Monthly Archives: May 2020

Respite from the Fast Lane

In The Home

Photography by Sally Kolar

A couple that has plenty of get up and go can put on the brakes at their Clarks Hill Lake home when they’re ready for some down time

For two people who live life to the max, empty nesters Christine and Chris Walker took a minimalist approach when they downsized to a two-bedroom home on Clarks Hill Lake two years ago.

The exterior of the contemporary house is made of stucco, hardy board and 1-inch-thick cultured stone cut into 12-inch-by-24-inch pieces. Inside, the clean lines and open spaces offer the perfect backdrop to showcase the Walkers’ collections of art, sports memorabilia and automobiles.

“We have a fast life with the business we have,” says Chris, who owns Southeast Utilities of Georgia and also builds custom Ford F650 super trucks. “When we’re not working, we can spend time at the house for quiet and solitude. The lake is our passion. It’s our release.”

Sporting Life
The Walkers, who used to spend almost every weekend at Clarks Hill, knew they wanted to build a house on the lake. When they first saw the property they now call home, however, they didn’t like it. “The lot was completely wooded,” says Christine. “You couldn’t even see the water.”

After a second look, however, they reconsidered. Now the footprint of the house occupies space that once was filled with giant boulders, and the front door marks the spot where a giant white oak tree stood.

“Everybody in the family helped prep the land for the house,” says Chris. “After the land was prepped and organized, then we built the house. It made the placement of the house easier. I oversaw or built everything.”

It took the Walkers about a year to build the house, and they moved into the Appling home two years ago. They also took a collaborative, but unorthodox, approach to the design of the house.

“We designed the garage, and then we designed the house around it,” says Chris. “I designed and engineered the house, and Christine was in charge of the interior design.”

A garage-first approach might be unconventional for most people, but not for the Walkers. Chris raced formula cars in the 1980s, and the custom truck builder also collects vehicles, which he houses in the 4,000-square-foot garage.

His collection includes a special edition, handmade Rolls Royce, which has a special sound system for opera and classical music with copper speakers and coils; a handmade, all carbon fiber 2019 McLaren 720s; a 1958 Jeep pickup, which was fully restored for Jay Leno’s garage; and a 110-year anniversary 2019 Morgan three-wheeler. He also has a fully electric, carbon fiber Lito Sora fighter bike – the motorcycle that Daniel Dae Kim’s character, Chin Ho Kelly, rode in “Hawaii Five-O.”

Chris collects professional sports memorabilia as well, and the garage is full of jerseys from pro athletes. “I’ve been collecting jerseys half my life,” says Chris. “I built trucks for a lot of these guys.”

He has signed jerseys from super truck customers including NFL stars Albert Haynesworth, Chad Ochocinco, Plaxico Burress and Irving Fryar and NBA greats Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron James. His collection also includes jerseys worn by professional athletes such as Dan Marino, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Russell Wilson, Joe Montana, Larry Bird and Greg Maddox.

Another sports memorabilia display in the garage features a collection of frames that each hold a photo of a Masters Tournament winner, his autograph and a badge from the year he won.

Other wall displays include boating memorabilia – Chris races boats now, with Christine at his side as his navigator. He stores his 45-foot and 47-foot race boats in Lincolnton, but the Walkers, who love to travel, keep their 26-foot Chris-Craft Catalina at their Chigoe Creek dock. The dock bears the name “Walker’s Cay,” which they fittingly call their lake retreat after the northernmost island in the Bahamas.

During the winter, they go out on the lake about twice a month. The rest of the year, they’re on the lake four times a week.

“There’s a little island where we like to go to meet friends,” says Christine. “When we’re at home, we’re usually on the lake.”

Designed to Entertain
Even though the house only has two bedrooms, it was designed for sleepovers and entertainment. The house features four-and-a-half baths (including a full bath outside), and all of the couches turn into beds so friends and family who come over to play are welcome to spend the night.

Frequent guests include their children, Savannah Walker and Cameron Morbey, who live in the area. Their other two children – son Christopher, his wife, Alejandra, and their son, Eliah, who live in Florida, and daughter Whitney Weathers, her husband, Jim, and their daughter, Sadie Jane, who live in North Carolina – visit as well.

