Author Archives: Kristy Johnson

Happily Ever After

In The Home
Photography by Sally Kolar

Photography by Sally Kolar

After losing their home to fire, a Clarks Hill couple found a silver lining in potentially disastrous circumstances.

Sometimes things have a way of turning out for the best, even if they don’t go according to script. Just ask Beverly and Andy Allgood of Clarks Hill. For 13 years, they have lived on a prime piece of real estate overlooking the Savannah River in Furey Plantation. 

Now they have their dream home to go along with that idyllic location. The two just didn’t come together for that storybook, happily-ever-after ending until their previous home was destroyed by fire in November 2014.

“As tragic as things can be in life, it seems as though so many beautiful things have come from it,” says Beverly. “We have found little treasures, and we still have each other. You never know what’s ahead of you.” 

Family-Room-1Changes for the Better
On a Sunday night, the Allgoods had put out a fire in the downstairs fireplace and headed for bed upstairs, where another fireplace was stacked on top of the one below.

When Beverly heard noises in the fireplace that sounded like a family of squirrels, Andy banged on the mantel of the upstairs fireplace. Instead of seeing bushy-tailed squirrels, however, they experienced the equivalent of an ominous musical score in a horror movie – fiery flames shooting out the window. They got themselves and their dogs out of the house. Andy briefly went back inside and came out with a rifle in each hand (after all, he had a hunting trip to Saskatchewan coming up) and a ring that he had given to Beverly on one finger.

Beverly called 911, and Andy valiantly turned a garden hose on the fire. And then, Beverly says, “We watched the house burn to the ground.”

They later learned that there was a crack in the flue that allowed flames to get to the roof.

With neighbors coming to their aid, Beverly, who owns a Pilates studio, and Andy, a dentist, spent the rest of the night in an unoccupied home in the neighborhood. And the next morning brought them a new reality.

Happily Ever After“We woke up and had nothing,” says Beverly. “We had lost everything, but the world kept ticking. You find out how small you are.”

They went to Walmart to get the basics. (Imagine a dentist waking up without a toothbrush.) They also had to supply their insurance company with a list of everything they had in their house. And in the midst of one of their darkest hours, the Allgoods were presented with an opportunity. They had a chance to rebuild their home just the way they wanted it.

Granted, Andy says, “It’s not something we chose to do. It’s something we had to do.”

Kitchen-1They started working on new house plans, which they finished the following February. After a year of rebuilding, they moved into their new house in March 2016. “You get exactly what you want,” Beverly says. “You get to put your personality into it.”

As self-described “treasure seekers” that are “always on the lookout for stuff,” they started hunting for things for their new home.

“Andy is a buyer. I am a shopper,” Beverly says. “I’ll get down in the dust balls. I can find anything.”

First and foremost, they wanted to create a river house that reflected their personalities. 

“This house is made for dogs and people who like to relax,” says Beverly. “We want people to come in and kick their shoes off and feel at home. It doesn’t matter if you spill something, and it doesn’t show dog scratches. We’ll always have animals.”

They also made some changes to the design of their new home to make it more practical. Unlike their former cypress, two-story house, which was built 12 feet off the ground with an open bottom, this house is closer to the ground. While the new home has two stories, the master bedroom is on the first floor. There are no stacked fireplaces inside, and the new house has a metal roof. 

Pool“It’s totally us from top to bottom,” says Beverly.

To keep that “totally us” feel, the Allgoods tried to salvage what they could from their former house. In fact, once the smoke was gone, Beverly returned to the site several days after the fire to sift through the ashes – only to find a bulldozer on site. Suffice to say, the macho earth-moving machine was no match for the petite Pilates instructor. She positioned herself in front of the bulldozer, held up her hands and yelled, “Stop!”

The sympathetic workers gave her three or four days to go through the debris, and she was rewarded for her efforts. She found several things of value ranging from a necklace and a David Yurman bracelet and matching earrings to family photos and her three children’s baby books.

“The things that I prayed for and asked for,” Beverly says, “I found.”

She also found a cross Andy had given her sitting on top of the ashes. “That was a sign that everything was going to be OK,” says Beverly.

Wood, Water and Sky
With its two-story ceiling, the family room sets the tone for the ambiance the Allgoods, who met when Beverly was Andy’s instructor in a cycling class, wanted to create.

