Today I met one of my new tenants…

30 Sep

We’re assuming management of a couple buildings on 1 October, so today I went to check them out, and meet the current manager to pick up keys, etc.

I left letters for all of the tenants to let them know about the change, and to give them information about how to contact me, and how to submit rent.

One of the tenants was out in front of the building when I was dropping off letters, so I introduced myself.  She talked to me all about the problems she has with her apartment, and invited me in to see the things that were wrong.

She let me know almost right away that she is pregnant–with twins!  She looked about 4-5 months pregnant, so I congratulated her.  Kids were running all around the apartment.  I think three of them were hers.  Two were neighbor kids that she was watching.

So, she showed me the problems: The bathroom linoleum tiles come up if you pull on them.  Her sink drips.  Her oven caught on fire the second week after she moved in, and now it doesn’t work.

The lady was really kind of frustrated and stressed.  She just wanted to take care of her kids, and not have the state take them away from her because of housing issues.  She kept talking about her pregnancy, too, and how you know, when you’re pregnant you’re not supposed to use harmful chemicals, so she really can’t.

Maybe 10 minutes later, she was talking about some other problems and partway through the conversation she mentioned the twins again, and that time I asked when she is due.

Her: “August.”

Me (slowly): “Wait… August?” (confused) [This is September, so…uh, that doesn’t add up.]

Her: “Oh!  No!” [I figured she realized she said the wrong month.  June is the latest it could be.]

Her: “Not this August!” *laughs* “The end of next August.  I just barely got pregnant.”

Me: [No way…she really thinks she’s due 11 months from now?] *Laughs along with her* “Oh!  Okay!”

I couldn’t help but smile.  My best guess is that she got pregnant late this August and she just thinks pregnancy lasts a year. *shrug*  I don’t know.  But then, that still doesn’t account for her thinking she’s having twins.  Isn’t that the sort of thing that people find out once they’re a few months into pregnancy?  But…she’s had a few kids already…so wouldn’t she know how pregnancies go?

So, I’m really curious…is she actually pregnant?  Will she have a baby next spring…or…when?

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South Jordan Farmers Market

19 Sep

This Saturday I needed some fresh vegetables for a couple recipes, and I was going to go to the store, but then I remembered the South Jordan Towne Center Farmers Market!  Since I remembered at the right time, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to go.

So, my husband and I went out to the Farmers Market!

The South Jordan Farmers Market is relatively new; I think it started last year or the year before.  We went one time last year and it was close to the time that they close so there wasn’t much there.  This year, we loved it.

The Farmers Market takes place in the shopping area right by the South Jordan City Hall.  Usually the shopping area is a little loop where you can drive one way in and one way out, but for the Farmers Market the whole loop is blocked off to cars, and it’s just people out shopping for produce!

At the top of the loop (right outside the City Hall), there was a band (the “Folka Dots”) playing some live music, which just made the whole atmosphere really fun.  Then, around both sides of the loop, farmers had booths set up, with produce out to sell.  There were probably about two dozen booths.  A few of the local businesses were also present.  I know the martial arts studio had someone out, dressed up.

Many of the booths this week were really similar; there were a lot of squashes, apples, melons, and tomatoes.  A bunch of other things, too.  In addition to the produce stands, there was one beekeeper there to sell honey, and a booth that was selling fresh bread.  There were also funnel cakes (fresh grown? Hah! ).  I ended up buying a couple big zucchinis (for zucchini lasagna)–they cost .50 each.  I bought a basket of tomatoes for $4, and a couple ziploc baggies of cherry tomatoes and yellow little tomatoes for .50 each.  I bought a cauliflower for about 1.50, and I bought a gallon of honey for $33.  I think that was pretty much all we bought.

My husband and I think it is important to eat fresh food (grown locally as often as possible) so the farmers market has some appeal because we’re able to talk to the people who actually grow the food.  Many of the stands have samples set out so you can taste the food before you buy it.

The South Jordan Farmers Market goes from August through October, on Saturdays from 8 am – 2 pm.  The actual address is 1600 West Towne Center Drive.

Next week the farmers market will be even more exciting–September 24th is the 5th Annual Chili Cook-off!

City Website Contest – part 3 – Sandy, South Jordan, Taylorsville, West Jordan, White City

13 Sep

These are the final competitors in my impromptu City Website Contest!  We’ve already looked at Bluffdale, Cottonwood Heights, Draper, and Granite, Herriman, Midvale, Murray, and Riverton…now, let’s evaluate Sandy, South Jordan, Taylorsville, West Jordan, and White City.

