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Let It Snow

Photography by Addie Strozier

Photography by Addie Strozier

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

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

Dee-Motley-2Making a Name for Themselves

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Job for Everyone 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Sarah James

Holidays, History & Hospitality

Photos courtesy of Washington-Wilkes Chamber of Commerce

Photos courtesy of Washington-Wilkes Chamber of Commerce

From yuletide events to its rich heritage, Washington, Georgia is a capital place to visit year-round. 

With more antebellum homes per capita than any other city in the United States, historic Washington-Wilkes is one of the best kept secrets in Georgia – and the South.

There’s nothing hush-hush, however, about the fun that’s waiting to be discovered in Washington during the holiday season – and all year long.

“You don’t need an event to come to Washington,” says John Singleton, executive director of the Washington-Wilkes Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center. “Your whole day could be a time of making memories with your family and starting new traditions.” 

2.-Fountain-in-SnowShopping on The Square
Even though an event isn’t necessary to lure visitors to Washington, the community – less than an hour’s drive away from Columbia County – offers several activities to celebrate the holiday season. The festivities kick off Tuesday, November 20 with the downtown Candlelight Shopping & Tree Lighting Ceremony, which includes caroling and manmade snow on The Square.

The fun will continue with Small Business Saturday, a nationwide initiative held the Saturday after Thanksgiving to encourage holiday shoppers to patronize small, local, brick-and-mortar stores, on November 24. “Local merchants will have lots of specials that day,” Singleton says.

Downtown shops include four antique stores with merchandise ranging from knick-knacks to high-end 19th century furniture, china and art; an art gallery; clothing boutiques, a hardware store and a spa and salon. 

On Saturday, December 8, Washington will hold its Parade of Lights and Snow from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. Last year the parade, which starts at Tiger Stadium at Washington Wilkes Comprehensive High School and ends at The Square downtown, had more than 100 entrants.

“All of the vehicles and floats have to be lit,” says Singleton.

3.-CarolersSnow on the Square will be held from 5:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 15 and Saturday, December 22. “Snow blows in from all four sides of The Square,” Singleton says. “Music is playing in the background, and kids have a blast running around and making snow angels.”

The holiday festivities also include Candlelight Shopping, Santa & Snow on Tuesday, December 18 from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. 

Downtown Washington merchants also have extended hours until 7 p.m. every Friday throughout the year. 

If shopping makes you hungry, then Washington offers a number of local restaurants in various settings to whet your appetite. The settings range from a restored 1898 hotel and a 1920s car showroom to an old livery stable and a food truck in an outdoor café atmosphere. 

“The setting is really what makes Washington so special. All of this is set on a backdrop of a quintessential town square,” says Singleton. “Washington is undiscovered, and it’s in your backyard. There is so much for children and adults to see and do in a day trip or for a weekend getaway.”

Steeped in History 
Teeming with American history, Washington-Wilkes can claim many “firsts” and “lasts” in its past. Wilkes County was the first county in the state formed under the Georgia Constitution of 1777. Incorporating three years later, Washington was the first chartered town named for George Washington and the first town chartered under the new state of Georgia.

4.-downtown-tower-w-flagWashington also is home to the state’s first free public library, the Mary Willis Library. The first gold stamp operation in the United States was set up by Jeremiah Griffin on Little River in 1833. Bolton’s Factory on Upton Creek was the first state-chartered cotton mill south of Connecticut, circa 1810. 

When the Confederacy died, Washington-Wilkes was the site of the last meeting of Jefferson Davis and his cabinet, which took place in the old Bank of Georgia building, aka Heard House. In addition, it was the last place that the infamous Confederate gold was tracked – but never found. 

Architectural examples in Washington range from logs cabins to Federal-style and Greek Revival antebellum homes. Washington is home to three house museums, and Singleton says, “The museums are not just full of artifacts. They’re full of stories. 

Washington Historical Museum has memorabilia and antiques, including the oldest wallpaper sample in the state, representing more than 200 years of history. Visitors also can tour the home of Robert Toombs, a fiery 19th-century state legislator, U.S. congressman and senator, or Callaway Plantation. Lying five miles west of Washington, Callaway Plantation features a brick Greek Revival mansion that was built with red Georgia clay and other outbuildings.

Eight miles from the site of present-day Washington, visitors to Kettle Creek Battlefield Park can see where a hastily organized group of 360 patriots defeated more than 800 British loyalists in the American Revolution in 1779.

5.-Hot-Box-Deck“Washington is a great place to discover American history, make memories and have new experiences,” Singleton says.


