Monthly Archives: October 2018

Tribute to Veterans


Carol-with-bench-A-A mosaic artist honors veterans with a patriotic bench at the All Wars Memorial.

Veterans Day is a time to remember all service members, and local artist Carol Ayer is using her talents to show her appreciation for the sacrifices of area soldiers.

In an 80-hour project, Ayer recently covered a 61-inch-by-13-inch bench at the All Wars Memorial in Augusta with a mosaic design that features an American eagle and an American flag.

“I’m doing it as a gift to the community and to create mosaic artwork in the city,” she says.

She began working on the bench in September and finished it in early October. “I used tile instead of glass because tile is a better surface for seating and a more durable material for the outdoors,” Ayer says. “I had to do it in three pieces to transport it because it’s so big.”

She hopes to secure funding to create more mosaic benches at other local memorials including a Vietnam War Memorial, which the city of Augusta plans to erect downtown. Excess funds that are raised for the memorial can be used to finance the bench projects.

More than 15,000 area men and women served in Vietnam, and 163 of them made the ultimate sacrifice and never returned home. For more information about the Vietnam War Memorial or to make a contribution, visit

Sweet Pumpkin Pancakes

  • Sweet-Pumpkin-Pancakes2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 4 tablespoons canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • Confectioners sugar
  • Syrup 

Preheat skillet or griddle over medium heat and coat with nonstick spray. Heat oven to 180 degrees. Using a mixer, combine eggs, buttermilk, butter, pumpkin, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Pour about 1/4 cup batter onto hot skillet or griddle for each pancake and cook 1-2 minutes until batter stops bubbling and edges begin to harden. Flip pancakes (they should be golden brown) and cook other side 1-2 minutes more until golden brown. Place cooked pancakes on oven-safe plate or baking sheet and keep warm in oven while cooking the next batch. When all pancakes are cooked, sprinkle with confectioners sugar and serve warm with syrup. Makes 16 pancakes.

Packed House


Annie-Moses-BandIconic music from the ’70s, along with a Christmas show, will fill up your senses at the Jabez. 

From tribute artists to Christmas tunes, the Hardin Performing Arts Center will be stayin’ alive with music this month when a quartet of musical groups comes to Evans. 

The first of the four – Bee Gees Gold, The Tribute – is scheduled for Friday, November 2. With the detailed vocal stylings of John Acosta (Barry), Daryl Borges (Robin) and Jeff Celentano (Maurice) as the brothers Gibb, the trio will recreate the look and sound of the Bee Gees with hits like “Massachusetts,” “I Started a Joke,” “Stayin’ Alive” and “You Should Be Dancing.” Tickets are $39.50. 

The John Denver Musical Tribute with Ted Vigel is slated for Friday, November 9. Vigel won a celebrity look-alike contest in 2007 when he appeared as Denver, and afterward started planning a tribute show to the music icon. From 2010 to 2014, he toured with Denver’s lead guitar player, the late Steve Weisberg. “It was like working with John again,” Weisberg said at the time. Tickets are $39.50.

Live and Let Die, a Tribute to Paul McCartney featuring Tony Kishman will take place Friday, November 16. Kishman starred in the national and international tours of Broadway’s smash hit, “Beatlemania,” for years, and he also performs in the International Symphonic Beatles production, “Classical Mystery Tour.” Tickets are $44.50.

Finally, the Annie Moses Band will perform a blend of folk and classical music in its Christmas-themed show Wednesday, November 28. The band, made up of musicians from the same family, call their style “chamber pop,” a blend of classical, jazz and pop, mixed with some good, old-fashioned country. Tickets are $49. 

All concerts will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Jabez S. Hardin Performing Arts Center. Dinner reservations also can be made for a meal at the center before each show. For more information or to order tickets, visit or call (706) 726-0366.

2018 County Fair Schedule


Candy-applesThe Columbia County Fair kicks off November 1 with new attractions that include Jurassic Kingdom, Banana Derby and ZEGA the Robot. Proceeds benefit area charities and provide scholarships to seniors from each Columbia County public high school. For more information, visit

Thursday, November 1
Hours: 4-11 p.m.

Admission: $7; free admission 4-4:45 p.m.

Unlimited Rides: $20

FFA Judging: 6 p.m.

