Author Archives: Kristy Johnson

Let It Snow

Photography by Addie Strozier

Photography by Addie Strozier

The employees at Augusta Training Shop have turned snowmaking into an art form
There is plenty of snow in the forecast this holiday season, and snowflakes of all shapes and sizes will land right here or make their way across the country. The skilled artisans who work at Augusta Training Shop weave these snowflakes in a flurry of activity all year long. And just like the people who make them, each of these snowflakes is 100 percent original.

The employees at Augusta Training Shop, a nonprofit work center that teaches mentally and physically challenged adults to repair and refinish furniture so they can make a living, started making the snowflakes in 2012.

Dee-Motley-2Making a Name for Themselves

Audrey Murell, executive director, partnered with Adrian Williams, a nonverbal employee, to create the snowflakes. She had the idea, and he came up with the prototype. “It was something for them to do and another way to generate revenue,” she says. “One finished snowflake provides up to three people with a job.” 

The snowflakes, which are made out of seat-weaving material, come in about 40 patterns and sizes. The patterns have names like Augusta, Adrian, Audrey, Revival, Heirloom, Foundry, Georgia and Cate.

“All of the names have special meaning to the shop or to my life or to the South,” says Audrey.

The board of directors named a snowflake in her honor, for instance, and the Foundry is named after the business owned by the late Gordon Huff, who served on the ATS board of directors for more than 26 years.

Social media has spread the word about the snowflakes, and about 10 employees weave the designs. The snowflakes are sold online, at the training shop and at local shops and specialty stores across the country.

Shanon-Brooks-3“The smaller ones are the hardest to make,” says Audrey. “They take the most time.”

A Job for Everyone 

Training shop employee Trenton Martin started making snowflakes in 2016. “It was difficult at first, and I made mistakes at first,” he says. “But it makes me feel good. I love my job. The best part is making the snowflakes. When I don’t know how to do it, I ask for help. When I see the finished product of the snowflake, I feel good about it if it looks good.” 

His co-worker, Donna Swanson, agrees. “I enjoy making snowflakes of all sizes. I like working with my hands,” she says. “I feel proud when a snowflake that I made looks really good. It makes me feel even better when someone buys it because that means they really liked it.” 

Wall-Of-SnowflakesCheryl Schmidtbauer who started working at the training shop through Experience Works, an organization that hires senior citizens, helps make snowflakes during the busy season two or three months of the year.

“You can see how much detail goes into them. You want them as near perfect as you can get them,” she says.

She, along with Tricia LeBlanc, helps train the employees to make the snowflakes. “I love the people,” says Tricia. “I enjoy what I do.”

DSC_6401Augusta Training Shop employees contribute to the snowflake-making process in other ways as well. Some pack them for shipping. Shanon Brooks writes a message in gold ink on a white cardboard snowflake, which is shipped with each order. The message says, “Thank you for falling for our snowflakes.”

 Each snowflake also includes a tag with a photo of the person who made it, along with biographical information about the artisan. 

“They make it more personal,” Audrey says of the tags. “They showcase the workers and their talents.” 

By Sarah James

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

  • Cranberry-Upside-Down-Cake12 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 3/4 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature, separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a round cake pan or spray with non-stick vegetable spray. Melt 4 tablespoons butter and the brown sugar over medium heat, stirring occasionally until it starts to bubble. Pour into cake pan and let cool. In a small saucepan, cook the cranberries and orange juice until cranberries begin to pop. Remove from heat and pour evenly over the cooled caramelized sugar.

In a medium bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. With a mixer, beat the remaining 8 tablespoons butter and granulated sugar together until light and fluffy. Mix in egg yolks (one at a time) and vanilla. Mix in 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by half of the milk. Mix in another 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by the remaining milk. Finally, mix in the remaining flour mixture.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they hold soft peaks. Gradually fold into the batter and pour over cranberries. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until top is golden brown and the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the oven and let cool 15-20 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and invert the cake onto a serving plate.

