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champions in business as awarded by the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce

Leonard Bevill Macon Occupational Medicine

Buck Melton

Small Business of the Year

Sell & Melton

Economic Development Lifetime Achievement Award

Steve Allen Egg Media

Ambassador of the Year

Thomas Wicker Georgia Power

Economic Development Champion’s Award


Bob Hatcher MidCountry Financial

Jeff Jones

Mike Dyer Cox Communications

Chamber Chairman’s Award

Clay Murphey

Satilla Ventures

Satilla Ventures

Small Business of the Year

Small Business of the Year

Existing Industry of the Year

sponsored by champions for business

Citizen of the Year


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march/april 06

volume 2

number 2

contents departments 5 7 11 64

my perspective bulletpoints components of success press

features On The Cover: from left to right Otis Redding, Kevin Brown and Jason Aldean

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A Macon Natural

Kevin Brown comes home.

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Jamie Caraway

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The Big House: Macon’s Musical Legacies Live On

The Big House is an historical testimony to the Allman Brothers Band. Melody McKinney

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Ones to Watch: Rising Young Stars of Macon

These four rising stars had to start somewhere – and that somewhere happened to be Macon. Jessica Walden-Griner

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Under the Radar

Macon’s business community filled with stars. Robbie Burns

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Changing Faces

Steve Penley captures the lives behind the faces he paints. Jamie Caraway

Economic Impact: What’s In An Ad? - Special Insert

Advertising is an integral part of just about every industry on the planet, and Macon is no exception. Mark Hoerrner

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address

my perspective kissed a star. The fact that we were probably only 12 at the time is a moot point. She’s probably become too big of a star to remember little ol’ me anyway. I am privileged to have known all of these ladies and proud they are all from Central Georgia. From my perspective, fame and recognition, whether local, national or international, carries a great deal of responsibility - a similar weight carried by professionals in our Former New York Yankees pitcher autographs a baseball for Carter Canady.

business community. For all that we receive, it is beholding of us to return some for the betterment of our community, our nation and our world. For me, the “real stars” are the ones who keep this in mind. We are fortunate to have many famous faces in Macon who live their lives with this creed. Most recently, two “stars” come to mind who exemplify a life of service, Jimmy Dooley with Georgia Power and Yancey Houston with the Auto Trader. Jimmy and Yancey were my son’s basketball coaches in the Upward Bound program. These two brought fun, athletic skill and the message of God to a group of rowdy 6, 7, and 8 year olds. These are the kinds of people that I admire the most. We appreciate your continued interest in address Macon and we value your comments and suggestions. In the words of our own local famous radio talk show host, Jamie G of 940 AM, “let us know what you think but mostly that you think.” To our mutual success,

David S. Canady Publisher, address Macon www.imediagroup.biz/addressmacon

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www.kenkrakow.com

The road to fame is usually long and hard. Most of the “overnight wonders” you hear about have actually been preparing for years to capture their moment in the limelight. We often forget that industries such as television, sports, music, arts and entertainment that offer the opportunity for what we consider “fame” are businesses. And, like any business preparation, practice and persistence are key elements for success. This issue of address offers a unique perspective into the lives and accomplishments of many of Macon’s elite famous faces. Hopefully, you noticed immediately upon receipt of this issue that something was different. Steve Penley, a personal friend, Macon native and nationally renowned artist, has graciously provided us with an outstanding artistic impression of the address cover featuring Otis Redding, Kevin Brown and Jason Aldean. The original art stands 6 feet tall and will proudly hang in the hallways of Imedia, Inc. See more of Steve’s work at www.matregallery.com. While having no real personal claim to fame, I do have fond memories of several individuals of note. Recently, I was able to spend time with ABC news correspondent, Deborah Roberts while working on our Houston County Magazine. How many of you knew she was from Perry? Another Houston County beauty is Bobby Eakes, who at the time I worked with her, was known as Macy on the soap opera, The Bold and Beautiful. I was fortunate enough to host an American Cancer Society fundraiser with her. Our very own Sabrina Sikora has been a friend for several years. She understands there is much more to modeling and acting than just having a pretty face. She is motivated to fulfill her quest for education, fame and fortune. I have no doubt she’ll be successful both in front of and behind the camera. Last, but not least, was my “relationship” with now film and Broadway actress, Carrie Preston. I can honestly say I’ve


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A product of Imedia, Inc. 4360 San Carlos Drive Macon, Georgia 31206 478-314-2285 phone 478-314-2294 fax website: www.imediagroup.biz/addressMacon email: addressMacon@imediagroup.biz Imedia, Inc. Publisher Ronald T. Williams Chairman David S. Canady President Dawn Burkhalter Chief Financial Officer Vicki Mills Sean Waters Advertising Sales Jamie Caraway Coordinating Editor

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Photography Ken Krakow Photography www.kenkrakow.com Contributing Writers David S. Canady Jamie Caraway Vicki Mills Ron Williams Robbie Burns Melody McKinney Anna Cate Ridley Mark Hoerrner Jessica Walden-Griner

address Macon is published bi-monthly by Imedia, Inc. Copyright address Macon 2006. Reproduction in whole or part without permission is prohibited. Advertising rates available on request. The publishers are not responsible for the comments of authors or for unsolicited manuscripts. Distribution is to business executives and developing young professionals in Bibb and surrounding counties. All manuscripts, photos, drawings, or letters will be treated as unconditionally assigned for publication and copyright purposes, and as such are subject to address Macon’s unrestricted right to edit or comment editorially.

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Stroud and Company Completes Renovation

bulletpoints•

When Sheila Shah, DMD was considering renovating her existing facility at 4929 Forsyth Road, she called Stroud and Company. Now, just a few months later, MaconSmiles has a new Treatment Room and numerous other improvements throughout the office. Exterior improvements included a new handicap ramp and a total resurfacing of the parking lot. These improvements will help ensure that Dr. Shah’s patients continue to enjoy superior treatment.

business ventures • events • awards • sales reports • moving • new products Claxton Crossing will undergo big changes with Fickling & Co. and Wangard Partners Claxton Crossing Shopping Center was recently purchased by Wangard Partners, Inc. of Waukesha, WI. The new owners engaged Fickling & Co. to provide Property Management & Leasing services for the center. Fickling & Co. will oversee a renovation project in an effort to reintroduce the shopping center to the market. Fickling & Co. plans to open their Dublin area Commercial Real Estate office at Claxton Crossing, Spring 2006. This property is located on the corner of Claxton Dairy Rd. & Hillcrest Dr., in a high profile, high traffic area, close to Hwy 80 and Hwy 441. Nearby neighbors include Carl A. Vinson V.A. Medical Center, Fairview Park Hospital and the Industrial Park for Dublin/Laurens County. “The tenants will truly benefit from the prime location and high visibility,” says Patty Burns, Sales and Leasing Expert for Fickling & Co. New tenants can customize their space, ranging from 1,200 to 38,000 sq ft. For more information, please contact Patty Burns at (478) 746-9421.

2006 Komen Central Georgia Cycle for the Cure™ The 2nd annual Komen Central Georgia Cycle for the Cure™, a professional Women’s Cycling Event featuring two races, will be held on Tuesday, April 18, 2006 at 1:00 p.m. in downtown Macon. The first race features Category 3 and 4 women cyclists while the second race hails some of the finest Category 1 and 2 women cyclists from across the Nation. Spend the afternoon with us as we watch these women race the 1-mile course at incredible speeds to the finish line on Cherry St. at Third Street Park. Stay for the Awards Ceremony at 3:30 p.m. and celebrate with our women cyclists with music, food, and fun at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame at 5:30 p.m. More than 300 volunteers will support this event. Costs: Race Spectator, FREE; Race Entry Fee, $35 by 4/15, $40 after 4/15; Komen Cycle for the Cure™ Banquet, $20 in advance. For race route, registration, and banquet ticket information go to www.KomenCentralGA.org or call (478) 301-5127. www.imediagroup.biz/addressmacon

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SSK Named to Prestigious Chairman's Circle Coldwell Banker SSK, Realtors has been named to the prestigious Coldwell Banker Chairman’s Circle. This designation is awarded to companies who attained closed adjusted gross commission income of $7,250,000.00 or more during the 2005 calendar year. Coldwell Banker SSK, Realtors is one of only 127 Coldwell Banker companies throughout the world to receive this distinguished award. Coldwell Banker SSK has received this exclusive honor for seven consecutive years. As a prerequisite of membership, Peter Solomon, CEO of Coldwell Banker SSK, is invited to attend a retreat exclusively for Chairman’s Circle members to be held at the Fairmont Monte Carlo in Monaco. At that time, he will be personally honored by top management, including Jim Gillespie, president and chief executive officer of Coldwell Banker Real Estate Corporation. “The Chairman’s Circle award is the most prestigious designation a Coldwell Banker company can achieve,” said Jim Gillespie.

2006 Officers for Board of Realtors The Middle Georgia Association of Realtors installed 2006 Officers at the January 12th lunch at Idle Hour Country Club. 2006 Officers:

President– Bruce Elliott of Bruce Elliott & Assoc., President Elect– Freeda Chapman of Fickling & Co., VP Governmental Affairs– George Folsom of SSK Eberhardt & Barry, VP Professional Development– Derry Burns of Coldwell Banker SSK, VP Administration & Finance– Kerri Swearingen of Connie R. Hamm Middle Georgia Realty Past President– Jim Smith of WIllingham Loan & Realty Co. 2006 Board of Directors: Virginia Beck, Guy Gunn, Cheryl Lewis, Dorothy MitchellCullen, Louise Pettis, Tim Thornton, Keith Rollins and James Solomon. 8

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ADDY Music Awards From froggy Christmas cards, heartwrenching videos; innovative websites to posters painted by Steve Penley, advertisements entered in the 2006 ADDY Award competition were sure to capture attention. Top advertising campaigns were chosen from over 120 submissions honoring Middle Georgia's best work in the industry according to ADDY Chair, Ron Armour. ADDY Awards are sponsored by the AAF and offer local entrants a chance to advance to the 7th District Competition and National AAF Competition. At the local level, winning an ADDY can put any agency, freelance designer or production company on the map or bolster its reputation. "It's great to be recognized by your peers," said Larry Najera of Najera Design. “It’s good to have an organization that upholds all advertising standards and brings people in the same industry together to help each other excel and ultimately help other businesses in the community.” Medcen Community Health Foundation won Best of Show for it’s “Central Georgia’s Newest Legacy – The Albert L. “Buddy” Luce, Jr. Heart Institute.” Fiveash Design won Best of Show Print for it’s “Hard Rock Casino, Biloxi, Mississippi Grand Opening Invitation.” Bright Blue Sky Productions took home Best of Show Electronic in the interactive category for its “georgiawomen.org – The Georgia Women of Achievement website”.

Wesleyan Honors Lane Family in Dedication Ceremony Wesleyan College dedicated its Lane Center for Community Engagement & Service to an exemplary local family during a ceremony Thursday, March 2, 2006 honoring William and Eleanor Lane, '58, and the memory of Linda Lane. Pictured are Eleanor and Bill Lane with Wesleyan College President Ruth Knox.

GE Donation Supports Boys & Girls Clubs The Boys and Girls Club of Central Georgia recently received a donation of $10,000 from GE Commercial Finance to expand the “Money Matters” program in Bibb and Houston Counties. The program promotes financial responsibility and independence and is targeted at boys and girls ages 13 to 18.

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Ann Smith Honored by Governor

General Steel Opens New Location After forty-nine years at 224 Walnut Street, The General Steel Company opened its doors to their new 110,000 square foot warehouse facility at 4131 Broadway in February. The new warehouse facility boasts 15 overhead cranes, a new Hi –Mec H-22 saw and a new Accur Shear. As not to interrupt service to their customers, the company closed Friday afternoon for business and moved over 50 truckloads of material from the old location to 4131 Broadway during that weekend. They had already built a substantial inventory of common items in both places weeks before and accomplished what many people thought was impossible; to move a warehouse in one weekend. The General Steel Company is a family owned steel business, started in 1956 by Joe Oliner. A full line steel service center, General Steel serves over one thousand customers throughout the state of Georgia and is the only full service DOT certified rebar fabrication facility in Middle Georgia. General Steel employs 57 employees in Macon.

