Livingston Reporting

Preparing Your Soil and Choosing Your First Crops

Image of newly grown harvest.

Welcome to the budding world of gardening, where your harvest’s success begins long before seeds touch the soil. Whether cultivating a personal plot or embarking on an agricultural adventure, the initial steps of soil preparation and selecting the first crops are pivotal. In this article, we walk you through how to enrich your garden bed and spotlight the first crops to nurture for a bountiful harvest.

The Foundation: Soil Preparation

Test Your Terrain

Before experimenting with soil changes, understand your starting point. A simple soil test can reveal pH levels and nutrient content, providing insights into what your soil lacks or has in abundance. Kits are available at local gardening centers.

Amend and Enrich

Based on your soil test results, it’s time to modify it. For nutrient-poor or heavy clay soils, organic matter is your best friend. Compost, well-rotted manure, or leaf mold enriches the soil with essential nutrients and improves drainage and aeration. If your soil is too acidic or alkaline, adjustments can be made using lime (to raise pH) or sulfur (to lower pH).

Till with Care

Tilling helps integrate organic matter and loosen the soil, making it more receptive to new plant roots. However, over-tilling can disrupt soil structure and harm beneficial microorganisms. A gentle turn-over or even a no-till approach, where materials are layered on the soil surface, can be equally effective.

Moisture Management

Ensure your garden has adequate drainage to prevent waterlogged roots. Consider raised beds or adjust the soil’s composition to improve water flow if necessary.

The First Shoots: Selecting Your Crops

Leafy Greens

Spinach, lettuce, and kale are not only nutritious but also hardy. They can be among the first planted and harvested, often ready within weeks of planting. In some regions, these leafy greens can endure cooler temperatures, making them perfect for early spring or late winter.

Root Vegetables

Carrots, radishes, and beets can be sown directly into the prepared soil. They prefer cooler temperatures, and their underground growth is less impacted by fluctuating spring weather.


Peas thrive in cool conditions and can be planted early. They also fix nitrogen in the soil, improving it for future crops.


Hardy herbs like parsley, cilantro, and chives can start your garden off on a fragrant note. These versatile plants are resilient and can be used in a variety of dishes.

Caring for Your Emerging Garden

Keep a vigilant eye on moisture levels as your seeds begin to sprout. Early growth is tender and requires consistent, gentle watering. Protecting your sprouts from late frosts with covers or special protectants can also ensure that a sudden cold snap does not undo your hard work.

The excitement of planting a garden is a rewarding endeavor, bringing you closer to the earth and providing a sense of achievement as you watch your crops grow. By starting with a solid foundation of well-prepared soil and choosing the right crops for early planting, you’re setting the stage for a season of abundance. Remember, gardening is a journey—each season brings new lessons and joys. Happy gardening!


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Written by the digital marketing team at Creative Programs & Systems:

Significant Updates Implemented in Davis-Bacon and Associated Federal Wage Laws

Image of the United States capital building.

In a major regulatory update, the U.S. Department of Labor has revised the rules under the Davis-Bacon Act (DBA) for the first time in nearly four decades. These changes, impacting a suite of federal wage laws applicable to contractors on federal construction projects, aim to improve clarity, consistency, and enforcement effectiveness. The updated rules, which took effect in October 2023, extend minimum wage mandates to more contracts, modify wage determination methods, broaden enforcement options, and increase penalties for non-compliance. Despite these enhancements, the construction industry has pushed back through lawsuits, challenging the amendments’ legality and arguing that the Department of Labor overstepped its authority.

Historically, the DBA has mandated prevailing wage rates for construction workers on federal projects exceeding $2,000. The new regulations redefine key terms to broaden coverage, including for modern infrastructure like solar installations and electric car chargers. They also introduce provisions for the automatic inclusion of wage clauses in contracts, extend responsibilities to higher-tier subcontractors for wage violations, and permit withholding funds across a contractor’s unrelated projects as a penalty for non-compliance.

The rules also shift the methodology for setting prevailing wages, allowing more frequent updates and a return to pre-1983 calculation methods that consider a broader array of wage data. This includes potentially adopting state or local prevailing wages under certain conditions.