Making the Season Bright

In The Home
Photography by Sally Kolar

Photography by Sally Kolar

Childhood memories spark a love of Christmas for a Grovetown resident

Ever since she was little girl growing up in Augusta’s Sand Hills Historic District in the 1970s, Pamela McCladdie has loved Christmas. And an Augusta music legend played a big role in her fondness of the holidays. 

“James Brown would decorate his house on Walton Way Extension for Christmas, and we would all go see it,” says Pamela, her face lighting up at the memory. “He would come out and say, ‘hi.’”

She not only got the chance to gaze in delight at the exterior decorations at the home of the Godfather of Soul, however. She also recalls her joy at catching glimpses of Christmas decorations through curtain-less windows of the homes on Walton Way Extension at night. Those memories have stayed with Pamela, and when she and her husband, James, built their home in Grovetown 12 years ago, she didn’t want drapes on the back of the house. 

And anyone who peeks through the windows of their stucco home during the holiday season will get an eyeful of Christmas cheer.

1.-Living-Room-1O Christmas Trees
“We always put up eight Christmas trees, and each one has its own theme,” says Pamela, who works as an RN. She decorates the house the same way each year but adds something new every season. “I start decorating at Thanksgiving and continue up until Christmas,” she says.

Everyone in the family has a role to play in the preparations. James, a contractor, puts up the Christmas trees; Pamela does all of the decorating; and their daughter, Jada, a freshman at Georgia State University, expertly wraps all of the presents.

The key to wrapping beautiful packages, Pamela taught her daughter, is the paper. “The better your wrapping paper, the easier it is to wrap,” she says. “It’s thicker, and it’s easier to handle.”

The festive tone is set in the foyer, where a Santa dressed in a gold suit sits on a table. Pine cones and decorative gold butterflies are nestled in green garland wrapped around two columns.

The themed trees give each room its own personality. In the living room, almost all that glitters is gold. A gold and cream-themed tree features ornaments of the same colors and more Santas clad in gold. Strands of flameless candle lights illuminate the tree, which is topped by an arrangement of feathers. Reindeer and statues of the three wise men sit under the tree amongst presents wrapped in gold and cream-colored paper.

5.-Study-Table“My living room tree is my favorite tree,” says Pamela. “I love cream and gold.”

Pine cones and greenery adorn wall sconces, and gold snowflakes hang from the light fixture that also is decorated with greenery and decorative gold poinsettias. A gold and silver wreath hangs on the mirror, and a rectangular pillow, which says “Happy Holidays” and is accented with a red poinsettia, rests on the cream-colored couch. 

A small white tree sits on top of a round, glass-topped, clock-faced table while a sleigh is parked on the circular coffee table. On a round end table, three clear rectangular LED candles of different heights give off a soft glow of light. 

The living room also features red oak hardwood flooring, which extends throughout the first story except for the den, and a trey ceiling. Pamela commandeered two black chairs, originally purchased for James’ man cave, for the room, and they offer an eye-catching contrast to the cream-colored furnishings. 

With its green walls, the adjoining dining room is ready for Christmas year-round. However, Pamela dresses it up in seasonal finery with a peacock-themed tree that includes peacock ornaments, blue and gold ornaments, peacock feathers and a gold tree skirt. The tree matches the peacock feather-themed fabric of the custom-made window treatments.

A furry white runner crosses the table while two reindeer on either side of a gold “Merry Christmas” sign occupy the center of the table. Cloth napkins in silver snowflake rings rest on top of clear snowflake-sprinkled plates, and greenery and ornaments add holiday spirit to the overhead light fixture. 

The dining room also includes recessed glass shelves with glass-front doors, and two pairs of columns separate the space from the living room and the kitchen. 

An elf theme lends its magic to the kitchen, giving it a more whimsical personality than the elegant living and dining rooms. During the holidays, elf legs playfully dangle from two of the four chairs at the island. The Christmas tree features elf decorations as well as red and green ornaments, red berries, green boots and a black stovetop hat tree topper.