On March 1, 2006 Ann Smith, owner of Ann H. Smith, CPA was recognized by Governor Sonny Perdue as the winner of the Governor’s Small Business of Excellence Award. The awards were given in three categories: 1 to 5 employees, 6 to 50 employees and 51 to 200 employees. In recognizing Smith for this award, Governor Purdue noted the growth in her business over the past several years, her novel management practices, and her innovative customer service strategies, which includes a drive-up window at her office. He also mentioned the column she regularly contributes to the business page in The Macon Telegraph.

THANK YOU to our Bowl For Kids’ Sake Sponsors for a successful event to help provide 1,380 children with magic in their lives through mentoring.

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components of success address Macon is a champion for business and delivers components of success for business, economic development, quality of life and lifestyles. Discover the products, services and resources available in our community and benefit from our collective success. Photography by Ken Krakow Visit online at kenkrakow.com

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next generation

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entertainment

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business

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philanthropy

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arts

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media


address

next generation

Food Fame If you haven’t spent a Christmas, graduation, wedding or some other type of celebration gathered around a Fincher’s Barbecue shoulder, then you haven’t truly lived in Central Georgia. It’s more than a 70-year-old staple in town– it’s also a Macon custom. The Brunswick stew, the pulled pork with savory sauce, the burgers, not to mention the down-home curbside service, all lend themselves to that wholesome, familiar feeling the Fincher name imparts. Doug Fincher, III certainly has his hands full with his three restaurant locations on Houston Avenue, Gray Highway and North Davis Drive in Warner Robins (the Fincher family recently franchised the Houston Road location to partner Eric Poulin). Doug’s brother, Jake, just made the leap to Albany where he opened a new Fincher’s Barbecue in February. On continuing to expand locations, Doug comments, “Only if the opportunity is right. We want to take it slow and do it the right way; one at a time for right now.” Besides, it’s difficult to stray from such deep, firmly planted roots, not to mention impressive bragging rights. Though a bold statement, one might say they have the most popular ‘cue in the universe. How? So the story goes, Doug’s father, Doug Junior, was at a party for his friend, Astronaut Sonny Carter, just after Carter had been selected to go into space. Doug Junior jeeringly asked him if he’d like to take some Fincher’s barbecue up with him as his cosmic meal. “A year later [my dad] got a phone call from NASA,” says Doug. Turns out, Carter indeed chose Fincher’s as his dish du jour in space. And so, sure enough, they sent the delectable meat and perfectly flavored sauce to NASA, where it was freeze dried for the Shuttle Discovery. “They said the barbecue actually tasted more like what people got back home than anything else did,” Doug says. “I guess from the freeze dry process it held up better because of the sauce. It kind of preserved it and maintained the flavor.” Back on earth, the Fincher dynasty has also appeared on a Turner South “Best of the South” episode. The restaurant was selected as one of four “blue ribbon” pulled pork joints in the Southeast. A graduate of First Presbyterian Day School, Doug went on to higher education at Georgia Southern as well as The University of Georgia before graduating from Mercer University. It’s safe to assume he was swayed back to uphold the family legacy. “The barbecue place was always home to me,” he admits. Doug spends his time away from the restau12

Doug Fincher, III

rant with his three children, all under the age of ten: Brice, Tom and Libby. He especially enjoys helping coach his sons various sports teams. Doug says each day holds new surprises. “I just enjoy meeting the customers and meeting new people. Through the business I’ve been able to meet a new person everyday,” he explains. There’s nothing like a family business to keep a family united and afloat. Interestingly, the weeks following September 11, 2001 were some of the busiest Fincher’s Barbecue has ever seen. Many Central Georgia families rely on this establishment year after year for holiday meals, special catered events or just a great place to gather and chow down on some sensational Southern swine. Anna Cate Ridley

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address

entertainment

A Tale of Two Parties While most Maconites can be found wrapping up their night’s sleep around 5:45 a.m., Kenny Burgamy and Jami Gaudet are in their office preparing for the day ahead. As cohosts of Macon’s Morning News on NewsTalk 940 WMAC, these two are never lacking something to talk about; in fact – they make their living broadcasting their opinions to the Central Georgia community. Gaudet and Burgamy have been sparking conversation, and sometimes controversy, for the past five years. Burgamy started at the station 17 years ago and hosted the morning show with Macon Telegraph Editorial Page Editor Charles Richardson before Gaudet took his place in 2000. From local politics to national news, the two have become a Macon staple. “…We say out loud what most people only say quietly or in private. And because of our jobs, we say it out loud and then take the heat for it,” Burgamy says of their very public professions. The two are known for their conflicting opinions on many issues. Gaudet, a registered Democrat and weekly columnist for the Atlanta Jewish Times, grew up in a Jewish family in rural New York while Burgamy, known for his Republican stance, has spent most of his life in Macon and was raised in a Baptist church. They both agree to disagree, however. “I think it’s really healthy what we do, and I think what we do is so different,” Gaudet says. “We are able to vehemently disagree without being disagreeable.” The two strive to fight against the stereotypical talk radio perception. “We don’t have to rely on what I call the cheap formula for talk radio – that we always have to be opposite. We agree on lots of different things, and

Kenny Burgamy and Jami Gaudet

I think that is the beauty of us. We still manage to be entertaining and informative even when we agree,” Gaudet explains. One thing they will agree on is the direction Macon is heading. Though they feel some political leadership is lacking, they both concur that management in other areas is both beneficial and progressive. Gaudet boasts of the recent reopening of the Capital Theater, which she says is a much-needed attraction in downtown, while Burgamy notes the leadership style of those in Macon’s business community. “The real heroes in this, to me, are the Gene Dunwodys, Pat Toppings and Chip Cherrys, who despite all the negatives keep plowing on ahead. They’re the heroes to me; they know all this negative is going on, but they keep pressing forward anyway,” Burgamy says. The two note that while they serve as Macon’s watchdog, they comment on the good elements of Macon’s political, economical and social goings on as well. “We jump on what’s wrong, not to point fingers, but to talk about how we can improve,” Gaudet says. “When there are good things, we’ll be the first ones to jump on it.” At the end of the show, both Burgamy and Gaudet have families to go home to. Gaudet shares the limelight with her husband, Jim, a retired Major League baseball player who now operates a chiropractic practice in Macon. The couple has two grown children – Allison and Joby, and she and her family are very active in their synagogue, Congregation Sha'arey Israel. Burgamy, who teaches the young couples Sunday school class at Mabel White Baptist Church, has been married to his wife Dawn for the past 22 years. They have one daughter, Morgan, a sixth grader at Mt. De Sales academy. They might not always agree, but they both have similar goals for their show. In the five years Gaudet has been on the air, she says she has held true to one objective. “I want to make people think and feel…If I can make somebody think in a more complex way, if we can make somebody think in a different way or juxtapose differing points of view, it’s a great day,” she says. Jamie Caraway

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address

business

A Song for Macon From Smokey Robinson to Babyface, Freddie Jackson to The Fat Boys, The Commodores to Toni Braxton, she’s met ‘em all. Phillis Malone’s oldest African-American owned record shop in the country, Habersham Record and Tape, has become a signature stop for many music artists over the last three decades. When it comes to her business, her city and her tunes, Malone couldn’t be more proud. “I sell records, CDs, a few tapes, incense, oils, lotion, cologne, a little bit of jewelry,” says Malone, as she dusts off some old 8-tracks for a customer, noting that she still offers just about everything they’ve had since the store opened. “I like to put my music in gift baskets for birthdays, anniversaries,” she continues. “Especially for the men who don’t know what to do for a woman’s gift - I suggest a gift basket.”

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Malone also sells tickets and posts notices for the latest plays, concerts and other cultural affairs taking place at the Douglas Theater and other venues. “I make sure people in the community can find out what is going on in Macon,” she delights. Malone grew up in Macon and graduated from Mercer University with a major in Psychology and a minor in Sociology. She was also a member of Delta Sigma Theta - the first African-American sorority. Her background in counseling and teaching actually fuels nicely into her current business, as she has become a steadfast support to many of her repeat customers. “I love working with the community, especially working with the young people to help them aspire to make their lives better,” says Malone. Malone makes a true effort to keep her young customers out of trouble. “I tell them if they stay out of trouble, I will give them a free CD if they graduate,” she says. “I told a little fellow that, and I didn’t think he paid any attention. And you know he went back and graduated and came in and said, ‘Ms. Pat, I want my CD.’ I really didn’t think it was going to have an impact, but it did. It’s been several guys now. It’s the little things in life that count, don’t they?” Another prime example of Malone supporting the community through her store took place Christmas Eve of 2004. Macon native Young Geez, who had just hit the rap scene trying to make it big in Atlanta, came to Habersham and gave away 100 pairs of designer tennis shoes -$5,000 worth. “No one was turned away, he accommodated everybody,” says Malone, as she pulls out the billboard chart to show where Young Geez is planted at #1. “He was up and coming at the time, and then he just blew up,” she says, referring to his rise to the top. When Malone is not running the store seven days a week she makes time for her three children and four grandchildren, who all live in Atlanta. While it might sound as if Habersham Record and Tape is her haven, Malone actually puts the most emphasis on her spiritual life and her church, Unionville Church of Christ, where she sings gospel in the choir. When it comes to her deep roots, Malone beams: “There are some great people in Macon, of all races. There are some very talented people in all areas… I love my customers. I think I have the greatest customers in the world. And I’m proud of my town, that’s why I stay here and fight for it.” Anna Cate Ridley

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“Serving Middle Georgia Since 1988”

STROUD AND COMPANY GENERAL CONTRACTORS

Dr. Don Spillers - Congratulations on your new orthodontic facility. 18

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address

philanthropy

Swinging for Charity Last year, the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame bestowed the coveted honor of induction on our very own, Macon raised five-time Wimbledon participant. It’s undeniably appropriate for Jaime Kaplan to be honored in such a special way by the city she has tirelessly served for more than 17 years. Kaplan has called Macon home all her life, even during her six and a half year stint on the women’s professional tennis tour in the ‘80s. A knee injury in 1989 forced Kaplan home to recover, and lucky for Macon, she chose to stay and commit her energy to lessons and charity events at Healy Point Country Club. “It’s hard to put into words,” says Kaplan, referring to the anticipated GSHF phone call. Having been up for nomination for four years and just missing it by a hair the year before, it’s no wonder the news brought an onslaught of tears to this local tennis star. After getting the call, she promptly called her fam-

ily and friends, who came in masses to support her at the induction ceremony last May. “On the tour, I played in a lot of charity tennis events and met a lot of celebrities and pro athletes,” says Kaplan. “I had the opportunity to play with Barry Williams from ‘The Brady Bunch,’ John Castellanos from ‘The Young and the Restless,’ Robert Fuller from ‘Emergency!’ and NFL legend Franco Harris. I always got teased because no one had ever heard of Macon, Georgia.” But Kaplan was proud of her hometown, even if it wasn’t Hollywood-familiar. “I thought it was cool to get Macon’s name out there,” she continues. “So, all these celebrities would say, ‘You put something on in Macon, Georgia, and we want to come.’” And Kaplan held them to it. Her first big event took place in 1988, when she invited pal and 1977 Wimbledon Champion Virginia Wade to conduct a one-day tennis clinic that benefited the Piedmont Research Foundation in Macon. “And then from there, I built upon that and started a pro celebrity tennis event,” which took place in September of 1989. Kaplan’s first Celebrity Tennis Classic netted about $23,000 and benefited the Association for Retarded Citizens for whom her brother, Mike, was president at the time. “And that was just the beginning,” she recalls. Indeed it was. Last year’s event, which has undergone quite a transformation over the years, netted $142,000. In 1991, it became a tennis and golf event sponsored by Five Star Mazda, who has sponsored it since. In 1994, the event took place after the historical flood, so in order to “cut back a little” they made it into a one-day golf tournament. “Being involved with tennis all my life, it was a hard decision, but knowing that was the best way to raise money for the charity, that’s how it became just a golf event and auction,” Kaplan explains. Major League Baseball player and Macon native Kevin Brown was one of the original golfers who supported the tournament from its inception. “So I eventually asked if I could put his name on the event and he agreed, and every year it’s just gotten bigger and bigger,” says Kaplan of the Five Star Mazda Kevin Brown Celebrity Classic that now benefits the Macon Rescue Mission. This spring, Kaplan was asked by the Cancer Society to run the Lady’s Pink Ribbon Golf Classic benefiting breast cancer research. It is simply one more way Kaplan is using her position in the community to aid those less fortunate. Healy Point, and the city of Macon as a whole, is blessed to have this talented, fruitful giver among its people. Anna Cate Ridley

