Effingham Magazine Oct Nov 2010

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Effingham Invades Nashville Several Effingham musicians find themselves in Music City trying to jumpstart their careers.



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O ctobe r/ Novemb e r 2010





Teen Spotlight


A Survivor’s Story


Q&A With Tess Hynes

ECHS senior Hillary Usher will be travelling overseas with Sound Of America. Meet Dee Dee Miller as she shares her brave story of a diagnosis, remission and recovery. Catch up on the latest with the Effingham County Chamber of Commerce and what is next in our county.


09 Publisher’s Thoughts 11 Editor’s Letter 66 Dining Guide 89 Effingham Weddings 54

12-52 Effingham Invades Nashville

Musicians Billy Currington, Hannah Dasher, Keith Gay, Michelle Aspen, Cameron Rewis, Jil Trower, David Redwine and Josh Sanders are profiled.

54 Artist Profile

Amelia Smith has made painting much more than just her hobby.

58 Boy Scouts Celebrate 100 years

Meet local Boy Scout troop master Frank Patterson, and see how his scouts are giving back to our community.

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EFFINGHAM EFFINGHAM December/January 2009-’10






February/March 2010











Roger Burdette Carries The Message To The Track





South Effingham’s Robbie Collum sets sites on another state championship

Morgan Webb’s portrait creations preserve memorable moments

October/November 2009

October/November 2009

One of my favorite covers indeed! Roger shared an amazing story of his faith. Thanks Roger....you are an inspiration to many!

December/January 2009-10

So great to feature the talent of one of Effingham’s own. Morgan’s story started our journey of featuring other talented artists from our community!







South Effingham student defends a state title. Daisy Mills, 95, takes us back through history. Isabella Davis shows her artistic talents. United Way goes over goal!


EFFINGHAM ✤The Many Faces & Characters Pat Kennedy Uses To Bring Joy In Life


February/March 2010










Rehabilitating the Injured and Orphaned

Nicole Kanoy and Debbie Bunting nurturing a nonprofit organization to help wildlife.

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es rff Retir •Arnsdo to Boston am •Effingham Oktoberfest •Effingh rtfolio

Spring ✤ Prom Styles


Home Po

August/September 2010

April/May 2010

April/May 2010

Great reviews on our prom fashion spread! Pat Kennedy was an inspiration to me as a child. It is no surprise she is still an inspiration to so many others! 08 October/November 2010 | EFFINGHAM MAGAZINE

June/July 2010

Fighting with Nick. Fishing with Doug. Writing with Phyllis. Our annual Health and Fitness issue gives us some great information on health care in our community!


Great wildlife rescue story! Arnsdorff celebrates over 36 years in Effingham education. A teen’s desire to excel in fire fighting. And, our annual Home Portfolio section, all in one issue!

PU B L I SH ER ’ S Tho ug hts

On the Cover

Effingham’s own country music star Billy Currington on a recent photo shoot in Charleston, South Carolina. Cover Photo by KATE POWERS

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.

A Fantastic Journey! As the publisher of this magazine, each issue I wrangle with seemingly simple decisions, like who will be featured? Who will be on the cover? With all the wonderful articles our writers submit, sometimes this is not an easy decision. It has been my mission with Effingham Magazine to find the unsung heroes…. to find the girls next door, or the boys that we meet on the streets…..and have them share their stories. For the most part, they are ordinary people living ordinary lives, or so it seems. But, everyone of them lives an extraordinary life in some way. We take pride in finding the extraordinary! These are our family, our neighbors, our friends, our friends-to-be. These are the folks we share our community with. These are the people that have built and shaped Effingham County to be the unique place that it is. Four years ago, we set out on a journey to bring Effingham County its very first, and very own community magazine. Over the last four years, this journey has taken us many places. It has opened doors to homes, to businesses, it has created new friendships and rekindled old ones. With this issue, we celebrate our 4th anniversary of Effingham Magazine! Over these last four years, we have always strived to make each issue a little better than the one before. We are always trying to find ways to bring you the best of the best of Effingham County! With this, our Anniversary Issue, we feel we have accomplished that! We have Julie Hales, Publisher definitely taken a little different angle and we have brought to you some of the best of the best! This issue has been one of our most favorite to put together, if not the favorite! The articles are wonderful, and the photography is outstanding! Thanks so much to our writers and the wonderful eye of Todd Wood! Also, a special thanks to all of our readers and advertisers! Your support has been steadfast through the years! With your support, we have been able to bring you a piece of yourself. We have given you a publication of your own, one that shares the stories of your people, your heritage and everything that makes you proud to call Effingham County your home! As we enter our fifth year, we plan to continue this exciting journey. We can’t wait to see you along the way!

EFFINGHAM MAGAZINE | October/November 2010 09

C ONTRIBUTOR S Barbara W. Russell writer

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.

Kathryn Turner writer

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.

Kristin Pate photographer

Kristin has always loved taking pictures. Being the mother of three beautiful daughters, she understands the value of a good family portrait. Her love for photography grew with every picture she took of her own children. Compelled to learn more, she researched and studied every aspect of photography which led her to join the Georgia Professional Photographers of America. Attending numerous conventions, classes, and state sponsored photography schools has allowed her the privilage of studying under some of the country’s most famous master photographers. Whether she’s photographing a bride’s wedding, or a new born baby, her approach and philosophy is the same...create the best situation for getting the perfect shot.

Ray Steele writer

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.

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October/November 2010


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 Penny Redmond distribution 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 December/January 2010-11, copy must be submitted by November 5, 2010. Please email all copy to todd@idpmagazines.com. WEDDING STORIES Effingham Magazine wants the story of your wedding day. If you are from Effingham County, and have an upcoming wedding, we would like to feature a short story with accompanying photos from your wedding day. Please contact Todd Wood via email: todd@idpmagazines.com to schedule your wedding story submission. Wedding stories not limited to events inside of Effingham. Destination weddings or out of town weddings accepted as well, as long as bride and/or groom lives in Effingham County. Send us your info soon, as space is limited. 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

E D I TOR’S Letter

Every Music Genre Inspires Its Own Style


hile I am admittedly a rock-n-roll kind of guy, I do acknowledge the effect country music has on lifestyles and fashion, not only here in the South, but across the nation as well. Again, I listen to a very limited amount of country music, but I must say that putting this issue together has been the most fun in my three years with Effingham Magazine. The idea of putting together a “Music Issue” actually first came to our minds a couple of years ago. I was pleasantly surprised to learn of the many talented musicians that live in Effingham, or are from here but are abroad chasing their dream. This issue is obviously country music oriented, and we have been waiting for the perfect moment to feature Billy Currington. The release of his fourth album in September seemed like the optimal moment to get in touch with Billy’s publicist, and ultimately Billy, for our 4-year Anniversary Issue cover. Prior to getting in touch with Billy, we were already well on our way with the features of our other muscians who have worked in Nashville, or are currently working in Nashville. And while we understand, there may be a few more out there, these are the eight we found effortlessly in our search. Those of you who know me well, by now know that music has been a huge influence to my inner and outer core. Many of my photography, fashion and lifestyle ideas come from the inspiration music gives me. I have caught myself in recent weeks, while surfing my over-priced cable channels, stopping on CMT and other country music channels to see what is going on in the world of country music. What can I say, working on this issue has sparked my interest. In this issue, you will read eight stories of musicians who have been influenced by music so much that they have chosen to make it their life’s passion, and for some, a career. Many of them you already know, and there are a few you will surely see more of in the future. One is a star, and the others are rising stars. All have been inspired by this or that to get where they are today. So with this issue, I will ask you to think about

what inspires you. There is an awesome Paul Mitchell ad on television that has John Paul DeJoria asking, “What Inspires You?” It is shot in black and white with a hairstylist, break-dancer, rocker and skateboarder doing what they love to do in life. They are four completely different people, but their common ground seems to be that they are inspired by art, music and fashion. It is our hope that while you enjoy this issue, we also hope that you think about what inspires you. There are many opportunities out there. You just have to be inspired to take that chance and go where the opportunity is...just as our featured musicians have. -Todd Wood, Editor

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THE MUSICIANS n a s h v i l l e

Doin’ Somethin’ Right

Billy Currington surely wasn’t the first musician from Effingham to go to Nashville to chase the dream of becoming a country music star, but he is definitely the most successful and the first to work his way to number one on country music charts. • Story by TODD WOOD Photos by KATE POWERS •


e’s had five number one hit songs, won the CMT Music Award for Hottest Video of the Year, and he was nominated twice by the Academy of Country Music for Single Record of the Year and Song of the Year. This year, he was also nominated for a Grammy in the category for Male Country Vocal Performance. He’s even seen the likes of late night television having performed on Late Night With David Letterman. He is arguably the most successful musical talent to hail from Effingham County, and though sightings of him here are rare these days, his songs can be heard on radios in cars, bars, and restaurants anywhere in the area, or anywhere in America for that fact. Billy Currington, the 36-year old country music sensation and Effingham County High School graduate, has in recent years created and performed some of country music’s most entertaining songs and music videos. Most remember his self-titled debut album, in 2003, which produced the Top 10 hit Walk A Little Straighter, and the Top 5 smash hit I Got A Feelin. In coming months, it will be likely we hear a few more hits. On September 21, 2010, Currington released his fourth album “Enjoy Yourself”, and he is currently on tour with Carrie Underwood.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” said Currington in Mid-September. “It has been a goal of mine to play in larger venues and arenas, so I believe this is going to help me achieve that goal.” Setting goals has always been key in Currington’s success thus far. “I am very satisfied with where I am in my career,” says Currington “I still have a lot of big dreams, and

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I still have a lot of time to accomplish them, and I will accomplish them.” Born and raised in Rincon, Currington realized in his senior year that if he was going to give country music a shot, he would have to move to Nashville. Though, when he arrived in Nashville he would have to take jobs working with a concrete company and at a gym as a trainer if he was going to

support himself alone in Music City. One day, while working as a trainer in a gym, Currington’s life in country music was born. He had been training a client who happened to be in the music business. A few questions and a few conversations later, Currington had struck a deal with a publishing company. Finally, after a lot of mixing and mingling, not to mention being in the right place at the right time, Billy landed a record deal in 2001, signing with Mercury Records. Fast forward nine years, and Currington is proud to be releasing his fourth album, which has already been sung a lot of praise from critic reviews. In fact, the third song on the album, “Pretty Good At Drinkin Beer” has already won the praise of many men who think the song was written about them.

Pretty Good At Drinkin‘ Beer Lyrics: I wasn’t born for diggin deep holes I’m not made for pavin long roads I aint cut out to climb high line poles But I’m pretty good at drinkin beer I’m not the type to work in a bank I’m no good at slappin on things Don’t have a knack for makin motors crank, no

BILLY CURRINGTON Multi platinum-selling Mercury Nashville recording artist Billy Currington drew in a crowd of over 20,000 fans on Saturday, August 28 2010 to Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Kentucky, surpassing a 20-year Kentucky State Fair attendance record previously set by Charlie Daniels.