“We knew we wanted a full, open feel,” says Beverly. “We modernized the new house.”

They also wanted a lot of natural wood in the home, such as the maple wood flooring with an oil finish that runs throughout the first story. They found the wood in an old textile mill, which was built in the 1850s, in Calhoun Falls, South Carolina. The nail holes in the floor are vestiges of the nails that had held the maple to the three-inch pine subfloor in the mill. The columns in the family room are made of 24-foot pine beams.

Their affinity for natural wood is reflected in their accessories as well. The home décor includes small wooden bowls that Beverly’s business partner’s husband, who also is a dentist, made out of wood from trees in the yard.

In the family room, a wooden antique yard measurer hangs on the wall above the fireplace, and a black walnut bowl sits on the raised-hearth, gas – not wood-burning – fireplace. A pottery jug that survived the fire sits next to the walnut bowl, and an antique dough bowl with a handle occupies the coffee table.

The family room also features built-ins, backed by bead board, on either side of the fireplace, and sliding doors to the back porch. A contemporary painting with swirling shades of blue and sea green hangs above the doors.

“We wanted a window above the doors in the family room, but Andy found this incredible painting,” says Beverly. “It looks like the water and the sky.”

Master-BathThings of the Past
The Allgoods, like Andy’s late parents, are avid antiquers (his mother had an antique shop), and the fire forced them to get out and hunt for vintage treasures. “We hit the ground running after the fire looking for things,” says Beverly.

They found the mantel in their breakfast area, which features a bay window overlooking the river, at an antique shop. A grain drain sits next to the fireplace, and a nativity scene occupies the mantel shelf.

“The nativity scene stays up all year,” says Beverly. “It was one of the first things we bought after the fire – and underwear at Walmart.”

The buffet in the breakfast area belonged to Andy’s grandmother, while an antique rocker in the corner came from Andy’s mother’s house. The light fixture in the breakfast area previously lit up an old hotel. Above the island in the kitchen, a pair of lights, which had been in Andy’s parents’ house, were once in an old pharmacy.

However, the kitchen has modern touches as well. The island features a Quartz countertop, and the perimeter countertops are textured leather granite. The kitchen also includes a farmhouse sink and stainless steel appliances. “This is a good, working, functional kitchen,” says Beverly.

The wet bar off the kitchen includes a hammered copper sink, countertops with a textured leather granite finish and glass-front cabinets.

A walk-in pantry leads to the mudroom, which features a sliding barn door made out of 200-year-old pine wood from their cabin in Lincolnton. The space also includes a set of school lockers, and a bench that was made out of beams that came from the Calhoun Falls mill.

Andy’s study is full of nostalgia as well. For instance, an old wooden dental cabinet (he had another one in their previous house, but it did not survive the fire) is the perfect place to store memorabilia. A football, autographed by former University of Georgia and current Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, sits atop the dental cabinet. He got the football from one of his patients, who is originally from Detroit and has a brother who works in the Lions’ locker room. In fact, he had another autographed football in their former house, but the patient replaced it for Andy after the first one was lost in the fire.

Andy is an avid hunter, and in his study, he has a lamp that is made out of some of his guns that they found in the ashes. He has hunting trophies including deer, fish and ducks on the walls as well as an embroidered picture of ducks that his grandmother made.

Two face jugs that were saved in the fire are in his study as well. His father liked pottery, and Andy has some pieces that belonged to his father on his desk. One is a piece of clay pottery of an Indian princess with a rattlesnake wrapped around her head. He also has another piece that has an Indian princess face on one side and an Indian chief face on the other side.

A painting of Squeaky’s Tip Top, a former watering hole on Central Avenue, in his study brings back fond memories as well. “When I was in dental school, we would head to Squeaky’s on Friday afternoons,” Andy says.

Calm and Serenity
However, the ambiance in the master bedroom, which has Oriental influences in the décor, is decidedly different. A framed Oriental handkerchief hangs on a wall, and Japanese lanterns are suspended from a stand. Two dragonfly paintings hang above the bed.

“It’s serene and calming. It’s good feng shui,” Beverly says.

The room also includes a bay window overlooking the river, wicker furnishings, a trey ceiling and a ceiling fan.

“I can wake up in the morning and see my man and the river,” says Beverly. “It doesn’t get any better than that.”