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address

arts

Creative Genius Charles McCullough, vice president of Backdrops Fantastic, gained more than a son when his daughter, Amy, married her South African husband, Clayton Hellis. McCullough soon realized, however, that great things were in store for the expanding family – a family that has become a fantastic backdrop to Backdrops Fantastic. The company, which has become a national player in the event industry, enables event planners to transform their venues with the drop of a canvas. With the help of these backdrops, walls and stages are morphed into jungle scenes, baseball parks and the streets of New York to name a few. The company’s backdrops are used locally in playhouse theaters, the Grand Opera House and the Douglas Theater. Having founded the backdrop production company in South Africa ten years ago, Hellis opened the North American division in 2001. McCullough, a former software executive, manages that division. Because of family ties and their client’s easy access to Internet technology, locating the business in Macon was the obvious choice. “If you look up backdrops (on the Internet) you get 25 or 30 companies, but there’s only three or four good sized companies. Believe it or not, we’ve earned the reputation Clayton Hellis, for being absolutely Charles McCullough the best; best backand Amy Hellis drops, best service,”

lies with Hellis, who designs each piece on his computer. The designs are then drawn onto 40x20 foot synthetic and natural fiber canvases and hand-painted and airbrushed by skilled artists in a 20,000 square foot Johannesburg, South Africa studio. There are distributors in Ireland, Australia, Mexico and Canada as well. Event planners, schools, churches and theaters worldwide can view each backdrop on the company website www.backdropsfantastic.com. In order to spread the word about the fantastic backdrops, the company needs Amy Hellis, who serves not only as design consultant but is also responsible for the company’s marketing endeavors. Most of the marketing is done via Internet, and the company utilizes trade magazines and shows in order to show off their product. Amy Hellis says corporate event planners for company’s such as Disney, Microsoft, Intel and A Southern Company utilize Backdrops Fantastic on a regular basis. “A good density of relevant keywords on our website has led to high rankings on major Internet search engines and this, coupled with the easy-to-use website, has been a major part of our online success,” Amy Hellis says. Jamie Caraway

says McCullough. McCullough says the company design consultants love helping clients find what they need. “Most of our customers are already artistically talented and just need assistance to complete their event or performance,” he says. “It’s a thrill guiding our clients through our website to select the designs that best meet their needs. It is a very enjoyable career.” The creative genius behind the company’s 100-plus backdrops 20

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130 North Crest Blvd, Suite B, Macon, GA www.imediagroup.biz/addressmacon

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art by: Sterling Everett

THE ARMORY BALLROOM Macon’s Premier Rental Facility

Now Available for all Business and Social Events 484 First Street (2nd Floor Of The Old Trading Post)

Call 478-318-7680 or visit www.armoryballroom.com

Wouldn’t You Rather Be “in town”

Live in Beall’s Hill, the “talk of the town,” next to Mercer University, Alexander II Elementary Math and Science Magnet School, and within walking distance of the Medical Center with “up town” amenities like sidewalks, underground utilities, period street lights, pocket-parks, lavishly landscaped intersections and a bridge that has been converted from a dare devil vehicular bridge to a pedestrian friendly gathering place to sit and chat with your neighbors and enjoy the view of the city.

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Never a Dull Moment Frank Malloy has been the face of Macon news for the past 24 years. The 13WMAZ news anchor moved to Macon in 1982 after former WMAZ station manager Don McGurk recommended he apply for the sports director position at the CBS affiliate. Since then, Malloy has remained a constant in Macon’s everchanging environment. Malloy’s interest in journalism spawned from an early love of sports. “I was a huge sports fan growing up, but I wasn’t very good at them,” Malloy says. “So I knew if I wanted a career in sports it was going to have to be on the broadcasting side. It seemed like a neat way to get into the field.” In fact, some of his most memorable experiences in broadcasting were a result of opportunities gained from reporting America’s pastimes. “I’ve gotten to do a lot of neat things. I’ve been able to cover the World Series and gone to the Super Bowl,” he explains. “You meet a lot of very interesting people and there’s never a dull moment.” After spending several years behind the sports desk, Malloy was promoted to news anchor in 1993. The change in schedule and in duties seemed appealing to Malloy. “At the time, it sounded like a change would be good. The shift in schedule was a plus, too,” noting the sometimes grueling hours of a sportscaster. Since becoming the news anchor during the 5,6, and 11 news hours, Malloy has solidified himself

as a Macon icon. He says he is frequently recognized while running errands in Macon, and his wife, Marilyn, often says Malloy can be a hard person to shop with. “My wife says she can’t take me anywhere,” Malloy jokes. He even says some of the younger reporters and younger individuals at the station are now coming to him for advice, pointing out they will often express how much they enjoyed watching him when they were growing up. “I’m known as Mr. Malloy to the interns around here,” he says, claiming they keep the station fresh. “The young people can add a new perspective,” he says. Malloy has his own set of interns at home. His daughter, Meredith, is studying broadcast journalism at The University of Georgia. His oldest son, Brad, will be married this May, while his younger sons, Nick, 16, and Matt, 10, are attending school in Bibb County. Having been behind the news desk for the past 24 years, Malloy has had a chance to see the comings and goings of Central Georgia and says he has noticed a recent change in the way Macon is doing business. “I think we’re now starting to turn the corner as far as selling ourselves,” he says. An expert in news, Malloy has noticed the positive flow of information has had an impact on how other communities and industries perceive the county. “I think we may have been our own worst enemy, because we were quick to point fingers at ourselves,” he explains. “Now, I think there is some positive information flow. I think it’s important to tell people about the good things.” However, Malloy doesn’t let his opinions about the growing community interfere with reporting the news and says viewers respect honesty. “I think as long as you are telling people the truth and are giving them the facts you can (be objective) without any problem,” he explains. “I try to keep it in perspective.” Jamie Caraway

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B

aseball is an American classic. Each spring, thousands of families line up at ticket stands, hot dog stands and souvenir stands just to see their heroes hit, pitch and catch their way to victory. Why do we love these heroes? Because most of them started out like us – in small towns, big cities and everywhere in between. The November day was cool but Georgia was warm enough for the Five Star Mazda Kevin Brown Celebrity Classic Golf Tournament held at Healy Point last year. There, the former New York Yankee’s prized pitcher, Kevin Brown, was gearing up for his 15th charity golf tournament – an annual sporting event pioneered by Macon’s own tennis pro Jaime Kaplan. As participants in the golf tournament rushed in and out of the Western-themed Healy Point lobby, Brown fit in like any other golfer, despite his 6’4” stature and nation-wide fame. Brown might be known nationally for his athletic accolades, but the Central Georgia native finds his deepest roots in and around Macon. He is a father and husband to his large family of five and a friend and philanthropist to many in the community; he fits into the Macon landscape like baseball fits into the fabric of our country. He truly is a natural – a Macon natural. Brown’s rise to the top began in Wilkinson County, approximately 40 miles east of Macon. It was there he met his wife, Candace, and developed an early interest in baseball. “I’m sure there’s a picture of me at my mom’s house in a t-ball uniform,” he jokes. From t-ball, Brown went on to play baseball through grade school but assumed his athletic career was over after graduating from Wilkinson County High School. His interest in science led him to 25


Georgia Tech, where he studied Chemical Engineering. “I had aspirations to go into marine biology,” he says. “When I started thinking seriously about family and life, I realized it might be a little difficult.” Planning for his future, Brown’s interest in baseball took a back seat to his education. However, fate had different plans, and the summer before he began his college career, Brown pitched for a semi-professional baseball team while co-oping with a local engineering company. A talent scout for the New York Mets noticed Brown and asked him to try out for the team. “…I told him I couldn’t do it because of my co-op job,” Brown says. However the scout, impressed by Brown’s pitching skills, called Georgia Tech’s coach, Jim Morris. “(The Scout) told the coaches to give me a call and tried to get me to come out for the team,” Brown explains. “I wound up being a walk on at Tech and that’s really how I got started.” Morris, Georgia Tech’s head coach for nine years who now coaches baseball at the University of Miami, remembers the day the scout told him about Brown’s talent. “(The scout) called me and said ‘I think he’s got a chance to be really good,’ so I called Kevin at home and asked him if he would come by and see me,” Morris says. Because of Brown’s coop position, which called for him to switch back and forth between school and work, he was ineligible to play. Morris and the Jackets, however, noticed Brown’s potential and provided him with a scholarship that would take the place of the co-op position. The Jackets were pleased, and Morris recalls Brown as being a raw, but skilled pitcher. “He hadn’t pitched much, you could tell, but he had great arm motion and a good sink on his fastball. He ended up being a freshman All American that year,” Morris says. Brown had consistently pitched between 84 and 86 mph, an average speed for a collegiate pitcher, and Morris remembers the game that excelled him to the pro-leagues. “I think the turning point of his career was when we were playing Maryland, and I thought he was throwing hard that particular game,” Morris remembers. “After the game, I was talking to one of the scouts, and he said 26

If I had to live someplace year round with the traffic like Atlanta or New York City it would drive me nuts. Again, I grew up in a small town. I enjoy having some grass underneath my feet. -Kevin Brown Brown was throwing about 93 to 94 mph, which immediately made him a first round guy because of the movement and velocity. We don’t know what happened, but he increased his velocity by five mph in one week, and he never backed off from that.” It’s no secret that Brown quickly climbed the professional ranks. After playing for the Jackets for three years, he was drafted in the first round and was the fourth pick in the country. He’s played for several teams, including the Texas Rangers, the Baltimore Orioles and the World Series winning Florida Marlins. Soon after the disassembly of the Marlins, Brown went on to play for the San Diego Padres before signing a contract with the L.A. Dodgers. In December of 2003, Brown was traded to the Yankees. “Unfortunately I was hurt for pretty much the entire time the last two years,” Brown says. “I didn’t get a chance to be a part of the team like I wanted to – to be a part of the winning effort, but you know unfortunately in sports that’s the way it goes sometimes - you don’t have control over all these factors.” Brown always looks forward to spending time with his kids in the off-season. “It’s great during the off season because I get to spend a lot of time with my kids,” he says. Though he’s had the www.imediagroup.biz/addressmacon

chance to live around the country, including the home cities for the teams he’s played for, Kevin has continued to call Macon home. “We’ve always used Macon as our home-base of operations,” he says. “Baseball being the way it is, you never know where you’re going to end up playing. For us it was really never a question.” The home front provides more than just stability for the couple’s four boys - Ridge, Grayson, Dawson, and one-year old Maclain; he says he enjoys the Central Georgia atmosphere as well. “It’s metropolitan enough – it’s big enough to have the creature comforts of the city life,” he explains. “If I had to live someplace year round with the traffic like Atlanta or New York City it would drive me nuts. Again, I grew up in a small town. I enjoy having some grass underneath my feet. I like being able to get out into the woods and stuff like that, and to do that kind of thing you have to be in an area that offers that.” Of course, Brown does more than play in the grass while in Macon. He spends a great deal of time giving back to the community, and the golf tournament that carries his name is a prime example. The 2005 tournament benefited the Macon Rescue Mission as well as Fellowship of Christian Athletes, but its ties to the community began as a tennis


