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A Taste for Fun


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Songs of Experience — U2

Listen To This

U2-Songs-Of-ExperienceThere is no denying that U2 is one of a few rock bands to stay relevant while sticking to the original DNA that knitted the group together more than 40 years ago. The band surpassed disco, punk, arena-rock, pop-synth, grunge and alternative, and soars above the latest mashup of trap-rock with their 14th studio release, Songs of Experience.

The title is appropriate in many ways, but the clearest interpretation could be that this is a record of applying everything that has sonically conquered more than a career of home runs, curveballs and baseline grounders. Ireland’s flagship quartet delivers stunning rockers and delicate softies, gleaning inspiration from the current landscape of troubadours and analog-revival junkies. The expectation level for this record is well below the pop radar, and that’s where magic is made and secured. 

Bono captures the essence best in the slide-crunching “Lights of Home” (“I believe my best days are ahead”), and with locked arms we will march into new beginnings with renewed inspiration and determination while blaring “Love Is Better Than Anything in Its Way.”

Overall, Songs of Experience is the newest literal and figurative road trip soundtrack to welcome this New Year with open arms.

- Chris Rucker

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

Literary Loop

Lit-Loop-AJ-FinnIt isn’t paranoia if it’s really happening . . .

For readers of Gillian Flynn and Tana French comes a twisty, powerful Hitchcockian thriller by A.J. Finn about an agoraphobic woman who believes she witnessed a crime in a neighboring house.

Anna Fox lives alone — a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother and their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one — and nothing — is what it seems.

The Woman in the Window is one of those rare books that really is unputdownable,” says bestselling author Stephen King.

“Finn’s debut lives up to the hype. . . . A riveting novel that stands out in a crowded genre,” says Library Journal.


Midday Magic

Midday Magic

Photos courtesy of Whole Life Ministries

A new music program at Children’s Hospital of Georgia offers patients and their families, along with hospital personnel, an escape from their worries for a little while. 

To start off the new year, Children’s Hospital of Georgia is launching a new program called Music at Midday in which local musicians will present concerts in the hospital lobbies once a week.

“We’re always looking for make up the musical group Timbella and video editor Victor Kamanga Midday Magic– presented a two-hour concert of classical and children’s music. 

“They truly have a heart for wanting to help. That’s what we look for in our volunteers,” Brooke says. “Izabela dressed like a princess, and the children loved it.” 

With Izabela playing the electric violin and Timothy on keyboard, the theme of their concert was “Dream Big.” Through their performance, the Grovetown residents offered patients and their families, along with hospital personnel, entertainment and an escape from their worries for a little while. They even inspired one of the young hospital patients to stand alongside them and sing “Let It Go” from Frozen.

Timbella-5“They brought a lot of smiles to people in the hospital,” says Brooke. “Studies have proven that music reduces anxiety and relaxes people.”

For holiday fun, Whole Life Ministries also presented a two-hour Timbella Christmas Concert where children could decorate their own gingerbread houses.

The hospital is recruiting medical students who play musical instruments to perform, and other musicians from the community are welcome to participate as well.

“We would love to see other musicians carve out two hours of their time each month to perform at the hospital,” Timothy says. “Two hours can change someone else’s eternity. You can show God’s love by your actions.”

Timbella originally planned to give the concert as a birthday present for Timothy, but it also became an opportunity for them to “pay it forward.” Timothy and Izabela actually had to postpone the concert for a couple of days because they had to take their young daughter, Julia, to the Children’s Hospital emergency room when she contracted pneumonia. In addition, says Timothy, “I was in and out of the hospital for weeks at a time when I was younger.” 

Timbella-7The concert was a way for Whole Life Ministries to reach out to the community in a new way, he says, and to create a magical atmosphere for the children. 

“No matter what circumstances you’re in, you have the ability to dream big and make a difference,” says Timothy. “Life is bigger than yourself.”

For more information, email Brooke at brappaport@augusta.edu or Timothy at timbellamusic@gmail.com. Additional information is available at their websites, augustahealth.org/volunteers and timbella.com.

Twist and Shout


Twist and ShoutA salute to Buddy Holly, Brat Pack jazz, electroluminescent artistry and ice, ice, baby

The lineup of tribute artists includes many performers that pay homage to Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, the Big Bopper and their infamous Winter Dance Party. One of these bands, Not Fade Away, will bring the Ultimate Buddy Holly Experience to the area on Friday, January 12 with a performance that keeps this music edgy and relevant. The band’s six young artists give fresh takes to classic hit songs such as “That’ll Be the Day,” “Peggy Sue,” “Everyday” “Summertime Blues,” “Oh Donna,” “La Bamba,” “Chantilly Lace” and “Twist and Shout.” Tickets are $39.50.

