Monthly Archives: March 2017

Glass Menagerie

Carol Ayer

Photos courtesy of CarolAnn Ayer

When most people look at a shoe, they see a shoe. (Even if it’s a great, to-die-for shoe, it’s still a shoe.) Same thing with a door. Or an instrument. For CarolAnn Ayer, however, the world and everything in it are a canvas. 

And they’re all deserving of being turned into a work of art with her stained glass and mosaic talents. CarolAnn has been creating stained glass artwork since she made her first panel in a class at the Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art in 1983, but she developed her passion for mosaic more recently.

Creative-Guitar“Four years ago, mosaic became a trend in the art world, so I picked it up,” she says. “I want to mosaic everything now. I’ve done a lot of arts and crafts through the years, and these stuck.”

Feeding the Habit
CarolAnn, who lived in Columbia County for 30 years and worked as a paraprofessional at Harlem High School for four years, has a home filled with her artwork.

While she primarily creates stained glass and mosaic pieces for her early 20th century home, she makes things for friends and family as well. She also does commissioned pieces, and she sells some of her work at Schweitzer Art Glass in Waynesboro “to generate money to feed the habit.” She will have a dual show with local artist Cole Smith at the Waynesboro studio from noon until 5 p.m. Sunday, April 23.

Creative_BustTo create her artwork, CarolAnn works out of a room in her home where shelves are filled with glass panes; jars full of tile, glass and stone pieces; glass cutters; adhesives; grout and even Band-Aids.

“It’s not a difficult art. It’s just very time consuming and detailed,” says CarolAnn. “And you get a lot of cuts on your fingers.”

Future projects such as a high heel sit on the shelves and instruments are propped against a wall, waiting to be transformed from the ordinary to the sublime. She also keeps a supply of the materials she needs to prepare everyday objects for their metamorphosis into works of art. For instance, she’ll wrap the shoe in mesh and cover it in plaster of paris to shape it. She’ll sand the instruments before she adheres glass pieces to them. “They’re glossy,” she says of the instruments, “so you have to rough them up so the pieces can stick to them.”

Creative-College-stonesSometimes, however, CarolAnn takes her work outside. “The sun helps. It gives it a better picture of the colors. Sometimes there’s a right side and a wrong side of the glass,” she says.

Trial and Error
CarolAnn says the choice of glass determines whether a project becomes stained glass or mosaic art. Often working by trial and error, she likes coming up with ideas and picking the glass and colors for each project.

Creative-Crosses“I’ve always been attracted to color. I like being able to create something beautiful,” says CarolAnn. “It’s a lot like painting. When you paint, you have to know where to shade, where to put the dark and where to put the light to get the contrast you need.”

She even enjoys the inevitable struggle that comes with creating art. “There’s always a dilemma. What color am I going to use for the grout? That can change the whole look of a piece,” says CarolAnn. “The creative part takes me a little longer, but once I get it, you can’t stop me. For any artist, the creative process is what drives you. It’s in your heart and in your soul.”

CarolAnn, who also is a caterer and formerly owned Old Towne Inn and Fox’s Lair until she retired in July 2016, works on her art every day. She works at least four hours a day and sometimes all day. She usually works on more than one piece at a time to take the monotony out of the process, and it took her a month to make a mosaic mirror that hangs in her bathroom.

Creative-Parrot-window-trioOther pieces in her home include a stained glass window in her kitchen and a stained glass door to a spice rack, a space that once housed an ironing board, on a kitchen wall. She also made a stained glass screen out of a French door, and she plans to hang it on her side porch. Mirrors, cremation boxes for pets and instruments are some of her favorite canvases for her artwork.

“I’m trying to find a big bass to do, and I haven’t done a banjo. I’ve done all the other instruments,” says CarolAnn, who comes from a family of musicians. 

Some of her pieces have personal significance. For instance, she made a female torso clad in a denim dress with her husband in mind. “I wore a blue jean dress on our first date, so I did that for him,” CarolAnn says.

Creative-DragonflySources of Inspiration
CarolAnn constantly learns new things about her crafts. She often visits the Mosaic Mentoring site on Facebook, which has members from all across the world, for ideas and encouragement.

“Artists are generous with their time and information,” says CarolAnn. However, she adds, “You can look at other’s people work, but you have to be very careful not to copy other people’s work.”

She also draws inspiration from magazines, photographs and nature. “Artists see nature in a different way. You tend to study things more closely,” she says.

In homage to her love of nature, she even covers animal skulls in glass. The first two skulls she ever did were found locked together in the woods by a friend.

CarolAnn says she sees “everything as mosaic” now, and she often wonders what attracts a person to a piece of art.

“When I make something for someone else, I hope they cherish it,” she says. “It takes a lot of time to do a piece, but it’s worth it.”