Christmas also comes to the island in the form of red snowflake-shaped placemats, and a vase full of gold and silver bells stands tall between the place settings. Poinsettia designs on the floor mats and dish towels add a splash of red, and greenery above the doors to the patio is decorated with Santas and a gold “Joy” sign. 

The red décor offsets black appliances, island, granite countertops and a black marble backsplash, which matches the granite, in the kitchen. 

4.-Dining-Room-1Blending with the Décor
Pamela’s personality also shines in the blending of her decorations with the décor in the den and master bedroom.

In the den, her decorations are spot on as she picks up the leopard print theme of the room. The décor features a leopard print blanket and pillows, along with a mirror with a leopard frame. So naturally the base of the tree is wrapped in – what else? – a leopard-print tree skirt. The greenery above the doors to the back patio is accented with leopard bows, lights, elves and red and gold ornaments.

Santa Claus and a sleigh with greenery and lights sits on a table, and more greenery surrounds the television nook. A nativity scene on the coffee table captures the true spirit of the season.

3.-StaircasePamela also strikes the right note in the master bedroom, where a large cello-shaped storage unit provides space to keep CDs and DVDs year-round, by picking up on its music theme with the Christmas decor. 

The predominantly red and black Christmas tree ornaments include pianos and other musical instruments, treble clefs, red balls and cardinals. A row of red candles nestled in greenery and a strand of music note ribbon line the dresser.

With or without holiday decorations, the master bedroom is a cozy space featuring a gas fireplace, trey ceiling, ceiling fan, four-poster bed and an oversized chaise lounge. In the adjoining master bath, which includes tile flooring, a jetted tub and a vanity on each side of the room, clothespins on a decorative board hold Christmas cards.

Winter Wonderland
Upstairs, the house turns into a winter wonderland for the McCladdies’ six grandchildren.

The names of Santa’s reindeers are spelled out in red letters on the step risers to the second story, where the TV room tree has a deer-hunting theme. A stuffed snowman sits atop each step, and stockings hang from the railing.

Twinkling lights sparkle on a tree of silver and white in the study upstairs, and cookies on a plate, which includes the names of grandchildren Emma, Kingston and Dakota, await Santa Claus on a table topped with “snow.” 

The tree in an upstairs bedroom features shoes, pocketbooks and leopard print and gold poinsettias.

Of course, the outdoors is aglow with Christmas finery as well. A lighted reindeer and sleigh, filled with lighted red packages, stand in the yard by a stack of lighted presents that spell “Joy.” Two small trees with Christmas lights sit on either side of the porch, and lion statues are dressed in red ribbons and greenery. “I love it when it’s lit up at night,” Pamela says.

She loves to shop, so she is always on the lookout for new decorations and new ideas. “Whenever I go out of town, I buy Christmas decorations,” she says. “This is the result of 20 years of accumulating decorations.” 

Pamela also goes to the Augusta Ballet Holiday House Tour of Homes and the North Augusta Christmas Tour of Homes each year. “I like to go to home tours to get ideas,” she says.

James takes it all in stride. “I let her have her way,” he says. “She gets something new all the time.”

2.-Kitchen-1Family First
Decorating the house for Christmas isn’t the only tradition that the McCladdies enjoy during the holidays, however. Pamela, the youngest of eight children, always entertains her family and in-laws at their house for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Everyone brings a dish for Thanksgiving, but she makes Christmas dinner herself. She prepares ham, turkey, dressing, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, butter beans, potato salad, peach cobbler and red velvet cake. However, Pamela says, “The main dish that everyone comes for is the chitlins.”

The family also includes Pamela’s daughter, Ebony Broadwater Whisenant, and James’ son, Delucus McCladdie, and their six grandchildren – four boys and two girls ranging in age from 3 to 11. The grandchildren open two gifts on Christmas Eve, and Santa leaves presents for the grandchildren under a different tree – one for the boys and one for the girls – each year. 

“I like everything about Christmas. I like to give,” Pamela says. “I just enjoy the season.”

