly is solar energy, and is there enough natural sunlight where you live to generate the energy required for your home?

To describe it briefly, there is an established technology known as Solar Photovoltaic (PV) which converts sunlight into a direct electric current (DC) through the use of semiconductors. This typically takes place using solar panels. An inverter converts the flow of DC into an alternating current (AC) for your household energy needs. Fortunately, there are some great sources of detailed information available, either online or through your local library or bookstore. Local interest blogs and social media postings, groups and videos are also worth reviewing. Plus, a variety of companies are set up specifically to provide estimates, good advice, and proper installation of the solar panels.

This particular article will focus on setting up a solar system to provide power to the inside of your home, but there is also a vast array of options for gardens, yards and landscaping.

WHY GO SOLAR? Solar power is the most abundant and cheapest energy source on Earth. Panels can produce energy without direct sunlight and can last up to 30 years. Solar energy is truly renewable, we will never run out of it!

Conversion to solar power has become a popular option and, according to the Dept. of Energy (www.energy.gov) there are now over one million solar installations nationwide. Most solar systems pay for themselves in less than ten years, and equipment is typically warrantied for about 25 years. But panels can lose some efficiency over the years. And labor warranties are shorter than those on materials, so factor that in.

I recently had the opportunity to consult with Rachel Engel, a local permaculture urban farmer and designer, who has successfully set up an eco-farm project in Ferndale. Engel’s educational background includes a master’s degree in evolutionary ecology from the University of Michigan, and she has been practicing permaculture for over ten years. Her outstanding childhood and adult memories are those connected with nature: Camping, foraging and hiking.

From Engel’s original design thesis/vision statement: “The overarching design goal is to convert a 1/4-acre suburban home into a food, energy, and medicinal-herb-producing ecofarm. The farm is powered by solar clean energy, heated by wood, with temperature regulation assisted by thermal curtains regulating airflow, and white curtains hung outside windows in the summer.”

ENGEL’S HOME AND ECOFARM USE ONLY SOLAR POWER for electric needs. Gas power is used for some heat requirements, such as hot water, and they also have a woodburning stove. She emphasized that the transition to solar was smooth, and there is no difference in reliability. The solar panels are installed on the south-facing side of the garage, in a back garden area. The system was tied into the power exchange system with DTE, so when the panels overproduce energy can be pulled back or saved for cloudy weeks (clearly this is not an example of an “off the grid” situation).

REGARDING THE ACTUAL SOLAR PANELS, Engel pointed out that they are often rated to outlive us! Engel advises homeowners to “Start small, and be mindful of low-hanging fruit.” For example, you might want to try a portable system first (such as the Goalzero mobile office system) and find ways to economize simply around your home. Other first considerations may include installing energy-efficient windows; using environmentally-friendly insulation and installing energy-efficient appliances. Lighting options and use of electronics also factor into the equation. A home energy audit may prove to be useful in determining these factors.

For your next area of research, find out how much electricity you typically use based on your bill. This will help your potential installer produce a more accurate quote, and also determines the number of panels to be used on your roof. Also consider any potential plans. For example, are you thinking of purchasing an electric vehicle in the next few years? If so, you may want to include a few extra panels to the quote.

Secure a few different quotes. The price-per-watt is the main factor to consider, but certainly
not the only consideration. For example, the panels themselves vary in quality and efficiency. Plus, the size and shape of your roof is also a factor. How helpful and detail-oriented does the installer seem to be? Check that the licensure, insurance and certifications are all current from the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).

ONCE YOU HAVE BIDS TO REVIEW, you will want to determine the source of financing. Cost factors vary, but an average cost of a solar panel installation here in MI ranges from around $15,000 to $20,000, (prior to rebates and tax incentives).

Fortunately, the final installation process is relatively straightforward: The installer draws up plans, obtains any necessary permits, and then installs the equipment.

It is always best to become familiar in advance with any possible hidden costs or complications that may surface. For example, look into the following aspects: some homes may need an upgraded electrical panel; there may be neighborhood or homeowner association restrictions; shade trees present, either your own or those belonging to your neighbors. What age is your roof, what condition is it in, and does it need to be replaced prior to a solar panel project? There are also a few rewards and incentives to gain information on. Check the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) to see availabilities by area). Your accountant can help with number-crunching, especially regarding any potential tax incentives.

To summarize: Make some simple and inexpensive changes to be more energy-efficient. Conduct research and figure your basic need for electricity, and sunlight avail- ability. Secure quotes from trust-
worthy contractors. Decide on financing options. Consider any hidden costs or hurdles. Take particular care with warranties and contracts and check your homeowner’s insurance and maintenance requirements. Finally, enjoy your new and improved ‘green footprint’ with a fully energy-efficient home!

Online information sources include: Popular Science (www.popsci.com); www.energy.gov; www.electricchoice.com; www.studentenergy.org; www.ecowatch.com; www.solaractionalliance.org; https://go.sunpower.com. Special thanks to Rachel Engel of the Ferndale EcoFarm for her insightful feedback.

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By Ryan R. Ennis

LIKE MOST THINGS IN A HOUSE, DRYWALL IS SUSCEPTIBLE TO WEAR AND DAMAGE OVER TIME.

