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What a Relief

Photos courtesy of Southern Mississippi Athletics

Photos courtesy of Southern Mississippi Athletics

From high school to college to professional baseball, a former Greenbrier pitching standout is succeeding on every level.

As a young boy who started travel baseball at age 7, Nick Sandlin dreamed of playing in the Major Leagues.

“Every time I watched the Major League games on television, it was something I wanted to do,” says Sandlin, the ace pitcher for Greenbrier High School’s 2015 state championship team.

A month removed from college baseball, Sandlin, 21, is making rapid progress toward his dream.

After only three appearances in relief with the Arizona Indians of the Rookie League, Sandlin recently was promoted to the Lake County Captains, the Class A affiliate of the Indians.

Nick_Sandlin-patterned-uniformIn his first relief appearance for the Captains in Eastlake, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, Sandlin allowed no runs and struck out one in one inning.

Sandlin says he is “comfortable” as a reliever or starter in professional baseball.

“The plan is for me to be a reliever,” he says. “I guess that’s how they see me moving up the fastest through the system.”

Following a stellar junior year at the University of Southern Mississippi, Sandlin was selected in the second round (67th pick overall) in the Major League draft on June 6, receiving a signing bonus of $750,000.

After shifting from closer to starter, Sandlin, a right-handed pitcher, went 10-0 for Southern Mississippi this season. He had an earned run average of 1.06, the lowest in the nation. With a fastball in the low 90-mph range, he struck out 144 batters and walked only 18 in 1021⁄3 innings.

Nick_Sandlin-yellow-uniformjpegSandlin led the Golden Eagles to a Conference USA regular season championship and a conference tournament championship for the first time since 2003. In the NCAA regional, he shut out Dallas Baptist with 10 strikeouts. Southern Mississippi finished the season with a 44-18 record.

“I had the mindset going in,” Sandlin says about the 2018 season at Southern Mississippi. “Of course, you have goals. You have to remain consistent and dependable.”

Among the collegiate honors received by Sandlin were Perfect Game’s National Pitcher of the Year, first-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball and first team by the American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings All-America.

Sandlin is the only pitcher in Southern Mississippi history to win and save more than 20 games each in a career.

He played second base until his junior season at Greenbrier. Wolfpack pitching coach Mark Turner saw potential in Sandlin and worked with him during the summer after his sophomore season to change his delivery from overhand to sidearm. Sandlin has been a standout ever since.

By Jim Irish

Buy the Book


The quarterly sale at the Evans library branch is one for the books.books 

Think of it as a literary version of Words with Friends. Friends of the Columbia County Libraries will hold its quarterly book sale Friday, August 3 through Monday, August 6 in the lobby of Columbia County Library in Evans.

“We’ll have hundreds of books – paperbacks, hardbacks, textbooks, fiction and nonfiction – that have been donated to the library,” says Debbie Burton, president of Friends of the Columbia County Libraries. “If people love books, it’s a great opportunity to pick them up for reasonable prices.” 

The book sale will be held during regular library hours: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. August 3 and 4; 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. August 5; and 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. August 6. All proceeds will benefit library initiatives such as guest authors, children’s craft workshops, reading programs, character shows, magicians, prizes and computer classes. 

“The library has a budget from the state, but it doesn’t cover a lot of the extras,” Burton says. “The library is such a great resource, and the book sale lets us do a lot of things for the library and the community.”

What’s Cooking?


White-Hills-FarmPick up some culinary tips at a lavender and herb farm

The lavender season may have come to an end, but things are still cooking at White Hills Farm, a lavender farm in Dearing. Literally.

This month the farm will hold two cooking demonstrations by caterer Charleen Tinley – one on Friday, August 3 and the other on Friday, August 24. The events will begin at 10:30 a.m. with a short tour of the property. 

