April 2022

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C O B B ’ S FA M I LY L I F E S T Y L E M A G A Z I N E APRIL 2022






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Our OaksSeniorLiving.com Town

PAGE l Family Operated l Assisted Living & Memory Care


In This Issue

Travel Our Town’s Travel Expert, Heather Meliski, shares how to keep your data and devices secure while traveling....................................10

APRIL 2022

Cover Story: The SAE School...............................................15

Home Town Heroes!................................21

15 Cover Story The SAE School

Who’s that Roaming the Sidelines? Justin explains in Talkin’ Sports.....................24

Do You Need a “Wellness Check” from all of Life’s Chaos? Elizabeth Blonde to the rescue......................29

The Braves are BACK! Get ready for Champions Week.....................30

Tara’s Spring Bucket List.........................33



Travel Keeping Your Data & Devices Safe

Legal Probate & Real Estate

Life’s Chaos Wellness Check! Real Estate Springtime Advice



Spring Real Estate Deborah Ratchford has some advice on why Spring may be the perfect time to sell your house in Real Estate in Our Town.........................34

prung “Spring has S . in Our Town.. Bloom remember to e P lanted!” r a u o Y e r e Wh


Talkin’ Sports Sideline Heroes PAGE 6

Our Town

Our Town onthly M

in this issue


Publishers/Editors Linda Demery & Lori McLinden

Our Town is published and direct mailed monthly to prestigious homes in the West Cobb Area. Opinions expressed by the editorial staff are their own and do not

Our Town is published and direct mailed monthly prestigious homes necessarily reflect the opinions of theto publisher. Our Town reserves the right to Graphics Opinions and Designexpressededitby and orthe reject anyeditorial editorial or advertising staff content. Our Towntheir is not responsible in Cobb County. are own Terry Tanner for errors in advertising beyond the cost of the space or for the validity of claims made and do notTanner necessarily reflect the opinions of the publisher. Our Town Graphics, Inc. by advertisers. reservesAccount the right to edit and or reject any editorial or advertising Executive Entire contents copyright 2018 by Our Town. Reproduction in whole or in Sara Young, sara@ourtownmonthly.com content. Our Town is not responsible for errors in advertising beyond part is forbidden in any media without prior written permission from the publisher. the cost Feature of the Photographer space or for the validity of claims made by advertisers. Entire contents copyright 2022 by Our Town. in whole Our Reproduction Town Monthly 109 Anderson Street or in part is forbidden in any media without prior written permission Suite 109 Contributing Writers from the publisher. Marietta, GA 30060

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PUBLISHER/MANAGING EDITOR info@ourtownmonthly.com Tara Hill Hanover


Senior Living Communities




EDITOR/SPORTS CONTRIBUTOR Justin Hanover DIGITAL EDITOR/SOCIAL MEDIA CONTRIBUTOR Kimberly Watkins-Swenk GRAPHICS AND DESIGN Jules Fandos ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES West Cobb Sara Young sara@ourtownmonthly.com Smyrna/Vinings/Galleria/Cumberland Misty Flanders-White misty@ourtownmonthly.com CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Heather Meliski Elizabeth Blonde Deborah Ratchford PO Box 813610 Smyrna, GA 30081-8610 (678)337-7844 info@ourtownmonthly.com www.ourtownmonthly.com

STERLING ESTATES COMMUNITIES STRONGER THAN EVER Full Continuum of Living, IL Cottages and Apartments to AL & Memory Care, All on One 28 Acre Neighborhood Campus

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Internet Security While Traveling By Heather Meliski


have something embarrassing to admit. I recently traveled to Egypt for work (more on this amazing experience in next month’s article) and after 18 hours of traveling I landed in Cairo to roughly 320 undeliverable emails. I immediately knew my email had been hacked. In my former non-travel advisor life, I worked for two decades at a large, multinational technology company so I’m very cautious about data and internet security. With one mistake in the airport in Paris, my email was compromised - I was tired, forgot to turn on my VPN, and accessed the airport WiFi to check my email. It was the perfect storm to have my data hacked. Luckily, I have a friend who is a great IT guy and we were able to stop the attack quickly (shout out to JW Affinity IT Consulting - a fantastic locally owned IT company). But I was without any access to my work email for three days and my email was quarantined from sending any emails for an additional 10 days – both of which could be considered a blessing or a curse, depending on your perspective. I want you to avoid starting a vacation like my trip to Egypt, so here are some suggestions for how to keep your data and devices secure while traveling.


