Holiday 2023 December23/Jan24

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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 DEC 2023 / JAN 2024





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Our Town

Letter from the Publisher




appy Holidays and Happy New Year my friends! We are so proud to be your community lifestyle magazine and pray we always bring you happiness, lots of joy, community news, great businesses and of course fun...we can’t forget the fun! This upcoming year we are excited to announce Our Town’s monthly book club! We have a group of outstanding women in the community that you can read “with” and see their review the following month. What’s more fun than a group of friends, a good book and an opinion? Go ahead and get your copy of The Change by Kirsten Miller. We will have the review in the next issue-stay tuned. Also, follow us on social media @our_town_monthly & Facebook: Our Town Monthly We’d love to hear from you, leave us a comment. You never know we may go live, then you can be part of the book club or any of the amazing journeys we take you on in Our Town Monthly! Thank you for being amazing readers and advertisers, I am beyond proud to be part of this community.

with Love, Tara

3450 Acworth Due West Road / Suite 610 / Kennesaw, GA 30144

Our Town


In This Issue


CONTENTS Note from the Publisher.................................5

Talkin’ Sports Chatting with a Georgia Tech Legend..................11

Cover Story: Cumberland Counseling Centers.........................15

15 Cover Story

Cumberland Counseling Centers

Community Spotlight Look what the Cobb Chamber of Commerce has to offer!.................................................................21

Health & Fitness Don’t just Survive the holidays, Thrive the holidays with Burn Bootcamp.............................................25

Beauty Modern Muse Salon shares their favorite Holiday Looks............................................................29

Family “If it’s not worth sharing, it’s not worth having.” Thanks Pop!..........................................................30

11 Talkin’ Sports

GT Legend Hamilton


Winter Destination Ideas



30 Family Feature Remembering Olen D. Hill

Travel Book your winter travel now with destination idea’s from travel expert, Heather Meliski......................32

Food & Entertaining Don’t just make goals, make changes with Registered dietitian, Allyson Balzuweit...............37

Cobb’s Next Generation The days are long but the weeks are short. Don’t forget to Enjoy the Moments with Evie.................41

Real Estate Deborah Ratchford wants you to be informed as the Housing Market Makes a Shift this Winter...........48


Our Town is published and direct mailed monthly to prestigious homes in Cobb County. Opinions expressed by the editorial staff are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publisher. Our Town reserves the right to edit and or reject any editorial or advertising content. Our Town is not responsible for errors in advertising beyond the cost of the space or for the validity of claims made by advertisers. Entire contents copyright 2023/2024 by Our Town. Reproduction in whole or in part is forbidden in any media without prior written permission from the publisher.

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Senior Living Communities



2023 Voted Again, Cobb’s Best Retirement, Assisted Living & Memory Care “We’re honored that both Sterling Estates Communities have been recognized as ‘Best of Cobb’ for Retirement Living, Assisted Living and Memory Care again in 2023. I’m proud to say that it’s the 5th year in a row we’ve won these awards and an awesome tribute to our staff members. We’ve been serving seniors in greater Atlanta for over 25+ years now...we invite you to come and experience what sets us apart.” - Marshall Gill, COO & Partner, Sterling Estates Senior Living Communities

• Large living and outdoor areas to gather with friends and loved ones • Life enrichment center for residents to gather for art classes, lectures, games, etc. • Certified Parkinson’s Programs

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Small School. Big Opportunity. Endless Possibilities.


t Dominion Christian School, we equip the next generation to love God and love others through Christ-centered education. Tucked away in the beautiful North Georgia landscape on 40 acres,

Dominion has offered a quality Christian education experience for 6th12th grade students for 27 years. Our 32 faculty and administrators, with an average of 15+ years of experience in education, accomplish this goal through our college preparatory academics, extensive athletic program, extra-curricular opportunities, and student life events. The School Program Biblically integrated with practical guidance and application, our program prepares students for life’s challenges -spiritually, socially, and academically. Our high school program is college prep, offering dual enrollment, advanced placement, and honors courses. Our

I love Dominion and I want to show other families how amazing this school is. Dominion cares about their students and welcomes them with open arms. Senior, class of 2024


average class size

middle school teachers create a learning environment that is hands-on, immersive, and technologically relevant in order to prepare students for high school.


DE & AP courses 50+ college credits


in college scholarships

Student Life Our family atmosphere is experienced through daily devotions, weekly chapels with student-led worship, student-led bible studies, and the annual high school retreat. We offer band, art, STEM, and a extensive list of academic and interest clubs. Middle and high school students have access to a full athletic program. A variety of outreach opportunities are given through service clubs, community involvement, and short-term missions.


varsity sports


district, regional & state championships

Our school is family; we all treat each other with love and care. We seem to all root for each other’s success. Senior, class of 2024

NOW ENROLLING FOR 2024-2025 | GRADES 6-12 Marietta, GA |

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Dominion Christian School




4500 W. Village Place Suite 1011 / Smyrna


Our Town

Talkin’ Sports By Justin Hanover

Not Your Average Joe


f you know anything about college football in the late 1990’s, then you most certainly know the name, Joe Hamilton.