Musical Entertainment: Elvis tribute artist Jason Sikes – 7 p.m.

Friday, November 2
Hours: 5 p.m. – midnight

Admission: $7

Unlimited Rides: $20 from 9 p.m.-midnight

Musical Entertainment: Love & the Outcome

Senior Night: $5 admission for adults 55 and older with ID card

Saturday, November 3
Hours: 11 a.m. – midnight

Admission: $7

Unlimited Rides: Buy unlimited ride stamp 11 a.m.-3 p.m. for $30 and use it all day

Free Ride Special: All rides free 11 a.m.-noon

Musical Entertainment: Tony Howard’s Motown Review – 7 p.m.

Sunday, November 4
Hours: 1 – 11 p.m.

Admission: $7; $2 off with church bulletin

Unlimited Rides: $20

Musical Entertainment: Little Roy and Lizzie, 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Monday, November 5
Hours: 5 – 11 p.m.

Admission: $7

Unlimited Rides: $20

Demolition Derby: 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, November 6
Hours: 4 – 11 p.m.

Admission: $7 or free admission with 8 cans for the food bank

Unlimited Rides: $15 if purchased 4-4:30 p.m.; $20 after 4:30 p.m.

Musical Entertainment: Dayz to Come – 7 p.m.

Wednesday, November 7
Hours: 5 – 11 p.m.

Admission: $7

Unlimited Rides: $20

Musical Entertainment: Mr. Haney

UGA Georgettes Dance Team: 6:30 p.m.

Thursday, November 8
Hours: 5 – 11 p.m.

Admission: $7

Unlimited Rides: $20

Musical Entertainment: Bethany & the Southside Boys – 7 p.m.

Friday, November 9
Hours: 5 p.m. – midnight

Admission: $7

Unlimited Rides: $20 from 9 p.m.-midnight

Demolition Derby: 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, November 10
Hours: 11 a.m. – midnight

Admission: $7

Free Ride Special: All rides free 11 a.m.-noon

Unlimited Rides: Buy unlimited ride pass between 11 a.m.-3 p.m. for $30 and use it all day

Musical Entertainment: Mayhem on a Monday

Chainsaw Carving Auction: 9 p.m. 

Sunday, November 11
Hours: 1-11 p.m.

Admission: $7

Unlimited Rides: $20

Military Appreciation Night: $4 admission with military ID

Beatles Vs. Stones


beatles vs stonesThe boys next door take on the bad boys of rock in a musical showdown for stage superiority.

The debate between the Beatles and the Rolling Stones has raged ever since the two groups first crossed paths on the charts 54 years ago. Back in the day, the Beatles were regarded as the mop-topped boys next door while the Stones were the bad boys of rock. Pop versus rock. 

To settle which band reigns supreme once and for all, maybe, two tribute bands – Abbey Road and Satisfaction – will put on a musical showdown.

“Music fans never had a chance to see the Beatles and the Rolling Stones perform on the same marquee,” says Chris Legrand, who plays Mick Jagger. “Now, music aficionados can watch this debate play out on stage.”

The show, which has been touring since 2011, is part of a 110-stop tour of the United States, Australia and Canada. The production includes some of the more popular songs from the two rock pioneers and covers the scope of their musical careers. However, the set list for Satisfaction usually includes Rolling Stones songs up to the 1980s. 

“They certainly have more pop songs, but we’re a really great live show. The fans are in for an incredible night of music,” says LeGrand.

During the two-hour show, the bands perform three sets each, ending the night with an all-out encore involving both bands. There’s a lot of good-natured jabbing between the bands as well.

“Without Beatlemania, the Stones might still be a cover band in London,” said Chris Overall, who plays Paul. “There’s no question that the Beatles set the standard. It’s just a fun time and a cool back-and-forth, nonstop show.” 

Legrand agrees. “We’re going to bring it all,” he says. “It’s going to be an evening of high-energy music.”

If You Go:
What: Beatles Vs. Stones, a Musical Showdown

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, November 10

Where: Imperial Theatre

How Much: $25 – $65

More Info: (706) 722-8341 or

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Literary Loop

crawdadsFor years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl.

But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life — until the unthinkable happens.

Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps. 

“Lyrical,” says Booklist. “Its appeal rises from Kya’s deep connection to the place where she makes her home, and to all of its creatures.”