Avoid using public WiFi whenever possible. Any WiFi that doesn’t require a password is essentially an open invitation for hackers to access your data. Try to only use WiFi that is secured and password protected, and only use public WiFi from trusted sources (hotel, restaurant, etc). Make sure you’re using a legitimate, secured WiFi network. Hackers are smart and they will create networks that appear to be authentic to try to get you to connect to them. These fake networks will often have a slight misspelling or may ask for a lot of information in order to access them. If it seems ‘off’, don’t connect to it. Make sure that you know the complete and accurate name for any WiFi network you’re going to connect through that is offered by a hotel, airport, shop, etc. Turn off the auto connect feature on your cell phone and electronic devices. This feature is often turned on so your device will auto connect to a home or work network. Make sure to turn this off before you travel so you have control over what network you’re connecting to when you travel. Turn off WiFi and file sharing when you’re not using your device. Disabling file sharing gives you control over what data you’re sharing with other devices. When you aren’t using a device, turn it to airplane mode or turn off the WiFi function. This keeps your device from accessing networks without your knowledge. Try to use cellular data versus WiFi. Cellular data gives you more control over the security of your device since you aren’t accessing a public WiFi network shared by lots of people. Utilize HTTPS not HTTP. HTTPS is an encrypted website so the sensitive data you’re sharing isn’t easily accessed by other people. HTTP is not encrypted so it is easier for people who are using the same WiFi network to access the data you are sending. My top suggestion is to always use a VPN at all times while traveling regardless of whether you’re using WiFi or cellular data. A VPN is essentially a private connection that adds an extra layer of security and encrypts the data between the device you’re using and the internet. I have a VPN on all of my devices that I typically run 24/7 when I’m traveling both domestically and abroad. I usually set it to auto connect so it is always on and so I don’t have to remember to manually connect it with each new WiFi network I utilize. This is where I messed up on my way to Egypt – I forgot to turn on the auto connect when I was in the airport in Atlanta and didn’t realize it when I was in Paris. Another benefit of utilizing a VPN is that you can run your connection off of a US-based server so all of your internet browsing will automatically be in English. If you’ve ever traveled abroad then you know that typically websites will initially open in the native language. A VPN makes it seem like you’re physically in the location you’re connected through so you avoid needing to switch to English. I hope this information will help your data to be better protected while traveling!

Heather Meliski, Global Travel Senior Advisor 678-522-4495 heather@ yellowshoetravel.com YellowShoeTravel.com 1517251236924_fb Yellow Shoe Travel - Heather Meliski @yellowshoetravelheather


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achary Tippens was born and raised in North Georgia. He has resided in the Acworth and Kennesaw area for most of his life. Zach met his wife while in college. After he graduated, they moved to central Florida for three years so Zach could finish his clinical rotations. While he was in Dalton, Fl, he worked mainly in the ER. Then in 2020, Zach saw an opportunity to come back to his hometown to work with Peachtree Immediate Care. He was led to help during the COVID crisis as the pandemic was in full swing. When he started in the Acworth location it was a drive through testing site, often with lines going all the way down highway 41 cobb parkway, everyone was desperate for COVID testing. “I have had the pleasure of working with some of the nicest and well-trained staff I have ever worked with in my entire career.” -Zachary Tippens, Family Nurse Practitioner PATIENT STORIES: • While doing drive through testing, Zach had one patient come through that seemed quite ill. After assessing her Zach determined that she was rapidly declining and needed to be transported to the ER. Zach monitored and kept her stable until Metro EMS arrived on scene to get her to the ER.