As the dwelling settles, hairline cracks suddenly form along the ceilings and the walls in the living room. During a move, the side of a heavy storage cabinet accidentally falls forward and hits near the corner of a wall, denting it. Each time a painting or poster changes location in the bedroom, it leaves behind unsightly holes to patch. These are just a few examples of common occurrences that calls for some know-how to repair.

Small holes, shallow dents, and thin cracks in the drywall are often viewed as easy fixes that you can do yourself. However, if these jobs aren’t done right, they can create more problems down the line. Holes will become bigger, dents deeper, and cracks thicker. It can sometimes help to disguise the problems by shuffling around different pieces of artwork and furniture, but that’s not always a guarantee that outsiders won’t see what you’re trying to disguise.

The best solution is following the correct procedures to get the jobs done. Here are some suggestions on how you can restore your walls and ceilings:

FOR THE SMALL HOLES AND CRACKS, START OFF BY FILLING THEM WITH SPACKLE, then smoothing out the excess with a putty knife so that the area is thoroughly covered. Once the mixture dries, simply sand the spots until they are smooth and ready to be repainted. However, if the diameter of the damage is greater than an inch, you will probably need to tape the spot before spackling. Paper tape works best for corner repairs. If the holes or dents are not directly in the corners, fiberglass mesh tape will do the trick. No matter how steady your hands are, bulges or bubbles in the tape can appear as you lay it down. Try to smooth them out with a putty knife before spackling and sanding. If the putty knife doesn’t help, you might have to take off and re-apply the tape until it’s even with the walls.

Because drywall is vulnerable to nail pops bursting through without warning, you most likely will be faced with mending those as well. When you first notice them, you might believe an easy remedy is dabbing some paint over them. However, a proper fix involves driving them back with a hammer into the wall; then putting in drywall screws over and under the sites of the nail pops. From there, you can level them with joint compound. If this procedure isn’t followed, there’s a likelihood the nail pops will show back up.

Whether you’re dealing with holes, dents, cracks, or nail pops, a typical mistake is sanding the site too vigorously after the compound or spackling dries. When too much pressure is exerted on a wall or corner during sanding, you gamble removing part of the paper face. Once the paper face has been rubbed off, it usually results in a bumpy or uneven surface. That will lead to reapplying the spackling, waiting for the spot to dry again, and then re-sanding the area. To prevent this from happening, you might find it easier to use fine sand (150 grit) paper attached to an electric or a hand sander. For getting into hard-to-reach areas, such as corners, a fine sanding sponge should be sufficient to flatten any unevenness in the compound.

AS A FINISHING STEP TO THE SMALL REPAIRS, YOU WILL GATHER THE SAME SUPPLIES that you initially bought to paint or texture the surfaces before the damage: In other words, the same types of rollers, sponges, brushes, etc. that were initially used to paint or create their smooth, semi-smooth, or rough- er textures. As you paint or apply the texture, make sure to cover not only the location of the repair but also the area around it. After the fresh coat of texture or paint has been blended in with the rest of the wall, the site should look as good as new.

When it comes to repairing larger holes or dents in the drywall, the process becomes more involved. To begin, outline a rectangular shape around the bad area, then use a sturdy single-bladed saw with a sharp point that can punch through and cut out the damaged drywall. Using another sheet of drywall, draw and score a matching rectangular piece. This new piece will be inserted into the wall to cover what was taken out.

To secure the new section, apply joint tape around the seams and then camouflage it with joint compound. If the joint tape fails to hold it in place, try installing some furring (or wooden) strips in the opening where the damaged section was removed. The strips serve as a reinforcement or backing for the new drywall piece as you fasten it in with drywall screws. Once again, you will need to sand to create a level surface before re-painting it.

WHEN IS IT TIME FOR A PROFESSIONAl to step in? Since it’s your home and project, you call the shots. Whether you’re dealing with small wall and ceiling repairs, or looking at a room with massive amounts of drywall damage, it’s perfectly all right at any time to reach out to experts who install drywall for a living. They have the necessary skills and equipment to guarantee the work. To find and hire a reputable drywall contractor near you, check out the website: www.bbb.org.

By Ryan R. Ennis

ACROSS NORTH AMERICA, ALARMS SHOULD BE SOUNDING ABOUT WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS for the creatures who fertilize our flowers and crops. Environmentalists at Pennsylvania State’s Center for Pollinator Research report that beekeepers have been losing significant amounts of their colonies each year. Conservationists at the Center for Biological Diversity stress that Monarch butterflies are
now hovering near extinction. And scientists at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology declare that many bird species are also endangered. All of this seems to imply impending doom for our natural world.

In response to the crisis, the researchers are also looking at the reasons why wildlife populations are decreasing. Some of their investigations show that a major contributor is the expanse of traditional lawns in our cities. When lawns consist of just sod or grass, they create what is called a “monoculture,” or the growing of a single plant. Acting as a “dead zone,” the lack of diverse vegetation disrupts the natural food webs. As birds swoop down over the grass, they frequently find no caterpillars to snatch and feed to their babies. Despite roaming for hours and miles, butterflies and
bees often fail to come across any clover or milkweed to feast on. With so little nutrients available, it’s no wonder that birds and insects are dying off.

