Standing Up Against Crime: National Night Out 2014

On August 5, 2014, Lexington will once again host the annual National Night Out event on Main Street. Standing up against criminal activity is a great way to support our community and the public servants who help keep our streets safe.

2014 marks the 31st anniversary of the event. This year the National Night Out campaign expects 16,124 different communities across the nation to participate.

Lexington started participating in the event in the early 1990s, says Lt. Shannon Sharpe of the Lexington Police Department.  Since then, the event has grown to become one of the largest in the state and possibly the whole East Coast. There are approximately 4,000 to 6,000 Lexington community residents who attend this annual event.

nationalnightoutLexThe purpose of National Night Out is to heighten crime and drug awareness, generate support for anticrime efforts, strengthen neighborhood spirit and encourage police-community partnerships. It is also designed to send a message to criminals, letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back against criminal activity.

In 2012, Lexington Police Department ranked 14th in the nation for city populations of 15,000 – 49,999.  In 2013, that ranking improved to 11th in the nation. This is a prestigious award and recognition for a national event in our area.

Currently, there are 13 different communities within Davidson County that have active criminal watch programs.  Each of these programs has a block captain or several individuals who are responsible for providing handouts, flyers and other information about community crime fighting efforts.

Many might be aware of the “Lights On” campaign when homeowners turn on their outdoor lights after they turn their home lights off as a visual reminder that they support crime fighting efforts in their neighborhoods and community. This awareness campaign is ongoing and coincides with the National Night Out date.

As the local event has grown in size, so have the different activities during the observance. New this year will be a BB gun and bow and arrow area where visitors can test their skills. Plans are also in the works to arrange for an FBI unit to be on location with their Hostage Rescue Team. The celebration will also include many of the annual draws like karate demonstrations, DWI simulators, free hotdogs, bounce houses and much more.

Two stages located on Main Street will provide entertainment, thanks to event sponsors including Hayes Jewelers and BB&T. This year’s National Night Out takes place from 6 pm – 9 pm and streets will be shut down in preparation for the event beginning at 3 pm.

Captain Robby Rummage tells us, “This event is about a community coming together to interact with our public service officers as well as support the cause to stomp out crime.”

Although the National Night Out takes place one night each year, the ongoing effort to fight crime in our communities continues throughout the year.  To find out more about how your neighborhood or community can get involved, contact your local police or sheriff’s departments in your community to learn more.


The 101 on H20

Although it’s been several years since we have experienced a severe draught in this area, that doesn’t mean we can be wasteful with our water usage during the heat of summer.  The amount of water homeowners use to keep their lawns green or gardens lush spikes in the summer—two to four times as much water than they use the rest of the year!  With a few of these easy tips, you can save water while still having a beautiful garden and lawn.

Irrigate at night or early morning:  Watering your lawn at night or during the early morning hours can reduce evaporation up to 30 percent or more, depending on your location.

Avoid High Wind Watering:  High winds can evaporate water or blow it away from the target zone. This causes wastewater and lowers your sprinkler’s efficiency.

lawn-wateringDon’t Overwater Your Lawn:  Your yard only needs about an inch of water per week to stay healthy. Established gardens require a little less.  Watering infrequently but deeply will encourage deep root growth, keeping your lawn viable for years to come.  Over watering has been linked to pesticide and fertilizers being introduced into streams and rivers so avoidance is the best practice all around.

Keep It Within the Root System Area: Don’t soak the plant’s foliage as it does little good. And don’t apply water outside a shrub’s or a perennial’s root zone. A shrub’s root zone is roughly one to three times the diameter of its canopy, and keeping the water inside this radius will allow it to soak down to where the plant’s roots can reach it.

Frequency Rules: With your lawn and perennials, it’s better to give them larger amounts of water at longer intervals than it is to apply small amounts of water frequently. That’s because shallow watering encourages shallow rooting. In very hot weather, a ballpark range for watering is every other day for perennials and every three to four days for shrubs.

Consider Xeriscaping:  The main goal of xeriscaping is to design a garden with plants that thrive in the local climate and care is taken to avoid water loss due to evaporation and runoff.

rainbarrelUse Rain Barrels:  Capture the naturally occurring rain and store it for use in your garden or yard.  Many systems can be hooked right up to your sprinklers using solar or traditional powered pumps.

Don’t Water the Street:  Thousands of gallons of water are wasted each day in neighborhoods and homes that have improperly setup sprinkler heads.  The street and sidewalk don’t need watering, so take special care to make sure your sprinkler heads and hoses put the water where it is really needed.