The adjoining master bath features tile flooring, a stand-alone tub, granite countertops, a chandelier and a walk-in shower with a pebble floor and tile walls.

Despite the serenity of the master suite, Beverly and Andy spend most of their time on their back porch, which features two ceiling fans and a mini fire pit with a wrought iron tabletop.

“This is where we eat most of our meals. This is where we live,” says Beverly. “I am not a traveling woman. I like to sit on the back porch and stare at the river.”

Other amenities, such as the beach-entry, saltwater pool, are just steps away.

Andy built the big fire pit in the yard, and the dock, where they keep their kayaks and pontoon boat, survived the fire. They like to ride up to the dam and watch the sun set.

“We have so much fun wherever we are,” Beverly says. “This house has brought us so much joy.”

By Betsy Gilliland


Action & Romance

Action & Romance

Photos courtesy of Covington Newton Chamber of Commerce, Twelve Oaks Bed & Breakfast and Georgia Department of Economic Development

Covington sets the stage for visitors passionate about film tours, shopping, dining and romance

Breaking away from routine is one way to rekindle the flames of romance. Take time to focus on your love and light things up during an escape to Covington, Georgia, an ideal destination for a romantic retreat any time of year.

Covington, located about a two-hour drive west of Augusta along Interstate 20, has a picturesque historic square — so photogenic, in fact, that it portrayed the fictional town of Mystic Falls on the popular TV series “The Vampire Diaries” throughout its eight-season run. 

Dubbed “Hollywood of the South,” Covington is a key site for Georgia’s film industry and has been home to more than 80 film productions, including “In The Heat of the Night,” Vacation and Life of the Party to name just a few. Routinely on screen, Covington can spark a déjà vu feeling of familiarity even among first-time visitors.

Scene I: Snuggle In
Featured in many of the productions that have come to town, including “The Vampire Diaries,” the Twelve Oaks Bed & Breakfast is a luxurious place to stay and gracefully staged for romance. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the home is considered to be an outstanding example of antebellum architecture — plus one of the largest at 12,000 square feet.

“The house was built in 1836, so it’s actually older than the city of Atlanta,” says Nicole Munn, founder and manager of the bed and breakfast. 

Twelve Oaks’ rich history includes a documented tie to Gone With The Wind. Munn explains that in February 1939 Margaret Mitchell saw a photograph of the house in the Atlanta Journal and sent the clipping to Wilbur Kurtz, an Atlanta historian and Civil War authority who was in Hollywood consulting with the set designers of Gone With the Wind, along with a note saying that she liked it for Ashley’s home. 

After purchasing Twelve Oaks out of foreclosure in 2011, Munn managed property renovations with meticulous attention to detail, balancing goals to preserve the structure’s historic character with efforts to add modern amenities and conveniences — so you might use a skeleton key to enter a room with a flat screen TV. 

Twelve-Oaks-Rooms-Steel-Magnolias-1The inn’s success can be measured by many accolades, including being named one of the “Most Romantic Places in Georgia” by Georgia Public Broadcasting (2016), “Top 10 Inns in the U.S.” by (2015) and “Romantic Luxury Hotel of the Year” by Luxury Travel Guide (2016). The bed and breakfast is a member of Select Registry and the Southern Living Hotel Collection.

Once renovations were complete, the first two floors opened to guests in October 2012. The third floor opened the following year. All guestrooms boast remote control fireplaces and private bathrooms equipped with fixtures like a spa tub with aromatherapy and chromo-therapy, a copper bateau tub or an original ribcage shower from the late 1800s like the kind installed in Biltmore Estate and Buckingham Palace. 

The beds are so cozy there’s a temptation to sleep late, but breakfast aromas waft throughout the house each morning as an invitation to wander into the dining room between 9 and 9:30 a.m. and sit at either a romantic table-for-two by one of the windows or at the large table positioned under the home’s most spectacular chandelier. Featuring fresh, local ingredients, the Southern breakfast serves dishes like sausage biscuits and gravy, peaches-and-cream-stuffed French toast, and strawberry shortcake pancakes with bourbon whipped cream. 

Shopping-1-Scene II: Step Out
While you might be content to linger at Twelve Oaks, it’s a short walk to historic downtown Covington’s charming square lined by shops and restaurants. Discover hotspots on your own or be an informed explorer by picking up free maps of “Covington’s Walk of Stars” and “Popular Television Shooting Locations” for free at On Location Gifts.

