Monthly Archives: September 2016

Ruling the Roost

Ruling the Roost

Photography by Addie Strozier

Little pieces of Americana add personal touches to one-of-a-kind birdhouses.

Local baseball historian Lamar Garrard is a lifelong fan of the Atlanta Braves and the New York Yankees, but he also knows his Cardinals, Orioles and Blue Jays. 

About five years ago the Lincolnton resident, who has an extensive collection of Major League and Augusta baseball memorabilia, spread his wings and started building tin-roofed, wooden birdhouses.

He originally made them as gifts for family and friends, and each birdhouse takes four to five hours to complete.

“I loved wood shop when I was in school, and I’ve always worked with my hands,” says Lamar, a retired electrical salesman and U.S. Army Reserve veteran. “I like working with wood. It’s better than going to a psychiatrist.” 

Preserving the Past 

people-5-birdhouse-4Lamar makes the birdhouses from wood and tin that he gets from old barns and houses in Lincoln and Wilkes counties.

To decorate the birdhouses, he uses items such as old bottle caps; padlocks; vintage rusted keys; hinges; pieces of old coffee cans, Coke cans, tobacco tins and license plates; shards of pottery; watch and clock faces; small forks and spoons; metal thermometers; bottle openers; arrowheads; acorns; vines; drawer handles; small toys; strips of copper and brass pieces. 

ruling the roostThe pieces of Americana on the birdhouses reflect his lifelong love of history, especially Southern history. In addition to his baseball memorabilia collection, Lamar also collects paper items, postcards and photos that reflect Augusta history. 

He also speaks to church and civic groups about baseball, and he has been involved in several projects to erect monuments and markers in honor of deceased baseball players to preserve baseball’s past.

ruling the roostShowcasing his creativity, he uses materials such as jug openings and light sockets to make the birdhouse doors. He recently started adding small American flags and crosses to his birdhouses as well. He finishes the birdhouse by spraying them with a coat of lacquer.

His wife of 51 years, Ruth, helps him find the memorabilia at antique stores and flea markets. “I love reusing old wood. The beauty of repurposing it into something useful is gratifying,” he says. “Using old pieces of Americana nostalgia makes each birdhouse unique.”

Keeping It Simple

people-3A collection of his birdhouses will be on display November 1 – 30 at Columbia County Library in Evans. The birdhouses also are available for purchase at several locations including Art on Broad in Augusta; Connely Gallery in Washington, Georgia; and Off the Beaten Path in Ridge Spring, South Carolina. “They seem to rekindle good memories of items from the past for people,” Lamar says.

He even makes custom birdhouses for people to showcase their hobbies and interests. In addition, people can give him materials that he can use to build a themed birdhouse for them.

people-4-birdhouse“I need to make a birdhouse with a music theme for my wife. She’s a retired teacher and a longtime church musician,” Lamar says. 

Lamar, who lives on Clarks Hill Lake, has converted on old boathouse into a workshop, and he uses only hand-held tools such as a jigsaw, a drill and a dremel.

“It’s like fishing. It’s really relaxing,” says Lamar. “I enjoy thinking about what I put on the birdhouses that will pull somebody’s heart strings.”

By Sarah James

Photography by Addie Strozier


Megiddo Dream Station

Community Groups in Action

Megiddo Dream StationThe dignity of work should be available to everyone, and Megiddo Dream Station is trying to fulfill that promise for as many people as possible.

Based in Graniteville, South Carolina, Megiddo, founded in 2012 to move people into the workforce, is opening a new location in Columbia County at Oakey Grove Baptist Church in October with the help of CallingPost founder Phil Alexander. The church is one of three new sites that Megiddo is opening this fall for a total of nine locations. Clearly, Kay Benitez, executive director, has found a winning formula.

When she initially researched existing job training and placement programs to devise the Megiddo curriculum, however, she discovered that their employment statistics were bleak. 

“Their placement rates were less than 20 percent, and their job retention rates were less than 5 percent,” Benitez says. “So instead of looking at existing programs, I started talking to employers and asked them what they were looking for.”

Since the first class of 16 students finished the eight-week program in January 2013, Megiddo has put 302 people to work. According to Benitez, the program has a 95-percent job retention rate. 

Megiddo Dream Station“It is truly amazing to see a person come in completely downtrodden, depressed and discouraged and then to see them again at graduation,” she says.

The average student is 35 years old, has three children and has been out of work for five years. The program has strict attendance and academic requirements, and its students also must complete 20 hours of volunteer service to graduate. “Our program is intensive and extensive,” says Benitez. “If a person completes it, they’re serious about getting a job.”