Joe is a former All-American Quarterback at Georgia Tech and a College Football Hall of Famer who has won numerous awards including the Davey O’Brien award as the nation’s best Quarterback, was the 1999 Heisman Trophy runner-up, and won a Super Bowl ring with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Lucky enough for me, Joe is a friend and colleague of mine as we work together at 680 the Fan (in the Battery Atlanta) and on the Georgia Tech football broadcasts. Truth be told, this 46-year-old is an even better person than he was a football player, and that says a ton. It all started back in Alvin, South Carolina, a small “community” of 800 people. As Joe told me, “You’re not going to end up in Alvin. You’re going to need directions to get to Alvin. You’ll never just be passing through Alvin. It’s not a city, it’s not even a town, Alvin is a tight nit community and I felt that growing up. It’s a place that means so much to me. My parents were the typical middle-class family. My dad was a carbon setter at a steel factory and my mom worked at a tax collector’s office. He had to drive 45 minutes just to get to work and she had to drive 30 minutes.” Joe played at Tech from 1996-1999 and is the all-time leader in total offense with 10,640 yards. He also set Atlantic Coast Conference records for total offense, touchdown passes and total touchdowns and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2014. “Before we even put on pads we played in the backyard”, reminisced Hamilton. “Whatever season it was we played that sport. For me growing up all I did was play and watch sports. My cousin down the road was Courtney Brown, a former number one pick in the 2000 NFL draft, and also living near me was another eventual NFL player, Pierson Prioleau. Despite being in a small community we had a lot of good football players at Macedonia High School and for me it was all about football.” After initially committing to play in college at Nebraska, Hamilton was quickly talked out of it by his mother because Lincoln was “just too far from home.” So off to the city of Atlanta it was for Joe, who became a Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket after the school went through a rough 1-10 season. He was redshirted his first year but as the future legend told me, “they knew they had the right guy because I was all team and all about us. They knew the program was in pretty solid hands moving forward. I like to think of myself as a silent assassin in terms of competing and for those years, compete, I did.” Number 14 led the Tech football revival in the late 1990’s which included back-to-back bowl victories (MVP in both) along with consecutive wins over the in-state rival Georgia Bulldogs. “10 out of 10 times I’m going to Georgia Tech. Every single time. It is the full experience. I loved it and would go back again.” Next up was the potential for the NFL draft. Despite being such a dominant college quarterback, Joe knew that his lack of height in scout’s eyes would hurt him tremendously. “I knew I had a problem, my height, my stature and my standing in the pocket. I was not very optimistic. I needed an opportunity to compete

and just said ‘please let me be able to compete.’” Tony Dungy and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers came a calling in the seventh round of the 2000 NFL draft. But with Shaun King and Brad Johnson as the starters, Joe didn’t get much of a chance to play. The team, though, did win the Super Bowl in 2003, earning Joseph Fitzgerald Hamilton from little known 800 person Alvin, South Carolina the ultimate prize, a Super Bowl ring. “I gave my ring to my dad. It hurt my feelings that I never really got to say hut, hut and from a competitive standpoint it wasn’t great but I loved Tampa and Tony Dungy and Monte Kiffin. I’m not upset. My dream was to play in the NFL.” JoeHam, as he is known by many, would go on to play professionally in Europe and the Arena league along with a brief stint as Peyton Manning’s backup in Indianapolis, before calling it a career. After the playing days ended, he would make his parents proud by going back to Tech to finish up his degree. “That was a humongous moment for me. My mom and dad wanted me to graduate, I was a history major and earned my degree in 2007. My parents, by the way, went to every single game from middle school through college except for one game at Boston College and that was only because I had to exchange those tickets to be able to have more people come to a Georgia game later on that season.” What is every-day life like now for Hamilton? Well, Joe loves to coach and calls being a lay coach “my itch”. He coaches his 14-year-old son in both football and basketball in the afternoons, after working six days a week at 680 the Fan on “The Locker Room” from 6-10am, and also as the color commentator for the Yellow Jackets football broadcasts on Saturday’s. “I get up at 4:30 in the morning and am out the door at 4:45 to do a radio show on the weekdays. I love it. I love being at 680 and at Georgia Tech. I love what I do today. I love calling games. I’m truly an offensive coordinator. I love dissecting everything offensively and just love football.” When asked about his family Joe had a huge smile and a glow about him. “Dad, father, husband, means a lot to me. I’m a football sports junkie and my wife (a former Tech basketball player) has been a part of it all. My son plays football and my daughter who plays basketball is the best athlete I have ever Justin Hanover is a sports seen. I’m really thankful and grateful for it all!” reporter/analyst who has worked Go to google or Youtube and type in “Joe Hamilton Georgia Tech highlights”. Enjoy!

in the business since 1996. His stops have included ESPN, CNN, 790 The Zone, 680 The Fan and the Atlanta Falcons. 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.




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Our Town

Oaks at West Cobb: Family-operated Senior Living Community Cultivates Person-centered Lifestyles.


he Salabarria family created Oaks Senior Living in 1998 to provide person-centered care to elders who can no longer live safely at home. The family operated executive team has been faithfully providing senior living in Georgia and South Carolina. Oaks at West Cobb, an Oaks Senior Living managed community, embodies the values set in place to create the best home for your loved one. Located in Marietta, GA and only a short drive from Atlanta, Oaks at West Cobb features luxury assisted living and memory care apartments with various care service options tailored to fit your needs. The Thriving Day in the Life of an Oaks at West Cobb Memory Care Resident At Oaks at West Cobb, each resident’s community experience is tailored to their individual needs and desires. The flow of one resident’s day may not be the same as another, being individual care needs vary per resident. Take a few moments to join the journey of a typical day in the life of an Oaks at West Cobb memory care resident. Many of our residents begin their day with a freshly prepared meal by our Executive Chef and dining team, with the option of having specialized meals or alternate dining choices depending on dietary need. Meals continue to be prepared for lunch and dinner; however, residents have the option to eat at any point during the day as they would in their own home due to our all-day dining service. These meals are wonderful opportunities for our residents to enjoy time with their neighbors. After enjoying breakfast, residents have the option to get active with some yoga or chair exercises lead by our creative lifestyle directors. In addition to exercise-based activities, our lifestyle directors incorporate activities into daily routines that honor the resident’s history, personal preferences, and abilities to enable the highest quality of life possible. Our daily activities create freedom of choice for residents, so each day has new possibilities! While dining and activities are fundamental parts of the Oaks Senior Living mission, person-centered care is our main priority. Each day, the resident is always the focus. Our management team works together to provide the exact care plan that you need to create the most abundant life possible. Residents will have 24-hour access to care partners with care services optimized by our professional nursing team. Our nursing team has been specifically trained in person-centered memory care so that compassionate, dignified, and professional care can be provided to all memory care residents. Partnering with EmpowerMe Wellness, residents can receive onsite physical therapy and have access to diagnostics for non-blood products creating quick turnaround times of results and treatments. This relationship starts upon the resident moving in, and if there is no immediate need for therapeutic treatment, EmpowerMe Wellness will continue to collaborate with our team to ensure that treatment will be available if it is needed. “Living here has been a pleasure. The staff and residents are very friendly, the community is beautiful, and it just feels good calling this place home.” ~ Oaks at West Cobb Resident Come be a part of our family! Each part of a resident’s day is created to honor the life, desires, and needs of the resident all while providing a sense of purpose. Come take look and see everything that is available for you and your loved one at Oaks at West Cobb.

