Monthly Archives: February 2016

Shawn Vincent

P.Y.S.K.

Shawn VincentInterim COO of Georgia Regents Medical Center; VP of Partnerships and Strategic Affiliations for Augusta University and its affiliated health system; American Heart Association’s 2016 Heart Ball Chairman

Family: Wife Anna; sons Patrick, 16, and Connor, 14

Why I’m Passionate About the Heart Ball: For me, it’s very personal. Just nine days after our son, Connor, was born, my wife, Anna, suffered a massive heart attack and spent several weeks in cardiac intensive care. That was tough on our young family, but we survived, and, thankfully, Anna recovered fully. Also, my father has a heart condition. While I support many organizations, the American Heart Association is one that gives so much back to our community. In fact, the AHA provided our university with $4.4 million in funding last year and approved six new grants for our researchers. Plus, their work with women and heart disease is commendable.

Other Community Groups and Charities I Love to Support: I’m very involved with the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce and its mission to support economic development in Columbia County. I support the Family Y of Greater Augusta and its community-minded missions of youth development, social responsibility and healthy living. In addition, I love to support our not-for-profit Children’s Hospital of Georgia, a real asset to our community and currently the highest in the nation in quality and safety.

Biggest Career or Life Obstacle I’ve Overcome and How: I suffered a severe injury while serving in the Marine Corps and faced a long recovery process that included multiple surgeries and significant rehabilitation. Staying positive and taking things one day at a time really helped me overcome it.

Accomplishment I’m Most Proud Of: My two sons; a close second is championing Columbia County’s right to have its own hospital.

Favorite Way to Spend Saturday Afternoon: Watching football in the fall and anything that gets me outside in spring and summer

Favorite TV Show: “The Knick”

Favorite Movie: Citizen Kane

Favorite Sports Team: I’m proud to be a Georgia Bulldog 

Favorite Comfort Food: A grilled cheese sandwich

Favorite App: The GPS map on my phone

Last Book Read: Broken Chain by Lisa von Biela

Dream Vacation: I’ve been fortunate to have traveled extensively throughout Europe and Asia, but I would still like to visit Australia.

Something That Has Changed My Life: Being a husband and a father has changed my life for the better.

Favorite Hobbies: Traveling and golf

Secret Aspiration: To complete the training for my private pilot certificate

Reality Show I Would Totally Win: I don’t watch reality shows.

Something People Would Be Surprised to Know About Me: I am a voracious reader of historical biographies. I love history, especially Southern history.

From the Heart

A & E

From the HeartA Martinez brain surgeon publishes his second children’s book to encourage young people to share his passion for science and medicine.

Neurosurgeon Cargill H. Alleyne Jr. hopes that children will take a page from his book and get excited about human anatomy.

And Alleyne, professor and Marshall Allen Distinguished Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University, is doing what he can to influence them. He recently published his second children’s book, “Bart’s Heart,” which is part of a series of children’s books that he is writing about the human body. 

“I want to encourage young kids to think about science, and this is a fun, unique way to do it,” Alleyne says. “If you can lead them in the right direction, they may get turned onto something.”

“Bart’s Heart” follows his first book, “Ned’s Head,” which was published in 2012 and includes limericks that examine what’s inside a little boy’s head. The interactive books, geared toward 7- to 13-year-olds, include catchy rhymes, colorful illustrations and a glossary of definitions and pronunciations of medical terms associated with the heart and brain.

Colby Polonsky, a medical illustrator in the school’s Neurosurgery Department, included a small heart in each of her illustrations for Alleyne’s latest book. Michael Jensen, now an assistant professor in Augusta University’s Department of Medical Illustration, concealed small brains in each picture in “Ned’s Head.”

As the director of MCG’s neurosurgery residency program, Alleyne teaches young physicians to hone their skills and to become specialized in the field. 

