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Effingham Autumn 2015


Going up

Balloon rides at Freedom Park


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Taking Flight

Carlton Sumner shares his love of ballooning with local residents at Freedom Park.


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Letter to the Publisher



Casey Stoddard

Effingham LIVING

Established Summer of 2007

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love summer, but I’m so ready for fall. Cooler weather, football games, backyard cookouts and drinking coffee on the back porch on Saturday mornings. It’s a great time to go outdoors and explore the world around us. If you’d asked me last year if I ever thought about ballooning, I’d probably say no. See, flying in a plane is one thing, but floating into the sky in a basket filled with propane was never really something I saw myself doing. But in September, I got a chance to learn more about ballooning and even experience a tethered ride in Rincon. And it was so much fun. Carlton Sumner is passionate about aviation and enjoys sharing his hot air balloon with the community. With permission from the City of Rincon, he offers rides at Freedom Park. We had a blast visiting with him, taking photos and working on the article. You can read more about him in our cover story on page 8. In this edition of Effingham Living, we also get to know a former Effingham County resident who is making some noise in Music City. Trea Landon, 21, just signed a publishing deal with Play It Again in Nashville. He will be writing for and with some of the best artists in the country music business. I’m sure we will be hearing his music on the radio soon. In our annual Path to Progress section, we highlight industrial development in Effingham County. As you likely have noticed, the former EFACAC plant is now Georgia Transformer. With new leadership, the company is committed to Effingham County. Future plans include hiring additional employees as the industry continues to grow. We also highlight the Workforce Development Committee and the work being done to prepare students for in-demand jobs of the future. And, finally, we feature the innovators at 360 Treestands — three local men who have developed a revolutionary new stand being manufactured right here in Effingham County. We hope you enjoy reading this edition of Effingham Living! Best wishes,



Park Balloon rides at Freedom

es Bra nch HAM

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6 • Effingham Living

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Autumn 2015


Debbie Neidlinger Karen Stephens Catherine Lentz

About the Cover Carlton Sumner loves sharing his passion for aviation and ballooning with his friends and neighbors. He was photographed at Freedom Park — where he can often be found offering tethered balloon rides to the public — by award-winning photographer Frank Fortune.

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Carlton Sumner takes Effingham County residents Shannon Jenkins and her son Havan Anderson for a lift in the balloon.

Ballooning At T he Park

Written by Casey Stoddard Photography by Frank Fortune

8 • Effingham Living


ave you ever wanted to take a ride in a hot air balloon? Thanks to Rincon resident Carlton Sumner and the City of Rincon, you now have the chance to experience such a thing at Freedom Park. Sumner, who is assistant director of training for a flight training company in Savannah, has been a pilot since 1992, a certified flight instructor for more than 20 years, and started ballooning three and a half years ago. “(Ballooning is) a hobby of mine. It’s something that me and my family have fallen in love with,” he said. “It’s a way to, not only just have family time together, but it’s also something we like to share with our friends and family and the community around us. It’s just a neat way to introduce people to aviation.” Sumner moved to Rincon in December and quickly began looking for a place to do some ballooning activities. He soon discovered Freedom Park and contacted Rincon City Manager Wesley Corbitt. “Through him I was able to make a presentation to the city council to use the field for the ballooning events when there aren’t other events there,” Sumner said. “This was a way to try to bring something different to the community of Rincon, and also to try to get some people from outside the community to come in and help local shops and restaurants by bringing the outside communities into our town.” Rides at Freedom Park will be tethered so the balloon basically stays in one spot, allowing more visitors to get the experience. The balloon is held to the ground with ropes and typically flies 50 to 75 feet. “By keeping it tethered it allows us to stay in one spot, and basically allow multiple people to get in and out of the basket at one time,” Sumner said. And for those who want the experience but are a little afraid of heights, “we don’t have to go all the way to the end of the ropes,” he added. For Sumner, this is a way to connect with the community and not a business, but he is asking for a $5 fare to help cover the basic costs associated with operating the balloon, including fuel and insurance. “It helps defer some of the cost. We’re in it just to bring a new experience to the community and to the town. We’re not in it for a business venture,” he said. “I have a passion for wanting to share ballooning with the local community.” Ballooning is a weather-dependent activity and requires clear skies with a low risk of rain. Light, stable winds are a critical factor. Sumner said 6 mile-per-hour winds are ideal, and he refuses to even set up if winds exceed 10 miles per hour because safety is his primary concern. Autumn 2015 • 9

Carlton Sumner, left, and Tony Rysztak, a friend and co-worker of Sumner, right, inflate a hot air balloon at Freedom Park in Rincon.

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“Even though the balloon is pretty cool and everyone gets excited, I can’t overstress that safety comes before anything and everything else,” he said. “If we think that the weather isn’t going to cooperate, we don’t even set up. If we are up giving people rides and even get a hint that things are starting to get a little on the unsafe side, we’ll shut down early. That may cause some people to be disappointed, but we have to look after everyone’s safety.” Saturday mornings and Sunday evenings are the primary days Sumner plans to fly at Freedom Park. He typically does not know until the night prior whether the weather is going to be good for the next morning, because weather conditions change so often. Sumner closely monitors forecasts and has created a website so the community can see when he will be flying. According to Corbitt, the city plans to share Sumner’s flight plans on the city’s website in the near future. “The website is mainly designed for people to have easy access to go look and see if the balloon will be flying that weekend or not, so they can make their weekend plans. We’re trying to find easy ways to make that communication with the community so they know when the balloon is flying and when it’s not,” Sumner said. He also shares updates via Twitter at CRSBalloons.

