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CONTENTS April/May 2011

features

10 Cover Story

GSU softball player Megen Smith has been soaring amongst the best in the Southern Conference.

16 New Chief At Chamber

Rick Lott is officially the new Effingham County Chamber of Commerce Director.

22 Cowart’s Blue Gator

Richard Cowart’s German Wire-Haired Pointer “Blue” earns top honors.

28 What Is A Chump?

Learn more about the sport of Chump Car racing and those who delve into the action

36 Presidential Award

Jennifer Helmly earns the Presidential Volunteer Service Award.

The photo on this page was shot on location for Effingham Magazine. Photo of early morning sky and reflection in a lake at Faulkville’s Lakeside Ballpark. Image was shot with iPhone 4 in HDR mode. -Photo by Todd Wood

departments

07 Publisher’s Thoughts 09 Editor’s Letter 40 Last Word 44 Effingham Weddings

06 April/May 2011 | Effingham Magazine


PUBLISHER’S Thoughts

On the Cover

An anniversary....and its meaning to me.

EFFINGHAM

Last month was a milestone in my life. It was the five year anniversary of the birth of Independence Day Publishing, Inc. Some days it is hard to believe that it has been five years since I made the decision to embark on this wild and crazy adventure. I had no idea the places it would take me, nor the experiences I would have along the way. I had no idea it would bring people back into my life that I missed, nor give me the opportunity to meet many new and wonderful people along the way. Well, it has given me all those things, and more! In these last five years, we have been able to get a company off the ground, put out some nice specialty publications and begin our adventure to bring you, and other communities, their very own community magazine. Later this year, we will celebrate the 5th Anniversary of Effingham Magazine. We have already started making plans for that issue…..as we have many surprises in store. I promise you, there has never been a publication in Effingham County quite like it! We have also been able to start great publications in some close by places. We began Pooler Magazine, Richmond Hill Magazine (later named Bryan And Its Coast) and our latest endeavor, Beaufort Lifestyle. What a tremendous adventure this has been. As I sit down and look through each issue of Effingham Magazine before we send it to press, I am always reminded of why I did this…… why I started this business. Believe it or not, I did it for you. I did it for each one of you reading this letter. I did it for the people in this community that are just as proud as I am to call Effingham Julie Hales, Publisher their home. I did it to showcase our people and the love we have for them. I did it to tell the stories of the unsung heroes and people who give so freely of themselves to others and to their community. I did it to tell the stories of the famous. And to keep our people informed of the things going on around them. I wanted to feature the best of the best…..and the ones that sit on the back burners. I wanted our local businesses to have another avenue to market their companies. I did it because I wanted to showcase this community in a way it had never been done before…..to tell the stories of its people in a classy and sophisticated manner. I wanted to involve you, the people of Effingham County. We are always asking you, our readers, for story ideas for our magazine. I must say, you have answered. Almost every story in this issue is from you, our readers. We appreciate your input….and love your story suggestions. I am sure each of you will love them as well. Keep the story ideas flowing. Give Todd or myself a shout anytime. We are always looking for good stuff to feature. And, since we plan on many, many more anniversaries, the possibilities are endless!

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Former ECHS softball player Megen Smith is playing her senior season with the Georgia Southern softball team. She holds several Georgia Southern and Southern Conference records. Cover Photo by Todd Wood

Connect with us on Facebook. Be the first to know what is going on with Effingham Magazine and what new and exciting things we are working on. Become a fan today.

Effingham Magazine | April/May 2011 07


CONTRIBUTORS Clark Byron is an award-winning singer/song writer. He, wife Elaine and daughter Sarah are newcomers to Savannah. A native New Yorker, Clark spent the last 26 years in Kansas City in various executive capacities and also did plenty of freelance writing. The Byrons moved to Savannah in November 2010 in fulfillment of a longtime dream. He is now a fulltime freelance feature and business writer whose services are much in demand. Clark is an urban history enthusiast and has a passion for all things nostalgic. He holds a doctorate in Ministry and is an avid student of Philosophy. Clark is an accomplished cook and enjoys regional and fine cuisine. Clark Byron

Ray Steele

Barbara Russell

Denise Gonsales

Katie Turner

Ray Steele thought he wanted to be Howard Cosell when he grew up. Instead, he played radio for 15 years as a newscaster and talk show host before becoming a writer. Ray is also a commercial voice artist and is the host of “The Johnny Mercer Hit Parade” on WSEG-AM (Star 1400). A lifelong baseball nut, Ray has spent the last two seasons as P.A. Announcer for the Savannah Sand Gnats. He is usually surrounded by women, his wife Jen, two daughters, and two female cats, at their home in Guyton.

Barbara Russell is a freelance writer and photographer, and in the past she was a high school English teacher and a flight attendant. Always an avid horse person and riding instructor, she enjoys writing for equine publications and she is writing a young adult novel about horses. For several years she wrote feature stories and a history column for Effingham CloseUp, and she has been published in a variety of magazines. Currently she enjoys writing for Independence Day Publishing. Interviewing local people and having the opportunity to retell their unique stories is her passion. Denise began her professional photography career five years ago after freelancing for several photographers. She was drawn to wedding photography and soon Denise Gonsales Photography was born. She stresses the importance of communication between her company and their clients. What really makes her feel good is being able to look her clients in the eyes knowing that she gave her heart and soul to them, with each and every event. Denise takes only a limited number of weddings per year so that she is able to maintain that personal touch, thus giving each couple the attention that they deserve on their special day.

Katie is a freelance writer and Effingham County native who enjoys meeting new and interesting people. She earned her English degree at Georgia Southern University, and caught the travel bug while studying abroad in Costa Rica, where she received a minor in Spanish. After college, she worked briefly in Yellowstone National Park, where she enjoyed hiking and photographing the scenery and the wildlife. She is always up for visiting new places, but she loves the south and is proud to call Effingham her home.

08 April/May 2011 | Effingham Magazine

Richard Cowart’s German Wire-Haired hunting dog “Blue” retrieves a duck from a lake in Faulkville.

