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What a Blast!

Buzz

Columbia County will hold a tailgate-style fireworks celebration on the Fourth of July

The 20th annual BOOM in the Park Fourth of July celebration will be a little different this year.

The event will be held at the Columbia County Fairgrounds, where the parking area will be transformed into a fireworks tailgate party. Cars will park in oversized spots, allowing plenty of room for the occupants of each vehicle to spread out while still practicing safe social distancing.

Several local bands will perform throughout the evening from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., and each performance will be shown on a large screen. The music also will be broadcast on a low-power FM frequency so that people can tune in to their car stereo to listen. The fireworks will start at 9:15 p.m.

Coolers are welcome, but no glass will be allowed. Food and beverage vendors also will be onsite. No alcohol will be sold.

In addition, no parking will be allowed at Patriots Park or along William Few Parkway or Columbia Road.

If You Go:
What: BOOM in the Park

When: 7 p.m. Saturday, July 4; gates open 6 p.m.

Where: Columbia County Fairgrounds

How Much: Free admission

More Info: experiencecolumbiacounty.com

In the Money

Buzz

If you want to stretch your dollars, you’re in the right place. Columbia County ranks third among Georgia counties on a list of places where people can make their dollars go the furthest, says a study by financial technology company SmartAsset. Nationally the Columbia County ranks 231.

The study compares median income and cost of living data nationwide to find the counties where people hold the most purchasing power.

 

Serene18 Paddle Trail

Sports

Paddling enthusiasts who are anxious to travel can get a passport to explore 18 square miles on four of Georgia’s most serene water trails at Clarks Hill Lake, the Savannah River and the Augusta Canal.

Once they complete a route on the Serene18 Paddle Trail, paddlers can have their passports stamped at five area locations.

Paddlers also can pick up a free T-shirt at the Columbia County Convention and Visitors Bureau office after they have traveled all four routes.

For more information, log onto serene18.com.

Film & TV Production

Buzz

Marquee movie jobs are returning to Georgia. Gov. Brian Kemp recently announced that major motion picture, television and streaming companies plan to bring back and hire an estimated 40,000 production workers for an expected 75 projects.

The production projects will invest more than $2 billion into the Georgia economy in the next 18 months.

According to the Motion Picture Association-America, this development includes plans by producers to purchase goods and services from more than 17,000 Georgia small businesses.

The major production companies include Walt Disney Company, NBC Universal, Netflix, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros.

This announcement follows the publication of “COVID-19: Georgia Best Practices for Film and Television,” a production guide for studios provided by the Georgia Film Office.

This guide complements the safety protocols recently released by the Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee Task Force, which will help to ensure a safe workplace environment and reduce the spread of the virus.

In 2019, the 391 film and television productions filmed in Georgia supported 3,040 motion picture and television industry businesses.

The Cactus League — Emily Nemens

Literary Loop

Jason Goodyear is the star outfielder for the Los Angeles Lions, stationed with the rest of his team in the punishingly hot Arizona desert for their annual spring training. Handsome, famous and talented, Goodyear is nonetheless coming apart at the seams. And the coaches, writers, wives, girlfriends, petty criminals and diehard fans following his every move are eager to find out why ― as they hide secrets of their own.

Humming with the energy of a ballpark before the first pitch, Emily Nemens’s The Cactus League unravels the tightly connected web of people behind a seemingly linear game.

Narrated by a sportscaster, Goodyear’s story is interspersed with tales of a batting coach trying to stay relevant; a resourceful spring-training paramour looking for one last catch; a legendary sports agent grappling with his decline; and a plethora of other characters, all striving to be seen as the season approaches. It’s a journey that, like the Arizona desert, brims with both possibility and destruction.

Anchored by an expert knowledge of baseball’s inner workings, Nemens’s novel is a propulsive and deeply human debut that captures a strange desert world that is both exciting and unforgiving, where the most crucial games are the ones played off the field.