By Betsy Gilliland

A Joyful Noise

A & E

Celtic-Angels-ChristmasCelebrate the holiday season with songs that have a classical, country, contemporary or Celtic twist

Worship services, baking, shopping, gift wrapping and family fellowship are some of the traditional hallmarks of the holiday season. However, it would be impossible to celebrate Christmas without music. Two upcoming holiday concerts will showcase the place that holiday tunes hold in our hearts – especially when the music comes with a folk music or a Celtic twist.

The Annie Moses Band will perform a Christmas-themed show with a blend of folk and classical music on Wednesday, November 28. The band, made up of musicians from the same family, has a sound all its own. The siblings call their style “chamber pop,” a blend of classical, jazz and pop, mixed with some good, old-fashioned country. Tickets are $49.

On Monday, December 10 the Irish Cultural Academy, in association with CMI Entertainment (USA), will present the first Christmas tour of the Celtic Angels Christmas production, a holiday celebration of Christmas in Ireland, highlighting yuletide music from across the centuries. The show features vocal and instrumental seasonal favorites alongside Irish, contemporary and original Christmas themes – with Celtic flair, of course. Routines by world champion dancers will accompany the music. Tickets are $44.50.

The shows will begin at 7:30 p.m. at Hardin Performing Arts Center. Dinner reservations for a pre-concert meal are available as well. For more information or to order tickets, visit or call (706) 726-0366.

Wonderful Christmastime

A & E

Joan-Ellison-3x3Augusta Symphony brings the community two new yuletide concerts
The only thing better than one holiday concert is two holiday concerts, and Augusta Symphony is offering music fans a double dose of yuletide tunes this month.

The first show, Augusta Symphony Holiday Spectacular, will begin at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, December 6 at the Miller Theater.

In this inaugural holiday concert, the symphony will perform with the Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School Chorale and Joan Ellison, who specializes in reviving Judy Garland’s repertoire from the golden Hollywood years to her Carnegie Hall concert and television show.

“It’ll be really fun to perform with these great artists,” says Dirk Meyer, the symphony’s music director. “Joan is a truly outstanding performer, and I am also looking forward to working with the exceptional chorus from Davidson.”

The concert will include holiday favorites ranging from “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” to tunes from Home Alone and It’s a Wonderful Life. Tickets range from $36 – $100.

The second concert, Family Holiday Spectacular, will begin at 4 p.m. Sunday, December 9 at Hardin Performing Arts Center. This one-hour concert, the first of two family concerts in Columbia County, is part of a new series designed to introduce children to the symphony. 

“Introducing children to symphonic music at a young age is a wonderful opportunity to instill a love of music, art and culture in them,” Meyer says. “It sets them off for a lifetime of enjoyment of this amazing art form.” 

The family program will feature highlights such as Polar Express, It’s a Wonderful Life and “Chestnuts.” Tickets are $30 for adults and $10 for students. Tickets for the Columbia County series, which also includes Peter & the Wolf on March 24, are $52 for adults and $20 for students. 

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

Chill Out!

Photos courtesy of Margaritaville at Lanier Islands

Photos courtesy of Margaritaville at Lanier Islands

Snow tubing, ice skating, light displays, carnival rides and more offer a flurry of fun all winter long
Swapping out swimsuits and flip flops for mittens and snow boots is a cool way to warm up the festivities at Margaritaville at Lanier Islands, near Atlanta. 

With the debut of the attraction’s License to Chill Snow Island, along with the updated Magical Nights of Lights, the “tropical” paradise is transformed into a winter wonderland for the holidays.

“Who’s to say we can’t have a parrot wearing a scarf?” asks Darby Campbell, president of Safe Harbor Development, which operates the entertainment venue.

Holiday-Village-SignLet It Snow
Safe Harbor invested $3.5 million to create the snow-based activities and to upgrade the lights displays. License to Chill Snow Island offers a number of activities including two snow slides, an ice skating rink, two snow play areas, carnival rides and fire pits to make s’mores.