-Photo By TODD WOOD


EDITOR’S Letter

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Julie Hales owner/publisher julie@idpmagazines.com Todd Wood managing editor todd@idpmagazines.com Lynnette Tuck sales manager lynnette@idpmagazines.com Allison Arnsdorff account executive allison@idpmagazines.com Lane Gallegos graphic design lane@idpmagazines.com

SUBSCRIPTIONS Subscribe to Effingham Magazine by submitting a check and subscription information form found in every issue. You may also subscribe by calling (912)826-2760. LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Write to us and tell us what you think. Effingham Magazine welcomes all letters to the editor. Please send all letters via email to Todd Wood at todd@idpmagazines.com Letters to the editor must have a phone number and name of contact. Phone numbers will not be published. ARTICLE SUBMISSIONS Effingham Magazine welcomes story ideas from our readers. If you have a story idea, or photo essay you would like to share, please submit ideas and material by emailing Todd Wood at todd@idpmagazines.com All articles and photos will be reviewed by the editor, and if the articles and accompanying photos meet the criteria of Independence Day Publishing, Inc., the person submitting the material will be contacted. Stories or ideas for stories must be submitted by email. Only feature stories and photo essays about people, places or things in Effingham County will be considered. CALENDAR SECTION We’re looking for your information about clubs, organizations, events and meetings. For events in June/July 2011, copy must be submitted by May 18, 2011. Please email all copy to todd@ idpmagazines.com. Effingham Magazine is published bimonthly by Independence Day Publishing, Inc. Reproduction in whole or in part in any manner without the written permission of the publisher is strictly prohibited. Effingham Magazine 108 International Drive Rincon, GA 31326 (912) 826-2760

I Have The Best Camera, And You Likely Do Too Chase Jarvis said it best when he said, “Right now is the most exciting time in the history of the planet to be a photographer.” He also said that the best camera is the one you have with you. I’d say I have to agree, especially as of late. Without going into all of the technical information, I own some of the best cameras and lenses you can buy (Nikon of course). But many times those lenses and camera bodies are just to bulky and heavy to carry everywhere. Recently I started experimenting with my new iPhone 4, and I have finally fully grasped what Chase was saying about the best camera being the one that was with you. I think it is great how you can basically get creative and create images no matter where you are. It has been a little addictive, I will have to admit. I’ve been using my cell phone camera just about everywhere you can think... restaurants, gas stations and of course out on assignment for the magazine. It has fired up my creative mojo, and I’d like to think that there are many more people just like me, getting creative with their phones. Back on Page 6, that image was created with my iPhone. Had I not had such a great tool I would have missed those beautiful sunrise colors. Had I got the camera bag out, unzipped it, picked the right lens and then composed with my professional camera, I would have missed the light and these beautiful colors. This beautiful scene literally lasted only about one minute. Nothing was done to this image in Photoshop, other than sizing. I switched on the camera’s High Dynamic Range (HDR) feature, and made three different shots. Once I saw the results, I had to share this image somehow. That, plus, I was technically on assignment for the magazine so this image is related to this issue in a round about way. If you look at the sky in the picture on Page 23, you will see the vibrant reds, blues and purples are no longer in the sky. That photo was taken about five minutes later with my professional camera equipment and lighting in nearly the same spot. So here’s to having the best camera...the one that you have with you. I never thought technology would enable so many people to become creative, but it has. Being creative inspires and promotes so many great things in our society. If you have a great photo you have shot on your camera phone, hopefully you will be inspired to share it with others, or maybe even become a photographer. -Todd Wood, Editor

Effingham Magazine | April/May 2011 09


10 April/May 2011 | Effingham Magazine


cover Megen Smith story

in the

Southern Conference Story by CLARK BYRON

Photos by TODD WOOD

Megen Smith is reaching for her fourth All-Southern Conference spot and successes that will surpass her already illustrious college career.

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egen Smith decided back in high school that she wanted to play college softball. It turned out to be a good choice for a variety of reasons. It’s what she wanted to do and it gained her an athletic scholarship to Georgia Southern University. Smith enjoys horseback riding, and going to the river and the beach. Not at all surprising, her favorite place on the Georgia Southern campus is the softball field. The biggest influences on her life as an athlete have been her parents because, “They have always been there for me when I needed them,” she said. Smith is a native of Springfield and a 2007 graduate of Effingham County High School and was an honor-roll student. Like any good athlete she credits much of her success to excellent coaching. Smith began working with pitching Coach Jeff Rainwater when she was about thirteen years old. Rainwater had just moved to the area at the time. He is now a coach with the Georgia Thunder 14U fast pitch softball team. “I told him I wanted to go play college softball, “said Smith. “He had daughters that did that, so he knew the route to go and what to take.” Smith’s coaches at Effingham County

High School, Jim Simmons and Montesha “Tesh” Wiewel, were also instrumental in her development as a scholarship-level college athlete. “I told them I wanted to play college ball,” Smith said. “They got me to the level l needed to be.” Coach Wiewel, a graduate of Armstrong Atlantic State University, was inducted into the AASU Hall of Fame in December 2010. She and seven others were the first class since 2004 to be so honored. Under the tutelage of her high school coaches, Smith received several awards for her on-field performance. In her junior and senior years, she earned the coveted Fireman Award for her blistering hot pitching. She was also named the team’s Most Valuable Player both years. Smith lettered all four seasons while posting a sub-1.00 earned run average in each season, including a low of 0.70 in her freshman and junior seasons. Her lowest high school batting average was .354 and her highest was .454. Megen was born on July 11, 1989 in Savannah to Steve and Peggy Smith, whom she named as the greatest influences in her life, particularly as an athlete. “They have always

Effingham Magazine | April/May 2011 11


< MEGEN SMITH CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Three-time All-Southern Conference selection, first team in 2009 and 2010...Holds Georgia Southern career record with seven saves...Second on the single-season list with four in 2009, which is tied for eighth in the Southern Conference. She ranks second at Georgia Southern with six RBI against Savannah State on April 22, 2008 and sixth with 10.0 innings pitched against Western Carolina on April 19, 2008.

been there for me when I needed them,” she said. This was never more evident than in the summer following high school graduation as Smith continued to hone her skills in league play. “My parents spent lots of money for me to play travel ball and get me seen around the area.” This resulted in a variety of scholarship offers but Smith said the Georgia Southern offer was the one that fit her best. “Being from a small town, I didn’t really know the whole recruiting process,” said Smith. “I was one of the first ones to get out there and go through that process.” Smith waited until October of her senior year. Her high school pitching coach told then Georgia Southern Coach Natalie Poole that she should come and see Smith play. Poole had already recruited her class for that year but agreed to take a look at Smith because the Eagles needed another pitcher. Poole liked what she saw. “At first, I was kinda skeptical about coming here just because it’s so close to home,” Smith said. “But when I got here I said this is just perfect for me. This is exactly where I want to be.” Smith is majoring in health and physical education. On the field, she’s both a pitcher and a utility player, and she made a grand entrance to her college career. In 2008, her freshman year, Smith made the All-Southern Conference Second Team as a pitcher with an impressive 13-9 record, including two back-to-back shutouts, posting a 2.49 ERA in 23 starts. Smith also made