Regular lawns can be detrimental to the environment in other ways. Possessing short root structures,
both turf and sod lack the ability to soak up the water from heavy downpours. The surplus water runs off our lawns, fills up the storm drains, and puts unnecessary stresses on our infrastructures. This same rainwater flooding our drains and sewers oftentimes contains the fertilizes we use to treat our lawns.

Eventually, the chemicals end up in our rivers and lakes, resulting in an overabundance of algae growing in them. By blocking out the sun and absorbing all the oxygen near the surface, the massive algae blooms diminish the lifecycles of the creatures and plants whose homes are our waterways. Humans are affected by the invasive plant as well. If we happen to canoe or kayak across a stream full of bacteria-ridden algae, we risk exposure to the harmful toxins being released in the air.

LANDSCAPING OPTIONS THAT HELP WILDLIFE

AS A WAY OF HELPING NATURE TO REBOUND, Ferndale Garden Club President Dominic Scappaticci proposes that we “rethink what a traditional lawn should look like.” For decades, owning a house or condo with a lush lawn has been the benchmark in suburbia. A well- maintained yard often communicates to others that we care about ourselves, our neighbors, and our communities. It also provides appropriate places where dogs can walk and sniff, children can play, and outdoor parties can be hosted. To design these spaces, Scappaticci says that we don’t have to lay down sod or plant only grass seed. Instead, we help the environment by choosing to create a bee lawn in our yards.

“Bee lawns,” explains Scappaticci, “are a mix of lawn grass and low-growing plants that attract pollinators.” Some of the plants that entice bees include clover, creeping thyme, and the herb called self-heal. Although these plants all flower, the blooms remain small enough to survive the lawnmower blade. Since bee lawns can be trimmed, we can still use them for recreation. Another advantage of bee lawns is that they are able to endure significant fluctuations in the weather. Perhaps best of all, they require limited watering and no chemicals to stay green.

“A lot of research concerning bee lawns,” reveals Scappaticci, “has been conducted by
scientists at the University of Minnesota. They actually studied what kinds of seed mixes work best for withstanding the mower and people walking on them.” These mixes have been made available for the public purchase through commercial landscaping companies and online vendors, such as Twin Seed and Outsidepride Seed Source.

Installing a natural meadow is another environmentally-conscious option for us. “Natural meadows are a mix of native grasses and native meadow plants,” explains Scappaticci, “that are grown to full height. Thus, they are much taller than bee lawns.” This type of landscape has an even greater impact on our ecosystems. The taller plants provide habitats for insects to lay eggs and com-plete their lifecycles; as well as places for birds to feed, take shelter, and locate nesting materials.

One drawback to natural meadows is that the high vegetation makes it poorly suited for recreational activities. Another is the slight risk of ticks ending up in the tall grasses, so we shouldn’t let our children or dogs wander through them without taking precautions.

SELECTING & NURTURING NATIVE PLANTS

“BEFORE TRYING TO ESTABLISH A NATURAL MEADOW, know the soil,” Scappaticci advises. “It will
determine the types of grass and perennials that should be planted.” For drier or sandy Michigan ground, the following non-invasive grasses will grow well: prairie dropseed, Canada wild rye, and switchgrass. For damper Michigan soil, the following will work better: sedges, swamp milkweed, and Joe
Pye weed. Some flowering perennials that attract pollinators and can be mixed with the grasses are milkweed, purple coneflowers, blazing star, and native asters. “Plants appropriate for meadows,” he adds, “need full-sun exposure.”

If we plan to grow a bee lawn, “it can be done simply by overseeding,” says Scappaticci. In the spring, this involves thoroughly raking our yards, then sprinkling a bee lawn mixture over the grass, with heavy seed concentrations on any bare patches. After a few rainfalls, the low-growing grass and flowering plants that bees love will begin to expand across the lawn. To maintain a bee lawn on our property, we will only need to mow the yard every few weeks and possibly reseed in some areas the following year.

Unlike a bee lawn, a natural meadow requires more thought, labor, and time to cultivate. According to Scappaticci, the best technique is to “start with a clean slate.” That means removing all the existing vegetation in the location where the meadow will go in early spring. To smother any regrowth, the soil
should be covered with either weighted-down sheets of card- board or black plastic tarps. In some instances, the tarps are preferred because they absorb sunlight and transfer intense heat into the soil, which kills off the seeds from the old vegetation.

After a month or so, we can take off the covers and then aerate the soil. To prevent any weeds from
invading, Scappaticci recommends immediately putting in an annual crop of clover or rye grass. In between the clover or rye grass is where meadow-flourishing perennials and native grasses will be planted. By the next year, the size of the native plants will increase in all directions to fully occupy the area.

If we don’t have weeks to devote to the project, there’s another method that takes less time. The steps to this other method are letting our grass grow long in a particular area, digging out any invasive weeds by hand, and then planting taller-growing perennials throughout the section. Since the original vegetation was never choked out, the second approach gives weeds the opportunity to come back more frequently.

Other than monitoring the meadows for weeds and other invasive plants, we most likely will find the upkeep of them to be relatively simple. A common city ordinance requires that property owners register their planned natural landscapes to avoid receiving a ticket for out-of-control vegetation. Another typical regulation is that the property owners must also retain a border of mowed lawn surrounding it. The width of the border should span several feet or more to ensure that our neighbor’s views are unobstructed as they pull in or back out of their driveways.

