Monthly Archives: September 2016

Standing Tall

Photos courtesy of Lamar Garrard

Photos courtesy of Lamar Garrard

A former GreenJackets pitcher has become a highlight reel of postseason success for the San Francisco Giants.

It’s an even-numbered year, so surely the San Francisco Giants – World Series champions in 2010, 2012 and 2014 – will wind up in the Fall Classic this year, right? (At press time, the National League team was battling for first place in the western division or a postseason berth in the wild card game.) 

Even numbers are not the only common denominator in the team’s recent success, however. Left-handed pitcher Madison Bumgarner also has been an integral part of the Giants’ postseason prowess, and he started his professional baseball career with the GreenJackets as an 18-year-old in 2008.

“Arguably, he’s one of the best players to ever come through Augusta,” says Tom Denlinger, the GreenJackets general manager.

sports-madison-bumgarner-giants-cardSelected by San Francisco as the 10th overall pick in the first round of the 2007 draft, Bumgarner signed with the team on August 15, 2007 after completing a stellar high school career. The Hudson, North Carolina native was Gatorade’s North Carolina Player of the Year after a dominant senior season, going 11-2 with a 1.05 ERA and 143 strikeouts in 86.0 innings.

Bumgarner, who bats right-handed, was as effective at the plate as he was on the mound. He had a .424 batting average with 11 home runs and 38 RBI. He even finished his high school career by hitting a walk-off, two-run, inside-the-park home run to win the state title.

Major Impact on the Minor Leagues

sports-greenjacketsHe showed his promise early during his lone season with GreenJackets, posting a 15-3 record in 24 starts. The lanky, 6’5” hurler helped lead the team to a record of 88-50 and the South Atlantic League Championship. His 15 wins, 1.46 ERA and 124 strikeouts led the league as well. 

The young pitcher had a dominating fastball, and when he was in Augusta, he worked on perfecting several other pitches. During the 2008 season, when the GreenJackets drew more than 200,000 fans to Lake Olmstead Stadium, Bumgarner had two different scoreless streaks of 22-1/3 innings and 38-1/3 innings. He was a five-time SAL pitcher of the week and a midseason and a postseason All-Star. He also won Minor League Baseball’s Most Spectacular Pitcher Award. 

“With certain players that come through here, you know they are going to be great,” Denlinger says. “Longtime fans have said that when Bumgarner came through, you knew he was going to do good things.” 

He was inducted in the GreenJackets Hall of Fame in August of 2015, and the team gave away a Madison Bumgarner bobblehead – in a GreenJackets uniform, of course – that night. “That was our most popular giveaway last year,” says Denlinger.

Postseason Power

sports-madison-bumgarner-world-series-cardBumgarner was called up to San Francisco in September of 2010 after spending almost two more full seasons in the minor leagues. He started five games and posted an ERA of 1.13 with the Giants that month. He also helped lead the team to a National League West Division Championship and a National League pennant. 

In the fourth game of the 2010 World Series against the Texas Rangers, Bumgarner pitched eight scoreless innings and became the fourth youngest pitcher to start and win a World Series game. His victory gave San Francisco a commanding 3-1 lead in the series and ultimately led to the Giants’ first World Series Championship in 56 years.

sports-san-fransicoHowever, his most memorable postseason performance so far came in 2014 when the Giants defeated the Kansas City Royals in a thrilling seven-game series. Bumgarner was voted Series MVP after he won two games, had a series ERA of 0.43 and pitched five scoreless innings in relief to save the deciding seventh game. Earning the longest save in World Series history, he pitched on two days’ rest after his complete game shutout in Game 5.

For the entire postseason, he compiled a 4-1 record, a 1.03 ERA on six earned runs allowed in 52-2/3 innings and 45 strikeouts. He also was the National League Championship Series MVP. 

The southpaw won the 2014 Babe Ruth Award, which is given annually to the MLB player with the best postseason performance. He was named the Sports Illustrated “Sportsman of the Year” and the Associated Press “Male Athlete of the Year” as well.

Bumgarner has been a National League All-Star four times (2013-16). He won the National League Silver Slugger Award, which goes to the best offensive player at each position, in 2014 and 2015 for being the best hitting pitcher in the majors. His superb fielding has yielded only 12 errors in his time in the majors. 

The 27-year-old pitcher is part of a long list of former GreenJackets who have made their mark in the major leagues. Others include Moises Alou, Tim Wakefield, Kevin Youkilis, Jon Lester, Jonathan Sanchez, Brian Wilson and Pablo Sandoval.

However, Bumgarner was more than just a fan favorite during his time in a GreenJackets uniform. He stands as a player that subsequent GreenJackets can try to emulate as well.

“It gives them something to strive for,” Denlinger says of the pitcher’s success. “You never know who the next Madison Bumgarner will be.”