For ideas of neighborhoods to explore beyond the square, stop by the Visitors Information Center for details about Newton County’s self-guided historical marker tour or Covington’s self-guided architecture walking/driving tour featuring many restored Greek Revival mansions and Victorian cottages.

If music is among your shared passions, stop by McKibbens Music to shop for basic accessories and instruments from keyboards to banjos. Fletcher’s Jewelry, The Alley Gift Shop and Sherwood’s Flowers & Gifts may also be appropriate stops on a romantic shopping spree. Consider also the many clothing retailers, furniture and home décor boutiques, antique stores and specialty food shops. 

Visit The Cork Boutique and Gifts to taste your pick among eight different wines any time the store is open (four half-glasses are $9). If you prefer beer, visit The Cork Growler & Cigar Shop next door (four two-ounce tastes are $7). Town Square Olive Oil stocks an array of olive oils and balsamic vinegars; taste them all for free in order to choose favorites to buy. 

Indulge in a pampering spa treatment at Charmed Salon, Spa & Boutique. A couple’s massage is one soothing possibility ($70 for 30 minutes; $130 for an hour). Other treatment options include deep tissue, hot stone, Thai yoga and Swedish massages, a variety of facials and foot reflexology.

Mystic-PizzaHungry? Mystic Grill serves updated interpretations of Southern favorites like cilantro lime shrimp & grits, sweet tea fried chicken and braised pork pappardelle in various dining areas including a rooftop overlooking the square, which is especially romantic at sunset. RL’s Off the Square features New Orleans-style Cajun favorites like gumbo, crawfish etouffee, red beans and rice, plus barbecued and blackened pork. Milazzo’s Ristorante specializes in Italian and vegetarian fare, with mouthwatering dishes like truffle mushroom ravioli, eggplant parmesan and seafood alfredo, among others. Scoops is an ice cream shop meets Candyland that appeals to sweet teeth of all ages. 

Mingle your creative juices at WildArt, painting a canvas together during an open “Just Paint” studio session or during a class of mutual interest. Painting classes also are available at Southern Heartland Visual Arts Center. Both studios sell work by local artists, perfect if you like art but don’t consider your own talents worthy of framed display inside your home. 

Get your hearts pumping at Chimney Park. The former Martin-Patterson estate is now a 12-acre urban green space that offers a multi-use fitness trail among its natural, quiet serenity. The Eastside Trail is a 2.5-mile long, 10-feet wide concrete path that runs among pastures and woods from Newton County Library to Eastside High School. As with any relationship, you choose how fast you want to go.

For more information, visit or

By Hope S. Philbrick

The War of the Roses

Garden Scene
Photos courtesy of Atlanta Botanical Garden

Photos courtesy of Atlanta Botanical Garden

Intrepid gardeners vie for honors when the new Botanical Garden Flower Show brings a Hollywood-themed exhibition to Atlanta. 

Even in the sunny South, gardens grow brown and shriveled this time of year, leaving green thumbs frustrated and forlorn. But the new Atlanta Botanical Garden Flower Show — a revival of the Southeastern Flower Show — may be just the antidote to winter doldrums.

In its heyday, the exhibition, which ended in 2013, had blossomed into the premier gardening and horticultural event in the Southeast and once ranked among the top three flower shows in the country.

“We’re not attempting to be a huge flower show like those in the past,” says Danny Flanders, public relations manager for Atlanta Botanical Garden. “We want to start small and see where it goes.”

Atlanta-Botanical-Gardens---unicornShowcasing Talent
Flanders says visitors to the Botanical Garden, which always had been involved in the flower show, frequently asked about renewing the exhibition during the past several years. “Every major city has a flower show,” he says. “It was time to bring one back.”

This year’s theme is Ingenue: A Toast to Georgia’s Film Industry, and the exhibit will center around juried competition in floral design, horticulture and photography.

The floral design category will showcase the art of flower arranging, and competitions will vie for honors in classes including drama, science fiction, comedy/tragedy, horror, romantic comedy and animation. In addition, entrants can compete in the leading lady class in which they must create a dress design arrangement inspired by a famous actress. 