For more information, visit CarolAnn’s Facebook page, Designs in Glass.

By Leigh Howard

Photos courtesy of CarolAnn Ayer

Relay for Life

Community Groups in Action

Relay for LifeA cancer diagnosis is frightening for anyone, but people who battle the disease – and their loved ones – don’t have to do it alone. They can find plenty of support at Relay for Life, the American Cancer Society’s signature fundraiser, from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. Saturday, April 29 at Evans Towne Center Park.

“There is virtually no family in the world that hasn’t been touched by cancer,” says Gregory Tsikerdanos, the Relay for Life community manager. “The relay is a culmination of a yearlong fundraising effort. While it is an American Cancer Society event, it truly is a community event as well.”

Relay for LifeThis year’s Star Wars-based theme is “May the Cure Be with You,” and about 48 teams are expected to participate in the event. The fundraising goal is $175,005 – an amount that covers costs for patients that need transportation to and from treatments. 

The event will include opening and closing ceremonies, a survivors’ lap, a caregivers’ lap and laps throughout the event by team members to represent the ongoing battle against cancer. Teams will set up camps and continue fundraising efforts by collecting donations for food, goods, games and activities. A luminaria ceremony, which gives people a chance to grieve but also offers hope and comfort, will begin at sunset. Each luminaria bag represents a loved one lost to cancer, and the ceremony also honors survivors and supports those affected by the disease.

Relay for Life“Our goal is to raise awareness about cancer as well as about research and development, treatments, cures and services for those with cancer and their caregivers,” says Tsikerdanos. “We hope to save lives and lead the fight for a world without cancer.” 

For more information, visit

Shrimp & Grits with Andouille Sausage

  • shrimp and grits1 cup grits
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 pound andouille sausage, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 green onions, sliced 
  • Cook grits per package instructions until tender. Stir in butter and cheese; set aside. Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Cook sausage about 3 minutes and set aside. Toss shrimp in Cajun seasoning and add to pan. Cook about 2-3 minutes and set aside. Add broth and tomato paste and simmer 3-5 minutes. Add sausage and shrimp, season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix in cream and remove from heat. Place grits in individual bowls and top with shrimp and sausage mixture. Garnish with green onions and serve. Makes 4 servings.

Herbert Judon


Herbert JudonAugusta Regional Airport Executive Director

Number of years in position: 10 Months

Family: Wife, Satonia; son, Brentson; and daughter, Skylar 

Why I’m Passionate About What I Do: First, I love the energy associated with airports and aviation and the variety that each day brings. Second, I love helping people. Thus, the customer service component of airports. Third, being in a leadership role, I am cognizant of the opportunity and responsibility to serve and help others.

Community Groups and Charities I Love to Support: I am new to the CSRA and have yet to adopt any local charitities. However, I have been a consistent contributor to United Way, faith establishments and many other national organizations. The last several years I have also randomly selected a family in need and provided financial support, food or gifts during the holiday season.

Biggest Career or Life Obstacle I’ve Overcome and How: I recently relocated here from Charlotte and worked for the Charlotte-Douglas Airport. Making the decision to leave my previous job and city was difficult. To be honest, I was very comfortable and established in my role, and had lived in the city for more than 25 years. Taking the leap of faith to accept my current job, move to a new region and uproot my family was a significant step. I can recall a former coworker telling me to approach each change in life as a “new adventure” and seize all of the challenge, excitement and novelty that each new season of your life/career brings. She was correct. I have transitioned very well and am extremely happy I decided to move to this region. I have never looked back and am “all in” in terms of wanting to be a key leader to help enhance the quality of life and business within the CSRA. 

Accomplishment I’m Most Proud Of: Serving as a military commander during a year-long deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Despite many tough challenges and numerous combat missions, I was able to accomplish the mission and return all of my men and women back home to their families.

Favorite Way to Spend Saturday Afternoon: I don’t have any specific things I do on Saturday afternoons. I am constatntly working around the home or, at times, attending family events. Many Saturdays I will participate in a running event or exercise in the mornings. When in season, I typically will watch a college basketball game on Saturday afternoons. 

Favorite TV Show: “The Practice” (former show) 

Favorite Movie: The Shawshank Redemption

Favorite Sports Team: University of Kentucky Wildcats Basketball

Favorite Comfort Food: My mother is from Louisiana. I love traditional Cajun foods such as gumbo and other Louisiana/Southern-themed cooking.

Favorite App: ESPN

Last Book Read: Turbulence Before Takeoff by Flint Whitlock 

Dream Vacation: I would like to take a trip to Israel and do a Holy Land tour. I would love to see all of the places where Jesus and many other biblical figures lived. I could only imagine the feelings of awe and all the other myriad of emotions one would experience. 