Sandyhttp://sandy.utah.gov/

“Heart of the Wasatch”

Features: Residents, Business, and Visitors sections, a Government section and “Quicklinks.” Front page has “Latest news” and “Upcoming events”.  Extensive information, pictures, and forms.

Sandy’s website is much like some of the other city websites we’ve looked at.  One nice thing about Sandy is that they have a lot of content on their site.  Each section has pictures and a lot of information.  For anything from reporting a pothole to finding a volunteer opportunity, Sandy city’s website is a great resource for residents.

Overall: 4.5 stars.  Sandy could use website space more efficiently; for instance, on the front page there are large pictures that don’t link to anything, and information about Sandy’s location or social networking links are absent from the front page.  Not a bad site, however.

 

South Jordanhttp://www.southjordancity.org/

Features: “Live” “Work” and “Play” columns at the top of the page; “News & Announcements” and “Upcoming Events” sections on the front page.  Links to social networking.  Calendar.  Fix it request form.

I love that South Jordan’s categories are actions “Live” “Work” and “Play” instead of “Residents” “Businesses” and “Visitors”; this creates a friendly atmosphere on the site.  The layout is a little weird; I have the same feeling on this site as I did on a couple of the other city sites, which is: something’s missing.  Since we read from left to right, it is strange to have the logo on the upper right side, and nothing on the upper left side.  The menu selections on the left side seem like they could be put in one of the drop-down menus at the top and a more useful selection of menu options could be put on the side, similar to how Murray’s selections are.  It is great that South Jordan has current info on the site, but it is buried at the bottom of the page beneath unimportant things.  Still, the website is pretty functional.  There is good, updated information available on the South Jordan site.

Overall: 4 stars.  Content is pretty good, but there is a lot of room for improvement of site organization and layout.

Taylorsvillehttp://www.taylorsvilleut.gov/

“Opportunity in Every Direction”

Features: Separate pages for residents, business and visitors.  Calendar and news on the front page.  Online bill pay; studies and reports. Current information.

Taylorsville’s website seems like it was created 10 years ago and has not been adjusted since then.  The font makes the cite look really old, and most of the pages seem to be created in very simple HTML.  Still, the information on the site is current, and fairly extensive.  The website is a little harder to navigate since there are not columns that drop down; you have to actually go from page to page to find what you’re looking for.  It isn’t terrible, though.

Overall: 3 stars. The real purpose of this site is to convey current information and they do that nicely, although the site is not very attractive.

West Jordan – http://www.wjordan.com/

Features: Online payments, online request for patrol, online employment application, extensive information for residents, business, and visitors.  Quick links.

West Jordan’s website is really strange.  On the home page, they just have a big block of empty space.  A few of the menu options at the top come down with selections, but most of them require clicking on them.  The Quick Links section is helpful, but it does not match the appearance of the rest of the website.  Once you actually select something from the top (I chose “Residents”) the website looks really normal and it has a lot of information and services available online.

Overall: 3.5 stars. Either have all of the menu items drop down, or none of them.  It is weird to have just the city services part drop down.  Put something on the front page.  Other than that, it is a pretty nice, functional site.

White Cityhttp://whitecityutah.org/

Features: Contact information for council people; detailed township newsletters (about 1-2 per year); meeting minutes; several community photos; maps; a little bit of historical information.

White City’s website holds a special place in my heart because it reminds me of my very first website that I built for myself 15 years ago.  The background is a different pattern on each page, and the site is created in very simple HTML.  The information on the site is updated pretty well (including meeting minutes).

Overall: 2.5 stars.  Good job on having something there.  The newsletters online suggest a real sense of community.

And now, I will wrap up this City Website Contest by announcing our winners….

For third place, we have a tie between Sandy & Midvale!

Second place goes to Draper!

And, the city to take first place in our city website contest is Murray!

Our runners up were Riverton, Herriman, South Jordan, and Cottonwood Heights.

Congratulations, everyone!  Thanks for participating.

City Website Contest – part 2 – Herriman, Midvale, Murray, Riverton

11 Sep

I’ve been using south Salt Lake County city websites so much that I decided to host an impromptu city website contest!  Part one (Bluffdale, Cottonwood Heights, Draper, and Granite) is here.  Now, we’ll check out Herriman, Midvale, Murray, and Riverton’s city websites.

 

Herrimanhttp://www.herriman.org/

Features: Info about all city departments; City government info; volunteer opportunities; agendas; weather; links to social sites.