Just inside the front door, a floating staircase leads up to the entertainment room – a favorite hangout for the Walkers when they’re not traveling or on the lake. To build the staircase, they put that giant white oak tree from their property to good use. Chris had it milled, and he used the wood to make the 18 steps and the railing for the staircase.

“I would say what I wanted, and he made it,” Christine says. “He’s detail-oriented and romantic. And he listens.”

The entertainment room features a black bamboo floor, which is made up of planks that are 4.5 inches wide. “I like the sexiness of black hardwoods,” says Christine.

The room also features black trim work, teal walls and exposed A/C and heat duct. “It’s the one room that pops out from the rest of the house,” Chris says.

Railed openings on one wall overlook the living room on the first floor, and big picture windows on the opposite wall offer a view of the lake. Furnishings include white couches and a stamped aluminum coffee table. A chalkboard barn door opens to a full bath, which includes a vessel sink and a shower.

For fun and games, the room includes a pool table, a poker table, a dart board and a flat-screen TV. The entertainment room is full of more sports memorabilia as well. Chris’ collection, which he has amassed in 30-plus years, includes a pair of boxing gloves signed by Muhammad Ali; a half-dozen coins used for the opening coin flip in various Super Bowls; countless autographed NFL helmets signed by the entire teams (including a Patriots helmet from Tom Brady’s first Super Bowl); and an autographed football from the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins’ perfect season.

He also has a baseball from the 100-year anniversary of the World Series, which was signed by all of the living World Series MVPs; a case full of Hall of Fame bats; and a 1997 World Series trophy that belonged to Florida Marlins closer Robb Nen. “I taught him how to fish,” Chris says.

He loves all professional sports teams, but the south Florida native is partial to the Dolphins and the Marlins. Since moving to Georgia in 1996 (Chris was sold on Columbia County after a convenience store clerk told him “around here, you get your gas first and then pay for it”) he also has become a fan of the Falcons and the Braves.

The entertainment room leads to an open-air porch, where Christine and her girlfriends like to sit during “game night” at the Walker house. The porch features a fire pit surrounded by four square stools and an outdoor kitchen with a teppanyaki grill. A spiral staircase connects it to another porch below.

Spacious & Sleek
A vaulted ceiling brings a feeling of spaciousness to the living room, where big picture windows overlook the landscaping in the front yard. “We don’t like curtains and doors,” says Christine.

However, the doors they have were made in Italy with solid wood, and they’re lined with aluminum strips. A two-sided, vented, propane-burning, slate fireplace separates the family room and the kitchen.

Chris made the open shelves in the kitchen from the oak tree they had milled and mounted them with industrial plumbing pipes that he painted black. The oak ceiling was made from the tree as well.

In addition, the kitchen features deep drawers and cabinetry with no hardware, a farmhouse sink, stainless steel appliances, a walk-in pantry with a pocket door and a chandelier, and countertops of vein-free, manmade material. A clear vase, which holds oil-based, floral décor, sits on the adjoining dining area table.

The master bedroom also features a vented, propane-burning, slate fireplace as well as a mirrored wall, a walk-in closet with an island in the middle and a “futuristic, crazy” chandelier.

“Every room has a chandelier, but that’s the only light fixture in the whole house that Chris picked out,” says Christine. “In the rest of the house, we have frou-frou chandeliers.”

Two oversized Oriental porcelain vases, which had belonged to Christine’s mother, stand in the corners on one side of the room. Doors lead out to a balcony on the other side.

The adjoining master bath has tile flooring, a stand-alone tub, a walk-through tile shower, two trough sinks and a separate water closet.

The antiques that Christine once favored have been replaced with sleek, modern furnishings, and artwork has a constant presence throughout the house as well. “Art can be passed down for many generations,” Christine says.

An oil painting, which they watched the artist finish on a river in Bangkok, hangs on one wall in the living room, and a hand drawing by Picasso hangs on another wall. A print called “Vintage” by Erté, a Russian-born 20th-century French artist and designer, hangs in the kitchen.

Tucked under the floating staircase, a hand-cut bronze sculpture, “Callisto” by Michael James Talbot, sits on a granite base. An abstract oil on canvas triptych lines the wall by the staircase.

They got a wood carving on the back porch in the mountains of Taipei, Taiwan when they took Christine’s mother there. “He is carved out of a tree root,” says Christine. “He has to be by a door because he wards off any bad spirits and brings in health and happiness.”