“Slow down and let this lush nature-focused story unspool,” says Garden & Gun. “A mystery will pull you along, but stay awhile in the descriptions of shifting tides, shell collections and the mottled light of coastal Carolina.”

Bottle It In — Kurt Vile

Listen To This

kurt-vile-bottle-it-inAmerican rock ‘n’ roll is surely not dead. Thanks to Kurt Vile, the insurgence of pure heart-rock-folk is re-exploring territory originally cultivated by the likes of Jackson Brown and Bob Dylan. 

Vile’s eighth studio release, Bottle It In, is probably one of the finest releases of 2018. With 13 musically refreshing, lyrically stout and steel-cable-tight songs of raw emotion, it is inspired by the nuances of life and love. 

His unpolished, sturdy, low-fi vocals slink around the gentle power chords and jangle loops to create a deep tread that grips the rocky terrain of every track, creating a vibe that is infectious and endearing. Jazzy improvisations crescendo into fuzzy-lush, melodic tones of structured hooks that make you long for more. 

Like a perfect batch of goulash, every track is superbly seasoned and cooked, serving up warm spoonsful of soul that leave you satisfied inside. It’s the perfect soundtrack for welcoming long sleeves, fire pits and road trips into the holiday season.

– Chris Rucker

Football, Film & Standing in for Burt Reynolds

Photos courtesy of Stan Byrdy, Donnie Hixon and Georgia State Prison at Reidsville

Photos courtesy of Stan Byrdy, Donnie Hixon and Georgia State Prison at Reidsville

A Martinez resident recalls his gridiron glory days, Hollywood-style.
To hear Columbia County resident Donnie Hixon tell it, the best days of his life were those spent at the Georgia State Prison at Reidsville in the fall of 1973. It is also where Hixon received numerous punishing blows to his body over the course of five weeks.

After one such barrage early after his arrival in which he was nearly knocked out, Hixon recalls thinking to himself, “What the hell am I doing here?”

3.-Hixon-&-ReynoldsHowever, his time spent inside the walls of the maximum security prison, a massive, white structure situated about 110 miles south of Augusta, was of his own volition. He was part of the cast of The Longest Yard, the box office sensation that starred budding movie icon Burt Reynolds.

And not just in any role, mind you. Hixon, a former semi-pro quarterback was selected as Reynolds’ stand-in double for the film, a role that the Augusta native says he was honored to play.

2.-Eddie-Albert-(Warden-Hazen)-with-Hixon“Let’s make this clear,” says Hixon, “he didn’t need me or anyone else to stand in for him. Had they let him, he would have been two times better — he was that good of an athlete. Being his stand-in was an honor, and like my time spent in the Marines, it would turn out to be another life-changing experience for me.” 

Like a Dream
Reynolds, who died in September at age 82, played college football at Florida State, and the chance to return to the gridiron as a quarterback in a major motion picture was a dream come true. Hixon had been a standout football player in the Marines and afterwards as quarterback with the Augusta Eagles semi-pro team. As luck would have it, a select number of Hixon’s teammates also were chosen to take part in the film.

ID-frontAfter a prison riot in Oklahoma at the movie’s original prospective location, the Reidsville facility was hurriedly selected as a replacement.

As Reynolds’ stand-in, Hixon took the physically punishing shots from a cast of former NFL greats, including fearsome Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Nitschke.

on-the-setReynolds and Hixon both donned number 22 jerseys in the film, but after calling the signals at quarterback, the actor went back to the sidelines and watched from an easy chair as the other number 22 took the ensuing blows. Both were in great shape, and looked enough alike that with helmets on and slick film editing, it was nearly impossible to differentiate between the two onscreen. Defensive players didn’t care which number 22 they tackled — they just wanted a shot at whichever pretty boy was toting the football. 

4.-Reynolds-HixonHixon admits to not getting much sleep the night before heading off to the prison, and he was nervous on his drive to Reidsville. “Working with Burt Reynolds?… you’ve got be kidding.” It felt like a dream.