As of March 2024, the construction industry’s legal challenges against these rules are still pending, with decisions that could significantly affect the enforcement and scope of the Davis-Bacon Act and related legislation. This ongoing legal battle underscores the importance and potential impact of these regulatory changes.


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Written by the digital marketing team at Creative Programs & Systems:

Preparing Your Inground Pool for Spring: The Ultimate Checklist

With the winter’s thaw comes the anticipation of sunny days lounging by the pool. But before you can dive into those refreshing waters, your inground pool needs a wake-up call from its winter slumber. Preparing your pool for spring is crucial to ensure a season filled with joyful swims and relaxing afternoons poolside, particularly if your pool has a delicate plaster finish that requires specific care. Here’s an essential guide to revitalizing your pool.

1. Remove the Pool Cover, Clean, and Store It

Before anything else, remove debris, water, and snow from your pool cover. This can be done using a pump or a leaf net. Ensure that you remove the cover carefully to avoid spilling any accumulated debris into the pool water.  Once the cover is off, clean it thoroughly to remove any dirt and algae. Allow it to completely dry to prevent mildew before folding and storing it in a cool, dry place.

2. Debris Disposal and Surface Skimming

With the cover stored away, use a net to skim off any debris on the water’s surface. Follow up with vacuuming the bottom of the pool to suck up all settled particles and brush the sides diligently, especially if your pool has a plaster finish which is prone to algae build-up.

3. Inspect the Pool Area

Check the pool deck and surrounding area for any signs of damage or wear. Repair any cracks or uneven areas in the decking to maintain the safety and aesthetics of your pool environment. Examine the plaster for any signs of deterioration, such as cracks, etching, or discoloration. Spring is the perfect time for repairing plaster to guarantee a smooth and aesthetically pleasing surface that enhances your pool’s appeal.

4. Check Pool Equipment

Examine all your pool equipment, including the pump, heater, filters, and hoses, for any signs of damage. Replace or repair parts as necessary. Ensure everything is clean and in good working order before using the pool regularly.

5. Water Levels and Leaks

If you drained your pool for the winter, now is the time to refill it. If your pool was partially drained, refill it to the appropriate level. Keep an eye out for any signs of leaks, which can be more apparent during refilling.

6. Balance the Water Chemistry

Once your pool is filled, test the water for pH, alkalinity, and sanitizer levels. Adjust the chemicals gradually to reach the desired balance. This is critical to prevent corrosion or scaling on your plaster finish and to ensure the water is safe for swimming.

7. System Shock

After a long winter, you should shock your pool to eliminate bacteria, algae, and other organic contaminants. This restores the clarity, sanitizes the pool, and promotes water safety.

8. Filter Functionality

Run the filtration system continuously for at least 24-48 hours to circulate the new chemicals and distribute them evenly throughout the pool and filter out any remaining impurities. Check the filter pressure and backwash if necessary. Monitor and adjust the filtration settings as needed to maintain water clarity and cleanliness.

9. Set Up Pool Accessories

Reinstall any ladders, diving boards, and other accessories stored over the winter. Check and oil any moving parts (bolts, hinges, etc.) to ensure they are safe and functional.

10. Schedule a Professional Inspection

Consider having a professional pool service company, such as Pound Pool Plastering, Inc., perform a thorough inspection early in the season. We can spot issues you might miss, particularly with your filtration system and plaster surfaces.

11. Prepare Safety Equipment

Ensure all safety equipment, including life rings and pool alarms, are in place and in good working condition. This includes checking pool barriers, safety covers, alarms, and rescue equipment, which are crucial for preventing accidents.

12. Maintenance Ready

Restock your pool maintenance supplies, including test strips, chemicals, and cleaning equipment. Having everything on hand will make regular maintenance throughout the season much easier.

Taking the time to prepare your inground pool for spring properly will enhance your swimming experience and help maintain the integrity of your pool’s plaster finish and equipment. Start early to ensure that your pool is ready to go as soon as the warm weather hits so you can enjoy an entire season of fun and relaxation in your beautifully maintained pool.