For the August 3 workshop, Charleen will demonstrate wet and dry brining for meat, fish and poultry. On August 24, she will make quick and easy pickled vegetables. And of course, she’ll share samples for everyone to try. The cost for each workshop, which can accommodate about 20 people, is $10. Guests also are welcome to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy on the property after the classes. 

Pickled-vegetables“I love for people to learn to cook in the season using fresh, local foods and incorporate them into their everyday lives,” says Amy Sutter, who purchased White Hills Farm with her husband, Patrick, in April 2017.

If you’re more into R&R than cooking, however, White Hills has that covered as well. On Saturday, August 4 the property will hold an all-day yoga retreat from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event will include morning and afternoon yoga sessions, a spa product workshop, a farm tour and a vegetarian lunch. The yoga workshop is $100 per person.

For more information or to sign up for any of the workshops, call (706) 595-5081, email amy@whitehillsfarm.us or visit whitehillsfarm.us.

The Soul of a Thief by Steven Hartov

Literary Loop

The-Soul-of-a-Thief-origShtefan Brandt, adjutant to a colonel of the Waffen SS, has made it through World War II so far in spite of his commander’s habit of bringing his staff into combat, and a pair of secrets that are far more dangerous than the battlefield. Shtefan is a Mischling and one of the thousands of German citizens of Jewish descent who have avoided the death camps by concealing themselves in the ranks of the German army. And he is in love with Gabrielle Belmont, the colonel’s French mistress. Either of those facts could soon mean his end, were Colonel Erich Himmel to notice.

Colonel Himmel has other concerns, however. He can see the war’s end on the horizon and recognizes that he is not on the winning side, no matter what the reports from Hitler’s generals may say. So he has taken matters into his own hands, hatching a plot to escape Europe. To fund his new life, he plans to steal a fortune from the encroaching Allies. A fortune that Shtefan, in turn, plans to steal from him.

Atmospheric and intense, The Soul of a Thief captures the turbulent, emotional rush of those caught behind the lines of occupied France, where one false step could spell death, and every day brings a new struggle to survive.

The Horizon Just Laughed — Damien Jurado

Listen To This

album-cover-Aug-2018In the vast realms of audio files in the commercial singer-songwriter galaxy, there dwells Damien Jurado, an assertive and compulsive artist whose lush tunes and fearlessly personal momentum has been trudging along the highways and byways of musical genius for the past 20 years. 

After 15 releases and a slew of EPs, Jurado has emerged as an instant inspiration to all in the Americana genre with his latest release, The Horizon Just Laughed. Jurado has the uncanny ability to strike a distinctive chord that marries a personal connection with atmospheric vibes, enabling all who hear his music to immediately relate in all circumstances. This go around, he recorded and produced the release himself, and the results are sonically stellar. 

The tracks are a travelogue of optimism, wisdom and simple reflection. Jurado has never been short of material as he amplifies a unique perspective in the mysterious nucleus of emotion, evoking a different reaction with every listen. 

The layers of textural arrangements encapsulate his velvety-rough delivery in an approachable way that illuminates the melancholy and wraps bright, wild abandon with an emotional bow. Incorporating shoe-gazing jazz strings, samba rhythms and analog chop-strums, Jurado’s candor finds the silver lining that leads to new horizons, even when it laughs back. 

- Chris Rucker

Kristy Zgol, Superintendent, SAIL: School for Arts-Infused Learning



Superintendent, SAIL: School for Arts-Infused Learning

Number of years in position: 1

Family: My husband, Greg Zgol, and I just celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. We have two boys, Grayson and Ryan. Grayson will be a freshman at Greenbrier High School, and Ryan will be in the 5th grade at SAIL.

Why I’m Passionate About What I Do: School choice is becoming more and more important as we move into a time when our society is conditioned to shop around for the best product for their needs. The time where a traditional school is the only option for families is coming to an end in many states. School choice has been slow to reach our area, but with the increased number of families coming to Greater Augusta from states where school choice is the norm, the demand has increased. I love taking families on a tour of our school and sharing the productions and performances of our scholars. SAIL is not a school that appeals to all children. If a child does not have an interest in the arts, then SAIL is probably not the best choice. That is what is so wonderful about school choice.