There is an old saying in baseball that says, “If you got it, you got it.”  This former Augusta champion definitely has “got it.”

By Lamar Garrard

Photos courtesy of Lamar Garrard

Ruling the Roost

Ruling the Roost

Photography by Addie Strozier

Little pieces of Americana add personal touches to one-of-a-kind birdhouses.

Local baseball historian Lamar Garrard is a lifelong fan of the Atlanta Braves and the New York Yankees, but he also knows his Cardinals, Orioles and Blue Jays. 

About five years ago the Lincolnton resident, who has an extensive collection of Major League and Augusta baseball memorabilia, spread his wings and started building tin-roofed, wooden birdhouses.

He originally made them as gifts for family and friends, and each birdhouse takes four to five hours to complete.

“I loved wood shop when I was in school, and I’ve always worked with my hands,” says Lamar, a retired electrical salesman and U.S. Army Reserve veteran. “I like working with wood. It’s better than going to a psychiatrist.” 

Preserving the Past 

people-5-birdhouse-4Lamar makes the birdhouses from wood and tin that he gets from old barns and houses in Lincoln and Wilkes counties.

To decorate the birdhouses, he uses items such as old bottle caps; padlocks; vintage rusted keys; hinges; pieces of old coffee cans, Coke cans, tobacco tins and license plates; shards of pottery; watch and clock faces; small forks and spoons; metal thermometers; bottle openers; arrowheads; acorns; vines; drawer handles; small toys; strips of copper and brass pieces. 

ruling the roostThe pieces of Americana on the birdhouses reflect his lifelong love of history, especially Southern history. In addition to his baseball memorabilia collection, Lamar also collects paper items, postcards and photos that reflect Augusta history. 

He also speaks to church and civic groups about baseball, and he has been involved in several projects to erect monuments and markers in honor of deceased baseball players to preserve baseball’s past.

ruling the roostShowcasing his creativity, he uses materials such as jug openings and light sockets to make the birdhouse doors. He recently started adding small American flags and crosses to his birdhouses as well. He finishes the birdhouse by spraying them with a coat of lacquer.

His wife of 51 years, Ruth, helps him find the memorabilia at antique stores and flea markets. “I love reusing old wood. The beauty of repurposing it into something useful is gratifying,” he says. “Using old pieces of Americana nostalgia makes each birdhouse unique.”

Keeping It Simple

people-3A collection of his birdhouses will be on display November 1 – 30 at Columbia County Library in Evans. The birdhouses also are available for purchase at several locations including Art on Broad in Augusta; Connely Gallery in Washington, Georgia; and Off the Beaten Path in Ridge Spring, South Carolina. “They seem to rekindle good memories of items from the past for people,” Lamar says.

He even makes custom birdhouses for people to showcase their hobbies and interests. In addition, people can give him materials that he can use to build a themed birdhouse for them.

people-4-birdhouse“I need to make a birdhouse with a music theme for my wife. She’s a retired teacher and a longtime church musician,” Lamar says. 

Lamar, who lives on Clarks Hill Lake, has converted on old boathouse into a workshop, and he uses only hand-held tools such as a jigsaw, a drill and a dremel.

“It’s like fishing. It’s really relaxing,” says Lamar. “I enjoy thinking about what I put on the birdhouses that will pull somebody’s heart strings.”

By Sarah James

Photography by Addie Strozier


Megiddo Dream Station

Community Groups in Action

Megiddo Dream StationThe dignity of work should be available to everyone, and Megiddo Dream Station is trying to fulfill that promise for as many people as possible.

Based in Graniteville, South Carolina, Megiddo, founded in 2012 to move people into the workforce, is opening a new location in Columbia County at Oakey Grove Baptist Church in October with the help of CallingPost founder Phil Alexander. The church is one of three new sites that Megiddo is opening this fall for a total of nine locations. Clearly, Kay Benitez, executive director, has found a winning formula.

When she initially researched existing job training and placement programs to devise the Megiddo curriculum, however, she discovered that their employment statistics were bleak. 

“Their placement rates were less than 20 percent, and their job retention rates were less than 5 percent,” Benitez says. “So instead of looking at existing programs, I started talking to employers and asked them what they were looking for.”

Since the first class of 16 students finished the eight-week program in January 2013, Megiddo has put 302 people to work. According to Benitez, the program has a 95-percent job retention rate. 

Megiddo Dream Station“It is truly amazing to see a person come in completely downtrodden, depressed and discouraged and then to see them again at graduation,” she says.

The average student is 35 years old, has three children and has been out of work for five years. The program has strict attendance and academic requirements, and its students also must complete 20 hours of volunteer service to graduate. “Our program is intensive and extensive,” says Benitez. “If a person completes it, they’re serious about getting a job.”