Reunions — Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

Listen To This

To say that the challenges of the past few months have been any less than demanding is an understatement. The longing for reconnection has been a staple in most minds, and the word “normal” has prompted many a search of reality and soul.

An immensely powerful retrospective, combined with a windshield-wide view of hope, Reunions delivers an inspiring and relatable gathering of plight and welcomes everyone to sing along. Often labeled by the industry as country, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit channels groove over genre and lets storytelling be the catalyst to sound.

The album starts off with an undercurrent funk vibe in “What Have I Done to Help,” a plea for mending and recovery wrapped in a lush repetitive gallop of layered guitar slides and hum-strum. The momentum builds with the fragrant and deeply impressive “Dreamsicle” and continues the 10-tracked journey of refreshing and honest relatability. Isbell’s uncanny knack for tapping into the complexities of life while offering a simple and pleasing soundtrack makes Reunions a timely gem.

– Chris Rucker

Pandemic Timeline for Georgia & Columbia County

Buzz

February 28
Gov. Brian Kemp forms a task force to prevent the spread of coronavirus and respond to cases in the state. 

March 2
Kemp and state health officials confirm the first cases of coronavirus in Georgia after two people in Fulton County are found to have the virus after returning from a trip to Italy.

March 12
Kemp orders thousands of state employees to work from home.

The Board of Regents decides to close all 26 campuses of the University System of Georgia for two weeks and asks students to leave campus by 5 p.m. on March 13 and not return until March 29. Universities will be testing online teaching modules in case the rest of the semester is cancelled.

Kemp urges school systems and daycares to consider closing schools in coordination with local officials but stops short of mandating that they do so.

Georgia Department of Natural Resources officials remind residents that state parks and historic sites including campsites, cabins, hiking trails, picnic areas and golf courses are open for personal activity and exercise. However, park staff may temporarily limit access to ensure social distancing and protect the health of guests and employees.

March 13
President Donald Trump declares a national emergency due to the coronavirus.

The Georgia General Assembly suspends its session.

Augusta National Golf Club Chairman Fred Ridley announces that the Masters Tournament, the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals will be postponed. 

March 14
Kemp declares Georgia’s first public health emergency, to last until April 13, and calls the General Assembly back into session to ratify his decision.

 March 15
Georgia’s Presidential Preference Primary, scheduled for March 24, is postponed until May 19 to coincide with the state and local primary elections. 

March 16
The Georgia General Assembly meets to endorse Kemp’s emergency declaration and to give him special executive powers to deal with the spread of the virus.

Columbia County closes venues and facilities including all libraries, the Senior Center, park restrooms and water features, and rental facilities. Public transit services are limited to essential and medical trips.

March 18
Columbia County closes county offices, parks and facilities through March 29. Online services are encouraged. No late fees for county services will be incurred and services will not be disconnected. Public safety and meal delivery services continue under normal guidelines.

Columbia County public schools close through April 3, and students are not expected to return until April 14 at the end of spring break.

March 23
Kemp issues an order requiring Georgians at high risk of contracting the virus to stay at home. The order also closes bars and nightclubs and prohibits gatherings of 10 or more people.

While employees of many nonessential businesses are working from home, Columbia County officials announce that they will not mandate the closure of any businesses at this time. However, they encourage companies to follow CDC guidelines.

March 24
To allow voters an option to cast ballots without going to polls during the pandemic, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announces that all active voters in the state will be mailed an application for an absentee ballot for the May 19 primaries. 

March 26
Kemp orders public schools to remain closed until April 24 and to relax requirements in several areas, including final exams. 

March 27
The Columbia County Board of Commissioners extends the closure of county offices, parks and facilities to April 6. 

The 2020 Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals at Augusta National Golf Club are rescheduled for April 4, 2021. The finalists will be invited to compete in the same age division for which they qualified this year, regardless of their age on that date.

March 29
Trump declares Georgia a major disaster area due to the impacts of the coronavirus on the state. 

