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.

Something to Chirp About


1. Robin Goldsmith, AuthorA little – actually, a lot – of divine intervention leads a Grovetown woman to publish a children’s book

A cricket on the hearth long has been a symbol of good luck in many cultures. For Grovetown resident Robin Goldsmith, however, a chance encounter with a cricket was a source of good fortune and inspiration. Her children’s book, How the Ariana Crickets Got Their Chirp Back, will be available in bookstores and on on August 1, and she has a cricket to thank for it. 

Gift from Heaven
In the winter of 2004, during her first of two civilian tours in Afghanistan, Robin was reading by night light through cracks in the wall of her plywood hut 5,500 feet above sea level at Bagram Air Base. Suddenly and silently, a cricket appeared on her chest.

2. Ariana Cricket Cover“During that instant, the entire story flashed through my mind except the ending,” says Robin, who served her second tour in Afghanistan at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul in 2008-09. “It was a gift from heaven.”

In the story, a young cricket sets out to re-teach other Afghan crickets how to chirp – a skill they had forgotten during a long drought – so the rains would return to Afghanistan. However, this could happen only during a big event when nighttime falls during the day. Other indigenous animals help the cricket travel across the country.

In addition to native Afghan animals, the story features adventure, science, architecture, agriculture, at-risk historic sites, history, family, love, the game of cricket and working together with others for the common good.

6. Illustration 9Written under the pen name Lovie R. Smith, the book is geared toward children ages 5 to 13. Robin dedicated the book to two men – a carpet seller and an elderly silver jewelry maker – that she befriended in Afghanistan.

“The book has no mention of war. Instead, it suggests an oppression,” says Robin.

She also has Afghan-American friends who are translating the story into the Dari and Pashto languages. She intends to publish paperback copies of the translated versions of the book in Afghanistan.

“Afghanistan has been beset by 35 to 40 years of war, and most people are illiterate,” says Robin. However, younger government officials are being elected in Afghanistan, she says, and they are placing an emphasis on education.

“You can feel the history in the air. It’s the most gorgeous place, but there have been wars and wars there forever. The landscape includes desert, lush valleys 

and Alpine mountain peaks,” says Robin. “I think the people are wonderful. If you are in Afghanistan and knock upon someone’s door for help, they will give you help. That’s the Pashtun way.”

4. Sally Balestrieri, IllustratorMore Divine Intervention
The book is illustrated by Evans resident Sally Balestrieri, aka Sally Kat, whom Robin met at a Martinez yoga studio. “We became friends and started creating things together. We made jewelry and artwork at her house,” says Sally. “We had known each other for about a year, and one day Robin asked me if I wanted to illustrate a book she was writing.”

Sally says it took her about three months to finish the illustrations. She started out with paper and color pencil before completing the drawings on a tablet.

“I wanted the illustrations to be kid friendly and nonviolent,” says Sally. “These are happy crickets trying to learn how to get their voice back. They have gotten together to make the world a better place.”

5. Illustration 3Production of the book started in July 2017. However, Robin still did not have an ending for the story. That situation changed on August 21, 2017 when she witnessed the total solar eclipse in Edgefield, South Carolina. “God told me to change my idea for the ending, which had been a clash of sorts, to a solar eclipse,” says Robin.

She had known all along that the story would end in the heart of Afghanistan in Kandahar, where all the animals converge for the solar eclipse. When Robin first decided on the ending for her book, however, she did not yet realize that Kandahar was the site of the last total solar eclipse in Afghanistan in 1995 and that the next one in the country will be visible from northern Kandahar Province in 2034.

3. Illustration 2Robin also has been contacted by the Afghan Ministry of Information & Culture about making a short, animated film based on the book.

“It’s time for an animated movie about the beauty of Afghanistan – her natural resources, historic sites, music, food and the goodness of her people,” says Robin. “I never imagined that in writing this book that I would have Afghan friends all around the world using Twitter and Facebook. An Afghan ambassador in Australia connected me with the arts ministry about finding a film producer.”

She says she wrote the book “to bring healing and attention to the beauty of Afghanistan.”

In addition to being Robin’s first publication, Ariana Crickets also is the first published work that Sally has illustrated. And she is thrilled to be part of the project.