“Many of them are following in someone’s footsteps,” he says, “but if your parents aren’t in medicine or science, you may not be exposed to this.” 

“Bart’s Heart” won a second-place award at the 2015 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards, and “Ned’s Head” received an honorable mention at the 2012 Fall Royal Dragonfly Book Awards. The books are available at local bookstores or online at amazon.com.

Alleyne plans to publish additional books including “Joan’s Bones,” “Nelly’s Belly” and “Malichi’s Eye.”

Mutts and Music

A & E

Mutts and MusicDog lovers and Paul McCartney fans will have lots to bark about with Augusta Amusements’ performances this month.

A dozen-plus dogs will have their day on Friday, February 12 when Johnny Peers and the Muttville Comix perform. Peers, who has appeared in Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus and on “Late Show With David Letterman,” will lead his kennel of canines through challenging and funny tricks in the slapstick comedy act.

The Muttville Comix debuted in 1980, and Peers, a graduate of Ringling Brothers’ Clown College, performs with many dogs that have been rescued from shelters or pounds. The show stars pooches such as Daphne, the world’s only skating-boarding basset hound; Squeaky, a ladder-climbing fox terrier; Mr. Pepe, who responds only to commands in Spanish; and Sir Winston, a pointer mix who only answers to “Sir.” Tickets are $29.50 for adults and $12.50 for children 12 and under.

In addition to reveling in the antics of talented hounds, people can reminisce about the 1970s in a tribute to Paul McCartney. 

On Friday, February 28, Dutch-born Yuri Pool will star in “The McCartney Years,” a note-for-note recreation of McCartney’s 1973 “Wings Over America” concert. Nothing is pre-recorded as every song is played live according to the standard set by Sir Paul himself in the early 1970s.

Pool is true to McCartney in his vocal styling and presentation on tracks such as “Live and Let Die,” “Let it Be,” “The Long and Winding Road” and “Jet.” Beatles promoter Sid Bernstein has praised the period-true, technically stunning, sonically explosive show as “the best on the scene today.” Tickets are $45.

Both performances begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Jabez S. Hardin Performing Arts Center in Evans. Reserved seats can be purchased online at www.augustaamusements.com or by calling (706) 726-0366.

Pieceful Hearts Quilters Guild

Community Groups in Action

Pieceful Hearts Quilters GuildA common love of quilting brings together the 146 members of Pieceful Hearts Quilters Guild. From the friendships and camaraderie to the sharing of input and ideas, the quilters enjoy getting together to practice their craft. However, community outreach is an important component of the guild as well. 

“The people that receive our quilts are so appreciative,” says Evans resident Tari Griggs, president of Pieceful Hearts. “Some people like the color combinations. Others think ‘My grandma used to do that,’ or they remember seeing quilts on a relative’s bed.”

Pieceful Hearts Quilters GuildGuild members make quilts and pillowcases for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Augusta, and last summer they coordinated with a Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center chaplain to present 93 quilts to veterans who live at the Uptown Division.

“Most of their rooms were pretty stark. We walked around and put quilts on everyone’s lap or bed,” Tari says. “It was such a reminder of why we make quilts.”

Pieceful Hearts members also create a quilt each year to raise money for Camp Rainbow, which serves hematology and oncology patients ages 4 to 16 at Children’s Hospital of Georgia. Pieceful Hearts raises about $2,500 for the camp annually. The quilt is shown throughout the year at events such as the Home and Garden Show, Arts in the Heart and the Jack-O-Lantern Jubilee in North Augusta, where people have the opportunity to purchase tickets to win it. The drawing is held at Arts in the Heart in even-numbered years and at the guild’s biennial quilt show in odd-numbered years.

Pieceful Hearts Quilters Guild“The fabric that goes into that quilt is donated by the members,” says Tari. “It’s a work of love, and it’s a work of art.”

For more information, visit piecefulheartsquilters.com.