The snow tubing mountain is more than 400 feet high, and six large snow-making machines keep it covered with plenty of fresh snow.

“It’s the longest, fastest snow tubing ride in the Southeast and potentially the whole East,” says Campbell. “We graded the mountain and created the slope from scratch. We got to create it exactly the way we want it.”

5-O'Clock-SomewhereReservations for 90-minute time slots are required for guests to visit the snow tubing mountain.

“Everybody likes snow in the winter,” Campbell says.

Snow also blankets flat terrain, where kids or kids at heart can make snow angels, engage in spirited snowball fights or show off their skills in snowman contests. 

Children also can have their photo taken with Santa Claus at Landshark Landing, one of several restaurants onsite where their parents can enjoy specialty winter drinks or adult beverages.

Christmas-TreesCarnival rides include a Ferris wheel and a merry-go-round. Snow Island also features warming stations and hot chocolate stations.

Light Up the Night
To get to Snow Island, visitors travel through the Magical Nights of Lights display. Celebrating its 26th year, Magical Nights of Lights has been revamped with 600,000 additional lights and a Margaritaville twist. 

New light displays are added each year to make the experience memorable, and this season the brightly colored holiday lights exhibit features 19 new displays. They include the It’s 5 O’clock Somewhere clock tower, a surfboard Christmas tree, a parrot wearing a Santa hat, giant candy canes, hanging snowflakes and a Christmas train. Classic favorites such as the 12 Days of Christmas display are back this year as well.

Reindeer-&-Tree“The light show is 7 miles long, but there are very few spots that aren’t filled with lights,” says Campbell. “It is the largest in the Southeast in total investment.” 

Daily admission tickets as well as season passes to Margaritaville at Lanier Islands are available. A tram transports guests from the parking area to Snow Island and Landshark Landing.

“We went all out to provide a wonderful experience for our guests,” says Campbell. “It’s great fun, and it truly is done right. We want to turn Lanier Islands into one of the best places in the entire Southeast. With Snow Island and the Magical Nights of Lights, it is a year-round destination.”

If You Go:

What: License to Chill Snow Island and Magical Nights of Lights

Snowflake-TunnelWhen: Snow Island is open through February 24, hours vary; Magical Nights of Lights is open through January 6 from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m. or 5 p.m. – 11 p.m. Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays

Where: Margaritaville at Lanier Islands, Buford, Georgia

How Much: Tickets to License to Chill Snow Island start at $24.99; entrance to Magical Nights of Lights starts at $43 per vehicle

More Info: 

By Morgan Davis

It’s a Holiday Soul Party — Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings

Listen To This

Holiday-soul-partyIn a season of all things spice, the essential ingredients in your holiday soundtrack are a must. And there’s no tastier playlist to serve on your musical tabletop than It’s A Holiday Soul Party by our local late, great native sister, Sharon Jones, and her Dap Kings.

An old-school soul platter of 11 funky holiday jams is on tap as Sharon takes traditional Christmas numbers and stirs in some heavy-whipping soul.

A smooth-clackin’ rendition of “Silent Night” and a tassel-prancing “White Christmas” set the mood as original tunes like the deep-funky “Just Another Christmas Song” and horn-riffin’ slap-count of “8 Days of Hanukkah” take the spice cake. Released in 2015, It’s a Holiday Soul Party is still the complete spread of funky sprinkles and sugar power.

Whether you are hosting a holiday party or ripping through a mountain of gifts, this classic record will make you want to jump back and kiss yourself under the mistletoe.

- Chris Rucker

Holiday Magic

A & E

CarolersHave yourself a merry little Christmas at Evans Towne Center Park

Local residents can celebrate Christmas in Columbia County with lots of lights, cameras and action. From Friday, November 30 through Tuesday, January 1 Evans Towne Center Park will be filled with lighted Christmas trees, animated light displays and a Holiday Market where children can be photographed with Santa.

