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Little River Water Trail

Water Trail

Georgia’s Little River Water Trail is a wildlife sanctuary for bald eagle nests, river otters, turtles and other animals, and its history includes gold mines as well as Quaker and Native American Indian settlements. (Mark Rodgers photo)

Happy Trail
Georgia’s Little River Water Trail will make a big splash in the area recreational, environmental and tourism community. The development of Georgia’s Little River into a water trail has been underway for several months, and the effort continues to build momentum.

Similar to a hiking trail, a water trail has safe public access points, information kiosks and signage, and family friendly amenities such as picnic areas and facilities along the route.

The trail flows 20 miles through Wilkes, Warren and McDuffie counties within the 15,000-acre Clarks Hill Wildlife Management Area, and it includes four public access locations – Highway 80, Highway 78, Holliday Park and Raysvillle Campground. The water trail is a wildlife sanctuary for bald eagle nests, river otters, turtles and other animals, and its history includes gold mines as well as Quaker and Native American Indian settlements.

The Little River Water Trail is being developed by various community stakeholders including McDuffie, Wilkes and Warren counties; the Army Corps of Engineers; the Department of Natural Resources; landowners; local business owners; Boy Scout troop leaders and local paddlers. Gwyneth Moody, the Georgia River Network director of programs and outreach, is helping as well.

“Georgia River Network’s water trails technical assistance program helps communities form comprehensive water trail stakeholder partnerships as well as providing them with guidance and resources to begin developing a sustainable water trail,” Moody says. “It’s a win-win for everyone – and most importantly our rivers as water trails are also an effective way to introduce people to river issues and to engage them in the protection of their local waterways.” 

Developments include the passage of the Georgia’s Little River Water Trail Resolutions of Support by McDuffie and Wilkes counties, social media updates and the design of marketing materials. Trail head kiosks have been put up at some access points, and kayak rentals are available at Raysville Campground. Georgia River Network also held a two-day paddle and campout on Little River in May.

“Ultimately, Georgia River Network hopes to see Georgia’s Little River Water Trail join the statewide Georgia Water Trails Network consisting of the 15 water trails that have successfully fulfilled the six criteria required to become an officially established water trail. 

Under the criteria, the water trail must:

  • Be sponsored, maintained and promoted by a local entity or partnership;
  • Have publicly accessible areas that paddlers can legally access and safely unload boats and park vehicles;
  • Have river access sites that are appropriately spaced apart on the river so that they may be reasonable paddled in a few hours or a full day;
  • Have water access to public overnight camping sites, depending on the length of the trail;
  • Provide information about the water trail to paddlers through a website and illustrative maps created by the sponsoring entity;
  • Place signage or kiosks that include river etiquette information, paddling safety information and a map of the water trail at all access points.

The water trail will be divided into three sections – Highway 80/Wrightsboro Road Bridge in McDuffie County to Highway 78 (7.63 miles), Highway 78 to Holliday Park in Wilkes County (7.86 miles) and Holliday Park to Raysville Campground in McDuffie County (4.53 miles).

“This is a great opportunity for McDuffie County to take advantage of our close proximity to Clarks Hill Lake, and it will open up a whole new world of outdoor recreation, family fun and business opportunities for our community,” says Elizabeth Vance, the Thomson-McDuffie County Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director and Little River Water Trail coordinator.

A ribbon cutting is slated for later this summer once the six water trail criteria have been met.

Follow the Sun — Various Artists

Listen To This

listen to thisNo trip to the pool should be without a perfectly crafted soundtrack — a backdrop of tunes that elicits cannonballs and corkscrews, lazy floating and cookouts. It sets the mood and presses the grooves of memories and nostalgia that keep us waiting in line at the diving board way past our prime. 

Through the years, I have experimented poolside with all genres spanning the decades of pop culture and soundscape, and without a doubt, songs recorded and released between 1955-1975 create an environment unlike any other. Now, just in time for summer, a new compilation of practically unearthed gems is hitting the airwaves.

