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Extend the Outdoor Living Season

by Teamworks


By: Jan Soults Walker

Published: October 3, 2011

Make an outdoor living area comfy long after the sun sets or the leaves turn with outdoor lighting, a patio heater, and a glowing firepit or portable fireplace.


Outdoor DeckWith both lighting types, you can:

  • Light deck railings and stairs
  • Define the patio perimeter
  • Illuminate the edges of paths and walkways
  • Draw attention to a planter or tree

Other fixtures light up dining tables, grill surfaces, and even underwater in swimmingpools. 

Low-voltage fixtures clip onto a safe, 12-volt cable connected to a transformer, which plugs into a GFCI-protected 120-volt electrical outlet. A timer or light-sensitive control automatically turns lights on and off. 

A low-voltage lighting kit with eight LED stainless steel fixtures, 50 feet of cable, and a transformer starts at $60. Individual low-voltage fixtures range in price from $7 for a simple poly-resin fixture up to about $150 for architectural-grade, cast-brass models.

Solar outdoor lighting fixtures don’t need cables and transformers. They simply turn themselves on automatically after dark. Each stand-alone fixture stakes into the ground or secures to a deck or exterior surface. You’ll save energy, as a sunlight-charged battery powers the bulb.

The downside to solar fixtures is a dimmer glow than low-voltage fixtures, and fewer lighting hours – many solar fixtures run out of stored energy after 4-5 hours on the job. Cloudy days also reduce power.

A four-pack of solar light fixtures that mount on top of deck posts starts at about $30. Or, check out a cast-aluminum solar lantern for about $60.

Get glowing with a firepit or portable fireplace


Bring a cozy glow and a stylish focal point to your outdoor living area with a firepit or portable fireplace. Irresistible for gathering, warming up, and roasting marshmallows, firepits and portable fireplaces come in a variety of materials, sizes, and styles. You’ll also find options for fueling your fire with wood, propane, gas, or gel cans.

Check local fire codes first to find out if your community allows the use of a firepit or portable fireplace on the patio or lawn. (Never use a fire feature on a wood deck.)

A firepit ($100-$500) is an open bowl, dish, or pan that varies in size from 24 inches across to about 40 inches. A firepit may come on a stand (some with wheels) or nestle into a tiled tabletop. Select a model with screening to contain flyaway sparks.

A portable fireplace ($100-$600) features a chimney to vent smoke up and away from people. Some portable fireplaces offer 360-degree views of the fire.

Warm up with a patio heater

Boost the warmth of your outdoor living area by as much as 15-25 degrees in the fall or spring with the addition of a portable patio heater. You’ll find three basic models:

  • Freestanding units resemble large floor lamps. Set them anywhere on your patio that will accommodates their 7-8 foot height. Some models include wheels for mobility. Expect to pay from $150 to $1,500, depending on heat output and fuel source.
  • A tabletop patio heater rests on a table, bench, or garden wall. These compact units typically produce less heat than tall, freestanding models. Prices range from $100 to $450.
  • Ceiling- or wall-mount patio heaters free up floor and table space, and typically emit heat via a halogen lamp. Prices vary from $175 to $1,500.

Make your selection based on how much outdoor living area you want to heat and whether you want a model powered by electricity or natural gas (each requiring a connection) or with a propane tank, which allows mobility.

As a rule of thumb, a 47,000 BTU propane-powered, floor-standing patio heater ($200) will heat an 18-foot diameter space. A 20-pound propane tank (about $36, plus $13 for fuel) offers about 10 hours of heating time.

Electric patio heaters use a quartz tube or halogen lamp that emits radiant heat. An infrared wall-mount electric patio heater ($450) equipped with a 1500-watt bulb heats a 9-foot area around the heater and uses about 14.4 kilowatts for a 10 hour period. At 8 cents per kilowatt for electricity, you spend about $1.15 to operate the unit for 10 hours.


Verizon Wireless bringing 4G technology to Warner Robins

by Teamworks


Posted: 7:25pm on Apr 16, 2012; Modified: 8:41pm on Apr 16, 2012

Verizon WirelessVerizon Wireless will be bringing 4G technology to Macon that will affect areas from north Bibb County to Houston County.

It will allow customers to access the Internet faster and watch videos on their phones with speeds up to 10 times faster than before, according to a news release. No time line was given in the release, only that it would be “in the coming weeks.”