Community Groups and Charities I Love to Support: My youngest son, Ryan, became very sick five days after birth, and was admitted to the Children’s Hospital for almost a month. During that time, The Ronald McDonald House made daily visits to us in the hospital and offered us a place to stay while Ryan was being treated. It is important to me to continue to support The Ronald McDonald House so other families will have the same care that was offered to us.

Biggest Career or Life Obstacle I’ve Overcome and How: In 2014, after nearly four years of pulmonary illnesses, I was told that there was a carcinoid tumor blocking my right lung from blood and air flow. At that time I took medical leave from work to improve the quality of my lungs so the tumor could be removed. For 10 days my boys were unable to visit me in the hospital. After the surgery I made a promise to myself that I would never take my health or family for granted.

Accomplishment I’m Most Proud Of: Opening SAIL’s doors to over 400 students in August of 2017 was a proud moment for me. Getting to that moment was the single most challenging experience of my life. Whenever I found myself feeling overwhelmed, I would repeat these words that my oldest son told me: “You’ve got this, Mom!” 

What Your Childhood Self Wanted to Be When You Grew Up: As a child I envisioned myself having a career in marine biology. I dreamed of spending my days swimming among the dolphins and rehabilitating beached whales.

Favorite Way to Spend Saturday Afternoon: Sitting on my back porch swing with friends, listening to music and watching the children play in the yard would be the most perfect Saturday afternoon. 

Favorite TV Show: My absolute favorite show at this time is “Pool Kings.” My husband says that it was a mistake telling me about this show, but I am hooked.

Favorite Movie: I can watch Remember the Titans over and over and never tire of the plot, characters or theme. I am pretty sure I can recite the whole movie line by line.

Favorite Sports Team: I married a Clemson graduate, so weekend trips to Death Valley are what we enjoy the most in the fall.

Favorite Comfort Food: My grandfather always referred to me as his Georgia Peach. I am pretty sure it was because my favorite dessert growing up was peach cobbler. Today, that is my “go-to” comfort food.

Favorite App: I have just recently downloaded Happify on my smart devices. This app prompts me to focus my energy and thoughts on things that make me happy.

Last Book Read: The most recent book I have read is Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt. This book is about an academically struggling child who is trying to fit in with her peers. Reading children’s novels helps me stay in touch with the popular topics of my children and scholars. 

Dream Vacation: I have always wanted to explore the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia. Snorkeling among the vibrant sea life and experiencing the world’s largest organic structure would be incredible.

Something That Has Changed My Life: Becoming a wife and mom have changed my life in remarkable ways. My husband’s encouragement and support have given me the confidence to take risks and lean into my fears. My children give me reason to always do my best and show grace toward others.

Best Thing I Ever Learned: On the wall just above the chalkboard in my fifth-grade teacher’s classroom read the words, “An easy task is made difficult when done with reluctance.” Life’s mundane tasks can be the hardest to tackle. 

One Word You Would Use to Describe Yourself: I would best describe myself as determined. I fully believe if there’s a will, there’s a way. 

Favorite Hobbies: Gardening is probably my favorite thing to do in my leisure time. My mother gave me the gift of a green thumb, and I love getting my hands in the dirt.

Secret Aspiration: I have always wanted to take Salsa and ballroom dance lessons.

Reality Show I Would Totally Win: Of all the reality shows, I would want to win “Dancing with the Stars,” but I am afraid it would classify more as a comedy.

Something People Would Be Surprised to Know About Me: I am a roller coaster enthusiast. My youngest son, Ryan, and I love the loops, hills, dips and turns of the wildest rides. I would love to be able to take a tour of the world’s fastest and most thrilling roller coasters.