Competitors will try to propagate the most perfect example of a given species in the horticulture division, and they must include a growing thing in images entered in the photography contest. In addition, visitors can view small garden displays in the landscape design division, which will be created by Boxwoods, Ed Castro Landscape, Hamilton Land Services and Unique Environmental. 

Atlanta-Botanical-GardensExperts and Inspiration
Saturday speakers will feature floral designers Bruno Duarte and James Farmer. The lectures will be held from 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. at Piedmont Driving Club, and tickets are $50.

Duarte grew up surrounded by flowers on his family’s farm in Madeira, an island paradise off the coast of Morocco that is known as the floating garden and is home to rare species of flowers from around the world. With a sculptural and an emotional approach to floral design, he blends organic materials and found objects together to create works of art. 

His floral studio in Toronto is often mistaken for an art gallery, where weekly window displays are created to showcase his artistry. When Duarte is not at his studio, he can be found designing in front of a live audience. He frequently appears on local and national television programs, and gives floral demonstrations at Home and Garden shows. He is also a regular contributor to magazines in Australia, Canada and the United States.

Farmer is the author of the Wall Street Journal best-selling garden book, A Time To Plant; Sip & Savor; Porch Living; Wreaths For All Seasons; A Time To Cook, Dinner on the Grounds, A Time to Celebrate and A Place to Call Home. Born and bred in the South, Farmer is a professional garden, floral and interior designer, cook, author and lifestyle expert. He also is editor-at-large for Southern Living and a frequent guest on television and radio programs.  

One of the best parts of the show will be seeing what a clever mind can do when given an idea and told to run with it. Past themes like Myth, Fable and Fantasy; At the Movies; Salute to the Century; The Artist’s Eye and Rhythm in Bloom have inspired countless whimsical and ingenious creations. 

Imagine designing a garden around an abandoned pickup truck, as one landscape design firm did for Laughter in the Garden, or recreating a scene from Agatha Christie’s 4:50 from Paddington, in which a woman witnesses a murder from her train car, with just flowers, as one floral designer did for Gardens of Poetry and Prose.

It may not be quite the same as strolling amongst the glitz and glamour of a movie set. However, you’ll no doubt come away from the event impressed by the creativity and ready to look at your outdoor spaces in a fresh, cinematic way.

“In the wintertime, everybody gets starved for flowers and plants,” says Flanders. “We hope the show will inspire people to use some of the ideas in their own gardens.”

If You Go:

What: Atlanta Botanical Garden Flower Show

When: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Friday, February 23 – Sunday, February 25 

Where: Atlanta Botanical Garden 

How Much: Free for nonmembers with admission to botanical garden – $21.95 adults; $15.95 children ages 3 – 12, $10 for members 

More Info: 

By Leigh Howard

A Taste for Fun


waffle house valentineFor a special treat, take your true love to Waffle House – yes, Waffle House – for Valentine’s Day. 

Any day is a good day to order hash browns smothered, covered, chunked, diced, peppered, capped or topped at Waffle House. However, one Waffle House in Columbia County is taking comfort food to a new level with a special surprise for customers on February 14.

The Waffle House at 438 South Belair Road is offering a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner for two that will include a pair of T-bone steaks, salad, hash browns, drinks and chocolate pie. The staff also will decorate the restaurant for the occasion with red tablecloths and candles and set up a photo booth for pictures. 

At least one local Waffle House usually offers a Valentine’s Day special each year, says Rhonda Flanders, the area manager.

“We’re here for the community. We have some customers that eat with us three or four times a day, so this is something different and out of the ordinary for them,” she says.

Reservations are recommended, so it’s a good idea to plan ahead and reserve a special Valentine’s booth. Customers also can order their Valentine’s Day dinner from the regular menu.

“Waffle House is a special place already,” Flanders says, “and it’s even more special on Valentine’s Day.”

Dinner of Champions

Sergio Garcia, José Andrés and Luis Figo

Sergio Garcia, José Andrés and Luis Figo

Even if you can’t get tickets to the Masters Tournament in April, you can get tickets to Taste of the Master Chefs on Friday, April 6 — while they last, that is. That’s where you can experience award-winning cuisine and rub elbows with captains of industry, athletics and entertainment.