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•Named a USA Today “On The Verge” artist •Named one of 20 Sexiest Southern Males by CMT •Named one of Nashville’s “25 Most Beautiful People” •March ’05 Cover of Playgirl •Performed at the ‘05 NYC Marathon •PBS Soundstage concert with labelmates Sugarland and Trisha Yearwood •Performed at 4th Annual “Broadway Under The Stars” concert at Bryant Park in NY with others including Christina Applegate and the Rockettes Fun Facts: •Favorite thing to do is cook and be in the outdoors •Biggest goal is to build his grandmother a log cabin •Most admires his mom for her strength and persistence to make the best out of every situation •Can’t live without crunchy P.B., underwear, truck, fishing pole and CD’s (Keith Whitley, Michael McDonald, Willie, George Strait and Def Leppard)

But I’m pretty good at drinkin beer So hand me one more That’s what I’m here for I’m built for having a ball I love the nightlife I love my budlight I like ‘em cold and tall I aint much for mowin thick grass I’m too slow for workin’ too fast I don’t do windows so honey don’t ask But I’m pretty good at drinkin’ beer A go getter maybe I’m not I’m not known for doin’ a lot But I do my best work when the weather’s hot I’m pretty good at drinkin’ beer So hand me one more That’s what I’m here for I’m built for having a ball I love the nightlife I love my budlight I like ‘em cold and tall I wasn’t born for diggin deep holes I’m not made for pavin long roads

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I aint cut out to climb high line poles But I’m pretty good at drinkin beer I’m pretty good at drinkin beer So hand me one more boys... That’s what I’m here for

In June of this year, this single became the fastest-rising and biggest-selling, first week digital single of his career.Written by Troy Jones and produced by Carson Chamberlain and Currington, the song was the first single to be released from his fourth album. “I really had a lot of fun writing and working with Chamberlain,” said Currington. “He is full of great information and ideas.” Chamberlain had also previously produced albums, Little Bit Of Everything, which delivered three consecutive number one singles, Don’t, People Are Crazy and That’s How Country Boys Roll. It seems on this fourth album, Currington has found his groove of who he is today. His first two albums had a lot to do with his life growing up in Georgia. “A lot of my early music were things inspired by my experiences while living there (Effing-

ham),” says Billy. “Now that I have been in Nashville for so many years, I am writing about my current life.” Writing, performing and keeping up with the daily rigors of a busy schedule means beingof sound mind and body. That’s why when he is not on tour or working in the studio, Billy looks for the closest beach, or if there is no beach, a watering hole from which he can kayak, canoe or go fishing. “Staying in shape is very important to me,” says Currington. “It also helps to be in shape when you are on the road performing several nights a week.” Lending his opinion to up-and-comers trying to make it in the music business, Currington concluded with some wise words, “Whatever business you want to be in, whether it be country music or any other career, you have to go where it is. For country music that place is Nashville. You just have to go there and work as hard as you can for anything else you have ever wanted in life. Go mingle with people and go for it!” Visit www.billycurrington.com for more photos and tour dates.

Thanks Effingham County For 7 Great Years!

Chriss Allen, Co-Owner 912-660-7811

Scott Morgan, Co-Owner 912-667-4436




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* You can follow Hannah Dasher on Facebook, Myspace (www.myspace.com/hannahdashermusic) and on Twitter.

16 October/November 2010 |EFFINGHAM MAGAZINE

THE MUSICIANS n a s h v i l l e

It’s Just Country Come hell or high water, Hannah Dasher is determined to take Nashville by storm. • Story by KATHRYN TURNER Photos by TODD WOOD •WOOD


annah Dasher has been singing since before she could talk, and now this Effingham County native hopes to give Nashville something to talk about. She grew up in Springfield, where she graduated from Effingham County High School with the class of 2004. Knowing she wanted a career in music, Dasher went on to the University of Georgia and earned a Public Relations degree as well as a Minor in Music Business. She is now on her way to making all her music dreams come true. “Fortunately, I’ve always just known that this is what I want to do,” she says about singing professionally. She was singing for her church by the time she was four years old, and she has been making melodies ever since. From Nashville to Athens, from Turner Field to UGA, she has serenaded audiences all across the Southeast. One of her proudest moments in music has been performing “A Closer Walk With Patsy Cline” with the historic Savannah Theatre. “That was my first job out of college,” Dasher says. “I’ve grown up singing Patsy, so it was like breathing and drinking ice water. It just came to me naturally, and it was fun to play dress up and play Patsy and sing for a living.” She says Patsy Cline, Trisha Yearwood, Patty Loveless, and Dolly Parton are her biggest influences when it comes to female

vocalists, but she is extremely well-versed in the classic country singers of the Grand Ole Opry as well. “I’m doing the songwriter thing right now,” she says.”Ultimately I want to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry.” When it comes to her own music, she keeps with the classic country music tradition and tries to avoid a trendy, pop-country sound. “My stuff is not trendy. It’s country, and I believe it stands on its own,” Dasher explains. “It’s a little bit of me, a little bit of soul, a little bit of fried chicken and honey-- It’s just country.” While Nashville is the place for country music, Dasher’s road to Nashville has not been an easy ride. When she moved to Nashville in March of this year, she never could have foreseen the devastation that would overcome the country music capital of the world. The floods of early May claimed the lives of 31 people, caused widespread destruction and property damage in Tennessee, Kentucky, and northern Mississippi, and also washed away the majority of Dasher’s income. “I work for Tracker boats, which is through Bass Pro, so I sell boats up there in Nashville. And that’s at the same campus with the Grand Ole Opry, so I was laid off because the flood came,” she explains. But despite the setback of the flood and the

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financial burden it has caused, Dasher remains optimistic about her situation. She says that even though she lost two thirds of her salary because of the floods, it made her focus on her music and her writing. After the flood, she decided to move back to Effingham temporarily. “It was a temporary layoff, but still, with no income, it’s kind of hard to make everything stretch,

because in Nashville you don’t play for money; you play for exposure,” she says. And that exposure is what she hopes to get now that she is back in Nashville. She tells me a story about “an old fella” she met who wants to ultimately get her the exposure she needs. “His fiddle belonged to Chubby Wise, who is an Opry legend as far as fiddle players go.

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His fiddle was built in 1904, and it’s the original fiddle that recorded the original recording of Orange Blossom Special,” she says. “He and his son have a label going in Nashville and want to meet with me whenever they’re back in town,” Dasher adds. She is a little reluctant to go into too much detail about any publishing deals in the works,

but she remains hopeful that her dreams of being published are just within her reach. Dasher lets her faith drive her: “It’s something that I want really really bad, but I have to keep myself in check and lean on my faith, because I can do what I want to do, but I’ve got to lean on the doors that He’s opened.” The music industry is a hard one to break into, but Dasher says that making a living by doing something she loves to do will be the ultimate payoff. Though the Nashville scene can be a little daunting, she is determined to achieve her goal to get her songs published.” For every singer that’s up there, there’s a dozen of ‘em that are doing the same thing that you’re trying to do,” she says. “But that’s why I got a degree in PR and in Music Business to educate myself and to put myself a step ahead.” For inspiration, all she has to do is hear a great song on the radio. “Good music inspires me to write more music,” she says. Dasher has a strong sense of herself and her abilities as a singer-songwriter. “I’m never gonna be this cookie cutter, size 6, bombshell blonde that sings all these rock-pop country songs,” she says. “That’s not me. My stuff-- I hope and I feel-- will be around for years to come.” And her fans in Effingham County hope so too.

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THE MUSICIANS n a s h v i l l e

On The Verge Keith Gay has been making notable progress for the last three years up in Nashville. Now he’s just looking for that one song to take him to the top . • Story & Photos by TODD WOOD


t was Easter Sunday, three years ago, that Keith Gay found himself sitting at Tania Tucker’s house eating dinner. He remembers it vividly, or not so much. The experience was so surreal, that Keith’s mind and body were on auto-pilot. “I know I enjoyed myself, but I don’t think I could tell you what I ate that day,” says Keith. Who wouldn’t be giddy about eating dinner with a country music star in their home? Hailing from Faulkville, Keith has been singing and playing music at locales across South Georgia for the past 15 years. When Keith is home from Nashville, he can generally be found playing gigs with his buddy Gary Byrd in and around the greater Savannah area. He started off playing with house bands in bars. Most notably was The Lighting Creek Band which he started playing with at The Cavalier in Hardeeville 13 years ago. Over the years, Keith has established an expansive following. Playing with bands like The Lightning Creek Band garnered Keith a lot

of attention in the Savannah area. It was 10 years ago when Keith first went to Nashville, anxious to see if he could support himself playing tunes in The Music City. However,

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he found out quick that artists don’t generally play for money in Nashville. Rather, they play for the exposure, and tens of thousands come and go to Nashville each year to try and make it big.

“The reason I want to sing is not for the money any way,” says Keith. “It’s for that adrenaline rush you get on stage when the crowd is erupting over your music. That’s what I want more of.” Fortunately, Keith had a few names in his pocket, thanks to Randy Wood, when he arrived in Nashville. Not long after arriving, Keith was sitting in a club listening to a band. When he heard the name of the bassist, Keith recognized the name as one that Wood had given him. Afterwards, Keith walked up and introduced himself to Pat Lassiter. Lassiter forwarded Keith to a gentleman by the name of Greg Perkins. Perkins owned a recording studio, and Keith wanted to record demos. The only problem was that Keith didn’t have a lot of money. Perkins asked Keith if he had 20 dollars, and Keith responded, “Yes.” The next day, Keith was given one hour studio time to record a demo. Up until three years ago, Perkins had never heard Keith’s demo he made that day. But, his luck was about to change. Keith was in Nashville,


Keep up with Keith on Facebook, or visit his website at www.keithgay.com.

EFFINGHAM MAGAZINE | October/November 2010 21

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competing with 17,000 other musicians in Nashville Star, and he decided to call Greg about doing some full blown demos. “I just happened to call Greg to ask him if I could do some more demos, and Greg said he’d come pick me up the next day,” says Keith. “The next day I was due to play at Nashville Star at three o’clock, but I never made it.” That’s because when Keith


arrived at Greg’s, he met the likes of Gretchen Wilson and Tania Tucker, both who had just stopped through to talk with Perkins. “I was like, ‘wow’! I’m not going back to Nashville Star, this is where it’s at,” says Keith. The next day, he was invited to eat Easter dinner at Tucker’s house. Greg eventually introduced Keith to Stella Parton, sister to

October/November 2010 | EFFINGHAM MAGAZINE

Dolly Parton, and Stella signed Keith to her label, Raptor Records, last year. Now, Keith says they have a bunch of songs they can pitch to a major label. “They all sound good. We’ve just been holding out for that one great song though,” says Keith. “I’ve got about four (songs) now that are bad to the bone.” He continued, “Greg had

told me that there is no reason why they shouldn’t be able to get me that big record deal. They just need that one song, like so many other artists had needed before they made it big.” Currently, Keith is working with great songwriters like Monty Holmes. And, he thinks that in the next few months that one great song is going to drop. “I believe I have good enough songs for the radio now, they’re just holding out for that one hit though,” says Keith. He knows he is close, and a big record deal would be great, according to Keith. Yet, he still remains modest, patient and positive. “I’m just going to keep after it until that day comes. I’m glad that I have had the opportunities I have had.” With his talent, passion and charismatic smile, Keith Gay is sure to be a name we will hear on the radio soon. For now, he just keeps playing gigs when he is at home in Effingham. And, while he is in Nashville, he is writing and working toward that big break into the country music business.