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The only requirement to go up in the balloon, other than the small fare, is that you must be able to climb in and out of the basket. “That’s kind of a restriction on us. As far as children go, we don’t have an age restriction, but it has been my experience that children 5 and under do get very frightened of the burner when they’re up close, because it’s so loud,” he said. “Because of the safety factor issue, if a kid doesn’t want to go on, we’re going to respect that even if the parent really, really wants them to go.” Sumner doesn’t advertise it, but he does offer private flights. He also has a second balloon which is no longer air-worthy. While it doesn’t fly, it is used to educate others — especially children — on how a hot air balloon works. “We can cold inflate it, meaning we don’t stand it up but we can inflate it on the ground on its side,” he said. “We use that sometimes at schools or other children’s educational programs to have them come out and we can walk around on the inside of (the balloon). The kids can see what makes up the inside of a hot air balloon, because there’s cords and there’s ropes and there’s a whole pulley system on how the top comes in and out. It’s pretty interesting.” Sumner has been flying in Freedom Park

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Carlton Sumner balloons with his wife Kaytie and their children Selah, 9, Noah, 5, and Allison, 8.

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12 • Effingham Living

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for several months now and often sees people drive up to take a look and snap some photos. He wants people to know they are welcome to come out and say hello. “I’ve talked to a lot of people, and they’ve seen me out there,” he said. “We’ve had some people come up, but most people think it’s a private event. I’m like, ‘no, you can come out any time you want.’” ON THE WEB Follow Carlton Sumner @CRSBalloons on Twitter or check out his Facebook page for flight updates. Learn more at sumnerballoonpromotions/.

Springfield United Methodist Church Please join us in welcoming Brother Randy Mosley as the new senior pastor of our church. The Waycross native is a graduate of Valdosta State and Emory Universities and has served as a United Methodist minister for the past 33 years. We invite the community to join us in Worship and to serve the Lord with us through the many Ministry opportunities available at our church.

Effingham County Health Department We’re here for your health.

We provide: • Adult and childhood immunizations • TB skin testing • Women’s Health Services • Pregnancy testing • Head Start physicals • WIC (Women, Infants, Children nutrition program) • STD testing and treatment • Health checks for children • Children’s Medical Services (medical care for children from birth to age 21 who have disabling conditions or chronic diseases.) • Lead screening • Breast and cervical cancer screening for low income, uninsured, or underinsured women • Environmental Health Services • A whole lot more! We want to help you and your family be the healthiest you can be.

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Prabhat K. Jain is the acting general manager at Georgia Transformer.

Georgia Transformer takes the helm at Rincon plant

Written by Patrick Donahue Photos by Frank Fortune 20 • Effingham Living


t may be under a new flag, but the Georgia Transformer plant off Highways 21 and 275 is steering toward much calmer — and hopefully more profitable — waters. Caravels, a holding company, acquired the former EFACEC facility in December 2014, and the 225,000-square foot complex and the operation now carries the name Georgia Transformer. While the name has changed and the management also has been shuffled, the new company remains committed to the area. “Absolutely,” said Prabhat K. Jain, the acting general manager at Georgia Transformer. The commitment, Jain continued, includes sustaining the losses the new company has inherited and will incur losses for the next year. But the company also believes it can navigate the rocky waters for much smoother sailing. “That’s certainly our commitment,” Jain added, “that we are going to turn this around and make a big success out of this.” There is value in the plant, in terms of its people, processes and “certainly the equipment and facility is a benchmark in North America,” continued Jain. With the combination of the workforce, the modern facility and new management, Jain believes the Rincon home of Georgia Transformer can fulfill its original mission. “It has all the makings of making it a

successful and a leading business, producing the reliable and efficient transformers to help in building the great network, collecting renewable energy and connecting it to the grid,” Jain explained. “Beyond that is to provide the short lead time in the industry to the projects can be executed in a shorter period of time. That’s the vision for this plant, which we see. “It has a huge potential. Huge.” The combination of a modern facility and a well-trained, highly-skilled workforce is alluring to potential customers. The Rincon plant is “the only of its kind in North America,” Jain said. “It is very unique. “When the customers come, one of the first things they look for is the experience and skills of the workforce,” Jain added. “And number two, is a brand-new facility, but it is also state of the art facility.” Jain said it has been “a great comfort” that the workforce of a little more than 200 employees has remained relatively stable under the change in management. A few weeks ago, the company announced a 2 percent raise for hourly workers. Jain said the company’s success is “a joint effort between the management and the workers. The management brings expertise, financing and business. The employees have to execute the business and it’s very, very, very important that the business must be executed reliably, with highest quality and on time.” In fact, there are plans to substantially increase the workforce in the next few years.

“With that partnership between management and the employees, this business will grow, to enable us to hire an additional 150-200 employees over the next three to five years,” Jain said. To celebrate its continued operation and to herald its future, the company is hosting an event in late September. The invitationonly occasion will mark the company’s commitment to the Rincon plant and its pledge to expand and grow the business in the future. Along with employees and local officials, the company is bringing in key vendors and customers for the celebration. “It is important to get that message out to the local community first and foremost, because we are going to be providing a lot of jobs,” said Steven Bahlmann, controller for Georgia Transformer. “We are going to be adding 100-150 jobs in the next three years at all levels, professional to production workers. People need to know the strength and the financial backing the business has and the bandwidth that it has in the industry to have confidence it can make the sales.” Making the switch Caravels LLC bought the plant from its former Portuguese-based owners, who faced tough times in 2014. Portugal’s economy began to fail and as banks went under, Group EFACEC’s lines of capital dissolved. The conglomerate’s directors searched for a company to continue to make transformers Autumn 2015 • 21

at the Rincon plant, which it had been doing since 2010. “There were some difficulties with the earlier management, and we’re trying to turn it around,” Jain said. “It’s fairly simple what needs to be done. It just takes time.” The company delivered 34 transformers last year and has eclipsed that mark already in 2015. Caravels provides the financing, Jain explained, and Virginia Transformer supplies the expertise in manufacturing and marketing to Georgia Transformer. In its early days, the plant was growing and producing core and shell transformers. But then there were problems getting product to the customers, and the inception of the sale to Caravels began. “They did quite well for the first couple of years,” Jain said. “They had a very good vision and a very good plan. And then it started to decline from ’12 and ’13 onwards. “They did a fabulous job in getting it started,” added Jain. “But the performance declined and once it went down, they could not get it back.” Jain, though, is optimistic the combination of the modern plant, its workforce and the new organization will allow the facility to chart a better course. “It’s doable,” he said. Virginia Transformer’s knowledge of the markets and its track record will help the new Georgia Transformer become a power in the industry. “We’ve been in business 40 years, so we know the markets,” Jain said. “The market is there. We have a quite significant marketing and selling organization within Virginia Transformer, which is what we are banking on to bring that business for this plant.” The company has a core group of companies for its business — Georgia Power, Dominion Power, Duke Power, Florida Power and Light in the east and Nevada Energy, Pacific Gas and Electric, San Diego Gas and Electric, “and a host of other companies that are looking forward to doing business with us,” Jain said, “once we can demonstrate we can perform reliably and on time.” The company is targeting two markets. One is the IOUs, or investor-owned utilities, which are the mainstays of the plant, Jain noted. Virginia Transformer has opened the door to the other market, that of renewable energy, such as wind and solar power. “They are huge,” Jain said. “Virginia Transformer has been in this market for about 10 years. We know the players and 22 • Effingham Living

now we are able to offer product from a Georgia facility for that market. That is the additional market segment we are able to bring here immediately to start building up the base business. “As we demonstrate to the investor owned utilities that we can perform on time, reliably, then they’re just watching and waiting for that performance.” Here comes the sun The burgeoning renewable energy market could be a boon for Georgia Transformer. More and more power is being derived from wind and solar sources, and more will be, Jain pointed out. This year, the amount of energy generated from wind and solar will be 25 gigawatts. “It’s very, very large,” he said of the renewable energy market. “This is a very large segment of power generation. Twenty-five thousand megawatts — it’s a lot of power.” How the company fits into that is it provides the transformers that allow that power collected from wind and solar units to be connected to the power grid for use by others. “Virginia Transformer is a significant player in that market,” Jain said. “Now with having Georgia Transformer manufacturing capability, we can become an even larger part of that marketplace. Once it connects to the grid, then it is accessible for the users the whole country basically, to access that power source.” The percentage of energy coming from wind and solar is going to grow — in California, the state is looking to get up to 35 percent of its energy from renewable sources, Jain noted. Currently, that state has a goal of 30 percent and is getting 27 percent of its energy from alternative sources. “Some other states are coming out with goals, because they see that California has reached that level, and others feel they can do it, too,” Jain said. Wind power is gaining a foothold in Texas and the Dakotas; solar is taking root in California, Arizona and Nevada. Offshore wind power turbines are being proposed for the waters off New Jersey, Connecticut and Maine, with each producing 5 megawatts of power. The company has provided quotes on transformers that are going to be about 400 megawatts in size for a handful of massive solar projects planned for the Carolinas. The federal government subsidies for solar power are giving a boost to that sector, Jain

added. “The cost is coming down and the policy is helping,” he said. “The government still has a subsidy on solar power. That is a very important aspect of the growth of this plant, to supply the green energy to the grid. It is very, very significant. It’s a big movement in our country now. It is gathering speed.” Putting down roots The change from EFACEC to Georgia Transformer has been “pretty seamless,” Jain said. Key people in the engineering department stayed, as did those in the shop. There was a turnover in finance and administration. While most of the Portuguese who were working at the plant have returned home, Jain said a few have remained. “We have lead people in the shop. We have quality and test people,” he said. “They have decided to stay in the U.S.” And Jain and the company want to show that the plant is a viable operation and has no intention of going anywhere. “We can produce transformers that are now being imported from China, Korea, Japan and a few from Europe. We aim to make them in the good old U.S. of A.,” he said. “Our objective is to make the community aware that we are here. We are committed to grow this plant. “It is good for the employees of this plant, it is good for Caravels and it is great for the U.S. of A. We will provide green energy and we will provide homemade product here that is now being imported. That is a huge opportunity, and people need to know that.” Meanwhile, the company’s event will celebrate not just the jobs it plans to add to its workforce in the next few years, but also the positions it saved. “It’s a great story for Rincon and Effingham County,” Jain said.