12 April/May 2011 | Effingham Magazine


a respectable showing at the plate, sporting a rookie batting average of .243 with a home run and 21 RBIs. And things just got progressively better. In her sophomore year, Smith made All-Southern Conference again. This time it was First Team and as a utility player. She hit .308 with three home runs and 19 RBIs. She had the fourth highest team slugging percentage with .450, while recording 11 multi-hit games and an on-the-road batting average of .333. In Smith’s junior year, she was again named to the AllSouthern Conference First Team. She started all 56 games and led the Southern Conference with a GSU single-season record 18 home runs and a team-leading 47 RBIs, also a top stat in the conference. Smith hit home runs in four straight games that season. Now in her final season at GSU, great things are expected of Megen Smith. She’s reaching for her fourth All-Southern Conference spot and successes that will surpass her already illustrious college career. As a youngster, Smith played on the Georgia Thunder 14U girls’ fast pitch softball team. The Thunder team is made up of the most dedicated players from seven Coastal Georgia high schools committed to playing softball at the highest level. With her amazing college career, Smith is considered the Thunder’s first success story. It is therefore quite fitting that she should return there to mentor other young players who want to follow in her footsteps. She will return to the Thunder as a hitting and pitching coach this year.

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14 April/May 2011 | Effingham Magazine


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CHAMBER of COMMERCE

New Chamber of Commerce Chief Brings Experience and Vision Story by CLARK BYRON

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o folks living in Effingham County for any length of time, Rick Lott is a familiar name. At a February 24th meeting of its Board of Directors, the Effingham County Chamber of Commerce named Lott its permanent executive director. Lott had served as the Chamber’s interim director since November 1st, succeeding Tess Moore who left to accept a position as the marketing manager at Comcast. The 57 year-old Lott and his wife, Marsha, an artist and art teacher at Ebenezer Middle School in Rincon, married and moved to the area from Albany, Georgia, in 1990. The Lotts have four children and four grand children. Lott started with the Chamber as the Marketing and Events Director in June 2010, bringing with him over 20 years’ experience in nonprofit leadership. He was previously the Executive Director of

the Savannah Waterfront Association. With a background in Journalism, he also worked as a reporter and photographer at the Effingham Herald. As with every new leadership position, Lott inherited a few internal challenges. “Our database has been in need of cleaning up, apparently for the last few years,” he said. “I’ve recently had my staff working really hard on getting that cleaned up and we’re in the last phases of getting it up to date.” And then there’s all the good stuff. Lott said that one of the best experiences he’s had is working with the volunteers. “Every time we do a ribbon cutting or some kind of event or function, it’s nice to see how many people come out and support the work of the Chamber.” The Chamber has set a clear direction for the future, according to Lott. “My vision is to serve as a catalyst to bring groups and people together to accomplish some goals,” he said. Recent focus has been on tourism

for the county. “We’ve done a number of things to spur that along,” said Lott. He explained that local realtor and Chamber volunteer, James Presnell, built a display cabinet that currently resides at the I-95 Visitor’s Center. The cabinet showcases artifacts from both the Historic Effingham Society Museum in Springfield, and the Georgia Salzburger Society Museum in New Ebenezer. “I keep hearing reports from Visitor Center staff that it is extremely popular with visitors,” Lott said. Both museums feature collections of houses and buildings depicting life in the county in bygone days. The Historic Effingham museum will be showcased during the Olde Effingham Days festival April 15th and 16th. People in period costumes will show how things like wood shingles and cane syrup were made by hand. “It’s a wonderful collection of artifacts dating back to the colonial period,” Lott said. The Effingham County Chamber has

“Every time we do a ribbon cutting or some kind of event or function, it’s nice to see how many people come out and support the work of the Chamber. My vision is to serve as a catalyst to bring groups and people together to accomplish some goals.”

16 April/May 2011 |Effingham Magazine


RICK LOTT

Effingham Magazine | April/May 2011 17


RICK LOTT dives into his task list for 2011 at the Effingham County Chamber offices in Springfield.

Population-2008 US Census Estimate County: 52,060 Georgia: 9.685,744

Statistic Service for the US Department of Agriculture) •2007 US Census estimates ranked Effingham 44th fastest growing county

City of Springfield Population Percent Change April 2000 - July 1, 2007: County: 35.1% Georgia: 16.6%

Population 2000 County: 37,535 Georgia: 8,186,453 Effingham County - Quick Look  •Created in 1777 from the colonial parishes of St. Mathew and St. Phillip as Georgia’s 4th county and one of the oldest settlements in America. •Eastern border of county formed by a length of 314-mile-long Savannah River •Ranks 34th in the state in square miles at 482.9 •Top crops in 2002 included corn, oats, rye and soybeans (National Agricultural

18 April/May 2011 | Effingham Magazine

This quaint community of 1,800 residents is the County Seat for Effingham. Steeped in a rich history, Springfield offers a friendly small town atmosphere that personifies the region.

City of Guyton

Located in Effingham County’s western interior, Guyton offers a unique liveability featuring country living at its best while having access to modern services, culture and the arts.

City of Rincon Rincon is Effingham’s largest city with over 4,300 residents, and Effingham County’s largest retail center. Within the last 12 months, the city has seen record development of several new retail outlets, including a number of nationally recognized stores at Ft. Howard Square, construction of a new Lowe’s, Walgreens, CVS and others. These new retail

investments total over $25 million and have brought 250 new jobs to the area.

Join the Chamber

Memberships in the Chamber are based on a fair-share formula – generally by a firm’s size and stake in the marketplace. Dues investments are as low as $200 annually. If you are not a member yet, call us at 912-754-3301 and we’ll be glad to assist you.

Exposure for your Firm:

Your Chamber serves as a front office for Effingham County. As such, they receive hundreds of inquiries for community and newcomer information. Members are invited to take advantage of our Membership Referral Service by giving us your latest information or company brochure for display in our lobby. (first come - first served basis) Other Exposure Services - Your Chamber also provides coordination services for Ribbon Cuttings, Ground Breakings and Grand Openings.