A Columbia County First


3. RenderingAn Augusta University Health primary and cardiovascular care facility on Furys Ferry Road is expected to be the first of several new clinical sites in the area.

Better late than never. Augusta University Health, which originally was established as the Medical Academy of Georgia in 1828, is coming to Columbia County.

“It took us 190 years to get to Columbia County,” says Dean of Augusta University Medical School David Hess. 

2. AUHealth-SpeakersHess, along with Augusta University President Brooks Keel and AU Medical Associates CEO Julian Nussbaum, recently spoke at a ceremony to celebrate the construction of AU’s 6,450-square-foot facility on Furys Ferry Road.

“We’re so excited to finally be out in Columbia County,” Keel says. “We’re looking at pockets where the population is highest to expand.”

The primary and cardiovascular care clinical building is expected to be complete by early 2019. The facility, which is part of a plan to bring ambulatory care to locations where patients live and work, will include 12 exam rooms and a pharmacy. Four physicians – two cardiologists and two primary care doctors – will be on staff.

1. AUHealth-ShovelsIn addition, says Nussbaum, “We probably will have students here. Wherever we go, we’ll have teachers as well as practitioners, and we may do clinical research trials here.”

While the Furys Ferry Road clinic will be the first AU Health site in Columbia County, several other new AU Health clinics are expected to be built in the area as well.

“We will have six or seven locations around the CSRA within the next year to provide urgent and primary care as well as pediatrics and women’s healthcare,” says Nussbaum.

AU Medical Center also has plans to build a $149 million, 100-bed hospital on an 82-acre parcel of land in Grovetown. In mid-June the Superior Court of Fulton County affirmed the original decision by the Georgia Department of Community Health to award AU Medical Center a Certificate of Need to build a hospital in Columbia County.

In a lawsuit filed by Doctors Hospital, the facility claimed the state department overstepped its authority in employing the 20 percent county funding exception in deciding the Certificate of Need. The Court disagreed with Doctors, upholding the November 2014 decision by the Department of Community Health.

Doctors Hospital has 30 days to appeal the decision. If that happens, then the Georgia Court of Appeals would rule within 60-90 days on whether to not to hear the appeal. In the past four years Doctors has filed a combination of lawsuits and appeals that have delayed the project.

The proposed 259,649-square-foot facility will include smart room technology in all the rooms and a Level II trauma center with a 16-bed emergency department. Columbia County is the largest county in the state without a hospital.

Come Tomorrow — Dave Matthews Band

Listen To This

Listen to This-JulyJam-scene troubadour Dave Matthews and his band do not release new material for the sake of appeasing nostalgic fans; they leave the continuing road rumbles to do that.

Unlike most of the improvisational wonders of their time, the Dave Matthews Band strives to strike the same janky-rhythmic chords that are inspired by the throes of love, life and recovery. The band’s first release in nearly nine years, Come Tomorrow, is a welcomed, sultry addition to the summer playlist and a staple in the DMB discography. 

The band’s 30-year lifespan has seen its share of changes over the years with the untimely death of their saxophonist, LeRoi Moore, and most recently the departure of violinist Boyd Tinsley — two intricate pieces to the DMB signature sound.

Matthews offers a sweet olive branch by including unearthed and primarily live gems that include both past members on the songs “Idea of You” and “Can’t Stop,” but there is no void or departure noticeable throughout the entire album.

The band has an uncanny style that slinks through the groove, chomps the rhythm and melodically swings choral hooks, clearing a path for many years and unique renditions to come. As with most of their albums, these songs lay the foundation for an expanded live experience. 

Matthews’ brawny stomping soul train is fully tracked and heading to a town near you. Enjoy and share the groove. File Under: Deck Music. 