The large picture at the top of Herriman’s page slides across for a series of four different pictures.  Unlike commercial sites that utilize this modern design, the images don’t seem to have any real purpose.  The Herriman site is pretty well fleshed out.  To me some of the categories seemed a little weird; city government and departments seem like they would belong as part of the same section.  The calendar does not contain much of anything.  Herriman seems to be a really “up and coming” city.  I think Herriman’s website is quite useful, but there is some room for improvement and better organization.  For instance, if you want to license your dog, there is information available, and a link to Salt Lake County, but no form to download on the Herriman site.

Overall: 4 stars.  Design is sleek and modern, but city officials should try to make the site something that is helpful to people instead of just showing off city stuff.

 

Midvalehttp://www.midvalecity.org/

“In the Middle of Everything”

Features: Government and departments sections; Business info; Community and visitors sections.  Includes information about schools, court, community programs, etc; calendar; online payments.

The Midvale website also has a modern design, with pictures that slide across the screen.  Site organization is quite good.  Some of the information pages could use more information, but in most cases where information is lacking, there is a link to another site.  This site seems to have useful things that people would actually look for and want from a city website.  Nice job, Midvale City.

Overall: 4.5 stars.  Sometimes it seems like space is not used really well, but generally this website looks nice and has good information.

 

Murrayhttp://www.murray.utah.gov/

“There’s More to Murray”

Features: Online bill pay; very updated calendar info; easy to report a concern or follow on social networks; info about services, community, government, and departments.

Holy moly, Murray!  I’m impressed!  Like many modern websites, Murray city’s site features a large picture that slides across the screen to rotate through a series of pictures.  But, on other sites the large photo is somewhat irrelevant, and it takes up most of the screen when you first visit the site.  Murray’s site has a modern look, while making it very easy to navigate and use the site.  At the top of the site you can access “Services” “Community” “Government” or “Departments”, just like many of the other city sites have…but what sets Murray apart from the others is the rest of the design.  On the right there is a column of key things that people would visit the site for “Online Bill Pay” “Arts & Recreation” “Report a Concern”, etc.  Below all this, it just gets better.  There is a “Stay Informed” list of things that are happening, and an “I want to…” column where you can read the mayor’s message, or search job openings, or a variety of other things.  Murray’s website is beautiful, and extremely user friendly.

Overall: 5 stars.  The front is a little busy, but the short lists in big letters (with appropriate icons!) make it great.

 

Rivertonhttp://www.rivertoncity.com/

“Peace, Progress, and Tradition”

Features: Contact info in a prominent place; “Citizen service request”; link to Twitter; newsletters available online; updated calendar; road condition info; online utility payments; links to many resources; e-mail subscriptions.

Riverton’s City website is not as sleek and modern as some of the other city sites, but in some ways that is nice because a picture does not consume most of the front screen, and the movement of modern sites can be somewhat distracting.  Riverton provides a lot of information, including current newsletters.  The newsletters are fun to read!  They are beautiful, and they provide a lot of great information about what is going on in the city.  From the newsletters you get the idea that Riverton is a great place to live–they have a ton of activities.  The mayor messages are fantastic.

Overall: 4 stars. There is room for improvement here, but you’ll be able to find most things you’re looking for on Riverton’s site.

 

All right, folks.  We just have one more installment of city website reviews!  Stay tuned for a look at city websites from Sandy, South Jordan, Taylorsville, West Jordan, and White City.  Then it will be time to wrap this contest up and choose some winners.

My (Unofficial) City Website Contest! – part 1 (Bluffdale, Cottonwood Heights, Draper, and Granite)

11 Sep

Lately I’ve spent some time on a lot of city websites.  It is interesting to see how the websites differ; some cities have done a whole lot to create a beautiful, useful web-presence, and other cities have chosen to spend their time and resources offline.

For fun, I thought I would present an impromptu south Salt Lake County City Website Contest!

The cities I am including this time are: Bluffdale, Cottonwood Heights, Draper, Granite, Herriman, Midvale, Murray, Riverton, Sandy, South Jordan, Taylorsville, West Jordan, and White City.

Bluffdalehttp://www.bluffdale.com

“Dedicated to the vision of a self-sufficient rural community with a unique country lifestyle.”

Features: city administration stuff (contact info, minutes, forms, etc); info about licensing, building, court, public works, etc; newsletters

Overall, Bluffdale’s website looks somewhat outdated.  It seems like most of the information is kept pretty current; newsletters are updated a little slow, but they’re there.  On the front of the Bluffdale site they link to their Facebook page, which shows that they are trying to stay current.  (Their Facebook page is updated really well.)  If you spend any time reading the Bluffdale newsletters, you get the idea that Bluffdale is a really neat community, where people know each other, and care about each other, and they care about their city.