When Verizon Wireless turns on its 4G long-term evolution network in Macon, customers in commercial, downtown and residential areas of Macon, Warner Robins and Perry will have access. As of March 15, Verizon’s 4G network covered 203 markets across the country and the company plans to more than double that.

Read more here:



Warner Robins area one of fastest growing in nation

by Teamworks


Posted:  04/06/2012 7:35 AM


Warner Robins, GA CensusWARNER ROBINS -- Census data released Thursday showed the Warner Robins metro area was one of the fastest growing parts in the country between 2010 and 2011.

Metro Macon, meanwhile, showed only slight growth while some Middle Georgia areas lost population.

The figures, based on the metropolitan statistical area including all of Houston County, show the Warner Robins area grew by 2.9 percent to 143,925 between April 1, 2010, and July 1, 2011. That makes it the sixth fastest-growing metro area in the nation, according to the Census Bureau.

The fastest growing metro area was the Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, Wash., area, population 264,133, with 4.3 percent growth.

Metro Macon, which includes Bibb, Crawford, Jones, Monroe and Twiggs counties, grew by .03 percent to 232,920. The Dublin and Milledgeville areas, termed micropolitan areas by the Census Bureau, lost population, and the Fort Valley area saw marginal gains.

The 2010 figures are based on the census, while the 2011  figures are estimates. For the estimates, the Census Bureau looks at births, deaths, administrative records and survey data.

The estimates reflect changing growth patterns nationwide, according to a Census Bureau release. Of the 50 fastest growing areas in the last decade, only 24 were on the fastest growing list since the 2010 census.

Houston County Commission Chairman Tommy Stalnaker attributed metro Warner Robins’ growth to a variety of factors, including a low crime rate, good school system, low cost of living and the overall quality of life in the community. Many people move here to work at Robins Air Force Base, then stay here when they retire, contributing to a continuous source of growth, he said.

“People are moving here obviously because Warner Robins and Houston County have gotten a lot of good publicity as a great place to raise a child, and once they do that they end up staying here,” Stalnaker said.

He said he believes the 2.9-percent growth estimate is probably a good one, and if anything it may be on the low side. As evidence of that, he cited growth in sales tax revenues during a time when revenues have dropped in other areas and more people are pinching pennies. Houston County has generally been isolated from the economic woes that have impacted the country, he said.

“I remind people not to be too down in the dumps because we are a lot better off than they think we are,” he said.

Warner Robins Mayor Chuck Shaheen said he was not surprised the Warner Robins area was identified as a fast growing one.

“We are the greatest city in the country,” he said. “We are a military town, a faith-based town and we are a giving town. The future is going to continue to be bright.”

He said the construction of the new law enforcement center near Robins Air Force Base and $2.5 million in sales tax funds to spur economic development in that area will help spur growth in a part of the town that has struggled.

Perry Mayor Jimmy Faircloth said he has seen the signs of growth in his city. One indicator is commercial and residential building permits, which were stagnant a couple of years ago but have been growing steadily since then. He attributed the growth to Robins and people coming to area to retire, among other factors.

“We’ve had a slow but steady growth rate, and that to me is the best kind to have because you don’t have those wild swings that cause problems,” he said.

Among those retiring in the Warner Robins area are Tim and Gina Parish, who are looking to return to the city this year after a six-year absence. The couple lived in Warner Robins for 18 years before Tim Parish’s job as a air-traffic controller took them and their two children to Prattville, Ala., in 2006.

But Warner Robins always felt like home, Gina Parish said Thursday.

So when Tim Parish retired this year, they looked to move back to Warner Robins. Good schools along with continued growth influenced the Parishes’ decision. Their daughter, a rising 10th-grader, will attend a Houston County school. Their son is a student at Auburn University.

“The schools are a big part of it because you have excellent schools there,” Gina Parish said. And while other cities struggle in a tough economy, Warner Robins “is just wonderful because it’s growing.”

“You see new stores and restaurants opening up,” she said.

The Parishes are in the process of purchasing a home and hope to move to Warner Robins after school is out in late May.

Meanwhile, Macon Mayor Robert Reichert said the growth in Houston County is good news for the entire region.

“I’m one of those who thinks regionally and that we are joined at the hip,” he said. “What’s good for Warner Robins is good for Macon, and what’s good for Macon is good for Warner Robins.”

He also pointed out that the census figures look at where people are at night. During the day, he said, Macon’s population swells as people drive in from surrounding counties to work.

“We continue to be a prospering and dynamic economic center,” he said.

Staff writer Caryn Grant and Houston office editor Jennifer Burk contributed to this story. To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.


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