In a back hallway, the Walkers grouped 25 of their favorite black-and-white family photos in black frames with white mats. Even the laundry room is a gallery, where two pictures that Chris had done for his wife for Christmas one year, hang on a wall. To honor her penchant for footwear, one of the pictures is an oil painting of a shoe and the other features hundreds of shoes hand-etched with Xs and Os in copper.

While artwork is a necessity in the home, the couple took the opportunity to shed anything they no longer needed when they moved into their lake house. And that minimalist attitude hasn’t changed.

“If we don’t use it, we don’t keep it,” says Christine. “Except for clothes, shoes and pocketbooks. You can’t have too many of those.”

By Betsy Gilliland

Get the Picture


A former photojournalist, who now works in the corporate world, is having his first show since his recent return to photography.

For some people, the commute to and from work is a daily grind to be completed as quickly as possible. Then there is photographer Patrick Krohn. He manages to turn his 5-mile commute into a 30-minute trek every morning and afternoon.

“My commute takes longer because I stop and take pictures all the time,” he says. “I’m always looking around and seeing how I could make a photo from a scene.”

Krohn, who spent more than 10 years as a photojournalist and now works as a price analyst in the corporate world, recently returned to his first love of photography after almost 15 years. He primarily photographs landscapes and nature.

“It’s easier to do on my schedule,” he says. “The landscape is always there. It’s on its own time. It doesn’t require planning.”

Krohn will share his work with a photographic show, “Some Eclectic Musings of a One-Eyed Dog,” at 4P Studios in Martinez from March 31 – May 2. The photographs will include landscapes that he passes going to and from work each day as well as scenes from recent trips to the Pacific Northwest and to the Lake District in England. All his original works will be available for purchase.

With his journalistic background, Krohn takes a documentary approach to his photography. Resisting preconceived notions before he ventures out into the world with his camera, he just gets excited about photographing what is presented in front of him.

“I’m not changing anything around me,” Krohn says. “I find things and explore them as I would as a journalist. I find nature as it is and see it the way it is. I enjoy discovering something and then composing it in a nice way. I have always been fairly creative, but photography just clicked with me. I enjoy the creativity of being out and about – even in the pouring rain.”

Carolina Bay Nature Preserve in Aiken is one of his favorite places to take photographs. Unlike typical bays, Carolina Bays are oval or roughly circular depressions that are common in the lower elevations of the Carolinas. They tend to collect water and often develop communities of plants and animals that are unusual in the surrounding area.

“There are no vistas in this area, but there’s a lot of great nature if you just look at it,” Krohn says. “There’s nature all around us. I keep going back to the same places at different times of the day.”

Krohn, whose photography business is called One-Eyed Dog Studios after his one-eyed rescue terrier, Rogue, also teaches photography workshops at 4P Studios and at Art & Soul in Aiken.

“I enjoy putting classes together,” he says. “I like letting people know there’s so much you can do with photography. There’s no failure, just figuring out if you’re doing things right or not.”

If You Go:
What: “Some Eclectic Musings of a One-Eyed Dog,” a photography exhibition by Patrick Krohn

When: Tuesday-Friday 1-5 p.m. and Saturday 1-4 p.m. March 31 through May 2, or by appointment; free artist reception 4-6 p.m. Sunday, April 19

Where: 4P Studios, 3927 Roberts Road, Martinez

How Much: Free

More Info: (706) 267-6724

No Letting Up


A Q&A with the chief medical officer of Augusta University Health System.

By now, all of us have heard more than we ever wanted to hear about COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. In early April, however, Dr. Phillip Coule, vice president and chief medical officer of Augusta University Health System, shared valuable information about the disease. At that time, the Martinez resident, who graduated from the Medical College of Georgia in 1996, said the area could pass its peak load of cases by late April. The Q&A has been edited slightly for clarity and space considerations.

Q: What is it like working in the hospital on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic?

A: The team and our ICU staff are working incredibly hard, and they’re doing a fantastic job. There are lots of cases in the community as well as patients transferred from Albany. The patients in the ICU are very sick. We have two designated COVID-19 ICUs, but morale is high in the COVID-19 medical ward.

Q: How was AU Health able to develop a test so quickly?

