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Home designer works on any budget December 2009

The Member Newsletter of the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce

Post Office Box 299 “Old Jail” west of the square Dawsonville, GA 30534 (706) 265-6278

Chamber golf tourney brings a crowd By Frank Reddy

Golfers spent a sunny day on the links last month at the annual Dawson County Chamber of Commerce golf tournament. Chamber President Linda Williams said the 56 players who participated “had a wonderful time. The weather was perfect. It’s what we call a chamber of commerce kind of day,” Williams said. One of several fundraisers for the chamber of commerce, the Nov. 16 tournament netted $5,000 for the organization this year. “We appreciate all the support from our sponsors, team

players and our many volunteers,” she said. “We could not put on such an event without the manpower of all our volunteers.” Williams said the tournament, which has been held for more than 10 years, is “a chance to spend the day with business associates and friends and support the chamber in the meantime.” She added that the event, which was at Chestatee Golf Club, is popular because “people enjoy the competitiveness of it.” First place gross went to the Premier Landscape team: Taylor

From left, golfers Al Brown, Herb Burnsed and Tom Darr plot out the next move Nov. 16 during the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce Annual Golf Tournament at Chestatee Golf Course.


Photo/Frank Reddy

Thank you for a great year with the chamber The chamber board met last week to map out plans for next year. The board had a productive, meaningful session. Plans were put forth for next year that streamline the chamber’s activities to

support business in Dawson County. Now, I started with this comment so that I can come back to it. Needless to say my learning curve ramped way up this year. Going in I

thought I knew a lot about what the chamber does and what its role and responsibilities are in Dawson County. A year later, I walk away with so much more. First the staff ... I have

talked a lot about what your chamber staff does for you and I. But there is more. I do not know anyone with more diligence and professionalism than Linda Williams. She is a great example to all of us in how

to run their business and carry themselves day by day. And then there is Marty

See YEAR, Page 3

Jay Walker

Page 2 • Dawson Chamber Chronicle • December 2009

A call to phone provider may save money ❞

As we draw to the end of 2009, I think back on the accomplishments our organization has made, and the opportunities that still lie before us. I want you to know that discussions at board meetings all during the year have centered on the needs of our membership and what role the chamber can play in serving those needs. Your chairman, Jay Walker, and the board of directors have concentrated their efforts on filling as many of those needs as we can. The confidential online survey that many of you filled out last year was used to create our plan of action for 2009. The current survey is now available. You may access it through a link in one of our Constant Contact e-mails, or go to it directly at and paste in the code: cg3vhq. I commend Jay and the board for their attentiveness to your needs. Your 2010 chairman, Mike Underwood, and the incoming board are committed to your success as well. Please take this opportunity to give us your confidential input on the survey. To change subjects, I know we are all preparing budgets for next year and we all need to identify where we can cut costs.

So give your provider a call right away and make sure you are signed up for the best plan for your home or business.

Please give your telephone provider, both at home and work, a call and ask an account representative to review your current plan. Ask the representative to recommend ways you can reduce your expenses. Bundles and packages have been added and enhanced and if you have not had your plan reviewed in the last few months, chances are very good that a new plan will save you money. As an example, one of our members just called her telephone provider and asked for a review of her business plan for three telephone lines and DSL. She learned that a new plan would not only be of more benefit but would also save $29 each month for a total of $348 annually. She also learned that the company could elect to get 100 minutes of nationwide calling for an additional $5 per month. Her last review

of the plan had been just 18 month ago. So give your

provider a call right away and make sure you are signed up for the best plan for your home or business. This exercise should be performed for all agreements, policies and contracts with other types of providers as well. At this time of year, whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukah, or any other special occasion, I send all good wishes for a wonderful holiday season.

For me, I will be celebrating Christmas with my family. I look forward to seeing you at a chamber event soon. Won’t you join us?


of your world. Do you know what happened in your community last week? The Dawson Community News keeps you informed, so you always know what’s happening in your community.

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Dawson Chamber Chronicle • December 2009 • Page 3


Homebuilders join forces

Chamber events December Dec. 10: Happy 150th Birthday to the city of Dawsonville. Dec. 10: Business After Hours, 5-7 p.m. at United Community Bank, 6372 Hwy. 53 East. There will be wine tasting and hors d’oeuvres. For more information, call (706) 265-3232. The cash drawing is up to $3,300. Sponsors of the drawing are AFLAC-Sharon Reagan, Anderson Family Medicine-Dr. Larry Anderson, The Norton Agency-Kristie Myers, R&D Caulking Inc.-Mike Downs, United Community Bank-James Askew, Van Keith Insurance Agency of Dawsonville-Ann Grizzle and Denny Insurance Group-Denny Putlak. Remember, you must be present to win. Dec. 24 and 25: The chamber will be closed for Christmas. Dec. 31: Ring in the New Year at Amicalola Falls State Park and Lodge. For more information, call (800) 573-9656. Dec. 31: Forrest Hills Mountain Resort invites all to come and join their 21st annual New Years Party. Have a great time, stay safe and bring in the New Year at Forrest


Hills Mountain Resort! Your night will start out with a delicious prime rib dinner buffet and will be followed by a dance party in our Rose Garden Dining Room complete with DJ and complimentary toast at midnight. Cocktail attire suggested. This party is available to overnight guests only. For reservations, call (800) 6546313.

January Jan. 1: Dawson County Chamber of Commerce will be closed. A happy and prosperous 2010 to all. Jan. 14: Lunch with the Chamber at noon at the Lakeview Center, 2057 Dawson Forest Road. Sam Olens, chairman of the Atlanta Regional Commission will be the guest speaker. Members and visitors are encouraged to register online by 5 p.m. Monday, Jan. 11. Go to, click on “Chamber of Commerce,” then “Event Registration.” For more information, call (706) 265-6278. Jan. 22: The Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet and Auction. The theme: “It’s a Wonderful Night.” A black and white gala event.

By Michele Hester

The weak economy may set a more successful stage for local builders now that Dawson and Lumpkin counties’ home builders associations have joined forces. “This is a positive step for both associations,” said Rory Cunningham, president of the Dawson County association. Statewide, homebuilder’s associations have seen a decrease in memberships by about 40 percent in the last year. While Dawson County’s association has seen a steady

increase, Lumpkin County’s association has been hit and was down to about 25 members, Cunningham said. “We approached them to see if there was a way we could work this out and try to get through the tough times together,” Cunningham said. “That way, when the economy is better, we’ll be a stronger organization all the way around.” The official collaboration took place Nov. 18 when the two associations gathered at Ryans Steakhouse in Dawsonville for the first combined meeting. Builders Larry Stouffer

and Bob Clark, who served as president and vice president of the Lumpkin County association, have joined the Dawson board of directors to complete the new board. “We’re certainly joining with a strong organization,” Stouffer said. The Dawson/Lumpkin Homebuilders Association meets the third Wednesday of each month at Ryans in Dawsonville. Breakfast begins at 7:30 a.m., followed by the monthly business meeting at 8 a.m. For more information, call (866) 522-4055, (561) 254-4494 or e-mail

recognized. Having said that, this group was great and just got better this year. Finally, there are several I would like to mention in relation to their guidance they have given me, not just this past year, but during my nine years in business in Dawson County. Thanks to Mike Berg for his comments of direction. Once again a true mark of professionalism. It would take a separate article to list all of the things Mike has done for Dawson County. Then there is James Askew. Good mentor to me and great leader for Dawson County. And, my “thank yous” would not be complete without mentioning Kristie Myers.

Kristie is the true role model chamber member that practices what she preaches in participation and networking and offering sound direction for the chamber. This leads me back to my opening comment from last week’s meeting. As I looked around the room and listen to the thoughts shared by the board, the plans they made, and the willingness showed to step up and help ... I was reminded that I have served with a tremendous group of friends that care greatly about the future of Dawson County. With that said, thanks to you all ... Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays.

YEAR from 1 Williams. Marty’s hard work over and above his job title is incredible. This team “lives and breathes” Dawson County. I don’t know of many people who think of one without the other. And let us not forg et Pam Hamalainen. Pam brings a level of integrity to the chamber that all of us would be proud to have in our own company. Robin Smith and Barbara Fulmer, though they serve part time, work and represent the chamber as if it were their own business. Secondly, if I start naming off individual volunteers I will get in trouble and leave someone out. Besides, you need to come to the gala in January to see these folks properly

Jay Walker 2009 Chair

Page 4 • Dawson Chamber Chronicle • December 2009



Shopping pays dividends for county By Michele Hester

Hundreds of shoppers wait to check out Nov. 27 at the Dawsonville Wal-Mart. Many arrived hours ahead of time to get the best deals.

Who better to pay for the things Dawson County needs than the thousands of visitors shopping at North Georgia Premium Outlets this holiday season. That’s the question Linda Williams, president of the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce, asked last week. Williams was referring to the thousands of visitors that shopped the North Georgia Premium Outlets the days after Thanksgiving during the mall’s annual holiday shopping kickoff celebration. “Shoppers at the outlet mall feed our own tax coffers, but we also need to do our part to add to that by shopping local and not taking our taxes somewhere else,” she said. Matthew Grizzle of Dawsonville waited almost six hours to be about first in line to buy a

Photo/Stephanie Griffin

$198 laptop computer at Wal-Mart in Dawsonville the day after Thanksgiving. Known as Black Friday, the shopping occasion has traditionally

Photo/Michele Hester

The wait was 90 minutes to enter the Coach Factory Outlet on Nov. 27.

helped businesses move from red ink shortfalls to black ink profits. “I got here at 11:30 last night,” the Dawsonville man said while waiting with thousands of other shoppers to check out that morning. “And there were already 16 other people ahead of me.” Retailers believe more than 195 million people nationwide braved the crowds in search of bargain holiday gifts on the day after Thanksgiving, the biggest shopping day of the year. Early estimates by the National Retail Federation indicate Americans spent more than $41 bil-

lion over the holiday weekend. Judy Dockery of Dawsonville never went to bed Thursday night after spending Thanksgiving with her family. “We start off at the outlet mall and then wrap the morning up at WalMart,” she said. The specials at North Georgia Premium Outlets draw Tom Griffin and his wife each year. “The deals we find at the outlets are insanity,” said Griffin, who lives in Chattanooga, Tenn. Heather Halpern, general manager of the outlet mall, said the crowds were steady throughout

the weekend, with the largest arriving early Thursday for the midnight madness shopping event. “Traffic was strong from Thanksgiving Day until Sunday evening, and the feedback from our stores and our shoppers

Office: 706-216-4806 Fax: 706-216-4807

has been very encouraging,” Halpern said. “Our stores did a wonderful job providing great deals for our shoppers, and our shoppers came prepared. They knew where they wanted to go and what they wanted to buy.”

P.O Box 1096 137 Prominence Court Suite 240 Dawsonville, GA 30534

Dawson Chamber Chronicle • December 2009 • Page 5



TOURNEY from 1 Wallace, Chris Gaines, Dwayne Jones and Blake Palmer. Second place gross was First Citizens Bank of Georgia: Charles Buckner, Allan Depoe, Bryan Hendricks and Todd Buckner. First place net was won by Northside

Hospital-Forsyth: Andy Brown, Patricia Randolph, Freda Hardage and David Vandyke. Second place went to the Chestatee State Bank team: Henry Hamilton, Larry Minogue, Jason DeJiacomo and Jarod Trammel.


A couples massage room is a part of the Forrest Hills Mountain Resort, where Anidawehi Spa contractor Barbara Roberts works.

Spa aims to help people relax

Photo/Frank Reddy

Dawson County resident Al Brown prepares to tee off Nov. 16 at the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce Annual Golf Tournament, which was held at Chestatee Golf Course.

A little relaxation goes a long way, if you ask Barbara Roberts. The Anidawehi Spa contractor is in the business of helping people relax with massage, hot stones, body wraps and exfoliation. Located at the Forrest Hills Mountain Resort and Conference Center in Dahlonega, the spa is sub-contracted by Roberts and partner, Brian Fraser. Roberts said the business, which has been open nearly seven years, is a chance for her “to see the results of what I do. I’m not a cog in a wheel of some corporation,” she said. “We truly enjoy what we do, and we can see that

By Frank Reddy

We’ve specifically chosen colors and designs that are restful and relaxing. - Barbara Roberts, spa owner

through people’s happiness.” The key to doing good business is “caring about the people,” she added. “That’s what’s led to our success. Giving impeccable service and caring about the clients.” Many of the clients come for birthdays or for anniversaries. “Things like that, where it’s a splurge, and they’re doing something special for themselves,”

she said. The success of the spa lies partly in its design, Roberts said. “We have created a healing space in the spa,” she said. “Everyone that comes in says, ‘Oh, it just feels wonderful in here,’ and they can’t figure out why. It’s the energy we’ve created there. “We’ve specifically chosen colors and designs that are restful and relaxing,” she added. “People pick up on that even though they may not know exactly why.” Forrest Hills Mountain Resort and Conference Center is located at 135 Forrest Hills Road in Dahlonega. For more information, visit

Page 6 • Dawson Chamber Chronicle • December 2009



‘No job too big...too small’ for decorator Local home designer works on any budget frankreddy@

Interior designer Kathy Becknell says that in tough economic times, her line of work is sometimes considered a luxury. Becknell said the decoration and restoration of one’s home, though, should not be taken for granted. “Even with the economy affecting us, it’s still important to love your home,” said Becknell, owner of Bella Home Creations. “Your home should always be a restful, peaceful, relaxing haven for you, and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune for that.” Becknell opened the business with assistant Joy Thompson five years ago. The two travel all over North Georgia, renovating and decorating homes, rooms and nooks. “No job is too big or too small,” Becknell said. “If someone has a room that they just hate and don’t know why, I can figure it out. A lot of the time it’s because the furniture’s in the wrong place, or it’s too much or too little. Or maybe the room is the wrong color.” As a decorator, Beck-

By Frank Reddy

If someone has a room that they just hate and don’t know why, I can figure it out. - Kathy Becknell, interior designer

nell said she likes to go about her work a little differently. “I had a bad experience with a decorator,” Becknell said. “I don’t like being charged by the hour, because they can never tell you how much it’s going to be or how long it will take ... instead, I charge a flat fee. People like that, and it feels more honest to me.” Charging a flat fee for services allows her to “pass savings along to the customer ... if I get a great deal on a rug, then the customer gets a great deal too,” she said. “I try to be a good steward of the money that’s given to me for shopping and decorating.” Becknell said her philosophy on decorating is “to use what peo-

ple already have, just use it in a different way, do something different with it.” Much of her business, she said, comes from decorating second homes. “I’ve done a lot of second homes for people: beach houses, lake houses, cabins, so I travel and I don’t gouge people for travel,” she said. “Anybody can have a beautiful home,” Becknell added. “I’ll work on any budget. I’ve done everything from low budgets to high-end million dollar budgets.” For more information, call (404) 702-6292 or visit


Pictured are examples of the interior designs created by Kathy Becknell of Bella Home Creations. Becknell does business all over North Georgia.

Dawson Chamber Chronicle • December 2009• Page 7


BAH cash prize grows to $3,300

Secretary of State speaks to chamber By Michele Hester

Wine tasting at December event

Georgia’s Secretary of State Karen Handel made a stop in Dawson County Nov. 12 as she continues her campaign for governor. Handel, a Fulton County republican, is the third candidate for governor speaking to the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce in the last few months. John Oxendine, insurance and safety fire com-

By Michele Hester

Friends started phoning Holly Jones as soon as her name was chosen as the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce cash prize winner Nov. 24. And if she had been in attendance at the chamber’s monthly business after hours affair at Nature’s Way Chiropractic, she would have left over $3,000 wealthier. Instead, the cash pot grows for the chamber’s Dec. 10 event to be held at the Ga. 400 branch of United Community Bank. Dr. Kara Zajac, who owns Nature’s Way Chiropractic, welcomed members of the chamber to her office for the November after hours event. Located near the intersection of Ga. 400 and Hwy. 53 East, Nature’s Way Chiropractic specializes in providing effective chiropractic care in a relaxed, healing environment. United Community Bank also hopes to create a relaxed and inviting atmosphere for the December after hours event when the bank opens its doors to some of North Georgia’s premier wineries. The event and wine tasting will be held from 5-7 p.m. and will feature local wines Frogtown Cellars, Crimson and Scarletts, Wolf Mountain Vineyards and Blackstock Vineyards. Frogtown Cellars will also cater the event with heavy hors d’oeuvres. The monthly cash prize drawing grows to $3,300. But remember, you must be present to win. The chamber would like to thank the following members for contributing to the cash prize drawing: Sharon


Photo/Michele Hester

Chiropractor Kara Zajac adjusts Sharon Reagan’s back at last month’s business after hours event held at Nature’s Way Chiropractor. Reagan with AFLAC, Larry Anderson with Anderson Family Practice, Denny Putlak with Denny Insurance Group, Kristie Myers of the Norton Agency, Mike Downs with RD Caulking, James Askew at United Community Bank, and Ann Grizzle with Van Keith Insurance. The chamber would also like to thank the following members for donating door prizes for last month’s event: Painted Lady Enterprises, Chestatee Gold Club, Ashlyn’s Attic, Citrus Solution, Bella Sol Salon and Relax Massage. For more information on the wine tasting, call (706) 265-3232.

missioner, and U.S. R e p resentative Nathan Deal also recently addressed Handel the chamber membership. Both have announced their intentions to run for governor next year. Handel praised Dawson County for its leadership on the local

level and representation around the state. The former chair of the North Fulton Chamber of Commerce, Handel gave an overview of her duties as secretary of state. A position she has held since 2007, and concluded the luncheon with a question and answer segment. Questions from the chamber membership focused on Handel’s view of Georgia’s transportation problems and water issues.

Temporary workers needed for 2010 U.S. Census count By Frank Reddy frankreddy@

The 2010 U.S. Census is coming up, and all residents must be counted next year by answering questionnaires regarding household socioeconomic status. The questionnaires, which will be mailed out in March 2010, are required every 10 years by the U.S. Constitution in order to show state population counts and determine how many seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives. Census data also helps decide the allocation of more than $300 billion in

federal funding to states and communities. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, “increased participation in the census will result in more accurate data that media outlets can trust and share with the public in articles and reports.” In addition, data collected helps determine locations for schools, roads, hospitals, job training, child-care and senior citizen centers. The census questionnaire contains 10 questions and takes about 10 minutes to complete, according to the department of commerce. The U.S. Census Bur-

eau is recruiting temporary, part-time census takers to work in their own communities. Thousands of census takers are needed nationwide to help locate households and conduct brief personal interviews with residents. Most positions require a valid driver’s license and use of a vehicle. However, use of public transportation may be authorized in certain areas. The shortterm jobs offer flexible hours, paid training and reimbursement for workrelated expenses. For more information, visit

Page 8 • Dawson Chamber Chronicle • December 2009

Dawson Chamber Chronicle • December 2009 • Page 9



Chamber Chronicle is the monthly newsletter of the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce. The editorial content includes Chamber News and goals of interest to the business and residential community. The Chamber will keep the community informed about ribbon cuttings, business expansions, chamber functions QUICK TAKES and events, community events and the benefits of Chamber membership through Chamber Advertising offered only to Chronicle. Chamber members. Delivery...Dawson Community News Subscribers, All Dawson County Chamber Members Size...10” X 9.5” Frequency...Monthly 2nd Wednesday of Every Month Deadline: Monday One Week Prior to Publication

The Chronicle is mailed to all subscribers of the Dawson Community News, plus all Chamber members. Additional copies are available at the Chamber office.

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Page 10 • Dawson Chamber Chronicle • December 2009



Local Wal-Mart helps out this holiday season

Less than six hours before volunteers with KARE for Kids met to purchase toys and clothing for local children in need, Wal-Mart presented the service organization with a check for $1,000. “This will go a long way,” said Calvin Byrd, president of KARE for Kids, an organization that plans to provide holiday cheer for between 550 and 600 children this season. Wal-Mart also donated $1,000 to the Dawson County Woman’s Club on Nov. 19. Byrd said the continuing economic drop coupled with the number of people out of work has presented a real chore for the volunteer organization this year. “We’ve had several registration days so far

By Michele Hester

We also give away about $31,000 to about 15 other organizations that helped us throughout the year. -Calvin Byrd, president of KARE for kids

this holiday season. We’re thinking we’re going to be as busy this year as we were last year,” he said. Last year, KARE for Kids helped 305 families and 617 children. Each child receives at least one toy from their wish list, clothing, shoes, underwear and a jacket. RIC Rack, a local food pantry, provides eligible families with a Christmas turkey and meal to add to the holiday

November totals


Wal-Mart representatives Cecil Bennett, from left, and Thinh Troung, present a $1,000 check to Calvin Byrd to benefit KARE for Kids, a local agency that provides Christmas to Dawson County children in need. cheer. Additionally, anyone who signed up to receive assistance before Thanksgiving were also given a free turkey. “We gave out 110 tukeys in 15 minutes and about 220 turkeys in all

on Saturday,” Byrd said. KARE for Kids presents the Mountain Moonshine Festival each fall to support initiatives like the Christmas present project. This year’s festival netted about $65,000.

“We also give away about $31,000 to about 15 other organizations that helped us throughout the year,” Byrd said. “So not only does it help us, it helps several other organizations in the community.”

Families interested in receiving assistance m u s t s h ow d r iv e r ’s license, proof of residency and proof of income. For more information, call (706) 216KARE.

Timothy A.Annis,D.C.

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1992 Dr. Bramblett Rd. Cumming, GA 30040

Office # 678-455-9200 Cell # 678-887-0038

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(706) 216-4875

Dawson Chamber Chronicle • December 2009 • Page 11

Annual gala set for next month ❞

By Frank Reddy frankreddy@

This year’s annual Dawson County Chamber of Commerce gala is scheduled for Jan. 22 at Lakeview Center and features the theme, “It’s a Wonderful Night — a Black and White Ball.” The gala gives guests the opportunity to sport their “Sunday best or better,” according to Linda Williams, chamber president. Those invited to this year’s event, which will be held at the Lakeview Center, will get invitations from the Chamber of Commerce within the next couple of weeks. “People will have a chance to dress up and have a special evening together with friends and associates, and then we will have an awards ceremony,” Williams said. The gathering gives the chamber a chance to

Thank You Chamber Building Fund Sponsors

People will have a chance to dress up and have a special evening together with friends and associates. - Linda Williams, chamber president

❞ honor members in the categories of business leader, volunteer and entrepreneur of the year. Staff will also present the chairman’s award. Ceremonies begin at 6 p.m. with live music, and guests can mingle for about 30 minutes before dinner is served. Williams said that dinner reservations come with two complimentary drink tickets. A silent auction will also be held at the event. “We will ask members that would like to showcase either their product or service or just want to get their name out there, they can donate items,”

Williams said. Proceeds from sales of the items will go into the chamber’s general operating budget. Williams said the gala is the organization’s biggest fundraiser of the year. “It’s through the generosity of our members that it’s successful,” she said. “We hope to have another wonderful event this year.” Members can buy a single-seating ticket for $75 or a table for eight for $550. For more information, call (706) 2656278 or visit

New members Renee Stevens REMAX Greater Atlanta Inc. Renee Stevens (770) 983-3752 1100 Turner Road Cumming, GA 30041 Category: Real Estate

Kani House Leon Parker (706) 344-1494 500 Hwy. 400 South Dawsonville, GA 30534 Category: Japanese Restaurant

Property Investment Associates

Page 12 • Dawson Chamber Chronicle • December 2009



Ambassador Spotlight By Michele Hester

Each month a different business or organization sponsors the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce Ambassador’s Breakfast, held at Ryan’s in Dawsonville the fourth Wednesday of the month. Pro Therapy, a local outpatient rehabilitation company whose purpose is to provide high quality health services for the communities served, sponsored last month’s ambassador breakfast. Pro Therapy’s progressive treatment plans are designed to aid in adapting to permanent changes of lifestyle as patients are provided with safe and effective treatments in a fun, friendly atmosphere. Physical therapy services include post-op rehab, general orthopedics and sports injuries, neck and back pain, sciatica, carpal tunnel syndrome, TMJ and adult

Pro Therapy’s Justin Shurley neurological rehab. Justin Shurley is the clinic director at the Dawson location and has been a physical therapist for the past four years. Certified in mechanical diagnosis and therapy of the spine through the McKenzie Institute and a certified strength and conditioning specialist, Shurley holds a bachelor’s degree from North Georgia College & State University in exercise science and a master’s degree in physical therapy from the Medical College of Georgia. Breakfast sponsorships, at a reasonable cost, are now available for ambassador breakfasts in 2010. The sponsorship is a great way for businesses to spread the word

File photo

about themselves and/or their companies. The sponsorship provides the breakfast for the monthly meeting, gives sponsors 10-15 minutes to briefly speak on their business and

includes a short profile in the Chamber Chronicle. To register to sponsor an ambassador breakfast or for more information about the program, call (706) 216-1750.

Combs is Ambassador of the Month

The Dawson County Chamber of Commerce named Ed Combs, a representative of Re/Max 400 North, as Ambassador of the Month for November. A Georgia-native, Combs served in the military during the Vietnam War era and is heavily involved in the local Vietnam veterans Association. He also attends First Redeemer Church in Cumming

By Michele Hester

We help by feeding and serving those in economic distress in the North Georgia area. - Ed Combs, Re/Max representative

❞ and serves as a counselor for There’s Hope for the Hungry ministry. “We help by feeding and

serving those in economic distress in the North Georgia area,” Combs said. A member of the National Association of Realtors, Georgia Board of Realtors, 400 North Board of Realtors, Founder — Dawson Small Business Networking Group, Combs is proud of his work in real estate and bases his business philosophy on the principles of servant-leadership, a concept found in the Bible. According to Combs, the

Bible has instilled in him the practice of putting other’s best interests above his own. He has a long background in mortgages, banking and real estate. He specializes in residential property, land/farms and light commercial properties. Re/Max 400 North is located at 391 Quill Drive Suite 100, Dawsonville. For more information, contact Ed Combs at (404) 6418102 or visit,


Dawson Chamber Chronicle • December 2009 • Page 13



John Megel Ranks in top 10 Realtor From staff reports

John Megel Chevrolet, which serves the Georgia new and used car markets, is ranked in the Top 10 Chevrolet Dealerships in their southeast district. The dealership achieved this ranking by leading competitors in sales,

service and customer satisfaction over seven of the last 10 months. The company has been in business for more than 19 years providing Chevrolet products to Georgia customers. John Megel Chevrolet specializes in GM Certified used vehicles

that have been through a 117-point inspection that ensures the vehicle is in excellent condition and will provide the buyer reliable transportation. General Manager Shawn Streib said the “team at John Megel is clearly the best in Georgia. We have people

who really care about our customers and strive to give them a great car buying and ownership experience.” John Megel Chevrolet is located at 1392 Hwy. 400 South, Dawsonville. They can be reached at (800) 917-5837 or (706) 265-5400.

believes in local business

By Michele Hester

College installs new president Ceremony includes Atlanta Archbishop By Michele Hester

The Archbishop and Archdiocese of Atlanta were part of a procession Nov. 30 that welcomed a new president at Southern Catholic College in Dawsonville. Rev. Shawn Aaron, who has served in the capacity for the last few months, was officially installed as the college’s second president in a formal ceremony at the college. He replaced Jeremiah Ashcroft, who retired as president of the college earlier this year. A California native and the oldest of four children, Aaron made his decision to enter the priesthood during his college years in the midwest. He told those in attendance Monday the priesthood was the greatest gift he had ever received. “A gift I could never have dreamed could be so perfect,” he said, thanking God, his family and the church. Ordained in 2002 in Rome, Italy


Father Shawn Aaron, left, was officially installed as the second president of Southern Catholic College in Dawsonville Nov. 30, replacing Jeremiah Ashcroft, who retired as president of the college earlier this year. Aaron has bachelor’s degrees in theology and philosophy and has developed activities for the Legion of Christ, of which the college became a member earlier this year.

Following Aaron’s profession of faith and oath of fidelity, Wilton Gregory, archbishop of Atlanta, presented him with a cross and welcomed him.

The last year has not been the best for the real estate industry, but local realtor Kristie Myers, with the Norton Agency, said it is starting to pick up. “Things have started to pick up again, and hopefully we will see a stabilization in the market soon,” she said. An associate broker who moved to The Norton Agency this year, Myers is a big believer in local business. “I like to know that I am with a company that is as invested in the community as I have been. The Norton Agency has deep roots in North Georgia,” she said. Myers said succeeding in the real estate industry takes thinking outside the box. “When you have local authority to make those calls, it makes surviving in this real estate enviroment possible. Real Estate is local. What Frank Norton Jr. provides with his continual statistics updates provides me with an extra tool to be the best agent I can be.” Myers began her career in real estate in 2004 and was named Rookie of the Year by the local board of realtors. She also served as chairman of the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce in 2008 and is a long time mentor in the Dawson County School System. She has two daughters, Katie, a senior at The Savannah College of Art and Design, and Shelby, a sophomore at Dawson County High School. “If you are interested in buying or listing, give me a call and we can set up an interview and see if we are a fit. It takes a local agent to buy and sell locally,’ Myers said. For more information, call (706) 4296800.

Page 14 • Dawson Chamber Chronicle • December 2009



Counseling group helps children

Vanessa McBrayer, manager at Lava Hair Studio, arranges jewelry at the salon’s new boutique, which offers a variety of eclectic gifts, accessories and clothing.

Staff aims to ‘see kids heal’ By Frank Reddy

Lava unveils new boutique By Michele Hester

Exotic jewelry, eclectic gifts and famous label clothing are now available at the new Lava Boutique, located in Lava Hair Studio on Lumpkin Campground Road. Sandra Ossie with Blooming Angels Events, whose talents range from staging holiday parties to homes and retail shops, set up the boutique. Karen Covington, owner of the upscale salon and boutique, says Ossie has a natural flair for bringing a room to life in a unique, harmonious and inviting way. Lava held a Holiday Blowout celebration Dec. 1 and invited the community to see the new boutique. Staff also gave hair styling demonstrations and offered 20 percent off all products in the salon. The boutique opened in early November. Both are located at 671 Lumpkin Campground Road, Suite 1, between North Georgia Premium Outlets and the Blue Bicycle restaurant. For more information, visit the Web site, or call (706) 429-0001.

Photos/Michele Hester

Dr. Amanda Slaughter of Family Counseling Associates of North Georgia says the business prides itself on putting children first. “We take our time with the family, and we really work hard at helping the child recover and heal, process and understand whatever it is they need, and give them strategies and techniques to be able to go out into the world and face it,” said Slaughter, who specializes in counseling children ages 3We take our 12. time with the Family Counseling Associates of North family, and we Georgia has two locareally work hard tions, in Cumming at helping the and Dawsonville, and has four counselors at child recover and each location who heal, process and specialize in working understand... with children and their families. Slaughter, of Dahlonega, said the staff’s “passion for children” drives them to succeed in the business. “I love children. That’s my passion, my motivation. I absolutely adore them,” she said. Slaughter said staff were “handpicked specifically because they have that same passion for children as well. They have a strong desire to see kids heal and recover from divorce, abuse, trauma and grief.” The business is located at 137 Prominence Court Suite 120, Dawsonville. For more information, call (706) 265-8224, or visit

Lava Hair Salon staff welcomed the community to the salon Dec. 1 when they debuted a new clothing, accessor y and gift boutique at the salon on Lumpkin Campground Road.

Dawson Chamber Chronicle • December 2009• Page 15



Abba House is closer to goal Thanks to donation, building may start soon By Crystal Ledford DCN regional staff

A Forsyth County ministry serving women and children is closer to completing its expansion thanks to a large donation from a local business. Jim Sharp, director of Abba House, said American Proteins and the company’s owners, the Bagwell family, recently committed to providing a $150,000 matching grant to the organization. Abba House, founded by Sharp and his wife Chris in 1992, is a 12month residential program that helps women, some with children, overcome addiction and abuse problems. The ministry is in the Silver City community of north Forsyth, near the Dawson County line. Tommy Bagwell said his family decided to help because Abba House gives women a hand up, rather than a handout. “[Abba House] gives the ladies a chance to

reform and rehabilitate their lives,” he said. “I know a lot of them get their GEDs and go through work and training programs. “The ladies can come out [of the program] being able to actually achieve a level of selfsupport.” For nearly two years, Abba House leaders have been working to raise about $1.1 million in order to obtain $1.55 million in loan funding from the U.S. Department of Agric u l t u r e ’s R u r a l D ev elopment. Abba House applied for the low-interest matching loan in 2004 and in July 2007, the ministry’s board members signed necessary documents to receive it. The total funding will be used to complete the first of a two-phase major expansion of Abba House, which Sharp said will cost about $2.65 million. “This [grant] from the Bagwells puts us within $300,000 to $400,000 of reaching our goal and

On the Net To learn more about Abba House and its programs, go online at

File photo

Jim Sharp looks at the computer lab at Abba House, a residential program for women in need. being able to break ground on the project,” Sharp said. “I’d estimate, we should be ready to start building within the next six months.” The first phase of the expansion will include a multi-purpose room, sanctuary, kitchen and cafeteria to feed up to 150 people. It also will feature computer classrooms, a library, exercise rooms and housing for 25 women and their children. The second phase will add another wing of

housing, accommodating 32 women and children, as well as a children’s center.

The buildings will occupy 22,000 square feet on the nearly 10acre Abba House site on

Dahlonega Highway. A small portion of the funding for the project comes from money raised through its thrift store, though Sharp said the majority of store proceeds go to overhead costs. The thrift store now has two locations. One is on Dahlonega Highway near the Dawson County line and the second is by Hammond’s Crossing at Hwys. 369 and 306. Bagwell encouraged support of Abba House, saying the matching grant is “a challenge” for both its leaders and the community. “It’s a challenge to both the board and management of Abba House to go out and continue to bring in funding and attention [for the program] ... and to give impetus to have others [potential donors] go out and take a look at the program,” he said.

Clinic expands services From staff reports

Good Shepherd Clinic is now offering gynecological exams once a month in downtown Dawsonville. Women who want to receive services and exams must live or work in Dawson County, have no insurance (either public or private) and earn less than 200 percent of the federal pover-

ty guidelines. Eligibility is processed from 2 to 6 p.m. on Thursdays. The clinic is located in the basement of Grace Presbyterian Church, at the intersection of Hwys. 9 and 53. Appointments will be made for those who are eligible. For more information, call (706) 429-9914.

Page 16 • Dawson Chamber Chronicle • December 2009

“I have been in business for myself for over 40 years and anyone that has their own business knows how important their banking relationships are. And I do mean “RELATIONSHIPS”, not where you are just a number, working with a branch manager somewhere that gets transferred every 6 months just as they get to know your business……like the BIG BANKS OPERATE. I have had all my business and personal banking with CHESTATEE STATE BANK since the bank first opened in 1998 for two simple reasons, communications and they care about me. I am talking about real down to earth people where “personal banker” is not just a made up term to attract large deposits. And you know what? I care about them!”

“Chestatee State Bank took a chance on Conex Recycling in the late 1990's, and our company's success- many years later- can be traced back to that moment. During our partnership with them we have witnessed undying support, from partner buyouts, capital expenditure loans, real estate investment to lines of credit, all at great rates, and always with an air of overallwillingness to see us through the peaks and valleys of small business. We at Conex Recycling owe a huge debt of gratitude to Philip Hester, Michelle Leak, the board members, Connie Smith and a whole host of others.”

John Stanley

Shannon Sibbitt




Hwy 53 & GA 400 in Dawsonville, With locations at downtown Dawsonville, Keith Bridge Commons, Cumming and Marble Hill

(706) 216-2265

December 2009 Chamber Chronicle  
December 2009 Chamber Chronicle  

Chamber Golf tournament brings a crowd