Monthly Archives: August 2022

Pedal Power


Photos courtesy of Erin Caracci and SORBA

A trio of local charities will benefit from a popular bike ride for cyclists of all abilities.

All expectations are that the Best Dam Ride Ever will live up to its name when bicyclists take part in the fundraiser the first weekend in October.

Geared toward cyclists of all abilities, bike riders can pick one of several distances to hit the road or hit the trail.

While the 100-mile century road ride is for advanced riders only, the 29-mile road ride is designed for bikers who are new to road cycling or who have not ridden for a while. However, most riders opt for the 62-mile metric century – the original Dam Ride.

In addition, SORBA-CSRA will offer mountain bikers a fun ride on the historic Bartram Trail. Riders can choose from multiple distances ranging from 5 miles to 36 miles.

After the ride, cyclists can enjoy lunch provided by Mot’s Barbeque.

Proceeds from the ride benefit Augusta Urban Ministries, which provides furniture and household goods to families and individuals in need; the Liam Caracci Foundation, which supports parents who experience stillbirth and infant loss; and SORBA-CSRA, which promotes trail preservation and development, riding opportunities, fun and fellowship for area mountain bicyclists.

If You Go:

What: Best Dam Ride Ever

When: 8:30 a.m. Sunday, October 2

Where: Below Dam Park (South Carolina side)

How Much: $45 (includes T-shirt, water bottle, rest stops and lunch)

More Info:

Medicine for the Soul


Photography by Sally Kolar and Lou Ciamillo

An emergency room physician and his son weathered the stress of the pandemic through their shared love of woodworking.

There are few good things to say about the coronavirus pandemic. For a local father and son, however, covid offered an unexpected opportunity to embrace their creative side.

For most of his adult life – and especially during the pandemic – Martinez resident Lou Ciamillo, an emergency medicine physician and associate professor of emergency medicine for more than 20 years, has found solace in woodworking.

The craft became a refuge for his 21-year-old son, also named Lou, during the pandemic as well. Restless from having to take college classes online, he decided to try his hand at woodworking in 2020.

“I started doing it at the height of covid. I was really bored, so I tried it,” he says. “I was bad at it at first, but my dad taught me.”

After all, it was hard for the elder Ciamillo to miss his son’s growing interest in working with wood.

“Every day when I came home from the hospital, he was making something in the garage,” he says.

Following the Process

The elder Ciamillo got his start in woodworking when he and his wife, Pam, built their first home about 20 years ago. His father-in-law, who worked in construction, was the builder, and he wanted to help.

“I bought a few tools, and then I kept buying things. Two years later, I had every tool known to man in my garage,” he says. “I got the bug for woodworking and never stopped. Most people have pictures of their families on their phone. I have pictures of wood.”

The physician has found that he sometimes uses similar skills sets when practicing medicine and working with wood.

“Medicine requires what I call de-construction,” he says. “It gets to a point where you have to figure out what’s going on and deal with each thing one at the time and realize the additive effects of what you’re doing. In medicine, you have to understand the effects of interventions on other organ systems. That’s what I like about the ER. You’re basically starting from nothing and building up to something.

“Woodworking is the same. There’s a process. You have to de-construct everything to make a product,” he continues. “You start with raw materials, and you have to troubleshoot.”

Star of the Show

The Ciamillos make functional pieces, using almost exclusively walnut and pecan, and occasionally sycamore, wood that is milled in South Carolina. Natural finishes on the products let the wood be “the star of the show.”

“Every piece has to have its own universe, its own place,” the elder Ciamillo says. “We like pieces with a live edge. It gives them a nature element.”

The woodworkers use dry, not green, wood with no twists or cupping. They also look at the figure of the grain.

“We lean into the imperfections because I think it makes for a more interesting piece,” says the elder Ciamillo.

They now make charcuterie boards, grill boards with handles, double-sided magnetic knife blocks, valet trays, valet trays with a Qi charging tray, whiskey and wine flights, bowls and cutting boards.

The Ciamillos also designed a wine flight for Cork and Flame and made a walnut tableside cutting board, as well as a whiskey flight, for the Evans restaurant.

It was the younger Ciamillo who first suggested that they try to sell their goods, and in February 2021, they started a Facebook page to showcase and sell their work to finance their hobby.

Their pieces also are available at, and they will have a booth at the Aiken’s Makin’ and Arts in the Heart of Augusta festivals this month.

Creative Days

The Ciamillos currently work out of a 2,100-square-foot shop in Martinez, where the younger Ciamillo spends about 16 hours a day woodworking.

“There’s no time on the clock for this,” he says. “We listen to country music and sing when we do our work. We enjoy each other’s company.”