“I hope the book does something to help the world we live in today. I hope kids can get their hands on it,” says Sally. “I feel positive trying to make a difference in this world through my art.”

By Leigh Howard

Under the Sea

Photos courtesy of Hawaii Mermaid Adventures

Photos courtesy of Hawaii Mermaid Adventures

Want to make a splash? Unleash your inner Ariel at mermaid school in Maui. 

There are any number of reasons to visit Hawaii. Sun, sand, surf, swimming, snorkeling, school. Yes, school. Specifically, mermaid school, aka, Hawaii Mermaid Adventures in Maui. But don’t worry — Maui is more than 100 miles away from the active lava on the Big Island of Hawaii.

“Many people have dreamed their whole life of becoming a mermaid. Doing it on Maui with year-round sunshine, warm water and uncrowded beaches make this the perfect location to transform into a mermaid,” says Rebecca Pang, spokeswoman for the company. 

Timothy Lara, owner of Hawaiian Paddle Sports, started Hawaii Mermaid Adventures in 2016 after seeing mermaid photo shoots on the beach and at pools. Instead of merely letting people dress up as mermaids, he decided to give them the opportunity to become mermaids and combine it with a swimming lesson and a snorkel tour to create a memorable ecotourism experience. Could there be a better way to get your “sea legs” than with a mermaid tail? 

2. Mother Daughter Mermaids - credit Hawaii Mermaid AdventuresTelling the Tale (with a Tail) 
At Hawaii Mermaid Adventures, wannabe Ariels of all ages – males or females ranging from 50 to 210 pounds – can learn to swim like a mermaid or a merman. The year-round sessions are offered in the early morning when the water is calmest.

Instructors teach participants how to swim in a monofin tail suit and then lead the new mermaids on a tour of the reef where free underwater photography is provided. The lifeguard- and CPR-certified instructors, who also are certified marine naturalists, begin with a land lesson and an educational safety briefing.

Before entering the ocean, the instructors demonstrate proper etiquette in the water and around wildlife. Guests learn to keep a respectful distance from wildlife – tropical fish, corals and green sea turtles commonly are spotted, and the company has a strict “no touch” policy. Mermaids are encouraged to watch, but not chase, marine life. In fact, marine animals want to spend more time around their mermaid visitors when they are not being disturbed. The guides also teach guests how to identify native fish species and highlight important ocean conservation issues.

After their land lessons, guests can practice swimming through hula hoops and splashing around in their mermaid tails. They also learn about different types of mermaids – sirens, deep sea mermaids, whale singers and reef mermaids – and can play the role of their mermaid of choice.

“In the winter humpback whales flock to Maui, and our mermaids can actually hear them singing in the ocean,” Pang says.

The aspiring mermaids and mermen find that the fin-powered dolphin kick gives them a powerful push through the water, and most people learn how to use the tail quickly. “It feels unnatural at first, but by the end of the lesson feels more comfortable,” says Pang.Stories and

Immersing students into the ocean habitat, the guides teach them all about life as a mermaid, mermaid mythology, sailors’ tales, various marine animals, coral, marine conservation and the importance of keeping the ocean clean.

The mermaids of ancient myths were not afraid to use their voices, often leading sailors astray or luring them to dangerous shallows with their songs. Contemporary mermaids can use their voices as well. However, instead of endangering their listeners, they can advocate for the environment and promote positive changes for the world’s oceans.

“Mermaid swimming is an unforgettable experience, but our ultimate goal for guests is to help them learn about ocean conservation and to take away a sense of action to care for environment,” Pang says.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe mermaid instructors conduct mini beach cleanups before each lesson to give guests an idea of the things that get left behind on the beach. Note to students: mermaids hate to find trash in the ocean. The instructors hope to inspire mermaids and mermen to take small actions that will result in a big wave of positive change.

“Ocean stewardship is an important part of living in and visiting Hawaii. Whether you’re snorkeling, surfing or relaxing on the sand, it is our kuleana, or responsibility, to ensure that we maintain healthy, thriving oceans for future generations,” Pang says.

The 1.5-hour classes are $199 for a private lesson and $139 for two to five guests with a single instructor. Special arrangements are available for groups of six or more. For more information, visit or call (808) 495-8919.