- Chris Rucker

Something to Chirp About


1. Robin Goldsmith, AuthorA little – actually, a lot – of divine intervention leads a Grovetown woman to publish a children’s book

A cricket on the hearth long has been a symbol of good luck in many cultures. For Grovetown resident Robin Goldsmith, however, a chance encounter with a cricket was a source of good fortune and inspiration. Her children’s book, How the Ariana Crickets Got Their Chirp Back, will be available in bookstores and on amazon.com on August 1, and she has a cricket to thank for it. 

Gift from Heaven
In the winter of 2004, during her first of two civilian tours in Afghanistan, Robin was reading by night light through cracks in the wall of her plywood hut 5,500 feet above sea level at Bagram Air Base. Suddenly and silently, a cricket appeared on her chest.

2. Ariana Cricket Cover“During that instant, the entire story flashed through my mind except the ending,” says Robin, who served her second tour in Afghanistan at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul in 2008-09. “It was a gift from heaven.”

In the story, a young cricket sets out to re-teach other Afghan crickets how to chirp – a skill they had forgotten during a long drought – so the rains would return to Afghanistan. However, this could happen only during a big event when nighttime falls during the day. Other indigenous animals help the cricket travel across the country.

In addition to native Afghan animals, the story features adventure, science, architecture, agriculture, at-risk historic sites, history, family, love, the game of cricket and working together with others for the common good.

6. Illustration 9Written under the pen name Lovie R. Smith, the book is geared toward children ages 5 to 13. Robin dedicated the book to two men – a carpet seller and an elderly silver jewelry maker – that she befriended in Afghanistan.

“The book has no mention of war. Instead, it suggests an oppression,” says Robin.

She also has Afghan-American friends who are translating the story into the Dari and Pashto languages. She intends to publish paperback copies of the translated versions of the book in Afghanistan.

“Afghanistan has been beset by 35 to 40 years of war, and most people are illiterate,” says Robin. However, younger government officials are being elected in Afghanistan, she says, and they are placing an emphasis on education.

“You can feel the history in the air. It’s the most gorgeous place, but there have been wars and wars there forever. The landscape includes desert, lush valleys 

and Alpine mountain peaks,” says Robin. “I think the people are wonderful. If you are in Afghanistan and knock upon someone’s door for help, they will give you help. That’s the Pashtun way.”

4. Sally Balestrieri, IllustratorMore Divine Intervention
The book is illustrated by Evans resident Sally Balestrieri, aka Sally Kat, whom Robin met at a Martinez yoga studio. “We became friends and started creating things together. We made jewelry and artwork at her house,” says Sally. “We had known each other for about a year, and one day Robin asked me if I wanted to illustrate a book she was writing.”

Sally says it took her about three months to finish the illustrations. She started out with paper and color pencil before completing the drawings on a tablet.

“I wanted the illustrations to be kid friendly and nonviolent,” says Sally. “These are happy crickets trying to learn how to get their voice back. They have gotten together to make the world a better place.”

5. Illustration 3Production of the book started in July 2017. However, Robin still did not have an ending for the story. That situation changed on August 21, 2017 when she witnessed the total solar eclipse in Edgefield, South Carolina. “God told me to change my idea for the ending, which had been a clash of sorts, to a solar eclipse,” says Robin.

She had known all along that the story would end in the heart of Afghanistan in Kandahar, where all the animals converge for the solar eclipse. When Robin first decided on the ending for her book, however, she did not yet realize that Kandahar was the site of the last total solar eclipse in Afghanistan in 1995 and that the next one in the country will be visible from northern Kandahar Province in 2034.

3. Illustration 2Robin also has been contacted by the Afghan Ministry of Information & Culture about making a short, animated film based on the book.

“It’s time for an animated movie about the beauty of Afghanistan – her natural resources, historic sites, music, food and the goodness of her people,” says Robin. “I never imagined that in writing this book that I would have Afghan friends all around the world using Twitter and Facebook. An Afghan ambassador in Australia connected me with the arts ministry about finding a film producer.”

She says she wrote the book “to bring healing and attention to the beauty of Afghanistan.”