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3292 Ernest W. Barrett Pkwy NW l Marietta, GA 30064


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Estate Planning l Probate Elder Law l Small Business Contact Erika Today 678.383.7857 1690 Stone Village Ln., Ste. 322, Kennesaw, GA 30152


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QA &

What is the mission and vision of Cumberland Counseling Centers?

We believe everyone should have access to the same high quality of mental health care. We are a non profit which partners with local churches and faith organizations to make the same high quality of mental health care accessible to everyone, regardless of income.

What services do you offer to the community?

We provide clinical mental health therapy and faith-based counseling services. We can give a fully functional clinical mental health center to a partner church or faith organization and have it up and running for them in about 3-4 weeks. Through this type of partnership, we provide counseling services, but so much more than just that! We offer workshops, classes, support and therapy groups, professional development trainings on faith and mental health to church staff, trainings for volunteer and lay-staff, and we give away free trainings to our community throughout the year as well. We serve hundreds of people per year in counseling AND we do all this while providing scholarships for our lower-income community members. We gave away $45,000 in counseling scholarships last year and will likely double that this year.

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Who benefits from their services?

We believe that community and generational healing begins at the individual level. We work with individuals, teens and adolescents, couples, and families through things like trauma, grief, depression, suicidal ideation, anxiety, infertility, life-transition issues, and relational issues.

What sets Cumberland Counseling Centers apart from other similar organizations?

We are actually the only organization who is doing what we do, how we do it. Most church-integrated counseling centers simply use space and operate like a separate entity entirely, while offering counseling services to the community, which is wonderful! What we do is link arms with the church or faith organization and create a seamless sister-type-relationship, where we thoroughly support the staff and the community they serve by acting as the mental health leader and liaison. We cover the liability and handle the business side of therapy, but HAILEY GIBSON credit: Alex McKinley we do it Photo in tangible partnership alongside the organization who is already doing what they do so well!

Can you provide a success story or a real-life example of how you have made a positive impact on someone’s life? Yes! Here’s a testimony of someone who’s worked with us in the past.

“This counseling center changed my life. The therapist I am meeting with was able to share with me tools to process really tough emotions. I also benefited from the sliding fee scale; they meet you where you are financially. Being able to process with a faith-based counselor has brought me not only closer to my best self, but I feel closer to God as well. I am able to see God in a more kindhearted way, and I am also more kind to myself and others. Instead of starting my day in fear or [anxiety], I am able to start my day with confidence and hope. This place has helped me find the peace from Jesus that passes all understanding.”

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Also, when I, the Exec Director first started in this position, the pastor of our church at the time and I crossed paths one day. He grabbed my arm and looked at me and said “Alex, [John] told me you’ve been working with him. He told me that you saved his life.” It was in the moment that I knew this was an extremely important thing for our churches to confidently provide to those they serve. To not just outsource and refer to other counselors in the area, but to be able to handle it with expertise right there where those they are serving alongside already feel a sense of belonging. Spiritual and mental health are intertwined. One is healthy alongside the other. So it makes sense that the Church and community faith organizations should be leading the way in best practices for equitable community mental health services.

How can people get involved or support Cumberland Counseling Centers?

We want people to link arms with us and be a part of this incredible work. Providing financial support to the 40% of the clients we serve goes SO fast, and we need other partners in our community who are just as passionate about accessible mental health as we are to be donors so we never have to turn anyone away for financial reasons. Please go to and become a monthly partner! Or make your big end of the year donation to get that great tax return!

Share insights into the organization’s future ambitions and how you aim to expand or improve your services.

In 2024 we hope to have 2 additional partnership sites (a church or organization in which we can house a fully functioning clinical counseling center!). We can have our centers up and running in as little as 3 weeks! We plan to give away $60-80,000 in counseling scholarships in 2024 and provide trainings to our community on “Securing Healthy Marriages”, “Raising a Teen with Big Emotions”, “Mental Health and Why It Matters” and others! We want to create a movement where as common as it is for churches to have youth programming, it becomes just as common for churches to provide mental health care to its communities. / 404.884.8247 / Counseling House: 3059 South Cobb Drive, Smyrna, GA 30080


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OUR TOWN’s Community Spotlight