April 1
Kemp announces that schools will be closed for the rest of the school year and that a shelter-in-place order mandating that Georgians stay home unless involved in essential business or for essential tasks, like grocery shopping, will be put in place April 3. 

April 2
Columbia County announces that county offices and facilities will remain closed to the public through April 13. However, open space and walking trails at county parks are open for personal activity and exercise. People are asked to continue to practice social distancing and refrain from congregating in large groups. 

April 3
The statewide shelter-in-place order goes into effect and will last until April 13. Many businesses are closed, while others are allowed to stay open for minimum business operations as long as they follow safety guidelines. Restaurants are allowed to serve only by pickup or drive-through and must close dining rooms. 

April 6
Ridley announces that the Masters Tournament has been rescheduled for November 9 – 15. The Augusta National Women’s Amateur is canceled, but players who were invited to the 2020 event will be able to compete in the 2021 tournament, as long as they remain amateurs. 

April 8
Kemp and Georgia’s top legislative leaders announce that the statewide public health emergency declared to deal with the coronavirus will be extended through May 13. Kemp also announces that he will extend the state’s shelter-in-place order through the rest of April. 

April 9
Raffensperger moves the May 19 state primaries to June 9. 

April 10
Columbia County announces that county offices and facilities will remain closed to the public through April 17. 

April 17
Columbia County announces that its offices and facilities will remain closed to the public through April 27. 

April 20
Kemp announces plans to ease restrictions on some businesses and medical procedures, allowing them to reopen or resume on April 24.

April 21
Columbia County announces that employees will return to work on April 27, but offices will remain closed to the public until May 4. 

April 24
Georgia begins Phase 1 of reopening businesses. Kemp permits barber shops, salons, bowling alleys, gyms and some other businesses to reopen as long as they take hygiene and social distancing precautions.

April 27
Columbia County employees return to work, but offices will remain closed to the public. 

April 30
Kemp announces he will allow the statewide shelter-in-place order to expire. He extends the state’s health emergency for another 30 days.

May 4
Columbia County offices reopen to the public with protocols in place to help employees and constituents follow CDC social distancing guidelines. County parks and the two recycling centers open on a larger scale. The Senior Center and libraries remain closed until further notice.

May 6
Columbia County reopens its athletic fields and tennis courts, as well as the BMX and Skate Park at Blanchard Woods Park, for leisure activities.

Columbia County libraries begin offering curbside pickup on a limited basis. All returned items will be quarantined for 72 hours.

May 8
Columbia County school students who have satisfactorily completed course requirements and who have met or exceeded course standards as measured by their teachers conclude the school year.

May 12
Kemp allows restaurants to serve 10 diners per 300 square feet instead of the current 500 square feet and increases the maximum number of people who can be seated together from six to 10.

Bars, nightclubs and live performance venues that expected to reopen May 13 are ordered to remain closed.

Shelter-in-place restrictions will remain in effect through June 12 for those 65 and older, the medically fragile and nursing home or long-term care facility residents.

May 14
The beach area and boat ramps at Wildwood Park are open. Camping reservations can be made as well.

May 16
All playgrounds at Columbia County parks open for public use. 

May 28
Kemp eases more restrictions while simultaneously extending the state’s public health state of emergency through July 12. Gathering size limit is increased from 10 to 25. Live performance venues remain closed, but bars and nightclubs are allowed to open under CDC guidelines.

May 29-30
Columbia County high schools hold graduation ceremonies at Evans Towne Center Park. Tickets are required for entry, and the number of tickets for each graduate is limited to four. Face masks are required to enter and exit the park, and attendees must bring their own seating. Social distancing of at least 6 feet is required between each group.

June 1 – July 8
The Columbia County school district provides curbside pickup summer meals for students in need on Mondays and Wednesdays at five locations.

June 2
Splash pads at Evans Towne Center and Gateway parks and behind the Evans Library open. The Evans and Harlem library branches open with limited hours and services.

June 9
After being postponed twice, Georgia’s primary election is held.