By Morgan Davis


Pure and Simple

In The Home
Photography by Candice and Dan Lanning

Photography by Candice and Dan Lanning

A natural, minimalist lifestyle brings an abundance of joy to a Grovetown family.

There’s a lot to be said for simplicity and self-sufficiency, and Grovetown residents Candice and Dan Lanning bring those traits to almost everything they do. Two years ago, the couple, along with their daughters, Stevie, 7, and Dani, 5, moved to the area from Charlotte, North Carolina to streamline their lives.

For Candice, who grew up in Columbia County, the move was a homecoming – something she never really thought she would do. However, Candice and Dan, who started their own photography business – The Beautiful Mess – in 2007, thought the area would be a picture-perfect place to live. 

“We wanted to have a lifestyle where we could work together and raise a family together,” says Dan. “We can live anywhere with our business, and we decided we wanted to be close to family and have space for our kids to see and do.” 

2. Living Room CouchA Way with Woods
In January 2016, the Lannings bought 10 acres of land, which they christened Rolling Brook Farms, with Candice’s parents, Debra and David Whitley, and started building their house nine months later. Dan, who earned a degree in architecture from the University of Michigan and had worked for a property group in Charlotte, started making sketches for their dream home on a legal pad. With help from Candice’s parents and brother, the Lannings did much of the construction themselves and moved into their home in the summer of 2017.

“We’re pretty simple in our construction methods. The way we build and the way we live are simple,” says Dan. “We knew we wanted to build a home that we could live in. We took elements from different homes that we love.”

One of those homes was Candice’s grandparents’ Albany, Georgia farmhouse, which she says was part of the Underground Railroad. “They had a wraparound porch. It was a great place to live and socialize and be together,” says Dan.

Naturally, the Lannings also have a wraparound porch, which includes tongue and groove pine flooring and exposed beams in the ceiling beneath the home’s metal roof. Of course, the space wouldn’t be complete with a front porch swing.

The interior of the house is designed to bring in as much of the outdoors as possible. “Windows are the most important thing to us,” says Candice. “We love good, natural light.”

The top windows in the rooms with two-story ceilings also give them incredible views. “At night we can see the moon though the upper windows,” says Dan.

They included transom windows above the five-panel doors throughout the house as well. “The transom windows add an old-style farmhouse element,” says Candice. “People used to crack them open for air.”

All of the lighting in the house is LED, and they have recessed lighting and hardwood flooring throughout most of the house as well.

4. Living Room Record Player 2The flooring in the main living area is made up of 1955 heart pine bleacher boards from a high school gym in Ohio. “We wanted our floors to creak,” says Candice. “Dan planed every one of the boards, and he put dowels in the holes where the bolts were. I wanted it nailed down.”

In addition to the creaky floors, the living area features classic gray walls and a brick, wood-burning fireplace. “We deliberately have not gotten a mantel. I like it plain,” says Candice. “I verge on keeping things simple. I think it brings calm to a place.”

Dan built a recessed bookshelf on one side of the fireplace in four hours one afternoon. He built the staircase to the loft, and he installed all of the shiplap, which they found in Walhalla, South Carolina, in the house and the trim for the windows.

Candice used lots of rose gold, black and gray hardware and accents in the house. “I didn’t want the house to feel like a lodge even though it has a lot of wood,” she says.

A four-legged record player console, which the Lannings restored after finding it in their 1952 ranch house in Charlotte, adds a retro touch to the living room.

“We’ve tried to incorporate a lot of elements that are special to us and that mean something to us into the house,” says Dan.

3. Kitchen Horizontal 1His handiwork is on full display in the kitchen as well. He built the island and installed the scalloped tile backsplash in the kitchen. The floating shelves on the wall are made of white pine wood they found in Appling.

The kitchen also features a pot filler, farmhouse sink, hidden dishwasher, stainless steel refrigerator, double oven, black sconces, soft-close drawers, a shiplap hood cover above the gas cooktop, double oven and quartz countertops.

A trio of rose gold pendant lights hangs above the island, which has open shelving on the back side. “We wanted open cabinets because you don’t use appliances that you don’t see,” says Candice. “It’s simple and easy to access.”

The island is painted white, but Candice loves the way the knots in the wood seeped through the paint. Dan built the Southern yellow pine table in the pop-out nook for their fifth anniversary.