The Cobb Chamber Offers the Power of Connection


ave you ever heard the Cobb Chamber’s origin story? It was 1942 and Cobb County was a rural community experiencing a time of transformational growth. Bell Aircraft announced the opening of a new branch in Marietta to produce B-29 bombers for the war effort. This announcement brought aerospace engineering and manufacturing to Cobb and it remains a target industry cluster today. As more people moved to Cobb and economic activity strengthened and diversified, a group of small business owners began meeting to discuss the need for a chamber of commerce. The Cobb Chamber of Commerce was established, and its first meetings were held just a block or two away from where the Cobb County Superior Court is located today. The Cobb Chamber’s history traces back to visionary small business owners who wanted an organization devoted to providing an environment that fosters economic opportunity, serves as a champion for business and works to provide a high quality of life for residents. With our roots firmly planted in small business, we’re proud to share that the Cobb Chamber of 2023 and 2024 has a membership that’s chiefly small businesses. For the Cobb County of today, small businesses serve as economic engines and job creators, driving prosperity and innovation. And that’s why many of the Chamber’s programs, events, and services are designed for entrepreneurs and small business owners and professionals. One of the things that the Cobb Chamber does best is bringing the county’s leaders and businesses together – whether it’s to raise awareness, provide solutions and resources, or to create opportunities for businesses to grow. By joining the Cobb Chamber, businesses become part of an alliance of the area’s most innovative, informed, and determined professionals. Sometimes, when you’re leading a company or starting a new business, it can feel like a lonely experience. The Chamber’s membership is filled with fellow business owners and leaders who can offer the support and resources you need for your next stage of growth. The Chamber offers such a wide array of programs and events, and many of them require no investment of time. Plus, many businesses don’t realize that when your business joins the Chamber, those membership benefits extend to every employee. This can be a great source for professional development for employees in all stages of their careers. The Chamber offers specialized networking groups like Cobb Executive Women, Cobb Young Professionals, and CEO Roundtable to meet the needs of your workforce. Each program offers the chance for peer-to-peer networking, mentoring, and professional growth through monthly events. In addition, each of these programs also offer leadership opportunities for your employees through various committees and volunteer opportunities. When you empower your staff with engaging opportunities for growth, your business is stronger. Another area of the Chamber’s mission is its advocacy efforts, ensuring that our county is a healthy place to do business. Throughout the year, the Chamber actively works with local-, state-, and federal-level elected officials, bringing the concerns and viewpoints of its business members to their ears. The Chamber’s largest and fastest-growing committee of volunteers is the Government Affairs Committee. All are welcome to join monthly meetings to hear updates from public policy leaders and discuss active and pending legislation that affects businesses. The Cobb Chamber is all about making connections and building strong relationships to grow businesses. If you are interested in investing in Cobb’s success and if you’re looking to make your business stronger, it’s time to join the Cobb Chamber! You can learn more about membership, at

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Network & Grow With Us

Join fellow business professionals at these upcoming events! December Marquee Monday with Arthur Blank Dec. 11 | Noon | Coca-Cola Roxy Theatre Cobb Connections Networking Dec. 11 | 2 p.m. | Cobb Chamber January Marquee Monday Jan. 8 | Noon | Coca-Cola Roxy Theatre Cobb Connections Networking Jan. 11 | 2 p.m. | Cobb Chamber

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At Varenita, residents can “age in place” comfortably and securely. One of the main benefits of choosing Varenita of West Cobb is that residents can stay in the same community and, in many cases, the same “living area” even as their health care requirements change. This means that once you or your loved one moves into our beautiful community, it’s home. No matter how much needs to change over time.


The perfect option for independent seniors who want support with daily tasks and personal care. Varenita of West Cobb’s personalized assisted living care is designed for primarily independent seniors looking for a rich and rewarding lifestyle with an enhanced level of support. Guided by compassion and clinical expertise, our highly trained team members offer residents the gentle, individually focused support they need to flourish while retaining their independence.

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Personalized Care for All Stages of Aging ASSISTED PLUS

This specialized program is ideal for those living with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or early memory loss. Our industry-leading transitional care program is built around an inclusive “open campus” model. It is specifically designed for residents experiencing the early symptoms of memory loss or MCI but may not require the full attention or secure environment of a traditional memory program. Residents who are appropriate for transitional care continue to reside in the Assisted Living area of the community while receiving additional support with daily activities.


An enriching and supportive program designed for those living with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias. Based on the latest research, Varenita’s memory care program offers a truly compassionate approach to care designed for those residents living with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias. This living option combines an engaging, secure memory care neighborhood with a stimulating, person-centered lifestyle often missing from other cognitive care programs.

Varenita of West Cobb | 1979 Mars Hill Road, Acworth, GA 30101 | 470-750-3500


Unlike many other senior living communities, Varenita offers comprehensive physical, occupational, and speech therapy services for all our residents without the hassel of having to leave the community.

FIVE-STAR RESTAURANT-STYLE DINING Varenita offers residents and their families an impressive mix of delicious cuisine and rich dining experiences. Our accomplished chef and culinary team create an ever-changing menu of delicious entrees made with organic, locally sourced ingredients across three beautiful dining venues. These include vegetarian, gluten-free, and specially designed dishes for residents with specific dietary needs. In addition, we have a registered dietitian available to help with residents’ nutritional needs.


At Varenita, we offer an impressive mix of activities, classes, and events that foster engagement, stimulate the mind, and provide a rewarding sense of purpose. • Arts & Crafts • Daily Gardening • Group Outings • Move & Dance • Animal Activities • Cooking Classes

• Music & Song • Live Concerts • Exercise Classes • Family Events • Guest Speakers


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Our Town

By Ashley Beckman

Love, laughter, gratitude, good health, fitness, and adventure!


he holidays have arrived! There are so many things that must be done, from decorating trees, the house, cookies, buying gifts and wrapping them, to cleaning it all up. A quote from Maya Angelou comes to mind when I think of all that must be done. “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” Let us not just survive the holidays, let us thrive by making a plan that we feel good about and sprinkle in spontaneity and a little eggnog. The list is long for sure, do a little along the way so it does not feel so overwhelming. Go through the list and eliminate the things that do not serve you and remember to take care of your body in the process. The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy, laughter, giving and family. Focus on those things and the rest will happen if it is supposed to. Take this time to gather with family and friends and reflect on the past year and plan for the year ahead. Make a conscious effort to set aside your devices and be present in the conversation and get to know those that you do not see regularly. Plan a movie night with your children and enjoy the extra snuggle time. Eat the food and enjoy every bite and when you burn the sweet potato pie, laugh about it, and know that it happens! Plan a hike, get to Smyrna Burn Boot Camp, and add in some healthy foods along with the sweets.