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THE MUSICIANS n a s h v i l l e

Small Town Singer

Michelle Aspen is planning on a big future in Nashville. • Story by KATHRYN TURNER Photos by TODD WOOD •


ith her bubbly personality and youthful appearance, Michelle Aspen seems to be an average twenty-two-year-old, but looks can be deceiving. She is a powerhouse singer, a prolific songwriter, and she has worked with some of Nashville’s most talented writers and musicians. She may be young, but she is already making a name for herself in Nashville. Formerly known as Michelle Aspinwall, she is a resident of Meldrim and a graduate of South Effingham High School. “When I moved to Nashville, I decided to just cut it, and I go by Michelle Aspen,” she explains. Ever since she was born, she has been on a fast track to success. She was adopted at three days old; she made her first public debut when she was just two and a half, singing “Jesus Loves Me” to her church; she was writing songs at the age of seven; and she was in the studio professionally by the time she was twelve. When she was in elementary school, she had a hard time convincing her teachers and peers that she was really a singer-songwriter. “They thought I was making it up, and then I ended up being interviewed when I was in fourth grade on the radio,” she


says. Aspen’s first recording experience occurred when she was just ten, and it made her realize that music was the only career for her. “It was just a little basement studio,” she says, “but when I got in there and I put the phones on and I started singing, I knew that was something I could do all day every day and never get

October/November 2010 | EFFINGHAM MAGAZINE

tired of it.” She always knew she would end up in Nashville, but it was a little more than she bargained for at first. “Jason Aldean’s “Crazy Town” describes it better than anyone possibly could,” she says. After taking a job singing at Lonnies Western Room in downtown Nashville, she quickly realized how intense

her competition would be. “Two of our girls made top ten on American Idol. They rock,” says Aspen. Despite the pressure and the stiff competition in the “Crazy Town” of Nashville, Aspen pushed herself and studied the best performers to better herself. “I was completely intimidated,” she says. “But I sucked it up and I learned. I paid attention to what they did and the things that I was seeing.” And her attention to detail is paying off. “I have gotten one of the best opportunities in the world to write with the writers on the Big Machine label,” she beams. Big Machine Records boasts talent such as Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts, Jack Ingram, and Trisha Yearwood. Aspen says working with the writers from this label has been invaluable to her. Since she has been in Nashville, she has come into contact with musicians as well as writers. She met Taylor Swift at her first concert, and has caught the attention of other big names in Nashville as well. “Tracy Lawrence wants to hear my new stuff,” she says. “I got to go sit with him on his tour bus and watch fireworks.” With plans to write for Sara Evans, Disney, and teen singer Tiffany Giardina, Aspen has already accomplished more at age

MICHELLE ASPEN *For more information, you can find Michelle Aspen on Facebook and Myspace.


October/November 2010 27

THE MUSICIANS n a s h v i l l e

twenty-two than most songwriters accomplish in a lifetime. After living in Nashville for two years, Aspen moved back to Effingham last October to be close to friends and family. “I’ve taken the summer off, because of my little boy being sick,” she explains. Her son, two-year old Jaidan, has been battling heart problems since birth. Jaidan is his mom’s numberone fan, and he always encourages her to make music.

“He’s the only two and a half year old that will sit through an entire album and just listen to me,” says Aspen. “He calls it ‘Shell’ when I sing. I’m not mommy when I’m a singer-- I’m Shell, and he wants to hear Shell’s songs.” And there are plenty of Aspen’s songs to go around. She has written over 300 songs, and maintains that writing songs is as natural to her as breathing. “I’m like a machine,” she says of her incessant songwriting. “A

28 October/November 2010 | EFFINGHAM MAGAZINE

disease is what it is.” She compares her songwriting to writing a note to someone. It takes her about five minutes to write a song, and she rarely goes back and changes any of her work. “It’s the only thing I’m good at. Believe me!” While all of her songs are for herself and very personal, Aspen describes her music as music with which everyone can identify. “My goal is to write a song for absolutely everyone,” she explains. “That is the biggest compliment that

anybody can give me: ‘I hear myself in this.’” Aspen doesn’t know when she will return to Tennessee, but she says that it is an absolute certainty that she will go back. In country music, that’s the place where stars are made, and there is no doubt that her star is on the rise. Even though there are plenty of projects in the works and musicians have shown an interest in the young singersongwriter, Aspen has been wary of signing any contracts to date. “I’m just real hesitant to sign my life away,” she says. “There are so many things that I can do right now. I don’t want to be sheltered and told a certain route that I have to take.” So for now, she is getting all the experience she can. She says she always goes out on stage with the attitude that people are there because they want what she has to offer. This positive attitude eases any sense of stage fright. “I like to go out there and think that ‘Hey this person doesn’t know me, but when I get off this stage, they’re GONNA!’” she says. But no matter how confident she seems onstage or how successful she may become, she has never let any of it go to her head. “You gotta be humble, and I’m still humble,” she says. “That’s one thing--I don’t think I’m better than anyone.” Aspen says humility is a quality that she always hopes to keep. Michelle Aspen is the small-town singer-songwriter with big dreams in country music. She wants her songs in catalogs, her name in lights, and her music on the radio. And with her passion and her talent, her future in Nashville is sure to be a bright one.

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You can See Camren perform at the Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival In Richmond Hill on October 16th.

32 October/November 2010 | EFFINGHAM MAGAZINE

THE MUSICIANS n a s h v i l l e

Born To Perform

Nine year old Camren Rewis has been wowing audiences all over the Coastal Empire and Low Country • Story by BARBARA W. RUSSELL Photos by TODD WOOD •WOOD


amren Rewis is only nine years old and he’s already on his way to making a career in the country music world. He’s performed on stage numerous times, he’s recorded a CD in Nashville, and he loves to make his audience happy. He’s come a long way in a short time. He remembers loving to sing when he was 3 years old, and his favorite songs were ‘You Are My Sunshine’ and ‘It’s a Wonderful World’. “I could not stop singing!” he said, and his smiling face shows that even talking about his singing brings him joy. His parents, Suzette and Brian Rewis, encouraged their son’s singing by having family fun singing karaoke at home and at their favorite campground, Rock’s Pond in South Carolina, where others were enjoying his singing too. When it was time for karaoke, people would ask, “Is that little boy going to sing?” Of course he always did. The owners of Rock’s Pond were very impressed with his talent, so impressed that they asked him to sing The National Anthem on July Fourth. That would be an honor for anyone, but at the time, Camren was only 4 years old! “When he went out onto the stage people probably thought he was just a cute little kid,” said his mother. “But when he began to sing….a hush came over the crowd.” It

was obvious that they were listening to a child with God-given talent. After his 4 year old debut, his career took off and it hasn’t slowed down. He continued performing at Rock’s Pond, in school productions, and (while) visiting senior citizen centers and nursing homes. His biggest thrill came when he was 8 years old. Rock’s Pond gave him another opportunity, and he was the opening act for country music star, Aaron Tippin. During the next year he was also the opening act for other country singers: Lori Morgan, David Ball, and Terry Lee Goffee, who is a well-known Johnny Cash impersonator. David Ball was so impressed with Camren that after the show he said, “I want you to go to Nashville to record.” How did Camren feel about going to Nashville to record? “I was real excited,” he said with a quiet voice and a huge smile. He says a lot with that smile. It was almost a year later when the 4th grader and his parents were headed for Nashville. Ball hooked them up with Troy Cook, who is in Ball’s band and is also one of his producers. Camren was in Nashville for two days, and he spent 16 hours in the recording studio. “That’s a

EFFINGHAM MAGAZINE | October/November 2010 33

long time for anyone to be in a studio,” said his father, “especially a kid.” But Camren didn’t seem to mind, and his voice stayed strong as he recorded a song called “Making Memories,” which was written by him and his father and mother. His demo CD has just that one song on it, and when they head back to Nashville in the fall, he’s planning on recording an album with about 9 songs. Was he nervous about recording a CD? “No,” he said. “I was kind of excited that all of my friends from Pre K to 4th grade will listen to it – like on the way to school or on their way home.” “He’s given away a lot of his CD’s to his friends,” said


his mother, “but when he’s performing someone will come up and want to buy one. I think that his favorite part is the whole ‘meet and greet,’ autograph signing, because he loves to meet and talk to people. “The little girls go crazy over him! When he opened for Lori Morgan, the whole front row was little girls. There were over 1,000 people there, and the little girls were all up front, and they had their cameras, and they’re screaming, ‘I love you Camren!’” He enjoys the crowds, and the more they put into it by clapping or screaming, the more he puts into his singing. “I like to make them happy,” he said. Does it bother him

October/November 2010 | EFFINGHAM MAGAZINE

when the little girls start screaming? “No,” he said. “I wink at them and smile!” “After the performance, the girls would come up and want him to sign their sunglasses,” his mother said, “or they’ll want to buy a CD and have him sign it. He’ll give them a hug and take pictures with them. He spends a lot of time with each one of them, and after the concert’s done, he may be over there playing putt-putt with them.” As much as Camren enjoys performing on stage, his favorite thing is to visit senior citizen centers and nursing homes. “He loves old people,” said his mother. “When we have to leave and we’re packing up, we have to go find

him. He has to stop and talk to all of them. One time he was in the lobby and he had about 20 of them sitting around talking.” Camren stays busy with his entertaining. He’s a regular at Rock’s Pond, he sings at nursing homes once or twice a month, and he performs at parties and many public events, including The State Fair in Macon and The Peanut Festival in Brooklet. If you’d like to see Camren perform, he’ll be on stage the third weekend in October at The Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival in Richmond Hill, and you can see Camren’s pictures, videos and interviews on facebook.

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THE MUSICIANS n a s h v i l l e

A Baptism Into The Studio

Jil Trower does know that the Lord’s mysterious ways have guided her just fine so far. • Story by RAY STEELE Photo opposite page by TODD WOOD •


he phrase isn’t actually in the Bible, but everyone knows it and most people say they have personal experience with it. “The Lord works in mysterious ways.” Jil Trower knows the phrase well. In her mind, how else could a wife, mom, career doctor’s office assistant and someone who practically had to be forced to sing in a church choir be on the cusp of another career as a Christian music recording artist? “I had no intention of singing in the choir or singing solos in front of others, much less recording anything,” Trower says about the discovery of her singing talent in the congregation of Guyton Christian Church. But her voice, belting out hymns and reflecting her fervent faith, would not allow her to remain in the anonymous masses. “A lady in the choir told Sue Exley, our choir director, ‘That young lady needs to be up here with us, because she sings a beautiful alto.’ After that, things just started happening pretty quickly,” much more quickly than it took Jil to get here from Hahira. Despite its lack of size, Hahira, Georgia is already home to a number of celebrities, both real (New York Mets manager Jerry Manuel and bigleague baseball star brothers J.D. and Stephen Drew) and imaginary (Illustrious Potentate Bubba from Ray Stevens’ hit song “Shriner’s


October/November 2010 | EFFINGHAM MAGAZINE

Convention”). If Jil Trower becomes a star, that star will technically belong to Hahira, though Jil didn’t spend much time there. Jil did much of her growing up just down I-75 in Valdosta before coming to Savannah in time to graduate from Windsor Forest High School. It appeared Jil was settling in for what many would consider an ordinary life, and other than along with the radio or at church, singing was not a part of it. “I loved music when I was little and sang in one choir in school, but I started thinking about other things as I got older. I got into a lot of sports and got away from singing.” After working at a number of different places over the years, “retail, fast food; the typical jobs you have as a young person,” Jil seemed to find her professional calling in doctor’s offices, working for several around Savannah. It’s also where she found her husband and, eventually, how she found Effingham County. From 1995 to 2002, Brad Trower was the head athletic trainer for Effingham County High School whose team physician was employed at Savannah’s Orthopedics Associates (now Southeastern Orthopedics), where Jil also worked at the time. “Our first date was a double date with Lyle Myers and his wife, Katherine.” Jil and Brad were married in February 1999, moved