In addition to being Robin’s first publication, Ariana Crickets also is the first published work that Sally has illustrated. And she is thrilled to be part of the project.

“I hope the book does something to help the world we live in today. I hope kids can get their hands on it,” says Sally. “I feel positive trying to make a difference in this world through my art.”

By Leigh Howard

Caribbean Rim by Randy Wayne White

Literary Loop

Caribbean-RimMurder, sunken treasure and pirates both ancient and modern send Doc Ford on a nightmare quest in the thrilling new novel in the New York Times-bestselling series.

Marine biologist Doc Ford has been known to help his friends out of jams occasionally, but he’s never faced a situation like this.

His old pal Carl Fitzpatrick has been chasing sunken wrecks most of his life, but now he’s run afoul of the Florida Division of Historical Resources. Its director, Clive Nickelby, despises amateur archaeologists, which is bad enough, but now he and his young “assistant” have disappeared — along with Fitzpatrick’s impounded cache of rare Spanish coins and the list of uncharted wreck sites Fitz spent decades putting together. Some of Fitz’s own explorations have been a little…dicey, so he can’t go to the authorities. Doc is his only hope.

But greed makes people do terrible things: rob, cheat, even kill. With stakes this high, there’s no way the thieves will go quietly — and Doc’s just put himself in their crosshairs.

Ground Work


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARepairs to a damaged portion of Evans Towne Center Park are expected to be completed by mid-August.

A three-acre portion of Evans Towne Center Park is under repair after suffering damages during the popular Banjo-B-Que fundraiser during Memorial Day weekend. The damages were caused by a culmination of heavy rains, foot traffic and vehicular traffic before, during and after the two-day music festival.

Repairs, which are being conducted by Columbia County staff members and began in late May, include leveling the ground, filling in ruts with sand, and fertilizing and irrigating the damaged turf. “Weather permitting, we expect the area to be open to the public by mid-August,” says Cassidy Harris, the county public relations manager.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhile the open field area of the park is closed for repair, the playground, splash pad, walking track and dog park remain open to the public. Some events have been relocated while Evans Towne Center Park is under repair. The Summer Soakin’ Series, which is held each Wednesday from June to August, has been relocated to Columbia County Amphitheater behind the Columbia County Library, and BOOM! in the Park has been moved to Patriots Park for the Fourth of July.

County officials are in talks with A B Beverage, the Banjo-B-Que promoter, about covering the costs of the remediation project.

For the Love of Barbecue


Steve-NunnIf you’re looking for a sweet or spicy barbecue sauce, there are “Nunn” like the ones that a Grovetown resident makes 

Any self-respecting Southerner has a heartfelt love affair with barbecue. It seems, however, that a healthy appetite for barbecue applies to transplanted Southerners by way of St. Paul, Minnesota as well.

Grovetown resident Steve Nunn, a St. Paul native and U.S. Army captain who is stationed at Fort Gordon, developed his passion for barbecue when he was 19 years old. His late uncle challenged him to a barbecue contest, and really, the outcome was inevitable. “I couldn’t let him win,” says Nunn. 

BBQ-sauce-2x3For more than 20 years, Nunn has been experimenting with flavors and seasonings to perfect his barbecue sauces and dry rubs as well as his barbecuing skills. To him, barbecuing is a form of artistry. 

“Everybody has their own ritual when it comes to barbecuing. Everybody is an artist when it comes to barbecuing,” says Nunn. “You can meet strangers and talk about it forever.”

He started his business, Nunn Family BBQ, in 2016 shortly before he was deployed to Kuwait for nine months. While he was overseas, he “took an operational pause,” but he was able to launch his website near the end of his deployment in September of 2017.

He has developed a sweet barbecue sauce, which is available online by the bottle or by the case. The low-calorie, gluten-free sauce can be used as a marinade for steak, chicken, ribs or pork. “It’s a great dipping sauce,” says Nunn. “You can even put it on a salad.” He also is slated to roll out a new spicy sauce by the end of March. 