“I have had the pleasure of working with some of the nicest and well-trained staff I have ever worked with in my entire career.” - Zachary Tippens, Family Nurse Practitioner

• Once Peachtree Immediate Care resumed indoor urgent care operations, Zach had a patient come in that could barely walk under his own power and looked distressed. Zach tested him for COVID, and immediately took his vitals including his O2 saturation. It was less than 40%. The patient began to vomit in the exam room sink. Zach provided oxygen via non-rebreather and stayed with him until Cobb County Fire Dept. and Metro EMS arrived to take the patient to the ER. • Zach is just one of the many examples of the courageous team of Peachtree Immediate Care as well as the first responders we have seen step into position of “others before self” during the past 2 years. We are thankful to all the doctors, nurses and all of the amazing people that make up our medical community! You are all heroes, and we are thankful!


lso, Congratulations to Dr. Janet Memark awarded 2022 Mark Henderson Public Service Award by the Cobb County Chamber. In her role as District Health Director, Dr. Memark led Cobb as a top public health advocate throughout each wave of the global pandemic. Her and her team’s efforts are a true representation of outstanding commitment and dedication to enhancing the quality of life for Cobb County’s citizens. She educated the community on vaccine information and implementation, managed testing sites, and served as a constant resource to local businesses on operating safely and navigating every public health challenge. Helping to keep Cobb safe and keep businesses open, Dr. Memark continually advised businesses on the return to in-person events and demonstrated tremendous servant leadership. *The Mack Henderson Public Service Award is presented annually to an individual who is outstanding in their commitment and dedication to enhancing the quality of life for the citizens of Cobb County.

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Talkin’ Talkin’ Sports Sports By Justin Hanover

The Unsung Heroes on the Sidelines


icture this: you are sitting watching a high school football game on a Friday night and suddenly, the starting quarterback takes a massive hit from a defensive end. Boom! The hit resounds through the stadium as the fans watch in stunned silence. The QB slowly gets up and starts to trip. Immediately, a person in khakis with a fanny pack is by his side, helping him off the field. Who is this person? What happens next? That person, who was present on the sideline, is a certified athletic trainer (AT). An AT is a licensed and certified healthcare professional who specializes in acute emergency response, as well as the rehabilitation and return to play protocols for injury/illness. Athletic trainers are highly educated, many practicing with master’s degrees and above. But for now, let’s get back to the scenario at hand. The AT has ushered the starting quarterback off of the field. What is he screening for? In this example he or she is looking for a concussion. In other examples it could be a wrist injury, a knee problem, a bruised sternum, there are endless injury possibilities. When the AT has completed the evaluation, they then communicate the best course of action to the parents, coaches, and medical team. If a concussion is suspected, the student-athlete enters concussion protocol. This protocol is made up of a period of active rest followed by a slow re-introduction to their respective sport when symptoms have diminished. Communication that occurs between healthcare providers as well as the sport’s staff and parents is integral in protecting the student-athlete from further injury as well as determining if additional services are needed, like rehabilitation or medical imaging/referral.

to help get them back to sports efficiently and with their full potential.” What you just read is from Campbell High School Athletic Trainer Bryan Sontag and his (also AT) wife, Kara Lyn Sapp Sontag. I asked Bryan to answer a few questions as I wanted this month’s article to give credit to these unsung heroes and he did one better. He and Kara Lyn crafted my questions into this extremely insightful piece. Wow. Thank you, Bryan and thank you to all of the wonderful ATs out there!

Justin Hanover is a sports reporter/analyst who has worked in the business since 1996. His stops have included ESPN, CNN, 790 The Zone and 680 The Fan. He has also done play-by-play analysis and color commentary ranging from the high school level all the way through the professional level. Justin lives in Smyrna with his wife and three children.