*For more information and a schedule for Jil visit http://www.wholesomeentertainment.net/


October/November 2010 39

Jil Trower at Guyton Christian Church.

to Effingham so that Brad could be closer to the school and had the first of their two children the next year. Jil and Brad found a church home in Guyton Christian, the Disciples of Christ congregation housed amidst the gorgeous, century-old architecture on Pine Street. It is where music would return to Jil’s life. After being coaxed to the church choir, Jil shared an epiphany with her choir director, who became a close friend and, for a brief time, her boss at Exley Lumber Company. “I told Sue that I thought the Lord was calling me to be a Christian music performer. I love to share my faith, and, while I certainly don’t mind talking about my testimony, I always preferred to give it through my music.” Conventional wisdom may say that your 30’s is a little late in life for such a dream, but Jil says she and her friends know God is anything but conventional. Mrs. Exley encouraged Jil to pursue her calling, and more encouragement was soon forthcoming. “I was attending a ladies’ retreat about a year-and-a-half ago where the theme was ‘What is God calling you to do?’ I mentioned my desire to sing to my prayer partners. They started praying for me, and almost immediately, doors started opening.” While Jil began performing in public more often, at weddings, funerals, and other churches, she says the Lord also enlisted other family members in her calling. A couple months after the retreat, “my mother-in-law met Archie Jordan, the singer and songwriter, at her church in Watkinsville and told him all about me.” Jordan, who wrote “It Was Almost Like a


October/November 2010 | EFFINGHAM MAGAZINE


Song”, “What a Difference You’ve Made In My Life” and many other hits for Ronnie Milsap and other stars, was intrigued. He invited Jil to contact him and later to record a four-song demo at Jordan’s home studio in Metter. “What an amazing experience that was,” she said of her baptism into a recording studio, which included the chance to record one of Jordan’s newer Christian compositions, “Three Nails and Two Boards.” Jil began to feel more comfortable in front of audiences, and though she still gets nervous before a performance, she says it wouldn’t feel right if she didn’t. “I think butterflies in your stomach, nerves, whatever you want to call them – that’s just another name for having the desire to do what you want to do and to do it well. The butterflies keep you humble.” The more Jil performed, the more she thought she wanted to take the next step, so after much prayer, “Brad and I decided this past spring to get our finances and everything else in order” to allow her to make a full-length CD. “Most people think of the recording industry as being glamorous and lucrative, but folks have no idea how much it costs” to produce a CD. Jil’s research led her to Nashville’s Daywind Records, home to top Christian artists such as the Perrys, the Blackwood Brothers Quartet, and Brian Free & Assurance. She recorded ten songs over two days in August, including another version of Archie Jordan’s “Three Nails and Two Boards.” “But my favorite song on the album is a classic, ‘How Great Thou Art’, which we also chose as the album’s title.” The CD will be out just in time for a November 5th benefit concert for local food pantries at First Baptist Church of Springfield. The concert begins at 7:00 p.m. and will feature Jil and singer/saxophonist Dennis Gwizdala, whom Jil met through a Daywind executive. Jil doesn’t know if she will sell a lot of CD’s, but that doesn’t matter too much or, as she puts it, “I’m not in this to make a million bucks.” She is happily employed as one of the patient care coordinators for plastic surgeon Dr. Richard Greco, and many of her friends there also support her dream. Jil also has the love and backing of her husband and church family, not to mention huge fans in ten-year-old daughter Addison and sevenyear-old son Zane, “whose friends and teachers all know about what is happening in my singing career before anyone else.” Jil Trower does know that the Lord’s mysterious ways have guided her just fine so far, and regardless of whether she becomes a star or spends her life singing for the folks around home, “the Lord won’t lead me in the wrong direction.”

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Holiday Schedule for Trash Collection The following holidays are observed: Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Years Day When one of these holidays is observed on a weekday, collections for the remainder of the week will be delayed by one day

Effingham County Dry Waste Collection Site 754­4668, ext 6 2750 Courthouse Road (between McCall & Midland Roads) Hours of Operation ­ Closed on County Holidays Wednesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday 8:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Items accepted: Recyclables (no charge) ­ All Metals, Aluminum, Steel, Paper, Newsprint, Magazines, Cardboard, Cell phones, Inkjet/Toner cartridges, Automobile Batteries, Rechargeable & Cell Phone Batteries Tires – charged according to the size of the tire Dry Trash (furniture, wood, concrete, yard trimmings, construction debris) ­ $160 per ton or 8 cents/pound HELP US BAG LITTER! “Bagging Unbagged garbage blows

out of our collection trucks & litters our streets. Please help us by putting all your garbage into tied bags before placing them into your collection cart. By working together, we can continue making Effingham County a Clean and Beautiful place to live.

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THE MUSICIANS n a s h v i l l e

Still Pushing David Redwine has been singing country music for 20 years, and he hasn’t given up on his dream of making it big on the Nashville scene. • Story by BARBARA W. RUSSELL Photos by TODD WOOD •


he former Cavalier Country Club on Abercorn Street used to be a gathering place for country singing and dancing, and Redwine was there often. He enjoyed singing, but hadn’t seriously thought about a singing career until one night in 1992 when he was enjoying a night there. “I was dancing with this lady, and I was singing along with the song, ‘I Swear’ by John Michael Montgomery, and she said, ‘You need to be a country music star - you have a wonderful voice!’” Her encouragement gave him confidence to launch his singing career, and it “kind of took off from there,” he said. Several times he participated in the Jimmy Dean True Country Showdown that was held at the Cavalier Country Club. He received a positive response, and this led to him singing at more local clubs. “Back then I was singing almost every night,” he said. He didn’t know it, but he was being watched by a representative of a major record label, and once again The Cavalier Country Club was the setting for a memorable event in Redwine’s singing career. “There was a gentleman named Mike who came into

The Cavalier Country Club,” said Redwine. “He said he was going to follow me around for the next week and then arrange for me to record a couple of songs at a place called Sluggers. ‘The DJ at Sluggers will record you on tape,’ he told me, ‘and I want you to get the tape for me. I’m going to see if we can’t try to get you produced in music.” This seemed like it was going to be the big break

44 October/November 2010 | EFFINGHAM MAGAZINE

he’d been waiting for, but the night Redwine was to sing at Sluggers, Mike wasn’t there; another gentleman from the company was there instead. “He was dressed real nice in a suit,” said Redwine, “and he had a briefcase, and he said, ‘I’m here to get the tape for Mike.’” “I recorded the songs, and I felt real bad that Mike wasn’t there. I gave the tape to the man, and he put the tape in his briefcase, but I never

heard anything. I was young and did not try to contact him.” Redwine may have been discouraged, but he didn’t give up. He moved to San Antonio, and his voice was once again recognized when he was in a club called The Midnight Rodeo. “I was sitting at a table with a gentleman I had just met named JR Hanes,” said Redwine. “I didn’t know at the time that he was a country music producer. I was singing


For photos and more information about David Redwine, go to Facebook David Redwine and click on: David Redwine/ ReverbNation on facebook. He can be contacted at HYPERLINK “mailto:DavidRDWN@yahoo.com”

EFFINGHAM MAGAZINE | October/November 2010 45

along with some of the songs the DJ was playing, and he looks over at me and he says, ‘How come you aren’t on that stage?’ and I looked over at him and I said, ‘Man if you knew how many years I’ve been trying to get a record deal, and how many years I’ve been doing this….and so he looks at me, and he says, ‘Can you be back here in two weeks, on the same night, the same time?’ I said sure.” Two weeks later Redwine met Hanes who had brought 3 other men with him, and one was a major producer in Nashville. The meeting resulted in Redwine getting a contract to be a backup singer for country music stars on their albums. He recorded with 5 different artists: two of them were Tim McGraw and Aaron Tippin! It was a great experience, but after 1 ½ years

Redwine broke the contract, “I want to be my own singer,” he said. So, he continues down the road that he hopes will lead to him becoming a country star. Meanwhile, he performs on the local scene at Applebees, Tommy’s, Dizzy Dean’s, McDonough’s, Kelly’s Pub, and Spanky’s and Bernie’s on River Street. He has also performed at events for Relay for Life and St. Jude’s. Two years ago he cut a CD with 3 cover songs on it, and he sold all 200 copies. He’s made 5 trips to Nashville where he sang at some local clubs, and he met with a major producer who listened to his CD. “He said I have some damn good potential,” said Redwine, who plans to return to Nashville to record another CD. Can a cowboy hat be a

46 October/November 2010 | EFFINGHAM MAGAZINE

good omen? Well, maybe, maybe not, but the following did happen to Redwine when he was about 27 years old while he was working at the Stampede Western Store in Savannah. Tim McGraw was in town for a concert, and he came into the store to get some western clothes. Redwine described what happened: “He ( Tim McGraw) grabbed a black straw western hat and stuck it on his head, and when he went to the register to pay, he said, ‘Man! This thing is too tight!’ The woman at the register told him to put it back and get another one in his size, but he insisted that wouldn’t be right since he had already worn it. “He looked at me and said, ‘What size hat do you wear?’” “I said, ‘Size 7,’ and Tim McGraw put the hat on my head and said ‘Keep it,’ and he

got another hat that fit him, and he paid for both hats.” That happened over 10 years ago, and Redwine has been wearing the black cowboy hat ever since. How important is that hat to him? “Oh! It’s really important!” he responds. Put onto his head by one of country music’s greats – it’s got to be an inspiration, and a constant reminder not to give up on his dream, and he hasn’t…. “I’m still looking for sponsors to promote me and help me out,” he said. “I’ve been doing it for quite a long time now, and I imagine a lot of people would have given up by now, I’m not that kind of person. I’m still pushing forward and trying to get a record deal. Hopefully someone out there will hear me and take an interest in me.”

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THE MUSICIANS n a s h v i l l e

‘Let’s Go’ And Here We Are No one will ever be able to accuse Faulkville’s Josh Sanders of lacking any “country” credentials. • Story by RAY STEELE Photos by KRISTIN PATE •


aised in a rural area, avid hunter, and self-taught guitar picker with a biscuits and gravy-accented baritone voice – Sanders is the real thing. Now, he wants to see if there is room for one more country boy in the Mecca for such folks, Music City, USA. “No matter how hard I tried to suppress this dream to sing or to write songs, it just kept bubbling to the top,” says Sanders, 27, after a long day of working his ‘real job’ as a service truck and machinery mechanic. Many who are close to Josh tried to help him dream of something else. Josh was practically set for life, they told him. He had married Sheree, his South Effingham High school sweetheart and had a good job at Georgia Power’s Plant McIntosh. For their first trip together as husband and wife, Sheree even suggested going to Nashville, thinking it would rid Josh of his musical desires. “As you can see,” Sanders says with a chuckle from their new home in the Nashville suburbs, “it kind of had the opposite effect.” The seed was planted half of Sanders’ life ago. “When I was 13 or 14, I really started paying attention to music, and that’s also around the time I got my first guitar. My momma loved The Judds, so I learned all of their songs,

along with songs from other good country singers like George Strait, and sang along with the radio.” With the radio as the closest thing to a music teacher he would have, Sanders had barely learned all the major guitar chords when he was baptized by fire into the world of performing. “I was 15 and was at an F.F.A. (Future Farmers of America) state convention in Covington. They have a talent show there every year, and one of the teachers found out that I played guitar and sang.”