A: If there’s a hospital version of “Doomsday Preppers,” we’re it. We have a leadership team that’s forward thinking. We have people who are constantly monitoring the latest trends in healthcare and what’s emerging. We were closely following the coronavirus developments in China and knew we needed to be ready. Everybody realized what could happen here and started preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. We started pursuing multiple testing platforms early on.

We knew the world was coming to town for Masters Week. Our goal was to have testing available by late March. We were pursuing different test platforms with different supply chains. We realize that Augusta is an international city and travel-associated cases were occurring early on in this. We realized Augusta needed to be prepared for a pandemic.

We didn’t make any changes after the Masters was postponed. This was widespread, and it accelerated our response.

Q: Which departments at the hospital have been affected by staff reductions?

A: These are unusual times. The shelter-in-place order is causing some people to defer some of their healthcare needs. That has decreased the need for surgeries that can be postponed, but we’re looking at ways to get patients back in the system.

Q: Can you tell if social distancing and sheltering in place are working?

A: We certainly do not want to let up now, but there is some reason for optimism, cautiously so. The combination of business closures, identifying and testing cases, and other measures have helped. There’s some evidence that we’re bending the curve. We need to keep doing what we’re doing.

Q: When do you think things might return to normal, and what will that look like?

A: My hope is that by the end of May or the beginning of June, we start to see things return to normal. We might see a loosening of mandatory closures. Restaurants might reopen with caution. We have to wait and see what happens before we get back to completely normal, but we don’t want to loosen up and then have things get out of control again.

We’ll feel a little better about the relaxation of the measures going into the summer. If we can get the ability to do antibody testing, it would allow us a better opportunity to know what’s really happening with this disease. Since some people only have mild symptoms, we haven’t been able to identify the true denominator. We hope to see signs of herd immunity where a lot of people don’t get the disease in the short term, making it harder for it to be transmitted.

Q: When do you think you will be able to start testing for antibodies?

A: Hopefully, by summertime. We are pursuing different options to test for antibodies, but we don’t have funding yet.

Q: How does this pandemic compare to anything else you’ve seen during your career?

A: This is unprecedented. I was involved in the response to 9/11, and I thought that was the only time I would see a disaster of that magnitude. Then I responded to Hurricane Katrina, and I thought that was the only time I would see another disaster of that magnitude. Then COVID-19 happened, and I’ve never seen anything like it.

It’s also remarkable to me how quickly people have adjusted to social distancing. We went from handshakes to fist bumps to elbow bumps to waving from six feet away. I’m hoping we go back to hugs. I’m hoping we go back to normal.

Q: What do you think things will look like in May?

A: I think we’ll know by then how we’ve weathered the storm.

Q: Is there a silver lining in any of this?

A: I’ve never seen a team pull together like the AU team has pulled together. We’ve done a world-class job in responding to this pandemic. That includes our pastoral staff, volunteer services and patient family services.

There are so many bright spots in this, I can’t count them all. Companies large and small have offered to donate masks. We can’t accept hand-sewn masks because there is so much variability in them, but we have accepted hand-made caps. My wife helped organize a sewing brigade to make the caps. They have been wildly popular. Everyone has loved them. People have fired up 3-D printers to print face shields.

We’ve had an incredible outpouring from the community. The support from the community has been great and very much appreciated. The parking lot prayers* were especially inspirational, and the food donations have helped to lift the morale of the staff.

Q: If there is one thing you would want people in the community to know, what would that be?

A: The importance of social distancing. It’s incredibly important for us to remember. Houses of worship and funerals will present the greatest risk to our most vulnerable populations. It may be necessary to modify things like that in the short-term so we can get back to normal in the long-term. And I’ve never been prouder of our entire team and the com

Feeling Good


Appling resident Cole Phail must be feeling good after the Greater Augusta Arts Council announced that he won its James Brown Mural competition in an online voting contest.

His mural, “The Spirit of Funk,” will be painted on the side of the building located at 879 Broad Street in Augusta. Phail used a variety of art styles such as realism, graphic style and impressionism in his submission.

Phail’s painting also included lyrics of Brown’s greatest hits as well as the singer’s various nicknames and titles. Brown’s catchphrase, “I Feel Good,” is the theme of the mural.

“My hope is that the viewer will get the full impact of the life of James Brown with a casual viewing, but will be enticed to spend more time studying the details layered throughout,” Phail says in his artist statement.