Kevin and Candace Brown with their children, McClain (one), Dawson (four), Grayson (10) and Ridge (14).

event in 1989. In 1991, Jaime Kaplan, also a Macon native, added golf to her charity sports event and invited Brown to take part. “He had participated as a celebrity for several years when I asked him to become a contributor in 1996, and he did so without even thinking about it,” Kaplan says. “In 1999, I asked his permission to put his name on the event and again Kevin agreed with out hesitation.” In the last 17 years, the tournament has raised over $1,000,000; Kaplan says Brown has been a powerhouse when it comes to raising money. “Kevin not only contributes money to the event, but he also gives his time,” she says, noting his dedication to securing sponsorships, celebrity players and auction items. “Garth Brooks has twice donated a large sum because of Kevin. Kevin also likes to brainstorm as to how to make the event better and better each year. He is committed to ensuring the success of the event.” The family’s philanthropies aren’t just limited to the sports arena. This year, the Browns served as the lead sponsor for The Ronald McDonald House of Central Georgia’s McDazzle auction and fundraiser. RMH serves as a home away from home for families whose children are being treated at the local children’s

hospital, and Bonnie Hopkins, the director of the Central Georgia house, believes Brown’s love of family is the foundation of his loyalty to the charity. He first became involved with RMH when he pitched for the Texas Rangers; the team would gather toiletries to be sent to the local house. Today, both Kevin and Candace still contribute to the cause, but on a much larger scale. This year the Browns gathered sports memorabilia to be auctioned at the event and stepped in when the RMH needed financial support. Hopkins says the family has been an important part of the success of the annual McDazzle fundraiser. “He and his wife both have been wonderful spokes people for what we’ve been doing,” she says. The company that had sponsored the event in the past had gone out of business, and the Browns contributed their time and money to be a part of the event’s success. “They were our lead sponsor this year. We were struggling to find a new lead sponsor and they helped us out,” she says. “They both have been very generous to us.” Despite the spontaneous nature of baseball and all it brings, one part of Brown’s life has remained constant. His wife, Candace, traveled with the father of www.imediagroup.biz/addressmacon

four during the first years of their marriage. “When my wife and I were first married, she traveled with me everywhere. When our children were young enough, before they started having to worry about school, they were with me during the season, too,” he says. Since their oldest, Ridge, began school, Candace has been the stay-at-homemom, but calling her that is an understatement. Brown says she is the glue that held the family together. “She’s basically been a single mother while I’ve been playing,” Brown says. “She’s had a lot of help from family, and she’s needed it, obviously. It takes a lot of work.” The couple has been married for nearly 18 years. “She’s really been the motivating force in all these year’s where we had to make sure we didn’t go more than a couple of weeks without seeing each other, especially with the kids,” he says. Now, Brown is ready to retire and be with his family full time. He is looking forward to spending time with his children and helping his wife. “In the immediate future I plan on being a full time dad,” he explains. While he was pitching, Brown was only able to see his boys play certain sports. “I got a chance to be around during the tail end of the football 27


Player Profile Proper Name: James Kevin Brown Birthday: March 14, 1965 Birthplace: Wilkinson County Education: Three years at The Georgia Institute of Technology. Family: Married to Candace Brown. The couple has four children. Kevin can often be found on the Tatnall Square Academy baseball field and the nationally ranked team appreciates his help.

Philanthropies: Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Ronald McDonald House of Central Georgia, Boy Scouts of Central Georgia, Macon Rescue Mission.

season and then for basketball, but I hardly ever got a chance to see my kids play baseball. I’ll get a chance to be around this year, and hopefully help coach their teams and get a chance to see them play,” he says. Candace and Brown’s oldest son, Ridge, is a freshman at Tatnall Square Academy and plays for the school’s B team, where he serves as an in-fielder and pitcher. In 2005, the team garnered the Georgia Independent School Association state title in the AAA division and ranked 30th in the Easton Sports National High School Poll, the only team from the state to be ranked nationally. Brown is often found on the school’s newly redone field assisting the coaches. Joey Hiller, Tatnall’s head baseball coach, says Brown has been very helpful, especially in the last year. “He’s been great,” Hiller says. “He’s behind the program 100 percent. He comes out and has done some work with me in the bullpen with the pitchers and he’s lending a helping hand as far as working on the mound and the plate. He likes our facility to be first class.” All in all, he considers professional baseball secondary and family first. “Everything we have is a blessing. I know that I’ve been blessed a lot of ways in my life,” he says. “Baseball has provided a lot of opportunities, but I still understand that my greatest blessing is my family, and money would be nothing without family.” Jamie Caraway Photography by Ken Krakow 28

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Economic Impact Advertising What’s in an Ad?

Imedia Inc. Vice President Vicki Mills amid stacks of press sheets at Imedia’s production facility.


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he radio industry can’t operate without them. Television programs are fully funded by them. Open any magazine and there will be one staring back at the reader. Ads, slanguage for advertising media, is integral to just about every industry on the planet. Thousands of jobs, directly or indirectly, are the result of advertising revenues. It is not surprising, then, that the U.S. Department of Labor indicates that more than 700,000 management positions and a largely uncountable number of entrylevel and “worker bee” positions in the areas of graphics, copywriting, media buying and ad sales are employing America’s workforce. When the web-like expanse of administrative support positions is considered, advertising revenues support jobs numbering in the millions.

coffee just about anywhere, but the experience, the ambience of sipping at Starbucks, is worth the extra money. It’s the thrill and tinge of naughtiness evoked in buying your underwear at the sexy Victoria’s Secret instead of at WalMart.” With the changes in advertising in the past years, Atlanta would seem to be the best market in which to diversify a marketing campaign. The attractiveness of

the major metro market creates a considerable draw for advertisers in all formats.

The Central Georgia Connection “Advertising and the ad community have a significant impact on the local economy in several ways," says Jim McLendon, vice president and general manager of Advertising Sales for Cox

Advertising is essential in today’s competitive market. Those who fail to understand this will be left in the dust. Paige Henson, partner and creative director at HHB Advertising in Macon

The Changing Face of an Old Business Advertising is a small part of the overall umbrella of marketing. Traditional advertising has gone the same route that traditional “hang out your shingle and the public will come buy” business thinking has gone. These days, marketing is a total package. “Advertising is essential in today’s competitive market,” says Paige Henson, partner and creative director at HHB Advertising in Macon. “Those who fail to understand this will be left in the dust. But under the broad umbrella we call ‘marketing,’ advertising is just one discipline that impacts organizations. Effective public relations, internal communications systems, sales and distribution, new media and other efforts are called for.” Henson writes a newspaper column entitled “Marketing Matters,” in which she addresses trends in marketing advancement. A key movement in advertising now is stepping away from the “branding” goals of the past and looking at the customer “experience.” “People don’t necessarily buy commodities now, they buy experiences, and the companies that realize this will emerge the victors,” Henson says. “Goods and services are no longer enough. For instance, people can drink

Paige Henson 31


Media. “A car dealership or dress shop advertises their product, and a customer purchases that product. The dealership or dress shop makes money from that sale, which goes to provide jobs, which leads to employees spending money in the market. Their business grows as a result of advertising, and they expand their staff, which means hiring more people and providing more jobs.” “Obviously, every marketing plan has a specific goal,” Kathy Hoskins points out. She’s President and Creative Director of The Bright Ideas Group and a veteran of the advertising industry. “Atlanta has the largest mass of people in a concentrated area so many national advertisers would be interested in marketing to those individuals. By the same token, it is also a very expensive market to buy for those same reasons. Macon has a diverse and desirable audience for the right products and services, especially those with regional connections and targeted market areas. Our ad agency represents local and regional clients who find Macon and Central Georgia to be a very lucrative market.” It’s also very cost effective, if you happen to agree with Clear Channel’s Bill Clark. Clark is Vice President and Market Manager with Clear Channel Radio in Central Georgia and a believer in creating advertising campaigns that benefit smaller businesses. He’s worked with advertisers all over Central Georgia and says that Macon, because of its diversity, is a prime market. “Buy in,” he says, “or to ‘get into the game,’ if you will, is much lower than the Top 20 markets. It makes sense for broadcasters to own properties in those markets. Fifty percent of our business is in markets smaller than the Top 30. We do a lot more business with direct advertisers. We have a greater influence over where those dollars are spent.” But how Macon really stacks up is in the comparison to nearby cities. “Macon, Savannah, Columbus and Augusta are similar in size,” says Vicki Mills, vice president at Imedia Inc., “but Macon is a more expensive media market than the others. The market is a bit more desirable as well. Our proximity to 32

Jim McLendon, vice president and general manager of Advertising Sales for Cox Media.

Atlanta helps as does our diverse market. Macon is fortunate to have several colleges located in our designated market area. These students are a good market segment for many advertisers trying to cultivate or build brand loyalty.” In addition to working as a career marketing professional, Mills is the incoming governor of the 7th District of the American Advertising Federation. Her district consists of 28 professional and 30 college chapters in five states. In addition to working on industry standards like ethics codes, the professional www.imediagroup.biz/addressmacon

chapters assist the college chapters in getting a “real world” feel for advertising through networking and competition. The districts, of which the 7th is the largest in the AAF, hold annual ad design and presentation awards called the ADDYs. These competitions showcase the best of the best in regional and national advertising, giving both students and practitioners the chance to exchange and, in some cases steal, ideas. But the interaction is lighthearted – AAF members are simply seeking to enhance the marketing industry.


photo by Amanda Lindley

an advertising-dependent organization stepping up to the plate to deliver public service information. “Radio is unique in its ability to assist the community,’ Clark says. “When Katrina came through, three groups of broadcasters got as many signals up in the air as possible. Our competitors used our studios. We used their towers. It was like Radio Free New Orleans.” The Medical Center of Central Georgia is a good case study in the blend of public service and marketing as well. Medical care is big business regardless of the region, but in small to mid-size cities, most people are unaware that specialists such as cardiologists, neurologists and oncologists might be operating out of a facility right in their backyard. MCCG is one of those facilities, housing more than 600 beds for patients from over 28 counties and a population of more than 750,000 people. It’s a Level I trauma center and has obstetric, pediatric, psychiatric, cardiac intensive care, neurology intensive care, pediatric intensive care and cardiac surgery intensive care services available. “We’re fortunate that our board believes in advertising our services to inform patient choice,” says Cynthia Costello Busbee, marketing director for MCCG. “It’s important because of the patient education perspective. We want them to know they don’t have to go out of the market to get specialized care.” Kathy Hoskins the President of The Bright Ideas Group works closely with the Georgia Music Hall of Fame coordinating marketing plans for the museum.