Molly Ringwald may be remembered best as a member of the Brat Pack, a group of young actors who appeared together frequently in 1980s teen-oriented coming-of-age movies such as Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink. That was then. Now, however, she still acts as well as writes books and sings jazz. Ringwald released her debut jazz album, “Except Sometimes,” in April 2013, and since that time, she and her quartet have performed more than 200 concerts in seven countries. They will come to Evans on Saturday January 13 for “An Evening with Molly Ringwald.” Tickets are $45.

Lightwire Theater presents “Moon Mouse, A Space Odyssey” on Saturday, January 27. The group, which has appeared worldwide, combines theater and technology to tell stories in complete darkness with electroluminescent artistry. Tickets are $29.50 for adults and $16.50 for children under age 12.

Featuring professional skaters from all across the globe, Dreams on Ice will present worldwide holiday traditions in a show featuring dancers, singers and specialty acts on Thursday, February 1. Tickets are $37.50 for adults and $19.50 for children under age 15. 

All performances begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Jabez S. Hardin Performing Arts Center. For an additional cost of $25, dinner is available for each of the shows as well. For more information, call 726-0366 or visit augustaamusements.com.

Action & Romance

Action & Romance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information, visit thetwelveoaks.com or gocovington.com

By Hope S. Philbrick

Colors of Love — Brian Culbertson

Listen To This

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

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

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

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

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

- Chris Rucker

Language and Roots


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Classes are open to any children who would like to learn more about the Chinese language and culture. For more information, visit csrachinesecenter.org or contact principal Sam Bai at (706) 284-2729 or mail2Samb@gmail.com.

Everything You Came to See by Elizabeth Schulte Martin

Literary Loop

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

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

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

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

Semper Fideles


Semper FidelesSemper FidelesWith Toys for Tots and other community programs, this Marine Corps League Detachment brings generosity into play year-round.

The holidays bring out a giving spirit in everyone, and the Lt. Col. Jimmie Dyess Marine Corps League Detachment 921 is no exception. Its members support young and old alike.

With no Marine Corps Reserve in the area, the detachment sponsors the local Toys for Tots campaign by collecting toys and donations during the holiday season. Last year the detachment collected 86,263 toys for 28,754 children, 12,107 stocking stuffers and raised $58,752.66 – an increase of 1,174 more children than 2015 as well as 3,429 more toys and $16,269.20 more in monetary contributions. The increases occurred despite the reduction in volunteers from 2015. 

During the holidays, members of the detachment also visit the Georgia Veterans’ Home and bring Christmas gifts to the veterans.

1.-2017-standup-at-Harris-JewelersHowever, the detachment, a nonprofit veterans’ organization for Marines, Navy corpsmen who served with Marines in the Fleet Marine Force and FMF chaplains, participates in community outreach and charitable activities all year long. The Marine Corps League, chartered by Congress in 1937, sponsors a Young Marine detachment for youths between the ages of 8 and 18. Similar to other youth organizations, it is designed to help young people develop structure and discipline in their lives through leadership training, growth and promotion opportunities, education and community outreach activities. 

5.-veternas-home-2Any parents interested in getting their children into this program can contact Albert Genao, unit commandant, at (910) 238-0499. The detachment also recognizes newly designated Eagle Scouts in the area, and each spring it presents citizenship awards to high school students in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. The detachment also supports the Doctors Hospital burn unit. 

A focus on supporting the military and veterans is a big part of the detachment’s mission. Each fall, the detachment supports Fort Gordon’s annual Tribute Run for the Fallen, which commemorates individuals who sacrificed their lives in the war on terror. Detachment members also are encouraged to spend time at the VA hospitals and support local veterans.

3.-Doris-and-MeekerIt is no surprise that the Lt. Col. Jimmie Dyess Marine Corps League Detachment 921 is so involved in the community. After all, it was named for someone who embodied caring and service to others. Lt. Col. Dyess was an Eagle Scout, a Carnegie Medal recipient and a Medal of Honor recipient who was killed in action during World War II. He is the only person on record to receive all three of these honors. 

The detachment is always looking for new members as well. Any active or prior-service Marines or Navy Corpsmen, or anyone wishing to support the charitable and outreach activities of the detachment, can help. For more information, visit augustamarines.com or email mcl921@yahoo.com.

- Senior Vice Commandant Randy Hirsch

Amazing Grace


amazing graceA local fundraiser will bring community groups together to advocate for orphaned children.

Connected Hearts Ministry is dedicated to helping children who are difficult to adopt find forever homes. They include children older than age 5, sibling groups and children with special needs. 