Time Travel

Getaways

For a romantic getaway, spend a night or two in some of Georgia’s renovated historic hotels to feel the past come to life with a contemporary twist.

Revisionist history can be a precarious place to visit. In the case of Georgia’s historic hotels, however, a trek to revamped days of yore is undoubtedly worth the trip.

From the coast to the mountains, the state’s historic hotels connect the past to the present. Walk their halls to feel history come alive, breathe deep the passage of time, touch relics of yesteryear, and see tradition and progress coexist in artful balance. 

History evolves, and that fact is often visible at old hotels. Renovations may be essential to ensure structures remain safe as well as to update the property to suit modern tastes. After all, what might have been considered top-notch centuries ago may not satisfy contemporary travelers. Yet great restorations retain the most appealing assets of any historic hotel – whether its background, architectural details, landmark status, celebrated guests or famous events are most noteworthy.

Each historic hotel boasts an individual story and unique character. Stay in one, and you can reasonably expect an authentic experience that transcends the ordinary. These five havens are gateways to days gone by, with prime locations and luxury amenities to sweeten any stay.

The Brice

Photo courtesy of The Brice, A Kimpton Hotel

The Brice
Savannah

History: The building was a cotton warehouse and livery in the 1860s. In 1902 it became the first Coca-Cola bottling plant outside of Atlanta, and the first to produce the iconic glass bottles. More recently, it housed the Mulberry Inn (circa 1980).
Renovations: Purchased by Kimpton Hotels in 2013, the property was completely renovated before reopening as The Brice in May 2014. “Everything changed,” says Marie Dalis-Brown, director of sales and marketing. “But Kimpton does it in a quirky, fun way.” For example, with graffiti-like spontaneity, hallways pop with murals of horses in a tribute to the former stable. 
Preservations: “The Brice is the young, rebellious Southern belle of Savannah,” says Dalis-Brown. “We’re bringing history back with fun conversation starters throughout the property.” Morning coffees and evening wines are set out on a Coca-Cola table while the on-site Pacci Restaurant features dishes like Coke-braised short ribs. A grandfather clock and gilded mirror salvaged from the Mulberry are refreshed with bright paint.
Now: This medley of daring design and Southern tradition is pet friendly, offers complimentary bicycles and sits at the edge of the historic district.

More Info: (912) 238-1200; bricehotel.com

The Graduate Athens

Photo courtesy of Christian Horan Photography

 Graduate Athens
Athens

History: Graduate Athens is comprised of several different buildings, some of which date to 1829. Blacksmiths crafted famed works like the University of Georgia Arch and the Double-Barreled Cannon in the iron Foundry building (circa 1850). Most recently, the site was home to the Foundry Park Inn & Spa.

Renovations: New owners AJ Capital Partners kicked off a year of renovations in 2013. Graduate is a new hotel collection opening in college markets across the nation. Graduate Athens’ décor mixes Southern tradition with bright colors, preppy refinement and eccentric creativity as a nod to Athens’ history of innovation in music and art. Modern furnishings and locally sourced vintage and contemporary art contrast with historic elements.

Preservations: The lobby is located in the Foundry building. “The designers did an amazing job of preserving the history of the structure and accentuating different components like the frame beams and other architectural elements,” says Devin Heath, general manager.

Now: The 122-room boutique hotel sits at the edge of downtown, a short walk from the UGA campus. The on-site Foundry Bar & Mill showcases musical performances and local beers. 

More Info: (706) 549-7020; graduateathens.com

Jekyll Island Club Hotel

Photo courtesy of the Jekyll Island Club Hotel

Jekyll Island Club Hotel
Jekyll Island

History: Built in 1886 as a hunting retreat for America’s wealthy elite – think J.P. Morgan, William Rockefeller, Joseph Pulitzer, the Vanderbilts and Vincent Astor, among others – the Club was the site of the first transcontinental telephone call. In 1947 the state of Georgia bought the island to be a state park.