50 October/November 2010 | EFFINGHAM MAGAZINE

Foreshadowing the future, though he didn’t know that at the time, Sanders performed for one-thousand of his fellow students as a solo act, just Josh and his guitar, and would sing one of his own songs. “It was called ‘The Lonely Road’, and it was the first song I ever wrote to completion.” As for first time stage fright, Josh laughs, “I was shaking so much, I couldn’t talk! I tried to introduce myself and the song and nothing would come out of my mouth.” But everything was okay once

Sanders started singing, and the positive reaction of his peers lit a spark. “I think that was when I first realized I wanted to pursue a life in music.” Sanders kept writing songs and kept practicing, encouraged by his buddies at the Skinner Bay Hunting Club. He joined the club when he was 16, and it seems the hunters liked his singing almost as much as their shooting. “They were always telling me, ‘don’t forget to bring your guitar.’


*For more information, you can find Josh Sanders on Facebook.

EFFINGHAM MAGAZINE | October/November 2010 51

‘Sing us another song.’ I think I joined the club as much for the fellowship and the friendships I developed as for the hunting.” Sanders loved it so much, he made it part of an original song, “Bringing Country Back”; it includes the line, “Stuck in a traffic jam, this ain’t Effingham, I wish I was driving down Low Ground Road,” where the club has operated for generations. “Bringing Country Back” was one of the songs Josh sang at the first Effingham County Acoustic Music Festival in May. Watch the YouTube video of that performance and you’ll notice that Sanders isn’t limited to simple chords on guitar anymore. He credits that to a guitar-playing uncle. “When I was about 17 or 18, he introduced me to Southern Rock,” Sanders says, listing bands long popular in the South such as Lynyrd Skynyrd, 38 Special, and Molly Hatchet. “He also told me that I needed to learn how to play melodies in addition to chords, and he taught me a couple that he said every guitar player should know.” They were, of course, the two songs that virtually every young guitarist used to learn; Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven” and “Hotel California” from The Eagles. Once he learned those, Sanders says it became relatively easy to play “just about any song I heard on the radio.”

52 October/November 2010 | EFFINGHAM MAGAZINE

Despite this, it seemed that Sanders was following the advice of family and friends and preparing for a life outside of music. After graduating from South Effingham in 2001, Josh studied construction and heavy equipment management at Southwest Georgia Technical College in Thomasville. He eventually moved back home to take the Georgia Power job, but the music never stopped. “I kept writing songs, I kept playing, and one day I decided I wanted to play professionally in front of an audience to see if I had what it took.” His first gig was in 2006 at Robins Nest Sports Bar and Grill in Pooler, and the reception was enormous, which Sanders took with a grain of salt. “Ninetypercent of the audience that night was my family and friends, so of course they are going to like me. I wanted to find out whether an audience that did not include friends and family would like me.” He would get a chance soon enough. While playing at Bernie’s Oyster House on Tybee, with a crowd that included only a handful of people Josh knew, Sanders was overwhelmed with the reception. “So many people I had never met came up to me after that show and asked ‘what are you doing playing places like this?’ ‘You should be in Nashville trying to make it big.’ That meant the world to me.” After a trip to Music City, the one arranged by his wife as a way to discourage his musical dreams, Sanders says he knew what he had to do. “One day, Sheree asked me if moving to Nashville was what I truly wanted. I said it was, so she said, ‘Let’s go.’ And here we are.” Sheree, originally a skeptic, is now Josh’s biggest booster. “She is my roadie, my groupie, and sets up all my equipment before my gigs; she is everything anyone could ever hope for.” Sanders knows he has his work cut out for him, that only a comparative handful of performers ever have anything resembling a hit. He and Sheree were also rudely welcomed to Nashville by a Craigslist internet scammer who cheated them out of $500 they thought they were putting down as a deposit on a rental house. But Josh isn’t deterred. He brings his guitar to any open mic nights he can find, and is also concentrating more on his writing. “I belong to the Nashville Songwriters Association International, which gives me some free critiques of my songs.” Josh Sanders is living his dream and thrilled to be doing so. Sure, he may eventually “bring country back” to Effingham County, but who knows? Maybe he’ll bring Low Ground Road to the rest of the world instead.

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very southern woman has been to an arts festival at some point in her life. Perusing the homemade trinkets and hand-painted crafts almost seems like a rite of passage in the Low Country. And nine years ago, painting such crafts was not something Springfield resident Amelia Smith liked to do. But now Smith has made painting much more than a hobby; she has made it her business. Smith is the creator of Artwork by Amelia, which is an online website where customers can view her merchandise and request specific custom paintings on almost any type of surface. She paints personalized signs, wall murals, crafts, furniture, and any personalized item imaginable. In addition to painting various customized crafts, she also enjoys face painting for children. Like most journeys, Smith’s creative adventure began in her own home. When her daughter, Alyssa, was about two years old, Smith would always read her favorite Dr. Seuss book to her. Alyssa adored The Eye Book so much that Smith wanted to bring it to life for her, so she called her mother-in-law, Pam Gorham, and together they made the beloved book come to life on her daughter’s bedroom walls. When they finished their first painting venture, the room was transformed into a playful picnic scene. A bespectacled bunny closely eyeballed the bees that were scattered on the walls, and a huge tree towered over the newly transformed picnic scene--complete with ants around the baseboards. “We just ended up putting the book on the wall, and her walls just came to life and it was everywhere,” Smith recalls. “From that day forward, I painted anything that I could get my hands on.” She credits her mother-in-law with giving her the idea and the confidence to finish that first project, and she has not stopped painting since that day. In addition to murals and canvases, Smith particularly

Springfield artist Amelia Smith at the entrance of her childrens daycare.

EFFINGHAM MAGAZINE | October/November 2010 55

“I would love to do portraits.

Everything I do is very cartoon and whimsical, and I would like to do more realistic, more grown-up painting.” enjoys painting personalized signs. “They make great baby shower gifts or for weddings,” she says. Everything she does is painted to order, so there is truly no limit to what she can create. Smith’s customers are her muses, and she is always up for the task of bringing her client’s visions to life with the stroke of her paintbrush. “Whatever they can think of, I’ll do it,” she says. Not long after she started selling her personalized signs and other artwork, another type of painting piqued her interest. While displaying her paintings at a rummage sale in Guyton, Smith had the idea to start face painting. “I started asking kids if I could face paint them, and they said yes!” she recalls. “So I started face painting then, and it just kind of came together.” Smith now does face painting at the Chick-Fil-A in Pooler two or three times a week, and she loves seeing the children get excited about her face painting. She maintains that the moving

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canvases are her favorite ones. Her five-year-old son, Buddy, loves to get his face painted, and he would have a “tattoo” all the time if possible. “All kids like ‘tattoos’ and face painting and that sort of thing,” says Smith. As far as the encouragement to progress her passion into a business, Smith’s family has given her the support to

keep painting. She says her husband, Clayton, is good at constructive criticism, while her sister, Amanda Williams, is her “go-to” girl when it comes to encouragement and advice. Smith is inspired most by her children, and they are always giving her ideas. “They’ve always loved it. My little girl- we’ve repainted her room like six times since we’ve lived here,” she laughs. “My husband says we lose square footage because we have so many coats of paint on our walls!” When it comes to her business, Smith maintains that her main goal is to give the customer exactly what they want. Since her clients are ultimately their own designers, her mission is to find out what the customer’s vision is, and to make that vision come to life. “My number one priority is to make sure I’m on the same page with whoever has ordered it.” says Smith. “I want it to be exactly what they wanted.” She is a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to her customer’s satisfaction. Other than striving to meet the needs of her customer’s varied tastes and many ideas, Smith says the hardest part is finding the time to paint. “I would love if I could just sit at this kitchen table and paint all day long,” she says. “But it’s not realistic, so that’s a challenge to set aside a long time to be able to do it.” Time is her only restraint when it comes to her painting, and she says she is her own worst critic. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect about Smith’s artwork and her online business is the fact that she has never had any formal instruction in art. “I’ve always wanted to,” she says when asked about art classes. “That would be awesome, but I’ve never had an art class.” Smith is completely self-taught, and she would eventually like to broaden her scope of painting to include other genres. “I would love to do portraits,” she explains. “Everything I do is very cartoon and whimsical, and I would like to do more realistic, more grown-up painting.” But the success of her business is proof that one need not take an art class to earn a living with a paintbrush. Although she has not committed to painting full-time yet, Smith maintains that she is just happy to have made painting a business at all. The fact that it happens to be her favorite hobby is a bonus. “I’ve made a hobby into a business,” she says. “It’s very relaxing. Some people enjoy watching TV, and some people curl up with a good book, and I think the best thing for me is just to sit and paint.” And the patrons of Artwork by Amelia are certainly glad she does. What started out as a mother’s expression of love for her daughter has turned into a business for Amelia Smith, and she couldn’t be happier about it. “There’s no art studio,” says Smith. “It’s just me at the kitchen table! I wouldn’t know how to do it any other way.” She paints anything that will stand still, and even children who won’t, but this crafty businesswoman who has done something that most people only dream of: she has made a beloved hobby into a successful business. To browse merchandise or submit ideas for personalized signs, crafts, face painting, and other projects, visit www. artworkbyamelia.com.


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a miracle in his life, and some spiritual t’s been 100 years of serving God, advice: When he was an iron worker at country and self. It’s been 100 years Union Camp he fell 41 feet. Such a fall of making leaders. It’s been 100 years should have resulted in his death, but he of helping boys learn how to grow up and lived although he is permanently disabled. become good men – that is the personal He then went on a spiritual retreat mission of Boy Scout leaders all over the with some men from his church, and nation. Frank Patterson, of Guyton, is no different. He has been the Scout Master of Guyton’s Troop 295 for 15 years, and he has no plans of quitting. FRANK PATTERSON “Every year I see new faces that glow with the scout master thought of, ‘How can I become a Boy Scout?’ They have young hearts that are excited with the thoughts of camping, hiking, fishing and being in the woods at night under the stars. Their minds need shaping, and their lives need guidance and direction,” said Patterson. Being a Boy Scout was a big part of Patterson’s youth. Through hard work he became an Eagle Scout, which is a national award and the highest honor a Scout can achieve. Nationwide, only one out of every 200 scouts will achieve this award. Although Scouting was an important part of his “growing up” Patterson had no plans of becoming a Scout Master. “If it wasn’t for a little boy who came home crying because he wanted to be a Boy while there, he and the other men were Scout, and because the Scout Master quit, challenged to “Go home and take the job I wouldn’t be a Scout Master,” he said. nobody else wants”. Nobody else wanted “The little boy” was one of Patterson’s to take the Scout Master job, so Patterson sons. did. “It’s been a blessing,” he said. Patterson’s decision to become Scout He’s been a Scout Master for 15 years. Master was influenced by a tragedy and

58 October/November 2010 | EFFINGHAM MAGAZINE

All three of his sons were in his troop, and all three became Eagle Scouts. Patterson’s wife, Michele, had been a Cub Scout Leader, and she is as dedicated to helping with Scouting as her husband is. She’s the “Troop Mom,” and Patterson calls her his “right hand man.” During the 15 years that Patterson has been Scout Master, 32 in his troop have become Eagle Scouts. That’s a huge accomplishment. To become an Eagle Scout a Scout must demonstrate Scout Spirit, leadership in the troop, attend summer camps and earn a minimum of 21 merit badges. He must also complete a Leadership Service Project which will benefit the community. The Leadership Service Project is a huge undertaking, and it must be planned, organized, led and managed by the Eagle Scout candidate. He must find a need, have a vision, set the goals, and recruit people to help. He also must raise the money needed to complete the project, and it will take from 150 to 300 hours of service to complete. “It usually takes 4 to 5 years for a Scout to achieve the Eagle rank,” said Patterson, “and it prepares him for anything he wants to accomplish in life.” “Community service is a required part of the scouting experience,” said Patterson, “and my goal is trying to build a generation of people who will do