Need Plaster Repair? Contact Pound Pool Plastering, Inc. for an Inspection and Quote.

Pound Pool Plastering services residential and commercial pools in applying a wide variety of pool plaster finishes and complete renovations. We offer Diamond Brite, Sunstone, Hydrazzo, and Marcite – and a great selection of tile choices and coping stones. Owner Dale Pound personally oversees each pool project to ensure the highest quality is delivered. Call or email us for a free estimate.

Written by the digital marketing team at Creative Programs & Systems:

Aging in Place with Personalized Remodeling Solutions

Image of elderly couple looking at home remodeling plans.

In the realm of home construction and remodeling, there’s a growing trend that reflects a deep understanding of our changing needs as we age: Aging in Place. At JFC Remodeling, we take immense pride in our expertise in creating personalized renovation projects that not only cater to our client’s unique preferences but also anticipate their future needs, ensuring they can enjoy their homes safely, comfortably, and stylishly for years to come.

Understanding Aging in Place

Aging in Place is the concept of living in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level. It’s about creating a living space that adapts to our changing lifestyles and needs as we grow older, minimizing the need for major lifestyle adjustments or moves to assisted living facilities.

Why Choose to Age in Place?

The decision to age in place comes from the desire to maintain a sense of independence, comfort, and connection to familiar surroundings. It’s about preserving the emotional and physical comfort of living in a place filled with memories and personal touches.

The Role of Personalized Remodeling

At JFC Remodeling, we understand that everyone’s needs and preferences are unique. That’s why our approach to aging in place is deeply personalized. We specialize in crafting solutions that are tailored to the specific requirements of our clients, ensuring that their homes are not just beautiful, but also safe and functional for their golden years.

Key Features of Aging in Place

  • Accessibility: Implementing no-step entryways, wider doorways, and open floor plans to accommodate mobility aids.
  • Safety: Adding grab bars, anti-slip flooring, and proper lighting to prevent falls and ensure comfortable navigation throughout the home.
  • Convenience: Modifying kitchens and bathrooms to include lower countertops, walk-in showers, and easy-to-use fixtures to foster independence in daily activities.
  • Technology: Incorporating smart home technologies for security, comfort, and convenience, allowing for easy monitoring of safety and automating tasks.

Our Promise: Craftsmanship and Care

At JFC Remodeling, we’re not just builders but partners in crafting your future. Our team of skilled professionals is committed to understanding your vision and turning it into a reality. With a keen eye for detail, an understanding of the latest trends and technologies, and a heart for creating spaces that tell a story, we ensure that every project is executed with the utmost craftsmanship and care.

Our process begins with listening. We take the time to understand your vision, needs, and the unique characteristics of your home. From there, we work closely with you to design and implement remodeling solutions that not only meet your current needs but also anticipate your future ones.

Planning Ahead

Staying in your home when your needs change is a significant decision that reflects a desire for comfort, independence, and a deep connection to one’s home. We’re honored to be a part of this journey with our clients, providing them with the expertise, care, and personalized solutions needed to make their homes a perfect fit for the years ahead.

Contact JFC Remodeling to learn how we can transform your home into a safe, comfortable, and stylish haven for the future.

JFC Remodeling is committed to providing top-quality home reconstruction services to clients throughout Livingston County. With over 30 years of experience in the industry, our licensed contractors create unique, individualized, and polished renovations. Whether the site requires improvement, repair, or is a new construction, you can trust our experts to deliver remarkable results. Call or email us to learn more.

Written by the digital marketing team at Creative Programs & Systems:

Whole-Home Generators: Your Ultimate Guide to Power Security

Image of a Generac standby generator.

In an age where electricity powers nearly every aspect of our lives, from keeping our homes comfortable to enabling our work and entertainment, the importance of a reliable power source cannot be overstated. Whole-home generators, also known as standby or automatic generators, have become a cornerstone for ensuring that power interruptions do not disrupt our daily activities. As experts in the field, we at State Electric Company are dedicated to helping you understand your options in automatic generators and the essential practices for their upkeep.