Megiddo Dream StationCore curriculum classes are taught three times a year, beginning in October, February and June. Four-, six- or eight-week specialty classes, which improve employment opportunities or quality of life, are taught between the core classes. All classes are tuition free.”

For more information, visit

Toe to Toe

Alice in Wonderland

The Portrait Gallery

Columbia County Ballet presents an original production of “Alice” to celebrate Imperial Theatre’s 100th anniversary.

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road can take you there,” Lewis Carroll wrote in Alice in Wonderland. However, fans of the classic novel should head straight to Imperial Theatre Friday, September 16 for Columbia County Ballet’s production of “Alice.”

Michael Viator, Columbia County Ballet alumnus and resident choreographer, has created a fanciful adventure in Wonderland with his original production of “Alice.” This full-length creation is will be performed in honor of the theater’s coming 100th anniversary. With vibrant colors and powerful music score, the Mad Hatter kicks off the fun with his frolicking party and bizarre friends.

Because the performance coincides with Arts in the Heart, parking passes for the lot at Eighth and Reynolds streets behind the theater will be available for $5 per vehicle.

As a prelude to the main attraction, a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party (A Very Merry Unbirthday) will be held 3-4:30 p.m. Sunday, September 11 at Imperial Theatre. This complimentary family event, a preview drop-in for Viator’s premiere of “Alice,” will feature footage of the creation of this original, full-length story ballet. The preview includes a character meet-and-greet, cash bar, hors d’oeuvres and live music. Younger attendees are encouraged to dress in Alice-themed costumes.

If You Go:

What: “Alice”

When: 7 p.m. Friday, September 16

Where: Imperial Theatre

How Much: $12-$38; parking pass $5

More Info: (706) 860-1852 or

Flu Fight


Flu remedy Chicken soup It won’t be long until flu season tries to knock you out. Try these tips to punch back.

Cough, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat — the symptoms are all too familiar. But you might need some reminders about preventing or treating the flu. 

Flu season can range from October to May, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s impossible to predict what the flu season will be like from year to year. The timing, severity and length of the season vary each year. In the United States, the flu season most commonly peaks between December and March.

Protection and Treatment

The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that everyone 6 months or older get an annual flu vaccination. However, the committee says that nasal spray vaccines should not be used this season because they lacked effectiveness in the past.

Getting vaccinated before flu activity begins helps protect people once the flu season starts. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for the body’s immune system to fully respond. The CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October, if possible. However, getting vaccinated later still has benefits.

The effectiveness of a flu vaccine (or its ability to prevent the illness) can range widely from season to season and can be affected by a number of factors. They include the characteristics of the person being vaccinated, the similarity between vaccine viruses and circulating viruses, and even which vaccine is used.

FLU-main-photo-hot-teaIn addition to getting a seasonal flu vaccine, people can take preventive actions such as staying away from sick people and washing their hands to reduce the spread of germs. Anyone who has the flu should stay home from work or school to prevent spreading flu to others.

Most people with the flu have mild symptoms and do not need medical care. However, to treat the contagious respiratory illness, others might need antiviral medications. These prescription drugs can make the illness milder, shorten the amount of time that someone is sick and prevent serious complications.

Studies show that flu antiviral drugs work best when they are started within two days of getting sick. Starting them later still can be helpful, especially if the sick person is hospitalized, has a high-risk health condition or is very sick from the flu. Patients should follow their doctor’s instructions for taking these drugs.

Contagiousness and Complications

Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less often, people might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, eyes or possibly their nose.

People can pass on the flu to someone else before they know they are sick, as well as while they are ill. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick. Some people, especially young children and those with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for an even longer time.

The time between a person’s exposure to the flu and the onset of symptoms ranges from one to four days, with an average of about two days. Most people who get the flu recover in a few days to less than two weeks.

While anyone can get the flu and serious problems related to the flu can happen at any age, some people are at high risk of developing life-threatening flu-related complications such as pneumonia if they get sick. They include people ages 65 and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease), pregnant women and young children. The flu also can make chronic conditions such as asthma or congestive heart failure worse.

Sidebar 1

5 Flu Myths

The flu is a good example of how medical myths can get in the way of good medical care. When it’s flu season, take the necessary steps to stay healthy. That includes separating fact from myth. Here are 10 common myths about the flu. 