For More Information

visit the Chamber’s website at: http://www.effinghamcounty.com/


“Part of the concerns we are looking at now is making sure that we have enough folks going into the Savannah Tech - Effingham Campus that are going to be coming out qualified to take some of these jobs when they start opening up.”

recently created a tourism grant opportunity for which local museums and other nonprofits working in tourism can apply. The funding is to bolster tourism projects in the county. “The museums are currently working on their applications and we’re hoping to get some of those in the next week or two,” he said. ott identified the most pressing needs the Chamber will focus on: Jobs and business growth. “It’s something we work on hand in hand with the Industrial Development Authority to try to bring new business into the county.” A strong priority is also retail development and tourism. The Chamber wants to see things return to the trend of new growth that existed several years ago before the economy took a downturn. The Chamber works with the EDA to attract business prospects who express an interest in coming to Effingham County. “We try to work with those groups to present an attractive package to them,” said Lott. An increasing number of job openings are expected in the region in the next year or so. “Part of the concern we are looking at now is making sure that we have enough folks going into the Savannah Tech - Effingham Campus that are going to be coming out qualified to take some of these jobs when they start opening up,” Lott explained. facec Power Transformers in Rincon currently employs about 250 and plans to increase that number to 600 over the next three years, according to Lott. Gulfstream Aerospace is planning a major expansion in the next year or two. J.C. Bamford Excavators has also been hiring again. “We’re going to see a lot of jobs opening up,” said Lott. “We need to make sure we get the word out and get people qualified so that we’ll be able to put local people to work in those jobs.” The Chamber has recently created two new events for the county that have been very successful: Oktoberfest in late September and the Taste of Effingham in March. The events are designed for the enjoyment of the citizens of Effingham County and to attract visitors from surrounding counties. Naturally, being new to the top position at the Chamber, Lott sees all of this as just the beginning of an ever-expanding vision for business development in Effingham County. As he said so confidently at the close of our interview, “Stay tuned, there’s more to come!”

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www.heidtburns.com Effingham Magazine | April/May 2011 21


Sport Game Hunting

Nothing To Feel Blue About This dog can hunt and carry groceries. ‘Blue’ bags top award

Story by STEPHEN PRUDHOMME

W

hether it’s a freshly-killed duck or a box of Cheerios, Blue is adept at retrieving food. While his prowess at retrieving the latter might earn him a pat on the head or a dog biscuit, Blue’s ability to retrieve ducks and other fowl has earned him some top recognition. Blue is a 5-year-old German wirehaired pointer owned by Faulkville resident Richard Cowart. Although he answers to Blue, his official name is Cowart’s Blue Gator. “When I first got him, as an 8-month-old puppy,” explains the 48-year-old Cowart. “I saw him standing in the sun, and he had a blue hue around his coat. When he laid back, the bottom of his jaw looked like a Gator jaw. That’s how I got the name.” Last month, Blue, who is registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC) and North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (NAVHDA), proved he had an affinity for the Sunshine State by winning the Prize I Utility Dog Competition in Lake Wells, FL. Blue was one of 12 dogs from the Central, Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern states taking part in the two-day “spring hunt test.” Each dog had to compete in the field as well as in

22 April/May 2011 | Effingham Magazine

Photos by TODD WOOD the water. In the field competition, dogs hunted over varied terrain that contained game. Three judges evaluated them on ability to search, point, remain steady until hearing the command to retrieve and the dogs’ release to their handlers. As a final test, dogs tracked a scent trail of 200 yards, out of sight of their handler, and brought the game back to their handler’s hand. In the water competition, which simulates a duck hunt, judges evaluated cooperation between dog and handler and graded walking at heel, steadiness by the duck blind, searching for the duck and retrieval of the duck. Blue earned 198 of a possible 204 points over the two days and walked away or, in his case, probably ran, with the top score among all the dogs and earned the coveted title of Prize I Utility Dog. Cowart says Blue really stood out in the 20-minute duck search – hunting for “22 minutes and putting on a clinic.” He adds he was elated with Blue’s showing. “He put on a clinic. It made the 5-hour drive down there worthwhile and a lot easier coming home.” With his performance, Blue, who failed to garner the Prize I Utility Dog title as a 4-year-old, earned a plaque with


Effingham Magazine |

April/May 2011 23


Blue retrieving a duck from Faulkville’s Lakeside Park lake at sunrise. Cowart’s Blue Gator an AKC & NAVHDA registered German Wirehaired Pointer earned 198 of the 204 points and received the top title of Prize 1 Utility Dog.

his name on it and, more importantly, qualified for the 2012 Invitation Hunt test in Iowa. With a passing score, Blue would earn the coveted Versatile Champion designation. Being named a Versatile Champion, Cowart notes, is the ultimate goal for a hunting dog. “It means he’s reached his ultimate potential,” he says. “It indicates a solid stock for breeding and would fetch top dollar. “It’s like the winning quarterback in the Super Bowl or the ace pitcher in the World Series – he’s done his job.” Cowart says he will work with Blue in the training yard as well as in the field to prepare for the Invitation Hunt, which will be held in September and will require dogs to work with a fellow birddog, or “bracemate,” during the field exercise. He’ll take him to varied places for hunting so Blue will be accustomed to different terrain and can quickly adapt to the test field in Iowa. Cowart says Blue has the potential to become a Versatile Champion. “Blue’s stood out from other dogs,” Cowart says. “He has natural desire and drive. He does what’s instinctive to him. He knows how to hunt as a team.” Cowart notes that Blue is friendly to people and describes him as an easy-going dog – until he sees Cowart preparing for a hunt.

24 April/May 2011 | Effingham Magazine

“He gets into a different mode when I start packing gear,” Cowart says. “He realizes it’s time to hunt, and he pays attention to me.” Cowart has been a hunter all his life. He goes after duck, quail and grouse in Georgia, Florida and North Carolina. His acquisition of Blue, whom he bought without seeing him in person, came about because he couldn’t afford the two to three dogs he would need to hunt the different kinds of fowls he favored. Cowart saw pictures of Blue before purchasing him and having him shipped by air from his home in Long Prairie, Minn., to Georgia and liked his look. Says Cowart: “He was a cool-looking dog. He had a wiry coat and goatee. He’s not a very common dog in Southeast


Georgia.” Cowart, who trained his first bird dog when he was in high school, relying on tips from his father, grandfather and others, had Blue retrieve his first duck when he was a little over a year old. He’s been like a dog in water ever since and graduated to groceries several years ago. The groceries were on the ground in front of the car, and Cowart told Blue to fetch them. The dog came back with the grocery bag in his mouth. From that time on, Blue became the designated grocery carrier. “He hasn’t broken an egg yet,” Cowart says. As to munching down on the groceries for a quick snack, Blue has thus far refrained. Cowart attributes this to his “soft mouth” and his experience and discipline in retrieving game birds without damaging them. Although Blue’s at home in the woods, he might go uptown in the future and compete in AKC shows and could one day be walking across the stage at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City. “I think Blue could do well in AKC shows,” Cowart says. “It’s all about confirmation to breed standards. He comes from hunting stock. If we could go through dual championships, that would be a feather in his cap. That would be cool.” Then, Blue might want to have another dog carry the groceries. Hunting for a suitable replacement won’t be easy, but Blue’s the dog for the job.