Overall: 3.5 stars – Nothing important is missing, but the website is a little clunky (for instance, it’s hard to get back to the home page once you go to another page).

 

Cottonwood Heightshttp://cottonwoodheights.utah.gov/

“City between the canyons”

Features: detailed info about all elected city officials; relevant info about all city departments, including forms; boards & public records; a “Get Involved” section.

The Cottonwood Heights section is very modern.  It is also very easy to navigate.  You can download just about any form or information you could need.  As I evaluated the Cottonwood Heights website I also had the sense that something was missing.  For instance, on the “Community Events” section, it says more info is coming soon; there isn’t anything about past or upcoming events.  Cottonwood Heights has an active Facebook & Twitter presence, though.  Where information is missing online, there is usually a phone number or e-mail address that directs you to the information you may be looking for.  Visually, the website is so-so.  There is a lot of light blue, and space that is used in ways that are not useful.

Overall: 4.0 stars – There’s still room for improvement, but Cottonwood Heights is on the right track, and they’ve done a great job of including forms online.

 

Draperhttp://www.draper.ut.us/

Features: Information about city operations, local projects, current events, sections for business, residents, and visitors.

The Draper website is one of the best local websites, for sure.  It includes any information you could possibly want, and usually there are pictures to go along with it.  For instance, there is a section with suggestions or opportunities for boys who want to do Eagle Scout projects, including a form built right into the website to help them begin participating.  The calendar is kept current.  Draper’s website is both beautiful and extremely functional.  It is easy to navigate, and the content is not hidden the way it is on some other websites.  If you’re thinking of moving to Draper, get excited–you can look forward to using their website. The website is also very attractive.

Overall: 5 stars – Other cities may want to look at Draper’s website as an example of something to try to replicate.

Granitehttp://granitecommunitycouncil.net/

Features: Some city announcements; history of Granite; map and info about council members.

Granite is not really a city, but they have an elected council.  When you look for the Granite website, it is very difficult to find.  It is not one of the first search results.  The Granite Community Council also developed a website in 2003, and you’ll find the old site before you will find the new one.  The current website is not very pretty and not very easy to navigate.  It seems that the entire city website is presented in the form of a blog, which is insufficient.  Still, the information on the site is relevant, and friendly.

Overall: 1.5 stars – Congratulations to the Granite Community Council for taking the time to set up a website at all.  There is still a lot of room for improvement, though.

 

The Screen Thief

10 Sep

A couple days ago one of my tenants told me an interesting story:

A little over a month ago, my tenant and her friend were out on her porch at about 10:30pm.  She lives in a fourplex, in a neighborhood of fourplexes, and she saw this guy come around from the other side of her building.  He was drunk, she said, and you could tell because he wasn’t walking straight–he was all over the place.  This guy was carrying a bunch of screens, in different sizes.

As he came around the building, he stayed in the parking lot, and he started hitting my tenant’s car with one of the screens.  Her friend was like, “What are you doing?” and he started saying stuff that didn’t make sense.  They told him to leave her car alone.  My tenant called the police, because it was obvious to her that this drunk guy was out stealing screens.

When the police arrived, my tenant and her friend were still on the porch.  The drunk screen thief had made his way over to the fourplex next door, and he was trying to remove one of the screens there.

The police made the guy empty his pockets.  They told the guy he had to go home.  And they let him take the screens that he already had, (but he had to leave the one that he was trying to remove).

The next day, my tenant’s screen was gone.

This story was interesting for a few reasons:

1. We’re in the process of having a bunch of the screens on our building replaced right now, actually.  So at first I had some confusion about whether it was my handyman she was talking about, you know, because maybe he removed one of her existing screens, to measure it. (“No, no, no.  This was a little while ago, and it was late at night.”  “Ah, ok.”)

2. Why would anyone steal screens???  Screens usually require fairly precise measurements, and they are made to fit specific windows.  I guess you could disassemble them and make them smaller, but is it really worth all the trouble?

3. My tenant wondered, why did the police let the guy keep the screens he had already stolen?  (I suspect they just didn’t know what to do with them, because how would they figure out which windows they belong to?)

I just joined ActiveRain

5 Sep

I’ve noticed that many real estate professionals are listed on a website called Active Rain…so I just set up a profile there, too!

My profile is here.

That site wants me to set up a blog, but I think I will continue this blog here, thanks.

Does anyone else use ActiveRain?  Any success stories?  What about you, Reader? Do you use ActiveRain?
I am also on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Twitter…so, what’s one more?