BOY SCOUTS 1. Boy Scout Motto: Be Prepared 2. Boy Scout Slogan: Do a Good Turn Daily 3. Boy Scout Oath or Promise: “On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout law, to help others at all times, to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”

community service work.” Effingham County and people in surrounding areas have benefited from many Boy Scout projects, and in Troop 295, Patterson has documented over 10,000 hours of service to the community. One Eagle Scout raised $5,000 to build a community picnic shelter near the Guyton rideshare. The Faith Equestrian Center, where horsemanship skills are taught to people with handicaps, was built almost entirely by Eagle Scouts, and a playground was

recently added as another Eagle Scout project. Other recent Eagle Scout projects have been to help build the “Horses for Heroes” facility which is used for the benefit of our military veterans and their families. A project that Patterson’s troop is currently working on is called “Firewood for the Elderly.” It started with a men’s group at Springfield United Methodist Church that needed some help cutting firewood for the elderly to use, but the Scouts decided to carry the project

EFFINGHAM MAGAZINE | October/November 2010 59

one step further. Two scouts used the idea for their Eagle Scout Service Projects. One scout is cutting 14 truckloads of firewood for the project, and another is building a storage building for the wood on 16 acres that was donated to the Boy Scouts by Bradley Plywood. This project will be an ongoing one for the community, as the Scouts will continue cutting, storing and delivering firewood for those in need. One of Patterson’s favorite projects is building wheel chair ramps for the elderly and disabled. “We just built a wheel chair ramp on Wilmington Island,” he said. “We’ll help anyone who needs help. I want kids to see what life is all about. It’s not all camping and fun - it’s about helping others.” Boy Scouts aren’t afraid to do the dirty work of picking up litter thrown on the roadsides. During The Great American Cleanup, an annual event each spring, Patterson has documented that his troop has picked up over 20 ¼ tons of trash! Although the community has been the recipient of many projects and good works by the Scouts, the Scouts have also been helped by the community. Patterson said that many people and churches in the area continually offer help. They donate man hours and finances, and they suggest ideas for Eagle Scout projects. “The community loved helping to support our fund raiser for our National Guard -donations totaled $3,600!” Not all of the adults who help us are parents of scouts, but they know that scouting makes a great difference in young men,” said Patterson, “and they are willing to invest their time and money to support us.” “I hope that the ministry of scouting continues,” said Patterson, “because it’s a great worthwhile adventure, and I’d

like to see more people participate. I’d like to see more father and son teams. If we can get more men to come and bring their sons and go through this program, how much better off their children will be. Even for boys who don’t have a father to bring them, the program is there for them. At one time I had 9 out of 15 boys who did not have a dad to bring them. The mothers brought them so they could learn to be men by being with men.” “The first thing we teach them is character, morals and values: Duty to God Duty to Country Duty to Self” “….Have you ever seen a point in time that you could say that our country needed it anymore than we need it now? Where did the morals and values go? Who’s going to teach them? It’s up to us, but a Scoutmaster is only as good as the people he can get to help him, and God has surrounded me with a group of Scout volunteers second to none. “I wish more people would do Scouts. I wish more men would come with their kids. The Boy Scout program has worked consistently for 100 years, and the reason why is because it is a great worthwhile adventure!” Boy Scouts….Helping boys learn how to grow up and become good men. It’s a simple phrase, but it’s not a simple task. For those who think there’s nothing for kids to do in Effingham, they might give Boy Scouts a try. The results could be far greater than ever expected. To contact local Boy Scout troops, go to the official Boy Scout website: scouting.org. Hit the “join” link, and follow the instructions under “Find Scouting Near You”.

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Sound of Success

ECHS senior Hillary Usher was one of only four students from Georgia selected to perform with Sound Of America. • Story by RAY STEELE Photo by TODD WOOD •Phtog-


he begins with the B-natural just below middle C, easily dropping down to a G by the end of the first line, exactly as Ray Charles sang it five decades ago. After listening to Hillary Usher’s version of “Georgia On My Mind”, captured for posterity on YouTube at a state leadership conference in Atlanta this past spring, you might expect her to speak in a deep, resonant voice mature beyond her 17 years. Like many assumptions one makes about an Effingham County High School senior, you would be wrong except, perhaps, about the level of maturity. From the time her mother, Ebenezer Middle School assistant principal Holly Usher, sang lullabies to her, Hillary loved music. “I still remember those lullabies to this day” she tells me in what sounds like a higher pitched voice than the one which sang Hoagy Carmichael’s 80-year-old tune on the video. “Most people say it’s the other way around, that I talk lower than I sing. I’m a first soprano,” which means her vocal range is extraordinarily wide, and it’s possibly one of the reasons she is taking her voice to Europe next summer as part of the Sound of America, an honor chorus and concert band made up of young people from across the United States. While some give the easy answer to the ‘when’ question, claiming they have been singing ‘since they could talk,” Hillary remembers the exact time when music became part of regular life - in 4th grade. That’s when she sang in her first choir and performed her first solo. “It was “This Little Light Of Mine.” I just loved that song and couldn’t believe it when they gave me the solo.” The next year, she auditioned for the

62 October/November 2010 | EFFINGHAM MAGAZINE

lead in a local production of “The Wizard Of Oz” and was shocked when she landed the role of Dorothy, especially since she wasn’t familiar with a somewhat important song. “I had never heard ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow.’ I know I was probably the only one in the world, but I swear I didn’t know it until I rehearsed it for the audition.” That’s when Hillary says she knew she wanted music to be her life. Unlike some aspiring young performers, Hillary says her mother and father did not turn into stage parents, and they still haven’t. “My Dad is the one who makes me laugh, especially if I mess up on stage, and my Mom has always been my biggest supporter. But they have never pushed me to do anything that I didn’t want to do.” Evidence of that came when Hillary was in 8th grade during a trip to Florida for a softball tournament in which one of her younger sisters was playing. “Just as the tournament was beginning, someone asked if anyone would volunteer to sing the National Anthem. I immediately raised my hand and said ‘I will.’ So, I went out and sang it, no nerves, just walked out and did it.” No nerves in front of more than a thousand strangers, no less. Perhaps it’s one reason her grandfather nicknamed her “Shogun”, Japanese for “commander of a force”, always leading without fear. Hillary is proud to be “a country girl from Clyo,” and yes, she says that means her music of choice is country. “But,” she is quick to add, “that doesn’t mean all I listen to is Taylor Swift,” which she implies is a stereotype of young women in Effingham County. The music that populates her iPod surprises even her closest friends. “They’ll hear something like Led

HILLARY USHER sound of america


October/November 2010 63

Zeppelin, which my Mom listened to, or they’ll hear a rap song and they’ll ask ‘why are you listening to that?’ It’s because I just love music, and when you love music, you love every kind of music.� When the conversation turns to much older music, Hillary stuns you with her knowledge of the songs of Peggy Lee and Patsy Cline, superstars four decades before Hillary’s birth. She is equally comfortable with the music of modern-day classical composer Eric Whitacre and that of Queen’s epic rocker “Bohemian Rhapsody�, both of which Hillary will perform with choirs at Effingham High – she belongs to no fewer than four of them. Hillary was also named to the Georgia Music Educators Association’s all-state chorus in 2009, which made her eligible to audition for Sound Of America.

Sound of America 2011 will mark the 35th year Sound of America has put together a band and chorus comprised of high school and college students, and Hillary was one of only four from Georgia to be accepted. After several days of intense rehearsal in Pennsylvania and a pair of ‘Bon Voyage’ concerts, Sound of America will spend almost a month touring Europe, with stops in Germany, Italy, France, Austria, Switzerland, and Luxembourg. Hillary had to come up with several thousand dollars to help pay her own way, but she never had any doubts about whether she could raise the money. “It seemed like a lot, but I knew it was what I wanted to do, so I went to work. I also knew that the people of Effingham County would help me, because we all know each other. We’re all family. We’re all neighbors, and the people of this area always support one another.�

She was supposed to travel with Sound of America this year, but the organization is letting Hillary go next summer because her throat had other ideas. “I had to have my tonsils taken out. The recovery time would have ended just as it would have been time to travel, and my family and I decided that was cutting it too close.� Surprisingly, at least to her, Hillary’s singing voice actually felt stronger after the surgery. Part of the credit, Hillary says, goes to her vocal instructor, Sarah Hancock of Georgia Southern, who has worked with Hillary for the last two years and helped expand her range to that of a first soprano, albeit one who can sing as low as a male tenor when she needs to. Music isn’t Hillary’s entire life. She is a typical teenager in many ways - a mainstay on the Lady Rebels’ volleyball team and long active in 4-H and other clubs. She has a boyfriend “who brought me vanilla cokes from Sonic every day after my tonsillectomy.� But Hillary seems certain about her future, even if all the blanks are not filled. “I want to go to UGA and major in music business, and then maybe go to Nashville, or maybe not. Who knows?� Why not major in music performance? “If music is my livelihood, I should learn everything I can about every facet of the music industry, not just concentrate on one thing or the other.� In other words, Hillary will not be pigeonholed. “If you can’t do it all on your own, without depending on someone else,� she emphatically tells me, “you shouldn’t be doing it.� It won’t surprise anyone who knows her if, sometime down the road, Hillary Usher’s self-reliance makes her a star. All it has done so far is make her a singer in constant demand at home and, in a little less than a year, overseas.

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64 October/November 2010 | EFFINGHAM MAGAZINE

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The Effingham County Chamber of Commerce congratulates Effingham Magazine for four successful years! Upcoming Events: November 21 - Holiday Classic Shop Local!


Get Your Pickup Ready For Hunting Season

Paul’s AUTOMOTIVE Your One Stop Auto Shop


www.paulstireauto.com 312 S. Columbia Ave. Rincon (next to Badcock Furniture) Paul Goss, Owner EFFINGHAM MAGAZINE | October/November 2010 65

{Dakotas} Dakota’s Grille and Spirits has answered the call for more of a variety of restaurants in Effingham County. Since opening their doors this last Memorial Day weekend, Dakota’s has provided a menu featuring everything from steaks to seafood, and even a little Italian faire. Owner Ben Rozier wanted to provide a place for patrons to relax and enjoy a great meal, while on weekends karaoke and live bands entertain and give people a place to unwind. Choose from a wide variety of appetizers, featuring Fried Pickle Chips or try everything with the Super Sampler. Want to try something a little different. Feast your eyes on their specialty: Super Spuds. To Advertise These Texas style super, in the dining duper stuffed potatoes, guide, or to loaded with your favorites, find out how weigh in at a whopping two to get your pounds! The house favorite restaurant, is The Longhorn Super pub or bar Spud, packed with ground listed please angus beef, brown gravy, call Lynnette mushrooms, bell peppers, at (912)547cheese sauce, mozzarella 3684, or Julie and parmesan. at (912)657Featuring large booths 4120 or that will comfortably seat Allison at (912)675-5462 eight people, the facility can seat up to 250 people at one time. Situated stage front left, sits a full service bar and some of the coldest beer and friendly faces in town. Sports fans will be elated to know that an 80inch screen is on its way for watching football, baseball or NASCAR. Dakota’s is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. Tuseday Nights - Two For Tuesday Wednesday - Ladies and Bike Night Weekends - Live Entertainment Lunch and drink specials every day

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*Check out all the great places to eat on Pages 66-68.