  1. MYTH: You can catch the flu from the vaccine.
    The vaccine is made from an inactivated virus that can’t transmit infection. It takes a week or two to get protection from the vaccine, so people who get sick after receiving a flu vaccination were going to get sick anyway. Some people assume that because they got sick after getting the vaccine, the shot caused their illness, but this is not the case.
  2. MYTH: The flu is just a bad cold.
    Influenza may cause bad cold symptoms, like sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, hoarseness and cough. But in the United States alone, 36,000 people die and more than 200,000 are hospitalized each year because of the flu.
  3. MYTH: You can’t spread the flu if you’re feeling well.
    Actually, 20 to 30 percent of people carrying the influenza virus have no symptoms.
  4. MYTH: You don’t need to get a flu shot every year.
    The influenza virus changes each year. Getting vaccinated each year is important to make sure you have immunity to the strains most likely to cause an outbreak. Anyone — even healthy folks — can benefit from being vaccinated.
  5. MYTH: Feed a cold, starve a fever. 
    If you have the flu (or a cold) and a fever, you need more fluids. There’s little reason to increase or decrease how much you eat. Though you may have no appetite, “starving” yourself will accomplish little. And poor nutrition will not help you get better.

– Harvard Health

 Sidebar 2

10 Foods to Eat When You Have the Flu

1. Ice Pops

Ice pops can soothe your throat when it’s sore, swollen or dry. They also keep you hydrated, which is key when you fight the flu. Getting enough fluids keeps your mucus thin and eases congestion. Look for ice pops made from 100 percent fruit juice to make sure you get nutrients and not sugar water. You can also make your own frozen juice bars.  

2. Turkey Sandwich

Turkey has lean protein, a key part of a healthy diet. And although you may not feel like it, eating helps give your body energy to fight illness. Add cranberry sauce for a spike of flavor and comfort-food taste. 


3. Vegetable Juice

Since you may not feel up to making and eating a salad while you recover from the flu, try a glass of low-sodium vegetable juice instead. You’ll load up on antioxidants that boost the immune system, your body’s defense against germs. Do you crave a sweet taste? Go with 100 percent fruit juice. 

4. Chicken Soup

A soothing bowl of chicken soup helps you get the fluids you need and is nourishing, too. While it may not speed up your recovery, some scientific evidence shows that it can help with healing. Like other hot liquids, chicken soup can improve the way tiny hairs in the passages of your nose protect your body from bacteria and viruses. 

5. Garlic

If you feel up to it, garlic can be a good choice to spice up foods like soup. It appears to have some ability to boost the immune system and give you slight relief from congestion.

6. Ginger

Ginger may help relieve your stomachache and nausea. Some studies suggest it fights inflammation, too. You can add it to other foods, either freshly grated or as a powder. Another option: Have a drink of flat ginger ale.

7. Hot Tea

Drink green, oolong and black tea to take in some antioxidants. Breathe in the steam to help clear your stuffy nose. Add a spoonful of honey and a squeeze of lemon to soothe your sore throat. If caffeine bothers you, try decaf or herbal versions instead.

8. Banana

Whether you slice it, mash it or eat it whole, bananas are easy on the stomach. They can be a go-to food if you’ve been hit with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Bananas, along with rice, applesauce and toast, make up the BRAT diet — often the first foods doctors encourage people to try when they’re recovering from stomach flu and ready for solid foods.  

9. Toast

Toast or crackers are convenient foods when you’re fighting illness. They pair well with chicken noodle soup, and their satisfying crunch can take the edge off hunger when your stomach can’t handle much. 

10. Meal Replacement Drinks

If your appetite has returned, try one of these to make sure you get the right nutrients and calories. Look for lactose-free drinks that are low in sugar and have at least 6 grams of protein. 

– WebMD

Julie K. Miller Executive Director, Columbia County Community Connections


Julie K. Miller Executive Director, Columbia County Community ConnectionsJulie K. Miller
Executive Director, Columbia County Community Connections

Number of years in position: 13 

Family: I have been married to Doug Miller for 39 years and we have three adult children, a wonderful daughter-in-law and four grandchildren we adore. 

Why I’m Passionate About What I Do: As a child of adoption, it is my duty to give back. I have a particular set of skills that I can use to do good. I think I can contribute something of value, and I hope I can inspire others to help where they can. CCCC is a nonprofit working to make children safe, healthy, educated and prepared to become productive, civic-minded citizens, and I believe every child deserves a loving family and an opportunity to be educated. We need to teach every child compassion for others and how to live a purpose-driven life.

Community Groups and Charities I Love to Support: Of course I am going to say CCCC, but also Hope House in Augusta because they do incredible work under difficult circumstances. We need to change how we view addiction in this country and stop criminalizing people who need help. I am a huge fan of the work that many churches are doing to feed the hungry and to shelter the homeless in our community. We are starting a new program to house homeless youth to help them finish high school and become self-sufficient. If anyone wants to host a homeless youth, give me a call. You might change a young person’s life. 