Nunn Family BBQBarbecue is a passion that must be shared with others, he believes, and he’s not alone in his thinking. “Everybody wants to taste each other’s sauce,” says Nunn. “When you barbecue, it brings out your personality. The sauce is my way of sharing something I love and enjoy.”

For more information, call (706) 814-1233 or visit nunnfamilybbq.com.

Click & Clay


CHERRIELocal photographers and potters will show their wares at an open house in Harlem.

It’s always a good time to appreciate the talents of local artists, and Harlem Arts Council is offering a reason for area residents to do just that. 

The council will hold an open house Saturday, June 2 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Harlem Civic Center (old library), 375 North Louisville Street. The open house will feature the works of Chicks That Click Photography Club and Clay Artists of the Southeast.

Flour Dancer“We like to show the community artists that are here and highlight what they do,” says David Carlsen, the council president. “We felt like photographers and clay artists would work well together.”

The council, which was founded in 2014, focuses on visual, historical and performing arts. 

During the open house, local jazz musician Bill Karp will provide entertainment, playing the music of artists such as Tony Bennett, Michael Bublé, Ella Fitzgerald, Johnny Mercer, Nat King Cole, Harry Connick, Frank Sinatra and Sarah Vaughan. 

Pieces by the photographers and clay artists also will be for sale at the open house.

Wisteria 2Since its founding in January 2013, Chicks that Click has grown from six charter members to more than 80 members from across the CSRA. An average of 40 members participate in club-sponsored workshops and special events. The club, which meets monthly, holds five print competitions each year and several annual community service projects.

Clay Artists of the Southeast is a group of clay artists that meet monthly to share clay ideas and plan for future exhibitions. The group consists of men and women who enjoy the processes of ceramics, whether wheel-thrown or hand-built. The organization centers around promoting community awareness of present-day ceramic arts as well as providing educational opportunities for special needs and disadvantaged people.

CERAMICThe clay artists have participated in various events including Earth Day at Phinizy Swamp and Art in the Heart of Augusta. To further those goals, local grants have been awarded to the organization’s workshops “Face Jugs” at Enterprise Mill, “Kids Making Faces” at Lynndale Center, “Art in a Can” at Westabou, Raku workshop, “Sea Life Reef” and “Lizards, Skinks and Newts” at Immaculate Conception School.

If You Go: 

What: Harlem Arts Council Open House 

When: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Saturday, June 2

Where: Harlem Civic Center, 375 North Louisville Street

How Much: Free 

More Info: harlemartscouncil.org

Water World


Main photo-kayaksA new all-day, family friendly festival offers opportunities to play at the lake. 

New events never get old, and the inaugural Western South Carolina BlueWay Festival at Baker Creek State Park on Saturday, June 2 is the perfect way to kick off summer with land and water sport activities.

Local residents Tom Greene and Howard Lauderback, along with Savannah Lakes Village Outdoor Adventure Club members, are the masterminds behind the event, which is designed to showcase the local waterways and outdoor resources in the area. After all, Savannah Lakes Village in McCormick, South Carolina is bordered by 63,368 acres of protected land (including three state parks and Sumter National Forest), the 71,100-acre Clarks Hill Lake and the Little River Blueway Outdoor Adventure Region. 

Cow Kayak Rodeo“We hope people will enjoy a day at the lake with outdoor activities and try things they never thought to do before,” says Linda McClintock, who is handling marketing for the event.

Clinics and demonstrations will be held from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. and include kayaking, disc golf, fishing, geocaching, biking, standup paddle boarding and boating. Those who want a little competition can test their skills in a disc golf contest, kayak rodeos, horseshoes, corn hole and volleyball. 

If you like a good deal, then play your cards right at a poker run on Little River from 3:30 – 5 p.m. There is a $5 entry fee, and 100 percent of the fees will be distributed back to the winning hands. 