66 October/November 2010 | EFFINGHAM MAGAZINE

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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



591 SOUTH COLUMBIA AVE. Our drivers carry less than $20. You must ask for this limited time offer. Prices, participation, delivery area and charges may vary. Domino’s IP Holder LLC. Domino’s , Domino’s Pizza and the modular logo are registered trademarks of Domino’s IP Holder LLC.

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EFFINGHAM MAGAZINE | October/November 2010 67

Simply Southern Home Cooking and Catering

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October 30, 2010

Tickets, CD’s & Stickers On Sale At Sweet Water Grill

COME IN AND ENJOY Rumour Has Wings has played with Drowning Pool, Egypt Central, Eric Bass (Shinedown),Joan Red, Echovalve, His Name Was Iron, Brotherhood of Dae Han, Subrosa, Souls Harbor, Prologic 13, Vanilla Ice, Janus, Sick Puppies, Framing Hanley, The Veer Union, 36 Crazyfists, Straight Line Stitch, Taking Dawn , Throttle-Rod, Burns Like Fire, Guff. We will be playing the annual Cloverfest in Charleston SC next year with Quench, Better than Ezra.

68 October/November 2010 | EFFINGHAM MAGAZINE



826-0808 McCall Plaza • Rincon Monday-Saturday 11:00am-12:00am Sundays 11:00am-8:00pm Starting Oct 3rd

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Grateful for EVERYTHING “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt


ctober is breast cancer awareness month, and for Dee Dee Miller, the cause couldn’t be closer to her heart. As a breast cancer survivor, she wants to share her story of hope and healing with the world. She is a fighter who radiates positivity, and she has made it her goal to educate and encourage women in order to conquer the disease that changed her life forever. “You are never prepared for those three words,” Miller says of her cancer diagnosis. “On August 17th I heard those words, ‘you have cancer,’ and my life from that point on has never been the same.” What Miller thought was a harmless cyst in her breast turned out to be an aggressive form of cancer. She was diagnosed with Stage Two Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, which many women would have feared as a death sentence. But not Dee Dee Miller. “I’ve never had one day

70 October/November 2010 | EFFINGHAM MAGAZINE

of worry or fear,” she says with calm conviction. “I’ve had my moments of break downs-- absolutely. But as far as being fearful? Not one day,” Miller says while shaking her head. “Not one day.” As shocking as it may seem, Miller actually considers the day of her diagnosis as the beginning of a spiritual journey-- a journey she says she doesn’t regret. “I was blessed that day,” she says. “God picked me up, brushed me off, and sent me on my journey.” She was in the parking lot taking a break at work when the call came, and she took it like a woman. In fact, she says she gave up the burden as soon as she suffered it. “At that moment, God took it,” she says. And from that day on, her experience has been an enlightening and life-changing one that has been a testimony of her humility, her heart, and her overwhelming bravery. After weighing the options, Miller

Cancer survivor Dee Dee Miller.

EFFINGHAM MAGAZINE | October/November 2010 71

ultimately decided to have a bilateral mastectomy with TRAM flap reconstruction, which was the same procedure that her sister, Lane, had undergone years before, and a procedure that would save her life and allow her to keep her femininity. She was cut from hip to hip, and two flaps of her own abdominal tissue were then lifted up and tunneled beneath her upper abdominal skin to fill the empty space where her breasts used to be. “TRAM flap reconstruction is perhaps the most brutal of all reconstructions, but allows you to have your own flesh used on your body,” says Miller. She considers herself lucky to have had the mastectomy and the reconstruction all at once. Miller says one of the most touching moments came when she saw her new breasts for the first time. “I went in for my post op visit and they took the bandages off, and I looked in the mirror,” she says. “I just started crying.” Miller stresses that so many women-- especially older women-- are robbed of their femininity by breast cancer, which can feel as damaging as the disease itself. “When I saw what he had done-- Dr. Richard Greco,” she says with a sigh. “He gave me back my femininity.” Even though Miller maintains that she has been blessed to survive her ordeal, she does not downplay the excruciating weeks after her surgery, nor the kindness and generosity shown by her family, friends and neighbors in the community. For several weeks after her surgeries, she dealt with the pain of drainage tubes sutured to her skin while the healing process began. “My husband, Chris, and neighbor, Crystal Morgan, would take the drainage bulbs off, squeeze the drainage tubes, empty them into a measuring cup, record the amount on a sheet,

72 October/November 2010 | EFFINGHAM MAGAZINE

clean my drainage tube entry sights, and then reattach them to the velcro belt,” she explains. Miller says she will never forget the many people who supported her during that painful time. “My Lowe’s family provided my children’s Christmas presents and food for an entire month,” she says. “I was on medical leave with no medical disability, so we were living on one very, very small income.” Her family, friends, coworkers and community rallied for her recovery, and Miller says she is eternally grateful for such support. Unfortunately, after she had the surgery on her breasts, she was hit with another bombshell. The doctor told her that they had found cancer in one of her lymph nodes, and she would have to undergo chemotherapy for six months. But even then, after Miller was hit with the devastating diagnosis for the second time, she says she remained fearless and ready to fight. “Again,” she says with a smile, “God was right there to pick me up.” She says she was blessed to have access to a new drug called Emend while she was doing her chemotherapy. What she feared would be six months of misery was not as bad as she thought it would be. “I did not have one day of nausea. Not one day of vomiting. Not one,” she says. “In fact, I gained almost thirty pounds since my surgery.” Miller says she considers the chemotherapy to be a “life insurance policy” that was well-worth losing her hair. As she lifts up her shirt to show her scars, she is unashamed to show the incisions. She is proud to point out the small holes where the drainage tubes were. She confidently displays her scars as survival souvenirs in a battle that millions of women have fought, and a battle that many women have lost. But Miller is proof that the battle can be endured, and most of all, it can be conquered. Breast cancer is a disease that can be fought and won. Despite the pain that breast cancer has inflicted upon Miller and those close to her, she also recognizes that it has given her a purpose. “I know what I need to do now,” she says. “I want to educate people.” She feels that many women don’t get mammograms because of their fear of the unknown, and she wants to help change that by raising awareness and educating women of the importance of mammograms and early detection. Miller has recenty joined the Young Survivor’s Coalition in Savannah, which offers education and support for breast cancer, and she supports the National Pink Heals Tour, which is another activist group that raises money and awareness for breast cancer. In late September, Miller held a fundraiser that sold approximately three-hundred Boston butts at twenty dollars each to support her cause. The positive energy Miller exudes is an inspiration. She has taken her diagnosis and treatment, as so many strong women do, with class and grace. And she still says she wouldn’t change a thing. “I’m grateful for everything,” she says, holding back tears of gratitude. “I’m humbled and just in awe of people’s incredible generosity. It’s been amazing.” Dee Dee Miller’s story is the story of millions of women worldwide, but it’s not a story of tragedy; it’s a story of hope; it’s a story of bravery. Breast cancer is a frightening diagnosis, but Miller is one of many survivors who can say that she looked fear in the face, fought like a girl, and won.

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704-8996 Four years experience with express washing and detailing 74 October/November 2010 | EFFINGHAM MAGAZINE

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EFFINGHAM COUNTY DRY WASTE COLLECTION SITE 2750 COURTHOUSE RD. THE HOURS OF OPERATION ARE: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday 8:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. (closed on county holidays) THE FOLLOWING ITEMS WILL BE ACCEPTED AT A CHARGE OF $160.00 PER TON (OR .08 CENTS PER POUND): (Price per ton subject to change per fiscal year budget) yard trimmings, concrete, brick, cured asphalt furniture, mattresses, old household items construction/remodeling debris textiles or other dry waste Tires are accepted and charged per the size of the tire THE FOLLOWING RECYCLABLES ARE ACCEPTED AT NO CHARGE: metal (including washers, dryers, grills, bicycles, aluminum, steel, etc.) METAL MUST BE CLEAN OF DEBRIS SUCH AS WOOD OR CONCRETE!! Metal with debris will be charged .04 cent/lb. paper, phone books, magazines, cardboard, newspaper cell phones and rechargeable batteries, automobile batteries inkjet/toner cartridges

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Main Office: 5201 Frederick Street, Savannah Satellite Offices: Pooler, Richmond Hill, RINCON, Statesboro, Southside Savannah Appointment: 912-351-3030

For more information, please contact the Effingham County Sanitation Department at # 754-4668, option 6

Now Featuring A Dispensary In Our Main Office

EFFINGHAM MAGAZINE | October/November 2010 75

question answer Effingham County

COUNTY Events A Q&A with the Effingham County Chamber of Commerce TESS HYNES, CHAMBER DIRECTOR

Tess pictured with State Representative Ann Purcell.

76 October/November 2010 | EFFINGHAM MAGAZINE

What’s the history of the Chamber in Effingham County? The Chamber is in its 25th year. We’re excited because, since 1986, the focus of the Chamber has been to support its existing businesses and help to attract new enterprises to Effingham’s thriving business climate. By banding together, we are better able to provide continuing business education, business promotion, and effective communications with our state legislators. We currently have more than 400 Chamber members from a wide variety of business types and sizes. Even our Board of Directors represents both large and small businesses, and all work toward the common goal of benefiting Effingham county businesses, local citizens and boosting our quality of life. The Chamber just held their first annual Effingham Oktoberfest. Is the Chamber planning other new events for the county? Yes, we were delighted at the community support of our first Oktoberfest. Everyone seemed to enjoy the experience and we had great crowds for both days. But this is just the beginning. In addition to holding this event annually, we are also planning a “Taste of Effingham” for the Spring. We have such a wonderful variety and number of restaurants in the county now that we just felt like it was time for us to have our own “Taste” event. Other new events are being discussed and planning is beginning. For years, the common refrain has been, ‘there’s nothing to do in Effingham County’, and we’ve seen people having to travel into Savannah to enjoy themselves. We feel like it’s time to start providing more entertaining and educational opportunities for our own citizens. How does the Chamber get word out about opportunities for the community? The Chamber has published ‘Chamber Chat’ for many years and emails to over 700 people each week. The Chat sends out news about member businesses’ events, meetings, and other opportunities that can benefit our membership, as well as local non-profit organizations. The Chamber has

“OTHER NEW EVENTS ARE BEING DISCUSSED AND PLANNING IS IN THE BEGINNING. FOR YEARS, THE COMMON REFRAIN HAS BEEN, ‘THERE’S NOTHING TO DO IN EFFINGHAM COUNTY’. WE FEEL LIKE IT’S TIME TO START PROVIDING MORE ENTERTAINING AND EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR OUR OWN CITIZENS.” also just begun to publish a monthly Chamber Newsletter. This newsletter will not only contain news and information about local businesses, but will also contain business tips from local business owners. It provides a forum for sharing and learning from each other and helping all our businesses grow. Our Chamber website contains valuable community information that both locals and visitors alike need to keep up with what’s going on in Effingham County. The Chamber has also effectively begun using social media to get the word out about Chamber and other local events. Our website hit

EFFINGHAM MAGAZINE | October/November 2010 77

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numbers have doubled since beginning to use social media. Can you give an example of how this new communication has worked for the community? Yes, a great recent example was learning about a business that the local United Way had tried to work with before with no result, got involved after reading about the campaign in our Chamber Chat. In fact, when the business was contacted they had already conducted their own company-wide campaign and had 100% participation. When our members succeed, we succeed. How do we increase visibility for our county? The Chamber has begun an initiative to bring people from outside of our county to see the beauty and history that is here. We recently developed a rack card that is being distributed throughout Savannah and at the welcome centers to begin developing a tourism base in the county. With a history that spans the Colonial, Revolutionary and Civil Wars, Effingham County has a lot to offer visitors interested in exploring the deep heritage here. The Chamber is also planning to institute a local hotel-motel bed tax that can be used to promote and build tourism in Effingham County. We are working to help promote the Old Jail Museum and Living History site as well as the Salzburger Museum and Gift Shop, located on the grounds of the historic Jerusalem Lutheran Church at New Ebenezer. We also reformatted our annual Chamber Directory to be more user-friendly and included a section that gathered all the tourism-slanted businesses together into one place. We also provide newcomer and visitor packets with lots of information on the community and on local

Continued on Page 80

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78 October/November 2010 | EFFINGHAM MAGAZINE

Make a Move

in the Right Direction Let SWBC be your guide through the home buying process. When you’re ready to buy a home, you need experienced guides to keep you on the right track. We’ve been working with area home buyers for years and can help you find the best financing package to support your goals. We’re responsive to individual needs and situations, and with options like FHA, VA, and conventional loans, we can help both first-time and experienced borrowers alike. CALL TODAY for a no-obligation mortgage analysis to learn how much home you can afford.