The fundraising event was started last year by Laurie Merrill, CEO of Taste of the Master Chefs, and Wayne Kostroski, Taste of the NFL founder and 2010 James Beard Humanitarian of the Year.

“There are a lot of elite private corporate events during Masters Week,” says Merrill. “We wanted to create an evening event for local people, corporate and elite celebrities, amazing chefs and professional athletes to come together at one venue.” 

Taste of the Master Chefs will feature cuisine prepared by 15 to 18 James Beard Award-winning chefs from around the country, along with live musical entertainment. Like last year, José Andrés, one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” and 2011 James Beard Foundation Outstanding Chef, will serve as chef chair for the event. The party is designed to raise funds and awareness for hunger relief, and all proceeds will benefit food programs at Salvation Army of Augusta.

“It’s a phenomenal team effort involving a vast group of people who believe in the same cause,” Merrill says. “It’s a great vehicle for all of the people who are coming to the Masters to enjoy the beauty of the Masters and the beauty of Augusta in the spring. We also want local people to be there and enjoy it. It’s a one-of-a-kind event that has just enough exclusivity to it.” 

A limited number of tickets are available. Athletes who attended last year’s event include Sergio Garcia, who went on to win the 2017 Masters, and Real Madrid soccer legend Luis Figo.

“Come and enjoy the amazing party,” says Merrill. “There isn’t anything else you’ll do all year long in Augusta that will come close to Taste of the Master Chefs.”

If You Go:

What: Taste of the Master Chefs

 When: 7 p.m. 10 p.m. Friday, April 6; VIP reception begins at 6 p.m.

Where: West Lake Country Club 

How Much: $175 –general admission; $275 VIP 

More Info:

Walk in the Park

Construction of a raised sidewalk between Evans Towne Center Park and The Plaza temporarily will close a portion of Evans Town Center Boulevard.

Construction of a raised sidewalk between Evans Towne Center Park and The Plaza temporarily will close a portion of Evans Town Center Boulevard.

Changing traffic patterns due to new construction are a familiar site in Columbia County, and a pedestrian sidewalk that is under construction to connect Evans Town Center Park to The Plaza at Evans Towne Center temporarily will close a portion of Evans Towne Center Boulevard.

The road is expected be closed from Ronald Reagan Drive to the rear entrance of the Kroger Shopping Center until construction, which began in October, is complete on May 29.

 According to county officials, construction crews are working on a traffic calming area to include sidewalks, crosswalks and parking for areas around The Plaza and Evans Towne Center Park. Pedestrian traffic is expected to increase when The Plaza, a walkable, multi-use downtown area in the heart of Columbia County, opens this spring. 

The connecting sidewalk will be raised 6 inches above street level, similar to a neighborhood speed bump. The $1 million project, which is being funded by 2017 general obligation bond and TSPLOST monies, will include brick pavers, trees, plants, crosswalks and sidewalks. 

The roadway project is designed to improve traffic safety and pedestrian access between The Plaza and Evans Towne Center Park. In addition, the streetscape element of the project will provide a cohesive and pleasant walking environment to encourage pedestrian activity between the two facilities.

Colors of Love — Brian Culbertson

Listen To This

Colors-of-LoveLove on top of love is in the air, and nothing complements the season more than some smooth jams to set the dimmer on low and welcome some cozy feels. This year’s mackdaddy secret weapon is the latest release from R&B-jazz-funk icon Brian Culbertson, titled appropriately Colors of Love

Culbertson is no stranger to the vibe train. In fact, most would consider him the conductor. Over his career spanning two decades and 14 studio releases, his 15th is quite possibly the lushest and most personally connected. 

Inspired by his 20th wedding anniversary last fall, this 12-track instrumental love journey centers primarily on his acoustic piano with a bouquet of rhythm instruments that Culbertson plays himself to envelope and embrace the mood. Quite the departure from the gritty Funk! release last year.

This album will be released like a flock of doves on Valentine’s Day and not a moment too soon. Culbertson is currently on tour and had this to say regarding the Colors of Love, Live set: “It’s going to be a very theatrical presentation with video images and lighting timed to the music. This music is visual and cinematic… It’s going to be larger than life when you see it live.”

I can think of a newly opened local venue that would be the perfect fit.