Types of Automatic Generators

Automatic generators come in various sizes and energy types to suit different needs. They are designed to kick in automatically within seconds of a power outage, ensuring a seamless transition and uninterrupted power supply. Below, we list the main styles:

  • Natural Gas Generators: These generators are connected to your home’s natural gas supply, offering a convenient and long-term fuel solution. They’re ideal for areas with a reliable natural gas infrastructure, providing a clean and efficient power source.
  • Liquid Propane Generators: For homes in areas where natural gas is not available, liquid propane offers an alternative. Stored in tanks on your property, liquid propane can efficiently fuel your standby generator, although it requires monitoring to ensure fuel levels remain adequate.
  • Diesel Generators: Known for their durability and longevity, diesel generators are an option for larger homes or properties that require significant power. They operate on diesel fuel, which is stored in tanks and can be more cost-effective depending on your region and situation.
  • Dual-Fuel Generators: These generators can run on more than one type of fuel, typically natural gas or propane, offering flexibility in fuel sourcing and potentially more reliability in areas where fuel supply can be uncertain.
  • Solar-Powered Generators: These systems harness sunlight to generate electricity, offering an eco-friendly alternative to fossil fuels. They’re particularly appealing in regions with abundant sunlight, providing clean energy that reduces carbon footprint. Solar generators can be paired with solar panels installed on your property, creating an autonomous system that can power essential appliances and lights during an outage.
  • Battery Storage Systems: Modern battery systems store electricity from the grid or solar panels during power outages. They’re silent, require minimal maintenance, and can be programmed to optimize energy usage. Systems like the Tesla Powerwall have popularized home battery storage, offering a reliable and sustainable power backup solution that can be monitored and controlled via smartphone apps.

The Importance of Annual Inspections and Maintenance of Generators

While whole-home generators are built to be reliable, regular inspections and maintenance are crucial to ensure they remain in top working order.  Regardless of the type of generator or backup power system you have, annual maintenance is critical. Here’s why:  

  • Reliability When You Need It Most: The primary role of a whole-home generator is to be ready at a moment’s notice. Annual maintenance ensures that when the power goes out, your generator will start without a hitch.
  • Longevity of Your Investment: Regular maintenance extends the life of your generator, ensuring it serves your home for many years. This involves checking components like the battery, fuel lines, and connections to prevent any unexpected failures.
  • Efficiency and Safety: A well-maintained generator runs more efficiently and is safer. During routine inspections, technicians can identify and rectify potential hazards, such as leaks or electrical issues.
  • Sustainability and Performance: For solar-powered generators and battery systems, maintenance includes checking the health of solar panels, battery capacity, and ensuring software is up-to-date for optimal performance.
  • Peace of Mind: Knowing that your generator has been professionally inspected and maintained provides peace of mind, especially during seasons when power outages are more likely.

Whole-home generators are a significant investment in your home’s comfort and safety. Choosing the right type of automatic generator and committing to annual maintenance are key steps in ensuring that your home remains powered during outages. At State Electric Company, we specialize in the installation, repair, and maintenance of a wide range of whole-home generators. Our team of experts is here to help you select the best generator for your needs and ensure it remains in optimal condition year after year. For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact us today.

State Electric Company is Fully Insured, Licensed, and Bonded. Contact us today to schedule your installation or inspection.

State Electric Company is a leader in the electrification of the nation. Our highly educated and experienced team of professionals uses industry-leading software technology and has partnered with manufacturers to deliver affordable solutions for all your electrical needs. State Electric Co. is also an exclusive distributor of Enel X JuiceBox EV chargers for residential and commercial use. We are fully licensed, insured, and bonded to install charging stations for homes, offices, hotels, and more. With our extensive knowledge of renewable energy, our team provides customers – large or small – with efficient electrical solutions. Contact us today to learn how we can safely and affordably meet your energy needs. 

Written by the digital marketing team at Creative Programs & Systems:

Preparing for Pest Season: Your Guide to a Pest-Free Summer in Colorado and Wyoming

Image of a pest control professional spraying pesticide.