“Prior to reporting to Reidsville Prison for filming,” Hixon recalls, “I was told the movie with Burt was going to be a football game played inside the prison between inmates and guards. When I first heard this I thought to myself, ‘That’s going to be a hell of a game.’ At first, this sounded very dangerous to me — what if a riot breaks out like the one at the prison in Oklahoma? Maybe that’s why I got selected, because others turned my role down. Up until the time I reported to Reidsville, I thought the movie people were taking a hell of a chance — filming a football game inside the walls of a maximum security prison… would have to be very risky.… There were a lot more prisoners there than us.” 

6.-Actor-Richard-Kiel-(right)Protection for the star-studded cast of actors and former professional football stars that converged on Reidsville was job one for the Georgia Department of Corrections. Still, Hixon’s mind was set. 

“After weighing all this, I admit I did have some concerns, but never any second thoughts about taking part in the film. After all, ‘I can’t turn down a once in a lifetime opportunity like this, one that doesn’t come along every day. I’ve got to go for it, it can’t be that unsafe,’ I kept telling myself. As it turned out, the only person I would need to fear was Green Bay Packer legend, Ray Nitschke, and not the prisoners.”

After all, it was Nitschke who delivered the most punishing blows. 

A Nostalgic Return
In February Hixon returned to Reidsville for the first time in nearly half a century (this writer accompanied him to document the visit), and fresh memories flooded his mind. He recounted his first day at the prison in 1973.

“Outside I was greeted by a guard and escorted through large steel doors at the main entrance. I had an insecure feeling once those doors closed shut behind me. That’s when realization set in. Here I was, inside a maximum security prison around some of the world’s most dangerous criminals. I felt trapped. I was taken to a processing office where I produced identification, was given instructions and had my picture taken for the Paramount Pictures ID card. The identification card was secured on a string and had to be worn around my neck upon entry or exit of the prison. I still have that ID card today.”

It was Hixon’s Paramount Pictures ID card and a scrapbook full of rare photos from the production that played a large part in getting us inside the prison. One look at Hixon’s old ID and warden Marty Allen knew this was something he hadn’t encountered before.

Sure, he had seen the pictures on the fifth floor prison walls that documented the event, but never had anyone shown up looking to get inside the prison to re-live those days. The warden quipped that Hixon’s 45-year-old ID card came without an expiration date, then made a few phone calls and warmly welcomed Reynolds’ stunt-double back to Reidsville for a tour.

High atop the prison, one floor up from death-row, rests a small room that houses the now obsolete electric chair, one that was still in use when The Longest Yard was filmed. A barred window not far from the chair overlooks the one-time field put in place for the production. The movie’s original script and countless pictures from those days line the walls in that same room.

Warden-Marty-Allen-and-Hixon-in-2018Recipe for Success 
The actual recipe that went into making a motion picture at Reidsville went something like this: Carefully select a dozen or so choice Hollywood stars, add a dozen seasoned former NFL standouts and make room for Hixon, 14 of his Eagles teammates and three of their coaches. Stir slowly, sprinkle with inmates (who auditioned for and won roles in the film), and top things off with a Hollywood production crew. Place in the oven and bake for five weeks at south Georgia outdoor temperatures. Contain the mixture within a perimeter of razor sharp wire – and be sure not to let it boil over. Remove and serve hot to movie-goers worldwide, popcorn optional.

The finished product — an irreverent and not politically correct low-budget production — was a smash hit with moviegoers, grossing $43 million. With similar box office numbers in back-to-back movies, (Deliverance, 1972 and The Longest Yard, 1974), Reynolds cemented his name as a bona fide leading man.

Hixon’s life also changed dramatically as his persona was suddenly and forevermore connected to Reynolds. “I never met anybody like that before, with that notoriety… It kind of changed my life. I took on a new identity,” he says. “Today I went to Walmart, a guy came up to me and introduced me to his wife and said, ‘He’s the one who did The Longest Yard.’ I get it all the time. It never stops.” 

Hixon kept in touch with Reynolds through the years and even paid his acting acquaintance a visit in Florida several years ago. While he was saddened to hear of Reynolds’ passing, Hixon was not completely caught off guard. “I’m sorry that he died, but he had been in bad shape for years and years and may be better off,” he says.

But Hixon still has his memories of Reynolds and the fall of 1973 at the Reidsville prison— the time of his life.