The compilation, appropriately titled Follow the Sun, is a collection of obscure tracks recorded in the late 60s and early 70s by fledging artists from the Australian music scene. Keith Abrahamsson, owner of Mexican Summer records, dusted off these gems of old and created a 19-track time warp that captures a stitch in music history where singers were songwriters and instrumentation was a vast and fast-growing vine of influence and experimentation.

Follow the Sun is chock-full of material you have not heard, but there is a familiar undercurrent that stimulates the senses like freshly cut grass and hose water. It is the perfect foundation for a golden oldie wall of sound that dances and moves through the water like Marco looking for Polo. Follow the sun, and enjoy yourself. 

- Chris Rucker

Calling All Parrotheads


Calling All ParrotheadsFins to the left, fins to the right — A1A’s Margaritaville is coming to Evans Towne Center Park

It’s five o-clock somewhere, and on Saturday, June 3, that’s the time the Evans Towne Center Park gates will open for the Summer Beach Blast featuring Pirate Flag and A1A. Pirate Flag, a Kenny Chesney tribute band, will take the stage from 6-8 p.m., and A1A, a Jimmy Buffett tribute band, will follow from 8:30-10:30 p.m. 

In addition to live music, the event will include island food, tropical drinks and a “sandy shore.” Limited VIP tickets will include reserved parking, cheeseburgers in paradise, beer, wine, preferred seating and viewing areas, and private restrooms. The VIP tent will be located to the left of the stage. 

Pirate Flag recreates Chesney’s music and showmanship, which had sold out stadiums and built his “No Shoes Nation” fan club. Formed in 1991, A1A won a Margaritaville Records-sponsored Jimmy Buffett Sound-Alike Contest and is personally sanctioned by Buffett himself. 

So why not kick off the summer with these talented musicians? Shoes are optional. Fun is mandatory. 

If You Go:

What: Summer Beach Blast

When: 5-11 p.m. Saturday, June 3 

Where: Evans Towne Center Park

How Much: $15 in advance; $20 at gate; $80 VIP 

More Info: summerbeachblast.com

Lee Ann Liska – Chief Executive Officer, AU Medical Center

Lee Ann Liska

Phil Jones photo

Lee Ann Liska
Chief Executive Officer, AU Medical Center

Number of years in position: 1 

Family: Husband Joe Ed; daughter Catherine

Why I’m Passionate About What I Do: I am passionate about improving the health care experiences of our patients and their families. I’ve faced health issues in my own family, and these situations gave me personal insight into how to make those encounters better. AU Medical Center is a pioneer in patient- and family-centered care, and we look forward to extending this health care philosophy to our Columbia County health campus in Grovetown.

Community Groups and Charities I Love to Support: I like to support United Way because our patients and employees benefit from its services, and the American Heart Association because it supports research for heart and stroke care – the #1 and #5 killer of men and women in America. I also support YWCA and its missions to eliminate racism, empower women and promote social justice.

Biggest Career or Life Obstacle I’ve Overcome and How: My daughter was diagnosed with leukemia at age 7. As a hospital chief executive officer, this hit home in more ways than one for me. I stood by Catherine during three long years of cancer treatment. I was running a hospital, while trying to be the best mom for my daughter as well. She is such a fighter and a survivor, and I’m very proud to be her mother. 

Accomplishment I’m Most Proud Of: Being recognized as a YWCA Career Woman of Achievement in 2011

What Your Childhood Self Wanted to Be When You Grew Up: Film music composer or TV broadcaster

Favorite Way to Spend Saturday Afternoon: At a campsite, sitting on a chair with a book or magazine by the fire

Favorite TV Show: “The Crown”

Favorite Movie: Pride and Prejudice

Favorite Sports Team: The closest football team to where I live and work

Favorite Comfort Food: Jujyfruits

Favorite App: Spotify 

Last Book Read: The Girl You Left Behind by JoJo Moyes

Dream Vacation: Blackberry Farm in the Tennessee mountains. It’s peaceful, gorgeous, and they take great care of you. 