Renovations: In 1986 several former Club properties, leased from the state, were restored and transformed into the Jekyll Island Club Hotel. Updates were extensive, but as a National Historic Landmark and member of Historic Hotels of America, architectural integrity and original walls were retained.

Preservations: “We do want to keep it historic so when you come here you get that feel from it,” says Amy Wisenbaker, social media and web communications manager. “We try to keep it as close to original as possible, from the furniture styles to paint colors.”

Now: Walk the same halls original members did at the island’s only four-star resort, which sits on manicured grounds at the river’s edge and is the centerpiece of Jekyll Island’s celebrated historic district.

More Info: (855) 787-3857; jekyllclub.com 

The King and Prince

Photo courtesy of The King and Prince

The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort
St. Simons Island

History: First opened as a seaside dance club in 1935, the property was transformed into a hotel in 1941. During World War II, it served as a naval coast-watching and training facility. In 1947 it reopened as a resort.
Renovations: The hotel was renovated and expanded in 1972 and again in 1983, when it became a member of Historic Hotels of America. In 2003 the historic main building was renovated, adding 57 new guest rooms. Two years later the resort was named to the National Register of Historic Places. The ground floor entrance, lobby, atrium, conference space, restaurant and bar most recently were renovated from November 2013 to February 2014.

Preservations: Nine stained glass windows depicting St. Simons Island locations still hang in the oceanfront Delegal Dining Room. Six are from 1938; three additional windows were discovered during the 1983 hotel renovation. 

Now: “The legendary historic hotel with an exquisite brand-new look pairs modern luxury and style with impeccable Southern hospitality,” says Leigh Cort, publicist. The beachfront resort is home to the island’s only oceanfront dining.

More Info: (912) 638-3631; kingandprince.com 

Merry Acres

Photo courtesy of the Albany CVB

Merry Acres Inn
Albany

History: In 1935 Dr. R.L. Grace Sr. purchased a 500-acre property that included an old farmhouse, horse barns, pecan groves and pasture. He later added another 200 acres, and the area eventually would become the site for Merry Acres Hotel and Merry Acres Subdivision. The boutique hotel was built in 1952. 

Renovations: The former smokehouse was turned into a two-bedroom suite in 1968 when 30 more units were added along with a pool behind the registration house. More renovations and additions took place in 1975 and 1989. In 2011 new owner Stewbos Group invested $2 million, upgrading all 110 guest rooms with new flooring, fabrics, furniture, granite countertops, mosaic tiles and works by local artists.
Preservations: The two-story manor house (circa 1934) serves as the registration office. A rock building, where the original owner made sausage and cooked chitterlings, still stands by the pool area. The original barbecue pits and outdoor fireplace are still in use today.

Now: “There’s nothing like this charming, locally owned property,” says Sandy Gregors, director of sales. Enjoy drinks and light bites on-site at the Manor House Pub or take a complimentary shuttle service from the hotel to any Stewbos Group restaurant.

More Info: (229) 435-7721; merryacres.com

By Hope S. Philbrick

Roasted Potato & Bacon Kabobs

Appetizers and Snacks
  • Roasted Potato & Bacon Kabobs4 baking potatoes
  • 4-6 slices thick-cut bacon
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • Paprika, for garnish

Cut bacon into short slices and place in freezer about 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bring a pot of salted water to boil. Slice potatoes and add to the boiling water; boil about 4 minutes. Remove, let cool, then pat dry. Melt butter and rub on the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Thread potatoes and bacon onto greased skewers and bake about 60 minutes or until the outsides are browned and crisp. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired, and garnish with paprika. Makes 4 servings.

Go With the Flow

In The Home

Go With the FlowA River Island couple likes to kick back and enjoy their home on the Savannah River – whether they are alone or joined by family, friends or wildlife. 