If You Go:
What: Candlelight Shopping & Tree Lighting Ceremony

When: 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. Tuesday, November 20 

Where: The Square, Washington, Georgia

How Much: Free admission

More Info: (706) 678-2013 or washingtonwilkes.org


By Sarah James

Paradise Kennels

Pet Care

Whether it’s bathing, grooming, or keeping your babies while you’re on vacation, you can rest assured that your pet will be loved and cared for as one of our own. We offer short and long term boarding.

3996 Belair Road
Augusta, GA   30909  

(706) 860-1977


Please visit our website at paradisekennelsga.com

Care More Animal Hospital

Pet Care

Care More Animal Hospital is a full-service, AAHA accredited veterinary medical facility, located in Martinez, GA. The professional and courteous staff at Care More Animal Hospital seeks to provide the best possible medical, surgical and dental care for their highly-valued patients. We are committed to promoting responsible pet ownership, preventative health care and health-related educational opportunities for our clients.

Care More Animal Hospital strives to offer excellence in veterinary care to Augusta, GA and the surrounding areas.

Please take a moment to contact us today, to learn more about our veterinary practice and to find out more information about how Care More Animal Hospital can serve the needs of you and your cherished pet.

4016 Old Blackstone Camp Rd
Martinez, GA 30907
Phone: (706) 650-1839

Or visit our website at caremoreanimalhospital.vetstreet.com


Orthopedic Associates of Augusta, P.A.

Resource Guide

Since 1969, our practice has provided quality, comprehensive orthopaedic care in the CSRA. Our physicians are board-certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery, and are available to provide general orthopaedic care as well as specialty care, including hand and upper extremity surgery, sports medicine rehabilitation, arthroscopic surgery, foot and ankle surgery, and treatment of spinal disorders. Our total joint replacement program is second to none, and includes the newest minimally invasive procedure for hip replacement. For the convenience of our patients, we have locations both in Augusta and in Evans, as well as an orthopaedic surgery center that provides a comfortable and caring atmosphere for most out-patient surgical procedures. Please dial (706) 823-3812 to schedule an appointment at either location.

University Professional Center
811 13th Street, Suite 20 | Augusta, GA 30901
(706) 722-3401

Evans Town Park
2511 Associates Way | Evans, GA 30809
(706) 854-2140

VISIT OUR WEBSITE AT www.oaapa.com


Affinis Hospice

Resource Guide

Hospice care is so much more

At Affinis Hospice, we understand the challenges patients and their families face as they prepare for life’s final journey. As patients transition to comfort-focused care, Affinis Hospice offers support with their own personalized team of caregivers who provide guidance and hands-on assistance. The patient’s team consists of their attending physician, a registered nurse, a social worker, a certified member of the clergy, local volunteers, a home health aid and a medical director. The Affinis Hospice team provides its services either at specific hospice centers or at the patient’s home.

AUGUSTA | 706-434-0421 


Visit us at www.affinishospice.org

Pediatric Partners of Augusta

Resource Guide

Pediatric Partners of Augusta is the largest private practice group of Board Certified Pediatricians and Board Certified Pediatric Sub Specialists in the CSRA. Our goal is to partner with parents in helping their children to grow into healthy and happy young adults.

We have two office locations to better serve our patients, one in downtown Augusta and one in Evans.  Our Evans office also has our After Hours Clinic, which is open 365 days a year  for your convenience and is always staffed by one of our Board Certified Pediatricians.

Our Sub Specialists include Pediatric Allergy, Pediatric Cardiology and Pediatric Neurology, all of whom have on site diagnostic testing for your convenience.  Often we are able to schedule referrals to our specialists within 48 hours, and urgent referrals are seen that same day.

1303 d’Antignac Street • Suite 2600
Augusta, GA 30909

411 Town Park Blvd
Evans, GA 30809

5135 Wrightsboro Road
Grovetown, GA 30813



Visit our patient portal at www.PedPartners.com

George W. Williams, Jr., M.D., F.A.C.O.G.

Resource Guide

George Williams, Jr. M.D. was born in Douglas, Georgia and now resides in Augusta. He received his Bachelor of Arts-Chemistry at Emory University, then attended the Medical College of Georgia to obtain his Doctor of Medicine. Dr. Williams joined OB/GYN Associates of Augusta (now OBGYN Partners of Augusta) in 1990.

Dr. Williams is Board Certified and a Fellow in the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He was nominated to Best Doctors and received Teacher of the Year Award while on the clinical facility of MCG (now Augusta University Medical Center). He has state licenses in Georgia and South Carolina. Dr. Williams has two children and a granddaughter.

1348 Walton Way. Suite 4100 • Augusta, GA 30901


Visit our website at obgynaugusta.com