“Because a lot of the children we work with are children that are often overlooked for adoption, they need someone to advocate for them,” says Misty Hudson, who co-founded the nonprofit organization with her husband, Brandon.

KalmbacherFamily1-(2)---CopyHowever, Connected Hearts Ministry cannot fulfill its mission alone. On November 11, the organization will hold its inaugural United for Orphans fundraiser to coincide with National Adoption Month. The event will join individuals, businesses, churches and organizations together to bring hope to orphans locally and globally. 

“We saw a growing need for funding and advocacy,” Misty says. “There are a lot of families in the area that want to adopt and that have a heart for orphan care. We want to bring everyone together for a special evening.”

The fundraiser will include food from Chick-fil-A, a photo booth, advocacy for orphans, a live and silent auction and live musical entertainment by George Dennehy. The musician, who was born without arms and adopted at age 1, plays multiple instruments such as the guitar and piano with his feet. During the event, Dennehy will share his personal story as well.

“We saw George play in Nashville three or four years ago,” says Misty. “We loved his story, and watching him play was the most humbling and inspiring thing we’ve ever seen. We’re thrilled to bring him to the area.”

2be8e0_6f8349bbf26144f7a40aabfe8f7c2c92-mv2_d_2048_1365_s_2A VIP pre-show will offer a special concert by Dennehy; a meet and greet, as well as photo opportunities, with the performer; refreshments and a chance for early bidding on auction items. 

The auction will feature goods such as a Napa Valley Epicurean Adventure, Tuscany Culinary Escape, Royal Caribbean Cruises, a family friendly Ultimate Broadway Adventure and a Kennedy Space Center Adventure. Other auction items include an Augusta staycation package, designer handbags, bicycles, restaurant gift certificates, passes to local golf courses, roller skating passes, Myrtle Beach campground passes and tickets to various entertainment venues and attractions. 

All proceeds will go toward supporting the mission of Connected Hearts Ministry, which – since adoption lasts a lifetime – does much more than connect orphaned children with forever homes.

The organization provides adoption funding to help families raise money to bring their child home. Once the child is home, the ministry also offers a medical sponsorship program to help families pay for their child’s ongoing medical expenses. As part of its foster care program, the ministry provides duffle bags filled with essential and personal items for children when they enter foster care. The bags include items such as hygiene products, clothing, blankets, a stuffed animal, a Bible and coloring books. 

Families must work through an accredited adoption agency to receive assistance from the ministry. 

“We really hope the CSRA will unite together and pool its efforts to make a huge impact on orphans in the area and around the world,” Misty says.

If You Go: 

What: United for Orphans, a fundraiser for Connected Hearts Ministry

When: 6 p.m. – 9:15 p.m. Saturday, November 11

Where: First Baptist Church, North Augusta

How Much: $25 general admission for ages 18 and older; $50 ultimate VIP experience for ages 18 and older; $5 ages 2 – 17; $5 childcare ticket for ages 2 – 12 (limited to first 50 children registered)

More Info: connectedheartsministry.org

Security in Cyberspace

Photo Credit: Phil Jones

Photo Credit: Phil Jones

A local cybersecurity expert is in the business of helping good triumph over evil in computer networks

It’s never a good idea to tug on Superman’s cape – even in cyberspace. Computer hackers who dare to toy with all that’s right with the virtual world just might run into their own kryptonite in the form of Security Onion Solutions.

Founded by Evans resident Doug Burks in 2014, the cybersecurity business peels back the layers of computer networks for clients. They range from the U.S. government and U.S. military branches to multi-billion-dollar utility companies and the healthcare, banking and financial industries.

“We’re fighting good versus evil,” says Burks. “I’m trying to do my part to help the good guys in their fight against evil.”

Computer Power
Burks got his first computer and learned to program at age 7. “Computers have always been my thing,” he says. “As a kid, you’re always told what to do. But I learned when I was a kid that I could tell the computer what to do. When you give a kid that kind of power, it’s addicting.”

Another epiphany came when he read The Cuckoo’s Egg by Clifford Stoll in middle school. The book recounts the true story of a computer invasion by a German hacker who sold information to the Soviet KGB in the 1980s.

“I didn’t enjoy reading at all, but I stayed up all night reading that book,” says Burks. “It really resonated with me. It got me excited about computers and security.”

When he graduated from Evans High School in 1995, he knew he wanted to attend Augusta State University to study computer science. Burks, who worked in the school’s co-op program and held fulltime positions during college, graduated from Augusta State in 2005. He worked in cybersecurity for several years before starting his own company.

“In the early days of hacking, the Internet was the wild, wild West,” says Burks. “Then it went to digital graffiti, and now it is big business. People make a living by breaking into networks.”