The mud room features an open pantry with a height chart for the girls on the inside frame, a deacon’s bench, shiplap walls, sealed butcher-block countertops, a sink to clean vegetables and plenty of canning supplies. Jars of homemade strawberry jam line a shelf. 

“We eat clean. We cook all of our own food. Because we cook so much, the double oven is a must,” says Candice. “We try to be like our grandparents were. Our goal is to homestead and provide as much of our own food as possible.”

7. Guest BathroomCountry Living
Dan, the son of a pastor, grew up on a 40-acre parsonage in northern Michigan, but life in the country was new for Candice. She easily adapted to the lifestyle, however, and her parents also built a house on the property. The Lannings enjoy having the girls’ grandparents close by, and most of Dan’s family has migrated to South Carolina as well.

The Lannings eat organically, and they grow vegetables such as tomatoes, squash, zucchini, bell peppers and cucumbers in their garden. “We can teach our kids that food doesn’t come from the grocery store,” says Dan. “Our lifestyle gives us the opportunity to teach our kids a lot of things school-wise and in life.”

They have five or six pecan trees on the land as well as blackberries, blueberries and persimmons. “We hope to eventually plant a lot of fruit trees on the property,” says Dan.

However, they already planted four trees – a tulip poplar and three October Glory maples – in the front yard. “We wanted trees to grow up with the girls,” says Candice.

Their three chickens – named after the Three Musketeers – live in a “swanky” henhouse that Dan built. “We tried to mimic our house with it. It has a metal roof, hardy board and a black door,” says Candice. 

They like the privacy and the quiet of living in the country. With their new home they nearly doubled the size of their living space, moving from a 1,400-square foot house in Charlotte to a home of just under 2,500 square feet.

“We have plenty of room in the house, or we can go outside for alone time and space,” says Dan.

6. Master Bedroom 2Function and Purpose
The bedrooms offer everyone their own space inside as well, but size doesn’t matter. “We went with a smaller master bedroom because we wanted home school space,” says Candice.

The master bedroom features a natural shiplap wall, a ceiling fan and a walk-in closet with an open door. The placement of the windows in the room allows them to see the sunrise in the mornings. All of the closets in the house have open doorways, but eventually they plan to put barn doors on them.

“Building a house requires patience,” Candice says.

The master bath features shiplap walls, faux wood flooring, rose gold shelving, separate vanities and vanilla leaf-shaped tile in the walk-in shower. The master bath also includes space for the pedestal tub that they plan to restore after finding it in a barn at Candice’s grandparents’ farmhouse.

“We added a door from the master bath to the home school room,” says Dan. “Neither of us are big fans of hallways. They separate space. A hallway is just a way to get from here to there instead of being useful.”

The home school space includes a simple white table and chairs, a storage closet, bookshelves on the wall and a piano that came from a home next to James Brown’s house.

A portrait of a woman in the room was painted by their neighbor in Charlotte. The woman depicts someone the neighbor met during her missionary work, and they call her “Miss Frances” in honor of the artist.

The powder room is the only room in the house with no windows. “Originally, it was going to be a closet,” says Dan.

The space includes a shiplap wall, a black and white tile floor and a six-panel, 100-year-old door.

The bottom panels are wood, but the top three are glass that Dan frosted so no one can see into the room. 

5. Master Bath 1A Jack and Jill bath, which features a transom window and elongated subway tile in the shower, separates the girls’ bedrooms. The bedrooms feature a shiplap wall and scalloped, sheer drapes that let in lots of light. Stevie has a white iron bed while Dani has a servant’s bed with a distressed finish.

The stairs to the loft feature gate posts on the rail. The loft, which Candice expects to become a bedroom for one of their daughters one day, includes a trundle bed in window. “Dan cut down an existing day bed, and it pulls out into a full bed,” says Candice.

The upstairs bath features a hexagon tile floor. Otherwise, along with its incredible views, the loft offers plenty of space and illustrates the methodical way that Candice has filled their home with meaningful pieces.

“I don’t want to drown a space. I do one space at a time. I just like to think about it first,” she says. “I look for things that speak to us. Everything has a function or a purpose.”

By Betsy Gilliland 

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:

Lake Effect

In The Home
Photography by Sally Kolar

Photography by Sally Kolar

The pull that Clarks Hill Lake has on an Appling family, which lives at the water’s edge year-round, knows no depth. 

When Appling resident Chad Harpley was growing up, he used to spend summers at Clarks Hill Lake with his grandmother. Now he spends every day at the lake with his own family.

Chad and his wife, Tara, broke ground on their lakeside home, which they affectionately call Harpley Lagoon, in 2015 and moved in with their two children, Will and Ava, during Masters Week of 2016. However, having the lake in their backyard is not the only reason the property is special to them. 

They built their house on the same lot that Chad’s grandparents bought in 1961 for $700. When they first broke ground on the house, his grandmother, Dolores Holsonbake (whom everyone called “Motha”) still lived in a cottage on the property.

“She told us to tear down her cottage and build a new house since we had outgrown our house off Hereford Farm Road,” says Chad.

The Harpleys liked the idea, and they had planned to include a mother-in-law suite for Dolores, who was in declining health. Unfortunately, she died on Christmas Day in 2015 before the house was finished. 

Memories Everywhere
The house, however, is full of reminders of “Motha.” For instance, a friend had given the chandelier in the walk-in pantry to Chad’s grandmother for her closet. And there’s a reason decorative owls are perched throughout the house. At the moment she died, Tara says, Chad was driving on Interstate 20 when an owl clipped his antenna. They also found an owl on the stoop one day while the house was under construction. 

“The owls are a symbol to us that Motha is OK,” Tara says.

From a baby deer curled up under a tree to baby ducks on the water, wildlife is everywhere on property. The steady singing of birds serves as soothing background music as well. “It’s so peaceful out here,” says Tara. 

Front-PorchDesign of the house, which was a joint effort, also was a peaceful process. “I was responsible for the main floor. I like my glitz and glamour,” says Tara. “Chad wanted a lake-y feel, so he got to do the basement.” 

The Harpleys, who like to spend time enjoying the lake, agreed they wanted a brick house. “I wanted the house to be maintenance-free,” says Chad.

The brick front porch features a herringbone pattern on the flooring as well as white wicker furniture with brightly colored cushions and aqua pillows. The front porch also features a heart pine ceiling. 

The Harpleys carried the herringbone flooring pattern into the foyer as well. Heart pine flooring can be found throughout the first and second stories, except for the bonus room, which is carpeted. “I love the scratches and dents in the floor,” Tara says. “Each one tells a story.” 

The living room, accented with aqua and sand-colored décor, has a beach-y feel to it, and its large curtain-free picture windows offer a tranquil view of the covered back porch and Keg Creek. “I love the light, bright, open feel,” says Tara.

A vaulted ceiling adds to the openness of the space, which also includes a brick gas fireplace and built-in bookcases. A ceramic Buddha sits on one of the built-in bookcase shelves. “I love my Buddha,” says Tara. “He’s my good luck charm.”

Covered-PorchOne of Tara’s friends made the coffee table in the living room; a wooden sign in the office, which features a quote from Mother Teresa; and the wooden Harpley Lakehouse sign on the stacked stone landing wall to the basement. 

The rock wall offers a preview of the ambiance that Chad created for the basement. “I wanted a place that felt like we were at the lake,” he says. 

KitchenThe island and bar area are shaped like the back of a boat, and boat cleats serve as hardware for the cabinetry. Three pendant lights hang above the island, which also includes a sink. 

The luxury vinyl tile flooring is waterproof, and the basement includes a full bath that has easy access to swimmers and boaters without having to track water through the house. 

The basement sitting area features a stacked stone, raised-hearth, wood-burning fireplace. “Rocky,” a stuffed raccoon who has his paw in a jar of peanut butter, has staked out a spot on the wood mantel. Built-in cabinets on either side of the fireplace sit in front of a stacked stone wall.

Screened-In-Porch-PaddlesOther memorabilia include a matted and framed picture that pays homage to the property’s history. The frame holds the original flier from 1961 when the Keg Creek lots were auctioned off and the original purchase receipt from Georgia Railroad Bank & Trust Company. The basement also features two canvases of photos – a tractor in a field and an old barn side – that Chad took in the Yukon on trips with his friend Dave Turin of the “Gold Rush” reality TV show. 