Their favorite days are the ones they call “creative days,” when they come up with new ideas or make things they’ve never made before.

The younger Ciamillo often lets ideas roll around in his head, but he never hesitates to ask his father for help. He says his best idea has been making valet trays.

“I’m the type of guy that carries a lot of things in my pocket,” he says. “I wanted a valet tray of my own. I thought there are probably a lot of other guys like me.”

He enjoys 3D modeling and 3D design, and he taught himself how to operate their CNC (computerized numeric control) machine. This machine cuts or moves various materials, including wood. Instead of being controlled by a human operator, the machine’s movements are calculated and carried out by a computer on a pre-programmed path.

Father and son love working together, and they share a daily ritual that they never miss. Every afternoon they get a smoothie – dates, raspberries and bananas for the elder Ciamillo and muscle punch for his son.

“Working with my dad is the best choice I ever made,” the younger Ciamillo says. “We’re very similar. We’re both hard-headed and creative. Even on our worst days, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

By Betsy Gilliland

Crusty Football Rolls with Spicy Cheese Dip

Appetizers and Snacks


  • 4 3/4 cups bread flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons fast-acting dried yeast
  • 1-2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups water

Prepare the day before: Put flour, dried yeast and salt in large mixing bowl and gradually stir in water. Use a spatula to bring mixture to a rough, wet dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature 12-14 hours to rise slowly.

To make footballs, scrape dough onto well-floured surface and shape into a rough ball. Divide into 8 pieces and shape into footballs. Using a serrated knife, score football lacing slits on the top of each roll. Leave on floured surface and cover with a towel or plastic wrap for 20 minutes.

To bake, place an empty, covered Dutch oven (or other oven-safe lidded pot) in oven and preheat to 500 degrees. After 20 minutes, reduce to 425 degrees and remove pot. Carefully remove lid and add dough footballs (do not crowd pot – make in two batches). Replace lid and bake 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 300 degrees and remove pot. Take out rolls and place back in oven on rack. Bake 3-7 minutes more or until rolls are cooked through and sound hollow when tapped. Remove and cool on wire rack. Makes 8 rolls.

Spicy Cheese Dip

  • 8-ounce block cheddar cheese or other melty cheese
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 jalapeno peppers, diced
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, sliced for garnish
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 ounces diced roasted peppers
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 12 ounces milk or cream
  • Hot sauce, to taste
  • Sliced peppers, red chili flakes and chopped cilantro for garnish

Grate cheese and set aside (do not use pre-shredded cheese). Heat oil in large pan over medium heat. Add diced jalapenos and onion and cook 3-4 minutes until softened. Add garlic and cook another minute until garlic becomes fragrant. Add roasted peppers, cayenne, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Stir and cook 2 minutes. In a separate bowl, stir together cornstarch and milk until incorporated; add to pan. Add hot sauce, to taste. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Stir in shredded cheese in small batches, continually stirring until melted and well incorporated. Remove from heat and top with red chili flakes, sliced jalapeno and fresh chopped cilantro. Makes 8-10 servings.

Window on the World

In The Home

Photography by Sally Kolar

Influences from near and far drove the design of this Columbia County home.

Drawing on her Italian heritage, plus a dash of her Louisiana roots, Barbara Frantom has brought a touch of Tuscany to the custom home she and her late husband, Sam, built in Evans.

Collecting items for two years before they moved into the house in 2017, she made sure everything had a place before she brought it into their home. And she knows the history of every piece as well.

“I know where everything in the house came from or who gave it to me,” Barbara says.

European Inspired

While she was collecting furnishings and décor for their home, which includes many family pieces, Barbara had the design in mind all along. The art, cathedrals and homes of Europe were her inspiration for the interior of the Tuscan-style house. A large veranda lines the back of the house, and the spacious rooms are filled with elements of nature such as wood, stone, wrought iron accessories and earth tones.

Barbara wanted an open floorplan, where European oak flooring runs throughout much of the home, but she looks up to two of her favorite architectural features.

The dining room has a cove ceiling, a design that Barbara borrowed from European churches, and a brick barrel ceiling brings character to a long hallway. Sharing travertine tile flooring with the foyer, the dining room also includes a double pedestal table, another dropleaf table against one wall, a serpentine buffet and two china cabinets.

“I like a mix of furnishings. I’m not a minimalist. I’m much more traditional,” says Barbara.

With a wooden French seamstress doll atop a table and a German grandfather clock against a wall, the foyer includes slices of Europe as well. The tapestry on the wall belonged to Barbara’s mother.

In the barrel-ceilinged hallway, the Stations of the Cross wall hanging came from a mission church in New Mexico. A friend of hers made an angel picture, one of many angels throughout the house, for her out of diamond glass beads because Barbara, a four-time cancer survivor, has an affinity for angels.