At the end of the growing season, Scappaticci says that we should “cut down some of the grass and perennials sections, which allows seeds to set in the soil for birds to collect and eat.” One portion of the meadow should remain standing to serve as a refuge for wildlife during the winter. Each year, he advises “alternating which section is left untouched” over the winter so that the varying plants and their seeds can provide food and shelter for different pollinators.

As a closing thought, he tells us not to be too hard on ourselves for any blunders in designing or caring for natural landscapes: “Simply try again. Even planting one native plant at a time will go a long way” to enhance nature in our communities.

OTHER SOURCES OF INFORMATION

IF WE NEED ADDITIONAL RESOURCES to help us under- stand how natural landscapes work, we can read the ecologist Doug Tallamy’s books on eco-friendly approaches to gardening. His books can be checked out at most public libraries.

Another option available is visiting the natural meadows that have been developed at both Palmer Park and Callahan Park in Detroit. Volunteers at the Detroit Bird City project look after these landscapes and encourage the public to stop by and take a stroll so that they can see the different native plants and how they draw a diversity of bird life.

To gain more knowledge on conservation, we can also join our local garden clubs, or become members of our city’s park & recreation and sustainability commissions.

Lastly, there is uniting with the Homegrown National Park movement. Its philosophy states that if everyone took a portion of their yard and converted it into a meadow, the combined sections would be larger than our national parks and therefore have a significant impact on the environment. Containing extensive information on native plants, the organization’s website is www.homegrownnationalpark.org.

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By Sara E. Teller

IF YOUR HOUSE IS ABOUT TO GO ON THE MARKET, THERE ARE CERTAIN PROVEN STEPS THAT WILL INCREASE IT’S VALUE AND SALABILITY.

We spoke with Frank Thomas, a top contractor in lower Oakland County, to learn about why homeowners may want to increase their home’s value, and what can be done to do so. He said, “Either they want to live there and want things to be comfortable and pleasant; to look good and to feel good about what they’ve done. Or they’re putting their home on the market and want to appease new buyers.”

To appease those buyers and to make a home more competitive, opting for neutral paint colors over dramatic, statement colors will help sell a property faster. Frank says, “If a homeowner is putting their place on the market, it’s important to appeal to a wide range of buyers. This means avoiding customized décor or making it specific to their taste.”

It also pays to do some research in order to target a home’s style and décor to what’s coveted in the area. Go to open houses, take notes on how friends décor- ate, and read home magazines, preferably local ones. “It’s important to know the market and stay on top of trends. People change, the market changes,” said Thomas. Going for popular appeal is a no-brainer when you are starting from scratch and staging an empty home. Staging homes, when possible, is highly recommended.

INCREASING VALUE, INSIDE & OUT

FOR THE INTERIOR, MANY DON’T WANT TO, or can’t, spend the money to fully rehab their kitchens and bathrooms, but there are simple things that anyone can do to make a big difference. Here are some ideas:

Declutter: Simply removing clutter and keeping everything tidy not only can add appeal, but make a space seem bigger too.

Scents: Tending to, and eliminating, any lingering odors (i.e., from smoke or pets), can go a long way.

Fixtures: Changing out faucets, cabinet hardware, and light fixtures are all easy, inexpensive ways to update kitchens and bathrooms without going all in.

For the exterior of your home, there are simple touches that will help make a great first impression. Curb appeal is incredibly important. When buyers browse through real estate listings online, the exterior is the first thing they see (and maybe the last if the house isn’t dressed to impress).

Landscaping: You can update your home’s landscaping to add more character and charm. This just takes a trip to the nursery and some dirt under your fingernails.

The Front Door: A home’s front door is a central focal point. Staining, repainting, or replacing it can help start a tour the right away.

Replace & Renew: Installing new exterior fixtures, shutters, and storm doors are all quick upgrades. Even getting new house address numbers can making a surprising difference in the look of your home.

None of these fixes cost much money, but they will all give your home a great boost.

GETTING THE MOST BANG FOR YOUR BUCK

OF COURSE, SOME INVESTMENTS GIVE HOMEOWNERS MORE BANG for their buck than others. Kitchens and bathrooms are two hot spots that are worth focusing efforts on. They can make or break a home sale, but they can also break the bank if you go overboard with renovations. Luckily, there are ways to dress them up that are budget-friendly, like changing out cabinet hardware or swapping out faucets and fixtures.

One great investment area people often overlook is the basement. Completely finishing the basement
might be impractical, but smaller steps like “giving it a new coat of paint or adding flooring to sections” can add a lot of appeal, said Thomas, who also recommends that homeowners pick a theme and have fun with it. “Whether that be a party basement, a gaming area, a kids’ space, or a gathering space,” Thomas suggests that sellers “plant the seed” for buyers to better understand the value it adds. Introducing some furniture and décor to fit the theme will do the trick.

WHERE NOT TO SPEND YOUR MONEY

SOME HOME INVESTMENTS MAY NOT BE WORTH YOUR TIME OR MONEY. If you’re looking to make substantial renovations to sell your home, it pays to take a critical look at the potential return on investment. The biggest problem, like we mentioned before, is decorating a home about to go on the market for yourself and what appeals to you, and not creating a neutral, blank slate that encourages the homebuyer to envision themselves there. Thomas said, “Some people might not like the neutral option, but they can still be satisfied with it and change it themselves.” It is always best to avoid over-customizing.