Most people look forward to spring, with warm days, green grass, and budding flowers. However, it’s also the beginning of general pest and insect season, bringing ants, spiders, stinging insects, and wasps closer to our homes. With proactive measures and expert insights, you can enjoy the warmer months in peace, without unwelcome guests. Here’s your guide to preparing for the upcoming pest season.

Understanding the Threat

Around April, we see a significant increase in pest activity. The warmer temperatures are perfect for ants to start their forays into homes in search of food. Spiders come out of hiding to prey on these insects, often making their way into our living spaces. Stinging insects like wasps and other flying nuisances become more active, building nests that can pose risks to your family and pets.

Early Prevention is Key

  • Seal Entry Points: Begin with a thorough inspection of your home. Seal cracks and crevices around windows, doors, and the foundation to block entry points for pests.
  • Eliminate Standing Water: Stagnant water is a breeding ground for many insects. Ensure gutters are clean and downspouts are directing water away from your home. Repair leaky faucets and ensure your yard drains properly to discourage pests.
  • Keep Your Yard Tidy: Overgrown vegetation can provide shelter and breeding sites for pests. Keep your lawn trimmed and remove debris where insects could nest.
  • Store Food and Waste Properly: Ensure food is stored in sealed containers and keep your kitchen clean. Regularly dispose of garbage in sealed receptacles to avoid attracting ants and other pests.

Professional Pest Control Services

While DIY measures are a good start, professional pest control services such as Front Range Pest offer the expertise and resources needed to protect your home. We provide:

  • Customized Treatment Plans: Tailored strategies that address your area’s specific pests and your home’s unique vulnerabilities.
  • Preventative Treatments: Regularly scheduled treatments throughout the season can prevent infestations before they start.
  • Peace of Mind: Knowing that your home is protected against pests allows you to enjoy your summer without worry.

Stay Vigilant

Regularly inspect your home for signs of pests. Catching an issue early can make a significant difference in the ease and cost of treatment. Look for signs like ant trails, spider webs, or wasp nests forming under eaves.

As we embrace the warmer months in Colorado and Wyoming, don’t let pests dampen your spirits. By taking early preventative measures and contacting Front Range Pest for unruly pest situations, you can protect your home and enjoy a pest-free summer. Remember, the key to effective pest management is not just to react but to prepare. So, let’s get ready for the season and ensure our homes and businesses remain a sanctuary setting for us, not for pests.

For a prompt inspection of your pest problem, contact us for a reliable, effective solution! 

Front Range Pest is your trusted, family-owned pest and wildlife control company serving central Colorado and southern Wyoming. Our certified technicians have the expertise and credentials to ensure effective pest management for your home or business. As your all-in-one insect and wildlife specialists, we offer peace of mind by identifying wildlife entry points, removing nuisance pests, sealing access areas, performing cleanup, and making essential repairs. Schedule an inspection with us today.

Written by the digital marketing team at Creative Programs & Systems:

How the SBA 504 Loan Program Can Benefit Your Business

Image of a gold piggy bank with stacks of money laid aside it.

Owning commercial property can be a pivotal step for small business owners, offering stability and the potential for significant growth. However, navigating the maze of commercial real estate financing can be daunting. This is where the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) 504 loan program comes into play, offering a lifeline to entrepreneurs aiming to purchase or refinance commercial properties. Here’s a comprehensive guide to understanding how the SBA 504 loan program works and the benefits it can bring to your business.

What is an SBA 504 Loan?

The SBA 504 loan program is designed to aid small businesses in acquiring or improving commercial real estate and other fixed assets. The SBA collaborates with Certified Development Companies (CDCs) and lenders through this program to provide small business owners with long-term, fixed-rate financing. This is mainly aimed at promoting economic growth within the community.

How Does an SBA 504 Loan Work?

An SBA 504 loan is typically structured with three parties: the borrower, a bank or a private sector lender, and a CDC. The breakdown of financing is as follows:

  • 50% from the bank/lender: This portion of the loan comes directly from a bank or another lending institution and holds a first lien on the asset. The loan must be at least 50% of the total project cost.
  • Up to 40% from the CDC: Financed through a 100% SBA-guaranteed debenture, this portion holds a second lien position and can cover up to 40% of the total project cost, with a cap of $5 million ($5.5 million for manufacturing projects or projects that meet certain energy efficiency goals).
  • 10% equity from the borrower: The business owner is required to contribute at least 10% of the project’s cost. This requirement ensures that the borrower is significantly invested in the project’s success.

