Monthly Archives: July 2017

Pitch-Perfect

Sports

Nick SandlinIn some ways, little has changed in two years for former Greenbrier High School baseball standout Nick Sandlin – and that’s a good thing. He led the Wolfpack to the Class 5A Georgia state baseball title in 2015, and now he is cutting a striking figure at the University of Southern Mississippi as well. 

The sophomore relief pitcher finished this past season with a 10-2 record and had eight saves in 11 opportunities. He had an earned run average of .238 and struck out 80 batters in 56⅔ innings. He allowed only one home run and limited the opposition to a .201 batting average.

Recently selected a second team All-American by Collegiate Baseball, Sandlin attributes his success to USM pitching coach Michael Federico and his teammates.

“I’ve been lucky to have him both years,” Sandlin says about Federico. “Freshman year, I was learning from the older guys on the team and what to expect at the D1 level. I’ve just been on good teams with a good defense behind me.”

Arriving as a freshman at 5-foot-11 and 148 pounds, Sandlin has bulked up to 170 pounds as a result of strength training and a healthy diet. In high school, his fastball peaked in the mid-80 mph range. Now, he’s throwing in the upper 80s and low 90s. 

He also has added a splitter or changeup to complement his fastball and slider. It’s another pitch to confuse batters.

In addition to his pitching prowess, Sandlin recently was named a third team Academic All-American by the College of Sports Information Directors of America. He has earned a 4.0 GPA over two years in construction engineering technology.

“We’ve got a good academic support staff,” Sandlin says. “You gotta learn how to balance them (baseball and academics) your first year in college. Once you figure it out a little bit, it’s not too bad. You stay busy. It’s just the daily routine.”

The Golden Eagles set a school record for wins this season, compiling a 50-16 record. Southern Mississippi lost to Mississippi State 8-6 in the Hattiesburg Regional Final on June 5 to end its season. However, Sandlin has continued to sharpen his skills this summer by pitching for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks in the Cape Cod League for collegiate players in Massachusetts.

By Jim Irish

The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

Listen To This

The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth HoganAnthony Peardew is the keeper of lost things. Forty years ago he carelessly lost a keepsake from his beloved fiancée. That very same day, she died unexpectedly. Brokenhearted, Anthony sought consolation in rescuing lost objects — the things others have dropped, misplaced or accidently left behind — and writing stories about them.

Now, in the twilight of his life, Anthony worries that he has not fully discharged his duty to reconcile all the lost things with their owners. As the end nears, he bequeaths his secret life’s mission to his unsuspecting assistant, Laura, leaving her his house and all of its lost treasures.

Recovering from a bad divorce, Laura, in some ways, is one of Anthony’s lost things. But when the lonely woman moves into his mansion, her life begins to change. She finds a new friend in the neighbor’s quirky daughter and a welcome distraction in the rugged gardener. As the dark cloud engulfing her lifts, Laura, accompanied by her new companions, sets out to realize Anthony’s last wish — reuniting his cherished lost objects with their owners.

With an unforgettable cast of characters, The Keeper of Lost Things is a heartwarming read about second chances, endless possibilities and joyful discoveries.

“Hogan’s novel reveals how even discarded items have significance and seemingly random objects, people and places are all interconnected,” says Booklist.

Mister Mellow — Washed Out

Listen To This

Mister Mellow — Washed OutPerry, Georgia: “Where Georgia Comes Together” — This hot and sleepy South Georgia town is the birthplace of a pioneer in modern music’s most unique movement to date, appropriately labeled “chillwave.” 

To the layperson, the chillwave movement might be considered more of a background track to a hip new clothing store, but there is an expanded universe of infinite compositions that can be discovered. Mister Mellow, the latest release by Washed Out, is a perfect example.

Washed Out mastermind Ernest Greene sews a quilt of sweet, mushy beats, sultry dance rhythms with glitchy retro layers that slink around his lighter-than-air vocals to create the perfect atmosphere for any venue. A graduate of the University of Georgia with a Master of Library and Information Science, Greene opted out of being confined to the Dewy Decimal System and created a dewy-library of science where experiential inspiration and influence meets musical mastery and craft. 

The follow-up to the 2013 smash Paracosm, Mister Mellow reveals more of Washed Out’s immeasurable talent of crossfading the genres of jazz, soul, funk, house, disco-synth, VHS tracking slurs, hip hop and laptop folk, which he stirs to a slow simmer. All of the musical flavors naturally forge a sonic force field that makes the work day more productive, a long drive totally worth it and a flight more delightful. 

Mister Mellow is the perfect soundtrack to lure summer fun back to a refreshed reality. 