By Stan Byrdy


In collaboration with author Stan Byrdy, Hixon’s stories from The Longest Yard are recounted in the upcoming book, Behind the Scenes with Burt Reynolds at Reidsville State Prison. The book, due for release in December, includes never-before-seen photographs of Reynolds, Hixon, Hollywood legends and former NFL standouts in the making of the film.

Works of Art


ChalkArtist2Artisans and entertainers take center stage at Art in the Park Fall Fest 
Creativity will be on display Saturday, October 20, at the 15th annual Arts in the Park Fall Fest, where artisans and entertainers in the area will showcase their talents. 

“From visual to performing arts, anything is fair game for Columbia County’s own fine arts festival,” says Regina Brejda, Columbia County Arts Inc. president.

The festival will feature a variety of performers including Columbia County Ballet and Musical Theatre Workshops. Fall Fest had 64 vendors from a variety of mediums last year, and event organizers are hoping to have even more artists at this year’s festival. 

“Along with music and dance, you’ll see everything from pottery, paintings and wood carvings to handmade brooms, jewelry and soaps,” Brejda says. “It’s a day of both two-dimensional and three-dimensional art.” 

The popular sidewalk chalk contest will be part of the festivities again this year as well. Local elementary, middle and high schools can enter a team for a chance to win money to support their schools’ visual arts department. The individual portion of the competition begins at 10 a.m. Participants can register at the main Columbia County arts booth. Registration is $20. Categories will be divided into age brackets, and prizes will be awarded for first and second places. An overall best of show winner will be named as well. 

If You Go:
What: Art in the Park Fall Fest 

When: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday, October 20

Where: Columbia County Library Amphitheater

How Much: Free admission; food and beverage vendors on site

More Info:;; Regina Brejda, (706) 267-6724

Duckworth  Development, LLC

Go Local

Company Name: Duckworth  Development, LLC
Year Established: 2015
Owners: Patrick Duckworth,  President
                 Jim Cely, COO
Address: 575 Furys Ferry Road, Suite C
                  Martinez, GA 30907
Phone: 706.922.6186
Specialties: Construction Management, Design-Build,  General Contracting



Go Local

Company Name: SME CPAs
Year Established: 1952
Owners: Rick Evans,  Managing Partner
                 Michelle Bennett, Partner
                  Jay Sanders, Partner
                  Andrea Usry, Partner
                  Paul Wade, Partner
Address: 2743 Perimeter Pkwy,  Bldg 100, Suite 200
Phone: 706.722.5337
Specialties: Business and Individual Tax, Audits, CFO Services, Business Succession, and Consulting.


Windsor Fine  Jewelers

Go Local

Company Name: Windsor Fine  Jewelers
Year Established: 1975
Owners: Donnie Thompson
Address: 2635 Washington Road
Phone: 706.738.7777
Specialties: Jewelry and gift sales; custom design; appraisals; stone setting; repairs; restoration and modification; certified diamond sales and purchases.


Great Deals On Furniture

Go Local

Company Name: Great Deals on  Furniture
Year Established: 2005
Owners: Carol and Eddie Kennedy
Address: 270 Bobby Jones Expy. Suite 148
Phone: 706.447.4473
Specialties: Brand name furniture at low prices. Includes Artisan & Post, Artisan Home Furniture, BenchMaster, Dalyn Rugs, Liberty, Paula Deen, Serta Perfect Sleeper, Vaughan-Bassett.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 10am-6pm and Thursday, Friday, Saturday 10am-8pm


Morgan Heating & Cooling Inc.

Go Local

Company Name: Morgan Heating & Cooling Inc
Year Established: 2002
Owner: Stephen Thomas Morgan  IV, President 
Address: 472 Flowing Wells Road
Phone: 706.364.4328
Specialties: Full line of heating and air equipment, air cleaners, dehumidifiers, air sealing and servicing.


StoneWorks of  Augusta, Inc.

Go Local

Company Name:  StoneWorks of  Augusta, Inc.
Year Established: 2001
Owners: Chris Hensley   
                 Tim Farr
Address: 3843 Wrightsboro Road
Phone: 706.798.3005
Specialties: Natural Stone Countertops, Indoor and Outdoor Kitchens Fireplace Surrounds, Bath Vanities. Large selection of Material.  Skilled fabricators and installers.  Local Owner Operated. We take pride in our reputation and work.