Pie Eating ContestThe kayak rodeo includes activities such as lassoing big “ducks” and tossing hula hoops onto a blowup cow. The festival also will feature a working dog demonstration, paddle board yoga, gun safety and updates about Savannah Valley Rails to Trails.

The proposed 35-mile trail project, which follows the late 1880s road bed of the old C&WC Railroad from Charleston to Anderson, South Carolina, is located in a scenic vegetated area along the Savannah River and the Little River area. Ultimately, the trail, which will be developed in four phases, will connect Calhoun Falls in Abbeville County to McCormick in McCormick County and Baker Creek, Hickory Knob and Calhoun Falls state parks.

A kids’ fun zone will include games, face painting, temporary tattoos, visor decorating and a pie-eating contest.

Food vendors will offer barbecue, hamburgers, hot dogs, sausages, fried fish, funnel cakes and more. Three bands will provide musical entertainment throughout the day, and festival sponsors will raffle off prizes such as a kayak during the event.

Tickets, which include parking, are available online. They also can be purchased at the Chamber of Commerce, Red Rooster, MACK, Pack Rat and Lee Builders in McCormick and at Plum Branch Yacht Club. Tickets are limited, so people are encouraged to buy them in advance.

“We are excited about this festival and hope that everyone will come and have a great time,” Linda says.

If You Go:

What: Western South Carolina BlueWay Festival 

When: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Saturday, June 2

Where: Baker Creek State Park, 386 Baker Creek Road, McCormick, South Carolina

How Much: $10 each or $20 family (two adults and children under age 18) in advance; $15 each and $25 family day of the event

More Info: bluewayfestival.com

Bug Off


1. Main photo-James Wilde 2009Although the incidence of insect-borne diseases have risen in the United States, a local physician says they are not prevalent in our area.

The number of reported cases of disease from mosquito, tick and flea bites more than tripled in the United States from 2004 to 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Between 2004 and 2016, more than 640,000 cases of these diseases were reported, and nine new germs spread by bites from infected mosquitoes and ticks have been discovered or introduced in the U.S. since 2004.

Fortunately, however, Dr. Jim Wilde, attending physician in the Children’s Hospital of Georgia pediatric emergency department and an infectious disease physician, says, “We have not seen an uptick in diseases borne by ticks and mosquitoes in our area. We do not have a huge burden of insect-borne diseases in the United States. 

Ticks can cause Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease, Wilde says, but these diseases are not prevalent in Georgia.

People also can contract encephalitis from the bite of a mosquito that is infected with West Nile virus, and symptoms include fever, headache, body aches and skin rash. However, says Wilde, “Most people who get it don’t know they got it. It is a relatively mild infection for most people.”

In addition, he says, “In the last 12 months, the Zika virus has disappeared from the U.S. mosquito population. 

However, he says, Zika still can be found in the Caribbean and South America, particularly Brazil, so people traveling to those areas, as well as to Africa and Southeast Asia, should take precautions against insect-borne diseases. Travelers should consult their physicians and check the CDC website to find out which diseases are common in the areas they plan to visit and find out what precautions they should take. Wilde also advises people to check the website three to four months before their international travel so that they will have time to take proper precautions.

“The biggest concern of insect bites is people scratching the bites and then getting secondary infections from staph. This can cause an abscess or a more widespread skin infection like cellulitis,” Wilde says. “We see 10 to 30 cases of abscesses or skin infections in the ER per week.” 

According to the physician, the best way to stay safe from insect bites is to keep from getting bitten in the first place. People should apply an insect repellant with DEET to exposed areas of the body before going outside, he says, and a repellant containing 30 percent DEET is safe for children. He also suggests that anyone who is going hiking in the woods can soak their clothing in permethrin beforehand.

“The extremes of age – the very young and the very old – are most vulnerable to insect-borne diseases,” Wilde says.