- Chris Rucker

Take to the Water

Sports

Take to the WaterPaddle leisurely down the Savannah River in your favorite watercraft or vie for top honors in a homemade raft competition at the Big Float.

There are lots of ways to beat the August heat. However, Savannah Riverkeeper gives people the opportunity to cool off with 100 or so of their closest friends — with a little competition on the side as well — during the Big Float on August 26.

Kayaks, canoes, SUPs, inner tubes and homemade rafts are welcome on the 3.4-mile route. Prizes will be awarded in the homemade raft competition in categories such as Top Corporate Raft and Top Recycled Raft. Other awards will go to the most creative/well-executed raft and the most enthusiastic team (look for teams dressed up in themed costumes). 

1.-Batman-float“We want to encourage people to enjoy the Savannah River and celebrate the end of summer with a fun and leisurely day on the water. All registration fees directly support our efforts to protect the Savannah River,” says Elena Richards, the Savannah Riverkeeper communications director. “If you’ve never been on the river before, it’s a great opportunity to do that. We have an expert safety team, and it’s a fun way to cool off and enjoy yourself.” 

The launch will begin at 9 a.m. at the Hammond’s Ferry boat ramp in North Augusta and end at 105 Riverfront Drive, Augusta. Participants can drop off their vessels at the boat ramp between 7:30-8:30 a.m. and drive their vehicles to the office. A shuttle will take them back to the launch point. 

All participants must have a lifejacket, water, and a paddle or oar, including tube riders. “It’s a completely flat-water route,” says Richards. “Everyone needs to have a paddle so they will have a way to move if there’s not much current.”

An after party with local and regional craft beers, food trucks and live music will be held at the new Savannah Riverkeeper headquarters at 328 Riverfront Drive, Augusta. Spectators also can watch the rafts go by from the Riverwalk– the pavilion at 10th Street offers a great vantage point about 10-11 a.m.

If You Go: 

What: The Big Float

When: 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Saturday, August 26 

Where: Hammond’s Ferry Boat Ramp, North Augusta

How Much: $30 and up

More Info: savannahriverkeeper.org

Healing Waters

In The Home
Healing Waters

Photography by Sally Kolar

A view of Bowen Pond and a complete home makeover was the perfect prescription for this West Lake family. 

Columbia County residents Danielle and Jack Rigg have never shied away from adventure – whether it involved new career paths or a change in address. Yet it was another life-altering experience that prompted them to move from Pittsburgh to this area in 2006. Danielle, a young mother whose children Noah and Hannah were 5 and 2 years old at the time, had just undergone treatment for breast cancer.

“It was a long, cold winter,” she says. “Jack asked me what I wanted. I said, ‘Take me to the sun.’” 

Jack, a physician who specializes in the treatment and rehabilitation of soldiers with traumatic brain injuries, took a position at Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center, and the family settled in River Island.

A couple of years ago, however, they decided it was time for another change – new living quarters. They had planned to talk to builders about constructing a new home, but first Danielle decided to talk to her Realtor, Susan Salisbury, to see what was available on the market.

Susan took her to see a home in West Lake that overlooks Bowen Pond. “I walked in, and I was wowed by the property,” says Danielle. 

Pool-2-AfterThe house already had two features that the Riggs wanted in a home – a pool and a basement – so they saw the property’s potential right away. After all, water is a must for any girl who grew up on Long Island, and the lower level was the perfect spot to add a sound-proof studio where Jack, a musician turned physician, could play his music. 

“I was pretty convinced we had to live here. I had a gut instinct. Everything we had ever talked about was here,” says Jack. “It was obvious. It just felt really right to be here.”

Built on a wooded lot in 1981, the home had a lake house ambiance. Danielle, however, has “a proclivity for light and airy,” so she knew extensive renovations would be in order. Fortunately, the house was structurally sound.

“We didn’t have any unpleasant surprises. In fact, all of the surprises were good surprises. We found steel beams behind walls and in floors,” says Danielle. “We’re very grateful to the previous owners. The builder did a fantastic job. The house has good bones. It had good karma, but it was time for a new vision.”

‘The Voice of Life’
The good karma started when the former owners accepted the purchase offer from the Riggs on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year in Judaism. “It gave a spiritual element to it,” says Danielle, who is Jewish.

However, she still had a choice to make. Her cancer had recurred, so she would be battling the disease again at the same time she would be immersed in the home renovation project. 

“I had two voices in my head. One said, ‘Focus on your healing.’ The other said, ‘Be in the game of life,’” says Danielle. “I chose the voice of life. It said, ‘Be in love with the project and happy to be alive every day you’re doing it.’”