GET PROFESSIONAL HELP

IF DECIDING TO WORK WITH A PROFESSIONAL to get the job done, Thomas suggest, “Hire someone who has a good track record of starting and completing a job within a committed amount of time – who will show up when they say they will. For the past 15 years, it seems to be an epidemic and it’s sad, but people are leaving jobs unfinished, or they can’t commit to windows of time. You want to work with someone reliable.”

About Frank Thomas: Frank Thomas is an independently licensed contractor with more than 30 years experience. He specializes in tackling home repairs, full interior/ exterior renovations, finishing incomplete projects, and flipping homes. A top-rated provider on Angi (formerly Angie’s List), Thomas services lower Oakland County. He can be reached by calling or texting 248-901-6920.

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By Sara E. Teller

IF YOU’VE NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT INSTALLING A CEILING FAN, YOU MIGHT WANT TO CONSIDER IT.

We spoke to Frank Thomas, a top contractor in lower Oakland County with more than 30 years experience, to learn why ceiling fans are such a valued fixture. Thomas specializes in tackling home repairs, full interior/exterior renovations, and flipping homes. Here’s what he had to say.

 

Sure, the whirling breeze of a ceiling fan feels great on a hot, summer day, but their primary benefit is saving on electricity usage, lowering bills, and helping the environment in the process. Thomas recommends running a fan all the time. He said, “Instead of running the AC in short spurts, a homeowner can constantly run their fan, and this will cool the room down just as effectively while saving money.”

And, to make the most out of the fan’s energy efficiency, Thomas offered this pro tip: “Most people don’t realize it but there is a tiny switch, about the size of a fingernail, just above the blades. This adjusts the draft so that in the summertime there can be a fuller circulation of air. Most of the time, the instructions are tossed after installation or a homeowner doesn’t do it themselves, so this gets overlooked.”

SELECTING THE PERFECT FAN

IF A CEILING FAN’S KEY BENEFIT IS SAVING ON THE ELECTRIC BILL, what sort of initial investment are we talking about? Thomas said, “The average is anywhere from a very basic fan that’s around $100 to $1,000 or more. It’s a very wide range that depends mainly on quality.”

“Quality” means both aesthetically pleasing and efficient. Thomas explained, “Homeowners often look at aesthetics. They want it to be pretty. However, quality also means the fan operates efficiently. It’s important to consider this, too, when making a purchase.”

The key is to get a fan that’s adequate for the space. “Homeowners need to look at CFMs, which is the amount of air a fan circulates, as well as the size of the blade,” Thomas said. “The size of the blade should correspond with the size of the room. So, for a smaller kitchen, blades should be around 42 inches. They go up from there to about 52 inches. There are even fans with 60-inch blades that are perfect for large family rooms, vaulted ceilings, or even a small office if it needs to be kept at a cool temperature without running the air conditioning.”

Here’s another pro tip. If you buy a ceiling fan with a light, plan on buying a new bulb for it, too. Thomas explained, “Most bulbs that come with fans nowadays aren’t really designed to give off much light. The manufacturers assume people will replace these. They package the most energy-efficient bulbs with them.” You might also need to buy some ancillary accessories a la carte to install it, like a brace.

 

PROPER INSTALLATION

NOW THAT YOU HAVE FOUND YOUR PERFECT CEILING FAN, what’s next? You can always hire a professional contractor, like Thomas, to help you install it. If you like to do things yourself, however, putting one in shouldn’t be too hard. Make sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions, since they will all have variations, and specific configurations will vary, but these are the essential steps you can expect if you are replacing an existing fixture:

1. Carefully remove what’s there. After turning off the electricity, take off the globe or shade from your existing ceiling light and remove any screws and detach any wires holding it to the ceiling.

2. Replace the junction box with one that can support the weight of the ceiling fan. If you’re lucky, your current box will be rated for ceiling fan use; however, most standard junction boxes are not. If you need to change it out, disconnect the wires from the box and remove any screws holding it to the ceiling.

3. Install the new junction box. You’ll likely first need to install a ceiling fan brace, which is essentially a metal bar that connects to ceiling joists to support the weight of the fan. Then, a saddle or a bracket with screw holes may need to be attached to the fan brace so you can connect the ceiling box to the brace. Finally, feed the electrical cable through the new box and screw the box to the brace.

4. Wire the fan to the ceiling. Your wiring will depend on the configuration of your house. Secure
the ceiling fan to the ceiling and do any leftover assembly, like attaching the blades to the fan. Don’t forget to turn the electricity back on! After it is up and running, you should be set for many years of cool breezes and lower energy bills.

 

About Frank Thomas:

Thomas is an independently licensed contractor with more than 30 years of experience helping homeowners build or renovate their dream homes. A top-rated provider on Angi (formerly Angie’s List), Thomas’ home base (a “traveling office”) is in Royal Oak, and he services lower Oakland County. He can be reached by calling or texting 248-901-6920.

By Jenn Goeddeke

IRENE PETTS OF THE LIVELY FLIP SALON IN DOWNTOWN FERNDALE (251 W. NINE MILE RD.) HAS BEEN KEEPING CLIENTS LOOKING AND FEELING GREAT FOR OVER 18 YEARS!

Petts originally came from a salon background in Birmingham: “I wanted to create a unique experience for all and especially to make everyone feel relaxed and comfortable.” As the name suggests, Flip Salon has an entertaining, vintage-themed vibe with music playing in the background to enhance the friendly ambiance.

The salon offers many beauty services including hair, make-up/skin, massage, and typically nails too (a new nail tech is coming soon). Check their website for updates and pricing.

The staff at Flip are experienced professionals, who work with all ages and any hair type and styling needs. Whether you’re considering a hip or “edgy” new hairstyle or simply a trim, the Flip stylists will welcome you!

Walk-in appointments for hair styling are available, plus there is a Wi-Fi connection, and wheelchair access if needed.

Flip carries a diverse array of skin and hair care products, including the all-natural ‘Davines’, plus ‘Cult and King’ selections.

The current product giveaway on offer is proving to be popular: buy two items and get one free.

PETTS SAID SHE CONSTANTLY DRAWS INSPIRATION from her stylists, and that they are “super-talented, investing considerable time into each client’s appointment.”

A special shout-out goes to her masseuse-Jane Andrews, who Petts described as, “truly amazing and intuitive.” Andrews combines different types of massage techniques, depending on the client. She is available by appointment only). Additionally, two of the salon’s stylists – Adrienne and Levon – are both established local artists.

Petts emphasized that the best part of her job is, “meeting new people all the time, and helping others feel good about themselves.” She added, “There have been a lot of changes over the last few years in the salon business, in general. I feel like Flip has been consistent throughout in giving our clients the best experience possible when they come here. I am very grateful to have a team of people and a unique space to make that happen!”

PETTS PARTICIPATES IN VARIOUS LOCAL FUNDRAISERS, including the Locks of Love charity events. In the past, (pre-Covid19) Flip has hosted some art shows and held art openings.

Naturally, the pandemic caused stress and set-backs, as most local businesses and customers would agree. Fortunately, Flip Salon emerged strong and vibrant! Petts mentioned that Flip has a larger space than average, so the staff was able to spread out sufficiently, plus work different shifts.

Although Petts continues to wear a mask at the salon, it is optional for clients to wear a mask at this time. Petts concluded with a smile that it’s good to see a few newer businesses open up in Ferndale, such as Olive’s Bloombox on 9 Mile, and Quix Chocolate on Troy St.

Flip Salon is located at 251 W.9 Mile Rd., Ferndale.
Call them at: 248.544.1400.
Email inquiries can be sent to: jeremy@flipsaloninc.com.
Visit their website: www.flipsaloninc.com.
Open hours: Sun, Mon, Closed; Tues, 9am-2pm; Weds, Thurs, 10am-9pm; Fri, 9am-6pm; Sat, 9am-5pm. Flip Salon is currently hiring – contact Irene Petts for application details.

By Jenn Goeddeke

MIGHTY MO MUFFLER BOLDLY STANDS OUT FROM THEIR COMPETITION IN MANY DIFFERENT WAYS.

Located at 13941 W 9 Mile in Oak Park, it has been family-owned-and-operated for over 40 years. Owner Fares Shafou emigrated here in 1978 from Baghdad, Iraq. He began working almost immediately for the previous owner and founder, Morris Schussel. Fares fondly referred to him as, “a big man, who wanted a big name!”

In 1982, Shafou purchased the business from Schussel. Together with his sons, Frank and Brandon Shafou, Fares has consistently built up the Mighty Mo Muffler name to the point where customers come in from many of the neighboring cities. The fact that they openly generate a friendly, hard-working vibe has added to their popularity.

WHEN ASKED WHAT STANDS OUT FOR HIM over the past four decades of servicing vehicles, Fares responded, “I enjoy helping the community, and serving customers with integrity and honesty.” Frank added, “Not everyone in the industry can be relied on to do a great job.”

Mighty Mo’s good reputation has spread wide, and so most of their newer customers are from word-of-mouth referrals. It is not simply a location for muffler work. They deal with a full range of vehicle repair and diagnostics, (except for major collision work). The scope of work done covers anything from basic servicing, such as oil changes or replacement tires, to more extensive and time-consuming repairs.

Services include brakes, electrical/electronic components, engine, and transmission work. Utilizing the latest technology, they repair and maintain all makes and models of cars, vans, and trucks (including foreign, electric vehicles, and fleets).

Part of the reason for their success is the fact they supply only quality parts, along with thorough service. All techs that work for the Shafous are certified and experienced. Frank mentioned that they emphasize continuous and progressive staff training.

THEY OFFER THE STRONGEST WARRANTIES, including the high-ranked North American Warranty. As part of their online pledge to customers, Mighty Mo stands by the promises they make to their customers. One such promise states that “after a thorough inspection on your vehicle, any required repairs will be discussed with you for your understanding and approval.”

Overall, the Mighty Mo Muffler team is keen to help, build trust, and encourage any auto-related questions that customers may want to ask. Discounts are offered to students and seniors, plus various coupons can be applied. Additionally, the Shafous like to help out a few local causes, and they recently sponsored a school baseball team.

