Monthly Archives: June 2018

A Columbia County First


3. RenderingAn Augusta University Health primary and cardiovascular care facility on Furys Ferry Road is expected to be the first of several new clinical sites in the area.

Better late than never. Augusta University Health, which originally was established as the Medical Academy of Georgia in 1828, is coming to Columbia County.

“It took us 190 years to get to Columbia County,” says Dean of Augusta University Medical School David Hess. 

2. AUHealth-SpeakersHess, along with Augusta University President Brooks Keel and AU Medical Associates CEO Julian Nussbaum, recently spoke at a ceremony to celebrate the construction of AU’s 6,450-square-foot facility on Furys Ferry Road.

“We’re so excited to finally be out in Columbia County,” Keel says. “We’re looking at pockets where the population is highest to expand.”

The primary and cardiovascular care clinical building is expected to be complete by early 2019. The facility, which is part of a plan to bring ambulatory care to locations where patients live and work, will include 12 exam rooms and a pharmacy. Four physicians – two cardiologists and two primary care doctors – will be on staff.

1. AUHealth-ShovelsIn addition, says Nussbaum, “We probably will have students here. Wherever we go, we’ll have teachers as well as practitioners, and we may do clinical research trials here.”

While the Furys Ferry Road clinic will be the first AU Health site in Columbia County, several other new AU Health clinics are expected to be built in the area as well.

“We will have six or seven locations around the CSRA within the next year to provide urgent and primary care as well as pediatrics and women’s healthcare,” says Nussbaum.

AU Medical Center also has plans to build a $149 million, 100-bed hospital on an 82-acre parcel of land in Grovetown. In mid-June the Superior Court of Fulton County affirmed the original decision by the Georgia Department of Community Health to award AU Medical Center a Certificate of Need to build a hospital in Columbia County.

In a lawsuit filed by Doctors Hospital, the facility claimed the state department overstepped its authority in employing the 20 percent county funding exception in deciding the Certificate of Need. The Court disagreed with Doctors, upholding the November 2014 decision by the Department of Community Health.

Doctors Hospital has 30 days to appeal the decision. If that happens, then the Georgia Court of Appeals would rule within 60-90 days on whether to not to hear the appeal. In the past four years Doctors has filed a combination of lawsuits and appeals that have delayed the project.

The proposed 259,649-square-foot facility will include smart room technology in all the rooms and a Level II trauma center with a 16-bed emergency department. Columbia County is the largest county in the state without a hospital.

Watermelon Slushie

  • Watermelon Slushie4 cups cubed, seedless watermelon
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • Juice of 1 lime (or more, to taste)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Place watermelon and ice in a blender. Add lime juice, sugar and salt. Blend until smooth. Serve immediately. Makes 2-3 servings.

Star-Spangled Fun

Star-Spangled Fun

Fireworks-genericLocal Independence Day Fireworks & Festivities

June 29
Fort Gordon’s Independence Day Celebration
Barton Field
Wear red, white and blue to Fort Gordon’s annual celebration that includes more than 30 food and craft vendors, a children’s carnival, family activities, fireworks show and live music by Justin Moore, Colbie Caillat and Wordsmith. Bring blankets and chairs, but no pets, tents or coolers. Bags may not exceed 16x16x8 inches. 5-11 p.m. Free admission. Guests 16 and older must present a photo ID at Fort Gordon’s entrance gate. All guests, bags and items will be searched. (706) 791-8878,

June 30
Clarks Hill Lake 4th of July Fireworks
Amity Recreation Area
Community group Friends of Clarks Hill Lake presents a fireworks show for boaters and onlookers from shore. Best viewing areas on land are from Amity Recreation Area and Raysville Marina. Free. 8-10 p.m. Bring seating and picnics.