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Autumn 2015 • 23

Focus on the Future Workforce Development Committee helps students prepare for future careers and connects them with potential employers. Written and Photographed by Patrick Donahue 24 • Effingham Living


hen businesses and industries look at investing in Effingham County, one of items at the top of the checklist is having a well-trained and capable workforce. That’s where the workforce development committee, a joint effort from the Effingham Industrial Development Authority and Chamber of Commerce, is rolling up it sleeves. “We’re very proud of the fact we were able to create a workforce development committee, said Barbara Prosser, a member of the committee and the CEO of Effingham College and Career Academy. “We have great results out of that, even in just the first year of operation. We are putting plans for employers going forward.” Local firms have input with the committee, spelling out their needs in present and future employees. “We’re getting existing industry telling us what they need and what they’re looking for, and the ability to make those changes to provide what they need,” said IDA Chairman Chap Bennett. The workforce development committee isn’t just an aid to existing businesses; it also can help bring in new employers. “We are and can be ahead of our competition for where industries locate by saying we can set up a curriculum that will help your workforce,” Bennett said, “and it either saves you money and time or it gives you comfort that the educational system is buying into the future. “I think this, over time, can become as good an asset as a piece of property we have at the right location,” continued Bennett. “I really do.” Effingham IDA CEO John Henry acknowledged that what workforce development is “depends on who you’re talking to.” The mission is to find out what a company’s needs are and how they can coordinate the supply side, “the labor pool to match those needs, so you’re not sitting there with unfilled positions.” One of the problems that has arisen in the last couple of years, Henry pointed out, is the lack of skilled labor. “We don’t have a lot of people who are trained and ready to go to work,” he said. “As technology has advanced, so has the workplace; the jobs out there have changed the last 20 years. It’s a whole different environment.” A survey of industries revealed that 83 percent said skilled labor had an effect on their plans. Forty-two percent said prospective workers lacked basic skills, and 87 percent said they lacked basic skills. “We’re trying to rectify that,” Henry said. “We’re

ahead of the game. We have the resources available in our region.” There are still alignment issues, Henry said, in trying to line up the skills of the workers with the abilities they will need at their employment. A survey of site selectors showed that highway accessibility is the top factor in where an industry sets up shop. “But number two is the availability of skilled labor,” Henry said. “That starts ringing bells. We want to address all these issues if we want to be a premium industrial manufacturing-type location. Having all these resources is important to that. “We’re very fortunate to have a career academy and the Savannah Tech campus,” continued Henry. “It’s a tremendous resource, and we need to take full advantage of it.”

Getting down to work The committee meets once a month, on the second Wednesday, at the ECCA. The effort began three years ago, growing out of the strategic planning for the Ford Next Generation Learning community status. It required developing a five-year plan, and it focused on three areas — transforming high schools, transforming teaching and transforming business and education partnerships. “And so out of that third group of community stakeholders, one of the goals put into place was a Chamber workforce development committee,” Prosser said. “We were able to formalize it. It was something that was always thought of and wanted between the Chamber and the IDA. That was the springboard for that community.

We’ve slowly been bringing businesses in and growing in that regard.” The Chamber and the workforce development committee have hosted two job fairs, and the second was double in size of the inaugural event. The ECCA has hosted businesses and industries looking to augment their workforce. IKEA — which may expand its reach by adding 200 new stores — held a job fair there, looking to hire workers for its logistics and warehousing. The company went so far as to study its own workforce, delving into its attrition, retention and productivity. What it found, according to Prosser, was that its most productive workers had Effingham County addresses. “So they wanted to come to Effingham County to recruit,” she said. Autumn 2015 • 25

The Workforce Development Committee helps prepare Effingham County students for the jobs of the future and connects students to potential employers.

Students at the ECCA also are working in internships at Home Depot and Target, Prosser added. “We’re just in demand,” she said. When prospective employers stop by the ECCA, students are allowed to meet with them and ask questions. “It’s great to see the employers with the students,” Prosser said. “We’re very proud it’s grown.” The effort also entails providing resources for professional development and a sustainable workforce, according to Prosser. “We are happy to be able to do that,” she said. Sharpening the soft skills When industrial prospects visit, the ECCA is showcased and the local school system is touted to them. “That is the No. 1 area a prospective employer looks at first. It’s the education system,” Prosser said. “Ours is ranked in the top 10 in the state. We are considered a large system because we have over 10,000 students. We’re very proud of that ranking and that we have been able to maintain that and the fact we are getting recognition at the 26 • Effingham Living

state level.” There is also an impetus to instill what are called soft skills in current jobseekers and future workers. Those qualities include how to dress for an interview, how to conduct themselves when looking for a job and how to behave once they’re hired. “Many of the human resources managers and directors are supporting us with training on résumé writing and etiquette during a job interview,” Prosser said. “I’m glad to see that happening.” The ECCA also is working with its students on email etiquette. “I shared that with an employer,” Prosser said, “who was very appreciative. They were trying to figure out how to change that behavior in their own organization.” In addition, they are expanding into interview skills and digital skills so jobseekers can complete interviews online. The committee will be scheduling information sessions for citizens wanting to know more about those skills. “We want to know what those workforce obstacles are,” Prosser added. “It is a perfect venue to do that.” The workforce development committee

has worked with the new Georgia Transformer, and several ECCA students are working in its engineering department. “They are interested in how they can expand and how they can grow their workforce,” Prosser said. Prosser said there is great participation in the workforce development committee, and there are representatives from such entities as Georgia Power, Georgia-Pacific, CST Covers, Edwards Interiors, Effingham Health System, the IDA, the Georgia Ports Authority and Savannah Technical College. “We focus on what we can do for improving adult employment,” she said. “All of our stakeholders are coming together. We all have a vision and we can put a strategy in place and take steps to sustain the workforce in the area and to continuously develop it. I’m very excited about what’s happening with all the digital technology. I’m feeling better about the gap between baby boomers and who is going to replace them, simply because technology is helping to close it. That’s what we’re trying to excite the students about.”

Phone: 912.754.5610 Fax: 912.754.5611 2940 Highway 21 South Rincon, GA 31326 Graphics Communications & Web Design Nursing & Healthcare Sciences Aircraft Assembly Technician Engineering & Technology Automotive Maintenance Distribution & Logistics Cosmetology Culinary Arts Welding

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Business partners, from top, Dennis Kessler, Kevin Diaz and Minis Hillis developed a revolutionary new tree stand that wraps around a tree to give hunters a true 360-degree view. 28 • Effingham Living



360 Treestands out to revolutionize hunting


n an annual h u n t i n g trip, Minis Hillis had an experience familiar to many sportsmen. He was in a two-man, lean-to stand with his 6-year-old son when he noticed a wild boar about 50 yards behind his stand. He tried to line up a shot, but the boar moved out of sight. So Hillis waited a while longer and heard another sound behind the stand. He slowly turned his head for a better look and was able to see a sizable buck. He tried turning his body as slowly as possible, but the buck startled and was gone. Hillis returned from that hunting trip with an idea. He would create a tree stand with a true 360-degree view. That was how 360 Treestands was born. With the help of his business partners,

Written by Casey Stoddard Photos by Frank Fortune

Dennis Kessler and Kevin Diaz, Hillis has begun marketing their company, 360 Treestands, through their website, social media platforms and at regional and national trade shows. With the stand garnering attention, the men joined forces with Lancaster Construction in Guyton earlier this year to fill the orders that have started coming in. Something different From the beginning, Hillis knew getting a stand to work the way he envisioned would take a little expertise. He enlisted the help of a friend and engineer to develop the plans. Five prototypes later, the stand was ready. Each element is essential to creating a safe, quality, long-lasting tree stand. “It’s not your typical tree stand, as far as the lightweight purposes, but it is one so

different from the others,” Hillis said. “We’re the only tree stand out here that seats four people, and it has 1,000-pound capacity. No other tree stand has that capacity.” “It’s the only one that wraps around the tree,” added Diaz. Each stand is made with U.S. steel and can seat up to four 250-pound individuals or a single user weighing 300 pounds. The stand has a tough, powder coated OD (olive drab) green finish, two large retractable ratchet straps and five different biters that hold the stand to the tree. The unique anchor brace takes the ladder movement problem out of the equation. Not only does the stand give the user an ultimate 360 view, it doubles as its own transport system with a detachable wheel section. Set up requires very little assembly. “When you look at the other tree stands Autumn 2015 • 29

Minis Hillis, Dennis Kessler and Kevin Diaz discuss plans for an upcoming trade show.

Hillis and Diaz secure a stand in transport mode.

that are out there, they come with all these screws and bolts and all that stuff. With our stand, you get what we have packaged here and pins. So there’s nothing really to put together,” said Diaz. Once it’s at the tree, a two-person team can move the stand easily from transport mode to stand mode in about 20 to 25 minutes. “Basically, you take everything out of the cradle — that is the transport base that holds everything that goes on to the tree,” Hillis said. “The rest of it you just put up using a 30 • Effingham Living

pulley system.” The platform will rest securely on trees 10 to 17 inches in diameter and can be adjusted using a sliding pin-hole floor system. Leveling the stand can be adjusted by the use of sliding lower biter assembly and attached bubble level on the base of the carriage frame. Versatility and safety The stand’s versatility is another unique feature. Without rails, it can be used as a bow stand. Add the rails and it’s a gun stand.

It also can be set up as a duck blind or offthe-ground turkey blind. It can be set up at three different heights — six, 12 and 18 feet. Each stand comes with two seats, but two more seats can be added. In transport mode, the stand can be hooked to an ATV using a detachable hitch assembly. Extra efforts were made to make the ladder more stable also. “The stand has a patented anchor brace,” added Hillis. “Unlike any other ladder attachment piece … this thing corkscrews

Kevin Diaz assembles a tree stand in the 360 Treestands shop.

into the tree. You push it in to the pin length that you want the ladder to secure to. It gives it a much tighter fit. It’s not going anywhere. It’s not going to bow in on you and it’s not going to move around.” A labor of love All three outdoorsmen have full-time jobs, but each has been fully dedicated to getting their tree stand to the market. They have spent countless hours in the shop tweaking their product.

Wearing a harness for safety, Dennis Kessler demonstrates how 360 base stand gives bow hunters more freedom of movement.

“In the beginning, we were out here every evening, every weekend,” said Kessler. But the hard work has started to pay off. “It’s taken us a little bit,” said Hillis. “We’ve done this for about a year and a half now, and we’re just now at the point where we are starting to get going as far as manufacturing.” They have sold and set up several of their stands for customers. And their stand will be featured in upcoming episodes of popular hunting shows, including one on Fox Sports

South. The team also is looking at new ways to use the revolutionary stand. “We’re look at creating a roof system and a dog ramp,” Hillis said. “The new version has a detachable ladder bottom and will sit above the pond. We’re working on developing a ramp for the dogs to go swim up from the pond after they get the duck, swim up the ramp and hop back in the stand.” Who knows where the future might lead. Autumn 2015 • 31










We built our new hospital with a vision to attract the best physicians in Southeast Georgia. We are realizing that goal with Savannah’s finest specialists choosing to work with Effingham Health System.

CT Scan

3D Mammography

New emergency facilities

Staffed by same physicians group that staffs the region’s major Trauma Center

Completed 58,000 sq. ft. hospital

Private treatment rooms

Shorter wait times


addition in Springfield •




Continuing to update existing facility

Triple the space

Physical, occupational and speech therapies


All new equipment

Telemedicine links to specialists

Springfield and Goshen

around the world

3D Mammography (both locations)

Private recovery rooms

Attracting region’s best surgeons









NEW RECOGNITION. ATTRACTING TOP SPECIALISTS. As all the upgrades in facilities, technology and talent have reached critical mass over the past year, our community’s dedication to build an outstanding local health system has been widely recognized. In fact, we are the only Nursing Home in Georgia to ever receive the National Gold Quality Award.




NATIONAL QUALITY AWARD —American Health Care Association, National Center for Assisted Living (2015)


—U.S. News and World Report (2015)




WOMEN’S HEALTH FOCUS Our practice concentrates on female pelvic health (outside of pregnancy); from diagnoses involving menstrual, sexual and menopausal health, to consultations for contraception, urinary incontinence, and pelvic organ prolapse. We serve women of all ages, from early adolescence through adulthood.

SERVICES We recently added state-of-the-art, 3D Mammogram technology in both our Goshen and Springfield locations.

TONI SYLVESTER, MD, FACOG is the on-staff physician for Women’s Health. Dr. Sylvester is a board-certified gynecologist and a fellowship-trained urogynecologist.




HIGH TECH, ON-SITE CARE Including brand new, state-of-the-art MRI and CT Scan technology.

NEW REHABILITATIVE SERVICES FACILITY Spacious. Well-equipped. Provides an entirely new perspective for Effingham residents recovering from injuries and surgery.

SERVICES MARK MUDANO, M.D. provides on-staff leadership for Effingham Health System’s fast-growing Orthopaedic center. Dr. Mudano’s specialty is Orthopaedic Surgery Sports Medicine, and Reconstructive Knee Surgery.

• All levels of orthopaedic care • Fracture treatment • Arthroscopic knee surgery • Total knee and hip replacement • Hand surgery • Arthroscopic shoulder repairs




With our new surgical facilities and state-of-the-art technology upgrades, Effingham Health System is in a position to bring the most respected regional physicians TO YOU.

WE’RE REDEFINING the level of healthcare you can expect—right here in Effingham County. No more choices to make between convenience and expertise.

VISIT to learn more about the highly regarded physicians that are working with Effingham Health System.




EFFINGHAM HERALD SPORTS PAGE This exciting new addition to your community newspaper will showcase what’s happening in Effingham’s High School Sports world! Call Debbie or Catherine for sponsor opportunities 912.826.5012



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FOLLOW US on Facebook. We want you to “like” us. Check-out our Facebook page and keep up with the exciting things happening in Effingham. You’ll find us at EffinghamLiving

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Autumn 2015 • 41

42 • Effingham Living

Making Noise in Music City


former Effingham County resident has been making some noise in Nashville recently. Trea Landon, 21, has been playing music in Statesboro, Savannah and the surrounding areas since he was 16. He moved to the Country Music Capital earlier this year and within a few weeks, he signed a publishing deal with songwriter/producer Dallas Davidson’s Play It Again Publishing. Landon, who lived in Guyton until he was 12 and still has family in the county, is joining a small team of accomplished song writers — Kyle Fishman, Brian Kolb, Houston Phillips and Maggie Rose. “I feel like of all the publishing companies I could have gone to, I’m going to learn the most there,” he said. Landon showed an interest in music at an early age. He took piano lessons as a child, but has taught himself how to play drums, guitar, bass and has even “tinkered with the ol’ fiddle.” He picked up the guitar when he was 16

Written by Casey Stoddard and taught himself enough to be able to sing and play at the same time. He started playing venues in Statesboro the same year, and after graduating high school, he enrolled at Georgia Southern University. “When I got to college, my Statesboro market was already kind of built,” he said. “It freed my time up a little bit and I was able to travel.” Landon got a band together and, for a year, traveled and played music while also attending classes. “After that first year, it just got so hectic with being gone all the time and having to take care of more,” he said. “The more you do it, and the more successful you get, the more ins and outs things you have to do.” So Landon decided to take some time off from college to chase his dreams of performing and writing country music. “I originally was only going to take a year off from school, because I’d always heard, ‘let Nashville come to you, don’t go to Nashville.’ I was just going to hit it hard for a straight year and see if I get noticed,” he said. “I was going to see if I could make enough noise to get them to come down

here and offer something, but they didn’t, so I was like ‘well, I’m just going to go ahead, go up there, and try it.’” Landon’s grandfather, Charlie Miller, said he initially didn’t want Landon to move to Nashville but after hearing his grandson talk more and more about pursuing this dreams he knew he should support him. “I told him, ‘Trea, if you don’t go, you will never know,’” Miller said. “If that’s what you want to do, then do it.” The gamble paid off. “I’m definitely fortunate,” Landon said. “I’m sure luck had something to do with it.” But it was more than luck. It was a lot of hard work and a lot of time. It was also knowing the right people and being in the right place at the right time — Landon was introduced to Davidson through a mutual acquaintance. There are several other country music artists who hail from southeast Georgia, including star Luke Bryan and Effingham’s own Billy Currington. Landon’s new boss, Davidson, has written several of Bryan’s number one hits including, “Rain Is a Good Thing” and “Country Girl (Shake it For Me).” Autumn 2015 • 43

As part of the fairly new company — Play It Again was established earlier this year — Landon will be writing songs, pitching them to artists and working with musicians, sound engineers and producers. “We’re so excited for Trea to join the Play It Again family,” Davidson said. “I look forward to watching Trea continue to grow as a singer-songwriter.” Landon’s music is familiar to many local fans, and he draws inspiration from his own experiences. “Just what I know, things that I do or have done,” he said, “things that make me happy.” In a recent review in Connect Statesboro, editor Brittani Howell said Landon’s songs “sound like they would feel right at home on a country music station. Musically, the songs have an optimistic sound, thriving on soulful guitar chords and muted percussion, full of youthful vigor already mingling with nostalgia.” If you want to hear more, you can listen to Landon’s music through Spotify, YouTube or his website

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from the

Welcome the Season with Autumn Apple Dip

KITCHEN By Casey Stoddard

Autumn is a time for gathering with family and friends. The cooler weather is perfect for backyard barbecues and tailgating. In honor of the season, I want to share one of my favorite, simple recipes that’s always a big hit. This dip is perfect for parties, showers, tailgates and even holiday dinners. Enjoy.

Autumn Apple Dip (Prep time: About 10 minutes) Ingredients: 1 large can of pineapple juice Apples (I usually grab a bag and slice them as needed) 1 package (8-ounce) cream cheese, softened ¼ cup brown sugar ½ teaspoon vanilla extract 1 package (8-ounce) English toffee bits

Do you have a recipe to share here? Send it to

Cut apples into wedges and soak in a bowl or covered container of pineapple juice in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to an hour. This keeps the apples from turning brown. Combine cream cheese, brown sugar and vanilla extract in a small bowl. Stir in English toffee bits just before serving. To serve, remove apples from the pineapple juice and lay out on a plate or dip dish. Then, brace yourself; everyone will want to know this recipe.

Effingham Herald’s

Christmas Recipe Contest Main Dishes • Sides • Desserts Each person can enter up to 3 recipes online! The Effingham Herald’s annual Christmas Recipe Contest will begin November 4. Submissions will be accepted online at or through print forms found in the Effingham Herald. Photos are encouraged, but not required. Follow Effingham Herald on Facebook or Twitter for the latest contest announcements. 46 • Effingham Living

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Autumn 2015 • 47

Most Fabulous


Letter to the

PUBLISHER Dear Mr. McGlamery: Please allow me to say thank you to the Effingham Herald Staff and to you for recognizing the outstanding people that work within the Effingham Health System. Also, for recognizing Effingham Health System as the Most Fabulous Place to Work and our Girls Night Out Program as the Most Fabulous Girls Night Out Location in Effingham County. Our employee theme this year has been Work Like You Own It. It is a pleasure to have a workforce that truly appreciates the opportunity to work in Effingham County and to work for an organization that provides quality patient and resident care at a level of excellence recognized by survey and accrediting agencies; but more importantly, appreciated by patients/residents families and our community. Again, on behalf of Bertha and Levi Scott, Betsy Smith and myself, thank you for recognizing us. Sincerely, Norma Jean Morgan Chief Executive Officer Effingham Health System

48 • Effingham Living

Catering for your event needs! Weddings • Banquets Parties • Family Dinners Special Occasions

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First First Baptist Baptist Church Church of of Springfield Springfield Sharing hope Through The Love of god

We are dedicated to helping individuals and families find purpose and hope in God.

It is our desire as a church to meet you where you are in life and show you that God cares specifically for you. We hope to meet you while going about our daily lives together in the community and we would love to have you worship with us both at our church and throughout our lives.

Sunday School 9:15am & 10:45am

Classes for all ages (nursery, children, youth, and adults) at both hours. • Bible Studies relevant to your life. • Meaningful friendships • Personal encouragement and support

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Weekday Education Ministries • 754-4227 Monday - Friday • 6:00 am - 6:00 pm 1435 Hwy 119 North Springfield, Georgia 31329 (2 Miles North of Springfield) Email:

754-3443 Autumn 2015 • 49

Government Information Effingham County Commission Chairman — Wendall Kessler Elected through 2016 District 1 — Forrest Floyd Elected through 2016 District 2 — Vera Jones Elected through 2018 District 3 — Jamie Deloach Elected through 20118 District 4 — Reggie Loper Elected through 2016 District 5 — Phil Kieffer Elected through 2018 County Clerk Stephanie Johnson 610 North Laurel Street Springfield, GA 31329 Phone: 754-2123 Fax: 754-4157 County Administration County Administrator Toss Allen State lawmakers Gov. Nathan Deal Office of the Governor 206 Washington Street Suite 203, State Capitol Atlanta, GA 30334 Phone: (404) 656-1776 Web site: Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle Office of the Lieutenant Governor Administrative Staff 240 State Capitol Atlanta, GA 30334 Phone: (404) 656-5030 Fax: (404) 656-6739 Web site: State Web site: Effingham’s General Assembly Delegation State Sen. Jack Hill (R-Reidsville) Capitol Office State Capitol Building Room 234 Atlanta, GA 30334 Phone: (404) 656-5038 Fax: (404) 657-7094 Email: District Office PO Box 486 Reidsville, GA 30453 Phone: (912) 557-3811 Fax: (912) 557-3522

50 • Effingham Living

Committees: Appropriations (Chairman); Finance (Ex-Officio); Natural Resources and the Environment; Regulated Industries and Utilities; Rules State Rep. Jon Burns (R-Newington) Capitol Office State Capitol Building Room 338 Atlanta, GA 30334 Phone: (404) 656-5052 Email: District Office 5829 Clyo-Kildare Road Newington, GA 30446 Committees: Agriculture and Consumer Affairs; Appropriations; Economic Development and Tourism; Game, Fish and Parks (Chairman); Rules; State Properties; Transportation State Rep. Bill Hitchens (R-Rincon) Capitol Office 501-A Coverdell Legislative Office Building Atlanta, GA 30334 Phone: (404) 656-0178 Email: District Office 2440 Rincon-Stillwell Road Phone: (912) 663-8941 Committees: Appropriations; Defense and Veterans Affairs; Public Safety and Homeland Security Federal lawmakers U.S. Rep. Rick W. Allen (R-Augusta) Capitol Office 513 Cannon House Office Building Washington, DC 20515 Phone: (202) 225-2823 Fax: (202) 225-3377 Website: District Office 50 E. Main Street Statesboro, GA 30458 Phone: (912) 243-9452 Fax: (912) 243-9453 Committees: House Committee on Agriculture; House Education and Workforce Committee Subcommittees: General Farm Commodities and Risk Management; Conservation and Forestry; Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions; Higher Education & Workforce Training U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) Capitol Office 6602 Abercorn St., Suite 105B Savannah GA 31405 Phone: (202) 225-5831 Fax: (202) 226-2269 Website:

District Office 1 Diamond Causeway, Suite 7 Savannah, GA 31406 Phone: (912) 352-0101 Fax: (912) 352-0105 Committees: Education and the Workforce Committee; Homeland Security and Oversight; Government Reform Subcommittees: Subcommittee on Transportation Security; Oversight and Management Efficiency; Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions; Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education; Healthcare, Benefits and Administrative Works; Government Operations U.S. Sen. David Perdue (R-Warner Robins) 383 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510 Phone: (202) 224-3521 Fax: (202) 228-10311 Website: Regional Office 191 Peachtree St. NE Suite 3250 Atlanta, GA 30303 Phone: (404) 865-0087 Fax: (404) 865-0311 Committees: Agriculture Committee; Budget Committee; Foreign Relations Committee; Judiciary Committee; Special Committee on Aging Subcommittees: Foreign Relations (Chairman); State Department and USAID Management; Conservation, Forestry and Natural Resources U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Marietta) 131 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510 Phone: (202) 224-3643 Fax: (202) 228-0724 Website: Regional Office 1 Overton Park 3625 Cumberland Boulevard, Suite 970 Atlanta, GA 30339 Phone: (770) 661-0999 Fax: (770) 661-0768 Committees: Finance; Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; Veterans’ Affairs; Select Committee on Ethics; Foreign Relations Committee Subcommittees: International Trade, Customs & Global Competitiveness; Taxation & IRS Oversight; Social Security, Pensions & Family Policy; East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy; Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women's Issues; Africa and Global Health Policy; State Department and USAID Management, International Operations, and Bilateral International Development; Employment and Workplace Safety (Chairman)

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