The festivities will begin with a sneak peek at the lights on November 30 from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m., where visitors will see the new, LED-programmable, 46-foot tree this year as well as a 1,000-foot white light tunnel.

Other attractions include an animated 12 Days of Christmas display, gingerbread houses, Santa’s sleigh with reindeer, lighted toy soldiers, musical nutcrackers, a caroling family, Santa on a golf car, a waving snowman, elves, Peanuts characters and a multi-colored light tunnel.

Sparkle Express train rides will be available near the playground, and special activities include a scavenger hunt and movie nights. Free photos with Santa will be available at the Holiday Market on Saturdays, December 1, 8 and 15. 

If You Go:
Friday, November 30
Sneak Peek 6 – 8 p.m.

Saturday, December 1 – Tuesday, January 1
Light Display 5 – 10 p.m.

Saturday, December 1
Tree Lighting with Holiday Market and Santa 2 – 6 p.m. 

Thursday, December 6
Holiday Market 4 – 8 p.m.

Friday, December 7
Holiday Market and Movie Night 6 – 9 p.m.

Saturday, December 8
Holiday Market and Santa 2 – 6 p.m. 

Thursday, December 13
Holiday Market 4 – 8 p.m.

Friday, December 14
Holiday Market and Movie Night 6 – 9 p.m. 

Saturday, December 15
Holiday Market and Santa 2 – 6 p.m.

Meeting Its Match


Dr.-Ravindra-KolheMCG is part of a groundbreaking approach to cancer treatment
People always hope that there will be a breakthrough in cancer treatment. Now, local researchers will be involved in a new medical trial to assess the effectiveness of targeting cancer-causing genes rather than cancer types.

The Georgia Esoteric and Molecular Laboratory at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University has been selected as a laboratory for the National Cancer Institute’s Molecular Analysis for Therapy Choice, or MATCH trial. It is the seventh academic lab in the nation designated for the trial.

The NCI-MATCH trial will enroll up to 6,500 patients at 2,400 participating sites across the country. These patients have solid tumors or lymphomas, which have progressed despite standard treatments, or rare cancers with no consensus treatment. 

For the trial, physicians send patient biopsies to these labs for analysis of cancer-causing gene changes, including mutations and amplifications. Patients are enrolled in one of nearly 40 treatments based on identified changes, regardless of their cancer type. 

“We are privileged to join the laboratory network for this groundbreaking national trial that we all hope will improve cancer treatment by precisely targeting a patient’s gene variants,” says Dr. Ravindra Kolhe, molecular pathologist and director of the GEM Laboratory in the MCG Department of Pathology. He also is the primary developer of a new test called Augusta OncoTarget.

One of the latest additions to MCG’s GEM Lab, Augusta OncoTarget includes next-generation sequencing that enables large numbers of genes, and an unprecedented number of known cancer-causing variants in those genes, to be tested simultaneously. 

“We believe this comprehensive analysis will help provide scientifically sound and personalized therapy targets for consideration by patients and their physicians,” Kolhe says.

The Noel Stranger by Richard Paul Evans

Literary Loop

The-Noel-StrangerMaggie Walther feels like her world is imploding. Publicly humiliated after her husband, a local councilman, is arrested for bigamy, and her subsequent divorce, she has isolated herself from the world.

When her only friend insists that Maggie climb out of her hole, and embrace the season to get her out of her funk, Maggie decides to put up a Christmas tree and heads off to buy one —albeit reluctantly. She is immediately taken by Andrew, the kind, handsome man who owns the Christmas tree lot and delivers her tree. She soon learns that Andrew is single and new to her city and, like her, is also starting his life anew.

As their friendship develops, Maggie slowly begins to trust again — something she never thought possible. Then, just when she thinks she has finally found happiness, she discovers a dark secret from Andrew’s past. Is there more to this stranger’s truth than meets the eye?

This powerful new holiday novel from Richard Paul Evans, the “King of Christmas fiction” (The New York Times), explores the true power of the season, redemption, and the freedom that comes from forgiveness. 