See, that’s the unseen side of athletic training. Everyone sees the person in khakis at football games, basketball games, lacrosse games, etc.. But what is unseen is the day-to-day grind that ATs put in. Athletic trainers are more than just first responders. They are present for all teams throughout all seasons of play. ATs provide injury evaluations to all teams, rehabilitation for injured athletes, as well as document all treatments and injuries, prepare emergency action plans to help everyone (coaches, administration, campus police, etc.) know what to do if something happens, provide emotional and mental support for student athletes, apply protective or preventive devices (tape, braces, etc.), create and implement injury prevention programs, as well as know how to fit and care for sports equipment. You can also find ATs in professional sports, club sports, doctors’ offices, colleges, on the manufacturer’s floor, and in hospitals as they assist surgeons. That’s a wide scope! But what is cooler is how each person continues to bring value to what we do. Athletic trainers are here to serve. What separates the good from the great is their heart to serve the community they are in (wherever they are). ATs are here to help protect student-athletes and prolong their life function (in and out of sport). A piece of advice ATs like me want parents to know is this: “We care about your son or daughter deeply and want them to be safe. We are here to protect them as well as guide you in making decision


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A little help for “calming the chaos” By Elizabeth Blonde


e live in a high-paced world, where “busy” is the first thing that comes to mind when asked “how are you?”. I feel like it speeds up even more in Spring with sports, year-end activities and summer planning. We run from carpool to sports, from work to volunteer opportunities and of course the never-ending laundry, sink of dishes and keeping the house. In all this busyness, where is the time for you? We must fill our cup first in order to pour some into our families, work and community effectively. And I’m not talking about weekends away, or pedicures and bubble baths, although those are amazing. Here are some realistic daily habits that have helped calm the chaos and they may help you too. l Drink more water, we can never have enough, a cup at bedside to drink first thing and before you crawl into bed. l Make your bed as soon as you wake up. l Race the coffee maker and empty the dishwasher in the morning. l Start and finish a load (or 2) of laundry every day. l Prioritize your sleep and support your immune system. l While the kids are at practice, take a walk around the park, do some body weight exercises or stretching. This is also a great time to listen to a book or favorite podcast. l Plan your meals on Sunday with your calendar and schedule in mind. Then prep to keep meals quick and easy in the evening.

l Using the IP or crock pot to cook and shred chicken for chicken salad, BBQ pulled chicken and soups. l With a few hours of planning and prep you can have a whole week of “fast food” to fuel your body well. Lastly, take an inventory of how you are doing in these areas. You can adjust at any time in ways that work best for you. Then CELEBRATE what you are doing and the progress you have made. Making these small changes over time can make such an impact on your mindset and your health. You are making a difference. You are enough. You are worthy. Elizabeth Blonde has been a resident of Smyrna for five years along with her husband and four children. Elizabeth’s passion is to guide others on their personal health journey to help them live the life they were created to live. She is the founder of The Smyrna Wellness Collective and partners with many like-minded people in the community to help match people with providers that can help give them what they need. “Everyone’s needs are different but we are all working with the same end-goal in mind.” She is passionate about health and wellness and is honored to be a part of this sweet town of Smyrna.

Here are a few suggestions that work for our family of six: l Grill a bunch of chicken at one time, chop and roast potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, pepper and onions. l Sauté up several pounds of meat at one time, separate and season for tacos one night and then add tomatoes and beans (or the roasted sweet potato) another night and even add to a pasta dish with some ricotta, mozzarella and spaghetti sauce.



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Begins April 7 April 7

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World Series Pennant Unveil

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Great reasons to sell your house this spring!!!


hen selling a house, most homeowners hope for a quick and profitable transaction that puts them in a position to make a great move. If you’re waiting for the best time to win as a seller, the market is calling your name right now. Here are some great reasons why this is the perfect time to sell your house. 1. There is a high demand from homebuyers. Buyer demand is strong right now, and buyers are active in the market. Buyers are continuing to flock to the new listings as soon as they hit the market and quickly learn that their offers need to be strong and clean to win the contract. Most often the winning contract is higher than the asking price. Many buyers lose out on the first attempts in the offer process which will continue to make it a great seller’s market. When your house is positioned to get a ton of attention from competitive buyers, you’re in the best spot possible as the seller. 2. There aren’t enough houses for sale. Purchaser demand is so high; the market is running out of available houses for sale. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) also reveals that, while home sales are rising, the inventory of existing homes for sale is continuing to drop. Houses are essentially selling as fast as they’re hitting the market – in fact, NAR reports that the average house is on the market for only 21 days, and much less than that in some hot areas.