Something That Has Changed My Life: Having my daughter 

Best Thing I Ever Learned: Never burn bridges 

One Word You Would Use to Describe Yourself: Passionate 

Favorite Hobbies: Cooking and shopping

Secret Aspiration: Country music groupie

Reality Show I Would Totally Win: None

Something People Would Be Surprised to Know About Me: I like to cook.

Camino Island by John Grisham

Literary Loop

Literary LoopBestselling author John Grisham stirs up trouble in paradise in his endlessly surprising new thriller. Camino Island unspools over one long summer, when thieves pilfer five handwritten F. Scott Fitzgerald manuscripts from the Princeton Library and send them into the rare books black market.  

As the FBI and a secret underground agency hunt them down, a young writer embarks on her own investigation into a prominent bookseller who is believed to have the precious documents.

Bruce Cable owns a popular bookstore in the sleepy resort town of Santa Rosa on Camino Island in Florida. He makes his real money, though, as a prominent dealer in rare books. Very few people know that he occasionally dabbles in the black market of stolen books and manuscripts.

Mercer Mann is a young novelist with a severe case of writer’s block who has recently been laid off from her teaching position. She is approached by an elegant, mysterious woman working for an even more mysterious company. A generous offer of money convinces Mercer to go undercover and infiltrate Bruce Cable’s circle of literary friends, ideally getting close enough to him to learn his secrets.

But eventually Mercer learns far too much, and there’s trouble in paradise as only Grisham can deliver it.

Let the Good Times Roll

Jim Beck

Jim Beck festival founder

There’s no need to travel far for a festival featuring New Orleans-inspired fare. Just head to the ninth annual Mudbugabeaux-N-Brew Crawfish Festival for a bite o’ bayou — crawfish, craft beer and country crooners headline this annual outdoor festival.

“This is a great way to kick off the summer and enjoy an outdoor festival before it gets too hot,” says Jim Beck, owner of French Market Grille West, which co-sponsors the event. “We’ll have good music, and if you’ve never tried crawfish before, well, this is the time to do it.”

At Mudbugabeaux-N-Brew, festival-goers can chow down on crawfish, shrimp and all of the Cajun fixin’s they can imagine. And of course, the best way to chase that fine festival food is with a cold craft beer.

The country duo, LOCASH (formerly known as the LoCash Cowboys) headlines the entertainment. The Nashville duo has topped the Billboard charts with two number one singles in a row, “I Love This Life” and “I Know Somebody.” Other musical entertainment includes a live DJ and Cody Webb. The gates open at 5 p.m. The DJ kicks things off until 6:15, and live music begins at 6:30 p.m. 

No outside food, beverages or coolers will be allowed. And sorry, but pets must be left at home as well. Bring your own chairs. The event will be held rain or shine.

If You Go:

What: Mudbugabeaux-N-Brew Crawfish Festival

When: 5 p.m. – 11 p.m. Saturday, June 3

Where: Augusta Common, 836 Reynolds Street 

How Much: $10 in advance; $20 day of event; limited VIP tickets available

More Info: (706) 855-5111 or eventbrite.com

Home Sweet Home


Chalk it upArt lovers can enjoy the talents of local artists or show off their own artistic abilities at the 10th annual Art in the Park festival. 

The event will feature booths for more than 65 local and regional fine arts vendors, entertainment by 10 local performing arts groups throughout the day, concessions, a sidewalk chalk contest and children’s activities. 

“It’s a day to showcase Columbia County artists and artisans,” says Regina Brejda, Columbia County Arts Inc. president. “We want people to get out of the house and see what the community has to offer.”

The performance schedule begins with Columbia County Ballet’s Mayfest to kick off the event. Other performing arts groups will include Harmony River Chorus, Eastern Star Belly Dancers, Suzuki Strings of Augusta, Kane & Co. Dance Productions, Augusta Youth School of Dance and Musical Theatre Workshops.

Food vendors will include Chick-fil-A and Big D’s BBQ. The sidewalk chalk contest features competitions between local public and private elementary, middle and high schools. Individuals also can compete in a separate contest for a $20 registration fee, which includes chalk. Cash prizes will be awarded to the first, second and third place winners in each category. 