“Witty and interesting,” says Kirkus Reviews. “Evans’s fans will appreciate this tale of finding the good in everyone and loving people for who they are,” says Publisher’s Weekly.

Nicholson Revell LLP


Augusta’s Premier Personal Injury Law Firm Serving All Of Georgia
Specialties: Personal injury; wrongful death; medical malpractice; burn injuries; brain injuries; motor vehicle collisions; tractor-trailer collisions; nursing home abuse and neglect; products liability; eminent domain.

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4137 Columbia Road• Augusta, GA 30907 (706) 722-8784


Fulcher Hagler LLC


Fulcher Hagler LLP has been serving the CSRA since 1946, representing both businesses and individuals. Today, the firm continues to practice with an emphasis in defense litigation, business and commercial law, as well as personal planning. We find solutions to problems facing our clients in their business and personal lives.

 ONE 10TH STREET | SUITE 700 | AUGUSTA, GA 30901 | PHONE: (706) 724-0171



Hunter Rhodes, LLC


When facing a legal issue that may impact your family, business or freedom, you will benefit from the dedicated efforts of a resourceful attorney. Joe Rhodes has been helping clients throughout Richmond, Columbia and Burke Counties in Georgia since 2010. He provides comprehensive legal support in the areas of family law, business law, medical regulatory compliance, criminal defense and immigration law. Whether you are facing divorce, DUI charges or deportation, you can be confident of his straightforward legal advice and determined advocacy. Joe was born and raised in Columbia County and graduated from Lakeside High School. To learn how we can help you, call our office for a free consultation.

266 Greene Street | Augusta, GA 30901 | 706-724-3156


Center of Attention

Photos courtesy of Meybohm Real Estate

Photos courtesy of Meybohm Real Estate

Planning and discussions for a downtown area in Columbia County have been years in the making, and the project finally is coming to fruition with the opening of The Plaza at Evans Towne Center.

Columbia County had a prime piece of property in Evans that was ripe for development into a town center. Meybohm Real Estate was looking to establish office space in the rapidly growing county. Their goals had all the makings of a great alliance between two heavyweight players. 

After all, E.G. Meybohm, chairman of Meybohm Real Estate, says, “Columbia County has been a big part of our business for a number of years. It has a lot of growth going on. We thought we had a chance to do something special for Columbia County as well as for ourselves.” 

Meybohm-119That something special turned into a public-private partnership between Columbia County and Meybohm to build a $65 million, mixed-used, downtown development in the heart of Evans at the intersection of Ronald Reagan Drive and Evans Town Center Boulevard. 

After almost three years of working together, the first building in Phase I, the Meybohm Building, is scheduled to open by the end of September.

Meybohm-102Thoroughly Modern 
The four-story, 58,000-square-foot Meybohm building includes a basement; retail space on the second floor, which is on street level; the Meybohm headquarters on the third story and a special events venue on the rooftop. The building includes four restaurant spaces, and Your Pie, a pizza and craft beer establishment, will be located on the second floor.

Other potential tenants include cyber and computer software companies, medical and legal offices, and insurance companies. 

Meybohm-123“This is a good spot for anyone who is looking to relocate, add another location or come to this market,” says Lionel Prather, senior vice president of commercial development. “We’re down the street from the courthouse, so having a law office close by would make a lot of sense.” 

The new Meybohm office allows the company to consolidate services such as its new homes and relocation divisions into one space. The office features polished concrete flooring; throw rugs; open, collaborative work space; a Success Center for training and lots of windows.

Meybohm-120“There is such a beautiful view on the back side of the building, and we incorporated a lot of glass on the back to take advantage of it,” says Meybohm. “The floor-length windows make it very inviting.” 

The brick building was designed to have an industrial look like an old mill. “You want something that’s new, but looks like it has always been there,” says John Cates, chief operating officer. 

The building has other modern amenities such as a high-speed wireless network. There is a public network for the lobby and parking areas and a private network for Meybohm. 