The couple hired Tom O’Brien, a New York architect and one of Jack’s former bandmates, to bring Danielle’s ideas to life. “He drew this thing out, and I was just drooling,” she says. 

The first thing she wanted to do was to open up the home, which overlooks the widest part of the pond, to take full advantage of the view.

“None of the other houses on the lake have this exposure or this position,” Danielle says. “I feel like I live at a resort. I pinch myself every day. I don’t want to go anywhere.”

Family-Room-1-AfterThe Riggs removed the wall paneling from the family room, which overlooks the pond, and painted it “Horizon,” a color that pulls in the outdoors. They changed the fireplace mantel and added a cutout in a wall to show the staircase to the lower level. They replaced the bookshelves on the wall separating the dining and family rooms with a wide opening so that they could see the pond from the dining room. 

Opening up the front hallway provided a view of the pond as well. They also revamped the master bedroom to take advantage of the pond view. The room originally had double doors to a small Juliet balcony, which the Riggs replaced with 12 feet of windows. 

“My goal was to make the house contemporary,” says Danielle. “It’s contemporary, but there are some things that are not contemporary.”

For instance, the Riggs kept the antique heart pine floors, which are original to the home, and the stained glass window on the stairwell. Some of the furnishings, such as the master bedroom’s antique chest, are traditional as well. 

In addition to opening up the home, turning the lower level into a music studio for Jack was a high priority. The lower level originally was one big room, but the Riggs made it into two rooms. The soundproof music studio, where Jack rehearses with his band, The Bonaventures, is full of his guitars and drums. A framed gold record, which Jack earned for the Blue Oyster Cult album, “Fire of Unknown Origin,” hangs on a wall. 

“He played with Blue Oyster Cult,” says Danielle. “He wasn’t an official member of the band, but he was good friends with the two brothers who founded the group.”

Music occupies a special place in the couple’s history as well. They met in New York City when she was a law student and he was a musician. “I met him as a groupie when I went to see a show,” says Danielle. “He was playing in a popular New York-based band at the time.” 

The lower level also has 100-percent recycled cork flooring. “It’s soft on your feet,” says Danielle.

The other room in the lower level includes an infrared sauna for Danielle, who became a certified lactation specialist after practicing labor and employment law for five years. 

Kitchen-AfterClean and Contemporary
The health-conscious Danielle enjoys spending time in the kitchen, where she grows wheat grass and sprouts, as well.

“This is a working kitchen. I’m a raw vegan. I eat only uncooked plants, mostly sprouts, and I juice four times a day,” she says. “I was always on a holistic path. When my cancer recurred, I decided I needed to up my game.”

The renovated kitchen features Quartzite countertops, lots of drawer space, a beveled subway tile backsplash, white cabinetry and glass doors on the upper cabinets. The bay window in the breakfast nook and the shiplap wall were part of the original décor.

A co-founder of the Best for Babes Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the cultural perception of breastfeeding, Danielle retreats to her office to work. “It’s conducive to working because it doesn’t face the water. I can get away from the intense light,” she says.

The office, which previously was a living room, has the original fireplace and built-in bookcases, but the Riggs enlarged the space. They added French doors and an antique Turkish rug that they got on their honeymoon in Turkey. However, Danielle says, “There are not a lot of floor coverings in my home, and there is no fabric on the windows. I prefer an open, airy, simple, clean, contemporary look.”

Across from the office, the dining room is a space of understated elegance with mission-style furniture. Artwork includes pieces that Danielle’s grandparents got in Africa, a pair of Israeli pictures on one wall and one of Jack’s paintings on another wall.

Dining-Room-1-After“The dining room needed to showcase some art,” says Danielle. “I wanted the walls to create a simple backdrop. I just wanted to hang art on subtle, beautiful-colored walls.”

In fact, the house is full of art work by Jack, who paints in the furnished apartment above the standalone garage that the Riggs built. “That area was all woods before,” says Danielle.

The lot still has a woodsy feel, however.

“I love the trees and no lawn and the gravel. It’s like I’m at a campground,” Jack says. “I hear the crunch of the car on the gravel when I get home, and it’s like an instant transformation.”

Master-Bedroom-AfterA new breezeway connects the garage to a side porch that the Riggs also added to the house. The side porch borders a covered porch that already was part of the home. The covered porch features the original aged wood ceiling, which is painted white and gray now. “It didn’t stand out before because everything was brown,” Danielle says.

The Riggs also updated the pool and deck areas. The jasmine-covered pergola on the deck already was there. However, they installed a ceiling fan. Adding a personal touch to the space, the deck lounge chair pillows, which were an anniversary gift from Danielle’s mother last year, have a photo of the pool area on them.