Biggest Career or Life Obstacle I’ve Overcome and How: Not long after moving to Augusta for a career opportunity, I resigned from what I thought was going to be my dream job. Trying to find a position to replace the salary I had was impossible without leaving town, and I wasn’t going to uproot my family a second time. I was hurt, depressed, and I lost confidence in myself. Luckily, a friend recommended me for a job that paid half of what I had been making, and I was grateful to get it. That Christmas, my children asked me if we were poor. We had just enough money to get a $10 tree. Through that job, I met a woman who offered me a different kind of job, working in nonprofits. She mentored me and taught me how to design programs that help people move out of poverty and write grants to support that work. Eventually, that job led to the current position I hold. I will be forever in her debt for giving me a chance and investing in me.

Accomplishment I’m Most Proud Of: Working with the mother of Ryan Clark to create a Scholarship and Community Service Award given to a local high school student for their volunteer efforts. The award is given annually in honor of the Lakeside High School graduate killed April 16, 2007 at Virginia Tech. Ryan was an incredible young man who continues to inspire others to give selflessly. So far, $20,000 in scholarship funds have been awarded to 18 students. 

Favorite Way to Spend Saturday Afternoon: I love to shop for bargains. Finding a great pair of shoes or jeans for less than $20 is the best.

Favorite TV Shows: “Game of Thrones” and “House of Cards” – love them.

Favorite Movie: The Last of the Mohicans – the music and scenery is breathtaking. My favorite movie line is from Tombstone. When Val Kilmer playing Doc Holliday says, “I’ll be your huckleberry,” it’s perfect.

Favorite Sports Team: The Kentucky Wildcats basketball team because this was my favorite uncle’s team, or whatever e-sports Halo team my youngest son is playing on.

Favorite Comfort Food: Pumpkin pie with a bucket of whipped cream – always gives me the hiccups, but I can eat a whole pie.

Favorite App: Amazon – who knew I needed a kaleidescope of color in my toilet as a night light so I won’t fall in. Amazon, that’s who.

Last Book Read: The Girl on the Train – the description of this woman’s descent into alcohol-fueled mental breakdown resonated with me. Trauma does terrible things to the human spirit.

Dream Vacation: I grew up on Greek and Roman mythology, and I would love to visit the places where those stories originated. 

Something That Has Changed My Life: Having children completely changed my outlook on life. I began to see the world through a more empathetic lens, and it made me determined to do better. 

Best Thing I Ever Learned: Hanging on to bitterness and resentment is like eating poison and expecting someone else to die.

Favorite Hobbies: I love to read suspense thrillers and play Texas Hold ’Em. I have taken up Pokemon Go, but I have yet to control a gym or hatch an egg so I’m not very good at it.

Secret Aspiration: I dream about creating a product that would improve the quality of life for billions of people. I would like to write a book as powerful as To Kill A Mockingbird. I also want to be the eccentric grandma that my grandkids adore – I have a realistic shot at this one. 

Reality Show I Would Totally Win: “World Series of Poker” – hands down (ha ha). 

Something People Would Be Surprised to Know About Me: When I leave this world, I want to become a willow tree. When I see a cemetery, I imagine a tree-filled landscape. It makes more ecological sense. Why do we embalm people, put them in a fancy casket and then throw dirt over them? It seems like one of those traditions that no one knows why we do it, but we continue, because we always have. If you could be a tree, what tree would you be? 

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

Buffalo Chicken Wings

Appetizers and Snacks
  • Buffalo Chicken Wings2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large shallot
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 ounces dark beer
  • 1 cup chili sauce
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ancho chili pepper
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 4 ounces cayenne pepper sauce 

Chop the butter, shallot and cloves and sauté in a large pan. Add the dark beer, chili sauce and barbecue sauce; stir for about a minute. Add the ancho chili pepper, brown sugar, honey and cayenne pepper sauce; stir for about 2 minutes. In a deep fryer (or oven) cook wings until done. Place sauce in a large bowl and add wings. Coat completely and serve with ranch or blue cheese dressing.

Strings Attached


Loren-and-MarkAugusta Amusements opens its 2016-17 season with guitarists Loren Barrigar and Mark Mazengarb on Friday, September 23. Displaying outstanding musical chemistry and a varied repertoire of original and arranged music, the international guitar duo entertains audiences with their guitar duets and vocal harmonies.

Influenced by jazz, bluegrass, western and popular music, the duo builds its guitar style on the thumb-picking techniques pioneered by guitar greats Merle Travis, Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed. Loren and Mark’s live performances feature guitar skills as well as musicality and the ability to be creative spontaneously. The interaction between the two musicians, who have toured extensively in the United States and in Europe, is as much a part of their show as their world-class guitar playing. 

If You Go:

What: Loren and Mark, international guitar duo

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, September 23

Where: Jabez S. Hardin Performing Arts Center 

How Much: $35 

More Info: or (706) 726-0366