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Effingham Magazine |

April/May 2011 27


28 April/May 2011 | Effingham Magazine


Story by BARBARA W. RUSSELL

N

ine months ago Robert Bendetti of Effingham had never heard of ChumpCar Racing. In a nutshell, it’s a 24 hour endurance race for racecar rookies driving $500 junk cars, and - it’s meant to be fun. Bendetti is now a regular competitor in the races, and he’ll tell you it’s a lot more than breathtaking fun. It’s about bringing his family closer together, making new friends and helping others, and it’s about raising awareness for our local and military heroes. Photos by TODD WOOD

CHUMP CAR RACING?

What Is

Effingham Magazine |

April/May 2011 29


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30 April/May 2011 | Effingham Magazine


“Nine months ago I had never even watched a car race on television,” Bendetti said. “Now I am a fanatic grassroots race fan, and the best part is that I get to do it with my family. We have never won a race. Heck, we have never finished in the top ten, but ChumpCar has brought my family closer together, and that is priceless.” Bendetti said he grew up poor, but after earning two master’s degrees and getting a great job as an accountant, he was able to buy the car he’d always wanted- a BMW M5. He knew he needed some professional training to drive his “family car” safely, so for Father’s Day his wife, Jennifer, gave him some driving lessons at Roebling Road Racetrack in Bloomingdale. As Bendetti scoured Roebling’s website for their training schedule he saw ‘ChumpCar Race’ listed, and he went to the ChumpCar website to learn more. “When I saw their video I started cracking up!” said Bendetti. “The idea of getting a crew of your friends, buy some ‘beater car,’ throw a few hundred dollars worth of safety equipment in there, and then hit the racetrack. The idea flashed through my head: ‘Accountant by day, boy racer by night’!” Bendetti started calling everybody he knew, and he convinced three of his friends and all of his family members to become part of his ChumpCar Racing Team: -Bendetti is the team manager, and he has appointed himself the team’s “first and foremost” ChumpCar driver. -Other drivers are his wife Jennifer, his sister Lisa, and several friends: Andrew Marino of Tampa, Steve Grazier of Pennsylvania and Danny Gaines of Atlanta. -His mother is in charge of fundraising, and their team has been helped by Leopold’s Ice Cream and Royal Purple High Performance Automotive Lubricant. -Even his children are involved. Rees (8) and Dora (6) are part of the pit crew. They help to keep track of their lap times, fetch tools and water, and take pictures. To add some fun to their race days, Bendetti’s ChumpCar team decided they would race with a “super hero” theme.

THE BENDETTI FAMILY: Jennifer, Rees, Robert and Dora.

They call themselves Team Super Sentra (because their racecar is a Sentra), and they dress up in superhero costumes while racing. But there’s also a serious reason for their fun. They want to raise awareness for the men and women who serve their local communities as policemen, firemen and EMT’s, and to raise awareness and money for The Wounded Warrior Project. “They are the real heroes,” he says. The newly formed ChumpCar racing team immediately went into action. Within a month they had bought their first junk car, a Nissan Sentra, given her a number, 55, and named her Julio. Why Julio? Bendetti explained: “One of the places we spent hours and hours was in the local junkyard where there was a car just like ours, and spray painted on the car was ‘Waiting for Julio’. We’ve taken so many parts off the Julio junker, because we’ve killed so many parts on our own car, that now when we see our car we say, ‘Hello Julio’.”

Bendetti is greatly enjoying his new role. “When I started doing this I couldn’t change the channel in my car,” he said. “Now I can change the oil, brakes, and axels, take out the transmission, and flush and fill a radiator. I’m in the dirt with a wrench and a chumpcar.” The team worked hard to turn Julio into a “hefty-hunk-of-screaming-junk,’ and in just one month Julio was ready to race. Although the car was ready to race, the drivers weren’t. The ChumpCar races aren’t for professionals, but the team drivers knew they needed some sort of training before taking to the track. “We don’t have any money to do practice days at race tracks,” said Bendetti. “Our practicing consists of playing video games. ChumpCar races are at famous racetracks like Sebring International which is on a video game. We buy the video game and play it over, and over, and over, trying to learn the track.” Lisa, Bendetti’s sister, needed to do more than play video games to get ready

Effingham Magazine |

April/May 2011 31


to race. Just one week before her first race, Bendetti learned that she had never driven a stick shift, so he pulled out his Jeep Wrangler and gave her lessons. They drove around his subdivision until she could shift like a pro. Although the car and drivers were as ready as possible, getting to the race presented another challenge- “We don’t have a trailer and a tow vehicle,” said Bendetti. “Every other racecar driver in America has a truck and trailer – even the crap car racers – everyone does – EVERYONE! We don’t – we drive the car to all the tracks. It is street legal – barely. It is registered, licensed and insured. I’ve driven it from Savannah to Sebring, FL and in just a few months we’re going to drive it to Iowa. Now here’s the problem – when it rains, it rains on your head!” Driving through rain and shine, Bendetti made it to their first race, and being the “first and foremost driver” he was the first to take the wheel. All teams must have four to six drivers and they drive in two hour shifts because it is so exhausting. “When I first got in the car in our very first race, I was the first driver. At the start of the race they have parade laps

thrill and I screamed expressing the joy, the exhilaration, that I got. It was an old Porsche with an older gentleman, but that’s the joy in it. You get better, and half of everyone out there are rookies too.” In that first race Julio was in the competition for only six hours of the 24 hour race before breaking down, but Team Super Sentra was undaunted. The race car wantabe drivers had a great time. Bendetti’s wife is an integral part of his team. “She’s a stay at ‘Go’ mom, not a Stay at home mom’ is the way he describes Jennifer. She fills in wherever she is needed, and she is even one of Julio’s drivers. Jennifer’s first race was on the Sebring International Track. She’d never seen the track before, nor had she driven a racecar, so it was decided that she would be the first driver of the day. “I didn’t realize that when you’re the first driver that’s when all the other drivers are trying to get their placement, and so they drive the most erratically and crazy – and it scared me to death!’ she said. “I spun out a couple of times, but I never bumped into any other cars. I didn’t wreck, and I prayed the whole time! I said, ‘Dear Lord, This is fun, but please

“I passed a Porsche. That was a great thrill and I screamed expressing the joy, the exhilaration that I got. It was an old Porsche with an older gentleman, but that is the joy in it. You get better, and half of everyone out there are rookies too.” – you’re all in a line, nobody’s passing, you’re supposed to be going at 80% speed, (which would be about 80 mph), and I’m driving around the track with these guys, and I’m sweating….I’m gripping the wheel like I’m about to rip it in half….and I’m thinking to myself – if this is 80 percent, and I’m going as fast as I think is humanly possible....‘If this is 80 percent what is 100 percent?’ I mean, we’re flying around this track!” As Bendetti was trying to cope with the reality of really being a racecar driver, he realized that he had another problem. His racing helmet was so big that he could not see out of his mirror. “I realized I had never been in the car with a helmet on. We never thought of that….we had put a huge race mirror in the car, but we never put the helmet on, and where we put it (the mirror) you can’t see anything because the helmet is so big -all I could see was my big huge helmet!” Undaunted, Bendetti continued in the race. “I passed a Porsche. That was a great