Arched entryways from the hallway lead into the great room, and the Frantoms designed the house around the spacing of three sets of double doors that lead from the great room to the veranda.

The great room features a two-story ceiling with beams and two large oak bookcases. One of the bookcases was built to accommodate a TV, and the other was built around a secretary that belonged to Barbara’s mother.

Originally in an old house in south Georgia, the wood fireplace is built on top of a travertine tile base to meet code specifications.

“We couldn’t have wood on the floor, so we had to cut off the base of the fireplace,” says Barbara. “We elevated it by putting Travertine beneath it.”

Two antler-shaped light fixtures — they’re actually made of wood that Barbara hand-rubbed — came from the Jones Creek clubhouse.

The slate coffee table belonged to Barbara’s mother, and mix and match chairs are placed intimately side-by-side in the great room.

“I like lots of little private sitting areas. I like for people to be able to have conversations,” Barbara says.

A wrought iron wall hanging occupies space above each bookcase, and artwork featuring two outstretched arms reaching toward each other is made of copper and black metal.

Open Space

The great room leads into the adjoining kitchen – Barbara’s favorite spot in the house – and the floorplan gives the kitchen easy access to the rest of the house.

“I don’t like for the cook to be excluded from all the activity, so I wanted an open area,” says Barbara. “I love to cook. I cook Italian food, Louisiana food and Southern food. I’ll try most anything.”

With a countertop that is made of a single piece of granite, the large island serves as the prep area when she entertains friends and family. The kitchen also features stainless steel appliances and a travertine tile backsplash.

The connecting hearth room features a cathedral ceiling with oak beams, a stone fireplace and a bar with a wine rack and shelves that are draped with illuminated decorative grapes.

Furnishings include a 1917 German credenza that the Frantoms bought in Louisiana. An old working cutting table, which came from Cleveland, serves as the spot for casual dining. Barbara found it at the Atlanta Market, and, from wine bottles and glasses to grapes and cutting boards, she has arranged the tabletop with all the makings of the perfect Tuscan picnic.

In other nods to her Pelican State roots, Barbara has a collection of clowns such as the two that sit on the German credenza. A Mardi Gras mask hangs in a window in the hearth room.

A large stained glass window – a focal point in the room – faces the pool area. The Frantoms bought the window, which originally was in TGI Fridays in New York, at an antique shop in Florida and stored it until they were ready to build.

Sam made most of the other stained glass windows in the house, and one with birds, which hangs outside, came from the top portion of Barbara’s mother’s back door. Barbara makes all of her own floral arrangements, including the matching pair on the front doors.

More artwork can be found in a hallway that serves as a canvas for a collection of prints from Louisiana and two paintings by Barbara’s aunt, who was an artist in Baton Rouge.

The furnishings in the “monkey” bath, which features several decorative monkeys, give this room a European feel as well. They include a bench and an armoire that was hand-carved in the Philippines.

“In Europe, they don’t use built-ins in the bath,” Barbara says. “They bring in furniture.”

She also furnished the master bath with a dresser and another armoire. The crystal chandelier in the master bath, which includes a soaking tub, walk-in shower and travertine tile floor, came from her mother’s dining room.

Architectural features of the master bedroom include a trey ceiling and a bay window.

The sitting area in the room includes her hope chest, a gift from her mother that was carved out of camphor wood. Although the armoire, circa 1912, came from the Woodrow Wilson house in downtown Augusta (it includes a brass plaque as authentication), Barbara found it at an antique store.

She didn’t just scout out antique shops to find treasures for her home, however. She found many of her pieces at consignment stores as well.

“Someone else’s loss has a new home with me,” she says.

Game Day

While traces of Europe are prevalent throughout the interior, the covered outdoor kitchen and sitting area are pure Americana. Especially on game day during football season.

Behind the pecky cypress bar, Barbara hung flags that her friends have given her to represent their favorite schools.

Of course, the purple and gold Louisiana State University flag from her alma mater, where she majored in art and was Miss LSU, is larger than the other flags along the brick wall. However, she is happy to display the banners of the rival schools – and UGA’s national championship season in 2021 – as well.

With one TV in the outdoor kitchen and another in the adjoining covered seating area, her backyard is the perfect spot for football fans to watch the action.

“I like to have chili parties during football season,” Barbara says. “I love to entertain. I love everything about it. I work well under stress. I don’t do well when I have too much down time.”

By Sarah James

Striking New Chords


Augusta Symphony will introduce new concepts and present time-tested classics for the 2022-23 season.