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Effingham County’s Only Community Magazine

Effingham County’s www.EffinghamMagazine.com Effingham County’s Only Only Community Magazine Community Visit Us On The Web Magazine

www.EffinghamMagazine.com 108 International Place P.O. Box 1742 Rincon, GA 31326 (912) 826-2760

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Shop Chamber’.

Why is it important to bring tourists into Effingham County? This gives people the opportunity to visit our great county which often results in people moving here and making this their home. Tourism is also a very green and clean industry, providing jobs and additional infrastructure to the county. This brings in a lot of new revenue to the county and cities and fuels the growth of restaurants and shops here. Thanks to the SPLOST referendum, the additional funding allows us to improve our community by assisting to fund more city and county services. And, to improve our county through quality developments like the restoration of the historic courthouse and possible future projects such as restoration of the historic Mars Theatre and creation of more passive recreation opportunities.

Why is it important to be a Chamber member and to buy from Chamber members? The Chamber is a membershipdriven organization whose sole purpose is to help educate, support and promote local business. The Chamber is a non-profit organization and is funded by members and service contracts as well as by non-dues events. Revenues raised by events like the Oktoberfest go back into efforts to promote the local community. By becoming a Chamber member, you take ownership in an organization that prides itself on professional development and leadership within our county. Educational programs like business workshops and the annual Small Business Summit, bring new ideas and opportunities for networking and sharing ideas to the community. By choosing to shop with Chamber members, you are dealing with a trusted and valued member of our community. Take comfort in finding the right place for your next purchase by visiting our website, HYPERLINK “http://www.effinghamcounty. comâ€?www.effinghamcounty.com and searching under the membership directory. Chamber members offer you the chance to shop locally for furniture, appliances, home dĂŠcor, hardware, school supplies, gifts, clothing and much more. Be sure and look for the Chamber decal on the business door. Rest assured that you are making a sound community purchase when you see the Chamber decal. The Chamber is an inclusive organization that welcomes your involvement. Together we are making a difference for Effingham County, your marketplace and your business.

Why is it so important for residents to shop locally? One of the Chamber’s main focuses this year is for residents to realize how important it is to keep more of our dollars in our local economy. When your dollars are spent in another community, those dollars stay in that community. The sales tax generated goes to paying for their roads, schools and parks. In fact, your dollars spent in locally-owned businesses have three times the impact on your community as dollars spent at national chains. When shopping locally, you simultaneously create jobs, fund more city services through sales tax, invest in neighborhood improvement and promote community development. All of which help to promote your quality of life in your community. If you want to see the creation of new businesses and entertainment venues in Effingham County, you have to support the businesses that are here now. Get on board with our slogan this year, “Shop Local,

Your Effingham Chamber welcomes the opportunity to visit with any aspiring entrepreneurs looking to grow a business in Effingham County.


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This cute 2 story home has 1139 square feet and features 3 bedrooms and 2 full baths with the master bedroom down stairs. The bay window in the kitchen overlooks a beautiful pond. It has a carport in the rear. All this for $134,900 New Construction Julie Hales 912.657.4120 Heidt Burns Real Estate Consultants 912.826.2800 www.heidtburns.com

What A Great Buy! This singlewide mobile home has 2 bedrooms and 2 full baths. New flooring, paint and a brand new stove. Refrigerator, microwave and washer/dryer remain. Property includes 2 garages and a 2 car carport. Great screened in front porch with huge deck on back. Great for entertaining! Plenty of room for cars and storage/shop area. All this sits on .8 acres with mature oaks and a beautiful yard, all completely fenced in! Priced To Sell At $79,400! Julie Hales 912.657.4120 Heidt Burns Real Estate Consultants 912.826.2800 www.heidtburns.com

Single wide mobile home on 8.68 acres! Stocked fish pond! Horse pastures! All fenced in! Property includes a 1200 sq. ft. storage building! Live in mobile home while you build! $110,000 Julie Hales 912.657.4120 Heidt Burns Real Estate Consultants 912.826.2800 www.heidtburns.com

This is a terrific buy! 3 bedroom, one bath home with a 1 bedroom, 1 bath apartment. Huge, well maintained lot, hardwood floors, separate dining, fireplace in greatroom. Live in one and rent the other! Only 129,900. Call me today for a showing. Julie Hales 912.657.4120 Heidt Burns Real Estate Consultants 912.826.2800 www.heidtburns.com

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3BR, 21/2 Bath, Open Plan with expansive 18ft. ceiling creates a loft feeling that lives large. Large master BR with sitting area & fabulous master bath with free standing tub and separate travertine & semi frameless glass shower. Metal roof, spray foam insulation, maple custom kitchen cabinets with up hinged glass doors. Stained wood stairs with metal accents. Kids rooms have custom painted murals. Must see this truly special home with a Mountain Lodge feeling. $239,900

EFFINGHAM MAGAZINE | October/November 2010 83

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This cute 2 story home has 1139 square feet and features 3 bedrooms and 2 full baths with the master bedroom down stairs. The bay window in the kitchen overlooks a beautiful pond. It has a carport in the rear. All this for $134,900 New Construction

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Single wide mobile home on 8.68 acres! Stocked fish pond! Horse pastures! All fenced in! Property includes a 1200 sq. ft. storage building! Live in mobile home while you build! $110,000

2 bedroom, 2 bath singlewide on .80 acres. Beautifully landscaped yard with mature oaks for plenty of shade, all fenced in. It has a screened front porch with a huge back deck, both great for entertaining. Property also has a 2 car carpot, an attached one car garage with storage building and a detached 2 car garage/shop. Plenty of room for cars, boats and storgae! Brand new stove, all appliances stay, including the microwave and washer/dryer! A great deal. Only $79,400!

is a buy! terrific3buy! 3 bedroom, home withaa11bedroom, bedroom, 11bath This is aThis terrific bedroom, oneone bathbath home with bathapartapartment. ment. Huge, well lot, maintained lot, hardwood floors, separate fireplace in Huge, well maintained hardwood floors, separate dining, dining, fireplace in greatroom. greatroom. Live in one and rent the other! Only 129,900. Call me today for a Live in one and rent the other! Only 129,900. Call me today for a showing. showing. Julie Hales 912.657.4120 Heidt Burns Real Estate Consultants 912.826.2800 www.heidtburns.com

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n late summer our community leaders once again came Committee, Chamber of Commerce and City of Springfield together during the Chamber of Commerce’s Community deserve a lot of credit for getting these things done. The Retreat to discuss the on goings and future plans for our Springfield Revitalization Committee and work on the Mars community. The event was one year after the establishment Theater demonstrate even more vision. of “Vision Effingham”, a program I’ll admit that sometimes it does that seeks to address community take a moment to realize all that needs beyond the nuts and bolts. It is going on in our community. We takes into account the things that always want immediate gratification. the citizens want that will improve It must be noted that many of these the quality of life here in Effingham. projects are grass roots efforts that Things like parks, recreation require volunteers to give of their opportunities, retail attraction, time to see the projects through. etc. The recent recession has put a Volunteers, I might add that work damper on a lot of extraneous things diligently with little gratitude for their that would certainly make life more service to the community. It is often enjoyable. The desire for community through the leadership of communitycenters, amphitheaters, parks and minded citizens that we see the vision. other recreational opportunities They deserve a big, “thank you” from has to be balanced with the reality all of us! of dwindling revenues and fiscal I encourage concerned citizens to responsibility. It is no secret that let your elected officials know your these things will cost money and desires and your visions for our that means tax money. However, community. One of the most common the wants and desires of the citizens comments I hear from our elected John Henry IDA Chief Executive Officer who are paying for these things have officials is that they only get input to be taken into account. “Vision from the citizens when something Effingham” is a concept of analyzing arises that they do not support. the things that can be done to provide the greatest impact at Most of our elected officials would really appreciate some the lowest cost. It also seeks to leverage private capital from constructive input. They get enough negative feedback. I too outside sources as much as possible to offset the direct tax would like to hear from you regarding what you would like contributions to projects. to see in the community. I am always happy to discuss issues Some success has been made. A committee is working regarding the quality of life in Effingham County. Having a diligently on developing a low cost cross-country trail in the thriving, happy community certainly helps me do my job in buffer zones behind Blandford Elementary on lands owned recruiting industry. Remember, Effingham has to be a place by the Industrial Development Authority. It is a work in that people want to come to; otherwise they have plenty of progress, but it is in progress! other options. Other visions include things such as addressing the curb In everything that is done, funding will be an issue. appeal of the community by landscaping sections of roadway I do not know of any examples (outside of the federal via the gateway projects. Again, it has taken a long time, but government) where the money was in hand before the vision. plants have finally been planted in the median in Rincon. A Funding will always be an issue. I believe that leadership, gateway project on Highway 21 south at the county line is vision, commitment and hard work are much more essential being worked on as well. This will let travelers know when to any project than funding. they have entered Effingham County and will hopefully leave A man named Joel Barker once said, “Vision without a lasting positive impression upon them. action is a dream. Action without vision is simply passing the The City of Rincon has made great progress in their parks time. Action with Vision is making a positive difference.” I and recreation. New equipment and work at Giles Park hope that we can continue down a path of making a positive and Macomber Park and the new Patriot’s Park are quite difference in the community. It takes a lot of vision, it takes impressive. a lot of action, it takes selfless devotion, but most of all, it Events such as Olde Effingham Days, a Barbecue Cookoff takes leadership. I think that we have all of the elements here and Oktoberfest are also a testament to the community’s in Effingham. Leadership with vision takes care of two of the desire to create new attractions. The Olde Effingham elements.

86 October/November 2010 | EFFINGHAM MAGAZINE


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Ashley & David Hirsch

P h o t o g r a p h y b y K R I S T I N PAT E

Bride: Ashley Fallon Gnann Groom: David Scott Hirsch Ceremony Venue: Forsyth Park Photographer: Kristin Pate

90 October/November 2010 | EFFINGHAM MAGAZINE



H EFFINGHAM MAGAZINE | October/November 2010 91


Tia & Justin Coe


Bride: Tia Keyonna Thomas Groom: Justin Alexander Coe Ceremony Venue: Mt. Carmel Deliverance Center Church Reception: Clyo Community Ballroom

EFFINGHAM MAGAZINE | October/November 2010 93

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