Benefits of the SBA 504 Loan

1. Low Down Payment: The typical 10% down payment is significantly lower than what is required for traditional commercial loans, making it more accessible for small businesses.

2. Fixed Interest Rates: The 504 loan offers fixed interest rates on the CDC portion, providing businesses with predictable monthly payments and protection from future interest rate increases.

3. Long-Term Financing: Loan terms can extend up to 20 or 25 years for real estate and ten years for equipment, providing businesses with long-term stability and lower monthly payments.

4. Ownership Equity: By investing in commercial property, businesses can build equity over time, which can be beneficial for future financing needs or business expansion.

Eligibility and Use of an SBA 504 Loan

To qualify for an SBA 504 loan, a business must operate for profit in the United States, have a tangible net worth of less than $15 million, and have an average net income of less than $5 million after federal income taxes for the two years preceding the application. The financing obtained through this program can be used for:

  • Purchasing land and buildings
  • Constructing new buildings or renovating existing ones
  • Buying machinery and equipment with a service life of at least ten years
  • Refinancing debt in connection with an expansion of the business through new or renovated facilities or equipment

How to Apply for an SBA 504 Loan

Applying for an SBA 504 loan involves working with a CDC and a participating lender, such as EB Mortgage. The first step is to contact a CDC in your area, which will guide you through the application process, including the initial paperwork and gathering the necessary financial statements.

For small business owners looking to purchase or refinance commercial properties, the SBA 504 loan offers a compelling financing solution. With its low down payment requirement, fixed interest rates, and long-term financing, the 504 loan can provide the stability and resources needed to take your business to the next level. Consulting with a knowledgeable mortgage lender or broker who specializes in SBA loans can provide you with personalized guidance and help streamline the application process.

Interested in obtaining a SBA 504 Loan? Contact EB Mortgage for wholesale mortgage solutions.  

EB Mortgage is a locally owned mortgage company with experts in new home purchase, refinancing, and commercial loans. Our wholesale rates can’t be beaten. We offer more products, more options, and more solutions. Our “3C” Process is simple: complete our pre-approval request, consider options based on your requirements, and choose the offer that suits your needs best. Call us or e-mail us today! 

Written by the digital marketing team at Creative Programs & Systems:

Guarding Your Business: Strategies to Combat Today’s Cybersecurity Threats

Image of a blue cybersecurity shield emblem.

In the digital age, cybersecurity has emerged as a critical concern for businesses of all sizes. Small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), in particular, often find themselves in the crosshairs of cybercriminals due to perceived vulnerabilities in their security systems. However, with the right strategies and awareness, SMBs can effectively protect themselves from the myriad of cybersecurity threats lurking online. This article explores the critical cybersecurity threats that businesses face today and offers practical advice on safeguarding against them.

The Most Common Cybersecurity Threats

1. Phishing Attacks: One of the most prevalent threats, phishing scams, involves fraudulent attempts to obtain sensitive information by disguising it as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. These attacks often lead to unauthorized access to critical business data.

2. Ransomware: This type of malware blocks access to a computer system until a ransom is paid. For businesses, this can mean significant downtime and loss of critical data.

3. Insider Threats: Sometimes, the threat comes from within, whether intentionally by disgruntled employees or unintentionally through negligent use of IT resources.

4. DDoS Attacks: Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks overwhelm a system’s resources, rendering it inoperable and disrupting business operations.

Practical Tips to Enhance Your Cybersecurity

Implement Strong Password Policies: Encourage the use of complex passwords and the regular updating of passwords across your organization. Consider implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA) for an added layer of security.

Regularly Update and Patch Systems: Ensure that all software and operating systems are updated with the latest security patches. Cybercriminals often exploit vulnerabilities in outdated software to gain unauthorized access to systems.