- Chris Rucker

Language and Roots


Language and RootsNo matter what anyone says, dog days are not just for summer this year. According to the Chinese calendar, 2018 is the Year of the Dog, and February 16 marks the first day of the Chinese New Year. While those born in the Year of the Dog are known for their loyalty, the CSRA Chinese Culture Center shows allegiance to its heritage every day of every year. 

The CSRA Chinese Culture Center was founded in 1992 as Augusta Chinese School to teach the Chinese language to the youth of local Chinese immigrants. At that time, the school served about a dozen students from a handful of families. 

Language and RootsNow, however, the culture center, which meets at Warren Baptist Church and celebrated its 25th anniversary last fall, teaches Chinese to almost 100 students in first through 10th grades. 

“Ninety-five percent of the students are Chinese descendants, and most of these children’s parents speak Chinese at home,” says Kathy Chen, a Martinez resident and culture center board member. “Parents who have adopted children from China also want them to know their roots, and we have a bilingual class tailored to non-Chinese speaking families.” 

The program, which has 10 teachers, includes two semesters of 15 two-hour classes annually. In recent years the culture center has added singing, dancing, drawing and SAT enrichment classes as well. Chinese language classes cost $130 per semester, and enrichment classes cost $70 – $150 per semester.

Language and Roots“Coming from Chinese-speaking cultures, we would like for our children to grow up knowing their roots, and a big part of that is the language and the culture,” Chen says. “It’s a rich, lively culture with 5,000 years of history. The Chinese language also is becoming more important in the current economy.” 

The culture center takes part in community activities as well. The culture center organizes the three-hour stage performances for the annual GoodBoats for Goodwill: Dragon Boat Race and Festival. 

The culture center students also are involved in performances at Arts in the Heart every year as part of the Augusta Chinese Cultural Group. In addition, students can attend summer camps in China for two or three weeks to learn more about the language and culture. 

Classes are open to any children who would like to learn more about the Chinese language and culture. For more information, visit or contact principal Sam Bai at (706) 284-2729 or

Everything You Came to See by Elizabeth Schulte Martin

Literary Loop

everything you came to seePeople say it like a joke, but Henry Bell really did run away from home to join the circus. A talented new performer with a struggling circus, he’s found a place for himself among the fire-eaters, tightrope walkers, and contortionists. But no matter how far the show travels, Henry’s past is never far behind — the mother he lost, the violent father he fled, the brother he abandoned.

As Henry pushes himself to create bigger, better performances, his actions become a wrecking ball to the relationships around him. From his costar, to the former headlining giant of the circus, to the circus manager himself, no one is untouched. 

Left unchecked, Henry’s blind ambition becomes the very thing that could save — or destroy — the circus itself. Unless Henry can reckon with the family and past he’s left behind, the spark which drives him to perform may burn out or ignite — engulfing everyone and everything he loves.

A story of the passion that drives creativity, this touching debut novel challenges our ideas of family and what it takes to rebuild them.

Lasagna Roll-Ups

  • Lasagna Roll-Ups12 lasagna noodles 
  • 1 pound ground beef or shredded chicken
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (28-ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese
  • 1 (8-ounce) package mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper, to taste 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. Once cooked, lay in a single layer on waxed paper. In a skillet over medium heat, brown ground beef and season with salt and pepper. Add onion and garlic and cook until onions soften, about 5-8 min. Add spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, oregano and basil. Lower heat to med-low and cook about 15 minutes. 

In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta cheese with half of the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Add egg, parsley, salt and pepper; mix until combined. Layer a 9×13 baking pan with 1 cup of meat sauce to cover bottom of pan. Spoon about 1/4 cup of cheese mixture down each noodle. Top with 1/4 cup meat sauce. Roll up lasagna noodles and place seam-side down in the pan. Top with remaining meat sauce and cheeses. Cover with aluminum foil and bake about 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 12-15 more minutes until lightly browned and cheese is bubbly. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Makes 12 rolls.

Augusta University Medical Center

Dental Care

All of your dental care in one location.

From routine cleanings to the most complicated procedures we offer a complete scope of adult and pediatric dental services, all from one central location by dentists and dental specialists.

As a patient in Dental Associates, you will only be seen by a dentist.