Patriotic cupcakesJuly 3
Freedom Blast
Thomson-McDuffie Government Center Lawn
The Thomson-McDuffie Chamber of Commerce and the City of Thomson bring Independence Day fun to the front lawn of the government complex. The event includes family games and activities, live music by Xtreme Party Band and food and drink vendors that offer barbecue, hamburgers, hot dogs, ice cream and more. The Thomson Fire Department will be on hand with its ladder truck, spraying water for kids to play in. 7-10 p.m. Fireworks begin at 9:30 p.m. Bring lawn seating. Coolers are allowed, but no alcohol. Free. (706) 597-1000,

July 4
Boom in the Park
Patriots Park
Bring chairs, blankets and picnics to Columbia County’s annual Independence Day celebration. Event includes live music, local food vendors and fireworks. 5-10 p.m. Fireworks begin at dusk. General admission is free; carnival rides, inflatables and train rides require a $5 wristband. (706) 868-3484.

Grovetown Fourth of July Barbecue
Liberty Park Community Center
The City of Grovetown’s community-wide picnic features free barbecue sandwiches (while supplies last), craft vendors, food vendors, family activities, live entertainment by David Doane Entertainment and a kiddie fun zone with inflatables and face painting. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. (706) 860-7691,

Watermelon genericIndependence Day Celebration
Augusta Common
Downtown Augusta’s Independence Day Celebration features live entertainment, arts and crafts vendors, food vendors, patriotic merchandise, family activities and children’s play area with inflatables. 4-10 p.m. Fireworks begin at dusk. Bring blankets and chairs but no coolers or pets. Free admission. (706) 821-1754,

July 7
Patriotic Fireworks and Boat Parade
Plum Branch Yacht Club
Celebrate Independence Day with a boat parade, food, games, live entertainment and fireworks over the lake. The boat parade is 1-2:30 p.m. To participate, pre-register your boat by calling Dave Kelley at (540) 220-6006. There is no entry fee. Cash prizes are awarded for first, second and third place winners, so be creative and decorate your boat in a patriotic theme, including costumes for the crew. Games and live entertainment begin at 3:30 p.m., and fireworks begin at dark at Buoy 62. The fireworks show is free for those visiting by boat. There is a $10 cover charge for those who come to the yacht club. For more details, contact the McCormick County Chamber of Commerce at (864) 852-2835 or the Plum Branch Yacht Club at (864) 443-3001.,

Ground Work


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARepairs to a damaged portion of Evans Towne Center Park are expected to be completed by mid-August.

A three-acre portion of Evans Towne Center Park is under repair after suffering damages during the popular Banjo-B-Que fundraiser during Memorial Day weekend. The damages were caused by a culmination of heavy rains, foot traffic and vehicular traffic before, during and after the two-day music festival.

Repairs, which are being conducted by Columbia County staff members and began in late May, include leveling the ground, filling in ruts with sand, and fertilizing and irrigating the damaged turf. “Weather permitting, we expect the area to be open to the public by mid-August,” says Cassidy Harris, the county public relations manager.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhile the open field area of the park is closed for repair, the playground, splash pad, walking track and dog park remain open to the public. Some events have been relocated while Evans Towne Center Park is under repair. The Summer Soakin’ Series, which is held each Wednesday from June to August, has been relocated to Columbia County Amphitheater behind the Columbia County Library, and BOOM! in the Park has been moved to Patriots Park for the Fourth of July.

County officials are in talks with A B Beverage, the Banjo-B-Que promoter, about covering the costs of the remediation project.

Zucchini Noodle Salad

  • Zucchini Noodle Salad2 large zucchini
  • 1/2 cup red grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup yellow grape tomatoes, halved
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Chopped walnuts

Make zucchini noodles with a vegetable peeler or spiralizer. Place in a large bowl and add tomatoes. In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, Italian seasoning and salt and pepper. Pour dressing over vegetables and toss until combined. Garnish with crushed walnuts and serve. Makes 3-4 servings.

Water World


Main photo-kayaksA new all-day, family friendly festival offers opportunities to play at the lake. 

New events never get old, and the inaugural Western South Carolina BlueWay Festival at Baker Creek State Park on Saturday, June 2 is the perfect way to kick off summer with land and water sport activities.