Monday-Friday 8:00AM – 5:00PM; Saturday 9:00AM – 3:00PM; Sunday Closed
13941 W Nine Mile Rd., Oak Park 48237
248-398-2774
www.mightymoauto.com

By Jenn Goeddeke

DR. BENAY DABNEY’S CAREER JOURNEY BEGAN AT NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY AS AN UNDERGRADUATE, MAJORING IN BIOLOGY. DABNEY WAS IN THE PROGRAM WITH OTHER SCIENCE MAJORS, PRE-MED, AND ENGINEERING STUDENTS. A UNIQUE FLAVOR.

She had an interest in clinical medicine at the time. “I always had a good relationship with my dentist, so I thought that would be a neat profession.”

In 1975, Dabney applied to dental school at Ohio State University and was accepted. She came to MI in 1979 and worked for the public health system, plus taught classes at a dental school. In 1984, Dabney opened her first practice in the 8 Mile & Livernois area before moving to Oak Park in 1990. “It’s a nice community with a steady flow of patients. I love it here!” Dabney mentioned enjoying improvements along the 9 Mile Road stretch, especially the addition of landscaping, artwork, and bicycles.

ORIGINALLY THE OFFICE BUILDING WAS DIVIDED BETWEEN the dental practice side and the larger medical side. The first building owner was Dr. Stanley Sarter, who had built a breezeway to an adjacent house as an expansion. Subsequently, the building was owned by Dr. Roiter, who sadly passed away.

“My space was fairly small at that time, and it confined my practice a bit, but it was adequate.”

Five years ago, the building was up for sale. Dabney recalled with a smile, “Dr. Roiter’s wife told me that he had wanted me to buy it. The medical tenant moved his practice out. So, I bought the building and was also able to expand my practice, to encompass the whole building plus the neighboring house. The house has been a real asset. It serves as a break room for staff, with its kitchen, plus storage space.

“I brought in a full-time dental associate, Dr. Werdlow. I have been so busy – it’s a blessing!” Dabney mentioned: “One thing that happens a lot is people approach me and they tell me: ‘No one here can ever retire!’ Some of them have been my patients for 20 years or more.”

DABNEY’S IS A FAMILY-ORIENTED PRACTICE, where they perform every procedure, such as x-rays, fillings, crowns and dentures/partials. Dabney added, “I have a gentle touch and demeanor and I can turn any nervous patient into a dedicated customer if they give us a chance! We typically get a good response once patients see how our approach is different from some other dental offices. When patients tell me of previous bad experiences, it tugs at my heart!”

The practice does have nitrous oxide available and on hand for patients who request it, but it’s not a “go-to.” Additionally, the office is designed to be both efficient and attractive. “We have a lot of modern equipment and computers in every room. Everything was updated when we remodeled and expanded about four years ago, so the office looks fresh and new. People feel very comfortable here.”

Dabney mentioned that she particularly likes doing more complex work such as crowns and bridges. “I love all the variety of my profession.”

Dabney has a dedicated team, with two hygienists. “Delrey has been with me for over 20 years and Christine for five years. They both have excellent skills. Another of my staff, Shawanna Tucker, started here while she was still in high school, at 16 or 17-years-old. She has been here ever since.”

Children are always welcome to schedule a visit. Dabney added, “My two children, Danielle and Veronica, have never known another dentist or hygienist!” Dabney is a proud mom, and described her daughters’ careers: “Danielle has been a film producer for 15 years. Her work mostly involves documentaries and commercials. Veronica set up her dog-walking business and is doing well with that!”

DABNEY HAS VARIOUS HOBBIES AND ACTIVITIES outside of dentistry. She is an active member of the Greater Wayne County Chapter of the Links. This organization has a “mission to promote and engage in educational, civic & intercultural activities.”

Dabney also likes to help and mentor younger people in the STEM areas (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math), and work on acrylic paintings. Two of her artworks are on display at the practice. Travel is another of her favorite activities, in particular, her annual excursion to Martha’s Vineyards in MA.

Dr. Benay’s Dental Clinic is located at 10300 W. Nine Mile Rd in Oak Park, 48237. She can be reached at 248.543.8800 or via email: bgddds781@gmail.com. Clinic open hours are: M, T, Th, Fri, 9am-6pm; Sat, 9am-1pm; Sun, closed. Emergencies welcome.

By Ryan R. Ennis

CERTIFIED AS A ONE-STOP SERVICE CENTER, OAKLAND COUNTY MICHIGAN WORKS! OAK PARK IS A DEPARTMENT OF THE OAK PARK SCHOOL DISTRICT IN OPERATION FOR OVER 40 YEARS. THE PRIMARY GOALS ARE TO HELP THE UNEMPLOYED IN SECURING NEW POSITIONS AND TO COOPERATE WITH BUSINESS OWNERS IN HIRING STAFF.

Director Sherry Kless accomplishes those tasks by overseeing 21 federal and state programs that provide funding for both job hunters and recruiters. At times, her responsibilities can be demanding. Fortunately, she can rely on her education and experience to ensure that they are handled well.

