Our Town Monthly February 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 FEBRUARY 2022

PERMIT #2118 TAMPA, FL

PAID

ourtownmonthly.com

PRESORTED STD U.S. POSTAGE



NORTH COBB CHRISTIAN SCHOOL |

NCCHRISTIAN.ORG


• Delicious cuisine • Independent Living • Pet-friendly with dog park • Assisted Living • Housekeeping & laundry • No buy-in fees • Daily activities • Limousine transportation • Variety of floorplans • Family-owned • Professionally designed putting green

Call (770) 738-4143 to learn more. Why are the people in our ads so happy? Because they’re actual residents. 100 Whitlock Avenue, Marietta - One block from the historic Marietta Square - Learn more at www.WinnwoodRetire.com

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Our Town


Our Town

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In This Issue

Skin Care: Retinol Eliana Ocheseanu is Busting Beauty Myths in The Science of Beauty ...................................10

FEBRUARY 2022

Cover Story: Chattahoochee Windows, 20 Years of Quality Work and Great Customer Service.................15

15 Cover Story Chattahoochee Windows

Navigating Probate Sasanna Strozier wants you to know, when it comes to probate, not all realtors are created equal...............................................................19 Home Town Heroes!................................21

10

Talkin’ Sports To Coach or Not to Coach by Justin Hanover..22

Beauty Retinol Myths & Myth Busters

Are Your COVID Concerns Returning when it Comes to Traveling? Heather Meliski is here to help......................26

19 Legal Probate & Real Estate

22

Are You Prepared Financially to be a Homeowner? Deborah Ratchford can help you out, in Real Estate in Our Town........................................32

Happy Birthday to Us!

Talkin’ Sports Coaching

32 Financial Preparing to be a Homeowner

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26

Travel COVID 2022

THANK YOU TO OUR COMMUNITY, ADVERTISERS & READERS 17 YEARS & GOING STRONG! Our Town


Our Town onthly M

in this issue

F A M I LY L I F E S T Y L E N EW S M AG A Z I N E

Publishers/Editors Our Town is published and direct mailed monthly to prestigious homes in the Our Town is published and direct mailed monthly to prestigious homes West Cobb Area. Opinions expressed by the editorial staff are their own and do not Linda Demery & Lori McLinden

in Cobb County. Opinions expressednecessarily by the editorial staff their own reflect the opinions of the publisher. Our are Town reserves the right to Graphics and Design edit and or reject any editorial or advertising content. Our Town is not responsible and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publisher. Our Town Terry Tanner for errors in advertising beyond the cost of the space or for the validity of claims made reservesTanner the right toInc. edit and or reject any editorial or advertising Graphics, by advertisers. content. Our Town is not responsible for errors in advertising beyond Account Executive Entire contents copyright 2018 by Our Town. Reproduction in whole or in sara@ourtownmonthly.com the Sara costYoung, of the space or for the validity of claims made by advertisers. part is forbidden in any media without prior written permission from the publisher. Feature Photographer Entire contents copyright 2022 by Our Town. Reproduction in whole Our Town Monthly or in part is forbidden in any media without prior written permission from the publisher. 109 Anderson Street Contributing Writers

Suite 109 Marietta, GA 30060

PUBLISHER/MANAGING EDITOR 678-337-7844 Tara Hill Hanover Fax: 678-337-7825 info@ourtownmonthly.com

STERLING ESTATES

Senior Living Communities

SAFE

SOCIAL

www.ourtownmonthly.com 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 North/South Cobb Stephanie Mellom stephanie@ourtownmonthly.com FEATURE PHOTOGRAPHER Megan Kruger CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Eliana Ocheseanu Sasanna Strozier Heather Meliski Deborah Ratchford PO Box 813610 Smyrna, GA 30081-8610 (678)337-7844 info@ourtownmonthly.com www.ourtownmonthly.com FB: Our Town Monthly

Our Town

IG: @our_town_monthly

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

CALL US FOR TOURS “What I’ve learned is that all communities talk about wellness and socialization… but they don’t have the wellness center, greenspace, programming and staffing that Sterling Estates has. No one can match what Sterling provides for their residents. My parents are thriving at Sterling Estates… Bet yours will too” - Susan S.

Come See the Differences Best of Cobb

2019-2021 Retirement, Assisted Living & Memory Care

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East Cobb:

678-946-4454 Shelly

STERLING ESTATES Independent, Assisted Living & Memory Care

West Cobb:

770-255-7000 Lacey & Sherry

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770.805.9977

4500 W. Village Place Suite 1011 / Smyrna

770-805-9977

4500 West Village Place Suite 1011 Mon-Fri 10am - 7pm / Sat 10am - 4pm / Sun 12pm - 6pm Smyrna, Ga 30080 Expires 12-31-2020

www.myposhandpampered.com 770 742 5248 Sprinter Limousine Service for:

Mon-Fri 10 AM - 7 PM

l

Sat 10 AM - 4 PM

Get Moving With Chiropractic

Special Occasions, Birthdays, Prom, Quinceañera, Wedding, Date Night, Charter, Corporate, Real Estate House Showing, Airport-Doctor's appointment

l

Sun 12 PM - 6 PM

free * New Clients Only Expires 11-31-2021

Open Phone camera, aim at the QR code, tap the banner.

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Offer valued at $39. Valid for new patients only. Initial visit includes consultation, exam and adjustment. Expires 2-28-2021 NC: IF YOU DECIDE TO PURCHASE ADDITIONAL TREATMENT, YOU HAVE THE LEGAL RIGHT TO CHANGE YOUR MIND WITHIN THREE DAYS AND RECEIVE A REFUND. (N.C. Gen. Stat. 90-154.1). FL: THE PATIENT AND ANY OTHER PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR PAYMENT HAS THE RIGHT TO REFUSE TO PAY, CANCEL PAYMENT OR BE REIMBURSED FOR ANY OTHER SERVICE, EXAMINATION OR TREATMENT WHICH IS PERFORMED AS A RESULT OF AND WITHIN 72 HOURS OF RESPONDING TO THE ADVERTISEMENT FOR THE FREE, DISCOUNTED OR REDUCED FEE SERVICES, EXAMINATION OR TREATMENT. (FLA. STAT. 456.02). Subject to additional state statutes and regulations. See clinic for chiropractor(s)’ name and license info. Clinics managed and/or owned by franchisee or Prof. Corps. Restrictions may apply to Medicare eligible patients. Individual results may vary. © 2020 The Joint Corp. All Rights Reserved.

Expires 12-31-2020

Our Town


WINKENHOFER PINE RIDGE Fu neral Ho me,

ry Cemetery & Cremato

You don’t need words to say I love you West Cobb’s Premier Custom Jeweler

CUSTOM DESIGN l JEWELRY REPAIR l REFURBISHMENT & MORE

770.485.9133 3625 Dallas Highway Suite 780 l Marietta

770.422.7299

WinkenhoferPineRidgeFuneralHome.com 2950 North Cobb Parkway NW, Kennesaw, GA 30152

Our Town

Like us on Facebook: thejewelsmithGA & Instagram: thejewelsmithga

www.thejewelsmithga.com

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The Science of Beauty By Eliana Ocheseanu, the Skin Whisperer at Refinery21 Aesthetique

RETINOL MYTHS & MYTH BUSTERS

R

etinol is known as an antidote for lines and wrinkles, but that’s not all this powerful ingredient can do! Many myths underplay the multiple skincare benefits of retinol. Let’s do some myth-busting.

Myth #1: “Retinol ONLY works on wrinkles.” Not true. Retinol is a powerful anti-aging weapon in a serious anti-aging arsenal but it does so much more for your skin such as oil and blemish control, accelerates cellular turnover for youthful, even looking skin and smooths out rough skin. Myth #2: “Retinol increases the chance of sunburn.” Not true. Studies repeatedly show that retinoids do not increase the chance of sunburn at all. Why? Retinoids break down when exposed to sunlight. If a sunburn happens, it’s because sunscreen wasn’t applied. So, remember this tip: Apply your retinol product at night, and be sure to use sunscreen during the day... which you should be doing anyway, right? Myth #3: “It’s normal for retinol to irritate skin.” Not necessarily. There’s a POSSIBILITY of light irritation and slight peeling. These little flare-ups could just be part of the process as skin adjusts naturally to retinol. You might want to start using retinol once a week for one week, twice a week for two weeks, three times a week for three weeks, and then more frequently if you’re having zero irritation. Usual-

ly, after an adjustment period of two to three weeks, skin tolerates retinol better, and irritation slows down and stops. So, hang in there... your skin will thank you later. However, if there’s a lot of peeling, you might be applying it too frequently, so here’s a tip: if you’re just starting with retinol, remember to just apply it once a week until your skin adjusts.

Now that some of those myths have been debunked, some questions arise. What can prevent retinol from working? Dead skin cells and other debris. Skin needs to be exfoliated. If the surface of the skin is covered with dead skin cells, makeup remnants, and other debris, active ingredients like retinol can’t be effectively absorbed. Lack of an effective delivery system. Retinol needs to absorb deep into the skin and reach the areas that need it most so yes, not all retinols are the same. Make sure you purchase it from a trusted source. Exposure to air and light. Since retinol can break down with exposure to air and light, be sure to only buy retinol products that are packaged in airless, opaque. That’s the reason most retinols come in an opaque silver bottle, with an airless pump. Should retinol be used on dry skin types? Even dry skin types may need an extra boost with retinol, like sun-damaged skin, or stressed, aging skin, according to Janel Luu, Le Mieux CEO and formulator. For sun-damaged or aging skin, derivatives of vitamin A including retinol, retinyl palmitate, and tretinoin smooth out wrinkles, but can also cause irritation and dryness as a side effect. The solution? Apply moisture-boosters and serums containing lipids, growth factors, stem cells, peptides, and antioxidants along with your retinol. What ingredients work well with retinol? Avocados aren’t just for salads! Look for a product that contains avocado protein to help plump dehydrated skin. Shea butter seals in moisture to protect against external damage and dehydration, and helps give this serum a satiny, creamy feel. Finally, retinol plays well with many moisture-multiplying ingredients such as hyaluronic acids and ceramides. So, here’s a recap showing why retinol should be a staple on your skin care shelf. A Retinol serum is recommended for dry, normal, and combination skin types, and is best known for treating skin with deep lines and wrinkles. And remember... A retinol serum should be used on the face and neck at night only. Also very important... don’t forget to use sun protection when using this serum (in fact, you should ALWAYS be using sun protection during the day, whether it’s sunny or overcast). Sources: LeMieuxskincare.com Eliana has over 20 years of experience in skin care. She is the owner of Refinery21 Aesthetique and she is always available for free consultations. Email her with any skin care related questions at eliana@refinery21studio.com

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Our Town


Home is where the heart is at Dogwood Forest Acworth Assisted Living & Memory Care and so is the CARE. We love our residents like family and you can visit our website and hear from family members why they love us, too.

WE OFFER: • Short Term Stays • Studio & 1BR Apartments • On-site Rehab • Robust Activities & Programs • 3 Miles from Local Hospitals • Pastoral Chaplain as we are a Faith-based Company

Call Lori Ghassedi today for more information at: 678-628-9274 | www.dogwoodforest.com

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4461 South Main St. l Acworth, GA 30101 PAGE 11


Structured learning for children ages 6 weeks - 12 years Pre-K4 Accredited Kindergarten & 1st grade programs Expert care with your child’s future in mind.

Programs 1yr-1st grade include Spanish!

A positive, caring dental experience for your child, focused on prevention. Independently rated Top Pediatric Dentist by Atlanta Magazine 2014, 2018-2021 “Mom Approved Dentist” by Atlanta Parent Magazine 2017-2021 “Best Of” by Vinings Lifestyle Magazine

Call us to schedule a tour 770-948-5535

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200 Veterans Memorial Highway SW• Mableton, GA 30126 BrightMindsBrightFutures.com

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Our Town


FEBRUARY IS

Heart Month

Trust your child’s heart to a team committed to caring for children for over 30 years. • Largest pediatric cardiology practice in Georgia

• Genetic counselors, nutritionist, and social worker

• More than 50 pediatric cardiologists

• Inpatient services at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Heart Center

• 21 convenient locations across the state

Help us raise awareness for the most common birth defects.

Our Town

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Ready to sell? Looking to Buy?

Now’s the time!

WINDOW CLEANING l WINDOW TINTING GUTTER CLEANING l PRESSURE WASHING

WINDOW CLEANING FIRST 25 WINDOWS Valid for Whole House Window Cleaning

Removing, dusting or cleaning window screens is a separate and independent service.

$149

PROMO CODE OURTOWN25 Applies to standard window cleaning. Excludes non-standard, storm/encasement or oversized windows.

GUTTER CLEANING

$149

FLAT RATE

Flat rate applies to 1- and 2-story dwellings up to 25’ feet elevation and 3,500 total square footage. 3-story elevation requires on-site estimate. Excludes systems with guards, screens, or any attachments that covers the gutter cup opening.

PRESSURE WASHING All Surfaces: Siding - Brick - Wood Stone - Concrete - Composite

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149

Discount rate based on 2,500 sq. ft., 2-story dwelling. Larger sq. footage or any 3-story elevation requires on-site estimate.

CALL TODAY FOR A FREE ESTIMATE!

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www.warriorwindowcleaning.com

$150 OFF

Window Tinting Services over $499

JOANNIE BATES, REALTOR® Cell: 770.363.2752 Office: 678.631.1700 joannie@joanniebatessells.com

Each Keller Williams Realty Office is individually owned and operated.

Serving Cobb, Cherokee, Paulding, Bartow & Douglas Counties

Vicky Bates-Owner 770-427-4448

MaidinAmericaGa.com PAGE 14

Our Town


chattahoocheewindows.com l 678.804.5567

COVER STORY

C

hattahoochee Windows started in Smyrna over 20 years ago. The founder Maurice Duvic believed it was important to make purchasing windows for your home as simple and painless as possible. When he retired in 2020, Jody Godfrey and his business partner Jim Dudley purchased the company with the intent of continuing with that same mindset. Maurice’s daughter, Jessica (Jones) still plays a vital role in the company. Jody often says, Jessica is “the secret sauce” at Chattahoochee. From answering phones and scheduling appointments, writing up contracts and helping customers with financing, to scheduling install and warranty issues, she is invaluable to the success of our business. Jody was born and raised in Lithia Springs, GA. He has lived in Acworth for almost 18 years with his wife of 20 years, Jessica. He has three children, Katelyn who is currently at UNG, Conner is a Junior and Caleb is a Freshman, both in high school. Jody has been an entrepreneur his entire life, owning and managing business is where he thrives. *Notably, he has been in construction for over 10 years, so when he saw the opportunity to purchase a company as reputable as Chattahoochee Windows, he was ecstatic. Jim and Jody have worked together in different capacities for over 10 years so this partnership seemed like a “no-brainer”.

Q&A

Our Town Monthly was able to catch up with Jody for a few questions: OTM: What products and services do you provide? Jody: We primarily sell and install vinyl replacement windows. We also carry a great PVC composite window. OTM: What separates you from your competitors? Jody: “Meaningful over Transactional” Jim and I believe in customers having meaningful experiences versus us looking for a transaction or chasing a sale. We understand that windows and doors can feel like an intimidating project, so our role is to come alongside our customers to help them in the decision-making process and feel confident about their purchase throughout the entire process. Since our appointments usually

Our Town

last no longer than 20-30 minutes, we often hear that we are “a breath of fresh air” compared to larger high-pressure sales companies. We are committed to a no-pressure, hassle-free process. OTM: What real difference can vinyl windows make in someone’s home? Jody: During follow up calls with customers, almost without exception, we constantly hear the same thing- “Jody, we can already feel the difference!” Once we install new vinyl windows, their house is more comfortable because of the protection our windows provide against outside elements like hot and cold weather as well as harmful UV rays. And many times, customers will tell me that their house even feels quieter. Besides the overall feel of their house, our windows will add a fresh aesthetic look to their home. OTM: How have you continued to build this business? Jody: We are grateful for our customers who leave reviews on Google and other places. In today’s world online reviews can really be helpful. But much of our success is due to word of mouth and referrals. I feel like customers use us and tell their friends because they know they can trust us. We make every effort to make it a simple hassle-free experience at a fair price. And when problems come up (which they do from time to time), we do everything we can to handle them as honestly and quickly as we can. OTM: Who should call Chattahoochee for a consultation? Jody: If your house is 10-15 years old or if you have single pane windows, there is a good chance you could benefit from our windows. You can tell this if your a/c is constantly running during warmer months or if you can feel or hear cold air coming through your windows during cooler months. There is no question about Jody’s track record to success, his incredible work ethic and dynamic personality stood out from the beginning of our conversation. But hey, don’t just listen to us…read the endless testimonials below: “These guys were great – didn’t waste our time with sales pitches we’d already heard” “The entire process was easy and stress free!” “BEST IN CLASS SERVICE, INSTALLATION AND PRODUCT QUALITY. We had numerous window companies quote on the whole house installation, most were high pressure, demos with heat lamps and ridiculously high pricing with used car salesman tactics. These guys were very professional, offered excellent quality in product and great overall value with very professional installation. Highly recommend. We could not be happier.” -Jason M. “We hired Chattahoochee earlier this year. There was a shortage of windows and a shortage of labor and I was nervous about how difficult it was going to be. I got an incredible price and the best customer service!!!” -Brooke W. “Six hours later and I have a home filled with new windows! I am extremely satisfied with the way they look and how quickly the crew installed them and cleaned up behind themselves. I would highly recommend this company to anyone looking to replace windows!” -Tracey W. “We had the best experience with Jody, Jessica and the entire team at Chattahoochee Windows. We enlisted their help with replacing all of our windows on our 1970’s home and we couldn’t be more pleased with the result! They worked quickly and efficiently, and they had excellent communication with us throughout the entire project. We are already noticing a reduction in street noise after our new windows. Highly recommend this great company.” -Allison C.

Call Chattahoochee today for a free no-hassle consultation: 678-804-5567

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Our Town


fitness starts here.

COMPLIMENTARY FITNESS CLASSES BURN BOOT CAMP, YOGA + ZUMA RESERVE YOUR SPOT: AVENUEWESTCOBB.COM/EVENTS

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Our Town

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l Family Operated l Assisted Living & Memory Care Our Town


Probate and Real Estate DONE

C

OVID has changed many things for many people. Maybe there wasn’t time to get the will signed. Did the deed to the house, hold title as Joint with Rights of Survivorship or was it Tenants in Common? How many of us were thrown for a loop the past 2 years? Sasanna Strozier is one of a few realtors who is certified as a Certified Probate Real Estate Specialist. She has the training and the education on helping her clients through the Probate Process as well as helping the family with getting the home sold, if need be. She got into the probate part of real estate when her own Mother-in Law passed unexpectantly. Doing her research, she educated herself to help her own family. Many Realtors will get a designation and all it is, is more letters behind their name, but do they really KNOW the ins and outs of what they are certified in? When a family member passes away, if there is no will, the home/possessions do NOT automatically pass to the spouse. It passes to the NEXT OF KIN to include the children. Then you must think about the property. How was the title held? Going through the probate process is tedious and tiring. Sasanna has helped so many families with getting paperwork filled out and processed through the courts. She has a step by step brochure

Our Town

that will give families the knowledge of what is to come and what you can possibly expect. Many times, when probate is involved, you need permission from the probate court to sell the home. Maybe the family is fighting as to who owns what, or who should receive this or that. Be prepared – the WORST comes out of people when a family member dies, and people get selfish. Sasanna can be that breath of fresh air to listen and to guide on what could happen so that you aren’t blindsided. She also has a team of people who can help with property cleanouts, an estate sale company, moving items to storage (if need be) and investors who are willing to pay fair market value for your home in As-Is condition. The closing attorneys she trusts will ensure that whatever liens are on the house are disclosed and sometimes you can dispute the amount. As always, TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE. If you are in a probate situation and need some help with the process to get you ready to get your home sold, contact Sasanna Strozier at 678-3575829. She is more than willing to help and guide you through the tedious task of getting through probate so you can get the home sold. You need a partner and not just a Realtor – You NEED Sasanna!

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Dominion Christian provides the support, nurture, and care children need while delivering academic excellence as well as an exciting variety of athletic and extracurricular activities. We believe that academic and extracurricular activities, presented in a God-centered, Biblically-based setting, are key to a student’s development. Now Enrolling Grades 6-12 for 2022-23 School Year www.dominionchristian.org/contact-us “…the one thing that has remained constant has been the unwavering faith and commitment of Dominion’s teachers, coaches, staff, and administration as they have walked alongside each of our children. They truly are the hands and feet of God!” Dominion Christian Parent PAGE 20

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4607 Burnt Hickory Rd · Marietta, GA 30064 · www.dominionchristian.org · 770-420-2153


Thank you to everyone in the

Cobb county school system. Teachers, faculty, staff...you are our “ Hometown Heroes”! You have always been heroes to us, however these past few years have been particularly challenging. We appreciate you and we thank you!

Cobb ’s Hometown Heroes!

***Pictures provided by the Cobb Chamber of Commerce. 2019/2021

Our Town Our Town

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Talkin’ Talkin’ Sports Sports By Justin Hanover

“All kids need is a little help, a little hope, and somebody who believes in them” - Magic Johnson

T

here is a fairly common phrase, “coaching isn’t for the faint of heart” and to some extent this is true. It takes a lot to step up and coach a team where all eyes are on you, including some potentially negative ones. But truth be told, it really is not as difficult as it may seem and there is also no greater reward and no more of a lasting memory than being said coach. For me, it all started back in 2014 when my oldest daughter asked me to coach her recreational soccer team. I figured I had played the game my whole life so why not? This seemed to be the next progression in both of our lives. Little did I know what I was in for. One season morphed into two seasons and then four seasons and six seasons and then finally eight. My daughter loved every minute of it and it also helped create the passion which now has me currently in the middle of my sixth year coaching the boys JV soccer team at Campbell High School. Furthermore, it then led to my son and youngest daughter asking, well what about me, dad? When are you going to coach my team? Mission accomplished there also. Well, partially, as I did just lead my son’s baseball team, “The Trash Pandas” to a successful and fun filled season. So that’s now two out of three children at least. And yes, I said baseball, not my true love, soccer.

Well said, my friend, well said. Please all realize that you don’t have to be the next Randy, coaching from Sunup to Sundown. Just listen to his great advice and be the next you. Coaches are needed throughout Cobb County, in many sports. No matter how much or how little knowledge you have in a particular one shouldn’t be the be all end all. There is nothing you can’t learn when it comes to your children. Most of the clubs will have clinics for new coaches and there is always that neat thing called “the internet”, where one can find anything. I’m sure many of you reading this can look back to a memory or two of a Coach and how they and those precious moments impacted your life. Why can’t YOU become that coach? Ofcourse YOU could, pay it forward. So why not, if you have not already? Just sign up and create those memories! 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.

Let’s be honest, you don’t have to be Bobby Cox or Brian Snitker to coach seven year-olds. There is certainly an element of herding cats to it but the main deal is to just create an amazing and safe environment for the kids to experience all that the game has to offer. The goal should not be to mold the next Ronald Acuna. It’s really a pretty easy job if you keep it simple and just make sure the kids are having fun and learning a little. Even if you’re not really a “baseball guy” or a “soccer guy” or a “basketball guy” it’s a job that, with a little passion and care, anybody can succeed in. I use my friend, Randy Wilkens, as an example. Randy has now coached his three children for a combined 18 years in numerous sports. Yup, 18 years, pretty amazing. You want to talk about a guy that is all in, wow. He routinely coaches all three children, currently 15, 13 and 9, in the same season. And you thought your weekends were swamped? Just imagine that schedule. Here is Randy’s advice, “There’s a skill set to interacting with kids. You have to be a good communicator, patient and flexible, and most importantly know how to keep them busy… no idle time during practices. Too often I’ve seen parents be overbearing, living vicariously through their kids, pressuring them to over-drill, focusing on one sport only, stressing “win at all costs” and sucking all of the fun out of playing, just for that faint hope that their kid may be the next pro superstar in their sport. Kids don’t start playing sports because they think they can make a lot of money or win every time. They play to have fun.”

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PHOTO: GA TECH ATHLETIC DEPT.

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Our Town

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Our Town

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T R A V E L

FEBRUARY

2022 By Heather Meliski

I

s it just me or does 2022 feel a bit like Groundhog Day? Just when we think we’re making some progress to getting life back to normal, here comes the omicron variant to send everything into a COVID tailspin.

Many of my clients are ready to escape and take that long-awaited vacation but they also have concerns about traveling outside of the United States right now. If you’re also ready to take a trip but have the same concerns, here are my top suggestions for navigating international travel during COVID. • Test before you travel, even if it isn’t required for your destination. This lets you know if you could possibly spread COVID or if you might test positive for your return to the United States and have to quarantine in the country you’re visiting. A PCR test is best but a rapid antigen test within 24 hours prior to travel is better than not testing at all. • Upgrade your mask while you’re traveling to a high-quality face mask such as an N95 or KN95. These masks block up to 95% of particles in the air and provide the best protection, which is especially important when you’re traveling by air. Also, a number of countries and some international airlines require masks that are medical grade or higher. If an N95 or KN95 isn’t available, a medical grade mask provides better protection than a cloth mask. • Bring COVID tests with included telehealth visits with you. If you test positive outside of the United States, you will be quarantined and may not have access to easy repeat testing. If you bring your own rapid antigen tests that include a telehealth visit, you aren’t dependent on your resort or quarantine facility for additional testing and the test results can be used for reentry documentation. This is especially important because once you receive a negative test result, you can depart immediately for home. • Make sure that you purchase travel insurance for your vacation. If you have been following me for a while then you know that I often talk about how important travel insurance is when you’re traveling internationally. Not only does it provide you coverage for cancellations, delays, and lost luggage, but it also provides health care coverage when you are outside of the US. Most health insurance policies will not cover you for international travel and without travel insurance, you have to pay up front and out of pocket – often in cash – for medical treatment or evacuation. This is especially important if you become seriously ill with COVID outside of the country. If you ever need to utilize travel insurance, you will see that it is worth every penny. • If you are vaccinated, get boosted before travel. If you are unvaccinated, consider altering your plans to travel domestically versus internationally

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or delay international travel until the omicron surge subsides. I’m currently advising all of my clients to delay travel outside of the United States if they are unvaccinated and haven’t recently recovered from COVID. Transmission rates are high almost everywhere and with the new surge a number of countries are tightening or changing their entry protocols. I do believe that it is absolutely possible to travel safely outside of the United States right now, even with the current surge, with proper precautions. So make your plans for your next adventure in 2022 and kick the new year off right!

Heather Meliski writes Our Town Travel keeping us in the “know”. Heather 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 and two sons. Heather@yellowshoetravel.com FB @heatheryellowshoetravel IG @yellowshoetravelheather

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Preparing Yourself Financially to be a Homeowner

person only has a 10% deposit, but the rest of the particulars line up, chances are the seller is going to choose the person with the 20% deposit. It gives you the upper hand. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to pay off more of the house in the initial agreement, setup, and signing - only means you’ll have to make less mortgage payments down the road.

P

urchasing a house is no light deed; prospective home buyers and current homeowners looking to upgrade must put some much-needed time and thought into their home owning decisions. Signing up for a mortgage and purchasing a home is definitely not an impulse buy. It is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make in your life, and to make sure you can handle what comes after the initial purchase, you might want to follow these tips and thoroughly consider the following questions. What’s your household income after the taxes have been taken out? The trick here is the after part - we need the net income here, not the gross. That way, you can see how much money you genuinely have to spend on a mortgage. This will get your budget rolling. And if you have any partners in this purchase like your significant other, family member, or friend, take into account their income. Add theirs with yours and see what you get. Grab a pen and paper and make a list. What monthly expenses do you have to pay? Think about the bills that you have - car, insurance, phone, utilities, loans, credit cards, and so on. Tally it all up and then add your extracurricular necessary expenses, like grocery shopping and student loan debt. Once you have the final number, you can compare it with your household income after taxes are taken out. How much money do you have left for a mortgage and house purchase? Do you need to start cutting back in certain areas of your monthly expense life?

Don’t overbuy on any house you’re looking to settle into. Think realistically. That means that if you don’t have the money to make your mortgage payments, keep walking and find a house that’s more affordable in your budget. The last thing you want to do is scrounge for money to pay your bills every month. And the last, last thing you want to do is lose the house you just confidently purchased. Once you’ve done all of that … You’re on your way to purchasing your first (or an upgraded) home! Be careful and pay attention to the tips, because they will come in handy - or use this as a reminder guide, just in case you forget a step along the way! Deborah Ratchford Keller Williams Realty Cityside 678-570-4779 Debratchford@kw.com

Cut back on your fun spending. Now that you know your income and have your necessary expenses laid out, it’s time to see what kind of play money you have and what you’re currently using it for. Check all of your accounts and see what you’re not using - cancel those to save a few extra bucks. Adjust the amount of money you’re spending on a weekly basis by not going out as much, not eating at restaurants as much, and not overindulging in purchases as much. Find areas where you can make cuts and implement them. Our suggestion? Stop shopping and spending large amounts of money on nights out, popular technologies like electronics and home improvement projects, and so on. Pay off as much debt as you physically can. Before you get super serious about buying a house, we recommend paying off as much debt as possible to relieve you of potential financial stresses down the road. The more money you have as a backbone, the better. Plus, it only helps your credit score when you have low debt on your current record. Start saving for that deposit. Deposits sometimes make or break your chance of getting the house you’re looking at. For example, if you have a 20% deposit and the next

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Deb D id it ! Again

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Expert Guidance on Pricing & Local Market Value Negotiating Powerhouse Buyer Exposure resulting in Higher Offers Access to the Best Network of Lenders, Appraisers & Industry Professionals Keep the Closing on Track and your stress level down by staying on Top of Documents and Deadlines Licensure, Education & a Strict Code of Ethics

*According to the National Association of Realtors "For Sale by Owner Homes" tend to sell for less than homes sold by agents.

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

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All information is believed to be accurate, PAGE 36 but not warranted.

Each Keller Williams Realty Office is individually owned and operated.

Ameris Bank Mortgage Services Barry Butler

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600 Townpark Ln Ste 190 / Kennesaw, GA. 30144 O 404.553.2621 C 770.365.7179 Our Town barry.butler@Amerisbank.com


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