Jack and Noah cleared out the area between the pool and Bowen Pond. “There was no beach before,” Danielle says. “That was completely overgrown.”

Her favorite parts of the house fall in this order: the outside, the kitchen and the master bedroom wall of windows. Even though she grew up on Long Island, she now prefers a lake to the beach. “I find myself much more at home on a lake or a river,” she says. “I like the foliage.”

Jack says he spends most of his time at the house in his music studio, but his favorite spot is the covered porch. “I love the breeze,” he says. “Even if I’m just sitting there, I feel like I’m doing something.”

Updated with Style
The Riggs completed the renovations in five months before moving into their new home in March 2016. “It’s not just updated. It has style,” Susan says. “Danielle was hopping and popping like popcorn.”

The house is conducive to entertaining as well – no matter the ages of their guests. “Most Friday and Saturday nights in the warm season, a pack of guys shows up. I put out food, and they go from basketball to fishing to the game room,” says Danielle. “That’s what I love about this house – besides everything.”

By Betsy Gilliland

Savor the Mountains

Getaways
Savor the Mountains

Photos courtesy of Asheville Wine & Food Festival

Indulge your taste buds and learn tips from renowned chefs at the Asheville Wine & Food Festival.

Some people might feel like they’ve reached the mountaintop when they have good food and good wine on their table. They certainly can drink in that euphoric sensation at the ninth annual Asheville Wine & Food Festival August 18 and 19. The outdoor festival will feature regional, national and international wines; craft beer; spirits and handcrafted artisanal foods at Pack Square Park in the center of downtown. 

“We try to balance our small town feel with the lovely cuisine we have to offer,” says Melissa Mathews, the event media coordinator. “You’ve never tasted fusion like this.” 

Savor the MountainsCulinary Adventure
The festival, which was named a Top 20 event by the Southeast Tourism Society last year, will provide plenty of entertainment, but it also will be held steps away from vibrant shops, restaurants and the South Slope Breweries. In addition to an array of independent farm-to-table restaurants, festivalgoers can find a colorful street performer on every corner.

The culinary adventure begins at 11 a.m. Friday when revelers can meet Christopher Prieto, a celebrity barbecue pit master, and enjoy music, wines, spirits, beer and food from local award-winning chefs. The festivities continue during the Grand Tasting from noon until 5 p.m. Festivalgoers can visit downtown restaurants, breweries and bars Friday evening when they offer special opportunities to learn more about Asheville and its food scene.

The fun continues Saturday with the Grand Tasting from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. when festivalgoers can sip, taste and meet the participating winemakers, chefs and culinary authors. They also can hear talented chefs share their “secret sauces” about Asheville food. In addition, they can visit any vendors and exhibitors they missed on Friday and experience samples from new restaurants, wineries, distilleries, breweries and hand-crafted artisan food venues.

From 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. Saturday, the festivities will move to the Renaissance ballrooms for “Sweet & Savory,” where desserts, restaurant dishes, wines, brews and cocktails will be served. Everyone is a VIP at this gala event, which is reserved for ticket holders of the full weekend admission or the early bird special.

Savor the MountainsAs part of this year’s event, a Chef Highlight Series will introduce festival foodies to eight regional or national chefs. These kitchen wizards will offer tips and demonstrate how to make their renowned gourmet dishes during 30-minute demonstrations on Friday and Saturday.

“In the past we had a Chefs’ Challenge where they had to make something with a surprise ingredient,” Mathews says. “This year the chefs can showcase what they can do with their signature dish.”

National Reputation
A group of friends started the festival in 2009 to bring together local restaurants, wineries and food producers by the French Broad River. Through the years it has grown to attract more than 4,000 people from Atlanta, Miami and all across the Southeast. A faithful contingent from Austin, Texas attends the event as well. “Locals also come year after year,” Mathews says. “We like to mix things up for our regulars.”

The city certainly has the means to do it. North Carolina is home to more than 100 wineries, and 20-plus of them are located in the mountains. Varietals near Asheville include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling. While the Biltmore Estate winery is the largest in the area, newcomers such as Burntshirt Vineyards and Overmountain Vineyards also are making a name for themselves.

Savor the MountainsAsheville is building a national reputation as a food and wine destination as well. The Travel Channel ranked Asheville No. 1 this year on the list of “New Top Cities for Wine in the United States,” and Southern Living has listed Asheville among the “Tastiest Towns in the South.” In its Travelers’ Choice Food and Wine Destinations Awards, TripAdvisor placed Asheville in the esteemed company of New York City, San Francisco, New Orleans and Chicago.