If You Go:

What: Art in the Park

When: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday, May 13

Where: Columbia County Memorial Gardens & Amphitheatre (behind Columbia County Library)

How Much: Free admission; food and beverage vendors will be onsite

More Info: columbiacountyarts.org; columbiacountyarts@gmail.com; Regina Brejda, (706) 267-6724 or Jillian Decker, (570) 730-5273


Souvenir — Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors

Listen To This

Literary LoopExperiences of life and love, aligned with fables sewn together like a quilt of remnant road stories and pure imagination —that, in a nutshell, is Souvenir, the latest release by Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors. Holcomb and Co. have been traveling the highways and byways for the past 12 years and have managed to release 10 solid albums. Virtually unknown to most, Holcomb continues to pour out songwriting gold with no signs of stopping. 

Souvenir is a slight departure in soundscape compared to its predecessors, but the roots of Americana, steeped in passion, have never been more delicate. Holcomb has mastered the mood that harkens the whispers and welcomes the crescendos. There’s chaos and rawness with tones of hope and positivity that pour through each track. 

Most notably, songs like “Rowdy Heart, Broken Wing” and “The Morning Song” carry an effortless Jim Croce-esque vibe while rockin’ tonkin’ songs like “California” and “Sometimes” drive excitement and unexpected genius. Holcomb has a pure knack for taking the simple and obvious and crafting a unique memory that uses every sensory mechanism attached to the head and the heart. 

Overall, Souvenir is named appropriately. You will enjoy it just as much tens of years down the road. 

- Chris Rucker

Paddle Power


Paddle PowerRow, row, row your boat down the Savannah River at the 11th annual Paddlefest.

Whether people prefer to stand or sit, race or recreate, Savannah Riverkeeper will offer an event to satisfy all types of paddlers with its 11th annual Paddlefest along the Savannah River. Canoes, kayaks and standup paddleboards are welcome on the water.

The six-mile race and recreational canoe/kayak route will begin at Savannah Rapids Pavilion and end at the Boat House in East Augusta. The first half of the course is all shoals, and the second half is deep flatwater. A recommended passage through the shoals will be available on race day. Categories for racers include male, female and mixed pairs. 

“Paddlefest is a fun race if you’re an expert kayaker, and it’s a great event for beginners as well,” says Elena Richards, the Savannah Riverkeeper communications director. “It’s a great way to see a new part of the river. We also will have experienced safety teams on the water in strategic locations.” 

All canoe and kayak paddlers are asked to take their vessels to a check-in booth at the Savannah Rapids Pavilion bridge, where volunteers will take the boats to the launch sites. After checking in, paddlers can take their vehicles to the Port Authority parking lot, 105 Riverfront Drive, Augusta, and a shuttle bus will take them back to Savannah Rapids.

Paddle PowerThe standup paddleboard event is a recreational paddle that goes from 105 Riverfront Drive, Augusta, to the 13th Street bridge and back. The route is about four miles long.

During registration, participants also can pay $5 to take part in a poker run. The first poker card will be handed out at check-in at the start and the last card will be dealt at check-in at the end of the paddle. Cards will be distributed at three locations on river as well. A prize will be awarded to the best poker hand in each of the three categories – canoe, kayak and SUP.

An awards ceremony with lunch and a live band will be held after the paddle. All proceeds from the event benefit Savannah Riverkeeper, which protects the entire river basin from the headwaters to the Savannah coast through education, advocacy and action.

If You Go:

What: Paddlefest

When: Saturday, May 13; kayak and canoe race and recreational launches 9 a.m.; SUP launch 9:45 a.m. 

Where: Savannah Rapids Pavilion (canoes and kayaks); 105 Riverfront Drive, Augusta (SUPs) 

How Much: $35 for single canoes, kayaks and SUPs; $60 for two-person canoes and kayaks

More Info: (706) 826-8991 or savannahriverkeeper.org

Get Ready


Get ReadyMother’s Day might come a little early for local moms this year with a concert that brings back memories from their youths. The O’Jays and The Temptations Review featuring Dennis Edwards will bring their sounds to Evans Towne Center Park on Friday, May 12.

