Monthly Archives: May 2024

Rollin’ on the River


A paddle race on the Savannah River and a free concert will highlight the fourth edition of Betty's Bash Paddle Race & Music Festival.

The all-day event at Riverside Park in Evans will kick off with the paddle race at 9 a.m. Saturday, June 22.

Musical entertainment will begin with a DJ at 4 p.m., and live bands will play into the evening. The Mason Jars, which recently released a new album that was recorded in Aiken, will headline the concert.

Food trucks with menus ranging from burgers to Creole cuisine, along with beer vendors, also will be on hand.

Event organizer Andy Colbert, co-owner of Outdoor Augusta in Riverside Park, believes the park is a hidden gem. He hopes the festival will give people an opportunity to see everything it has to offer.

“I want the event to be a celebration of the park,” he says. “It’s a cool place. A lot of people that come to the park don’t know that it has access to the river.”

The paddle race, which requires registration for entry and costs $30 per person, follows the 6.2-mile loop around German Island.

Trophies will be awarded to winners in different categories such as single kayaks, tandem kayaks, canoes and standup paddleboards.

Betty's Bash Paddle Race & Music FestivalIn addition, the race will include a division for rental vessels, which are available at Outdoor Augusta. The overall winner will receive a trophy as well.

“The race is all-encompassing for anything that is paddle-oriented,” Colbert says.

If You Go:

What: Betty’s Bash Paddle Race & Music Festival

When: 9 a.m. – 10 p.m. Saturday, June 22

Where: Riverside Park

How Much: $30 to race; event and concert are free

More Info:

Entrepreneurial Spirit


cupcakesA new study revealed that Georgia is the fourth most entrepreneurial state in the country, with 8,071 general business applications being made per 100,000 people between 2021 and 2023.

The state’s busiest year for business applications was 2021, when 3,032 applications were made per 100,000 residents.

In 2022 a total of 2,521 general business applications were filed in the state, and 2,518 were filed in 2023.

The Wide Wide Sea by Hampton Sides

Literary Loop

In the course of three epic voyages — the last one unfinished — Captain James Cook mapped the east coast of Australia, circumnavigated New Zealand, made the first documented crossing of the Antarctic Circle, “discovered” the Hawaiian Islands and paid the first known visit to South Georgia Island.

His admirers believed he deserved the “gratitude of posterity.” Posterity, however, has a mind of its own.

On July 12, 1776, Cook, already lionized as the greatest explorer in British history, set off on his third voyage in his ship the HMS Resolution. Two-and-a-half years later, on a beach on the island of Hawaii, he was dead. How did Cook, who was unique among captains for his respect for indigenous peoples and cultures, come to that fatal moment?

In this new biography, Hampton Sides undertakes the hazardous enterprise of revisiting the life of Captain James Cook, who, at the time of his death in 1779 was Britain’s most celebrated explorer.

Sides’ hair-raising saga is a “thrilling and superbly crafted” account of the most momentous voyage of the Age of Exploration, says The Wall Street Journal.

It “will delight readers new to the topic as well as those versed in earlier looks at James Cook and his milieu,” Booklist says.

Ham Radio Demos


National Amateur Radio Field DayIf you are interested in learning more about ham radio, visit the Amateur Radio Club of Columbia County as it participates in National Amateur Radio Field Day activities June 22-23.

The on-the-air event, held annually throughout North America, will be held locally from 2 p.m. Saturday, June 22 until noon Sunday, June 23 at the Boy Scouts of America Georgia-Carolina Council Nature and Adventure Center.

Free and open to the public, it will include live demonstrations and information about how ham radio can boost your preparedness during emergencies.

For more information, visit

A La Sala by Khruangbin

Listen To This

As the sun feels closer and the heat feels hotter, summer makes a collect call from sweet destinations. Whether it’s a backyard sprinkler or a sandy shore, we are invited to soak up the vibe. And whether you are on the road or lounging around, A La Sala (translation: To the Room), the latest cosmic creation by the smooth-groove Houston funk-rock trio Khruangbin, is a must-have in the sonic solstice cooler.

Pouring an auditory cocktail into a universe where groove and gravity skip hand in hand, Khruangbin’s trademark blend of blues, funk, surf and lo-fi rock delivers a variety of flavors that are as cool as they are clever. From the moment the needle drops, you’re whisked away on a journey that defies both time and space.

Tracks like the colorful sunset-jam “Fifteen Forty-Three” or the cabana-clopping “Hold Me Up (Thank You)” bring rhythms braided in a Duane Eddy twang that are equal parts intricate and irresistible. The album’s simplistic yet exotically complex layers drop a refreshing loop of fruity-sweet gems that reflect like sun on the water and crash with soothing waves of expanding reverberations.

This is an all-inclusive acoustical resort, where you can lose yourself and float down the lazy river of auditory delight. So put on your shades, turn up the volume, toss your cares in a cooler of Khruangbin and let the vibes take you away.

– Chris Rucker

Going Coastal


Summer Beach Blast Columbia County If you can’t be at the beach, it’s still a blast to pretend like you’re there. The county’s annual Summer Beach Blast – complete with a sand area where you can dig in your toes just like you’re seaside – lets you do just that.

The event will feature live beach music and the sounds of Swing Shift, but the sand isn’t only for shagging.

If a little friendly competition is more your style, then you can channel your inner Karch Kiraly or Kerri Walsh Jennings and challenge your friends to a game of beach volleyball.

Summer Beach Blast Columbia CountyFood trucks, beverages, a lighted limbo set, kiddie pools, tiki torches and a fireworks finale will be part of the fun as well. Don’t forget your beach chairs!

If You Go:

What: Summer Beach Blast

When: 5 p.m. – 10 p.m. Saturday, June 1

Where: Evans Towne Center Park

How Much: Free admission

More Info:

School Recognition


Grovetown High School and Parkway Elementary School as 2024 Military Flagship SchoolsThe Georgia Department of Education recently recognized Grovetown High School and Parkway Elementary School as 2024 Military Flagship Schools for going above and beyond to provide a supportive environment for military students and families. Nearly 50% of the student population from Parkway and about 45% of the student population from Grovetown High are from military-connected families.

In addition, all five Columbia County School District high schools earned recognition as a Best High School for 2024 in U.S. News & World Report’s recent ranking of public high schools. Of the nearly 25,000 public high schools across the nation, approximately 17,655 high schools were ranked. About 432 of the nearly 472 public high schools in Georgia were ranked.

Greenbrier landed among the top 12% of high schools ranked in the state and the nation. Lakeside was among the top 19%, and Grovetown and Evans were in the top 40% of the best ranked high schools in the state and the nation. The school rankings are based on excellence in serving students in six key areas: college readiness, college curriculum breadth, state assessment proficiency and performance, and graduation rate.

Grilled Peach Salad

  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 4 ripe peaches
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cups mixed salad greens
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/3 cup roasted pine nuts

Place balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan and boil over medium high heat until cooked down to half and is thickened (about 10 minutes). Stir in honey until combined and remove from heat; set aside.

Preheat grill to medium. Cut peaches in half, remove pit and slice fruit into wedges. Brush both sides with olive oil and grill until they have light to medium grill marks on each side (about 3-4 minutes a side). Place salad greens on plates and top with peaches, cheese and pine nuts. Drizzle with balsamic reduction and serve. Makes 4-6 servings.

Home is Where the Camper Is

In The Home
Scooter Duke the art of camping

Photos courtesy of Scooter Duke

With TLC and imagination, a local artist turns her campers into personal resorts to go.

There’s nothing Scooter Duke loves more than having a paintbrush in her hand. Unless it’s camping – correction, glamping – or, better yet, a combination of the two.

“I glamp,” Scooter says. “I don’t camp. I have Netflix, TV and air conditioning inside.”

Some of her favorite spots include Plumb Branch Yacht Club, Ridge Road and Wildwood Park at Clarks Hill as well as campgrounds in Helen, Savannah, Jekyll Island and Hilton Head. Regardless of where she parks her vacation home, however, it’s easy to find her campsite.

She usually sets up camp in her vintage 1981 Holiday Rambler with the pink flamingos that she painted on the exterior. Actually, Scooter has four campers – each one with its own theme – but the pink flamingo one is her favorite.

“My campers are fun and artsy,” she says. “I enjoy them. They’re glorified tents.”

Home Away From Home

Scooter Duke Camping FlamingoesScooter started camping 25 years ago, and she has had a number of campers through the years. She loves vintage campers, but she always makes them stand out with her artistic talents.

Currently, her other campers include a 1963 Serro Scotty Sportsman, featuring the aqua flower she painted on the side and a matching awning; a 1977 Yellowstone, a rustic farmhouse camper with a western theme, and a 2003 slide out with extending sides to create extra living space.

She paints the exteriors of her campers with oil-based 1-shot lettering enamel, which also contains UV protection from the sun, so they can withstand the elements.

Scooter says it takes her two weekends, or about four long days, to paint a camper. She also sands and primes the campers before she paints them.

“Some people have she sheds, but I have my campers,” says Scooter. “They’re my home away from home – around water.”

Photos courtesy of Scooter DukeEvery January she sits down with a calendar to make her camping schedule, and she plans the rest of her year around it. She tries to go camping at least once a month, or every three weeks if she can.

“I just like the peace and quiet and being outdoors. My brain just relaxes, and I’m not worried about anything. I’m in a whole different world,” says Scooter. “Camping clears my mind and gives me peace. It’s my escape from reality.”

When she camps, she likes to grill out, cook over campfires and take her 8- and 15-year-old nephews fishing. “I really want to make memories with them,” says Scooter.

Her husband of 23 years isn’t a fan of camping, so she loads up her two chihuahuas and invites friends to join them.

“My friends say, ‘Call me when you get everything set up and I’ll come,’” says Scooter.

Scooter Duke the art of campingThe setup is a sight to behold. After all, Scooter doesn’t just pull into a camping spot and call it good. She dresses up her campsites with all the creature comforts of home.

She puts up a colorful awning and creates outdoor sitting areas with chairs, ottomans, tables, a rug, string lights or tiki torches and maybe a straw hat-wearing blowup pink flamingo or two. She has been known to station a hot pink garden flag that says, “Let’s Flamingle” outside her flamingo camper.

“I touch it up every year. I add a little bit more flair,” Scooter says. “It’s really frou-frou. I have pink flamingos and a chandelier inside. I love flamingos because they remind me of summertime and water.”

As for the awnings, they are more for looks than function.

“They don’t stop the rain,” Scooter says. “They just add a little character.”

Scooter Duke-glamping fun and artsyShow Ready

She pays just as much attention to the interior décor of her campers, painting the walls and decorating them in themes that match the exteriors. For instance, the flamingo camper has a pearl faux finish on the walls, and it is filled with aqua and coral throw pillows, stuffed flamingos, flamingo lamps, flamingo bedspreads, handmade curtains, a banner that says “Summer” and aqua appliances.

The Scotty features an aqua, silver and chrome color scheme with a metallic look on the walls.

“The outside of the campers attract attention, but I personally like the interiors because of the coziness,” says Scooter. “It’s also easier to paint the inside because the exterior requires more prep work.”

She says teal, aqua and coral are her favorite colors because they look vintage.

“When I go shopping, my eyeballs go straight for aquas and corals. I look for something that pops,” says Scooter. “I put everything together. It’s just fun to sit around and look at it.”

Scooter Camping clears my mind and gives me peace." She’s not the only one who enjoys her handiwork, however, so she insists on keeping her campers show ready.

“People want to see the inside of the camper and take pictures of it. I tell my friends they can’t leave their suitcases out,” says Scooter.

She also paints campers for other people. When one of her friends was dating a beekeeper, she asked Scooter to paint a honeybee-themed camper for him. She painted honeybees and bright yellow flowers on the exterior of the Citation. The interior featured bright yellow curtains and throw pillows with bees or black and white honeycomb patterns on them.

Calming and Therapeutic

Scooter, who started painting murals on her bedroom walls when she was 13 or 14 years old, not only embellishes campers with her artistic talents.

She’ll paint on just about any surface including trees cut into slabs, concrete, wooden floors, furniture, canvases and tennis shoes. She paints designs on business windows or murals on the sides of buildings. She still paints murals, particularly baby murals, in people’s homes as well.

Photos courtesy of Scooter DukeShe also helped her stepdaughter, Laura Duke, paint an octopus mural on the wall at Trattoria Polipo, an Italian restaurant on Walton Way Extension.

Most people find out about her artwork through word-of-mouth, and other than the art classes she took in high school, she never had any formal training.

Oftentimes, when she works, she just picks up a brush and starts painting.

“I usually have an idea in my head, or I’ll do a sketch on the computer so I’ll have a draft,” says Scooter. “If somebody tells me what they want, I can see it in my head and put it on paper for them.”

Scooter Duke GlamperWhen she was 16 years old, Scooter started doing hand lettering as a sign painter after the father of one of her friends hired her to work at his sign company. She received on-the-job training and stayed at the shop for 10 years.

She also worked in the sign shop to create signs for projects at Plant Vogtle for 13 years and has been doing the same type of work at SRS since July.

Scooter, who rarely slows down and got her nickname from her father when he called her his “little motor scooter,” says painting is calming and therapeutic for her.

“It’s like fishing,” she says. “You just get away from reality and you’re in your own thoughts.”

By Betsy Gilliland


Lake Guide

Ask any sport or recreational angler and they will tell you that Clarks Hill Lake offers some of the best fishing in the Southeast. Brimming with a large population of game fish, it is a mecca for seasoned anglers and beginners alike.

While the lake is known for superb largemouth and striped bass fishing, additional prominent species include bluegill, crappie, white bass, channel catfish, flathead catfish and redear sunfish. Fishing for yellow perch also is popular below the dam.

Fishing is permitted in most areas of the lake except at boat ramps, courtesy docks and areas marked as restricted or prohibited access. Many areas along the shore are marked specifically for fishing, and fishing piers can be found at several lake recreation areas.

Fishing Licenses
Georgia law requires anglers ages 16 to 64 to have a current Georgia fishing license in their possession while fishing in the state’s fresh or salt water. The annual fee for a basic fishing license is $15. Seniors ages 65 and up are eligible for free or reduced rates.

Georgia and South Carolina have a reciprocal fishing license agreement that allows anglers to fish on border waters and shorelines with a valid fishing license from either state. Licenses may be purchased online (, by phone (1-800-366-2661) or at participating marinas, sporting goods stores, hardware stores and bait and tackle shops.

For more information and to learn about additional fishing and game licenses, visit

Free Fishing App
J. Strom Thurmond Fishing Map
This free app from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers maps out bank fishing options, fishing docks, boat ramps, special fishing areas and deep-water fish attractors to help boat and bank anglers pinpoint spots to catch fish. To get the link, visit and search “fishing app.”

Free Fishing Days
June 1 and 8
If you’ve ever wanted to try fishing or take the kids, these days are the perfect time to test Georgia waters — no fishing license is required either day. A license is normally required for ages 16 and up.

Free Fishing Tackle Loaner Program
First come, first served
Don’t have fishing gear? The Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Fishing Tackle Loaner Program offers rods, reels and tackle box equipment free of charge for the day as long as the supply lasts. Mistletoe State Park in Appling is a participating park, and a list of additional parks is available at

National Go Fishing Day
June 18
Observed annually on June 18, National Go Fishing Day encourages people to take a break from their everyday routine and go fish. Grab a rod and reel and get out there. Share pictures of your catch on social media with the hashtag #NationalGoFishingDay.

Hook, Line & Dinner
5 Tips for making the most of your fresh catch
1. Always keep fish alive or chilled in ice from the time they are caught until they are stored.

2. The best way to keep fish fresh after catching them is to keep them in a live well, fishing basket or on stringers until you head home. Stringers can be fixed to the boat or secured to a pole or object on the shore.

3. To store on ice, quickly gut the fish and allow it to bleed out. Pack in crushed ice, surrounded and covered on all sides. A good ratio to use is two pounds of ice for one pound of fish.

4. Clean fish as soon as possible to preserve its flavor. However, a whole fish can be kept for up to a day before cleaning if it is iced or chilled.

5. Placing fish in resealable bags before freezing at home will keep them fresh inside the freezer longer. Instead of 6-12 months, they could stay fresh about 6-24 months.

Nolton O’Neal – Boyscout Road Tire & Automotive

Businessmen & Entrepreneurs

Basic auto upkeep such as factory-scheduled maintenance, filter and wiper blade replacements, fluid services, suspension and steering issues, check engine light diagnostics and brake repair. Engine services cover belt and hose replacements, radiators, water pumps and fuel injection systems. Other services include comprehensive heating and air conditioning repair and auto electrical work on alternators, starters, power locks, antennas, windows, lights, all the way up to full engine and transmission replacement.

252 Boy Scout Rd | Augusta, GA(706) 738-8976

Monday thru Friday: 8:00 AM – 5:30 PM

Automotive and Tire Service