May 2022

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In This Issue

Note from the Editor.................................8

M AY 2 0 2 2

Our Town’s Travel Expert Heather Meliski, shares why Global Entry is crucial.......................................................11 Cover Story: Meet the owners of Sharkie’s Swim & Scuba...15 Cobb’s Rising Stars!.................................21

Cover Story Sharkies

Our Town’s Fashionista Watching the Spring Runways.......................25


Thank You for the Memories.... What is Justin talking about? He explains in Talkin’ Sports.................................................28 Cobb’s Next Generation Speaks Out Some thoughts from our 2022 graduates.......30 Summer Lunch Supply Drive.................31


How Do You Define Health? Ashley is here to help you figure it out..........32

Travel Global Entry


Check out Real Estate in Our Town Deborah Ratchford knows exactly what to do if you don’t want your house to sit on the market for too long.......................................38

Legal Probate & Real Estate

Beauty Style Check!

28 Talkin’ Sports Saying Goodbye


Cobb’s Next Generation Congrats Grads!


Congratulations to all of our 2022 graduates of Cobb County "Take pride in how far you have come and have faith in how far you can go." Tara & the OTM Family

Our Town onthly M

in this issue


Publishers/Editors Linda Demery & Lori McLinden

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

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

678-337-7844 Fax: 678-337-7825



Senior Living Communities



EDITOR/SPORTS CONTRIBUTOR Justin Hanover DIGITAL EDITOR Kimberly Watkins-Swenk GRAPHICS AND DESIGN Jules Fandos ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES West Cobb Sara Young Smyrna/Vinings/Galleria/Cumberland Misty Flanders-White CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Heather Meliski Robyn Hollner Ashley Inglese Deborah Ratchford

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PO Box 813610 Smyrna, GA 30081-8610 (678)337-7844

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Letter from the Publisher


The crazy month of May...


nyone else feel completely overwhelmed by this month? WOWZER! We are one month away from summer. This school year is almost over. Where did the time go?

The pools are opening and I don’t know about you, but I forgot to get my winter body ready for summer- oops! All joking aside, what a great year it’s been so far. I am determined to focus on the joy and am ready to see what summer brings. However, I do hope to slow down a bit and enjoy it, how about you? For the 2022 graduates: We are proud of you, go chase your dreams! For the parents of the 2022 graduates: Great job, you did it! Grab a Kleenex and get ready to watch your babies follow their dreams! As always, thank you to our readers, our advertisers and the community. Hope to see you all at the Summer Lunch supply drive, May 14th & 15th (page31). Be sure to stop in and say hello!


Tara Our Town

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Our Town

Global Entry

By Heather Meliski


recently returned from a trip abroad and wanted to share with you a real-life example of why Global Entry is crucial for international travel.

I was flying back from Grenada and there are no direct flights from Atlanta, so for this trip I had to clear customs and immigration in Miami. Our flight had been delayed due to a system issue and a number of my friends had tight connections in Miami, which were made even worse due to the flight delay. This was a random Thursday night and the line for customs and immigration stretched all the way down the arrivals hallway and was at least two hours long. The Global Entry line took me under five minutes from start to finish. My friends with Global Entry all made their connecting flights. Those without it did not and most spent the evening in Miami. Global Entry is a pre-clearance program that allows you to essentially bypass the customs and immigration lines when re-entering the United States. There is no waiting and no paperwork. Through this program you also receive TSA Pre-Check for expedited entry at select airports around the world. The application process is very simple. Creating a Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP) account and completing the application process takes un-

der 30 minutes. At the time of application, you will need to provide your passport information, driver’s license information, as well as some background details. You are also required to pay a $100 non-refundable fee. This starts the process of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol performing a rigorous background check to ensure that you qualify for the program. It typically takes only a few weeks to find out if you have received your conditional approval. Once you receive this, you can schedule an in-person interview at a Global Entry Enrollment Center to finalize your approval. The interviews book up well in advance but there are cancellations and if you check frequently, you can often grab an interview more quickly. You can also be interviewed at customs and immigration at most airports the next time you reenter the US to finalize the process. For the in-person interview you will need to bring your passport and either a driver’s license or ID card and you will be fingerprinted and asked a few questions. The interview process is very efficient – interviews start on time, last 10-15 minutes, and the whole process takes under 30 minutes. If you are flying, you simply scan your passport and your fingerprints at a kiosk when you’re at customs and immigration. Lately I’ve noticed that a number of kiosks have started using facial recognition so I haven’t even had to scan my passport or fingerprints. If you are re-entering via vehicle at the Mexican or Canadian border or if you are re-entering the United States from a cruise, you use a special Global Entry card that you receive within 2-6 weeks once you are approved. 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


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usband and wife team, Jessica and Rhett Garrard are Cobb County residents and have two girls, Gracelyn is 6 and Ruby is 13. It was far from easy and filled with many hurdles, but this dynamic duo followed their dreams and opened Sharkie’s Swim and Scuba Academy in 2016. They are dedicated to teaching and certifying families in our community to swim and scuba dive confidently, while having loads of fun! Our Town was able to catch up with Jessica…trust me, in her busy world that was no easy feat.


OTM: Owning a business, being part of a community and raising a family at the same time is certainly no easy task, what made you decide to open “the family business”? Jessica: This wasn’t planned at all! Rhett’s father had owned a local scuba business called “The Dive Shop” for over 40 years in hopes that Rhett would take over when he was ready to retire. Unfortunately, this was never able to come to fruition. After Rhett left the military (Army Ranger for LIFE!) he succumbed to a horrible addiction to opioids. This lasted for years causing turmoil within the whole family. After 17 total rehab stints, I had enough and went to the furthest extent possible for Rhett to get the help he needed. This was extremely difficult for everyone, but it finally worked, and Rhett had come out a different man! But by this time The Dive Shop was completely closed and there was no more business for him to take over. Rhett had to rise by himself. He started working as a swim instructor on Concord Road in Smyrna however within six months of taking the job we were told the swim school was closing. Fortunately, they asked us if we would want to take over the lease and create our own swim school, and BONUS, add scuba! It took 24 hours to say, YES! But we had nothing. No money, no curriculum, no students…NOTHING. What were we thinking?!?! Rhett’s parents loaned us a credit card with an 11K limit on it. That’s all we had, literally, and had to create a business that needed to open its doors in 30 days! With no real experience creating websites, building a practice management system, marketing or much of anything we had to learn and build and learn and build some more. We got to work. By August 1st, 2016, Sharkie’s Swim and Scuba Academy became a reality! (Our very first customer now owns a business on South Cobb Dr.!)

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1318 Concord Rd. Smyrna, GA 30080

OTM: Sharkie’s is such an important part of our community. I always tell my kids that playing in the water is fun, but safety is the number one priority. What ages do you recommend starting lessons and what services do you offer? Jessica: The earlier, the better! We start our Baby and Me classes at 6 months old. Babies are naturalists in the water. If we can get them in young enough, the safety aspect is molded into their already self-awareness of water. Plus, getting them before fear kicks in is key. But we know not everybody can start that young and that’s ok! We can accommodate any age in our private lessons. OTM: You opened the swim schools but what made you decide to expand into scuba? Jessica: Scuba was a given, Rhett can teach scuba in his sleep. He is a natural and it is his passion. Fun Fact: Rhett is the youngest certified diver in PADI history. OTM: You are both so fun and energetic, I know the community enjoys the energy of Sharkie’s (including the music and the island feel) but you guys have upped the fun with scuba trips. What is this all about? Jessica: It’s the best part of our job! We LOVE to take students to amazing dive locations around the world. We know your whole experience in the dive world can be ruined by certain dive locations and we want you to truly see how amazing and relaxing this new sport can be for you. With over 40 years of diving experience, we know all the great spots! When seeing our students, be it dive or swim, have that “light bulb” moment is worth everything! Something just clicks, and they become unstoppable! Shark Dives anyone? OTM: Swimming, diving, and unbelievable adventures, WOW…but that is not all you offer, right? Jessica: Our motto is Swim Hard. Dive Deep. Save Lives. A part of saving lives is being CPR/AED certified. We offer classes on the first Saturday of every month and are also capable of coming to your house or business! Our goal is to have at least half of our community certified by 2025! PAGE 15

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register for a variety of camps for ages 4 - 12th grade Open to the public Whitefield Academy, A Christ-Centered College Preparatory School 1 Whitefield Drive, Smyrna GA

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Cobb's Rising S tars - Congratulations!

Cobb Swim Coaches Association’s 2021-2022 ALL COUNTY SWIM & DIVE TEAM

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Spring’s Glory Days S

pring 2022 fashions are pictured in the yearbooks of your youth, taking you back to the “glory days”. You remember the decades of styles you strutted enthusiastically down the hallway catwalks. You’ll feel nostalgic for the 90’s but don’t worry, grunge is not the star student, slip dresses are the staple for Spring. Waif thin, they glide on ready for every occasion. Victoria Beckham kept a clean report card of simple silky slips. Burberry gets extra credit for their slip dresses monogrammed motif. These dresses are given a permission slip to pair up with Doc Martens as well as your sexiest heels. You probably used an abundance of Aqua Net in the 80’s but that wasn’t as flammable as these hot neon colors that we are seeing again. McQueen plays with oversized saturated pink sweatshirts and trousers. Prada tested above average with classic twill blouses , shorts and bucket hats in highlighter orange. The Trapper Keeper of the popular trend, my favorite, is the bold, big boyfriend blazer, that elevates suits to an A+, as seen at Yves Saint Laurent and Dolce &Gabbana. These bright colors are the study break to fill you with optimism after being in boring sweats for too long. The “in crowd” clique is definitely vibing the 70’s freedom of fringe and other extra credit styles. Chloe’s models wore maxi dresses embellished with colorful long fringe, no accessories needed here. Stella grooved to a black and white striped denim flared pant that gets a hall pass because you could always keep it

low key with a plain t-shirt. Tie Dye was all over the runways but these looks didn’t come from Art class or a Grateful Dead concert. These are sophisticated button up blouses and trench coats at Proenza Schouler to flowing, soft harem pants and pullovers at Dior. The theatrical appeal to the 60’s fashions conjures the thespian society, that would always warrant loud gossip to alight the hallway catwalks. The retro prints and thigh climbing micro minis plus a little glitz of sequins brings a warranted after school detention. Prada added a train of fabric to offset the scarcity of fabric to their skirt and Miu Miu tried to make it respectable with their micro in a traditional Prince of Wales check, but I still think there will be a visit to the principal’s office. I personally, say that if you’ve got the legs, don the Versace safety pin mini skirt and don’t look back. The designers have spoken, but the progress reports are still incomplete...what will we embrace as our voice for our new season of unbridled, unmasked joy? I am the tutor to ensure you achieve your 4.0 GPA. As a stylist, image consultant and professional makeup artist, you can get the cliff notes to make sure you are strutting the catwalk of your life. Trends are to inspire so have fun with your fashion and discover a trend that suits your personality. Robyn Hollner, RH Image. 678.262.6039 Empowering Your Voice Through Style

Photo: Joan Marcus


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Talkin’ Sports

By Justin Hanover lis is in far better shape in terms of competing and winning a Championship than the Falcons are. Truth be told the Dirty Bird window closed after 2017. There hasn’t been a consistent running game and the wide receiver carousel has been pretty bad after guys like Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley have had their share of injuries and issues. Meanwhile the Colts boast an elite running back in Jonathan Taylor, an extremely physical and talented defense and were only pretty much in need of a quality Quarterback. So why should an ancient 37 year old Ryan with a closing window have stayed here?

Don't be Angry, Celebrate the Memories


n a perfect world every professional franchise will get to keep their superstar player throughout their entire career. The unfortunate part, though, and almost absolute, is that we do not live in a perfect world.

The Chipper Jones and Derek Jeter’s of the world who played for one team their entire career is just not the norm and probably never will be. The literal “GOATS” in their sports, guys like Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Joe Montana and now even Tom Brady, who we very much know as a Bull, Oiler, 49er and Patriot even left those teams later in their careers. Heck, the legendary Babe Ruth 100 years ago was traded from the Red Sox to the Yankees.

Instead of being upset and feeling scorned by Freeman and Ryan and eventual others, maybe just say thank you. Thank you for staying as long as you did. Thank you for giving all that you gave to the franchise and the city. Thank you for winning a World Championship last year. Thank you for almost winning a championship in 2016. Thank you for all of the memories over these past 15 or so years. Just a big Thank you. The good news, though, is that Trae Young will never leave us. I can really feel it in my Heart! 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.

So then why did a lot of us have it in our Hearts that Freddie Freeman and Matt Ryan would stay in Atlanta forever and now feel betrayed? (I know, I know, you knew both were leaving.) Because as a fan that is all we really knew and could envision. It is familiar in our brains and familiarity is easier to visualize then change. I mean how could Freeman ever don Dodger blue or Yankee pinstripes? Could never happen, right? Just seems crazy. Ryan throwing passes in another jersey? Come on, No way! As the great Terrell Owens once famously said, “that’s my quarterback.” The naivete is that many of us will continue to get fooled by our hearts and eyes. No matter how many times Lucy pulls the football away from Charlie Brown, “Chuck” will continue to believe that was the last time. With all of that said, I have no issues at all when these guys leave and even when it is for the money. Professional careers are fleeting and the hour glass continually runs lower on sand. Guys in their late 20’s these days are already referred to as grizzly veterans and deemed as “old”. So, you absolutely should have the right to get yours or as the young kids these days say, “get the bag.” After all, every one of these guys are a play away from the end of it all in literally the blink of an eye. There also should be no shame in players wanting to go to a franchise with a better shot to win it all. Take Ryan, here, as an example. Indianapo-


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If you or anyone you know are interested in selling or buying, contact Melissa Krudwig and her Team of Associates for your FREE consultation today.

Don’t Settle for the Bare Minimum, Go with the Bear of Real Estate! Our Town



Our Town

Our Town


How do you define“health”?


or me, health means having the physical and mental energy to thrive throughout my day. As a wife, mom, and business owner, I have a busy schedule and a lot of people to serve. It’s so important for me to be focused and energetic so that I can play with my kids, interact with my clients, and lead my team. “Healthy” looks different from person to person. For some it may be vanity {and there’s nothing wrong with that} while for others it may be the ability to walk a mile. What works for one may or may not work for another due to personal goals, genetic make-up, lifestyle, or personal preference. It can almost be trial and error to figure out what combination makes you feel like your best self. One of the most crucial aspects of the formula that works best for me at this stage of my life is a morning workout. Many of us see exercise as a source of vanity and, yes, I do want to look good and feel confident. But, more than that, it squelches anxiety and clears brain fog leaving me feeling energized, alert, and focused. It’s so important for me to take that time to myself so that I can be my best self throughout the day. Although I have a consistent, rarely negotiable workout date with myself every day, it can look different depending on my mood or what my body is telling me. Some days I’m ready for strength training, others I may need a long walk or hike out in nature, and some days I need to visit the sauna or do yoga. I’m a firm believer that all workouts are great and the best one for you is the one that you enjoy!

Good moods are contagious so whatever raises your frequency is going to improve your day! Nutrition is another huge part of health. While I love coffee and wine, I do notice sometimes that it’s beneficial for me to take a break if I start to feel particularly anxious. A few days off from stimulants tends to give my body a reset. There are so many fads out there that it can be hard to decide what to do. It’s a long process but becoming in tune with your body and truly listening is a huge guide in determining your workout routine, stress triggers, stress release, nutritional needs, and more. I’d love to hear more of what you’ve implemented recentlythat’s changed your life, more topics that you would like to read about, or anything that I’ve suggested that has helped you! Follow me on IG @ashley_inglese and shoot me a message! Ashley Inglese is a local Smyrna resident. She is a wife and mother of 2 human kids {Lila, 11 & Leo, 8} and 2 rescue fur babies {Maple, chiweenie & Hazel, tabby}. Ashley owns HOTWORX Smyrna, and is in the process of opening HOTWORX Marietta square with her good friends and HOTWORX Kennesaw owners, Morgan and Jared Shattuck. Ashley is very involved in the community and loves supporting local schools, events, and nonprofit organizations.

I love to multitask my workouts. If you’re a busy parent like me and your kids have sports in the evenings, you can use that time for yourself as well. I’m a huge fan of walking the trails at the ballpark or dropping off at practice so I can run to the gym as opposed to watching every practice or, even worse, sitting in my car. Speaking of cars, if you have a commute you can use that time to exercise your mind. I live on podcasts. Some are educational or growth oriented but I definitely value humor and entertainment just as much! It doesn’t have to be serious, maybe it just distracts you or lifts your mood and that’s just as good.




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Let’s get started! Been thinking about selling your home? Now is the time. Ready for what’s next? Call me!

JOANNIE BATES, REALTOR® Cell: 678.788.6465 Office: 678.631.1700

Expires May 31, 2022

Each Keller Williams Realty Office is individually owned and operated

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Don’t be a victim of being on the market for too long, even in a seller’s market!!! Selecting the right price to sell your house will achieve the best results.


f you’re thinking about selling your house, one of the first steps you’ll take is setting the asking price, a maneuver that requires the ability to find the perfect balance between attracting solid offers and ultimately receiving top dollar. If you’re working with a realtor or other industry professional, you’ll probably hear talk of fair market value, which typically means the highest value an educated buyer will pay. Fair market value is usually not the asking price. Many agents will begin by conducting a competitive market analysis of your house and give you an estimate of the fair market value of your home. The analysis takes into consideration comparable home sales, typically over the last year, while also taking into consideration similarities and differences between the other homes and yours. It will also consider the housing market in your area. If you’re in a hot seller’s market, like several communities throughout metro Atlanta, you’ll have the advantage.

Over the last several months, the market has been gaining steam, and the seller is in the driver’s seat, even more so than in past years. In some areas, the average number of days on the market went from 30 days to 7 days or less. This is great news for sellers, but you’ll still want to be careful and avoid pricing your home too high, which almost always means your house will stay on the market longer, even in a seller’s market. As you work with your agent and set your price, you’ll want to ask yourself (and your agent): What are the facts relative to my house for this market? Be careful when you consider pricing to focus on the factual data available versus emotional connections. What are the market conditions for your specific neighborhood and community? Not all communities are created equal in this market. And not all neighborhoods within a community are created equal. It can be a complex equation to get your price just right. How does my house stack up against the competition? This one is very tricky and it’s often helpful to take a step back and view your house as if you were an incoming buyer. Your real estate professional can also help you evaluate this. Your agent, as well as friends, relatives, and neighbors can assist you by pointing out your house’s advantages and disadvantages from a more objective viewpoint. Am I being realistic? You absolutely want top dollar for your investment but be careful to separate this from the emotional attachment you may have to your home. Also consider your motivation for selling your house. Here’s another thing to consider as you evaluate putting your house on the market: Some upgrades and home improvements warrant being included in your asking price consideration. Kitchen renovations, bathroom renovations and some others should be factored in. Some are lifestyle additions that you and your family enjoyed while living in the home. Also, the more personal the improvement, like a swimming pool, or a sunroom the less likely it will be viewed favorably by potential buyers. While you may be able to recoup some of your investment, it won’t give you 100 percent of what you paid. Your real estate agent can help you evaluate what return percentage you can expect on your home’s improvements. You can reach me via cell or email and let me know if I can assist you with a free, personalized market analysis for your house.

Deborah Ratchford Keller Williams Realty Cityside 678-570-4779 /


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Deborah M Ratchford

DebD id I Want To Sell it Your Home

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






SOLD IN 3 DAYS! - in Smyrna

Looking for Listings and Buyers! Call Today! 678-570-4779 Call the agent that knows the market and how to get over the asking price. Results Driven!!! Call today for your FREE market analysis. All information is believed to be accurate, but not warranted. Each Keller Williams Realty Office is individually owned and operated.


Barry Butler

Branch Manager/VP of Mortgage Lending NMLS ID: 658820 / O 404.474.3974 C 770.365.7179 125 Townpark Drive Suite 300, Office 23 / Kennesaw, GA. 30144

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