Megiddo Dream StationCore curriculum classes are taught three times a year, beginning in October, February and June. Four-, six- or eight-week specialty classes, which improve employment opportunities or quality of life, are taught between the core classes. All classes are tuition free.”

For more information, visit

Toe to Toe

A & E
Alice in Wonderland

The Portrait Gallery

Columbia County Ballet presents an original production of “Alice” to celebrate Imperial Theatre’s 100th anniversary.

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road can take you there,” Lewis Carroll wrote in Alice in Wonderland. However, fans of the classic novel should head straight to Imperial Theatre Friday, September 16 for Columbia County Ballet’s production of “Alice.”

Michael Viator, Columbia County Ballet alumnus and resident choreographer, has created a fanciful adventure in Wonderland with his original production of “Alice.” This full-length creation is will be performed in honor of the theater’s coming 100th anniversary. With vibrant colors and powerful music score, the Mad Hatter kicks off the fun with his frolicking party and bizarre friends.

Because the performance coincides with Arts in the Heart, parking passes for the lot at Eighth and Reynolds streets behind the theater will be available for $5 per vehicle.

As a prelude to the main attraction, a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party (A Very Merry Unbirthday) will be held 3-4:30 p.m. Sunday, September 11 at Imperial Theatre. This complimentary family event, a preview drop-in for Viator’s premiere of “Alice,” will feature footage of the creation of this original, full-length story ballet. The preview includes a character meet-and-greet, cash bar, hors d’oeuvres and live music. Younger attendees are encouraged to dress in Alice-themed costumes.

If You Go:

What: “Alice”

When: 7 p.m. Friday, September 16

Where: Imperial Theatre

How Much: $12-$38; parking pass $5

More Info: (706) 860-1852 or

All Jacked Up


SUPERTRUCKSSuper bad SuperTrucks for superstars — this local company takes custom rides to a whole new height.

You’ve heard of fitness gurus, personal chefs or hairdressers for the stars. Well, what about a personal custom truck builder?

Local construction company owner Chris Walker is happy to provide the hottest thing on wheels for any celebrity – or anyone else – who wants a custom-built ride. However, he built his first custom truck to meet a personal need. He simply wanted a truck that was strong enough to use for work but convenient enough for play on weekends. Walker found that the factory-built trucks used in both arenas didn’t last, nor hold much trade-in value.

Out of that simple combination, the world-renowned SuperTruck brand was born. In 2001, after his personal truck broke down, he drove a new crew cab model of a larger Ford truck his maintenance crews had recently started using.

SUPERTRUCKS“I came back Monday morning, and I said ‘We’re going to turn it into a pickup,’” Walker remembers. “That’s how this all started, just to build one for me.”

After people saw the custom job his crew had done, their work was in high demand. Walker decided to sell it on eBay, and it went within two hours — to Arnold Schwarzenegger, no less. Eventually, Ford got involved and requested 40 trucks per year. Today SuperTruck is the largest privately owned medium duty upfitter in the United States, Walker says. Though many in the CSRA don’t know it exists, the company stays involved in the community, sponsoring events and Little League teams.

Customization Station

Once a factory-built F650 or International arrives at the shop, the typical high-end build will take 17 weeks to complete. It will spend four weeks in what Walker calls the “meat and potatoes department,” where it is stripped down to bare metal and outfitted with six or more doors. The typical bouncy springs underneath are replaced with a much smoother air ride suspension. 

“Now we not only make it look cool, we make it ride good where anyone can want to get in it and pedal down the road,” Walker says.

After sheet metal and fabrication is complete, the truck moves to a different bay in the shop for two to three weeks to receive its custom paint job. Then workers customize the inside to the buyer’s specifications. That is where the strange requests usually come into play.

“Who do I build trucks for? Everyone from showoffs to the military to sheiks to kings — whatever they need,” Walker says. “The Sultan of Malaysia had to have 16 ash trays, a rice cooker and a shower.”

SUPERTRUCKSThough much of the work they do is on trucks that will be used in some type of working capacity, there are the big-name athletes and celebrities, such as Shaquille O’Neal and Jay Leno, who have purchased from SuperTruck. That takes a special type of diplomacy that Walker and his partner George Stickler have become experts in after nearly 15 years in business.

“When you do a custom build, let’s say a $250,000 or $300,000 truck, they’re kind of spoiled people that I’m dealing with,” Walker says. “They’ll be calling 24/7, emailing ‘How come I don’t have my truck yet?’ We’re just straight up with everyone. We can talk to every single person, not like they’re a movie star or a ditch digger or an athlete. We just talk to them like we’re truck builders, and you want a truck, and we want to please you.”