June 11
Kemp announces that Georgia residents 65 or older are no longer required to shelter in place unless they have underlying health conditions. He also eases other restrictions beginning June 16.

June 16
Gatherings of up to 50 people are allowed without social distancing. For larger groups, people must space out at least 6 feet apart.

In restaurants and dining rooms, there is no longer a cap on the number of people who can sit together. There also is no longer a limit on the number of patrons allowed per square foot, and buffets and salad bars can reopen with precautions.

Bars can allow in 50 people, or 35 percent of the total listed fire capacity, whichever is greater.

There no longer is a limit on the number of people who can sit together at indoor movie theaters, but each party must be seated at least 6 feet apart.

July 1
Live performance venues can reopen under certain conditions.

Garden Party

Garden Scene

5 simple ideas to bring fun and flair to outdoor dining and décor

There’s something about eating outside that just makes food taste better. And your table might as well look pretty while you’re doing it. As stunning as Mother Nature is all by herself, it doesn’t hurt to lend her a helping hand with some ideas of your own to create a festive ambiance for an outdoor meal.

Flower Cones
Scoop up a serving of your favorite flowers to create a beautiful tablescape with flower cones. Begin by wrapping flower stems in damp paper towels and plastic wrap. Lay on squares of Kraft paper, roll into cones and tie with ribbon. Arrange cones in individual vases at each place setting or combine them in one container for a colorful centerpiece.

Going Tropical
It’s a breeze to create an island-themed table. Start with tropical flowers such as orchids, hibiscus, bromeliads and cyclamen. Add palm fronds and candles and use pretty seashells or stones to hold napkins in place on each plate. Don’t forget a tropical playlist.

Tart Smart
Sometimes it’s a brilliant idea to play with your food. To make zesty additions to place settings, turn lemons into bud vases. Cut the top off each one and scoop out the pulp (save the pulp for lemonade, cakes, muffins, sauces and marinades). Next, cut a thin slice off the bottom so the lemons will stand up. Fill with water, flowers and greenery, and voila!

Lavender’s Blue
Not all flowers are just for the garden or vase. For a surprising, outdoor-fresh taste of summer, add a dash of minced fresh culinary lavender buds or lavender flower heads (be sure not to use ornamental lavender) to baked goods, icing, jams, ice creams, even barbecue rubs and sauces. Start with a little (a little goes a long way). You can always add more as needed.

Breakfast of Champions
Picnic for breakfast? Why not? It’s a fresh and fun way to start the day. Just set a simple table — flowers, plates, napkins and utensils — and bring on the coffee, eggs and OJ. No cell phones or high-tech allowed. Just good conversation, laughter and Mother Nature.

Camino Winds by John Grisham

Literary Loop

With Camino Winds, bestselling author John Grisham offers the perfect escape to paradise for a little sun, sand, mystery and mayhem.

Welcome back to Camino Island, where anything can happen — even a murder in the middle of a hurricane, which might prove to be the perfect crime.

Just as Bruce Cable’s Bay Books is preparing for the return of bestselling author Mercer Mann, Hurricane Leo veers from its predicted course and heads straight for the island. Florida’s governor orders a mandatory evacuation, and most residents board up their houses and flee to the mainland. Bruce, however, decides to stay and ride out the storm.

The hurricane is devastating: homes and condos are leveled, hotels and storefronts ruined, streets flooded and a dozen people lose their lives. One of the apparent victims is Nelson Kerr, a friend of Bruce’s and an author of thrillers. But the nature of Nelson’s injuries suggests the storm wasn’t the real cause of death.

Who would want Nelson dead? Bruce begins to wonder if the characters in Nelson’s novels might be more real than fictional. And somewhere on Nelson’s computer is the manuscript of his new novel. Could the key to the case be right there in black and white? As Bruce starts to investigate, what he discovers between the lines is more shocking than any of Nelson’s plot twists — and far more dangerous.