Augusta University Medical Center
1120 15th Street Augusta, GA  30912

To schedule an appointment, call 706-721-2696
or visit


Rosa C. Blanco, DMD & Lynn E. Flanagan, DMD

Dental Care

Rosa C. Blanco, D.M.D.
Pediatric Dentistry
• Diet Consulting • Sealants • Space Maintenance • Fillings • Children’s Crowns • Nitrous Oxide • Digital Dental Radiography

Lynn E. Flanagan, D.M.D.
General Dentistry
• Fillings and Crowns • Endodontics (root canals) • Tooth Removal • Tooth whitening • CEREC (computer generated inlay/onlay or crown) • Dentures and Partials • Nitrous Oxide • Digital Dental Radiography


4369 Evans To Locks Road | Evans, Georgia 30809 | (706) 863-8197 / 8198
Hablamos Español
We treat our patients individually with love and respect 



Boot Scoot Boogie

Community Groups in Action

Boot-Scoot-coupleThe American Red Cross does good work year-round, but a popular fundraiser for the organization is coming up soon. The 24th annual Boot Scoot Boogie is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday, February 3 at the Columbia County Exhibition Center.

Chaired by Red Cross board members Chad Harpley and Chan O’Dell, the event will feature a barbecue dinner, a concert by country legend Gary Allan with some of his singer/songwriter friends and live and silent auctions. Auction items include a Club Car vehicle, a John Deere riding lawn mower, vacations, sports memorabilia, jewelry and other prizes.

Boot-Scoot-live-auctionAccording to Susan Everitt, executive director, about $100,000 was raised for the Augusta chapter of the American Red Cross last year.

“We’ve always had great support from the community for this event, and with all of the multiple national disasters the Red Cross has responded to this year, the support is critical. Since August, the Red Cross, along with community and government partners, has provided more than 1.3 million overnight stays in emergency shelters. That’s more overnight shelter stays than the past five years combined,” says Everitt.

Nearly 500 people have attended Boot Scoot Boogie in past years. Proceeds go toward providing relief to those affected by disasters in the community, training efforts and other services.

“Home fires are one of the biggest disaster relief efforts that we support on a regular basis,” says Holly Allen, who oversees Georgia Region special events. “We try to alleviate people’s pain and suffering and get them back on their feet.”

The Red Cross also offers classes including adult and pediatric first aid, CPR and basic life support for healthcare providers. Volunteer opportunities are available in areas such as administration, youth programs, disaster relief and smoke alarm installation efforts. For information or to purchase event tickets, call (706) 724-8481 or visit

Andrew R Allgood, DMD, PC

Dental Care

Andrew R. Allgood, DMD, PC

Creating gorgeous, healthy smiles through anxiety-free dentistry and adult restorative dentistry. Focusing On The Health, Function, and Appearance of Our Wonderful Dental Family.

491 Furys Ferry Road
Martinez, Georgia 30907
General Info: (706) 863-3290


Click here to visit Dr. Andrew R Allgood’s website.

Grovetown Family Dental

Dental Care

February is all about love and passion, and you couldn’t ask for a better month to celebrate dental awareness. Just ask Dr. Julia Wheeler and her caring team at Grovetown Family Dental. They are passionate about healthcare. They love helping patients with their total dental needs and showing how a healthy mouth positively affects your entire body.

Dr. Wheeler and her team offer a complete range of dental treatments, from general dentistry and oral cancer screenings to periodontal care and cosmetic dentistry like whitening and veneers. From smiles to smile lines, they provide professional dental services along with facial products to maintain youth.

In addition, Dr. Wheeler provides emergency dental care and will never turn away a trauma case, no matter how full her schedule i“Dr. Wheeler goes above and beyond to help her patients,” staff members say, “and she does it with as minimal discomfort to you as possible. She never forgets you after your visit, either — she truly loves her patients and develops long-lasting relationships with each one.”

From the clinical team to administration, Dr. Wheeler’s team is there to serve your needs from the moment you walk in the door until you leave. “We all have one common boss, and this is YOU, the patient,” they say. And you’re in good hands. To ensure that she stays on top of the latest clinical and scientific dental developments, Dr. Wheeler will be taking more than 400 hours of continuing education this year.

As you enjoy this Valentine’s Day, don’t forget there is a dentist and her team that would love to meet you: Dr. Julia Wheeler and her team at Grovetown Family Dental.

(706) 860-1352 | 5172 Wrightsboro Road | Grovetown |