Real-Time Adjustments

PEOPLE-ARMYIn an effort to achieve that, the business has moved into the online realm, allowing customers from all over the world to keep up with and make real-time adjustments to their one-of-a-kind trucks. A quick visit to the “In Progress” section on the company’s website,, allows clients to view current pictures of their trucks and consult with Walker or Stickler by phone or email. 

But no matter the truck’s ultimate purpose, everything is constructed well above specifications. The aim is for each truck to be able to pull 30,000 pounds and last 1 million miles, with the caveat that it be maintained every 10,000 miles.

PEOPLE-3Shaquille-O'Neal-with-his-SuperTruck-1With servicing their previous creations as well as keeping up with the current and pending builds, Walker and Stickler stay busy. They also continue to run construction companies across the Southeast. Despite the hectic schedule, both say that what they thought would only be a short-term fad, continues to be their calling.

“It beats the hell out of punching a clock,” says Stickler, who enjoyed drag racing years ago. “I’ve been doing this since I was 15. We’d always be building something. If we weren’t building trucks, we’d be building bikes or cars or something.”

Walker agrees. “We get the gratification of building something no one else can build for someone that can have anything they want,” he says. “How many people can say that?” 

By Kristopher Wells


Flu Fight


Flu remedy Chicken soup It won’t be long until flu season tries to knock you out. Try these tips to punch back.

Cough, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat — the symptoms are all too familiar. But you might need some reminders about preventing or treating the flu. 

Flu season can range from October to May, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s impossible to predict what the flu season will be like from year to year. The timing, severity and length of the season vary each year. In the United States, the flu season most commonly peaks between December and March.

Protection and Treatment

The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that everyone 6 months or older get an annual flu vaccination. However, the committee says that nasal spray vaccines should not be used this season because they lacked effectiveness in the past.

Getting vaccinated before flu activity begins helps protect people once the flu season starts. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for the body’s immune system to fully respond. The CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October, if possible. However, getting vaccinated later still has benefits.

The effectiveness of a flu vaccine (or its ability to prevent the illness) can range widely from season to season and can be affected by a number of factors. They include the characteristics of the person being vaccinated, the similarity between vaccine viruses and circulating viruses, and even which vaccine is used.

FLU-main-photo-hot-teaIn addition to getting a seasonal flu vaccine, people can take preventive actions such as staying away from sick people and washing their hands to reduce the spread of germs. Anyone who has the flu should stay home from work or school to prevent spreading flu to others.

Most people with the flu have mild symptoms and do not need medical care. However, to treat the contagious respiratory illness, others might need antiviral medications. These prescription drugs can make the illness milder, shorten the amount of time that someone is sick and prevent serious complications.

Studies show that flu antiviral drugs work best when they are started within two days of getting sick. Starting them later still can be helpful, especially if the sick person is hospitalized, has a high-risk health condition or is very sick from the flu. Patients should follow their doctor’s instructions for taking these drugs.

Contagiousness and Complications

Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less often, people might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, eyes or possibly their nose.

People can pass on the flu to someone else before they know they are sick, as well as while they are ill. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick. Some people, especially young children and those with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for an even longer time.

The time between a person’s exposure to the flu and the onset of symptoms ranges from one to four days, with an average of about two days. Most people who get the flu recover in a few days to less than two weeks.

While anyone can get the flu and serious problems related to the flu can happen at any age, some people are at high risk of developing life-threatening flu-related complications such as pneumonia if they get sick. They include people ages 65 and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease), pregnant women and young children. The flu also can make chronic conditions such as asthma or congestive heart failure worse.

Sidebar 1

5 Flu Myths

The flu is a good example of how medical myths can get in the way of good medical care. When it’s flu season, take the necessary steps to stay healthy. That includes separating fact from myth. Here are 10 common myths about the flu. 

  1. MYTH: You can catch the flu from the vaccine.
    The vaccine is made from an inactivated virus that can’t transmit infection. It takes a week or two to get protection from the vaccine, so people who get sick after receiving a flu vaccination were going to get sick anyway. Some people assume that because they got sick after getting the vaccine, the shot caused their illness, but this is not the case.
  2. MYTH: The flu is just a bad cold.
    Influenza may cause bad cold symptoms, like sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, hoarseness and cough. But in the United States alone, 36,000 people die and more than 200,000 are hospitalized each year because of the flu.
  3. MYTH: You can’t spread the flu if you’re feeling well.
    Actually, 20 to 30 percent of people carrying the influenza virus have no symptoms.
  4. MYTH: You don’t need to get a flu shot every year.
    The influenza virus changes each year. Getting vaccinated each year is important to make sure you have immunity to the strains most likely to cause an outbreak. Anyone — even healthy folks — can benefit from being vaccinated.
  5. MYTH: Feed a cold, starve a fever. 
    If you have the flu (or a cold) and a fever, you need more fluids. There’s little reason to increase or decrease how much you eat. Though you may have no appetite, “starving” yourself will accomplish little. And poor nutrition will not help you get better.

- Harvard Health

 Sidebar 2

10 Foods to Eat When You Have the Flu

1. Ice Pops

Ice pops can soothe your throat when it’s sore, swollen or dry. They also keep you hydrated, which is key when you fight the flu. Getting enough fluids keeps your mucus thin and eases congestion. Look for ice pops made from 100 percent fruit juice to make sure you get nutrients and not sugar water. You can also make your own frozen juice bars.  

2. Turkey Sandwich

Turkey has lean protein, a key part of a healthy diet. And although you may not feel like it, eating helps give your body energy to fight illness. Add cranberry sauce for a spike of flavor and comfort-food taste. 


3. Vegetable Juice

Since you may not feel up to making and eating a salad while you recover from the flu, try a glass of low-sodium vegetable juice instead. You’ll load up on antioxidants that boost the immune system, your body’s defense against germs. Do you crave a sweet taste? Go with 100 percent fruit juice. 

4. Chicken Soup

A soothing bowl of chicken soup helps you get the fluids you need and is nourishing, too. While it may not speed up your recovery, some scientific evidence shows that it can help with healing. Like other hot liquids, chicken soup can improve the way tiny hairs in the passages of your nose protect your body from bacteria and viruses. 

5. Garlic

If you feel up to it, garlic can be a good choice to spice up foods like soup. It appears to have some ability to boost the immune system and give you slight relief from congestion.

6. Ginger

Ginger may help relieve your stomachache and nausea. Some studies suggest it fights inflammation, too. You can add it to other foods, either freshly grated or as a powder. Another option: Have a drink of flat ginger ale.

7. Hot Tea

Drink green, oolong and black tea to take in some antioxidants. Breathe in the steam to help clear your stuffy nose. Add a spoonful of honey and a squeeze of lemon to soothe your sore throat. If caffeine bothers you, try decaf or herbal versions instead.

8. Banana

Whether you slice it, mash it or eat it whole, bananas are easy on the stomach. They can be a go-to food if you’ve been hit with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Bananas, along with rice, applesauce and toast, make up the BRAT diet — often the first foods doctors encourage people to try when they’re recovering from stomach flu and ready for solid foods.  

9. Toast

Toast or crackers are convenient foods when you’re fighting illness. They pair well with chicken noodle soup, and their satisfying crunch can take the edge off hunger when your stomach can’t handle much. 

10. Meal Replacement Drinks

If your appetite has returned, try one of these to make sure you get the right nutrients and calories. Look for lactose-free drinks that are low in sugar and have at least 6 grams of protein. 

- WebMD

Julie K. Miller Executive Director, Columbia County Community Connections


Julie K. Miller Executive Director, Columbia County Community ConnectionsJulie K. Miller
Executive Director, Columbia County Community Connections

Number of years in position: 13 

Family: I have been married to Doug Miller for 39 years and we have three adult children, a wonderful daughter-in-law and four grandchildren we adore. 

Why I’m Passionate About What I Do: As a child of adoption, it is my duty to give back. I have a particular set of skills that I can use to do good. I think I can contribute something of value, and I hope I can inspire others to help where they can. CCCC is a nonprofit working to make children safe, healthy, educated and prepared to become productive, civic-minded citizens, and I believe every child deserves a loving family and an opportunity to be educated. We need to teach every child compassion for others and how to live a purpose-driven life.

Community Groups and Charities I Love to Support: Of course I am going to say CCCC, but also Hope House in Augusta because they do incredible work under difficult circumstances. We need to change how we view addiction in this country and stop criminalizing people who need help. I am a huge fan of the work that many churches are doing to feed the hungry and to shelter the homeless in our community. We are starting a new program to house homeless youth to help them finish high school and become self-sufficient. If anyone wants to host a homeless youth, give me a call. You might change a young person’s life. 

Biggest Career or Life Obstacle I’ve Overcome and How: Not long after moving to Augusta for a career opportunity, I resigned from what I thought was going to be my dream job. Trying to find a position to replace the salary I had was impossible without leaving town, and I wasn’t going to uproot my family a second time. I was hurt, depressed, and I lost confidence in myself. Luckily, a friend recommended me for a job that paid half of what I had been making, and I was grateful to get it. That Christmas, my children asked me if we were poor. We had just enough money to get a $10 tree. Through that job, I met a woman who offered me a different kind of job, working in nonprofits. She mentored me and taught me how to design programs that help people move out of poverty and write grants to support that work. Eventually, that job led to the current position I hold. I will be forever in her debt for giving me a chance and investing in me.

Accomplishment I’m Most Proud Of: Working with the mother of Ryan Clark to create a Scholarship and Community Service Award given to a local high school student for their volunteer efforts. The award is given annually in honor of the Lakeside High School graduate killed April 16, 2007 at Virginia Tech. Ryan was an incredible young man who continues to inspire others to give selflessly. So far, $20,000 in scholarship funds have been awarded to 18 students. 

Favorite Way to Spend Saturday Afternoon: I love to shop for bargains. Finding a great pair of shoes or jeans for less than $20 is the best.

Favorite TV Shows: “Game of Thrones” and “House of Cards” – love them.

Favorite Movie: The Last of the Mohicans – the music and scenery is breathtaking. My favorite movie line is from Tombstone. When Val Kilmer playing Doc Holliday says, “I’ll be your huckleberry,” it’s perfect.

Favorite Sports Team: The Kentucky Wildcats basketball team because this was my favorite uncle’s team, or whatever e-sports Halo team my youngest son is playing on.

Favorite Comfort Food: Pumpkin pie with a bucket of whipped cream – always gives me the hiccups, but I can eat a whole pie.

Favorite App: Amazon – who knew I needed a kaleidescope of color in my toilet as a night light so I won’t fall in. Amazon, that’s who.

Last Book Read: The Girl on the Train – the description of this woman’s descent into alcohol-fueled mental breakdown resonated with me. Trauma does terrible things to the human spirit.

Dream Vacation: I grew up on Greek and Roman mythology, and I would love to visit the places where those stories originated. 

Something That Has Changed My Life: Having children completely changed my outlook on life. I began to see the world through a more empathetic lens, and it made me determined to do better. 

Best Thing I Ever Learned: Hanging on to bitterness and resentment is like eating poison and expecting someone else to die.

Favorite Hobbies: I love to read suspense thrillers and play Texas Hold ’Em. I have taken up Pokemon Go, but I have yet to control a gym or hatch an egg so I’m not very good at it.

Secret Aspiration: I dream about creating a product that would improve the quality of life for billions of people. I would like to write a book as powerful as To Kill A Mockingbird. I also want to be the eccentric grandma that my grandkids adore – I have a realistic shot at this one. 

Reality Show I Would Totally Win: “World Series of Poker” – hands down (ha ha). 

Something People Would Be Surprised to Know About Me: When I leave this world, I want to become a willow tree. When I see a cemetery, I imagine a tree-filled landscape. It makes more ecological sense. Why do we embalm people, put them in a fancy casket and then throw dirt over them? It seems like one of those traditions that no one knows why we do it, but we continue, because we always have. If you could be a tree, what tree would you be? 

What person do you think we should know? If you’d like to suggest someone we should meet, email and tell us why.

Buffalo Chicken Wings

Appetizers and Snacks
  • Buffalo Chicken Wings2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large shallot
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 ounces dark beer
  • 1 cup chili sauce
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ancho chili pepper
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 4 ounces cayenne pepper sauce 

Chop the butter, shallot and cloves and sauté in a large pan. Add the dark beer, chili sauce and barbecue sauce; stir for about a minute. Add the ancho chili pepper, brown sugar, honey and cayenne pepper sauce; stir for about 2 minutes. In a deep fryer (or oven) cook wings until done. Place sauce in a large bowl and add wings. Coat completely and serve with ranch or blue cheese dressing.

Strings Attached

A & E

Loren-and-MarkAugusta Amusements opens its 2016-17 season with guitarists Loren Barrigar and Mark Mazengarb on Friday, September 23. Displaying outstanding musical chemistry and a varied repertoire of original and arranged music, the international guitar duo entertains audiences with their guitar duets and vocal harmonies.

Influenced by jazz, bluegrass, western and popular music, the duo builds its guitar style on the thumb-picking techniques pioneered by guitar greats Merle Travis, Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed. Loren and Mark’s live performances feature guitar skills as well as musicality and the ability to be creative spontaneously. The interaction between the two musicians, who have toured extensively in the United States and in Europe, is as much a part of their show as their world-class guitar playing. 

If You Go:

What: Loren and Mark, international guitar duo

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, September 23

Where: Jabez S. Hardin Performing Arts Center 

How Much: $35 

More Info: or (706) 726-0366

Room for Everyone

In The Home
Photography by Haley Lamb

Photography by Haley Lamb

Hard work and a generous spirit help an Evans man share the rewards of his success with family and friends in his Jones Creek Plantation home.

A print, which shows a man atop a rock after pushing it up a hill, hangs on the wall by the interior door to the garage in the Evans home of D.J. Williams. It’s no accident that the print, “Sisyphus 2.0” by California artist Ori Bengal, is situated in that particular spot.

“I keep it by my back door,” D.J. says, “and I look at it every day before I go to work.”

According to Greek mythology, Sisyphus is condemned to roll a rock to the top of a mountain for all eternity, only to have it roll back down to the bottom each time he reaches the summit. However, D.J., the owner of D.J. & Co. Salon, Spa and Gifts – which celebrated its 24th year in business this summer – focuses on the happy ending in the scene.

“This painting captures what happens when he does finally make it, so it’s an inspiration for me as I leave for work every day,” he says. 

And when he returns home each night, he can enjoy the spoils he has earned with his impeccable work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit.

Hubs of Activity 

D.J. moved into the Jones Creek Plantation home, which he calls a mix of Colorado and California styles, 10 years ago. “It was 90 percent complete, and we got to finish it the way we wanted,” he says. 

One of the things he wanted was large doors. The custom-made, mahogany-stained front doors of sapele, an African hardwood, are 9.5 feet tall. Inside, the doors are 8 feet tall throughout the house. “I always wanted tall doors. I love that. It takes you back in time,” he says.

The furnishings and accessories in the house reflect his appreciation for the past – and for family and friends – as well.

“I’m an antique junkie. I’ve gotten a lot of furniture from estate sales,” says D.J. “I like new and old and everything in between.”

HOME-Anslee-w_Daisy,-D.J.,-Devin-w_DominoThe baby grand piano in the piano room is a reminder of his paternal grandmother, who played the piano for her church for 60 years. She also taught D.J. to play, and she helped him pick out the piano. 

His children, 20-year-old Devin and 16-year-old Anslee, play the piano as well. However, on special occasions – D.J. loves to entertain clients and friends – he usually is not the one on the keyboard. “Typically, I hire somebody for parties,” D.J. says. “I want to circulate.”

Another print by Bengal, who is a close friend of D.J.’s sister, sits on an easel in a corner of the room. The portrait of a woman, called “Gitana,” was inspired by one of the artist’s Spanish friends. “He gets inspired by real people. He puts his paintings on Facebook and asks the public to name them,” says D.J. “Ori was inspired by the spiciness and passion that Spanish flamenco dancers have. I just thought she was beautiful.” 

The room also features a coffered ceiling, wainscoting and a stacked stone fireplace with a raised hearth. The flooring, which is made up of 5-inch oak planks with Brazilian cherry borders, exhibits another one of D.J.’s favorite design features. “I like to mix woods,” he says. “I like the different textures.” 

HOME DJTwo round ends tables – both are replicas of Maitland-Smith handcrafted furniture pieces –sit on either side of the couch. While one of the tables has inlaid wood, the other features a decorative edge. 

The billiards room opposite the piano room was another personal touch that D.J. added to the home. “This was a library in the original floor plan,” he says. “I turned my library into a billiards room/man cave.”

The Connelly pool table, which is made of slate, was built on site. Wax was melted with a torch over the slate cracks, and the felt was installed on top. “When I have my staff party, all of the husbands come to the pool room,” D.J. says.

D.J. is a James Bond fan, so naturally, framed photos of Sean Connery and Roger Moore as 007 line the bead board walls that mimic wainscoting. A knight stands sentry in a corner. The room also includes a coffered ceiling and a high chair rail.

The chess/checkers table is another Maitland-Smith replica, and an authentic popcorn maker accents the room’s movie elements. “You start it for a party, and it’s awesome,” D.J. says.

The wainscoted main hallway, which separates the piano and billiards rooms, stretches 50 feet from the front to the back of the house. Just inside the front doors, a painting of the house by Richard Worth hangs above a rosewood table.

Mad About Memorabilia

HOME-Piano-RoomThe piano and billiards rooms are hubs of activities, but the side, glassed-in porch downstairs is a solarium where D.J. likes to read or drink coffee. “It’s my favorite spot in bad weather,” he says. 

The porch includes flagstone flooring, 25 feet of glass with double windowpanes for insulation along the exterior wall, a pair of ceiling fans and wicker furniture. Windows at either end open into the billiards room and the kitchen.

Christmas lights wrap around preserved palm trees, which have real leaves and a metal trunk covered with preserved pieces of bark. Mexican pottery fills black bookcases.  “We like Mexican pottery. Every time we go to Mexico, we bring some back in suitcases,” says D.J.

Fittingly, D.J. also collects barber memorabilia, and two antique barber poles stand against the glass wall. “My grandfather was a barber during World War II,” he says. “I’m still looking for the perfect barber chair. They’re solid metal, and they weigh as much as a Volkswagen.”

He turned the upstairs porch, which is directly above the porch on the lower level, into a hangout for his children. “It was a good use of space. The porch never got used,” says D.J. 

This space also includes flagstone flooring, a TV and a game table. One of D.J.’s most prized possessions – a child-sized yellow New York City taxi convertible on a stand – is tucked in a corner of the room.

“I cut both of my kids’ hair in that, and I couldn’t bear to part with it,” says D.J. “I had that car in my first salon. A lot of my clients took their kids’ and grandkids’ pictures in that.” 

Fun House

In the family room and the dining room, D.J. has several pieces of Czech crystal that belonged to his grandparents. (His maternal grandfather’s side of the family was from Prague.) He also has furnishings from his grandparents including a cherry china cabinet in the family room and the six chairs at the dining room table.

A Czech crystal lamp, which sits on his grandmother’s silver chest in the dining room, was his maternal grandmother’s piano lamp. In the opposite corner of the room, a wrought iron gate in an arched entry leads to a wet bar.

HOME KitchenThe family room features a couch that D.J. had made out of saddle leather, and area furniture retailers often call D.J. when they get a piece they think he would like. “I’m big on buying local,” he says.

The kitchen includes an old world finish on the cabinets and granite countertops, which can be found throughout the house with the exception of the master bath.

“I love granite because it’s so easy to clean,” says D.J. “I got big pieces of granite for the larger spaces and used scraps for the smaller rooms.” 

Studded leather stools line one end of the island, which also features a vegetable sink that gets lots of use because, D.J. says, “We’re big juicers.”

The kitchen also has two dishwashers, which is convenient for parties. “Caterers like that,” says D.J. “It’s a fun party house.” 

The downstairs guest bedroom, which has a sleigh bed and was his grandmother’s room while she was still living, comes in handy for family parties as well. 

“None of my family lives here. When I throw a family party, everyone spends the night,” D.J. says. 

Another guest room includes a cast iron bed, cherry wood bedside tables that are inlaid with leather on the top and a German cedar chest. D.J. got the chest, which is almost 200 years old and is inlaid with two different types of mahogany, from a one of his clients who was downsizing.

HOME-Master-BedroomThe master bedroom features a trey ceiling, a four-poster bed, built-in bookcases and a pair of studded, leather chairs in front of a fireplace. “I always wanted a fireplace in my bedroom,” D.J. says.

The wood floor features a medallion of dark oak, light oak and mahogany in the floor in the center of the room beneath the chandelier. D.J. says this was one of the last jobs performed by the late Ray Lilly of Hardwood Floors and More. “He hung a weighted stream from the chandelier to be sure it was centered. I like symmetry,” says D.J.

The master bath, which doubles as a steam room, includes an arched entry to the sunken, jetted tub; oil-rubbed bronze fixtures, which can be found throughout the house; a walk-in shower and limestone countertops. 

D.J. made a walk-in closet off of the master bath into an office, which features bead board walls and shelving along the walls to display books and memorabilia. The memorabilia includes the leather strap his paternal grandfather used to sharpen his razors when he worked as a barber, his grandfather’s hand-held manual clippers and his electric clippers. He also has a couple of old manual typewriters on the shelves in honor of his maternal grandparents, who helped raise him and owned All Make and Reliable Typewriter Co. in Savannah for 52 years. 

Anslee’s bedroom includes an upholstered headboard for the bed and a window seat. A full-length mirror with a door, which opens to a jewelry closet, leans against a wall.

Although he attends Ole Miss now, Devin stayed in town for his first two years of college so they designed his computer room like a dorm room. The room includes a mini fridge, and the grill from his old Mustang hangs on the wall. “I picked the grill up out of the street after he was involved in an accident on Walton Way,” D.J. says. “The accident wasn’t his fault, but I wanted to keep the grill as a reminder to him to be careful.”

Film clips and drawings from the original Star Wars movie by Nick Maley, who created Yoda and some of Hollywood’s most-celebrated special effects, hang on a wall in Devin’s room. They got them on a trip to St. Maarten.

“He has a store there. If you buy his stuff, he signs it for you,” D.J. says. “Anybody can meet him. You just have to stand in line.”

Shades of the Caribbean

HOME Backyard-PoolFor all of the gathering spots – and sanctuaries – inside the home, D.J.’s favorite place to spend time in good weather is by the pebble tech pool he added in 2009. The pool area is situated between the two creeks on the property line that feed into the Jones Creek Plantation pond. The pool features fountains, a competition-rated diving board (Devin was on the Lakeside High School diving team) and a beach area with Adirondack chairs.

“I love the Caribbean water, and I wanted to emulate it,” D.J. says.

A cushioned hammock with pillows is nestled in a shady spot beneath the trees, and a quartet of Adirondack chairs, accompanied by two ceiling fans/lamps, surrounds a fire pit. It’s just one more spot where D.J. likes to gather his friends. “I start the fire,” he says, “and they bring the wine.” 

By Sarah James

Photography by Haley Lamb