Security Onion is a collection of free software, which can be used for network security monitoring and intrusion detection. It has been downloaded 450,000 times worldwide. “A free and open source of software is a tremendous advantage for the user,” says Burks. “The software works right out of the box, and it’s infinitely customizable.”

Offering multiple layers of security and monitoring, Security Onion helps information technology and cybersecurity professionals track network traffic and gives clients alerts, contextual data and additional information about suspicious activity.

“It allows you to tell the story of what the bad guy did,” says Burks. “It can uncover how a hacker broke into a system, what he did while he was inside the network and what he took. It acts like a secondary camera for your network. It gives you information to reconstruct the crime.”

Center of the Cybersecurity Universe
Burks provides professional services such as installation and conducts training classes across the country, including a cybersecurity conference at Augusta University in September. In 2010 Burks received the Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC) Security Expert Certification (GSE), which is the most prestigious credential in the IT security industry. He was the 24th of the 180-plus people in the world who have achieved the designation to date.

He also is working with the university and local community to show the world the cybersecurity skills that the area has to offer.

“It has been amazing to see the transformation of the Augusta area through the years,” says Burks. “I’m blessed that all of this cybersecurity stuff is right here in my backyard.”

For instance, a groundbreaking ceremony for the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center at the Augusta University Riverfront Campus, formerly Augusta Golf and Gardens, was held in June. The university’s Cyber Institute opened in September 2016 on the Summerville campus.

The U.S. Cyber Command at Fort Gordon, which is expected to bring thousands of jobs to the area, broke ground on its new facilities at Fort Gordon last year. 

“Fort Gordon is the hub of everything that is happening now. This is going to be a snowball effect,” Burks says. “Cybersecurity as a whole grows so fast, and it changes so dynamically.”

Holiday’s Rule Vol 2 — Various Artists

Listen To This

Holidays-RuleThe soundtrack that brings us into a joyful union of the Christmas spirit and warm gatherings of loved ones and kindred companions is something most of us build over time. We add to the mix songs of seasonal nostalgia and traditional foundations while enhancing the holiday mood like a candy cane garnish in a hot mug of coca.

One notable release this year is Holiday’s Rule Vol 2, which features everyone from Paul McCartney to Lake Street Dive. Song for song, this is the perfect shopping or road trip to Grandma’s house compilation. 

From the poppy a capella rendition of “Wonderful Christmastime” by Paul McCartney, Jimmy Fallon and the Roots to the sultry “Christmas Moon” by Grace Potter, these 16 tracks of classics wrap this season with a nice big bow. 

May this new addition to your Christmas soundtrack be the cinnamon broom for your ears this holiday season. 

- Chris Rucker

Crocodile Rock


concertElton? Almost. Hop and bop to the sounds of the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer with a renowned Broadway performer

Broadway entertainer Craig A. Meyer has made a name for himself in theater, film, television and music. Throughout his career, however, he repeatedly was approached about his striking resemblance to Elton John and his uncanny ability to sound like the rock ’n’ roll star. Eventually, he was persuaded to impersonate the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer. 

This month Meyer will bring his talents to Evans with “Almost Elton John and the Rocket Band.” He will perform chart-topping hits such as “Benny and the Jets,” “Philadelphia Freedom,” “Rocket Man,” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” “Daniel” and “Candle in the Wind.”

Celebrating the character, costumes and charisma of the famed singer and pianist, Meyer is considered the best Elton John tribute artist in entertainment. With his strong vocals and piano talents, he helps his audiences remember when rock was young.

If You Go:

What: Almost Elton John and the Rocket Band 

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, November 10

Where: Jabez S. Hardin Performing Arts Center

How Much: $49.50; dinner for an additional $25 (limited quantities available)

More Info: (706) 726-0366 or augustaamusements.com

The Rooster Bar by John Grisham

Literary Loop

Lit-Loop-Nov-2017New York Times bestselling author John Grisham’s newest legal thriller, The Rooster Bar, released October 24, takes you inside a law firm that shouldn’t exist. 

Mark, Todd and Zola came to law school to change the world, to make it a better place. But now, as third-year students, these close friends realize they have been duped.

They all borrowed heavily to attend a third-tier, for-profit law school so mediocre that its graduates rarely pass the bar exam, let alone get good jobs. And when they learn that their school is one of a chain owned by a shady New York hedge-fund operator who also happens to own a bank specializing in student loans, the three know they have been caught up in The Great Law School Scam.

But maybe there’s a way out. Maybe there’s a way to escape their crushing debt, expose the bank and the scam, and make a few bucks in the process. But to do so, they would first have to quit school. And leaving law school a few short months before graduation would be completely crazy, right?  Well, yes and no . . .

Pull up a stool, grab a cold one, and get ready to spend some time at The Rooster Bar.