It’s this imbalance between high buyer demand and a low supply of houses for sale that gives sellers such an advantage. A seller will always negotiate the best deal when demand is high and supply is low and that is exactly what’s happening in the real estate market today. 3. You have a lot of leverage in today’s market. Clearly, many more people are interested in buying than selling this spring, creating the ultimate sellers’ market. When this happens, homeowners in a position to sell have the upper hand in negotiations. According to NAR, agents are reporting an average of 3.7 offers per house and an increase in bidding wars. As a seller, this means the ball is in your court – so much so that you can use your leverage to negotiate the best possible contract. Demand is there, and now is the perfect time to sell for the most favorable terms. 4. Don’t forget that it’s a great way to use your home equity. As of the end of 2021, the average homeowner has gained much equity over the past year, and that number continues to grow as home values appreciate. Equity is a type of automatic savings (it’s like free money) that grows during your time as a homeowner and can be put toward bigger goals like buying your next dream home. When homeowners gain enough equity in their homes, they are more likely to consider using that equity to purchase a larger or more attractive home. That’s the wealth effect of rising equity. In today’s housing market, fast rising demand against the limited supply of homes for sale has resulted in continued house price appreciation. 5. It is so important to find a home that meets your needs. So much has changed over the past year, including what many of us need in a home. Spending extra time where we currently live is enabling many of us to re-evaluate homeownership and what we find most important in a home. Whether it’s a house that has the features suited to working remotely, space for virtual or hybrid schooling, a home gym or theater, or something else, selling this spring gives you a chance to make a move and find the home of your dreams. Bottom Line: Today’s housing market belongs to the sellers. If you’ve considered making a move but have been waiting for the right market conditions, your wait is over. Contact a real estate professional so you’ll be positioned to win when you sell your house this spring. The Ratchford Realty Group would love to find you your next dream home. Deborah Ratchford Keller Williams Realty Cityside 678-570-4779 / Debratchford@kw.com


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Our Town


Deb D id it ! Again

NEW LISTING IN SMYRNA $1,000,000 Gorgeous home with open floor plan and beautiful hardwood flooring on all three floors on a great cul-de-sac lot with in ground pool. Large open floor plan with bright white kitchen features a double oven, gas cooktop, granite countertops, tile backsplash, stainless appliances, large island with breakfast bar and large pantry. Spacious great room with wall of windows, coffered ceiling and stone fireplace. Large separate dining room that seats up to 12. Formal living room serves well as an office or bedroom on the main level that has access to a full bathroom. Spacious master bedroom with vaulted ceiling leads to a private bathroom with double vanity, tiled flooring, large tiled shower with rain showerhead, soaker tub and large walk-in costume closet. Spacious secondary bedrooms with great closet space. Full finished basement with bedroom, full bathroom, workout room, large wet bar, great theater & lots of great storage. Awesome backyard featuring a saltwater pool that’s heated with built-in hot tub/spa and water features. Great cul-de-sac lot in Smyrna’s King Springs Elementary district and not far from the Smyrna Market Village, Silver Comet Trail, I-75, 285, Buckhead, Atlanta and Airport.

Debsellshouses.com debratchford@kw.com Deborah Ratchford has been a top producing agent for over 20 years. Her goal is finding the dream home for every owner as well as negotiating top dollar for every seller.

Don’t buy and sell alone, EXPERIENCE has it REWARDS! Debs’s extraordinary reach, attracts extraordinary results.

Looking for Listings and Buyers! Call Today! 678-570-4779 Deborah M Ratchford Keller Williams Cityside 3350 Atlanta Road Smyrna, GA 30080

C: 678-570-4779 O: 770-874-6205

All information is believed to be accurate, but not warranted.

PAGE Each Keller40 Williams Realty Office is individually owned and operated.


Barry Butler

Branch Manager/VP of Mortgage Lending NMLS ID: 658820

barry.butler@rate.com / O 404.474.3974 C 770.365.7179 Our Town 125 Townpark Drive Suite 300, Office 23 / Kennesaw, GA. 30144

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