Blending Public and Private Sector Marketing McLendon describes media marketing companies like Cox as being among those creating an economic as well as a public impact in the community. Advertising, first and foremost, is designed to sell a product. But sometimes that product is free for the taking, such as community knowledge. “We provide public service announcements that help promote charities, fundraisers, elevate the awareness of community issues (and) the aware-

ness of health issues,” he says. “Cox Communications donated $100,000 to The Children's Hospital this past year. That donation certainly helped The Children's Hospital to grow and provide for our community, both from a standard of living view as well as in providing jobs for a number of people in the health field. Cox has also hosted a golf tournament and donated the proceeds of over $30,000 each of the last 10 years to various charities in Macon and Warner Robins.” Television isn’t the only example of www.imediagroup.biz/addressmacon

Looking to the Future Every business is an advertiser, even if they choose not to utilize what the industry would call a formal campaign, Mills explains. The simple act of describing a product to another person technically counts as a form of advertising, and without creating some sort of recognition for a product that product will likely go unsold. With no one disputing the need for advertising, then, where will the industry go from this point? If the AAF is correct, ad sales are on the rise nationally even though some major chain advertisers have cut back – such as Target and Circuit City – on their national campaigns. Generally, though, the larger corporations tend to advertise even in a down33


turn. This has a unique dual-effect on the business community in smaller markets. On one hand, it creates a continuing job security and a strong cash flow into the advertising community. On the other, it usually creates a situation where small business owners are unable to compete with national advertising campaigns. “I think the biggest issue that we face is how to work with the small business owner,” Clark says. “A considerable number of businesses that have moved into our market are big companies. It’s an invasion of chain retailers. In turn, the smaller individual businesses are going by the wayside. We do offer a viable alternative in that our audience is the preferred audience in the buying sector and we’re able to reach more of the public in a shorter amount of time.” This has a trickle-down effect on regional and local markets, though this gets into the trend to disabuse advertis-

ers that they need to create a “brand.” Branding never directly affects sales; it only seeks to create a subconscious and conscious preference in the mind of the consumer. Coke is a brand. Pepsi is a brand. But to drive sales, the advertising still has to be there, constantly delineating the line of products and highlighting special sales. The fact that Coke may have a new can design doesn’t drive a consumer into the store, but an offer to try a new flavor at a discount price does. Ad professionals are answering this duality with a rather simple premise – diversify, diversify, diversify. The campaign for a single product may include television, radio, print, direct mail and e-mail. “The current outlook is favorable and fortunately improving," Mills says. “The last couple of years have seen budget cuts for many advertisers. There are a lot more options each day on where clients can spend their advertising dollars.

Competition is fierce and advertisers have had to learn to make smarter decisions all the while demanding more accountability for results from media and agencies.” She adds that those media and advertising firms, that have consistently delivered for clients, not just in results but also in ethical service, are those which will succeed. “At the end of the day," Mills says, “advertising is what drives our economy. It is a necessary and vital component of a free-market, free enterprise system. It creates opportunity for entrepreneurs. It creates demand, which lowers price. It serves as a primary information source for consumers. It is a science, a work of art, intuition, hard work and ultimately, effective. Because of this, we must demand integrity in our industry.” Mark Hoerrner Photography by Ken Krakow

Fifty percent of our business is in markets smaller than the Top 30. We do a lot more business with direct advertisers. We have a greater influence over where those dollars are spent. Bill Clark, market manager for Clear Channel Radio in Macon

Bill Clark


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The Big House: Sharing the Music of the Allman Brothers Band

In the December of 1969, Linda Oakley unsuspectingly made a decision that would impact people all over the world. Knowing her family was outgrowing their one-bedroom apartment, the young wife and mother went with a couple of friends to find a new place to live. In their search she and her friends, Candy and Donna, found themselves at 2321 Vineville Avenue. Enchanted by the large, Grand Tudor style home, they decided that together the $225 rent would be bearable. Linda convinced her husband Berry. Candy, Berry’s sister, brought along her beau Gregg, and Donna added in Duane and their young daughter. The friends combined their money and Linda went to Day Realty to put a deposit on their new home – a home that became known as the Big House, and a home that will soon be known as the Big House Museum.


Gregg and Duane had been roommates before; they grew up together as the Allman brothers and had already spent time performing together across the United States. Gregg was a soul filled singer and Duane was earning a reputation as an influential slide guitarist. After a short stint in the West, Duane settled back into the music scene in the South. He soon connected with Jaimoe and Butch Trucks on percussion, Berry Oakley on bass guitar and Dickey Betts, another talented guitarist. Duane introduced his brother Gregg to the group and together they formed the Allman Brothers Band. They soon began recording their first album with Phil Walden’s Capricorn Records in Macon. And the rest, as they say, is rock and roll history. Though Berry was the only other band member to officially live in the house with the Allman brothers, many of the band’s members and friends spent time at the house. Chuck Leavell, who played with the band in 1971, still remembers time he spent with the group. “I remember hearing some of the guys play in the music room that was set up in the house and later participated in some jam sessions,” says Leavell, who is currently on tour as the keyboardist for the Rolling Stones. “The wonderful memories and experiences I’ve had with38

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in those walls are things I can carry with me forever,” he says. The longhaired rock-n-rollers stood out in Macon in the early 70’s but were also taken care of by locals who appreciated their distinctive charm. Mama Louise of H&H Restaurant was known for providing home-cooked meals for the group in their meager beginning. “I tried to take care of them,” says Mama Louise, who knows the band members never forgot the meals she provided. “They showed me how they appreciated me; they took me on tour with them for about seven days,” she says. Generations have passed; many have come and gone across the threshold of the Big House rented by the friends from 1970 to 1973. Because of the legacies left behind by the Oakleys, the Allmans and their friends, the house is no longer just a place to come in and prop your feet on the couch. It is an historical testimony to a group of musicians who pressed against the flow of pop music and who worked together to create an atmosphere of sharing and friendships. They shared their home, their talents and their lives with close friends and eventually millions of fans. Supporters of the Big House Museum are hoping to continue the tradition of sharing the music by drawing the band’s fans into the community. In their 37 years the popularity of


(opposite page) Founders and friends of the Big House Foundation: Front (LR) Kirk West, Kirsten West, Beth Dunwody and Elliot Dunwody. Back (LR) Dan Slagle, Lynn Lavery, Greg Potter and Bob Johnson.

Lynn Lavery, community supporter and owner of the marketing firm Lavery and Company, with one of the many pieces of Allman Brothers Band memorabilia found in the century-old home.

Cox Communications director of business services Dan Slagle with a guitar once played by Derek Trucks. The Allman Brothers Band has continued to grow. “If you’ve been to an Allman Brothers concert lately, you’d know what I mean,” says Lynn Lavery, a community supporter. “The ages range from 18-68. You see parents with 20 something children,” she says. In 1992 Kirk and Kirsten West left behind their jobs in Chicago and moved into the Big House intending to turn it into an Allman Brothers Bed and Breakfast and Gallery. Kirk, who had collected Allman Brothers memorabilia throughout his adult life, began to display his collection in two rooms of the house. Though the house is not officially a museum, the couple has allowed enthusiasts of the band to tour the two rooms filled with everything from posters to instruments that once belonged to the musicians. “I can think of no other place in the country where a museum such as the Big House exists except for Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley,” says Kirsten. “It is rare to have a museum honoring a band or an individual artist in the actual place they once resided.” The couple also operates a magazine called, Hittin’ the Note, which features various artists and Allman Brothers Band merchandise. In an effort to maintain the integrity of the home, the West’s chose not the turn the house into a bed and breakfast.

Instead, they recently decided to turn the home over to someone else entirely. An executive board has been set up to officially turn the Big House into a museum that honors the legacy left behind by the Allman Brothers Band and those who spent time touring with them. Bob Johnson, the Foundation’s certified financial planner and president, is currently working to raise money and support for the Big House Foundation as a way to preserve Macon’s deep-rooted musical history. “Based on appraisals and estimates, it appears that we will need about $2 million to complete phase one; the purchase of the house and memorabilia and funds to convert the home into a world-class, state-of-the-art music museum,” says Johnson. Supporters such as Leavell, who is also a board member, encourage the preservation of the home. “Macon has a very rich history of music, and the community should be proud to show this to all visitors. The Big House ties in very well with the Georgia Music Hall of Fame as a tourist attraction and no doubt will be a strong draw for the community,” says Leavell. With the Wests, Johnson began to seek out someone who represents corporate America and who shares a passion for the Allman Brother’s Band. While serving on the First Presbyterian Day School board he met the director of Cox www.imediagroup.biz/addressmacon

Business Services, Dan Slagle. “We need someone on the board who looks like you and dresses like you in the corporate world,” Johnson told Slagle. Slagle, whose business focuses on providing video, broadband Internet and telecommunications services to businesses in Central Georgia, accepted the position. As a member of the board he is responsible for overseeing the business of the foundation as well as raising money. “This truly is a great story of corporate America meets southern rock-n-roll,” Slagle says. The board has already raised over $650,000 and is currently busy planning and holding fundraisers that span all along the east coast from the local Douglass Theatre to New York’s famous Beacon Theatre. Leavell, who has had continued success since touring with the Allman Brothers Band in the early 70’s, is one of many artists who has dedicated his talents to the cause. “I did the first fundraiser for the Big House, which was a solo concert I played at the historic Douglass Theatre. I also participated in a fundraiser at the Beacon Theatre in New York in a concert that featured the Allman Brothers Band, Gov’t Mule and others,” he explains. The ABB, whose fans use websites to count down the days remaining to each upcoming concert, will continue to raise support for the Big House 39


Elliot and Beth Dunwody, owners of Bright Blue Sky, LLC. and long time Allman Brothers fans, are pictured with a shirt given to Duane Allman by famous guitarist and vocaist Eric Clapton.

Greg Potter, who is often confused with Allman Brothers Band member Gregg Allman, will move into the Big House upon the museum’s completion.

Macon has a very rich history of music, and the community should be proud to show this to all visitors. The Big House ties in very well with the Georgia Music Hall of Fame as a tourist attraction and no doubt will be a strong draw for the community –Chuck Leavell fund by performing multiple night concerts at the Beacon Theatre in New York during March. Also, the talented singer/guitarist and wife of Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, will perform a benefit concert to solicit support from the wellestablished support base in New York. Johnson has gone beyond recruiting board members for the foundation and has also found cutting edge ways to share the story and vision of the Big House Foundation. He located media artists Elliot and Beth Dunwody and invited them to be a part of the foundation’s team. “Our company, Bright Blue Sky Production, LLC., was commissioned in August of 2004 to develop several media pieces and a multi-media website to promote the Allman Brothers museum known as the Big House,” says Beth. “We have produced an informational promo DVD on the project that is approximately 15 minutes in length and has shown in various venues including the Beacon 40

Theater in NYC where it received a standing ovation,” she says. The Dunwody’s, who have received multiple awards and widespread recognition for the public service announcements and video vignettes they have produced, are currently in the process of editing an interview based documentary on the Big House, which was shot in High Definition and will be completed in 2006. Music lovers in the community are also anticipating the opening of the Big House Museum. Lynn Lavery, owner of the marketing/advertising firm Lavery and Company, has invested her personal time and resources into the project. She also owns a promotional productions business, Choice Premiums, and supports the idea of preserving the influence of the Allman Brothers Band and Southern Rock in our society. She sees the museum as an economic advantage in the community. “The Big House will be another point of destination for tourists. www.imediagroup.biz/addressmacon

Tourists spend money in the community, so in that way it benefits the community. Also, music is a big part of Macon’s history, so we are helping to preserve part of that history,” she says. The popularity of Macon’s artists brings the Central Georgia town recognition from all over the world. “I travel all over,” says Lavery. “If someone asks me where I am from I always tell them Macon and go on to explain Little Richard, Otis Redding and the Allman Brothers connection. As Maconites we are very fortunate to have such a rich musical heritage.” Kirsten West also knows the impact of Allman Brothers Band music on people across the world. Many of the “pilgrims” who visit the Big House are out-of-towners. “We have regular visits from some fans in Germany, England, Japan and Australia as well as visits from American fans who travel regularly to Florida in the winter,” West says. There have been an estimated 12,000 to 15,000 visitors in the


Bob Johnson, Big House Foundation board president and financial manager, stands with a photograph he took during an Allman Brothers concert at the Macon Coliseum in 1971.

house since the autumn of 1993. Other popular visitors range from politicians, such as congressman Jim Marshall, to musicians such as Col. Bruce Hampton, Lee Roy Parnell, Bonnie Bramlett, as well as Gregg Allman and Jaimoe and Butch Trucks. In 1994, during the early stages of Gov’t Mule, Warren Haynes stopped by with band mates Allen Woody and Matt Abts. Like many other musicians they pulled out their instruments and began saturating the Big House walls with revolutionary jams and passionfilled songs. Linda Oakley, widow of original Allman Brothers Band member Berry Oakley, has also spent time in the home reminiscing of years past. “This house has become a point of destination for music fans who have come to Macon, stayed in hotels, eaten in restaurants, and enjoyed many of the other attractions Macon has to offer. This has happened without any serious advertising, just through word of mouth and our magazine. Creating a real Allman Brothers Band Museum will bring even more people to Macon and will add to the character of the community,” says Kirsten.