For the past 28 years, Kless has worked “in various roles from case manager to program coordinator, to business services professional to assistant manager.” Supplying good foundations for her profession have been her master’s degree in career counseling and a certification as a career development facilitator, both obtained from Oakland University. She also holds two additional certifications: in business services from Michigan State University’s School of Labor & Industrial Relations and in talent pipeline management from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Throughout her work day, Kless meets with individuals and determines beneficial resources for them. “My focus is on those who have barriers to employment,” she explains. “I’m great at digging into my client’s work and education histories to clarify their interests, skills, and dreams for the future.”

WHEN BUSINESS OWNERS AND RECRUITERS ENLIST HER SERVICES, she sits down with them to figure out what types of obstacles they may face in hiring new staff. “Together,” she says, “we develop strategies to address the challenges created by fast-moving technologies, global competition, high rates of unemployment, and the demands for a highly skilled workforce.” To assist employers in dealing with the challenges, she has “created apprenticeships, internships, work experiences for adults and youth, on-the-job training arrangements, and customized training programs.”

“I love what I do,” emphasizes Kless.

At the Oak Park office, she shares her responsibilities with 11 career advisors and three employment services specialists. Her staff concentrate their expertise on helping clients one-on-one to begin their journeys to success. After assessing the individuals’ skills and helping them develop occupational goals, the advisors and employment specialists will show them information on how to find appropriate job listings, search for career events, use computer programs to design cover letters and résumés, and open social media ac- counts on which they can make their résumés viewable to recruiters. Depending on their proficiencies, clients may be encouraged to enroll in workshops (either in-person or virtually) to bolster their interviewing and English-as-a-second-language skills.

ONE OCCUPATION CURRENTLY IN HIGH DEMAND IS ROBOTICS TECHNICIAN. According to Kless, “advanced manufacturing is one of the fastest-growing sectors in Southeast Michigan, with thousands of positions opening up annually. If you have the interest and ambition, Oakland County Michigan Works! and Oakland Community College offer no-cost training to qualified workers.”

Another area with an immediate need is for computer numerical control (CNC) machine operators. They make parts and pieces from raw materials. Kless states that interested individuals can “learn more about this short-term, eight-week training program at Oakland Community College in Auburn Hills,” which will prepare the participants for entry-level CNC machine operator positions.”

A third critical-shortage area is for logistic technicians, who are sought after by a variety of companies and sectors, from the auto industry to e-commerce. Logistic technicians work in fulfillment centers, warehouses, distribution centers, and factories; they process and ship customers’ orders. “Opportunities in this field are booming,” states Kless, “with a projected growth of four per cent annually across the country through 2029, including Metro Detroit.” In partnership with Oakland Community College and PepsiCo, Oakland County Michigan Works! is presently offering a certified logistics technician training program, free to eligible candidates.

A fourth area with an ever-growing need is for truck drivers. According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), nearly 75 percent of all freight in the United States is moved by truck drivers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics stress that openings for truck drivers will continue to rise through 2029, resulting in an additional 30,600 jobs. In partnership with several truck driving schools across the tri-country region, Oakland County Michigan Works! provides short-term training opportunities with tuition assistance available to eligible candidates. To apply for the program, applicants must be 18-24 years old and possess a copy of their current driver’s license.

A fifth area with plentiful openings is for sterile processing technicians, who play a critical role in hospitals and other medical facilities. “An entry-level position in this field,” says Kless, “can lead to a number of advanced career pathways with greater pay and responsibilities, such as a surgical technologist or clinical laboratory technician. Oakland County Michigan Works! and Oakland Community College offer a special training pro- gram for sterile processing technicians. We partner with several hospitals in the county that provide the required clinical rotations for it.” After completing the program students will receive a certificate of program completion and the opportunity to take the Certification Board for Sterile Processing & Distribution (CBSPD).

ADDITIONALLY, INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE FINISHED A MEDICAL ASSISTANT APPRENTICESHIP are highly prized in the healthcare field. The Henry Ford Health System, one of the largest in the Metro area, presently has hundreds of medical assistant position openings and can provide apprenticeships for those who are interested in pursuing this career path. The one-year apprenticeship program is demanding but features a tuition-free classroom and paid on-the-job training with additional supportive services for eligible participants.

Some individuals with criminal convictions may feel that they are ineligible for the programs and services available at Oakland County Michigan Works! However, says Kless, “New expungement laws may allow them to clear their public records. Successful expungement opens the door to better jobs, housing, and educational opportunities.” For individual to take advantage of the Oakland County Clean Slate Program and have a conviction removed from their records, they can get started by registering online at OakGov.com/CleanSlate. Once a request has been submitted, a program representative will reach out to the individuals with more information on their eligibilities.

Oakland County Michigan Works! Oak Park services Southeast Michigan and the surrounding communities. Currently, because of a decrease in Workforce Innovation & Opportunity (WIOA) funds, priority is given to Oakland County residents for training services. “If customers live outside Oakland County,” says Kless, “they may be better served by their respective Michigan Works! Authority.”

Located at 22180 Parklawn, Oakland County Michigan Works! Oak Park is open Monday through Friday, from 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. You may walk in, or schedule an appointment by calling (248) 691-8437. If you are registering for the first time or require assistance with unemployment benefits, you must be at the site by 3:30 P.M. to complete the process.