From a Distance

Buzz

“Coming Up for Air” by Lillie Morris

Get a close-up look at the abstract work of two Georgia artists.

Sacred Heart Cultural Center will display the artwork of Columbia County artist Lillie Morris and Roxane Hollosi of Atlanta through June 30 in an exhibit called “From a Distance.”

Best known for her acrylic, collage and mixed media paintings, Morris occasionally works in cold wax and encaustic. She specializes in abstract art that reveals a love of texture, color and experimentation.

Richly layered and with her own vocabulary of gestural marks and linear elements, Morris’ artwork conveys the emotional impact of her source of inspiration whether it is the landscape, music, poetry or a deep personal experience.

“I Hear the Feet of Rain Approaching 2” by Roxane Hollosi

She is inspired by the landscape, waterways and rich history of the Piedmont region of Georgia. She also has an interest in the music, literature and landscape of Ireland, and her work has been influenced by her many travels there.

Hollosi is a multi-disciplinary artist who creates 2D and 3D works. The foundation of her work is an exploration of the nature in and around her and the energies it emanates.

Originally from the Midwest, Hollosi was influenced by the Native American peoples living near her in the prairie towns of southwest Minnesota. Her color palette often reflects the indigenous culture she experienced in her formative years.

Private viewings can be scheduled, or Sacred Heart is open 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Visitors are asked to knock for admittance, wear a mask indoors, sanitize hands upon entry and refrain from entering if any symptoms of illness are present.

Planting a Seed

Garden Scene

Photos courtesy of Joe Le Vert

A high school horticulture teacher grows a large collection of exotic plants on campus that attracts attention near and far.

Once when he was in Waffle House, Joe Le Vert, who teaches philosophy, theology and horticulture at Aquinas High School, overheard a remark by a high school athlete from an out-of-town school. The student said the team was going to play at “the jungle.”

Naturally, Le Vert, who has filled the campus with exotic plants for his horticulture class, knew that the student was referring to Aquinas.

“I want the environment all around the school to be really pleasant and a great experience,” he says. “I want people to feel like they’re someplace special.”

Hands-On Learning
Le Vert, who has a bachelor’s degree in botany from the University of Georgia and a master’s in theology from Notre Dame University, has taught a horticulture class for 39 of his 40 years at the school. The elective course, which typically includes eight to 18 students, is open to juniors and seniors.

“The kids love to get outside. The class is always the last period of the day,” says Le Vert. “They get their hands dirty, so to speak, and get their nose out of a book.”

The campus has the largest collection of cold-hardy palms and citrus plants away from the coast in Georgia and South Carolina. “I had no idea that there were any citruses that could be grown this far north,” says Le Vert.

Other exotic plants on the grounds include tangerines; kumquats; yuzuquats, lemon and kumquat hybrids that can be used as a lemon substitute; sour oranges (but no true lemons or sweet oranges); olive trees and banana varieties.

“We don’t have many azaleas, and we don’t have any dogwoods. Augusta has plenty of them. We do other things,” Le Vert says. “We’ve tried to do the grounds as an experiment, so there’s a lot of different things growing at school that you wouldn’t ordinarily see.”

To expose the students to a variety of plants, the school grounds are filled with orchids, which grow out of soil; succulents; plants that are grown for foliage and carnivorous plants. The horticulture students tend to desert roses from East Africa and plants from South Africa, and they plant seeds from a botanical garden in Italy.

“We try to put a plant in a place where it will be the happiest,” says Le Vert. “We try not to plant anything that will require a lot of care.”

The citrus plants start blooming in March. Japanese maples bloom in the fall, and camellias bloom from November to March.

“We have something blooming 12 months out of the year,” says Le Vert. “The kids go out at lunch and pick tangerines off the tree and eat them. They also eat kumquats off the tree.”

As part of the class, the students maintain the entire campus except the front of the school and the athletic fields. They prune trees and plants, mow the grass and reseed the perennial rye grass lawns in September.