Educate Your Employees: Human error is one of the leading causes of cybersecurity breaches. Regular training sessions can help employees recognize and avoid common cyber threats, such as phishing and social engineering attacks.

Backup Your Data: Regular backups of critical data can be a lifeline in the event of a cybersecurity incident. Ensure that backups are stored securely and are easily retrievable when necessary.

Invest in Security Software: Utilize reputable antivirus and anti-malware solutions to provide real-time protection against threats. Firewalls should also be used to control incoming and outgoing network traffic based on an applied rule set.

Develop a Response Plan: Having a cybersecurity incident response plan can significantly mitigate the damage of a breach. Ensure that your plan includes steps for containment, eradication, and recovery, as well as communication strategies for internal and external stakeholders.

Seek Professional Computer Help: Perhaps the most crucial advice for SMBs is to seek professional help when it comes to cybersecurity. Partnering with IT security professionals such as CPS can provide access to expert advice, advanced security tools, and ongoing support to protect your business from cyber threats. Our technicians can conduct regular security assessments, implement robust cybersecurity frameworks, respond to incidents, and more.

Cybersecurity is not a one-time effort but an ongoing process that requires vigilance and adaptation to new threats. For SMBs, the challenge of cybersecurity can seem daunting, but by taking proactive steps and seeking professional IT assistance, it’s possible to create a secure digital environment for your business. Protecting your company from cyber threats not only safeguards your data and financial assets but also preserves the trust and confidence of your customers.

Need help filling in the gaps in your cybersecurity? Our dedicated team can help! Contact us today for a free consultation.

Founded in 1994, Creative Programs and Systems delivers professional results for all your computer needs. We design, create, and code various custom software programs and websites. Additionally, we offer superior digital marketing services, including enhanced Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and paid advertising. We also repair and support commercial computer infrastructure, build custom systems and servers, and provide secure data backups. Need assistance or want to learn more? Call (810)224-5252 or email us!

Written by the digital marketing team at Creative Programs & Systems:

Enhancing Your Outdoor Living Space with a Luxury In-Ground Pool Oasis

Creating the ultimate outdoor living space is about blending functionality with personalized style, especially when it involves an in-ground pool. As summer approaches, the allure of sunny days and warm nights invites the opportunity to transform your pool area into a luxurious retreat. For homeowners looking to elevate their outdoor entertainment, incorporating features such as outdoor kitchens, fire pits, lighting, and lounge areas can turn a simple swimming pool into the centerpiece of summer entertaining. Here’s how to enhance your pool area for the upcoming summer season:

1. Integrate an Outdoor Kitchen

An outdoor kitchen is a quintessential addition to any pool area, offering the perfect blend of convenience and ambiance for hosting summer barbecues and gatherings. Consider equipping your outdoor kitchen with a built-in grill, refrigerator, and sink to keep everything you need within reach. Adding bar seating can also create a social hub, allowing guests to interact with the cook without crowding the cooking space.

2. Install a Cozy Fire Pit

A fire pit adds warmth and a captivating glow, extending the usability of your outdoor space into the cooler evenings. It serves as a focal point where guests can gather, share stories, and enjoy the serene ambiance. Whether you opt for a traditional wood-burning pit or a modern gas-powered feature, a fire pit enhances the aesthetic appeal and functionality of your pool area.

3. Illuminate with Strategic Lighting

Proper lighting can transform your pool area into an enchanting nighttime oasis. LED pool lights, pathway lighting, and accent lights for landscaping can elevate the beauty of your outdoor space while ensuring safety for evening gatherings. Consider dimmable options to adjust the ambiance as needed, and use solar-powered lights to add illumination without increasing your energy bill.

4. Design Comfortable Lounge Areas

Comfort is key when it comes to creating an inviting outdoor living space. Invest in high-quality, weather-resistant furniture to provide ample seating options around the pool. Incorporate a mix of lounge chairs, outdoor sofas, and shaded areas to offer a variety of relaxation spots. Adding outdoor rugs, cushions, and throws can also enhance comfort and inject personal style into your pool area.