It’s always good to try something different. With its upcoming season, Augusta Symphony has planned a diverse, fun-filled concert lineup for the 2022-23 season — and Dirk Meyer, music director and conductor, can’t wait to get started.

“I really love to play and conduct some of the repertoire, and I’m thrilled with all of the soloists,” he says.

The entertainment begins on Friday, September 30 when pianist Joyce Yang accompanies the orchestra on Opening Night for the first concert of the Symphony Series. “It’s always really fun to work with her,” Meyer says.

Favorites and Percussion Fireworks

In other Symphony Series performances, Meyer will conduct some of his favorite pieces by some of his favorite composers.

They include Sebelius Symphony No. 2 in Mahler & Sebelius on January 7 and Bruckner Symphony No. 4, “Romantic,” in the season finale, Rachmaninoff & Bruckner, on April 29, when pianist Alexander Korsantia performs with the orchestra.

Meyer calls Mahler, whose Symphony No. 10, “Adagio,” also is featured in the January concert, and Brahms, whose Symphony No. 4 will be part of the Elgar & Brahms concert with cellist Gabriel Martins on Friday, November 11, some of his favorite composers.

Other musicians who will accompany Augusta Symphony this season include percussionists Gene Koshinski, who performs with Meyer in Minnesota, and Tim Broscuis when they appear on Saturday, February 18 in Tchaikovsky and Percussion Fireworks.

“Both of them have 50, 60, 70 instruments to play. They hit everything they can,” Meyer says.

This performance also is the Symphony’s Discovery Concert, which annually provides more than 1,000 elementary, middle and high school students, including homeschoolers, with opportunities to experience a free live symphonic performance. The concert will take place Friday, February 17, and the percussionists will perform Koshinski’s composition “soniChroma” on metals, woods, strings and non-Western instruments that will create unique sonic colors.

Popular Demand

As part of the Pops! Series, Broadway Tonight! will feature Broadway veteran Doug LaBrecque, who will bring along the newest young talent from The Great White Way. These performers will join Augusta Symphony for a mix of beloved classics and exciting new hits on Thursday, October 20.

LaBrecque performed as the phantom on Broadway in Phantom of the Opera, says Meyer.

The Music of Elton John, featuring Grammy-nominated performer Michael Cavanaugh, on Thursday, November 17 is part of the Pops! Series as well.

“I really love those songs, and Michael Cavanaugh is such an amazing performer,” Meyer says.

For the past couple of years, Augusta Symphony has featured a popular movie with at least one of its concerts. This season, however, the Symphony infuses Hollywood in a performance with a new twist in Dance to the Movies on Thursday, March 2. Instead of showing a movie in its entirety, the orchestra will perform with dancers from “Dancing With the Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance” as they recreate memorable scenes from films such as Grease, Moulin Rouge and Singin’ in the Rain.

“I haven’t done this particular show before, but it’s fully arranged and choreographed,” Meyer says. “It’s important for the dancers to have the right tempo, and they bring an added dimension to the performance.”

The popular Family Concerts at Columbia County Series also will return this season with Halloween at the Symphony on Sunday, October 23 and Holiday Spectacular on Sunday, December 11 at Hardin Auditorium.

“They were very successful last year,” Meyer says. “The music is appropriate for a family series. There are one or two pieces we’ll play every year, like ‘Sleigh Ride’ for the Holiday concert, but the music will be different from last year.”

Other concerts include Queens of Soul, featuring the music of Soul and R&B divas Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Gladys Knight, Alicia Keys and Whitney Houston, on Thursday, February 2; Vaughn, Williams & Mozart with Anastasia Petrunina on violin on Saturday, March 25; and – back by popular demand – the cowboy charm and talent of The Texas Tenors on Thursday, April 20.

Digital Access and Diversifying

Audience members can continue to enjoy the concerts after the live performances have concluded as well. In a new program this season, Augusta Symphony is offering digital access to video recordings of the concerts for two weeks following each performance to Symphony Series subscribers and ticket holders for individual shows.

Digital access to the concerts, which will not be livestreamed, will be released the Tuesday after each performance. Access will be available to subscribers and single ticket holders whether or not they attended the concert.

“That’s one good thing that came out of covid. We learned how to produce digital content, and we’ve gotten good feedback about that,” Meyer says. “After people came to the concert, they were thrilled to be able to watch it again at home. Anyone who bought a ticket will have access. Of course, we’re 100 percent hoping that everybody will be there in person.”

In addition, Meyer says, “We’re trying to diversify what we play, especially for the Symphony Series. We’ll have several pieces by unheard voices, contemporary composers and composers of color. We want to be more representative on stage of what our country looks like.