Festival tickets are available for a single day or for the full weekend. Festivalgoers must be at least 21 years old to attend. The cost of admission allows people to sample food and drink from restaurants, wineries and breweries at no additional cost. However, they also can purchase wine by the glass, bottle or case; prepackaged foods and handcrafted mountain products.

If You Go:

What: Asheville Wine and Food Festival

When: Friday, August 18 and Saturday, August 19

Where: Downtown Asheville, North Carolina

How Much: $45 – $140

More Info: ashevillewineandfood.com

By Morgan Davis

Avocado, Egg & Bacon Sandwich

Entrees
  • Avocado Egg-&-Bacon-Sandwich1 avocado
  • Dash lime juice
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Bacon slices
  • 4 slices bread
  • Butter for bread
  • 2 eggs
  • Spinach leaves 

Mash avocado with fork and stir in dash lime juice. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. Cook bacon and drain on paper towels. Poach or fry eggs soft to medium; season with salt and pepper to taste. Toast bread or butter and heat on a griddle or grill. Layer toast with spinach, avocado, egg and bacon. Serve immediately. Makes 2 sandwiches.

 

Clint Bryant

P.Y.S.K.

Augusta University Director of Intercollegiate AthleticsAugusta University Director of Intercollegiate Athletics 

Number of years in position: 30 

Family: Wife, Trish Bryant; daughters, Lauren Ashley Bryant, Washington, D.C., and Kristin Amanda Bryant, Boston 

Why I’m Passionate About What I Do: I’ve been in intercollegiate athletics since 1977, so I’ve had the opportunity to watch young people grow up. I enjoy seeing people come in as 17- or 18-year-old kids and seeing them leave as 21- and 22-year olds with their degrees. A lot of times they are the first generation in their families to get a college education. 

Community Groups and Charities I Love to Support: I support a lot of them. I don’t want to leave any out, but a few organizations that I’ve supported are Boys & Girls Clubs, Family Y, The Warrior Alliance, 100 Black Men of Augusta Inc., American Heart Association and American Cancer Society. You name it; I’ve done it. But my biggest passion is helping disadvantaged kids or kids with special needs, and helping kids overcome obstacles. I’m also very passionate about our warriors and wounded veterans.

Biggest Career or Life Obstacle I’ve Overcome and How: I guess growing up as an inner city kid in Washington, D.C. — I’ve seen how you can go from there to having an opportunity to live the life I’ve lived and travel all over the world. I’ve been to places such as New Zealand, Argentina and every state except one. I’ve never been to North Dakota. Some of the travel has been for pleasure, but most of it has been work-related over the years.

Accomplishment I’m Most Proud Of: Probably when I was selected to the NCAA Division II 40th Anniversary Tribute Team in 2013. The team is made up of former student-athletes who made a difference in competition during their playing days and as civic leaders after they graduated. I was one of 40 people recognized for contributions to the NCAA.

What Your Childhood Self Wanted to Be When You Grew Up: A fireman. There were always a lot of firetrucks around, so I had a thing about firemen.

Favorite Way to Spend Saturday Afternoon: Grilling. I can cook anything – ribs, chicken, all kinds of fish and wild game. If it’s edible, I can grill it. 

Favorite TV Show: Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods: Delicious Destinations”

Favorite Movie: Tombstone

Favorite Sports Team: Golden State Warriors

Favorite Comfort Food: Gumbo. In 1984, Bill Foster and I left Clemson University to restart the basketball program at the University of Miami after it had been on a 15-year hiatus. I recruited a young man out of Lafayette, Louisiana. I stayed at the Radisson, and I went to the concierge and said I wanted some real Cajun food. There were a lot of restaurants around, but I went 10-12 miles out of town. I ended up on this bayou at a place where they put the food on a table with paper and cold beer. The people there took a liking to me because I stopped in there every time I went to the area. The grandmother finally said that if I came back again, she would teach me how to make Cajun food. She taught me how to make the best gumbo.

Favorite App: Vivino. It’s a wine app.

Last Book Read: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates 

Dream Vacation: I’d like to go to the San Francisco area, Sausalito, Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley because I’m crazy about wine.

Something That Has Changed My Life: The birth of my daughters and my basketball coach, Bob Hussey, at Belmont Abbey College. With his help, I had the opportunity to get into college coaching.

Best Thing I Ever Learned: Life is a never-ending process of getting used to things that you never expected.

One Word You Would Use to Describe Yourself: Outgoing

Favorite Hobbies: Cooking, fishing, golf

Secret Aspiration: To write a memoir 

Reality Show I Would Totally Win: “Cooks Vs. Cons”

Something People Would Be Surprised to Know About Me: I was born in rural, coastal, eastern North Carolina in a small town called Bolivia. It is 22 miles south of Wilmington and 24 miles north of Myrtle Beach.

Necco Augusta

Community Groups in Action

calling postNecco Augusta has a new home in Martinez. However, the nonprofit, which provides foster care and adoption services to children from birth to age 21, is more interested in finding forever homes for children.

“Our mission is to build families,” says Natasha Small, the program director. “There are thousands of children in foster care across the state, and it is our mission to provide loving homes and permanency for as many children as possible.”

Service areas for the local office include Columbia, Richmond, Burke and McDuffie counties, and Small says the agency tries to place children in forever homes in their home counties. “Reunification with the birth family is always the goal whenever possible,” she adds. “Otherwise, we try to find the best fit for the child.” 

Necco Augusta receives foster care referrals from state and county departments. The organization recruits potential foster parents through various events, social media and word of mouth. Requirements for becoming a Necco foster parent include passing a background check and being at least 21 years old. “The children we serve are from a variety of backgrounds, so we welcome diversity in our foster families,” says Small.

Support services include in-home case management, 24-hour emergency assistance, competitive reimbursement rates, coordination of services, licensed therapists on staff and ongoing training and outings.

“I believe foster parents are often the angels God sends as an answer to desperate prayers of children who are crying out for loving and caring adults,” says Phil Alexander, CallingPost founder. “I have great respect for people who give of their time and hearts to help children at a most vulnerable time in their lives.”

Necco Augusta will hold an open house at its new location, 432 South Belair Road, from 10 a.m. – noon Saturday, August 19. The organization also holds free weekly orientation sessions 10 a.m. – noon on Tuesdays. Orientation lasts 30 minutes to an hour, and in-home orientation appointments can be scheduled as well.

“Children are children, and youths in foster care need the same supports as other youths,” Small says. “Becoming a foster parent is one of the best ways to provide support.” 

For more information, call (706) 210-3435, visit necco.org or check them out on Facebook at Necco Augusta.

Hooked on a Feeling

Sports
hooked on a feeling

Heroes on the Water takes veterans, active duty military personnel and retired first responders fishing in kayaks to help them decompress with the therapeutic qualities of the sport. Project Healing Waters is dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and disabled veterans through fly fishing and associated activities.

The local chapters of two national nonprofit organizations take to the water to help veterans heal from their physical and psychological wounds.

Some people know a good catch when they see one – especially volunteers for two nonprofit organizations with like-minded missions. They are getting veterans hooked on healing in a relaxing, recreational setting by taking them fishing to help them through the aftermath of combat or the rigors of rehabilitation. 

Heroes on the Water takes veterans, active duty military personnel and retired first responders fishing in kayaks to help them decompress with the therapeutic qualities of the sport. Project Healing Waters is dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and disabled veterans through fly fishing and associated activities.

“It’s just a relaxing way to spend your time. You forget about the things that are going on in your life,” says Jeff Payne, coordinator of the Fort Gordon chapter of Heroes on the Water.

The local chapters of the two organizations started working together several months ago after Justin Walter, the area Project Healing Waters program lead, offered to teach fly tying at one of Heroes’ kayak events.

hooked on a feeling“We love to share the practice of fly fishing,” says Walter. “We love to get out in the woods or on a lake where the water is calm. There’s something about being out away from cellphones and the hustle and bustle of work. You can fly fish from a kayak or the bow of a boat or the shore.”

Time Well Spent
Heroes on the Water, which has chapters across the Southeast, was founded in 2007, and the local chapter was started in July 2016. “This is the only chapter in Georgia, so it serves people from all across the state and South Carolina,” Payne says.

Project Healing Waters was created in 2005, and the local chapter was started in 2013. “We focus on disabled veterans with a 30 percent or more disability, but we cater to active duty personnel as well,” says Walter.

Kayaking-Bruce-Fox-Retired-First-ResponderHeroes on the Water holds free events every month on area waterways, and the organization provides a one-to-one ratio between guides and participants. The organization also provides participants with tackle and lunch at the outings. The next event is scheduled for July 15 on Lake Olmstead, but Heroes on the Water also takes veterans fishing any time as long as a guide is available. 

“A lot of our volunteers served in the military. It means as much to us as it does to the participants a lot of times,” says Payne. “We suffer from the same ailments.”

According to Payne, the program reduces participants’ stress by 56 percent, hypervigilance by 62 percent and avoidance behavior by 63 percent overall.

“It gives them a chance to relax and let go of some of the things they deal with on a daily basis,” he says. “When they come off the water, you see a smile on their face. You know it’s been time well spent.”

The local chapter has a 10-member leadership board and about 10 additional volunteers. Each guide undergoes basic kayak recovery and CPR training. Other volunteers help with administrative tasks and registration or food coordination at events.

“Each chapter is responsible for raising its own money, and the CSRA has been phenomenal,” says Payne. “Everything we have needed, someone has stepped up and provided it for us.”

Fishing-Making-a-rodSense of Accomplishment
Walter has taught fly fishing and fly tying classes at Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center and American Legion and VFW posts. “Fly tying is something you can do on a hot summer day or a cold winter day,” says Walter. “It’s like arts and crafts for adults.”

He has organized fly fishing outings at ponds on Fort Gordon, the Savannah River and Clarks Hill Lake. Depending on where they cast their lines, they will catch and release or harvest the fish. Walter teaches fly rod building as well. 

“It’s fun to make a fly and then catch a fish on a tie you made, and it’s fun to catch a fish with a rod you made,” he says. “To bridge that gap for disabled people and show them they have an ability to fly fish is rewarding to me. It gives people a sense of accomplishment when they learn to do something they don’t think they can do.”

Fishing-Nacoochee-BendProject Healing Waters is funded through its national program and direct donations to the local chapter, and all fly fishing and tying equipment is provided to the participants at no cost. The local chapter has 10 – 20 volunteers. 

“We’re always looking for participants and volunteers,” says Walter. “You don’t have to know anything about fly fishing to volunteer to help with an outing.”

For more information about the two organizations, visit their respective Facebook pages.

 

Taking a Bite Out of Zika

People
Dr. Jose Vazquez, chief of infectious disease at MCG at Augusta University, recently attended a seminar about the Zika virus at an infectious disease conference in New Orleans. No Zika cases have been reported in this area, he says, but outbreaks, which occurred in Florida last year, seem to move farther north every year. He also says scientists are working on three promising vaccines for the disease.

Dr. Jose Vazquez, chief of infectious disease at MCG at Augusta University, recently attended a seminar about the Zika virus at an infectious disease conference in New Orleans. No Zika cases have been reported in this area, he says, but outbreaks, which occurred in Florida last year, seem to move farther north every year. He also says scientists are working on three promising vaccines for the disease.

The Zika virus could make a comeback when the threat of mosquito bites returns with the summer heat.

No one likes to be bitten by mosquitoes, but the bug bites are more than an annoyance to some people. With the return of the summer heat and the pesky insects, women who are pregnant or who plan to get pregnant in the next three to six months need to protect themselves from mosquitoes. 

“We had no Zika cases here last year, but every year it spreads a little bit farther north,” says

Dr. Jose Vazquez, chief of infectious disease at MCG at Augusta University.

In the United States last year 77 babies died in the womb due to Zika, and 51 others were born with Zika-related birth defects. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that one in 10 pregnant women with Zika gave birth to a child with serious birth defects. 

“The only people that really need to be concerned about Zika are the folks that are having babies,” says Vazquez. “We don’t know how long the virus will last in the system. We don’t know if a child can develop abnormalities down the road. It’s certainly a possibility.”

While there have been no reports of the Zika virus in Georgia, Vazquez says, pregnant women should avoid areas where it has been reported such as the Caribbean and the middle and southern parts of Florida.

Vazquez-2“The outbreak may be a little bit bigger this year,” he adds. “We might see an outbreak farther north around Disney World that could move its way up here.”

According to reports, however, the virus is not as prevalent this year in some previously hard-hit areas such as Puerto Rico and South America. Vazquez, who attended an American Society for Microbiology infectious disease conference in New Orleans in June, says herd immunity will curtail outbreaks of the virus in these regions.

“When an area has a lot of cases of any virus, everyone gets immunized. A lot of people had it and didn’t know it,” he says. “It’s not expected to be as bad in these areas because the body forms antibodies. In a couple of years, when people lose their immunity, we’ll start seeing it again.” 

Zika, one of several viruses transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and by sexual activity, produces flulike symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, fever, muscle and joint aches, rash and inflammation around the eyes. The symptoms can last about a week. 

“Most people might not even know they had the Zika virus,” says Vazquez. “The biggest problem is with fetal malformation in pregnant women.”

Since the Zika virus has been around only a couple of years, Vazquez says no one knows if it has long-lasting effects. A diagnosis is made by a blood test performed by the CDC. Currently, no vaccine is available for the Zika virus. However, Vazquez says. “Scientists are working on three different vaccines that look pretty efficient.” 

Mosquitoes are most prevalent in the late spring, summer and into the fall, Vazquez says, and the mosquito that causes Zika is out day and night.