“From a real estate perspective, our business is changing,” says Mike Polatty, president and chief executive officer. “We wanted to create an office where the younger generation and existing Realtors want to come to work every day.” 

Along with the available retail space, the rooftop is a welcoming feature for the community as well.

With 1,300 square feet for corporate events and other parties, the rooftop includes indoor space with a bar, an industrial warming kitchen, five TVs and a partially covered veranda with ceiling fans overhead and heaters in the winter. The space can accommodate up to 300 people and seat 120 to 140 people. A preferred list of caterers is available.

More to Come
The 22-acre site, which will be anchored by the Columbia County Performing Arts Center that is under construction, will include two additional phases. Each phase has the capacity for three buildings. 

The second building in Phase I will include 45,000 square feet of retail and professional space, and the third building will house 20,000 square feet of professional or retail space. The second and third buildings will front the PAC.

However, the 225-space parking deck, which is part of Phase II and has been put out for construction bids by the county, will be the next structure built. 

“It’s going to maintain its integrity,” Polatty says of the development project. “It’s going to look like it all belongs together as new pieces are added.” 

The county sought public input about the development of the area, and Cates says community members offered good ideas, particularly about potential retail tenants. 

“If retailers in places like Atlanta, Charleston and Charlotte can see that there is a consumer demand for them here, it helps us pitch this space to them,” he says. 

A farmer’s market as well as additional green space for events will be built next to the PAC. 

A raised crosswalk across Evans Town Center Boulevard connects The Plaza with Evans Towne Center Park to slow traffic and to make it seem like a typical downtown area. The road also is designed to be closed during events. 

“It slows the road down to make you feel like you’ve arrived somewhere,” says Cates. “There are world-class events here. This will turn an isolated venue into a gathering space.”

Most of the events at Evans Towne Center Park and Lady Antebellum Amphitheater attract 8,000 to 12,000 people. “This is a natural adjunct to that,” says Meybohm. 

The PAC will attract even more events – and people – to the area. In addition, a terraced green space in The Plaza allows for concerts and other uses of the venue.

“We want the community to feel like they can come here and stay here,” says Prather. “They can spend quality time in the area.” 

Residential development is shifting to Columbia County, Meybohm says, and The Plaza could include residential space “if there is a market for it.” The residential spaces could include apartments or townhomes. However, says Meybohm, “it has to be affordable.”

“This is part of something much bigger. This will give Columbia County an identity going forward,” says Cates. “A lot of this doesn’t exist in Columbia County yet. This building and this area is a little bit ahead of its time. Everything we’re doing is new, and it’s different. It’s something you’re seeing in larger markets.” 

By Betsy Gilliland

Ride on Time


Buzz-Bike-appColumbia County has a new app to help small vehicle operators safely navigate through traffic signals at area intersections.

Traffic mitigation is one of the biggest concerns in Columbia County, and officials are offering a mobile application to make traveling easier countywide for small vehicles such as bicycles and motorcycles.

The county’s traffic engineering department has partnered with EmTrac Systems to design and implement the app, Ride on Time Columbia County, which is available for a free download in the Apple and Google stores for iOS and Android. Columbia County is the first place in the United States to release this app, which initiates phase sequence for traffic signals, to the public.

Phone-picAs a small vehicle enters the detection zone, or virtual loop, of a traffic signal, it sends a notification to the intersection for triggering a green light. As part of the pre-emption system, the Ride on Time Columbia County app will not necessarily trigger a green light for the motorist, but will ensure they are not skipped during a traffic phase. This will increase riders’ safety on county roadways by discouraging them from making illegal turns while waiting for signals to change.

Currently, 67 units have been installed at intersections with traffic signals throughout the county. Only intersections in construction zones are not yet equipped with the technology, but units will be installed and activated at these intersections once construction is complete.

Any future intersections in Columbia County will be required to have the EmTrac receivers installed once they have been completed and released to the traffic engineering department. Any user who has a problem with the app should contact the traffic engineering department at (706) 868-4223.