After a rough – or even a not so rough – day, Nan and Bill Easler often can be found sitting on a freestanding porch swing by the Savannah River outside their River Island home. They unwind with wine and cheese and enjoy the simple pleasures of life – and their time together.

“It’s very peaceful. It’s very tranquil,” says Nan. “The moods of the river are so fun to watch.”

So is the diverse and abundant wildlife of the conservation community. They might see deer swim across the river to and from an island (which is uninhabitable because it is prone to flooding) on the other side of the water. Or they might be lucky enough to catch beavers hard at work or a family of otters at play. 

“Bald eagles have a nest on that island,” Nan says. “We fish off the dock, and we’ve made friends with the kayakers.”

Change of Heart

To enjoy the waterway, however, the Easlers never even have to venture outside of their house. “From every room there’s a view of the river,” Nan says.

Nan and Bill, who is a builder, both had lived in River Island (in different houses with different spouses) at one time before they got married in September of 2014. “We had known each other for 20-plus years, and then we both found ourselves single,” says Nan.

However, they didn’t expect to find themselves back in their old neighborhood when they started looking for a home together. 

“We were going to build and have a horse farm when we got married, but then this house came on the market,” Nan says.

When they first drove up to the property during a house-hunting expedition, she wasn’t convinced that it would be their new home. Once she walked inside the cedar shake house with a standing gauge metal seam roof, however, she had a change of heart. She quickly realized that the house was the perfect place for “yours” and “mine” to become “ours.”

“I didn’t think I would like it at first, but it’s great,” says Nan, who has a grown son and two teenagers that live at home. “We didn’t make any changes when we moved in. We just did a little painting.”

Go With the FlowThey each brought their own furniture, which has blended together beautifully, to the house, and they have wasted no time creating shared memories in the home, where Nan moved in July of 2014, as well.

“It’s a great entertainment house,” she says. “When we first moved in, one of Bill’s two daughters said we have to have a party a month. I think we have.”

And what better way to get the parties started than with their own wedding? Three months after Nan moved in, the Easlers christened the house by exchanging their vows on a September morning on the covered porch overlooking the river. The festivities continued with a small brunch at the house following the ceremony and a party at the River Island clubhouse that night.

“It’s just a fun house. It says, ‘Come in, relax, have fun and kick your shoes off,’” Nan says. “It’s a river-y look, but it’s also mountain-y.”

Go With the FlowHouse Party

The open, spacious family room features hardwood flooring and a wood cathedral ceiling with exposed beams that are connected by cables. Brightly colored furnishings of green, coral and teal offer ample seating space. Two fish-print pillows on a coral couch – along with other accessories throughout the house – reflect Nan’s Southern California roots and her love of the water.

The handcrafted ironwork in the transom window above the door that leads to the kitchen, along with doors that lead from the kitchen to the pantry and butler’s pantry, matches the ironwork in the gate outside. 

“When we have a party, we just open the family room doors,” says Nan. “The porch becomes an extension of the house.”

The covered porch off of the family room features a stone fireplace with a raised hearth and wood mantel, flagstone flooring, a wood barrel ceiling and more exposed beams that also are joined by cables.

While the cables inside and out are eye-catching, they are not just for looks. “The cables are part of the structure to hold the beams,” Nan says.

The exposed beams, which were made by craftsman from California, are not the only reason to look up in the Easler house. A coffered ceiling adds interest in the dining room. The space also features hardwood flooring and an arched doorway.

Go With the FlowThe china cabinet holds some of their favorite pieces, including a porcelain vase with vertical cutouts that Nan’s brother, a potter, made for them as a wedding gift.

“We went to China together several years ago, and the pottery there was cut vertically,” says Nan. “It was cool to watch his pottery evolve after our trip.”

Another spot in the house where people like to gather is the spacious kitchen. “You can fit a lot of people in this room,” Nan says.