The O’Jays – Walter Williams Sr., Eric Nolan Grant and Eddie Levert – are touring history, a connection to an era and a sound that formed the soundtrack for the lives of several generations.

Williams and Levert first met when they were 6 and 7 years old, respectively, and they formed a band with other members as teenagers in Canton, Ohio. The band took the name “The O’Jays” in tribute to Cleveland DJ Eddie O’Jay in 1963. While members have changed through the years, Williams and Levert, the original lead singers, continue to front the group. The band’s hit songs include “Backstabbers,” “Love Train,” “Livin’ for the Weekend” and “Use Ta Be My Girl.” The O’Jays were inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005. 

Get ReadyThe Temptations became the definitive male vocal group of the 1960s. Formed in Detroit in 1961, the five-man lineup was known for its harmonies and fine-tuned choreography. Dennis Edwards joined the group in 1968, and his voice adapted perfectly to the psychedelic-influenced soul period the group entered following the success of its single, “Cloud Nine.”

The group’s other hits include “My Girl,” “Since I Lost My Baby,” “Get Ready” and “Papa was a Rolling Stone.” The Temptations, which had 37 career Top 10 hits, were inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.

If You Go:

What: The O’Jays with The Temptations Review featuring Dennis Edwards 

When: Friday, May 12; gates open 6 p.m.; show time 8 p.m.

Where: Evans Towne Center Park

How Much: $43 – $123 

More Info: evanstownecenterpark.com

The Broken Road by Richard Paul Evans

Literary Loop

The Broken Road by Richard Paul EvansA broken man. A twist of fate. A second chance. From New York Times bestselling author Richard Paul Evans comes the first novel in a new trilogy that explores the tantalizing question: What if you could start over?

Chicago celebrity Charles James can’t shake the nightmare that wakes him each night. He sees himself walking down a long, broken highway, the sides of which are lit in flames. Where is he going? Why is he walking? What is the wailing he hears around him?

By day, he wonders why he’s so haunted and unhappy when he has all he ever wanted — fame, fans and fortune. Coming from a childhood of poverty and pain, this is what he’s dreamed of. 

But now, at the pinnacle of his career, he’s started to wonder if he’s wanted the wrong things. His wealth has come legally, but questionably, from the power of his personality, seducing people out of their hard-earned money. When he learns that one of his customers has committed suicide because of financial ruin, Charles is shaken. The cracks in his façade start to break down, spurring him to question everything: his choices, his relationships, his future and the type of man he’s become.

Then a twist of fate changes everything, and Charles is granted a second chance. The question is: What will he do with it?

Tripp J. Williams Agricultural and Natural Resources Agent and County Coordinator


Agricultural and Natural Resources Agent and County CoordinatorAgricultural and Natural Resources Agent and County Coordinator
UGA Extension – Columbia County

Number of years in position: 5

Family: Wife, Anna and son, Turner

Why I’m Passionate About What I Do: Georgia is fueled by an agricultural economy. I respond to the agricultural needs and interests in our community with unbiased, research-based education. For example, when I teach pesticide safety, I not only educate producers on good agricultural practices. I also ensure a safe food supply and help to protect the environment. Ultimately, the benefits included are a healthier population, reduced health care costs and higher quality of life. Those are pretty good reasons to be passionate about what I do.

Community Groups and Charities I Love to Support: Georgia 4-H! The goal of 4-H is to develop citizenship, leadership, responsibility and life skills of youth through experiential learning programs and a positive youth development approach. 4-H focuses on citizenship, healthy living, science, engineering and technology programs. I have the privilege of coaching the 4-H forestry team and judging numerous 4-H competitions. I feel involvement in 4-H exposes our youth to new experiences, and as they progress through these experiences, life lessons will be learned. I believe that 4-H is developing the next generation of leaders. 