Local residents Tom Greene and Howard Lauderback, along with Savannah Lakes Village Outdoor Adventure Club members, are the masterminds behind the event, which is designed to showcase the local waterways and outdoor resources in the area. After all, Savannah Lakes Village in McCormick, South Carolina is bordered by 63,368 acres of protected land (including three state parks and Sumter National Forest), the 71,100-acre Clarks Hill Lake and the Little River Blueway Outdoor Adventure Region. 

Cow Kayak Rodeo“We hope people will enjoy a day at the lake with outdoor activities and try things they never thought to do before,” says Linda McClintock, who is handling marketing for the event.

Clinics and demonstrations will be held from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. and include kayaking, disc golf, fishing, geocaching, biking, standup paddle boarding and boating. Those who want a little competition can test their skills in a disc golf contest, kayak rodeos, horseshoes, corn hole and volleyball. 

If you like a good deal, then play your cards right at a poker run on Little River from 3:30 – 5 p.m. There is a $5 entry fee, and 100 percent of the fees will be distributed back to the winning hands. 

Pie Eating ContestThe kayak rodeo includes activities such as lassoing big “ducks” and tossing hula hoops onto a blowup cow. The festival also will feature a working dog demonstration, paddle board yoga, gun safety and updates about Savannah Valley Rails to Trails.

The proposed 35-mile trail project, which follows the late 1880s road bed of the old C&WC Railroad from Charleston to Anderson, South Carolina, is located in a scenic vegetated area along the Savannah River and the Little River area. Ultimately, the trail, which will be developed in four phases, will connect Calhoun Falls in Abbeville County to McCormick in McCormick County and Baker Creek, Hickory Knob and Calhoun Falls state parks.

A kids’ fun zone will include games, face painting, temporary tattoos, visor decorating and a pie-eating contest.

Food vendors will offer barbecue, hamburgers, hot dogs, sausages, fried fish, funnel cakes and more. Three bands will provide musical entertainment throughout the day, and festival sponsors will raffle off prizes such as a kayak during the event.

Tickets, which include parking, are available online. They also can be purchased at the Chamber of Commerce, Red Rooster, MACK, Pack Rat and Lee Builders in McCormick and at Plum Branch Yacht Club. Tickets are limited, so people are encouraged to buy them in advance.

“We are excited about this festival and hope that everyone will come and have a great time,” Linda says.

If You Go:

What: Western South Carolina BlueWay Festival 

When: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Saturday, June 2

Where: Baker Creek State Park, 386 Baker Creek Road, McCormick, South Carolina

How Much: $10 each or $20 family (two adults and children under age 18) in advance; $15 each and $25 family day of the event

More Info:



IMG_8001If you enjoy many area trails on foot or on two wheels, then thank a member of SORBA-CSRA. Founded in 1997 by a group of civic-minded mountain bikers, SORBA-CSRA, the local chapter of the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association, promotes sustainable trail preservation and development, riding and fellowship for local mountain bikers.

The nonprofit organization, affiliated with the International Mountain Bike Association, also works with local land managers such as the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 

SORBA-CSRA has about 150 members, and the volunteers help to maintain about 150 miles of multi-use trails in Georgia and South Carolina. The trails include a 3-mile track between the Savannah River and the Augusta Canal towpath as well as Bartram, Keg Creek and Mistletoe State Park trails in Georgia.

IMG_6234In South Carolina, they help maintain trails at Baker Creek and Hickory Knob state parks, Boyd Pond, Turkey and Wine creeks, Lick Fork Lake Recreational Area and Modoc as well as FATS (Fork Area Trail System) and Long Cane Horse Trails. Mountain bikers, walkers, hikers and runners use these trails.

“We support and work with the land managers to maintain the trails,” says Evans resident David Funk, the SORBA-CSRA president. “We have four large events each year, and we typically have 20 to 30 volunteers for a large work party. These are four- to six-hour events. We also have smaller events as needed.”

IMG_2557Along with advocacy and hands-on volunteer work, SORBA-CSRA raises funds to support repair and improvement projects. In addition, Funk says, “Most months we have an Explore the Trail Ride for users that aren’t familiar with the outlying trails.”

SORBA-CSRA volunteers average 1,200-1,300 hours of trail work and 400 hours of administrative work annually. For more information, visit or