ON SALE 12/18/23-1/29/24 There are many ways to give back and make the holidays brighter for those that are less fortunate. Try to include one of these on your list: l Join the Salvation Army’s efforts by sponsoring an angel and providing

a child Christmas that might not otherwise get a gift or donate when you see their volunteers ringing the bells outside of the grocery store. l Volunteer at a soup kitchen or local food bank. l Visit a nursing home and play games with the residents. l Donate to a shelter when you clean out gently used toys in preparation

If your schedule does not allow it before Christmas, sign up for a shift after the holidays are over when the volunteer numbers drop. Giving back will certainly add warmth to your heart this holiday season. As we close this year out, I wish you all a safe, peaceful, and Joyful holiday and a new year filled with love, laughter, gratitude, good health, fitness, and adventure! Ashley Beckman Burn Bootcamp Smyrna 3150 Highlands Pkwy SE Ste 113, Smyrna, GA 30082

for the new ones.

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THE DALLAS THEATER 208 Main Street, Dallas, GA 30132 / 770.445.5180




JANUARY 7th 3 PM $40 -$42 New tour! New material! Jeff’s sidesplitting comedy drives home the humor in everyday family life.


events JOE M. TURNER


Magic, Music & More JANUARY 20th 3 PM / $13-$15


FRI DEC 8th - 7PM SAT DEC 9th - 2PM & 5PM SUN DEC 10th - 2PM & 5PM $13 -$15


a Mad Artist’s Entertainment Production

DECEMBER 15th - 17th Showtimes online! $16 - $18

Filled with joy, laughter and heartbreaking moments, this new adaption of the beloved classic has something for everyone, both young and old!

For more information on Tickets, Acting Classes, Auditions, Free Movies, All Our Shows and Venue Rental, visit our website!


Joe M. Turner, world renown master magician and a resident of Paulding County, is back with an evening full of magic, music and morel Joe brings together multiple performers that will leave everyone in awe!


Rock’n Roll Show FEBRUARY 3rd 3 PM & 7 PM / $20-$22

Dallas favorites, The Ultimate Oldies are back! Their Rock and Roll Show will take you on a dynamic musical journey that explores doo wop, rock & roll, surf music, girl groups, Motown, folk, disco and more!

UPCOMING CLASSES +WORKSHOPS JAN 8-FEB 13 - Acting I Class (ages 8-12/13-17) JAN 13 - Creative Movement (ages 8-12 + parents/guardians)

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Remembering OLEN D. HILL O

len D. Hill touched our souls and spirits the day we met him, and not because he had just turned 90 years old on December 12th, 2017. It’s because rock sold family values live in this man - integrity, generosity, service and most of all a genuine love for his fellow man. He is the proud father and grandfather to three daughters, five grandchildren and nine great grandchildren and a friend to many. Olen, the second-youngest of 12 children, grew up on a family farm in NW Missouri that he remembers with affection. He joined the Navy as a young man just as World War II was coming to an end, and dedicated 24 year of service to his country. A majority of his career was spent working on the SS Boxer (an aircraft carrier for the Neptune P2-V, a submarine searcher, manufactured by Lockheed), in fact, a model replica of the P2-V hangs in the corner of his living room sharing a glimpse of a rich and storied past with visitors. Olen retired from the armed forces on July 3rd, 1969, but followed this career with a short period at Lockheed and an additional 20 years with the Sears Roebuck Company until his final retirement. Many of his Smyrna neighbors have moved from the much beloved neighborhood where he and his family have lived since 1965, but he proudly lives alone, self-sufficient and content. He immediately won us over with his endearing nature and amiable attitude. It’s no wonder our hearts melted on the spot when he explained, “If it’s not worth sharing, it’s not worth having.” His devoted family is a testament to a life well lived. Nominated by one of his three daughters, Beth Ayers, Olen truly portrays the kind of men we are honoring this month, the backbone of his family, neighborhood and community. Beth shared, “When I heard about the Love Your Neighbors Project, I immediately thought about my Dad, Olen D. Hill. From the neighbors who lived down the street, to the many church members he’s served over the years, to the people he has helped through Must Ministries, my Dad is a model description of an amazing community member who has always selflessly helped anyone in need. He is a quiet man who is most comfortable operating behind the scenes. For as long as I can remember, he has been there for his neighbor, either grocery shopping for an elderly shut-in or driving an acquaintance to a doctor’s appointment. He is 90 years young and what truly keeps him going is the need to be needed. Olen and his wife, Mary, were married for almost 65 years until she passed away 4 years ago. They were members of the Tillman Methodist Church where he dedicated 50 years of service. Until recently, he continued his wife’s ministry by cooking weekly meals at the church and holds his church family very dear.


he article above was printed in 2018 before I owned the magazine. Olen was my grandfather…my Pop. He raised me as a dad. He was my mentor, my hero, and my best friend. Honestly, most people (related or unrelated) felt the same. As a matter of fact, the moment anyone met him, he became your friend, your teacher or both…he was everyone’s Pop! He was born December 12, 1927. He truly lived a storybook life, but as we know from Disney movie’s, even the best of stories are not without challenge. Pop confronted adversity head on with confidence, grit and no fear. He grew up on a farm, and retired on a farm. In between, he joined the navy where he was man of the year, became Chief in the Navy, and retired after a 20+ year career. He retired from 2 more jobs after that, but never truly retired as he led a life of service. He married the most special woman in the world, my mamaw, had 3 daughters and from there our family grew and grew and grew! He was most proud of his family and taught us all - family first.

crock pots of soup cooking away and it was my job to deliver them. We were on a mission to feed the elderly who most by the way, were younger than him. But that’s who he was, always jumping in at a moment’s notice to help others. I am everything I am today because of my Pop. He taught me the value of hard work, he taught me that life is not always fair but you push through, and he taught me the value of others before self. I have no idea what I am going to do without him as he was the heartbeat of my family. He was as close to a real life super hero as we will ever know. The night after he passed away I walked into my oldest daughter’s room, on her white board it read; “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness” 2 Timothy 4:7-8 Life Well Lived, Pop!

When the pandemic hit he was 92 years old. He called me immediately to come over…he heard the news say “elderly people were not to leave their homes, not even go to the grocery store” as they were the top at risk. He already had

We all miss you terribly but I can say without a doubt you earned that crown and set an amazing example for all of us to follow.