Biggest Career or Life Obstacle I’ve Overcome and How: My biggest career obstacle was finding a job in the agricultural field after graduation. I graduated in December 2002 from UGA, and there were very few opportunities in this area that were in my field of study. I expanded my search outside the CSRA into Florida, South Carolina and Kentucky. I was offered two positions, but they were just not a good fit. After several months of interviews, I was called by a local golf course to interview. This interview was different. I could see myself working here and actually getting to use my horticulture background. I worked there for seven years, and I am still very thankful to Joe Durden, superintendent at that time, for taking a chance on a new graduate. Joe became a great mentor and instilled in me a passion for the green industry, a drive to always do your best and a good attitude despite inclement weather.

Accomplishment I’m Most Proud Of: I was selected by my peers to receive the National Association of County Agricultural Agents Achievement Award. This award recognizes a superior job performance and original programming by extension agents throughout the United States. I am excited to have been selected to receive this award and will be traveling to the national conference held in Salt Lake City later this summer. 

What Your Childhood Self Wanted to Be When You Grew Up: An astronaut. Space, “the final frontier,” has always intrigued me. This may have been attributed to watching countless episodes of “Star Trek” as a kid. 

Favorite Way to Spend Saturday Afternoon: While the activity may vary by season, my favorite way to spend a Saturday afternoon is outdoors. I love hunting turkeys in the spring and deer in the fall. During the months in between, I can be found on a tractor preparing for the next season.

Favorite TV Show: “24” with Jack Bauer. I haven’t been able to invest the time needed to save the world with the new cast of “24.” 

Favorite Movie: Like every other great outdoorsman, I love the movie Jeremiah Johnson.

Favorite Sports Team: University of Georgia Bulldogs – I believe 2017 is our year!

Favorite Comfort Food: Ice cream – I love any flavor at any time of the day.

Favorite App: Google Maps – I have to use it daily for site visits.

Last Book Read: Crop Rotation on Organic Farms by Mohler and Johnson. It wasn’t a pleasure read, but I need to stay current on new practices. 

Dream Vacation: My dream vacation would be to go on an African safari. I think it would be a great adventure to observe the amazing animals in their extraordinary habitat.

Something That Has Changed My Life: Surviving a car accident last April. I spent seven days at MCG and took two months off work to heal. I still feel the effects today. 

Best Thing I Ever Learned: Colossians 3:23-24 — “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” 

One Word You Would Use to Describe Yourself: Handy

Favorite Hobbies: Hunting, golfing, traveling and wildlife management

Secret Aspiration: I aspire to be a part of a team that grows crops on Mars. However, I would not want this adventure to play out like the movie, The Martian, where Matt Damon gets left behind on Mars.

Reality Show I Would Totally Win: Don’t have any interest in participating on any of the reality shows. I wouldn’t mind having a chance to play the game show, “The Price is Right.” I think I would totally win at the “Beat the Clock” game or “Plinko.” 

Something People Would Be Surprised to Know About Me: I hate to get my hands dirty. I always try to wear leather gloves when working outside or latex gloves when repairing a piece of equipment. I don’t like dirt, grease or glue on my hands, which is sometimes inevitable in my line of work. 

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

Arnie: The Life of Arnold Palmer by Tom Callahan

Literary Loop

ArnieIn this definitive biography, veteran sportswriter Tom Callahan shines a spotlight on one of the greatest golfers ever to play the game.

The winner of more than 90 championships, including four Masters Tournaments, Arnold Palmer was a legend in 20th century sports: a supremely gifted competitor beloved for his powerful hitting, his nerve on the greens and his great rapport with fans. Perhaps above all others, Palmer was the reason golf’s popularity exploded, as the King of the links helped define golf’s golden age along with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.

In addition to his talent on the golf course, Palmer was a brilliant entrepreneur and one of the first sportsmen to create his own successful marketing brand. Forging an alliance with sports agent Mark McCormick, Palmer parlayed his popularity into lucrative deals and helped pave the way for the multi-million-dollar contracts that have become standard for stars across all sports. But beyond his golf success and business acumen, Palmer was a larger-than-life character, and Arnie recounts a host of unforgettable anecdotes from a long life in the spotlight.