5. Incorporate Landscaping and Decor

The right landscaping can frame your pool area and provide privacy, creating a secluded paradise. Consider planting native shrubs, trees, and flowers to add color and texture. For decor, integrate outdoor art, water features, or a koi pond to introduce unique elements that reflect your personal taste.

6. Plan for Entertainment

Equip your outdoor living space with amenities that cater to entertainment. A sound system for music, a projector for outdoor movie nights, and recreational areas for games can turn your pool area into the ultimate summer destination for friends and family.

7. Ensure Privacy and Safety

While enhancing your outdoor living space, don’t forget the importance of privacy and safety. Fencing, privacy screens, and pool covers can provide security for your pool area while also adding to its aesthetic appeal.

Transforming your pool area into an inviting outdoor living space requires thoughtful planning and creativity. By integrating these features, you can create a versatile and stylish outdoor oasis that’s perfect for summer entertaining. Remember to tailor each element to your lifestyle and preferences, ensuring that your outdoor space becomes a cherished extension of your home.

Renovating your inground pool? Contact the experts at Pound Pool Plastering today!

Pound Pool Plastering services residential and commercial pools in applying a wide variety of pool plaster finishes and complete renovations. We offer Diamond Brite, Sunstone, Hydrazzo, and Marcite – and a great selection of tile choices and coping stones. Owner Dale Pound personally oversees each pool project to ensure the highest quality is delivered. Call or email us for a free estimate.

Written by the digital marketing team at Creative Programs & Systems:

$5.8 Billion in Federal Funding to Clean the Nation’s Drinking Water Infrastructure

Image of a kitchen sink faucet with water dripping into a clear drinking glass.

The Biden administration recently unveiled a significant investment of $5.8 billion to rejuvenate the United States’ deteriorating drinking water infrastructure, a move aimed at mitigating the health risks faced by millions of Americans. This financial boost is designated for every state and territory, earmarked for critical water infrastructure improvements, including efforts to eliminate hazardous lead pipes. Vice President Kamala Harris, along with Michael Regan, administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency, underscored the initiative’s goal during an event in Pittsburgh, emphasizing the administration’s commitment to ensuring access to safe drinking water nationwide.

This funding allocation stems from bipartisan legislation passed in 2021, which allocated a total of $50 billion towards water infrastructure enhancements. The initiative targets a range of projects, such as those in Pittsburgh focused on lead pipe removal, aimed at securing safer drinking water systems and more reliable wastewater infrastructures across the country. Vice President Harris highlighted the endeavor’s urgency in addressing lead contamination, asserting that clean water is a fundamental right for all Americans, regardless of their financial standing or geographical location.

Despite the ambitious federal push, the challenge of overhauling the nation’s water infrastructure is daunting. The American Society of Civil Engineers’ recent assessments reveal a system in distress, with drinking water infrastructure receiving a C- rating and wastewater management a D+. The investments are a response to the extensive need for upgrades, exemplified by the crisis in Flint, Michigan, where lead-contaminated water exposed the dangers of inadequate water system maintenance. The allocation includes significant funds for replacing lead service lines, though experts warn that the costs and logistical challenges of such replacements are substantial, with some estimates running as high as $25,000 per service line.

Moreover, the initiative extends beyond lead issues, addressing the pervasive contamination of drinking water with PFAS chemicals, known for their enduring presence in the environment and potential health risks. Almost half of the U.S. tap water is believed to be contaminated with these substances. While the federal funding represents a critical step forward, experts argue that it constitutes just a fraction of the investment required to fully upgrade the nation’s water infrastructure. The need for continued and increased federal involvement and investment is clear, as the endeavor to provide clean, safe water for all Americans continues to face significant challenges and demands.

Concerned about your drinking water? Contact Reynolds Water Conditioning to schedule testing, maintenance or repair of water systems, and more. Our top priority is ensuring that you have access to good, safe drinking water.

Reynolds Water Conditioning was established in 1931 and is Michigan’s oldest water conditioning treatment company. Still owned and operated by the Reynolds family, we take pride in providing the highest quality products at a cost-effective price. If your tap water lacks the quality you deserve, contact us today at 800-572-9575.

Written by the digital marketing team at Creative Programs & Systems: