Monthly Archives: November 2014

Thanksgiving Blessings

Southern Hospitality

With Thanksgiving on the calendar this month, I’m devoting my column to naming some of the things I’m grateful for.

In the past, I’ve read posts on Facebook where people listed something they were thankful for each day during November. Some of it was pure fluff, like “I am thankful for green grass.”

Others were quite moving, like “I am thankful for my paycheck (even if my wife does spend most of it on new shoes for herself.)” OK. That last one was from Russell, but I was able to delete it before it was posted.

For starters, I’m grateful for 10 continuous and fabulous years of writing this column for Columbia County Magazine. Woo-hoo! Who would’ve ever thought on that fateful day when Kristy Johnson and I were chatting that she would offer me this fabulous gig! To Kristy and everyone at the magazine, I say thank you.

I’m extremely thankful for you readers, too, who let me share my stories and who attend my book signings and speaking engagements. For me, it pays off in more ways than one — new friends, new readers and new adventures.

I’m grateful for two beautiful daughters who give Russell and I so much love, joy and happiness. And two precious granddaughters who do the same.

I’m so appreciative that both of my parents are still living. At age 86, they are relatively healthy, all things considered. We’re fortunate to live only an hour away from them, so that means lots of visits.

Though I’m grateful that our daughter, Katie, has a job she adores in the nursing field and a husband she is madly in love with, I am sad that they moved to Charlotte for their medical careers. On the plus side, we’ll get to visit often, which is always fun.

I am thankful for the many friends that Russell and I have made through our church, our neighborhood and our jobs. And I’m very grateful that both we have reconnected with old friends.

Through Facebook, I found my BFF from high school, Carol, and we are now neighbors living a half-mile apart. We don’t see each other every day, but when we do, it’s like no time has passed. Russell has reconnected through Google with old college roommates from the mid-70s, and we’ve attended ballgames and dinner together.

Now while Thanksgiving is the time to share food and fun with family and friends, some of our Thanksgiving pasts — meals, that is — have not turned out so well. After having poor, inedible turkeys due to things like me catching the oven on fire or undercooking the meat, we have what our family now calls the Thanksgiving Hex. Even when we desperately secured a restaurant to cook our turkey one year, it was botched because they accidentally left the giblets in paper inside the cavity. Good thing we also cooked a ham.

Then there was the year we got food poisoning when we decided to eat Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant at the beach. And the year we roasted a turkey over hickory chips only to be left with a dried up, pitiful-looking pile of what I can only describe as sawdust.

So this Thanksgiving, let me tell you that I am especially grateful for Katie’s in-laws, Doreen and Nick, who will be cooking the holiday meal for everyone at their beautiful home.

I’ll be bringing a few of my favorite dishes, but thankfully — for everyone involved — turkey is not one of them.

A&D Carpets and Hardwoods


A&D Carpets Hardwoods Augusta GA MartinezIt’s no wonder that the available flooring products at A& D Carpets are as diverse as the members of any family tree. After all, family connections are the foundation of the successful business.

Angela and David Key founded the company more than 35 years ago. The 14-member staff includes their daughters, store manager Becky Critell and Davina Key-Strickland, marketing manager and decorator; son Jeremy Key, lead flooring technician; and nine other longtime employees who are honorary family members.

Jeremy, who is manufacturer-certified, specializes in soft service and resilient flooring installation. He also is one of four carpet technicians nationwide that is contracted annually by Mohawk, the world’s largest flooring manufacturer, to install floor covering at its convention.

As a former Southeast representative on the Mohawk Advisory Council, Becky is one of few people in the industry who is qualified to offer dealer input on new products and programs.

Showroom supervisor Pat Richey, who has been with the company since the beginning, is like a second mother to the staff and customers. “She meets and greets everyone who comes into the store and directs them to the products they need,” Davina says.

Compassion, reliability and enthusiasm are qualities that the entire A & D team shares.

“Our staff is like family to us, and we like that close-knit atmosphere,” says Davina. “We want our customers to have confidence in everyone in our company, and we only send our best in-house certified installers into our customers’ homes. We never use subcontractors. We believe it’s important to run an honest business, and we all have the same morals and work ethic.”

In fact, the Better Business Bureau recently named A & D Carpets and Hardwoods as the winner of the 2014 Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics in the small-sized business category.

“We want everyone to be happy when they come to work because we’re working with the public,” says Davina. “We have a reputation to uphold, and our company’s name depends on every service we provide. The end result really matters to each and every one of us. If you are looking for the right product at the right value, then you’ve come to the right place.”

Visit A&D Carpets online.

Barney’s Pharmacy, Inc.


Barry-and-DaughtersClearly, pharmacist Barry Bryant, owner and operator of Barney’s Pharmacy, is doing things right. After all, his three daughters – Vanessa Hoffman, Stephanie Tankersley, and Brittany Smith – followed in his footsteps to earn pharmacy degrees and have joined him in the family business. Since Barry joined the over 50-year-old company in 1984, the main location on Peach Orchard Road has grown from filling 40 prescriptions to more than 1,000 prescriptions daily.

“I love pharmacy and the patient interaction,” says Barry, who prefers to spend his time with patients rather than in an office.

That’s because Barney’s does much more than dispense medications to customers. The pharmacy offers free wellness classes about managing heart disease and high blood pressure, diabetes, and smoking cessation. Support groups for breast cancer, ostomy, and Type-1 pediatric diabetes patients meet monthly. The pharmacists provide immunizations, individualized compounded medications, professional health care advice and free health screenings. Barney’s Medication Synchronization program allows patients who take multiple medications to pick up all of their prescriptions once monthly to avoid multiple trips to the pharmacy. Other activities include Bingo and the nationally recognized Chair Aerobics.

“I love what I do, and I surround myself with good people that share the same passion for helping people,” says Barry, who is celebrating his 30th anniversary as owner of Barney’s Pharmacy. “We do things differently, and I love bringing innovative ideas and programs to the community.”

Bryant, who owns six area pharmacies including stores in Augusta, Grovetown, Louisville, Wrens, and at Serenity Behavioral Health, will open another pharmacy on Furys Ferry Road in March.

“The Lord has blessed me for a reason, and I like to turn around and give those blessings back to the community,” Barry says.

The pharmacy is also invested in the future of the pharmacy profession. Barney’s is a rotation site for pharmacy students and also offers a residency program for pharmacy students that apply from across the country. Barney’s has also received grants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a drug manufacturer for wellness at work and drug awareness programs, respectively.

Visit Barney’s Pharmacy, Inc. online.

Precision Waste

Precision Waste Robert Virginia Wilson Thomson Georgia

Robert and Virginia Wilson

At first glance, a theater major and an economics and finance major might appear to have little in common. Adding a solid waste services company into the mix might seem unusual as well. However, the combination has turned out beautifully for Thomson natives Virginia and Robert Wilson.

After working in Atlanta for five years, Robert brought his financial acumen back to his hometown and founded Precision Waste in 2010. He purchased a few residential routes in January 2011 and started building a residential, commercial and industrial solid waste services company.

Virginia draws on her theater background to handle customer interaction, advertising and sales. She has found that running a business is similar to putting on a stage production, and she couldn’t ask for a better cast than Robert, the company president, and their 20 employees.

“I love working with my husband. We have a very good relationship, and we’re great business partners,” says Virginia, vice president of the company. “We share the same Christian values, and we bring that to the office.”

The company offers garbage and recycling services, business and roll-off commercial containers and dumpster rentals. With more than 15,000 residential customers, Precision Waste services five municipalities – Dearing, Lincolnton, Sandersville, Warrenton and Wrens – and offers residential garbage collection and recycling services in Columbia and McDuffie counties. The company also has an exclusive partnership with Keep Columbia County Beautiful, the county’s recycling program.

“We are a family-owned company, and we are more affordable and have more flexibility than national, multi-state companies. We have just as many resources as the large companies, but we are right here to serve our customers,” Virginia says.

In 2012 the Thomson-McDuffie Chamber of Commerce named Precision Waste as its Medium-Sized Business of the Year, and the Wilsons appreciate the well-earned recognition. 

“There’s trust with our company and the services we provide,” Virginia says. “If we don’t walk the walk, then our peers know that. We follow through with what we say we’re going to do.”

Visit Precision Waste online.

Culpepper Ace


Culpepper Ace

Culpepper Lumber Co., Inc. has served CSRA families for generations, and the company celebrated its 60th anniversary in September of 2013. While partnering with Ace Hardware, the company has been able to offer many products to customers ranging from weekend warriors who want to do it themselves to general contractors who build houses from the ground up.

One of the things that make our store different is the ability to adapt and change at a quick pace. In a highly competitive retail world, companies have to diversify and look for niches to bring customers into the store. In 2010, the company ventured into the outdoor industry by creating a new department within our store called Culpepper Outdoors. We started with the concept at our Thomson location and quickly realized it would be a major asset at our Evans location as well. In that department, we have grown from a Mathews Archery dealer to a full-blown outdoor shop with firearms, outdoor apparel, tree stands, ammo, optics and anything else you would need to hunt in the woods.

One of the advantages of shopping with a locally owned and operated small business is relationships. We don’t just consider our customers “customers.” We consider them “friends and family.” We want to get to know our shoppers on a first-name basis and grow our business one customer at a time. With so much competition in today’s market, customers have plenty of options to choose from, so it is paramount that we meet their needs every chance we get. Another advantage of shopping locally is that every dollar spent with us stays in the community.

The company was built on Christian principles and tries to conduct business in a way that honors our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Our strength and success lies in the knowledge and experience of our employees who fulfill our mission of helping others. God is strong in His support and influence on us. We dedicate to Him our all.

Visit Culpepper Ace online.

Carpenters in the Home



The Carpenter family continues to be the area’s leading supplier of closet systems, shower enclosures and framed mirrors.  Established in 1986, this unique family business includes sons, daughters, nephews, cousins and brothers.  We don’t use subcontractors for our work in order to provide quality products and dependable service.  Our beautiful showroom is available by appointment with one of our knowledgeable designers Monday through Friday.

Click here to visit Carpenters in the Home’s website.

Clein’s Rare Coins

Damron Family Clein's rare Coins Augusta GA

Teresa, Steve and Tricia Damron

Ever since he started collecting coins as a pre-teen, Steve Damron, the owner of Clein’s Rare Coins, has pursued interesting and unusual coins.

“When I was young, I would go into a store in Columbia, South Carolina to buy coins with $10 or $20 that I had earned from mowing lawns,” says Steve. “I really like the history associated with coin collecting. I’ve always been drawn to older coins.”

He shared the hobby with his father, Wayne, who bought Clein’s in 2000, and in 2010 Steve moved to the area from Atlanta, where he started a coin company in 1991, to join his father in the business. Currently, Steve runs Clein’s with the help of his wife, Teresa, a nurse at Doctors Hospital, and their daughter, Tricia, who is pursuing a master’s degree in nursing.

Clein’s, which first opened in 1941, is a full-service U.S. coin shop that offers the sale, purchase and appraisal of coins. “We carry everything the U.S. government has ever produced,” Steve says.

Although many coin dealers do not carry ancient coins, Clein’s features a variety of ancient and medieval coins in its continually rotating inventory. The shop also specializes in Civil War currency as well as Greek, Roman, Judean, Byzantine, Crusader and biblical coins. The shop also stocks U.S. and foreign currency, precious metals and bullion, coin-collecting supplies and reference books.

In addition, Clein’s offers classes such as Coin Collecting 101, Counterfeit Detection, Collecting Key Date Coins, Investing in Rare Coins, Coins of the Bible and Coins of the Twelve Caesars. 

Customers range from children trying to fill up penny collection books to collectors that are looking for a rare piece.

“We attend 26 trade shows a year. I go all over the world to find coins for my customers,” says Steve. “When they know what they want and we can find it for them and make them happy, that’s fun for me.”

Visit Clein’s Rare Coins online.

J. Reynierson Homes, Inc.


J Reynierson HomesAfter spending nine years owning his own residential construction company on Hilton Head Island, Jamie Reynierson, owner of J. Reynierson Homes, Inc., returned to Evans in 2007 to build custom houses in his hometown. The company, the name, and the quality of the finished product have remained the same since 1999, and J. Reynierson has never built the same home twice nor constructed a spec home. Each home is a unique project for each individual client.

According to Jamie, “The selections homeowners make are usually inspired by magazines or online photographs, sometimes making it challenging to locate materials and team members who can replicate the objective.” With creativity, however, Jamie transforms the original house plans into something truly distinct.

Whether it is distinguished by textures and materials, real stone, wood-burning masonry fireplaces, and distinctive trim work or molding, a J. Reynierson home is a source of pride for the homeowners. “We want clients to enjoy entertaining and showing their home to others,” says Jamie. “It is our best source of referrals.”

“Trust is the foundation in our relationship with our clients,” he continues. “We enjoy it when people trust us with a project that will be one of their major investments.”

Local homeowners are not the only ones to recognize the Reynierson philosophy. J. Reynierson Homes, Inc. has been the exclusive Southern Living custom homebuilder for the Central Savannah River Area since 2010. Southern Living selects top builders across the South for membership based on their building experience and expertise, character and reputation, and customer service. “They contacted me to represent them based on the testimonials of people I’ve built houses for,” Jamie says.

Jamie regularly attends the annual Southern Living Custom Builder Program Conference to network with some of the nation’s top custom homebuilders. He receives new design and construction ideas and attends presentations by nationally recognized industry leaders to gain additional training about new materials and products.

Jamie is a member of Warren Baptist Church, where he teaches Sunday school, and he coaches Dixie Youth baseball and soccer. And should you want to talk about stalking redfish on the coast, you better have some time.

Visit J. Reynierson Homes, Inc. online.

Sizemore, Inc.

Lieutenant Eddie Sizemore

Lieutenant Eddie Sizemore

Good things happen when someone has a vision.

Just ask the personnel at Sizemore Inc. The company was founded in Augusta in 1955 by retired police officer, Lieutenant Eddie Sizemore. After his unexpected death in 1957, his wife, Thelma, managed and grew the small company into the community’s largest security corporation by 1972.

“My grandmother’s goal was to have enough income to send her grandchildren to college,” says her grandson, Preston E. Sizemore, President and Chief Executive Officer. He also notes that she more than accomplished her goal now that she has great-grandchildren attending college. Because of the company’s success, the means have been provided for employees to send their own children to college as well.

Thelma Sizemore

Thelma Sizemore

In addition to Preston, other family members in the business are his aunt, June Sizemore Fouche, a board member and stockholder, and his sister, Kathy Sizemore Anderson, the corporate secretary and treasurer.

“We’re proud of our heritage. We still have family business values, and we have a family atmosphere with our employees,” says Preston. “We make decisions based on people, and through interaction and relationships with them, the family atmosphere carries over to our customer service.”

Sizemore Inc. is the parent company of Sizemore Security Services, Sizemore Staffing Services and Sizemore Janitorial Services, and the company has grown into a multi-million dollar corporation with offices throughout the Southeast.

Clockwise from top - Kathy Sizemore Anderson, Secretary/Treasurer, June Sizemore Fouche, Stockholder & Board Member, and Preston E. Sizemore, president & CEO

Clockwise from top – Kathy Sizemore Anderson, Secretary/Treasurer, June Sizemore Fouche, Stockholder & Board Member, and Preston E. Sizemore, president & CEO

Although the company is much larger now, it still operates on the principle that its employees are its most valuable resource, and this principle benefits its customers as well. With dedicated employees providing excellent service, Sizemore is confident of a bright future!

From offering eco-friendly janitorial services to staffing and security personnel with client-specific expertise, Sizemore stays on the cutting edge of its customers’ needs. “We adapt to changes in our industry,” Preston says, “and we’re leading the way with our innovative services.”

Sizemore, Inc. is a 2014 Georgia Family Business of the Year Finalist!

Visit Sizemore, Inc. online.

Pumpkin Spice Coffee


Pumpkin Spice Coffee

  • 8 cups fresh, hot coffee
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground dried ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • Whipped cream
  • Caramel sauce
  • Cinnamon sticks

While coffee is brewing, place remaining ingredients except whipped cream, caramel sauce and cinnamon sticks in a blender and puree until smooth (about 30-45 seconds). Warm pumpkin mixture and fill mugs approximately 1/4 full with it. (You can adjust the pumpkin amount to taste.) Stir in hot coffee and garnish with whipped cream, caramel sauce and cinnamon sticks. Makes 8 servings.

Asparagus with Spicy Cream Sauce

Side Dishes
  • Asparagus with Spicy Cream Sauce2 pounds fresh asparagus spears
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1-2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1-2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon (or dash more) cayenne pepper

Cook asparagus until crisp-tender and keep warm. In a small saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Gradually stir in flour until smooth. Gradually stir in chicken broth and half-and-half and cook until thickened and bubbly (about 1 minute). Whisk in honey, mustard, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper. Top asparagus with sauce and serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.

See You at the Fair


Columbia County Merchants Association FairThe smell of funnel cakes in the air can only mean one thing: the 49th annual Columbia County Fair is here.

Open for thrill seekers October 30 through November 8, this year’s lineup includes new attractions such as the Zoovogel (Sky Rider) and Wildlife Wendy and her Tropical Birds Show, along with returning favorites like demolition derbies, a master chainsaw carving artist, a petting zoo, Sea Lion Splash and Oscar the Robot.

The Merchants Association of Columbia County, a non-profit organization of business volunteers, presents the fair each year at their fairgrounds on Columbia Road across from Patriots Park. Free conveniences include parking with security, golf cart shuttles, nightly entertainment and admission for kids 3 and under.