Tom Callahan knew Palmer well for many years, and now pays tribute to this golfing icon. Filled with great stories from the key people in Palmer’s life, Arnie is an entertaining and illuminating portrait of a remarkable man and his extraordinary legacy.


Picture of Health


view-1Columbia County moves a step closer to getting its own hospital.

An 82-acre parcel of land adjacent to Interstate 20 in Grovetown has yet to be developed, but Augusta University leaders hope that will change soon. AU Medical Center purchased the Gateway area property to build a 100-bed hospital with a level II trauma center and other medical facilities. 

“We are committed to constructing a one-of-a-kind health care campus that the citizens of this rapidly growing community can be proud of,” says Shawn P. Vincent Sr., AU Medical Center chief operating officer and AU vice president of partnerships. “This hospital represents a $150 million investment in Columbia County by our medical center, and this is just the beginning.” 

Columbia County is the largest county in Georgia without its own hospital. With the U.S. Army Cyber Command based at Fort Gordon, which collaborates with AU in cyber innovations, the county is growing exponentially.

“This area is truly a gateway into Columbia County,” says Brooks Keel, AU president. “We know there’s been a huge population explosion, and this is where it’s happening. As the state’s public academic health center, it’s our responsibility and privilege to meet the health care needs of our neighbors in Columbia County and throughout the state. This is a wonderful location, with Interstate 20 access across Georgia and from South Carolina as well.” 

In addition to the trauma center, plans for the two-story, 260,000-square-foot design include an 18-bed emergency department, six operating rooms with pre- and post-anesthesia care units, 24 dedicated intensive care rooms and 76 medical-surgical rooms with universal beds for the bulk of the inpatient care.

“It will be a health care model unlike any other. Beautifully designed and intelligently connected, this hospital will be high-touch, high-tech, high-quality and highly efficient for our patients and families,” AU Medical Center CEO Lee Ann Liska says.

Furnishings, equipment and other amenities in the hospital rooms will be configured uniformly to promote patient safety and greater proficiency for the patient care team. Smart room technology will be incorporated into the design as well.

view-2“AU Medical Center will bring our world-class patient care and educational opportunities as a community teaching hospital to Columbia County,” Vincent says, “but we’ll also be creating an atmosphere that will be a real showpiece in the health care industry and in this community.” 

Before construction can begin, however, the Court of Appeals of Georgia must resolve a case by Doctors Hospital that challenges the license for AU to build the hospital. In February the Georgia Supreme Court declined to hear a lawsuit by Doctors Hospital against the Georgia Department of Community Health that challenged the department’s ability to create an exception allowing it to grant a certificate of need to AUMC to build a hospital in Columbia County.

“We are disappointed that the Supreme Court did not accept jurisdiction, but the case pending before the Court of Appeals affords Doctors the opportunity for a full review of the decision to approve the Certificate of Need application in Columbia County. We are hopeful that the Court of Appeals will rule on Doctors’ behalf when it issues its opinion,” says Lynthia Owens, Doctors spokeswoman.

Construction is anticipated to start in the summer of 2018 and to be completed in 2020. The project is expected to cost $148.6 million.

Glass Menagerie

Carol Ayer

Photos courtesy of CarolAnn Ayer

When most people look at a shoe, they see a shoe. (Even if it’s a great, to-die-for shoe, it’s still a shoe.) Same thing with a door. Or an instrument. For CarolAnn Ayer, however, the world and everything in it are a canvas. 

And they’re all deserving of being turned into a work of art with her stained glass and mosaic talents. CarolAnn has been creating stained glass artwork since she made her first panel in a class at the Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art in 1983, but she developed her passion for mosaic more recently.

Creative-Guitar“Four years ago, mosaic became a trend in the art world, so I picked it up,” she says. “I want to mosaic everything now. I’ve done a lot of arts and crafts through the years, and these stuck.”

Feeding the Habit
CarolAnn, who lived in Columbia County for 30 years and worked as a paraprofessional at Harlem High School for four years, has a home filled with her artwork.