“The times we live in are different than they were a few years ago,” he continues. “It’s important for orchestras to reflect that. It’s an attempt to include on stage more of what we see every day around us.”

By introducing patrons to new composers, Meyer hopes to increase interest in the Symphony as well.

“Before covid, we were bringing in a good number of new audiences every year,” he says. “We had a growing audience for the Symphony Series. It was growing more diverse and younger.”

Now that conditions are returning to a pre-covid state, he hopes to continue to attract new concert-goers.

“It’s important to branch out and bring in more people,” Meyer says. “If you keep doing exactly the same thing you’ve done before, then you’re going to keep speaking to the same people as before.”

However, he particularly wants audience members to have the opportunity “to listen to spectacular music and experience it with other people around them and have that shared experience.”

And, although Meyer can’t yet reveal any details about the annual Gala, which featured the music of Frank Sinatra last season, he dropped a couple of hints of what’s to come.

“It will be very different from last year, and it will be really fun,” he says.

Sip, Toss, Enjoy


Recipes and food photos courtesy of Katelyn Youngblood
Photo of Katelyn courtesy of Chas Linh Photography

A local food blogger shares some of her favorite summertime recipes for drinks, salads and a no-cook dessert.

Food blogger Katelyn Youngblood grew up learning to cook from her mother, grandparents Nona and Pop, and great-grandmother Mammaw.

Even her great-uncle Richard taught her childhood self how to make a cheesecake. When other children watched cartoons on TV, she tuned into the Food Network.

“I have always had a love for cooking, baking and being in the kitchen. It’s a way to destress after work, be creative and do something I enjoy,” says Katelyn, who works at a local law firm during the day.

The Dearing resident took her skills to the next level when she enrolled in the Culinary Arts program at Helms College and became a member of its first graduating class.

In 2019, she founded Sweet & Sassy Apron and started an Instagram page, @sweetandsassyapron, where she posts recipes. However, she says, “My main focus is to support local businesses and farmers’ markets.”

The kitchen is her happy place, and she loves to find fresh ingredients at farmers’ markets in Evans, Augusta and Thomson.

“It’s so important to cook for your family,” Katelyn says. “It’s so important to sit down at a table for a home-cooked meal and talk about your day.”

Even though she has a box full of her great-grandmother’s recipes, Katelyn has developed about 90% of her recipes on her own. “I start from scratch, find out what works and tweak it,” she says.

She shares some of her favorite summer recipes with us this month (, and she also can be found online at or

By Kendall Bryant

Boozy Pitcher Peach Lemonade

  • 8 cups water
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 8 peaches, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup vodka
  • Fresh fruit for garnish

In a saucepan, add 3 cups of water, sugar and chopped peaches. Place over medium heat and stir occasionally until sugar has dissolved. Purée in blender to make a peach simple syrup. In a pitcher, add remaining water, peach simple syrup, lemon juice and vodka. Pour over ice and garnish with fresh fruit.

Recipe and photo courtesy of Katelyn Youngblood

Blackberry Margarita

  • Fresh blackberries
  • 3 shots limeade
  • 1/2 shot lime juice
  • Juice from half an orange
  • 1 1/2 shots tequila
  • Lime slice for garnish

Muddle fresh blackberries in bottom of a glass that has a salt (or sugar) rim. Shake limeade, fresh lime juice, fresh orange juice and tequila in a jar filled with ice. Pour over muddled blackberries, stir and garnish with fresh berries and lime.

Recipe and photo courtesy of
Katelyn Youngblood

Lock, Stock and Barrel


Photos courtesy of Pinetucky Gun Glub

Junior shooters are all in when it comes to the competition and camaraderie they gain from their high school trap, skeet and sporting clays teams.

The beginning of the school year means a return to the classroom – and the start of fall sports. The new season also means local high school shooting teams will be back at Pinetucky Gun Club in Blythe when competitions begin this month.

Founded in 1986 by a group of people that enjoyed skeet shooting, Pinetucky started a junior program, which grew out of the Columbia County 4-H Club, through the Georgia Independent School Association in 2015.

“The activity in the junior program has been fantastic for us,” says Charles Dolan, past president and current vice president of the Pinetucky board of directors.

Confidence & Competition

Most of the juniors are age 12 or older, and they participate in organized events through entities such as GISA and the Scholastic Clay Target Program. While 650 young shooters from 45 schools throughout Georgia participate in GISA events, 840 shooters take part in SCTP competitions.

Nine area schools field GISA teams — Evans, Lakeside, Aquinas and North Augusta high schools; Augusta Preparatory Day School; Episcopal Day School; Westminster Schools of Augusta; Columbia Middle School and Thomas Jefferson Academy. In addition, Augusta Christian Schools competes through the South Carolina Independent School Association.

The shooters represent their individual schools in GISA or SCISA events and compete together as the Pinetucky Pullits in the SCTP, which is the official feeder program to USA Shooting and a path to the U.S. Olympic Shooting Team.

GISA events run from the beginning of the school year through early winter, and Pinetucky will hold the first of four GISA competitions on August 20. Pinetucky continues shooting events with SCTP from January through early summer.

The events take place on Saturdays, and participants shoot in three disciplines – trap, skeet and sporting clays. They shoot at 50 targets each in trap and skeet as well as 100 sporting clay targets. Shooters get their scores by adding up their total in each of the three disciplines.

“We set it up as a team event,” says Dolan. “The game mirrors golf quite a bit.”

Although trap and skeet shooting started as bird hunting simulations, they have grown into full-blown sports.

In trap shooting, clay targets are launched from trap houses into the air at varying angles and travel away from the shooter.

Skeet shooters go from station to station on a semi-circular field, and the goal is to hit two clay targets that are crossing one another. Two target machines are placed 40 meters apart – one at the high house, which is 10 feet high, and one at the low house, which is 3 1/2 feet high. Both targets rise to a maximum height of 15 feet by the time they reach the center of the field.

Sporting clays is considered one of the most realistic bird hunting simulations. Sometimes referred to as “golf with a shotgun,” this discipline involves shooting on a scenic course with varying terrain. The target’s speed, angle and distance differ with each station.

Students use shotguns in all youth events. Safety, responsibility and sportsmanship are the main focus of their development, followed by shooting.

“They want to build their confidence and their shooting ability, but safety is number one,” Dolan says.

Fun, Focus and Friends

Two 18-year-old participants, Kinzie Louthan of Martinez and Jackson Ansley of Augusta, who graduated from Augusta Christian and Aquinas, respectively, in the spring, appreciate the emphasis on safety.

“The number one thing is gun safety,” says Louthan. “Before any practice or any tournament, we always have a safety meeting and go over the basics.”

“We focus on eyes and ears, which is your glasses and ear buds,” Ansley adds. “Keep the muzzle in a safe direction, and don’t put your finger on the trigger until you’re ready to shoot.”

Louthan started shooting at the end of her sophomore year in high school when she went to Pinetucky with her younger brother, and she started shooting competitively during her junior year.

“I wanted to try it. It was actually fun,” says Louthan. “I love competing. It’s one of my favorite things. You have to focus, but you can’t focus so much that you start missing. You have to have fun.”

Ansley took up shooting his freshman year in high school. “I decided this was my hobby and this was what I enjoyed doing,” he says. “I enjoy the challenge. I do a lot of hunting and fishing in my spare time, but I wanted to venture out. I fell in love with it the first time I did it.”

The two shooters try to practice once or twice a week to maintain their skills, and both of them are in the freshman class at Augusta University, where Pinetucky hopes to start a shooting program. Louthan and Ansley would like to be part of that team as well.

However, they enjoy the social aspect of the activity as much as or more than the competition.

“When you’re competing, you’re also meeting new people,” says Louthan. “I just love the people. It’s like a whole new family. It’s fun talking to people who like the same sport as you.”

“I like the aspect of growing and challenging myself to become a better shooter, but I’m a social person. I love meeting new people,” Ansley says.

Dolan says the sport is becoming more popular, and he likes to see the juniors “grow, prosper and have a good time.”

“It raises their maturity level,” he says. “They meet a whole new group of people. They learn how to interact with others. They become young adults. They’re becoming accountable. They mix and mingle with adults.”

Equipped for All

Pinetucky not only holds events for junior shooters, however. The club also is the site of two or three sporting clay events throughout the year as well as pistol and rifle competitions for adults. In addition, Pinetucky hosted several International Olympic shooting teams for training prior to the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

Promoting firearms safety and hunter education for all ages, Pinetucky is affiliated with the National Skeet Shooting Association, National Sporting Clays Association, U.S.A. Shooting, International Benchrest Shooters, IDPA and the National Rifle Association.

The facility has five trap and skeet fields, a 15-station sporting clays course, a fully equipped NRA-approved state-of-the-art pistol range and a fully equipped modern rifle range. While the club is a public facility, it also offers memberships.

“Anyone can come and shoot,” says Dolan. “We have instructors available in all different disciplines.”

The staff offers instruction in shotgunning, rifle and pistol marksmanship, hunter safety, Women On Target (an introductory pistol class for women) and coaching classes for youth.

Instructors are certified by the NRA or the National Sporting Clay Association, and all instruction is by appointment. Special group sessions also are available.

By Todd Beck

Coastal Cruisin’


Photos courtesy of Coastal Tide Excursions

A trip aboard this boat provides an up-close-and-personal chance to meet and touch underwater life without even leaving the deck.

The Golden Isles, midway between Savannah and Jacksonville, Florida on the Georgia coast, offer pristine stretches of marshland dotted by smaller islands known as hammocks, historic landmarks, five-star resorts, sandy beaches, unrivaled landscapes and boundless recreational activities.

No wonder the area’s four barrier islands – St. Simons, Sea, Jekyll and Little St. Simons and the mainland city of Brunswick – offer such superb Southern hospitality. However, for a different perspective, Coastal Tide Excursions’ Lady Jane provides a hands-on meet and greet with creatures from beneath the sea.

Catch & Release

The Lady Jane, a U.S. Coast Guard-certified passenger vessel, is a retired commercial steel hull shrimping trawler that has been refurbished for eco-tourism, education and conservation purposes.

Led by friendly, outgoing, incurable extrovert Captain Cameron Ako, the 1 1/2- to two-hour cruises travel the calm, protected waters of Glynn County’s salt marshes and estuaries in St. Simons Sound. T

“We market the trips as shrimp excursions because the boat was a commercial fishing trawler,” says Ako. “We see different animals in different seasons of the year, and water temperatures vary from 65 to 85 degrees.”

On each excursion, the 61-ton Lady Jane performs three 10- to 15-minute trawls with a 20-foot wide otter trawl to pull up marine life to the boat.

From small bottom dwellers to apex predators, each trawl yields varying species. Hauls can include tiny shrimp, 7- or 8-foot sharks, stingrays, spotted eagle rays with an 8- to 10-foot wingspan, sea turtles, Jack Cravelle fish, horseshoe crabs and squid.

“You never know what you’re going to catch, but you always catch something,” says Ako. “We have caught some large, predatory fish that have no business being in the creek.”

Along with Ako, the crew includes a marine naturalist and a stryker, who operates the equipment to haul the game onto the vessel. Of course, passengers of any age can turn into deckhands as well and help the crew sort through the abundant marine life retrieved from the water.

“The marine naturalist explains each individual animal and creature we pull up in the net. Everybody on board can hold, touch and interact with the animals,” Ako says. “They can get right up to the table while the nets are being dumped and have one-on-one time with the marine naturalist.”

Some people who have been fishing in the area for 50 years have taken a trip aboard the Lady Jane and been surprised by the marine life they see.

“A lot of things we catch are things you’re only going to catch in a net,” says Ako. “One of the neatest creatures we pull up is a guitarfish. It looks like a stingray in the front and a shark in the back.”

Crew members immediately sort through the haul and throw back creatures when they catch multiples of them. They keep the others in a water tub on the boat until it is time to return them unharmed to the marshes and estuaries. Not all of the marine creatures are enamored with their temporary home on the boat, however.

“We’ve caught some big sharks. I’ve had one take a bite out of the fiberglass sorting table,” says Ako.

He says some of the marine life they catch such as shrimp, horseshoe crabs and sea turtles can be found only on the East Coast

“Our main focus is making people aware of all the marine life you can find under the water,” Ako says. “We want them to understand the importance of the coastline and its inhabitants.”

For instance, he says, horseshoe crabs have a coagulant in their blood that is used for medical research. (Vaccines, injectable drugs, intravenous solutions and implantable medical devices, for humans and animals, are quality checked for safety using a test that comes from the blood of horseshoe crabs.)

In addition to educating passengers about local marine life, crew members share information about the boat and the commercial shrimping industry. They also explain the role that marsh estuaries play in the eco-system.

“One-third of all marine estuaries on the East Coast are here in Georgia despite the fact that we only have 100 miles of coastline,” Ako says.

Run of the Boat

Ako, who formerly worked in marine sales, has owned the business since January 2020. He managed it for the previous owner for several years, however, and this is his 13th year aboard the Lady Jane. He purchased the business because he wanted to spend more time outside.

“I would watch my customers leave excited to go to the water,” says Ako. “But while they were headed to the water, I was headed back into the office.”

He offers public and private excursions. While most of the public cruises take place in the summer, private trips are scheduled primarily during the spring, fall and winter.

The Lady Jane, which is 65 feet long and 21 feet wide, includes an enclosed cabin, restroom, large covered rear deck with ample seating and ADA accessibility for wheelchairs and walkers.

No food is served on board, but people are permitted to bring coolers. Anyone age 21 or older also is allowed to bring alcohol.

The excursions are suitable for all ages, and guests have ranged from pre-kindergartners to retirement community residents.

Although the boat can accommodate 49 passengers, Ako has limited the public cruises to a maximum of 35 people because of covid. The minimum number for an excursion is 12.