To avoid getting bitten by a mosquito, people should use bug repellant that contains DEET and wear long sleeves and long pants when they go outdoors. Vazquez also emphasizes that people should get rid of any reservoirs of standing water on their properties. 

“People should check around their houses once a week to make sure they have no standing water on low-lying land or in birdbaths or tires,” he says.

Reynold Borseth

People

Reynold BorsethReynold Borseth
Sales Center Manager, Augusta/Milledgeville
Augusta Coca-Cola, A Division of Coca-Cola Bottling Co. United 

Number of years in position: 18

Family: Wife, Gwen; son, Jason; daughter, Dena

 Why I’m Passionate About What I Do: I feel very fortunate to work for a company such as Coca-Cola United. It is a company that lives by its core values (integrity, respect, quality and excellence), from our CEO and president to all of our associates. It is 115 years old, and our employees have always taken pride in giving uncompromised service, great execution in our market and being involved in our communities. A company has to have great people to be as successful as Augusta Coca-Cola has been over the years. The reputation it has established today came from all the hard work so many people did in the past and that our employees continue to do today. It all goes back to the people. If you have great people and great brands, you are going to be successful and win. 

Community Groups and Charities I Love to Support: The Merchants Association of Columbia County and the Augusta Sports Council. I know there are a lot of great organizations in our community, but I have been a board member/member of the Augusta Sports Council for more than 20 years and a member of The Merchants of Columbia County for more than 12 years. I just enjoy being a small part of two great organizations and what they give back to the community…which is a lot.

Biggest Career or Life Obstacle I’ve Overcome and How:  Losing our son Reynold Jr. in 1998 in a car accident. He had just started college, and there is no doubt we would have watched him on TV playing for a MLB team. When Reynold had his accicdent, you expect your family to be there for support, which they were, but it was our friends that reached out with love and support that helped so much, along with the memories of all the good times we had with Reynold for the 18 years he was with us.

Accomplishment I’m Most Proud Of:  Since 1989, being a part of all the great teams we have had at Augusta Coca-Cola and what we were able to accomplish. Also, watching our employees grow and advance with their careers.

What Your Childhood Self Wanted to Be When You Grew Up:  When I was young I always thought I would join the military.

Favorite Way to Spend Saturday Afternoon:  Playing golf and then going out to dinner with my wife and mother-in-law.

Favorite TV Show:  “Blue Bloods”

Favorite Movie:  Saving Private Ryan 

Favorite Sports Team: There is only one team…Georgia Bulldogs! 

Favorite Comfort Food: My wife’s fried rice 

Favorite App: Finance

Last Book Read: Small Giants (Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big) by Bo Burlingham 

Dream Vacation (and Why): To spend the whole month of January in Hawaii. Play golf and attend the two PGA golf tournaments and Champions Golf Tournament.

Something That Has Changed My Life:  The tragedy with our son. Life is too short.

Best Thing I Ever Learned: Gather your facts before you make a decision. Don’t assume or jump to conclusions. 

One Word You Would Use to Describe Yourself: Dependable.

 Favorite Hobbies: I love to play golf and go fishing.

Secret Aspiration: Back in the day, to play on some type of a tennis tour.

Reality Show I Would Totally Win: “Amazing Race” with my wife, Gwen. She is so competitive that I know we would win.

Something People Would Be Surprised to Know About Me: I played competitive tennis for more than 20 years at the 4.5 level with great friends.

The Shark Club by Ann Kidd Taylor

Literary Loop

The-Shark-Club by-Ann-Kidd-TaylorJust in time for beach-reading season, New York Times best-selling author Ann Kidd Taylor releases her warm and vivid new novel about taking second chances — in life and in the sea. 

Maeve Donnelly has been interested in sharks ever since she was bitten by one as a 12-year-old and survived. Now an adult, Maeve is a marine biologist and more comfortable with sharks than she is with people.

At the end of a research trip, however, Maeve is drawn to Nicholas, a fellow researcher, and invites him to meet her in Mozambique for her next expedition. Yet when she returns to her childhood home at her aunt’s hotel in Florida, she finds unresolved family and romantic relationships waiting for her.  

While Maeve has always been fearless in the water, on land she is indecisive. Should she re-kindle her romance with the first love she left behind when she dove into her work? Or indulge in a new romance with her colleague, who turns up in her hometown to investigate an illegal shark-finning operation?

Set against a backdrop of palm trees, calypso bands and perfect ocean views, The Shark Club is a story of forgiveness, love, the sea and the sharks that inhabit it. 

“Captivating…an engaging novel about the loves that define our lives,” says Kirkus Reviews.

“A delicious summer read,” says Redbook.