Painted Pot Birdbath

Jazzing up the Garden

Most of us are already well on our way to our summer vegetable gardens and flower beds. Just because we’ve reached the summer months doesn’t mean that the fun and joy of getting out in the dirt is over — and we’re not talking about weeding the garden. Enjoying your outdoor area can mean adding some extra decorations and creative flare to any outdoor space.

hammockThe Hammock Oasis
Some gardens or outdoor areas are accompanied by a hammock. Hammocks come in all different types, but instead of just hanging a hammock to the nearest tree, try making the hanging hammock an oasis retreat. All you need is a hammock and mosquito net. Simply attach the mosquito net to a center support above the hammock. Then drape the netting around the hammock. Accessorize with updated decorative pillows and you have transitioned your basic hammock to a serene oasis where you can kick back and relax!


Tomato Cage Plant Standsplant-stand
Many of us have potted plants lining our patios, decks and porches. To add some height and take them to a new level, all you need are a few tomato cages. That’s right! The basic tomato cage that you can purchase at any local home goods store is perfect. If you want to keep the cost down, purchase the basic metal stand which is very inexpensive. Pick out your favorite spray paint color at the store while you’re there. You’ll also need a sturdy pair of wire cutters. With the wire cutters, remove the spikes of wire at the smallest portion of the cage. This will make your stand shorter, but will provide necessary stability. If you want to keep the height, you can always roll the wire spikes down to create a rounded end as well. Spray paint the cage your favorite color and don’t be scared to add a pop of color as these are great accent pieces for any outdoor space. Then flip the cage upside down (wide circle on the bottom) and place your potted plant inside the smaller circle at the top.

Mailbox Planters
Metal mailboxes are unique items that can create a decorative touch to your outdoor area. If you have a few lying around the garage or find some cheap at a local store, they can be painted to match your personal decorative touch. Before you fill the mailboxes, paint them any color you wish. Make sure they are fully dry before moving to the next step. Flip the mailbox on its end (opening door on the top) and fill with potting soil. If you want to use less soil, fill the bottom with scrap cardboard or plastic bottles to fill in more space. Then plant your favorite annuals, herbs or greenery. If you’re mounting these mailboxes on a fence or vertical wall, make sure to drill the holes and mount the mailboxes before filling them.

Birdbath Trifecta
Giving Nature a reason to visit your garden is a wonderful way to enjoy your outdoor space. Birdbaths can be an expensive accessory, but with a few simple steps you can have a unique and colorful birdbath without a lot of work. To begin, buy three large plant pots and a large flat pan. Terracotta works great, but if you have others lying around, feel free to use whatever you might already have on hand. For the pan, you can purchase a large plant pot base that is used to collect water. Make sure this base/pan does not have a hole in the middle. The key to making this birdbath is the size of the pots. You’ll need three different sizes ranging from large to small. You’ll be stacking these pots on top of each other to form the base, so make sure they are able to fit securely on top of each other without falling down. Once you’ve collected or purchased your pots, you’ll want to select a color or several colors of paint that you want to use on the pots. Make sure you paint each pot separately and wait until each is fully dry before stacking the pots on top of each other. For the final touch, add the pan/tray to the top of the base. For a more secure birdbath you might want to glue the pots together to ensure they don’t separate and come apart. The other thing to remember is it’s best to assemble the birdbath in the location where you want it to remain. With all the moving parts, it could be difficult to move as one piece after it’s assembled. Once it’s in the perfect spot, fill the top pan/tray with water and wait for a fluttering friend to come visit.

Bottle Cap Wind Chime
The sound of a wind chime can be very soothing as the summer breeze blows. Here’s an inexpensive way to make your own at home. You’ll need a good collection of bottle caps, so as you are enjoying your summer beverages, hold on to the bottle caps for this nifty project. You’ll also need an empty aluminum can. Depending on the size you want the wind chime to be, select the size of the can accordingly. For small wind chimes use a 16 oz. can and go larger from there. Remember, the larger the aluminum can, the more bottle caps you’ll need. As you collect your bottle caps, you’ll need to create a small hole in each one. You can affix jewelry connectors to join the caps together, or even tie each one to the next with fishing line. The more metal you use on the chime, the more sound it will produce, so, it’s recommended to use jewelry connectors as seen in the photo below. Punch holes around the edge of the top (open part) of the can. Flip the can upside down (holes towards the ground) and attach strings of bottle caps to the can. Hang the can nearby and enjoy the sounds of the wind.