32 April/May 2011 | Effingham Magazine

help me finish and be safe.’ You can just imagine, it’s just crazy out there! I just stayed out of everybody’s way. I stayed to the left the whole time. I just wanted to keep the car intact so the other three drivers would have a turn to race. It was a great experience.” Despite, there is a price to race these low-budget chumps. “We’re broke – we’re the brokest people out there,” said Bendetti, but his enthusiasm makes me feel that racing on a shoestring is part of their fun. “We use lawnmower gas cans to fill our car. We don’t have a radio to communicate with our drivers, we use a dry erase board we bought at Wal-Mart. We write messages on it, but you’ve got to be really creative because the car’s going by at 115 mph!” “We don’t have half the equipment we need,” said Jennifer, “but luckily, other teams are so cool about wanting us to succeed that they’ll tell us what’s on the radios and keep us informed about what’s going on. It’s just a very friendly atmosphere. It’s low budget amateur. No

one takes this too seriously, and everyone is just really, really friendly. People will allow you to borrow parts or tools. They’ll help you fix something.” The spirit of giving is a primary part of The ChumpCar World Series’ purpose, and they pride themselves by leaving each racetrack community better off than when they arrived. Every year they choose a designated charitable theme, and locally based non-profit organizations are the benefactors when the ChumpCar Series comes to town. “That’s the spirit of ChumpCars, and that’s why I like it so much,” said Bendetti. In 2010 their theme was ‘food banks and kitchens,’ and race teams could buy laps by donating money or food. Over


$60,000 in cash and food was donated to over 20 food banks throughout the United States and Canada. This year the theme is The Boys and Girls Club of America. Team Super Sentra has their own personal purpose: to give back to the real “heroes” in the community and our military. “We use racing as a platform to raise money and awareness for The Wounded Warrior Project, (www.woundedwarriorproject.org),” said Bendetti, and the logo for “The Wounded Warrior Project” is painted on the hood of their racecar. To help raise more money for the project, Bendetti is planning a soldier’s bike race to take place in Savannah in October. “We allow a local policeman, fireman

or EMT to join our team at each race,” said Bendetti. “Lt. Wayne Daniels of Bloomingdale drove as part of the team at our race at Roebling Road. Officer Daniels – he’s a really, really quiet guy – reserved, professional. I really thought this guy was gonna be slow as molasses – but he was, without a doubt, the fastest driver on our team. I mean, he was as fast as the fastest people on the track! He drove like he was in hot pursuit! I didn’t even think the car could go as fast as he was going!” The efforts of Team Super Sentra, to have fun and to promote local and military heroes, have not gone unnoticed. They were presented a Chump Award trophy for the best “Theme, Racing Spirit and Attitude”. On a less serious note, they

were also presented a “Spin Cycle Award” for the most spin outs during the course of the race. Cathy McCause, ChumpCar World Series Marketing Chump, says that she considers Team Super Sentra ‘the golden children of ChumpCar,’ and that they are her personal favorite. “I love all that they do for their community and charities,” she says. “It’s a great family inspired team.” For more information and a fun read, go to HYPERLINK “http://www. chumpcar.com” www.chumpcar.com. You may find yourself laughing your head off and calling all your friends to get them to be part of your ChumpCar racing team. “It’s the best time you’ll ever have!” says Bendetti.

Effingham Magazine | April/May 2011

33


2nd Annual Photography Contest Hosted by Effingham Council for the Arts Who Can Enter? 1. The contest is open to ALL photographers, whether casual, amateur, or professional What Can you Enter? 2. You may enter up to two (2) original photographs in each of the following categories: ·  Landscape and Historical Locations · People, People in Action · Wildlife, Animals · Architecture · Close-up, Macro, and Still Life · Digital Manipulation · Sports  For this contest, all photographs must be of Effingham County subjects  Rules 3. For all categories except Digital Manipulation, photographs should not be altered beyond standard optimization (cropping, removal of red eye, removal of dust and scratches, contrast, etc.) 4. For the Digital Manipulation category, photos may be manipulated, merged, and otherwise altered without limitation provided all images and everything portrayed in the images is original work to the photographer. 5. There is a limit of two (2) entries per category per photographer. 6. Photos may be color or black and white. No special B&W

category. 7. The Effingham County Council for the Arts reserves the right to refuse any photograph that it considers inappropriate. In such a case, entry fees will be refunded. 8. Fill out your entry forms and bring them, along with check or cash to: Rick Lott, Effingham Chamber of Commerce, Springfield, GA, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, through April 29. Entries must be matted and mounted in a way that permits the photograph to hang level from a typical picture hanger hook. This includes framing with a wire hanger attached, or matted and securely mounted on foam core board with a wire or string hanger. The complete mount (outside dimensions) may be no smaller than 5”X7” and no larger than 24”X30”. 9. Photographs may be picked up after Friday, May 27. 10. There will be a public Reception with Award Presentations on Sunday, May 8  at the Effingham Chamber, from 3 to 5 p.m. Prizes Awarded by Effingham Chamber: 1st Place overall - $200; 2nd Place overall - $75; 3rd Place overall - $50; and $25 will be awarded to the best in each category. 11. Any sales of photographs will be conducted solely between photographer and buyer. That is why your contact information must be on the back of each piece. 12. Entry of each photograph grants the Effingham Chamber of Commerce and Effingham Industrial Development Authority the permission of the photographer to use the material in Effingham County promotional materials, including the 2011-12 Chamber Directory. 13. Judges’ decision is final. Photographers will make a high resolution image of their entered photographs available to the Chamber of Commerce.

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36 April/May 2011 | Effingham Magazine


Volunteer Profile

Her name is Jennifer Helmly and her face beams with the joy that can only come from being a young mom. Of course, 38 years old is still quite young, and Helmly is a young 38. It seems pretty evident that one thing that powers her youthful glow is working with her nine-yearold daughter, Maggie, and her troop of energetic Girl Scouts in Rincon.