For the founders and supporters of the Big House Foundation, it is more than a museum. It is an experience they have enjoyed and wish to pass on to other music lovers. The museum will be a place for Macon’s musical heritage to dwell. It will provide an opportunity for Macon businesses to reach out to customers across the world and invite them into their rich, culturally diverse and intensely passionate community. “There is a lot of history there,” says Leavell. “The fans of the Allmans and other Southern bands will enjoy seeing the memorabilia throughout the house and feeling the vibes of the musicians and artists that lived and visited there.” The musical connection to the community goes beyond an economic benefit to the area. “Macon is lucky to have so many great musicians who have started here and then gone on to be a force in the music industry,” says Lavery. “It doesn’t matter where I am or what I am doing, when the Allman Brothers’ ‘Ramblin’ Man’ comes on the radio or jukebox or someone’s stereo it makes me feel at home. It just makes me feel good. Maybe www.imediagroup.biz/addressmacon

that is how it benefits the community. The music makes us feel good,” she says. Johnson knows first-hand the impact that the Allman brothers had even before their fame spread across the world. “One of the things I will never forget is how anytime Duane Allman was in the room, without him saying much of anything, all eyes were drawn to him,” says Johnson. “He had unbelievable charisma, almost like an energy field; everybody could tell that he was a very special human being. His speech and mannerisms exuded a strong sense of love, compassion, excitement and confidence. His desire was centered on sharing the music and on brotherhood. Clearly, he was taking us to new musical territory. It was a beautiful and powerful thing. That sense of love and brotherhood continues to exist to this day.” Macon citizens who are interested in supporting the Big House Foundation can make contributions at www.thebighousemuseum.org or contact Bob Johnson at 478-472-7486 for more details. Melody McKinney Photography by Ken Krakow 41


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Ones to

Watch Rising Young Stars of Macon

A musician, a model, an athlete and a novelist – four people from different walks of life who may not have crossed paths while growing up in the same town, but each found a way to turn their dreams into a reality by breaking into the spotlight with sheer will and determination. Whether it is in Nashville, New York City, The Augusta National or the Library of Congress, these four are making their marks in their respective industries and setting the pace for dreamers to come. Their success did not come overnight, but their inevitable fame will last longer than 15 minutes. These four rising stars had to start somewhere – and that somewhere happened to be Macon.

Jason Aldean


Jason Aldean

photo courtesy of Broken Bow Records

orn February 28, 1977 in Macon, Jason Aldean was listening to country music before he could talk. His parents divorced when he was three and he lived with his mother, Debbie, in Macon and spent his summers with his father, Barry, in Florida. During those summers, his father would map out guitar chords on notebook paper before leaving for work, and Aldean would spend the day practicing the chords. When his father returned home at the end of the day, the two would make music together. At the age of 14, his mother arranged for his first performance at the local VFW hall. Although there were roughly 10 people in the audience to applaud his debut, Aldean was hooked to the thrill of the stage and began performing at local talent contests and area fairs. Within a year, he joined the house band of former nightspot Nashville South (now Nashville Station) and made enough money as a professional musician to buy his first pickup truck. At the same time his musical career was beginning to take life, Aldean was also a promising baseball player at Windsor Academy. In fact, it was baseball, not music, that Jason thought would unlock the key to his future. “[Baseball] was kind of what I always wanted to do, I thought, until I was 18-years-old or so and had the chance to go to college and just couldn’t hardly see going back to school for four years,” Aldean recalls. Walter Banks is the baseball coach at Windsor Academy who still keeps in touch with his former student. “Jason could sing well and play baseball well. Not many people could do both,” recalls Banks. “After seeing him sing at Whiskey River on two occasions, I predicted that Jason would make it in music. Jason had the choice of baseball or music. He was that good at both. I believe that he chose music because of his love for it.” At the age of twenty-one Aldean moved to Nashville, and within a month, he was offered a recording contract. Unfortunately, it wasn’t going to be that easy. The label dropped him, and to make matters worse, the next label that signed him did the same. Aldean faced a three-year dry spell with no record deal in sight. During this time he married his high school sweetheart, Jessica, a graduate of Houston County High School, and less than two years later they welcomed a daughter, Keeley. Just when Aldean was prepared to move his new family back home to www.imediagroup.biz/addressmacon

Georgia, he was offered a deal by the independent Broken Bow Records. It was his last chance, but instead of striking out, he hit a homerun. His self-titled debut sold 28,726 copies its first week, entered the top ten of the Billboard country chart and its first single, “Hicktown,” hit the radio and video channels with fervor. Soon, he found himself performing on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. And to top it all off, since its release last summer, the album has been certified Gold with sales in excess of 500,000. His latest single, “Why,” can be heard over the airwaves as well as Country Music Television, and he will soon be hitting the highway with Rascal Flatts on their 2006 “Me and My Gang” tour. “If it was up to me, I’d be one of those people like George Strait or Alabama and be around for 25 years and still selling records and making music,” says Aldean. “Having a long career like that is my goal.” 45


Christen Hammock hile most four and five-year-olds prefer books with bright pictures to go along with the storylines, just listening to literature enthralled Christen Hammock. Home schooled through kindergarten and first grade, Hammock would intently listen as her mother, Deborah, would read her books like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Little Women and the Little House on the Prairie series. “Even before I knew how to read, I really loved books,” recalls Hammock. “My mom read to me all the time, and I think that is really where my love of books came from.”

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Hammock attended Covenant Academy from second to fourth grade before returning to home school. Her love for reading soon segued into a passion for the pen. “I cannot really remember when I originally started writing stories, but I do remember having a great time with school assignments,” says Hammock. “I would have to write a paragraph, but I would end up writing two or three pages because I would get so wrapped up in whatever I was writing.” At age nine, Hammock began writing a novel. She says the plot came about as she made up stories in her head at night to alleviate the boredom of trying to fall asleep. She decided to start writing the stories in a notebook and eventually Mercy’s Journey was born. Mercy’s Journey is the story of a young girl named Mercy Goodman in 1850’s Trenton, New Jersey, and her struggle to survive in the wake of her parents’ death. Mercy and her little sister live everywhere from a boarding house to back alleyways and an ill-fitted orphanage until finally being adopted by a loving Quaker family. “I wrote Mercy’s Journey sporadically. I would write a chapter or two and then totally forget about it for a few weeks,” recalls Hammock. “Then, I would find the notebook and write a little more.” Hammocks’ parents knew their daughter was working on a writing project, but it wasn’t until she approached her father, Cliff, manuscript in hand, that he realized how serious she was. “Christen showed me her original manuscript and I was very interested to read it,” he says. “However, I told her that I would only read it if she typed it. So we bought her a typing program, she learned to type and then typed the entire book.” By then, Christen was 11. She became ill for a month with mononucleosis and strep throat, and she spent that time typing the manuscript. “I knew she would write for a little while when she went to bed some nights, and she would tell me she was writing a novel,” recalls Deborah. “I guess the first time I realized that she had really done it is when she was sick and spent so much time on the computer typing it!” Cliff, the principal software engineer at Mercer Engineering Research Center, was able to format the manuscript into a book block and had copies printed and bound at a local print shop to give to family and friends. But it wasn’t until October 2003, after seeing another teenage author one morning on the “Today Show,” that the family decided to take Mercy’s Journey to the next level. After researching various options for self-publishing, the family enlisted the services of iUniverse to assist with the process. Hammock and her parents worked to edit and properly format the manuscript for publication. They also had to work with iUniverse on the artwork for the cover. In August 2005, the book became available for online purchase at www.mercysjourney.com. The novel can also be purchased at Barnes & Noble. Today, Hammock is a freshman with Central High School’s International Baccalaureate program. In addition to writing, she enjoys theatre, piano and choir. She remains a vicarious reader and enjoys the classic works by authors such as Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. Although a self-published author does not have the marketing resources to make it to the New York Times’ bestseller list, at the rate Hammock is going, a publishing deal may very well be in her future. After all, most aspiring writers spend almost an entire lifetime finishing a novel, whereas Hammock has both completed and gone through the publishing rigors before she was old enough to drive. She is also at work on her second book. “The story, however, is still pretty much a secret,” she says.

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Christen Hammock


Sabrina Sikora


Sabrina Sikora

Photo By Donald Kennedy

ven before she moved to New York City, Sabrina Sikora was modeling in Milan while still in high school. But her passion for the fashion industry goes back even further. “Sabrina was a fashion-conscious toddler!” recalls her mother, Laurie Sikora. “I have a photo of her at two-years-old that is hilarious. We were going shopping at the Macon Mall, and she wore an oversized, untucked white button down shirt over black leggings. She insisted on wearing a pink skinny leather necktie like Ric Ocasek wore in the Cars’ videos . . . as we strolled through the mall, people actually stopped and took her picture. I guess it helped that she refused to take off her sunglasses, even inside.” At the age of ten, Sikora enrolled in the Sears Model Club, an eight-week modeling class at the Macon Mall. Eventually she ended up in the display window of the 5-7-9 shop doing freeze modeling for hours on Saturday afternoons. A single mother, Laurie saw the drive her daughter had for modeling, and together they began knocking on doors by entering modeling contests, submitting her photos to agencies and even scanning the pages of The Macon Telegraph contacting local businesses and asking them to consider Sikora for future ads. The persistence eventually paid off. Sikora’s big break came in 1999 when she was selected as one of eight finalists in a contest sponsored by Maybelline and Teen Magazine. The contest took her to L.A. where she participated in a runway show and photo shoot for Teen. The magazine photo soon opened another door, this time on her 15th birthday. “I walked into Elite Atlanta and already had a magazine page, or a tearsheet, and had no place to put it,” recalls Sikora. “They signed me and gave me my first portfolio to display it.” With Elite, her career took off. “There was a stretch of time when I did not go to a full week of school for about two months,” says Sikora, who traveled to jobs in Miami, Atlanta and eventually overseas during her high school tenure. Still, Sikora remained an active student at Central High School as a member of the cheerleading squad, Key Club, Beta Club, show choir and homecoming court. She also competed in pageants and was crowned Young Miss Macon in 1998, Teen Miss Macon in 2000 and the Cherry Blossom Festival Queen in 2002 – the same year she graduated with honors. Not surprisingly, she was also voted “Best Dressed” by her peers. In 2004, Sikora was crowned Miss Macon. She later competed at Miss Georgia USA where she placed 2nd runner-up. At this same time, Sikora was a communications student at Wesleyan College, where she divided her studies among trips to New York. “I was also flying to places like Chicago, Florida, Shanghai and the Bahamas to work as well,” she says. “I would bring my textbooks on the plane or backstage at the shows. I rarely spoke to any of the other models on my jobs because my head was always in a book.” Sikora put her classes on hold in the fall of 2004 to participate in NBC’s “Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model Search.” The reality show aired in January 2005. “The S.I. search was a great vessel for me to further my career,” says Sikora. “I was able to launch into TV and have since signed with a TV and talent agency in New York.” Around this time, Sikora relocated to New York City where she now lives and splits her time with the Atlanta market. Today, her modeling career sometimes takes her to up to 13 castings a day. She will soon appear in the Estee Lauder Amber Nude perfume ad campaign that allowed her to work with fashion icons Tom Ford and Carolyn Murphy. And she recently shot an ad for Cointreau Liqueur that will appear in all major magazines, including Vogue. She can also be found behind the scenes. Sikora Production was founded by Sikora and her mother and currently works with 170 models in all stages of their careers. The mother-daughter team also presides over www.360flair.com, a forum that assists models in self-promotion. In addition www.imediagroup.biz/addressmacon

to fashion show production, model scouting and runway training, Sikora has added photographer and art director to her growing resume. “The modeling industry has so many different paths you can take, and I am just trying to find the ones that best suit me and my talents,” she says. “I am so blessed to be able to work in a field I am passionate about.” Even though Sikora’s career is taking off faster than a New York minute, she hasn’t forgotten where she is from. She was recently named the spokesperson for the Georgia Industrial Children’s Home. She has produced the Georgia Heart Center’s Red Haute Fashion Show, donated time to the Medical Center’s Georgia Children’s Hospital Celebrity Classic Event, sits on the speaker’s bureaus of the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce and Bibb County School System, and continues to support the Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful Commission. It’s her daughter’s continued community involvement that Laurie says takes the most pride in. “In the modeling industry, you are only as good as your last booking. Career success waxes and wanes, tearsheets fade with time,” she says. “But when you work to improve the quality of life in your own community, you are providing something that will last a lifetime, something that will benefit those who come behind you.”