Something That Has Changed My Life: Becoming a father. I had my first child in my late 30s and have never taken for granted the miraculous experience and privilege of being a parent. My mother was, and still is, such a great role model in terms of conveying kindness, unconditional love and selflessness as a parent. I try my best to follow her example.

Best Thing I Ever Learned: To listen more and talk less. Listening has become somewhat of a lost art. It seems as though everyone is trying to talk over one another or attempting to be the most dominant voice in the room. As a leader, I think listening is important not only for greater comprehension of issues but also to catch the fine details and to convey humility and empathy.

Favorite Hobbies: Deep and insightful conversation 

Secret Aspiration: If I wasn’t doing what I do, I think I could have excelled in the music industry. I have no talent in terms of performing, but I do have a natural connection and comprehension to all types of music. I may have had a propensity for one of the “behind the scenes” roles such as management, production, writing, etc.

Reality Show I Would Totally Win: I think I would be good at “Jeopardy.” When I was a child I used to read encyclopedias for hours, read lots of nonfiction books and watch documentaries and news. I tend to know a lot of facts and figures that are useless in most contexts. 

Something People Would Be Surprised to Know About Me: I have traveled to more than 30 countries in my lifetime.

Rick Crawford


PYSK-MarchExecutive Vice-President, Security Federal Bank

Number of years in position: 9

Family: Daughters Lisa Land and Kelley Strickland, son Ricky Crawford and four grandchildren

Why I’m Passionate About What I Do: Security Federal Bank’s tag line “Helping People, Changing Lives” is the way we do business. My position gives me the opportunity to work with our employees to deliver our products and services in a professional manner. To have a positive impact on the success of our employees and the financial well-being of our customers is very gratifying. 

Community Groups and Charities I Love to Support: I have been fortunate to be involved in several community groups and organizations. Currently, I am chairman of the Columbia County Soil & Water Conservation District, a member of the Columbia County Recreation Department Advisory Board and vice chairman of the Columbia County Community Connections Board.  I was also past chairman of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce and the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

I have always tried to serve on boards that have an opportunity to improve the quality of life in Columbia County, whether it’s conservation education, protecting our natural resources or helping areas like business, tourism or recreation grow. Each has a positive impact on this community. 

Biggest Career or Life Obstacle I’ve Overcome and How: My wife of 34 years was diagnosed with cancer May 5, 1989 and was never cancer free until she went to a better place September 16, 2014. Being a caregiver throughout those years was a blessing in disguise. I don’t consider it an obstacle; I was given the opportunity to share her faith and strength, which helped make me a better person. I was lucky enough to have the constant support of family, friends and my employer, and for that I am very grateful.

Accomplishment I’m Most Proud Of: My three children. I enjoy watching each of them grow, raise a family and be successful. They are all still here in the area, and we have a very close relationship. 

Favorite Way to Spend Saturday Afternoon: Doing yard work. I enjoy working on different landscaping ideas for the different seasons and maintaining the existing yard. 

Favorite TV Show: “The Big Bang Theory.” It has pretty good delivery and timing, is funny and easy to follow, and the girl is kind of cute.

Favorite Movie: Armageddon. Any movie that involves a few rednecks going up in space, landing on a meteor and blowing it up to save the world is entertaining.

Favorite Sports Team: Atlanta Falcons — and I’m not just on the bandwagon. I have been going to Falcons games since the ’80s.

Favorite Comfort Food: I don’t really have a favorite comfort food. I usually eat for nourishment not enjoyment; but a good glass of red wine and a steak sound good right now.

Favorite App: Facebook. Is there any other venue where you are able to know what your neighbor is doing or had for lunch and also know the same thing about someone on the other side of the country? 

Last Book Read: The last book I read was Starting at The Top: Learning the Nuances of Executive Leadership by Pat Blanchard. Pat and I are cousins, and I have had the pleasure of watching him evolve into an outstanding leader in the Columbia County/Augusta community. The book is about his relationship with certain mentors in the area and their impact on his professional career. 

Dream Vacation: Dream vacations are not something I think about. However, any place with sun, sand and saltwater will do.

Something That Has changed My Life:  My relationship and marriage to Cindy drastically changed my life. During her illness I learned how to set priorities. Things that seemed important usually aren’t. 

Best Thing I Ever Learned: Treat people fairly and with respect. 

Favorite Hobbies: I don’t have any hobbies unless you consider my yard work skills. It is very comforting to me to be outside and be a small part of nature.

Secret Aspiration:  I have used this comment for a long time: Making the world a better place, one person at a time. Some people have told me that sounds arrogant, but helping someone can be contagious. 

Reality Show I Would Totally Win: I don’t watch reality TV, so anything that involves no talent or skills would be my choice.

Something People Would Be Surprised to Know About Me: My children will probably disagree, but I am a great cook. I don’t have any recipes to share; you will have to take my word for it.