Proceeds from the fair benefit more than a dozen CSRA charities and provide scholarships to seniors from each Columbia County public high school. For more information, visit

Thursday, October 30
Hours: 5 – 11 p.m.
Admission: Get one free admission with five non-perishable items per person to be donated to Columbia County Cares; $7 admission without donation.
Senior Night: Free admission for adults 55 and older
FFA Judging: 6 p.m.
Entertainment: Sandy B and the Allstars

Friday, October 31
Hours: 5 p.m. – midnight
Admission: $5
Entertainment: Out of the Cellar band

Saturday, November 1
Hours: Noon – midnight
Admission: $7
Kids’ Day: Kids ride free noon-1 p.m.
Entertainment: Brandon Bower Band

Sunday, November 2
Hours: 1 – 11 p.m.
Admission: $7; $1 off with church bulletin; $1 off for all students
Unlimited Ride Special: $20

Monday, November 3
Hours: 5 – 11 p.m.
Admission: $7
Military Appreciation Night: $4 admission with military ID
Entertainment: John Kolbeck Trio (at the Demolition Derby)
Demolition Derby: 7:30 p.m.
Unlimited Ride Special: $20

Tuesday, November 4
Hours: 5 – 11 p.m.
Admission: $7
Apollo Talent Night: Kids ages 1-12 with DJ Tony Howard
Unlimited Ride Special: $20

Wednesday, November 5
Hours: 5 – 11 p.m.
Admission: $7
Entertainment: Electric Voodoo & the UGA Georgettes Dance Team (7 p.m.)
Unlimited Ride Special: $20

Thursday, November 6
Hours: 5 – 11 p.m.
Admission: $7
Apollo Talent Night: Adults (ages 13+) with DJ Tony Howard
Unlimited Ride Special: $20

Friday, November 7
Hours: 5 p.m. – midnight
Admission: $7
Entertainment: The Remedy (at the Demolition Derby)
Demolition Derby: 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, November 8
Hours: Noon – midnight
Admission: $7
Kids’ Day: Kids ride free noon-1 p.m.
Entertainment: Tanner Duckworth; 2nd Chance Rising
Chainsaw Carving Auction: 9 p.m.

Season’s Eatings

Chef Jeff Italian Thanksgiving Garlic Clove Marshall Resort Columbia County Evans Georgia

Garlic Clove chef Jeff Freehof and his staff will prepare “A Taste of Italy” for the 13th annual Italian Thanksgiving Feast. This year the fundraiser, which helps feed the hungry in the area, will be held at Marshall Square Resort Lifestyle Community.

Baked ziti with meat sauce, chicken parmigiana and pasta Alfredo for Thanksgiving? Sure. Why not?

This “Taste of Italy” trio once again will be on the menu for the 13th annual Italian Thanksgiving Feast, which is scheduled for 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. Friday, November 21. Garlic Clove will prepare the food as it has in the past. This year, however, the fundraiser will be held at Marshall Square Resort Lifestyle Community.

Local celebrities will serve diners, who can make a donation for their meals to support Golden Harvest Food Bank, Third Saturday and Good Neighbor Ministries. Last year the event raised $5,400.

“We want to give back. It’s our responsibility and obligation to make sure others are taken care of, and that’s exactly what these three organizations do. They take care of everybody in the community,” says Garlic Clove chef Jeff Freehof.

Art Appreciation


Art After Dark Columbia County Artists GuildGood things happen when the sun goes down on November 22. During Art After Dark, the signature event for the Artists’ Guild of Columbia County, artwork from more than 20 local artists will be on display and for sale at the Savannah Rapids Pavilion.

“People don’t have to go to Atlanta to buy art,” says Jane Waldrop, guild president. “We have so many wonderful artists in the area.”

Artwork will include watercolors, oils, acrylics, photography, pottery, fiber arts, jewelry, mixed media and Zentangle, abstract drawings that are created by using repetitive patterns.

The annual fundraiser will benefit the guild’s scholarship and building funds. Each year the guild offers a $1,000 scholarship to a high school senior that plans to study art in college. Proceeds from a silent auction, which will include artwork and other items, and a 50/50 raffle will support the funds.

The event also will feature complimentary hors d’oeuvres and entertainment that includes interpretive dancer Jordan Hughes, jazz musician Bill Karp and Harmony River Chorus.

“All of our entertainers are volunteering their services,” says Waldrop. “They are local people that are sharing their talents.”

If You Go:
What: Art After Dark
When: 7 p.m. – 10 p.m. Saturday, November 22
Where: Savannah Rapids Pavilion Loblolly Pine Room
How Much: Free
More Info: