Tag Archives: front

Like a Hawk


Word on the street — or in the air — says that hawk sightings on the East Coast have increased recently. I.B. Parnell, Georgia Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist, says he has seen no data to indicate that their numbers have grown, but the birds always are around.

“We have resident and migrant populations of hawks,” he says. “They can cause some problems for folks with pets, but they prey primarily on squirrels, rats and mice.”

Animals that weigh less than 10 pounds could be at risk for being captured by hawks. “It happens, but I wouldn’t say it’s common,” says Parnell. “Hawks also might try to drive an animal away if they have a nest nearby and they think it’s a threat to the nest.”

Parnell recommends taking down bird- feeders that attract the squirrels, mice and rats that, in turn, attract hawks. In addition, he says owners of small pets should not let them outside without supervision — and when outside, watch them like a hawk.

In Bloom


Harlem Arts Council festival showcases local talent and emerging artists.

If April showers bring May flowers, then Harlem Arts Council’s fifth annual Bloomin’ Arts Festival should bring lots of people to the community May 3-4.

The festivities will begin Friday night with a focus on musical entertainment including performances by the Harlem High School band, the Sand Hills String Band, a jazz trio and Garden City Chorus.

Two big tents will be set up on the grounds on Saturday. One will feature a stage for entertainment, and Harlem Arts Council members will be set up under the other tent to showcase the work of emerging artists.

About 30 regional artists will be selling their works, which will range from paintings to wood carvings. A silent auction will benefit Harlem Arts Council programs.

“We want art to be accessible to everybody,” says Ann Blalock, Harlem Arts Council secretary and the festival coordinator. “The council does a lot of classes and exhibits.”

Food vendors will sell barbecue, hot dogs, hamburgers and Kona Ice. Children’s activities also will be offered, but youngsters not only will be entertained. Some will display their talents as well.

“We’re showcasing children’s art from all of the Columbia County schools that wish to participate,” Blalock says. “It will be set up in the library two weeks in advance.”

In another festival highlight, 125 painted lady butterflies will be released on Saturday. “We’re doing a butterfly release because we’re hatching out,” Blalock says. “We’ve reached the metamorphosis stage.”

If You Go:
What: Bloomin’ Arts Festival

When: 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. Friday, May 3 and 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday, May 4

Where: Harlem Library green space

How Much: Free admission; food vendors onsite

More Info: (706) 556-6656, HarlemArtsCouncil@gmail.com, harlemartscouncil.org or facebook.com/HarlemArtsCouncil/

Mimosas on Main Street
In conjunction with the Harlem Arts Council’s Bloomin’ Arts Festival, the Harlem Merchants Association will hold its inaugural Mimosas on Main Street in downtown Harlem on Saturday, May 4 from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

During the festivities, participating merchants will be offering brunch, bubbly and giveaways. Event guides are available at Couch Consulting, in front of the Harlem Library.

The event is free. However, wine and champagne tasting wristbands are $5. Cheers!

Triple Play


In the near darkness, Evans players celebrate their win.

Twenty-five years ago, the Evans High School Knights overcame a formidable opponent, nasty weather and three appeals to win the 1994 state AAAA baseball championship

Winning has been a habit for Evans High School baseball teams through the years, and this month marks the 25th anniversary of the Knights’ 1994 Georgia AAAA baseball championship.

The Knights were defending the title they had captured the previous year in a 17-inning Game 2 thriller against Sprayberry High School, and they defeated the Fayette County High School Tigers with a flair for the dramatic as well.

After the teams split the first two games of the three-game series in Fayetteville, the stage was set for the decisive Game 3 at 4 p.m. on May 21. The late afternoon start time avoided the heat of the day, but it allowed for little wiggle room in the event of inclement weather.

Through four innings of Game 3, the teams matched each other run for run. Clint Sauls’ home run to right centerfield in the top half of the fifth inning put Evans ahead, 5-4. Within seconds, though, the weather in Fayetteville went from pleasant spring afternoon to a surreal combination of high winds and swirling cement mix.

er rains thoroughly soaked the field, the Fayette County coaches, players and fans set the field on fire in order to make it dry enough to continue play.

A quarry-like factory located over the left-field fence housed a long, high mound of the cement mix. The windstorm that roared in from over the fence brought with it a powdery cloud of blinding, choking, sand and stone and who-knows-what-else to the baseball diamond.

As television camera crews rappelled off a media platform that overlooked the outfield fence and fans fled for cover, I urged Channel 6 photographer Keith Brown to remain aboard the swaying wooden structure and capture the scene on video.

You can’t imagine that the game continued in those conditions, even momentarily. If the raging sandstorm wasn’t enough, the rainstorm that followed forced a two-hour game delay.

By the time the storm hit, enough of the contest had already been played to render it official in the books. Evans would be declared the state champion if the game could not be completed in its entirety. Whatever hopes Fayette County held for winning a state championship were quickly running out.

More than an hour later, when the rain stopped, the infield was saturated, compounded by puddles of standing water. The dark clouds that hung over Fayetteville were also not in their favor.

The Evans Knights held a 25th anniversary reunion last April to celebrate the state championship baseball teams from 1993 and 1994. Teammates from shroughout the United States attended a weekend celebration.

In an attempt to hasten the drying process, the Fayette County faithful poured gasoline on the drenched infield and fed it with matchsticks.

To quote a few lines from the Channel 6 television report for the 11 o’clock news that night, “trouble is, the field is a mess, it’s going to get dark and there aren’t any lights here. You get the picture. Desperate men will do desperate things.”

The soggy field was deemed playable as darkness crept in, and the ballgame resumed. In the bottom of the sixth inning, local legend Keith Brownlee, the second man up for the Tigers, launched a home run over the left-field fence to tie the game at 5.

As the Fayette County fans erupted in jubilation, Brownlee slowly trotted around the bases, enough time for Evans scorekeeper Amanda Eckert to get coach Terry Holder’s attention and question who had batted.

The pen proved mightier than the sword that night. After a 15-minute delay to sort things out, the umpires ruled that Fayette County had batted out of order and took the run off the scoreboard. The Tigers appealed in vain that the umpires made an error on their lineup cards earlier in the contest.

Coach Terry Holder with Augusta sports historian Stan Byrdy

A stunned Fayette County team got in its final at-bat as nighttime descended on Fayetteville, and the game was called due to darkness with Evans in the lead, 5-4. The Knights carried off their fifth state championship trophy in seven years.

After the game, a gracious Holder remarked, “I feel sorry for their team… it was just a mistake in the heat of the battle, so to speak. This time it went our way, and so I’m proud for our kids.”

Nine days and three appeals later, the Georgia High School Association officially ruled in the Knights’ favor and declared Evans the rightful winner of the 1994 Georgia AAAA baseball championship.

The video even made its way to CNN and ESPN, and living rooms throughout America reveled in the story. The Environmental Protection Agency also caught a glimpse of the video and the baseball field at Fayette County was cordoned off. The playing surface had been exposed to hazardous material and would need to be dug up.

In the record books, the Knights won back-to-back titles, and the report won the Associated Press TV Sports Report of 1994 in Georgia.

Twenty-five years later it’s still the darndest thing you ever saw.

By Stan Byrdy

Photos courtesy of Stan Byrdy and Grady Blanchard

Union — Son Volt

Listen To This

Union is the appropriately titled masterpiece by the No Depression pioneers, Son Volt. Their ninth studio release finds Jay Fararr and company determined to trudge through the ironies of road-weary life.

The aftermath of Fararr’s divide from the iconic Americana group, Uncle Tupelo (file under Jeff Tweedy/Wilco), reveals that the wounds are still evident, but are now scars of experience and confidence with a pin-pointed unity and a conscious respect for the past and fervor for the future.

Through the healing magic of songwriting and camaraderie, the silver lining of time and ragged optimism resound within the confines of each track as they build a steady stride of momentum and character craftsmanship.

Union is like a cold glass of lemonade after a long day of manual labor — relaxing and reflecting with a splash of sweet and sour refreshment.

Fararr has an uncanny knack for using his primitive and raw vocal inflections as an essential instrument of rhythm and organic percussive accompaniment to the vintage steel-slide and campfire strums of his compadres.

This album is the perfect hot-weather soundtrack to chill to as Mother Nature begins stoking the outdoor furnace into summer.

– Chris Rucker

The River by Peter Heller

Literary Loop

Wynn and Jack have been best friends since freshman orientation, bonded by their shared love of mountains, books and fishing.

Wynn is a gentle giant, a Vermont kid never happier than when his feet are in the water. Jack is more rugged, raised on a ranch in Colorado where sleeping under the stars and cooking on a fire came as naturally to him as breathing.

When they decide to canoe the Maskwa River in northern Canada, they anticipate long days of leisurely paddling and picking blueberries, and nights of stargazing and reading paperback Westerns.

But a wildfire making its way across the forest adds unexpected urgency to the journey. When they hear a man and woman arguing on the fog-shrouded riverbank and decide to warn them about the fire, their search for the pair turns up nothing and no one.

But the next day a man appears on the river, paddling alone. Is this the man they heard? And, if he is, where is the woman? From this charged beginning, master storyteller Peter Heller unspools a headlong, heart-pounding story of desperate wilderness survival.

“An exhilarating tale delivered with the pace of a thriller,” says Kirkus.

“A poetic and unnerving wilderness thriller… Full of rushing life and profound consequences,” says USA Today.



BBB Tip: Beware the perils of clickbait

Thanks to clickbait, it seems like it’s getting harder and harder to know what to trust online.

Clickbait, which can spread quickly through social media and sharing sites such as Facebook and Twitter, involves “baiting” an unsuspecting reader into clicking on a link by using enticing verbiage, a salacious headline or an ad that seems too good to be true.

Scammers and misleading advertisers also use remarkable current events or disasters to drive clicks.

So, why is clickbait so dangerous? Simply put, it could represent a serious threat to your cybersecurity. Not only could the information you read online be false, you could be clicking on a malicious link and installing viruses or spyware onto your computer. When dealing with cybersecurity risks, it pays to be cautious.

Even when a clickbait link doesn’t install malware, the information presented can be incredibly misleading, making exaggerated claims that can’t possibly be true. Headlines often are a form of “native advertising,” in which advertising or marketing content is presented to look like news, feature articles and product reviews.

The risk of these ads, according to the Federal Trade Commission’s Guide for Businesses, is that consumers will not know that the article that they are reading is an advertisement rather than a factual news piece.

The FTC often finds this type of advertising to be deceptive. For consumers, it also can be annoying. For marketers, this type of approach can backfire and erode brand credibility.

To avoid the perils of clickbait, the BBB offers these suggestions:

  1. Don’t take the bait. Always hover over the post, use your mouse and look at the link. If it seems suspicious, or you don’t recognize the source, avoid it.
  2. Avoid unnecessary updates. Be cautious of videos that redirect you to update your video player. Hackers could be using this seemingly routine download to obtain personal information or to access to your computer.
  3. Avoid “buzzwords.” Words like “shocking,” “exclusive” and “miracle” are designed to divert your attention and convince you to click.
  4. If you are curious about a headline, search credible media outlets for similar information before clicking.
  5. Check the URL address. Even if links appear to be sent to you by friends, take caution. Scammers often hack social media profiles in order to send malicious links.
  6. Is it skillfully written? Pay close attention to issues with grammar, diction or capitalization.  
  7. Would you otherwise pay for this information? If the link promises to deliver something that you would otherwise have to pay for, this is a red flag. Consumers tell BBB that links to IQ tests, credit info and miracle cures often lead to malware.

Pinball Paddling


Stroke and squeeze your way through an arcade of cypress trees as you kayak in George L. Smith State Park.

“Let’s paddle closer to the alligator!”

As I hear myself say those words out loud, I laugh. I’m not one to ignore dangers of the wild. After all, they’re no game. But when spotting an alligator across an open clearing on Mill Pond while hosting a friend from Sweden on his first visit to Georgia, I’m willing to narrow the gap a few dozen yards so Hans can get a better look.

The creature’s eyes gaze back at us over the water’s dark surface as he glides from the open water toward a cluster of majestic cypress trees along the distant shore. We pause in our kayaks. None of us blink. He then slips from view.

“Incredible!” says Hans. Wild alligators can be spotted routinely in wet regions of southern Georgia—the state is home to about 200,000 of the 200-million-year-old species—but there are none in Sweden.

Choose Your Route
Though alligators swim in the 412-acre Mill Pond lake at George L. Smith State Park in Twin City, Georgia, it’s safe to boat in this water as long as you follow guidelines and use common sense — in fact, it’s part of the Georgia State Park’s Paddlers Club. And part of navigating the pond with common sense is relying on an experienced guide company such as Wesley Hendley’s Mill Pond Kayak tours, which weave through 10 miles of black water trails.

For nearly 10 years Hendley has made the experience easy and accessible, providing kayaks, paddles, floatation vests, instructions and guidance. He also snaps photos throughout the trip to share with his guests at no additional charge.

Paddling this otherworldly setting is a unique challenge of maneuvering between moss-draped cypress trees. It’s like a giant pinball game, and you’re the ball. Some areas are a tight squeeze — to fit you may need to lift the paddle over your head and swing it parallel with the kayak. But there’s no current or tide to worry about, and almost no other boat traffic, so the water is smooth and easy to master.

The lake has natural niches and alcoves with different tree density, lighting, moods. Shadows play on water, light juts between branches. Because the place is so serene and tranquil, it’s hard not to relax. If paddlers somehow are separated from the group (which is unlikely), it would be hard for them to actually get lost. “It’s a pond,” says Hendley. “So you can paddle to shore and then along the shoreline in any one direction and eventually will end up back at the dock.” Still, it’s comforting to explore with a guide who knows the best routes to navigate in two or three hours.

Each tour is paced to suit participants’ skills and interests, weather and conditions, as well as energy levels. “I basically see two types of groups,” says Hendley. “Some go slowly, so it’s quiet and serene to soak up the surrounding environment. Others, especially youth groups, want to get rowdy out there, playing, splashing and sometimes swimming. The experiences are totally different, but I enjoy both. I enjoy getting to know people.”

Paddlers can get the sort of experience they prefer – even a private one. Hendley schedules groups separately, and he won’t even pair up families without prior permission.

Mill Pond Kayak welcomes people of all ages on its tours, which typically run March 1 through November 30. In September 2018, however, Mill Pond was drained in order to repair the dam. The lake will be restocked with fish and reopened, as weather permits, sometime this spring. “We’re at the mercy of the rainfall,” says Hendley.

The company also offers guided kayak trips on the nearby Ogeechee and Ohoopee rivers when water levels are favorable. As for the Mill Pond tour, though, “Anybody willing to give this a try can do this and enjoy it,” says Hendley, who counts infants, senior citizens and folks with a variety of special needs among his former guests. “I have tandem kayaks so people who can’t paddle can ride with me or someone else in the group. You don’t have to be physically able — I’ve had some people in their 80s and 90s paddle, which is impressive and inspiring to see.”

Some paddlers might favor the lower part of the lake where trees are more spaced out. On hot days, the shady upper part may rank as most appealing. “Some people prefer to avoid tree obstacles, some people really think they’re cool,” says Hendley. Whatever the route, you can take your time and appreciate the surrounding natural wonders.

Photos courtesy of Georgia Department of Natural Resources and Wesley Hendley Mill Pond Kayak

Mill Around with Mother Nature
And Mother Nature does not disappoint. Turtles line up on fallen branches. A white ibis nests overhead. Osprey, egret, heron and anhinga swoop in and out of view. Woodpeckers tap on trees. Ducks and non-venomous brown water snakes float around. Bream, crappie, redbreast and bass swim in the water. Occasionally, white tail deer walk the shoreline. The threatened gopher tortoise and eastern indigo snake live on the sand ridges surrounding the lake.

In addition to its natural wonders, George L. Smith State Park boasts the refurbished Parrish Mill, a combination grist mill, saw mill, covered bridge and dam built in 1880. One of only two grist mills in working order and in operation by the state of Georgia, it’s capable of grinding as much as 200 pounds of corn an hour (now limited to demonstrations only).

Reservoirs for water-powered mills, ponds like this one used to be common but have mostly disappeared as technology has changed. Before the state park was established, this pond was privately owned for about 100 years and has been referred to by locals as Parrish Pond and Watson Mill Pond for its previous owners. At the state park you can walk through the covered bridge and read placards to learn more. The park also offers 11 miles of hiking trails, though the mill and its pond are the park’s most stunning showpieces.

Kayakers could spend a few hours paddling and leave, but longer visits can be even more relaxing. George L. Smith State Park offers 25 tent, trailer and RV campsites, plus eight cottages. The cottages have been recently updated and are better appointed than some hotel rooms. They’re easy to share with a friend. Hans and I each snagged a private bedroom and bathroom while sharing a living room, screened porch and full-service kitchen. The cottage was clean, comfy and homey.

Reflecting on our experience, Hans says, “That was the best nature experience of my life!” High praise, considering how frequently he travels for outdoor treks. “The cypress’ fat, swollen root balls just above the waterline are truly wonderful,” he says. “Navigating the narrow, winding ways in between all the cypresses is so much fun.”

With such beautiful surroundings, it’s easy to envy the alligators who get to live in such a place.

More information is available from George L. Smith State Park at (478) 763-2759 or gastateparks.org/GeorgeLSmith or Mill Pond Kayak at (478) 299-6616 or millpondkayak.com.

By Hope S. Philbrick


The Art of Family

In The Home

Photography by Sally Kolar

From paintings by favorite artists to images of their twin sons, a River Island couple fills their home with meaningful keepsakes.

One step into the rustic River Island home of Emily and Dallas Williams immediately lets guests know that this is a house where art and family are treasured. The personal décor features paintings by local artists, photos from their 2011 wedding and pictures in a variety of mediums of their 5-year-old twins, Macon and Grant.

(The boys certainly know how to make an entrance as well. After all, they were born on Father’s Day in 2013.)

“Every picture in the house has a meaning behind it,” says Emily. “Either a friend has done it, or they are pictures from our wedding or of our boys.”

Family Treasures
The homage to friends and family begins right inside the six-paned front door. Tucked by the door in the corner of the foyer, a teal chest by Bramble, a Washington state-based furniture company that makes its products from sustainable mahogany, is topped with photos of the twins as infants. Above a table that was custom-built by Chris Pellegrino, pencil drawings of the boys at age 2 hang on the wall.

“We gave a photo that was taken in Hilton Head to Dallas’ parents, and his dad had them done for us,” Emily says of the drawings.

An acrylic landscape by local artist Richard Worth hangs on the wall by the arched entry into the dining room. (The Williamses won the painting in an auction at the Central Savannah River Land Trust Bash on the Banks one year.)

Featuring a coffered ceiling, the dining room includes a Pellegrino-built dining room table as well. The distressed china cabinet also is a Bramble piece, and a bread trough in one corner is filled with decorative orbs.

Another corner holds a cherished family treasure – a traveling chest that once belonged to Dallas’ great-grandfather, Macon Lunceford Williams, for whom Macon is named. The trunk took on even more significance when Dallas’ mother used it to store clothing that had belonged to his brother after he was killed at age 20 in a 1988 car accident. She gave the trunk to Dallas and Emily on the night of their rehearsal dinner.

“That meant a lot to me that my mother-in-law trusted me with the trunk,” Emily says.

A guest bedroom holds another bit of family history. On a desk in the room, Emily has a framed photo of her grandmother that was taken in 1939 when she was 19 years old. The portrait was taken on the night of the Atlanta premiere of Gone With the Wind, when Emily’s grandmother was the Atlanta Symphony’s first string violinist for the occasion. As if the performance wasn’t memorable enough, Clark Gable even asked the beautiful young musician for a dance at the reception following the premiere.

“I got the picture from the night that she danced with Clark Gable, and my dad has her violin,” says Emily.

A painting of a dancing couple (no, not Gable and Emily’s grandmother), which was done by the mother of one of Dallas’ best friends, hangs on a wall in the guest room. “I think the man in the painting looks like Dallas,” Emily says.

In the guest bath, an acrylic painting, “Misty Night at Sacred Heart” by Margaret Ann Smith, hangs on a wall. Sacred Heart Cultural Center has special meaning to the couple because they held their wedding reception there. A print (number one of 300) of their favorite restaurant, Sheehan’s Irish Pub, by Donna Whaley occupies another wall.

Easy Living
With the flow of the family room into the kitchen and breakfast area, the living space in the home paints a picture of togetherness. “We like the openness of the house,” says Dallas.

The kitchen features granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, a subway tile backsplash, an island, a walk-in pantry and a wine refrigerator. The space is easy to navigate, and Grant, who was named Grant Parker after Emily’s side of the family, often makes coffee for his parents in the morning. The décor includes a picture of Amen Corner at Augusta National Golf Club above the pantry.

The Williamses rent out their house during Masters Week, and a lazy Susan on the round table in the breakfast area is the ideal spot to hold Masters-themed cookies and cake pops, along with adult beverages, for their tournament guests.

A large tobacco basket hangs on the wall above a white Bramble hutch, painted with a red floral design, and a painting of their first house in Richmond County hangs on another wall. A freestanding bar sits in a corner of the breakfast area. “It goes with the rustic vibe,” Emily says of the bar.

The family room includes a gas fireplace with a stacked stone surround and a wood mantel. A dough bowl filled with grass rocks sits on top of the coffee table, which slides open for storage.

The Williamses also enjoy spending time with family and friends outside. When they moved into their home (next door to a friend Dallas has known since first grade) in December 2016, Dallas says, “There was just a small sitting area outside.”

However, the Williamses replaced it with a covered porch featuring a wood-burning fireplace and an outdoor kitchen with black matte granite countertops, a flattop grill, a Big Green Egg and a small refrigerator.

The coffered ceiling features stained pine flooring and a pair of tropical ceiling fans, and the seating area includes wicker furnishings. Pellegrino also built the high-top table behind the couch.

Although Emily and Dallas typically go to the Masters Tournament every year, they made other plans in 2017. They finished the covered porch just in time to hold a final round viewing party in their new outdoor space.

“It’s an extension of our home,” says Emily. “Every Saturday during football season, this is where we are.”

When they aren’t spending time on their covered porch, the family enjoys the amenities of River Island. Dallas has a fishing boat with a friend, and they take it to Betty’s Branch nearly every weekend during the summer.

“We never thought we would be neighborhood people, but we love it here. There are so many kids,” says. Dallas “But the main attraction was the river.”

‘It’s All Emily’
Hilton Head Island is a favorite vacation spot for the family, and an oil painting of the four of them in the ocean at the South Carolina beach by Columbia County native Stephanie Forbes hangs in the upstairs hallway.

They also commissioned Forbes to do a triptych of paintings in the master bedroom, which features a trey ceiling and built-in drawers.

“It’s all Emily,” Dallas says of the home décor. Except for one corner of the bedroom where he made his mark with a studded leather armchair.

“That’s the one piece of furniture in the house that Dallas picked out,” Emily says.

And he loves it. “That’s a comfortable chair,” he says. “This is my chair.”

The curtains in the upstairs guest room are one of Emily’s favorite features in the house.

“Every room started around the window treatments, and I went from there,” she says. “I love fabric. I’m obsessed with fabric. If Dallas would let me, I would change them every year.

By Sarah James

Now What?


The Lydia Project and area healthcare professionals launch a new program for post-cancer care.

A cancer diagnosis is a life-changing event for anyone. So is life after cancer once the treatments end. Oftentimes, however, survivors don’t know where to turn for the continuing support they need.

Enter The Lydia Project and area healthcare facilities. They have partnered together to launch a new educational series called Now What? to help cancer survivors cope with life after the illness.

Community partners in the program, which begins in April, include Georgia Cancer Center of Augusta University, University Health Care System Cancer Services, Doctors Hospital and Livestrong at the YMCA.

“What makes Lydia work is the people who care,” says Michele Canchola, executive director of The Lydia Project. “It’s the partnerships with the people in the community and the companies that support us that make all this work.”

While The Lydia Project traditionally provides free services to women and girls who have been diagnosed with any type of cancer, Now What? is open to anyone – including men – going through, or who has gone through, a cancer treatment or diagnosis.

Now What? sessions will be held in addition to the speaker events that are held at The Lydia Project headquarters on the second Saturday of every month.

In the four-part Now What? series, cancer survivors will get information about long-term and late effects of treatments, nutrition, exercise and encouragement for emotional issues.

“Depression can be a greater challenge than the cancer diagnosis,” says Canchola. “The fear of recurring cancer is patients’ number one concern.”

The sessions will be held 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. on Tuesdays at The Lydia Project, 1369 Interstate Parkway, Augusta. Individuals can attend any or all of the four sessions in any order, but space is limited to about 15 people per program.

“It’s so hard to struggle with cancer and all of the things that happen afterward,” Canchola says. “People need a place to go when they don’t have support or other family members don’t understand.”

Currently, The Lydia Project provides support for more than 1,000 women and girls, and the nonprofit receives an average of 400 new referrals a month. Self-referrals can contact The Lydia Project for tote bags, emotional support and prayer.

Through referrals from oncologists, female cancer patients can receive financial support for rent, utility bills, medical supplies, prescriptions or overnight lodging at the 10-bedroom Daksha Chudgar Lydia House during cancer treatments.

Male and female patients receive transportation to and from cancer treatments. In addition, Canchola says, “The Lydia Project is writing grants to fund other services for men.”

While Lydia reaches patients across the world, Canchola says all of the financial support stays in the local area for cancer patients who reside in Columbia, Richmond, Burke and McDuffie counties in Georgia and Aiken and Edgefield counties in South Carolina.

Reservations for Now What? sessions can be made by calling (706) 736-5467. For more information about The Lydia Project, visit thelydiaproject.org.

Growing the Game

Guide to The Masters

Augusta National Golf Club will hold its inaugural Women’s Amateur Championship this year

A new tradition will begin this year at Augusta National Golf Club when the final round of the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship takes place on Saturday, April 6.

The 54-hole, stroke play tournament – announced by Fred Ridley, chairman of Augusta National and the Masters Tournament, at last year’s Masters Tournament – will feature an international field of 72 players.

The first two rounds of the tournament will be held on the Island and Bluff nines at Champions Retreat Golf Club on Wednesday, April 3 and Thursday, April 4. After a 36-hole cut, the top 30 competitors will advance to the final round. However, the entire field will play Augusta National for a practice round on Friday, April 5.

Invitations have been extended to the winners of the U.S. Women’s Amateur, Ladies’ British Open Amateur Championship, Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific, U.S. Girls’ Junior, Girls’ British Open Amateur Championship and Girls Junior PGA Championship.

Additional participants have been determined by awarding invitations to winners of other recognized championships and by filling positions in the field based on the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking at the end of the 2018 calendar year. Remaining spots have been filled by special invitation from the ANWA Championship Committee.

Based on the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking, the top 30 players from the United States who were not qualified otherwise have been invited. The next 30 highest ranked players, who were not qualified otherwise, also received invitations.

The tournament champions, provided they maintain their amateur status, will receive invitations to the event for the subsequent five years.

“Receiving an invitation to the Augusta National Women’s Amateur is representative of a remarkable amateur career, and so much more,” says Ridley. “We share in the excitement of the players, not only for what will unfold in April, but also for what their involvement will mean to increasing interest in the women’s game.”

Tickets to the event, which were available through an online application process, are sold out. No tickets will be available at the gate. However, NBC Sports will broadcast three hours of live final-round coverage, and Golf Channel will deliver highlights, live reports and news coverage throughout the event.

By Betsy Gilliland

In the Loop

Guide to The Masters

A new documentary takes an inside look at the relationship between golfer and caddie.

Centuries old and enjoyed by millions of people worldwide, golf is seen by many as more than a sport. Yet, not much is known about the man or woman carrying the bag behind the golfer.

A new documentary, Loopers: The Caddie’s Long Walk, explores the deep, personal bond that a golfer and a caddie develop through their time together. The film is narrated by actor and former caddie Billy Murray, who starred in the 1980 comedy, Caddyshack, which was written by his brother, Brian Doyle-Murray.

Loopers is a must-watch for documentary film lovers, avid golfers and anyone interested in the history of sports. The storyline reaches back more than a century to explore how caddies came to be in Scotland and Ireland and then migrated to the United States and went from a disrespected craft into a well-respected occupation.

The film includes interviews with World Golf Hall of Famers Sir Nick Faldo, Tom Watson, Ben Crenshaw, Fuzzy Zoeller, Lee Trevino and Curtis Strange. Professional caddies who participated include Steve Williams (Tiger Woods’ former caddie), Carl Jackson (Crenshaw), Fanny Sunesson (Faldo), Pete Bender (Greg Norman and others), Michael Greller (Jordan Spieth) and Jariah “Jerry” Beard (Zoeller at the 1979 Masters).

Loopers was filmed at some of the most iconic locations in golf such as Augusta National Golf Club, Pebble Beach (California) Golf Links, The Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland and numerous other vaunted courses in Scotland and Ireland.

A trailer from the documentary can be seen on our website’s Home page or on Columbia County Magazine’s Facebook page.

Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music Vols 1 & 2 — Ray Charles

Listen To This

More than a century ago the revolutionary recording of Ray Charles’ Modern Sounds in Country Music Vols, 1 & 2 hit the local record stores and juke joints with much anticipation — and extreme caution.

Charles, who was already a chart-climbing megastar by 1962, decided to shock the pop pool with a risky departure to country. Modern Sounds forged the path and set the trend for this genre cross-over phenomenon that solidified Charlie Pride and gave second wind to Darius Rucker.

This album is a compilation of 24 amazing country and western tracks that inspired Charles while he was growing up on the Georgia-Florida line. A sonic boom of lush, big-band and orchestral arrangements create a magical and vast landscape for the raspy full soul of Charles’ arching belts. Each song is cradled with an angelic chorus and clever wit in a fishbowl of

– Chris Rucker

2019 Masters Predictions

Guide to The Masters

Local golf pros share their picks for Masters glory – or heartache.
Every April any number of storylines unfolds at the Masters Tournament, and this year will be no different. Rory McIlroy still needs a green jacket to achieve a career grand slam. Once again Dustin Johnson is poised to arrive in Augusta in elite form and at the top of the Official World Golf Ranking. And a pivotal hole on Sunday afternoon is bound to swing the outcome of the event.

We asked local golf professionals to give us their fearless predictions for this year’s tournament, and they were happy to oblige. But there’s only one thing we all know for sure – the Masters will not disappoint.

Kirk Hice
Director of Golf, West Lake Country Club
(Kirk’s correct 2018 predictions: Low Senior, Toughest Hole)

2019 Masters Champion: Rory McIlroy. He’s been playing great so far this year, and I think he’s due to win.

Dark Horse: Xander Schauffele. He’bs been playing great, and I think he’s going to have a good year.

Low Newcomer: Eddie Pepperell

Low Senior: Bernhard Langer. It’s hard to not pick him.

Highest-Ranked Player to Miss the Cut: Adam Scott

Toughest Hole: Gotta be No. 11

Pivotal Hole: No. 13

Highest 18-Hole Score: 80

Highest Score on One Hole: 9


Tommy Brannen
Head Golf Professional, Augusta Country Club
(Tommy’s correct 2018 predictions: Low Newcomer, Toughest Hole)

2019 Masters Champion: You gotta take DJ (Dustin Johnson). He’s having a great year, and he’s off to a great start.

Dark Horse: Rickie Fowler. Is he a dark horse?

Low Newcomer: Michael Kim

Low Senior: I’ll take Vijay Singh.

Highest-Ranked Player to Miss the Cut: Paul Casey

Toughest Hole: Probably going to be No. 5

Pivotal Hole: Let’s say No. 11.

Highest 18-Hole Score: 85

Highest Score on One Hole: 9


Dan Elliott
PGA General Manager/Director of Golf, Forest Hills Golf Club
(Dan’s correct 2018 predictions: Low Senior, Toughest Hole)

2019 Masters Champion: Justin Rose. He’s good, and he’s played well there so many years in a row.

Dark Horse: Tiger. He knows how to play there, and he’s hitting the ball well. It’s just a matter of time before he puts four rounds together.

Low Newcomer: Andrew Landry

Low Senior: I’m going with Bernhard Langer. It’s hard not to take him.

Highest-Ranked Player to Miss the Cut: It’s hard to pick any of those guys, but I’ll go with Jon Rahm.

Toughest Hole: No. 5

Pivotal Hole: It’s always, to me, No. 13.

Highest 18-Hole Score: 83

Highest Score on One Hole: 9


Spike Kelley
General Manager and Golf Professional, Goshen Plantation
(Spike’s correct 2018 predictions: Low Newcomer, Toughest Hole)

2019 Masters Champion: Dustin Johnson. He’s playing well.

Dark Horse: Phil Mickelson. He’s been playing well, too.

Low Newcomer: Andrew Landry

Low Senior: Bernard Langer

Highest-Ranked Player to Miss the Cut: Jon Rahm

Toughest Hole: No. 2

Pivotal Hole: It’s gotta be 15. What’s great about the course is it could 13, 15 or 16.

Highest 18-Hole Score: 84

Highest Score on One Hole: 8


Scott Penland
Director of Golf, Hickory Knob State Park Golf Course
(Scott’s correct 2018 predictions: Low Senior, Toughest Hole, Highest 18-Hole Score)

2019 Masters Champion: I’m going to say Rory McIlroy. He’s doing better, so he’s picking up his game. He should be in prime form for the Masters.

Dark Horse: Let’s say Jon Rahm. I think he has a chance of winning it.

Low Newcomer: Let’s go with Adam Long. That’s the only name I recognize out of them.

Low Senior: I’m going to say Bernard Langer again. He seems to be consistent at the Masters.

Highest-Ranked Player to Miss the Cut: Jason Day

Toughest Hole: No. 11

Pivotal Hole: No. 15

Highest 18-Hole Score: 81

Highest Score on One Hole: 7


Chris Verdery
Director of Golf, The River Golf Club
(Chris’ correct 2018 predictions: Low Senior)

2019 Masters Champion: Dustin Johnson. It’s his time, and he has the length to take advantage of the par 5s.

Dark Horse: Haotong Li. He has an exellent all-around game, and he’s very under-rated.

Low Newcomer: Michael Kim

Low Senior: It’s going to be Fred Couples.

Highest-Ranked Player to Miss the Cut: I won’t go on the rankings, but I’ll say Patrick Reed.

Toughest Hole: No. 4

Pivotal Hole: It’s going to be No. 12.

Highest 18-Hole Score: 82

Highest Score on One Hole: 9

By Todd Beck

Planting Ideas

Garden Scene

Annual festival celebrates gardens, butterflies, bees and a tea.

Get ready to see a spectacular show of Mother Nature at the annual Sacred Heart Garden Festival April 26 – 28. Spread out inside and on the grounds of Sacred Heart Cultural Center, the festival showcases floral displays and landscape designs by local exhibitors.

A Vendor Market also will feature plants, home accessories and garden accents from shops in Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky and Pennsylvania. Tours of private gardens will be available from noon until 5 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Friday speakers include Gerald Stephens of Nurseries Caroliniana and Becky Griffin, University of Georgia Community and School Garden coordinator. Stephens will discuss “Simplicity in Landscape Design,” and Griffin, a certified Georgia beekeeper, will talk about “Our Fascinating Georgia Bees – From Honey Bees to Native Bees.”

On Saturday, Karin Jeffcoat of Cote Designs will present “Garden-Inspired Floral Arrangements” and monarch butterfly expert Susan Meyers will discuss “Monarchs and Milkweed Across Georgia.”

Friday Night in the Garden, scheduled for 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. Friday, April 26, will feature live music, food and beverages. Other events include a Garden Festival Preview Party at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 25, and a Garden Festival Tea at 4 p.m. Sunday, April 28 at the home of Patty and Dan Blanton.

At the tea, Greg Campbell, co-owner of Memphis, Tennessee floral design shop Garden District, will speak about floral arranging and his new book, Florist to the Field, which he wrote with Erick New. Reservations are required for the preview party and the tea.

All proceeds from the event will benefit Sacred Heart Cultural Center. Tickets are available at Sacred Heart Cultural Center, Angevine’s Fine Silver, Bedford Greenhouses, Greenbrier Nursery & Gifts, Midtown Market and Wild Birds Unlimited. They also are available online or by calling (706) 826-4700.

If You Go:

What: Sacred Heart Garden Festival

When: 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. Friday, April 26; 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday, April 27 and noon – 5 p.m. Sunday, April 28

Where: Sacred Heart Cultural Center

How Much: $25 in advance for three-day festival and garden tours; $30 at the door; $10 daily (garden tours not included): $75 for preview party; $10 for Friday Night in the Garden

More Info: sacredheartgardenfestival.com

A Friend Is a Gift You Give Yourself by William Boyle

Literary Loop

Goodfellas meets Thelma and Louise when an unlikely trio of women in New York finds themselves banding together to escape the clutches of violent figures from their pasts.

After Brooklyn mob widow Rena Ruggiero hits her 80-year-old neighbor, Enzio, in the head with an ashtray when he makes an unwanted move on her, she embarks on a bizarre adventure. Taking off in Enzio’s ’62 Impala, she retreats to the Bronx home of her estranged daughter, Adrienne, and her granddaughter, Lucia, only to be turned away by Adrienne at the door. Their neighbor, Lacey “Wolfie” Wolfstein, a one-time Golden Age porn star and retired Florida Suncoast grifter, takes Rena in and befriends her.

A Friend Is a Gift You Give Yourself by William Boyle is a screwball noir about finding friendship and family where you least expect it, in which Boyle again draws readers into the familiar ― and sometimes frightening ― world in the shadows at the edges of New York’s neighborhoods.

“Comic crime capers are fun. Comic crime capers starring women are even more fun. William Boyle delivers some choice laughs and a terrific trio of felons — a road trip that’s so much fun you don’t want it to end,” says the New York Times Book Review.