Story by CLARK BYRON

the

President’s

Helmly’s Troop, 30358, is part of the Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia (GSHG) council; pretty special when one considers that it all began right here in Savannah 100 years ago with Juliette Gordon Low. GSHG has offices in seven Georgia cities including Savannah. Its headquarters is in Macon. The council serves 125 Georgia counties. Helmly, who has been a Girl Scout leader for four years, recently received the President’s Volunteer Service Award. Yes, that President - the one who resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The award program was established to recognize dedicated Americans like Jennifer Helmly who put forth

volunteer Service Award

Photos by TODD WOOD

extraordinary effort in volunteer service to their communities. The President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation was established in 2003 to recognize the vital contributions volunteers are making in our communities and encourage more people to serve. The Council created the President’s Volunteer Service Award as a way to honor Americans who, by their example, inspire others to engage in volunteer service. The award is offered at three levels: Gold, Silver and Bronze. Each level reflects the number of

< JENNIFER HELMLY

Continued on Page 42 Effingham Magazine |

April/May 2011 37


5th Annual

Olde Effingham Days Friday Night & Saturday, April 15th -16th

The goal of the Springfield Merchants Association encompasses growth in Springfield, including, but not limited to, making the city an attractive location for all varieties of new businesses. If you are interested in becoming a member of the Springfield Merchants Association, please contact Jamey Stancell at 912-247-7785 or any member listed below.

Look for information about the

Mars Theatre Project

in downtown Springfield in the June/ July issue of Effingham Magazine Springfield Merchants Association Members Get2It Ever After Bridal TeeZers Team Sports Old Time Bookstore and Antiques Kelly’s Tavern Blocker’s Snack Barrel One Of A Kind Motiques Antiques Poppy’s Barbeque Riggs Funeral Home Butch’s Bait, Bullets & Bull Effingham Magazine Joann’s Florist State Farm Insurance - Ronnie Brooks Rahn’s Bonding Hey Beautiful Gnann’s Fix-It Shop

38

April/May 2011 | Effingham Magazine

912-754-6160 912-754-1696 912-754-9071 912-754-0094 912-754-3641 912-754-3922 912-754-6687 912-754-0042 912-407-0088 912-754-0886 912-772-7047 912-754-6446 912-826-2760 912-754-9116 912-754-6051 912-754-4490 912-754-9769 912-754-3745

Car & Custom Motorcycle Show: 12 – 6 p.m. North Laurel Street (near Effingham County Complex) Trophy Presentation @ 6 p.m. front of Courthouse Center Stage Entry Fee - $15.00 Thomas Claxton from Guyton will be performing periodically between 2 – 6 p.m.

SHOW SCHEDULE FRIDAY NIGHT: Street Dance 7-10 p.m. Location: Effingham County Courthouse Performer: LEON JACOBS SATURDAY: **Live reenactments @ Living Site Museum throughout Saturday 10:00 Opening Ceremony (Welcome, National Anthem, Tractor Parade) 10:15 Jill Trower 10:30 Home Cooking Cloggers 11:00 Pace Brothers w/ Robert Quarterman 12:00 Leon Jacobs 1:00 Emily Hendrix 1:30 Hillary Usher 2:00 Tyson Neurath 2:30 Hunter Gnann 3:00 Effingham High Chorus w/ Wes Perkins 3:30 Brian Rewis 4:00 Tater Hawg Eating Contest – Poppy’s BBQ 5:00 Easy Listening 6:00 Swinging Medallions


City Of Springfield Calendar of Events: • Springfield Streetscape Project Advertising For Bids In April

• Old Effingham Days & Car/Motorcycle Show April 16th Contact: Jamey Stancell 912-247-7785 • Mars Theater River to River Bike Ride April 30th Contact: Ty LaValley 661-2145

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April/May 2011 39


THE LAST Word

John Henry IDA Chief Executive Officer

Better Than Average

T

here is a popular syndicated radio show that weekly reports on tales from a fictional place where all the women are strong, the men are good-looking and all the children are above average. In fictional realms it is fine for a community to always be better than average. In reality most communities are average. While there are many definitions of “average” it often is associated with something being usual or ordinary in kind or character. Speaking from a mathematical perspective it would be more formal to speak of the “arithmetic mean” which is the result obtained by adding the numbers or quantities in a set and dividing the total by the number of members in the set. I prefer to use the term average due to its association with being “normal” or expected. We all know that unemployment has plagued the county, region, state and nation over the past couple of years and it is easy to talk around the proverbial water cooler about how bad things have gotten. What is rare these days is talk about how we have fared one of the worst recessions on record from a regional perspective. Optimism is a luxury afforded to very few. However, realism aligned with empirical data can often help even the most pessimistic realize that everything is not eternally gloom and doom. The best way to gauge our community is to compare it to the average.

40 April/May 2011 | Effingham Magazine

I recently undertook an analysis of some key economic indicators from around the region to discern how Effingham County was fairing against our neighbors. I sorted through volumes of data for Effingham, Bryan, Liberty, Chatham, Bulloch and Screven counties. Let’s jump right in and talk about unemployment numbers. As of the third quarter of 2010 Effingham County’s UE rate was 8.7 percent , a very high number considering the rate was around 4% in 2005. However, when we take into account that at the same time Bulloch’s was 10.9%, Screven’s was 13.9 percent , Chatham’s was 9.5%, Georgia’s was 10.5 percent and the U.S. was at 9.0% our rate was a little better than the national average, much better than the state average. Further taking into account that our regional UE rate (six counties listed above) had an average of 10.17 percent , we begin to see that although not good, Effingham’s rate is still better than average. In fact, when it comes to UE rates, Effingham County is one of only 14 counties in Georgia with a rate of 8.7% or below. That puts us in the top 10% of counties in the state for lowest UE rates! We came in second in the region with Bryan County figuring in at 8.6%. I would certainly go out on a limb to say that being in the best 10% of the state would be above average. Now let’s look at job growth rates. Over the years 2000 to 2008 Effingham County posted a 48.4% job growth rate. Comparatively Bryan County saw a 41.5% growth rate, Bulloch was in at 28.9%, Chatham 6.5%, Liberty 23.4% and Screven was in at 0.1%. Thus, our regional average job growth rate was 24.8%. Effingham County’s showing was nearly twice the average! The creation of manufacturing jobs could be arguably one of the greatest rewards and greatest challenges facing economic developers today. The old axiom of manufacturing wages being better than service sector quite often holds true. In fact in Effingham County our average manufacturing annual wage was $68,682. Bryan County posted $50,161, Bulloch $44,233, Chatham $82,095, Liberty $58,382, and Screven came in at $39,493. Effingham’s $68,682 average annual manufacturing wage was once again better than the regional average of $57,174. In order to put the manufacturing wages into perspective, we can now look at average annual wages