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inter is a very popular time for vacations, especially for families since the kids are out of school. If you’re looking to get away this winter, here are some of my top vacation choices.


St. Barths is widely considered a top Caribbean winter destination, and for good reason. This luxurious island is ideal for those seeking a destination with a European feel without the long trip across the pond. It offers tons of beautiful beaches, calm water, and upscale hotels and villas. St. Barths also has a serious foodie scene and the restaurants are known for their world-class cuisine. The island exudes a sophisticated, yet laid-back vibe and is a perennial favorite for celebrities.


December through late March is ideal for a ski vacation. Popular ski destinations in the US include Colorado, Utah, Montana, and Wyoming. If you have the time to take a longer ski trip, there are several great destinations in Europe such as Switzerland, France, Italy, and Austria. Since winter is the busiest time of the year for ski vacations, expect crowds and higher prices. Most domestic ski destinations have good powder through the first week of April so if winter vacation doesn’t work with your schedule, spring break could also be a good option.


New York City is a perfect choice for a long weekend away, such as MLK weekend or President’s Day weekend. The Big Apple is a quick, direct flight from Atlanta and there are so many great choices for hotels, restaurants, and activities. You can see a Broadway show, ice skate at Rockefeller Center, take a stroll through Central Park, tour the Statue of Liberty, or visit the Empire State Building or The Edge. Add in tons of amazing museums and fantastic shopping, and you can easily fill up your days with things to do. Make sure to visit during the holidays when the city is extra festive.


Located about an hour from Albuquerque, Santa Fe has become a popular destination this year partly due to Christopher Nolan’s film Oppenheimer. Known for its art scene and phenomenal food, the oldest state capital in the US is a fusion of Native American, Mexican, and Spanish cultures. Make sure to check out the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Meow Wolf, and Loretto Chapel, as well as the Canyon Road Arts District where you can find tons of galleries and artists studios, great restaurants, and a variety of shops. If you’re looking for something a bit livelier, you can sip your way around the Santa Fe Margarita Trail where you can try up to 40 different margaritas.


If you’re looking for a longer vacation this winter, South Africa has you covered. This is a great destination for a first visit to Africa since you can combine safari, city, and coast. Make sure to visit Cape Town to see Table Mountain, the V&A Waterfront, and Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 of his 27 years in prison), as well as Johannesburg to see the Apartheid Museum (a must-see) and Soweto. When you’re ready to head out on safari, visit one of the many private game reserves (some of which are malaria-free and perfect for families with young children). Build in time to visit the Cape Winelands and drive the Garden Route. I also recommend combining South Africa with Zimbabwe to experience Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

Heather Meliski is a travel agent specializing in the Caribbean, Hawaii, Mexico, Europe, Australia, the South Pacific, cruises, theme parks, and more. She lives in Smyrna with her husband two sons. FB @ heatheryellowshoetravel IG @yellowshoetravelheather


THE BEST ACTIVE ADULT LIVING IN ACWORTH, GA! “My Mom has been living at Holbrook since November and we are thrilled with everything about this amazing, family-owned company. Especially because my Mom has improved so much, in so many different ways, since she moved in. They do so many "little" things to make my Mom and my family feel special. I live in Philadelphia and came down to see my Mom for 4 days and stayed at one of the apartments on site. It was wonderful! I can't recommend Holbrook more highly. If I could give it 10 stars, I would.” – TIM O.


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PK(3)-12 700 Cobb Parkway N. Marietta, Ga. 30062 Open to all faiths




Tulane University

Univ. of Pennsylvania

University of Georgia

“Walker fostered my love of learning by teaching me how to speak up for myself and establish lasting relationships with my teachers and peers.”

“The most important things that I have learned at Walker are the importance of challenging yourself and pushing yourself to be the best that you can be.”

“Walker made it easy for me to introduce myself to a variety of activities, clubs, sports and people.”

RANKED #1 PRIVATE SCHOOL IN COBB COUNTY Visit or call (678) 540-7229 to learn more. Save the date for Walker’s Open Houses on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024.

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visit & learn why

We are the Difference 2024

Open House Dates SATURDAY January 20, 2024 9:30am

THURSDAY February 15, 2024 6:30pm

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200 Veterans Memorial Highway SW• Mableton, GA 30126



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Navigating Healthy Resolutions for 2024


s 2023 comes to a close, many of us are contemplating intentions and resolutions for change, whether it relates to how we spend our time, our money, and of course the choices we make in the areas of nutrition and fitness. More than half of New Year’s resolutions are health related, including exercising more and eating healthier. Studies show that most people give up on their resolutions before January is even over. This is likely because all too often, our goals are far too lofty to achieve and maintain for the long haul. Unrealistic expectations often lead to unmet resolutions and goals and the on again off again cycle continues. Another common mistake is that we opt for extreme approaches like restrictive diets, detoxes or cleanses, or intense workout plans that ultimately can’t be sustained. While these may sound appealing as a quick way to get results (and certainly may serve as a reset of sorts), the only way to truly achieve a lasting change is to build new habits that eventually become a new lifestyle. The outcome is a routine that eventually comes automatically without requiring tremendous effort. So, how can we change our approach to set us up for success instead of finding ourselves right back where we started at the beginning of the year? Here are a few simple strategies to get started when resolving to embrace a healthier lifestyle… 1. Don’t just make goals – make changes It’s important to have specific goals in mind, but breaking goals down into actionable steps is critical. A desire to lose 20 pounds may be the goal, but measurable changes need to be the primary focus. Instead of saying: “I’m going to eat less sugar”, say “I will reduce or eliminate sweetened beverages from my diet.” Instead of: “I’m going to get in shape”, say “I will increase my exercise from 1 day a week to 3 days a week.”