Photo By Rick Hughes

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Russell Henley ports fanatics come in all shapes and sizes, and in the case of Russell Henley, do not even need to be out of diapers. “Russell has wanted to play every sport he encountered,” says his father, Chapin Henley, a retired OB/GYN. “In retrospect, we first noticed some talent when, at 18months-old with a diaper on, Russell would relentlessly shoot – and make – baskets on his five-foot tall Fisher Price basketball goal in our kitchen.” Henley’s fascination with sports could be credited to his older brother, Adam, who is 12 years older. Henley grew up watching his older brother play various sports and soon followed by playing soccer, baseball, football and basketball. But it was around the age of seven that he gave golf a try. Although their grandfather and Adam were avid golfers, Henley credits one of his peers for introducing him to the game. “My good friend Ryland Rumph got me interested,” recalls Henley. “His dad played golf for UGA, so golf was all Ryland ever wanted to do.”

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By the time Henley was in junior high, his golfing talent was evident. He had begun competing in the Southeastern Junior Tournaments and at the age of twelve won the tournament at Augusta’s Forest Hills Golf Club. Now sixteen and a junior at Stratford Academy, Henley is at the head of his game. As a member of the Stratford golf team, his talent helped propel the team to their status of GISA State Champions in 2004 and 2005. He also represented the state of Georgia in the annual Georgia-South Carolina Junior Challenge Match, helping his Georgia team with consecutive wins in 2004 and 2005. On a local level, Henley and his golf partner, Matthews Barnett, placed second at the Peach Blossom Invitational at Idle Hour in 2005. He also won the 2005 Macon Middle Georgia Championship, after previously placing fourth and second places the two years before. Last year, Henley advanced through local qualifying to compete in the U.S. Open Qualifier at Atlanta’s East Lake Golf Club. Although he did not make the cut, he did become one of the youngest competitors on the sectional qualifying stage for the 2005 U.S. Open. He also played in the U.S. Amateur Championship where he made it to round 16 and fell to the eventual champion, Kevin Tway. All these instances led to the Georgia State Golf Association recently naming Henley the Junior Player of the Year; the association will recognize him at the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame Awards. Although he is constantly being scouted, Henley has verbally committed to play golf at the University of Georgia upon his graduation in 2007. Henley is the first to admit that it takes hard work, not natural ability, to stay on top of his game. “Putting is the hardest thing for me,” he says. “It took seven or eight years for me to gain any confidence in putting. The swing came easier.” Henley can be found practicing every day at Idle Hour Country Club under the direction of teaching pro Bobby Hix. “He’s a great teacher and friend,” says Henley, when referring to his coach of six years. “He is always there when I need him and I don’t know what I would do without him.” Hix even caddied for Henley at the U.S. Open Qualifier and says it’s not just Henley’s ability, but also his attitude, that makes the young golfer an allstar success. “Russell has a tremendous competitive spirit. When put in a certain situation, he seems to have the ability to ‘will’ the ball in the hole,” says Hix. “This ability is not found in many golfers. To Russell, losing or settling for the status quo is not an option. I really believe this attitude is what drives him to be the best. It doesn't hurt either that he is just a wonderful athlete, capable of playing any sport – and playing it well – that he could choose.” Although Henley has had to give up most other sports for his golfing pursuits, he does take time off from the golf course to practice as a prime player on Stratford’s Varsity Boys Basketball Team. He says that despite a heavy schedule, he gets to do the normal things his peers do, such as playing guitar and hanging out with friends. Henley hopes to one day go pro. Among his idols, he cites PGA’s Jason Gore – who he played his rounds with at the U.S Open Qualifier. Henley also credits his father as inspiration to his game. “My dad has never missed a golf tournament. He follows me every step of the way. He’s my ‘gallery.’ He brings me good luck,” he says. Henley’s mother, Sally, and Chapin support their son’s dream, but also give the sixteen-year-old room to grow. “Since we know he would like to play professional golf, we hope he can,” says Chapin. “But he still has a few years to make that decision.” “The sky is the limit for Russell,” says Hix. “I believe he will be very successful at the major college level. After that it's up to him.”


Russell Henley



UNDER

THE RADAR All of us pass hundreds of people each day- maybe it’s

at the local college, medical office, museum or church. Each person’s travels have led him or her to Macon, but what did they do along the way to reach this point? Who were they and what impact have they made or are currently making on the mid-state? address Macon has selected four individuals you might know well or have just heard of by name; you could have passed them on a downtown street countless times. After reading their stories, you may find yourself saying, “I never knew that.” CASTING A SHADOW

It was hard to step back and run a company. Just like in football, I stayed mentally tough and results oriented. Adam Meadows

It is an irony that offensive linemen are usually the biggest players on the football field and the most overlooked. That takes place away from the playing field also. “During my last three years in Indianapolis, I was becoming recognized more in that community,” says former Indianapolis Colts lineman Adam Meadows. “Here, in Macon, I’m an unknown.” For Meadows, “I’d rather have it that way.” That mindset is one that comes from the trenches of the National Football League. Playing in obscurity, until their name is mentioned for a penalty, Meadows played his role behind the scenes to make it all happen. “(Edgerrin) James and (Peyton) Manning couldn’t set those records without us,” he explains. “You take a great sense of pride to know that while others take the credit, we had a part in getting them there. In the public eye, our job is a thankless one, but I like to see the end result.” In 2003, a shoulder injury forced Meadows to end his sevenyear professional career. That prompted him to bring his wife Courtney and their two daughters back to her hometown. Since then, the now 260pounder has been busy transitioning to life outside the sports arena. “After spending 18 years of your life’s work in a physical manner, that’s all you know,” the former University of Georgia standout says. “It was hard to step back and run a company. Just like in football, I stayed mentally tough and results oriented.”

Former Indianapolis Colts lineman Adam Meadows now lives in Macon and develops property in Florida. 53


Three years ago, Meadows began buying parcels of property in Florida. Now he is building houses and creating a new community there, but he hasn’t taken his eye off Macon. The carpooling dad is currently involved in multiple projects in Central Georgia. “I like the creative process of it all,” he says, “and to see the end result when it is done right.” Being a developer isn’t the only thing keeping him busy. Meadows has received many invitations to speak in the Macon area due to his strong athletic background and faith in Jesus Christ. He has spoken to many churches and for local Fellowship of Christian Athletes director, Scott Adams. Shortly after coming to Macon in the fall of 2004, he shared his life story with over 600 men and teenage boys at a men’s dinner hosted by Mabel White Baptist Church. “I receive great satisfaction to share what God’s done in my life,” Meadows says. “I feel like there’s value to it.” Meadows admits he’s not the

“shadow of the man I used to be,” but his silhouette is still large enough to make an impact on his new home.

THE NEVER ENDING JOURNEY

Georgia’s float in the 1969 Tournament of Roses Parade proclaimed it as “The State of Adventure.” As she waved to an enormous, international crowd lining Colorado Boulevard, the 19year old Miss Georgia never considered that slogan would become the motto for her life. “It was awesome to be on the front of that float with all those people out there,” says Marilyn Ashmore, now working at the Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins on its capital Marilyn Ashmore now works at the Museum of Aviation in campaign and membership program. Warner Robins on its capital campaign and membership program, but it wasn't long ago she was dazzling “The experience was more like a mosaaudiences during the Miss Georgia Pageant. ic. You remember these little snapshots, like a specific kid and that international flavor. I knew I was part of something special.” It all started by entering the Osborne High School (Cobb County) yearbook queen pageant. “Someone had to twist my arm,” to do it, she explains. The new kid on the block, who had just arrived from overseas with her Air Force family, beat 169 other entrees. “I didn’t know what it meant and what it was going to mean to me down the road,” Ashmore says. “It made me set goals, try harder and care about who I was. It made me look at things in a bigger way.” The opportunity to compete in the Miss Cobb County, Miss Georgia and Miss America pageants also gave Ashmore a chance to win scholarship money for college, travel, meet many people and become aware of public issues and concerns. After marrying a Macon native, she moved to the midstate in 1977 and was hired at Charter Medical. Ashmore stayed there for 13

I couldn’t live in a community that didn’t offer the things that I had so much benefit from. Marilyn Ashmore


years working the majority of that time for current New Town Macon president and CEO, Mike Ford. She left the corporate world for the challenges of the non-profit sector at the Hay House. While there, Ashmore sat on the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce Board for eight years. “Talk about being introduced to issues and becoming familiar with how a community solves its concerns and problems,” says the 1969 Miss Cobb County Pageant swimsuit winner. “You think you’ve done a lot of great things. Work with the Chamber of Commerce and that’ll really open your eyes,” she says. Ashmore, an ardent volunteer, opened Macon’s eyes to the need for a Miss Macon Pageant shortly after her arrival. Sandra Eakes, the first winner of the new Miss Macon event, also became Miss Georgia. “I couldn’t live in a community that didn’t offer the things that I had so much benefit from,” Ashmore, a mother of two, passionately states. She still reaps the rewards from her pageant background. Ashmore has been a field director for the Miss Georgia Pageant for 14 years. She has emceed five Miss Alabama and four Miss Georgia Pageants and volunteers as much as she can to help with the Cherry Blossom pageants. This March, she emceed the Miss Houston County Pageant. “It amazes me after all these years that anybody still cares that I was Miss Georgia,” Ashmore says. “Life is a state of adventure, and it still is”

catalogs. It was a performance at the local high school that left a lasting impact on his future endeavors. “His name was McDonald Birch,” Pecor says. “He was a professional magician. I remember going to that show and it was just a great experience. There are moments in that program I can remember vividly like it happened yesterday. He did not wear a tuxedo nor a goatee or mustache. He relied on wit and humor in his act.”

I think all teachers are performers, whether they realize it or not. Classroom time is performance time. You have 30 people, sometimes a hostile audience, and you must hold their attention for 50 minutes. Charles Pecor

Though he never resided in the 18th or 19th centuries, Dr. Charles Pecor is the living example of his dissertation entitled The Magician On the American Stage, 1752-1874. From a young age, magic and the stage have intertwined Pecor like a rabbit being pulled from a black hat. At age nine, “Santa Claus knew I wanted a magic set and he brought me a Gilbert Mysto Magic Set,” he remembers. Getting into magic was a gradual process for the Boneville, Georgia native. His first influence came through watching his uncle’s friend, who was a semi-professional magician. From there, he joined the International Brotherhood of Magicians as a junior member and would send off for magic

photo by Amanda Lindley

THE MAGIC MAN

Dr. Charles Pecor is a professionally recognized magician but is also a retired Macon State professor.


Kansas City Royals’ Jim Gaudet opened Macon's Gaudet Chiropractic in 1987.