While she primarily creates stained glass and mosaic pieces for her early 20th century home, she makes things for friends and family as well. She also does commissioned pieces, and she sells some of her work at Schweitzer Art Glass in Waynesboro “to generate money to feed the habit.” She will have a dual show with local artist Cole Smith at the Waynesboro studio from noon until 5 p.m. Sunday, April 23.

Creative_BustTo create her artwork, CarolAnn works out of a room in her home where shelves are filled with glass panes; jars full of tile, glass and stone pieces; glass cutters; adhesives; grout and even Band-Aids.

“It’s not a difficult art. It’s just very time consuming and detailed,” says CarolAnn. “And you get a lot of cuts on your fingers.”

Future projects such as a high heel sit on the shelves and instruments are propped against a wall, waiting to be transformed from the ordinary to the sublime. She also keeps a supply of the materials she needs to prepare everyday objects for their metamorphosis into works of art. For instance, she’ll wrap the shoe in mesh and cover it in plaster of paris to shape it. She’ll sand the instruments before she adheres glass pieces to them. “They’re glossy,” she says of the instruments, “so you have to rough them up so the pieces can stick to them.”

Creative-College-stonesSometimes, however, CarolAnn takes her work outside. “The sun helps. It gives it a better picture of the colors. Sometimes there’s a right side and a wrong side of the glass,” she says.

Trial and Error
CarolAnn says the choice of glass determines whether a project becomes stained glass or mosaic art. Often working by trial and error, she likes coming up with ideas and picking the glass and colors for each project.

Creative-Crosses“I’ve always been attracted to color. I like being able to create something beautiful,” says CarolAnn. “It’s a lot like painting. When you paint, you have to know where to shade, where to put the dark and where to put the light to get the contrast you need.”

She even enjoys the inevitable struggle that comes with creating art. “There’s always a dilemma. What color am I going to use for the grout? That can change the whole look of a piece,” says CarolAnn. “The creative part takes me a little longer, but once I get it, you can’t stop me. For any artist, the creative process is what drives you. It’s in your heart and in your soul.”

CarolAnn, who also is a caterer and formerly owned Old Towne Inn and Fox’s Lair until she retired in July 2016, works on her art every day. She works at least four hours a day and sometimes all day. She usually works on more than one piece at a time to take the monotony out of the process, and it took her a month to make a mosaic mirror that hangs in her bathroom.

Creative-Parrot-window-trioOther pieces in her home include a stained glass window in her kitchen and a stained glass door to a spice rack, a space that once housed an ironing board, on a kitchen wall. She also made a stained glass screen out of a French door, and she plans to hang it on her side porch. Mirrors, cremation boxes for pets and instruments are some of her favorite canvases for her artwork.

“I’m trying to find a big bass to do, and I haven’t done a banjo. I’ve done all the other instruments,” says CarolAnn, who comes from a family of musicians. 

Some of her pieces have personal significance. For instance, she made a female torso clad in a denim dress with her husband in mind. “I wore a blue jean dress on our first date, so I did that for him,” CarolAnn says.

Creative-DragonflySources of Inspiration
CarolAnn constantly learns new things about her crafts. She often visits the Mosaic Mentoring site on Facebook, which has members from all across the world, for ideas and encouragement.

“Artists are generous with their time and information,” says CarolAnn. However, she adds, “You can look at other’s people work, but you have to be very careful not to copy other people’s work.”

She also draws inspiration from magazines, photographs and nature. “Artists see nature in a different way. You tend to study things more closely,” she says.

In homage to her love of nature, she even covers animal skulls in glass. The first two skulls she ever did were found locked together in the woods by a friend.

CarolAnn says she sees “everything as mosaic” now, and she often wonders what attracts a person to a piece of art.

“When I make something for someone else, I hope they cherish it,” she says. “It takes a lot of time to do a piece, but it’s worth it.”

For more information, visit CarolAnn’s Facebook page, Designs in Glass.

By Leigh Howard

Photos courtesy of CarolAnn Ayer