set the bar so high, and instead work on things that happen on a daily basis, that offer the biggest bang for your buck. For example, if you tend to grab a special coffee several days of the week, sizing down or making a slight adjustment to your order can have a significant impact over time. Most people make the mistake of trying to change everything at once, which is why they end up feeling defeated and frustrated, eventually just throwing in the towel. Instead, the best place to start is by evaluating what’s happening daily rather than those every-so-often splurge meals. Starting with one meal at a time is a more reasonable approach. Once changes are made and a new habit is established, it’s time to move on and create a new one. 3. Stop restricting! What can you ADD? Restriction and deprivation is the root cause of resolutions and fad diets gone wrong. The notion of avoiding certain foods has a negative connotation, and leaves us feeling guilty about even the occasional time or two that we eat something that we perceive in our minds as off-limits. It may be necessary to cut back on certain foods, but it’s also important to consider what can be added into a daily routine that will have a positive impact in accomplishing goals. For most, this definitely applies to including more fresh produce, drinking more water, and adding in time for meal planning in order to have a successful week of eating well. There’s a more positive and uplifting feeling to adding new behaviors or health habits into our routine, which ultimately motivates us to keep moving forward. 4. Progress trumps perfection. There’s no such thing as a linear path, regardless of what it is we’re setting out to accomplish. Approaching 2024 with a more realistic mindset that fosters gradual change and embraces progress over perfection is a more realistic way to produce desired results that will stay with us. Cheers to a happy and healthy 2024!

There are always many different changes that can be made to accomplish specific goals, and it’s important that those changes be reasonable and compatible with each individual’s lifestyle, schedule, and support system. 2. Start small Small changes add up over time and eventually translate into big results! This can further motivate a person to make MORE changes after they experience the positive feelings of initial success. It’s important not to

Allyson Balzuweit is a Registered Dietitian based in Smyrna and has a private nutrition consulting business. She loves to help people ditch diets and embrace a healthy and realistic approach to eating for optimal health with individualized Our strategiesTown that considers all aspects of life.






Adult Day Care Providing Adult Day Health Services to several counties: Cobb, Paulding, Douglas, Bartow, Cherokee, Floyd & Gordon

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4279 Austell Powder Springs Road n Powder Springs, GA 30127 38

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$11/UNIT Expires 1/31/24

Introducing Dr. Jeremiah Cook Dr. Chris Shim and The Oakdale Family Dental team is excited to introduce Dr. Jeremiah Cook! A native of the Smyrna area, Dr. Cook has been in the field of dentistry for over 13 years, first as an assistant, then as a dental hygienist for 8 years. Dr. Cook recently received his Doctor of Dental Medicine degree from The Dental College of Georgia in 2023. As an associate dentist, Dr. Cook is looking forward to providing excellent and gentle dental care for all our patients at Oakdale Family Dental. He has been married to his wife Kim for 6 years. Dr. Cook enjoys spending time outdoors with his family and friends, along with fishing and playing soccer.


770.319.9113 /

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Where Did the Time go? I

t seems like just yesterday my family and I were counting down the seconds until 2023 arrived. And now 2024 is right around the corner. How is this even possible?!?!?

It’s amazing to think back to all of the incredible things I have accomplished in what seemed to feel like an eternity in the moment. Where do I even begin? I completed my sophomore year of high school which included finally getting my braces off, acting in my school’s musical, The Little Mermaid, where I played flounder, and going to many different sporting events. I played soccer, watched my siblings in their softball and baseball games and went to many of my school’s basketball games. After I had taken all of my finals, I celebrated my sixteenth birthday, went to a cabin with one of my best friends, watched Hairspray at the Fox Theatre, celebrated another one of my best friend’s Sweet 16’s, took a trip with my mom to Nashville, and went to countless Braves games. Then, my family and I visited my grandparents in New York, I completed my Joshua’s Law Test and began volleyball workouts over the summer and just like that, boom, somehow junior year began. I began to ask myself “where did summer go?” The next thing I knew it was already the 3rd week of school and my volleyball team was getting ready for our first tournament of the year. Again, where did it all go? By that time the excitement of the new school year wore off and I was feeling the intenseness of my junior year. Day by day, though, I kept moving forward, eager for what the next day would bring. However, I don’t think I stopped and enjoyed every moment like I should have. I came to this realization when my volleyball season eventually ended in late October. It was an incredible season of perseverance, filled with a lot of adversity and hardship as we lost many people due to sickness or injury. I, myself, was battling what I now know is patella tendinitis and had the mindset of “just get through this.” But in the end, when this incredible season ended in the state semifinals, I wished I had savored the moments a little bit more. It’s just too easy to just continue on with life without appreciating the journey along the way. I think as the end of 2023 approaches and we dive into 2024 we all need to appreciate these moments a little bit more. And trust me, I know that everyone says “the days are long but the weeks are short” and it doesn’t seem to be true at the moment, but it’s crazy to see how accurate it is when you look back and see all the amazing things that have been accomplished. My challenge to myself and to all of you, is that when 2024 begins try your absolute best to be present in every moment, the good and the bad. I am going to write down some daily events and at the end of the year, review all of these special moments that could easily get lost in the shuffle. Try not to let life fly by as it’s all too precious and try and savor every single moment. Have an amazing holiday season and a Happy New Year!

Evie is a Cobb County high school student. She has Head’s Honor Role, is a student ambassador, is on Honor Council, and Chapel Leadership. Evie was also selected to the Cobb Youth Commission Council. She is a member of the varsity volleyball and varsity soccer team. Evie enjoys spending time with her family and friends.


Celebrating 10 Years in North Atlanta!

Mobile Dog Grooming

The waggin’ wagon provides professional mobile dog grooming services to the North Atlanta community. We are currently servicing Buckhead, Brookhaven, Smyrna, Vinings, East Cobb, West & South Marietta, Our Services Sandy Springs & Dunwoody Include: extending 3 miles north Bath w/Hydro Massage Ears cleaned of I-285. Nails Trimmed Sanitary Trim Basic De-matting Full Brush & Blow Dry Shave downs Full cuts

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4000 Atlanta Road SE l Smyrna, GA 30080


VISIT US AT 4000 Atlanta Rd SE Smyrna, GA 30080 Exit 16 / S. Atlanta Rd. 1 mile North, on your left! Expires Jan 31, 2024



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Happy Holidays! Locally, Family-Owned for two generations. Here at Bartlett, you're not just a number, you are family, and we are here for your home’s heating needs!