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The University of Georgia graduate, with a PhD in theater history, has taken those lessons with him from “Miami to Minneapolis and from Connecticut to California” with a tour stop in Germany. He has lectured and performed at prestigious conventions for IBM and the National Society of American Magicians in Washington and Chicago. Pecor’s career has also been on the thespian stage, including those in Central Georgia. He recently played Big Daddy at the Back Lot Players in Forsyth and acted in the Crucible at Theater Macon last fall. He believes his extensive theater experience has benefited his work as a magician. “That’s one of the things I think that has helped me be a performer,” says Pecor, the author of 12 published magic pieces. “I recommend to other magicians to become better, you need to learn your theater skills. It probably wouldn’t hurt to do some theater that has nothing to do with magic to increase confidence on stage. As a magician, I have the contact with the audience. I interact directly with the audience and that’s something you don’t do most of the time in theater. It’s been very valuable to the magic and the magic has been very valuable to the theater.” For 25 years, Pecor was best known for his daily performances at Macon State College. There, he taught theater, public speaking, directed plays and developed his own science fiction course. “I think all teachers are performers, whether they realize it or not,” Pecor says. “Classroom time is performance time. You have 30 people, sometimes a hostile audience, and you must hold their attention for 50 minutes.” Pecor also teaches a larger class by providing a valuable community service to the local public. “I have a free performance I call ‘Combating the Silent Killer,’” he says. “It is a speech that attempts to get the men in the audience to have their annual screening for prostate cancer. I include four

I’ve had the opportunity to do two things I love: play baseball and have a career in chiropractic. Getting people back on the field applies to what I do each day.”

pieces of mental magic that keeps it from being dull, but gets the point across at the same time.” This American stage magician who “never stood still,” continues to move by performing and teaching the younger generation. “I do some consulting for professional magicians who want their acts improved or tweaked,” he says. “I’ve entered my ‘Yoda’ phase now.”

MACON ROYALTY His arrival into big league baseball was but a small stitch woven into the grand tapestry of America’s pastime. Unknown by most, it was that one stitch that most of us, who ever dreamed of making “the Big Show,” would give anything to have. When the Kansas City Royals’ Jim Gaudet stepped into the batter’s box for his first major league at-bat, California Angels’ catcher Terry Humphrey told him to “close your eyes and swing kid.” Considering he was facing Hall of Fame flamethrower Nolan Ryan, it was sound advice for the rookie. In a self-proclaimed state of awe, Gaudet fouled off the first pitch and “didn’t see the second one.” On the third, he hit a hard grounder to shortstop and reached base on an error. “You have to do the best with your chances,” Gaudet says. “I wasn’t going to be cheated.” During a six year professional career, Gaudet enjoyed “a cup of coffee and a bagel-” a common baseball adage used to describe a player’s rise to the top - in the major leagues three different times. His path crossed with some of the best the game has ever seen. He played with Royal greats like Willie Wilson, Hal McCrae and Baseball Hall of Fame member George Brett. Gaudet was managed by Jim Leland, Whitey Herzog, Bobby Cox and Dick Howser. In 1979, he was considered one of the Royals three best minor league prospects. His tenure in pro ball also brought him in touch with his future. Following an injury to his back in 1978, he saw a chiropractor on the advice from “a couple of older players.” Gaudet was back in two days and was so impressed he continued having regular adjustments. After playing on a torn ACL for nearly two years, Gaudet “saw the writing on the wall.” He retired, completed college and spent four years at Life University becoming a licensed doctor of chiropractic. In 1986, he moved to Macon and opened Gaudet Chiropractic in 1987. “I’ve had the opportunity to do two things I love,” he says, “play baseball and have a career in chiropractic. Getting people back on the field applies to what I do each day.” This year marks the 20th anniversary of Gaudet’s other dream - putting kids on the baseball diamond through his Gaudet's All-Star Baseball Camp. Held annually at Luther Williams’ Field, the free, all-day instructional camp has hosted thousands of children while giving many mid-state attractions and organizations the opportunity to meet players and parents face-to-face. “I’ve had my time to shine in the light,” Gaudet says. “It was prestigious playing in the major leagues, but you have to give up one dream and move on.” Fortunately for Macon, the tapestry of this city will always include a stitch of Kansas City Royal blue from Jim Gaudet. Robbie Burns Photography by Ken Krakow

Jim Gaudet www.imediagroup.biz/addressmacon

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CHANGING


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FACES

Electric. That’s how most of Steve Penley’s followers describe his paintings. The Tennessee native was raised in Macon and attended art school at the University of Georgia before making it big on the art scene. Now, his artwork is shown nationally, and several Macon businesses and personalities display his artwork in their homes and offices for their guests to admire. Mercer University shows his artwork in its Trustees Dining Room located in the recently completed University Center, and the Georgia Music Hall of Fame has used Penley’s talent to illustrate the colorful faces of Georgia’s music legends. Additionally, Macon’s largest collection of Penley’s work can be found at the offices of Imedia. To Penley, Macon is the perfect backdrop for his artwork, and to Macon, Penley is the perfect vessel to illustrate the vivid personalities of our most cherished citizens. “I think Macon is the typical southern city and is very typical of American culture,” Penley says.

Steve Penley captures the lives behind the faces he paints.

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Ernest Penley with his wife, Jeanie Thames.

rnest Penley, Steve Penley’s father, first noticed his son’s talent while he was attending elementary school. Penley was born in Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, but was raised in Macon where Ernest opened Georgia Music on Eisenhower Parkway. Ernest remembers his son drawing on crates and cartons in the backroom of the 36 year-old store. “He was always drawing,” Ernest says. But, like most parents, Ernest often wondered when his son was going to venture into the real world and find conventional employment. Lucky for us, Penley didn’t listen. “I don’t know that I have contributed, because more than anything we wondered when he was going to stop painting and get a real job. We were concerned that he felt he could make art a career; I personally tried to talk him into getting a real job. He’s proven me wrong and him right,” Ernest says. Penley, however, explains that his father was more helpful than not. “Even though my Dad was trying to get me to follow a different path, he still paid for art school. He makes himself sound worse than he is, but he was really very supportive,” Penley says. Despite his father’s urging, Penley

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I personally tried to talk him into getting a real job. He’s proven me wrong and him right —Ernest Penley couldn’t seem to put the paintbrush down. He admits to having limited focus on anything but art. “It was really the only thing I had the ability to do,” he notes. “I was so impatient in business classes that I couldn’t focus. I was always thinking about other things that I could be doing.” And, just because he was found in front of an easel more than a desk doesn’t mean he missed everything in business class. Penley knows how to market his work and says he paints for buyers and art lovers, not for other artists. “I try to appeal to people who buy art and not to people who do art,” he says. “One of the mistakes I made early on was trying to appeal to the art students and art teachers instead of people who buy art, and it kept me from doing a lot of things I would normally do by nature.” In the same vein, Penley picks his subjects based on his followers and the figures they admire. “I think it’s the subjects that people can relate to,” Penley says regarding the popularity of www.imediagroup.biz/addressmacon

his work. “Everyone knows about Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill and George Washington,” he says. Painting for the people has always been a priority. “…It wasn’t forced to me. It’s something that came very natural.” The Matre Gallery in Atlanta is the home base for Penley’s paintings, and for the first time, Maconites can study Penley’s art this March at the Macon Arts Gallery on Cherry Street. Most famous for his portraits of historic and popular icons, Penley gathers inspiration and motivation from American culture and heroes. He has painted abstract portraits of the country’s most recognized historic figures, including George Washington, Ben Franklin and Abraham Lincoln. “The inspiration I have towards my subject matter comes from history,” Penley says, “and I get a lot of it from American culture. I pick my subjects from the surface of American culture and appeal a little bit more to the common man.” Despite this “common man” appeal, Penley has a way


I just think that his work fits into any situation. I think he’s very creative. —Neva Langley Fickling Neva Fickling stands with her portrait, which Steve Penley painted for a Macon Symphony fundraiser.

of making his subjects seem anything but, and some of Macon’s most recognized personalities attest to this. In fact, many Maconites have made appearances on a Penley canvas. Neva Langley Fickling is one of Georgia’s most influential women. She studied music at Wesleyan Conservatory and went on to be a world-class pianist. Serving as Georgia’s only Miss America, the musician and philanthropist has definitely made her mark on her community, state and country. Her energetic personality mixed with her love of life made her a perfect subject for Penley; he painted her portrait as part of a Macon Symphony fundraiser entitled “Side By Side,” where she performed with noted pianist Edward Eikner. The painting was used as a publicity piece and was displayed during the concert. One word describes Fickling: “Glamour,” Penley says. “She looks like a beauty queen and that’s what she is. I was trying to make her look electric and alive and vibrant.”

Fickling was introduced to Penley through his sister, Teresa, but their connection is family based. “He and my daughter were in art school together at UGA, and they both studied in Cortona, Italy,” Fickling says. “I knew Steve’s daddy, Ernest, because he is in the music business, and we bought a piano from him a number of years ago.” Ernest also attended Fickling’s church, Mulberry Street Methodist. Fickling says she uses her portrait in many spaces, noting Penley’s versatility. “I have a lot of places that I use that painting,” she says. “I just think that his work fits into any situation. I think he’s very creative.” A true lover of art, Fickling says she selects art based on the pieces she enjoys most, and then coordinates the space around it. “I would rather set the room to the art instead of fitting the art into the room,” she says. Fickling, along with other musicians, is proof that music is a common thread between Penley’s subjects. Otis Redding, most noted for “Sitting www.imediagroup.biz/addressmacon

on the Dock of the Bay,” is one of Macon’s claims to fame. He moved to Macon from Dawson, Georgia as a child and performed in the Vineville Baptist Church choir. He met his wife, Zelma, in 1959 and the two married in 1961. Though Penley never met the singer/songwriter, he painted a portrait of Redding for Phil Walden, president of Capricorn Records. Walden in turn presented the painting to Zelma as a gift. “I never met Otis,” Penley says, “but I sensed a warm-hearted personality. He seemed like a very real, kind, almost heroic figure – especially for Macon.” Zelma, who owns Dreams, a clothing store for women, was born and raised in Macon. She says she treasures the painting of her late husband. “It’s the most important gift I’ve ever had given to me,” she says. “(Walden) kept telling me he had something for me – a surprise – and that I was really going to like it,” Zelma explains. “That must have gone on for more than a year. And then one day he 61


had an employee bring it to me.” The large panting hangs in Zelma’s home in Jones County. “It’s brought so much life to my home. It looks like he used almost every color that really captures Otis, and I don’t even think he knew him. I know my husband would be very happy with the picture,” Zelma says. Zelma can see the painting no matter how she enters her home, noting, “The picture really pops out at you. I think Mr. Penley is one of the greatest artists around.” Though his work can be found in several homes, his paintings also line the walls of several businesses, including his father’s store. There, music legends Otis Redding and Keith Richards grace the store’s perimeter, and several canvases from Penley’s flower collection are also present. “He did those specifically for the opening of the store,” Ernest says. His father notes that Penley has been around music his entire life. He not only added art to the store’s décor, but also encouraged Ernest to add another popular instrument to Georgia Music’s stock room. “He’s probably one of the reasons that we now sell guitars, which we didn’t sell when he was growing up. The guitar has become one of the most popular instruments in America, and it was Steve’s suggestion to carry it.” Good art has an effect on people – and really good art has an effect on the common man. Penley’s art is has certainly succeeded in making an impact. His father recently received a thank you card from Penley’s middle school art teacher, and the front of the card displays a line drawing Penley had done as a student in her class. Ernest says this is the one drawing that sticks out most in his mind. He notes that against all odds – including many meals consisting of nothing more than a can of spaghettiOs, Penley never got painting out of his head. “I think a lot of Steve’s success can really be attributed to his keeping an eye on his one goal of excellence and not being satisfied with mediocre work,” Ernest says. “He always wanted to give 110 percent, and he has always been committed to excellence.” Jamie Caraway Photography by Ken Krakow

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It’s the most important gift I’ve ever had given to me —Zelma Redding

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Macon State Names Admissions Director

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Kristina Chandler

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