“Folks have the run of the boat. They can move up and down from the bow to the stern,” Ako says.

Reservations are required for the excursions. Walkups are allowed, but space cannot be guaranteed. Passengers also need to arrive at least 15 minutes before their departure time.

Ako allows up to 49 people for a private charter, and private excursions are scheduled through 2024. These trips range from photography groups to bachelorette parties to sunset wine and cheese cruises.

“I try to give private groups whatever they want, but no fishing is allowed on the boat,” says Ako.

Pre-covid, the boat took out more 20,000 passengers a year. The number dropped to 2,000 people in 2020, but Ako says operations have returned to normal.

“We’re not under a lot of strict regulations because our activity is mainly outside,” he says.

The excursions, which have received a 2020 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence and a 2021 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Award, offer passengers a different experience.

“The biggest thing for me is having the opportunity to make people aware of what’s down here and how important the coastline is,” he says.

If You Go:
What: Coastal Tide Excursions Shrimpin’ Excursions

When: 4 p.m. most Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays; additional times and private charters also available

Where: 1200 Glynn Avenue, Brunswick, Georgia

How Much: $47.99 ages 6 and older; $39.99 military, first responders and children ages 2-5; $2 children ages 0-1

More Info:

By Morgan Davis

Southern Tomato Pie

  • 1 pie crust
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup Duke’s mayonnaise
  • 4 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 4 ounces Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons diced pickled jalapeños (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

Slice tomatoes and lay flat on a paper towel. Sprinkle with kosher salt and let sit 10 minutes. After sitting, use another paper towel to absorb excess juice.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine mayonnaise, jalapeños, cheeses, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Add more mayonnaise or seasoning, if you like. Layer half of the tomato slices and half of the cheese mixture in pie crust; repeat. Bake about 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Recipe and photo courtesy of Katelyn Youngblood

Burrata Pasta

  • Handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Dash olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 pieces of prosciutto
  • 6 ounces pasta, cooked al dente
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 1 ball of BelGioioso Cheese burrata

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss cherry tomatoes in a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast tomatoes 15-20 minutes or until they start to soften. In a sauté pan, warm prosciutto 1-2 minutes. Remove prosciutto; in that same pan, melt butter and add garlic and lemon juice; cook 1-2 minutes. Add wine and simmer 3-4 minutes. Add heavy cream, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper; simmer until sauce starts to thicken; add pasta. Top with prosciutto, an open piece of burrata cheese and fresh cracked black pepper. Pairs perfectly with a warm baguette and a glass of Pinot Grigio.

Recipe and photo courtesy of Katelyn Youngblood

Easy Lemon Pie

  • 2 cups crushed graham crackers
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 stick melted butter
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh whipped cream
  • Lemon slice for garnish
  • Fresh berries

Mix together crushed graham crackers, sugar and butter; press into a 9-inch pie pan. You also can use a premade graham cracker crust. In a bowl, whisk sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice and lemon zest. Fold in whipped cream. Add to pie crust and place in freezer 1 hour. Garnish with slice of lemon and serve with fresh berries.

Recipe and photo courtesy of Katelyn Youngblood

Signature Sweet & Sassy Punch

  • 750 milliliters white rum
  • 750 milliliters vodka
  • 1/2 gallon orange juice
  • 1/2 gallon lemonade
  • 1/2 gallon Hawaiian Punch
  • 16 ounces pineapple juice
  • 3 ounces lemon juice
  • 3 ounces lime juice
  • 4 ounces Durty Gurl Margarita Mix
  • 1 can lemon sparkling water
  • Slices of strawberries, fresh oranges, lemons and limes

Mix first nine ingredients in a large pitcher; top with sparkling water and fresh fruit.

Recipe and photo courtesy of Katelyn Youngblood

Brussels Sprouts Salad

  • 4 cups brussels sprouts, with leaves removed
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup mandarin oranges
  • 1/4 cup bacon, crumbled
  • 1 green apple, sliced thin
  • Shaved Parmesan cheese
  • Black pepper
  • Red pepper flakes


  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper

Place dressing ingredients in a mason jar; cover and shake well. Blanch brussels sprouts leaves by putting them in simmering water for 45 seconds, then removing to an ice bath. (This will give them a beautiful bright green color.) Dry leaves and place in a large bowl. Slice remaining part of brussels sprouts to the stem and add to bowl. Add dried cranberries, mandarin oranges, bacon and apple slices. Lightly toss with dressing. Top with shaved Parmesan, freshly cracked black pepper and red pepper flakes. This salad should be eaten immediately because it will get soggy if left to sit for several hours.

Recipe and photo courtesy of Katelyn Youngblood