Call Bartlett today!


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Select LVP Flooring and Installation* Financing available – 12 months no interest CUSTOM FLOORING | BATHROOM REMODEL | STAIRS HARDWOOD • LUXURY VINYL PLANK • TILE • LAMINATE • CARPET 678.573.1978

scan me *Discount is applied to the regular price of select styles of LVP, basic installation, and materials. Excludes floor prep, upgrades, stairs, take-up of permanently affixed flooring, non-standard furniture moving, other miscellaneous charges, and prior purchases. Residential installations only. Valid 11/13/2023 through 12/31/2023. Subject to change.


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Serving Homeowners in Marietta and North Metro Atlanta since 1998. One Call for Painting and All Exterior Renovations. House Painting, Exterior Renovations, Roofing, Siding, Gutters and More.




Santa doesn’t like a dirty chimney.

Expires 1/31/24

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Expires 1/31/24

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Expires 1/31/24

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Don’t Forget the importance of Pre-listing updates as the Housing Market Makes a Shift this Winter


s interest rates are still at or above 7% this time of year, the residential real estate market is starting to look a bit different. These days, home buyers have more challenging times obtaining mortgages than in previous years. While fewer lenders are approving mortgages, house prices are still relatively consistent. Even with fewer buyers in the market, more inventory, and competition among sellers, home values are still high. Most homeowners still stand to make a sizable profit if they adapt to market conditions before selling this year. So, despite these shifting conditions, home buyers, sellers, and real estate agents can navigate the market successfully with some foresight and strategy. Here’s what sellers should think about. As conditions shift from catering to sellers to giving buyers a slight upper hand in the second half of 2023, homeowners and real estate agents must adjust expectations and listing strategies, but thankfully, not too dramatically. Compared to the past few years through the pandemic, there’s a higher need to update homes and market listings competitively. Homes that sell at top prices always require these efforts, no matter what

the market conditions are. With that said, before getting on the market…. Take a hard look at your house condition and curb appeal and bring it up to date before going on the market. If you’re a homeowner or real estate agent and your goal is to increase your home value as much as possible, pre-listing home improvements are essential. Don’t forget that even small investments like new paint or refreshed flooring will make your house more appealing. Exploring and planning for necessary renovations is wise if your house requires more extensive repairs. Dealing with the Wintertime Housing Market If You are a Buyer: This winter, you can enjoy a slower-paced market, a little more inventory, fewer multiple offers on one home and in some cases, a slowdown in rising home prices. Because competition is a bit steeper for homeowners, you’re likely to see newly updated and livable homes. If You are a Seller: Focus on curb appeal and home improvement updates before listing and not after you are on the market because the first buyers looking at your house are most ready to make an offer on your house. It’s so important to make sure your interior and exterior walls are fresh, the flooring is immaculate, and your home’s fixtures and appliances are modern. Every repair and update you make will translate to a higher selling price and less time on the market. Be mindful of the timelines for obtaining required permits to remodel homes. Some permit offices do not process paperwork very timely, so build this into your pre-listing prep. The staging and photography of your house is very important to create a great listing. The Winter housing market has fewer buyers and more inventory. This winter’s housing market is driven by higher interest rates that make mortgages more expensive and harder to obtain. Buyers’ ability to qualify for home mortgages have decreased. Also, they can afford less than they would have recently since increases to interest rates make monthly payments substantially higher (by hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of dollars). With fewer buyers competing for inventory, the pace and profitability of the housing market isn’t as fast or advantageous for homeowners. This winter’s market translates to longer property listing times and more inventory than in previous months and years. As fewer buyers browse the market and the number of homes in local markets increases, pre-listing home improvements and upgrades are critical for any homeowner who wants to sell relatively quickly with upmarket profit margins. Prospective home buyers who qualify for mortgages will have more options to choose from and may have a bit more bargaining power. Buyers should ask their loan officers about interest buy down programs which will bring their monthly payment down and, in many cases, a motivated seller will pay for the cost of an interest rate buy down. Adapting to this Winter’s Housing Market Conditions This Winter housing market can still be advantageous for buyers, sellers, and real estate agents. The expectations have changed, sellers with solid pre-listing home improvement plans will be rewarded. Don’t forget to consult with an experienced real estate agent for the best guidance on making their house as appealing as possible. Call today to see if you will qualify to receive $8,000 in free money when you buy a house. Deborah Ratchford Keller Williams Realty Cityside 678-570-4779 /


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404.713.4305 PAGE 47



Deborah M Ratchford Keller Williams Cityside 3350 Atlanta Road Smyrna, GA 30080 C: 678-570-4779 O: 770-874-6205

Letting everyone know that I have a list of more COMING SOON homes (prior to hitting the market) located in Cobb, Cherokee, Paulding and Fulton counties so, if you are thinking of buying in the near future, then call me today at 678-570-4779 to get on my list to be called first.





Attention Buyers!!!! Did you know that if you are a first time home buyer or if you haven’t owned a home in the past three (3) years you could possibly be eligible to receive up to $8,000 free money to purchase a home. Call Deb today to learn more. If you are thinking of buying or selling this fall call Deb! She brings 25 years of experience and is results driven. She knows the areas and how to get the most for your home. Deb knows of single family homes, townhomes and condos hitting the market before they even go live. If you are trying to decide the best time to go on market, call today for a free market analysis!

Barry Butler

Branch Manager/VP of Mortgage Lending NMLS ID: 658820

Deb is an excellent advisor and will get you ready! All information is believed to be accurate, but not warranted. Each Keller Williams Realty Office is individually owned and operated. / O 404.474.3974 C 770.365.7179 125 Townpark Drive Suite 300, Office 23 / Kennesaw, GA. 30144

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