from all sectors. Effingham County’s average annual wage in 3Q 2010 was $34,580, and yes that is considerably less than the manufacturing wage. Bryan had a showing of $29,848, Bulloch $30,784, Chatham $38,792, Liberty $37,700 and Screven’s is $29,536. The region’s average annual wage is $33,540. Effingham County still comes in better than average. Median household income is a good measure of the relative wealth of families in a given area. In 2008 the U.S. Census Bureau reported Effingham County’s MHI as $59,956. Bryan had the highest in the region at $62,038 (I guess those waterfront homes are paying off), Bulloch was in at $38,631, Chatham at $45,132, Liberty $39,997 and Screven was $33,699 for a regional average MHI of $46,575.50. With a showing of over $13,000 per year higher than the average for the region, Effingham was better than average. Though the decennial census numbers are due out any day now as this is being written, I don’t have enough information to give the latest hard numbers on population growth. I will therefore rely on the projections for the 10 year period from 1999 to 2009. Effingham County demonstrated an incredible 45.34% population growth rate over that period of time (thank goodness that is not the average everywhere). Bryan followed closely with 40.64 percent, Bulloch in at 25.42 percent, Chatham is projected

to show 10.95 percent, Liberty at 0.32 percent and Screven at -1.32 percent. The regional average is 20.23 percent . Effingham therefore has seen more than double the average population growth seen in our six county region! That is unprecedented. Another issue that is often of concern is our property tax rates. Though I’ll admit I did not pull all of the consolidated digests from all six counties for the past ten years, I did do a quick comparison of the easiest to pick out, the Unincorporated County Millage Rates. These are readily available on the Georgia Department of Revenue’s website. I urge you to pull them and do your own analysis before calling me and refuting my numbers. I don’t think that I have enough room in this column to properly disclaim all of the other factors that go into property taxation. However, Effingham County has a base County UI millage rate of 8.558, Bryan is 7.900, Bulloch 10.440, Chatham 10.537, Liberty 11.980, and Screven at 11.936. I know, I know, I know… There are other factors and components that make up a total property tax liability for a community. My point is that Effingham is still better than average. I am running short on space here, but I could go on with more numbers and more averages. I think that you get the point. If you made it this far after wading through those numbers I commend you, you are probably better than average!

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April/May 2011 41


qualifying volunteer hours performed in a twelve-month period. Helmly earned the Silver. That means that she performed a minimum 250 hours of service to the community. In Helmly’s case, it was actually 287 hours. Naturally, the community service Helmly did was as a Girl Scout Troop Leader, which means that she had lots of help from little (and not so little) hands in providing service to a worthy community. And let’s not forget the vital assistance of her co-leader and mother, Margaret Gooding, her devoted husband, Craig, and four year-old son, Jackson. Helmly and the girls participated in many fun and wonderful things like Operation Christmas Child that sends shoeboxes of hygiene items, small toys and other comforts and necessaries to needy children through Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian relief organization. In another Christmas activity, one much more local in scope, the girls in the troop decided not to exchange gifts with each other and instead brought in new baby items which they donated to the Rincon Pregnancy Care Center. Then there was the clothing and blanket drive to benefit Safe Haven Women’s Shelter in Statesboro. The troop decided to use proceeds from the sale of those amazing Girl Scout Cookies. Each scout was given a certain amount of money to select ten hygiene and kitchen items from the local Dollar Tree Store, which the troop leaders later delivered to the shelter. The troop engaged in a 15-hour service project helping the USO in their mission to U.S. service personnel. The girls made cookies and cards, and again took their cookie proceeds to the Dollar Tree where they purchased small items soldiers might need while traveling. They then took a trip to the USO and visited with a soldier. Of course, the Girl Scouts depend on scout mothers and the greater community for volunteers, cookie sales, donations,

and service partnerships. One notable example of community support is New Life Flowers & Gifts in Rincon, who provided the scouts with supplies and instruction in making big yellow bows for their field trip to the National Guard Armory in Springfield. “People in our community are always willing to help Girl Scouts,” said Helmly. “I’ve never had anyone tell me no, they wouldn’t help us.” These are just some of the many kindnesses which Jennifer Helmly and her team of dedicated young ladies showed to deserving people near and far. One particularly interesting activity the scouts engaged in was a Thinking Day. On Thinking Day the scouts think about other Girl Scouts around the world. They share ice cream sundaes at an Around the World Party. The different toppings on the sundaes each represent a different country. How cool is that? The birthday of Girl Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Low is October 31st. Every year the troop holds a special celebration. This past year, Troop 30358 threw a Victorian tea party. The girls wore authentic period dresses, prepared the party and did crafts that girls in the early 1900s would have enjoyed. March 10, 2012 marks the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the Girl Scouts of the USA. Girl Scouts and their leaders come from all over to participate. Some 5,000 uniformed Girl Scouts are expected to march across the Talmadge Bridge to symbolize the bridging of the first century of Girl Scouting with the next. On March 12th, the actual anniversary of the Girl Scouts, there will be a sunrise service and activities at Forsyth Park. Helmly brings a perspective to her scout leadership that only a mother can. “I tell the girls in my troop that we are a Girl Scout family and that they are sisters,” she said. And the girls just love her. One thanked her for being part of her life. “When I hear something like that I know I’m doing what God wants me to do.” Helmly sees being a Girl Scout

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Volunteer Profile

Helmly’s Girl Scout Troop 30358. Front row (L-R) Kiara, Maggie, Jennifer Helmly, Madalyn and Adrienne. Back row (L-R) Margaret Godding, Aurie, Hannah and Stormie..

leader as a spiritual vocation. “When God called me to work with these girls He didn’t whisper it,” she explained. “He had a plan for my life that I never could have imagined. He used this experience to teach me a lot about myself.” Girl Scouts of the USA is one of only 80 Leadership Organizations nationwide that is authorized to certify recipients

of the President’s Volunteer Service Award. The impressive award package includes a personalized award certificate, silver lapel pin, and a congratulatory letter from the President of the United States. Helmly said that if she seeks the award again she’ll go for the Gold Level which requires a minimum of 500 hours of qualifying volunteer service. Let’s wish her luck!

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April/May 2011 43


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Effingham Magazine | April/May 2011 45


Places to Eat & Drink in Effingham

To Advertise in the dining guide, or to find out how to get your restaurant, pub or bar listed please call Lynnette at (912)547-3684, or Julie at (912)657-4120 Qu ick

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Dakota’s Grille & Spirits 336 S. Columbia Ave. Rincon, GA 31326 (912)295-5590 Domino’s Pizza 591 S. Columbia Ave. Rincon, GA 31326

(912)826-5383 dominos.com El Potro Mexican Restaurant 173 Commercial Drive Rincon, GA 31326 (912)826-0103

Frankie’s Smokehouse Grill 319 S. Columbia Ave. Rincon, GA 31326 (Next to Rincon Transmission) (912)826-1057 www.frankiessmokehousegrill. com

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46 April/May 2011 | Effingham Magazine

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Apr/May 2011 Effingham Magazine