The kitchen features cabinets with an Old World finish, an iridescent tile backsplash behind the stovetop, a pot filler faucet, tile and wood flooring, a wine cooler and pendant lights above the center island. A separate breakfast bar sits in the center of the room as well. A copper sink has fish embedded on the bowl and a lily pad stopper. 

Go With the Flow“No two sinks in the house are the same,” says Nan, “and the tile work is so intricate.”

Well-positioned, but hidden, spice racks pull out from either side of the stove. “No space was wasted when the house was built,” Nan says.

Nan, who admits they are still trying to figure out what all of the light switches do, found another surprise when she opened a “metal drawer” in the kitchen.

“I didn’t know why there was a metal drawer,” she says. “I finally realized that it was a warming drawer.”

Her office is located in the walk-in pantry off of the kitchen, and a butler’s pantry features a second dishwasher, a copper sink and an artichoke medallion in the backsplash. 

Cabinets with glass doors and built-in bookshelves offer display space for brightly colored pottery and fish figurines.

Romantic Retreat

The master bedroom features a four-poster bed, hardwood flooring, a ceiling fan and double doors that open onto a porch. An arched doorway from the bedroom leads to a cozy sitting area, which includes hardwood flooring and exposed beams in the ceiling. 

“We call this area ‘the perch,’” says Nan. “It’s such a romantic spot. You will find Bill and me here every night.”

The master bath features a lit barrel ceiling, tile flooring, alabaster sinks, an alabaster shower wall and dual showerheads of different heights on two separate walls. “One of Bill’s daughters calls the shower a carwash,” says Nan. 

A guest room offers similar features to anyone lucky enough to stay there. This room also includes a four-poster bed, a ceiling fan and double doors that lead to an outdoor retreat on a porch.

The house has two laundry rooms – one on the main level and one on the second story. The laundry room on the main floor features brick flooring and a farmhouse sink. 

The attention to detail throughout the house is evident in the powder room as well. Woodpecker-shaped door handles accent the cabinets, and the vessel sink is covered with small tiles.

A Home for All Seasons

The house truly is a home for all seasons, where the lower level offers even more options for year-round entertainment. 

One of the rooms on the lower level includes a seating area, a TV, a small kitchen, a stone fireplace and a pool table. A fan with two separate blades – connected by a cable like a fan in an old-time barbershop – cools the space. 

A theater room includes a popcorn maker and a cork floor that absorbs sound. “This is where the teenagers live,” Nan says. “We never know how many or who. They’re just sprawled everywhere.”

The big screen comes in handy when their favorite gridiron teams are on television. “During football season, we have one game on in the basement, one on in the theater room and another game on on the TV by the pool table,” Nan says. 

Doors from the sitting area lead to the pool and another covered porch outside. The porch includes a raised hearth fireplace, tongue-and-groove ceiling, two tropical ceiling fans and an outdoor entrance to the bathroom inside. A California kitchen by the pool, which has a waterfall, is a great feature for entertaining as well.

“We open the doors in the summertime,” says Nan.

The basement also has a room that Bill uses as an office to meet with customers and a wine cellar.

The wine cellar features brick flooring and a copper sink with an embedded grape design. One of their first orders of business after they got married was to fill the empty wine racks. Their wedding guests brought them a bottle of wine, and Nan’s brother organized the wine for them.

“Whenever we take a trip, we buy a bottle of wine for our collection,” says Nan.

Good Neighbors

While the Easlers love to entertain and share their home with others, they enjoy the privacy it offers as well.

“The house makes great use of the lot. Sometimes we feel like we’re living in a resort,” says Nan.  “The way the house is placed, yes, we have neighbors, but you don’t know it.”

And some of their favorite “neighbors” are a pair of ducks – dubbed Fred and Ethel by Nan – that roam the neighborhood.

“They eat out of your hand, and cars don’t scare them,” says Nan. “When you see one, you see the other. River Island belongs to them.” 

By Betsy Gilliland

Photography by Haley Lamb