“We have lots of memories here,” Tara says.

The basement also includes two side-by-side bedrooms, and the first room originally was supposed to be a sitting room for Chad’s grandmother. The bedrooms, however, still get plenty of use. The Harpleys move to the basement while they rent the rest of the house during Masters Week, and Chad’s mother, Cindy Harpley, also stays with them sometimes. “This is her home away from home,” he says. 

Master-BedroomTime to Eat
The master bedroom includes blackout blinds, a ceiling fan, double doors that lead to a covered porch and a view of Keg Creek.

“It’s so nice to wake up in the morning to the lake view,” says Tara. “It’s just a little slice of heaven.”

The covered porch, along with a screened-in porch, is one of two porches on the back of the house. Both porches have stained concrete flooring and heart pine ceilings.

The covered porch also features a vaulted tongue and groove ceiling, gas fireplace, wicker furnishings, ceiling fan, wet bar with an ice maker, Big Green Egg and a covered fire pit.

The dinner bell on the back porch was a housewarming gift from a neighbor. Perhaps it was a gift to the neighbor himself as well.

“My grandmother used to ring a cowbell for me to come home. My neighbor got tired of hearing it, so he gave us the dinner bell,” says Chad. “We’re like Pavlov’s dog. When we hear the bell ringing, we start salivating because it’s time to eat.”

The screened-in porch features wicker furniture, a ceiling fan and a gas fireplace. The fireplace mantel is made of a Civil War-era piece of wood, which a neighbor, who worked for Georgia Pacific, found when he was searching for lumber. “He found a set of three steps that once led to a house,” says Chad, “and there were two big cedar trees on either side of the steps.” 

The concrete flooring in the screened-in porch is stained blue on the interior pieces, and the border pieces are stained brown to match the covered porch floor. 

Screened-In-PorchTara and Chad agree that the screened-in porch is their favorite spot in the house. 

“We have two infrared heaters, so I can come out here when it’s 30 degrees or 90 degrees,” says Chad. “We use the porch year-round. It’s a good napping place, and the screens keep the bugs away.” 

He also likes to cook, and the Harpleys’ kitchen offers plenty of amenities for any chef to enjoy. The kitchen features a farmhouse sink, subway tile, a pot filler, stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, a walk-in pantry with a frosted glass door and tall cabinets that reach to the ceiling. Four small cabinets on top have glass front doors, and the position of the sink provides a view of the lake.

“I love Joanna Gaines and her white kitchens,” says Tara. “I did not want a dining room. I knew we wouldn’t ever use it. I like the open flow with no walls into the living room.”

The eating area includes a table with four upholstered chairs and a bench. The Harpleys got the chairs first in the Highlands, North Carolina area, and they found the table and bench at Merry’s Trash & Treasures. “I like not having things match. I don’t like for things to be uniform,” says Tara. “And the bench is great for kids. We can fit a lot of booties on it.”

Eating-AreaForever More
The Harpleys spend as much time as they can on the lake in their two boats – a center console fishing boat and a ski boat, two kayaks and standup paddle board.

“For the most part after dinner, we take a boat ride,” says Chad. “When we have friends here for dinner, we take a cocktail cruise and watch the sunset.”

They also like to waterski, tube and wakeboard. “We love the lake, and we love to entertain,” Tara says. “The more we can share, the better.”

When they aren’t communing with nature on the lake, the Harpleys can communicate with each other with an intercom system between the rooms throughout the house.

Kitchen-Island-Place-Settings“The house is automated, so we can turn on the lights remotely from our phones,” says Chad, who owns Premier Networx, an IT support company.

An upstairs bonus room is another playground for Will and Ava. The space includes three ceiling fans, a table and chairs, a pool table, a foosball table, a TV, a couch and a sink. “I always wanted a room where the kids could hang out with their friends when they come over,” says Tara.

The bonus room originally was supposed to be 12 feet wide, but they expanded it to 18 feet wide and 40 feet long.

“Once the house was framed, we went through and tried to use all the usable space we could,” Chad says.

And they plan to do so for a long time.

“This is our forever house,” says Tara. “We’ll never be able to sell this property because it means so much to us.”

By Betsy Gilliland




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