“I teach them how to plant things because everything is not planted in the same way,” Le Vert says. “I teach them about soil amendments. With some plants, we need to add clay. We have gone to Wrens to collect kaolin.”

The students also fertilize the plants, but they do not spray any of them. Every year the senior class goes to Disney World in January, and the students bring back seeds such as palm and cycad seeds that they pick up off of the grounds of the Disney hotel where they stay. The students also take some plants home with them at the end of the school year.

Le Vert conducts tours of the grounds to groups from places such as UGA, Clemson University, the Smithsonian Institute, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and local gardening clubs. The school also shares cuttings and seeds with local nurseries and has sent seeds as far as away as Italy, France and Croatia.

“We try to provide a service,” says Le Vert. “We don’t charge for anything we ship out of the country. If we ship in the United States, we ask for a donation to the school.”

Developing Lifelong Skills
Le Vert, who helped both of his grandmothers in their gardens when he was growing up, has had a lifelong affinity for nature.

“I was always interested in biology and animals, but plants are a lot easier to take care of than a dog,” he says. “They don’t have to go to the vet, and plants stay put.”

He tries to instill that same enthusiasm in his students. Through the horticulture class, he hopes they gain an appreciation for learning by doing, develop confidence to take care of a property and enjoy the beautiful landscape of their surroundings.

“We’ve had a number of kids who have gone on to work in horticultural fields,” Le Vert says. “And all of the kids are going to have a house at some time in their lives.”

One of his former students worked for Jack Nicklaus, and others have started their own landscaping or lawn maintenance companies.

Harrison Catalano, who graduated in 2015, took the horticulture class as a senior. “All four years of school, I knew it was a class I wanted to take my senior year,” he says. “I had heard so many stories about it from other classmates.”

His favorite task was driving mulch around in a golf car, but he also learned how to plant, when to groom plants and when different varieties bloom.

“I have a personal garden in my backyard. I grow basil, tulips and daisies,” Catalano says.

Michael McCormack, another 2015 graduate, also took the horticulture class during his senior year.

“It was a good chance to get outside and enjoy the weather. It is such a beautiful campus,” he says. “We didn’t have tests in the class. For our final exam, we went through the property and talked about everything we had done that year.”

McCormack says his favorite job was to maintain the palm trees, and he still helps Le Vert with the upkeep of the school grounds sometimes on Saturdays. He also says the instructor taught him as much about life as he did about horticulture.

“I think it’s really cool that ‘Le Vert’ translated from French into English means ‘the green,’” says McCormack. “I think this is his destiny.”

By Leigh Howard

 

June is Short, July is Long — Jeb Loy Nichols and the Westwood All-Stars

Listen To This

Who needs a break? As we celebrate a reunion with the simpler things that make our journey around the sun worth its weight in gold, a soundtrack of the season is in order. The appropriately titled June is Short, July is Long by legendary singer-songwriter Jeb Loy Nichols and the Westwood All-Stars is a must-have for kicking back with a grill and some backyard ambiance.

Nichols, who is most known for vintage soul grooves, concocts a funk-folk-reggae-country-blues marinade that produces a rich, smoky vibe full of flavor. Recorded live over a three-day living room session, June is Short, July is Long resonates with a simple and honest chemistry between Nichols and his All-Stars that is expansive and cozy. Songs like the neck-bobbing groove of “You Got It Wrong,” the ragtime-beach-reggae tap of “Black Rooster” and the lazy chair slumber of “Home in My Arms” are just a few of the gems in this 12-pack of awesome.

If you are new to Jeb Loy Nichols, you will soon be diving into the deep end of his nine prior releases and they will not disappoint. So take a deep breath, relax, enjoy good company during these summer nights and remember that life can have some consistent comfort amidst all the ups and downs.

– Chris Rucker

Get the Picture

People

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where: 4P Studios, 3927 Roberts Road, Martinez

How Much: Free

More Info: (706) 267-6724

No Letting Up

People

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feeling Good

People

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

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

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

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