DIY – Outdoor Lighting

The summer is all about spending time outdoors and soaking up the warm weather. There’s nothing better than spending an evening with friends and family outside during a barbecue or social gathering, but it’s no fun if you have to sit in the dark. Lighting an outdoor area can sometimes be challenging and expensive, depending on the type of lighting you need for the area. We’ve found some great cost efficient ways to dress up the outdoors by adding a little ray of light without digging deep into your pockets.

wine-glass-table-lampsWine Glass Tabletop Lighting:

This might be one of the quickest and easiest ways to add lighting to tables on your deck and patio. You’ll need:
Wine glasses (number depends on the amount of area you need to cover)
LED or tea lights (one per wine glass)
Craft paper or Vellum (8.5” x 11”)
Lamp Shade Pattern (optional)
Hot glue gun

Directions: This is so simple! All you need to do is to cut the craft paper or vellum based on the size of your wine glass. If you don’t feel comfortable cutting the shade freehand, you can do a simple online search for lampshade patterns and all different kinds will show up. You can also cut the shade with decorative scissors to add an extra touch to the look of your lampshade. Then simply connect the two ends of the paper and attach together with glue. Let dry and simply place over a wineglass. You can either use tea lights or LED battery operated tea lights. Arrange on the table or sitting area and you have a unique lighting display all your friends will love.

Floating Pool Lanterns
If you’re gathered outside around the pool and need a little extra light or want a decorative pop, you can do this simple lighting project that everyone from kids to adults will enjoy! You’ll need:

Balloons (any size, shape and color)
Glow sticks or battery operated LED tea lights

Directions: Activate the glow sticks or turn on the LED lights and insert into the balloons. Blow up the balloons to desired size and tie to secure balloon closed. You can place these balloons in a pool where they will float or scatter them around your outdoor space for a fun pop of color and a sure conversation piece. Tip: If using as floating balloons in a pool, you can add a slight amount of water to each balloon to help it stay in the pool. If the wind blows, keep in mind you’ll need a little extra weight to keep the balloons from flying around. If adding water to the balloon, make sure to use waterproof battery operated LED lights or glow sticks for this project.

bottle_torchesBottle Tiki Torch
Save your old glass wine bottles or glass beverage bottles for this project. Then sit back and relax while staying bug free at the same time! You’ll need:
1/2″ x 3/8″ copper coupling
Tiki replacement wick
Nylon thread seal tape
Recycled wine bottle or beer bottle

Directions: Wrap the pipe wrap around the copper reducer many times. The opening on a wine bottle usually requires about 15 times around so that it will stick and you can actually insert the smaller 3/8″ side into the bottle as the 1/2″ side didn’t fit. You may also want to try it in beer bottles for smaller torches to place around the yard, but you’ll need to adjust your coupling size and the thickness of the wick accordingly. Insert the wick into the reducer. Fill the bottle with Citronella and insert wick. Let the oil be absorbed into the wick before lighting. Now enjoy! For a touch of decoration, you can purchase glass colored rocks from a dollar store and add them to the bottom of the bottles. Make sure that you use clear glass bottles if using decorative items in the bottom.

Garden Globes
This is an interesting way to add a pop of color to garden areas or lawn space. This project is perfect for dark landscaped areas around your home. You’ll need:

Light globes (the kind from bathroom light bars or old ceiling fans)
Battery operated Christmas light strands (50-light small strands work best)

Directions: Take the empty light globes and add the string lights to the inside of each. Make sure you keep the on/off battery box near the opening for ease of turning the globes off and on. Now arrange them throughout the outdoor space and enjoy! Using both large and small globes looks great. If you want to add some color, you can paint the globes a light acrylic paint color that will illuminate when the lights are turned on.

Solar Lamp Reno
Turn your outdoor seating area into an inviting evening seating space for you and your friends.
You’ll need:

Solar landscaping light
Lamp base (about $5 at Goodwill)
Lamp shade with socket frame

Directions: Snip off the electric cord at the base of the lamp. Unscrew the socket and pull out the remaining cord. Cut off the cord at the base of the socket. Remove the metal bracket and screw the socket back on the threaded post. Place the shade down over the socket. Make sure the wire shade frame is snug on the socket. Remove the plastic spike from a landscaping solar light. Place the top of the solar light (with the small solar panel facing up) snugly into the socket. My light fit pretty well into the socket, but if yours is wobbly, try using some padding in the socket around the light base. A folded-up piece of scrap fabric, foam or even florist’s putty would work well. Now, sit back and enjoy!

With these great outdoor lighting ideas you can turn any space into an inviting area for all to enjoy this summer. Share your DIY projects with us on Facebook.com/ReadFocusMagazine or simply comment below.